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« SAO:PoA - Chapter Twenty Three

Sword Art Online: Past of Ashes
Written by: FedeTkd
Published:
Chapter 24

SAO:PoA - Chapter Twenty Five »



Floor 45th, October 3rd, 2024

GALANT! GALANT! GALANT! GALANT! GALANT! GALANT! GALANT! GALANT!

The crowd roar could be heard from distance. They were eager for more blood and battle.

Galant next to Antinomy look at the arena from the entrance gate. They were ready for they two-against-many battle. A 4 meter long chain attached to their belts prevented them to get too far from each other and forced them to fight together.

“What’s happening to Guren?” Galant asks.

“Uh…what do you mean?” Antinomy asks his partner.

“The red blade is darker than before. What does that mean?”

“You’re right. Since when you have noted this darkening?”

“Since the battle of the 20th of August, four days after I faced the members of Laughing Coffin.”

“I don’t know why. Maybe it’s a property of the metal my smith-teacher hasn’t told me about. I don’t know all about Hellkarium. My master must have answers…”

“Who’s your teacher?”

“Hephestus. The greatest blacksmith in all of Aincrad.”

“I’ve heard quite a lot about him.”

“He’s a great blacksmith. Once you gain your freedom, I’ll tell you where his hideout is.” Antinomy adds before looking to the Arena. “It’s amazing how they roar your name…”

“Soon they’ll roar yours. This is the first time we fight together. You’re ready?”

“I’m as ready as ever.”

---

Antinomy rams his shield to a player, sending him to the ground. Galant slashes the body of other with Balmung. He ducks under a blade of yet another, and slashes his right leg. Antinomy blocks the attack of other gladiator with his large shield, and then slashes the stomach of the second player, defeating him. A third warrior came. He parries with his shield and manages to advance and slice his back. Galant parries two of the daggers of a Daggerman, and slashes his throat.

Other gladiator flanks Antinomy and kicks him to the ground. There, he could barely keep them away with strong kicks or by using his shield. Realizing his partner was in trouble; Galant runs and uses the chain to make both players fall to the ground.

“SHIELD!” he shouts.

Antinomy, knowing what this means, kneels and places his shield next to his body, facing Galant. The champion changes the hold of his blades to backhand and rushes forward and uses the shield as fulcrum to jump up. He screams loudly and beheads both players with swift strokes.

The crowd roared.

“Incredible, even chained to an inferior gladiator Galant prevails!” A member from the Army says.

Ducard: “You can’t expect less else for the Champion of Aincrad, see how he ignites the crowd!”

Kibaou: “It was a sad day, when a player killer earned that tittle...”

Ducard: “Commander Kibaou there’s something that I’d like to discuss with you…”

Kibaou: “What’s that?”

Ducard: “It’s something about the prison. I need you to see it so that you can understand.”

Kibaou nodded.

Kibaou: “Alright, I’ll discuss it with you, today after the games finish.”

Antinomy and Galant finish the remaining players in the Arena. The only one left was a large gladiator, armored with a heavy armor and a single one handed battle axe.

He swings the weapon and cuts the chain that bounded him to his decreased partner.

“YOU’RE NEXT, GALANT! COME HERE!” He shouts.

Galant advances on the player with both weapons ready.

The Axeman is the first one to attack. Galant parries the weapon with both blades, but leaves him opened to receive a strong blow in the face. He falls to the ground slightly numb. Antinomy quickly appeared to protect his partner. Galant gets up quickly and faces him. He eluded two followed slashes of his large axe, and then tried to slash his legs, but the heavy armor was too though. Antinomy tries to flank him, but the Axeman swings his weapon and hacks Antinomy’s back strongly. Galant attacks, trying to win some time for his partner to get up, but as soon as Antinomy does, the Axeman hits the Champion in his chin. He falls hardly on the ground and the chain pulled Antinomy to fall near him. The large gladiator swings the axe to smash Galant into the ground and he would’ve done it if he didn’t move a few inches just in time. Antinomy appears and hits the gladiator with the side of the shield, but he was quickly hit back, but Galant kick the gladiator back.

Both partners stand up and get together.

“We can't pierce that armor. It’s too strong.” Antinomy says.

“Then we have to aim higher…”

Antinomy nods.

They leave their weapons on the ground and grab the chain. They run to the gladiator, avoiding his attack, and manage to place the chain on his neck.

They continue running. Antinomy rolls on the ground and Galant jumps above him. The chain forms a circle around the gladiator’s neck. Once they were at 180º from each other, facing each other with the Axeman in the middle they start pulling.

