Disclaimer: I do not own Sword Art Online. The franchise is the property of Reki Kawahara-sensei, Dengeki Bunko, A-1 Pictures, and Aniplex USA.

/

Author Notes: Hello and welcome to my first fanfiction story for Sword Art Online, and it will be my second story overall. For those of you who are fans of my first story, "Of Science and Magics: The Side Stories," you have nothing to fear. I have every intention of continuing my work on that story, and I have the next few chapters planned out.

I began writing this story because I received inspiration by seeing a picture that depicted an alternate scenario for the Fairy Dance Arc where Asuna was visiting Kirito. As soon as I saw that picture, I felt the ideas for this story flow through my mind, so I began writing this story while it was still fresh in my mind. As a result, I put "Of Science and Magics: The Side Stories" on a temporary hiatus. Unfortunately, I do not have a link to that picture, so I cannot show you.

Anyway, it's time to get things started. I hope you enjoy this first chapter and will leave a review.

/

Chapter One: How We Got to Here: Part I – Life and Change

/

I was always chained

A change was necessary

So I could be me

/

My name is Yuuki Asuna. I was trapped within the game Sword Art Online from November 6th, 2022 5:30 p.m. to November 7th, 2024 2:55 p.m. It was a death game where if you die in the game you die in the real world as well. There would be no second chances.

In the beginning, I was terrified, and I believed there was nothing I could do. However, with time that eventually changed. I became stronger and more independent. Eventually, my abilities were within the top ten percent of all players in Sword Art Online even though I had never played a video game before in my life.

Some of the people I met and became friends with in there would be people I would want to have a connection with forever. Most importantly, I met the person who would become the love of my life. He was someone that I could never replace. Thanks to Sword Art Online, I know the bond I formed with him was genuine. Neither of us knew the others' background prior to the game, and we still fell in love with each other unconditionally.

/

I come from a background that most people would wish to have. My father is the CEO of a company known as RECTO Progress Inc., which is a branch from the main corporation RECTO Inc. I am part of the privileged class, and most people only want to form connections with me because of my father. Within the game, most people would see me as being brave and strong but that was not the case before. I use to be a weak, cowardly, sheltered girl who would never speak up. I always needed to hide behind someone, and I was ashamed of that.

Long before I entered the game, my father introduced this man named Sugou Nobuyuki who was the son of a family friend. This man was selected by my father to be the Research Institute Director for the company. My father was completely convinced that this man was of good character due to his outward politeness and talents. He all but told me that this man was going to become my future fiancé.

However, my father was completely blind to people's true nature. From the moment I shook that man's hand, I felt something was off about him. It felt as if I needed to wash my hand a hundred times to get rid of his stench. Unfortunately, my suspicions were confirmed when we were alone. Suguo is a man that acts kind and polite when people of authority are present. However, he will let his true nature shine through when he knows that there is no one that is a threat to him. He was a controlling, lecherous individual that disgusted me. I wanted to tell my father the truth, but I lacked the ability to do so. The only one who knew of my distaste was Suguo Nobuyuki himself.

/

My life would completely change the day that my brother, Yuuki Kouichirou, bought the game known as Sword Art Online. I was fifteen years old. When it arrived, my brother had to go on a business trip. I remember it like it was yesterday.

I looked at the package he received that day, "Hey brother what is this game you just bought?"

He explained to me, "It is a game called Sword Art Online. The setting of the game takes place in a world known as Aincrad. This game just launched today and only 10,000 copies were released throughout Japan. I managed to buy this on special order."

While I knew my brother likes to play video games, I was curious about what made this game so special, "What is this game like?"

He explained to me as best he could, "It's a virtual reality game that supposedly has 100 floors, but each floor is huge by itself. Apparently, it would take you days to thoroughly explore each floor. The different boss rooms are supposed to be well hidden, and it would not be recommended to fight one without help."

I could understand the appeal of a game like that. "Is that so? Are you going to play now?"

Kouichirou told me in a disinterested tone, "The time the servers open up will be at exactly 1:00 p.m. today. I have been looking forward to playing this game ever since I participated in the beta test. It was a shame I was only able to play it for a few days rather than the entire month the other beta testers got to play."

