Author Notes: Before I can let Asuna enter Alfheim Online, I am producing a story arc that focuses on Kirito's time in the game during those two and a half months beginning with this chapter. In my mind, due to the parallels of Kirito and Asuna's time during those two and a half months, I think it will make it easier for when I start Asuna's adventure in Alfheim Online because you will know both sides of the story. Not to mention, this story arc will make it easier to set up a number of plotlines and characters. Additionally, without this story arc, I believe a number of events and situations probably will not make much sense later on if I do not take these steps. In the end, everything will come together.
This story arc will also be utilized to introduce multiple characters that may or may not become important during Asuna's own adventure in Alfheim Online. Additionally, a few of the things that were only referenced in previous chapters will be shown upfront now, such as Kirito's time with Yui as his companion during his adaptation to this new world. The two of them will get to spend some 'father/daughter time.' I feel like if I do not provide some coverage on scenarios like that, it would be a 'waste of perfectly good plotlines.'
I have posted a new poll for this chapter. It will be the first fanfiction character popularity contest for Fairy Dance Alternate. I want you to select your top five favorite characters that have appeared so far in this story. When you select the characters, I would like it to be based on their portrayal and character development within this story rather than the canon story. The poll will consist of characters that are introduced in this chapter as well, so please wait until after you have read the chapter to participate in the poll. Otherwise, you might be spoiled regarding future chapters.
I hope you will enjoy this chapter and provide a review. I look forward to reading your feedback.
Fairy Dance Alternate
Story Arc Three: The Origin of the Photo – Part I
Chapter Seven: Separated by Realities
I am at a loss
I wish you were by my side
I need to see you
Date: Thursday, November 7, 2024
Location: Sword Art Online – Top Floor – Purgatory Platform
The two lovers known as Asuna and Kirito were standing on top of a platform in the sky as they witnessed the deletion of the world of Sword Art Online, known as Aincrad, before their eyes. The game had been a prison that prevented them and the remaining survivors from returning to the real world for two years. All of their lives had been interrupted due to a mad scientist's wish to realize his dream. However, it was far from being a completely horrid experience for a number of the players. This was especially true for Asuna and Kirito.
It was through this game that the two of them met their true love, and they changed each other's lives forever. After everything they had gone through, they were together again for the final moments of the game. As they witnessed the game's deletion, there was a beautiful sunset in the background which made the sight before them to be both beautiful and terrifying. However, knowing they would be together before they faded away allowed them to be less frightened of what was happening and appreciate the beauty. Kirito and Asuna wished they could enjoy this moment forever, but they knew it would not last for long.
Only moments ago, the creator of Sword Art Online, Kayaba Akihiko, had declared them both 'winners' of his game. Afterwards, he quietly vanished into thin air leaving it to Kirito and Asuna to speculate what happened to him. However, the two of them believed that while they were successful at saving the remaining players of the game, it had been at the cost of their lives in the process.
Both of them felt mutual guilt over the fact that they believed they had failed to protect the one they loved. Asuna had vowed she would not die and protect Kirito, and he promised her the same. After what happened in the final battle with Heathcliff, Kayaba Akihiko's avatar, they believed that their promises were rendered moot. The guilt that weighed on their hearts from this supposed failure was heavier than they could bear, but they tried to keep themselves together as much as possible to not ruin this blissful moment.
They believed that in a few minutes when Sword Art Online would be fully deleted, they would die along with the game. However, they were grateful that they could spend what they believed to be their final moments together. Instead of giving into despair, they would attempt to make these last moments count. They faced one another with Kirito placing his hands on Asuna's cheeks and the two of them exchanged their final kiss. The two of them believed it was the most magical one they had ever shared.
Kirito-kun tearfully said to Asuna, "I suppose this is goodbye."
Asuna shook her head and calmly stated,"No, it isn't. We'll be disappearing together. So, we'll be together, forever."
Despite Asuna's calm exterior, she was only attempting to mask her true feelings of terror. She was attempting to be strong for the one she loved, so they would be able to leave this world without further regrets.
Before they would disappear, the girl desired to know one last fact about her in-game husband. In all the time she had known him, she never knew the single most important detail about him. She asked him, "Hey, can you tell me your name Kirito-kun? I mean your real name."
The boy was confused by his in-game wife's question. After spending two long years going by his in-game name 'Kirito,' there were times when he would momentarily forget what his true name was. He answered her question,"My name is Kirigaya Kazuto. I should have turned sixteen last month."
Asuna voiced out his name, "Kirigaya Kazuto-kun." She then stated in an embarrassed tone, "So you're younger than me. My name is Yuuki Asuna. I turned seventeen this year."
Kirito then playfully responded, "Is it that much of surprise that I'm younger than you? I always thought you were older than me."
Asuna then decided to play along with Kirito instead of getting upset and answered, "Until two weeks ago, I always thought you were older until I saw how you looked whenever you slept next to me. You looked so innocent and naïve that I was almost afraid of what your age really was. I'm just glad you're not too young."
After Asuna made that statement, the two of them laughed. It was a tranquil moment before they had to face the reality of their situation again. Then they turned their attention to watching the deletion of Aincrad. It would only be a few moments before the game would be completely deleted, which meant their time together was about to come to an end as well. The reality of the situation was hitting both Asuna and Kirito extremely hard.
After a few moments of remaining silent, Kirito apologized to Asuna with a voice filled with regret as tears began to flow down his face, "I'm sorry . . . sorry. . . . I promised that . . . I would . . . send you back . . . to the other side, . . . but I . . .failed you."
Asuna comforted her in-game husband as best as she could despite tears coming down her face as well. "It's alright . . . It's alright."
After they were finished crying, the two lovers gazed upon Sword Art Online's final sunset. Asuna told Kirito in a voice that had a mixture of happiness and sadness, "I'm happy I was able to meet you and live with you, Kazuto-kun. The time I have spent with you have been the happiest moments of my life. You changed me as well. Thank you."
Asuna then moved closer to Kirito as she closed her eyes and put her head on his neck. She then made her final heartfelt declaration, "I love you."
Kirito responded by putting his head upon Asuna's. They then embraced for what they believed would be their final time, and they held onto each other as tight as they could. Neither one of them would let the other go.
As they embraced, it was announced that the deletion process was complete. Suddenly a burst of light formed at the center, and came racing towards them. They did not make any feeble attempts to run. The two lovers continued to hold each other as they refused to let each other go while the light swept them away.
When they were swept away by the light, they did not realize that they would still be alive, and they both should have returned to the real world. However, fate was not too kind to the one known as Kirito. While the two lovers would continue to live, they were separated by an invisible wall that would set them worlds apart from each other. Unless something could be done, they would remain separated by realities.
Date: Thursday, November 7, 2024
After Kirito felt his presence fade from the game, he felt as if he was placed in some kind of weightless limbo. His body seemed to be suspended in midair and there was nothingness surrounding him. As he was suspended in this nothingness, Kirito realized that he had no power over his body. Kirito attempted to move his body, but he could not move a muscle. He tried to open his eyes, but they would not budge. Finally, Kirito tried to move his mouth to call out to anyone who could hear him, but his mouth remained shut. The only thing he could do was think about what was happening.
He thought to himself, "Where am I? What's going on? Why can't I move my body?" Kirito then remembered what had happened earlier. He remembered that both he and Kayaba's Sword Art Online avatars had killed each other and he faded away from the game along with Asuna by his side. Kirito then thought, "That's right. I died, and Asuna faded along with me." Kirito then questioned in a fearful manner, "Is this death? Is this what happens after you die in the game? Am I being processed or something before the Nerve Gear kills me?"
As if to answer his questions, Kirito heard a strange voice state, "You are not dead Kirito-kun. Not yet anyway."
The voice was partially distorted and Kirito's senses were dulled, so he was unable to recognize who the voice belonged to. However, he could feel a presence nearby, and he could tell that the voice was male. Whoever this was, his presence felt omnipotent.
Kirito wished to speak to the voice, but he could not. He could only think, "Whose there? What is going on?"
It appeared that voice could read Kirito's thoughts and promptly responded, "The one who wishes to fulfill the promise I gave you and the other players. Unfortunately, something happened before logout procedure was complete. As a result, you are being transferred."
Kirito thought, "Transferred? What do you mean transferred?"
The voice responded in a stoic manner, "Something rather unfortunate happened to you after I provided Asuna-san with assistance on her way out. It was something even I did not foresee. A similar phenomenon is happening to approximately three hundred players as well. In my current position, I am unable to help you now. I apologize." While the voice was stoic, the apology the voice was expressing sounded sincere.
Despite the voice being distorted, Kirito had a good idea who it was now. Kirito thought to himself, "I never would have thought I would hear an apology from you."
The voice responded, "Do not misunderstand me. When I make a promise, I wish to fulfill it. If something or someone prevents that from being accomplished, even I feel a slight sentiment over my failure."
