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This Story, Thorns Within the Heart, is property of FedeTkd.

Thorns Within the Heart
Thorns Within the Heart-Cover
Story Information
Author FedeTkd
Cover Character/s Galant
Aki
Status Complete (To be re-written)
Prequel N/A
Sequel N/A
Related Stories Sword Art Online: New Aincrad

Thorns Within the Heart is a side story of Sword Art Online: Past of Ashes. It takes place during Arpil 2024, and will realate Galant's battle aginst a player known as the Black Rose Witch.

Characters

Story

Part 1: Black Rose Wtich

Floor 3rd, April 3rd, 2024

Galant clashes sword with Antinomy.

He continues his assault kicking him back, but the blacksmith rolls backwards, facing Galant as he was to jump and slash him, Antinomy bused his shied and hit Galant on the belly, forcing him back. As he did this, the blacksmith got up and tried to counter him, swinging his sword with heavy momentum, yet the champion blocked the blow with his right sword, spinning in the ground and getting to his back hitting it, but Antinomy try to spin and hit him with his shield yet Galant predicted this and spin once again this time hitting his legs and forcing him to the ground. He then proceeded to hit several times his shield while on the ground.

Doctore: “GALANT!”

Galant stops.

“You are the victor.”

Galant places his short sword between his arm and body and helps Antinomy up.

Antinomy: “I nearly had you.”

Galant: “Nearly…”

Doctore: “Arkadios! Auctus! Take position!”

They leave to form a circle with the other gladiators. Placing themselves one next to each other.

Galant: “This battles are for deciding who will be the next champion of the Ludus?”

Antinomy: “yeah, and to decide who shall return to the Lower floors.”

Galant: “I have won five battles already, who many more opponents should I face.”

Antinomy: “Five each man. Six if you are tied in the final with someone.”

Galant: “understood. Yet should not it be more logical that the one that defeats me is champion?”

Antinomy: “this contest is held each three months. Arkadios was the last winner.”

Galant: “who did he defeat?”

Antinomy: “me.”

Galant: “really? Then you have become much better than him, or something happens to him when he faces me.”

Antinomy: “he is an impulsive shit, and he hates you. What do you expect?”

Galant: “you got a point there.”

Doctore: “ARKADIOS VICTOR!”

Arkadios: “Someone else there challenge me?? Someone worthy?”

Doctore: “Galant, you are to face Arkadios, at the final contest.”

Galant: “Let us finish this.”

Galant steps into the circle after grabbing two practice swords, and gets ready in battle position, as Arkadios places his shield in front of him just below his eyes and tabs his sword.

Doctore: “BEG…”

Ducard: “MY TITANS!”

Ducard appears out of the balcony just diagonally above the ludus. The match stops in that second.

“We are holding new games few days from today, next Sunday. One of our men is to face a in infamous player just captured: The Black Rose Witch.”

All the players looked to each other as they known who they were talking about.

“She was captured by a gathering of several guilds, and is to face execution, in the PRIMUS! The one that wins this contest, is to win the title of CHAMPION OF AINCRAD. For the task, I have already chosen one of you… Arkadios, step forward!”

He places one foot in front of him and presents himself.

“You have been chosen to face her.”

The player was happy, rising his hands happiness. Finally! His master had recognized his value besides of not being the champion in that moment. Galant must be jealous.

“Other gladiators have been chosen for lower fights. Since this competition is to title the new champion, there is no need of continuing this contest. Now rest, and prepare for Sunday in two days. ”

Ducard retired from the balcony and the gladiators turned to the cells and the dining room inside the building with comfortable shadows, after facing battle and training under a blazing sun.

Galant approached Antiomy sitting down the bench if front of him.

“Who is this player, the Black Rose Witch?”

“You do not know her? Never herd her name?”

“Never”

Antinomy opens his menu and begins searching for something. Something is materialized in front of Galant, the newspaper form some months ago. In the first page, the biggest notice read “the black rose witch continues to terrorize the players of Aincrad”.

“She dresses on dark brown and dark red clothes and and carries a rapier with the form of a rose, and covers her face with a white mask and a hood. Yet this is not the worst, she likes to torture people.”

“Torture?”

Yes. She is a player unlike any I have heard before. She can summon and control plant-type monsters, therefore her name. It is said that she can cause pain, even inside this game.”

“She is dangerous.”

“Indeed. I wonder who they managed to capture her. These abilities are nothing common.”

“No. they are.”

“What the..?”

“They are. Heathcliff the leader of the KoB has a unique skill that grants incredible defense. This player is the same.”

“A unique skill user?”

“Yes. It is the only way I can figure why she can do this.”

“Yet why would she do this. Why would she torture people just for the pleasure of doing it? Why?!”

“It is… what I will discover.”

Part 2: Dragon of Destruction

Floor 45th, April 10th, 2024

Galant left Guren and Blamung Blade to the guard next to him. He had just been victorious in the arena and his match was once just before the primus, the grand battle that attracted so many players to the arena, Arkadios vs the Black Rose Witch.

Arkadios tabbed his sword and he saw his rival coming back from the arena.

Arkadios: “what now champion? jelous? Because I am on the battle you should be?”

Galant did not answer and just glared to him as he talked.

“What? You are so mad you cannot talk? Know this: after I defeat the Black Rose bitch, your title champion of the Ludus will be useless against me, I shall become the Champion of Aincrad and you shall watch from behind of me, where you belong.”

“You will not defeat her.”

“Uh…really?”

“Yes.”

Galant continued to walk getting inside the arena, yet the former champion continued to talk just to show him the joy of regaining his title, and getting one even better.

“You are just underestimating me.”

“No. You are underestimating HER.”

Galant continued to walk towards a small cell where all the gladiators could watch the battle, as Arkadios turned and got ready his shield and sword, ready for the most important battle of his time as a Gladiator.

---

Thinker: “it is time already… Ducard, present you man.”

Ducard: “as you command.”