For someone who claimed to be excited about this game, he certainly didn't look that way to me.

I looked at the clock and I said, "That's only in an hour. Why do you look like you are going to work? I thought you had the day off?"

He said in a frustrated tone, "I was supposed to have the day off, but I received a call this morning, and I have to attend an important business matter personally. I will have to wait until I get back until I can play the game."

I had never played a video game before in my life. However, I was curious about how much fun they were, especially if your actual mind was going into it. I thought it would be interesting to find out if everything you'd experience in the game would appear and feel real. That is when I asked him that faithful question.

I sheepishly asked him, "If you can't play it right now, do you mind if I try it?"

My brother gave a funny look and he started to laugh, "Sure why not. You have never played a video game before and this seems like a fun way to start."

Strangely enough, I was excited he was giving me permission, "You're really okay with it?"

He patted me on the head, "Of course I am. I'm sure by the time I get back you will be sick of the game anyway. You will probably die three or four times before you get past the first level."

I sarcastically replied, "Thanks for the vote of confidence."

At that time, I thought my brother was probably right about that. When I entered the game, I was given the choice of giving myself a code name. I choose to just use my name Asuna because I figured I would only be playing this for a few of days before my brother came back home. Besides, the appearance I choose would be completely different from what it is in the real world, so it wouldn't matter.

When I entered the game, I changed my appearance. In hindsight, I don't think it was only because I had the choice to alter my avatar's appearance but because I felt like I needed it too. Even before Sword Art Online began to change me, I was still ashamed of the type of person I had been. I thought maybe if I changed what I looked like, it could help change who I was.

To a certain extent, I think it worked. When I entered this world, I realized I was in a place where no one knew who I was. It was a fresh start. I knew I had to take advantage of it, so I decided to explore this world. During my exploration, I had a hard time believing this was all computer generated and not real. The wind in my hair, the smell of the food that was cooking, and ground below my feet felt genuine.

While I was exploring this beautiful open world, I noticed these two male avatars fighting a pig monster from a distance. One of the fighters had mid-length dark hair and was a total bishounen while the other one had red hair and a rougher appearance. Based on what I saw, the dark haired player was teaching the red haired player how to use his abilities because the red haired one was having a difficult time fighting the pig. Thanks to the dark haired ones instructions, the red haired man finally succeeded in killing the monster.

I considered going over and asking for help too, but I decided not to bother them. Instead, I decided to try it on my own. I found my own pig monster to fight, and I killed it. At first, I was having trouble like that red haired player, but after I started to get a feel for the mechanics, I was able to defeat the monster without any problems. I fought a few more of them, and I barely received a scratch.

I said to myself, "Not bad for the first time. I guess I won't have to worry about dying three or four times after all. Wait until I tell my brother." I also noticed that it was getting late. "I guess I should probably try logging out of the game."

After I said that, I tried navigating through the menu, and I looked all over the place, and I could not find a log out option. "What is going on here? Where is the log out button? Is this some kind of glitch?" While I may not have been computer savvy, even I knew what a bug or a glitch is.

Shortly afterwards, I was teleported from my position, and I ended up in this huge arena along with thousands of other players. "Is this everyone who has logged onto the game? What is happening?" I heard a few other people mention how they could not find a log out button on their menus. "So it isn't just me."

/

A hooded figured appeared in the sky, and I thought I was looking at the grim reaper. I could see under its hood, but there was no face. It was completely empty. This thing was making me more terrified by the minute. I thought to myself, "Are you the one in charge or not? What are you going to do about this mess?"

As if responding to not only my thoughts but everyone else's the figure spoke in a masculine voice that resonated throughout the stadium, "Players, I welcome you all to my world. My name is Kayaba Akihiko. Right now, I am the only person who can control this world."

I thought to myself, "Okay fine, so you are in charge. Are you going to help us or not?"

The figure then continued his speech, "I think that most of you have discovered the fact that the Log Out button has disappeared from the main menu. This is not a bug; it is all part of Sword Art Online's system."

I said out loud in disbelief, "What?"

The figure probably knew that we all would be confused by his statement as he said, "Until you get to the top of this castle, you cannot log out of your own free will."

