This will be a series of side stories to the Sword Art Online: Specter's Origin series roleplayed by Maestro Odysseus and PyroHunter16. Chapter 1 beings several weeks after the infamous "First Day" of the Death Game, where we follow Hunter Kasai's adventures to reclaim the equipment he found during time in the SAO Closed Beta.

December 11th, 2022

Where was that stupid entrance? I've been wondering the forests of Aincrad's 2nd floor for what... hours now? Goddamn. If I remember from the beta, Ifrit's Temper is around here somewhere... Ah, bingo! An NPC stood in front of a shack, with a terrified expression plastered over his poor face. I walked up to the man and accepted the quest, prompting him to start talking.

"S-sir!" The man began to tear up as he dropped to his knees. "P-please, lend me your strength! Some demon took my kids and wife from me! I-I don't know why he did it, but please!! Save my family!! I-if you need a reward, I have some Cor and a sword for you!"

"I'll do what I can," I replied to the man, helping him back up to his feet before dusting him off and patting his shoulder. Of course, I already knew what the demon looked like, but the quest requires me to ask about the demon's appearance before I could proceed. "Can you tell me what your family looks like? Or what the demon looks like?"

"H-he's an Ifrit... Dark red body... a tattered white cloak, a sword in hand. M-my wife is a blonde lady, wide blue eyes, dressed in a blue and white dress. I have two daughters, twins. Both blondes, but their eyes are green, like mine." He looked at me, and I could see the greens in his eyes, behind layers of tears.

"Duly noted. I'll try to take out this demon as soon as possible." I tucked my hands into my jacket pockets, and walked off, heading exactly where I remembered the demon's nest being.

"EHHHHH???" a shrill voice cried from a ways over, a young lady, with a great-shield and greatsword in tow, was barreling towards Hunter, an angry expression was glued to her face. Why was she upset? Well, she went through great lengths to finding quests on this floor, in this specific area; this man was now here on her turf, in Sōka's own mind this was her quest, not Hunter's, she was going to give this stranger a piece of her mind. Sōka finally reached Hunter.

"What in the world, do you think you are doing here!?" she exclaimed, fuming with fury. "I went through the trouble of talking to so many people, to get quests, I need to level!" lurid eyes fell upon Hunter, gaze locking with his, trying to be intimidating. "What do you have to say for yourself!?" Sōka demanded from him.

"First come, first serve." I continued to walk in the direction of the demon's nest from my memory, picking up the pace. Given that she doesn't know what's where, she definitely wasn't a beta tester. Just in case, I kept a hand on the scimitar sheathed at my waist in case she decided to attack out of nowhere.

Sōka's eyes widened at the mention of this... First come first serve catchphrase of his, a petty attempt to sound badass in her own mind. Pathetic she thought to herself, rolling her eyes at him, then glancing back to notice he just walked away from her... Walked. Away. Alright... Sōka jogged, catching up to his pace, then walked beside him. "I guess I'll just beat you to it, Mister." there was a devious smirk on her face as she said it, a feeling of... Rebellion filled her spirit, making her feel a little better about the situation as a whole.

"Good luck beating me when you don't know where to go." With that, I dived to the side and rolled into the forests, running away and taking the long way to the demon's nest. Well, I'd lose her in the forests then take the shortcut I found in the beta.

Sōka noticed that he had rolled and leapt, so she did what she naturally had to do, chase him down and interrogate him, well not really but she wanted the experience, maybe she could bargain with the man, that'd be a great idea. She leapt into the forest, using the disturbed foliage to keep track of Hunter's whereabouts. After a while she caught up with him, and said aloud. "Why don't we work together! You could have all the items, I just want to level!" Sōka exclaimed, this was a good proposition, and she was socially gaunt, and inept, then again she didn't really know how to strike bargains, it wasn't like she was a master saleswoman.

"Sure. Just don't go charging in with reckless abandon. I am not responsible for your death." I sighed and continued to walk along the shortcut. As long as she doesn't get in the way of my attacks, she'll manage. Considering she's got a shield and sword, she should be fine...