Ducard got up and prepared to give a speech.

“Player of Aincrad! Today, we shall behold a spectacle unlike no other. The demon player, known as Black Rose Witch has been captured, after haven tortured and slaughtered several villages across the floors. And so, to be executed at death ad-gladium!”

Roar of the crowd, as Galant arrived to the cell and got near Antinomy.

“Enter the Witch! Enemy of the players!”

The two doors opened as black mist came out of the door, causing absolute silence in the arena. Suddenly a hooded figure came out of it, dressed in dark red with a brown cape covering the upper side of her body, and most of her face with a hood. She carried a black and read rapier on a belt on her waist, and black elbow length gloves. After coming to the center of the arena she raised her face, showing a white mask covering her face, causing terror and shouts towards her, having the entire crowd opposing her presence and even most of the Gladiators. Just Galant and Antinomy remained silent, while the champion seriously looked towards her, whit both arms closed while he laid against the wall, looking her seriously.

“Enter Saber!”

The opposed doors opened, and the former champion of the Ludus entered the area, with his armor and a helmet, causing the shouts and screams of the crowd in total favor of the Gladiator.

“The marvel before you needs no introduction! He is known by his sword! By his shield! BY HIS GLORY!”

Arakdios opened his arms and let out a fearsome battle cry.

“ARKADIOS!”

Arkadios finished his walk, at several feet from the Black Rose Witch who looked at him and drew her rapier.

Arkadios: “Your days have ended bitch.”

The black rose did not respond her and tabbed her weapon.

Ducard: “in the name of justice for all those that died in her wake, begin!”

Arkadios rushed to her but she did the same and before he managed to attacked she jumped on her shield and then jumped by him, going to his back, and used linear directly on his back, sending him several meters from her. One on the ground the player got back up and was ready for a second attack but this time he defected the second linear attack, and he managed to slash the belly, of the player finally passing to her back, and the slashed it diagonally and then horizontally.

She fell to the ground.

Antinomy: “she is finished.”

Galant remained silent.

Arkadios made a downwards slash, ready to finish when suddenly a thing blocked his slash.

Arkadios: “what…?!”

The Black Rose Witch got up

Black Rose Witch: “Ivy wall. A Wall bade of branches of ivies that will not break that easily to your attacks.”

Arkadios stepped back.

Arkadios: “So the rumors are true… Black Rose Witch, you control plants.”

He began to laugh loudly.

Arkadios: “if that is all that you can do, summon walls of ivies… you will need plenty more to stop me.”

He made and downwards slashes and divided in half the wall, with pierced into polygons. A then proceeded to attack her, yet she eluded his move, spanning going to his back and performing Linear for a third time, sending him to the ground for the second time.

Black Rose Witch: “I summon three Twilight Rose Knights and three Violet Witches”

Sudenly and out of nowhere, wind began blowing and crimson petals of roses flied and three monsters appeared before Arkadios, well armored, and with a sword which could be either one handed or two handed. The other monster NPC she summoned were woman like covered in a violet cloak, with leaves and a large wooden stuff.

Black Rose Witch: “now let us see what you are capable of and how you fall it despair! Attack!”

Arkadios: “you bitch!”

The three knights began attacking him physically as the witches began firing energy attacks towards him. The crowd remained cheering the gladiators as Galant remained serious watching the battle with his arms closed and thinking.

Arkadios defended from the attack of the first with his shield and managed to behead the first knight, but suddenly one of the energy spheres clashed his left shoulder, causing him pain. This distraction was used by the second Knight, who proceeded to attack him with his sword, yet Arkadios blocked with his shield and pierced the belly of the monster with his sword, and used his body as shied for other energy spheres fired bit the witches. Still the monster was alive and stabbed Arkadios thought the chest, until it shattered into polygons after receiving several of the attacks.

Arkadios grabbed the sword impaled on him, causing him much pain and forced it out of his body, to t the weapon towards one of the witches, killing her. Then he proceeded to face the third knight which rapidly gained the upper hand by shitting his shield several times, yet Akradios managed to deflect one of them and tab the monster thought the chest, thought the monster in hit last seconds of life slashed his body. Arkadios, supporting the pain caused by his attackers, rush towards one of the violet witches while blocking its attacks with his shield and them smashed her face the edge of it. He there threw his sword towards the last witch impaling her and killing her. The Black Rose Witch remained still as he walked to retrieve his sword, notably wounded by the pain and nearly half of his HP gone.

Galant: “it was true what they say. She really inflicts battle damage and causes pain to any of her opponents.”

Antinomy: “He is lost.”

Galant: “we will indeed lose. But not yet, he is to stubborn to surrender.”

Arkadios: “Fucking Witch! But I swear I will kill you on this battle I swear I will! Fucking Monster!”

Black Rose Witch: “I summon Rose Tentacles. “ She remained still thought she seemed mad to the commentary of his opponent thought no one could see her face.

Out of the ground, a large rose began to grow, when it suddenly revealed branches as tentacles which waved, and held several spikes upon it.

The monster began trying to grab him and squeeze what was left of his life, yet Arkadios began avoiding his attacks and left his Shield to archive more agility. He managed to get nearer the her by eluding the moves of the monster and making a semi-circle round of it, yet suddenly the monster grabbed his leg, and forced towards him, it the grabbed his second leg and forced him nearer stronger. This made him going up towards the air, yet this is what he was expecting. Arkadios grabbed his sword and cut the branch that attached the monster to the ground. The monster quizzed and began to rotten when it finally shattered into polygons.

Arkadios rushed towards the black Rose which which did not move a millimeter after witnessing her monster being killed. He tried to tab her, yet She nearly managed to parried, yet Arkadios used the momentum to made a diagonal upwards slash in front of her face, yet she used linear once again to set distance between them two.

Seconds after they briefly gazed into each other, the lower half of the Witch’s mask fell to the sand, revealing the lower part of her face, her nose and her mouth.

