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« SAO:NA - Chapter XIX: Shadows of Death

Sword Art Online: New Aincrad
Written by: FedeTkd
Published: FedeTkd (talk) 03:47, June 20, 2015 (UTC) /
Chapter XX: Wrath of the Aesir

SAO:NA - Chapter XXI: Enemies of the Kingdom »



Floor 55th, September 30th, 2026

Darkest night, obscured even more by gathering of black clouds. Lighting and thunder in the distance.

Thor’s rage could be felt kilometers away.

With a soft but constant breeze on his face, Kirito walks alone to the edge of the cliff. He looks down. He could see the temple, which now served as main base for Thanos and his main commanders. Between the back of the temple and the foot of the volcano, the Magical Catapults were left with several soldiers guarding them. Approximately a block away from both places, the remaining troops had set a large camp.

Kirito thinks of what they could do on that situation.

The top where they set the camp was a plain and deserted plateau, with plenty space for all of them. There were lots of living vines, but they couldn’t be used for anything.

The whole place had extremely hard ground and rocks. There wasn’t anything to eat, besides of what they’d brought up. To make the place even worse, the exposure to the elements, the rain, the blazing Sun, the cold winds and fear of attack in any moment made the mountain’s peak the worst base they had so far.

Most of the players covered their body with blankets and tried to sleep. Some even rested close to a few campfires to warm up.

Galant walks through the camp, looking around. He sees Kirito next to the edge, looking down, but keeps on looking and finds Diana close by, sitting by other of the edges of the mountain. He sits down next to her.

“How’s Kana?” He asks.

“She’ll be alright. Asuna healed her wounds. She just needs time to heal.”

The wind starts blowing strongly. Diana crosses her arms and moves her hands up and down, trying to warm up. Realizing he was also felling cold, Galant takes out his dark brown poncho for cold weather. He extends it as if it were a blanket, covering both of them from the breeze.

Diana instantly blushes.

“Ummmm…” She says blushing a bit.

“Why’s that?”

“This fells kind of weird.”

“You shouldn’t feel that way. Everybody’s together to avoid the cold. Besides, we’ve fought and been corralled here. It’d be embarrassing to die here because of the cold wind.”

Diana chuckles and then rests her head on Galant’s shoulder. They close their eyes and rest for a short while.

“Do you think he can get us of this situation?” Galant asks her.

“I don’t know Kirito very well, but he’s the player who defeated Akihiko on his own game. He reminds me of you, somehow…”

“I don’t see that at all.”

“I mean, while you were still a leader. During Cedric’s War. He keeps on fighting no matter what, same as you. I believe in Kirito. I believe he’ll save us.”

“For all our sakes, I hope you’re right.”

After a long while watching down, Kirito walks back to the camp, and not a single idea came to his head.

The first one to see him is Asuna.

Kirito: “How’s everything going?”

Asuna: “Good news or bad news?”

Kirito: “Bad.”

Yui: “The wood for fire is almost gone. Our food and water will quickly follow. We can’t use the resources from the mountain, but we’ve done everything we can since Thanos corralled us here.”

Kirito looks to the players.

Kirito: “That shouldn’t have happened.”

Asuna: “If you still want the good news, we both believe you’ll find a way to see us out of this one.”

Kirito grins.

“You both always find a way to cheer me up…”

The family shares a brief moment, but soon several players appear.

Klein: “Kirito! Fandral, Kana, Hogun and other idiots have descended the mountain.”

Diana and Galant rise from their seat.

Diana: “Kana went with them?!”

Kirito: “What’re they going to do down there?”

Jack: “They want to attack the Legionaries guarding at the foot of the mountain.”

---

Kalius and a small clutch of Legionaries guard the foot of the mountain.

Alerted by a cracking sound coming from the forest, he draws his blade. Hikami, Lyn and some mercenaries appear from the forest.

“Next time warm us. I thought you were enemies.”

“Well, if I was a Rebel, I’d be coming from the mountain, not from the woods. Since, as you know…we forced them up there.” Hikami says sarcastically while smiling.

Kalius angrily sheathes back his blade. There was a notable rivalry between the Salamander and the Undine.

“The food was absolutely amazing back on the temple.” Hikami adds. “You should rush there now! There may be few pieces of it left!”

“You shouldn’t overstep so much…Second. Just because you’re Thanos’ second-in-command it doesn’t mean you can order us around…”

“Last I checked it does. If you don’t agree with the opinion of our General…” He reaches to his waist and grabs the handle of his blade. At the same time, Lyn reaches to her back and grabs the handle of her khopesh, Seth. “…you’ll be executed for insubordination…”

Both stare for a while…Until the soldier next to Kalius is pierced by a spear.

The soldiers turn around, looking to the direction where the spear came from.

Fandral followed by his men scream while running down the narrow path. Fandral is the first one to attack, closely followed by Hogun and Kana.

Both factions engage.

Fandral cuts down the first soldier in his way and engages against Hikami. Hogun attacks with his axe, but he’s stopped by Kalius who quickly blocks the blow and deals a smashing punch to his face. Kana sends the first mercenary she finds to the ground and punches his face several times. She rises from the dirt and attempts to engage combat with Lyn, but another soldier pushes her with his shield. He holds her there, unable to move. Lyn fends off against several Knights, killing them all with swift strong moves with Osiris and Anubis. Kalius grabs Hogun’s face and hits it against the rocky mountain several times, defeating him. Hikami manages to somehow send Fandral to the ground and kicks the Sylph repeatedly. With this, the battle had ended, with all the Knights either defeated or killed.

Fandral raises from the ground, kneeling in front of Hikami, who held his blade, Kagutsuchi, on his neck.

“Go fuck yourself, you little cunt.” The Sylph told him.

“After you.” Hikami responds smiling.

He blinks, activating his VRSMA and readies his blade to chop Fandral’s head off.

He stops half-way, grabbing his right arm. An arrow nailed there.

He turns around to see Kirito, his main commanders and captains running down way the path. They were covered by both Sinon and Diana.

They’d come to save their teammates.

Hikami cowardly hides behind one of the nearby trees while he takes the arrow out of his arm.

While the Knights fought against the soldiers and rescued the players, Kirito and Lamorak face off against the two Dark Knights.

“Fall back!!!” Kirito shouts.

With combined effort, Asuna, Klein and Agil save Fandral and Hogun. Also, Galant and Jack save Kana. The Knights begin rushing up as quickly as they could.

Using the surprise factor, Lamorak managed to lands a solid kick to Kalius face, defeating him. However, he doesn’t finish him off and quickly rushes up the mountain.

Kirito blocks the dagger of Lyn with his blade. They stare for a brief while. The loose golden hair of the Sylph waves on the air while she spins to stab the Black Knight in the face. However, Kirito ducks under the weapon and slashes her stomach. The wound wasn’t fatal, but it deal considerable damage, even to a resilient player such as Lyn. He then kicks her on the chest, sending her to the ground.

Kirito readies to kill her, but he seen a larger squad getting closer to the mountain.

Without a second thought, the leader falls back, rushing up the mountain.

A mercenary hidden behind a tree appears with a javelin on his hand and takes aim…

“KIRITO!!!”

