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« SAO:PoA - Chapter Sixteen

Sword Art Online: Past of Ashes
Written by: FedeTkd
Published:
Chapter 17

SAO:PoA - Chapter Eighteen »



Part 1

Floor 49, December 23rd, 2023

Galant wakes up and the first thing he sees is Guinevere just in front of him, sleeping as he was his left was slung aross her body, holding her close. She had her two hands together, as if she was praying. Galant noticed that on her long golden hair it was not the purple ribbon he gave tp her. It was between her hands.

Galant sees there the light blue light coming from the small window on one of the walls of the room, coloring the room of skyblue as well. He checks the hour on his menu: 19:00. The sun had already disappeared from the sky. It was one cold night

Galant removes his hand and gets off the bed slowly as he could, to avoid waking up her. He begins thinking about what he had done to his girlfriend, considering offering an apology for what he done, or better said, he decides give it. Shouting on her for being upset isn't excuse at all. And after what he did, she hugged him few hours ago for Lance loss, and his grief and guilty after Elicia’s death. Still, he had almost kissed Diana, in an act born of despair. 

He sits on the edge of the bed, thinking what he'd say to her. There's no girl and there'll never be such as Huinevere in Aincrad. He considers himself fortunate, to have her. If there was something he had to always tell her: was the truth. Even if so that would cause them to separate, he couldn't lie to her. He gets up and looks out from the window. It's snowing and it was really cold, even inside the room. Soon it would be Christmas, meaning he had to buy presents: what should he buy her? Perhaps giving her a present with an apology? No it was too stupid. If he wants to plead for her forgiveness, he'd do it soon.

He moves his right hand's index finger again to open menu to check his Col. He had aproximatly 3.500.000 col pretty high. He hadn't used money for a long while, since the beginning of the War. The Army was financially supported by most of players. A small tax to all player paid with the purpouse to defeat Cerdic and his army.

To clear his head, and think better he decides to go for a walk in the city. In the meantime even think about presents. He walks to the chair where he left his gear and puts it back on. But Balmung accidentally slips from his fingers, falling to the wooden floor and making a loud sound which wakes up Guinevere.

“What's happening…!?”

“Uh, sorry. My bad. My sword just slipped from my hands. I didn't want to wake you up.”

He attaches the sheath alongside his shoulder pad armor to his body.

“It’s okay. What's the time?”

“It must be 19:10. I checked minutes ago.”

“Where're you going? It seems to be freezing out there.”

She crosses her hands and moves them across her arms, trying to warm herself up. After this, she places the ribbon in the proper place.

“I just need a moment. I'll be okay; the cold doesn't bother me.”

Galant walked to the door and almost to open the door when he stopped.

“Hey. Thank you...”

“For the hug?”

“You gave me what I most needed in the worst moment. Even after what I've done to you I...”

Guinevere comes even nearer to Galant looking directly to his eyes. She hugs him, plcing her head on his chest.

“Doesn't matter. I love you. You'd do the same for me.”

Galant can't resist the pain of not telling her the truth. He closes his fist with anger towards himself.

“There's something that I must tell you...”

“What is it?” She says walking a step back to look at him again.

“About something I did. I…”

Someone knocked the door.

“Who's it?”

“Gawn. Galant good news, Klein and Fuurinkazan have just arrived.”

“Great! I'll see them.”

“I'll be down, waiting for you.”

Sounds of steps as Gawn left the corridor.

“We should go too.”

“Not yet. I wanted to tell you…”

Guinevere places her index finger on his mouth, making him stop talking.

“It can wait,for now.”

“Alright...”

They get out of the room and walk down the stairs- Gawn's waiting for them there. They rapidly get out the HQ of KoB and go directly to the West Entrance of the city. When they're arriving, Galant see Klein and runs towards him.

“You live!” Galant yells out once he's in front of him.

“Yeah. Luckily. we made it here in one piece.”

“Where's Cerdic?”

“He'll be arriving soon, near the Southern Gate.”

“You've done well. For a moment, I thought you dead, after Cynric and his monsters had crossed Mederaut.”

“Fortunately. I knew they were commnig, but didn't where and when.”

“What saved you?”

“Actually, we saved someone. He told us about the upcomming army.”

Galant looks towards the gathering of people near the entrance. Kana, Diana, Silica, Clarie, Liz, Heathcliff, Asuna, some other KoB members. Suddenly, Bors and Percival appear carrying a player covered on a brown hooded coat, which covering his head. He could barely walk and his HP was almost gone. They lay him down on the floor. Galant gets near him.

Galant: “Who is…impossible...”

They removed the hood from his face, it was Lance.

Galant can't believe what his eyes were seeing. It must been a dream. It was impossible. He had left him for dead near the shores of the river of lava with three of his limbs cut, which wouldm't to be regenerated in minutes. That was death for any player, yet Lance had somehow survived.

Percival: “So you did not kill him.”

Galant: “I couldn't...”

Guinevere: “He's alive!!!”

While she appeared running.

