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« SAO:PoA - Chapter Twenty Five

Sword Art Online: Past of Ashes
Written by: FedeTkd
Published:
Chapter 26

SAO:PoA - Chapter Twenty Seven »



Floor 45th, October 29th, 2024

The fifty gladiators of Ducard’s Ludus step into the sands of Aincrad’s Arena in a line and stop in front of the Pulvinus. Every single one of them was shackled. The same number of members of the Army enters to keep them in line, forming a square around them.

Ducard, Yuriel, and many other members of the army stand there.

Trumpets sound.

Ducard: “I’m honored of being in front of you this moment. Honored by the position I gained and for the presence of the most important members of Aincrad’s Liberation Force. My biggest honor earned. I was wished Thinker himself to come here, but due to duties of the Guild, he couldn’t come. Still, he sent a message. Yuriel, please.”

Yuriel: “Good members of Aincrad’s Liberation force, it’s with great pleasure that I, Thinker, entrust Ducard with the position of Commander. There’s no player that should be more trusted than him and he holds my absolute confidence and unconditional support.”

Ducard: “My gratitude, to Thinker. As gratitude to you all and to the people of Aincrad, I present for you a gift of blood. Two legends in the Arena will face each other in DeathMatch this very night. The winner, shall become the Champion of Aincrad, and the other will die by he has committed on. Behold, Craxus, The Undefeated.”

A guard appears in front of Craxus, removes his shackles and gives him his sword and shield.

“To fight against him, there’s just one choice. Galant! Champion of Aincrad!”

A guard appeared, and unchained Galant, giving him both Balmung Blade and Guren. They step into the middle of the semicircle. Facing the Pulvinus and the crowd roared.

“Craxus…” Galant whispers.

“I’ve given you my answer.” Galant says. “Let’s finish this.”

“Begin!” Ducard shouts.

They face each other and prepare in battle position, tabbing their weapons.

Craxus attacks first while screaming. He swings his blade and Galant parries with Guren. He rams his shield afterwards, but Galant stops the shield with Balmung. They struggle for a brief time, lucking eyes and weapons, until they finally separate. Craxus quickly a swing his blade, but Galant avoids eludes it to his left. He continues his onslaught forward, forcing Galant to block both sword and shield while walking backwards. At last, Craxus raises his leg and kicks.

---

Floor 45th, October 27th, 2024

(Two days ago)

Solcius sat in chains inside the cells of the Arena, waiting for his turn for being executed. He was stripped down and was just left a loincloth.

The door of his cell opens to the last person he wished to see during his final moments: Ducard.

“It hurts my soul to see a man, once so elevated, plummet to such depths.” Ducard says.

“Your dog, Hikami, you had him always on your leash, even when he was licking my ass these last months?”

“His loyalty never wavered.”

“He’s quite skilled in deceit, I’ll give him that.”

“…or perhaps you were too jealous and envious to see the bitter truth.”

“Don’t over flatter yourself that much.”

“Didn’t you have eyes towards my Ludus? My position? My position? And Yuriel…?”

Solcius frowns as soon as he hears it. Ducard laughs slightly.

“You really think I wouldn’t notice? I have a wife outside this world! I always see the essence of a man, and love is especially easy to see.” Ducard laughs. “You wished to steal my glory. And here you are, with nothing but blood and sand to praise your efforts.”

“Aincrad will see you for what you are!”

“Really? The man who brought a criminal to justice THE HERO OF THE PEOPLE! May God protect me form their wrath!” Ducard adds sarcastically.

Sound of the cheers from the multitude. Polygons of date fall on Solcius arm, and banish seconds later.

“Craxus finishes his opponent sooner than expected. I’ll return to the Pulvinus, to enjoy your execution.”

He walks towards the door.

“Well played Ducard...” Solcius say reluctantly. “I underestimated you.”

“You aren’t the first to one die for that error.”

Ducard rapidly walks back to the Pulvinus.

Thinker: “Ducard, you can have the honor of announcing the execution. In gratitude for what you’ve done for me.”

Ducard: “Thank you.”

He steps to the front of the Pulvinus, with his arms widely open, as the trumpets sounds

“Good citizens of Aincrad. I’m humbled before you, for an undeserved honor of announcing the final execution, to redress one of the vilest crimes committed in this world. The kidnapping of Thinker, the leader of ALF! TODAY WE’LL WITNESS JUSTICE, THE BASE CRIMINAL THAT HAS WONDED US SHALL BE EXECUTED AD GLADIUM!”