“PULL!” Galant shouts to his partner.

The player tried to resist this, grabbing the chain in his check, but the lick was made stronger and stronger by each passing second. Stronger, and stronger and stronger...Suddenly the head of the player flew of his body.

The multitude roared to such sight.

“Oh yeah!” Ducard shouts, rising his arms to the sky.

The Axeman’s body fell to the ground and shattered into polygons.

Galant gets near his friend and they handshake.

“I’ve never seen anything like this!” Ducard shouts.

Galant grabs Antinomy hand raises it to the sky. They raise their other two hands.

“YEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”

---

Floor 1st, October 3rd, 2024

Dangrenn is thrown to the ground by Craxus.

“Come on! Get up!” He tells him.

From the entrance of the Ludus, Galant and Antinomy appeared and were greeted by most of gladiators, happy that they could make it back and victorious.

Galant follows Ducard to the upper level. His master had told him he wanted to show him something. They stopped in a room where the marble busts of the great gladiators of the Ludus where placed for exhibition.

“So what was the thing you wanted to show me, Master?”

“I would’ve preferred to show this to you earlier, but in the last past days I’ve been very busy with business.”

“Much has changed?”

“Thanks to you, the world reforms at my feet. The very earth raises, along with me to unimaginable heights! Commander Kibaou is waiting for me now. I know very well what you feel towards him the man. I ask that you put them aside in mutual benefit.”

“Kibaou took my freedom from my arms. But he isn’t the one who took my friends lives.”

“Thanks. I knew I could trust you, that’s the reason why you’ll be immortalized here, besides my great champions. Even when they’re great, I always knew that one’d come, and eclipse them all. That one’s you Galant, Champion of Aincrad.”

He removed a piece of white clock from one of the statues, revealing Galant face, impressed on the stone. Bellow of it said his name and his epithets, which he had gained across his journey in Aincrad.

“You honor me.” Galant says smiling slightly.

“No you honor yourself. You stand above all others. Continue on this path, and we’ll have the world!”

Galant was a companied by a guard downstairs as Ducard retired to this office where Kibaou was waiting.

“I’m sorry for the delay; I had to speak to Galant about a matter.”

“Galant.” Kibaou says angrily. “Who’d say that my worst solder would become your best gladiator?”

“I’m the best Lanista in our Guild. I took a basic beast and forged him into the Champion of Aincrad.”

“That’s a bold claim…” Kibaou quickly changes the subject. “What do you want to talk about, warden?”

“I’ll be completely honest with you Kibaou: I lied. I don’t have anything to discuss with you about the prison. It’s about us.”

“Continue…”

“You know very well how I ended here. After supporting our campaign in the first 25 floors, and the slaughter of the 25th floor boss battle, I was sent here. A simple warden, never to rise.”

“So that’s what you want.”

“They are. Rising to the position of leader or one of principal officers of the Army, and I know you want to do the same. But, there is one man in your way: Thinker.”

“Then why did you call me here?”

“On our own, we can’t defeat him. But together, imagine what we’d be capable of if we cooperated. Support my Ludus, and you’ll see the victors of my gladiators in the arena transform into demands for Commander Kibaou. If you succeed in the frontlines, you may be elected the new Leader of the Army.”

“I have a bunch of men heading to the frontlines in a few days at the command of one of my men, Corbatz. But, if they don’t defeat the boss, I’ll be judged as traitor for defying Thinker’s command.”

“I thought so. He must be dealt with.”

“If you manage to capture him, my patronage to you is granted. A small fraction of my men can remain here with you, to avoid further complications.”

“Thank you, Guild Leader.”

“Besides…there’s another thing…”

---

Floor 1st, October 7th, 2024

Antinomy and Galant see Craxus training with two players at the same time. He was holding the upper hand.

“Craxus is getting much better. He already threatens to take away your position of Champion.”

“You should take more care than me. He will defeat you before he defeats me.”

“I’ll make you swallow back those words.”

“Enough resting then!”

“GALANT!”

Galant turn and sees a guard calling him.

“You’re summoned.”

“The bell saved you.”

“Yeah… sure…”

The guard accompanied Galant up.

Ducard was waiting for him at his office, playing chess with Hikami, one of his most trusted employees. It was a freshly started game.

“The Champion arrives!” Ducard says.

“Master.”

“I have good news for you. You’re to face prisoners for execution at October 11th in the games of Kibaou. And also, it seems your freedom is close, thanks to him.”

“Kibaou? He placed me in his games?”

“He did. This concerns you?”

“Not at all. The name Ducard will be honored.”

