Sword Art Online: Seraphim of the Starless Knight

I am the Embodiment of Excaliber the Sword of End, The Black Flames of Sin is my Spirit

With these Tainted Hands I have Unleashed a Thousand Judgments

These Burdened Golden Wings of Mine Feared by Thousands, Loved by Few

Nevertheless my Heart of Scales is Satisfied

My name is Kirito Synthesis Zero,

Seraphim of the Starless Knight

Summary: He is the knight clad in armor reminiscent of the starless night, his golden wings shimmering as he leads his band of angels. He is never seen without his black-haired angel, she who wields the dual swords that slice through darkness. He is the strongest: the Seraphim of the Starless Knight. KiritoxYuukixMulti

For those of you who are wondering, no I am not abandoning Gun Gale Online: Cerberus, it's just that four more unique skills that haven't been introduced in SAO were released by Kawahara Reki on the SAO wiki. And I couldn't get this idea out of my head, plus sometimes writing the same fics with the same setting gets tiring so I will probably be rotating between this and GGO: Cerberus.

Disclaimer: I do not own Sword Art Online, Kawahara Reki does.

Officially Beta-read now. Thank you Sephoriya

Talk- "Kirito-kun"

Thought- 'Kyaa!?'

Game Terms-«Sword of Oblivion Excaliber»

System Announcement- -congratulations-

Passive Skills: Divinity

Chapter 1: The Black Duo

The crowd was roaring at the final match of the national kendo tournament as the two kendoist prepared to start their last standoff.

Towards the left it was Nezumi Kaede. A kendo practitioner who was trained in the arts of kendo since a very young age; standing at six feet two inches he exuded a frightening aura that could make grown men cower before him as he held his regular length shinai with both hands in front of him. Usually that is.

In front of him stood a teen of fourteen years clad in black kendo armor, the top of his forehead barely reached Kaede's shoulder (I don't really know Kirito's height just guessing). Unlike Kaede however he used a nodachi length shinai held in only his right hand facing away from his opponent. His head and left shoulder was facing Kaede with his hand in front of him palm loosely opened.

This was Kirigaya Kazuto, who despite the being at the tender age of thirteen won the nationals at last year's tournament. Unlike Kaede who gave off a scary aura, Kazuto's aura was one of subtle darkness that seemed to pass through any defense and strike fear directly into the heart.

Kazuto could hear his sharp intake of breath as he stared at his opponent. He didn't look like a slouch at kendo otherwise he wouldn't have been able to get the national finals, but Kazuto was confident he would win.

It wasn't overconfidence, it was just a fact. Because to Kazuto, life was boring and everything seemed tasteless. Life held no color or thrill to Kazuto, everything he did was simple and easy for him. It held no challenge at all, that is everything but kendo.

Actually it wasn't really kendo at all, it was more of the thrill and adrenaline he felt when he crossed blades with his opponent, the uncertainty of defeat, the satisfaction of victory.

"Hajime!"

Kazuto charged at Kaede without a second thought as the final match began, he swung sword diagonally up. However Kaede easily stepped back and dodged the slash.

However the miss didn't stop Kazuto as he continued stepping forwards, his left hand grabbed the handle of the shinai that was let go by his right hand as it reached the height of its swing. Immediately after his hand gripped the sword he made a vertical slash down towards Kaede.

Clack!

Shinai met shinai as Kaede moved his shinai into a horizontal position above his head. Kazuto leapt back as he once again switched the hand gripping his shinai.

Kazuto once again took a deep breath as he prepared for the next clash.

Dom

This time it was Kaede who made the first move, he raised his sword over his head for a crushing downward blow, effectively taking advantage of his stronger body.

However Kazuto wasn't one to be defeated just because his opponent being stronger otherwise he would have been defeated a long time ago. Kazuto used both hands to grab the handle as he raised the handle above his head with the shinai's tip facing the ground diagonally.

Kaede's shinai met Kazuto's, however due to the angle of the strike and how Kazuto moved his shinai, the attack was effectively parried by the shorter boy and Kaede lost his balance.

Taking this chance Kazuto used both hands as he swung his nodachi down on Kaede's head. Kaede just barely managed to move his head out of the way, however his body wasn't able to keep up as Kazuto's shinai connected with his right shoulder.

Kazuto raised his shinai again and attacked, but it was futile as Kaede had already regained his balance and blocked Kazuto's attack.

It was an intense match, one that was worthy of the final match of the nationals.

The two opponents continually attempted to land a blow on the other but their shinai never came into contact with their intended target.

Kaede would keep using his superior strength to block all of Kazuto's match winning attacks; however he would only be able to successfully block the non-vital ones.

Kazuto however…well using his nimble body, superior skills and speed he would dodge or parry all of Kaede's attack and strike back with his unusual kendo style that would leave most kendoists pressed. His unorthodox mixture of switching between two handed strikes with either his left handed or right handed strikes.

Bam!

Kazuto left handed slash towards Kaede's left side was blocked by Kaede's shinai that was positioned vertically. Kazuto pulled his shinai backwards towards him as the tip of it brushed past Kaede's shinai.

Without warning Kazuto once again switched hands and without wasting another second thrust the shinai forward catching Kaede off guard…

"Tsuki-bu (Throat)!" The judge called out. "The winner is Kirigaya Kazuto!"

The crowd roared in excitement as Kazuto once again won the national tournament. However Kazuto himself could only sigh in disappointment, not because he won or because his opponent was weak but rather it was because the fight was over and the dull throb of life returned.

