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

Sword Art Online: New Aincrad
Written by: FedeTkd
Published: FedeTkd (talk) 19:19, November 28, 2015 (UTC)
Chapter XXII: The King of Blades

SAO:NA - Chapter XXIII: Lurking Wolves »



Floor 92nd, January 6th, 2027

“Watch your feet! Keep them separated!” Agil says.

“Put more strength to your swing!” Fandral adds.

The player training gets hit by Sybil’s practice sword and falls to the ground.

“Raise your fucking guard!” Agil shouts to the player.

“That’s enough!” Lamorak says.

As commanded by Kirito, Lamorak tested the skill of the players who had arrived at the camp. Accompanying the Sylph commander, many other high esteemed KoB players.

Fandral: “Your girlfriend’s fearsome today...”

Hogun: “Very soon, even I’ll afraid to call her “little girl” again.”

Sybil approaches the group.

“At least now, I’ll be merciful when we fight, you piece of shit!”

Hogun laughs.

“Next man! Take position.”

The next player enters the small training square and Sybil gets ready.

Kirito appears in the training squad, wearing a red cape with the KoB symbol over his left shoulder. The color red was chosen to symbolize of the blood shed by all players who died in SAO in pursuit of freedom. In the name of their sacrifice, Kirito named it Freedom’s cape. It also signified Kirito’s status as the Leader of KoB.

Once he appears, all the new players start whispering his name, amazed by the appearance of the legendary hero who defeated Kayaba and saved the lives of 6000 players.

“BEGIN!” Lamorak shouts.

They start fighting.

“As you told me, we’re testing the last ones who joined us.” Lamorak tells Kirito.

“What do you think of their skill?” the Black Swordsman asks.

“They’re enthusiastic…”

Sybil hits the player strongly with her wooden sword, defeating him.

“…But with little to no skill.” He adds.

“Many players joined us with no skill at all. Soon enough, they’ll prove their worth.”

“Perhaps not all…” Agil says.

Agil was looking to a male Imp player behind the players waiting for training, who whispers something into a Pooka’s ear. Both of them put on their hoods and leave slowly.

Kirito falls suspicious after seeing this. He gives his red cape to Agil.

“You keep on going. I’ll handle this.” He says, following the two players.

---

A gnome player gives another a piece of meat. The other player smiles, but the other holds him for a second.

“Remember something: do not speak about this.”

The player nods and leaves with the meat.

The two players that were next to the training square appear next to him.

“Dinnac?” One of then asks.

“Get inside the tent, quickly!” He orders the two, almost pushing them inside the tent.

Within the tent there was just one thing, the dead body of a horse. Or rather, what was left of its body: the head and most guts, along with a lot of blood which reddened the damp muddy floor.

Dinnac draws a knife and starts cutting a piece of meat.

“The rumors of food spread quickly.” Dinnac says. “Sorry, but I can’t give you more than this.”

Kirito arrives to the tent.

“You’ve killed a horse?!”

The two players look at him once they hear his voice and run away as fast as they can.

“LOWER YOUR FUCKING VOICE!” Dinnac says. “If everybody found out there’s meat here, I’ll be the next one who’s cut into pieces.”

“Who gave you permission? A player on horseback is more lethal than ten on foot. ”

“Not with this horse. It was gravely wounded in the last battle and it wouldn’t have survived. I’d have consulted the great guild leader, but King Kirito is too busy with his war to think about these trivialities!”

“What makes you think that way?”

Dinnac smiles slightly.

“You’re really asking that? Just open your fucking eyes and there’s your answer. The camp lacks all needs for a player.” He keeps on cutting the meat. “I begin asking myself why I left the breeze of the sea and the safety my city.”

“You were free player back there?”

“No. Far the contrary. I served the biggest piece of shit in the city of Nuceria. But even still, he at least provided food, water, clothing and other fucking needs.”

“You expect that achieving freedom will be without any costs?”

“No. Of course not.” He puts most guts inside a bucket and walks outside. “But without any plans about needs, we have to think of something ourselves, or wait to the Black fucking Swordsman to save us.”

The throws the guts to a clear space, and soon players appear and grab the food. Kirito looks to them, realizing Dinnac was right.

