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SAO:PoA - Chapter Twenty Five

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« SAO:PoA - Chapter Twenty Four

Sword Art Online: Past of Ashes
Written by: FedeTkd
Published:
Chapter 25

SAO:PoA - Chapter Twenty Six »



Floor 1st, October 14th, 2024

Galant sat on his bed after a horrible night.

Another nightmare.

Sakura once again appeared there, and died just before his eyes. He still couldn’t do anything to save her. She’d often appeared on his dreams in the last months, but since Eve’s death, she appeared every single night. He puts his hands together and places them on his forehead, looking to the ground.

The door opened, it was Antinomy.

“Day’s training will begin shortly. You better join us before the guards see you here.”

“Whatever. What can they do?”

“The guards have been stricter since the Patronage and their number has increased.”

He sits down in front of him

“Still bad for her? Eve?” Antinomy asks.

“She looked exactly like Sakura, when we met a life time ago.”

“She should yet walk. With that sweet smile, the wind waving her hair, and dreams beyond this virtual world. I wish I could switch places with her.”

“Every night must end. We must all wake sometime.” Antinomy says going towards the door. “But there’s nothing we can do to change our past. We must look to the future and advance try to overcome the pain and guilty in our souls. Come and train. Doing something else will help you to recover.”

Antinomy leaves.

Galant moves his right hand and noticed the wound Eve’d made on him hadn’t yet healed for some reason. His Battle Healing skill should’ve activated in the moment he stepped out of the sands.

Galant grabs his armor and equipped it. He grabbed his two wooden blades and started.

Ducard looks at his Champion as he begins to spar with Antinomy.

He sees that he wouldn’t take that girl’s death slightly. He entered inside the last floor, trying to forget about Galant and his problems. At that moment, he had a bigger one to attend to: Thinker.

A grey hooded player appeared before him.

“Aulux!” Ducard says, walking quite fast towards him. What news do you bring?”

“Good news, master. We attacked Thinker’s cart on the road leaving the city. He drugged him with paralysis potion, so he isn’t conscious.”

“The guards and carriage?”

“Attended as you commanded. Burned.”

“What of Hikami?”

“Hikami took the guard. We’ll switch turns at night.”

“I’ll accompany you. I want to make sure everything’s fine. In the meantime, you’ll receive my hospitality.”

“Thank you, master.”

“It’s what you deserve.”

“Master.”

The hooded player left the place to go downstairs.

Ducard smiled and sat dawn on his chair and served himself a cup of wine. This hadn’t ended yet.

No.

It had but begun.

---

Galant stops training to drink a bit of water. He rests down with his hands in the jar on water and rested from some brief seconds before a guard tells him to continue training. He couldn’t train well, not with that thought on his mind.

The wound in his abdomen still didn’t heal either.

“Galant!”

A guard appeared before Galant.

“You’re summoned.”

He left his weapons and accompanied the guard. He places shackles on his wrists before he entered the last floor. Upstairs, he was sent to Ducard’s office.

“You don’t look well, champion.” Ducard says.

“I’m not. I was forced to kill an innocent girl.”

“I understand. Kibaou forced me to do it, so that we could finish our agreement of patronage. I wished you be free, not to be forced to kill a girl.”

“She was just a girl! Why was she sentenced to execution and Laughing Coffin members didn’t?”

“I don’t know. I’ll look for an answer, I promise you that!”

Galant nods his head slightly.

“Now, I need you to concentrate to the Trimester’s Games against the Gladiators of the prison in the floor 13th. “ He grabs Galant’s arm and starts walking around the floor. “The perfumed shit of Solcius always securing these Games by inserting tongue in ass, only to be crushed by other level’s Ludus.”

He stops and walks until he is in front of Galant.

“But this time is different. THIS TIME WE HAVE THAT HONOR! Galant, the Champion of Aincrad, versus Adonexus, the Demonical Titan.”

“Understood.”

“This sad events have obviously taken part of us. Train. Rest. And know that those responsible for this pain soon will feel their own pain.”

Galant nods slightly to his master.

He walks back to the lower floor accompanied by the guard. While they walked, he sees a player sleeping inside a cell. He saw his face and recognized that he wasn’t a gladiator. He looked a bit more and saw a symbol of a guild he’d never seen before: a skull, drawn in a brown square.