-Uncounted amount of days later-

"Kazuto-sempai!" A high pitched voice called aloud in annoyance.

"Yes Yuuki?" Kazuto asked as he looked at his kohai, well she wasn't really his kohai anymore due to the fact that he had skipped several grades not to mentioned he just recently graduated from high school.

Kazuto looked at his long- time friend, Konno Yuuki. He had met her in elementary school for just one month. However when he had first met her she was ostracized due to rumor surrounding the fact that she had HIV.

The smile that she gave him when he became her friend was…indescribable. No words could accurately describe the happiness that radiated off of her face as she gave that smile. Since that day the two had always been friends.

Of course this was not without its repercussions; as a result Kazuto was ostracized because of his friendship with Yuuki. But…in one month had already skipped another grade so the time they spent together diminished not that it stopped him from visiting when he could.

But that's a story for another time.

"Mou~ Kazuto-sempai, haven't you been listening? I was talking about the release of Sword Art Online, the first VRMMORPG." Yuuki told Kazuto quite indignantly.

"So? I don't get it, what's so special about?" Kazuto asked as he walked next to Yuuki as they traversed the shopping mall.

Out of the blue Yuuki had called him to go with her to go shopping as she put it, Kirito with nothing better to do of course, complied with her request.

That was why Kazuto was wearing his black jacket and muffler with black pants as he walked next to Yuuki who was similarly dressed. She had a jacket with a muffler, black thigh high socks, and a skirt.

Kazuto who hadn't cut his hair in a couple of months, had an androgynous appearance coupled with his chin length hair, not that he minded. He had a slim frame that was deceitful as despite how slim he was, his muscles were firm due to the years of training in kendo. Overall he looked like a bishounen prince or knight that you would find in a typical anime or manga.

Yuuki on the other hand was also quite slim, but for another reason. Due to her disease she hardly ever allowed her to put on any weight. However despite this she still kept a cheerful smile on her face. Her height was slightly shorter than Kazuto mostly because she was one year younger than him. She had waist length black hair with a red headband that parted the longer part of her hair into side bangs. If Kazuto was the Black Prince or the Black Knight then Yuuki was the Black Princess.

"Don't you know? The game allows you to go inside the game and actually experienced the fight yourself." Yuuki informed her clueless friend. In truth Yuuki wasn't that interested herself until she found that you actually experience everything in it as the avatar.

She had always wanted to run and jump like every other kid, but due to her frail body she couldn't or it would be dire to her health. That was when she heard about SAO and through SAO about the Nerve Gear; she immediately became interested as she wanted to experience a life that her weak body couldn't allow.

"Really?" Kazuto asked, actually getting interested when he heard about it. Kazuto had always lamented that there wasn't enough opponents to cross his sword with. But if he was able to play with people in games where he himself was actually the avatar that would no- doubt give him opponents that would quench his thirst of battle.

"Un-huh" Yuuki voiced as she suddenly grabbed Kazuto's hand and started to drag him towards the shop in the mall that would be selling the Nerve Gears. "So are you interested now?"

"Yes, when does it come out?" Kazuto asked as he let himself be dragged by Yuuki.

"Well the game doesn't officially start November the first, but the console that is used to playing started to be on sale last week.. But only ten thousand consoles made and one thousand of those have already been given to the Beta Testers." Yuuki told Kazuto as they kept walking. "Normally there wouldn't be any left as there had been a long line to get the Nerve Gears, but luckily for us I have two vouchers that reserved the Nerve Gears for us…but I don't have the money to buy them." As she finished saying that she pulled out the two vouchers and showed them to Kazuto.

"So you want me to pay." Kazuto said with a monotone voice. Yuuki nodded as she gave him the infamous puppy dog eyes.

"Please?"

Kazuto's eyebrow twitched as attempted to resist it. Keyword: attempted. He held on bravely and courageous for .00000001 seconds before he finally succumbed to it. "I don't why I still can't resist those eyes of yours after you already used them over a thousand times by now."

Yuuki giggled at the comment as she too added her own snippet. "That's because you can't resist my cuteness."

Kazuto sighed before a smirk suddenly sprouted on his face. "Yeah, you are really cute after all~"

Yuuki's face became really red, as she just started to drag Kazuto harder. Kazuto's smirk widened, despite all of Yuuki's bountiful energy and cheerful nature, whenever he complimented her so straightforwardly, she would always blush despite how many times he done so.

Ring!

The two of them walked through the door to the gaming shop that was conveniently situated in the mall. Without missing a step Yuuki with Kazuto in tow walked directly in front of the counter. "Two Nerve Gears please." She asked as she placed the two vouchers on the counter.

The salesclerk who took the vouchers and inspected had ragged look and heavy bags under his eyes. It wasn't that much of a surprise after all with them being one of the few shops the received a shipment of Nerve Gears for sale, the shop hadn't closed because of the long line of players and chaos that resulted from it. Even a week after the chaos, most of the workers were still recuperating from the incident.

"Please wait a moment." he finally said after he made sure that those two vouchers were real and not fakes from fanatics who tried to cheat their way into getting it. The clerk walked towards the back of the store presumably to retrieve the precious console that had caused so much chaos.

Kazuto sighed as he brought out his wallet full of the earnings he made from winning the kendo tournaments. It was by no means small, but it wasn't large either. "That'll be ***** yen please." The clerk said as he placed two medium sized boxes each presumably containing a Nerve Gear.