“Winter is coming…” Dinnac says. “…and with it…”

“KIRITO!” Klein appears, accompanied by Galant and some other players. “A small clutch of Legionaries are arriving from the north, closing by to our encampment.”

“You’re Kirito?!” Dinnac shouts surprised.

Kirito looks at him.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”

“That’s enough.” Kirito says interrupting him. “Maybe players don’t always have all their needs well provided, but as long as they’re alive they can say whatever they think, even if it’s against the great guild leader.”

Kirito chuckles and runs quickly, followed by Klein and the rest.

“Fuck the Aesir…” Dinnac says.

---

At the limit of a forest nearby the camp, Asuna and Leafa collect herbs and fruits they can find. Soon, they hear the whistle of horses, and before long, a group of seven legionaries appear on horseback surround them.

Both girls stay close to each other, looking to the soldiers.

“Hey, you two!” One of the soldiers says. “What’re you doing here, so close to the encampment of the rebel guild known as KoB?”

They don’t answer and look down to the ground.

Some soldiers step down from the horse, including the one who just talked to them. He draws his sword and walks towards them.

He stops right in front of Asuna.

“Who else is with you?”

They don’t answer again.

“You two better fucking talk! Who’s with you!?”

Leafa raises her sight, looking the player directly to the eyes and moves her lips.

“…Death.”

She creates a knife made of air and pierces the lower jaw of the player.

The legionaries surrounding them draw their Gladius. Screams are heard from the forest right next to them. Kirito, Galant and Klein appear from the forest. Each of them, with a spear in their hands as they scream and join the battle.

The Black Swordsman quickly engages the commanding officer of the group. The officer deflects the spear and attacks Kirito, but he also counters and raises the spear from bellow, which pierces though the armor, impaling the stomach of the player.

Galant attacks as well, clashing his spear several times against the player’s sword before delivering a strong stroke to the player’s head with the non-bladed end of the weapon. The hit leaves the soldier numb, giving Galant enough time to strike the back of his knee. The hit sends him to the ground. He pierces the player’s chest once he’s on the ground.

Leafa exchanges attacks with one of the soldiers on foot, but before long, she manages to slash his belly. Angrily, he attacks again. Leafa eludes the attack and swings her blade fast and strong, beheading the legionary with a single blow.

After killing one of the players on horseback, Klein engages with another soldier. He slashes the player’s forearm with the tip of his spear, forcing him to drop the blade. Unarmed, the player tries to grab Klein, but he easily places the handle of the spear in the player’s neck and turns him around, holding him close. Asuna draws her blade and slashes his neck, killing him.

Kirito throws the captain from his horse and his spear breaks in half. In that moment, one of the soldiers attacks him. The guild leader barely eludes the attack and kicks the player back. After regaining balance, the soldier strikes again. But, Kirito catches the player in the middle of his swing. He approaches even further, grabbing his neck and slams him into the ground. There, he draws the Pugio from his belt and stabs his neck, finishing him off.

The last soldier escapes on horseback. Galant attacks, but he’s pushed aside buy the horse.

Klein: “We have to follow him!”

Kirito: “No! Galant, your spear, quickly!”

Galant tosses him his spear. Kirito looks at the soldier. He makes a short and really fast rush before hurling the javelin several meters, impaling the player in the back of his neck. The corpse falls to the ground and rolls.

Galant laughs slightly.

“Not bad.” He says. “We’re at the same level with swords. But you’d destroy me with a fucking spear.”

Kirito grins.

Klein: “Why did these legionaries pass so close to the encampment?”

Leafa: “They were idiots. That’s for sure.”

Kirito: “Search for anything useful they may have.”

Asuna: “I’m already found something.”

She was searching in the captain’s corpse.

“This one carried a message.”

She gives a papyrus scroll to Kirito, who opens it.

“What does it say?”

---

The council of KoB’s Generals reunites in Kirito’s tent.

Lamorak: “Ten thousand legionaries?!”

Kirito: “Lead by, the Supreme King himself. Hao.”

All stare to Kirito, knowing what that meant. Hao had finally decided to step out of the shadows and engage them in person.

Kirito: “Galant, you were among the legions. What do you think about this?”

Galant: “Means Hao has decided his Generals are too useless to take us on. But it means one more thing: he’s going to bring all of hell with him.”

Kirito: “If that happens, Julius and Octavius will join them, and take away our advantage.”