I had been here for several hours and explored a few areas of Aincrad's first floor, and I did not see any castle. Then, I realized something. There are supposed to be 100 floors in this game. Is the castle on the one hundredth floor?

My thoughts were interrupted by what else that figure had to say, "Also, the disruption or dismantling of the Nerve Gear from the outside is strictly forbidden. If these things are attempted," he did not say anything for a moment and left us in silence before slowly saying, "the signal sensors in your Nerve Gear will emit a strong electromagnetic pulse, destroying your brain and stopping all of your basic functions."

I had no clue how to react to something like that. I stood there in complete horror. I thought to myself, "How come something like that be possible? Could the device attached to my head in the real world be capable of something like that?" Then I realized, "If it was powerful enough to put my mind into something that looks and feels real, then the possibility of it destroying my mind entirely does not seem improbable either." The horror of the situation came to me afterwards, "What happens if someone I know on the outside and doesn't know this pulls the helmet off my head? I'll die!"

The figured seemed to know what was going through the people's minds, so he clarified further. "To be a little more specific, disconnection from an outside source of electricity for ten minutes, being cut off from the system for more than two hours, or any attempt to: unlock, dismantle, or destroy the Nerve Gear. If any of these conditions are met, the brain destruction sequence will start. These conditions have been made known to the government and the public through mass-media in the outside world. On that note, there have been several cases where relatives or friends have ignored the warnings and tried to forcefully remove the Nerve Gear. The result," the metallic voice took a short breath before he continued, "regretfully 213 players have already exited this game, and the real world, forever."

All around me I heard screams and shouts of disbelief. I did neither. All I did was stare in horror with my mouth open. All I could think was, "No this can't be happening. This can't be happening."

As if he was attempting to calm us down, the figure told us, "Players, there is no need to worry about the bodies you left on the other side. As of this moment, all TV, radio, and Internet media are repeatedly reporting this situation; including the fact that there have been numerous deaths. The danger of having your Nerve Gear taken off has already all but disappeared. In a moment, using the two hours I have provided, all of you will be transported to hospitals or similar institutes and be given the best treatment. So you can relax and concentrate on beating the game."

Needless to say, that did not calm anyone down. Everyone was saying something along the lines of "You expect us to play the game like this?" or "This is bull! You can't do something like this." I continued to say nothing. I wanted to say something along with these angry people, but no words were capable of leaving my mouth. Then I heard someone say, "This isn't a game anymore!"

What that voice said would remain etched in my mind because it was true. I came here to casually enjoy my first video game experience, but now this is anything but that. This has become life or death.

As if Kayaba Akihiko was responding to that last shout, he said in his monotonous voice, "But I ask of you all to understand that Sword Art Online is no longer a simple game. It is a second reality. From now on, any forms of revival in the game will no longer work. The moment your HP reaches zero, your avatar will be gone forever. And at the same time, your brain will be destroyed by the Nerve Gear."

As soon as he said that, my thoughts went back to what my brother had said to me, "You will probably die three or four times before you get past the first level."

I felt a tear trickle down my face. I thought to myself, "It's true. I will die. There is no escaping that. My fate is to die here."

Before the figure claiming to be Kayaba Akihiko disappeared, he left us with a parting gift. He gave us a mirror in our inventory that then flashed in front of our eyes. After the light faded, I realized that my appearance had changed back to what it is like in reality. The same was true for a number of the other players as well. I noticed that there was a decrease in female avatars, and I heard quite a few people say things, such as "Hey you're not a girl!"

Shortly afterward, the figure disappeared, and everyone left in the stadium was in a state of confusion and despair.

/

After the arena incident, I took refuge in a room in the Starting City for a week. I had heard that while most of us had no clue what to do, there was a fair number of players, primarily people who participated in the beta test, who had the right idea and left the stadium immediately. They continued on to the next town and leveled up their stats.

I didn't know what I could do. Before this happened, I had never played a video game before and now here I was trapped in a game that is literally do or die. How can anyone possibly adjust to something like that? After thinking it over, I decided that if I continue doing nothing, it will be just as bad as getting killed by some monster. I finally left the town and proceeded to explore the first floor and fight as many enemies as I could, so I could become stronger.

