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« SAO:NA - Chapter XVI: Harsh Truths

Sword Art Online: New Aincrad
Written by: FedeTkd
Published: FedeTkd (talk) 02:02, March 16, 2015 (UTC)
Chapter 17: Balance Scale

SAO:NA - Chapter XVIII: Bonds »



Floor 55th, September 25th, 2026

Hour and a half ago…

“…Take flight, Stardust Dragon!”

The white shining dragon materialized in front of Galant and Jack. It flies to the skies before gliding down and landing on the ground next to Galant, who briefly caresses its face.

“Impossible…” Jack says impressed. “How can you summon a dragon?”

“I’m a Dragon Signer. Dragon Signers are players who’ve defeated or were chosen by a Legendary Dragon. We’re capable of summoning them and the souls of the dragon and their tamer are closely bonded.”

Galant mounts Stardust.

“I get it now. So there could be more Dragon Signers on this game?” Jack asks.

“Yeah. We all bear a mark of a part of a Dragon on our arms. But I’m the only one I know.” Galant answers. “Now get here, we need to go.”

Jack gets on top of the dragon, behind Galant. The Dragon widens its wings and rises to the sky.

“Where’re we going now?” Jack asks.

“First off, we’re leaving Thanos’ HQ. We’re no longer welcome there. But we need to warn KoB about Thanos new plan.”

“You’re talking about the trap Vorhes was talking about?”

“Yeah. If they’re ambushed by Thanos and his legions going to Neerin, nothing will stand against Hao and achieving victory on the GAW.”

“Last I checked you’re not liked on KoB. What makes you think they’ll listen to you?”

“I don’t know Jack. I don’t know. But I have to. What of you? This doesn’t match at all your objective. I’d respect if you want to leave now and leave on your own way, out of this trouble.”

“No.” Jack replies with all his resolve. “I’m no coward. I told you, I’ll be the strongest and become the King of Aincrad. I’ll fight Hao until my HP reaches Zero and even after that.”

“Alright then…We’re going to the volcano Muspel on floor 55th.”

---

After a short trip on the white dragon, Galant and jack arrive to the volcano Muspel. They fly close to the boiling caldera of hot lave and soon afterwards, they can see the temple near the fire mountain’s base. They start fling on circles before finally descending to the clearing of the forest, twenty five meters from the wall surrounding the temple.

As soon as the Knights saw them coming, Lamorak commanded his men to get their weapons ready and prepare for the worst. The Sylph commander accompanied by his right-hand men and some other fellow guild mates gets on top of the wooden scaffold next to the wall. Most of them are surprised when they see a dragon landing on the clearing, and even more when they see Galant and Jack getting down the Dragon.

Lamorak: “Weapons ready!”

Lamorak commands from the top of the wall. The players get their spears and bows ready for a potential fight. Some of them easily recognized the duo, but most of them didn’t know or didn’t recognized them.

Galant walks a few steps, until he’s twenty meters from the wall.

“Not a single millimeter more Galant! Or we will kill you.” Lamorak shouts out.

“I’m not here for a fight!”

“Your presence here tells me otherwise. Every time you appear, something bad happens.”

“I’m here to warn Kirito about Thanos’ plans.”

“If you want to talk to him, say it now! So we can all hear you!”

Galant waits for a while, looking to Lamorak.

“I don’t see him here. I neither see Asuna, Klein, Sinon, Leafa, Kana and Diana. This means you’re in charge of this situation. I know you attacked Bluewater Bay and that’s why you have more Sylphs and Gnomes on your ranks. They went to Neerin to join more players to your cause, didn’t they?”

“You bastard…” Lamorak curses under his breath.

“Calm down Lamorak.” Sybil tells him.

“They’re going to a trap. The captain of Thanos, Vorhes, told us everything about it.” Galant continues.

“I think he’s trying to tell us something...” Sybil tells her boyfriend again.

“He is.” Silica says, still trusting his old protector.

“How do I know you’re not lying?” Lamorak asks, a bit calmer.

Jack throws at him a small ball covered in a white cloak. He could see taints of red on the white cloth.

“There’s your proof.” Jack says. “Thanos’ is who you think he is. He’s a member of the League of Darkness Knights and the commander of The Band of the Nine.”

“Why was him acting under others of Hao then?” Agil asks.

“Because Hao wanted to fool us.” Jack responds. “He had half of the Band of the Nine working for him, while the other half was working for Mordread.”

“Divide and conquer.” Galant says. “His plan is to trap your friends on a clearing, on the middle of the swamp on their trip to the city. Without your commanders, you’ll face defeat against Thanos’ army. That’s why I’m here. If we want to stop them, we have to go now.”

“What do you mean?” Lamorak asks.

“If we want to succeed, we must go together.”

Lamorak clenches his fist with anger.

He didn’t trust both players. But if they were telling the truth, his friends could be captured and/or killed. If this happened, the KoB and all Aincrad were doomed. The problem was that he’d have to take a huge risk. Either trusting them or letting his friends die. The decision he’d have to take would be the key for their fate.

If he choosed badly, everything was over.

“Lamorak!” Galant shouts. “I know how you fell. I was a leader once. But I’m sure Kirito left you in command for a reason. Because he trusts you. No matter what you chose, we’ll go there now to warn them or save them.”

Galant walks to Stardust and gets on top of it. Jack does the same.

“Now’s a very important moment for the war.” Galant tells Lamorak while his dragon starts rising to the sky. “Either we stand, together. Or fall, divided.”

---

Floor 56th, September 25th, 2026

Now…

A swift breeze slowly moves a couple of leaves in between the two groups. The blow of wind also moves their clothes’ loosen parts and hair in the same direction of the leaves.

The newcomer duo stares at the eleven player killers, who also stare back. No one spoke a word.

They all knew the situation was just the calm before the thunderstorm.

The seven remaining players of the Band of the Nine stand forth and brace their weapons, while Mordread and his three right hand men kept the seven captured KoB members out of the battle.

Thanos, in the middle of his seven men, speaks out and breaks the silence.

“Galant…” He says. “Have you finally taken your decision?”

Galant: “Yeah…Right now I’m doing it…First.”

Thanos: “So you finally found out I’m a member of The League and the commander of The Band of the Nine…How?”

Jack: “Vorhes sends his regards.”

Thanos notably gets angered after hearing that one of his right hand men died. The General raises his blade and points it to Galant before talking again.

“My leader, let me defeat this man.”

Mordread looks to Thanos.

Mordread: “He’s mine to kill. Not anybody else’s. Not even yours. Not even from my cousin.”

