Floor 91st, January 2nd, 2027 A vast landscape, covered by dark grey clouds. The scenery of a massive battle.
The battlefield was soaked in blood, weapons, brain and corpses spread everywhere.
One of the legion’s commanders runs far from the battle accompanied by several soldiers. There, he finds his leader, General Julius and Colonel Octavius. Both commanders were on horseback and accompanied by soldiers. One of them was holding a banner with the symbol of the Supreme Legion and a golden eagle on top.
“Give report!” Julius orders the commander.
“Kirito’s cavalry has broken our right flank. We can’t use our catapults now.”
“Fucking savage…” Octavius adds.
“Give the signal to retreat, and reform to the north.”
The commander nods.
They hear a horse’s loud whinny.
All of them look to the place where the sound came from.
The Blood Knight leader, Kirito appears upon horseback with Holy Sword Excaliber in hand.
He was alone.
General Julius smiles slightly.
“Form Testudo!!!” Octavius shouts.
The soldiers form up in two parallel lines and assume a defensive formation. The first place their shields facing Kirito while the ones in the second line put their own shields above their heads and the heads of the ones in the first line.
Kirito shouts and the horse gallops faster.
“Sarissa!” The Colonel orders again.
With this command, the soldiers assume a porcupine-like formation. The ones in the first line raise their blades and the ones in the second prepare their spears.
Kirito clashes against the wall of soldiers. They manage to hold him back, but Kirito keeps on pushing with his horse and starts attacking the soldiers with Excaliber. Several soldiers are killed or fall to the ground. The two commanders, scared and impressed for Kirito’s savage assault, start going backwards. Kirito’s horse stands up with its two legs, ready to stamp the soldiers, but one of them manages to pierce its chest with a Lancea.
The horse falls abruptly, along with Kirito, who rolls on the ground and gets up quickly. However, he’s surrounded by enemy soldiers.
“Kill him!” Julius shouts with a grin is his face.
Just as the General finishes shouting, loud yells are heard from the same direction Kirito had just appeared.
Julius looks up and sees a squad of Blood Knights. Galant, Asuna, Lamorak, Jack, Sybil, Kana on the vanguard, closely followed by Sinon, Agil, Hogun and Fandral and more even more Knights right behind them.
The General’s grin instantly disappears.
Both clutches of players clash.
Galant spins around and rams a Legionary with both of his blades.
Asuna rams against the players with a strong thrusting sword skill.
Lamorak pushes away the soldiers with his new shield, Aos Sí, and kills them with Fragarach.
Kana jumps to a soldier and starts stabbing his neck repeated times until he falls.
Jack performs a single strong iai which slashes the throat of two players.
Kirito also joins the battle.
In no time, most of the soldiers had been slaughtered by Kirito and his men.
“WE MUST GO, NOW!” Octavius shouts to his General.
The player with the banner attacks Kirito. The Black Swordsman attacks with Excaliber, cutting the pole in two. The upper half falls to the ground. Another solider attacks him. He ducks under the lance and, with his empty left hand, grabs the half of the banner in the ground, using it as a club, striking the face of the player while he rose back up. The golden eagle is covered in the player’s blood.
“DAMNIT…YES!” the General shouts, reluctantly. “SOUND RETREAT!”
Both start riding to the opposite side.
The trumpets of the legions sound. The sign of retreat.
Kirito engages with the last soldier. He cuts him twice in the body before kicking him to the ground. He steps on top of him and kills him with a strong hit with the Aquila, which tears off the jaw of the soldier. Kirito raises his sight. He sees the two commanders in the distance as they fled. Filled with rage, the Blood Knight Leader raises the Aquila and thrusts it into the skull of the player, completely destroying it in bloody display.
The Knights finish off the remaining soldiers on the ground.
Klein and Leafa appear with other players.
“KIRITO!” Klein shouts. “The Legion has sounded retreat!!!”
The players rise their weapons and begging screaming happily for their victory.
The KoB Generals gather close to their unfazed leader.
“We won the day!” Asuna tells her boyfriend.
“We won nothing!” He says angrily, looking to the distance. “Julius and Octavius again slip from our fingers…”
“The same can’t be said for many that fought with them…” Lamorak adds. “This field is overflowing with the dead…”
Kirito adds before looking to the bloodied Aquila.