Lamorak enters the map.

Lamorak: “We could attack Hao’s Legion by surprise, just before the others join.”

Asuna: “If we do that, we’ll be between Hao’s army in the lower floors and Julius army in the upper floors.”

Klein: “Asuna is right. We don’t have the numbers to face two armies on two fronts.”

Kirito: “That leaves us just once choice: we’ll have to strike down both Julius and Octavius before the odds turn in Hao’s favor.”

Klein: “We’ve attacked one time after another, but for a month we have failed to defeat them.”

Galant: “Perhaps seeing the heads of their commanders will be enough to break their spirit.”

Klein smiles slightly.

Klein: “They won’t be easy to get…”

Kirito: “No they’re not easy to reach, in a battle at least.” He looks to the message. “According to what’s written here, this message isn’t directed to where they troops are. But rather, a house somewhere.”

Lamorak: “Of course. They’ve hidden.”

Asuna: “Where’s this house?”

Kirito: “Doesn’t say.”

Lamorak: “Then we return to the beginning!”

Kirito: “Yui, help us out on this.”

Yui: “Yes, papa.”

A digitalized map of the level appears on the desk.

Yui: “You intercepted Hao’s men riding south, towards the labyrinth going up. Which means the place the commanders are hiding must be somewhere in the upper levels.”

Asuna: “How many houses are there?”

Yui: “Thirty-seven.”

Klein: “How can we figure out which is theirs?”

Kirito: “As you’ve said. They’re no idiots. We can know the location because there will be sentries and they’ll also have big amount of soldiers for protection.”

Lamorak: “Then we should attack them with every sword we have.”

Kirito: “No. We’d be easily discovered if we go there with large numbers. The soldiers will surely alert their commanders and they’ll escape again. But a few men could easily penetrate their defenses unnoticed.”

Galant: “Few against many again…”

Kirito: “Galant, Klein, and Lamorak, I want you with me.”

Asuna: “What I’m going to do then?”

Kirito: “I’m sure the former second-in-command of the Knights of the Blood Oath can lead while I’m not here. Gather all players who can fight with any weapon.”

Asuna: “What should we do?”

Kirito: “Something very important if we want to win…”

---

Floor 90th, January 6th, 2027

Hao gets ready for training again with Castor. He activates Supreme Weapon and draws two Gladius from his storage.

Markus sits down on the bench next to the small training square, notably annoyed since he had to watch his brother training, again.

“We still have to do a lot if we want to start fighting KoB.” Markus says annoyed.

“Yes. A lot.” Hao responds.

“And you’re wasting our time fighting with a common player.”

“Common player…Nobody thought Kirito to be a common player back in SAO. He was first a Beater and then a Unique Skill user. You really think he’s a common player?”

“Well. He’s definitely strong, he has good leadership skills and he’s accomplished a number of victories throughout different games. But even still, he’s still just a regular player.”

“We’re over the last 10 floors of Aincrad. Even basic players can be strong. There are no “regular players” from now on.”

“Wait…Brother, you’re saying he’s equal to any of us, the leaders of the Legions?!”

“In some aspects, he’s definitely even better than any of us.”

“Pffft…”

Hao looks at his brother.

“You believe the mere fact of being a leader in my guild gives you an advantage over everybody in this game?”

“I believe we’re above regular players in all things, even if some regular players have gained a fancy reputation in Aincrad and ALO.”

“Good!” Hao turns around the blade and points the pommel at Markus. “Then prove it.”

Markus widens his eyes and rises from his bench.

“You’ve been well trained in swordsmanship. I’m sure you can best a “common player”.”

Markus takes the sword reluctantly and faces Castor.

Hao steps aside and crosses his arms.

Markus cries out as he starts his all-out-assault. He swings his sword diagonally down from right to left and then the other way around. After that, he thrusts with his blade, but quickly draws it back to make one slash aiming to Castor’s throat. However, the champion gladiator’s defense was flawless and Markus couldn’t even scratch his skin. After this first assault, they separate and switch places.

After a short stare, the Prince again starts attacking, stronger and faster than the assault from before. He thrusts his blade and then swings his blade towards his opponent’s chest, before slashing downwards, to Castor’s leg. This last block leaves a big opening on Castor’s upper body, which Markus sees. He swings the sword, aiming to his throat, but the gladiator ducks under the blade with no effort.