Thanos: “I know that. But this player betrayed the legions. He has forsaken his oath to the Supreme King. I’m a General of the Legions. I’ll bring him to justice.”

Mordread begins to laugh for a while, until he stops after some long seconds.

“You truly sound like a general of Hao now. I wonder what he made to you. Alright go…”

“Thanks. As you command, my leader.”

Jack: “Good luck…”

Jack tells Galant, before jumping back and crossing his arms.

Thanos starts advancing and Galant does the same, draws his blade and activates Dimachearus.

Just behind Mordread and the nine players of The Band of The Nine, KoB players watch impressed while Whipper hold all of them tight with his whips from the necks. They couldn’t do much to escape since the player killer would choke them to death if they tried to do anything. However, most of them wonder why they were there, especially Galant. Asuna still doesn’t the player who’d been blamed for the death of his guild and Sinon remains without any trust in the gladiator. However, Klein, Leafa, Diana and Kana deeply know that there was an important reason for him being there, about to fight against the Shadow of Death. They whisper their opinions, but the only one who remains silent is the Black Swordsman, who crosses his arms and gets ready to watch.

Asuna speaks out loud.

“Galant, why’re you truly here!?”

“Hush now girl!” Whipper shouts out, raising his hand to strike her.

“NO!” Mordread yells, and Whipper stops in that second and lowers his fist. “I also want to know the answer to that question…So tell me, brother: Why?”

Galant stops walking and looks to Asuna.

“It’s simple Asuna, promised I wouldn’t let anyone I care about die. Not on my watch.”

“The same you promised to Sakura?” Mordread screams out.

Galant grips his blade stronger. Mordread knew exactly what to do to make him angry.

“The same you promised to the Royal Knights? Let me remind you: You didn’t keep your promise. And this is another promise that you’ll fail to keep…Thanos!”

Thanos materializes his black fairy wings and flies towards Galant at max speed. He raises his blade and slams it down, but Galant blocks placing his blades like an X. The strength of the strike sends shockwaves of wind on multiple directions and even creates a small crater with crack bellow Galant. They begin to struggle.

Asuna: “I still don’t trust him.”

Klein: “Yeah. But why’s he here then?”

Asuna: “Probably something for his own benefit. The only thing he’s been doing so far.”

Sinon: “Asuna’s right.”

Kana: “You’re a real fucking idiot cat.”

Sinon: “You’re the real fucking idiot for trusting him!”

Leafa: “Hey stop you two!”

Diana: “But Asuna!”

Kirito: “Shhh…” ending the discussion. “We’ll see what he’s up to later; we have bigger concerns right now...”

Thanos smiles and raises his weapon again to slash Galant’s right side. The gladiator quickly blocks with both blades and lowers his body as the clashing weapons send sparks away as they slide against one another. Galant stops and slashes with both swords, but Thanos is quicker than he expects and he blocks with his halberd pointing vertically to the ground before spinning and kicking Galant’s back. The Knight rolls on the ground and quickly recovers, attacking with Stardust Slasher both blades. Thanos blocks one with Claiomh Solaris and the other with his empty hand, a thing no player ever before had done. Galant now angered attacks with Crescent Stardust Slasher, but Thanos grabs his giant weapon with both hands and deflects back the attack. Galant uses Maximus Caliburn to deflect the attack to the woods, destroying several trees. Thanos starts fling and attacks. Galant does the same and they slash in the middle. The Slayer of Cerdic feels pain on this belly while Thanos feels the same on his left arm and chest. Galant flies up, swiftly followed by Thanos. The Champion stops and turns around while The Shadow of Death aims his halberd to his body as if it were a thrusting lance. Darkness activates on Galant’s eyes. He eludes the attack while deflecting it with his right blade before delivering a strong strike to the cross-guard of Claiomh. Thanos loses the grip of his weapon and it falls to the ground. Even after losing his weapon, Thanos stood unfazed. He seized the chance after the strike of his weapon, while Galant hadn’t still recovered his balance. He punches Galant’s gut, blowing the air out of him, before grabbing his right fist with his other hand and slamming the blue knight to the ground. The power of the impact makes him lose the grip of his weapons as well. He lands and coughs out blood, but has no time to recover as Thanos slams into the ground, attacking once again. Galant rolls in the ground and eludes his attack, before placing his hand on the ground, jumping and kicking Thanos on the face and forces him back. Thanks to the momentum, Galant gets up and charges Grey Fist and Garuru Fist on his left and right hand respectively. He attacks Thanos first on his chest and aims a second strike to his face. However, Thanos is faster and blocks with his right forearm, before punching Galant’s stomach once again. He grabs Galant’s neck and lifts him up. Thanos punches with his empty hand, but Galant catches his fist with his remaining strength, then he grabs the arm holding him with the other and kicks the general’s face with both feet. Thanos loses his grip on him and Galant jumps away, landing close to his weapons.

They’re left breathing heavily and staring to each other.

They were evenly matched on everything. The only thing the one needed to win was to the other to make a big mistake. But if they didn’t find any weakness to exploit, they knew the battle would last for much more if they continued.

Unless…

“On him…” Thanos says.

Out of nowhere, a blonde silhouette appears just in front of Galant slashing his arm. Moving slow and wondering what the hell was happening, he barely parries a slash with his Aegis forearms. He can see Thanos best soldier and third member of The Band of the Nine, Lyn with her khopesh in hand. Galant tries to counter but a katana appears on his way and blocks the blow before kicking him back. Hikami appeared right next to his partner. Before the Knight can even recover, the two large claws of the Cait Sith, Chezire, scratch deeply his left arm before Thanos appears and punches him several meters back. Galant loses his blades after this attack. He raises his head from the ground and sees the four members of the Band of the Nine getting ready for another assault.

“COWARDS!!!” Jack shouts up while drawing his scabbard from his belt.

He’s about to rush to help his partner when a blast of dark magic appears in front of him, making him jump back.

“Oh you’re not going anywhere Jackie Boy…” Lyunatix says, appearing just in front of him accompanied by the Undine Kalius and the Pooka Zomrat.

“Tch…” Jack says reaching his blade and ready to perform an iai. “I’ll take you all on.”

Jack attacks and begins a three on one battle.

An angered Yakuza approaches Mordread.

“You told me Jack was mine!” He scrams out with his left hand on the handle of his katana, Zatoichi.

“I changed my mind. And Galant’s my priority.”

“Mordread you…!”

“You’ll do as your leader commands!!!” Mordread yells out while Sabrac and Whipper were getting closer to him, forcing an angered Yakuza to back off. “If he survives, he’s yours for the kill. If he doesn’t, he wasn’t worthy of fighting you.”