“And envied throughout the Aincrad.” Hikami adds.

The guard was about to make other move with a pawn.

“That’s a bad idea...” Galant tells him

“You play?”

“Sometimes in Real Life. A long time ago.”

“Well then, grace us with you knowledge.”

Galant looked to his pieces, and moved the knights’ pawn two squares forward.

“It seems our champion haves no head for games of strategy.” Ducard says.

Ducard moved the knight, and killed Galant’s pawn. Galant smiled.

“Battles may be lost…”

Galant grabs the black Bishop and moves it forward, capturing the knight Ducard just moved and placing the King in check. And incidentally, Mate.

“…and yet, the war concludes in victory.”

“Ah, you treacherous fuck…” Ducard says.

Ducard laughs and so did Galant.

“You play well. Hikami, go back to work, and send some wine for us.”

“Master.”

The guard reluctantly left.

“Hikami’s a genius in many things, but not in chess. Sit down there is a conquest between men.”

---

Checkmate. Galant won.

“Fuck my ass…you’re a good player. How can you best me? I have years of playing this.”

“The war against Cerdic was all about this. Who’s the best strategist? It’s matter of who better uses deception. The best one using it wins.”

“So, in short, what I need to defeat you is to win a war.”

“Maybe…”

“Thanks for the instruction. Go back with the others and continue training.”

“Master.”

---

Floor 45th, October 11th, 2024

Galant tabs his swords getting ready to enter the Arena in Kibaou’s Games. Antinomy approaches him.

“Seems Craxus makes quick work on his opponent.” He says.

“Yeah.”

“Do you trust Kibaou on this?”

“Not at all. Something must be planning. I told Ducard I didn’t have any problem on taking part on this, but what choice do I have. And also, what if Kibaou wasn’t planning anything? Freedom, that’s all what matters to me.”

“Gal, do you think this is good?”

“What?”

“Being consumed by your wish for revenge. It won’t be good for you. When I looked at you before fighting Xaxa and the other, your eyes turned crimson red. You think that is good?”

“What does it matter now?”

“It isn’t good.”

“Do not worry. I can control myself.”

Antinomy looked to Guren.

“It remains of the same darkened color.”

“It does.”

The battle of Craxus ended, with him victorious. He walks back towards the gate. He looks towards Galant; they share a brief stare until Craxus walks right beside of him.

Craxus gives his weapons to the guard and left.

“Good luck, Gal.” Antinomy told him before leaving.

The door opened and Galant enters the arena.

The crowd shouted him same he smiled in joy and raised both hands, and the multitude threw petals towards him. Near the ending he presented himself in front of the Pulvinus. He realizes that Thinker wasn’t sitting in his regular place. Instead, Kibaou sat there, on the Editors chair, and Ducard sat next to him.

The commander got up.

“Now enter, from the left side, sentenced to execution, the infamous Red player, Eve!”

Galant turns to the left.

He was glad that he was going face a red player. He still disliked facing in execution against simple thieves. But Player Killers or Red Players were a different matter. He gladly faced them and killed them.

He turned and saw a mid-height player carrying a shield and sword. But he soon saw something strange. Not only he was wearing clothes, he was also wearing a masked helmet, similar to the ones that the original gladiators used in ancient Rome.

The player arrived to the middle, and looks at Galant.

Both of them take a fighting stance and get ready.

“BEGIN!” Kibaou shouts.

Galant begins his assault slashing with both swords downwards and diagonally to his left and then to his right, though the attacks were easily parried by the player, who counters with a kicked in the chest. Galant falls to the ground, but rolls backwards and regains balance. The player continues his assault. They clash swords while he’s yet on his knees, and then the player charges with his shield, hitting Galant, but he quickly recovers, rolling on the ground and gets up.

The player lunges forward with his blade but Galant blocks the attack with both blades And proceeds to repeatedly exchange attacks clashes blades with him. The player seemed young, yet his skills in battle matched the ones of the Slayer of Cerdic himself. Galant swings both blades at the same time, but the player jumps back, avoiding the attack, and manages the impossible. He used Stardust Slasher on Galant. A golden line drew across Galant chest, until the end of his left shoulder.

Galant felt back for a moment, and noticed that player had used his technique. That was impossible. The Stardust Slasher and its deviants sword skills were a Sword Skill that just he and Sakura could use.

Eve, taking advantage of his distraction, rushes at Galant with his shield, but a now raging Galant, easily parries while walking around her. He can’t stop and keeps on going, leaving his back wide open for an attack. Galant slashes her with Stardust Slasher, repaying the same move she’d just used.