“It’s what they deserve…”
Floor 3rd, January 2nd, 2027
Tyr: “Another battle lost and another standard lost. These are deep wounds for our Kingdom, Julius.”
Julius: “We’d have suffered even worse if we wouldn’t have got out the battlefield in time…”
Tyr: “I can’t understand it…How a handful of fucking rebels can continue to fight us?”
Octavius: “Their numbers have been underestimated by the Council of Generals!”
Julius: “The horde of mongrels grows and grows with each victory, since Thanos’ defeat at Muspel. Players and citizens across our Kingdom joined this rebellion, amazed by the ever- expanding legend of Kirito and his men. Even more joined once he defeated several other legionary commanders.”
Tyr: “This chaos and death for this fucking player…”
Julius: “This “fucking player” will arrive to floor 100th first if we don’t receive reinforcements from one of the Generals in the Council!”
Tyr: “The Council has been dissolved, Julius…”
Both commanders were impressed to hear this.
Julius: “What the hell?”
Tyr: “The resources of the Kingdom are drained by other conflicts both inside and outside Aincrad. All the Generals are attending to different matters. And now, not even General Zar can keep on going to the upcoming threat of KoB. No General has the men neither the coin for this…”
Julius looks to Tyr.
Julius: “No. There’s one…”
Tyr looks back.
Tyr: “His Majesty won’t like that…”
“Indeed.” A voice from outside the room says. All the players look in that direction. “He won’t…”
“Mordread…” Julius says seriously.
Mordread: “It’s Commander Mordread for you, Julius.” Mordread enters the room. “My cousin won’t like hearing that from you.”
Julius: “Do you have any alternatives, Mordread?”
Mordread: “Have you tried…dying on a battlefield?”
They don’t like that comment.
“Because that’s what the King will do.” He adds. “He’ll send you both to your deaths alone, as punishment from your incompetence.”
Julius: “That’s not your concern Mordread…”
The Guild Leader grins. He lays his back against a wall, ignoring the two commanders who turn to Tyr again.
“Tyr, give us a better alternative, and we’ll try…”
Tyr: “Very well…” He says reluctantly. “I’ll go back to our main base and beg to the King to join your hunt for Kirito. But, in the meantime, try to think of a way to fix all this problems.”
Tyr and Mordread leave the room and prepare for a long ride back to the new main HQ of the Supreme Legion.
Floor 92nd, January 3rd, 2027
Kirito looks to a map of the level inside his tent. There he had the banners of several legions they’d defeated in the previous months.
His three generals soon arrive to the tent.
Klein: “We’ve taken the weapons and horses left in the battlefield. The losses of the Legions become our booty.”
Asuna: “The wounded are being treated by the Undine Medical Faction right now. Most of them have already been cured.”
Lamorak: “A new bunch of players arrived today with the intention of joining us.”
Kirito: “Where’s Galant? I need his report as well.”
Klein: “I haven’t seen him around.”
Lamorak: “You know how he is. He likes doing things by himself. He went to scout the lands to search for members of the Dark League.”
Kirito: “Something I’d allow him, once we don’t have to care for Julius, Octavius and their army any longer.”
Klein: “Those two proved to be quite smart. They’re the only ones who’ve been a pain in the ass since Thanos.”
Asuna: “They may have another card under their sleeve.”
Kirito: “I know. That’s why I’ll double the watchers on hills surrounding the camp. We won’t be attacked unaware.”
Lamorak: “I think you’re giving this shits too much credit.”
Klein: “No. Lamorak, remember that underestimating your opponent is a bad legionary tendency. You shouldn’t do it any longer.”
He walks out of his tent, followed by his friends. They walk towards the edge of the cliff where his tent was. From there, they could see the large camp of the Knights of the Blood, which had grown to thousands in a matter of months. However, not all of them were fighters. There were lots of young or low level players that were not skilled at fighting and just were lucky enough so have survived so far. Since many believed in Kirito, they’d joined KoB for promise of a better future. But, even with their good will, they couldn’t do much upon field of battle.
Lamorak: “You’re right. But Julius and Octavius are in their last days. Each day that passes, more players join our guild.”
Klein: “I agree with Lamorak on this one. Soon, we’ll have the numbers in our favor.”
Kirito: “See the skill of the player that joined us. I want them ready for the nearest opportunity we can find. I want to remind the King and his Generals our ever-growing power...”