“Tch…”

Jack first attacks Lyunatix, but Seventh blocks the attack with is blade and then counters with a dark magic fist and at the same time, Kalius slashes with his scimitar. However, Jack blocks the fist with his scabbard and the blade with his own before delivering a spinning kick to both player killers. In the moment they’re out of balance, Jack moves for the kill, but he receives a musical energy blast for Zomrat. The Lone Ronin is thrown towards the trees but he manages to materialize his wings and fly up, right towards Eighth. He prepares to draw his blade as he approaches, but Sixth appears on his way. The Undine holds him off for a while before he manages to strike the imp on his side, leaving him vulnerable to another blast of magical music of Zomrat. Lyunatix deals the finishing attack by kicking Jack while he’s plummeting down, making his fall even faster before he crashes against the hard soil.

Lyunatix knew he could easily finish him off with no effort, but if he had, it wouldn’t be fun at all for him and for his party partners.

Even notably hurt, Jack sees another musical blast coming from Zomrat and he rolls on the ground as the attack made the crater even bigger. The Lone Ronin gets up and spreads his wings ready for the second assault.

Galant gets up and the dragon birthmark on his arm begins to shine red.

“Take flight, Stardust Dragon!”

The dragon materializes right behind Galant and roars in anger. The vision of the white beast forces the four PKs to back off, and with good reason since Stardust starts his attack with one of his claws, but something stops him. Hellfire appears right in front of Stardust and a red claw materializes and blocks Stardust’s attack.

“What the hell!?” Galant shouts.

He looks to the player killers. Several meters behind them, Mordread had held his left arm up. Suddenly a red mark appears on his left forearm. The symbol resembled the wings of a dragon. Mordread had a crooked grin on his face and he starts a chant.

“In an inferno of power and might, a blazing monster is created! Engulf this world and leave it without light! Dragon Summon!”

Out of the hellfire, a red and black dragon materialized of the same size of Stardust. It had red shining eyes which almost looked as the ones of his master. It had sharp curved teeth coming out of its mouth. Long pale brown claws on the five fingers of its hand and other four on the ones on its feet. A 2 meter long strong tail with a blade-like end and large crimson and black wings.

“Incarnation of Darkness, Red Demon’s Dragon!”

For a very brief moment all stop fighting and stare to the blazing monster which had just appeared on the battlefield as it roared. Jack looks marveled to the power of the new creature clad in the orange and scarlet fire. He was amazed by the strength.

Red Demon’s Dragon roars and Stardust responds with his own roar before both separate and fly to the sky beginning a battle.

The two other battles are reassumed.

Galant draws one kunai from his back with each hand, spinning them on his thumbs before grabbing them backhand. He blinks his eyes, turning them red and attacks ready for a second round as the four players made a row to attack him. The champion ignites his fists with Grey Fist and jumps towards his four attackers. While in midair, he punches the face Chezire and Hikami, before landing and rolling on the ground. He gets up and is attacked by Lyn, but he parries the blade with his knives and then kicks her blade, which falls from her grasp. Third then attacks with a spinning kick aiming to his face, but Galant eludes the attack and slashes the back of her head, cutting part the knot of hair and leaving it loosen before kicking her with his other leg. He advances on the last one of the row. Thanos slashes with his halberd. He jumps over the blade and stops his momentum to stab the general’s right shoulder before kick Thanos far from him. Hikami attacks his back, slamming with his blade, but the gladiator jumps back and the katana hits the ground. The Salamander quickly changes his momentum and turns around while slashing circularly. Galant backs off a single step and parries with his left vambrace and readies to counter, but the sylph girl appears out of nowhere and punches him hard on the face. He rolls on the ground and readies to get up, but the Cait Sith slashes his back, but the gladiator manages to use a nearby fallen tree to jump back and above Fifth.

Galant briefly stares to the black cat as it tasted his blood on his claws, before attacking again. The blue knight tries to counter but he’s thrown away by a strong push with the shoulder. Thanos seizes his opportunity to attack Galant, but he manages to elude the attack and flip above Thanos, catching his praised halberd handle with his hands and kicking him, sending him sliding away from him and keeping Claiomh as his weapon. Thanos’ gets notably angered after Galant stole form him the weapon Hao himself gave to him and angrily clenches his hands. Chezire comes back for another attack, but Galant quickly diverts the attack and makes him fall to the ground before kicking him far. Lyn and Hikami appear together and both place a strong fist directly to his chest, sending Galant back. The tired fighter can’t hold the heavy halberd as his own weapon anymore and it falls from his hands. His eyes return to normal before he falls to his knees and hands. While Hikami and Lyn look down on him, Thanos walks between them.

“Your weapon, my general.” Hikami says.

“Thanks…”

Thanos lifts Galant, holding him by his collar. He readies his right fist and punches the middle of his chest. Galant’s back clashes against the fallen tree. He falls to his knees as his eyes return his eyes become numb. The rest of his body collapses to the ground, falling hard face to the ground.

At the same time, Jack clashes blades with Lyunatix and gets notably angered after Galant’s defeat. He tries to avenge him, but his body was slowly freezing by an attack of Kalius. His feet and legs were starting to freeze while he kept on struggling against his opponent. However, the player killer was slowly gaining ground on him.

Thanos lifts his spear up and places it on his right shoulder while staring down on Galant.

After a minute, Galant slowly moves his right arm in front of his face. Once he finishes, he moves his left to the same position.

“It’s over Galant…Even you have limits… You can’t win this fight…” Thanos tell him.

Galant moves his head and moves his head. He looks to Mordread smiling and then the KoB members he’d come to rescue. He can from the distance see the faces of those players he’d come to save. He can see all of them. Kana, Diana, Leafa, Klein, Sinon, Asuna, Yui and Kirito. He could hear the cries and shouts of some of them. He then moves his head and sees the purple ribbon, still tight strongly on his right wrist.

He begins pushing the ground with his hands and slowly starts to get his torso up, before his legs move and also start pushing the ground. He gets up after trying for one minute.

“Why!?!?” Thanos yells out.

“Because I’m too fucking stubborn to die.” He raises his hands and prepares a sword skill. “Stardust Mirage!”

Jack, Kirito, Asuna, Klein and Diana begin to shine. Galant’s color changes and other four clones of him appear. Each of them had a shining aura around them colored in either one of five colors: green, blue, red, yellow and orange.

Thanos begins laughing.

“You can just attack once with that technique. And you won’t win us with just one attack. You don’t have the strength to a defeat all four of us.”

“True. I can’t defeat all of you...” All five Galants say. “…But I know who can…”

They materialize their wings and ignite their right fist with Stardust Ryusei-ken. They jump at the same time before fling into the sky. They stop and aim the attack to Mordread, raining a storm of meteors on the leader of the PK guild.