Arkadios: “what does it feel like bitch! Taste it well, I shall kill you! And take my right full place as Champion. The only thing standing in my way is you, and you shall die for this, Witch!”

Black Rose Witch: “That how you call me witch?”

Thought she still could not totally be seen, she seemed notably angered.

Arkadios: “why does it offend you, you are a Bitch! A Whore! Not different than a monster! Remember that, when you are in hell! Fucking whore!”

Black Rose Witch: “you know…many player have called my such while in this game, do you know what happened to them…. THAY ARE DEAD AND SO YOU SHALL JOIN!”

Arkadios: “THEN LET US SEE YOUR TRUE POWER WHORE!”

The winds began blowing stronger and violently across of the arena, as her six bags of hair waved on it, and thousands of rose petals flew in the air, began to whirlwind around her.

Black Rose Witch: “You will pay this will your life! Chilling flames engulf the entire world. Pitch-dark flower, set into bloom! Dragon Summon! Appear now, Black Rose Dragon!"

The petals began uniting taking the form of a large monster a large dragon resembling a red rose, with large wings and a long neck, with sharp and long teeth coming out of its mouth. Her legs and tails were spine, with several other coming from its back as whips.

Arkadios remained still on the ground, as the crowd shouted and scraped in terror thought the monster was already known to them.

Antinomy: “that is her strongest monster; it can destroy an entire village just by self-destruction.”

Galant: “Black Rose Dragon.”

Galant walked away from the place.

Antinomy: “where are you going??”

Galant: “This battle has ended. Besides, Ducard told me I have other thing of importance to do if this happened.”

Antinomy: “Ok.”

Arkadios dropped both weapon to the ground and kneeled.

Arkadios: “I BEG OF YOU, DO NOT KILL ME, DO NOT KILL ME!”

Black Rose Witch: “You should have said that before! Now Perish Ignorant shit! Rose Restriction!”

The monster grabbed Arkadios by its arms and legs, forcing him up and stretching more and more, almost as he was going to break apart from the pain.

“Now suffer, burn until there is nothing left from your pathetical existence, BLACK ROSE FLARE!”

The monster attacked him with a blast of fire incinerating Arkadios. It then let it to the sands, to be consumed by the fire and by the pain, after some seconds that seemed eternal, he shattered into polygons, ran out of GHP. The dragon latter shattered into polygons.

The crowd began shouting to her. Throwing things or anything that could be done to mock or insult her. Due to this, the ones at the Pulvinus discussed.

Kibaou: “We cannot keep her alive!”

Thinker: “nor we can risk the lives of the ones here or make her a gladiator.”

Ducard: “I held a solution, if I can claim it to the crowds Thinker.”

Thinker: “which may that be?

Ducard: “one that shall please all, in kind.”

Thinker: “alright, do it.”

Ducard go up.

“PLAYERS OF AINCRAD.THIS WITCH, THIS MONSTER HAS PORVED HERSELF IT THE ARENA, THEREFORE WE SHOULD CONCEED HER, LIFE!

Mocks and shouts of the crowd in discordance.

“YET, WE HAVE OTHER SOLUTION FOR YOU TO CONSIDER! THE WITCH SHALL FACE IN ONE WEEK, ONE OF AINCRADS FAVORED GLADIATORS! FOR FACING THE WITCH AND HER DEMONIC MIGHT AND POWER, THERE STANDS BUT ONE MAN, THE SLAYER OF CERDIC.”

One of the locks of the door on which Arkadios entered opened.

“THE CHAMPION OF MY LUDUS!”

The second lock opened.

“I GIVE YOU, GALANT!!!!”

The door widely opened as Galant raised his sight and began walking towards the middle of the arena, as the crowd roared in approbation and cheered Galants name.

“THEN IT SHALL BE SO! IN ONE WEEK, YOU SHALL FACE ERACH OTHER UPON THE SANDS! THE ONE VICTOR, CHAMPION OF AINCRAD!”

Galant briefly gazed the girl standing next to him, who seemed to do the same intensely, yet none of them spoke a single word as they did. Remaining serious, almost as it was a competition to see who held the strongest ice glare.

After some seconds, she turned back towards her gate as Galant remained still on his ground.

“Black Rose Witch.”

Part 3: Beneath the Mask

Floor 1st, April 14th, 2024

Galant clashes his practice dagger with Antinomy’s shield, and he continues his assault, casting fast and rapid moves in frenzy to his opponent, training harder himself than usual. The Antinomy’s assault countered, yet his defecne was faster and he rapidly managed to cast a blow to his belly ending the attack.

“You lower your guard after each assault.”

“I shall see it raised then!”

He reassumed his assault, once again attacking Galant, yet the Slayer of Cerdic defense was better than before, he managed to elude most of his attacks of if not parrying them, he then managed to get to his side, and stocked a blow to it, leaving him almost out of balance, Galant ran rolling on his shield and placed hi sword in his neck.

“Your head is mine, what will I do with it!”

He liberated his friend.

“You breathe fire today, just like past days. All this for training you battle against the Black Rose Witch?”

“Yeah. She will be the strongest player I have faced. Cerdic himself is no match for her. And maybe not even myself.”

“Then what is your plan.”

“There is no way of defeating that dragon in an easy way, and it can destroy the entire stadium, and us along it. I cannot allow that. I am the only standing in her way. I will not allow more innocent players fall beneath her grasp while stand in her way.”

“That… is not much.”

“Do not worry, when there is a will, there is a way. It shall present itself. For the moment, I have but to train, and best her rapier skills.”

They were about to engage battle when a guard appeared.

“Galant! You are summoned!”

“Go. Ducard must want to tell you something of importance.”

Galant left his sword on the floor and followed the guard upwards. After entering the last floor, he found Ducard on his office, sat on a chair alongside other male player of matching age with Galant.

“The champion arrives.”

“Master.”

“Let me introduce you to Naoto.”

Galant extended his hand, and the player responded his greeting.

“Galant.”

“Naoto.”

