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« SAO:PoA - Chapter Eight

Sword Art Online: Past of Ashes
Written by: FedeTkd
Published:
Chapter 9

SAO:PoA - Chapter Ten »



7th Floor, February 28th, 2023

Galant woke up. He yawned, and looked to the clock on the table next to his bed. It marked 9:30 o’ clock. He moved his index finger, and looked at his messages. Just one from Heathcliff. He opened it. It said the boss reunion was to be held in Secandance, at 12:00. They would advance on the boss room an hour after the meeting.

Galant nodded at himself, and searched the menu for another option. He put his clothes on. Afterwards, he got up from the bed and stretched his back and fingers. Several of his bones made a cracking sound.

He turned, and looked to Guinevere, who was still sleeping. Covering most of her body with the cloak, leaving just her back naked, as her hair was laid on the rest of the pillow. Galant slowly touched her right arm and moved it slowly to her neck, wiping away her hair. He then kissed her neck before walking to the door and closing it. As he went out, he heard the sound of clashing metal from the forge. It appeared to come from one of his friends at the smithy, but at this hour? He went down to inspect.

The entrance was a small door, and straight to the left inside the kitchen. Inside, Galahad sales shop sat, and to the right, the forge. As he entered, the sound stopped. It was Bors.

“Good morning.”

Bors didn't answer. He continued to hit the raw metal which slowly took shape.

Galant continued to speak.

“Have you been here all night?”

“No. I stayed up late and left Silica sleeping in my room. Slept here, got up not long ago and continued to forge.”

Galant looked to his hand. He was holding Great Mjollnir, Dagonet’s Hammer.

“How's such a thing possible? You're using your brother’s hammer.”

“I don't know. It should've shattered into polygons with him. Ignore why.”

“Could it be that you were brothers?”

He didn't answer, and continued what he was doing. Galant thought for a bit, and figured he shouldn't have chosen that word.

“I apologize. I'll me prepare your breakfast.”

Bors still didn't say anything and kept on forging the metal.

Galant went to the kitchen and put some water from the sink in two cups. Then, he placed it several minutes inside the microwave, and took them out. Microwaves wouldn't be enough in the real world to make a coffee, but Kayaba managed to do so. They were very hot. He took some coffee and poured it into of the cups. He tasted it for a moment, it was great.

He then went back to the smithy. As Bors kept on forging, Galant placed the cups on the table.

“As Dagonet and you like it.”

Bors stopped ramming the hammer and looked seriously at Galant, clenching his fists.

“Your brother wouldn't have wanted this. Far from this.”

Bors used Garuru Fist on his leader, but Galant flipped in the air, avoiding it, and countered with Spinning Air Kick, right to Bors ribs. The big guy fell to the floor and remained there a brief moment.

“Enough. I won't have this.”

Bors cried, looking down to the ground. He was still disappointed and angry with life. Galant got to his knees.

“I understand you're angry and mad. You thirst for vengeance. But Dagonet wouldn't have liked to see you consumed by it. That could destroy you. Yet, you're not alone in that.”

Galant got up, looking to him, as Bors turned his eyes to him.

“You're with us. The Royal Knights, we fight together. Joining our bonds, we have the strength to overcome any situation. Now, get up!”

Galant offered his hand. Bors took it and got up.

“Thank you.”

“Unnecessary, it's what any of us would do for our trusted friends.”

“You're right.”

“Get ready, the boss meeting is at 12:00. Then, we'll fight the boss.”

“I'll continue forging, until I finish this.”

“You'll be ready at the appointed hour?”

“I will. You'll love it when you see what I have forged.”

“Sure I will. In the meantime, I'll go and wake up the rest of the guys, it's already 10:00.”

Galant left to wake up the rest of the Royal Knights. He found Guinevere, going down the stairs and already changed into her battle uniform. Once he saw her, she ran to his arms. They briefly hugged.

“What's that sound?”

“Bors, he is forging. Did you sleep well?”

“Yes. Why didn't you wake me up?”

“Yesterday was a long day. I thought you needed the rest.”

“I'm alright. You don't have to worry, my love.”

“Yet I still do. Besides, you worry about me.”

They smiled at each other while holding their foreheads together. They stayed like that for 30 seconds in silence, until Galant ended it.