“STARDUST METEOR STORM!!!” The five Galant’s shout at the same time.

Thanos turns around and throws his halberd to one of the clones, piercing through him. The illusion disappears. Sabrac and Yakuza also attack one of the clones, and they disappear as soon as they receive the attack. The two last clones continue on their way, with one of them getting closer than the other. Mordread charges on his fist a Martial Arts category Sword Skill. The Ryuusei-ken of Galant and Mordread’s attack clash as do their fists. The power sends Mordread sliding back; however, the clone shatters right after the Salamander stops. The real Galant continues his attack, aiming to a now vulnerable Mordread.

“LORD MORDREAD!”

Whipper appears on Galant’s way, ready to attack him. However, Galant flies down, eluding the punch and jumps on the ground, quickly changing his momentum and raising his fist. He punches Whipper hardly on his jaw, sending the large player flying away several meters.

After putting all his strength on that last attack, Galant falls to the ground with no power left. Soon afterwards, he loses consciousness.

Stardust Dragon banishes in the air after this last strike. Since the Dragon Signer and his Legendary Dragon are always connected, any damage that the player receives will affect the dragon and vice versa. Therefore, as Galant was unconscious, the dragon couldn’t fight.

“Seems that’s all you got…”

“Lord Mordread!”

Kirito attacks Mordread while he’s distracted, but Yakuza appears on his way and blocks the attack his two swords.

“How did you?” Yakuza yells out.

However Kirito changes his momentum and spin vertically, landing a fast kick to Yakuza’s jaw. Even with his speed, the Blind Assassin couldn’t match the spontaneous strike of Kirito, who quickly moves to attack Mordread, but the Salamander blocks the strike drawing his Black Key Knives out of his sleeves, but quickly falls back to regain ground.

The seven KoB members had been released after Galant’s final strike on Whipper, which had forced the gnome to release his bonding from them. They now form a circle around Galant, attacking and defending from the attacks of the Player Killers.

“Klein, carry him!” Kirito yells out.

Quickly, the Salamander lieutenant raises Galant and places him over his shoulder before jumping up and flying to the woods where they came from. After he’s out of reach, the Knights of Blood swiftly follow.

With all the Dark Knights distracted, Jack finally breaks free from the ice by using the spell Demonic Berserk. After this, he also jumps to the same tree where the KoB members and Galant are.

Klein lays Galant’s body on the ground.

Kirito: “Asuna, use Hyper Heal on him.”

Asuna: “What?!”

Diana: “You’re really asking that?! If he dies, his VRSMA could backlash. He can die unless you heal him!”

Klein: “He’s barely alive and he saved us. It’ the least we owe him.”

Jack: “Besides, we’re going to need everyone. They outnumber us eleven on nine…”

Jack stands forth along most KoB members as Kirito, Asuna and Galant remain on the rear. The members of the League of Darkness Knights approach quickly.

“How about fourteen against eleven!” A voice they recognize says.

The KoB knights turn around and look up. Lamorak was right there, standing on a large limb of a tree. He was accompanied by Agil, Sybil, Silica and Recon. The five newcomers jump to the same tree branch and get next to their comrades.

The Player Killers notice they’re outnumbered. However, neither Mordread nor Thanos ordered their men to back off. Far the contrary, they drew weapons and slowly started approaching the forest.

Kirito: “Asuna, do it. Heal him.”

Asuna looks at him again.

Lamorak: “Kirito’s right. We wouldn’t have arrived here if it weren’t for him and Jack.”

Yui: “Mama…” She looks her mother while standing on Galant’s chest. “…Please…”

Asuna: “Alright.” He focuses all her magic on her hands. “Hyper Heal!”

Hyper heal is a high-level, water type magic. It has to be casted by an Undine player who has great magical abilities. The spell could restore anyone’s HP back, in exchange for all the Magical Points or MP of the Undine player. The spell has just one limiter; it could just be used on any player three times.

Asuna uses the spell on Galant. Almost instantly after some seconds, he’s conscious again, with his HP full and energies restored. He had healed all wounds from the battle. The only thing that remained was pain. He slowly sits back up.

Galant: “Thank you....”

Kirito extends his hand to him. They stare to each other before Galant finally takes his hand and stands back up.

Asuna: “You shouldn’t say that prematurely. We have quite a few problems right now…”

Galant: “I know…”

Kirito: “Are you able to fight?”

Galant: “Don’t worry about me. Worry about yourself alone right now. You have to…no, you must defeat Thanos.”

Kirito: “I know…I’m ready…”

Galant: “Let’s see if you’re right…” He raises his right arm on the sky and his dragon birthmark shines red. “Fly to the sky, Stardust Dragon!”

The shining energy dust appears out of Galant’s body and it takes shape into the magnificent white dragon, which roars once revived back with its full strength. Red Demon’s Dragon, right behind Mordread, roars as well in response.

The three knights walk right next to Jack and the KoB knights, forming a long line formed by fourteen players.

Soft wind blows again, as the two small guild guerrillas are about to clash.

In the second after the breeze stopped, the Dark Knights advance and so do their adversaries, beginning a new and bloodied battle. The only ones left out of battle are Silica and Rekon, who, by command of Lamorak, remain at the rearguard supporting their partners if they needed. They were also the weakest of the group, so the strategy also served as shield for them.

Most players engage a one-on-one battle, but since the Blood Knights outnumbered them by two, some Band of the Nine members are forced to fight two players at the same time.

---

Kana jumps down from the branch, landing on her feet and hands while moving her tail viciously. Driven by his instinct, the vicious Cait Sith, Chezire, rushes towards her and starts the battle with a descending slash on her. However, Kana jumps up, bypassing the attack and stopping with a single leg while turning around, before changing her momentum and attack the black cat’s back. Fifth quickly turns as well, slashing at the same time with his tiger-like claws. Kana slides on the ground, eluding his attack for barely millimeters before placing a hard left jab on Chezire’s face. He quickly recovers and closes his arms on his chest to crush Kana to death, but the quick and agile kitty crouches down and rolls backwards, eluding the “death-hug”. She pushes the ground and lifts herself on the air before landing. However, the leaves a huge opening which Chezire uses to attack her. He makes a long slash, cutting her left arm and part of her side, but he quickly readies a second attack with his other claw. Kana has no choice but to back off to elude the attack. Out of nowhere, three white projectiles fly near Kana’s face before impaling Chezire in the chest. This lets Kana slide back and regain ground. She looks back and sees her sister nocking another arrow.

“Leave her!” She yells out while aiming.