Roar of the crowd.

“Enter Solcius! Enemy of Aincrad!”

Both doors open, and Solcius enters with sword and shield. The ranging crowd curses and pelts on Solcius with rotten food, rocks or whatever they got near. He arrives to the middle and opens his arm, exhibiting himself as gladiators do, before pointing up to Ducard with his sword.

“And who shall balance the scale!?” Ducard asks. “Who will make justice!?”

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

“There’s but one man! The Slayer of Cerdic! Galant! Champion of Aincrad!”

The two doors open and Galant seriously walks inside the Arena while the crowd keeps on chanting his name. He stops in front of Solcius.

Solcius is the first one to speak

“Months ago you were sentenced to an execution against my gladiators. And now, you’re sent here to execute me. Life’s full of these little ironies…”

Galant doesn’t respond.

“Anyhow, you survived your own execution Champion. Perhaps I have the same luck.”

“I wouldn’t get my hopes to high.” Galant responds.

Solcius places his shield close and tabs his weapon.

Ducard: “BEGIN!”

Solcius begins a rage frenzy of attacks. Galant calmly walks backwards, blocking easily and dodging even more easily.

“FIGHT ME! DAMNIT!” Solcius shouts.

He continues a savage barrage of attacks, yet Galant doesn’t counter.

Yuriel: “Why Galant doesn’t strike and return?”

Ducard: “I told him to make it slow for the joy of the crowd. Don’t worry, Solcius blood will flow soon enough.”

Galant cuts his right cheek. Yet this has no effect rather than angering Solcius. The prisoner attacks again, slashing horizontally. Galant parries. Solcius uses a lunge attack with his shield, what the champion eludes with ease and then slashes his other cheek with Balmung before getting away.

“You don’t lack skill.” Galant tells him.

“Nor desire to live.”

Galant starts his own attack. He swings Guren. Solcius is quick enough to parry the attack, and then to parry a slash with Balmung. Galant keeps on going. He parries the low attack of Solcius, spins to clash Guren with the shield and then manages to strike the right thigh of Solcius with his other sword. Solcius leaves himself by the pain open, and Galant seizes opportunity to slash his belly.

Ducard: “See. Solcius comes to his end.”

Thinker: “True. Besides, there is something I need discuss with you, Ducard. It’s about Kibaou. After the defeat of his troops in the 74th floor boss battle he fled. Do you know where he is?”

Ducard: “I know him well since he granted patronage to my Ludus. I’ll see if I can get you in touch with him.”

Galant slashes Solcius chest with Balmung, then slices his left leg by a powerful strike, and finishes his attack with a tandem of Stardust Slasher cutting both the chest and belly.

Sliced, in pain and tired, Solcius is left unable to keep on fighting. He drops both weapons and falls to his knees. He bends back his head, looking to the sky and closes his eyes.

“Roar of the crowd. There’s no sound more glorious.” He says.

“The last thing you’ll hear.”

“You’re taking the wrong life. Your master, Ducard is the true villain!”

“Don’t worry…” He places Blamung Blade to his shoulder near the neck. “…he will join you very very soon.”

Solcius looks to Galant. He begins to laugh in joy and widens his arms in join waiting for his end.

KILL! KILL! KILL!

Galant bends his arm and strikes Solcius in the neck, beheading him in a single strike. The head flies and lands in the earth. While the multitude cheers and joys for the end of Solcius, Galant picks up the head on the tip of his blade and shows it to the crowd before stopping in front of the Pulvinus. Soon, the head fades in polygons, as he stares at Ducard.

---

Floor 45th, October 29th, 2024

Craxus rushes at Galant, clashing swords with him. He spins Craxus turns and hits him with the edge of the shield; he spins a second time and slashes with his sword. The champion is barely able to parry the attack for the second time, but he regains his balance after this. Craxus lunges forward his large tower shield and Galant blocks with both swords in an X-like position. After some seconds struggling, Galant moves millimeters backwards and spins right next to Craxus advancing.

“I didn’t believe Craxus would be such challenge for him.” One says.

“Don’t underestimate him. After all, Craxus fought against Adonexus, an opponent Galant would’ve faced.”

“The match has just started.” Ducard says. “Much can happen as it matures.”

