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« SAO:NA - Chapter XXII: King of Blades

Sword Art Online: New Aincrad
Written by: FedeTkd
Published: FedeTkd (talk) 03:15, December 16, 2015 (UTC)
Chapter XXIII: Lurking Wolves

SAO:NA - Chapter XXIV: Heavy Burdens »



Floor 93rd, January 7th, 2027 Night at the camp of the Knights.

Under the shining moon, the knights train tirelessly. Sinon was teaching some new archers how to improve their skills. Agil and Sybil thought others in the ways of close quarters combat. Nearby, Jack and Kana talk to each other while looking at the different couples fighting. The recently arrived former members of the guild known as Sleeping Knights were present as well.

The new member of the guild, Dinnac, joins the training. However, he’s paired up against Leafa who clearly had superior skill. After a couple of clashes between both practice swords, Leafa strikes his face really hard. Dinnac falls to the ground.

Most of the viewers laugh.

“Not as easy as carving up a horse, is it?” Leafa asks while pointing the blade towards his neck.

Dinnac grins. His mouth was bleeding, so he spits the ground.

“Their kick is way nicer than you are, Leafa.” Dinnac replies.

She offers a hand to help him back up and he takes it.

“First time you wield a sword?” Leafa asks.

“Of course not. But I’ve never fought against a player with your skill.”

“Well. You’ll need to become better fast, so get ready for a second round. I’ll try to go easier on you.”

“Dinnac!” A voice calls. It was Lamorak. “Kirito needs you.”

“Well, I guess we’ll finish this later!” Dinnac says, tossing the wooden sword to Leafa.

He follows Lamorak.

Inside Kirito’s tent, the four members of the council were reunited. Kirito, Asuna and Klein were close to the table, looking at the map of Aincrad while Galant was sitting down in a chair near the entrance of the tent, looking at the three leaders as they discussed tactics.

Kirito stops once he sees Dinnac.

Kirito: “Hi Dinnac. Thanks for coming. I’d like to hear your advice on something.”

Dinnac: “Well…” He says while walking inside the tent “…sorry, but I know nothing about soldiers, wars or tactics.”

Kirito: “But you know other things. That’s why I called you here.”

The generals give him an empty chair while the Gnome looks at them with his eyes widened.

“You spoke about a city surrounded by high walls and near the sea.”

“Nuceria. I lived there for a couple of weeks.”

Asuna: “Then, what do you know of its defenses?”

Dinnac widens his eyes more after hearing this.

Dinnac: “Wait. You’re going to attack the city.”

Kirito: “That depends on what you say."

Dinnac looks to the map and searches for the city, while at the same time trying to remember about any relevant information of the city. After a couple of minutes, he finds it in the map.

Dinnac: “Nuceria is a city in floor 94th, the last floor cleared by the Legions. There’re two gates. The main one faces the hills to the east. Due to trades, it’s always opened during the day. But during night, they close it.”

Klein: “What of the other?”

Dinnac: “Against the cliffs running up to the canyons that form the Solnia’s ridge. It’s impossible to travel there during winter.”

Lamorak: “We don’t want to get trapped up there.”

Kirito: “No, we don’t. That leaves us just one choice, how resistant is the main gate?”

Dinnac: “Once closed, rock solid.”

Lamorak: “We’ll need a ram to force our way inside.”

Asuna: “That’s not an option if we want to keep the city for a couple of months. It’d leave us unprotected if Hao storms the city, leaving us without our leverage.”

Kirito: “Can a few men open the gate at night?”

Dinnac: “It’d be difficult. It’s well defended by guards, and you’d be without tools. The Governor fears that the weapons can be used against the guards, so he orders that all are stored in an armory near the gate.”

Kirito: “We have to give them our swords at the entry?!”

Klein grins disappointed.

Klein: “We should look for a better prospect.”

Galant: “Wait a moment. I know a good friend of mine and player from SAO who, for what I know, is living at the city. Antinomy, a blacksmith.”

Dinnac: “Oh, I know him. My master, the Commander of the Guards, often said he didn’t like him.”

Lamorak: “Can we trust him? He’s not fighting against Hao, which generally means his on their side.”

Galant: “We can trust him. He’s just in this for the money and his love for crafting weapons. If you give him enough money, he’ll join us happily.”

Lamorak grins slightly.