Lance: “Hey! Hey! could you stop being happy and give me a godamn potion.”

He said with a sarcastic tone.

Bors: “Take it.”

Lance drinks it, and he was healed in an instant. He gets up.

Lance: “Thanks.”

Bors: “Welcome back.”

Gawn: “How did you survive?”

Lance: “I was left near the River of lava, with my two legs and left arm cut. But I managed to get out of my items, a purple crystal, one that healed my limbs. I grabbed my weapons and walked here as fast as I could before the lava that separated us from the army of Cynric was solidified. I found Klein near here.”

Lance looks Galant for first time since their battle, as he did the same, yet he rapidly changes his look to up to the wall. Tristan's up there waving his hand at him, trying to drive his attention.

Galant: “What's happening?!”

Tristan: “Bad news. Go the southern gate!”

Galant: “Let’s go!”

The members of RKUPA and KoB run to the southern gate, they rapidly get up the stairs. They encounter Tristan there, who pointed something out of the city. Outside the second wall, hundreds of monsters made encampment and lighted fire.

Galant looks towards his fellow knights, remembering all they had went through. Not only on the game. But also out. Their whole lives passed in front of his eyes somehow.His decisions as a leader. All the choices he made to lead them to this moment. The final battle against Cerdic.

He later looks towards the city and the uncountable number of lives on their hands. Not only from the players on the village. But as well everyone that was still living and breathing. Everyone who had make it across that long year. Each and every life was on his hands.

he closes his eyes and reopen them looking to his knights.

Galant makes his final decision. 

He speaks to Heathcliff next to him.

Galant: “Heathcliff, I trust you with the lives of my men."

All the players look him..

"All of those who want can follow you to Myujen.”

The words shock of all the members of RKUPA there present.

Gawn: “What are you thinking???!!!”

Galant: “My final decision.”

Bors: “What???”

Galant: “For all the sins and the bad decisions I've committed. I deserve punishment.”

Percival: “What decisions? What punishment? You're insane!”

Galant: “No. I'm not. I've never been saner in my life.”

Kana: “what do you mean?”

Galant: “I'm unworthy as leader, I made many decisions that've costed mant lives. For this, I'll stand for all of you in this battle, as you fall back to the other city. I'll win time”

Gawn: “You'll sacrifice for us?”

Galant: “Yes. But I'll fight Cerdic with those that remain here, at my command. If I defeat him, I'll see you in Myujen.”

They all started to reject Galant’s plan.

Bors: “Galant, I can understand how you fell about, but that isn't reason for you to become a martyr.”

Percival: “This will be the gravest mistake you make as leader!”

Kana: “Remain with us!”

Diana: “I beg you, stay you us!”

Galant: “MORE THAN ENOUGH!”

Everybody stopped talking.

“This is my last command to you as leader: go!”

He stopped for a moment, as he looked at everybody’s face.

“Please tell the rest of RYUPA our plan and let them chose their Fate. I don't wish to see any of you here tomorrow. Knights, my path with you has been completed. Good luck my brothers.”

He begin to walk down the stairs, but stops on the second tread. He turns back looking towards Lance.

“Lance, please protect them.”

He ends talking and continues walking down. Lance looks Guinevere who was also looking him without a single word. Lance shakes his head and follows Galant, and begins a conversation with him, while the seriously walked towards the HQ of KoB.

“This isn't how you should solve this! This is OUR fight. How many times we've been together? Both here and on the real life? We fought the monsters! We fought Cerdic! We faced the worst dangers! And killed thousands of what ! For was that for, but to arrive for this moment?! And now that is so near, when we are almost there..."

He grabs his shoulder and forces him to turn to him.

"LOOK AT ME! You don't remember that at all?!”

“You ask me that? My best friend? The one that best knows me?”

Galant continued to walk but Lance again stops him

“Then don't stay! Death is the only thing you will find! Obey me place for our brotherhood I beg of you…”

Galant placed his hand on his the left side of Lance’s neck

“Be my brother then and don't try to convince me! Enjoy your new freedom and live for both of us. I WILL NOT FOLLOW YOU SHUN! I understand that spilling blood and everything I did, has leaded me to this moment.”

Lance looked at him and reluctantly nodded.

Galant places his hand then on his shoulder and continues walking, Lance tries to grab him from the hand but it slips. He then looks at him and then towards the wall once again, when Guinevere appears running behind of her boyfriend, passing him by.

Lance looked up to the sky full of thousends of stars and sighed.

---

Galant enters his room.  He opens his menu took a looks at the armor Liz had crafted for him. He then tried it on, when suddenly the door was opened.

It was Guinevere, she slapped Galant in the face upon entrance.

“I'm going with you.”

“No. You aren't.”

“I'll be there whether you like it or not!”

“NO!”

“YES”

“NO!”

“YES!”

“NO!”

“DAMNIT!”

She sits down on the bed silent. There's a brief moment of silence on the room.

“Do you remember that moment months ago, after the defeat of Belphegor? You swore to protect me even at cost of your life.”