Galant is kicked to the ground and briefly stares to Antinomy, who shakes his head.

Craxus attacks, swinging his blade downwards with all his might. Galant has to use both blades to block the blow

“You must listen to me.” Galant says.

He rolls in the sad, eluding Craxus attack. He then rolls the other way around, kicking Craxus into the ground. He won enough time to get back up, but Craxus does the same.

---

Floor 1th, October 28th, 2024

(One day ago)

Galant is fighting one of the gladiators while training.

He blocks with sword and kicks him back.

“You’re speaking of dangerous things…” the gladiator says.

Galant thrust his sword to his shield, then blocks his attack and spins while hitting his shield with both blades. He spins for a second time and hit the gladiator’s leg, making him fall to the ground.

“We live in dangerous times and in a dangerous world.” Galant replies.

He offers his hand to help him get up. The gladiator takes it.

“Many now consider Craxus our champion now. Count me among them.” He replies before leaving.

“Doctore! I’d like to work in the mannequin.” Galant says.

“Permission for Galant.” Ducard asks.

The guard of Kibaou nods, as Doctore did after. Galant walks to the mannequin, where Antinomy and the two brothers were also training.

He clashes several times his sword.

Galant: “Have you talked words with Uctas?”

Antinomy: “He’s with us.”

Naggeron: “But Lyscus and many others refuse to grab dick with Craxus holding their balls.”

Daggrenn: “What does Raknos say?”

Galant: “The same. We’re quite few. If we want this to work, we have to gain Craxus’ support, and see them rise with him.”

---

Ducard: “I save Thinker’s life and men of influence inside the Army greet me as brother!”

Hikami: “It’s a day of shining glory…”

They both notice Doctore accompanied by a guard.

Doctore: “I’d like to talk, Master. In private.”

Ducard: “Doctore! I’m all ears.”

They enter Ducard’s office.

“Kibaou’s mercenaries are taking the little bit of freedom left to our men.” Doctore says. “They suffer at their hands.”

“It’s a thing that must be endured. I have no time for that.”

“With respect, every Ludus deserves the attention of its Lanista.”

“I seek higher title, far removed from the Ludus and the Prison. I’m tired of this and I’d like other person attend my gladiators. Some one that has forever proven loyal.”

“To whom….”

“I thought of make the announcement in the celebration, but you’re forcing my hand. The person I meant was you. You won’t be Doctore anymore; you’ll assume the mantle of Lanista.”

“It’s a great honor, my gratitude. I’ll keep on working here as your right hand men. I accept the men of Kibaou and run the Ludus properly.”

“I know you will. Besides I have a problem, I need your help on something else.”

“On what?”

“After saving Thinker, he offered me a position as commander of ALF. I need to celebrate it somehow. What do you suggest to see the high ranking members well satisfied?”

“A battle in the Arena and the only unique thing you hold: Galant, Champion of Aincrad, in a contest to the death against the new rising star of this Ludus, Craxus.”

“This is your option?” Ducard asks.

“He has proven himself on multiple occasions. Craxus has beaten Adonexus, a warrior Galant didn’t even face. And, more importantly, he’s the only gladiator that truly represents danger for him.”

“Your words carry true; he is the only Gladiator capable of representing challenge to Galant. And there would be political advantage, to present the Champion of Aincrad, to a campaign office.”

“No. It’s not necessary send Galant to my chambers once the training has ended. I’ll tell it to him personally.”

“Understood.”

Doctore walked back to the Ludus, unnoticing Hikami right to the entrance of the balcony. Having overheard the conversation, he smiles and pushes his glasses slightly up.

---

Galant is accompanied by two guards to Ducard’s office with shackles in hands.

“That would be all.”

The two guards leave.

“Patronage comes with unfortunate attachments.” Ducard says.

Galant tries to separate his hands, but the chain stops him of doing so.

“A fact I’m well aware of.” He says, looking at the chains.

“I still remember our very first conversation a life time ago. A savage in chains, now you’re death made meat and bones.”

“It was your hand what forged my purpose.”

“But it’s on your shoulder this Ludus elevated and continues to do so! In two days, in the Arena, a fight shall take place, in celebration of my ascension to Commander.”

“Congratulations, Master.” Thank you.

“Thank you. You’ll be the principal attraction. But this time, in a Deathmatch!”

“Deathmatch?”

