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SAO:PoA - Chapter Sixteen

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« SAO:PoA - Chapter Fifteen

Sword Art Online: Past of Ashes
Written by: FedeTkd
Published:
Chapter 16

SAO:PoA - Chapter Seventeen »



Floor 49, December 23rd, 2023

Lance jumps towards Galant, unleashing a flurry of attacks and rapidly gains ground on Galant, driving him to the edge of the platform. He attempts to rally, working his way around Lance and away from the brink, though the Dragon Samurai easily holds off his attacks and kicks him soundly in the chest, sending the leader of the Royal Knights flying, but he manages to recover and land on his feet, though he was again driven back by Lance's vicious frenzy of attacks. Galant relie on his staunch defense to hold off Lance’s brutal barrage of attacks and sword skills.

Fighting along the long corridors within the mining facility, the two combatants enter the small antechamber outside the control room. Here, Galant attempts to take advantage of an opening in Lance's offense, seizing the Dragon King’s left hand and pulling him into an arm-lock before slashing at the back of his neck, but his opponent manages to bring his blade up to defend himself, and quickly wrestles free, renewing his attack. But it was quickly stop as Galant then used two times Stardust Slasher, yet his opponent drew his other Katana and manages to deflect all his attacks, yet he continued his assault ussing a horizontal Crescent Stardust Slasher, forcing Lance to bend his body down to elude it. In the meantime, he kicks Galant in the chest forcing him to retreat into the control room, attempting to distract him by throwing his kunais, though Lance makes short work of them, blocking most of them with Ryuurin, while at the same  sheathing back his other katana, yet Galant used this moment to disarm him with a strong hit to his weapon.

However, Lance is unface, Galant’s right wrist keeps hold of Balmung Blade hand with his left while clamping down on his throat, with his other and began bending him back, simultaneously chocking him and forcing Galant’s sword closer to his face. Galant narrowly manages to kick Lance off of him, though Lance’s quickly retaliates in kind, disarming Galant. Lance charges again, though Galant respondes by sidestepping and kicking Lance in the chest with Spinnig Air Kick. Lance flips over and lands heavily on his back, and the Royal Knight reclaims his sword and moved to finish his prone enemy, though Lance manages to take out YokaiOuRyu and defend himself. Lance then kicked Galant and jumped to retrieve his other katana and sheathing back the one of his decreased girlfriend.

The duel progresses back into the control room, where Galant attemptes to rally, remaining toe-to-toe with Lance as they engaged in a swift flurry of continued swordplay. The both ended with the two engaged in a blade-lock, which only had one way of ending.

“GREY FIST!”

“RYU-KEN!”

Their Marital Arts Sword Skills clash.

Beginning a vicious power-struggle, the energy compress by the combined strength of both fighters pushes ruptured and exploded, sending flying away both duelists against opposite walls.

Lance recoveres first, leaping across the control room at Galant, who narrowly manages to evade the attack and pin Lance's blade against a console. However, their misdirect weapons accidentally destroy the power controls for the facility's shields, exposing the exterior of the facility to both the intense heat of lava flows. Because of the shields being deactivated and the facility becoming vulnerable to the heat and flying lava, alarms were also activated both in the interior and exterior of the facility.

This doesn't affect the duelists.

The Dragon King came on again, driving Galant out onto the exterior balcony, loosing a flurry of attacks before kicking his friend hard in the face. As Galant gives him ground, he was driven to the end of the balcony. Galant leaps backward onto a steam pipe; retreating along it with the second in command in close pursuit. Attempting to gain the offensive, Galant attacks first, only to be driven back by Lance's relentless assault. Leaping off the pipe onto one of the collection arms below them, Galant again attacks, though Lance easily fends off his blows before knocking Galant aside with a heavy backhand. Lance again seizes the offense, viciously driving Galant back along the arm, despite his staunch resistance.

As the duel continues, a massive spurt of lava erupts onto the unshielded collection arm, and begins to melt the metal. Retreating to the relative safety of the structure at the end of the arm, the two watched as the heat and weight of the lava melts the arm's superstructure. As it becomes clear that the arm was going to break off of the complex, the combatants rush up along its length as the arm plummets into the river of lava below. Galant uses Stardust Slasher cutting ouf two of the sections of the arm, which begin to fall to the lava he places himslef up of one of them and begins surfing as th arm was plummeting down. Lance stood near him and manages to get up the other section cut by Galant. Following him while the arm follows them two.

"I'm still here you coward!" he shouts him.

Lance took out several Shurikens and starts throwing them towards Galant, but the latter countered with his own Kunai, blocking some as others were blocked by his blade, as Lance did the same with his katana.