The scream makes Kirito turn around. He sees the lance slowly coming on his way and bends his torso left to elude it. He keeps on looking at the weapon, as it continue flying right next to him. He watches as the spear clashes against someone.

The impact is so strong that the bow in her hand is sent flying away from her left hand. She falls to the ground. Her black hair waved in all directions while she falls, until her body touches the ground.

The spear had pierced Diana’s chest.

Everyone was shocked, but no one as Galant.

He screams her name and runs to help her.

Kirito, Lamorak and Klein rush to the frontlines and manage to hold off the few soldiers left.

Galant crouches next to her. They briefly look to each other’s eyes. He grabs the handle of the spear and takes it out of her body. Diana doesn’t even scream, but she begins bleeding quite a lot. Galant raises her and begins carrying her up.

When he starts rushing up, the three generals follow.

---

The Knights arrive to the top.

Galant’s the first one, with Diana on his arms unconscious. She lays her on the ground.

Asuna and Kana quickly kneel next to Diana.

All the players gather around the wounded girl.

Galant: “We have to seal her wound!!!”

Kirito: “Sybil, heat your blade in the fire, now!”

The Syph girl draws her dagger and places it on the fire.

Asuna puts her hands on Diana’s chest while using a healing spell. Seconds afterwards, she stops.

Galant: “Why do you stop?!”

Asuna: “Galant…”

She looks at him to the eye and shakes her head.

Absolute silence.

All the players realize what happened.

Diana was dead.

All the players are silent and look down to the ground in respect. Some of them look to each other. They understood that wasn’t just Diana’s fate, but rather all their fates if they didn’t found a way down the mountain and defeated Thanos’ army. The lugubrious and mute atmosphere remains for a long while.

A weeping Kana keeps on staring to her sister.

Galant slowly removes his hands from Diana’s chest, looking to her blood still on his hands. He closes his hands angrily.

Galant: “Tell me Fandral…Was it worth it?”

He turns around, looking to the Syph. Galant stands up and walks towards him.

“Was that a fair price for you!? Her life!? TO TRY TO SAVE YOUR ASS!?!?!?”

His eyes turn into red without blinking.

Galant punches Fandral across the face. The Sylph falls to the ground, but Galant gets on top of him and starts hitting him several times. Even when some players try to stop them, Kirito orders the Knights not to. Some others even prevent players to get between the two fighters.

Galant punches Fandral two times, but the Sylph punches back. Galant grabs his left hand and prepares another strike.

“SHE’S DEAD BECAUSE OF YOU!!!”

“YOU’RE ONE OF THE FUCKERS WHO LEADED US TO DEATH!!!” Fandral screams to him.

Remembering the guilt he still carried, since he also still considered that led his friends to death, Galant’s eyes become normal again. His whole facial expression softens.

“At least she died as a warrior!” Fandral adds. “Not starving, sick or without any strength like we will!”

Angrily, Galant releases him and stands up.

“You’re right!” Galant screams. “All of us will die!!!”

The players start whispering.

Galant walks next to Diana’s corpse and falls to his knees.

He feels a hand on his left shoulder. He looks up and sees Kirito.

Kirito: “We will…If we don’t stand and fight together!”

Fandral: “Even now you think that’ll make any fucking difference.”

Lamorak: “Shut your hole!”

Klein: “Open your fucking ears!”

Kirito: “We can’t fly with our wings. We can’t climb down the cliffs of Muspel. Therefore the path is the only path of victory! We’re holding the higher ground. That means we hold the advantage, even with their superior numbers!”

Hogun: “Yes…Only if Thanos is so stupid to attack before we’re weakened to fight!”

Jack: “If we’re fighting for something bigger than ourselves, no one is ever too weak or wounded to fight back”

Kirito grins to Jack and walks towards Galant while continue taking.

Kirito: “Thanos and his army will attack sooner or later. Doesn’t matter. When they do…”

He offers his hand to Galant on the ground. Galant takes it. He rises up.

Kirito looks to Diana’s corpse and then looks to the players afterwards.

“…until the end of time, Muspel will be forever stained with the blood of our vengeance.”

---

In the temple, Thanos receives the news.

Thanos: “What happened?”

Kalius: “A mad attack from the Rebels.”

Thanos: “Any prisoners?”

Kalius: “None. Most of them are dead, among some of our own men.”

Hikami: “You’re lucky you’re not dead as well. And that if Lyn, my mercenaries and I hadn’t been there, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now!”

Thanos: “Seems the Aesir are with us on this…Kalius, send more of your men to watch the path’s end.”

Kalius: “General.”

Kalius leaves along his men, leaving Hikami and Thanos alone.

Thanos: “The conditions up there must be really extreme, to try this stupid attack and abandon their security.”

Hikami: “I don’t think Kirito ordered this…He’s not this impulsive.”

Thanos: “Did you see him?”

Hikami: “Yes. For a brief moment, when he and his shits appeared from the path. ”

Thanos: “How did he look?”

Hikami: “As always. Fast, strong…and deadly. But I could see something in his eyes. A glare. Despair. The same thing as a wild and savage beast, when pressed against a corner.”

Thanos: “Those kinds of animals never properly accept their defeat or death. Not without a battle filled with blood”

Hikami: “Doesn’t matter. There’s no need to rush. The peak of Muspel is an arid, dry and hard place. They won’t find anything of use on there.”

Thanos: “Yes. Just wait a while longer. Wait until they can just feel hunger and despair on their mouths. On that moment, Kirito and all who follow him will kneel before me, Hao and the Kingdom of Aincrad. For the last and final time.”

---

Floor 55th, September 30th, 2026

At the camp, Hikami sits among the main commanders of his mercenaries, talking about their plans.

They were chewing some sort of food, similar to chewing gum.

“Beautiful isn’t it? What A man can accomplish, if his mind is set to purpose. Trust me, my soldiers. Everything’s going according to planned.” The Salamander Colonel spoke. “Thanos is one impulsive fuck, I know that. He’ll attack the mountain soon, before the Rebels are truly weak. The big fish of each side will kill each other. Once the two sides are low in numbers, we’ll surround them, forcing them to join us if they want to live. After that, we’ll continue fighting the GAW, creating my own guild. Nothing will stop me to obtain my crown. All of you will be my first recruits. I just ask for your oaths, sacrifice, pledg-”

“Colonel Hikami!” A voice called, interrupting Hikami.

They turn around and see that Lyunatix was the one who interrupted him.

“General Thanos summons you and your men to the Temple’s courtyard.”

“Understood…” Hikami answers.

They all follow the Imp to the temple, but once they arrive, Lyunatix tells them to remain in the courtyard, while he enters the temple in search for Thanos.

They remain there; walking around for several minutes until Thanos appears from the temple, accompanied by the three other members of the Band of the Nine and some Legionaries.

“Salamander…” Thanos says.

“Yes, General.” Hikami says.

“You think me an idiot?”

“General?” Hikami asks. “I don’t understand…”

“You remember Magnus came to my HQ, asking me to stop my pursuit of the Rebels?

