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Sword Art Online: Past of Ashes
Written by: FedeTkd
Published:
Chapter 12

SAO:PoA - Chapter Thirteen »



Floor 34, August 2nd, 2023

Thollbrad and Hagen arrived to Cerdic’s camp, a fortress, located at the east of Ayres, and the south of the goblin fortress that was taken by the players, just few hours ago. Upon entrance, Cynric received them.

Cynric: “What happened?”

Nightshroud: “Galant. The Royal Knights entered the fortress somehow, liberated the players and took it.”

Cynric: “My father wants to talk with you. Follow me.”

Cynric guided them across the camp, which was a large circular wall, covering lots of tents where large quantities of monsters had refugee, most of them goblins and some Orcs. On the middle of the large wall, there was a large tent, Cerdic’s tent. They entered, Cerdic was near a table were the map of the floor was placed. Next to him was his second in command Boewolt, and the human, Velron, both of them spoke to him about the movement of the troops. Cynric raged upon sight of his rival, yet he lowered to his knees in respect of his father, as did his companions.

Cynric: “My King, I bring company, your commanders Hagen and Thollbrad.”

Cerdic looked them; he stopped Boewolt, and got near his two other commanders.

Cerdic: “Get up Cynric, and move aside.”

The King of Monsters started a circular walk around them.

Cerdic: “You enter my fortress without horn sound…”

Thollbrad: “My King….”

Cerdic: “Meaning something had happened to your army of monsters…”

Hagen: “My King…”

Cerdic left his back to them two.

Cerdic: “so may I ask, what has happened?”

Hagen swallowed the saliva on his mouth and spoke.

Nightshoud: “The Royal Knights. They somehow entered the fortress, liberated the players and took it. Thollbrad and I tried to fight them, yet the bridge was destroyed before we could. Galant himself told me to tell him that they were back.”

Cerdic, turned and smiled.

Cerdic: “So the weak human is back for more.”

Thollbrad: “He's much stronger than before My King. I even fought him, But he didnn't use his full power on the battle. He managed to get me out of battle alongside four Orcs.”

Cerdic: “I already imagined that, soldier. That’s the only way he could've survived five months since our battle. I shall gaze his proudness in battle. Thollbrad, you won't command the goblin forces to Ayres tomorrow.”

Thollbrad: “But, My King…”

Cerdic: “DISMISSED! Remove yourselves from fucking sight.”

Thollbrad: “Yes, My King.”

Hagen: “Yes, My King.”

They left, while Cynric and Boewolt remain.

Nightshould: “what lay your thoughts, Majesty.”

Cerdic: “They've proven fearsome opponent, as five months ago. The attack of tomorrow will concentrate all our strength. But we shall not command it.”

Boewolt: “Who'll fight with such lofty position.”

Nightshroud: "My King. If I can make a suggestion, I have the perfect monster in mind..." 

---

Floor 35, August 2nd, 2023

“Have you told him?”

“Not yet.”

“Why?”

“Preparing the army and the men is now at his mind. I don't think we'd interrupt with such thing.”

“You're saying this is minor?”

“Of course not Cia, is just that he's focused on other things. Let's postpone it a bit.”

“Lance, our life’s can end anytime. This day, tomorrow, on a weak, a month, a year... We never now. All we can do is live the moment.”

“I know that, but I'm asking some time. Maybe until the end of the battle.”

Elicia looked at him disappointed with her emerald eyes. She grabbed her Katana and placed it on her waist.

“I've to speak to Guinevere.”

“Wait!”

She left the tent. About to enter was Galant.

“Uh. Good morning.”

“Good morning Elicia. Lance is awake? I need to talk to him.”

“Yeah. He also wants to speak to you.”

“Why?”

“He'll tell you. Where is Guinevere?”

“Helping the ones wounded by battle. She was there all night. On the security office.”

“Thanks.”

Galant entered the tent. Lance was sitting on the floor, looking at his katana, seeming thoughtful. He immediately turned to his friend.

“Elicia just went outside, she seemed pissed...”

“She is.”

“I won't ask why. Whatever the cause of disagreement, it'll pass. But she told me you wanted to say me something. What is it?”

Lance widened his eyes and was surprised for what had just happened. Elicia probably had told Galant to force him to say it.

“Nothing at all.”

“Whatever then...”

“How is the organization doing?”

“Well. I already sent Percival and Tristan to track Thollbrad and Hagen.”

Galant moves his index finger, opening the menu, and goes directly to friends. He finds the recognition team moving south.

“They're heading south. When they arrive, we should receive message.”

“In the meantime, we should prepare all others.”

Lance placed his Katana on his belt.

“Yeah.”