Sōka came to a halt, then followed after Hunter, her golden eyes wide with anticipation. "You're a Beta Tester aren't you?" she implored to the man, examining his equipment. "I'm Sōka, Sōka Kojimo, but my display is Maestro, but you could also call me The Shining Shield, if you want, either or is good with me." Sōka revealed, to be frank, she was pretty lonely, as every other player was afraid of her, and that she practically scared them off like mice fleeing from a vicious cat. "What's your name?" she implored again.

"Hunter." I replied curtly. All of my equipment was well within the range of a basic player nowadays, so I don't know how the hell she figured I was a beta tester. This girl is certainly very bizarre... Since we're taking a shortcut, it didn't take long before we found a dark cave emanating intense heat. I immediately took off my jacket, exposing the grey shirt underneath before unsheathing my scimitar. The durability of the blade would probably last until the boss fight. Good thing I already took that Martial Arts Quest earlier... I have a feeling I'll be needing it at the very end. "This is where the fun begins."

With that, I rushed into the cave, charging up a Sword Skill and unleashing it on the first enemy that crossed my path. A Lesser Ifrit was my first unfortunate victim, its face immediately outlined in a red grid before I executed another Skill and cleaved upwards to cut it in half, immediately bringing its digital life to a swift end. With those two on cool down, I moved on as quickly as possible, running at top speed to the Ifrit's throne. I need this thing's reward, and I need it quick...

With the first strikes, Sōka was close behind. The Ifrits that woefully crossed her path, were seamlessly bashed with her great-shield, great strength from her allowed her to dominate the enemies, their HP fading quickly, until ultimately they perished. As she was keeping up with Hunter, she was amazed with his skill, he was great with a scimitar.

"So..." Sōka implored, "Where are we going, and what are we doing?" she asked Hunter, she didn't mind rushing into battle, but... It's better to rush in with a cause, rather than without a cause, for morale reasons. "What's the boss? What's his skill level? Any insight, all mighty beta?" Sōka chuckled, amusing herself with her dry sense of humour.

"It's an Ifrit, it's way above your pay grade, and if you want as much EXP as possible, take out all the cannon fodder while I make my way to the boss." I dashed ahead of the the girl with a Sword Skill, cutting through dozens of enemies before sheathing my sword on my back and booking it for the Ifrit's throne. It didn't take long for the Ifrit King to stand up and swing his sword. "Alright, big boy. Come one."

The giant demon stood up and rushed me, three bars of appearing on its side as it identified itself as the Ifrit King. Three bars seems like a bit much, but it has shit durability. I can whittle these bars down like an axe through a tree. As it infused flames into its sword, my dash skill had recharged. Charging up, I blasted forward with the dash skill and slashed its upper right thigh, before chaining into an upward-launching slash that cut along his spine, shaving off a good 10% off his first gauge. Right after, I launched an aerial combo skill that spun me further up into the air, towards its head. Level with its face, I unleashed another dash skill that managed to impale my scimitar into its face before unleashing another upward slash that divided its face in two. 25% more lost from his first bar. Finishing this combo off would be a downward slash skill that managed to cleave its health down another 5%. Like I said, paper-thin.

Sōka had swiftly dispatched the enemies that separated her from Hunter, entering the room when he was about done his assault on the King Ifrit. She cooed in awe of his moves. Gulping some air down, she bawled out "WHAT DO I DO?" as loudly as she possibly could, hopefully it wouldn't cause Hunter to mess up, she just simply wanted to know what to do in this moment, was she to say put? Was she to help? She didn't know this enemies abilities or skill set, so she was clearly at a disadvantage.

"Get its attention and try to divert its attacks away from me!" I shouted to her. She had a shield, and I'm assuming she had the necessary skills to wield it properly. "Keep its aggro on you so I can cut this thing down!"

I dodged to the side, only for the thing to swipe its claws and knock me to the side, cutting off a quarter of my health gauge as I flew to the corner of the arena. "Ow..." I used a quick healing crystal to restore my health to 85% before checking my scimitar's durability. Enough for me to cut down its health to the final quarter of the third bar, I'd estimate...