Kazuto tried not cry as he paid the hefty amount of yen that the two Nerve Gears cost as he dutifully brought out required amount from his poor wallet.

After that Kazuto escorted Yuuki home whiling mumbling about how not to cave into Yuuki's puppy dog eyes ever again. Yuuki just laughed as they made small talk on the way to her house.

After Kazuto escorted her back to her home, Kazuto himself rode the subway train back to his house with his own bag that contained his Nerve Gear.

Kazuto made it just in time for dinner.

"Onii-chan what's that?" asked Kirigaya Suguha, Kazuto's little sister but who was in reality his cousin. Suguha was a girl of thirteen years and with an athlete's body, with lean muscles due her kendo training like Kazuto. She had black, chin length hime style hair that complimented her cute boyish looking face.

"This?" Kazuto asked as he pointed towards his bag that contained the Nerve Gear. Seeing Suguha nodded Kazuto decided to answer her. "It's a Nerve Gear."

"Nerve Gear?" Suguha said with a questioning tone.

"Yeah, you put it on your head and it will allow you to play the new VRMMORPG Sword Art Online. It apparently lets you actually become the character inside the game." Kazuto answered recalling the information Yuuki told him.

"Eh!? Onii-chan you're interested in a game? I thought that you didn't like anything but fighting!?" Suguha voiced her thoughts aloud as she stared at her brother in surprise.

"Well, apparently the whole game has no magic in it, and the only way you fight is by crossing swords." Kazuto informed his younger sister who had made an "Aha" sound as she understood. It was by no means a secret in the family that Kazuto had no interest in anything no matter how good he was at it besides kendo matches and tournaments where he faced off against strong opponents.

"Now, now you two stop talking about games and fighting and come to the table to eat." Their mother, Kirigaya Midori, said as she finished setting the dishes onto the kitchen table.

"Hai!" both Kazuto and Suguha said as they complied with Midori's orders as they obediently walked towards the table.

-November 1, 2022-

"Link Start!" Kazuto's said as his sense of reality was warped before settling a floating sensation in black space.

Beep!

A holographic screen appeared in front of him asking him to input the basic details for character creation.

-Username?-

The machine asked, Kazuto was about to put his real name in, but stopped as he realized how foolish that would be. He pondered about it for a few moments before decide what his username should be.

Maneuvering his over the holographic cyber tech like keyboard, Kazuto typed in «Kirito».

-Username Accepted-

The AI's voice said in distinctively a female voice.

After that Kirito started to fill out the necessary information with vigor as he couldn't wait to cross swords in this world of swords.

He never thought that the day of November 1, 2022 would change his love of crossing blades into one of the worst nightmares.


"Hrahhh!" Yuuki screamed as she activated «Armor Pierce», a thrust type attack of the «One-Handed Sword» sword skill. Her rapier, a thin one-handed sword, exuded a dark blue color as it flashed forward and pierced the «Ruin Kobold General's» kite shield and shattered its breastplate.

"Switch!" Yuuki called out, immediately Kirito rushed forward with his sword glowing as he unleashed his own «sword skill», «Judgement». Kirito's sword gave off a large, white shine as it pierced the Kobold's chest.

"Crahhhh!" The monster gave off a painful cry as it shattered into millions of polygons with Kirito's sword in the center of it all.

Swooshhh

Swooshhh

Swooshhh

Shink…

Kirito swung his sword a few times in the air before he sheathed into his scabbard that was on his left hip. Now that Kirito wasn't swinging his sword around, one could tell that the sword was almost one meter with its handle about a foot long. The sword had been given the name of «Evil Blade Noir»; it was classified as a two-handed sword despite the fact that Kirito technically used one-handed sword skills with it.

An irregularity, an impossible feat that should not have existed, and an achievement that Kirito didn't even know he had done.

"Yuuki, we should go back now. It's getting dark and the chances of our survival will go down if we try to fight in the dark." Kirito said with a hint of fatigue in his voice as he started to walk back.

"Okay!" Yuuki said happily as she too walked back towards their lodge side by side with Kirito.

It had been three weeks since the cruel reality of death game and already over at least one thousand players had died. And yet even with the death of so many people, the first floor still hadn't been cleared.

Most of the players have cooped themselves in their inns or even the streets of «Starting City» still hoping that help will arrive from the outside. But for those who have accepted their situation as reality, they bravely or rather could it be called foolishly tried to clear the game.

It wasn't because they weren't able to fight, but it was rather the monster themselves looked too real and too fearsome for them. Many players have already died because they panicked and forgot how to use sword skills or even the fact that they could run away.

It was quite the depressing to think about. Already many players who have taken arms to clear the game have given up due to the hopelessness. However for Kirito, he still held hope that the possibility of clearing it existed. That is why he and Yuuki have «Cleared» the surrounding dungeons nonstop.

The results were already evident as the duo had finished the «Ruin Kobold General» in less than five minutes. Let's put that in perspective, «Illfang The Kobold Lord» is the boss monster…a Kobold General is about one tenth as strong…so figuratively speaking Kirito and Yuuki could solo him in about fifty minutes…let me say that again they can solo him in fifty minutes figuratively.

But that was too risky, that was why they were waiting for someone to actually gather the strong players and in order to attempt to defeat him together.

"Hey Kirito-kun, my sword's durability won't last much longer. I'm going to need a new sword soon." Yuuki told Kirito.

Kirito thought about for a while before he opened his mouth. "We should ask Argo about any one handed swords that are of good quality. Even though she is a shrewd character we can't deny that all her information is nearly one hundred percent accurate and that she is Aincrad's top informant.