“Help me. We have to wake the guild up.”

“Yes.”

They walked upstairs, and once they reached the first floor Guinevere stopped her husband.

“Galant, we need to talk about Silica.”

“What about her?”

“She's too young for the boss battle, and on top of that she's too young to accompanying us. She's also a low level.”

“What you think we should do with her then?’”

“She should go to a lower level. This one is too high for her. She can't fight against the pictons. Neither can she fight against the boss.”

“Hard decision. For her good.”

“You've shown me that if you're a leader, sometimes you have to make hard decisions.”

“We'll see. Once we wake all of them up.”

“I'll wake her up, as Percival, Tristan and Galahad.”

“Ok.”

Galant turned right, as Guinevere left. He opened Gawn’s door. He had already woken up, and was practicing his guitar, playing a very fast theme. He was pretty focused on in. Playing and re-playing the same notes, trying to catch the fastest speed he could.

“You're up!”

“Yeah. Just practicing a bit.”

“You still can't catch that speed?”

“No. I need to be faster. Much faster.”

“You'll manage some way. Of that there's no doubt.”

Gawn smiled as he tried once more.

“We're having breakfast, and don't forget the reunion.”

“I'll be down in a minute. Just let me try some more.”

“Well.”

Galant then opened his eyes as he noticed something missing.

“Where is Elicia?”

Gawn smiled and briefly laughed.

“Where do you think?”

Galant also smiled a brief moment as he noticed Gawn’s thoughts.

“I’ll be down in a moment, brother. Shut the door when you leave.”

Galant closed the door. We went back the corridor, and then turned left, were Lance room was. He knocked the door with his knuckles and waited for a few seconds. As now answer came from the inside, he once more knocked.

“Come in” Lance said from the inside.

Galant opened the door. Lance was lying on the bed, with his arms crossed at the back of his head while he watched the ceiling. He used black pants for sleeping, without wearing a shirt, showing his well trained physique. Elicia was indeed in his room, sleeping on the bed that usually went bellow his.

“Morning. Did I wake you up?”

“No.”

“But I knocked twice.”

“I didn't hear the first one.”

“No problem.”

“We're having breakfast, and a reunion down stairs.”

“On what subject?

“The boss battle and Silica.”

“We'll go as soon as we're ready.”

Galant closed the door. He went downstairs, he found Guinevere on the way.

“I told the others to wake up.”

“Yeah. How is he?”

“Who?”

“Galahad.”

“He's still sad. I'd ignore it if it wasn't for Dagonet, or himself.”

“I would say in both cases.”

“Never have I seen him like that.”

“Neither have I. And I know him for much longer then you.”

“We must stand by him.”

“We always do." He got up. "But we have to take to more urgent matters: breakfast. We'll see to his heart injury later.”

“Yes.”

---

The clock pointed 10:00. Everyone was up and enjoying breakfast. As time passed by, everyone had ended. Galant began the discussion.

Galant: “I woke up most of you because I received a message from Heathcliff. The reunion of the boss battle raid group is held at 12:00, at Secandance, the central city of the 26th floor. An hour later we're going to the boss battle.”

Lance: “What do we know about the boss?”

Galant: “Nothing. Heathcliff didn't tell me.”

Lance: “It’s not a good idea.”

Galant: “We don't have much choice. As The Army went down, we must all put in more effort, so we can continue aiding people, even if we don't know them. Everyone agreed?”

All: “Yeah.”

Gawn: “Galahad. Your opinion on this? You're the strategist.”

Galahad turned his sight from his cup to Gawn, gazing at him seriously, yet inside, he was saddened.

Galahad: “No, I don't have one.”

Gawn: “But…”

Guinevere: “Forget it, Gawn. It doesn't matter.”

Galant: “We may change subject. The other thing I wanted to speak about was you, Silica.”

Silica: “Me?”

Galant: “Yeah. Guinevere and I think you should go to the lower levels.”

Silica: “Please, this is the only place I have.”

Guinevere: “This place is too dangerous. We're doing this for you?”

Galant: “We wish you could stay, but you can't continue to fight here.”

Silica: “So I'm just dead weight to you??!!”

Galant: “No, I meant…”

Bors: “Galant, this isn't the time for this discussion. We'll see to it later. Until then, I'll take care of her.”