“Both Gladiators face each other sinne missone, no quarter given no mercy shown, and without GHP. The loser will die, and the winner will become the Champion of Aincrad. They’ll be witness to a unique contest this time. No eye will be denied watching the Slayer of Cerdic as he faces his Archrival in a match to the death!”

“Let me guess, I’m going to fight Craxus.”

“This concerns you?”

“No. I want him at his best, so he may thrill the crowd before his end.”

Ducard laughs.

“You truly have a fucking mind for this! It shall be a grand spectacle, and if you win, you’ll be closer to your freedom.”

Galant nods slightly.

“That’s all. Sleep well, Champion.”

“Master.”

---

Floor 45th, October 29th, 2024

Craxus jumps and clashes sword with Galant, he parries one of his slashes, then twirls blocking other and clashing for the second time.

“Each attack of Craxus could be a kill.” Yuriel says.

“He’s a much better showing than many other Gladiators.”

“He threatens to strip the Champion of life and title.”

“Indeed, the gladiator yet surprises.” Ducard says.

Galant slashes with both swords, and aims a slash to his leg using the same move in the opposite way. Craxus raises his leg, avoiding the move. Galant then swings Balmung, but it’s blocked by the shield. Craxus counters with a slash of his own, and Galant has to duck under the blade to avoid. He attacks again and the Champion is forced to jump backwards. Craxus slashes with his sword, but Galant blocks it with Balmung, yet the player tried to hit him with his shield, but was blocked by Guren. They briefly struggle while being locked also in each other eyes, rage and determination. Craxus hit Galant in the ribs with his knee and forces him back again.

They continue to clash swords in vicious ways, trying to exploit each other’s weakness.

---

Floor 1st, October 29th, 2024

(Today)

Galant and Antinomy train duels, while the two brothers do the same next to them.

Antinomy: “A celebration?”

Galant: “With the elite of the Army. Their deaths will leave the Guild in chaos. It’ll be days for them to assume pursuit of us.”

Naggeron: “We can’t say same the same about other PKK guilds.”

Galant: “Without the largest guild in Aincrad we’ll fair just fine.”

Dangrenn: “What of Craxus?”

Galant: “I just need a brief moment with him. There will be an opportunity today. Trust me.”

Galant sees Craxus training against Uctas. He rolls in the sands gets up and as the Lancer attacks him with his spear. Craxus jumps on the weapon and breaks it in half.

Doctore: “Rest! Eat! We reassume after midday!”

Craxus walks towards the shade and sits down, as Galant follows him.

“You seem to have learned what I taught you. Getting rid of the Lancer’s spear.” Galant says.

“True. And learned other few things that I may teach you tomorrow.” Craxus tells him.

“So, you found out that we’re fighting each other to death tomorrow.”

“Among other things. The gladiators told me what you want. What class of fever did you catch to think I’d band with you? To risk the lives of my men, my life and my place here?”

“Because I know what you want: Freedom. Same as all here.”

“Then you know I’ll do whatever I have to do to survive.”

“The same that Ducard said to me months ago. The promise of freedom for helping him. But here I am. Ducard can’t be trusted.”

“Why do you say such a thing?”

“He helped to capture Thinker.”

“How did you find this out?”

“From Solcius and one of his men who was a member of Laughing Coffin. The guild that killed my friends. After he gives me a proper explanation, I will kill Ducard.”

“I’d do the same in your position. But my escape wouldn’t help me much. PKK guild will haunt us down like dogs.”

“Join me, and we’ll clear this game, whatever the cost. For all those who died in this fucking world”

“You know that in another life, you and I may have been as brothers?” Craxus tells him with a vague smile “But not in this one. I must gain my freedom in the arena.”

He gets up, so does Galant.

“Then we’re in the way of each other’s cause…” Galant says.

“And both are just.” Craxus says. “But if I fall, I swear to end this game, whatever the cost.”

“And I need your word, that if you’re victorious, one day you’ll kill Ducard.”

They shared a hand shake.

“At nightfall then one of us dies.” Galant said.

“I fear it was always fated so.”

---

“You call me Master?” Hikami says, entering to Ducard’s office.

“Yes. There’s one thing I need from you?”

“I’m all ears…”

“I think you heard what has happened to the men Kibaou sent to the frontlines.”

“Corbatz and two more of them were killed in the boss battle of the 74th floor, the Gleam Eyes. They were saved by someone called the Black Swordsman… ”

“A minor detail which isn’t the purpose of this chat.”