He’s pushed forward before he could see the player more.

---

Dangrenn: “Shit! I knew it!”

Naggeron grabs the list of battles in the hand of his brother and read it quickly, he smiled.

Naggeron: “Oh, why’re you so pissed brother? You’re fighting with me.”

Duron: “Like a sucking baby, I want to prove myself alone.”

Craxus grabs the list.

Craxus: “And die the same...”

Craxus leaves, disappointed since he didn’t obtained the Primus.

He left the list to one of the Gladiators and left the baths.

Galant remains sitting while looking to the ground. Still. He also felt weaker and weaker by the moment as if he was sick, a strange thing, considering he couldn’t get sick inside a game.

The wound on his side still did not heal.

Naggeron : “Our champion doesn’t seem in form.”

Dangrenn: “He’s being punished.”

Naggeron: “Why?”

Dangrenn: “You’re really asking that? That girl’s blood still wet on his hands?”

Naggeron: “He didn’t have a choice…”

Dangrenn: “I’d gladly die before I killed a girl.”

Galant: “AND WHO’D SEE HER DEATH AVENGED?”

Galant gets up angrily and faces him.

“What answer do you give Dangrenn?! Uh?!”

He head-butted him slightly.

“If both of you were dead, who would avenge your deaths?! Eh?!?!?!?!?!”

Duron: “I WOULDN’T KILL HER EITHER”

Galant didn’t speak; he briefly turned his sight towards the door and saw Eve, walking through the Ludus wearing a white dress. The wound on her shoulder was still open and bleeding.

Galant: “WAIT!!!”

Galant begins to rushing, searching for her.

The girl turned to the side, and they briefly gazed into each other. She went towards the training place in the sands, as he did the same, but he did not find anything. He turned 360º but still he didn’t saw her. He looked up to the sky. He felt a hand on his shoulder and turn rapidly, it was Antinomy.

“Sorry. I called you.”

“I didn’t hear…”

“You do not appear yourself…Galant, your wound…”

Galant looks at the wound for a second, but he soon

“It is a scratch, Eve suffered way worse.”

“Do you need help to go to your cell?”

“Thanks, but I can do it myself.”

---


“Remove the bag from his face.” Ducard orders.

He was tied up to a chair in the sewers of the city.

Aulux removes the bag from Thinker’s face. He was wounded but alive. Aulux and Hikami and drugged him with a special paralyzing potion that would make him sleep for quite a long while.

“Good job, both of you.” Ducard adds. “Did he see your faces?”

“He didn’t saw mine.” Hikami says.

“What about you Aulux?”

“Yes Master.”

“Then after this, you’re going fucking far away from me.”

“Master.” Aulux says, nodding slightly before placing the bag on Thinker’s face.

“Alright then.” Ducard says. “One of you will stay here and you’ll switch turns every 12 hours. Keep him drugged. Make sure he doesn’t wake until the appointed hour. And make sure no one comes here, and if someone does, kill him. We don’t need unnecessary witnesses”

“Is this wise Master?” Hikami says nervously. “Perhaps, if we set him free now…”

Ducard grabs Hikami’s from the collar and pushes him against a wall.

“GRAB YOUR BALLS AND FOLLOW THE PLAN!” He shouts. He takes a deep breath. “We’re already on this. We’re committed.”

“Master.” He answers.

Ducard left the sewers of the first floor, going back to his prison by a secret via between them.

---

Floor 1st, October 15th, 2024

Galant blocks Naggeron’s blow with his sword, then his second, he evades the third and stops. He still couldn’t fight well. He shakes his head and prepares his fighting stance. He attacks and exchanged some other blows with his partner, but he rapidly drops his sword and walks to get some water.

Craxus: “Behold, the glorious Champion of Aincrad...”

Doctore: “He hasn’t been able fight properly for quite some time.”

Craxus: “The execution of a player is hardly felt by any player and Gladiator. But killing criminals is something we accepted to do when we swore the Oath. We honor it, not with tears, but with blood staining the sands.”

Doctore: “You’re talking like a true champion.”