“It was a few days ago. Of course I remember…But I still don’t understand your question…”

“Magnus revealed he knew that Galant had betrayed us. All the Generals and the King himself now know that. The only ones that knew that were my army and The League of Darkness Knights. But who could’ve told him? Not one of my Legionaries could, since they’ve been in my HQ since we were back from the Swamp. And Mordread’s men couldn’t have betrayed me, since he wants me to defeat KoB. That leaves just my Party Partners…”

“ Gene-“

“Valon!” Thanos says, interrupting him. “Kirito told me back on the Swamp his wound with a spear wasn’t enough to kill him. But his body had another deeper wound. One made with a Pugio knife…”

“You trust more the word of the rebel leader than the one of your own Colonel…”

“Why would Kirito even lie? I’ve had enough of you, treasonous snake!!!”

He takes his halberd off his shoulder and points it towards Hikami. Lyn Lyunatix, Kalius and the soldiers do the same. Hikami and his mercenaries draw their own arms.

Both sides get closer, on the verge of starting a battle.

“Wait!” Hikami yells out to his men. “I don’t know who told you this. But I assure you, you’re making a huge mistake…”

“Far the contrary. You’ve made the huge mistake: trying to betray your own guildmates and your King.”

“A very bad end to this great association…” Hikami responds disappointed, but knowing Thanos discovered the truth.

It was true.

He’d made it to make Thanos more impulsive, as he wanted and needed him to be.

“The best then will be if we leave, quietly. Without any more disagreements…”

“Well. I think I can make a better offer to all of you.” Thanos says with a smile, placing his halberd on his shoulder again. “Ten thousand Mithil Yrd, as return for a loyal service.”

Hikami turns around and sees how his four commanders sheath their blades and just stare at him. The Salamander was astonished and surrounded by enemies now.

He nods his head slightly several times and starts laughing.

“You…bunch of fucking cunts…” He says to the mercenaries.

Hikami attacks them, but Lyn is faster and grabs him. She makes him drop his blade and makes him kneel while holding Anubis against his neck.

“Stop!” Thanos commands.

He walks towards Hikami.

“You swore your loyalty to me and the Legions. Do you know what the punishment for treason is?”

“Beheading…” Hikami responds. “But I haven’t broken that oath of loyalty, my general!”

“Well…I’ll now test your loyalty then…”

---

On top of the mountain, the Knights refuge from the scorching sun and the strong winds. Since there weren’t any materials to create a tent, they could just use light blankets.

Some players were cleaning their own weapons. Some were sharpening themSome slept calmly wherever they could. Others just complained about Kirito’s incompetence as a leader. He’d gone again near the edge of the cliff, looking down.

Galant was next to Diana’s corpse, binding her on a cloak with the vines he could find.

Since one of the rules of the GAW added blood to the game, the vanishing of corpses was different in each player. Some players shattered into polygons when their HP disappeared completely. Others lasted for several days, until their bodies slowly disappeared. Most players were between those two opposite extremes. It was random.

Kana looks at Galant wrapping her up.

“It’s my fault that she’s dead.” She says.

“You shouldn’t have gone with them. What were you even thinking?” Jack tells her.

“I wasn’t.” She answers, looking down to the ground. “I was pissed. I was defeated by that Sylph bitch and I wanted payback.”

“And here are the results of your devil-may-care attitude…”

“Yeah…”

“There’s nothing you can do now. It’s reasonable that you want payback, but don’t thinking will get you killed. Right now, we have to think, if we want to live.”

Still saddened, she nods her head.

“Go there and help him.”

She gets up and walks to Galant, kneeling in front of him.

“Hi…”

“How’re you fairing?” Galant asks her.

“Like shit.” She responds with a slight chuckle.

Galant looks at her and grins.

“Even when we’re just playing a game, it feels like more than just a game, doesn’t it?” Galant says.

“Yes…Sometimes, this war is more than just a game.”

“You know, I like her.” He pauses for a brief moment. “Not the way she wants me to, but as a friend.”

“I know…”

She’s silent for a short while.

“Needing help?”

“Bringing me more vines would be very useful.”

She nods and leaves.

Galant gets up. He looks at Fandral and his group, noticing they were becoming more and more nervous. He walks to the main commanders group.

“Any plans yet?” He asks to Asuna.

“Nothing…At least he didn’t tell me anything.”

“Have YOU thought of something, Slayer of Cerdic?” Lamorak asks him.

“Less than Kirito.” Galant answers. “I’ve been busy with stuff.”

“What about your Dragon?” He asks again.

“Stardust can just carry three players. He can’t fly with more weight.”

“Even if we used the Dragon, the Legionaries will see us.” Asuna adds. “And it’d take us several flights to take the entire Guild down. They’d slaughter us even with the help of the dragon.”

“I guess we’re screwed either way. Fuck the Aesir.” Lamorak says.

“I’ll go and talk to him…” Galant says at last.

Galant continues walking and approaches Kirito.

“Fandral and his men become more restless hour after hour.” He tells Kirito. “And they’re not alone…”

“I know. But if we want to live, we need to think of a way out of here. We need tactics and a strategy.”

“Like your strategy on Luccinea’s Arena? Or your strategy at the ports of Bluewater Bay? Both accomplished with less than twenty men…” Galant stops for a short while. “Back in my days of leader, I never dared to do something that risky. That was one of the reasons I thought you were a stupid fool. But now I realize that your brave strategy is the reason why you’re not dead already.”

Kirito shakes his head.

“I just had the luck to see an opportunity that the Legions would’ve never considered. An opportunity they’d have considered mad. But there’s no chance for that now…”

“You know, just before she died, Diana told me that she believed in you. I told her I didn’t. But she thought you’d take us out of this situation because you wouldn’t surrender. You’d keep on searching for a chance.”

“And what do you think now?”

“I’ll keep on fighting for you, for her.” Galant responds. “As I told you before, if I’m going to die, I prefer dying among brothers.”

He extends his opened hand. Kirito grins and grabs it.

Galant’d finally accepted his place among KoB.

“Kirito!” Agil yelled out while approaching Kirito, accompanied by several other Knights. “Someone’s coming from the path!”

“GET READY! EVERYBODY TAKE POSITION!”

In few minutes, all the Knights had made a circular formation, with spears at the front, while the remaining players were at the rearguard.

However, from the path didn’t appear legion neither a clutch of soldiers. Far the contrary. A single man came from the path walking slowly with his arms raised.

Klein: “Hikami!!!”

Klein is the first one to advance, recognizing the man who kidnapped Leafa and captured his two friends along with Asuna.

Hikami: “I’m not here for a fight. I just come here with a message from Thanos.”

Kirito: “Agil, take his weapon.”

Agil walks towards him and takes away his Katana.

Kirito: “Now talk.”

Hikami: “Thanos…he’s tired of this situation. He just wants to end it. He wants to return to Acceria, to the main HQ, and receive his award for defeating you.”

Kirito: “We don’t care about that.”

Hikami: “I know you don’t….But I know the lives of your people are important for you. He’s offering for your terms of surrender! If you leave your weapons behind and kneel before Thanos, and he’ll let you live!”

The Knights starts whispering about the offer.

Kirito: “As slaves, beneath the power of Hao!”

Hikami: “Yes. You’ll be slaves, but you’ll have your lives to keep fighting the War! To participate in the Kingdom of Aincrad! If you refuse, Thanos told me that all those who survive the taking of the mountain shall die by Crucifixion.”

Asuna: “And what about Kirito’s life?!”