After hearing that, Kirito decided to ask about something that was of a greater concern. Kirito figured if he continued to think of whatever questions he wanted answered, the voice would respond, so he thought, "If that's the case, then what happened to Asuna? What is going to happen to me and the other players now?"
The voice seemed pleased that Kirito's first concerns were for Asuna before himself. He answered, "You do not need to worry about her Kirito-kun. Asuna-san is alive and well in the real world. Knowing the type of person she is, I have no doubt she will attempt to find you. When that happens, everything will come together. The puzzle will be complete." However, the voice seemed strangely hesitant before he answered the other question. The voice stated, "Unfortunately, I do not know how to answer your other question. I know the identity of the one responsible for this unfortunate turn of events due to the connections. Knowing the type of person he is even I am concerned about what he will do."
Kirito urgently thought, "Who is he? How is he doing this? What does he want?"
The voice responded in its normal stoic tone, "Unfortunately, it appears my time is over for now. I do not have enough time to answer those questions, but you will learn the answers to them soon enough. Not to mention, I doubt you will be able to remember much of our conversation anyway until the next time I am able to speak with you." Before Kirito could think of anything else to ask, the voice stated, "We will meet again Kirito-kun. I have already been taking steps to ensure that will happen."
Kirito could feel the voice's presence was starting to fade away as he asked, "Steps? What do you mean by steps?"
The voice chuckled slightly at Kirito's question before it explained in a matter of fact tone, "It is customary to have a Plan B if you take into consideration that Plan A may fail to deliver what is promised. All things considered, it may prove to be most fortunate for you and the other players that I decided to follow that custom. Unfortunately for you Kirito-kun, it will most likely take some time before it can be implemented. The time and conditions will need to be met first. Until we can speak again farewell."
After the voice said that, Kirito could feel that the presence had disappeared, and he was alone again. However, the silence did not last for long because he suddenly heard a strange noise. It started off as a minor annoyance but it became irritating to the point he could barely stand it. Kirito wanted to put his hands to his ears to reduce the volume, but he still could not move. Unfortunately, as irritating as this was, it was nothing compared to what would await Kirito in the near future.
After the sound had disappeared, he heard something that sounded like a gate opening. Suddenly, he began to move as if he was being sucked into whatever just opened. After a few moments, Kirito realized there was something familiar about this sensation. He thought to himself, "This is how I felt when I first entered Sword Art Online."
No sooner had he thought that, he heard a voice state, "Welcome to Alfheim Online Kirito."
After Kirito heard the voice, he lost conciseness as he entered into the new virtual reality world and the light engulfed him.
Date: Thursday, November 7, 2024 at 4:00 p.m.
Location: Alfheim Online – Spriggan Zone – Ancient Ruins Area – Forest Section
When Kirito entered through the gate to Alfheim Online, he was not placed in the starting city like any ordinary player would have been. Instead, he was placed in a forest area on the outskirts of a nearby city. Sugou and Hideyoshi were aware that Kirito's entrance into Alfheim Online would probably not be 'graceful' since he was being transferred from one game to another. Since they did not want any players to be suspicious by the unusual entrance, they decided to place Kirito in an area that was several 'kilometers' away from the city and did not have any players in the immediate vicinity.
Hideyoshi had been the one to complete Kirito's avatar for Alfheim Online. Since Kirito's Sword Art Online profile indicated that he was known as the "Black Swordsman" in the game, he decided that Kirito would probably prefer being part of the Spiriggan race. In Alfheim Online, there were nine different races that players could choose to be.
The different Alfhein Online races were Cait Siths, Gnomes, Imps, Leprechauns, Pucas, Slamanders, Spriggans, Sylphs, and Undines. All of the races have the ability of flight and they can all learn various forms of magic, but each race has its own individual characteristics and abilities, and they might have a greater affinity to one type of magic than another. Additionally, races that are considered to be 'lightweight races' are capable of the Wall Run ability which allows them to temporarily run on walls for about ten meters. If they had enhanced speed, they could increase it to approximately thirty meters.
Cait Siths: Their primary base of operations is a castle-like capital of Freelia located West of the World Tree, Ygrassil. They are the owners of Butterfly Valley, which is one of the three large pathways to the World Tree. Unlike other races, Cait Siths have cat-like ears and tails while other races would have a more 'human appearance.' If either appendage is touched, it will have an affect on the player.
The Cait Siths are the only group capable of taming monsters and using them for battle. Additionally, they have enhanced speed, which they can utilized to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their Wall Run ability than other races. They are on good terms with the Sylph race, and if the Salamanders become too great of a threat, they will consider forming an alliance to regain the balance of power.
Gnomes: Their home is located in the 'Frost Area' to the North. They are generally associated with the color brown, and they are considered to be largest race in the game. The primary activity members of this race are known for is mining due to their affinity with Earth elemental magic. Their efficiency in gathering materials is well-known throughout Alfheim Online.
Due to their ability to gather materials from their mines, it is not unusual for them to become merchants or trade with the Leprechauns. The mutual exchange between the two races has allowed them to maintain peaceful relations with each other. There have been very few recorded conflicts between these two races.
Imps: They are located in the 'Alpines Area' in the Southeast. The color they are often associated with is purple and they also have a hint of purple in their milky white skin. While Imps have the ability to sprout wings like any other race in Alfheim Online, their wings resemble bats. This might be the explanation for why they are capable of flying without the need of sunlight or moonlight unlike other races. Additionally, they have the ability of night vision, so they are capable of flying through underground caves with very few problems.
Leprechauns: They are located in the 'Reclamation Area' in the North. Similar to other races Leprechauns have the ability of flight, but the characteristics of their wings set them apart from the others. In Alfheim Online, other groups have insect-like wings, but the wings of Leprechauns are mechanical. Additionally, the Leprechauns are known as the 'blacksmith race' and their territory is a factory-like structure. Their blacksmith abilities are considered to be second-to-none, and they are capable of creating high quality weapons and equipment to sell to players.
The Leprechauns are generally on friendly terms with the Gnomes due to it being a normal activity for the two groups to engage in trade. The Gnomes would actively provide Leprechauns with materials to create weapons and equipment while the Leprechauns would provide the Gnomes with a discount. It is not unusual to see members of the Gnomes and Leprechauns to open up a business together and do extremely well.
Pucas: This group is located in a 'Carnival Area' in the Northwest. The Pucas are generally associated with the color gold and having an affinity for music magic. They are capable of using music for both combat and non-combat situations. While they can be useful in combat, they are a more peaceful race, and players who choose to be them tend to be more 'casual' and are known to generally stay within their territory unless they are affiliated with a party or guild. They are welcoming of others to visit and enjoy their perpetual festivities.
Salamanders: This race is located in the 'Desert Area' in the South. Their group has claims to the Dragon Valley which is one of the three pathways to the World Tree. The Salamanders are known for their use of fire magic and enhanced strength which has made them the strongest physically in the game. Due to the rising popularity of this race, it is possible they may tip the balance of power of Alfheim Online in their favor.
Due to being located on a desert which has resulted in a scarcity of resources and being located near the Sylphs' home, it has caused the two groups to be in a heated rivalry. There have been numerous skirmishes between the two races recently. This has resulted in the largest amount of player killing happening within these groups. It is likely if things do not change, there will be a full blown war, and it has been making it difficult for the Cait Siths to sit idly as this conflict escalates.
Spriggans: They are located in the 'Ancient Ruins Area' in the Northeast that also contained many forests similar to where Kirito would find himself in. The Spiriggans are generally associated with the color black due to their darker skin tone and generally wearing dark clothing. They have generally been underestimated by other players because Spriggans are more known for being masters of Illusion and Treasure Hunting magic.
As a result of the Spriggans' magic specialties; numerous players have come to wrongfully believe the Spriggan race is not fit for combat however it can be proven otherwise. Spriggans are capable of wielding any kind of weapon, they have night vision similar to the Imps, and they have the Wall Run ability too. If their abilities, especially their illusion magic, are properly utilized, they can be a worthy opponent.
Sylphs: The Sylphs home is located in the 'Grasslands Area' in the Southwest. Similar to the Spriggan territory, there were many forest areas within their territory as well. They are generally associated with the color green due to most members having green hair, which can be modified, and green clothing, and their affinity is towards wind magic. Similar to the Cait Siths, Sylphs have the abilities of enhanced speed and Wall Run, and they are capable of effectively combining the two abilities, and in addition to that they are capable of stealth that only players that are highly skilled at scanning could detect.
While the Sylph has been engaged in a rivalry with the Salamanders, they are on good terms with the Cait Sith because they have provided them with tamed monsters. Currently both are considering in engaging in a conference and create a treaty to join forces for possible future operations on the World Tree, other 'grand quests,' and combat the growing threat of the Salamanders. Unfortunately, it is currently unknown when or if such a conference will take place or what the terms will be.