“He has useful information about your battle. Yet he requested to have the reunion alone. No I will take leave. I hope whatever he tells you of use, champion.”

Ducard left and closed the door. The only ones left on the room where they two. Galant let back on the wall and crossed his arms.

“Did he ask for Col of this?”

“He did.”

“Does not surplice me. Well, what did you want to talk about?”

“First I want some things about you, Slayer of Cerdic. ”

“Then ask.”

“I want you to tell me that whatever I say to you, will not leave this office, and you shall not reveal it to anyone.”

“I will not. You have my word.”

“The word a so called assassin, which murdered his own guild.”

“If you are here to insult me, fall from sight, and stuck your information, right in your ass.”

The conversation suffered a tense silence for a moment, when the Naoto chose to end it.

“Apologies. This was not the way to request you something.”

“Ok. I guess you are to really going to tell me something of importance, if you ask these questions. Besides, that is what they say of me?”

“Some. Other, call you a benevolent god. Which one are you?”

“I guess, a bit of both. Those are all your questions?”

“They are. But know something; I am doing this just because I have no choice.”

“Understood. What are you here for?”

“I am the elder brother of Aki, the Black Rose Witch.”

Galant’s eyes widened, as he was impressed.

“I know understand why you asked so many thing of me. I would have done the same in your position. But why are you here, and not helping your sister.”

“I am here to help her. It is a long story of how she became the Black Rose Witch.”

“And I have plenty of time. Go forth.”

“She and I were a part when the death game started. We managed to survive, whatever the adversity and difficultness of what we faced. Yet, upon the beginning of the ear we went on a very difficult quest on the 50th floor.”

“Maximus quest?”

“No, a quest at the northeast, in the Redwooden Forest. There is a quest named the Black Rose Quest. Which consist of defeating the Black Rose Dragon.”

“And you entered it?”

“I did not want it, yet she did want it, and I could not refuse her. We entered, and after a fierce battle she defeated the dragon, beheading it with her rapier.”

“I saw her skill with rapier was incredible on the battle. She the second fastest rapier user I have seen, almost as fast as the Flash.”

“Yes. After defeating the Dragon, she acquired this new rapier, named Noir Rose Epine. Yet after this, she acquired a unique skill, a skill named botanokinesis, the control of plants. But this also had a problem. She could not control it. The power escaped from her capabilities and she did not know how to stop it. When we first arrived to a village, the plants began to appear out of nowhere near here, and she destroyed great part of the village. Everybody shouted at her, calling her horrible things: witch, monster, whore, among many. And I… I could not do anything to stop it, to stop her! To help her! My own sister!”

“Enough. I understand how you feel like. But if I have to help you and her, you must tell the full story.”

He regained himself

“You are right. Well, she then started walking round levels with the same misfortune every time she entered a village. Aki could not stop her powers, but the more she destroyed, the more she wished to destroy. The insult edged deep on her soul, and made her become this. She assumed the entity of the Black Rose Witch. A player that does not care about anything but herself, and brigs destruction and pain to those around her.”

“Anger and repudiation.”

“Yes. After this she was captured by some agglomeration of guilds and sent to execution. You know what happened afterwards”

Galant looked to the purple ribbon on his hand.

“I know what it feels like. To be forced to do what you do not wish. And be casted on a future you do not seek. Yet we must see ourselves from these thoughts, and set sight towards more pressing moment. What do you want me to do?”

“I want you to defeat her, and forgive her life. Send her back to me. I shall take care of her.”

“If so, you must do something for me, take good care of her. Share her grief and her pains. She will not be left aside, as you did before.”

“I will not.”

“And know something: if she would place many lives in danger. I will have no choice, but to kill her. Knowing this you still trust me?”

“I have no choice. That is all. I will take my leave now. I will be there in the arena. Good luck and I hope you do not need it.”

He walked to the door and was about to open it, when Galant stopped him

“What is her name, her real name?”

“Kozuki Aki. Mine Naoto Kozuki. Bye.”

Galant nodded and lend back on the wall once again looking to the ground thinking. Ducard entered shortly after he departed.

“Was the information of use?”

“It will be.”

“I expected so. Go back to the Ludus. On three days, you face a great battle. Be ready to withstand the pain.”

“Master.”

Galant took leave downstairs while that name was still on his head.

“Kozuki Aki”

---

Floor 45th, April 17th, 2024

Galant sat on near the entrance of the arena, ready to face his most important battle on the arena. He received an advantage in comparison to Arkadios and other gladiators; he would fight with his common clothes, the same as he did with The Blade Master. He wore Avalon’s Coat, alongside the boots, gloves, trousers and shirt that he normally used. Besides he also worn Aegis forearm protectors, and his shoulder pad, and Balmung Blade sheathed on it. He carried Laevatein and Guren on her wife’s former belt, slung on his waist.

He looked to the ground and thought.

“I could fell two emotions filling her heart by her attacks, what she spoke and what Naoto told me: anger and repudiation. But there is something else, my instinct calls it so. To know it, I must force her to open her heart, and know the true Kozuki Aki inside of her. I will have to fight her with all my force.”

Galant took out from his belt Laevatein, and looked to the purple ribbon

“Guinevere, Sakura, help me on this…”

---

Ducard: “from the eastern Gate, Enter the Witch! Enemy of the players! The Black Rose Witch!”

The girl once again entered to the arena, just as before, the hooded figure with brown cape with her cloak, black mist came out of the door, causing absolute silence in the arena. coming to the center of the arena she raised her face, showing what was left of her white mask covering her face, causing terror and shouts towards her once again.

“Enter Saber!”

One of the locks of the western door opened.

“FOR FACING THE WITCH AND HER DEMONIC MIGHT AND POWER, THERE STANDS BUT ONE MAN…”

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

THE SLAYER OF CERDIC.”

The second lock opened.

“THE CHAMPION OF MY LUDUS! I GIVE YOU, GALANT!!!!”