Galant: “Alright. But, she isn't coming to the boss battle. Everybody should get ready, we're leaving in an hour.”

Everybody left for their rooms. Galant and Guinevere remained in the dining room.

“I wasn't right. I was too rude with her...”

“You weren’t the only one. I also misstepped with my words.”

“I'll go to Bors’ room. I have to offer a proper apology.”

“I'll go with you.”

“No. Prepare for the boss battle. I'll do it in your name as well.”

“Alright.”

Galant went up to Bors’ room. He knocked on the door, but there was no reply. He entered. Silica was on Dagonets’ bed, with her fist slammed into the pillow, crying. Galant sat on the bed, and touched her back. She slowly turned, and once she saw it was Galant she turned back around once more.

“I'm just here for words, Silica.”

The girl turned and looked at Galant.

“Ok.”

“My apologies. I didn't exactly mean what I spoke. I didn't mean to separate you from us. I wanted you to be safe.”

“I'll be safe with you.”

“When we're going you won't be safe. Your level is too low.”

“I still want to remain with you. It's the only place I feel safe.”

“Knowing that it will cost us deep sacrifices, and will possibly end in your death.”

“As long as I'm with you and all the Royal Knights, I'll embrace it.”

“Everyone's free to choose thier fate. I believe on that. Ok, little girl.”

The little dragon tamer hugged Galant strongly. He put one hand on her head and moved it a bit.

“Yet, you're not coming to the boss battle.”

“Ok.”

Galant left the room and went to his room, preparing for the battle.

---

Everybody gathered at Camelot’s entrance.

Percival: “Where's Bors?”

Bors: “Sorry for arriving late.”

Bors was wearing brand new armor on his chest, a similar one to the one his brother carried, and forearm protectors. Upon his back, he wasn't just wearing his own hammer, but also his brother's hammer.

Galant: “You were forging that thing in the morning.”

Bors: “Yep.”

Galant: “You honor your brother well. Wear it well in this battle.”

Lance: “Galahad, do you have the potions and crystals?”

Galahad: “Yes.”

Disappointment remained in Galahad's face.

Gawn: “Give one to each of us. We'll need them.”

Galahad gave one crystal and potion to each member of the guild, being left with the rest.

Guinevere: “How many more do we have?”

Galahad: “Five of each.”

Galant: “Ok. Is everybody ready?”

All: “Yeah.”

Silica: ”Guys…”

The little girl approached, going doing the stairs towards us.

Bors: “Don't worry. We'll be back.”

Silica: “Those were the same words sir Dagonet told me.”

Galant: “Trust us, we will. We'll see the boss defeated together."

Galant: “Let’s go then!”

The door opened, and they started running to the teleport gate. They arrived quickly.

All: “Teleport, Secandance!”

A flash of light surrounded the nine players while they went to the frontlines. In a matter of seconds, they were at the agreed location. Looking around, lots of players had gathered for the reunion. Among them, Divine Dragon Alliance, and several other smaller guilds, and even solo players.

Lance: “Unexpected.”

Gawn: “Heathcliff seems to have done a good job.”

Percival: “Definitely better than The Army.”

Elicia: “There!”

They all looked in the direction she pointed. There was Heathcliff, Kuradeel and the girl form the reunion.

Percival: `Who are they?”

Galant: “Members of KoB. We met them yesterday.”

Galant: “He already knows we´re here. Be easy.”

The Living Legend moved his sight a bit, as he saw Galant. He turned to the front once more and smiled.

The girl got up from her chair and spoke.

“Hello everyone”, she spoke. “I'm Asuna, sub-commander of the guild, Knights of Blood, and the one that shall open this reunion.”

Whispers were heard among the participants of the reunions. Heathcliff was the one to be expected to speak. Why was this so? Why would he put her at the head of the group?

Percival: “Why would she speak?”

Galant: “I don´t know. But Heathcliff is the mastermind behind all of this, he must be planning something...”

Galant's sight turned to six players, a mere ten meters to his right. All of them wore hoods. Just one of them held none, but his armor had similarities with the one from the army. What was he doing here?

Asuna: “Enough!”

Galant turned to her, as everybody got silent in a second. If there was one thing this girl had, it was attitude.