Getting futherer in the magma river, they notice a huge lava fall. Galant turned to his right backing up, yet with Lance on pursuit. He manages to  slash his arm. Being nearer and nearer to the fall by each second, Galant jumped from the fall, back to the arm and then once more to a repulsorlift platform. His opponent quickly followes, and as the arm began to topple over the lava fall, Lance swing back onto it and charged along its length before leaping onto other platform near Galant's. Directing the platform toward Galant’s, Lance resumes his attack.

Galant is cut off from the shore by platform is perch on. Slashing at Lance, Galant began another round of bladework with the Dragon King before breaking off.

Galant tries again to reason with his friend.

"I know it Shun. I've failed you. I failed Elicia. I failed all of you."

"THAT'S WHY I'M DOING THIS! YOU'RE AN USELESS LEADER. SOMEONE ELSE NEEDS TO LEAD US!"

"Everything I did, I did for all of you. So that we could go back to the real world!!!"

"It worked horribly then!!! I'LL TAKE CHARGE WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT AND YOU'LL DIE HERE."

"You're lost Lance...You're lost in the dark..."

A brief moment of silence, while Lance stared seriously to Galant.

"This is the end for you....my brother."

Lance leaps above Galant, onto the platform spinning on the air landing awkwardly and almost losing his balance. Galant attempts to take advantage of this and attacked, but Lance managed to recover and counters, beginning another flurry of swordplay. As they once more lock blades, the platform nears the shore, allowing Galant to disengage and leap to the higher ground, landing safely on earth.

“It's all over Lance. Surrender and return how you where. If you attack, you're dead.”

“I've always been better than you back practicing Kenjutsu. You're just underestimating me!!!"

“Please....don't try....”

Totally blind by arrogance and rage, Lance draws Yokai OuRyu no Katana using Kyukyoku Senjin Ouryuken, and leaps at Galant, blades angled for the kill. However, he leaves himself open, reluctantly allowing Galant sever Lance left arm with Stardust Slasher, both of his legs with a swift Crescent Stardust Slasher, and ended up stabing through the chest with Shimmer Spike. Lance was left without breath for a second, but he then saw Galant, and in a moment of determination while screaming, he stabs his friend through the stomach, forcing Galant to take his sword out of Lance.

The fallen samurai drops Ryuurin, Lance rolls to the brink of the lava river. Attempting to scramble up the shore with only his right arm, Lance only fell closer to the boiling lava.

“YOU WERE ONE OF THE LEADERS OF THE ARMY! IT WAS SAID THAT YOU'D HELP ME DEFEAT CERDIC AND HIS ARMY ! NOT THIS! YOU GAVE PLAYERS HOPE AND DREAMS FOR THE FUTURE! FOR FREEDOM, NOT THIS!"

"I HATE YOU! WITH ALL MY SOUL! I HATE YOU!!! "

"I loved you as brother, Shun. I loved you with all my heart..."Galant says with tears on his eyes

Galant turns arround refuses to kill him. Believing that his ultimate fate would be decided by luck or it was already written in fate (as Guinevere used to tell him). Even doing so, put him out of his misery, it'd only cause the him to start down to a darker path, abandoning his humanity and morality, by becoming a Player Killer.

He leaves Lance alongside his weapons, to whatever end he was destined as he went back walking to the Facility.

---

Galant opens the entrance of the facility which was on the path towards Camlann. His guildmates were much glad that he was there, though Galant keep on a serious, upset and disappointed look upon the floor. He seemed to have his sould ripped off his body. Soon the inevitable question was asked.

Gawn: “Where's Lance?”

Galant stepped on his way inside of a second, and tuned to Gawn and spoke.

Galant: “We have continue now.” 

He continued walking.

Gawn: “Did you…?

Galant stopped once more.

Galant: “We have to continue, before the river of lava becomes solid, and Cedric's army attacks us.”

He gets near Guinevere.

“Are you alright?”

“I am…”

“Good.”

Galant gets up on his horse, as the rest of his army follows the leader and they continue on their way towards Camlann.

There's a tense atmosphere. No one actually knows what the two duelists did.  If Lance was dead or not. What had actually happened was a mystery for all and just Galant had the answers. Yet, he didn't speak to anyone, just remains riding his horse at the front of the army. He's notably disappointed, enraged, upset, sad, angered. Yet, he tries to keep on his presence in front of his army.

If not, he was no worthy leader, and Lance and Elicia would've died for nothing.

Most of his guild comrades are speaking about him, but only Guinevere was left without words looking down to the ground the same as her boyfriend.

Bors: “Do you really think he killed him?”

Gawn: “His color cursor is orange, so he at least hurt Lance.”

Percival: “If he hadn't hurt him, he probably wouldn't be here.”

Kana: “Is he Player Killer now?”

Gawn: “Just he knows.”