Kirito: “That’s the cost of this arrangement…”

The players start to whisper more behind Kirito’s back. Many start looking to each other, as if they were communicating or expecting for something to happen.

Fandral: “Many others and I don’t want to die today!!!” He stops for a short while. “But…if we’re going to fucking die, WELL DIE AS FREE PLAYERS!!!”

“YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!” Most players replied, rising their weapons to the sky.

“FUCK THE LEGIONS!”

“FUCK THE KING!”

“STUCK YOUR SURRENDER IN YOUR ASS!!!”

“SALAMANDER CUNT!!!”

Kirito: “There’s your answer, messenger.”

Hikami: “Great…I’ll go and deliver the message to Thanos…”

He briefly looks to Leafa, death staring at him. Afterwards He turns around and walks a couple of steps.

Klein: “I don’t want you to leave so quickly!!!”

Hikami looks around and sees Klein pointing his katana towards him.

Hikami: “Thanos is waiting for me. I have to return with the reply.”

Klein: “Your head without your body could send the same reply!”

The lancers point their weapons at him, making impossible for him to leave.

Hikami: “Kirito, no man ever threatens the messenger.”

Kirito: “We’re not threatening you. We’re going to kill you.”

Hikami stares and Kirito, with no hope in his eyes.

All the players start a loudly and malicious laugh after seeing his face.

After they end, Hikami also laughs.

“The mighty and powerful Klein. The leader of Fuurinkazan and one of the best players of SAO. The second-in-command of KoB and one of the best players of New ALO. Where’s his honor and pride, killing a man that can’t fight back?”

Klein: “Give him a sword.”

Kirito: “Agil.”

Agil throws Hikami’s Katana to the ground, for him to reach.

Hikami: “You’re a Katana master, and I’m wounded.” Hikami refers to his arm, pierced by Diana’s arrow on the previous battle. “There’s no honor in this fight.”

Klein: “FUCK HONOR!!!”

Klein readies his weapon and prepares to strike Hikami.

Leafa: “NO!!!”

All the players look at her.

Klein: “I’ll kill him myself!”

Kirito: “Suguha?!”

Klein: “What are you talking about?!”

Lamorak: “You’re mad?! It’s a VRSMA user you’d have to fight. A member of The League of Darkness Knights. He can kill you in real life as well!”

Leafa: “I’ll personally take his life! He’s hurt no one as much as me, leaving me on those fucking mines as bait! A tool! NO ONE HAS MORE RIGHT TO KILL HIM THAN ME!!! I will kill him!”

Klein slightly nods, touched by Leafa’s grief and anger.

Kirito: “Do it.”

Leafa draws her katana and advances towards Hikami.

Lamorak walks towards Kirito and Klein.

Lamorak: “Are you two fucking sure of this?!”

Kirito: “We don’t have much opinion on this…”

Everybody clears space for the two fighters.

Hikami reaches for Kagutsuchi.

Hikami: “Very well then. If I have to die today, I’ll send Klein’s bitch to death before me!”

Both opponents get ready and stare.

Leafa attacks while screaming. She throws a multitude of angry attacks to Hikami, who blocks each blow while at the same time walking backwards. Even with her powerful and constant attack, her recklessness didn’t let her think and fight better. Hikami quickly uses her disadvantage. After blow which leaves her without balance, he grabs her left shoulder, pulling while he walked the opposite direction. He slashes her slashes her black near the left shoulder.

After seeing this, Lamorak attempts to interrupt, but Kirito and Klein grab him.

They felt the same as Lamorak. They wanted to save her, but they couldn’t avoid the fact that it was Leafa’s own battle with Hikami. She needed to have vengeance by her own hands.

She wouldn’t forgive them if they saved her.

“The beautiful, delicate girl isn’t so delicate anymore!” Hikami yells out.

Leafa attack him again. She slashes diagonally, spins and slashes the same way. The Salamander parries the attacks nevertheless. They engage in a blade-lock, just after her second attack.

“But I fear that won’t help you.”

Hikami tries to use the same move from before and grab her shoulder, but Leafa learns quickly and sees this coming. She moves her left hand faster and hits Second’s nose with the heel of her hand, ending the blade-lock. She then kicks his chest, sending him to the ground.

All her friends smile.

Hikami gets up.

She starts the assault again. She starts with two fast diagonal slashes in opposite directions, but the Colonel parries both and attacks her side. She blocks the attack as well and spins, sending her blade back to slash strong and fast. However, Hikami catches the blow with his right hand and punches her face hardly with his other. She spits blood and falls to the ground.

“I told you. You’re fading…”

She gets up and angrily assaults him. But Hikami could easily elude or parry her attacks. After a brief time, he grabs her neck and slams her body to the ground. She drops her blade because of this.

Some Knights get ready to draw their weapons if need to.

She crawls to her blade while Hikami and the rest stare to her. She grabs the handle of the blade and raises her sight to see her cousin and friends.

“Stay back you three! Do not interfere! HE’S MINE! I’LL KILL HIM FOR WHAT HE DID TO ME…”She gets up. “…OR DIE TRYING TO!!!”

She attacks Hikami again with several wide slashes. Hikami uses the same strategy, walking backwards and parrying whatever needed to be blocked. Angrier, Leafa thrusts her blade forwards, but Hikami blocks it and makes her fall sat right next to him. He grabs her hair and holds his blade against her throat.

Hikami smiles and looks to the Knights, who couldn’t do anything with Leafa now on the ground.

“Now, it’d be better if I leave, with a new hostage.” Hikami says, looking to his enemies. “She’s one pretty girl, isn’t she? Always so helpless and trembling to fear…”

Leafa hits his crotch with her right elbow. The strike makes Hikami release her and lets the Sylph girl get up and slash his crotch. Hikami kneels in pain. Leafa grabs his blade with both hands and aims to Hikami’s throat, but the Salamander catches her hands just beforehand.

“That was before…Now I’m very far from helpless and fear!”

She continues and slashes part of his neck.

Hikami coughs blood and puts his hand on the cut.

“You really thing any this changes things?!” he yells out. “Even if I die…that won’t heal the pain I’ve caused. It’ll remain in you…EVERYTHING I’VE DONE WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU…”

Hikami laughs, knowing he said the truth for once in his life. He knew his death was imminent, but so were theirs.

He knew Leafa wouldn’t heal just with his death. So he just wanted to get one final laugh out of his malice. His laugh was cut short by cough, result of the cut on his throat.

“No…it won’t change anything…” Leafa says sadly, but her expression changes quickly. “But it’s a good fucking start.”

She dual hands her Katana swings it near to her back, before going the other way around and behead Hikami with a strong and swift stroke. Hikami’s lifeless body falls to the ground along with the head.

Leafa feels two hands on her shoulders. She turns around and sees Kirito, Klein.

“Good job, Sugu.”Kirito tells her. “I’m proud of you....”

“Thanks…I had a great teacher, when I came back from the mines.” She says, speaking about Klein.

The Salamander grins and hugs her.

Kirito: “Agil and Silica! Send the head to the Legionaries. That’s our reply to Thanos.”

Lamorak: “That’s what I call sending a clear message.”

Hogun: “Those who survive the attack will be crucified!”