“I do remember. As if it had happened today, and that's why I'm doing this.”

“Then you'd remember that I swore the same to you.”

Galant heartbeat stops for a second.

“You can't tell me to not stay, I will remain here with you.”

“Sakura, I'm doing this so you live. And manage to get out of this world.”

“Life here, on the real world, the afterlife...it's not life.Not without you.”

Those words penetrate in Galant’s heart as if he had been shot with a sniper rifle, and the bullet had pierced out.

“Alright.... But if you want to stay you must know the truth...”

“What truth?”

“This morning before the battle, I got up early and went for a walk. I entered to miner facility. I found Diana there, we began to talk and… we almost kissed. I'm sorry.”

Diana’s eyes get wider and with tears. She turns around, giving her back to Galant.

“Why do you tell me?”

“I can't lie to you?”

“Why not?”

Galant hugs her.

“Because I love you.”

Guinevere gets of the hug and tuned once again to Galant. She was with tears at her eyes and just immersed on Galant’s chest, crying. He falls to the bed, because of the unexpected weight, yet the girl continued to cry on him. They remain like that for several minutes. Guinevere cry isn't too loud; it was just a way to express herself. 

Once she stops, Galant speaks.

“I'm sorry. I know this it isn't enough. I will repay you with anything. I'm sorry. I'm truly sorry.”

“How?”

“I'll never lie you again, I'll never do that again. I'll protect you, as I once sworn to you.”

The girl, still with teary eyes spoke.

“Okay, you must still do something more.”

“Something?”

“Yes. I don't know what, but something.”

“Alright. I will.”

Guinevere gave her extended hand to Galant, as he grabbed it.

“I love you, Sakura.”

“I'll always be with you. I love you…”

---

Part 2

Floor 49, December 24th, 2023

The skies are cloud in mystery.

The army of Cerdric gathers near in the city of Calmann about to enter it, as the citizens and half of RKUPA was preparing things to leave. Most of them already begin to form a long caravan towards the northeast.

Just one player with his new armor in his body and a standard on his right hand with the symbol of the Royal Knights. He's on top of his horse in a hill between the two walls of the city.

It's Galant.

He nostalgically looks the players leaving the place, his teammates leaving the area. He may probably never see them again.

Half of the RYUPA army remained at the city ready to fight. Guinevere herself  was taking care of explaining the strategy the leader formulated the night before.

He can see the dozens of wagons caring players to the northeast. Asuna's commanding her subordinates, as Heathcliff himself wished Galant good luck before leaving. The Royal Knights and the Pendragon Court sisters watched the great man upon the hill, looking worried towards their future, rather than his. Most of them know it was almost certain he would perish in battle. Diana looks him with tears while her sister tried to comfort her. Lance tries not to watch him, as the rest of the Knights couldn't tear eyes from him.

Bors continues looking to him and doubts about something for Galant. He can't decide, but finally he did it. He draws Great Mjollnir from his back with his right hand, broke formation and gets near the place where Galant was.

Bors: “GALANT!!!”

Bors sees he turned his sight towards him. He hits his heart with his right hand, and lifts his hammer in the air.

“RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUS!”

This act drive the attention of the entire caravan, and even Lance turns to see it. Galant's surprised. It was a long time since he last said that battle cry, since Dagonet’s death. It seemed Galant’s will had really touched him.

Galant raises his standard in the air and takes air inside his lungs before shouting with all his breath.

Galant: “RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSS!”

This was Galant’s final salute towards his friends as once he had done with the shout, he turns his horse and rides back to the southern gate.

Bors rides back to the caravan, while there was a huge sentiment of sadness among them, while they continue their journey.

Galant arrives to the southern gate and places himself on another hill. At his right, there was a forest near the entrance of the city; he commanded his men to remain there until the monster hordes entered the first wall. Galant turns his thoughts from the friends he left behind, and looked towards the army of monsters outside the city, ready to begin a slaughter.

Cerdic and his right hand men wait near the city gate, while Velron gets near them, after he went to the entrance of the city. 

Velron: “The men at the guard left the wall.”

Cerdic: “What of the rest?”

Velron: “In a long caravan leaving the city going north. They're cats, running from a wolf.”

Cynric: “There'll be no resistance?”

Velron: “Some dozens of players...”

Cerdic: “I'll kill your kind now...I want like you to see. Stay near me.”

Velron: “As you command.”

Cerdic: "I want you there as well, Nightshroud."

Nightshroud looks him.

Nightshroud: "No King. My path with you ends here. You'll face the humans alone..."

Cerdic aproaches the blackdressed player.

Cerdic: "You sworn me loyalty once..."

Nightshroud: "I did...and I lied..."

Cerdic moves for the kill drawing his knife, but Mordread holds his hand up as a ray of dark energy enveloped Cerdic, causing the King of Monsters incredible pain. The monsters suffered the same pain.