Kirito: “I’ll need you to come with us then.”

Galant: “Alright. But I won’t even be able to carry Maximus Caliburn to the main gate and give it to the guards. I’m the only one that can wield it.”

Lamorak: “I’ll take care of it for you.”

Klein: “I’ll join you two. You’ll need someone to cover your asses.”

Kirito: “Alright then.” He looks to Asuna and Lamorak. “Prepare the guild for the march. Get ready once we make a signal for you. Remain hidden until then.”

Asuna: “What about your faces? Some of you can be easily recognized by other players.”

Kirito: “I’ll use my magic to create illusions of our faces. Hopefully, the spell will last the entire day.”

Dinnac: “My fucking master has a very close relationship with the Governor. If the guards in the gate suspect something, just say you have an appointment with Graccus. You’ll probably elude trouble.”

Kirito: “The next time you meet him, he’ll be kneeling and calling you master.”

---

Floor 94th, January 9th, 2027

Kirito, Galant and Klein arrive at the city, dressed differently and their faces altered so that they were not recognized. After waiting in a line for several minutes, the guard leader lets them advance.

“Step forward!” He orders, swinging the wooden club he wielded.

Kirito and the others follow instruction.

“Why’re you coming to this city?” The guard asks.

“We come for food, water, rest and other needs.” Kirito says, with a well-acted fake smile. He extends his hand with coins and gives them to the guard, in an attempt to bribe their way past the inspection.

The guard looks to the amount of counts and grins slightly.

“You’re insulting me.” He says plainly. “This is too few…”

Kirito grins slightly.

“Well. Let me give you more as an apology…”

“No. Turn around and leave. Guards!”

Some guards nearby approach the entrance, weapons in hand. The three guards next to the leader grab their weapons and get ready to draw if necessary. Noticing the tense situation, Klein gets ready to take out his Katana and Galant prepares to draw Carnwennan.

“As you wish.” Kirito says, steps back and respectfully bows forward in a sign of respect. “Just one thing, please tell Graccus that his associates won’t be able to keep the meeting that was intended for today.”

He turns around along his two partners.

“Wait!” The guard leader says. “Give all the weapons.”

Kirito grins slightly before turning around. Klein gives over his katana, Galant hands over his dagger and kunai knives and Kirito passes a short blade he carried. Afterwards, the guards pat them down really quickly. They find nothing hidden in their robes.

“You can go now. Please tell the Guard Commander that you were well treated by the guards.”

“Thanks. You’ll be well rewarded for helping us.” Kirito says before tossing him a coin.

The three of them leave. After a long walk, they stop in an alleyway.

“Shit. That one was close.” Klein says. “What’s the plan now?”

“I guess you don’t know where your friend is exactly?” Kirito ask Galant.

“It’s the first time I’m here, so I don’t know. But in these cities there’s generally a central plaza. Somebody there may know where he is.”

“Alright. Let’s find that then.”

After walking for a few minutes around the crowded streets of the city, they arrive to the small plaza. The three of them are surprised when they see the number of people inside, all looking to a single direction and decide to enter and look. When they do, they widen their eyes in impression and horror. A player had been crucified in the plaza. He was bleeding from his wrists and the red liquid was flowing, reaching from his arms until the start of his stomach. That meant he had been crucified recently. Even still, the numbness of his face and the way he painfully looked down to the ground made some believe he’d been hanging there for days. The crowd was just staring at his pain, both in fear for the Legions and in despise of the “rebel bastard” who had been crucified. Nearby, some chained slave players also witnessed the cruel and slow death of the player. Some even turned their sight away, with an upset stomach.

The three Blood Knights clench fists angrily, but they can’t help the player since they’d risk being discovered. They feel a strong knot in their stomach formed by the helplessness of not being able to save him.

A player appears, pushing Klein from behind out of the way. They briefly stare while he walks close, but the Salamander sees he’s accompanied by several guards, so he decides to remain calm and move aside. Once they have passed, Galant looks at his friend.

“You did well. By the looks of the armor, he’s the Commander of the City Guard.” He tells him

“Dinnac’s former Master, Graccus.” Klein adds.

Graccus dressed in armor similar to the one of an officer of the Legions. But the outfit did have some differences, the most notable one being a red toga that went over his right shoulder covering his torso. A circular golden brooch was adorning it.