The strength of the blow leaves Markus back widely open for an attack. Castor knows this but he doesn’t attack. Knowing this, Markus gets even angrier and blindly attacks. Castor again blocks and this time counterattacks, accidentally, hitting hardly Markus across the face with his hand and the cross-guard of his blade.

Markus falls to the ground. His mouth was bleeding.

“I’m sorry, your Majesty!” Castor yells, realizing what he did. “I didn’t mean to…”

“You just taught him a lesson that he needed!” Hao says, interrupting him.

Hao approaches Markus, who was bleeding in the ground.

“The exact same lesson that Kirito taught those Generals and Colonels who believed to be superior to everyone, just for being members of my Guild.”

Hao grabs his blade and gets ready for training.

“Freya, heal his wounds.”

“Yes, your majesty.”

In the meantime, Hao starts training with Castor.

Markus gets up and walks to the bench where Freya uses magic to heal his face.

“He talks to me as if I was a brat.” Markus complains.

“Then prove him wrong, and don’t pout like a child.” Freya tells him.

Markus looks to her and nods slightly.

“The army hasn’t yet been raised. He didn’t make a deal to get more equipment and supplies from the lower cities in Aincrad. He’s ignoring the preparation for the long march and the campaign. All of that, to play with this fucking brute…I don’t understand what goes through his head…”

“Try to forget about your pride and think as he would, that way you’ll clear all your doubts about him.”

---

Floor 93rd, January 6th, 2027

With a pitch black sky and a moon covered by dark clouds, Kirito and his group ambush and cut down three sentries on a hill near a base.

Immediately after killing them, they kneel, hiding in the tall grass while looking to the base down the hill.

Lamorak: “So you were right. They were hiding somewhere.”

Galant: “But they’re too many, even for us.”

Kirito: “Don’t worry. We’ll just have to stop for a second…”

---

Julius: “The die’s already been cast, Octavius. Don’t try to convince me otherwise.”

Octavius: “We’ve received no message from Tyr or the King. This is taking too much time, General.”

“Well, what can you expect? They messengers has to get here from floor 90th. And you also have to take into account that they must elude the Rebels in floor 92nd. ”

“Well who knows? They could’ve been attacked. Or maybe the King won’t support us. Please General; at least consider sending a messenger.”

“General!” An upcoming officer says, interrupting the thoughts of Julius.

“What’s the problem?” Octavius asks.

“The Rebels. KoB’s forces are starting to match to the labyrinth. Soon they’ll be in this floor.”

Julius bites his lip and nods his head slightly.

“Tell Augustus I’m ordering him to take 500 men from here with him to support our army.”

The officer who leaves immediately.

“Apparently you were right…” Julius tells Octavius. “To fuck with Tyr and the King’s message. We’ll rejoin our men and defeat Kirito by our own strength.”

Octavius nods.

“Get ready; we’re leaving in 15 minutes! Prepare for battle!”

---

In a few minutes, most of the forces of Julius and Octavius were marching north, towards the end of the labyrinth of the 92nd floor, which was also entrance to the level.

Kirito: “There. Our Guild advancing to this level makes them return to their army.”

Klein: “Not all of them.”

Lamorak: “The AEsir finally fucking hear my prayers. There’s no feat in an easy victory…”

Kirito: “Stay close to each other and to the shadows. We’ll end this quickly.”

In a few minutes, they reach one of the walls surrounding the base. Fortunately for them, it was a small wall of just 4 meters tall. Klein takes out a long rope tied to a hook.

Kirito: “Rapidly, before they find us!”

Galant: “We don’t know if the commanders are inside.”

Klein: “We also don’t know how many are inside.”

Lamorak: “Let’s hope the commanders are there and that they’re not too few…”

Klein: “Galant, apparently we’re surrounded by mad fucks, and we should begin to count ourselves as another two.”

He throws the rope up and it hooks to the wall. They wait for a second, in case someone saw the hook in the wall, but they hear nothing.

Lamorak: “Seems the Aesir favor us.”

Galant: “Neither Kirito and I believe in them.”

Kirito: “Galant, if this goes as planned, we may be wrong...”

Kirito grabs the rope and begins climbing up.

