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« SAO:PoA - Chapter Seven

Sword Art Online: Past of Ashes
Written by: FedeTkd
Published:
Chapter 8

SAO:PoA - Chapter Nine »



Floor 26, February 27th, 2023

A long caravan of players arrived at the city of Londanium. Around forty players, and within the caravan eight sad players rode. Kibaou was one of the first to spot them. Once they arrived, he greeted them as one of the first.

He directed himself to Thinker.

Kibaou: “Truely, a glorious day for all. Even with all the difficulties you managed tomake your way down here, Thinker, Yuriel.”

Silica entered, only to run off desperately to the stables.

“No, come here girl!”

He chased her a few steps but Galahad unsheathed Galatine, placing the blade in his neck. The soldier stopped. The girl continued her way, utlimately crashing into Galant's arms.

Silica: “Sir Dagonet?”

Galant nodded, looking to the ground. She saw Bors with Dagonet’s war hammer in his hands. A tear fell from the girl's right cheek, falling to her knees and crying. Guinevere lowered herself, and tried to comfort her.

Kibaou: “Our Royal Knights. You're now free to go! Let's sign the end of the contract.”

A soldier of the army approached, with the contract. Kibaou signed it.

The eight knights looked at him, enraged, furious at the men who had sent Dagonet and several other players to their doom. Nothing but rage could be felt in the atmosphere. Galant approached Kibaou, directly looking at him. He turned to the soldier, took the pen and signed, finishing their alliance forever. He turned to Kiboau once more.

Galant: “Commander, Kibaou.”

Galant punched him in the stomach, leaving him without breath and upon the dirt of the stables' floor.

“Farewell forever.”

The leader took his leave after shaking hands with Thinker and Yuriel.

Guinevere, Silica, Gawn, Percival , Galahad, Elicia and Tristan followed him. Bors was stuck in place, refusing to move. Lance got near him.

Lance: “Bors.”

He continued to look to the now standing Kibaou.

“BORS!”

He turned his sight to his friend.

“This is thanks to Dagonet.”

“The contract does not offer him freedom. HE'S ALREADY FREE. HE'S DEAD!!!”

Bors and Lance followed them.

Thinker: “Can we follow you?”

Lance: “If you must...”

They continued to walk, following their friends to the teleport plaza.

Kibaou: “Are you seriously following that piece of shit!?”

Thinker: “BE CAREFULL WITH YOUR WORDS! I owe my life to the man. The least I can do is pay my respect at the funeral of his friend. Also, I want a good punishment for Tetsu, he threatened a player's life.”

Kibaou: “He'll have it, leader.”

Thinker: “Let’s go Yuriel.”

Kibaou watched as his two leaders followed his ex-allies. He raged, spat on the ground and went inside their base.

The Royal Knights and company teleported the 7th floor. After a bit of walking, they arrived at their own base, the castle of Camelot. Behind it, there was a garden, on the left side near a large rose bush. There was a stone tablet in diagonal position with a fire on top of it. They all gathered around it.

Percival: “I begged we'd ever have to use this.”

Gawn: “As did we all.”

Tristan came from the castle, and handed over a small hammer and a chisel.

Tristan: “Bors, it's your duty isn’t it?”

Bors washed his tears away with his left hand.

Bors: “Yeah.”

He grabbed the tools, and started writing lines, forming letters with it. In five minutes time, he had completed his work. The stone now read: DAGONET. He got up.

Galant: “You should say some words now, in honor of your brother.”

Bors: “I don’t have any. You're the one who's good with speeches, Galant.”

Galant nodded.

Galant: “For a good speech, your feelings have to be true, in your heart and soul. In this moment, you're the one with the purest heart of us all”

Bors sighed, and while trying to held tears he spoke aloud.

Bors: “First of all, I thank you all for coming here, even if you didn’t knew Dagonet that good. He was my elder brother, and the best and only I had. He was reckless, impulsive, hot headed... We all knew that much about him. Yet with a pure heart, he sacrificed himself for our sakes, as he did today. He had a girlfriend in the real world, named Mira. Yesterday, the last we spoke was about her, he just begged she could be waiting for him. I don't know, yet I hope so. For the one that gets out of this cursed game, please tell here. That’s my reason for speaking right now, to achieve that goal. In his honor, let us end this day with a feast, and carry his soul as it arrives in the afterlife, were we shall join him one day.”