"Let me reveal you something Cerdic. I created you for the sake of killng the Royal Knights. I want them dead. Every single one of them. I've just followed for being a witness to their deaths. So now do it! Kill them! I'll watch from the disntace."

Nightshroud stop causing Cerdic and his army pain and leaves walking pacefully towards a tree. He jumps up and gets ready for the battle.

Throlbrad: “There, at the hill.”

Cerdic turns and he sees Galant, though he could not recognize who he was. He turned once again looking Cynric.

Cynric: “He's just one. Alone.”

Cynric gets near Velron and grabbed him from the neck, choking him.

Cynric: “You said they were gone. Who's him? A fucking phantom?!”

Velron: “He's but a man!  An incect, facing your troops.”

Cerdic: “Who's him?”

Velron: “Galant.”

The King of Monsters smiled. Cynric lets him go and throws him to the ground.

Cerdic: “Galant....”

He got near Velron.

“There's one more thing I need you to do.”

Galant looks from the distance a waving white flag. Velron waves it, just Cerdic alone was next to him. Galant acceds to the truce and decides to go out. He trusts the standard to the ground and rides his horse. Cerdic makes a movement with the hand to Velron, allowing him to go back to the army.

The doors of the city open. Fumes and dust came out of it, covering the air, when the Royal Knight leader comes out of the city with Balmung Blade on his hand. He rides nearer and nearer to the boss. Cerdic smiled. Galant finally stops some meters from him.

“Why everywhere I go from this damned virtual world, I hear your name, and you follow me....And I see you, and I only see flesh, blood and bone. You're as mortal as the steed you ride...”

“Which are your terms; Cerdic?”

“KoB has left you. So did your Army. Why are you fighting? For what?”

“I fight for a cause far above your understanding: Freedom.”

“You come to avenge those that have fallen beneath my wake?”

“And to finish what we started, months ago, on floor 26th.”

Cerdic briefly laughs.

“If you want a truce, then kneel before me.”

Galant points his sword towards Cerdic.

“I come to give you this message. I'll find you again, this time on the field of battle. You better remember my face Cerdic....Because the next time we meet each other, it will the last thing you see in this world.”

Galant turns his horse around, riding to the city, while he briefly kept his sight on the boss.

After he leaves, Cerdic went with his troops.

“Finally. Let's see what you have learned. Let's see if now you are worth killing.”

He hit his chest with both fists as if he was Tarzan, and talked to Beowolt.

“Prepare for battle.”

Boewolt tuned to the army.

Boewolt: “PAYBACK TIME! PREPARE TO FIGHT MONSTERS!”

The Saxons draw weapons as they began to sound their drums of battle and scream towards the players on the city ready to kill them all and conquer Aincrad.

---

At distance, in the Caravan, the ex-RKUPA members follow their leaders. They haven't traveled a long distance, just a few blocks from the city. The same air of hopeless and despair filled the air among the,, even so that none of them spoke a single word. The fact that Galant left them still shocked each one of them, while the rest of the Royal Knights look down to the muddy soil at their feet.

Suddenly they hear the drums noises from distance. But even when the monsters were far they sounded as if they were much nearer. The sound make the horses nervous, losing their control, and going out of the way, while the Royal Knights tried to calm them down. The finally did it by caressing the soft skin of the animals neck. Once over, the Knight on a round look to one another. Gawn looks to Lance, who then looks to Tristan. The archer looks to the hawk at his arm, and poke to him.

Tristan: “Hey my friend. You're free now.”

Horus opens his wings and field towards the never ending sky. In just a few seconds, the hawk had disappeared from sight.

Bors looks towards Liz and Silica, who wave a hand to him in sign as goodbye, with the little Claire smiling towards the knights. Kana stops speaking to Diana, she look towards his boyfriend who also saw her and nods. He once again turns to lance and grins. Lance looks upon the sky and then once again smile to his friends. They all did the same. Smiling. 

They now know what they had to do.

---

Galant stand waiting for battle as the Saxons continue their drum show. He heard other sound, the sound of a horse running. He looks back, it was Lance, with the armor of a samurai, his horse with a heavy armor also, and a standard on his right hand resembling Galant’s. Lance places himself at the right side of Galant, as he smiles to him.

“Even with our differences, I stand by your side, brother. In this life and the next. You mad fuck!”

Galant grins.

They sheared a brief handshake.

More steps of horses. The other four knights appear placed themselves beside Galant and Lance. Gawn and Percival to his left side. Bors and Tristan to his Right. All for them with the new armor Lizbeth had costumed for them and a standard on one hand. They all smile to each other.

The door opens and the army of Cerdic began to advance.

Galant speaks to his knights.

Galant: “Knights! The gift of freedom is yours by right, and so you have chosen to stand by my side! But the Victory we seek resides not in other place or other moment. It's in us! We build it! And in our actions on this day! If this is our Fate, then so be it. But let all those in Aincrad remember, that as free men, we chose this!”

Galant unsheathed Balmung Blade from the horse scabbard, and pointed up to the sky.

All: “RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSSSSSSSS!”