---

Floor 90th, January 6th, 2027

Hao slashes two times. Castor blocks, first with his blade then with his shield. Hao spins and attacks with both blades, but the gladiator blocks with his shield and walks around Hao, who does the same. After a short stare, the King attacks again with both blades, and the champion again eludes. At last, Hao thrust his blade powerfully, but Castor parries it and drives it away. Hao follows his thrust and switches sides with his opponent.

Hao shouts nonsense loudly, irritated.

He starts walking from side to side of the training squad.

“Your Majesty, it takes a long time to master swordsmanship with two swords. I can understand you’re frustrated.”

“I’m not frustrated with myself!” Hao cries out.

Castor looks down.

“My King, if I’ve done something to offend you…”

“NO. You’re offending me because you’re NOT doing something. You’re holding back while fighting me. You really think I wouldn’t notice that?”

“No!”

“You think I’m not worthy of respect?!”

“No. My King, no one deserves more respect than you!”

“Then prove it. Attack me as if I was an opponent in the arena: WITHOUT MERCY.”

“Brother!” Markus says nervous while rising from his chair.

“Markus, we all have lessons that must be learned and I have no time for training. I want this to be my final test. Once it’s over, I’ll know that I’m ready to fight enemies with your skill upon field of battle without just shooting weapons with my Unique Skill.”

“You’re asking me…to kill you?” Castor asks surprised.

“No. I’m ordering you to try.”

“Then you’re ordering my death. If you win, it’s because I die. If I kill you, I’ll be executed.”

“Markus, you’ll be my witness. If Castor wins this fight, he’ll be free and receive 1,000,000 yrd in reward for his loyal service.”

“Brother, remember you’re using a VRSMA in real life. If he kills you, the system could backlash and you’d die! You can’t be serious!”

“I am very serious. The true enemy of any man is doubt. And I don’t want that with me when my Legions march to fight KoB.”

He points at Castor with his left blade.

“Choose, or die where you stand.”

“Your will, my King.” Castor puts his arms at his side. “My hands.”

He bends his head in sign of approval.

Hao smiles.

Castor raises his sight, now with a furred brow. He was ready to show his full potential.

Before Hao can even react, Castor attacks with his shield, hitting his opponents’ nose harshly and pushing him back. Even when the attack leaves him numb, Hao somehow manages to stand the blow, but he faces the barrage of slashes from the Gladiator, which forces him to keep falling back.

---

Floor 93rd, January 6th, 2027

The small platoon in Julius’ base was formed up in the small courtyard inside the house within the base, ready to march.

“Kirito doesn’t have the numbers to have a certain victory.” Octavius wonders. “Why’s he doing this? Why’s he attacking us?”

Julius looks at him.

“Let’s split his skull in two and we’ll see his fucking thoughts on the ground.”

They hear a scream and a soldier nearby falls to the ground dead.

The KoB leader appears, followed closely by his three most trusted men.

“Kirito!” Julius murmurs astonished.

The Legionaries form up while the two commanders walk backwards, going back inside the house accompanied by some soldiers.

Kirito jumps on the shield of a player, using it as pivot. He falls and slashes a soldier in half with Excaliber.

Kirito’s closely followed by Galant, who engages combat with two soldiers at the same time.

Just behind him, Klein and Lamorak ram into the soldiers, starting their own fight.

---

Floor 90th, January 6th, 2027

Hao exchanges blows with Castor, who is gaining the upper hand.

After several failed attacks, Hao is able to advance and reach Castor’s back. However, the gladiator champion is able to push the King strongly with his shield. The hit is able to make Hao flip over and land on the sand with his back.

“You have to stop him.” Freya tells Markus.

“I can’t. He’s given a command. Everybody must obey.” Markus responds.

On purpose, Castor falls backwards while attacking with his gladius. Hao is able to elude the blade, he turns around and starts getting up, but Castor places his shield above Hao’s left blade. Hao kneels and Castor gets up and slashes ready to behead the King, but he manages to defend himself and counters, swinging his blade towards his opponent’s left leg. Castor reacts fast and jumps the blade while advancing forward. He rolls on the ground and quickly gets up, but this gives Hao enough time to grab the Gladius in the ground and get back up as well.

