Chapter 2 – The Blade of the Fallen

Kirito opened his eyes.

"Wha... Where am I?"

He looked around. He appeared to be in a Aether-styled dome. From the top of the dome came an circular waterfall at least half a meter thick, and gracefully splits into 8 paths, with the help of a floating, glowing sphere that had indents in which water was flowing in. It slowly and calmly spun around, landing the water into a shining pool which had 8 rivers, turning the dome into eight main parts. Each part appeared to have its own domain – Fire, Earth, Air, Light, Darkness, Water, Peace, and Chaos. He looked down saw that he was in a field of rainbow flowers with an scent which could turn the most furious and berserk players to calm ones, and understood he is on the section which represented earth. In the distance, in the peace section, a unknown player appears to be playing a lyre with the most lulling tune one can ever imagine when resting on a patch of grass, facing away from Kirito. As he started walking to the player, he could notice some finer details. This unknown player seems to be around 17 or 18, having blond hair as elegant as the sky, adorned with a simple yet stunning dress, and wearing a golden necklace. However, he suddenly stopped. What if she will kill me when I get close to her? She seems peaceful, though. I should be careful, but not to appear aggressive. thought Kirito as he now approached slowly.

The unknown player suddenly stopped playing and said, "Welcome, Kirito. I hope you liked the bed of flowers." She turned around and continued, "I won't harm you; I am here to assist you in your quest." Kirito eased slightly. He knew he still had to keep his guard up until he could get more information about her.

He asked, "Who are you? What is this place? Where's Asuna?"

She giggled. "I assume that is true love. But for now, I should tell you I am. To put it simply, I am a Goddess called Eisysae, meaning Love in what you call the Language of Terra . You may call me Aurora. This place is simply called the Dome, or the Dome of the Gods for those who are getting specific." She looked up and saw that Kirito was getting impatient and giggled. "I guess this is what they call youth."

Kirito showed a hint of embarrassment. "She is currently trapped in floor -100. The negative floors are the floors which have failed to be added in during Alpha testing due to unfair terrain, exhausting pathways, and general designs. However, when you discovered the nth lever, you were essentially on floor 0, called the null floor. Now, if you look your weapons, you may discover that they have a God Tier tag, as well as different names." She continued.

"You're right. They've become 「God Tier」 Purifier (Elucidator) and 「God Tier」 Darkness' Bane (Dark Repusler)." said Kirito in agreement.

"These weapons have the power to kill any monster in floors 1-100 in a single strike, but only when you attack their critical point. They also have the power to pierce any defense on said floors as well. But since the negative floors were never officially added in, their powers, although very powerful, are nullified. In other words, they act like basic swords, albeit with extremely high attack stats and Soul Linked Tag." explained Aurora.

"Who is doing this, and why?" asked Kirito.

"For as to whom, I myself cannot say his name, as it is told that if one says his name, their powers shall be lost forever, but for the reason as to why he has been doing this is that because he can. In a way, he is similar to Kayaba Akihiko, the original creator of the world." She continued. "But for now, you must rest. I can see you need time. Shall we have some tea?"

"So you're saying that because we obtained God Tiered weapons, we've unleashed a beast more powerful than any floor 100th's boss and opened the negative world, and the reason why the mastermind is doing is this because he feels like it so he takes away Asuna to give me motivation to pursue her and fight to the death for her? Doesn't this feel like a generic plot for an anime which should have stopped a season ago?" Kirito said with doubt.

"Erm... Uh... Yes. But who are you to talk? You coincidentally become friends with the most popular and beautiful girl in all of this game and has to save her after both of you become dead but revived from willpower?" replied Aurora.

"... Fair enough. How can I enter floor -1 then?" said Kirito with a content face. Aurora then created a portal from a stroke of her arms.

"From this portal. But I warn you, although you can find NPC towns in this world, you cannot return to the world we are currently in until you have beaten The Accursed One."

Kirito thought for a moment. "I need to save Asuna as soon as possible, so I'll be seeing you later."

He walked up to the portal and was stopped by Aurora. Aurora then stood in front of Kirito, and gave a kiss on the forehead.

"Wh- what are you doing?" said a stunned Kirito.

"I'm giving you a Goddess Blessing , where this blessing will help you through your hardships. Well, that's the official term anyways. In reality, I just want to give you a kiss." replied a blushing Aurora as she winked. She continued and said, "Please come back safely, Hero." and pushed him into the portal.

"Wha... Wai-!" yelled Kirito while he disappeared into many blue polygons.

"I really do hope that you return safely, Fabled One. Your fate has been sealed."

Kirito fell face first into the ground.

"That was a really painful landing..." said Kirito under his breath as he got up from the pavement.

This place... looks just like the Starting City... But there's an ominous feeling about this... I wonder if the normal floor are based off these ones... thought Kirito as he walked through the Starting City of Floor -1. The city appears to be an exact replicate of the city on Floor one, except ironically being larger and more modernized. He then looked at the sky – It was bright day, but the sky was a scarlet red and had maroon clouds in various areas.

It's almost like there's a field that produces anxiety and stress from all directions. I hope this doesn't affect my concentration... thought Kirito as he left the town and went into the field where the easiest monsters should be located. But surprising enough, The path to the lower floor appears clear, and Kirito cannot seem to find an enemy using his Detect skill. He continued to walk, and as the stairs to the lower floor appear in sight, Kirito jumped back and dodged a bullet... literally.

These monsters have ranged skills? Isn't this a bit too unfair? He looked back as if he couldn't believe it. However, a bullet line was easily visible, and the bullet itself was gone from sight. The beast roared, and Kirito quickly faced it to get an idea of what it looks like. It appears to be an humanoid-like figure, but the face was impossible to see, and as for his other features – they were hidden by a cloak.

The monster appears to be named The Crackshooter , and ha- wait. "The"? Does this mean this is a boss? His stats looks ridiculously low though... I should still use caution, as he may have a hidden trick up his sleeve. Kirito attacked straight on, using the his offhand as a feint and his main to attack from below. The monster, however, need no time to detect his attack and waited until Kirito was about to do his feint when suddenly a cracking noise was heard, and Kirito was blasted away from the mosnter.

What is this? His bullets are ridiculously powerful, and I can barely keep up with his attacks. He checked his health: 920000 / 1000000. Wha... This guy did 80000 damage with one attack, even when the bullet didn't hit me directly? I can see why these floors were canceled. Kirito quickly came from the side, dodging bullets and as he approached the monster, he activated the sword skill Starbust Stream . His swords started to glow, and a message appeared: "INFORMATION: STARBUST STREAM → HEAVEN'S GATE ." Below the renaming line showed the hit-combo increase from 16 to 32, an impossible amount for any normal combo. Then, he restarted his skill HEAVEN'S GATE and attacked the beast with no delay. As he was attacking, he noticed that he was faster than the game has can render, to a point where he himself did not know if he was attacking or if his arms were gone. Once the attack finished, the monster's health was reduced to the yellow, the red, and finally empty. However, as the beast was breaking up in polygons, he shot a bullet straight to Kirito's heart. Kirito, in shock and dismay, checked his health: 500 / 1000000. Impossible. No attack should be able to do that thought Kirito as he blacked out.