He turned to his tomb.

Bors: “RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUS!”

All: “RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUS!”

---

Thirty pictons arrived at the principal camp of Cerdic. Cynric walked, accompanied by Hagen and the traitor Velron.

The King of monsters lied on the ground near a small fire, outside his tent, accompanied by Boewold and Thollbrand. His son got next to him, and fell to his knees.

“King, I've failed you.”

“I told you, you must be patient with the enemy.”

He got back up. He looked at the rest of the infantry for a brief moment before turning back to his son once again.

“You recklessness and incompetence has costed me 70 of my men.”

Cynric took out his knife, placing the blade on the lower part of his jaw, ready to cut himself.

“I offer you my life, for my disgrace.”

Cerdic grabbed his arm, and took his knife away

“NO. No, my son.”

Then he placed his left arm over the back of his son’s neck.

“Thank you father.”

Cerdic then grabbed his neck strongly with his arm. Leaving his son without movement. He placed the knife of his left cheek, near to his eye, and slowly slashed downwards until the beginning of his mouth, without a single scream in pain from his son. He threw the knife away and laid on the grass on the same position he was.

“Boewolt, you're now my second in command.”

Cyric opened his eyes with a mad look to his king.

“Yes, you're a true son.”

Cynric got up, keeping the same look fixed on his father, who remained indifferent towards him. He grabbed his knife, and stabbed backwards at a Picton, slicing through its belly and releasing his anger upon it, taking his leave afterwards.

Cerdic laughed for a brief moment.

“Cynric’s monsters have proven unworthy, Boewolt. It's time to change strategy. We'll reach higher levels with this, and soon we shall face the Royal Knights once more.”

---

A long table was set in the kitchen of Camelot, as Guinevere and Gawn prepared the food. The rest of the guest were seated and chatting away at each other. Galant and Lance sat at the head of the table as the rest of them remained at the sides of it. Suddenly, Gawn accompanied by Guinivere, arrived with a silver tray, with a pan on it. He placed it in the center of the table, and took the cover away. It was stew.

After they served drinks to everyone, Galant got up from his chair.

Galant: “As Bors said, thank you all for coming here. This is for Dagonet, our friend. Let him rest him in peace, as we honor him.”

They all clashed cups together, and shared a toast as they feasted upon the wonderful meal. The food was quickly devoured, as Guinevere and Gawn proved that together they were great chefs.

Yuriel: “The food was great.”

Guinivere: “Thank you.”

Thinker: “Also, you received us in your home after all.”

Lance: “Take it as payment for gratitude. You two were the only members of ALC we had a good relation with.”

Thinker: “What's your plan for continuing?”

Galant: “We're done with guild alliances. We'll go forward, at our own means.”

Gawn: “For now, we'll participate in the next boss battle.”

Thinker: “Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. The Knights of the Blood Oath prove to be a powerful guild, they shall certainly lead the players in the next levels.”

Percival: “Do you know any of them?”

Thinker: “In person, no. Just rumors.”

Galant: “That's not trustworthy. We shall see.”

He drank from his glass

“Besides it, there is something that we must do: kill Cerdic. After Dagonet, we vowed to take vengeance on it someday.”

Thinker: “Are you mad?! He has an army! You're just eight!”

Silica: “Nine!”

Elicia: “Ten.”

Yuriel: “Elicia, why would you…”

Elicia: “They killed my entire guild. My friends are gone from this world because of him. I was used as living bait. We've got a common purpose; I have my reasons to join.”

Galant: “Much needed aid, well received.”

Thinker “You're roughly outnumbered and outmatched. What will you do?”

Galant: “When there is a will, there is a way...”

Thinker: “You can't just wage war with that belief.”

Galant: “ It's not your decision to take Thinker. As much as I apreciate your concer, as of now, we're a different guild. Our decisions aren't your concern any more.”

A brief silence filled the air. Suddenly, the door was knocked.

Gawn: “Who might that be?”