“Which is…”

“Kibaou was the one who ordered the assault in the frontlines, without Thinker’s approval. As result, he’s searched by the guild to punish him.”

“What would you have me do?”

“Kibaou is still in this prison, in one of the lower floors. He’s seeing Thinker in a reunion today. It’s a trap to capture him. I need you to go there instead of going to the Arena.”

“Understood.”

He walks the room and tabs his finger while he presses the glasses in his face with his right hand’s middle finger and smiles. He takes out from one of his pockets a potion.

---

Floor 1st, October 29th, 2024

The gladiators are eating in a round while being watched by the guards and Doctore standing guard.

Naggeron: “Stay by my side.”

Dangrenn: “I don’t need you to hold hand.”

Argon: “I but wish your life protected, you dick!”

Galant: “Speak louder and it’s all over.”

Argon: “I’ll cut off the hand of Doctore, so that the whip won’t be of any trouble.”

Galant: “Doctore is an honorable man. I don’t want him dead, nor Yuriel and Thinker, they are innocent.”

Duron: “You worry about piss and shit. The other gladiators won’t join us without Craxus.”

Galant: “They’ll use the opening I’ll create. With Craxus dead there’s left but one champion.”

Argon: “And what of the invisible shield around the Arena?”

Antinomy: “I managed to corrupt the data of the stadium’s shield when Galant fought Solcius. The only thing left to destroy it is a powerful hit.”

Galant grabs his glass of water and drives it to his mouth, but suddenly, he felt a scent of the glass.

Galant: “Doctore! This water is strange.”

A red haired player with glasses passing by got near Galant and took a scent of his drink. Galant noticed that he was the one next to Ducard from some days ago.

“My apologies Champion.” He says. “This was for Craxus.”

“Understood.”

The player grabs the glass of water, walks and gives it to Craxus, exchanging it for the one of Galant. He goes back and gives Galant his glass of water.

The red haired player leaves the Ludus.

“What happened?” Antinomy asks.

“That glass, contained paralysis potion from Laughing Coffin, in a lower quantity.” Galant says. “I’d recognize that scent everywhere. It will just make him weaker, allowing my advantage for the battle. That player wants Craxus dead, but why?”

Hikami walks to the entrance of the Prison and gets out. He wanted to bet his money on Craxus, since he thought most people would. He had chance of getting back several times what he bet. But now he’d have to bet it for Galant, since he found out about the Paralysis Potion in his glass. Now Craxus wouldn’t be capable of fighting after fighting for a while. The so called “Undefeated” would die, and as result, he’d receive lots of Col.

---

Floor 45th, October 29th, 2024

The Undefeated made a slow horizontal slash, which Galant eluded with ease, then he makes the same moved in the opposite but the champion parries it and finally a forwards diagonal strike, what Galant blocks with both blades. He kicks back Craxus sending him to the ground.

Ducard: “Craxus begins to fade…”

Craxus gets up and barely blocks two of Galant’s strikes.

He walks around him, spins and tries to get the Champion’s back. He misses and his sword embeds into the ground. Craxus turns around, but Galant easily blocks and hits his shield with both swords diagonally. The Undefeated falls to the ground again.

He points his Guren to his neck.

“You’re weak because they have poisoned you.” He whispers to Craxus. “They wish you dead.”

Craxus spins hitting Galant’s dagger and sending it near Antinomy, he gets back up and Galant uses Shimmer Spike two times, what easily parried by Craxus shield and sword, but the latter gets weaker and weaker quickly. They clash blades again, and Craxus tries to hit him with the shield but Galant catches him, hitting his back with the pommel of Balmung and throwing the shield near the Pulvinus. He sends Craxus to the ground for the third time.

“I don’t want this…”

Galant slashes downwards and Craxus somehow manages to parry the both, but his blade flies away from his hand after the second stroke. The Champion grabs his right arm and hits him with the pommel of his sword again. Craxus hits him with his left, but Galant wraps the arm with his own placing the blade near his chest.

“Join my brother! And we’ll see this game cleared.” He whispers again.

Craxus looks at him notably tired and hurt. He doesn’t respond.

Galant throws him near the front of the Pulvinus. He gets up helped by his shield, looks up towards Ducard who’s directly looking towards him, they share a brief moment stare.

“Galant…” Craxus says turning around.