Yuuki nodded in agreement but there was one thing she didn't agree with Kirito with, "Argo-chan is not that bad."

Kirito just raised an eyebrow at what Yuuki said.

"I mean she did give us these free guide booklets. She made them and sold them for zero «col» at the NPC shops." Yuuki said trying to defend Argo. "Besides…she's like us…lonely…" Yuuki whispered so softly that Kirito had almost not heard it.

"Fine, she's not that bad…" Kirito admitted.

There were two types of players in SAO, those that work with others and cooperated together to clear the game and those that left the other players and selfishly kept all the good drops for themselves, most players held a large amount of resentment as most of those players aka solos were beta players who had ditched them.

However Kirito and Yuuki and didn't fit into either of those categories. They were not quite solos as they weren't beta players but they did break away and fight alone away from the other players.

Even with the risks of death, Kirito and Yuuki couldn't bring themselves to work with others unless they had to. Both of them couldn't bring themselves to trust people much.

Yuuki because of the trauma she experienced when she started to be ostracized. She didn't want to see those resentful, hateful, stares ever again, never ever again. She didn't think that she could stand it anymore. The only reason she was who she was because Kirito had accepted her for who she was, HIV and AIDs and all.

Kazuto's reasons were for himself, not even Yuuki the person closest to him knew why he kept to himself so much. She knew it was because of something that happened to him before they met, but he was tight lip about it. Nevertheless Yuuki didn't mind, in fact you could say that she enjoyed being alone with him.

Kirito and Yuuki made small talk as they walked their way back into their lodging. It wasn't luxurious by any means, but it was comfortable.

Their lodging was a whole farmer's house that the rented. Usually players on the first floor wouldn't be able to afford renting the whole house everyday but thanks to Kirito's and Yuuki's skills and strength they were easily able to earn enough col from monsters to pay for it.

It took them about an hour or two before they finally arrived at their temporary home. Both of them were already fatigued to the point that they immediately headed to bed after they ate dinner.

A sigh escaped from Kirito's mouth as he laid on his comfy bed thinking about the past three weeks. At first it was a dream- come- true when he first experienced the thrill of sword skills…but now…it was still exhilarating but was it worth it anymore?

Since a long time ago he had a dream to cross blades every day, to forget everything but the thrill of victory, the uncertainty between defeat and victory, the adrenaline pumping in his veins as he swung his sword.

But was it worth it?

Was it worth risking Yuuki's life? Kirito held no illusion that he valued his own and Yuuki's life over the ten thousand or rather remaining nine thousand player's lives. That didn't mean he liked to see them die, he would just choose to save his and Yuuki's if it was a choice between their lives and everyone else's.

Pakan

Kirito was broken out of his thoughts as the door was suddenly open. Unlike the normal «Inns» in the game he didn't have to worry about people from other rooms trying to break into his since he had already booked the whole house so no one would make it past the front door.

That was why Kirito wasn't surprised to see Yuuki standing in front of the door in her pajamas hugging a pillow tightly to her chest. He knew it was Yuuki but not why she was here not to mention the huge blush on her face.

They just stayed like that, with Yuuki at the doorway staring Kirito and Kirito half sitting up and staring back. Neither one of them talked first. Finally…

"Ano…c-c-ca-can I-I sleep with you tonight!" Yuuki squeaked out with a terribly blush on her face.

Kirito…well he gaped. Nothing he has ever done has prepared him for such a question. His first train of thought was to look for a window to jump out of. But something he knew that wasn't a viable option, so hesitantly he nodded as he moved towards the side and uncovered the blanket slightly for Yuuki.

Still blushing madly, she slowly approached the bed before stopping as if hesitating. But immediately Yuuki adopted a resolute expression and lay down next to Kirito.

The two them were face to face with light blushes as they stared at one another only separated by the space between their bodies under the blanket and the fact that their heads were on separate pillows.

One second past

Five seconds past

Ten seconds past

Thirty seconds past

One minute past

Two minutes past

Three minutes past

Five minutes past

Ten minutes past

Thirty minutes past

"Hey… Kirito-kun, are you still awake?" Yuuki's said as her words quietly slipped through her mouth.

"Yes?" Kirito asked inwardly frowning at Yuuki's tone. The words she spoke were laced with...fear, indecisiveness, weak, and it reeked of death. Everything that was completely opposite of the Yuuki he knew.

Yuuki was bright, radiant, full of life, secure, fearless, strong, and so much more than he Kirigaya Kazuto. To hear this Yuuki's tone, it was slightly unnerving even for Kirito.

"I'm sorry"

'What!?' Kirito thought in surprise at the weak apology Yuuki suddenly gave.

"It's all my fault! I was the one that dragged you into this! If it wasn't for me you wouldn't be in this position! If you hadn't become my friend this would have never happened either! You would never have to be ostracized! Not only that I'm just weak coward that clings to you!-"

"Yuuki!" Kirito tried to interrupt but Yuuki still kept on pouring out all the guilt that she built over years not just how she involved Kirito into this death game known as Sword Art Online.

"I am afraid of dying! The only reason I still believe that we can clear the game is because of you! I'm just a leech that foolishly clings onto its host doing more harm than good!"

"Yuuki!"

"I'm sorry that I am so weak, I'm sorry I'm so useless, I'm…" By now Yuuki was leaking hot tears as it rolled down and onto her pillow.

"Yuuki!"