Undines: The Undines originate from the Crescent Gulf located in the 'Wetlands Area' that is East of the World Tree. They claim the Rainbow Valley that is one of the three large pathways to the World Tree. Their capital is similar to the Cait Sith due to its castle-like structure. Due to the races' affinity to water, this race is generally associated with the color blue, and they excel at underwater combat. Undines have a greater affinity towards support magic, where they would be able to provide their party members with support abilities, such as enhancements and recovery. Additionally, Undines are capable of the Wall Run skill due to being another one of the 'lightweight races.'
Hideyoshi decided that the 'Spriggan' race would be a perfect fit for Kirito due to them being closely associated with the color black. His prediction would eventually turn out to be correct for more than he knew.
The race that the player decides to choose at the beginning of the game will determine where they will begin their adventure in Alfheim Online. They are capable of traveling to other territories, but they do need to be careful because 'player killing' in this game is seen as a fun activity since this was not a 'death game' like Sword Art Online. In Alfheim Online, if a player's avatar is killed, it will respawn, but the player will receive some 'player death penalty deductions.' Depending on the circumstances of their avatar's death, certain deductions can be frustrating for players to regain.
If members of a different race were to enter another race's town, he or she would be unable to use his or her abilities while the home members could kill that player without trouble. That is why it would be unwise for a player of a different race to enter another territory's town without being invited or having a member of the same race to accompany him or her. However, every territory has neutral towns that allow members of other groups to converse in peace. It is not unusual for friendships to be formed in such areas and for players of other races to create guilds or parties to continue their adventures in the game.
Since Alfheim Online is a game, the players are not required to become involved in the 'politics.' As a result, seeing a Sylph and a Salamander in the same party was not unheard of despite the general problems that continue to exist between the two races. While the game does somewhat encourage 'play killing,' it has also encouraged players to form diversified parties at times depending on the situation.
In addition to the nine groups, there were supposedly two others that existed in the game. The first were Navigation Pixies that were AI user-support programs that are used for basic system information and scan areas for other players as well. There were several methods of players to obtain Navigation Pixies which included, paying an additional fee or winning a raffle which was being held around the same time Kirito entered the game.
The other group was known as ALFs, which is a rumored legendary race with unlimited flight. For sometime it was believed that players would become ALFs if they managed to reach the top of the World Tree and gain an audience with King Oberon. Unfortunately, that was nothing more than a lie created by Sugou Nobiyuki.
Sugou Nobiyuki was able to get away with such deception due to making such a feat nearly impossible and even if someone were to succeed, only those who had administrative access cards would be able to enter the world tree. Due to each avatar's limited flight ability, it is impossible to reach the proximity of the world tree without receiving some kind of boost or aid from multiple players.
There have been several recorded attempts of players nearly reaching where the barrier would prevent them from entering, but they would fall short. Sugou found it enjoyable to watch many hopeful players attempt this feat repeatedly only to fail. Seeing the looks on their faces was a joy to him. It gave him great pride to be the one that was above all others in both worlds.
The newest victim of his pride that he had selected would be the boy who had materialized in the game, Kirito, also known as Kirigaya Kazuto in the real world. Sugou knew that the boy's life was literally in the palm of his hand, and he was looking forward to the day he made Kirito realize it as well. However, he knew it would not be fun if he did not give Kirito a 'fighting' chance. As he relished, seeing someone's spirits breakdown completely after building themselves up was much more satisfying than breaking them from the start.
A few moments after the boy materialized on the forest ground, he regained conciseness. His vision was blurred, and he was feeling dizzy. He attempted to get up, but he was having difficulty setting himself straight. After a few moments, he finally regained his senses, and he was able to stand up straight. When he could see straight, he realized he was in some kind of strange forest.
He thought to himself, "What is this? Where am I?"
Kirito pinched himself to make sure of something. While he could 'feel' the pinch, something felt off about it. He thought to himself, "I think I'm alive, but what happened?"
He was having difficulty piecing together what had happened to him. Kirito remembered what happened after the fight with the 75th floor boss, Skull Reaper. He had unmasked Heathcliff as being Kayaba Akihiko's avatar, and he fought him in a duel to the death that would allow not only him but the remaining players to be freed if he won. Kirito remembered while he was successful in killing Heathcliff and saving the remaining players, it also resulted in the 'apparent deaths' of both himself and Asuna.
He then remembered that both he and Asuna watched the final sunset of Aincrad while the game was finishing the deletion process as they made their final declarations of love to each other. Then there was nothing. He could vaguely remember being in some kind of limbo, but he could not remember any of the details other than feeling 'powerless' and getting 'sucked into something.' The next thing he knew he was here on this forest floor.
After piecing all of that together, Kirito realized that something felt strange about his body. He brought his hands to his ears and noticed that his ears were pointy and his hair was naturally spiky. Kirito then looked down at his outfit and noticed that while there were similarities to his clothing in Sword Art Online, primarily the fact they were both black, he noticed there were several key differences as well.
When Kirito was done noticing the differences in his character avatar, he took a good look around his surroundings and realized that it was not an area he had ever been to in Aincrad. The forest he was in was similar to a few of the forests he explored in Aincrad, but the trees seemed slightly different, and further away in the distance there were ruins.
Kirito thought, "Those ruins seem familiar somehow." After thinking for a few moments, he remembered, "The ruins resemble the ancient Mayan Pyramids in Central America. I remember reading about them in history class once."
During his time in Sword Art Online, he had thoroughly explored a number of areas in the game, whether they were game fields or dungeons, and he had visited each floor that was cleared at least once. In all his time in the game, he did not once see these ruins. Kirito was able to correctly conclude this area was not one of those floors in Sword Art Online.
By taking another good look at his surroundings, he thought to himself, "I don't think I'm in Aincrad anymore."
Between the differences in his avatar's appearance and the strange surroundings he quickly surmised, "I must have been transported into a different game after the deletion process."
After Kirito realized he was in another virtual world, he thought, "Does this mean everyone else was transported here as well?!"
Kirito then began to desperately shout, "Asuna! Agil! Klien! Is anyone here!? Answer me!" However, the only thing he could hear was the echo of his own voice.
Kirito desperately kept calling the names of his friends at the top of his lungs, but there was no answer. Even though Kirito would admit that he was used to being a loner in Sword Art Online, the loneliness he was experiencing now was different. At the very least, he was able to message his friends and find out where they were if he needed them through his friend map options.
During the last year of Sword Art Online, he truly began to value the relationships he had formed in the game, especially his relationship with Asuna. Besides Asuna, he also owed a lot of his development to his other friends, Agil, Klien, Lisbeth, and Silica. If he could speak to them again, he would. He did not wish to be completely alone anymore. However, when he opened his menu, he saw that he did not even have that option. It caused his heart to sink.
He sat at the trunk of the closest tree, and rubbed his head. Kirito sadly thought to himself, "What happened to all of you? Where are you?" He continued to rub his head with his hand harder and thought, "I have no clue what is going on here, but I need to get to the bottom of this."
He kept browsing through his menu until he noticed there was a logout button. Kirito thought to himself, "No way. This seems too easy."
When Kirito attempted to press the button, a message told him "Action Failed." He pressed the button several more times, but he kept receiving the same message. He knew that whoever was behind this must be enjoying this.
Kirito thought to himself, "This is even worse than when I was in Sword Art Online. At least, the menu didn't have a logout button. This one here is staring me in the face, and it is refusing to let me out. It feels like its taunting me."
Kirito stood up and shouted out loud to the sky, "Is this your work Kayaba Akihiko?! Is this your sick joke?! I thought the game was over! I thought all the survivors were supposed to be free!" Kirito was becoming more agitated as he shouted, "What is going on?!"
There was no answer, but Kirito was not expecting one. He figured there had to be a reason that he was transported here. He could not help but wonder, "How am I even alive in the first place? I thought Heathcliff and I killed each other at the same time. That should have resulted in me dying in the real world too."
After he thought that, he looked back on his final moments with Asuna overlooking the deletion of Sword Art Online. Even though, it was only an hour ago, it felt as if it had been eons. They both made their final declaration of love to each as they expected to die when they were engulfed in the white light. After the light overtook them, Kirito remembered feeling some kind of strange sensation when he was leaving the game but nothing else beyond that. Everything else seemed like nothing more than a blur. He realized whatever that feeling was must have been the reason why he was in his current predicament.
Kirito told himself, "There is no point in dwelling on this now. For now, I need to find out if there is a town nearby." He was attempting to be optimistic as he said to himself, "Whatever is going on, it must be a test or something. In Sword Art Online, freedom was supposed to be earned by beating the game. Maybe if I accomplish whatever I am suppose to, I can return to reality. Hopefully, if I explore this place long enough, I will find an answer. Or perhaps I will receive a message from whoever is responsible for this." Kirito was not confident in his own theory, but he needed to tell himself something that could help him keep going.