Floor 90th, January 3rd, 2027
The new Headquarters of the Supreme Legion was raised in Remus, the main city of the floor. It was in many ways the same than the previous HQ in floor 50th.
Loud sound of clashing steel.
Hao always trained at least once a day in a small training square with sands covering the floor, without using his gate of weapons.
But this time, with a new opponent.
Both of them just wore the pants and loincloth of the legions, but no armor in their upper body. They were also barefooted. Hao used one gladius in each hand, while his adversary fought with a circular shield in his left and a sword in his right. Both exchanged constant blows with each other. They distanced and attacked again constantly. However, Hao was always the first attacker, while the other one just blocked blows and countered his attacks. He never started an assault.
Surrounding the square, there were some spectators: Hao’s brother, Markus. The King’s personal attendant, Freya and several soldiers. Hao’s brother was the only one sat in a bench, bored with his legs crossed and an empty glass of wine in his right hand. He gives it to Freya, right next to him who serves him more.
“Every day from every month he fights with that player.” Markus says. “Screams and the sound of clashing steel stopped hurting my ears a long time ago. Now it just bores me…”
“Your brother is a constant and dedicated student.” Freya answers.
“And I have to watch all of these lessons…while there are WAY more important things to do…”
Hao parries the blade and kicks his opponent, who blocks with his shield. The King keeps on going and attacks his left flank with both blades, but the player quickly managed to place his own sword against his shield, trapping Hao’s sword between. He spins, forcing Hao to drop his sword, and slashes the King’s right arm.
After seeing this, the soldiers almost interrupt the fight, but Hao raises his arm, ordering them to stop. In the meantime, his opponent puts his arms at his side.
“My apologies, your majesty. I tend to lose myself while fighting.”
Hao looks to his arm before laughing slightly.
“This is nothing but a scratch.” He says after he stops laughing. “I deserved something way worse for not anticipating that attack.”
“You learn quickly.” His opponent answers. “But you open your flank when you have the advantage.”
In that instant, Mordread and Tyr appear in the training field.
“The ruin of many great warriors…” Hao says, once he sees them. “We can continue training after dinner.”
The player leaves, leaving his shield and sword behind.
Tyr: “Your Majesty.”
Mordread: “Cousin.” He looks to the player leaving. “So what I heard is true…you’re training with a Gladiator.”
Hao: “Yes. After the Champion of Aincrad betrayed us, Castor attained the title.” Hao washes himself. Freya gives him a towel to clean himself up afterwards. “I paid him quite a lot to learn what he had from the Games.”
Tyr: “Traitors, rebels and gladiators. You’re talking about the reason of our appearance here.” He looks to Markus. “We should…talk in private?”
Hao: “No. Right here and now. Markus will become a man sooner than later. He should start learning already.”
Tyr: “Alright. To the matter then: we’ve suffered unexpected troubles with the Rebel Kirito.”
Hao: “…Julius and Octavius have fallen?”
Tyr: “No. They still live. They’re in need of reinforcements…”
Hao looks at his General before lightly laughing for a couple of seconds.
Hao: “Their asses must hurt quite a lot to come begging to me…”
The comment makes both Markus and Mordread laugh the same way Hao did.
“…it’s not the first time they do…” Hao stops laughing. “It’ll take me time, coin and effort, to raise my Army.
“It will.” Tyr answers.
“And it’d be an offer better received from them, instead of you, Tyr.”
Tyr: “They’re hiding in a small fortress accompanied by fifty soldiers, close to what remains from their legions to the north. Kirito keeps on gathering their forces at the Dumus Valley at the 92nd floor. You know I wouldn’t have come if the situation didn’t demand it.”
Hao: “True…you wouldn’t…”
A brief moment of silence in the training yard.
Mordread: “Cousin, if you want, I can take care of this for you with my own army. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity quite a long time.”
Hao: “It won’t be necessary Mordread. Their terms are agreeable.”
Mordread and Markus look to Hao, both impressed by his answer.
Mordread: “I’ll send them a message right now…”
Hao: “No. It won’t be necessary. If I’m going to war, I want you close to me. I’ll send my own men. That way, I’ll be sure they arrive to destination.”
Tyr: “Your Majesty.”
Mordread and Tyr leave the training square. As soon as they are out of the room, Markus gets up and walks towards his brother.