Asuna: “If you don't agree with this, feel free to leave this place.”

Everybody looked each other in the face. But no one leave

“Perfect then. I'll procede to tell you what we know about the boss: Theokeler. Nothing but the name is known; the player sacrificed himself to bring us this information. As much more did in the last months. To clear this game, we shall proceed to make sure their sacrifices were not on vain. Everybody agreed?!”

Galant: “Obviously, that's why he did it?”

Lance: “What's your meaning?”

Galant: “Heathcliff wasn't at the head of the reunion because he didn't wish it. Because he knows this girl would inspire male players. She gathers everybody’s hopes and wishes, helped by the fact that she's very beautiful. She shall be a good leader. Let's pray, she can be that upon the field of battle.”

Asuna: “Then let’s go to battle.”

---

The doors opened. A group of 50 high level players had gathered in front of it. As they all entered, they stopped at half of the room. A large giant stood up. Shape of a white tiger, with long hair on the back of his head and multiple scars on its body. It had four big, strong arms, each of them holding a large stone sword.

As it appeared it rushed towards the players.

Asuna: “Divide!”

The players parted as the huge beast rammed the sword into the ground, yet fortunately no one fell to it.

Asuna: “Surround it!”

The player circled, surrounding the monster.

Several other players jumped to the monster. But to no avail. The skin of the monster was incredibly strong. He slammed them with the swords, deleting two of them in an instant

Galant: “We need to get rid of those weapons! Lance, Gawn, Percival, go. Tristan, cover them!”

Lance slashed with Ryuurin at the monster's arm, but nothing he could do against it, its skill was too strong. The monster would have killed Lance, if an explosive arrow had not struck his arm, which caused an explosion. Just dust could be seen as the Monster roared one more. There was a big part of his arm missing.

“Yeah! Asuna! Cover Tristan with his explosive arrows, the rest shall attack the monster.”

Asuna: “Alright!”

Heathcliff appeared, covering Tristan with his large shield. The monster rammed its sword into him, yet his great shield protected him from the strike, he didn't move a single millimeter.

Lance: "Gawn, Bors, attack!”

Gawn threw his tomahawk to the monster damaged arm, stucking it.

Gawn: “Bors, I'll need some cover for the next one.”

Bors: “Done!”

Bors slammed his two hammers to the ground with Thunder Pile, a huge crake opening towards the monster, leaving him in a bad footing. Gawn threw his second tomahawk at the monsters arms, cutting it.

The monster roared with wrath, as he jumped at the entire formation, spinning on the ground and standing once more.

It then strongly stepped on the ground, some boulders came from it and hit them, and the giant started throwing giant rocks to the players.

Galant: “The hell is this?!”

He used Crescent Stardust Slasher, dividing a rock in two.

Galant: “Tristan, we'll cut the rocks in two! Try to hit his arm once again.”

Tristan: “I need a moment for the monster to stand still, and then I'll take another of his arms off.”

Heathcliff: “I'll provide cover, go!”

Lance divided another rock in half.

Lance: “I'll help to keep it still! Galahad, Elicia, Percival, Bors: with me!”

Asuna: “Fuurinkazan! Aid the Royal Knights!”

Six players rushed to keep the monster still for a brief moment. They continued their attack on the monster, which could do little after being surrounded by such a high quantity of players. It continued to roar and attacked the players. Tristan shot his arrow right to its lower right arm, which left it seriously damaged.

Lance jumped and sliced through it with a single slash. The monster jumped at the players once again. Suddenly, all what was left of its lower damaged arms shattered, and its swords shone brightly and grew larger.

It roared at the players as they went to attack it. Yet this time with every thrust of the sword it sent players flying into the air. Galahad attacked the monster but was thrown away, leaving his HP at red.

Percival: “Galahad!”

Lance: “Watch out!”

Percival was brutally hit by the monster once more. Lance avoided one of his strikes and slashed the monster leg as Elicia followed him and did the same. They rapidly disengaged afterwards.

“Damnit, his skin is too strong.”

Elicia: “No, look at his leg!”

Elicia pointed at a small scratch on the monsters leg, the same place they attacked with Lance.

“Focus your attack on that one spot, his chest.”

Asuna: “Go!”

