Floor 51st, August 16th, 2026
Orange sky as the sun sets in the plains of Sogen.
Jack runs at high speed across the meadow, holding tight Yahaza, his priced odachi, sheathed on his left hand.
He had been following the tracks of a group of players over the last two days.
On the distance, he sees a pillar of black smoke made by fire burning wood. He approaches rapidly, noticing that the tracks lead exactly to that direction. Three hundred meters before arriving, he stops in the edge of a small cliff, where he could look towards the small village. It was burning.
“Tch…” Jack says, frowning and clenching his fists.
He jumps the cliff, landing and continuing his rush to the small city, thinking that those players may still be there.
In few seconds he was on the remains of the burning town. No one was there. Just blood and fire. Corpses left from slaughtered players, and their red fluid spattered everywhere, flowing in the brown soil right beneath his feet. The wooden houses were burning down slowly and some of them were already burnt down or destroyed. Others, both at the same time
“It seems a battle took place here.” He thinks.
He looks around, to the dozens of player corpses round him.
“Rather a slaughter than a battle. No one of the habitants here survived.”
He continues walking though the small town and squats near footprints that he had just found on the ground. Just one player hadn’t been there, and he could tell it by the number of marks on the ground. It was a large group, and whoever they were, they were definitely strong players. He was following their trace well.
He touched the foot prints, and noticed they were recently made.
“One or two days by the look.” He says, as gets up and looks forward. “Travelling south, they seem to be following the legionaries that defeated this floor’s boss.”
He restarts running at high speed, following the group’s track again, thinking about the number of footprints in the ground and why that did such horrible thing to innocent players that represented no harm for them.
They just killed them for fun.
“Nine players did this...”
The Knights of Blood Wait calmly near the entrance of the Labyrinth. The journey there took them a day and a half, but in the meantime, the legionaries had lost their track. They were safe for the moment. Before they arrived, Kirito had sent a small recognition team to search inside the dungeon for potential dangers. Now they had arrived and were waiting for them to come back.
He began thinking about his battle with Thanos. He was a spriggan, the same race as he was. But that weapon he was using was unlike any other he had seen before. It was heavy and durable. Way more than both Elucidator and Long Sword. And the wielder’s prowess using it matched his swordsmanship, probably even surpassing it. Even though he hadn’t dual wielded, he thought that using both swords at the same time may not save him. The Shadow of Death was fast and strong unlike few players he’d seen; despite he didn’t use full power on the fight. And he was just a general. He couldn’t even imagine Hao’s true power, which was more than enough to defeat a boss by himself alone. A thing no player in SAO had accomplished.
He could figure just one possible way for Thanos. If they wished freedom, there was but one ultimate choice.
“Kirito, are you alright?” Asuna said getting close to him, with Yui sited on her left shoulder.
“Yes. Just I was wondering where these guys are …”
“I can easily notice that you are lying, papa.”
“I forgot you can know that Yui…” he said smiling.
“What were you thinking about?” Asuna said, sitting down next to him.
Kirito sighted and then spoke
“Thanos is one of the strongest players I’ve ever faced. I just used one sword to fight him. But even if I used two swords, I don’t think I would defeat him…”
“Relax. Right now isn’t the time to be thinking of that.”
“We’ll face him sooner or later…”
“We will. And we’ll defeat them. The only player that ever defeated you, needed help of the system to do it. You’ll find a way to beat him somehow, I’m sure you will.”
“No player will suffer the same as Lis. Not while I’m here. We’ll avenge what they did to her.”
Kirito smiled and looked at her.
“Thank you.” he grabbed her hand.
She also smiled as they looked deeply into each other’s eyes.
Klein: “Kirito!” he says. “Sorry for interrupting, but they’ve arrived.”
The couple gets up and follows Klein. Near the entrance, Sinon, Agil, Silica and other members of the Recon team approached.
Kirito: “What did you see?”
Agil: “The Legionaries have already defeated the boss and passed to level 52nd. We should have no problems getting to the top by dusk.”
Sinon: “None. We killed the few we find.”
Kirito: “Let’s go then. We’ll rest inside the caverns.”
The caravan of players entered inside the cave-like dungeon. Dozens of stalagmites pointed down. The path they walked was a like rainbow; seven colors formed it and connected the huge labyrinth, while shining stones lighted their way inside the dark place. Sinon and Agil lead the team followed by Kirito and his men. The remaining players walked right behind them, keeping pace marked by the recon team.
Some minutes of walk passed. They were halfway to the empty Boss Room when they started hearing the sound of cracking stone.
The guild stops.
Klein: “What’s that?”
Sinon: “I don’t like it…”
Kirito: “Now it’s not the time for listening to a sound. We have to ignore it.”
After he finished speaking, the sound suddenly could be heard more, echoing though the cave, as if someone was fisting the wall with all his strength. Someone very large and very strong. Stones cracking could be heard as well.
Thirty more seconds of cracks and…
It stopped suddenly, the same way it started.
Leafa: “It seems…It’s over…”
The strongest crack sound came from the floor, forming a large crevice right beneath their feet. Asuna, Sinon, Leafa, Lamorak and a few others fall inside among other players, while the rest managed somehow to not fall.
After a 50 meter fall, the ended up in a corridor inside the cavern.
Asuna: “Are you all alright?”
Sinon: “I’m ok.”
Lamorak: “Yeah! I’m great! Bungee Jumping without a rope to fall to death.”
Leafa: “Oh shut up Lamorak!”
They get up and notice that some players died once they hit ground.
Lamorak: “C’mon, we have to find a way to find the rest.”
Leafa: “That won’t be easy. Seems that the cave is way bigger than it looked.”