Kirito: “Trust me, Thanos would’ve crucified all of us, regardless of our answer.”

Fandral: “So we’ll die one way or the other?! It’s a pity there’re no enough vines to create a coffin for all our corpses, eh Gal-?”

Klein: “Close your fucking mouth.”

Kirito: “No. He’s right. There’re not enough for all of us…but perhaps enough for a few…”

Galant: “The fuck you’re talking about?”

Kirito: “Thanos is expecting us to defend this higher ground. But perhaps there’s another way out of here. One he would’ve never seen coming…”

---

From the top of the reconstructed wall surrounding the temple, Thanos looks to the mountain, lost in his thoughts.

Kalius interrupts him.

“My General. They’ve sent us a clear reply.”

He raises his left hand, holding Hikami’s head.

“Kirito’s made the choice I expected.” Thanos replies with a smile. “Tell all our soldiers to eat and sleep well. Tomorrow, we take Muspel, along the lives of all players who dare to defy the Kingdom of Aincrad.”

---

On top of the wall, the players followed Kirito’s new strategy: they used the vines on the peak, weaved and tied them up together to create very long ropes. Enough long to climb down the tall cliff.

Kirito looks down the mountain peak for a moment, until Asuna walks towards him.

Asuna: “We’ve used all the vines we could see and gather. Four ropes for one player each.”

Kirito turns around and looks at her. He smiles and nods.

Kirito: “Klein. Lamorak. Galant. You’re coming with me.”

Lamorak kisses Sybil and walks next to Kirito right.

Leafa: “Klein, I thought you could use an extra sword.”

She extends Kagutsuchi towards him.

Klein: “This is a good blade. You should keep it.”

Leafa: “I think you’ll need it more than me. After all, Samurais carry two blades.”

Klein: “Alright…thanks.”

He takes the Katana and places it on his belt, right next to his own before walking next to Kirito left.

Galant: “Don’t do anything stupid once the battle starts.”

Kana: “I won’t. I promise.”

Jack: “Good luck down there.”

Galant: “And you here. Follow Asuna’s command. She’s a good leader.”

At last, Galant joins the three main commanders, standing next to Lamorak’s right.

Asuna: “Yui. Go with them, they will need you more.”

Yui: “Yes!”

Yui flies and hides inside of Kirito’s chest pocket.

Asuna: “Once the battle starts, don’t come out until it’s over.”

Kirito: “I’ll take care of her.”

Asuna: “You better do…”

She smiles. The couple gets close and they share a kiss. They separate and Kirito grabs her face.

Kirito: “We’ll be together again soon. Somewhere in this game or in real life.”

Asuna smiles and nods, before joining the other Knights looking towards Kirito and the other three he’d chosen.

Kirito: “I know all of you’re afraid. And that’s totally justified. Thanos’ army has numbers three times our own. However, they have a mortal flaw on their strategy: they believe, their way of doing things, is the only possible one. Just like they believe that that path is the only way to leave the mountain. We have to show them something important about us: We create our own path! NOTHING IN THE WORLD IS IMPOSSIBLE, NOT WHEN PLAYERS ARE REUNITED! NOT WHEN HEART, MIND AND SOUL FOUCUS TO ACHIVE A GOAL!!!”

“YEAH!!!” all the players cheer.

Kirito: “Grab the ropes.”

The four players grab the ropes on the floor, ready to descend. The other players do the same, getting ready as counterweight to help the four players go down.

Kirito: “THIS NIGHT, WE’LL TEACH THE LEGIONS, MORDREAD, HAO AND THE KINGDOM OF AINCRAD AN IMPORTANT LESSON! ONE THEY WILL REMEMBER FOREVER! FOREVER WRITEN WITH BLOOD IN AINCRAD’S HISTORY!!!”

Thunder resonates in the sky.

A storm was coming.

Lamorak: “This sound will cover our descending! THE AESIR ARE WITH US ON THIS FIGHT!”

Kirito: “Free players create their own paths” He tells to Lamorak before looking to the Knights. “WE’RE ALL AESIRS TONIGHT! WE’RE ALL GODS! LET THE LEGIONARIES FEEL OUR WRATH!”

---

Lyunatix climbs up the scaffold and approaches Thanos, who looking to the mountain.

“The hour’s late, Thanos.”

“I don’t think I’ll sleep this night.” Thanos says while looking to the forest. “Every time I close my eyes and try to sleep, I see the death of Kirito…and the reason I’ve been far from the main HQ, where I have more important matters than rebel scum.”

“We’ll be the victors of this battle, where the idiot Magnus failed. That will give you a nice advantage above other Generals. Perhaps even as much as the Wolf General, Zar.”

“And I’ll use that advantage to rise even above him.” Thanos pauses for a couple of seconds. “One day, I’ll rise above all players…”

Thanos looks to the forest and sees two fires lighting in the forest, right in the place where the two catapults were guarded.

“SOUND THE ALARM! PREPERE THE MEN FOR BATTLE!!!” Thanos orders shouting.

All the players in the temple do as commanded.

On the woods, the four Blood Knights had already climbed down the volcano. Afterwards, they killed the guards guarding the catapults and prepared them to fire.

Klein uses his fire magic to light the projectiles.

“FIRE!!!” Kirito shouts.

Galant and Lamorak pull the rope which made the beam with the bucket go up. The wooden raises and the firing balls fly to clash on the camp of the Legions, wreaking havoc upon them.

From the top of the volcano, the dozens of Knights look down happily

“THE SIGNAL!!!” Sybil shouts.

They all roar happily.

The four Knights continue to rain fire on the camp as much as they can.

After just four fire balls clashed the camp, the fire spread almost everywhere, and it was burning most of the tents. There was no order. Only fire and blood, terror and death. Several of dozens of players had already died because of the payloads that felt and burned the camp. The remaining players were either wounded on the floor or running from whatever fire they could see.

Thanos and his four commanders soon arrive, but it was late. The catapults had decimated their forces. However, half of their forces had survived and was able to fight.

Thanos: “ADVANCE ON THE POSITION OF THE CATAPULTS; KILL WHOEVER APPEARS IN OUR WAY!!!”

In a minute, the remaining forces had formed up and advanced towards the catapults with the five members of the Band on the Nine on the vanguard.

Before long, they find Kirito and his three teammates, who instead of hiding, decided to face their enemies. Thanos raises his open hand, commanding his men to stop a block distance from the four Knights.

He and Kirito start staring. Even without talking, they knew that was the end. That was going to be the last battle for one of the two factions.

The four Knights draw their weapons and get ready.

“A glorious death…” Galant says grinning. “Right, Shun?”

Thanos smiles.

“KILL THEM!!!” the Spriggan General shouts.

The whole army shouts and advances on the four Knights, who just remain standing on the same place ready and eager for battle. When the Legions are middle way towards them, they hearing loud screams coming from their left…from the woods. They stop and turn, seeing Asuna at the vanguard of the Blood Knights, accompanied closely by Jack, Leafa, Kana, Sinon, Sybil and the rest. They’d walked down the mountain while the Legion’s camp was burning. Taking the army by surprise, the Knights flanked their left side.

The two factions clash, beginning the battle.

Lamorak: “Should we join, Leader?”

Kirito: “ATTACK!!!”