He keeps on walking until a he is in the middle of the multitude. There, one of the guards places a wooden box in the ground and Graccus stands on it.

“Good afternoon, citizens of Nuceria.” He begins talking. “By the permission of the honorable governor of this city, I present you another player who’s whispered the forbidden name of the Rebel Leader, and not only that. He was also discovered gathering food for leaving the city, and even a stolen small dagger. Apparently, the shackles and the whip don’t show the players enough dissuasion to remember what KoB and their rebellion means to us: chaos. Let’s show them the only thing what happens to those who dare to defy the greatness of our Kingdom and the Supreme King: a painful death. All hail Hao! All Hail Aincrad’s Kingdom!”

“All Hail Hao! All Hail Aincrad’s Kingdom!” All the players shout after him, with exception of Kirito who remains looking at the player hanging from the cross.

The guards then begin passing between the crowd carrying baskets filled with stones. They were preparing to lapidate the player to death while he was still in the cross. Every player of the crowd grabs one rock, while others started shouting to the crucified player, who was starting to regain consciousness.

Kirito picks up one of the rocks, while still looking to the slave seriously and notably enraged. He breathes deeply before walking a couple of steps forward rapidly, but his friends catch his arms.

“Let me go.” He murmurs angrily.

“I know what you’ll try. Don’t.” Klein says.

“We’d just share three crosses right next to him, and he’d have died for nothing.” Galant adds.

“We can’t do nothing if an innocent player is about to die. I am…”

“KIRITO!!!” The player nailed to the cross shouts, shocking the players looking at him. “KIRITO! KIRITO! HE’LL MAKE SURE YOUR FUCKING KINGDOM BECOMES BLOOD, PISS AND SHIT!!! KIRITO!”

The player keeps on shouting Kirito’s name, while the three rebels look at each other not knowing what to do. The rest of the crowd looks at him with repugnance.

“THE FUCKING REBELION WILL ALWAYS FAIL!!!” Graccus shouts angrily.

He throws a stone at him, striking the player in the forehead, stopping his screams. The crowd joys once this happens.

“THROW! THROW!” Graccus shouts.

They then start stoning and screaming at the agonizing player, who starts convulsing violently by the strikes of the stones while bleeding even more than before. But the crowd didn’t throw the rocks to kill him. Far the contrary. They did it strong enough so that the player would feel pain, but not enough to kill him. They made the painful, nasty and bloody show last long while they kept on cursing the slave and laughing at his misfortune and suffering.

Filled with wrath and despair, Kirito charges a throwing weapon Sword Skill to the rock and hurls it at the player while screaming. The stone clashes against the face of the player and makes it explode in bloody pieces, ending the spectacle and splattering blood on most views in the front row.

The crowd stops making sounds and look to the player’s lifeless body.

“You drew their attention.” Klein tells him.

Some players were looking at Kirito. He looks at Graccus for a moment, who was also looking at him, seriously. After breathing a couple of times, Kirito quickly returns to normal.

“I just ended his suffering quickly....” Kirito tells Klein. “…As I’ll do for all those who suffer beneath the tyranny of the Kingdom.”

---

Floor 90th, January 9th, 2027

“We’ll need a trumpeter for each centuria.” Hao orders to Colonel Taikeus, the best friend of his brother. “I don’t want to command an army that can’t receive orders. And duplicate the number of sentries. I won’t be attacked unaware as Julius and Octavius.”

Markus arrives with a scrolled message.

“Brother, another message from Tyr.” He says, handing it to him.

“Tyr’s gathering whatever soldier we have left and sending them back here, to the Field of the Victors. We’re already reaching 7500 men.” Hao says reading.

“They’re eager to fight.” Markus says.

“But we still have to prepare a few more things. Speaking of which, have you contacted the blacksmith?”

“Yeah.” Markus answers smiling. “Taikeus and I have been busy with that, but we came to an arrangement with him. He’s waiting in the Royal Hall right now. You’ll be satisfied.”

“Alright them.” Hao says, handing the message to Taikeus. “Let’s see what you’ve achieved, Markus.”

Hao walks towards the room, but the other two stay behind.

“See? Once he hears of your deal with the blacksmith, you’ll exceed his expectations. He’ll recognize the worth of your effort and decide you’re his best choice for second-in-command.”

Markus nods, before both of them follow Hao.