They all thrust their standard to the ground and prepare to the arrival of Cerdic to the inside.

They ride to the front of the lines.

The huge army enters the outside wall. They're surprised to see no one but the Knights on horseback on a hill.

Cerdic: “Beowolt, take the left flank. Cyrnric, with him.”

Cynric reluctantly walks with Boewolt, while Cerdic decided to take the Knights, accompanied by Velron Hagen and Thollbrad.

Once the two parts of the army were separated, Galant lifts his sword in the air to Guinevere on the forest.

Guinevere: “Archers, NOW!”

A rain of hundreds of flaming arrows rains on the Saxons. Some of them fell, but, most the arrows bypassed them, and suddenly a wall of fire covered the battlefield. That  was Galant's  plan: divide the forces of the Saxons. Having nowhere to run, the players on the woods and Saxons ended up clashing in the battlefield at the brave command of the Purple Knight, Guinevere.

As the right flank of the monsters got nearer, a second squad of Archers, commanded by Diana, began other rain of arrows. Cerdic orders his men to move on defense formation. But even still, the arrows were explosive. Several other monsters fall.

Once the rain of arrows was over, the knights upon horseback got nearer and the players on foot also charged against the Saxons. Galant lifts his sword, while staring to Cerdic, who also looks at him and tabs his axe.

Tristan shoots his arrows while Gawn grabs two of his tomahawks and throws them to the monsters and Percival throws his kunai to them. After this, both factions rush towards one another and clash, beginning the close quarters battle. The knights easily kill advance on the formation, clashing with any weapon at their hand.

Guinevere blocks the axe attack of a Saxon, and stabs it through the body with her blade. She continues advancing avoiding a sword attack, and piercing the monster by the neck, she then span in the ground slashing the legs of the monster and then stabbing it.

Galant is thrown off his horse but he gets up rapidly and stabs a monster. Another came but he uses his back to meke the monster clash and roll on it and fall to the ground. Bors's thrown off his horse by a powerful hit to his belly of axe, but he quickly recovers. Percival gets down of his horse and stabs one of the monsters with Gungir. Another comes, but he blocks the blow with his shield, Ambrosious, and hit the monster on the face with it. Bors gets near him. He blocks the attack of one of the monsters with his hammer, and then stabs the face with one of the spikes. Other came but the knight slams the body, and then smashes his head on the floor.

Lance's fighting upon horseback, but is stabbed several times and finally he falls to the ground. One of them monster tries to choke him, but he grabs his tanto from his boot and stabs the monster.

At the upper side of the wall, Klein parries several blows of one monster, and killed it. Another comes right behind, but he grabbed it and threw it of the stairs.

Guinevere stabs a monster. She then grabs it owns spear and pierced the monster, finishing what she started. She looks to one of her sides and saw Boewolt, killing aplayers with an attack with his axe. She decids to engage battle with him.

Galant briefly exchanges blows with a Saxon but he manages to get the sword to the ground, he steps on it hand and stabs the monster in the body. He sees near him Cerdic, but to his right, Gawn had be thrown of his horse by a crossbow shot to the chest. A monster tried to get near Gawn but he manages to kill it with a powerful hit  with his mace to the face. He grabs the arrow, trying to remove it. From his back, other monster approaches ready to kill him, but it was just before attacking him. Galant managed to save him. Gawn removes the arrow and gets ready for continuing the battle. Another monster came, he smashes the belly with his mace, and then finished with other hit to the back.

“Guinevere and your girlfriend might need aid!" galant tells him. " Go to the right side help them!”

“Yeah!”

He rushes to go to the other side of the battlefield.

Tristan gets down his horse. He briefly exchanged blows with a monster and slashes its throat. He looks up to Cerdic, several meters from where he was, and tabs Sicari.

Guinevere slashes the back of Beowolt, he turnes but didn't manage to deal a blow to her. Then Diana appears and slashes his back once again and runs away. Guinevere appeares and exchanged several blows with him and runs once again, once Kana appeared and tries to cut his throat, but the sub-boss grabs her, throwing to the floor and then kicking her in the face. He grabs his claymore and was about to finish her when a tomahawk strucks to his chest. Then other to his leg. The monster looks up and sees Gawn throwing him his Axe of The Fire King, impaling the face of the sub-boss and dividing it in two halves. Yhe body of Beowolt explodes into multicolored shards.

Gawn: “BULLSEYE!”

Guinevere: “Good job!”

She lifts her sight up, and sees Cynric, facing the players and killing anyone who dared of facing him.

Tristan walks in front of Cerdic and right beside him Velron. Noticing a Royal Knight, Cerdic throws his axe to the ground and unsheathes his great sword for the first time, Caledfwlch. Velron looks to his King at his side and walks to face the human. Tristan recognizes easily the one that faced Elicia on the previous battle, and a traitor. He lowers his sword attacking him, Velron blocks with his shield but he left himself opened. Tristan slices two times one of the belly and the other on the throat killing without effort niether remorse. He gets nearer to Cerdic and removes his helmet, getting in position for battle. Trisnta attacks, the defense of Cerdic was unique, but so was Tristan’s. They end clashing swords in the middle of them two, until they took some distance from each other.