Since Kirito knew that he was trapped in this world, it was not beyond possibility there might be others here as well. He then thought to himself, "Is Asuna trapped in this new world with me, or did she somehow return to the real world?" Kirito thought in a determined inner voice, "Either way, I need to find her. I won't give up until she is in my arms again. That is what I am destined to do."
As Kirito predicted, one of the persons responsible for his current situation were observing him as he attempted to understand the new world he was in. Hideyoshi was mildly impressed that the boy was handling this better than he expected him to. He thought the boy would cry or be overwhelmed by anguish at the thought of being trapped in another virtual reality world. However, while the boy was concerned about himself and his friends, he was attempting to be as calm as he could.
Hideyoshi stated in a tone that showed his amusement at Kirito's adaptability, "It would appear that the boy is catching on quick to his situation. He is going through his menu to familiarize himself with the game, so he can start adapting to the new world."
Sugou smugly asked his subordinate, "Did he attempt to logout of the game after he arrived?"
Hideyoshi answered, "Not right away. He seemed more concerned about his friends based on his shouts and attempting to look up friend information, but he did try to the logout button at least five times before giving up."
Sugou laughed at that. "Ha ha ha! That truly is amusing. I wonder if he already figured out he is on his own in that world."
After considering his observations, Hideyoshi stated, "I wouldn't go that far, but based on what I'm seeing, he will eventually come to that conclusion."
Sugou decided to have a look at Kirito's situation for himself and noticed the stats that Kirito's avatar possessed. He asked in a less than polite tone, "Answer me this Hideyoshi, why does that brat have such high level stats?"
Hideyoshi thoroughly explained, "Apparently, he was a high ranking player in Sword Art Online. That seemed to be a given since his account profile labeled him as one of the two that 'cleared the game.' Based on the fact Alfheim Online runs on a copy of Sword Art Online's servers, it is not inconceivable that a transfer of data from one game to another is possible. That includes both items and stats as long as they are compatible in both games. As you can see, most of his items and at least one of his skills have been either deleted or corrupted by the incompatibilities of the two games."
After hearing that explanation, Sugou inquired, "Are you able to reset his stats to that of a beginner player?"
Hideyoshi considered that possibility, but he responded, "It might be possible, but I do not think that would be a good idea for what you have in mind."
Sugou asked in an impatient voice, "Why would that be the case?"
Hideyoshi explained, "If I reset his stats, it could cause the programming to be reset as well. That would probably give him a window of opportunity to logout of the game, and you would lose your potential back-up plan. If I did reset his code, I might be able to place the binding program on his avatar again, but it would take some time to rebuild and place back into an existing avatar than in comparison to planting it into his avatar as we were creating it for the game. Chances are he would probably notice the difference beforehand and escape."
Sugou knew that was one chance he did not want to take. He was already taking a chance as it was for the sake of his amusement, and it would be even more foolish even for his standards to add to that risk. Sugou replied in a frustrated tone, "Very well. Don't bother with him then. It would probably be for the better his stats remain like that anyway. At least now he can compete on the same playing field as those other players rather than needing to take any other actions of my own."
While Hideyoshi did not want to ask this question, he knew that if he did not ask it, it could lead to some unnecessary trouble for him later. He asked, "Is there anything else we should do about him until the expanded area is complete?"
Sugou responded, "Observing his progress would be the only thing I would suggest for the time being. It would be good to see how he moves forward and how he will interact with the other players." He then asked out loud, "Will he build himself hope that he can escape Alfheim Online or will it wane as time goes on? Either way, I am going to enjoy breaking him." Sugou's voice indicated he was enjoying the images that were going through his mind regarding the future of Kirito. Unfortunately for Kirito, what Sugou would do to him personally and allow others to do would be much worse.
Kirito knew that there was no use fretting over the 'logout' button for the time being. He knew that regardless of wherever he was, he would need to understand this world and adapt quickly. For all he knew, he was transported from one death game to another, and he might as well prepare for the worst. He told himself that after he can attempt to finding a way to either find his friends or a way out after he managed to settle into this new environment.
He figured the best place to start was to familiarize himself with the menu. Luckily for him, the menu was not too different from Sword Art Online, so it was easy to navigate. When he opened up his skill window, he saw much to his amazement that his skill list included:
One Handed Sword – 1000/1000 – Mastered
Blade Throwing – 967/1000
Parry – 1000/1000 – Mastered
Battle Healing – 944/1000
Searching – 1000/1000 – Mastered
Tracking – 963/1000
Hiding – 1000/1000 – Mastered
Night Vision – 908/1000
Extended Weight Limit – 949/1000
Sprint – 870/1000
Fishing – 604/1000
With the exception of Kirito's dual blade, he realized that somehow all of his skills from Sword Art Online had transferred to this game. This confused Kirito because while he could feel a similarity between this game and Sword Art Online, he knew that they were not the same thing. He figured that might be the reason why the slot that would have stated his "Dual Blade" skill was conspicuously "- - - -."
Kirito thought, "Is this some kind of compatibility issue? Dual Blades was a unique skill in Sword Art Online, so I guess that would not be the case here."
After considering his situation for a few moments, Kirito then said out loud, "Wait a second." He realized that if his skills had somehow managed to transfer to this world, perhaps other things from his Sword Art Online avatar had transferred as well. He touched his 'item window' and he noticed that what was displayed on his window appeared in some weird gibberish he did not understand. However, he chose to ignore that as he desperately scrolled down the window. He kept desperately saying, "Please, please, please be there."
As soon as he reached an item that was labeled, "MHCP001," he stopped his window and his heart was beating faster with each passing second. He took a deep breath before he pressed that item. After selecting the item, its color reversed and asked whether or not the player wished to "Use Item."
After Kirito confirmed his choice, there was a white glow that appeared in the cent of the window. When the light faded a familiar object appeared in Kirito's hand. It was the colorless, tear-shaped crystal that he converted Yui into when he saved her from the deletion process a few weeks ago. As he held onto it, he felt a heartbeat in his hand. Just like in Sword Art Online, it felt as if he was literally holding onto someone's heart.
Kirito thought to himself, "Please let this work. Please."
He then gently tapped the crystal twice with his finger, and it caused a pure while light to explode from the crystal that nearly blinded him. The crystal then floated several meters into the air. From within that light a little girl with the appearance of a ten year old emerged. She had long black hair, had cherry-colored lips, wore a snow-white dress, and was barefoot. When she emerged from the light, her eyes were closed and her hands crossed over her chest.
Kirito was stunned at the sight of this girl. He was unable to move, speak, or blink. All he could do was think, "Is this really happening? Am I really seeing this?"
The girl before him was none other than Yui, his and Asuna's adopted AI daughter. Both he and Asuna only knew her for three days before he was forced to convert her to an in-game item to save her from deletion, but the two of them grew to care for the girl as if she were their own. The fact she was an AI did not change their feelings for her. After Kirito was forced to convert her into an in-game item, he swore that he would restore her and they would be reunited someday. Today was that day.
Yui was still floating in midair as she slowly awoke from her slumber and revealed her beautiful bright, black eyes. She noticed there was someone below her. It did not take her long to recognize who he was. He may have had a different appearance, but there was no mistakening who he was. Seeing that he had not forgotten her filled her with happiness, and she smiled at the sight of him.
Kirito was not sure if Yui would be able to recognize him in his new form. He nervously said to her, "Yui. Do you remember me?"
Yui happily responded, "We meet again, Papa," much to Kirito's relief.
Tears of happiness came from Yui's eyes as she stretched out her arms and flew right into Kirito's chest as he caught her. Her thin arms clasped around Kirito's neck as he held her body in his arms.
Yui kept happily repeating, "Papa . . . Papa!"
The 'father' and 'daughter' continued to hug each other tightly. Even Kirito was crying a little from seeing Yui again after fearing that he would not be able to restore her.
Kirito happily said, "This is truly a miracle."
While Kirito was enjoying his reunion with Yui, Hideyoshi and Sugou were observing their peacefully moment.
Sugou said in an amused voice, "So it would seem that he is not alone after all. Now that is very curious indeed."
Hideyoshi scanned Kirito's Nerve Gear and spotted the root of it. "It would appear that a program was installed in his Nerve Gear prior to us transferring him to Alfheim Online. I wonder how that happened?"
Sugou came to his own conclusion, "If it was a program that was installed in his Nerve Gear, it serves to reason that it was probably some program that came from Sword Art Online. As you stated it is likely that similar to his stats, any program that brat may have had in his possession from Sword Art Online could be transferred assuming there is compatibility."
Hideyoshi agreed, "From what I'm seeing it appears to be a real possibility. I doubt programs from other games would be compatible with Alfheim Online. Programs from Sword Art Online are one of the very few that I could imagine coming close."
Sugou turned his attention away from the scene between Kirito and Yui and began focusing on the Nerve Gear. "Let's see if there are any other programs uploaded onto this brat's Nerve Gear."