Lance: “No idea. It’s already 10pm, too late for visits.”

Galant: “Percival, Gawn, check the door. The rest, get ready for an ugly situation.”

Gawn: “Okey.”

Gawn and Percival went to the door, and opened it. A mid-twenties year man, with two long locks fell down the sides of his head, just in front his ears. A silver armor covered most of his body, with white and red as colors, and a two handed sword sheath on his belt. He had a strange look upon face, a very serious gaze.

Gawn: “Welcome to Camelot, you are...?”

“I'm not authorized to tell you. I'm looking for Galant, your leader.”

Percival: “If you wish to speak with him, give us your sword.”

“I won't.”

Gawn: “Then you won't have your talk. Leave, now.”

“I shan't leave until I have words with him.”

Gawn: “Leave!”

“I won't!”

He prepared to hit Gawn.

An arrow flew past his his face and stuck on the door. Tristan loaded another while the Royal Knights gathered in front of the man.

Galant: “If you wish to speak, you better be polite to my men! And don't even dare to hit them, or you'll fall where you stand.”

The man lowered his hand angrily.

Galant: “Who're you? What's your purpose here?”

“My name is Kuradeel, member of the sacred Knights of the Blood Oath.

All were surprised by the fact.

Kuradeel: “I come bearing a message from my leader, Heathcliff. Leader of the Knights of the Blood Oath.”

Lance: “Which would be...?”

Kuradeel: “He has heard about your guild's achievements. What you have done. And the battle you had with Cerdic. He wants to arrange a meeting on the hills to the north, outside of this city, in just an hour. Four of your men may accompany you, Heathcliff will hold the same amount.”

Guinevere: “To discuss what matters, may I ask?”

“I ignore them.”

Galant: “I'll consider your terms, yet if your leader proves to be as you, he'll have no more of me.”

Kuradeel: “I'll take my leave now. We'll wait for you on the agreed location.”

He took his leave.

Thinker: “I don't know what you intend Galant, but I hope for it to be a proper path.”

Galant: “I always do the same.”

Thinker : “We'll take our own leave now. Apologies for the discussion.”

Galant: “Not necessary. You were caring about my friends. That itself is a good gesture. One that none of your comrades had.”

Thinker: “Good luck, you'll need it.”

Thinker and Yuriel left for the teleport plaza.

Lance: “You're certain about this meeting? He threatened our own men in our own home.”

Galant: “They're the ones that arranged a meeting about the next boss raid team. I want meet the man behind this, personally.”

Lance: “Well. Then if just four can be seen with you, I'm coming with you.”

Galant: “Thank you brother.”

Gawn: “As would I.”

Guinivere: “And myself aswell.”

Galahad: “Who shall be the fourth?”

Elicia: “I want to go.”

Galant: “Alright. But you should have told us before your reasons earlier Elicia.”

Elicia: “I didn't wish to reveal my past, without knowing who you really were.”

Galant: “And what has changed?”

Elicia: “We have common purpose; I have my reasons to join. And…”

She hesitated for a brief moment looking down as her eyes teared, holding her right arm to her chest and blushing.

Galant: “And?”

Lance: “She has proven trustyworthy Galant!” Lance adds.

Galant: “Alright. She's your responsibility. If her tale results false, I would see proper punishment.”

Guinivere: “We should gather our things, and get ready. We still have 45 minutes.”

Galant: “In 30 minutes we're leaving. Prepare for the worst.”

---

The moon was at its highest peak. In the hills, there was a muscular, tall, and physically strong man, looking down at the horizon. With a cool demeanor, light grey hair, and with a long lock coming in front of his face and another from the back of his head. He was uniformed with a red, black and white heavy armor and a cape on his back. He also carried upon his back a T-like shield, with his sword sheathed in it.

He was accompanied by four more, all of them dressed with the same colors. One of the players carried a large axe another was Kuradeel, the other was a young male player. The last one was a girl, nearly 15 years, orange-brownish chestnut hair and hazel eyes. She appeared very beautiful, but nervous as she held her rapier upon her waist tightly, and tapped it rapidly.

“We're to exposed, commander.” She spoke.

“Quiet. The'll come.” The tall man spoke.