Still Yuuki continued pouring out all the pent up guilt that had been bottled since the first day she met Kirito; her insecurities, her fears, and so much more.

"Yuuki!"

Kirito suddenly brought his arms around Yuuki and brought her into a protective hug with her head in his chest as she started pound her frail fists into him protesting against his hug. "You don't have to worry anymore because I'll protect you!"

"It's fine Yuuki, no matter what happens I will never regret becoming you friend. I will protect you no matter what." Yuuki's frail pounding stop as she sobbed her heart out as she buried her head into Kirito's chest saying, "I'm sorry" over and over again.

Kirito could only quietly run his hand down through Yuuki's silky black hair. Slowly Yuuki's sobs quieted down at first, and then ever so slowly Yuuki's breathing slowed down as she lapsed into blissful sleep.

"Yuuki, you are not the one that is weak. You are wrong about being reliant on me…in truth I am the one that relies on you. You are friendly, bright, and full of life…unlike me…" Kirito silently whispered as he hugged his light closer to him before he too lapsed into blissful sleep deprived of all worries.


Riiing! Riiiing! Riiiing!

Yuuki made a grumbling sound as her alarm rang aloud; lazily she brought her hand up and pushed the stop button on the holographic button before resuming her sleep once more…

Only to shoot straight as memories of yesterday night returned to her.

Her first reaction was a full blown blush that made her face look like a tomato but it quickly disappeared as her face rapidly paled.

Yuuki frantically searched the bed looking for Kirito before she dashed downstairs.

'Kirito-kun! Did he abandon me!? No, he would never do that!' Yuuki thought with panic and despite her own reassurance tears began to appear in the corner of her eyes.

To her utmost dismay Yuuki couldn't find him anywhere in the house. That was the straw the broke the camel's back. Yuuki's hot tears started to stream down her face without pause as it slid past her face and onto the wooden floor. Due to the sensitivity of the Nerve Gear, not matter how hard you tried to prevent it if the Nerve Gears detected the signals of oncoming tears it would make the avatar cry despite the user's wishes. But for the current Yuuki, even if the Nerve Gear's senses were dulled one hundred times, tears would have still leaked from her avatar.

Then she caught something out of the corner of her eyes, it was someone riding on a black horse. In her hurry to get the window she almost tripped, but she didn't as she made it to the window and looked outside.

She gave a sigh of relief. 'I didn't have to worry after all Kirito-kun said he will protect, and he never breaks his promises to me.'

Yuuki quickly wiped away her tears as she calmed down and rubbed the redness off of her eyes and nose. Taking a deep breath to compose herself Yuuki opened the door to the ranch, and the bright morning light blinded her for just a moment before her eyes adjusted.

Kirito was riding on a black horse. His black coat was flowing in the wind created by the horse's speed.

In Aincrad it was possible to ride horse and other designated animals or monsters with the «mount» skill, but according to Argo's guild it was an unnecessary waste of «skill slots» that were available. Not only that, it took quite a large amount of time to master it to the point that you are able to effectively ride. A waste of time according to most people as their main goal was clearing the first floor right now.

But that didn't matter to Kirito. He liked the mount skill so he trained it. The reason he played SAO in first place was to be able to experience thrills that he wasn't able to in real life. And riding a horse like this was one of them.

"Oh Yuuki, you're up." Kirito said as he made the horse trot slowly towards his female companion.

"Ummm…about last night-" Yuuki began to say but was quickly interrupted by Kirito.

"You don't have to worry; I already promised you that I will protect you no matter what." Kirito said as he jumped of the as he pulled Yuuki into a hug once more. "I never broke promise to you before and I don't plan on starting now."

Yuuki didn't say anything as she hugged him back tightly with small but confident smile.

"Thank you"

-Merchant's Street: Starting City-

"So who are we meeting again?" Yuuki asked in her normal cheerful, high pitched and lovable voice. In fact it seemed to be even more cheerful than usual perhaps it was even more cheerful as if a huge burden had just been lifted from her chest.

"A «Blacksmith» class player who goes by the name of Lisbeth." Kirito said as he walked side by side with Yuuki ignoring the stares from the other players.

In SAO, there was no real «classes», only different skills that players are able to learn. But even then, it didn't prevent players from labeling those with certain skills into general classes.

As for the stares…well the male to female ratio had a very wide gape even with the recent popularity with the female audience. That was why Yuuki was getting so many stares, it was because of her frail like look and otherworldly cuteness…or I mean beauty that made her stand out not to mention her cheerful demeanor helped.

What Kirito didn't know was that he was attracting his own fair amount of stares. The black coat he wore could make many players mistake him for a flat-chested girl especially with his chin length hair and androgynous appearance.

"According to Argo she's quite the blacksmith, though she is quite unyielding over her prices." Kirito finished saying to Yuuki as they continued to walk.

Like that the two of them navigated through the dense crowd of the merchant's street. It didn't take much longer for them to find a freakishly long line with all of the players waiting for the pink haired blacksmith to attend to them.

"Argo was right when she said that we would know right away." Yuuki just giggled at Kirito's comment.

Now Kirito could see why this blacksmith was so popular. It was partly for her cute looks that indubitably attracted many players to seek her services. As more players began to go to her, Lisbeth would train her blacksmithing skills more and more. Coupled with her increasing skills with the hammer and looks, she was probably the highest leveled blacksmith in Aincrad.

"Well it looks like it's going to take a while." Kirito said with a resigned tone voice.

"It's not that bad." Yuuki giggled as the two of the got into the last spot in line.