In hindsight I think I was recklessly fighting so many enemies because I was hoping one of them would kill me. I had lost hope of ever escaping from this world. By December 2nd, 2022, almost a month had gone by since the game had started, and not only had the first floor not been cleared but approximately 2,000 players had died. While I was recklessly fighting monsters, I ended up being saved by someone. He criticized my reckless behavior, and he had to transport me away from danger.

This was how I first met the player known as Kirito. After he transported me away, we eventually formed a party. The first boss had recently been located, and we would be joining a group to take it down along with any subordinates it may have.

Before we fought the first boss, I told Kirito-kun my reasons for journeying on my own, "So I can still be me. I'd rather stay myself until the very end than sit still and rot away at an inn back in the first town. Even if I get killed by a monster, I don't want to lose to this game or to this world. No matter what." When I think back to that day, I must have seemed pretty pathetic.

Kirito-kun just looked at me unaffected by what I had said. He told me, "I wouldn't want a party member dying on me. So at least tomorrow don't die."

After he said that, I realized that this person was giving me his trust. The two of us had never met before, but he was trusting me to have his back. Just like me, he wants to survive in this world. It wasn't just about me. We were all in this together. We needed to work together if we were going to survive this. Even though, I did not directly respond to his request, I decided that I would do everything in my power to survive this battle.

Despite never participating in a party before, the teamwork Kirito-kun and I used during the first boss battle felt so natural. Our teamwork along with some extra help we received from the player Agil allowed us to defeat the boss but not without suffering casualties. After we had won, I wanted to remain in Kirito-kun's party. Unfortunately, due to certain issues that arose due to the results of the boss fight that resulted in Kirito-kun being labeled under the derogatory term "beater," Kirito-kun dissolved the party, and left on his own.

A "beater" was a name for players who were "beta testers" and considered to be "cheaters" in the eyes of others. Kirito-kun took the label in stride because he knew that there were plenty of other beta testers throughout the game that other players would discriminate against. Both Agil and I understood that Kirito-kun tried to contrast the difference between beta testers who were only playing for their own self-interests to other beta testers who behaved more like "normal players." I know he was doing it so there would be less discrimination towards beta testers, and there would be less internal conflict among us while all we wanted was to clear the game, but I just wish we could have handled that situation better.

Before he left me behind he told me, "You will be strong. Not only in your sword techniques, but you will have greater and more valuable strength. So, if one day someone you trust invites you to a guild, don't refuse. There's an absolute limit for solo players, after all."

I am not really sure how I reacted. This was the first time anyone had ever said I would become strong or complimented me like that. I just remember feeling disappointed that we were parting ways. It seemed like he was also regretting that he was leaving me behind. Regardless, I took his words to heart, and I would eventually follow that advice. This was the person who put his trust in me and made me stop my near suicidal habits. He expected me to live, and I would not fail to live up to that expectation.

Despite his advice, I met up with him a few other times in the lower floors. We worked as a party for a little longer, and I was able to become stronger. Thanks to him, I was able to defeat the Dark Elf monster. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before we said our goodbyes. It would be a while before we met again

/

Not long after I went my separate path from Kirito-kun, I was recruited by a man named Heathcliff to join his guild known as "The Knights of the Blood." Eventually, our guild became the strongest guild throughout Aincrad. Our uniforms were styled red and white, and we were seen as either a beacon of hope to the players or the image of envy to other guilds.

Our leader was Heathcliff, and he was considered to not only be a born leader but a talented fighter. I fought alongside him many times, and I saw that his health bar never went below yellow. However, we would find out a special reason behind that. I use to refer to him as Commander Heathcliff but that eventually changed too.

During my time in the Knights of Blood, my speed reached near legendary levels to the point I became known as "Asuna the Flash." Eventually, I would become the sub-leader of this guild, and I would be one of the people in charge of strategies for different boss battles. Due to my reputation of becoming the sub-leader, I also became famous throughout Aincrad. I was seen as the idol of Sword Art Online that many people would admire. A number of players proposed to me, however, I was quick to reject them.