Kana smiles while she sees this and draws her daggers backhand.

Fifth doesn’t back off even when he’s against two players. Far the contrary. He smiles and destroys the arrows on his body with his long claws. He then removes his long back overcoat, making it fall to the ground. He then tastes Kana’s blood on his claws.

“Yuk…You’re disgusting!” Kana shouts.

Chezire rushes towards them. Kana does the same. He starts by again slashing downwards, but Kana jumps and rolls on the ground before falling on the ground to attack his back again. However, the Player Killer didn’t stop. He kept on rushing. Kana realizes he was going for her sister. Diana soon realizes the same and starts shooting her arrows, but he quickly deflects most of them before attacking the White Arrow. Diana draws Egeria from her boot and blocks the slash before rolling on the ground and jabbing him with her left. Despite this Chezire attacks her again, slashing her arm. She quickly turns around to kick him, but her strength was no match for his. Chezire resists the attack and slashes again, but Diana blocks with her armguard, though the attack almost destroys it. While going back she draws and aims three arrows to his chest, but he continues advancing. The arrows pierce his chest, but even still the cat berserk continues his attack. Diana manages to jump him over, before landing next to his sister. Fifth prepares an attack and they rush towards him.

“Kana! Strategy 04!”

“Roger that!”

While they keep on running, they line up, with Diana on the vanguard. After a few meters, Diana jumps one on the ground and then another time on her sister’s shoulder. Diana draws her arrows and aims.

“Frenzy!!!” Kana yells out.

She activated a spell which made her enter into a frenzy-like state. While she was on that state, her speed, stamina, strength and other skills are boosted up. Her appearance also changes to one more beast-like; with longer claws, vicious sight, sharper teeth and her hair becomes spikier.

Kana rushes even faster and eludes the attack of Chezire before placing a hard and strong puch right on the middle of his chest. At the same time, Diana’s explosive arrows stuck into his chest. Chezire slides back, before his body explodes result of the combined attacks.

---

Sinon and Leafa fly at max speed, avoiding the musical blasts from Zomrat, who remained calmed, with her arms closed while she enjoyed the music sounding out loud. She followed the strategy “The best defense is a great attack”, and indeed, the music blasts which came from her annihilated anything they touched. This strategy made fighting really complicated for a close quarter’s player, such as Leafa. Not even Sinon could use her arrows, since every time she shot; the sound waves stopped the arrow meters from the Pooka.

Zomrat: “God, this music is beautiful…But it’s missing something very, very important…” She gives the girl a vicious mad glare while smiling. “…YOUR SCREAMS, LOVELY GIRLS!!!”

Sinon: “Tch…Little bitch…”

Leafa: “If we can’t get close to her, we won’t beat her. We need to go separate and try to elude her blasts.”

Sinon: “It’s not the best plan…but we don’t have many choices here!”

They separate. While Sinon goes right, Leafa goes left.

Zomrat slowly moves right while keeping her axis stable. She keeps attacking Sinon with her sound magic while the Cait Sith eludes most of her attacks and aims with her bow. Eluding two blasts and advancing on her, she shoots. The arrow bypasses her attacks, but she dodges the projectile just by moving her head left. The arrow scratched her cheek, what makes her even angrier. Sinon aims three more arrows, enchanting them with an explosive spell. She takes the shot, but soon afterwards, the arrows rebound against the musical attacks and deflected back to Sinon. She could barely react and move a few meters before the arrows exploded near her. She plummets down to the earth and has a hard landing on the ground.

While Zomrat was distracted with Sinon, Leafa made her move and got closer to her. She readies her katana and slashes, but a small and thin blade blocks her move. Zomrat managed to draw her blade to block the Sylph girl’s attack.

“Don’t think I forgot about you, Hikami’s girl.”

“Tch…” That comment made Leafa even more pissed than she was before.

“HERE!!!”

She puts her hand on Leafa’s belly, releasing an energy wave on it. A badly damaged Leafa now plummets down and crashes to the ground right next to Sinon.

“Shit…” Sinon says, while trying to get up.

“She’s though...” Leafa replies as she sits down.

“We need to find a way to defeat her…Even if that means receiving her sound attacks.”

Leafa’s eyes widen.

“Sound…” She says looking up.

Right above them, Zomrat prepared an attack.

“This is your finale!” The pink haired mad girl yelled out while aiming with her blasters to the ground.

“SINON, TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND RETAIN!”

“What the…?!”

“Do it!”

Both girls take a deep breath. Leafa gets up and closes her eyes, focusing.

“Beethoven's Symphony No. 5: "Fate"!!!” Zomrat shouts like crazy while firing her attack.

The attack releases devastating purple energy beams. At the same time, namesake of the attack is played. The music's rhythm resonates with the opponent, manipulating them and inflicting damage at the same time, making it effectively impossible to move when blasted by the music. The spell granted a slow and painful death for the ones who received it.

However, meters before clashing against Leafa, the attack disappears, banishing in the air, as if an invisible energy shield was surrounding her.

“WHAT THE HELL?!?!?!” She shouts.

Sinon is also left wondering what the hell happened. She looks at Leafa wondering until she could no longer hear the music. In that moment she realizes. Since Sylphs had affinity with air, Leafa removed the air from a small place on the ground, creating void. The absence of everything. Since sound is vibrations of the air, while they were on the vacuum, the sound could travel to their ears and thus creating the best defense against sound magic.

That was why she asked Sinon to retain her breath.

Leafa extends her arms and the field of vacuum expands more and more…

“NO, NO, NO, NOOOOOOOOO!!!” Zomrat shouts while incrementing the power of her attack. No avail. The vacuum shield couldn’t be penetrated no matter how hard she tried.

Sinon loads three arrows and aims while Leafa draws her blade. The vacuum field wouldn’t last much while she wasn’t focusing on keeping it. She materializes her wings and flies towards Zomrat, who desperately continues to attack.

“YO-YOU REEKING, REEKING, REEKING BITCHES!!!

Those were her last words before the void zone expands and engulfs her as well.

Leafa approaches at max speed and readies to cut her down. Zomrat places her blade forth to block, but Leafa cuts the sword in half and puts a huge gash from her left shoulder to the beginning of her right leg. At the same time, the three projectiles of Sinon nail her.

Leafa ends at Eighth’s back and the void field disappears.

Every polygon of Zomrat disappears along with her body on a small explosion.

“It’s curtains down for you…” Leafa says, while looking back.

---

Kirito dashes through the battlefield using his wings, bypassing most of the Dark Knights who attempt to engage combat with him until he reaches his opponent.

“THANOS!”