To Kirito's horror the line was as every bit as bad as he thought it was. It took at least three hours, THREE PRECIOUS HOURS IN WHICH THEY COULD'VE BEEN LEVELING!

What's worst was the fact that the guy before them had an obviously bigger than Aincrad large crush on the cute pink haired black smith. He kept talking and talking and doing whatever it was within his power to prolong his purchase.

Let it be known that Kirito was not the type of person to consciously wish immense harm on a person, but at that one moment he made an exception as he brandished his sword darkly behind him. The only reason that guy didn't have a giant assed sword up his ass was because Yuuki stopped him.

Hell Kirito could even tell Lisbeth was getting annoyed and she brandished her two handed mace in front of the guy! Of course that guy didn't get the clue which led for Lisbeth to accidentally activate a sword skill that made him fly halfway across the city.

Kirito's respect for the girl went several notches higher.

"Yes, how may I help you?" Lisbeth asked with her business smile, well actually it was her real smile as she was immensely happy after getting rid of her rabid fan, ahem, I mean likeable customer.

"Ah yes, we would like to commission you to make a one-handed sword for us" Kirito said.

The blacksmith Lisbeth made a slight frown on her face as she thought about it for a moment, "I'm I don't think that would be possible, I already have ten commissions for swords and I don't have enough time to make yours and I'm running low on materials."

This time Kirito made a frown. "We have the necessary materials, but is there any way you can make our weapons first?"

"I'm sorry that wouldn't be possible" Lisbeth said as she effectively said no.

"but-" To Kirito's surprise it wasn't Lisbeth that interrupted him but Yuuki.

"Let me handle this." Yuuki said as she walked in front of Kirito and gave one of her charming smiles that was so full of life.

Kirito could tell that Lisbeth had already changed her demeanor, as she was hit with the full blast of Yuuki's «Love Me» aura. No one could resist, absolutely no one.

"Hello, Lisbeth-san I am Yuuki and this is Kirito." Yuuki started pointing herself and Kirito respectively as she introduced herself and Kirito.

"How about we a make a deal?" Yuuki asked.

"A deal? What kind of deal?" Lisbeth questioned while raising one of her eyebrows.

"I'll let you stay at our lodging if you make the sword for us." Yuuki offered to which Kirito raised an eyebrow not understanding how it would help them.

"Sorry, I already have somewhere to stay." Lisbeth rejected.

"It has a bath."

Silence

It happened so quickly that if Kirito blinked he would have missed it. One moment Lisbeth was behind her anvil the next she was in front of them holding Yuuki's hand with a stars in her eyes.

"Deal!" She practically screamed as she packed up her blacksmith stall in record time and dragged Yuuki and Kirito off with vigor, ignoring all the remaining customers.

It was about five minutes later that she finally spoke again. "Ummm…where is your house?" Lisbeth asked rather timidly finally realizing that she didn't know where Kirito and Yuuki lived.

Kirito would have face-palmed if this was an anime, actually he would have made a face-wall, but thankfully it wasn't and Kirito's girly face was saved from damage.

Yuuki being herself just giggled.

Lisbeth blushed even more.

-Farmer's House-

"Ahhh I'm so happy to be alive." Lisbeth said contentment as she sat on the couch in the living room with Kirito and Yuuki after she took her bath and ate dinner together.

Yuuki giggled. "Yeah, that's why I like this house so much, because of the bath."

Kirito just sighed in contentment as he lay down on the couch using Yuuki's thighs as a lap pillow as they have done many times in real life.

"So you two are the «Black Duo»." Lisbeth suddenly said. "You're different from what imagined."

"Black duo?" Kirito said with a questioning tone.

"You two don't know!?" Lisbeth asked shocked.

Kirito and Yuuki just shook their heads negatively.

"You two are one of the most popular topics right now! Two players both clad in black, a prince like bishounen with a long black haired and a bishoujo with immeasurable charisma. The Black Duo rumored to be the two strongest players of Aincrad.

The said Black Duo just looked shock at how famous they were.

"Yuuki, also known as «Black Princess», with her lightning fast strike rivaling that of sword skills who is said to unsurpassed in speed. Then there's the «Black Prince» or as some would like call you the «Black Knight», rumored to be a pretty boy, who is known to be untouchable and able to use one-handed swords skill despite being equipped with a two-handed sword."

"What do you mean using one-handed sword skills despite being equipped with a two-handed sword?" Kirito asked in confusion at what Lisbeth said.

This time it was Lisbeth that was shocked. "Eh!? You mean that you didn't know you were breaking one of the fundamental rules!?"

"Ummm what fundamental rule did I break?" Kirito asked in confusion no longer laying down but rather sitting upright.

"Everyone knows that only one-handed swords can be used for one-handed sword skills, and two-handed sword for two-handed sword skills! You on other hand just broke that fundamental rule by executing one handed sword skills with a two-handed sword!" Lisbeth was practically shouting.

"Ummm I thought that you could use one-handed sword skills as long as you use one sword in your hand?" Kirito said with a hint of confusion as he tried to explain what he did.

Lisbeth just gave him an exasperated look. "You know what? Good night, my brain can't take any more of this." With that said Lisbeth stood and walked away towards one of the bedrooms to sleep.

Yuuki and Kirito just looked at each other in shock at what they just heard. They were known as the most powerful players and Kirito was literally a walking rule breaker ever since he started to use one handed sword skills.

"I think I'll go to bed now." Kirito said in a daze as he started to walk towards his bedroom.