Kirito, Klein, Galant and Lamorak rush and join the battle.

Klein is the first to attack. He jumps and kicks the chest of a Legionary knocking him to the ground. Klein steps forward, smashing the player’s face before engaging combat with another. He parries the blade and pushes the soldier back with his right shoulder. However, his adversary regains his balance quickly and advances on Klein, but he parries and quickly advances towards the soldier’s back, mortally slashing him. This leaves his back free for an attack, but Lamorak appears and stops the soldier, piercing his chest with Fragarach. Klein stops a moment, staring at Lamorak without speaking a word. He nods his head. Lamorak also nods. Both of them continue fighting.

Asuna rams into battle with a short version of the Sword Skill Flashing Penetrator. The power of the skill almost makes her whole body a comet which impacts against the legionaries, killing some and sending several flying away. Accompanied by the rest of KoB, they start a slaughter on the center of Thanos’ army. On the onslaught of the so-called rebels, the most prominent players start getting the upper hand.

Kana slashes the throat of a legionary.

Agil shatters the face of another with his mighty axe.

Leafa cuts off the legs of a soldier.

Sinon nails three others with her arrows.

Sybil nimbly dashes through the woods, impaling soldiers with her spear and slashing them with her long dagger.

Not even the less remarkable members of the guild are left out of the battle. Each player showed their wrath and their anger to the Legions. They were returning all the suffering they’d inflicted to them, slaughtering them as payback.

Yet, the battle isn’t finished without sacrifice. Silica, her dragon Pina, and the last two members of Fuurinkazan, Dynamm and Dale, fall to the swords of the army. Thanos and his men fight bravely and savagely, but even still, most of the General’s army is butchered in few minutes, with few loses from the Knights.

“Pull back…!” Thanos says, realizing they wouldn’t win fight on the open. “PULL BACK!!!”

He runs back to the temple along with Kalius and a group of around twenty of his own men.

After cutting down a soldier, Kirito sees the General escaping from them.

“Follow them!” Jack shouts to Kirito. “We can’t let him escape! You’re the only one who can kill him!”

Kirito nods his head.

“Asuna, Klein, Lamorak, on me! We’ll follow them!”

The three Generals follow their leader among other players, while the rest remains fighting the Legions.

“Use the advantage we have! MAKE VICTORY OURS!!!” Kirito shouts to his soldiers, before he follows Thanos.

“Oh no!” Lyunatix prepares to use a spell with his darkness magic, aiming towards Kirito’s group. “You’re not going anywhere…boy…”

Lyunatix shots a powered up version of Darkness Gun, but the attack disappears in a small Black Hole created by Jack.

“You won’t touch them…” Jack prepares his stance to draw his blade from the sheath.

Seventh smiles and reaches his back, drawing his curved blade, Aussterben. He tosses it up and catches it backhand before assuming a battle stance.

Lyunatix starts the battle using Darkness Gun on his left hand, shooting a multitude of small projectiles to Jack. The Lone Ronin draws his weapon at blinding speed and starts parring the bullets, before reflecting two back. Seventh moves quickly and eludes both projectiles and advances on his adversary quickly, attacking with a wide horizontal slash of his blade. Jack rallies stepping a back a single time before drawing the sword and attacking Lyunatix with the huge opening he left. When his katana was middle way, Lyunatix uses the momentum of his slash to continue on his way and place a soundly left side kick directly on Jack’s right side, sending him directly to the ground. Lyunatix uses the spinning as a fulcrum to jump and roll in the air, slamming his sword on Jack while he was still on the ground. Lyunatix keeps on pressing on Jack, who barely managed to block the blade using his own with support from his scabbard as well. After a couple of seconds, Seventh removes his blade and prepares to squash Jack’s face with the spiked guard of his weapon. Spite so, Jack’s somehow quicker and kicks the VRSMA user back and then uses the momentum to get up and turn to his right, slashing with his sword, which quickly meets Lyunatix own blade. They remain on that position with their blades locked, staring to each other’s eyes. Lyunatix eyes turn red and he crooks a vicious smile. He moves his left hand to break the blade lock by piercing Jack’s side with his energized fist. Nevertheless, Jack blocks with his left hand and his scabbard. Jack grins after seeing Lyunatix disappointment. He then raises his left arm along Lyunatix’s, breaking the blade-lock. Both right arms are sent on opposite directions. Seventh smiles again, changing his momentum to the opposite side and slash Jack’s vulnerable chest. His sword was about to touch Jack, when suddenly the weapon was sent flying up along with his right forearm. With incredible speed, the Ronin’d used the momentum to send his blade down and then slide upwards with enough force to cut off the forearm of Lyunatix.

The Dark Knight is left wondering about what the hell happened, but he has no time to cover his arm or to balm the pain.

After the attack, Jack screams, unleashing a constant flurry of attacks, sheathing and unsheathing his blade at a blinding speed he’d never shown before. After doing this several times, he sheathes the blade and spins, kicking his opponent’s jaw to send him flying away. After this, the Lone Ronin activates the spell Dark Blade, creating three purple energy-made wakizashis and throws them forward. The magical blades create a magical circular sigil and Lyunatix impacts right the middle, with his arms and legs widely opened. He tried to move but he couldn’t. The sigil incapacitated all his body’s movements.

He could just curse his enemy.

“THIS ENDS NOW!” Jack says, strapping his sheath on his belt and grabbing Yahaza with both hands.

Jack rushes towards Lyunatix.

“ICHIZAN HISSATSU!!!”He screams out loud, pointing his blade to Seventh.

In a flash, he appeared right behind Lyunatix. He calmly swipes the blood from the blade. He grabs his sheath and slowly starts sheathing it in front of his face. He stops of a second when the blade collar was about to enter, before finally pushing the guard with his left thumb and finish sheathing it with a click-like sound.

In that instant, the sigil disappears, and a huge gash appeared on Lyunatix numb body. He falls to the ground, dead.

Jack looks to the place where Lyunatix is.

“That stands for one-cut killer.”

The corpse shatters into polygons.

Galant raises his blade and hacks in half the chest of a Legionary. He kicks him of his sword and sees Lyn a couple of meters away, killing all her opponents with ease. Galant knew he was the only one who could stop her, and the only things standing on his way were two soldiers.

He activates Dimachearus and advances towards the soldiers, but both quickly recognize him. One of them throws his Lancea towards him, but Galant moves his head just in time and the spear embeds itself diagonally on the ground. The player who threw the spear draws his Gladius and advances on the Knight, but he blocks the blow. The soldier uses his shield to move Galant, but he’s quicker and rallies while driving the shield away with his left sword. He then kicks the Legionary’s side, making him fall to the ground. The other soldier attacks Galant. He parries the blade with his left Caliburn and cuts the right arm with his other blade. He swiftly changes the momentum to the other side and slashes both thighs of the soldier, making him fall to his knees. The Champion of Aincrad then cuts his throat open with both of his blades at the same time. The other soldier managed to get up after this, raising his blade before attacking Galant. He sees him coming, however, and parries the blade while moving around the soldier. He gets close to his back, slashing twice with Stardust Slasher, killing him.

However, the sound of the battle was enough to call Lyn’s attention. She kills the player who was kneeling in front of her and walks towards Galant with Seth on hand. She blinks her eyes activating the VRSMA.