They open the huge doors of the Royal Hall and enter. There, two tables were set, one with the equipment of a standard Legionary soldier and a second one with the armor of a Kingsguard Legionary, the best soldiers of the legions, who protected Hao and those he deemed worthy of protection. Behind both tables, the blacksmith was waiting.

He respectfully kneels as soon as he sees Hao.

“Your majesty.” He says.

“Rise.”

The craftsman rises, looking at Hao.

“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”

“Enough of your praises, craftsman. My brother told me you’re a fine blacksmith. Let’s see if that’s true.”

“Of course. Please, test my weapons.”

Hao grabs a Gladius in one of the tables and tests its weight and edge. He seriously looks at the blade for a minute, while both Markus and the Blacksmith nervously watch him. Afterwards he swings the blade several times.

“Gladius.” Hao says.

His gate of weapon appears behind him and he takes out a sword that looked exactly like the one the metalworker had crafted. He throws it up waiting for it to fall, and once it does; he swings the new Gladius, dividing the weapon perfectly in half. The two halves of the swords fall to the ground and bounce.

He then grabs the Spartha Gladius, the signature weapon of the Kingsguard. It was longer than the regular Gladius, with length similar to a longsword. He tests the durability against the regular Gladius blade he was holding. None of the blades are destroyed. At last, he swings both blades against the armors, and neither weapons nor armors are damaged.

“Apparently you were right. These weapons have a higher durability than the ones my Legions use now. They’re quite good.” Hao places both blades back on the table.

“Your compliments honor me, my King.” The Blacksmith responds.

“Now, what’s the price?” He asks.

“90Yrd for the equipment of a regular soldier and 120 for the one heavy soldier. My best offerings, which we agreed with your brother.”

Hao looks to the armors, thinking.

“And what of the prices without this deal?”

“Normally, the prices per full equipment would be 30 Yrd higher. But since I’m doing business with one less than the King and the number of armors you require is high, I’m offering you a special price.”

Hao walks from side to side silently, thinking about the proposals.

“A fair price…” Markus tells his brother.

The door of the room behind Hao opens. Freya leans out her head.

“My apologies for interrupting, my King. He has arrived and is waiting down in the entrance hall right now.”

Hao smiles slightly.

“I accept the terms.” Hao says I apologize, but I need to attend something else now, but Markus can conclude our business. “

He walks out of the room.

“Yes of course, thank you!” the Blacksmith says.

“I told you.” Taikeus whispers to his friend. “Now there’s no one between you and being second-in-command.”

---

In the entrance hall, a Spriggan player waits, walking from side to side of the room. He had messy black hair and same color eyes. He was wearing a sleeveless dark grey robe and a red short scarf on his neck and the greaves and vambraces of the typical armor of a general but they were damaged beyond the point of repair. On his legs, he was using the regular loincloth of a general.

He was accompanied by two Kingsguard Legionaries and Mordread, sitting in the stairs, was keeping his eyes on him as well.

Notably angry and impatient, the Spriggan stops and looks at Mordread.

“Do I have keep on waiting in this Hall the entire fucking day!?” He asks.

“The time you spent fighting at the vanguard hasn’t changed you, Zar.” Mordread provokes with a smile.

“The same I could say to you. You still keep that horrible grin of yours.”

“About your question, apparently you’ll wait. The King has no time for coward dog, who ran from the frontlines with the tail between his legs.”

“At least I didn’t spend my time fucking around, following my former best friend around a castle with the vague promise of a future vengeance that won’t come any soon.” Zar replies, taunting Mordread even more. “And…I won’t grant Hao that…”

Zar turns around and goes towards the gate, walking between the two guards. In that instant, one of the guards catches his arm. Quickly, Zar moves his own arm and kicks the player in the chest, pushing him to the ground. The other guard quickly catches him as well, but Zar breaks free quickly again and hits the player in the nose with the heel of his hand, defeating him. The other soldier comes again, with the Spartha Gladius in his hand. He swings the blade against Zar, but he easily dodges the blade by ducking under it. He attacks again, but Zar is faster and evades. He catches the arm of the player and punches him several times until he falls to the ground.

Mordread grins. He draws Deathcalibur from his back jumps from the stairs. The General grabs the Spartha from the player and gets ready for combat.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this!” Mordread says happily.