As Sugou continued to remotely scan the software of Kirito's Nerve Gear, Hideyoshi asked, "Do you really think there is something else in there?"
Sugou gave a smug grin as he stated, "My instincts are telling me I will definitely find something." After checking more of the Nerve Gear's hardware, Sugou eventually found what he was looking for. "Ah. I see I was right to be suspicious. There is another program here."
It was Hideyoshi's turn to be curious as he asked, "Do you know what it is?"
Sugou did not answer until he had given the software another look, and he hastily concluded, "It definitely appears to come from Sword Art Online. I can tell by style of the programming. However, unlike that AI, this program appears incomplete."
Hideyoshi asked in a skeptical voice, "Incomplete?"
Sugou ignored Hideyoshi's skepticism as he explained in a condescending voice, "A large amount of the material appears to be missing. This program was probably given to the Nerve Gear after the game was beaten earlier today, but our interference must have stopped the process. I almost find it a shame we can't see more. Anyway, I doubt it will be of any use to him like that AI probably will be."
While Hideyoshi was angered by Sugou's condescending tone, he was able to keep himself composed as he calmly asked, "What do you want done with this 'incomplete' program?"
Sugou casually stated, "Nothing. As you warned me, messing with his Nerve Gear's memory could cause his program to be reset and allow him to free himself. There is no need to take any unnecessary risks."
Hideyoshi reluctantly complied, "Very well."
Another thought crossed Sugou's mind as he told him, "The AI that brat has with him could help make this even more amusing, and it could provide us with an interesting test subject. We should probably see if we can contain it within one of our in-game devices or produce one for the occasion. Be sure to keep an eye on its programming to look into those possibilities, but until I give the word do not do anything beyond that."
Hideyoshi calmly responded, "If that is what you wish, then so be it."
Suddenly Sugou received a message on his phone regarding issues with the company. He told Hideyoshi, "It would appear that I am being called away for other business. Continue to observe those two for the time being. I'll be back later to provide you with further instructions."
Hideyoshi answered in a less than enthusiastic tone, "Yes sir."
After Sugou had finally left the room, Hideyoshi was relieved by the lack of that man's presence. Before Hideyoshi went back to observing Kirito and Yui, he decided to take another look at the 'incomplete program' inside Kirito's Nerve Gear. After looking it over for a while he thought to himself, "The more I look at this program the more I believe it is not a matter of being incomplete." Hideyoshi continued to look over the program as he hypothesized, "It feels more like it has been separated like pieces of a puzzle. If that's the case, then where is the other piece to complete it?"
While he could not put his finger on it, Hideyoshi's instinct was telling him that something about this program was significant, and it should not be ignored. Hideyoshi had to learn the hard way what the price was for not paying attention to all the details. He figured it would not hurt him to attempt to learn more about this program. If anything he was hoping it could help alleviate his own problems.
After thoroughly looking over the program Hideyoshi thought, "Something feels familiar about this program. It resembles something that I have seen somewhere before." Hideyoshi's eyes widened when he realized what he might be looking at. "Could it really be something like that? This Kirito must have truly proven himself worthy if he was given a program of this nature, even if it is merely a piece of it. If that's the case, this Kirito might be much more interesting than I originally thought. I think I will enjoy observing how he will progress in this game. It will probably be more interesting than waiting to see what Sugou has planned to break him. Don't disappoint me Kirito."
Hideyoshi then turned his attention back to watching Kirito and Yui's reunion. He could see how happy the two were to see each other again. He remembered that there was a raffle going on to give a certain player a 'navigation pixie' for free. Hideyoshi thought to himself, "Perhaps I could tip the balance in his favor as a present for raising my curiosity."
Seeing Yui again gave Kirito a victory that he sourly needed. After being thrown into a new virtual world without any explanation, not knowing what happened to his friends or his girlfriend, and being denied his ability to logout, it had made the situation bleak. Kirito was not sure whether or not he would be able to adapt to another world by himself again. However, knowing that Yui was alive filled Kirito with hope that he would be reunited with Asuna and his friends. It was a hope that would continue to build within him.
He thought to himself, "Asuna I don't know where you are, but we will meet again. Whatever I have to do to make it happen, I will do it. The same goes for our other friends as well. If you are worried about me, you don't have to be. I have our daughter, Yui, to keep me company. Until the day we can be together as a family again, I know the two of us will pull through. Similar to you, Yui presence gives me the feeling that I can do anything." Kirito inwardly laughed at himself as he thought this. "Besides, it will be good to have some father/daughter time until I can figure a way out of this world."
Kirito and Yui found a collapsed tree that acted as a 'bridge' for a nearby river to sit on. Yui sat on Kirito's lap, and she nestled her head against Kirito's chest. They shared a peaceful moment before Kirito asked Yui any questions.
While Kirito did not want to question the good fortune that was given to him, he could not help but ask Yui, "I'm sorry to ask this Yui, but what on earth is going on?"
Yui was not exactly sure what Kirito was asking her, so he explained his question. "I mean this world isn't Sword Art Online is it? I saw the game world get deleted with my own eyes. This is some place else right?"
After Kirito asked that, Yui asked, "You mean you don't know where you are Papa?"
Kirito scratched his head as he sheepishly answered, "It's a long story, but no I don't." Kirito could see that Yui wanted to hear an explanation, but he felt that it could wait for the time being. "I promise I'll explain later."
Seeing that her Papa was in need of direction before he could give her an explanation, Yui replied, "I see. Then please give me a moment."
She then closed her eyes, and it appeared that she was scanning the area for something. After Yui scanned the area, her eyes snapped open and looked at Kirito. She told him, "This world is known as Alfheim Online."
Kirito repeated what he heard, "Alfheim Online?" This caused him to wonder out loud, "So does that mean this is a game world similar to Sword Art Online and there are other players in this world too?"
Yui confirmed Kirito's speculation, "That's right Papa. The world is also known as the 'Land of the Fairies.'"
Kirito once again repeated what Yui said, "The 'Land of the Fairies?' What kind of name is that?" He then asked in a curious tone, "Why is that?"
Yui explained, "Because there nine different species of fairies that players are capable of selecting."
Kirito wanted to know more, especially since he did not know what kind of fairy he apparently was, so he asked, "Is that so? Do you know what they are?"
Yui informed him, "The races are Cait Siths, Gnomes, Imps, Leprechauns, Pucas, Slamanders, Spriggans, Sylphs, and Undines. You are a member of the Spriggan race Papa."
Kirito looked at his hand as he said, "The Spirggan race huh?" He then turned his attention back to Yui, "You know all of this just by scanning the game's code Yui?"
Yui nodded, "Yes. It was an easy task to complete because this world was based off a copy of Sword Art Online's servers."
Kirito was surprised to hear this. "Are you saying that someone else copied programs that created Sword Art Online?"
Yui answered, "That is correct Papa. The same core program group was used to produce this world's framework and graphic format. As a result, I was able to be reproduced this form. My existence along with the similarities I am seeing here are proof of that. However, it would appear that the cardinal system is an older version, and this world has game components that vary greatly from what you may be familiar with in Sword Art Online."
Kirito could not help but wonder, "Then who could have done that? If I recall correctly, Sword Art Online was originally produced by the company known as Argus, which was originally owned by Kayaba Akihiko." Kirito thought for a few moments before stating, "Do you think it's possible another company purchased Argus' assets in order to produce this game?"
While Yui could not be entirely sure about the 'business' side of the real world, she answered, "That would appear to be the case. It would have to take a company of high potential to produce something of this nature even if they were using partially recycled technology."
After hearing Yui say that, Kirito lost some of his previous optimism regarding his situation. Kirito added to what Yui had said with, "Not to mention using recycled technology would significantly reduce development costs and time. I bet other companies wouldn't want the Sword Art Online incident to completely stain the Virtual Reality genre and wanted another game to come out to truly prove its potential."
Yui agreed with Kirito's statement and stated, "I wouldn't really know much about issues like that, but I guess you would be right."
Kirito then asked, "Does the recycled technology explain why my personal data is here as well?"
Hearing Kirito say that made Yui curious about her Papa's data, so she responded, "Papa, please let me look at your avatar's data."
Yui closed her eyes again as she scanned Kirito's avatar. When she was finished scanning she opened her eyes and informed him, "I see. Papa there is no doubt that the avatar data you have now is an identical copy of your Sword Art Online avatar. You are correct that the recycled technology is the reason for this. Both this game and Sword Art Online utilize a nearly identical format for avatar save data and common skill proficiency which allows nearly all of your avatar's abilities to be inherited from one game to another."
Kirito sheepishly said, "I see. That might be a good thing in my case." Kirito then thought to himself, "Considering the fact I know next to nothing about what is going on, I will probably need everything I can use to survive this."
Yui shook Kirito out of his thoughts when she said, "However, there is something you need to keep in mind Papa."