The General prepares to attack as Kirito reaches his back to draw Elucidator and Long Sword.

They clash, sending shockwaves of air to all directions. They remain struggling for a few moments, until Thanos strength overpowers Kirito and he’s forced to back off. However, the Black Swordsman doesn’t give up easily and attacks again with Elucidator. Thanos parries with his halberd. The clash of the blades sends sparks flying away, but Kirito uses his other blade to stab Thanos, who uses the handle to parry the attack before pushing Kirito with his left shoulder. The Twin Swordsman slides on the ground but quickly regains his balance. Thanos materializes his wings and advances on him, descending with the full weight and strength of Claiomh Solaris. Kirito braces with both blades, deflecting the attack to his left. He manages to slash Thanos’ arm and then readies to stab him, but Fist thrusts his blade don the ground and uses it as a support to kick Kirito away. Both Spriggans quickly recover from the attack and spread their wings to attack again. They clash on the middle and start ascending while they always return and attack again. After doing this several times, they’re already above the top of the trees of the swamp. They clash one last time before separating and glaring at each other.

“This goes for my best friend Valon. The Leprechaun you killed!!!”

“I stabbed him, but that wasn’t a deadly wound if he was well healed!”

“Well healed…” Thanos says while he remains thinking for a few seconds.”You’ve become stronger after our last battle But even still, you can’t beat me. Not with those weapons…”

“You’re right.” Kirito responds.

He’d just learned that after the few seconds they’ve been fighting. Galant could match Thanos since Maximus Caliburn is stronger than Elucidator and Long Sword.

He sheathes both blades to his back.

“Giving up already!?”

“Never.” He enters his menu and a sword materializes in front of him. Kirito grabs with both hands the golden blade which shined like the sun. “Holy Blade Excaliber!!!”

“Finally! I now don’t have to hold back!!!”The Shadow of Death begins spinning his blade and a ball of energy appears in front of it. “TARTARUS HEATRED!!!”

Thanos unleashes an energy wave on Kirito. However, he flies up and then advances on the General. Kirito loads his blade with a large quantity of magic and rams it at Thanos, who blocks the blow. They begin to struggle again.

“Hm…Interesting…”

They separate and begin flying before turning to the opposite side and face. They clash again.

---

Galant jumps from spreads his wings and readies to fight Mordread. Red Demon’s Dragon flies towards him, but Stardust gets on his way and protects his Signer. With the Dragons occupied, Galant focuses on his archenemy. He starts with Stardust Ryusei Ken, almost becoming a comet. Mordread responds with a hellfire fist of his own. Both combatants clash, but soon they’re sent on opposite directions. Galant gets up and sees Maximus Caliburn few meters behind Mordread. Knowing he needed his sword to defeat the Crimson Death, he draws Carnwennan backhand and rushes to Mordread. He’s quickly right in front of him and attacks, but Mordread blocks with his new sword. Mordread presses against Galant with his weapon and Galant responds the same way while looking to the new sword.

“I’ll show you something beautiful…” Mordread says.

He grabs his blade with his other hand and then quickly removes it. The sword duplicated and Mordread slashes Galant’s chest. He’s forced to back off awestruck by the Unique Skill of the sword.

“That’s Dimachearus…”

“Yes. This sword is the counterpart to your blade: Deathcalibur!”

“Tch…”

Galant now knew he needed Maximus Caliburn if he even wanted to stand a chance against Mordread.

He attacks Stardust Slasher, but Mordread deflects the blade easily and counterattacks advancing on him. He attacks with a vertical slash which Galant eludes before attacking with his fist. Mordread places his left sword flat forth and blocks the attack, before attacking with his other weapon and putting another gash on Galant’s left arm. The champion backs off a bit, but Mordread doesn’t give him a single second to recover. He attacks thrusting his blade, but Galant sees the opening he was looking for. He jumps and steps on the blade and then slashes Mordread’s mask. He jumps again on his shoulder and gets close to his blade on the ground. He sheathes back his dagger and grabs Caliburn, ready for a second round.

Mordread turns around. His mask falls from his face and shatters on the ground, revealing his blind eye and ugly scar in the right side of his face.

“Hello brother, long time no see!” Mordread says with a creepy smile.

“You’re done running, Mordread. This ends now…”

“Awww. You’re so much DYING to continue playing with me, aren’t you? Well. I’m also eager to finish this...”

Mordread materializes his red Salamander wings and begins to fly. Galant does the same. After some meters, both advance and clash blades between them.

They quickly separate and fly on opposite directions. Galant attacks vigorously with a constant barrage of Stardust skills, but Mordread easily either defects or eludes the attacks. Galant attacks with two Crescent Stardust Slashers using both blades, but the attacks are deflected back to him. He manages to avoid them, but Mordread quickly appears front of him and they restart their close quarters fight. After a short and at full speed exchange of blows, Mordread slams with his swords at the same time and Galant blocks with his weapons in an X position. For a while, Galant manages to push him back and then places a strong kick on the middle of his chest. Galant then rises and slashes vertically, yet Mordread deflects with his left blade and tries to stab his adversary. He manages to thrust his sword on Galant’s right shoulder, but the knight quickly goes slightly back and the blade comes out. At the same time he spins and lashes Mordread with his right sword. After that strike, Mordread flies forwards and Galant does the same on the opposite direction. Mordread points to Galant his middle and index finger and begins shooting small bullets made of fire, but Galant easily eludes or blocks them. Mordread then stops and raises his arms to the sky and a sphere of blazing fire forms above him. Upon seeing this, Galant fuses his swords and grabs it with his right hand he prepares to attack while he flies towards Mordread.

“CORONA BLAST!!!”

“STARDUST RYUSEI KEN!!!”

Mordread throw the small sun and Galant clashes against it, resulting in a large explosion. However, Galant comes out of the fire and smoke and flies at max speed towards Mordread- However, the Salamander eludes the attack. Galant stops and turns around while Mordread keeps staring at him.

“Enough warming up…Red Demon’s Dragon!”

“Stardust Dragon!”

Both dragons stop fighting and appear behind their master. They mount them and begin fighting again. They fly in circles, behind their adversary. Red Demon’s Dragon prepares an attack from its mouth, seeing this Galant commands the same.

“BLAZING CRIMSON HELL FLARE!”

“SHOOTING SONIC!”

Both dragons unleash from their mouths a violent blast of energy which results in a strong clash, but soon afterwards they stop and clash interlacing their claws. Now close, Galant and Mordread continue to exchange blows at max speed. Red Demon’s bites the left arm of Stardust, damaging Galant on the same place. Stardust quickly responds, biting left shoulder of the red dragon. Galant tries to help his dragon by attacking Mordread’s dragon, but the Player Killer appears and kicks him far from his beast before flying up. Galant doesn’t recover as quickly as always and Mordread deals a hard descending kick right on his stomach, making him plummet down to the ground.