Gawn smashes the head of one Saxon, and then other appears and he hit it with his mace. He ends both of them with his axe, and powerful hit to the face. Other appears to stab his with an axe, but he easily parries it, kickes the monster hard and kills it.

Bors parries the blow of a Saxon, he ends killing it by smashing its face, but he was almost pierced by a spear through his back. He grabs his other hammer and stabs the monster with it. Percival flips over a Saxon with his spear and kills the other with his dagger. He sees looks around and sees the two other commanders of Cerdic near. Bors gets next to him, sheathing back his hammer and grabs his knifes. They both charge against them.

“Thollbrad!!!”

“Hagen!!!”

The sub-bosses also charge towas them, Bors and Hagen’s begin thier battle, finishing what they started months ago on the 33th floor. Bors easily disarms Hagen of his blade, and then began a hand-to-hand battle with him. Percival throws several of his kunai stabbing Thollbrad, but that doesn't stop him, and continues his rush, almost clashing Percival. The royal knight jumps over him, avoiding the attack and throsw his dagger to him, but neither that stops the sub-boss. it turns back ready to strike with his large battle axe.

Hagen chains one kick after another but Bors manageds to block one of his movements, slashing his leg and breaking his armor. However, he chains a kick with his other leg, sending the blacksmith back. The sub-boss tries to stab him, but Bors parries, yet this doesn't block other kicks. First on his chest and then locks blades, with his knife pointing to Bors eye. The same situation from months ago. Bors would've died there if Galant  hadn't appeared. But this time, his leader couldn't help him

When Thollbrad attacks, Percival just with his dagger and two kunais on his hands. The monster rams his axe but he easily avoided it and got near the monster beginning to constantly slash the body of the monster, using close quarters to best his larger opponent. Percival then turns back but the sub-boss once again attacks him. Percival manages to stab the monster on the feet and then on the back the monster tries to slash with his axe, but few could do against the much greater speed of Percival. Still it manages to punch him. But the royal knight quickly recoveres. He attacks once again and stabs him the left hand. The monster tries to attack Percival once again with his axe, but he blocks his hand and draws Gungir from his back. He kicks the sub-boss in the leg and makes him fall. He the places the spear bellow him, stabbing the monster through the jaw to the top of the head, killing Thollbrad once and for all.

Hagen: “Here we're you and me, like months before. But this time, no one will come to save you. Now, die as your brother did!”

Bors gets really angered with his comment, giving him more strength. He knees Hagen making him lose his balance and disarms him. He charges both Grey Fist and Garuru Fist. He rams to his face his left fist, then his right, then his left, then turns back spinning in the air and with a powerful Garuru Fist with his right hand, he beheads the sub-boss.

Bors: “Send him mine.”

He looks to his Knifed Knuckle Dusters.

“You can't beat a classic.”

Guinevere begins an all-out assault against Cynr, but she couldn't find an opening on the sub-boss defense. She then turns back, and so the sub-boss attacks. Still, she's quicker and parries the attack and manages to find a weak point on him. He slashes his right leg. They distance after her assault but get ready for more.

Lance looks that at the other side of the fire. Guinevere was facing his archenemy. He runs to his horse. Lance advances riding horse through the field of battle, killing most of the monsters standing in his way and jumps the remainings of fire wall.

Tristan continued to exchange blows with the King of Monsters. They lock blades to his right, so the archer spins, and exchanges several blows. But Cerdic blocks all of them it and slashes  his side with his knife. Tristan steps back. He places his hand on the wounded place and looked a great quantity of red data on his hand. Without battle healing skill, he has a big problem.

Guinevere continues to exchange blows with Cynric, but the sub-boss manages to disarm her and hits her with his shield, sending her to the ground. It smiles and rams his sword downwards ready to kill, but two katanas appear just in front of Guinevere, saving her life. It was Lance. He delivers  a powerful kick to the body chest of the monster, making it go back. Guinevere gest back up and recovers her blade. She begins fighting with other monsters. Lance spins and slashs two times with his sword, but his moves were all blocked. He spins 360º with both swords and begins his second assault, but Cynric manages to block and delivers a heavy hit with his shield to Lance’s face.

Tristan slashes several times but with his remaining strenght, he couldn't penetrate Cerdic defense. After a short assault he's was slashed on his left leg, and then hit on the back of his head by Cerdic's knife. He falls to the ground, and moves his sword towards Cerdic,making them clash. Cerdic looks down on him, waiting for him to get up. The angered archer gets up and attacks again, but his move is blocked once again and he's slashed on his left arm. Sicari falls to the ground and Cerdic got near it. Tristan, thinking he has no weapons left, attempts to take out one of the arrows from his back. Surprisingly, Cerdic kicks the weapon's handle towards Tristan, allowing him to grab it again.