Craxus: “Our Ludus finally participates in the Trimester’s Games against the floor 13th, but who’s awarded the primus: Galant, the player that grieves.”

Craxus turns back to Antinomy and continues training as Doctore looked back to Galant, who had grabbed his swords once again and faced Argon.

“My brother didn’t mean his remarks.” Naggeron tells him.

“It’s fine. Many here think the same as him.”

Galant leans on his right leg, breathing heavily.

“You want to rest a bit more?” Naggeron asks.

“If I do, I’ll tell you.”

They keep on training for a couple of seconds, but Galant soon takes a hard hit from Naggeron and falls to his knees, hyperventilating again.

“Did I hurt you?” Naggeron asks.

Galant looks up, and his eyes widened as soon as he did. Naggeron wasn’t the one in front of him. It was Lance. Galant didn’t understand what was happening, he just shacked his head and closed his eyes. But when he re-opened them, his best friend was still there looking at him.

“Champion?” He asks.

Angry and confused, Galant get up and starts attacking him. He raises his right blade, which clashes with Lance’s shield. He attacks with his dagger and he blocks with his shield. He thrusts forward with both weapons, which clash against his shield. Lance attacks with his blade, but Galant deflects it strongly and the blade flies away from his hand. At last, the champion gets close to his friend and places both blades in his neck.

Lance: “Tend to the wound.”

Doctore: “GALANT!”

Galant turns to Doctore, and then back to Lance. But his partner wasn’t Lance anymore. He was Naggeron.

Naggeron.: “Galant…Your wound…”

Galant drops his blades and sees his wound. It had become way bigger.

He starts feeling nauseous and numb suddenly. Soon, he starts losing control over his body. His legs can’t support the weight of his body and he falls to the ground, unconscious.

---

Ducard: “The man is half dead with less than Half of his HP gone, did not notice he needed fucking attention!?”

Doctore: “I thought he was just distracted by that girl’s death.”

Ducard: “He’ll able to fight against in the upcoming games?”

Doctor: “He burns with fever. His HP is leaves his body for unknown reason slowly and piece by piece. It’ll be a miracle if he lives to the Games.”

Ducard: “Damnit…write a list of all that is needed, I’ll see you well provided. Don’t let a moment pass with him unattended! Tell his good friend, Antinomy, to come here if you need something. Our champion cannot fall!”

Doctor: “Master.”

Ducard left the place with Doctore following him towards the upper floor.

“The Primus against the 13th floor is finally mine, and this shit fucks my plans!!!” he sighs. “The crowd won’t be happy when they see that Galant won’t fight.”

“Perhaps they’ll be pleased with proper replacement.” Doctore says.

“Who besides Galant could best their fucking champion?!”

“If Antinomy stays here, with Galant, there’s but one choice, Craxus.”

---

Hikami walks though the city buying the required herbs and ointments for the sick champion. There, he also encounters Solcius, Ducard’s Lanista rival. They stop in front of each other and Solcius gives him some Col.

“You have the Col you need, now talk.”

“You’re safe now. My Master doesn’t care about you right now. He’s occupied with something else.”

“What’s he doing?”

“That’s not your concern, Solcius.”

“Yet they clearly worry you. C’mon, tell me, let me share your burden.”

“He has become…reckless. His thirst for power and vengeance doesn’t let him think right. He’s doing something quite stupid…”

“How so?”

“It was quite risky coming here to talk to you this night. I must head back to the prison now. Good night.”

Hikami turns around and walks a single step when Solcius grabbed his arm.

“You’ve served me well, as an informant for the last few months, so know this: one day, soon, his Ludus will come crushing down. Don’t end up buried in the remains.”

---

Galant moved uncontrollably on his bed while he slept.

The doctor near him makes him drink a sip water. While he drinks, he also starts coughing quite a lot.

“Hold him tight!” He orders.

Antinomy holds his friend down strongly, and though he coughed a bit more, he stopped once the liquid flowed through his throat.

“That is right…easy.”

Galant stopped moving.

---

I wake up on the baths and see other gladiator near.

“Well lick my hole…The pig-fucker is still alive!” Craxus says.

All the gladiators began laughing.

Everything looked so different and weird.