Galant’s blades fall from his grasp after Mordread’s strike. He barely manages to open his wings to make his fall slower, but still has a hard landing. Once on the ground, he raises his sight and sees his blades far in front of him, and the only thing standing on his way was Mordread, who had just landed several meters in front of him. He walks towards him while sheathing his left blade. Galant gets up and moves his right hand to reach Carnwennan.

“Don’t even try.” Mordread says, after stopping at two meters from him. “I’d have put my sword in your head by the moment you unsheathed that blade.”

“Tch…”

Galant hated to admit it, but he was right. Mordread would kill him before he even drew his weapons.

But…what if…

Mordread advances on him to deliver the finishing blow. Instead of running, Galant ignites stardust on his left arm and attacks Mordread at the same time.

“USING YOUR ARM AS WEAPON AGAINST MY BLADE?!?!?! YOUR EFFORT IS FUTILE! YOU CAN’T DEFEAT ME WITH THAT!”

Galant attack clashes against Mordread’s. The attack even makes a deep cut on Galant’s forearm protector, damaging his body.

“OF THAT, I’M SURE!” Galant yells out.

He ignites his right fist with Stardust Ryusei-ken and punches Mordread on the face. By the power of the impact, Mordread drops his sword, and Galant catches it in midair. With his opponent kneeling on the ground, he points the sword right to his neck.

“IMPOSIBLE! How can you do that!?” Mordread yells out.

“I don’t know…It seems I also achieve the condition stated by this blade use it. I can also wield Deathcalibur.”

“Just sheer luck.”

“Yeah. But I’ve still defeated you.”

Mordread points to Galant’s face with his blade. One of his Black Key Knives appears from his sleeve and he points the blade to Galant’s neck.

He gets up while both keep their blades to their necks.

“Not exactly…” Mordread responds with a smile.

“You’re going for both our deaths then…huh?” Galant says.

Seconds afterwards, he looks to the field of battle. The battle could take much more time, yet the clearing had been absolutely destroyed. All the bloodied battles between KoB and the League of Darkness Knights continued with just two deaths for the league. Kirito vs Thanos. Whipper vs Klein. Yakuza vs Jack. Asuna, Kana and Diana vs Sabrac, and many other fights. Even with their superiority on four players, it was a matter of time before the fire of Stardust Dragon disappeared, leaving them vulnerable to the attack of Thanos legions. And if they continued, there was a risk for the real lives of every single KoB member.

Considering all the variables, Galant rolls his eyes and blinks before taking his decision.

“Withdraw your men Mordread. And I’ll remove Deathcalibur from your neck.”

“What…Why…?”

“I want the Knights of the Blood to get out of here. You can help me to do that.”

“I can just order those who aren’t under Hao’s command. Thanos and his army respond to Hao.”

“With your men out of here, we can get outta here.”

“Are you so sure? You’d be failing to your oath of killing me and destroying my guild.”

“Maybe…but I won’t sacrifice others to achieve my goals.”

“…You wrote my name on a coffin. Attempted to kill me on several occasions throughout the last year and months, but you forget about killing me now that you’re so close?”

“I don’t forget about nothing!” Galant says ending his talk. “One day soon, I’ll take your life…”

Mordread smiles.

“You still don’t quite see it, do you?”

“What?”

“You kill me…then what?”

Galant tries to ignore him, even when he knows he’s right.

“The same for me. What’d I do without you?! Just helping my cousin?!” He says the last sentence sarcastically before continuing. “No. No. NO! You’re my other half. You…complete me.”

“We’re nothing like each other. You’re shit that kills for pleasure.”

“You’re saying it like if you haven’t killed anyone. You have! Even when you’d like to say you haven’t. Even when you like to be normal. You’re fighting for KoB, but they just consider you a monster. Just like me.”

“I’m not like you!” Galant says more firmly.

“That’s what you keep telling yourself! But try to be a bit more objectively and you’ll see it. We both possess power beyond common players. I know you’d have that feeling inside you: “I HAVE ENOUGH POWER INSIDE OF ME TO DESTROY EVERYTHING AROUND ME”. I’ve been doing that. And that’s why you hate me. But you envy me as well.”

“Shut up!”

“But just like you Galant, I also envy you. While you were living on that world of light with Sakura and your friends, forgetting about me...I COULDN’T DO ANYTHING BUT HATE YOU!” He extends his hand to Galant. “Come with me, my brother. And I’ll teach you pleasure.”

“Unlike you, I won’t mistake how to use Darkness…”

“You say that. But I can see it in your red eyes. The beast ready to come out. Darkness just waiting to take over…” Mordread says with a smile, before removing his blade from Galant’s neck. “LEAGUE OF DARKNESS KNIGHTS, ENOUGH FIGHTING. WE’RE GOING BACK TO OUR BASE!”

Galant lowers Deathcalibur from his neck, before giving it back to its owner.

Both Dragons fighting on the sky separate and refuse with their Signer.

Mordread sheathes the blade to the right side of his back before taking out another mask, which looked exactly as the one before, and putting it on. They walk forwards and slowly pass next to each other’s right, before continuing on their way.

“I shall make a prediction Galant!” Mordread shouts. Galant turns around and looks at him. “…you will definitely fall to darkness. Just like me. Without fail.”

Galant furrows his brow before his eyes return to normal. He grabs Maximus Caliburn and sees as his archenemy leaves along Sabrac, Yakuza, Whipper, Lyunatix and Kalius. Mordread passes through the fire created by Stardust Dragon, before he makes it disappear.

Automatically the legion of Thanos advances.

“Oh…shit…” Galant says. “Kirito, we have to go now!!!”

He begins to fall back to the opposite side of the swamp.

After a short exchange of attacks, Kirito kicks Thanos off and Sinon nails him with an explosive arrow in the chest. The attack gives Kirito enough time to shout an order.

“FALL BACK!!!”

He begins to rush as so do most of the Knights of the Blood plus Jack and Galant. Meanwhile, some of them who arrived at the top of the tree begin a rain of magical attacks upon the army and remaining members of the Band of the Nine and the upcoming army, forcing them to take cover wherever they can find some.