This still didn’t stop the player, who turns around and attacks. Galant blocks. She uses a lunge attack on him, pushing her shield strongly against him. Galant places his blades in an X position and blocks the attack before kicking her back.

Galant approaches him. He makes a downwards strike with Guren, only to be parried by the player who then covered himself with his shield. He leaves the shield behind, rolls on the ground and gets up. He turned, and used Stardust Slasher diagonally. Galant uses Crescent Stardust Slasher in the same exact direction the player used. The energies clashed and struggled briefly, but Galant’s a Sword Skill finally overpowered his. The bigger slash absorbed the smaller one, and slashed him diagonally up in his chest in a similar way of Galant’s previous wound.

The player killer drops his weapon and he falls to his knees. Galant faced the Pulvinus, placing Balmung to his opponent’s neck. Eve raised his left hand showing the middle and index finger together. The sign was the Missio. A sign of surrender. He was begging for his life.

KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL!

Kibaou gets up as the crowd roared demanding death. He raises his hand and points down with his finger: Death.

Galant nods, and removed the player helmet. He begins to shake and tremble, not believing what his eyes saw. Eve wasn’t a he, it was a she. She had blue eyes and short golden blonde hair.

“Sakura…”

That girl looked exactly the same as his girlfriend looked when she was younger, years ago, when they met each other.

“You’re not a player killer…are you?” Galant asks her.

“No. I’m not.”

She continues to look at him and sees his expression of grief. He didn’t want to kill her.

Kibaou: “Do we have a problem, Ducard?”

Galant looks to Ducard shaking his head. He disapproved this. He didn’t care what the girl had made; she couldn’t be sentenced to death. She could even be innocent, same as him. He couldn’t kill her. Ducard remains still and seriously looking to him, showing notable anger.

Ducard: “PROCEED!”

Galant remains still and keeps on looking at Ducard to look towards him, shaking his head. Everybody in the crowd begin whispering, wondering what was happening to the Champion of Aincrad about what he was doing.

Ducard makes a hand gesture to the guard in front of the gate. Both gates open and thirty soldiers enter, forming a square around Galant and Eve. They draw their weapons and get ready to fight.

“Don’t.”

Galant looks down with teary eyes to the girl.

“Do not. They’ll kill us both. There’s no choice.”

“There’s always a choice…”

She smiled to him with teary eyes. He remembers Guinevere’s smile.

“Not this time…”

Galant’s begins crying. He looks back to Ducard on the Pulvinus.

“GALANT…” Ducard says.

Galant shook his head, what he replied with a much more serious sight, with eyes filled with anger.

Eve grabs the sword, and begins stabbing herself in the neck. Galant desperately tried to remove the blade, but she stopped him. While with pain she looks him directly to the eye.

“Live. Don’t let my death be left unremembered. And know I would’ve done the same.”

Galant nodded. She smiled to him one last time, as she closed her eyes. A tear flew out of Galant left eye. He thrust his sword with both hands, and forced it up once again as fast as he could. The girl’s dead body falls to the sands

Galant looks at the body. He felt quite dizzy, but he somehow doesn’t fall. He and drops his sword to the sand. A guard walks towards him and grabs his arm and raised it in sign of victory. The crowd roared and clapped hands. He realizes what they were clapping for: the death of an innocent girl. He feels extremely distraught, angry, upset, and regretful a strong knot in his stomach. He sees Kibaou and Ducard, with a smile drew on their faces. He was accompanied by the guard to the inner side of the arena.

“The man did as commanded.” Ducard adds

“Well promised. This a great start. For us.”

“I shall see the entire power of the guild to us. And shall take care of our friend Thinker.”

---

Floor 1st, October 11th, 2024

Galant waked side to side of his cell. He noticed his wound; the one she had made did not close and he did not understand why. Battle healing should have activated the moment he stepped out of the sand, so he should be healed by that moment.

Yet he did not care about this. He walked side to side of his cell. He couldn’t erase memory of that gild dying on his arms. He continued walking without pace. He couldn’t stop. Anger, disappointment, grief, anger, and much more filled his heart. He walked tried serving himself water, to clear his thought, but he stopped, and smashed the jar to the wall, and then proceeded to destroy everything in his way. The bed, the chair or anything he could find near him.

He felt even worse that when Lance was Gone and Elicia had died. When he finally succumbed to his knees and hit the floor with both arms, he noticed the purple ribbon tied on his right wrist. He untied it and grabbed hit with both hands, making a circle round his fingers as if it was a rosary.

“I’m sorry. Sakura, Eve…I’m sorry…”

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