I soon realize I wasn’t awake. I was having a dream, but one unlike any other he ever had. Every sound was loud and the smell of sweat combined with steam filled his nose. All my five senses were acting weirdly, as if I was in a totally different VR.

I move my right arm a couple of centimeters, and soon feel a strong pain in my abdomen. The wound Eve made on me was still fresh and bleeding. I place my hands on it, trying to stop the bleeding and to embrace the pain, but soon, I fell something weird inside of me. Something made of metal. I move my hands and see a Col coin in my hand. Soon, a stream of coins starts flowing from my body and falling to the ground. Each coin made a metallic sound as it clashed against the rock solid floor. It continued for quite a bit of time, until it finally stopped. The floor was filled with coins around me.

Eve voice appeared in my mind, repeating a single phrase several times:

“This is what you’re to him. Gold, mined from the blood and meat.”

I shake my head and close my eyes, trying to get rid of that thought.

Soon, I open them and everyone was gone from the baths. I hear the sound of water and turn around. There was a girl in a pool of water. She was almost as tall as me, with long blonde hair and blue yes. She was wearing a short white dress and a mask of the same color coveted her face.

She slowly walks out of a pool of water and walks towards me.

“All hail Galant…” She says.

I blink my eyes and she was gone.

A hand touches my right shoulder and she appeared once again, in my left.

“Slayer of Cerdic…”

She walks behind me and touches my right shoulder, while keeping her eyes on me.

“…The Champion of Aincrad, Champion of Ducard.”

She stops in front of me.

A few drops of blood came out of the mouth of the mask. She falls into my arms. I doubt for a moment, but I finally dare to remove the mask from her face. She was Sakura. Bloodied and badly injured, but she was smiling at me for no reason. Her eyes widened as she opens her month filled with blood, like if she’d been stabbed.

---

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

Galant’s body begins to strongly convulse. Both the Doctor and Antinomy had to grab him and hold him tight for the second time. They grabbed a couple of belts and tied him up to make sure he wouldn’t keep on having strong spasms.

---

Floor 1st, October 18th, 2024

Dangrenn and Naggeron are victorious in their fight, but Naggeron had to kill both players by himself.

Ducard: “HA! Is that all what the Ludus of the 13th floor has to offer?”

Lazar: “These minor battles don’t count. It’s the Primus who decides the victor, and without your champion, Galant, you have no chance of winning!”

Julier: “Don’t underestimate the man. He’s one of the best gladiators of the 1st floor Ludus.”

Ducard: “You’re right, Julier…”

Lazar: “Speaking of which, Julier, when will Thinker come here?”

Julier: “He’s busy in other city, but he should be arriving soon.”

Ducard: “I’m sure he’ll join us very, very soon.”

---

Hikami walks by the sewers. He soon finds Thinker, and very close to him, Aulux…sleeping.

“Aulux!” he kicked him “Get up you lazy sloth! Our Master doesn’t pay you for dreaming of tits and ass.”

“Put a hand on me and you’ll be a cripple.”

“You know what we’re dealing with. If Thinker would be to escape…”

“Shut your fucking hole! He hasn’t moved for quite a while.”

“Check if he’s alive then. See his HP.”

“I will! Just shut up, you bitchy woman!”

Aulux walks near him, and removes the bag on Thinker’s head.

“Please tell me he’s not dead. If he is, that’s your fault I don’t have anything to…

“Shut up!” Aulux shouts. “I’ll check if he’s breathing.”

He bends down and places his placed his neck near Thinker’s face.

“He’s alive. He’s…”

Aulux is bitten by Thinker in the neck. Hikami grabs his partner and drags him out of Thinker’s jaws.

“I’ll have you both executed for this crime!” Thinker shouts.

Aulux, in a birth of rage, punches Thinker several times in the face, knocking him out.

“Aulux! Enough! Let me see, let me see!”!”

He looks to the wound of his neck and a part of it was missing.

“As ugly as your face, but you’ll survive. Unluckily I’m out of healing crystals. Go to the infirmary in the prison.”

“Do you have the balls to take care of him?” Aulux asks him.

“Two of them, very large. Go!”

Aulux walks the way back to the Prison by the sewers.