Sinon: “We just run through the most important places. We’d been days here if we searched the whole place.”
Asuna: “That’s not important right now. We should start walking, and see if there is a way to go up. ”
They started walking, trying to find a way though the cave, lighted by crystals and shining gems struck to the walls, ceiling or floor of the cave. Still, parts of the corridor were covered by nothing but true obscurity and no one could see what was there. But if they wanted to regroup, there was no choice left. Nothing good had turned out when Lis and the others had separated from them at Sogen. Kirito said that they should remain together. That’s what they were trying to do.
Sinon in the front of the team suddenly stops, just before entering a dark area, loading an arrow and aiming.
Asuna: “Whoever is there better show himself, NOW!”
From the shadows, steps are heard coming near. Out of the darkness, Galant appeared, with his hands opened, showing he was holding no weapon.
Galant: “You must have a good detection skill to find me, Kitty. But I detected you coming minutes ago.”
Leafa: “What are you doing here?”
Galant: “That’s none of your concern.”
Sinon: “Oh you better start talking, now! Were you following us? You caused that quake?”
Galant: “No, I wasn’t following you. I can’t use magic, so I’ve got nothing to do with that quake.”
Galant lowers his arms and gets ready to continue walking.
Galant: “Now, if you excuse me…”
Lamorak: “No you better stay still right where you are.”
Galant: “I’ve got no time for this bullshit. I’ve got other concerns. ”
Sinon shoots an arrow to his face. Galant falls to the ground with his hand near his face, but he uses the momentum to roll backwards and get back up. He had caught the arrow on his hand.
“Seems we have to do this the hard way…”
Galant throws the arrow away as he unsheathes Maximus Caliburn, getting ready to fight.
Lamorak is the first to advance, attacking with a downwards slash but Galant parries the blow and defects the blade, moving to Lamorak’s side and hitting his face with his right fist but, leaving his back exposed to the attack of Leafa. He barely had seconds to notice this, but at last he used his left forearm to block the attack and kick Leafa back. An arrow almost sticks to his right arm. He rolls in the ground and tries to get up, but a recovered Lamorak kicks him hardly, sending him against the wall. The sylph thrust his blade against him, but missed by a small margin, letting the Knight place a hard kick to his chest. Leafa appeared just behind Lamorak slashing downwards. Galant parries and she quickly changes the blow to a stab, leaving him almost no time to parry the katana, which slashes the left a side of his chest. Galant jumps back and grabs his sword with both hands. Activating Dimachearus, he duplicates his sword and gets ready for more. He takes both attackers at the same time. He parries Lamorak’s attack fist and then Leafa’s, ceding them territory, and then starts moving to Leafa’s left flank, parrying her blade and spins, hitting her strongly in the back with the pommel of both swords, sending her plummeting to the ground. Galant continues his spin’s momentum, blocking the attack with both blades, letting the left one pass by and then slice backwards, slashing Lamorak on the chest with Stardust Slasher, more than enough to push him against the wall. An arrow embeds to the back of his back left shoulder. Galant ignores it and turns around, looking to the blue-haired Cait Sith aiming another arrow. He begins to walk towards her. She shoots her arrow, but Galant just moves his blade at max speed and deflects it. Surprised, Sinon aims another and shots, but Galant deflects it again. Desperately, she repeats the same action but it was useless. The arrow was also deflected. Galant now right next to her, moves her bow away with a single attack with the flat of his sword and gets ready to stab her, while she closes her eyes.
“Nice try, kitty.”
Galant thrusts his blade. Sinon reopens her eyes, noticing Galant’s blade next to her neck, stuck against the wall.
“Is this enough!? Asuna?! I’ve got no time to deal with players like you.”
Asuna remains looking at him ready to unsheathe her rapier and face him.
Galant unites both swords and places his left hand on the wall, closing both eyes, feeling the almost imperceptible vibrations of the stone and using his detection skill.
Sinon: “The hell you’re doing?”
Galant: “We’ve got company…” He says, releasing Sinon dividing his swords again and looking towards the darkness, with the other Knights right behind him
The sound of metal clashing and stone cracking come from the same dark Galant appeared. Stronger and stronger by each second, accompanied at last by heavy breath, nasty smell, and vibrations in the ground made by a really large thing. Out of the dark, a large ogre-like creature three meters height, with two black metal arms and dark brown skin, with an ugly face with crimson red eyes and the sharpest teeth coming out of a big mouth.
The creature just stared the KoB players, who seemed to be looking at the demon himself. The creature began laughing at the sight of their faces full of fear.
Galant blinks his eyes and they turn red crimson, activating both Darkness and his VRSMA at the same time.
Leafa: “What is a monster?”
Lamorak: “Is unlike any other I’ve seen…”
Galant: “That’s no monster. Are you, member of the Band of the Nine, Ninth? Stur!”
Stur: “Seems I’ve found some little insects, I wonder how they may taste…?”
Galant: “EAT THIS!” Galant rushes at him. “Grey Fist!”
Galant punches him with all his strength. Sturn doesn’t move an inch and blocks the move with his right forearm armor. Galant felt pain when he clashed with that metal, as his right fist started bleeding, but he had no time to feel it as Stur hit him with his left arm sending him back with a powerful push. Galant clashes against the bodies of KoB players, so powerful that all but Sinon Asuna, Leafa and Lamorak died, but even still, they were gravelly wounded.
Stur: “Indeed! NOW DIE! GREAT QUAKE!”
Stur charges magic on his arms and drives both forearms magical to the ground with all his strength. The very earth begins to shake. A crack opened in the floor, just in front of Stur. The crack begins advancing, getting in an instant to the floor the players were and surrounding it.
The floor broke into thousands of smaller rocks, sending them to a deeper cave again…