Kana: “And what will we do?”

Gawn: “What do you mean?”

Kana: “Would you follow the command of a PK? Even if he is your friend?”

Gawn: “I…”

Kana: “What of you? Tristan, Percival, Bors?”

Tristan: “I do.”

Kana: “What?”

Tristan: “Galant has led us with all his heart until the point. Whatever he did, he did it becouse he had no choice. Lance was going to kill him.”

Kana: “YOU WILL STILL DO THIS??”

Tristan: “And what if we don't? Cerdic will win the battle, killing us all. We need him. I believe on him.”

Percival: “Tristan's telling the truth.”

Kana: “What? you also Percival?”

Percival: “Yes.”

Kana: “Bors, tell me you're against this.”

Bors: “I don't know.”

Kana: “I CAN'T BELIVE YOU'RE DOING! HE HAS KILLED SOMEONE! HE…”

Gawn: “IT’S ENOUGH KANA! Guinevere is here.”

Kana realizes she spoke horribly about Galant and Guinevere herd all what she now believed about him. She's with tears on her eyes, while keeping her look on the dirt.

Kana: “I'm sorry Guinevere...i never choose my words carefully... I'll go with my sister...”

Kana lowers the speed of her horse and gets next to her sister who was at the back of the group alone, thinking. She drives her horse at her side, and spoke to her with low voice.

Kana: “I overspoke...”

Diana: “You did.”

Kana: “Still I think it. Do you think he killed him? Is he even a suitable leader?”

Diana: “I'm still with him.”

Kana: “Why? You still love him?”

Diana: “Today morning, he came at me at day’s beginning. I was confused for what path we'd take, and so we began to speak about it. He told me that I should choose what my heart wants, we got nearer and nearer and…?”

Kana: “…and? Did you kiss him?”

Diana: “No....the Army of Cynric attacked. We were almost going to.”

Kana: “So he's married and he almost kissed you...”

Diana: “He has had some troubles with Guinevere. He even shouted to her on our way to the miner facility.”

Kana: “I'm confused I don't know what to think.”

Diana: “I'm the same way as you.”

Gawn: “Message from Klein.” He shouts.

Percival: “What does it say?”

Gawn: “They're near to the Army, and will be at the gates of Camlann at days end.”

Bors: “Shit.”

Tristan: “Don't worry Bors. We'll be arriving at Camlann at 16:00.”

Gawn: “The message also says that he has sent this same message to Galant, but he had no reply.”

Percival: “We should speed up. And arrive before Cerdic and his army of monsters.”

---

The city of Camlann was surrounded by two walls of 15 meters height. One covering the city, and the other that covered that wall. There were at least 300 meters of distance between them two.

The Royal Knights United Player Army arrive at the city by the western gate. Galant commands his army to camp between the two walls while Gawn, Guinevere, Bors and Galant enter inside it. One the door was open, and Asuna's right there, waiting for them.

Galant: “Asuna.”

Asuna: “Glad you could make it here in one piece.”

Galant: “In a way. We were attacked by a small army of 200 Saxons, commanded by Cynric, Cerdic's son. We could barely walk out there alive.”

Asuna: “Follow me. Heathcliff wants to talk with you.”

Galant nods.

The inner part of the city resembled in many ways Starting City.

Large buildings, Monuments, Church-like buildings, etc... But those things weren't of care for them right now. They walk towards the one which was the HQ of The Knights of the Blood Oath.

It was a large white building with red flags coming out of it, with a big wooden door. They enter and walk some stairs, and at floor number three, they entered a room with a circular table.

Standing next to the winding, the red armored knight, no one else than The Living Legend, Heathcliff was looking outside.

Heathcliff: “Royal Knights.”

Galant: “Heathcliff.”

Heathcliff: “Sit down.”

Galant and his fellow night sit down on the chairs near the entrence, while Heathcliff and Asuna sit on the other side.”

Heathcliff: “I'm happy you could make it out of there alive.”

Galant looks down and doesn't make a reply. He remember the recent loses they had suffered. Noticing this Gawn took up the speech.

Gawn: “Not exactly. Our second-in-command, Lance, and his wife captain, Elicia, died in a brief battle against Cynric and 200 other Saxons.”

Heathcliff: “I'm sorry to hear that. I Understand how you must be felling right now. But, we have to prepare.”

Gawn: “Cerdic's arriving at the night.”

Guinevere: “Well. He'll attack in the night?”

Galant: “I doubt that. “Returning to form. “A third of his army was stopped by the river of Lava. He'll not attack being outnumbered and outmatched. He'll wait until his army overpasses in number our own.”

Heathcliff: “Yes. But, also, I warned the citizens of the upcoming danger. Most of them are departing north, towards the city of Myujen. They've asked me and my guild to accompany them. I can't refuse. We'll depart soon. At tomorrow’s dawn in the worst cases.”