Hikami looks to the rings in Thinker’s hand and thinks…

---

Thinker hadn’t yet arrived to the Arena. They couldn’t start the primus without his announcement. By that time, they’d been waiting for almost an hour and the crowd’s discomfort grew second by second. They were shouting and cursing, demanding for a show of gore and blood. Disturbances between them had already started, and soon, they’d riot against the hosts.

Lazar: “The crowd’s already too angry. We can’t wait for Thinker any longer.”

Julier: “You’re right. Ducard, can you announce the primus in name of my boyfriend?”

Ducard: “You’re offering me a great honor, thank you.”

Ducard walks in front of Thinker’s chair, right in the middle of the Pulvinus. He raises his hands and the crowed paced.

“Players of Aincrad! In honor of Thinker, the Editor, who’s busy right now, I present to you, the Primus!””

“GALANT! GALANT! GALANT!” They start chanting

“Yes. Yes we all wish to see him step into the sands. But unluckily, our champion won’t fight today. Instead, we’ll see a new gladiator step into the sands in this primus: CRAXUS! SABER!”

Craxus enters the arena while half of the crowd cheered his name, while the rest mocked and demanded to see Galant.

“He faces the vilest opponent, forged in the darks depths of the 13th floor’s Ludus! I give you Adonexus! Curved Saber!”

A dark skinned player armored with a curved sword, a medium shield, long graves and a single manica entered the arena. He had long dreadlocks coming from the sides of his face and a serious face with vicious look.

The two opponents were meters from each other. Craxus places his helmet on, and tabbed his sword, as Adonexus showed his weapon to Lazar in respect. Lazar answers by rising his hand.

Lazar: “I hope the match is overly brief…”

Ducard: “Let it be done! BEGIN!”

---

Craxus is kicked against the wall of the Arena. He manages to elude Adonexus first strike and then barely parries the second one. Craxus covers behind his shield, but Adonexus moves it aside with his own and strikes his opponent strongly with his own. Adonexus then kicks him on the face Craxus clashes against the wall and then falls to the.

Considering he won, Adonexus turns to the crowd and opens his arms, screaming.

Lazar: “Another Trimester, another favored son of the 1st floor defeated!”

Ducard: “The match isn’t yet finished!”

Lazar: “Formalities of blood. Your man’s finished.”

Craxus gets up again.

Adonexus rushes towards him ready to finish him.

He spins and thrust his sword several times yet the Saber covered with ease thanks to his large shield. They clash sword and shield at each side of them. Adonexus is stronger and pushes him against the wall; however, Craxus relies on the wall and kicks his opponent hardly in the face. He rolls in the ground and gets up. At the same time, Craxus gets ready in fighting stance and prepares to keep on fighting.

They rush at each other and clash sword and shields. They clash, attack, defend stop and restart several times. At last, Craxus manages to deal a strong lunge attack on Adonexus. The blow is strong enough to break his shield and make him loose the grip of his blade. Craxus had the opportunity of finishing him off, but he doesn’t. Instead, he falls back a couple of steps. The Demonical Titan raises his sight and sees his blade a meter in front of him, and after that, Craxus. He rolls on the ground and grasped his sword, and runs toward his opponent, but Craxus moves just in time and swings his blade. Both of them fall to the ground at the same time. Adonexus kneels sees a huge slash in his body, from navel to backbone. Craxus walks kicking him to the floor. He pierces his head with his blade, winning the match.

He shouted in joy for the victory.

“Craxus, VICTOR! As promised!”

“Good fortune to the Ludus of the 1st floor, and all its citizens.” Lazar says, extremely disappointed.

“Oh, come on, stay for a while longer, let’s relive this glorious day!” Ducard says while laughing, happy that Craxus just won.

A soldier from the Army appeared from the door, with a message in hand.

“Master.” he says.

Ducard grabs the message and opens it.

“What’s this news that stops your joy, Ducard?”

“The men sent by Kibaou to the 74 boss battle were defeated. Corbatz and other two are dead. And…the wagon of Thinker was discovered at the edge of the city. No sight of the guards.”

Yuriel: “Thinker?!”

Ducard: “Wasn’t among them. But tracks lends back to the city. Probably ransom.”

Lazar: “If I can help in anything…?”

Yuriel: “Dom’t worry, we shall manage.”