Galant starts his assault angrily, unleashing a constant barrage of slashes while advancing forward. However, the defense of Lyn is impeccable and she manages to block every single blow. It didn’t matter if it was a high, low or medium slash, she could parry each blow he threw at her while falling back. After nine or ten attacks, Galant slashes once again with his left. Lyn’s fast enough to duck under the blade. He continues his attack, using the momentum to spin and prepares to slash her head with his right Caliburn. Lyn again parries that blow and then two consecutive thrusts aiming to her face. Galant’s left without balance after these attacks, leaving an opening for Lyn to veer off both blades and smack Galant with a hard fist to the face, causing him to lose his balance even more. The Slyph girl then jump towards him while driving her sword downwards. Galant barely manages to raise both blades and parry the attack, but he finally falls to the ground.

Lyn raises her blade to deliver the finishing blow; Kana appears out of nowhere and blocks the blow, saving Galant’s life. Quickly, she moves her right dagger and slashes Lyn’s unprotected stomach before knocking her down with a powerful punch to the face.

“I still owe you more pain…” She says angrily.

Several Legionaries approach the situation to help Lyn.

Kana turns around and helps Galant to get up. One of the a soldier raises his blade to attack Galant’s back, but Kana pulls him back quickly before engaging against the Legionary herself. She blocks the rising blade before stabbing him in the neck and throwing him to the ground. In the meantime, Galant parries the blade of another soldier before slicing his leg with both blades. Then the soldier is killed in midair by an arrow which nailed him in the chest.

Lyn recovers and attacks him, but Kana appears and blocks the blow, engaging combat with Third. They exchange several blows while her partner finished off two remaining soldiers himself. Once he was done, he circles around the Cait Sith joins the battle. Together, Galant and Kana attack constantly and rapidly, presenting a hard challenge even for the fearless Dark Knight. They constantly circle around each other, making difficult for Lyn to predict which move her opponent was going to use. This flurry of blows wounded her on her left arm and her chest. But after doing this several times, a Legionary appears behind Kana. Galant barely manages to block the attack to protect her. Kana raises her dagger to stab Lyn, but the Sylph catches her right arm in midair and drives her khopesh through her abdomen.

“KANAAAAAAAAA!!!”

Galant somehow wraps his arm around the soldier’s arm and throws him to the ground. He tosses his right sword up before catching it in midair and thrusting it down, piercing through the skull of the Legionary and killing him.

As result of his anger for watching Kana pierced by the blade, his eyes turn crimson red in that instant, activating his VRSMA as well. He changes Maximus Caliburn from hand and rushes towards Lyn. He starts by kicking her back. This also compels her to remove her blade from Kana’s body. The Knight continues his assault with a powerful slash aimed to the face of Lyn. Third manages to parry the attack. Galant then kick’s her vulnerable left side. She catches the kick and aims her blade to stab him in the chest, but Galant’s fast enough to use his raised leg as fulcrum to spin and land a kick to Lyn’s temple, knocking both of them to the ground. She grabs Seth and attacks her enemy with it. He hardly manages to roll on the ground, eluding the blade. Both of them get up at the same time and attack each other. Lyn advances to stab the traitor. Unfazed, Galant parries the blade with enough strength to make Third lose the grip of her blade. Overwhelmed and with no weapons in hand, Lyn rolls backwards to elude Galant’s strike. The Champion of Aincrad jumps while grabbing his blade with both hands. Once Lyn started to get up, he felt right in front of her, striking her head with his blade and destroying her skull, killing her instantly. He removes his blade as blood spattered all over the place. Her corpse falls to the ground afterwards.

Galant turns around and rushes towards Kana. He puts his other hand on the wound on her abdomen.

“I told you not to do something stupid. That was something stupid.” Galant tells her.

“…my sister and I…are likewise…” Kana says smiling.

“You dummy…” Galant says sadly.

“…I’m…I’m going to die…” Kana says with a teary smile.

“No.” Galant says interrupting her “Hush now. Don’t talk. You’ll be alright…”

Galant removes his coat and places it on her shoulders, hoping that the healing skill of the coat would also work on her.

---

Thanos and his men arrive to the wall surrounding the temple and enter inside.

“SECURE THE PERIMETRE OF THE TEMPLE! ALL THE MEN MUST DEFEND THIS POSITION!!!”

“Go to the marked stations!” Kalius shouts. “Get ready for-”

He automatically stops after what he sees.

KoB members had somehow managed to climb the wall up.

Kirito, Klein, Asuna, Lamorak, Agil and many others arrive to the top of the wall. They’re warmly received by the Legionaries standing on top of the wooden scaffold next to the wall.

One of them rushes towards Kirito, but he parries the blade and cuts him down by slashing his throat. He then kicks the face of a player walking up the ladder.

The remaining Knights do the same and soon both guilds are fighting in the courtyard.

Thanos witnesses his men fighting against the Knights from the temple.

It was a battle unlike any other he had participated before.

Kirito fights against two soldiers at the same time, violently stroking his sword while crying out.

By bending his knees, Klein eludes a high slash of a soldier and parries the blade of another. He changes the momentum and slashes the side of the first legionary, before making a very short rush towards the other and pushing him back with his left shoulder.

Agil hits the leg of an upcoming Legionary, making him fly up briefly while rolling on the air. He hardly lands on the ground. The giant Gnome grabs his axe with both hands and smashes the body of the player

Close to Kirito, Asuna makes strainers out of soldiers with her flash-speed thrusts.

Lamorak exchanges quick blows with a Legionary before slashing his leg and making him kneel. He pierces the face of the player with his blade.

Sybil sends a player to the ground by hitting his legs with Gae Bolg. She then approaches the defeated player and stabs his heart with her dagger, Fawx.

From top of the wall, Sinon nailed or mercenaries or Legonaries every single arrow she aimed.

Thanos watches as his men are slaughtered by the rebels of the Kingdom of Aincrad. Blood splattered everywhere. It didn’t matter how many soldiers fought against them, the Knights were killing them all.

For a short moment he felt, those KoB players didn’t seem like normal players.

Fearless.

Deadly.

Bloody.

Savage.

Almost inhuman.

They seemed like someone else.

They seemed like…something else.

For a while, cold sweat went down from his forehead, hands and back, shortly accompanied by strong shivers. He looks to his left hand and it was trembling. He wasn’t sure what they were. What they had become. But he was sure about something…

He was afraid…

Kirito stabs a player through the heart. He raises his sight and looks directly to the General’s eyes.

In that moment, Thanos felt another strong shiver, but this time, from feet to head. He walked few steps backwards.

Trying to defend his commander, Kalius is the first to advance. He jumps to the courtyard and engages combat with Kirito. Kirito makes two different slashes, the first one horizontal and the second one vertical. Kalius skillfully dodges both attacks, before using an opening Kirito left, slashing his back. This isn’t enough to stop the Black Swordsman, who turns around raising both blades and slashing downwards. Kalius barely manages to deflect the blows and then readies his own blade for slashing downwards. Kirito is faster and prepares to block with Longsword and then attack with Elucidator, but a rapier appears and blocks Kalius’ blow first. In no time, the needle-like blade nails through Kalius heart. Kirito then slashes his throat with Elucidator, killing the Undine.