---

Shoot 60 meters: bull’s-eye

Shoot 70 Meters: bull’s-eye

Shoot 80 Meters: almost at the middle

Shoot 90 Meters: almost out

Shoot 100 Meters: missed

“Dammit.”

“Relax sis, you cannot always shot stright to the middle.”

“I have to!”

“There's just one way to learn this: practicing.”

They looked back. It was Gawn, walking to then, with his hands at his pockets.

Diana: “You speak as an archer would.”

Gawn: “I'm sort of.”

He looked towards the bull’s-eye and the two arrows stick at it. He smiled and asked.

“From how many distance you shoot that arrow?”

“70 meters.”

“Okay....”

Gawn grabbed one of his tomahawks, and walked to a distance of 80 meters from the bull’s eye and threw it, dividing in half the arrow and stick on the bull’s eye.

Diana: “Whoa...”

Gawn: “See nothing's impossible. If mind and heart are well foucused, no mountain is so high, neither ocean so deep.”

Kana: “Ok mister Ego, can you at least tell us your name, instead of showing of or throwing axe skill?”

Gawn: “Gawn, forth at command of the Royal Knights.”

Gawn offered his had to both of them, receiving atypical handshake from both of them.

“Still, you're a great archer. Maybe if Tristan would teach you some things…”

Diana: “Tristan?”

Gawn realized they didn't know anyone of the people of the guild, except maybe him, Elicia, Bors, Galant, and Lance.

Gawn: “Tristan0s our archer; the one was on the battle with his arch, right beside you.”

Diana: “True. Totally forgot of him. Where is him?”

Gawn: “On a mission, tracking the two sub-bosses from yesterday.”

Walking to them was Galant and Lance. Diana looked down immediately when she looked at him. She blushed a bit as he got near them.

“We'd receive word of them in some hours.”

Gawn looked back and saw his friends

“Morning. I was speaking to the girls about the guild and teaching them some bow shooting.”

Lance: “You bow shooting..?”

Gawn: “Yeah...what?”

Galant: “Enough you two.... I need to talk to them. In the meantime, you two prepare everyone for battle, count up soldiers, form them up dive them into squadrons. The usual.”

Lance: “Ok.”

Gawn: “We shall see it done.”

As they two left, Galant looked into his menu. He didn't find a message from the recognition team; neither was he searching for it. Continuing to move to items, and took out three items; three plastic water bottles. He gave one to each girl and the last one, to himself.

Galant: “After training, the best is to drink water, even if it isn't real.”

Diana & Kana: “Thanks.”

Galant then found some large branches of trees on the floor, he asked the girls to sit down, since he did sat down.

Galant: “You're welcome. Now, that we have broken the ice let me present myself, I'm Galant, leader of the Royal Knights. ”

Diana: “Diana, archer she is my sister, Kana, close-quarters knife warrior."

Kana: “Greetings.”

Diana: “Both of us Pendragon Court.”

Galant: “You reach matter I wished to discuss with you.”

He drank a bit of water and continued.

“Your guild is by far one of the most famous, besides KoB, Divine Dragon Alliance, Golden Lions and others. Yet five months have passed since I..." Galant corrects. "No. Since we created the Royal Knights United Player Army. We haven't received great quantity of number to fight Cerdic, and his army grows and becomes larger day by day, second by second, as a festering disease. The only possibility is to us to join forces.”

Kana finished her bottle of water.

Kana: “You put us on a tight spot...”

Galant: “I truly don't mean it.”

Kana: “I guessed. But, it does not depend on us. Our guild is taken with other concerns.”

Galant: “I don't mean to get into your guilds internal matters, but I revealed what our guild is doing. May I ask, what's yours doing?”

Diana: “Fair enough. Your guild is searching for, Skeith.”

Kana looked to her sister a bit disappointed. She had just revealed a secret to a person unconnected neither known by the guild.

Galant: “Skeith?”

Diana: “A powerful glitch weapon, dangerous. That's why we're searching it. I don't know more of it.”

Galant looked upon the sky, and then forced his sight down to the earth. He was thinking.

Galant: “You are telling me someone is searching for this weapon. Then, someone has bad intentions about it.”

Diana: “You move one step forward it seems.”

Galant: “It’s logic; I'd do the same if I had time for it and if I was not one the leader of player’s army against Cerdic.”

Diana: “The Guardians of Darkness. They want to find the weapon if bring us all, to ruin, blood and death.”

Galant: “The Guardians of Darkness. Kamui...I fought him once. He's really powerful. Who would say this world could be even more dangerous than the real one.”

Galant got up and stretched his fingers.

Galant: “I'd be grateful to you two if you send that message to Knight himself. In the meantime, need your help.”

Kana: “What would be?”