Markus: “You agree to finish the fight Julius and Octavius couldn’t finish for you?!”
Hao: “Yes, I did.”
Markus: “I know how you criticize both of them! You think they’re foolish; and you also have a similar opinion about our cousin. Brothe…”
Hao: “Enough talking Markus...” he interrupts. “I knew this would come sooner or later. It was nothing but a matter of time. Kirito must fall. And since my Generals are useless, I’ll set on whatever path I need to see that day come, for the glory of the Kingdom of Aincrad.”
Floor 90th, January 5th, 2027
Kirito sits down, looking to the map of Aincrad.
“You summon me?” Galant says, entering Kirito’s tent at night with a jar of alcohol.
“I wouldn’t have to, if you’d reported in with Klein, Asuna and Lamorak…two days ago.” Kirito responds.
“I was…busy. Helping around in the camp isn’t easy.” Galant sits down in front of Kirito. Between them, a small wooden table. “It’s way too big...”
“Good try. I know you’ve been out of the camp the last couple of days.”
“Who told you this time? Klein or Asuna?”
“Lamorak. But even still, you need to come up with better excuses…”
Galant doesn’t answer and fills two glasses with wine and gives Kirito one.
“Days cannot pass after battle without your report, Galant.”
Slightly annoyed, Galant places the jar in the table.
“We fought and won. Is that enough for you?”
Kirito smiles slightly before sitting down.
“You’ve been a great warrior in our war. But I’d like you to be more than just two swords. I want you to assume the position you deserve, along the generals and me as leader.”
Galant shakes his head.
“I’m with you on this because we share enemies and because my friends believe in you. I even sit on your council meetings due to my knowledge of the Legions, but I’m no leader. I learned that lesson the hard way. I don’t want to be one ever again.”
“Many players begin to look to you as one, and even more would follow you in battle…”
“You mean…die for me?”
“For our cause.”
“I don’t want everybody to look at me like if I was some sort savior or “messiah”. Many start to look to you as one.”
“That’d make me no different to Hao. I don’t want that…”
“Whether you like it or not, it still happens. Some even worship you as if you were a God. An Aesir fallen from the heavens to lead them in their fight against Hao.” He smiles slightly. “They’ll be pretty surprised when they find out you’re very mortal.”
“Winning the War is my only concern.”
“Well, killing Mordread is my own.”
“Tell me something: let’s say that happens. You somehow manage to defeat all the Dark Knights and finally kill your arch nemesis. Then what?”
Galant looks down once he says that.
“What’d you do afterwards? With the rest of your life in your hands,” Kirito asks again.
“I don’t know. I haven’t really thought anything about that. Killing Mordread is the only thing that’s been inside my head since I got out of SAO. I haven’t thought of anything else, and much less, what I'm going to do after.”
A brief moment of silence as Galant drinks his cup.
“But I could ask something to you as well: let’s say we defeat Hao and his legions. We then go to the final floor and defeat the 100th boss. What happens afterwards? Are you ready to assume all your responsibilities, King Kirito? Are you ready to become the King of Aincrad?”
Kirito tabs his own cup.
“Becoming the King of Aincrad means you’ll have GM capabilities.” Galant adds. “But, we both know that power corrupts. Even you can be corrupted. You’ll accept the crown and take the risk of becoming a tyrant like Hao?”
“I don’t know…” Kirito says looking to him before taking a sib of his drink. “We’re shearing path, but we’re also travelling two different uncertain roads…”
“But I can tell you something: I don’t know what to answer right now to you and neither do you. But we both believe that we’ll have to keep on going forward to find an answer…”
Galant rises his cup to Kirito.
“For whatever the Future awaits us.” Galant says.
“For the Future that we build each day.” Kirito says.
They toast and finish drinking the glass.
“Let’s go for another cup now. I don’t want to think any more about the Future. It’s just a lot of bullshit…”
“Thanks, but it’s enough alcohol for me for one night...”
Galant gets up and walks backwards to the door.
“Then I guess I’ll drink for you. I’ll fight whenever necessary. Until we reach the Ruby Palace at the 100th floor. There’s where your madness leads…”
Galant grins until he passes through the door, leaving Kirito alone looking to the map of Aincrad. He looks to the very last floor. He grabs a small icon which represented his guild and raises it to the 100th floor.
“The time is coming…”