Castor attacks with a powerful thrust but Hao parries it easily. Castor attacks again, but Hao blocks the attack and slashes powerfully with his left blade. He advances around the Gladiator while attacking back and downwards, slashing the back of Castor’s leg. He turns around and both combatants get ready for another assault.

---

Floor 93rd, January 6th, 2027

Lamorak slashes the neck of a player before another one pushes him back. He falls to the ground and rolls, pushing to the ground several soldiers before getting back up. The soldier who pushed him attacks him again, but Lamorak blocks with his shield and slashes the player across the face.

Klein punches a player, making him to the ground. Another soldier attacks him, but the Salamander eludes easily by ducking behind the blade and kills the player slashing his side. The player on the ground gets up and attacks Klein, but he swings his katana with enough force to divide the shield in two and slash the player, killing him as well. Afterwards, he catches the hand of an upcoming soldier and pushes him against a wall. He then finishes him off with a strike to the stomach before swinging his blade up and slashing his face.

Galant spins and rams both blades against a player’s shield, turning it into splinters and killing the player. One player throws his spear at him, but Galant reacts quickly and eludes it before throwing his left blade at the legionary, piercing his chest. Another soldier appears behind Galant and slashes his back. He jumps forward and rolls on the ground, before getting back up. The legionary runs towards him, but Galant swings his sword, which clashes against his shield. He spins around the player, ending right behind him. He pierces the players’ chest with Stardust Ryusei-Ken.

Kirito draws Elucidator while keeping his opponents away with Excaliber. An opponent flanks him but he draws his blade, cutting him down. The legionaries form up in front of him, but he easily keeps them away with constant strong strokes with both blades.

“We have to put you in a safe place, General.” The officer says.

“I won’t fucking run from him again!” Julius says angrily.

“Think straight!” Octavius tells him. “We’ll return with more men and kill Kirito.”

Julius nods reluctantly.

They leave.

“DON’T LET THEM GET AWAY!” Kirito shouts to his friends. “I CAN TAKE THEM ALONE, GO!”

Klein, Lamorak and Galant run following the two commanders, leaving Kirito alone to fight against the remaining players.

---

Floor 90th, January 6th, 2027

Hao starts his assault with several slashes, switching between one of each weapon, but even with his strong attacks, Castor’s defense was flawless. Realizing this, Hao decides to put more power into his attacks. He spins around his back while attacking. Castor is somehow able to block with his shield, but the King quickly spins again and attacks.

The gladiator parries the blade and sees other sword’s tip aiming to his head. He eludes the thrust, places his shield below Hao’s extended arm and strongly slams the sword with his blade, shattering the weapon in two. With his shield, Castor moves Hao’s arm aside and punches him in the face, forcing Hao to fall back to regain ground.

With just one weapon, not being able to use Supreme Weapon to draw another one and more wounded than his opponent, Hao finds himself in a tight spot.

Both opponents stare to each other for a couple of seconds, knowing that the end of the battle was very close.

Hao thrusts his blade powerfully, but Castor eludes and puts his shield and blade next to Hao’s gladius. He rotates and the blade slips from Hao’s fingers, leaving him unarmed. Castor keeps on rotating and swings his blade, which Hao barely dodges. He then thrusts his blade powerfully, but this time Hao does not move.

He does the unthinkable.

He places his hands in front of him and catches the blade with bare hands, stopping it just before it pierced his chest and and catching Castor by surprise. The gladiator attacks with his shield, but Hao kicks him back and releases the blade from his hands. He jumps and rolls on the ground, closely followed by Castor. Once Hao stops rolling he turns around. Both of their sights clash as Hao turns around and gets up while Castor raises his blade, ready to deliver the killing stroke while crying out.

But he stops midway.

He feels strong pain in his chest.

He looks down and sees the Gladius he’d broken moments ago piercing his chest. Hao’d grabbed it with his hands and stabbed him, just before his last attack.

With no longer a reason to fight, Castor drops his weapons and grabs Hao.

“You were waiting to do something I didn’t expect…” Castor says smiling.

“Knowledge and patience. The best counter to greater skills.” Hao says, also smiling.

“You’ve learned well…I’ve taught you well.”

“Your services won’t pass unremembered.” Hao says, before removing the blade from Castor’s chest and laying him slowly on the ground. Hao grabs his hand.