He places his shield facing towards Galant and tabs it. Galant rushes as fast as he can, shouts, using the shield as pivot to jump towards the Pulvinus.

“RRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUS!”

The invisible wall bakes in front of his eyes as he prepares to stab Ducard, yet he grabbed a nearby player as shield. The blade pierced right through his head. Galant withdraws the blade and the player shatters in to polygons. He makes a second try to kill Ducard, but is stopped by a whip in his right arm. He looks back and sees Doctore.

Galant continues to look to Ducard, who screams in anger. Ducard is being pulled backwards by the terrorized audience from the Pulvinus, who heads back to the inner side of the Arena, as the rest of the terrorized crowd begins to leave the place.

The whip is cut by Craxus. Doctore falls to the ground, unconscious. Galant gets inside the Pulvinus, and looks back to the Arena and the gladiators.

Craxus: “KILL THEM! KILL THEM ALL!”

The brotherhood rushes towards, Antinomy grabs Guren and the slaughtering battle between the two groups begins.

Inside the principal room of the Pulvinus, just screams and shouts can be heard.

Ducard: “DON’T BE ALARMED PEOPLE! EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL! PLEASE!”

Yuriel: “He tried to kill you, fucking animal!”

Ducard: “We must calm the fuck down! Where’re the fucking guards!?”

Galant parries the sword of a soldier, advances and slashes his neck with Stardust Slasher. The next one is slashed in the chest and then in the back of the head. He parries a second sword and slashes the neck of a third one, as a forth one tries to strike him with a spear, but Galant dodges, grabs the weapon, and thrusts his sword to the player body several times before throwing him to the sands.

The two bands clash, beginning the slaughter.

Some gladiators manage to disarm their opponents, as other fall to the soldiers’ weapons. The battle is quite short, but bloody and gore. A gladiator briefly exchanges blows with a soldier only to be stabbed though the chest and killed.

“ALMACAR!” Dangrenn shouts.

Duron advances and clashes swords with the soldier who had just killed his friend.

Antinomy slashes and stabs a guard through the chest; he kicks the soldier out of Guren. Then he exchanges some brief blows with another guard but he finally slashes through the body and then slices the throat killing him. He takes the keys from the dead guard and tosses them to Naggeron next to him, who rapidly manages to remove his own before tossing the keys to his brother. Craxus kills a soldier right behind Antinomy.

Antinomy: “THANKS, FOR JOINING US!”

Craxus: “Forget about it! We need to get the hell out of this nightmare! Advance! We have to go towards the Pulvinus by the entrance inside the arena!!!”

Antinomy: “What of Doctore!?”

Craxus: “Leave him in there.”

Galant runs following the elite Army members. He impales a player with the spear he’d just grabbed, then catches a player arm, avoiding the slash, and slices opens his stomach. A third attacks, yet he ducks under the blade and slashes his ribs. He parries the blade of the last one and slashes his throat.

Dangrenn punches a guard with his right hand and he slashes his throat. Naggeron clashes sword with a guard, slashes his body and stabs him through the neck. He kicks his legs to make him fall to the ground and pierces the body with the sword. His brother advances, to blocks the sword of a guard behind his brother then slashes the body and cuts his throat. Thy share a handshake, but a guard seizes opportunity to strike Naggerons’s back. Dangrenn moves him aside, pushes Naggeron out of the way saving, his brother's life, but takes the sword meant for his brother in his stomach. Naggeron cuts the guard’s head off and catches his brother in midair. He slowly lays him down in the sand and removes the blade from his body.

“I saved you this time brother…” Dangrenn tells his brother with a fake smile, before his body begins to glow, and shatters into polygons.

His brother looks up on the sky with grief, and shouts in anger and pain. He follows his gladiator brother’s seconds later.

---

Ducard: “My friends, we’re perfectly safe inside the Pulvinus. The situation is being attended; calm down. At this very moment my guards are dealing with these…”

The remaining gladiators appear in a salvage frenzy of blood and death, rush towards the leaders of the army, beginning a second slaughter as the control held by Ducard was totally lost, replaced with complete chaos. The few remaining guards inside of the Pulvinus could do very little against the more skilled gladiators, which advanced like a pack of wild beasts, salvage, angry and bloodthirsty.

Ducard: “Come here Yuriel!”

Ducard runs with Yuriel and other three players. A gladiator appears out of nowhere, and kills one of the players, yet Ducard grabs the hand of the gladiator and after a brief power struggle, he takes his sword then stabs the player through the stomach.