Lance blocks a downwards slash, then hits the shield with his other katana, and gets to the back of Cynric slashing it and making him fall. He attempts to finish the sub-boss of on the ground, but the monster managed to get up, yet losing his shield while doing it. Lance once again attacks spinning with his blades.

Tristan grabs his sword and attempts an upwards strike and then a horizontal. Cerdic eludes the first one, blockes the second one. He spins and stabs Tristan on his right arm with the knife. He kicks the royal knight to the ground, as Sicari once again falls from Tristan's hands. He couldn't get up and walk, so he tries to crawl far from the monster. Cerdic grabs Sicari, and seems to like it. He stucks Caledfwlch to the ground and walks near Tristan while he sees some meters from him, Galant facing the Saxons.

Lance continues to clash swords with Cynric but he receives a hard punch to the face, making him fall.

He then tries to kill the player with a downwards slash, but Kance placed his katanas in an X position, blocking the attack and then kicking Cynric also to the ground. The Dragon Samurai then gest up and  another monster attacks him. Noticing he was no match to his opponent while he wielded two swords, Cynric looks to his side, and sees a Saxon. He approaches the monster.

Cerdic grabs Tristan from the hair lifting him up. The defeated archer still defies him, grabbing the knife from his arm, and stabs Cerdic in the leg, dealing at least some damage. Cerdic grabs Tristan from his left hand, slashes it and then stabs him on his body.

Lance stabs the monster through the chest. He throws the sword in the air and then grabs it back hand and advancing a single step, stabbed the monster on the back and killing him. He turns around, when something hits his chest, and he was left without breath less than in a second. Lance looks down. An arrow was piercing right into his heart. He looks up, seeing the archer. It was Cynric, who had killed a Saxon to grab the crossbow. Born out of rage and adrenaline, Lance screams and throws the sword towards Cynric, and impaling him on the chest to the handle. Lance places his left hand on his chest and falls to his knees, as the monster did the same. 

Guinevere had just seen the scene, and run to try to save her friend.

Tristan looks up on the sky. A hawk was flying in circles right above where he was, and heard the sound of his whistling. Tristna closes his eyes and smiles. Cerdic looks towards Galant who also looks at him. Cerdic spins and slashes diagonally the body of Tristan, killing him.

Galant becomes extreamly angry after witnessing the death of one of his most trusted friends. He slashes in half a monster with Crescent Stardust Slasher and begins to advance towards Cerdic, who throws Sicari away and turns back to him to grab his sword again.

Lance gets near Cynric, lifting Ryuurin and trying to stab the monster. Cynric tries to block him from doing this with his left hand.

“This goes for her!”

The sword impales Cynric through the neck killing him. Just after this, Lance falls to the ground almost unconscious.

Guinevere arrives second later, and grabs his head.

“Lance! Be still, okey? I'll find you help.”

“No. No. Stay....please.”

Guinevere reluctantly remains with him.

Galant and Cerdic rush towards each other. They clashed swords. Then Galant attacks with an all-out assault, advancing rapidly, but he also encountered Cerdic’s defense as Tristan did, and he's punched in the face, falling back. Galant once again attacks and Cerdic defended, and manages to kick Galant in the hand but he doesn't not drop his sword still, he just steps back once again.

Cerdic this time attacks, but Galant eludes his two moves and get to his back, slashing it with Crescent Stardust Shasher. This doesn't stop the King of Monsters, who spins and delivers another horizontal hit to Galant, who manages to block it but he's kicked on the knee and falls to the ground. Cerdic used Avalanche, trying to slam Galant to the ground, but he rolls on the ground and gets up while slashing the left leg of Cerdic.

They attack each other once again. Cerdic spins and slashes but Galant eludes and tries to stab him with Shimmer Spike, but Cerdic also eludes. They clash and stab each other in the belly, and waited for a brief moment looking to one another as they withdraw their swords. They stare to eachother, as they were wobbling.

Galant recovers begin his attack diagonally; he then blocks Cerdics left attack and they lock blades and eyes filled with anger. Cerdic makes Galant's sword slip to his right and slashes the back of Galant, and he felt to his knees. Cerdic smiles and lifted his sword ready to perform the coup de grace on Galant, but suddenly he stops. Galant thrust his sword backwards, impaling Cerdic on the body. He did it once again stronger. The  King of Monsters is left without energy. Galant withdraws the blade from it’s body and gets up. He turns his sword normally and slashes diagonally with Crescent Stardust Slasher. Cerdic falls to his knees and drops his sword to the ground. Galant gets near to him, lifts his head and removes the crown from his head grabing his hair.

“Galant...”

Galant thrust his sword through the neck of Cerdic and waits.

The monster shattered into polygons and the battle was won.

The nightmare was finally over. The Army of Monsters was defeated. 

A message appears in front of Galant.

“Congratulations! You haveve won Avalon’s Coat” it said.