Kirito asked, "What is it?"
Yui explained, "When I was scanning the game's codes, I learned a few other things about the differences between the two worlds. Due to the data for hit points and mana points being different, they are not transferred. As a result, despite your high skill level, your avatar's hit points and mana points are low. Additionally, when I was scanning your avatar's data, I noticed that all of your items were corrupted. It would be for the best if you delete them all."
Kirito reluctantly agreed to what Yui told him. "Okay."
He was hesitant to delete his items because not only had a number of those items helped him during his journey before, but there was a possibility that some of those items used to be Asuna's. Since they married before Sword Art Online ended, they shared an inventory window. This allowed both of them to use items the other had in his/her possession prior to their marriage. As a result, it was likely her items were among the 'corrupted' items he was seeing on this window.
Even though he could not read them, he did not like the idea he was deleting some of his in-game wife's items without asking first. However, he knew if he did not follow Yui's advice it could lead to some unnecessary trouble. After being trapped in a death game for two years, he knew better than anyone that it would be for the best to avoid such problems whenever you can. It's what keeps you alive.
After Kirito deleted the items, the only possessions he had left were his normal initial equipment. He then asked, "Yui can you determine whether there should be any problems with my skill levels as well?"
Yui stated in a matter of fact tone, "From the system's point of view, I do not believe so. However, the amount of time you have been inside this game would make your stats somewhat unnatural unless you received some kind of handicap or special award. I would not expect there to be any problems unless a Game Master were to check your stats directly, which I doubt he or she would."
After hearing that, Kirito thought, "Somehow I have a feeling that will be the least of my problems." He then responded in an uneasy manner, "I see. So I guess that means I have gone from a Beater to a Cheater."
Yui reassured Kirito, "Well to be fair Papa, you did earn those stats during your time in Sword Art Online. It's not like you hacked the game and gave yourself those stats without working for them. What you have is an accomplishment even if it is transferred data."
Kirito scratched his cheek as he reluctantly agreed, "I guess that's true."
Even though Yui was not fully aware of her Papa's situation yet, she could tell based on his demeanor it would be best if they stopped talking about the avatar data. "I think we shouldn't worry about something like your avatar's data for the time being."
Kirito knew that she was right. "Yeah that's true." He asked in a hopeful tone, "So Yui do you have any ideas of what we should do or where we should go?"
After Kirito asked that, Yui had a strange look on her face and stated, "In a moment Papa. It appears there is a pseudo-character program for user support in Alfheim Online. It is known as a Navigation Pixie, and that is what I seem to be classified as."
Kirito asked in a confused tone, "A what?"
Yui stated, "When you entered the game, you were placed in a raffle to obtain one and now you have been selected to have one. Now I shall take up that label."
No sooner had she said that, her body lit up and disappeared. When Kirito witnessed this, his eyes widened in terror and he thought, "Oh no not again!" He shouted his virtual daughter's name is a panic, "YUI!?"
Kirito looked around in a panic state to see if Yui was anywhere when he noticed something small flying right in front of his face. It was no bigger than ten centimeters in height. He was surprised by what he was seeing and took a step back on reflex.
The small being in front of him said in a playful voice, "I'm right here Papa." When Kirito heard her voice, Kirito instantly recognized this being was in fact Yui, but he was surprised by her appearance. He took a step forward for a closer inspection.
Despite transforming into a Pixie, Yui's appearance remained mostly the same, but it was proportionately smaller. She still retained her adorable face and long black hair. Similar to her normal body, she had slender arms and legs, but what she was wearing was drastically different from her white one-piece dress. She was wearing a pale pink mini-dress that seemed as if it was made of flower petals, and Yui had two translucent wings stretching out from her back.
Yui assured Kirito as she floated in front of him, "Don't worry Papa. This is the appearance of a Navigation Pixie. I am still able to switch back to my normal body as well, but I think I will stick to this appearance for now."
Kirito let out a sigh of relief, "Oh I see." He then lifted his hand and playfully poked Yui's cheek with his finger.
When Kirito made contact with Yui's cheek, she laughed out loud, "That tickles!"
Yui then moved away from Kirito's finger and landed on his shoulder. Kirito then curiously asked, "Does that mean you have administrator privileges like you did back in Sword Art Online?"
Yui stated in a frustrated tone, "I don't. The only thing I am capable of at this moment is access references and wide area map data. I can also confirm what the status of other players that I come in contact with, but I am incapable of accessing the primary program database."
Kirito then said in a disheartened tone, "Is that so? That's too bad." Kirito then thought of something he could ask Yui. "By the way Yui, does that mean that you know what date it is today?"
Yui gave her Papa a curious look before answering. "Yes. It is November 7th, 2024. Why?" She gave Kirito a questioning look.
Kirito looked away from his shoulder to avoid eye contact with Yui as he said, "No reason. I was just curious." He then thought to himself, "So on the same day I end one game, I am transported into another. Not to mention, it's a little suspicious that Yui was allowed to be made into a Navigation Pixie. I bet this is the Game Masters telling me that they are watching me. Things are not going to be as simple as I was hoping they would be."
Hideyoshi chuckled as he observed the scene before him. He said out loud to himself, "I hope you enjoy the present I gave you kid. I have a feeling that you will use it well."
He would later explain to Sugou that when Kirito entered the game, his avatar was still entered into the 'raffle' despite his forced entry into the game. Sugou was skeptical about this claim but decided not to focus on that issue. He was more interested in the notion that a program from Sword Art Online was able to integrate itself into Alfheim Online and decided it was worth investigating further.
While Hideyoshi observed Kirito and Yui, he could not help but feel interested in their interactions. Hideyoshi was more than familiar with the development of virtual reality games, but he had never seen an AI that seemed so 'alive' before. Even though he had seen NPCs have conversations with players that seemed somewhat realistic, you would ultimately see that they were simply NPCs in the end and nothing more. However, there was something different with this one.
Hideyoshi pondered, "Could it be that the AIs that Kayaba completed in the final version of Sword Art Online surpassed what was originally considered impossible?" He then chuckled to himself as he thought, "Well I should have known that would be the case. For better or worse, that man is capable of surprising anyone. I suppose in Asuna's case, it was for the better and for that schmuck Sugou's case it was for the worst. I will be interested to see whether or not he will do anything for Kirito's situation."
After observing the interactions with Kirito and Yui, Hideyoshi had already begun to feel a bit of regret regarding his role in Kirito's current and future situation. "Based on what I am seeing from you, I have a feeling you might make me regret telling Sugou to not reset your stats and allow you a chance to escape to the real world. Although, I suppose it would also be a shame to let this show end too soon." Hideyoshi then chuckled to himself and thought, "I guess having thoughts like that are the result of working for more than one devil."
Yui informed Kirito there was a town close by. Apparently, it was a neutral territory town, so they might meet people from other races there. Kirito figured it would not be a bad idea to check it out since he was curious what other players would look like. He figured it would be best to get used to the appearances of other races as well, so he would not stand out too much.
On the way there, he thought to himself, "I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised that another virtual reality game was created. A part of me doubted that the virtual MMO genre would die out due to the Sword Art Online incident anyway. There is too much potential for something like that to be closed off. However, this does lead to some other concerns. Whoever, purchased Argus' assets must also have had access to the Sword Art Online servers and allowed them to keep them running. That means either the entire company or specific individuals within that company have decided to not let Kayaba Akihiko's game end just yet. I also have no way of knowing whether all of us or only a few of us are trapped here as well."
Kirito's thoughts then focused on Yui who was sitting on his shoulder, "I still remember what happened when Yui interfered with the game's program to save Asuna and me. She was almost deleted by the same programs she was supposed to be working with to help the players." Kirito then realized the horror of implications he was thinking about, "If those people see Yui with me, what will they do to her? Will I be able to save her this time? If I can't ensure my safety, there has to be a way to at least ensure her own."
Yui noticed Kirito's facial expression, and she was uncomfortable how he had remained silent for the past half hour. She spoke up in a concerned voice, "Papa are you okay?"
That caught Kirito's attention as he noticed her concern. He tried to assure her, "I'm fine Yui. Why do you ask?"
Yui did not buy Kirito's 'assurance.' She answered, "It's just that you seem unhappy. It's not my fault is it?"
Kirito was surprised to hear her ask that. It caused him to stop walking as he tried to straighten out this misunderstanding. He said, "No of course not. I was just thinking about this world." Kirito could see that Yui did not fully understand what he was talking about. He thought to himself, "I have a feeling that if I tell Yui it might be okay since she is not a player." After thinking that, Kirito decided he might as well explain himself, "Well I guess I might as well tell you then. I am not sure what is going on, but it appears that I am trapped in this game as well."
Yui's eyes widened when she heard that. She said in a voice that had a mixture of surprise and horror, "What? Are you saying that you are unable to logout?"