“DUCARD!” Yuriel shouts

“GO, GO!”

They run back the corridor, as Ducard leaves them with the sword of the player clutched in hand, ready to face his former gladiators.

“They want us all dead!” One of them shouts.

“No, we’ll kill them first.” Yuriel shouts.

Galant clashes swords with a guard and slashing the body.

“Conceal yourselves!” Yuriel tell them.

“Where do you go, Yuriel!?”

“To find my boyfriend…”

“Yuriel! Wait!!!” Galant shouts, following her.

Craxus advances and clashes sword with a guard slices the leg, then the body and stabs though the chest, kicking him of the sword.

“I ONCE BELIVED YOU A CHAMPION CRAXUS!”

He looks back, and Doctore was just behind of them, with a large one/two handed sword and an axe.

“Now I see you’re nothing but a coward!” He adds

“I was poisoned by Ducard! What’d you have me do?!”

“Serve your master and die, with honor!”

“Bullshit!”

Argon rushes towards Doctore, but he parries the sword, making it slip from the gladiator’s fingers, spins and stabs him thought the chest and hacks his head with his axe.

Craxus: “Naggeron!!!”

Antinomy: “he is too strong for you, I shall fight with you.”

Doctore: “Let’s see if you recall what I thought you, when you two were still men.”

---

“Where’s the way out…?” Yuriel says out loud, wondering.

“Yuriel.” Galant says a couple of meters away from her.

She draws her blade and points Galant.

“You won’t need that.”

“You have just slaughtered all in you path, you and your animals…”

“The true animal here is Ducard. Ducard was the mastermind behind Thinker’s kidnap. Since he was allied with Kibaou I suppose he has done the same right now.”

“Give me a reason to believe you!!!” She shouts.

“Because it’s the truth.”

“Why’d I trust you?”

“You don’t have many choices, do you? If you stay close to me, I’ll make sure nobody kills you.”

Galant walks back to the Pulvinus.

“Galant…” Yuriel says. “Did you kill them?”

Galant looks back at her, staring for a brief moment.

“No.” “I didn’t. I would’ve gladly died before killing them.”

Galant extends his hand at her.

“Please…”

---

Doctore knocks both of Antinomy and Craxus to the ground.

“Pathetic…”

Both of them got up.

“Is this what I taught you!?”

Antinomy attacks him, but with his small dagger is no match for a large sword, and is struck down rapidly by a powerful hit to the chest by the sword. Craxus uses the advantage to try to strike Doctore, yet, the player parries the sword, kicks Craxus and slashes him in the chest then strikes a hard blow to his shield with his axe, almost destroying his shield and sending him back to the ground. He moves to kill Craxus but Antinomy appears again spinning and grabbing Craxus sword in the ground and parries his attack, and kicks Doctore back. Craxus gets up and grabs Guren, and places himself and at his back Antinomy ready with his sword. They stare for brief moment, and suddenly Craxus thrusts wish his shield yet Doctore jumps, and using the shield momentum, strikes Antimony downwards with his axe slashing hardly and sent to the ground by it with his HP in red.

“ANTINOMY!”

Craxus attacks him spinning with the edge of his shield, and throwing Doctore to the ground but he rolls on it and gets up. Craxus attacks him and they briefly exchanged attacks, yet Craxus was rapidly suppressed by Doctore’s more powerful and experienced moves. He strikes his shield with the sword and then clashed sword and axe. Craxus leaves a huge opening in the side by this move and Doctore rapidly notices it. He thrusts his sword, but Craxus eludes, and places his sword between his opponent and his shield. He was using Antinomy’s move again. However, Doctore notices his move, and gets ready his axe in the air, as Craxus spins and attacks him, he’s hit directly in the chest and part of the blade had come out from his back. The undefeated gladiator falls to the ground, but at the same did Doctore in front of him. Craxus looks down, and sees that Guren had pierced through the chest of Doctore.

He places his hand on Craxus neck.

“I…have thought you… well.” Doctore says smiling.

H he falls to the ground and shattering into polygons. Galant arrived second later accompanied by Yuriel.

“ANTINOMY! CRAXUS!”

“I’ll be alright.” Antinomy gets up, notably hurt.

Galant kneels next to Craxus lying on the ground, mortally wounded.

“Hey. Well fought brother.”