Galant stepped on to the sands rising to the sky both Guren and Balmung Blade. After a brief walk, he was a two meters from the Black Rose Witch, and stared to each other as they did seven days ago.

“THE FINAL BATTLE OF THE AGES!

Galant placed himself with Guren at his front and Balmung near to his face.

“START!”

Both of the rushed to each other, Galant and clashed al locked blades to each other, looking to each other face. Galant tried to slash her with Guren, yet she was fast jumped backwards and countered with Linear, yet Galant managed to parry the attack the attack. He then span and double used crescent Stardust Slasher.

“Ivy wall!”

His sword skill clashed her monster which shattered into polygons. Her plan resulted.

“Twilight Rose Knights!

Five knights appeared before Galant in a line, and rushed towards him, but the Slayer of Cerdic, jumped back, span for a second time, this time dual using Crescent Stardust Slasher horizontally, Killing two of the monster. The other three jumped and attacked him. Yet he deflected the first one sword, and stabbed the eyes of the monster. The other two came; Galant threw his dagger towards the monster impaling him on the chest. He exchanged some blows with the last one until he slashed its head of. Galant then stared towards the witch.

“Violet Witches!”

Five witches rounded Galant in a pentagon, and pointed their staff towards him.

“Shit.”

“Kill!”

Five energy spheres clashed with Galant, casing dust and sand to cover the air, nothngi could be seen.

“Dead…”

But suddenly the dust flew out, and there he was Glant making both sword spin in a circular formation.

“Sword Skill: Spinning Shield!

“KILL!”

Galant got ready for this and jumped upwards as the five energy spheres clashed causing the same cloud of dust to cover the air. He felt directly to it. Once on it he performed five crescent stardust slashers vertically, directly towards the monster, absorbing their third wave of attacks and piercing them in two, killing them. Galant performed the same technique towards the Black Rose Witch, who effortlessly eluded, yet it cut some of the locks of her hair, which came out of the side of her face.

Galant was about to rush at her and attack when something grabbed his Arm causing him much pain.

“Rose Tentacles, Kill him!

One of the tentacles of the monster at the back of Galant grabbed his arm, impaling the spikes to his arm. In that moment Galant noticed the pain. He could not move Blamung, yet he managed to use Guren to cut the tentacle out of the monster.

“Thorn whip two!”

Galant’s right leg was grabbed by the monster; He could feel the same pain in his leg that the one he could feel in his arm. He once again cut the tentacle out of the monster, but fell to his right legs knee.

“Thorn whip three!”

Other tentacle grabbed Galant left leg. Once again the strong pain. Yet he once again managed to cut the tentacle out of his leg, but he could nearly move himself. Galant looked to her, who had begun to walk round him, ending next to the monster.

“Anger and repudiation. Those are the reasons Kozuki cries, yet I know it… other felling…”

“Once more! LAST THORN WHIP!

This last attack grabbed Galant’s body covering his ribs, and the raised him upwards in the arena.. He could nearly move doe the pain, but he did not shout and tried to focus in not doing it, if he did, the crowd would terrorize, and he could not allow that. He managed to look towards her and noticed something he had not before. She was… smiling!

“You…”

Galant was slashed back to the ground.

The crowd fell in massive panic, yet suddenly, when Galant appeared standing up and clearing the dust out of the place, thought he was breathing fast and notably hurt by the pain. The crowd roared in happiness and glad that he still had GPH. The same that happened when he face Laughing Coffin, his HP decreased slower, and his Battle Healing also was faster. Unfortunately, he did not had Battle healing with GHP.

Galant looked towards her adversary and tabbed both weapon.

“I finally found it… your third felling…has nothing to do with anger and repudiation.”

Galant recalled her face smiling when he was being tortured by his monster, that smile drew on her face.

“Black Rose Witch… no Kozuki Aki…”

The girl was notably surprised due to he knew her name.

“You enjoy the destruction and the pain, which your power cause. You have fun whit these powers of you!”

“I… enjoy the destruction that my power causes…”

Galant placed himself in battle position, and got ready for his counter attack. He would defeat her and end with the curse of the witch… no matter the cost.

Part 4: Star Enveloping Destruction

“Kozuki Aki…you enjoy de destruction you power cause. You have fun with the destruction they cause!”

“How do you know my name…”

“the reason, is right behind of me…”

The black rose looked to Galant’s back, and in the audience, there he was her brother, Naoto watching the fight looking directly at her.

“He…spoke to you…”

“Yes. He wished you to get out of here, and go back with him.”

“HE WAS NOT WITH ME WHEN ALL THIS HAPPEN AND YOU EXPECT ME TO GO BACK WITH HIM! MY OWN BTOTHER BETRAYED ME! HE IS THE REASON I AM HERE FIGHING YOU! I WILL NOTKILL HIM!”

Galant avoided the first to whips; jumped eluding other cut in midair other two. Yet other grabbed his leg and the monster threw Galant to the ground, and dropped his weapons, and the back at the air, but the Champion used the huge momentum the monster gave. He grabbed one of his Kunai storage on his coat, cut of the tentacle of the monster, and by the momentum given he flew towards the monster.

“NO MATTER WHAT IT HAPPENS, I WILL SHOW YOU THE TRUTH, AND SEND YOU BACK TO HIM! GREY FIST!”

A crimson fire punch pierced the monster, and burned the monster in a matter of seconds.

“I summon Phoenixian Cluster Amaryllis!”

A large plant resembling a red phoenix came out of the ground blazing in red.

The shout of the Crowd continued towards her. Insults and curses that did not much more that anger her even more.

“True, you are all true. I am a Witch. A dreadful woman that enjoys with the suffering of the others. It is fun, to inflic pain on all those that have rejected and insulted me just for my powers. IS REALLY FUN!”

“She seems to be enjoying it. Yet, does she really enjoy it…”

KILL HIM!”