Sōka heard his explanation, aggro the boss, keep him occupied, gotcha, and with that Sōka was off, she used her dash skill, to dash towards the King Ifrit, she collided straight with his side, pushing him back with the sheer power of her dash skill. She began to keep bashing at the King Ifrit with her shield, hopefully that would distract him.

Naturally, the Ifrit King's attention switched to Sōka, and it grabbed her leg before throwing her to the side of the "throne room". In the brief moment that it was distracted, I executed a dash skill before unleashing a multi-hit sword skill on its lower torso, beams of red and orange light dancing and streaming around as I carved through its loincloth-wrapped crotch. Thankfully, I haven't disable the Moral Code, so I don't have to see demon dick up close.

"Alright, bud. Let's wrap this up quick." I initiated the upward launch skill to cut through its torso before it slapped me to the side again. The glimpse I got of his health bars had eliminated the first, and shaved off a quarter of the second. "Ow..."

Sōka had flew across the air, her hair whipping in her face as she sped towards the wall, her eyes widened, but she unsheathed her greatsword, slamming it into the ground, there was a long line in the ground, of her sword tearing the very earth itself. She got up, fuming.

Sōka slowed her breathing down, equipping her sword above her head, whilst keeping her gravity low, with her great-shield covering most of her body, looking similar to a spartan she advanced on the Ifrit King. Keeping her eyes on him. "Hey! Over here, you Big Ugly, Piece of crap!" she screamed, hoping that he would advance on her. The Ifrit King stalked towards me, ignoring her provocations.

"It only responds to being attacked!" I crushed another health crystal before the thing tried to unleash a charged overhead strike infused with fire. I had to waste my dash skill on a side-ward dodge, it was the only thing that could get me out of its attack radius. It also, unfortunately, was out of sword distance. I quickly went into my inventory to inspect the scimitar's durability. Only good for cutting down the remainder of its second health bar. I suppose I could get a few hits in with Martial Arts now... or wait until the second bar was gone... As I dismissed the inventory, I decided I'd use up the remainder of my sword and save the Martial Arts for the very end...

"Alright, cock mongrel... Come get it!" I taunted the thing and planted my sword into the ground, preparing the launch skill as I prepared a Martial Arts Skill that would spin kick the fuck out of it. Once it got within range of the launch, I activated the hell out of that thing and rocketed up into the air, cleaving through its torso and face before sheathing my blade and triggering the Martial Arts skill. I spun around rapidly with my feet bashing its face in multiple times before the skill drove my feet through its skull and down to the ground with a powerful heel kick. As much as I love executing that skill, it makes me dizzy as all hell... When I rolled back to get some distance and finally had the dizziness wear off, the second health bar was at 15%. Almost done...

Sōka planted her feet on the ground, her left foot behind her, as her dominant leg in front of her, while this was a little unorthodox, it felt comfortable for her, as she felt the surge going through her legs she stepped once, launching herself through the air with the dash skill. As she was near enough to the Ifrit King, she unleashed a sword skill, planting the sword in the Ifrit's belly, stopped herself, she used the kinetic energy to twist her body to slam the shield into the sword, burying it further into his body, as she lifted her shield up in time to block an attack from the Ifrit as the force of his attack pushed her back several feet, she lost 5% of her health, now she was at 75%.

Hoping the attack was good enough to aggro the beast, she kept backing away cautiously from him, a twinge of fear fluttered within her. The beast roared in agony and slapped her aside, the sword still impaled in its stomach steadily draining bits of health from its gauge. At this rate, if the thing didn't wise up and remove that sword, I might be able to kill it and hold onto this scimitar... Nah, I'm wasting it with this scimitar. I charged up the strongest and longest sword skill I had before rushing in and unleashing it on the big guy. Streams of bright, pale blue energy streamed all over my field of vision, hacking and slashing through the dark red skin of the fire demon before me. I caught a brief glance of the Ifrit King's health gauges, and it was steadily declining from 75%. The skill would go on for a few more attacks before it cut out. My guess... Ifrit will be at 70% when cool down kicks in. By the time the skill ended, I connected a dash skill to get me away from the Ifrit so I could wait for the compound cool downs to take its toll. And hopefully, the lady can get her sword and keep its attention off me.

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