Klein follows them, but out of nowhere Lyn appears and tackles him. After landing, Klein’s disorient but he manages lay his back on the ground. He then sees Lyn now standing on the ground right before him. She rams her blade to his face, ready to kill at least one of the members of KoB. Klein catches her forearm struggles so that the knife doesn’t pierce through his eye, but still it keeps getting closer and closer. Out of the blue, a blade made of air magic pierces the leg of Lyn, giving enough time to Klein to land two strong punches to her face. Kirito helps his friend out and they run towards the trees. They found Recon there, who was the last KoB member since the rest had already left. Klein then realizes that the one who saved his life was the Sylph kid.

“Where’re the rest, Recon!?” Kirito asks.

“They left along Galant and the Imp. You should follow! I’ll stay a while”

He activates again the spell known as Vacuum Blades, which allows the caster shoots out 5 boomerang-like blades of green light.

“No, Recon, we have to leave! Quickly before they recover.” Kirito says, realizing the troops were getting closer and closer. Thanos had come out of the explosion which just stunned him for a few moments. Now Lyn was the closest, and she was getting up.

“I already said my goodbyes to everyone. Besides you have two more members now, you won’t need me any longer!”

“Recon!”

“This isn’t a request! You focus on winning this war!” He yells out seriously, before they briefly stare.

He attacks again and several boomerangs pierce Lyn. Kirito realizes they were now even closer.

“GO, BEFORE SHE RECOVERS THE FUCKING SENSE!”

“Good luck…” Kirito says.

“Thank you. We’ll make it count. ” Klein says.

Both spread their wings and leave.

Recon actives the spell and stabs Lyn several more times. Now angry, Lyn throws her knives to the ground and draws her khopesh. Recon unleashes his magic again, but no avail. No matter how many blades stabbed her, she just ignored the pain and kept on walking with her wrathful sight on the small kid. Once she’s close, Recon draws his dagger to fight more, but it was useless. With two swift slashes to his body, the Sylph boy falls to the ground, defeated and bloodied. With his mouth full of blood, he talks.

“AT LEAST IT’S NOT A FUCKING LEGIONARY WHO TAKES M-“

Lyn swiftly beheaded him, ending his sentence.

Lyn grabs his head and walks back to Thanos while the rest of his body was left bleeding on the ground.

The army stopped advancing one the knights were out of their reach.

“General, what should we do?” Hikami asks.

“It’s over…” Thanos says angrily. “We’ll now go back to our HQ.”

“But, what of the rebels?”

Thanos gives a death glare to his colonel, forcing him to back off.

Thanos thinks for a while before answering.

“You’ll take care of that matter…Colonel.” Thanos says with a grin.

“Me?!”

“Yes. The rest of us will go back to the HQ. See you there. You better bring me something useful the next time we see each other!”

“As you command…General...” Hikami says reluctantly.

---

Floor 55th, September 25th, 2026

After a long trip back, the Knights of the Blood finally arrive to the beginning of the Redwood Forest. They just needed to walk to the center, where the great Volcano Muspel could be seen, to return to the temple.

They finally take a breath and rest after the hell of a day they’ve been though. They stop, some of them even sit down, but all of them needed to rest for a while. Even Galant and Jack need to rest after the two bloodied and trying battles they’ve been through, but they do it far from the rest of the group. They stare to the sun descending on Aincrad’s sky, decolored into a deep orange which slowly turned lighter the further it was from the sun, until the deep dark blue covered the rest sky. Neither know what they’d do after they left KoB, but they’re sure they’d continue to fight Hao and his legions until they were all defeated or till they died trying it.

Galant looks to the group for a moment, and soon his eyes widen. He sees Asuna smiling right next to Kirito and he felt like he’d just seen the most real Deja-bu of his life. When he sees them together, so lovely, so happy. He remembers his own happiness, with Sakura. He could feel that Kirito and Asuna’s relationship was extremely similar. Everything felt as a dream. A dream he’d lived just four years ago, and he still wondered if he had truly waken up from it or it was just a horrible nightmare that would stop someday.

In that moment, he realized he had certain jealousy for Kirito. He was a great leader and had a great relationship with Asuna. He had two things Galant’d failed to do well.

Kirito looks to him, and soon Galant tries to see other place.

“Galant!” Kirito shouts. “Come here! Please.”

Galant gets up and walks to the circle where the KoB knights are. Jack approaches soon afterwards, placing his back against a nearby tree and crossing his arms.

Galant: “Yeah? What’s up?”

Kirito: “What we all wanted to say here, is thank you.”

Klein: “We wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for you.”

Galant: “You’re overpraising me too much. If it weren’t for Jack, we wouldn’t be here.”

Lamorak: “Thanks to you both guys. We’re in debt.”

Jack nods.

Kana: “What’re you planning to do now?”

Galant: “I guess…I’ll just follow the wind. I’ll keep on fighting against the Legions.”

Klein: “But you’re outnumbered a thousand to just two.”

Lamorak: “Your odds aren’t very good...”

Galant: “You’re not so far from us. How many are in your ranks? Eighty? Ninety? A hundred?”

Kirito: “We’re almost a hundred. But we can be 120, when the legions come.”

Galant: “What do you even mean?”

Jack: “The cities transporting slaves will be heavily armored. You won’t get close to them.”

Kirito: “Well I wasn’t talking about slaves.”

He keeps on staring at Galant.

Galant: “…really? After all we’ve been through, you’re asking me this?!”

Kirito: “Yes. I’m offering you both a place with us.”

All the Knights are moved by Kirito’s comet. Some of them agree, others disapprove.

“Think about it.” Kirito continues. “We’re separate and we’re weak. But together, with a common objective, we’re a fist piercing our enemies with our strength. Some of us count as ten legionaries easily, and so do you and Jack. Together we can make a difference.”

Jack: “He’s right. We have bigger possibilities of winning this war all together.”

Galant: “You may think that Jack, but I haven’t had a good relationship with guilds. Not since my friends died.”

Kirito: “You don’t even have to be a member of our guild, you just have to remain and fight with us.”

Galant doubts for a moment.

“We’ll all die one day. But at least we can choose how. Maybe, if you’re going to die, at least you’d die among brothers.”

Galant: “…Alright…I’ll stay.”

Kana and Diana jump in joy, and run to hug Galant tightly. After a long hug, Galant and Jack proceed to greet their new comrades in the Great Aincrad War, ready to face all the demons that Hao and his men may bring to kill them all and destroy the last hope of freedom in Aincrad.

“Let’s get going. Back to the base!” Kirito shouts.

They continue on their march back to their base.

While they do, Galant places his right hand on his waist and feels something. He moves his coat and sees his Rudis. He takes it from the scabbard. Galant briefly looks at it. He closes his eyes, for a while, before he reopens them with his decision taken.

He clenches his left hand with the Rudis and the wooden sword shatters into millions of splinters that disappear with a soft wind.

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