The monster attacked Galant with a barrage of fire. He eluded the first, yet the attack continued and scorched some of the members of the Audience, even destroying the defense shield rounding the arena. The monster stopped and the fired back to Galant, knowing he could, not moved, Galant used Spinning Shield, covering himself from the attack.

“YOU CANNOT HOLD BACK THERE FOREVER, GALANT. PHOENIXIAN CLUSTER AMARYLLIS, POWER UP, AND KILL HIM!

The monster bent back, and continued with the attack, making it even stronger, and Galant’s let leg on his back bent, forcing that leg to the ground. He drew Guren on his left hand and raised it charging Crescent Stardust Slasher. He jumped back, and as he felt to the ground and the attack got nearer to him, he used Crescent Stardust Slasher dividing the attack in half, and dealing great damage to the monster. The monster stopped the attack Galant rushed towards the Black Rose Witch thought the monster rapidly tried to stop him and fired the attack for the fourth time, as the Slayer of Cerdic threw Balmung blade towards it, cutting the branch of it, and shattered into polygons.

Galant continued his rush to Aki, as she was ready to counter him with linear, and he was left with just a dagger. She made a powerfully thrust to him. Yet Galant matched his moved with her speed, parrying her attack, and with his left on his waist, drew Leavatein, the sword of Guinevere. He made a single slash in front of her face, passing by to her back, and ending five meters from her. She turned back to him, and suddenly her hood was cut clean in half, and her mask felt to the ground, divided in two parts, which shattered into multicolored polygons.

Galant and the audience could gaze to her face for the first time as she looked at him.

She has fair skin, brown cute eyes, and dark burgundy hair. Her hair was mostly chin-length by the back of her head, and by the front, she had some bags on her front, with the addition of six (three from each side) long, elbow-length bangs that frame both sides of her face.

She covered her face with her left hand. Bended her knees and looked down.

“That is who you really are Kozuki, let us end this nonsense. End this battle and you can go.”

“Shut up...”

“Kozuki, you do not wish this!”

“Shut up. Shut up SHUT UP! I BUT WISH TO KILL YOU! And know I will do it!”

She got up and removed the brown cape.

“Chilling flames engulf the entire world. Pitch-dark flower, set into bloom! Dragon Summon! Appear now, Black Rose Dragon!”

A strong whirlwind was made inside the rea sending thousands of petals to the air, as the dragon appeared on the field. Her most powerful monster: Black Rose Dragon.

The monster instantly attacked Galant with one of his whips, as He could do nothing but elude she constantly frenzy of raging attacks from the monster.

“Kozuki, stop this! You do not wish this really!”

“True…”

Galant was surprised that she that she finally admitted it.

“This wretched powers, if I did not have them…”

“You have never enjoyed having power. Neither hurting nor killing other people.”

“Yes. These powers engraved into the monsters, which have transcended past people. This is why I hate myself. Nearly I felt that it was my obligation to live with an affinity for destruction and death. But the more I invited destruction, the more they changed to impulses for destruction. I gave up being myself, I created another self. While wearing the mask, I am not myself. I am not indifferent to enjoying destruction or laughing at pain. I only need to live, and fell.”

Galant continued to elude as he can the mutable attack of whips from the monster

Do not run from this, Kozuki! You can to this! End this! The person that still refuses to hurt is within you! YOU ARE CAPABLE OF REMOVING THE THORNS WITHIN YOUR HEART!”

She looked up to their dragon, which looked back at her. After this, she turned to Galant, who noticed her sight had become much more enraged, as the dragon continued to attack him.

“All what I can do, is fell you suffering and Pain! Saving people…Or Helping people… YOU CANNOT DO THAT!”

Galant was surprised, He closed his eyes for a brief moment and recalled what had happened to The Royal Knights. Shun…Sakura…

“TRUE! I have not that power. There is not possible way that I could help or save others. Yet, still, I cannot be with arms crossed when a friend of mine is hurt!””

“Friends…?”

“I can but prey they are alright.”

“It is the same as doing nothing! ALL I WHAT TO DO NOW IS FELL YOUR SUFFERING AND END YOUR MISARABLE LIFE, FORMER LEADER OF THE ROLA KNIGHTS! BLACK ROSE DRAGON! ROSE RESTRICTION!

He looked back to the dragon, mimicking a human smile.

“Smile?! Could it be that…”

The monster managed to grab Galant’s arms and legs; it began to stretch him as strong as it could. Yet Galant could resist it, while still suffering pain. Galant looked to the dragon, and noticed...The dragon was the one who made her angrier...That monster was the reason theri ware fighting. TAHT DRAGON WAS THE ONE HE WA TRULLY FACING, NOT HER!

“I but desire to see you suffer as I have suffered in the hands of all the player of Aincrad. AS YOUR COMRADES THAT YOU KILLED YOU! YOU ARE NOT DIFFERENT TO ME!"

“You can be right. I am no leader. And I wish I had died before in the Game. Yet…I still have something to live for…”

“And that would be?”

“Protecting all those I care about, those that have not felt within the grasp of laughing Coffin and other Player Killers! And vengeance for what they have done. I SHALL ACT AS SHIELD FOR ALL THOSE, EVEN AT THE COST OF MY LIFE!”

Suddenly a voice appeared in his face…some words he felt he needED to say…a chant….

“BLACK ROSE DRAGON! KILL THIS PLAYER KILLER ONCE AND FORE ALL BLACK ROSE FLARE!”

“Gathering wishes will become a new shining star! Become the path its light shines upon!...”

Galant’s strength leveled up, and he managed to force himself out of the attack.

The wind’s petals suddenly transformed into stardust, which rounded him and began to take physical shape at the back of Galant.

“what?”

“Dragon Summon! Take flight, Stardust Dragon!"

A large white dragon was the shape of the gathering stardust at Galant’s back. White dragon appeared with a long neck, it had large claws on its feet and hands, beautiful wings and violet pectorals and shoulders. A log tale with a silver tip. The dragon roared as it entered the arena, and the crowd roared in amusement.