“Attack!” Zar responds.

“STOP!” Hao says, appearing from the stairs.

“Your cousin forgets his manners…” Zar tells Hao, with a charming smile. He places the blade in the ground and kneels. “Your Majesty.”

“Look who’s talking!” Mordread replies, still eager to fight. “Cousin, if you want him executed for insubordination, I can do it right here.”

“Leave us.” Hao says.

The Legionaries get up from the ground and leave.

“Tch…” Mordread says angrily, sheathing his blade back. “We’ll finish this later...”

He walks up the stairs.

“He never gave a damn about me.” Zar says while rising from the ground. “I bet he wished me dead more than once.”

“Have you ever given him a reason to think otherwise?”

“Well, sorry for not worshipping him, as the idiots in his guild.”

“It’s been a long time.” Hao says, smiling slightly. “Come, we have a lot to talk about.”

Hao walks inside of a room near the hall. He sits down in a chair and pours black berry wine inside two cups.

“I thought I was going to be punished, your majesty.” Zar tells him.

“That can wait.” Hao says, giving a cup to his friend. “You look horrible. If you’re looking this way and won, I can’t imagine how the guy who lost is right now.”

Zar grins slightly.

“You’ve earned quite a reputation in Aincrad, Wolf General.” Hao adds.

“I like that nickname.” Zar says, grabbing the cup of wine and taking a sib. “A wolf is fast, sharp, cunning, strategic…”

“Don’t over flatter yourself.” Hao interrupts. “However, your victories in the frontlines became very known in the lower floors, as was your insolence in attacking the Gnome renegades in floor 53rd without support and without the approval of the Council of Generals.”

“We’d have lost our advantage if I waited for those petulant fools to decide.”

“True. That’s why I didn’t punish you for insubordination that time.” Hao switches subject of conversation. “I gave you 2750 players when the War started. After these 44 floors, how many men do you have left?”

“A couple of dozens. All of them exhausted and with little to no equipment. Most of it was destroyed during the War.”

“You know why you’re here?”

“You summoned me after I came back here with what was left of my army. The Rebels closed in quickly and I had to other choice but to bypass them somehow and come back here. Now the Rebels are in the frontlines. All we did was for nothing. Do you plan to punish me?”

“No.”

“What then: Execution? Banishment?”

“Neither. I called you here for one reason: I’m preparing my army.”

“Your majesty…you will…?”

“We’re over the last stages of the War, so it is time for me to get serious. I’ll stop fighting in the shadows and show my enemies what I’m truly capable of.”

“So, why I’m here?”

“Because I can’t lead my army alone.” Hao says plainly. “You’re quite an expert in strategies of war and you have ability on the battlefield, but you now lack resources.”

“And you possess resources, but you’ve got little experience in the battlefield.”

“Imagine what we could achieve together. If Hao and Zar start fighting together, there’s nothing that could ever stop us.”

“We met each other in this guild quite a long time ago. But we’ve never really fought together. Why now?”

“Because it’s time for me to step up and finish what we started more than one year ago. On May 2025, when we founded the Supreme Legion: We’re going to conquer Aincrad. And that’ll be the first stone on the road to conquer ALfheim.”

Zar smiles.

“What’s that help you need, to achieve those goals?” he asks.

“We have to this War to a proper end, and give death to Kirito.”

---

Floor 94th, January 9th, 2027

The three Blood Knights enter a smithy. They see a Leprechaun blacksmith with blue long hair, lighting a small fire.

Galant removes his spell and walks first.

“Antinomy! It’s been a long time, old friend!” Galant says.

Antinomy laughs as soon as he recognizes his old friend. They shake hands happily and even share a hug.

“It’s been a really long time! I sometimes thought you dead.” Antinomy says, separating from Galant.

“You shouldn’t have thought that. I’m not an easy guy to kill.”

“But what the hell you were thinking in coming here, you shit-brain? You’re an easily recognizable enemy of the Kingdom.”

“He told us you’re not in their side.” Kirito says, stepping inside the smithy.

Antinomy looks at the Spriggan player for a while, as he deactivated his illusion spell, revealing his real face. The blacksmith turns to Galant.

“Tell me you haven’t brought the Swordsman of Fucking Piss and Shit to my shop...”

“Your legend follows you.” Klein says smiling.