Ducard: “I’ll send my men to search for him. Yuriel, you want to join us?”

Yuriel: “Alright.”

---

Hikami walks through the city and encountered Solcius.

“You made me wait for too long.” Solcius says.

“I’m sorry. I was difficult to move without notice. Guards are everywhere.”

“I know. I’m going join the search for Thinker.”

“I’m well aware of his absence. And that0s why I came here.”

Hikami gives him a small leather bag, inside of it, a ring.

“Thinker’s ring?!” Solcius shouts surpriced.

“SH. Not so loud.” Hikami tells him

“How did you find this?”

“Ducard holds him captive. He wants to murder him.”

“Why?! This is madness!”

“Thinker has insulted him and obstructs his ambitions. I’d prefer to end my bond to him before I follow him to death.”

“Thinker, where’s does Ducard hold him?”

Hikami doesn’t answer.

"Why you’re hiding this if you’re no longer loyal to Ducard?”

“Because thinker has seen my face. I must leave the city, and I need proper means...”

Solcius gives him a bag filled with Col.

“Come then, we must go, let’s gather men.”

“No Thinker’ll be dead before we go there. We must proceed before now. Are you armed?”

“A simple dagger.”

“It’s more than enough to cut ropes! Come! Quickly!”

He walked towards direction he pointed, followed by Solcius.

---

I wakes up and breathing heavily.

I sit down in the bed and look around. No one was near and the place looked like…abandoned.

“Doctor? Antinomy?” I say, but hear no reply.

I stand up with pain and walk a few steps forward. But soon, I look back. The bed where I was sleeping wasn’t there any longer. Instead, there was another bed with a small human being on it, breathing slowly and heavily. Above him, a white sheet, as if he was dead.

I walk towards it, and see that he stopped breathing. Seconds later, blood starts coming out of his body. I gulp down saliva and remove move the cloth to see his face. As soon as I do, I walk backwards a few steps.

The one on the bed…was me. Or rather, my younger self, back when I met Sakura.

He recalled his first fight as a gladiator in the Arena against the members of Titan’s Hand. He saw his own face instead of the real face of the player killer. He killed him by slashing his throat, and the body had a cut in that exact same place.

“Why did you kill him?” Sakura says, entering the infirmary.

“I had no choice! A man must accept his fate!”

I looks back to the body, and this time I saw Eve, dead where my younger self was dead.

“…or be destroyed by it.” She adds, appearing right beside of me.

“Is this my path? Blood and death?” I ask her.

“You’ve always been destined for unfortunate things.”

Our foreheads touch and we close our eyes.

I open them and I was back on the last cave of the Maximus quest, with Guinevere dying on my arms.

“Please, don’t leave me again.” I tell her.

“This…is to help you…look to the glove….” She tells me, smiling and placing her hand in my cheek.

I look up and saw Nightshroud disguised as PoH.

I get up and walked by him. A brown coffin, with a grinning skull with bones, was in his glove. All the Laughing Coffin members had that insignia somewhere in their outfit.

I’m pushed.

Suddenly, I was back in the Ludus. I look back and see Shun, dressed as a guard.

I walk in the Ludus and see the cell where that player I didn’t know slept days ago.

“Tend to the glove, brother.” He tells me

I looked at the glove and see the symbol of Laughing Coffin.

---

Galant wakes up and breathes deeply.

Antinomy appears.

“You’re alright!” He says. “We didn’t know what had happened to you. Your wound has healed. Be still. You’re lucky to still be alive.”

Galant looked to his side, he noticed the player form days before, dreaming next to him.

“Yes, I have been…”

“I’ll look for the Doctor.”

“Wait!” He says, grabbing his arm.

“What?”

“Release the straps. I need to talk with this player, alone.”

“Why?”

“Wait in the corridor, sound warning if anyone approaches.”

Antinomy kept looking at him, but did not say anything.

“Do this for me brother. I’ll be in your debt.”

---

Ducard and Yulier walked thought the city, accompanied by a dozen of guards.

“There is no damn sign of him. He could be anywhere!” She says-

“He’s an important man here, easily recognizable. There must be a way to move him from one place to another without anyone noticing!”