“I hope for a rematch…once you’re King…”

“You’ll have it. One more thing: the coin I promised if you bested me, I’ll use it for erecting a monument, for the New Champion of Aincrad, Castor.”

“It’s been the greatest of honors to teach you, King of Blades.”

The body of Castor briefly shakes before he dies. Hao closes the eyes of his corpse.

“No. The honor was mine.”

---

Floor 93rd, January 6th, 2027

Julius and Octavius are accompanied to a room in the base by some soldiers.

“These fucking savages have blocked the way out…” Julius says.

“Take shelter here.” The officer tells them.

“I WON’T BE KILLED TRAPPED, AS A FUCKING ANIMAL!” Julius shouts.

One of the soldiers is cut down swiftly by Klein, who enters the room. He is closely followed by Galant and Lamorak. The three of them proceed to engage combat with the remaining soldiers. Both commanders draw their swords, but they don’t interfere in their subordinates fights.

The Black Swordsman appears, covered in the blood of his enemies with two blades in his hands. He engages combat with both leaders at the same time. After a brief exchange of attacks and defenses, he blocks the thrust of Octavius and slashes his arm with Excaliber, forcing him to drop his blade. He ducks under Julius left side slash. The General quickly changes his momentum and attacks again, but Kirito blocks with Elucidator and slashes his arm with Excaliber, forcing the general to drop his blade, which falls far away from him.

At the same time, the other three KoB members finish the three other soldiers.

The battle was over.

Kirito points his blades towards the necks of the two commanders.

“Checkmate.” Kirito says.

“My mistake.” Julius says. “I didn’t foresee that you’d attack on the night by the cover of darkness, as the thieves and assassins you are.”

“Trust me, you won’t make it again.”

“Let’s get this over with: what’re your terms of surrender?”

“There are no terms of surrender with me.”

He swings the swords two times, beheading both commanders easily quickly. Their bodies and heads fall to the ground, splattering all the room in scarlet blood.

“Take their heads.”

---

Floor 90th, January 7th, 2027

Tyr: “Julius and Octavius have fallen, my King.”

Hao: “How unfortunate…”

Tyr: “But that’s not all. A portion of their men is under command of Colonel Augustus. The rest are left without any commanders and they’ll scatter soon.”

Hao: “It’s a shame they died before I arrived.”

Tyr: “It’s also a shame that your messenger took a route so close to the rebel encampment.”

Hao: “Yes…Well. That means that from now on, the responsibility of hunting and killing of Kirito and all those who follow him falls on me.”

Tyr: “Exactly.”

Hao: “Mordread, get your men ready as well. I want you by my side when the final fight starts.”

Mordread: “I’ll send Whipper to handle it.”

Mordread grins and nods slightly before leaving.

Tyr: “I’ll order to any available commander to join us in our campaign. All hail Aincrad’s Kingdom.”

Tyr leaves as well.

Markus approaches his brother.

“Wait…you planned this, in the moment Julius and Octavius begged for your help. You sent Kirito to punish the two useless commanders.” Markus says smiling, amazed by his brother’s intelligence.

“Exactly.” Hao tells him. “And to remind my commanders of the threat that KoB represented. That was why I’m taking up arms against them. The Supreme King bows to no man, and much less helps useless Generals.”

“How did you know that Kirito would attack both of them, instead of running when they found out that your army would arrive soon?” Markus asks him.

“Because it is….what I would’ve done.”

---

Floor 93rd, January 7th, 2027

Asuna encounters Kirito and company when they arrive from their mission. They walk towards a cliff, to see their entire army.

Asuna: “Augustus and the rest of Julius army flee to the lower levels.”

Lamorak: “Apparently your idea worked Kirito. Seeing the heads of their commanders on a pike destroyed their fucking spirit.”

Klein: “Let’s follow them, and send them out of the war as well.”

Kirito: “No. We’ve already won our battle against them. We need to prepare for the advance of the true threat: Hao and his army.”

Galant: “Even the mighty Kirito runs from a fight he can’t win.”

Kirito: “We can’t win right now at least. Our numbers grow day by day…but winter’s coming. If we face hunger, cold and Hao at the same time, we’re doomed. We must find supplies and shelter, at least until spring.”

Galant: “There’s no base where all of us can be comfortable.”

Kirito: “No. there’s not. We have just one choice then: only a city can guard us now…”

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