Yuuki just nodded as she too was also quite dazed by the information.

As Kirito walked pass the doorway he suddenly made a one-eighty degrees turn and not to his utmost surprise Yuuki was standing there.

"Yes Yuuki?" Kirito asked although he already had a sliver of suspicion of what she wanted.

"Ano…can I sleep with you again?" Yuuki asked with hesitation.

Yuuki had such a vulnerable and hopeful look to her that Kirito couldn't say no, "Yes you can."

Yuuki at that moment gave him her most dazzling smile.

'Yeah… that's it, that is the smile I want to protect no matter what.'


"Done!" Lisbeth said happily as she cradled her best masterpiece in her hand. "It's called «Black Scarlet»."

Indeed it was a fitting name for the thin rapier black sword in her hand that flashed scarlet whenever the light reflected off of it.

When Yuuki had first showed the material that they have gathered to Lisbeth, she wasn't quite sure her blacksmithing skills were high enough to forge the sword. Luckily her level was just barely enough to forge the Black Scarlet.

Lisbeth brought the sword forward as if she was going to give it to Yuuki but at the last moment brought back towards her chest as gleam entered her eyes. "Wait, I have a proposition."

"A proposition?" Kirito asked.

"Un-huh. I'll give it you for free and give you future discounts when you need my service as a blacksmith..." Kirito's eyes widened at the proposition, even though it was early in the game, discounts and other deals such as this with blacksmiths could not be taken lightly. After all blacksmiths were known to create very powerful swords even in other MMORPGs, but in contrast the price were extremely high.

"…but in exchange I want live with you guys!" Lisbeth finished.

"What!?" Kirito cried out in surprise.

Living with them would mean that they would naturally come close, and by becoming closer would mean that he, Kirito, would feel the responsibility of protecting her, a burden that he didn't want to feel. He didn't dislike Lisbeth or anything but he didn't think that he was ready for such a responsibility.

"Sorry bu-"

"We accept!" Yuuki interjected before Kirito could finish.

"Yuuki!" Kirito cried out towards the Black Princess, only to falter and then subsequently cave in as he was met with her infamous puppy dog eyes.

"Argh…." Kirito groaned as he knelt onto the ground defeat before Yuuki.

Yuuki and Lisbeth just giggled at Kirito's defeated form.

After that they bid farewell for the time being since Lisbeth needed to keep her shop running or rather her stall running.

"Hey Kirito-kun, where are we going today?" Yuuki asked.

"Argo sent us a message telling us to meet her in the open square near the center of the city, apparently someone wants to meet us." Kirito informed.

"Eh!? Kirito-kun is going to go just like that?" Yuuki said surprised as she made a shock face.

"Of course not, the client that requested a meeting with me apparently is going to pay us 10,000 cols just to show up." Kirito said calmly ignoring the surprised look on Yuuki's face.

"Eh!? Even us, we only have about 40,000 cols who is the person that can afford such a thing!?" Yuuki questioned out loud.

The received their answered as they saw the hooded figure of «Argo the Rat», Aincrad's top informant, standing next to her client.

The figure was quite tall with Argo's head barely reaching his chin. He had extremely light grey hair that was tied back into a ponytail with a couple of strands over his right eye.

He had the appearance of a «Knight», with the majority of his body covered in pure white armor, and underneath it he wore a red robe. If this was an anime he would look like what you would call the hero.

However what stood out to Kirito was not his appearance or equipment, but rather his gaze. Kirito didn't exactly know how to explain but it seemed as he was looking down on them.

Not the rude condescending look that says "I'm better than you", but rather a natural look that puts him above the average man, like an avatar of god or even the god himself.

"Ki-bou~" Argo squealed as she leapt onto Kirito and proceeded to hug the ever loving life of him.

"Gah! Let go of me dammit, every single time you do this!" Yuuki just giggled at Kirito's predicament.

After a terribly long time that was devoted mostly to prying Argo off Kirito…in reality it was only about five minutes the unknown player introduced himself.

"Hello, my name is «Heathcliff» and I am the one who wanted to meet you." The player clad in red and white introduced himself offering his hand out.

Kirito of course shook his hand as he saw no malice coming from him. "Hello it's nice to meet you. You probably already know this but I am Kirito and this is Yuuki." Kirito finished as he gestured to his companion.

"I know, you two are the Black Duo." Heathcliff said. "I have a request."

"A request?" Kirito asked as he looked at Heathcliff then at Argo who just shrugged.

"Yes I would like to «Dual» you Kirito the Black Knight, the player that broke one of the fundamental rules of SAO."

The word shock couldn't even begin to describe what everyone but Heathcliff felt at the moment. If this wasn't a death game Kirito would've accepted without a second thought but…

"Don't worry; it'll be in «First Strike Mode»."

Duel, usually a friendly competition where two players could battle each other out, but in this death game, duel could often lead to death. That was why no one had ever dueled yet, but there are different types of duels.

The first one is the regular one, obviously this one wasn't acceptable. The second was where both players strive to land the first clean hit. And finally the last one was the timed mode where the winner was the one who had the most health left.

But even in the first strike mode, if the players' level were too far apart, then even a single clean hit could result in death,

"But-"

"I'm level twelve so it's fine." Heathcliff said interjecting Kirito as if he knew Kirito's level and his worries.

Kirito looked to his right as he felt Yuuki grip his arm. She was giving him a worrying glance, hell even Argo was giving him a concerned glance.