He grimly responded to the question with, "Yes." Kirito opened his window and displayed the logout button for Yui to see. He attempted to press it, but it failed to work. "As you can see, every time I press the logout button it keeps telling me that it won't work. The person in charge of this game must have done it. At first I thought this could be the work of Kayaba Akihiko. However, the more I think about it, the less I think that is the case."
Yui responded, "I'm not really sure, but given the circumstances, I don't think so either. This game may feel similar to Sword Art Online, but I can still feel the differences. Even if they share similar technologies, I do not feel that they share a common creator."
What Yui said more or less confirmed what Kirito had thought. "In that case, if I were to venture a guess, I would say it was someone involved in whatever company purchased Argus." Kirito's facial expression turned into one that clearly showed his annoyance and disgust. "Whoever is responsible for this, he or she must be enjoying this. I wouldn't be surprised if that person was watching us now." Kirito could not help but briefly look up into the sky as if he was hoping to receive a response. "At least with Kayaba, I knew what was required to earn my freedom, but now that is no longer the case."
Yui's voice brought Kirito's attention back to her as she said, "Don't worry Papa. I'll help you find a way out of this game, so you can return to your world."
Kirito asked her, "Will you?" In hindsight, he realized it was wrong to question his AI daughter's intentions.
Yui responded in a firm and somewhat sad voice, "Of course I will. It's a promise. I want to spend time with you and Mama, but I understand that you exist in the other world. It is the world where you two belong, and you need to return there. I will do what I can to help you."
Kirito could not help but smile at what his adopted AI daughter had told him. "Thank you Yui, but there is something else we need to do first."
Yui asked in a curious voice, "What's that?"
Kirito responded in a determined voice, "I need to see if Asuna or any of my other friends are trapped in Alfheim Online as well."
Yui asked in a concerned voice, "You think Mama is trapped here too?"
Kirito stated in a voice that was a mixture of seriousness and uncertainty, "I'm not sure. So far I haven't seen anyone else from Sword Art Online here besides you. For all I know, I am the only Sword Art Online player here."
Yui stated, "It does seem possible. I am also capable of scanning areas for the existence of players. All the players I have noticed so far have not bared any resemblance to players who existed in Sword Art Online."
Kirito's eyes opened wide upon realizing what Yui was saying. "You can remember the identities and characteristics of the other Sword Art Online players?"
Yui responded with pride in her voice, "Of course. I remember that there were over 6,000 players still alive before I was nearly deleted by the Cardinal System last month. I remember the mental states and the characteristics of almost every single one of them." Kirito could tell that the face that Yui was putting up was a façade in order to hide her previous pain.
Kirito sadly thought, "I guess you would probably be capable of recognizing the players. You were forced to watch every single player in the game without being able to do anything about it for two years."
However, Kirito knew better than to bring up that subject. He decided to spin-off what Yui said in a more positive light, "That ability should come in handy then. It would reduce the amount of time it would take to search this entire world."
Yui cheerfully said to Kirito, "Yes it will. Feel free to make use of my scanning ability anytime you want."
Kirito decided to take Yui up on her offer and he stated, "All right then. Since you said that you do not feel the presence of any Sword Art Online players in this immediate vicinity, it is possible they could have arrived in a different location than me too, so we are still going to need to search thoroughly. Unfortunately, until we know more, we have no way of knowing."
"That is also true." Yui then asked her Papa in an optimistic voice, "Do you think it's possible that Mama and the others are back in the real world?"
Kirito said in a grim voice, "I hope so. Until we know more, we should probably think the other players are trapped here as well."
The two of them were silent for a moment before Yui decided to break the silence. "Papa I was wondering. There are other players here in this game. Based on my scan, I am positive they were not Sword Art Online survivors. Perhaps we should inform some of them about your condition."
Kirito put some thought into what Yui said for a few moments, but came to the conclusion, "It might not be a good idea to tell anyone right now."
Yui asked in a questioning voice, "Are you sure about that? We might need some help."
Kirito immediately responded, "We probably do need help, but there has been something that has been bothering me. Do you mind if we continue this conversation after we get to town and find a place to stay?"
Yui was anxious to continue this conversation, but she figured that her Papa was right that this was not the best setting to continue having these involved talks. It probably would not be long until they are attacked by someone or something if they do not have their guard up.
She reluctantly agreed, "I guess that's okay. I suppose standing around here will not do us any good. The town is still quite a ways from our current position. If you want to get there fast, it would probably be easier to fly there."
Kirito asked in a surprised tone, "Fly?"
"Oh I forgot to tell you." Yui realized her mistake as she explained, "In this game, every race is gifted with the ability of flight. Unfortunately, it lasts for a limited period of time, and the altitude you can climb on your own is limited before your wings need to be recharged."
Kirito's eyes widened as he asked Yui, "My avatar has wings?"
He then looked at his back to see if there was anything there, but there was nothing on his back. Kirito was a little disappointed not to see anything. The look of 'comical disappointment' on his face was hilarious.
Yui chuckled at her Papa's reaction as he told him, "You don't have wings yet Papa. You need to enter into flight mode."
"Oh." He scratched the back of his head as he responded, "I guess that would make sense."
Yui informed Kirito on how to enter flight mode and by following her directions he saw that he sprouted four long, grayish-blue translucent wings that appeared more like insect wings. As cool as Kirito thought they were, they would be useless unless he could get them to move.
Kirito asked Yui, "How do I fly?"
Yui answered, "Your avatar should be able to use a secondary controller for flight." She then instructed Kirito, "Please hold up your left hand and pose it as if you were attempting to grip something."
By following his daughter's advice, a joystick-like object materialized in his hand. Kirito thought, "Whoa. This will be interesting."
Yui continued her instructions, "If you wish to rise, you pull it and if you wish to descend you push it away from you. You can turn by moving the controller left or right. You use the button to affect your speed by pressing it to accelerate and releasing it to slow down. When you become more accustomed to flying, you probably will not need to controller to fly anymore."
After listening to Yui's instructions, Kirito enthusiastically stated, "All right. Here goes nothing."
Kirito then pulled on the joystick and he noticed his wings on his back started to expand and began to glow. He then stopped his ascension by pulling back on the joystick, so he could float in midair. He pressed the accelerator button which caused his body to move forward, and it nearly resulted in him hitting into a tree. Luckily thanks to Kirito's great reflexes, he was able to turn to the right before he crashed. After practicing for a few minutes, Kirito appeared to be getting the hang of flying.
Yui playfully said to Kirito, "You seem to be enjoying yourself Papa."
Kirito stated in an excited voice, "Yeah I guess I am. Being able to fly like this has always been a dream of mine. I played a few flight simulator games before the Sword Art Online incident. Most of them were disappointing, but the flying system here was executed better than any of the flight virtual reality games I played before. It is much easier to get a handle on it."
Kirito realized that he had almost forgotten that he was trapped in this game, and he still had no clue how he could get out. However, now that he had a slight handle on his ability to fly in the game, he should now focus on the next objective. He lowered himself down to the ground to prepare for the journey ahead of him.
He opened up his menu and saw that despite disposing of his corrupted Sword Art Online items, he still had the 'initial Alfheim Online equipment' at his disposal. After experiencing Sword Art Online with better equipment, such as the Dark Repulser and his BlackWyrn coat, he was disappointed that he would have to begin this journey with such weak weapons and armor.
Despite his disappointment, he knew that he would probably have the opportunity to acquire better weapons or items later, so he did not complain too much. He equipped the sword and it materialized in his hand. He took a couple of practice swings in the air and said, "This is a pretty lousy sword. It's too light, and it will probably break if I get into too many intense fights, but I guess I'll have make do with it until I can find something better."
Kirito then sheathed his sword and re-summoned the flight controller again. Yui could see that Kirito was about to take flight to the nearest town, and found a seat in his breast pocket. He told her, "Yui, I'll leave you to act as our navigator."
Yui said in a determined voice, "I won't let you down Papa."
With that they took off on their first flight. The flight itself went smoothly, but Kirito accelerated greatly while he was on his way to town. When Kirito was nearing the town, he attempted to slow down, but he was going so fast he was unable to stop in time. Realizing what was about to happen, Yui 'ejected' from her seat and flew way as Kirito came to a crashing stop with a building.
After Kirito crashed into the building he fell to the ground. He thought he saw stars floating right above his head as he groaned in pain. It felt as if he was about to lose consciousness.
Suddenly he could see three Yuis floating above his head as they told him in a semi-frustrated tone, "We are going to need to work on your landing Papa."
As Kirito lied on the ground, he comically responded, "No kidding."
Shortly after Kirito's crash landing, he and Yui decided to spend the rest of the day at an inn. After they settled in, Yui reverted back to her original body. Yui explained as much as she could about this new world to Kirito, such as the differences between the races, which races were at odds, which races were friendly, the player killing, and so on. It was a lot for Kirito to process, but he was able to understand the gist of it.