“Wait…The cisterns! They move beneath the entire city, and beyond!”

“Well thought! Advance, get the torches ready! You shall see your boyfriend very soon, Yuriel. You have my word.”

“Your help on this won’t be forgotten.”

She entered the cisterns.

---

Hikami and Solcius arrived to the place where Thinker was.

“Thinker!” Solcius shouts.

“Wait… they’re approaching!” Hikami warns him.

“WE MUST HURRY!”

“No, it’s too late!”

“Relax, for fuck’s sake!”

“I won’t end murdered by you nor any man! Consider me a spirit, and this city, a world I leave behind!”

The read haired player runs away, far from the place.

“Hikami….”

Solcius walks near Thinker and cuts off the ropes from the legs and arms of the chair and Thinker.

“SOLCIUS!”

Solcius gets up. He still had the knife in hand. Yuriel hugs Thinker, and he wakes up few seconds later. He’s helped up by the guards. The two Lanista rivals stared to one another.

Yuriel: “Solcius, you did this!?”

Solcius: “No, listen to me!”

Ducard: “Seize him.”

Two guards grab Solcius, and he was hit by the pommel of a sword by a third guard.

“Don’t worry. He’s alive, Yuriel.” Ducard says. “Solcius will pay and suffer for betraying our guild. All of Aincrad shall know you for the shit you are!”

---

Galant grabs the hand of Aulux and sees the symbol of Laughing Coffin.

“What’re you doing?!?!”

Galant grabs his neck in a chokehold, he struggles for a short moment, but Galant doesn’t let him go and begins the questions.

“TELL ME, WHAT IS THIS MARK!?”

“Take your hands of me!”

“WHAT’RE YOU DOING HERE WITH THE MARK THAT POH AND LAUGHING COFFIN MEMBERS WERE?”

The eye of Aulux widened as he realizes with who he was talking too.

“Guard!”

“TELL ME!” He shouts, choking him.

“I only do as commanded…”

“Who gives you orders, eh?”

“Du…card.”

Galant puts more strength into his hold for a couple of minutes. Soon, the red player shattered into polygons.

Antinomy entered the place

“What have you done?” Antinomy asks.

“He died and you don’t know why. Secure my straps. I’ll tell you later.”

---

Floor 1st, October 19th, 2024

Ducard and Hikami speak in the balcony of prison’s Ludus, as the Sun starts descending in the horizon.

“The wound didn’t seem fatal.” Hikami says.

“The damage was deeper than the eye can perceive.” Ducard responds.

“Silver lining, a loose end, no longer needed to be tightened.”

Ducard nodded, and he laughed.

“You played your part well, Hikami.”

“It was a greater mind that mines the one that conceived the plan.”

“Solcius thought you’d betray me as I knew he would.”

“He never suspected my loyalty, always with you.”

“And because of your loyalty, you’ll be well rewarded.”

“Your will, Master.”

“Uh, fate truly favor this Ludus.” He grabs Hikami from the arm and points downwards. “Behold! Galant, risen form the dead. GALANT!”

Galant finished striking a little wooden mannequin.

“You’re well?” Ducard asks.

“Yes, Master. I’m myself again.” He looks Ducard look out of the corner of his eye to Ducard with a grin in his face.

A guard approached the Ludus.

“DAY’S TRAINING ENDS!”

Doctore sound his whip, and all ceased training and gave the swords to the guards. They place chains on all the gladiators and push them into the cells. One of them pushes Dangrenn.

“Stop, you Soldier asshole.”

He’s punched in the face and forced to sit down in his cell.

“I’d use softer words…” Galant says a cell next to them in the cells and with chains.

Dangrenn: “What’re you doing here? You have your own cell.”

Dangrenn: “Not any longer, apparently.”

Naggeron: “Softer words you say? The shit keeps rising higher and higher in this fucking hole.”

Galant: “Perhaps it’s best to not be present when it fills the mouth.”

Both brothers turn around and look at the Champion.

Naggeron: “What’re you talking about?”

Galant: “I’m saying nothing.”

Dangrenn: ““Nothing” sounds much like escape. And how can “nothing” find a way to pass Ducard, all his fucking soldiers and members of the Army?”

Galant: “There’s just one path: we kill them all.”

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