“The hour has passed. They're late. Why're you so sure they'll come?!”

“Because it's what I would do.”

Some minutes passed. When the fifth was about to start, five figures appeared from the dark forest, some of them holding weapons in hand.

The tall man smiled, while still looking to the horizon, the opposite direction from which the players had arrived.

“Have you ever witnessed such a thing? Such a marvelous universe that's crafted by human hands? Something that can be equally beautiful as deadly.”

“Why did you call me here, Heathcliff?”

“Same reason you came: Curiosity.”

He turned to Galant. The two leaders briefly gazed at each other. Galant felt shivers. He didn't knew what was it. But it was something about Heathcliff. Some something strange about him. He wasn't like the other players he had seen before. Without knowing what it was, it gave chills on his back.

“And has it been satisfied?”

“We've fought against many things in the last four months, suffering wound after wound. Yet we still continue. I want have more words, with a potential ally.”

Galant: “There's nothing that would make a difference. My mind is made up already.”

“Perhaps...”

He moved his left hand to his back, taking out his sword and shield an unsheathing them. All the Royal Knights drew weapons (except Galant) as the KoB members did the same.

“Yet I would still have them, regardless.”

He sheathed back his sword on the shield one again, and gave it to Kuradeel, who placed them on his back.

Galant unsheathed Balmung Blade and his shield. He took a brief look to its steel, and sheathed it on his shield, giving them to Lance.

Lance, surprised by his friend's move, stored them away. Galant nodded at him. Lance grabbed his shield with bad attitude.

Heathcliff: “Leave us.”

The young girl looked at him with Lance's same look.

“Commander…”

“Fall to command!”

She looked at them for a brief moment, and left with the other three men, as Galant also commanded his men to do the same. In a matter of seconds, the two leaders were alone, face to face. Heathcliff turned to the horizon once again, as Galant approached him on his left. The leader of KoB started the conversation.

“It's a known thing isn't it? Your guild can't possibly clear this game all alone.”

“I'll share that sentiment, though everytime we have proven the impossible to be possible.”

“I have heard much about the tales surrouding you. Tales about fights, blood and death. Your friends among them.”

“The rumours arrived rapidly to your ears.”

“I'm sorry.”

“Dagonet died as a hero, saving all of our lives. I wouldn't be here if not for him. Even I'm thoughtful towards his death, I seek to balm it, with vengeance.”

“How you can manage such a thing?”

“When there's a will, there is a way.”

“And now you'll again lead all your friends to join you in your useless attempt, while instead you could join a more powerful guild?”

“Whatever happens to us, it happens because we choose it. We decide our own fate: not you. Not any guild. Not even God, if he exists.”

“You chose but the time and place of your journey’s end.”

“Better to die at the hands of our own choices, rather than from others.”

“And will it balm your wound? If you perform a miracle, and defeat Cerdic and his hordes, you'll be satisfied, that you brought those who have injured you to justice?”

“There's no justice. Not in this world.”

“Finally, a thing we can agree upon.”

Heathcliff lifted his right hand, holding it open. Galant took a look at the so called Living Legend, standing right in front of him. He did the same as they shared a hand shake, showing that even when their thought differed, they still respected one another.

“Tomorrow we'll have a reunion on Secandanse, the 26th floor for the boss raid team, which will also be tomorrow.”

“We shall be there.”

Galant and Heathcliff began to part ways, yet few steps away, the leader of the Royal Knights stopped.

“Heathcliff…”

The leader of KoB also stopped and turned back.

“…someday, we shall see who of us two is the strongest.”

“Someday, but not yet.”

They both continued, until they could not see one another. Lance and the others noticed their leader coming.

Lance: “What happened?”

Galant: “We spoke about a possible guild alliance, to fight Cerdic.”

Lance: “You agreed?!”

Galant: “No, I didn't. The boss raid team is assembling tomorrow, on Secandanse.”

Gawn: “What do you think of him?”

Galant: “He's unlike any player I have seen before. I don't know what it is, neither if it's good or bad, yet I feel it.”

Guinevere: “What shall we do then?”

Galant: “We're going to the meeting, and some day, we'll face Cerdic again, and return the bitter favour.”

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