Despite what people may have thought, I was constantly feeling troubled. In this place, I was someone. I was considered to be brave, strong, and feared, but it didn't change the fact this was all a game. Our real bodies were in a hospital room becoming weaker every day and anything we wanted to accomplish in reality was being taken away. I would always think that while people out there are making themselves into respectable people in the real world, we are just wasting our lives trapped in another reality. Even if we get out eventually, it might be too late to do anything significant with our lives. Such thoughts continued to haunt me every night. I could not tell you how many nightmares I had.

/

While I was still rising in the guild's ranks, I heard someone shouting, "Anyone require the services of a blacksmith! I offer quality services at a reasonable price!"

I looked over and saw a pink haired girl who was about my age sitting under a tree. She had all her blacksmith equipment laid out in front of her, and she had a sign that read, "Lisbeth Smith Shop."

I thought that I could use a new rapier, so I decided to approach her, "hey would your services include creating rapiers?"

She cheerfully said to me, "Of course. My services include but are not limited to rapiers, broad swords, katanas, spears, shields, and axes. Can I interest you in any other possible weapons as well for diversity?"

While I was somewhat interested in using a spear, I did not think this was the time for that. "Not right now. A new rapier will do just fine."

She seemed disappointed, but she did not let it show too much. "All right then. What type of rapier do you wish for?"

I wasn't too sure about what type of rapier I needed. I showed her a list of different rapiers I was interested in, and I told her my current skill level with the rapier.

After she was done reviewing the information, she knew exactly what I needed. "In that case, this rapier would be necessary, but I don't have the materials at the moment. Would you happen to have them by chance?"

She showed me a list of the materials. "I have three of these ingredients, but I seem to be lacking the last one. It seems pretty rare."

The rarity of the ingredient did not seem to bother her. "It sure is, but I know where we can find one. It should be on the sixteenth floor. We should probably get going."

I was surprised by what she was saying, "You're coming with me?"

She cheerfully told me, "Of course. The customer comes first."

I didn't want to appear rude or ungrateful, but I had to ask her, "Shouldn't you stay with your shop?"

After I asked her that, she was able to pack up her belongings pretty quickly. "At the moment, my shop is mobile."

It took us about half a day to find the material. When we finally were successful, Lisbeth was able to forge the rapier for me on the spot.

I found Lisbeth to be a kind girl who displayed a great deal of pride in her work. I would meet her a number of times throughout our time in Aincrad, and we became close friends. She also became my personal blacksmith. She would forge me more rapiers as my skill continued to increase. She also forged me a spear when I decided to diversify my weapon abilities. While her weapons were easy to use, it certainly took a lot to get used to using a spear. I decided I would always use my rapiers in boss battles and only fight weaker opponents with my spear.

After my initial meeting with Lisbeth, I made sure to recommend her to other players. She was eventually able to build up her business to the point she had her own shop on the forty-eighth floor. Despite having her own shop, that did not stop her from going on quests with her customers for new materials.

/

After becoming a member of the Knights of the Blood, I participated in the frontlines often, and I would meet Kirito-kun, who by that time became known as the Black Swordsman due to his trademark dark clothing and being one of the only solo players in the game.

Whenever I met him in the frontlines, a part of me wanted to ask him to join the guild. However, he did not seem interested in joining any guilds for that matter. I witnessed his reaction when he was asked by another guild, and it was not pretty. He would just participate briefly in the meetings and the boss fights, but he would avoid guilds like the plague.

The only guild I saw him willingly interact with was the Fuurinkazan, but it was probably because they were the only guild that knew better than to ask him to join. Kirito-kun also appeared to be friends with their leader, Klien. Additionally, the only other player I saw him speak to was the merchant/frontline solo player Agil. I was a little jealous of them. Whenever he saw me, he tried to avoid me.

I thought to myself, "What is his problem? Is he avoiding me because he thinks I might try to recruit him? Is he ashamed that he left me behind?"

At that time, I was too presumptuous of his reasons, and I didn't confront him about it. It would be a long time before I would find out the answer to those questions. When I did find out, I became ashamed of myself that I did not try to learn his story. If I would have tried harder to talk to him, things could have been different. I am not ashamed of how things ended up developing, but I believe that I could have made things easier for him much sooner.