“You…"

“Time to finish this Kozuki. Lend me your strength, STARDUST DRAGON!”

Part 5: The Dance of The Dragons-Victim Sactuary

Stardust Dragon roared in the arena, threating Black Rose Dragon as it also roared towards the new white dragon on the field.

Galant continued to stare to the shocked red haired girl.

“what is this?!”

“Stardust Dragon was the counter measure for your dragon. Kayaba Akihiko knew your unique skill could present some difficulties, as this case that your dragon has taken over your body by your feelings. For this, he created Stardust Dragon, a dragon that counters yours!”

“Still how are you capable of summon it?”

“Stardust Dagon would be summoned by whoever player that has the wish of defeating Black Rose Dragon and saving those around me! Including you!”

“Protecting those around you?! Stupid, you could not even protect those of your own guild! And you still will make and attempt to save me! Do not lose time, I cannot be saved there is not place for me in this world!”

“Kozuki! You do not notice, your place is there, next to your brother!”

“No it is not. My brother left me, remember! That is why; I will destroy everything and everyone!”

The hair of Aki became longer, as the wind increased, as she was left flowing fringe. More wind kicks up and Galant is cut in the face again, by a piece of small debris.

"Black Rose Dragon attack Stardust Dragon! Hate Rose Whips!”

Eight long whips coming of the back dragon attacked both stardust and Galant, wounding the chest of Stardust as Galant speed could not overpass the speed of the whip, which slashed his face of sending him to the ground. Some of the whips went towards the crowd, still Stardust wings appeared, and blocked them from the attack, among them, Aki’s brother. Looking to the fight next to the edge to sands.

“this monster, Galant is trying to protect us. Even he can be killed, he stand ground to my sister. But I am, the worst! Does not matter how many I run from it, I cannot escape from the true problem. I have to help Aki and Galant!”

“AKI STOP! THIS IS MORE THAN ENOUGTH!

Galant got up fast, with less than half of his HP left.

“My turn, Kozuki, Stardust soukld will open your closed heart! Stardust Dragon! Shooting Sonic!”

The attack of Stardust did not make much of Black rose dragon who countered, attacking once again with Hate Rose Whip, Slashing the dragon’s in the chest and body, and so did with Galant, yet both of the still remained still, and always getting up from each strike the witch gave to them.

“You still do not give up killer! BLACK ROSE DRAGON! HATE ROSE WHIP! KILL!”

The whip came way to Galant for the third time, yet suddenly a figure appeared in front of him. Naoto!

“MORE THAN ENOGUTH AKI! STOP HURTING PEOPLE!”

“CAREFUL!”

Galant ran and grabbed Naoto throwing him to the ground, alongside himself, avoiding the whip, still, stardust received the full weight of the attack, making its body even more fragile, but it remained firmly resist the strike, showing himself powerful and resistant to the attack, as Galant.

Both players got up; the guards seemed to attempt to come and remove Naoto of the sands, still, they were too afraid of the dragon for doing it.

Naoto begins to advance to his sister as Galant kept his ground behind him.

Naoto: “I am sorry Aki, It was my fault…”

Aki: “shut up! Is too late for hearing this!”

Naoto: “…I was afraid of your powers…for you…”

Aki bows her head.

Aki: “I knew it. That is why you abandoned me, because I am a monster!”

Naoto: “It may have seemed that I thought that, still I should have realized my obvious feelings, I love you, sister.”

Aki: “and you expect me to believe that!”

Naoto: “No, do not. But I consider it irrelevant; I am the one who needs to believe. I need to believe that I love you!”

Aki: “Shut up! I …WILL NOT BALIVE ANYTHING OF THIS!”

Galant: “Kozuki!”

Aki: “BLACK ROSE DRAGON! ATTACK AGAIN, THIS TIME FOCUS ON MY BROTHER! BLACK ROSE FLARE!”

The flare of fire scorched Naoto, sending him towards Galant, as the Slayer of Cerdic received a hard hit himself leaving him in 4% of his GHP.

“Now Galant, and Naoto, with my next attack, both of you shall die.”

Galant gets up for one more time, noticing that the wind is full of petals; he raises his sight to see an enraged Aki, and right at her back the red dragon roaring with that same grin like face.

“Of course! The Dragon is the cause of all just as I had said before!”

Naoto got up, and even with the few HP he was left, he got up and started walking to his sister.

Naoto: “Aki… please come back with me…”

Aki: “stay back!”

Galant: “fall back! Is too dangerous!”

Naoto: “It is alright! It does not matter how much it hurts him; I will not again turn a blind eye! I will hear until the last breath of my sister”

Aki: “NO, NO I CANNOT BELIVE TH-“

Galant: “AKI!”

Aki looked at Galant, for the first time calling her by her name.

“Is he not right before you!? The eyes that help you to see!? The ears ready to hear all your suffering!? All of this, next to you brother, is not the place where you belong!?”

Aki: “In front of me…”She looked up to her brother, walking to her even while he was hurt by her attack. She looked to Galant. “No! NO!”

Galant: “THEN, I WILL DESTROY THE SHELL OF UNFAIR HATE THAT SORROUNDS YOU, AND SEE IT SHATTERED TO POLYGONS! STARDUST DRAGON! SHOOTING SONIC!”

The white dragon of hope soared to the sky, and attacked with a much more powerful shooting sonic, piercing thought the body of the dragon of destruction, as it burned in billions of crimson petals.

Aki: “still this is not the end of my dragon, I will use the best technique of it to destroy all of you and this wretched town…”

Aki noticed the thousands of petals burning, in the unstoppable wind.

“I cannot, control this…”

Naoto stopped moving and scrap in pain.

“No Naoto!”

The wind stopped, as all noticed that she did it.

Naoto: “Aki…”

He felt to his knees, and Aki ran to him. He lowered her body in front of him.