“Not that well.”

“You’ll get better…”

“No.”

“Craxus come on!” Galant shouts. “We’d clear this game, together!”

“I lied to you. I did not fight for honor.”

“What?”

“I’m the same as you.” He says. “My guild was also killed by Laughing Coffin. I ended as a gladiator. But to have my own vengeance, I had become abetter than you…”

“I’m sorry, for them.”

“Let’s honor the dead with blood... Complete my vengeance for me; champion. The player who killed them, is named Mordread. He was one of the few who weren’t captured in the raid to destroy that cursed guild months ago…Finish this cursed fucking world.”

Galant grabs his hand in mid-air.

“I swear I will. You have my word.”

Craxus smiles as his body begins to glow.

“You know I said that we may’ve been brothers, in another life…”

“But not in this one…”

“I was wrong; I did always hold you as such…”

The second best Gladiator of Aincrad shattered into polygons and his dust became one with all those that felt for Galant. The champion nods slightly and gets up without a single tear.

He looks towards Antinomy.

“Take care of Yuriel.” He tells him.

“Isn’t this enough?!” Antinomy shouts. “How many more must die?!”

“Just one more…”

---

Ducard fights with three gladiators, yet he’d been surrounded and was the last member of the Army on the Pulvinus who was yet alive.

“I’M YOUR MASTER! AND I WILL RIP YOU FUCKNGI HEARTS FORM YOUR CHEST!!!”

An energy slash cuts his glove on his right hand, revealing the symbol of a brown coffin, with a skull and bones. The symbol of Laughing Coffin. The sword skill makes hit to one of the columns and disappears, leaving just a mark on it..

Galant steps in front of him out of nowhere.

“Laughing Coffin. That’s why you didn’t want me to gain my freedom and why you punished me to after fighting Xaxa and the others.”

Ducard is left speechless. Galant was indeed right, and he could see it by the look on his face.

“Now Ducard, tell me: What’d you do to hold your wife in the real world again?”

Ducard soon realizes he used those same words in his first meeting with Galant.

“To feel the warm of her skin?” Galant continues. “The taste of her lips? How many men would you kill? A hundred? A thousand? In this case, there’s just one between you and her!"

Ducard falls a bit back, but finally attacks Galant. He parries the sword with ease, getting closer to his former master and elbows the back of his neck while grabbing his right arm. He gets close to his ear.

“And tell her that nothing in the world can separate you two...” He releases him and walks in front of him again. “LIE!!!”

Galant fist him sending him to the ground.

“AS YOU LIED TO ME ABOUT EVERYTHING!!!”

Ducard gets up.

“Yuriel!”

Yet Yuriel remains unfix looking to the battle. Ducard angers and looks at Galant. Knowing he has no chance of defeating the Champion of Aincrad, he drops the sword and begins to walk with Balmung Blade in his neck, as Galant walks to the opposite side.

“You were fucking nothing before me. I GAVE YOU EVERYTHING! I GAVE YOU THE MEANS TO ACCEPT YOUR FATE!!!"

They both stare to one another for a brief moment, when Galant finally speaks…

“And now you’re destroyed by it.”

He spins and slashes Ducard's throat, the dying player collapses to his knees where he crawls on the ground. The piece of meat from which the head hanged from his body rapidly snapped. The head rolls on the ground, and shatters into multicolor polygons.

It was all finally over, after a short and bloody battle.

Galant looks up to all the reaming 20 gladiators forming a circle. He enters his menu for the first time in a long while.

"I’ve done this thing because it’s just!” he says. “Blood demands blood!”

Galant switches his outfit, using his former clothes before he became a gladiator.

“We’ve lived and lost in this cursed world for too long. I don’t want this to keep on going anymore. I won’t be witness to the death of a friend or lover because of a simple game. I won’t see another player be killed in battle or PKs doing whatever they please! I know not all of you wished to do this, but it’s already done. It’s done…Our lives are back ours. Now you have a choice: go and hide in the lower levels, or join the frontlines, and with the remaining players we’ll clear this game!!!"

All the gladiators roar in agreement to Galant’s proposal.

They open the doors of the entrance of the Arena and all the Gladiators escape to the frontlines. Galant stops as all of them get out. He takes a deep breath and looks at the purple ribbon in his right wrist. He looks up, and clenches both fists, ready to next step.

“I’m coming, Nightshroud…”

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