Galant: “I just bring you an opportunity. And if you’ll have a good profit if you agree.”

Antinomy: “It should be a huge profit, considering just talking to you could lead to my death…”

Kirito tosses him a bag filled with coins.

Kirito: “That’s only a portion of it, if you’re willing to cooperate.”

Antinomy opens it, and quickly counts. In total, the bad had 20,000 Yrd inside, the price of twenty excellent swords or a really fancy armor.

Antinomy: “What do you want then?”

Galant: “Swords.”

Antinomy: “Swords?” he throws the bag of coins to a table nearby. “The fucking Governor prohibited the blacksmiths of the city to forge weapons, because of the fear of your rebellion. All I can work now are fucking tools and shackles.”

Klein: “Don’t worry about that. The Governor won’t be a concern...”

Antinomy: “Well…I don’t have any metal to forge.”

Galant: “We thought you’d say that...”

He says entering his menu. Two metal ingots materialize in his hand and he tosses them to Antinomy.

Antinomy: “Crystallite Ingot. You want durable swords, I see. How many you guys need?”

Kirito: “Two one-handed longswords will be enough.”

Antinomy: “You give me enough money to give you eight more swords.”

Galant: “Two will be enough. The rest is for your secrecy.”

Antinomy: “And what’s the secret I have to keep?”

Kirito: “Do we have a deal?”

There is a brief moment of silence in the smithy.

Antinomy: “Alright, you guys win. Two swords and that’s it. They’ll be ready at dusk.”

Galant: “Guys, I’ll stay here to have a chat with a good friend.”

Kirito walks towards the door, where Klein kept watch of both the inside and the outside.

“I don’t like this guy.” Klein tells Kirito.

“We’re already committed.” Kirito responds. “Let’s hope the amount of money reminds him of discursion. You go back to the camp and make preparations with Lamorak and Asuna. At night, we’ll open the gate.”

“And this fucking city will be ours.” Klein adds before going back the way they came.

Kirito turns around and looks at Antinomy

“Antinomy, I’m hungry. Where can I find food in this city?”

“You should go to the port. Nearby, there’re a lot of stores and warehouses. You’ll probably find what you want there. You just need to go left three more blocks from here. It’s really close and easy to find.”

Kirito activates the illusion spell, allowing him to put on his “mask” again.

“Thanks. I’ll have a walk around the city.”

Galant nods slightly and Kirito walks out of the smithy.

---

Kirito walks around the marketplace near the port, looking at all the different types of food from all the lower floors that gathered in the city. The mixture of smells filled the air, along with the notable salty air from the sea. Meat from rabbits, goats and cows. White and black wine. All kinds of fish. Apples, bananas and berries from the tropical forest in floor 73rd. The closeness to floor 100 and the port is what made Nuceria a vital trading spot in the upper levels. Every day, hundreds of people gathered in the city just to buy and sell.

Kirito stops in front of a barrel filled with grains for bread. He grabs a handful and sees how they slowly fall down to the barrel again.

“The best quality you’ll find in all of ALfheim.” A voice said.

Kirito turns around and sees a beautiful Pooka girl. She had hazel eyes and curvy orange hair, which was styled in an elegant way. She wore a sleeveless long bluish-green dress along with an orange scarf hanging from her elbows to her back. As accessories, she wore a pendant, a circular golden armband in her right arm and several rings, one of which was a wedding ring.

“It’s a brave claim. But, I’ve been traveling thought Aincrad, and I can see you’re right. Where did you find this?”

“The fields of Scilliana. A small island, in the southern part of this level.”

“That explains why I never saw this. I’d like to buy some of this.”

“I’m not the trader. You should talk to my in-game-husband, the Governor.” She says, pointing inside a shop.

“It can wait until tomorrow, but you’re well supplied.”

“That’s because we received cargo in the morning.” The Pooka girl enters the shop, followed by Kirito. “It sells so quickly we have to bring tons from there each week. However, most of it has already been bought by the King.”

“Wait…King Hao?”

“Exactly.” She responds. “And you should just call him “King” here, if the guards heard you.”

“I’m so sorry. The problem is that everywhere in Aincrad they call him something different.”

“Yes, I know. The King is prefers this grains above all others, to supply food for his army. He’s also one of the few that can afford the huge cost, especially now because of the rebel Kirito.”