He looks to Asuna, right beside him.

She was staring right to Thanos, before she turns to her boyfriend.

“Go and kill him.” Asuna tells him.

Kirito nods and advances towards the last member and now former leader of the Band of the Nine.

Two soldiers guarding Thanos advance towards Kirito.

He eludes the blade of the first before piercing his stomach with Longsword and embedding the sword on one of the columns of the temple. The second one comes, but he does exactly the same. This time, with Elucidator.

The last soldier guarding Thanos also advances towards the Black Knight. Kirito reaches to his back, drawing Holy Sword Excaliber extremely fast. He grabs the sword with both hands and charges a sword skill. The soldier attacks. Kirito continues his rush; he eludes the Gladius and slashes, ending up at the back of the player. The soldier was divided in two by the power of Kirito’s slash. The legs and torso fly a couple of meters before both halves land on the courtyard, leaving just a bloody mess.

Both leaders are left alone.

One against the other.

Kirito keeps on his short rush while Thanos strengthens his resolve. They prepare to attack.

They clash blades right in the middle of them, starting the third and last round.

Kirito approaches with his face and headbutts Thanos in the face. This attack separates both adversaries, ending the blade-lock. Thanos slashes horizontally and then vertically, but Kirito eludes both attacks and then prepares a sword skill to stab the General. However, Thanos is quick enough to parry the attack and then punches his vulnerable back. Kirito almost falls to the ground, but he regains his balance just in time to turn around and block another attack of Thanos. The black swordsman keeps on falling back while dodging or blocking the deadly attacks of Thanos giant halberd.

After doing this several times, Kirito is left against a column. Thanos grins and grabs his weapon with both hands before slamming his sword against his enemy. Kirito barely manages to elude the attack by rolling on the floor to the opposite side of the attack. Claiomh Solaris gets stuck on the column and Thanos cannot remove it easily. Kirito gets up and uses the absence of Thanos weapon as an advantage. He starts his own onslaught against the Shadow of Death, what leaves Thanos no option but to dodge and walk backwards. Soon, he’s left between the sword and a wall. Kirito raises his blade to finish him off, but Thanos is quicker and gets closer to Kirito, punching his gut hardly and blowing the air out of him. He then grabs his neck, spins and throws him away, close to the column were his halberd was. Excaliber slides on the ground, several meters from Kirito. Seeing an opportunity, the General rushes forwards and uses the momentum to grab the handle of his halberd and remove it from the column. Kirito looks back and sees Excalibur, far from him. He raises his head and sees Thanos looking at him, now with Claiomh in his hand. Thanos smiles rushes again forward and jumps slams the ground with his blade, Kirito opens his legs to elude the attack and then pushes on the weapon with his legs, sliding back. He uses the momentum to roll backwards and get up, opening his wings to stop himself right next to his blade. Thanos charges again, raising his blade up and then slamming it down, leaving Kirito almost no time to draw his golden sword from the ground and block the attack. The attack is so heavy that forces Kirito to grab the edge of Excaliber to support the weight, making his left hand bleed. Thanos slowly starts overpowering Kirito, until the General breaks the struggle and slashes down. Kirito blocks the blade but is sent flying upwards. The General spins his blade on his hand and readies to finish his mortal enemy with his best magical attack.

“TARTARUS HATRED!!!”

A ball of negative energy is shot towards Kirito. In midair, he prepares a sword skill and slashes the magic. Using the ability Spell Blast he attempts to return the energy sphere to its caster. The spell returns, hitting Thanos on his left arm, seriously wounding him.

Now enraged, Thanos rushes towards Kirito and they start constantly exchanging fast and strong blows for a short while, until they engage on a third blade-lock. Both weapons clashed diagonally forming an X. Both Spriggans angrily stare to each other’s eyes.

“...I…”Thanos says angrily, between his deep breathes. “…won’t be killed… by a weaker Spriggan! I won’t be killed by you, fucking mongrel slave!”

Thanos spins incredibly fast and slashes to behead Kirito, but he blocks the attack. He grabs the handle of Claiomh with his empty hand.

“…We’re all free players!” Kirito tells him.

Thanos prepares to attack again, but Kirito is faster and cuts off his remaining hand. The Black Swordsman then catches the halberd in midair and spins it once while spinning and stabbing backwards. The blade pierces through Thanos’ body.

The General’s pupils shrink and he coughs out blood.

The Blood Knights in the temple finish off the last members of Thanos’ army. Jack, Galant carrying a wounded Kana on his arms, and the other survivors of the battle in the woods also arrive to the temple. All of them gather on the courtyard and witness the last part of the final battle between the two leaders.

The weight of the sword inside Thanos forces him to kneel in front of Kirito, who afterwards removes the blade and throws it to the ground.

Thanos looks up to Kirito and grins with his mouth filled with blood.

“You’ve all won nothing…” The General says.

Kirito looks down on him, wondering what he meant.

“The Kingdom of Aincrad, Mordread and Hao will send their TRUE LEGIONS, once I die…” Thanos yells out, so that all the members of the KoB could hear his despair message. “…ONE DAY SOON, YOU’LL ALL FIND THE BLOODIED AND HORRIBLE END THAT YOU DESERVE!”

Thanos looks down to the ground, glad he could tell them what he thought.

Kirito raises Excaliber, putting the tip of the blade against Thanos' chin, making him raise his sight.

“Maybe…” Kirito replies to him. “But that won’t happen today!”

After hearing this, anger is again noted on Thanos face.

Kirito quickly brings the blade to his back before sending it all the way to his right, slashing Thanos’ throat.

The Shadow of Death falls to his back and after a few moments he dies with his eyes widely opened.

The battle was over.

Kirito raises his sight and looks to the sky; he closes his eyes and breathes deeply. Now calmer, knowing their first great adversary was dead.

After remaining like this for several seconds, he looks to the players on the courtyard, still thinking about what Thanos’ last words.

He walks closer to them.

“Let’s allow Hao and Mordread to send everyone they got!” Kirito tells to them. He swings the blade, cleaning the blood out of it and then sheaths it on his back. “WE WILL FACE WHATEVER THEY SEND, AND SEND ALL WITH THANOS, TO THEIR DEATHS!!!”

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!

The Knights yell out in approval of Kirito’s suggestion and as celebration of their victory.

All get close to Kirito, who walks down a couple of steps. He first handshakes with Lamorak. Then with Klein on his left. Asuna appears and hugs her in-game husband. Yui stands on her father’s shoulder and gives him a small smooch.

The four leaders gather on the first step of the stairs. The rebels keep on celebrating. The only ones who weren’t were Galant, Kana and Jack.

Kirito nods his head, thinking of a short while.

“Now, it’s time for us to become an army.” He tells to them.

All the Generals widen their eyes after hearing Kirito’s suggestion, but soon they smile widely and raise their hands, weapon and join the loud celebration.

Kirito looks to Galant, who nods his head to him.

The Knights start chanting Kirito’s name.

“KIRITO! KIRITO! KIRITO! KIRITO! KIRITO! KIRITO! KIRITO! KIRITO!”

They all continue to chant Kirito’s name, as the Black Dual Bladed Swordsman looks towards the horizon…

Towards their future.

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