The girl rapidly attacked the monster chest with quick blows. As the monster tried to ram its sword into her, Kuradeel stopped it with his own, but was slashed and thrown several meters away. Asuna fell back, while Bors rapidly attacked the monster with Gawn, delivering more strikes to the monster.

Tristan once again shot the monster right in the chest as the wound was made even bigger. It then kicked Heathcliff and thus sending Tristan with him.

It once gain threw huge boulders, sending even more player flying. Galant slashed the rock in two, and blocked some small fragments.

He rushed to attack them monster alone while his sword turned read crimson and slashed the monster once more with Crescent Stardust Slasher, leaving the monster at less than half of his last bar of HP. The monster then rushed to Galant, ramming one of his swords into him. Galant avoided it but the strength of the monster was overwhelming. Suddenly the five hooded players appeared.

One of them blocked the boss with his own sword as others attacked it, holding Theokeler for a moment.

“Get up Galant, we must finish this.”

The player helped Galant to get up.

“We shall attack him together.”

“Ok.”

Galant and the hooded player rushed to the monster.

“Attack!”

“Crescent Stardust Slasher.”

Galant slashed the monster right from its left shoulder to the lower belly, making the wound bigger.

The hooded player pierced the body of Theokeler, as it dissolved into polygons. A victory cry was heard in the boss room as they all cheered at the victory and the defeater of the monster. Galant ran to his friends.

Galant: “Is everyone alright?”

Guinivere: “Fortunately yes, the most damaged are Galahad Percival and Tristan, the rests' remaining HP didn't even dropped down to yellow.”

Heathcliff: “Good battle.”

Galant: “Thanks. Same can be said about you and Asuna commanding the players. But that goes not just for me, but for him aswell, the slayer of Theokeler.”

“I wouldn't have defeated the monster if it weren't for you.”

Galant: “So I say. By the way, what guild are you? How do you know my name?”

“Everybody knows about Galant, the commander of the Royal Knights.”

Galant: “We've never met before.”

“Not exactly.”

“...Who are you?”

The hooded player revealed his face. Long orange beard with matching long hair, a sort of crown on his forehead and red eyes.

Galant: “CERDIC!”

Cerdic: “So we finally meet, Galant.”

Bors and Elicia rushed to him to attack him for what he had done. As Elicia rammed her katana, he blocked it and kicked the girl in the chest. Bors attacked him with his hammers, but he avoided both of them and slashed Bors in the chest, kicking him to the ground next to Elicia.

Lance got near them two, holding Elicia’s head.

Lance: “You coward!”

Cerdic: “They attacked me, I just countered. They've got much to learn.”

Galant points Balmung at him.

Galant: “Let's finish this coward: me against you! For what you did to those innocent humans at the mountain!”

Cerdic: “What I expected.”

Galant: “One on one duel to the death.”

Guinevere: “NO!”

Galant: “No one will interfere.”

Cerdic: “Alright, I'll give you a minute to say your last goodbye to your friends.”

Galant got near his friends.

Galahad: “What are you thinking?!”

Galant: “Avenging Dagonet.”

Bors: “That's mine to take.”

Elicia: “And mine.”

Galant: “He's too powerful for you, as you've seen”

Galahad: “And he's too powerful, even for you. Galant, don't do this.”

Galant: “Don't worry.”

Guinevere: “Galant I…”

Galant: “It's okay. Kill the Boss. Remember?”

Galant touched the purple ribbon on her head, as they briefly shared a kiss.

Guinevere: “Kill Cerdic.”

Galant: “I will.”

Lance offered his hand.

Lance: “Good luck, brother.”

Galant grabbed his hand shook it.

Cerdic: “Enough, time to battle.”

Galant: “As you wish.”

The players got in a circular position, surrounding the duelists.

Cerdic: “Are you sure those words were enough?”

Galant: “They were. Before we start, I want to ask you one question: what did you do to your picton army?”

Cerdic: “Isn't it obvious? We killed them all.”

Galant: “You truly are a monster. Now prepare yourself.”

Galant grabbed his sword and shield, as Cerdic equipped a new boss drop, an axe.

They briefly looked at each other. A Galant rushed to him, ready for battle. He jumped to the back of Cerdic, slashing downwards. Cerdic parried it with the handle of his axe. Galant began and all-out assault against Cerdic with all his strength and power. Galant then pushed Cerdic to the ground with his shield, but he spins on the ground and is once again on his feet.