/

During my time in the Knights of Blood, I became stronger, more independent, but I also became colder. After I became the second-in command of the Knights of Blood, I demanded discipline from the members, and I never smiled in front of them. They would always follow my orders out of fear. Until April 2024, one of the only people that ever saw my kinder side was Lisbeth.

On March 2024, I formed a plan to defeat the boss on the fifty-sixth floor that involved allowing it to massacre non-player characters, also known as NPCs. I believed that since NPCs were AIs, they were disposable, and they could be sacrificed for the sake of our survival.

Kirito-kun disagreed with me, "That's crazy! NPCs aren't just objects like rocks and trees! They are . . ."

I interrupted him, "Living or so you would say? That is naïve. Those are nothing more than objects. No matter how many times they're slaughtered they will be reborn after twenty-four hours, after all."

This was not the first time I had seen him treat NPCs as if they were regular humans either. At that time, I could not understand why he thought that way, "This is something I always thought I had to mention, but as the clearers who stand at the top of all the players, those priorities of yours are mistaken. We must exterminate the bosses and reach the next floor, even it's only a day, or even an hour faster. There is not a single thing more important aside from the lives of players."

Our conversation was interrupted by the player known as Klien, the guild leader of the Fuurinkazan. He said out loud that Kirito-kun was at Level 71 while I only recently reached Level 70. I had a hard time believing that Kirito-kun could actually be stronger than me.

He tried to calm down my shocked reaction at first, "No, I really don't plan to force my opinion through that difference in levels. Just that," his eyes then turned into eyes gazing at me with pity, "is 'clearing' simply using the fastest and most efficient method to defeat the bosses? Abandoning slow-leveling comrades, killing NPCs, wouldn't these means cause your most important parameter, your 'heart,' to be tainted?"

I could not stand the look he was giving me, so I challenged him to a duel that he accepted. Before our dual began, I thought to myself, "I must not lose. There's no way I will lose to someone who enjoys this death game. After all, even while we're doing this my reality is still rotting away bit by bit."

Kirito-kun would later tell me that before he fought me that I had the same eyes as him from three months before. They were the eyes of someone who was alive but not living.

I dueled against him, and I was soundly defeated. Ironically, my defeat led me to having a conversation with a NPC that Kirito-kun seemed to get along with. It was due to the conversation I had with her that gave me a clue to defeating the boss. As much as I hated to admit it, this proved that sacrificing NPCs was not a necessary tactic after all.

During the victory party, I came to the realization that Kirito-kun was not just a player who fought on the frontlines, but he was someone who was living in this world. At that time, I never would have thought Kirito-kun would become the love of my life.

/

Shortly after that confrontation, I met him again in a meadow in April 2024. He was taking a nap underneath a tree. It annoyed me that he was being so lazy while our real bodies were rotting away.

I called out to him, "If you have time to kill here, go into the dungeon and try to clear some more of it!"

Kirito-kun gave me a reply I should have seen coming, "'It's the best season in Aincrad, and the weather setting is really good too. It would be a shame to go into the dungeon on a day like this." Then he gestured to the space next to him and said, "Why don't you take a nap as well?"

I found him to be very rude, but I also found his offer to be strangely inviting. I am not really sure why, but I decided to lie down next to him. The wind felt so good on my body and the atmosphere was perfect. Before I knew it, I fell asleep, and I didn't have any nightmares. This was the first time I had been able to sleep so peacefully for such a long time.

I didn't want to admit it at the time, but I think I was able to sleep because Kirito-kun was next to me. We may still not have known each other too well, but for what it was worth, I knew he was good person that I could probably trust. Despite any kind of hostility I had with him before, I still felt more comfortable being near him than most of the other players.

After I woke up, it was the afternoon, and Kirito-kun was looking at me impatiently. He seemed kind of annoyed that I kept him waiting all that time. He told me, "It's about time you woke up. Seriously."

After that, I decided to treat him to a meal because he made sure no one tried to kill me while I slept. In this world, while people are not able to kill others in "safe zones" there are ways around that. One exception would be activating a duel that was different from the duel Kirito-kun and I fought. It would involve a duel that could only be resolved when one player kills the other. There have been cases where other players have done that to others. I was grateful that Kirito-kun made sure that wouldn't happen, so I decided to repay him with a meal.