Galant. “I can understand. What if we fall in battle, and he continues towards Myujen? You'll fight him for Aincrad there?”

Heathcliff: “I would've no choice.”

Galant: “I can understand what you are doing, but is not a good idea…”

The door wide opened in the Conference Room.

Liz: “You've made it here.”

Bors: “Liz!”

Asuna: “Liz!”

Liz: “I was so happy when I heard you crossed Mederaut. It is said that no one has made that. The mountains are a very dangerous place.”

Guinevere: “What happened? Why you didn't follow us?”

Liz: “Come here.”

Galant: “We are with Heathcliff in a reunion.”

Heathcliff: “I have nothing else to say, you can go.”

Liz: “Come here!”

Liz grabs the hand of Guinevere and starts running, followed by Galant, Bors, Gawn and even Asuna. Liz was the kind of girl capable of cheering anyone up. This even reflected on her works in metal and fire, that were worthy of the god Hephaestus himself. They rapidly arrive to her Smithy, where she was glad to have them.

Liz: “Wait a moment!”

She gets to the lower part of his shop

Gawn: “Where do you take us? What do you want to show us?”

Bors: “She said it was a surprise...”

Gawn: “Surprise?”

Few minutes later, Liz comes out of the basement with a large bag.

Liz: "This is so heavy!"

Gawn: “What is this?”

Liz: “Look!”

She took out of her items, an orange and black armor, consisting of other shoulder protector, a pair of forearm and leg protectors.

“It is your’s leader of the Royal Knights.”

Galant: “Mine?”

Galant took a look at the armor. It read “Aegis Armor”. The forearm protector was a mirror of his own, just made for his left arm. The forearms and leg protectors were styled in orange, with black lines at its limits and an orange circle near the elbow.

Liz: “The forearms are incredibly strong. They're capable of braking weapons of the same durability or even stronger. If you aim and hit to the right place.”

Galant: “Aegis?”

Liz: “The name of Athena’s shield, the goddess of War and Intelligence. Suitable for you.”

Galant: “Thanks.”

Unluckily, the inevitable question appears once again.

Liz: “I've made armors for you all. Where're Lance, and Elicia?”

Galant looks down to the ground once again, Guinevere did the same.

Gawn: “They're dead.”

Liz was shocked.

“We faced 200 Saxons in a battle and they died.”

Liz: “I'm sorry.”

Gawn: “It’s okey.”

Galant: “Do you have a bed Asuna? I need to rest a bit.”

Asuna: “Yes, sure. Get inside the HQ. On floor 4, room number 4 is empty. It's a bit small but is the only thing we have.”

Galant: “It’s alright for me. Thank you.”

---

Galant heads back to the HQ and rapidly went up the stairs. Finding the room was not a difficult thing, it was near the stairs.

He gets inside the room. It was pretty small, rectangular, nearly space to a bed for one person, a shelf made of wood, and small table were a jar of water was placed.

Galant removes his sword and his boots and laid down on the bed for a moment.

But soon, the memories of what he had done came to his mind. Lance and Elicia. The guild, anger, disappointment returned again, and never leaved. He sits and placed his hands on the back of his hand and starts moving them in the hair trying to remove those thoughts from his head. He gets up and starts walking in the small room. But, he couldn't stop moving. The disappointment in his soul never left. He couldn't see his own hands, and bended his fingers with strength and wrath. He crouches for a little bid in front of the wall and shakes his head, trying to shake out of his head those ideas. He walks once again.

He keeps on doing this for several minutes, when he diced to drinking a glass of water and see if that would calm him down. He was about to put the water on the glass, when he suddenly stops. He yells out in anger and threws the jar against the wall, braking it into polygons. He grabs the table and throws it upside down, grabbed the shelf brake it, against the wall and grabbed one of the remaining fragment, ramming it against the wall again. He grabbed the bed and then it upside down against the other wall, while he continued yelling and scramming in anger.

He walks in front of the wall and charges Grey and Garuru Fist and started fisting the constantly wall with all his strength, creating a small hole in the wall. He stops once his hands shattered into polygons, combined with the huge pain he was suffering. But even still, it was few, against his inner pain. He falls to his knees with tears in his eyes and a red face, while looking downwards.

The door opens, Galant looks up for a second while holding his fist in front of his chest. It was Guinevere, looking his husband with pity. Galant shakes to her while tears began to come out of his eyes. Guinevere he places her hand on her head. Then moves to his cheek and lastly to his chin, lifting it up. Galant once again shaked his head, as she also starts to cry. She hugs Galant from the head and them from the body as he also hugs her, trying to comfort one another form grievous injury on their hearts.

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