“In my travels, I’ve heard of the anguish he causes in all of Aincrad.”

“What brings you here, to the city of Nuceria?” She asks.

“My guild.” Kirito says while he starts walking around the small shop. “Our numbers are growing each day. I need to find a place where they can be well supplied.”

“You want to buy a terrain or a building in the city?”

“It has crossed my mind, yes.”

“Well, if you have any slaves, you’ll have to force them to wear shackles. It’s a law here.”

“We don’t have any. My friends and I don’t like that. Thanks for telling me anyway. Speaking of which, I was witness to the crucifixion and later the stoning of a player. Does that generally happen here?”

“The Commander of the city guard, Graccus, is the one who orders them. Unluckily, I think it’ll become something that generally happens, unless the rebellion is defeated soon.”

“Let’s hope Kirito and his pack of dogs are defeated soon then.” Kirito says, with a fake smile.

She smiles.

“My husband is now free.” She adds.

A male Pooka player joins them. He was dressed in an outfit that resembled the uniform of the Legions outside battle. He was looking directly at Kirito.

“You were at the plaza this morning, during the stoning?”

“Yes. I was present at that unfortunate spectacle.”

“You ended it quite fast.”

Kirito gulps down nervously, but remains in form, calm and easy.

“Thanks.” He adds. “The crowd was entering in frenzy. I don’t want to spill unnecessary blood.”

“I think the same.”

“Well. You want to buy something?” He asks.

“Thanks you, but it can wait until tomorrow. I just commented your wife, I still have to look around the city and see if I can find a good new base for my guild.”

“Alright then.” He answers. “I’m the governor of the city. My name’s Varus.”

“I’m his wife, Abelia.”

“I’m Lucian…” Kirito says. “…It’s good to meet you both….”

---

Kirito spent the rest couple of hours walking around the city, roaming around though the long and narrow alleyways to see anything or any relevant aspect and at the same time try to remember the streets and places to get more used to the city. Once the sun started going down, he decides to go back to Antinomy’s smithy. On his way back, he finds a small toy coming out of a door. He squats to pick it up, but a small girl appears and bumps into him.

“Nina!” A voice says. A female player with Kirito’s age comes out of the house. “I’m so sorry; my sister has the bad tendency to run off.”

“Here.” Kirito smiles before giving the toy back to the girl. “You stay close to your big sister.”

The little girl nods her head.

“Thank you.” Her sister says, before going back inside.

Kirito stands up with a smile. He pauses for a moment and leans against the wall while he looks down to the ground, in a sad manner. His whole expression was very different from the happiness from a moment ago.

He regains composure after a short time a keeps on walking.

Soon he arrives at the plaza.

“You there.” Somebody says.

Kirito looks around and sees Graccus going towards him, followed by several guards. Both stop right in front of each other.

“I saw you right here in the square this morning, didn’t I?”

“Yes. And I saw you.”

“One of the guards told me you spoke my name in the entrance of the city, saying that you had a business to discuss with me.”

“I think someone informed you badly. You’ve got nothing of worth for me.”

Kirito walks around Graccus, but he catches his arm firmly.

“Then why’re you in this city?”

“Take your hand of me…”

“Why’re you here!?”

“Just ask to my husband and you’ll have a reply!” Abeila says, appearing from one of the streets.

“He trades with the governor?” Graccus asks.

“Yes.”

“I was mistaken then.” Graccus says, releasing Kirito, but he keeps the aggressive demeanor. “Don’t go out from your house at night, to avoid any further misunderstandings…”

He leaves, followed by his guards.

“Thank you.” Kirito tells Abeila

“You’re welcome. I’m sorry about this. I can assure you that not all people in this city are like him.”

“I know, but he told me to don’t go out during the night…”

“Ah…Of course. Graccus convinced my husband to declare every night a curfew, to clear the streets of everybody except the city guard, at least until the rebellion is over.”

Kirito swallows down saliva, realizing the trouble that the curfew meant to Galant and himself.

“You have a weird face…what happened? Do you have a place to stay this night?” Abelia asks.

“Don’t worry. I do. When does it start?”

“When the sun disappears at 8:00 pm. That’s in 5 minutes. It’s lifted in 12 hours, at 8:00 am.”

“Thanks for your help.”

Kirito says before almost running away from the plaza, going back to the smithy as fast as he can.

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