“Aki…”

Suddenly the Black Rose Dragon took shape in front of all of them, and preparing to blow itself as it looked directly to Aki, ready to do what Aki had commanded to him…no, what it truly wished, destroying everything within the town.

Aki: “Galant… finish this battle please!”

Black Rose Dragon: “BLACK ROSE GALE!”

Galant: “DRAGON! I SHALL OVERCOME ALL WHAT YOU THOW TO ME! THE NIGHTMARE OF THE WITHC AND YOU ENDS NOW! STARDUST DRAGON, FINAL ABILITY! VICTIM’S SANCTUARY!”

Stardust Dragon rammed at Black Rose Dragon, and “hugged” it with its wigs and arms, as the dragon began to whip him, in a last try to defend himself, yet stardust was impossible to stop, , and remained firm to his purpose as Galant did not the battle. Both dragon’s glowed and light, and faded into a dance of stardust and blossoms of rose, leaving nothing behind besides is.

The stardust gathered around Galant and merged with his body, developing a brief glow of blue light before it shut off. He looks upon the shy to a silhouette of Stardust in the sky.

“Stardust…thank you, I would not have done this without you…”

The figure banished, as Galant approached Aki and Naoto, both hugging, as the hair of Aki was made shatter, to her former long before her new sword skill appeared. She had few LP left, env less than Galant and Naoto, and was notably tired. Both of them crying.

Naoto: “Aki, I am sorry for all what I have done. Independently from your powers making me afraid or not, I should has always hugged you.”

Aki: “I also, love you brother… But are you good. You have suffered much for me…”

Galant approached both brothers.

Galant: “Aki, I have sealed away your powers by the effect of stardust, they shall be yours to command, and Black Rose dragon shall not more take over you. Now make that decision, will you remain at the side of your brother?”

Aki: “my place is right here…”

Galant drew Laevatein still on his right hand and pointed it to the sky; it became golden, while he prepared stardust Slasher. Both brothers looked at him, as he was ready to kill, and hugged themselves strongly, as they could not fight back him. But when he noticed, he shook his head. He sheathed his sword to his side, and looked towards Thinker on the Pulvinus, he shook his head, much to the anger of Ducard.

Thinker got up.

Thinker: “Galant believes the Black Rose Witch deserves a new opportunity, and I, believe on his opinion. For this, I grant her, LIFE!”

The crowd roared in approval.

Galant: “good luck, to you both.”

Naoto: “Galant, thank you…You were not the man I expected.”

Galant noded back as they got up and left the Arena. Galant walked back to the center, and grabbed Guren and Balmung in the ground.

Ducard got up.

“Now it is my honor to announce to you, to stand proud before the Slayer of Cerdic! The new Champion of Aincrad! GALANT!”

Galant drew both Balmung Blade with his right and Laevatein with his left, and roared to the crowd in joy.

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

---

Floor 1rd, April 19th, 2024

10:00

Galant in bandages thought his body rested in his bed, looking to the Purple Ribbon in his hand. He hears a knock in the door of his cell.

“Come in!”

Ducard entered his cell.

“Champion, someone requests meeting with you.”

“Who may that one be?”

A player stepped inside his cell.

“Naoto…”

“I shall leave you.”

Ducard left the place, leaving both player alone.

“Are you okay?”

“It hurts, but I am better. I was worse yesterday. And whatever the damage to my body, I am still better than Arkadios, trusts me.”

“Well. I just came to thank you.”

“You have already given them to me.”

“I wanted to give it myself, and besides, she wanted to come by herself.”

He opened the door, and Aki entered the room with a smile drew on her face and a new outfit: red, covering her body, and a red chest plate with a black line on the middle. She wearied a red neck choker attached to her outfit, and an emerald crested, golden cross-shaped medallion, as well as a pair of dark, elbow-length gloves with a pair of gold bracelets above them. Her stockings are the same color as her gloves, and are connected to her skirt and she wears red high heeled pumps or sandals with them.

“hi.”

“Aki.”

“Leave us Naoto.”

He left the room, not before saying goodbye to Galant. Aki looked to Galant

“I…do not have the words…what you did for me...even when you did not know me…”

“I can understand.”

“Thank you.”

“What is you real name, Galant?”

“My real name? That person does not longer exist. The one standing before you is Galant. ”

“Why so?”

“This is my fate. I had to kill my previous cell to continue on my path, and maybe se redemption, one day…”

Galant tries to tie the Ribbon back to his right hand, but he is presented difficulties by the pain.

“Let me help you.”

She gets near Galant hand, and ties the ribbon back to his hand.

“What is this?”

“My wife’s, with this purple ribbon she tied her hair. I myself gave it to her. She was the one that made me belive in fate. She also foretold, that i would never love another woman.”

“I herd what happened to her, and you friends, and that you are accused of their murder thought there are no witnesses.”

“yes…”

“I, do not believe it true!”

“Aki...”

“You are too good for having killed them!”

“Your support is well received. Yet, that will not persuade anyone of the army to set me free form here. I will win freedom with my own means, in the arena.”

“Is there anything I can do for you?”

“No you cannot set me free from shackles here. Still there is one thing I would have you do.” He grabbed her hand. “Finish this cursed world. For all those that died these long months spent here. Do not let the memories of those who died left forgotten.”

“I will. We all got our own agendas.”

Galant smiled, as she did the same.

“Aki.Never forget to smile." he said. "There is no-one out there with a more beautiful smile than yours." Aki smiled and took hold of his hand.

"You were the one you put that smile on my face...Galant..."

They briefly stare to each other’s eyes.

They slowly parted hands.

“I should get going now…”

“Sure, off you go." said Galant supporting her.

Aki turned her back and headed to the door, getting out of the room without looking back.

Galant remained serious, and looked to the purple ribbon, mimicking a smile. He got out of the cell moments afterwards into the darkness of the night. He looked upon the sky and saw thousands of stars on it, and could notice, in distance constellations resembling both Black Rose Dragon and Stardust Dragon, dancing it the night’s endless shining sky.

THE END

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