Galant nods, but that wasn't important for him in that moment. He looks around, and sees the gathering of his friends. Guinevere, Gawn, Bors, Percival, Diana, Kana and the Fuurinkazan memebers were still alive. He rushes to them and sees Lance with an arrow in his chest, with his head placed on Guinevere’s lap while  she grabbed his right hand.

Galant gets next to him.

Percival: “Where's Tristan?"

Galant looks to him and shakes his head.

Percival lowered his sight and nodded slightly, saddened.

Galant: “Brother, How are you?”

Lance: “I've been better...”

Galant: “You'll heal." He tells him, tring to convince Lance and also himself. "You'll be alright.”

Lance shakes his head, as a tear falls from his left eye.

Lance: “No...I'm not just like this for the arrow....The ability of YokaiOuRyu absorbed my HP....I can't heal...”

He stops talking for a brief moment. All his friends begin to tear up

“Take my swords. Keep your promice you made me. The before going on the Army’s last mission.”

Guinevere: “Lance please. Shun stay.”

Lance: “I¡ll send your regards to Ryuko, when I greet her in the afterlife. Keep them safe for me...”

Galant: “I shouldn't have hurt you....Everything I said…”

Lance: “It’s okey...You're my brother....”

Galant nods while he begin crying and smiles to his friend.

Galant: “Blood Brother.”

Lance closed his eyes and his body begins to shine, and afterwards it shattered into polygons. A soft wind carries  the polygons away, until they were never seen in the endless sky of Aincrad, leaving his friends crying on fiend of battle.

While still cring, Galant gets up.

Galant: “Help everyone that needs help. I'll call Heathcliff to tell him we won. Gather wood enough to make a pyre, for our friends....”

Guinevere gets up while still crying.

“Yes!”

All the players gathered did the same.

Galant turns a to the column and sees a cloacked figure up on a hill on the outskirts of Camlann. He recognizes the last human traitor, Nightshroud. He considers going to kill him, but decides to remain on the city and protect his friends. But he knew, they'd meet again.

Nightshroud remains looking, and brusts into a loud laughter that lasts for several minutes. 

After he finishes, he looks again to the city and speaks.

"Now you know what it feels like brother...To lose what you love. We'll see each other one day again...Soon..."

---

Floor 49th, December 24, 2023

22:00

All the surviving players from RYUPA alongside Heathcliff and the ones that went with him had come back and many of the citizens were also among the huge gathering. They gathered in the outsides of the city of Camlann.

Galant stands at the front alongside his Royal Knights, Kana, Diana, Lisbeth, Silica, Clarie, Heathcliff and Asuna. Fuurinkazan members went on a trip find a stone that could apparently revive a player. 

Guinevere places YokaiOurRyu and Ryuurin in the pyre.

After this Galant, who's wearing his new coat and with a torch lighted on his hand, looks to the crowd and speaks.

Galant:"Merry Christmas! But this Christmas is unlike any other. This night, we pay tribute for those who've lost during this long year on this Death-Game. Fathers. Brothers and sisters. Friends and lovers. Hold them very close to you and take care of them. When shadows and dangers of Aincrad get close to you, you'll have to fight for your future together! BUT WE SHOULDN'T FORGET THOSE BRAVE PLAYERS WHO DIED SO FAR. THOSE WHO SACRIFICED THEIR LIVES! SO THAT ALL OF US COULD LIVE FREE!!!"

Galant gisve the torch to Guinevere at his left. She grabs it and looks to the crowd.

Guinevere: “This is for Lance!”

She tunrs to the pyre and throws the torch. It begins to burn, as she gets near Galant and grabs his hand. Galant looks her briefly, and speaks.

“For Miya Kiryuuin!”

Guinevere: “For Elicia!”

Gawn: "Galahad!"

Percival: “For Tristan!”

Bors: “Dagonet!”

Suddenly other member of the crowd began chanting.

“For Diabel!”

“Sachi!”

“For Cooper!”

“Ducker!”

“For Keita!”

“Sasamaru!”,

“Tetsuo!”

“FOR LANCE!”

A chant begin, all of the honoring the name of the Dragon Samurai.

“LANCE! LANCE! LANCE! LANCE! LANCE! LANCE! LANCE! LANCE! LANCE!”

Galant and Guinevere were speaking to each other.

“Are you better now?” Galant asks.

“I'll be better.”

“Witnessing Shun's death and the death of many of my brothers. That has made me decide, what I have to do for you.”

"Okay...?”

“Will you marry me on game…for real?”

Guinevere smiles, while a tear goes down on her right cheek and  falls from his face.

“Yes.”

“I love you.” Galant aproaches her, placing his forehead on hers, looking eyes almost touching each other. "Do you hear me? I love you, Sakura."

She nods her head slightly.

The crowd continues to chant "Lance", as Galant leaves Guinevere for a moment and speaks out.

"Split hell, heaven and earth with the sound of his name! Carry to Kayaba Akihiko like a distant thunder promising more battle! All who're able will continue until floor 100 and clear the game. And can promise you something: WE WILL LIVE FREE OR JOIN OUR BROTHERS IN DEATH!!!"

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