That led to a number of other events, including a murder mystery. When that situation was resolved, the two of us finally became friends. Just like when we teamed up in the lower floors, we were able to work together with such synergy. It was after that event that I started calling him Kirito-kun, and I wanted to spend more time with him and get to know him.

/

Until April 2024, there were still times when I would cry at the fact that every day I was trapped in this game and everything that I could do related to the real world, such as going to college was being ruined. I would be plagued by vicious nightmares that wouldn't leave me alone. I became fixated on becoming stronger and clearing the game, so I continuously trained and leveled up.

After the time I spent with Kirito-kun on the meadow enjoying the breeze and falling asleep, it made me realize that even if we were being forced to live inside this game, there was value in enjoying our time here. From that point forward, I started going to sleep thinking of him and the nightmares that haunted me began to dissipate. During the subsequent months, I set more time aside to see him, and I was always looking forward to our time together.

Eventually, I began to question why I was always so happy to go see him. After a while, I began to realize I was in love. However, I did not think the feeling was mutual. I even confided my problems to my friend Lisbeth. She was one of the only people I could trust with my secret. Lisbeth tried to give me suggestions, but they didn't work. Regardless, I was just happy to spend time with him, even if it was only once in a while.

/

Omake:

Kirto: That's it. This is where the first chapter ends?

Asuna: This is where the script comes to a close.

Kirito: Talk about an unsatisfying ending. I know we had a lot more scenes planned out for this chapter. So we get to the part where you finally realize your feelings toward me and the author ends it there?

Asuna: There are plenty more chapters to come, so I wouldn't be too worried about. Besides, those scenes weren't deleted, they were pushed forward.

Kirito: What do you mean?

Asuna: Originally, the author was going to make my narration of the Sword Art Online Arc one huge chapter, but it became much longer than the author anticipated. It was decided that the chapter should end here, so the mood of the following chapter could be set.

Kirito: Well that's a relief I guess. Wait a minute, how come you know this and I don't?

Asuna: We may both be the main characters of this story, but I am the one who is taking the center stage here, so I need to be told a lot of things.

Kirito: In that case, do you know if this story will be completely a first person narrative from your perspective?

Asuna: I actually do know the answer to that question. While this chapter and most of the following chapter will be from my narration, there will be scenes that I will and cannot narrate even if I want to. The story will occasionally switch between the first and third person narration.

Kirito: So it will be similar to how the light novels are structured except you will be the narrator for the first person segments and not me.

Asuna: Exactly.

Kirito: Do you have any idea when the next chapter will be released, so we end this prologue and move onto the alternate Fairy Dance Arc?

Asuna: The author is wrapping up a few final scenes for the next chapter and then it needs to go into post production.

Kirito: What is post-production for a fanfiction story?

Asuna: It involves proofreading, editing, and verifying. It can be a pretty lengthy process depending on the situation. However, there shouldn't be too many problems this time. Of course providing reviews for the story can really help provide additional motivation for the author.

Kirito: (he turns to the audience) Do you hear that readers?! Be sure to provide reviews after you read the story.

Asuna: Also, if you are a fan of the franchise "A Certain Magical Index" also known as "Toaru Majutsu no Index," be sure to check out the author's other story "Of Science and Magics: The Side Stories." You will probably enjoy it.

Kirito: See you next time.

/

Author Notes: For those of you who have read my previous story, the trademark omakes that appear at the end of the chapters have made their return. If you are seeing this for the first time, the omakes I write involve the characters breaking the fourth wall for funny, serious, and/or informational purposes. They will more or less lampshade certain things that happen in the chapters or provide hints for the release schedule of the following chapter. The characters may act out-of-character in those skits, but it is intentional for those moments.

As the omake stated, I originally intended this chapter and the following chapter to be just one extremely long chapter. However, that changed during the course of writing this. As you can guess, the first two chapters will act as the prologue before the alternate version of the Fairy Dance Arc can begin. I will be posting the second part in a little while, and I hope to post the third chapter someday soon as well. In the meantime, I would appreciate it if you would leave a review, and I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. There is plenty more to come.