Cerdic laughed. Galant attacked once more, but his attacks were blocked and he was fisted in the face. Galant regained himself and once again began his assault, but the boss continued to laugh at him. Galant used Stardust Slasher several times but it was blocked. He then received a kick on the leg and was thrown to the ground.

Cerdic: “I expected much more from you.”

Galant go up once more and used Crescent Stardust Slasher against him. But to no avail. Cerdic easily avoided the move. He finally got to Galant’s back and pushed him to the ground once more.

Cerdic looked at the players with a creepy look, and thirsted for blood.

“Shall I begin?”

He rushed to Galant who had just got up from the floor, and attack him constantly with the axe. Galant could do little against him. He was slashed on the leg by the blade, and was then thrown om the ground as Cerdic once again tried to ram his weapon in him. Galant narrowly managed to avoid it and got up, but was once more rudely attack by the King of Monsters and was thrown to the ground once more and was kicked in the face. Blood splattered through his mouth.

Cerdic once again looked to the Royal Knights. Guinevere trembled in fear. The rest of them looked serious towards the monster. Galant once again got up, but Cerdic grabbed his axe from the blade and slammed his lower jaw with it, sending him through the air, as both his shield and sword slipped from his hands, and Galant slammed into the ground again.

He got up, as he had done time and time again

Galant: “We aren't done yet.”

Cerdic: “Without weapons, you expect to defeat me still.”

Galant: “I WON'T GIVE UP!”

Cerdic rammed his axe into him, but Galant took out two kunai and blocked the blow. There was a power struggle, Galant easily began to fade, as he was on the ground for the last time.

Cerdic got near him.

Cerdic: “Now you die, human.”

He grabbed the axe with his two ands and looked to Galant, who could but see the axe and the face of his defeater. Cerdic got up the axe and began to ram it down. Galant closed his eyes.

Guinevere: “NO!”

Galant heard a sound. He looked to his left. There was Galahad, with a huge slash through his chest.

Galant: “NO!”

Galahad: “I’m finally useful for something brother. Bye.”

Galahad shattered into polygons.

Cerdic: “It seems your friend still saw something in you.”

Galant: “COWARD! You'll pay for this!”

Cerdic: “Not today.”

Cerdic once again rammed his axe to him. But was thrown away by Heathcliff.

Heathcliff: “You shall not kill anybody else today Cerdic.”

Cerdic: “Let's see what you're capable of, Living Legend!”

Heathcliff’s shield and Cerdic’s axe clashed, sending them both into the air.

Cerdic: “Enough of this! Galant, some day we'll finish this.”

Galant: “Pray that it never comes, coward!”

Cerdic and his guild left running through the entrance of the next level.

Guinevere: “Are you alright?”

Galant: “I'm, the same can't be said of Galahad.”

Galant drank his healing potion.

Percival: “Why would he do that?”

Guinevere: “He was disappointed with himself. He blamed himself as cause of us being trapped here due to his father. He sought to repay to us, that's why he saved his life. To repay a debt that never existed.”

Galant:” It was my fault, I shouldn't have been so impulsive. I'm your leader...something so obvious to ones with a clear mind...”

Guinevere: “Don't say such things. He did what we didn't manage to do.”

Galant: “He should've left me to my death.”

Bors: “The past can't be altered. We can but learn from it, brother.”

Heathcliff: “He's a very powerful enemy.”

Galant: “I owe you my life now Heathcliff.”

Heathcliff: “Forget about it.”

Galant nods.

Gawn: “It was stupid to face him.”

Galant: “Yet now we know his power level. Much above all of us.”

Lance: “They shall pay in blood still. Gather arms!”

Galant: “No! We'll level up. To fight him some day.”

Lance: “WE CAN'T LEAVE HIM LIKE THIS WHILE THE OTHERS DIE IN HIS WAKE, GALANT!”

Galant: “I've made my decision!”

Galant got up.

“We must stand as one. Or fall, divided. Any player deciding to fight Cerdic shall be welcome into our ranks. We'll see our numbers grow. And when they've become a legion, we'll face Cerdic and the hordes of monsters again. And Aincrad itself shall shake as they suffer."

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