"I accept." Kirito finally said after much contemplation.

Yuuki and Argo gave him a worried glance as they cleared the way.

-Heathcliff is requesting a duel will you accept?-

Kirito pressed –yes-, and since Heathcliff was the one who requested the duel he was given the choice of which type of battle mode they would duke it out in. Naturally Kirito chose first strike mode.

-Duel will begin in sixty seconds-

The system announced. Kirito unsheathed his sword as he took his starting position and crouched down a bit with his foot forward.

Taking this chance Kirito observed his opponent. Heathcliff took out a huge kite shield that was mostly pristine white outlined in red that covered almost half his body. His sword that was in his right hand was a bastard sword and also silvery white.

'Seriously what is this guy's obsession with red and white?' wondered the person with the obsession with black.

But as the countdown continued Kirito couldn't get rid of a nagging suspicion in the back of his head.

-10-

'There's something that I'm missing but I can't put my finger on it!'

-7-

'Maybe it's his level? After all a good majority of the players are only at most level seven or eight.'

-5-

'Hell, I've just leveled up to level twelve yesterday and even Yuuki is only level eleven.'

-3-

'But this Heathcliff person just came out of nowhere and just proclaimed he was level twelve and it looks like he has been level twelve for a while now.'

-2-

'Damn it, I don't have any more time to think, I can only hope that he wasn't lying…'

-1-

'…or else.'

-GO-

Boom!

Kirito leapt and shortened the distance between the two them instantly as he made a diagonal slash upward.

Heathcliff's eyes widened in surprise as he saw Kirito move, totally unprepared for such speed.

'It's over!'

However to Kirito's surprise Heathcliff back stepped and barely blocked the blow as Kirito sword made sparks across his shield.

Kirito too, stepped back and dodged Heathcliff's bastard sword.

Kirito and Heathcliff glared at each other as the charged at each other.

Swoosh!

Kirito used a thrust with his right hand towards Heathcliff.

Sparks flew

Heathcliff, actually prepared this time, used his shield to divert Kirito's sword to the left as he swung his bastard sword vertically down at Kirito.

Clang!

Kirito let go of his sword's handle as his left hand grabbed it and brought it and blocked the slash.

Heathcliff had an astounded look on his face as he witnessed what Kirito did was forced to move his head out of the way as the tip pierced the epidermis of his cheek or at least the VR equivalent of it anyways.

Off at the sidelines a staggering amount of bystanders gathered as they watched the two swordsmen duke it off. Cheers were thrown for both of them, but Kirito and Heathcliff were too immersed into their duel to notice.

"Yu-chan is Kirito going to be alrighT!?" Argo asked the shorter girl worry clearly written on her face, hell the fact that she didn't call Kirito Ki-bou was a major sign.

"Kirito-kun's going to be fine; rather I'm more worried about Heathcliff-san." Yuuki said easing some of Argo's worries but inciting some questions at the same time.

"Eh!? How can you be so confident that Kirito will win?"

Yuuki gave one of her rare confident smirks. "Because in real life Kirito-kun is a kendo champion and a black belt in karate, his specialty is fighting against people."

Multiple gashes could be seen on both Kirito and Heathcliff as they continued to clash and sparks flew out.

Neither one of them had landed a decisive blow on each other as they continued their deadly dance of swords.

The crowd held their breath each time as they heard the clang of the two combatants' sword connecting with each other, their heart speeding up as the battle continued.

Heathcliff smirked as he bashed Kirito on his left and made him lose balance falling down on his right.

But his smirk left as Kirito placed his right hand that held his sword onto the ground to balance him and used his right foot to kick diagonally upwards connecting with Heathcliff's left hand that held his shield.

But Kirito wasn't satisfied with just kicking Heathcliff's shield out of his hand, so he twisted his hip towards the right and as his right foot touched the ground his left foot kicked Heathcliff's right hand making him defenseless as his sword flew out of his hand.

Kirito still in the process of twisting planted his left foot on the ground as his torso was back up into the air and his sword pulled back as it glowed blinding white.

«Judgement*» activated

There was silence as Kirito's sword silence piercing Heathcliff's chest ignoring his armor.

Kirito's eyes had a golden gleam in the sun shone off of his eyes.

The crowd was silent

-Winner Kirito!-

End

* It's a thrust type sword skill that I made to replace Vorpal Strike because as Nanaya88 pointed, it is a high level sword skill that Kirito shouldn't have yet. Judgement is basically the same as vorpal strike except that it's weaker and has a shorter range along with a shorter cool down period.

Author Notes: Bet you didn't think I would introduce Heathcliff so soon!

For those of you who know who Yuuki is and think that she was OOC, I don't think she was. Mostly because she saw Kirito as a ray of light when she was beginning to be ostracized so she clings onto Kirito as a pillar of support.

And she somewhat blames herself for Kirito getting ostracized too for associating with her, not to mentioned she was the one who technically dragged Kirito into this Death Game.

To Yuuki, Kirito is someone who she can trusts wholeheartedly with anything.

Btw my emotional scene writing skill is abysmal so sorry if it was bad.

And sorry if the kendo match was awkward, writing about the fighting style I want Kirito to have is harder than I though. And I don't really know much about Kendo so if the match was…off please forgive me

Originally I wanted Yuuki and Kirito to do the quest to get the «Anneal Blade» but I thought that the Anneal Blade didn't suit Yuuki who preferred thin one handed swords, so introduced Lisbeth into this chapter and made her forge a sword for Yuuki.

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