Galant: “We find ourselves with few members at the moment. Counting the approximately 75 of us here, and the others in Ayres, we are 100 against the monsters. So I need you two, experienced players, to help us..”

Kana: “We shall think about it.”

Galant: “Well. I think that's enough.  Thanks for your time. Hope we can count you among our men.”

Galant walked to search for his sub-commanders. When he was several meters from them, Kana changed her seat in front of her sister, looking her seriously, like piercing thought her eye wither sight, until her brain, as if she was reading her thoughts. She maintained that stare for several seconds. Diana looked at her at the same time with her violet eyes; se rapidly became tired of her annoying sister.

“What are you looking now!?”

“…you like him. Don’t you?”

Diana blushed immediately and looked down. Kana started laughing and almost gathers the attention of many curious players, if Diana hadn't put her bottle of water on her mouth, avoiding what would had been one of the most awkward moments in her life. Her sister finished, laughing few seconds later after the water had caused her an awful cough.

“Thanks for almost exposing me to the most unconfutable moment in my life.”

“Thanks for almost killing me, Sis.”

“Don't be such a jerk. Yeah, he saved me yesterday from some goblins, and he's…handsome.”

“Ahahah. My sister is such a damsel in distress.”

“What of you with Gawn, eh?!”

Kana eyes widened. She changed her sight to her left. She tried to speak as serious as she had never done.

“You mistake intent. He's just a friend.”

“The blush upon your check says a different thing.”

Diana was almost to repeat her sisters’ scandal, if she hadn't interrupted her first.

“We shall stay.”

“I want so. I'll try to make Knight to help them. If not, I'll remain here until Cerdic's destroyed.”

Kana: "My place is forever by your side, sis.”

Diana got up.

“Well, let's give a hand to those around.”

“Yeah.”

---

18:00hs

Lance: “From the 60 players, a third are below level 30, the lowest being level 25. Other third in between Level 30 and 35. And the last one, from 35 to 40.”

Gawn: “From the 60 players, half of them wield sword in battle and half of it with shield. Then 10 players with spears, and rest with Axes, maces, etc.”

Galant: “Among those are our two members of Pendragon Court?”

Gawn: “Yeah.”

Galant: “60 players, plus us RK and Fuurinkazan, makes 74. And the other 27 players.”

Bors: “Silica won't fight.”

Galant: “True. Makes then 100 players.”

Galant looked at the players surrounding him. 

Galant: “What do you think?”

Klein: “Let's pray for an equal number of monsters.”

Galant: “Yeah. Yime by time, we've proven the impossible, possible. If what you stated is true Klein, if we're victorious, we shall become a true army...”

Lance: “True, but what of our strategy?”

Galant: “I'm still thinking. We hold advent of city walls. Archers and lancers can hold position there, raining the enemy with them. Yet someone shall lead them. Our biggest preoccupation: a battering ram, if they're successful entering the city, we're done.”

Gawn: “You speak mostly of defensive maneuvers.”

Lance: “We don't have time to move our entire army to the city.”

Galant: “True, we don't.”

A female voice entered thought everybody’s ear.

“GALANT!”

It was Guinevere running up the stairs of the wall, where the reunion was being held.

“I've received message from Percival.”

Galant’s eyes brightened.

“Call Elicia and the two girls of Pendragon Court here.”

“Yes!”

Guinevere ran to find them, while Galant took out the Holographic Communicator and pushed the button, placing it on the edge of the wall. Percival’s face image appeared.

Galant: “Good to see you two alive.”

Lance: "So, good or bad news?"

Percival: “Bad news. We have followed Hagen and Thollbrad to a large circular fortress from distance. We can look at it from a distance, up a tree.”

Galant: “What do you see?”

Percival: “The bad news: 200 Monsters preparing for battle. Most of them Goblins, some Orcs among them."

Elicia: "Who leads them?"

Percival: “A large black orc, mounting a sort of combination of a bear and wolf.”

Bors: “A Warg.”

Percival: “I haven't seen this monster ever before. Neither heard about it or seen it's data. It seems like a field boss. I will send you and image.”

Seconds later an image arrived to Galant’s messages. He opened it, and saw a large orc, the largest he had seen: 2, 20 meters tall, totally black, with his skin black. His torso wasn't covered, and just worn a sort of pants, but the most grotesque sight, was multiple scars, edged deep upon flesh.

Galant: “Does someone know him?”

Galant showed the image to his friends.

“Who gave you that image?!”

The players looked back it was Diana the one who spoke, accompanied by her sister, Guinevere and Elicia.

Gawn: “Do you know him?”

Diana: “Yeah. The one that attack the village, and slaughtered everything in their path, capturing us."

Kana: “Zerzohg, the Lord Orc. A field boss, the most powerful Orc in the whole level.”

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