Kirito thought to himself, "I guess after spending so much time in one virtual world, it would be both easy and difficult to learn about another one."
Yui shook Kirito out of his thoughts when she asked, "Papa do you think you understand what you need to know."
Kirito said in an uncertain tone, "I think I do. It may take a little bit of time for it to sink in though."
Yui understood that she did give her Papa a lot of information in a short period of time to digest, so she was not upset that she may need to repeat a few things. "Well if you ever need reminding, don't forget that I'm here."
"Don't worry. I won't." He playfully asked her, "How could I ever forget about you?"
Yui giggled when Kirito asked her that. It made Kirito happy to see Yui smile like that. He thought, "After everything she had been through, she deserves to smile like that."
After everything Kirito had heard Yui saw he could not help but sigh at his current predicament as he looked at the ceiling. He then said out loud, "You know it is kind of crazy how things turn out. A few hours ago I was watching the deletion of Sword Art Online with your Mama. Now here I am trying to get used to a new virtual reality world with you. I was a solo player when I started in that game, and I am solo player here as well."
Neither Kirito nor Yui said anything for a few moments. Kirito took a seat on the chair and Yui sat on the bed. During that moment of silence Kirito appeared to be reflecting about something. He took a deep breath before breaking the silence with, "Yui. Thank you."
Yui was genuinely confused by this, "For what? Are you thanking me for explaining to you about the basics of Alfheim Online? Or that we can help each other let go of the past?"
"I'm grateful for those things too, but that's not why I am saying this." Yui looked at Kirito with a curious look as he continued, "If it weren't for you being here, I don't think I would be ready to handle something like this again."
Even though Yui was happy to hear her Papa say something like that, she could not help but ask, "Why do you say that Papa? You have handled Sword Art Online by yourself before right? Everything worked out for you in the end didn't."
Kirito both agreed and disagreed with Yui's assessment. "Yeah that's true, but it's different this time."
Yui asked in a curious tone, "Why is that?"
Kirito explained, "For a majority of the game, I was always acting as a solo player. I did join a guild once, but my actions and decisions cost them dearly. As a result, for almost a year after that, I stayed to myself. The only people I interacted with on even a semi-regular basis were Klein, Agil, some of the other frontline clearers, and the NPCs." Kirito grimly chuckled as he stated, "To be honest, I think I had an easier time talking to the NPCs than the players. Other than those times, I isolated myself from everyone."
The look on Yui's face was sad, but it also indicated that she did have knowledge of that. Kirito figured she probably remembered seeing his mental state during the months after the death of the Black Cats guild. She probably remembered how he had contemplated suicide in hopes that it would atone for his decisions. It made Kirito feel guilty of the role he played in Yui's breakdown prior to their meeting on the 22nd floor a few weeks ago. However, Yui's eyes told him to continue because she wanted to hear more of what her Papa had to say.
Kirito sighed as he stated, "However, during this past year, I have realized how wrong I was. The other players I have interacted with during this past year, such as Silica, Lisbeth, and your Mama, have changed me. I know that I'm still not exactly a social butterfly, but it still felt good forming these different connections. Even though I did not see them too often, I would occasionally send them messages, and it was nice to see their replies."
When Kirito thought to how he had made a fair number of friends before Sword Art Online's deletion it caused him to smile, and it made Yui feel happy to see her Papa appear so. Although, his smile changed as he continued, "Now I can't even do that, and I feel like I'm back to what I was before. I don't want that anymore. I want to meet my friends in the real world. Not only that, I want to be able to send them messages, apologize to some of them for my past actions, and I want to look into your Mama's true eyes. I bet they are as beautiful as they were in Sword Art Online." He then looked at Yui with an expression that indicated his gratitude to her presence. "That is why I am thankful that you are here with me Yui. If it weren't for you, I am sure that adapting to this world would be much more difficult for me. I'm sorry if what I'm saying sounds selfish, but I am truly grateful."
Yui walked up to her Papa and hugged him around his neck. "You don't have to worry Papa. I will always stay by your side. I will help you find a way back to your world and find Mama. You can count on me."
Kirito then returned the hug and said, "Thank you Yui."
However, after talking to her Papa about this, it reminded Yui of their previous conversation. After she stopped hugging him, she walked to the center of the room and turned around to look at him. Yui asked in an uncertain tone, "Papa are you sure about not wanting to tell other players about your predicament?"
Kirito remembered Yui was referring to what they were talking about back in the forest. He told her in a voice that was serious but contained a slight amount of fear, "I know that is something I should think about doing, but for the time being, I'm sure not telling others would be the right thing to do."
Yui asked in a questioning voice, "Why do you think that?"
Kirito explained, "A few things we talked about earlier really stuck out in my head. You mentioned about how this world was based off the servers of Sword Art Online which means whoever bought Argus' assets after the incident is most likely responsible for this." The fear in Kirito's voice was becoming more apparent as he continued, "However, the fact there are normal players here and there doesn't seem to be any kind of panic like there was in Sword Art Online proves something that I have been thinking about."
Yui was starting to understand what Kirito was getting at as her eyes began to widen in fearful realization. However, she still could not help but ask, "What's that?"
Kirito attempted to mask the ever growing fear as he calmly told Yui, "Whoever is responsible was able to do so discreetly. When they did that, they could have probably done whatever they wished with my account, but they didn't. They choose to place me in the game even though they know I could tell other people." It was Kirito's turn to ask Yui a question. "Don't you find that strange?" Yui had difficulty finding the words to respond to that question, but Kirito continued his point before she could answer. "It feels as if they are providing a huge temptation for me to tell another player. They are practically dangling that possibility in my face with every player we encounter." Kirito came to a hypothesis, "Whoever is responsible for this is either a complete idiot or they have some kind of sadistic 'god complex' over this situation."
Yui was not entirely sure what her Papa meant by 'god complex,' but she decided not to dwell on that and focus on the topic at hand. She asked, "You are going to ignore the temptation to tell other players then?"
Kirito calmly answered, "That is exactly what I am going to try to do. As I told you before, I wouldn't be surprised if the people responsible were monitoring my activity right now in one way or another. Thanks to that, I can think of at least two good reasons for why talking to anyone about this would be a bad idea."
Yui wanted more clarification, so she could be sure that she fully understood the situation. Yui inquired, "What reasons could those be Papa?"
Kirito knew he had a lot to explain, but Yui seemed to be willing to listen, so he told her, "It's kind of a long story, but shortly after I had to convert you into a crystal tear, I figured out that Kayaba Akihiko, the one behind the Sword Art Online incident, had been playing the game along with the players under the avatar identity of Heathcliff. He enjoyed playing the game with us for two years, and during that time he became trusted and respected by many. As a result, none of us had a clue until the end. For all I know, any of these players could be someone affiliated with what's happening and trying to see whether or not I will tell anyone. I bet whoever is responsible considers playing with people's lives as just some sort of a game."
Yui could see where her Papa was coming from. She responded in a voice filled with empathy, "I can understand that Papa. Being able to trust others can be difficult after you have been betrayed by someone, but I'm sure that most of the players we have seen are normal, and they are separate from what is happening. It might be worth the risk."
Kirito could tell that Yui was most likely correct about that. However, there was still something off about this situation. "That might be true, but there is also the second reason to why it would be a bad idea."
Yui inquired further, "What reason would that be?"
Kirito took a deep breath before he told her, "There is a possibility that if I tell anyone directly I would be putting them in danger."
Yui was confused as she responded with a, "Huh?"
Kirito decided to give Yui a hypothetical scenario. "Let's say I tell someone about what is happening and that person believes me. It is likely that whoever is responsible for this is watching me. When Sword Art Online started, I always thought that Kayaba had a god-complex, and I am willing to bet this person has one too. It's possible if I tell anyone the truth, it might be more than just my life on the line. I could be putting other player's lives at risk too."
Yui could see where her Papa was going with this and asked, "Do you think if we attempt to tell anyone that the person responsible would bring some kind of 'punishment' to the individual?"
Kirito honestly responded, "Well there is no way of knowing, but I'm not sure if I want to take that risk. After all, whoever is responsible for this is able to keep me in this virtual world like Kayaba was able to keep me trapped in Aincrad for two years." He then gave Yui a piercing question, "Who could say this person had not already considered the idea that I would tell others? For all we know this person has something prepared for such an occasion."
Yui found it hard to argue with some of her Papa's arguments. "I suppose you do have a point. There is no way of knowing what the consequences could be if we attempt that. Even with my scanning abilities, I have no way of knowing what the Game Masters are capable of."
Kirito nodded and added, "Yeah and there is also the possibility that your life could be put in danger as well."
Yui was surprised when she heard that. "Why do you think my life would be on the line?"
Kirito reminded Yui, "Remember how after you interfered with that boss' program a few weeks ago, it nearly caused you to be deleted."
Yui nervously answered, "Yes."
Kirito explained, "Well I think it's possible that if we tell anyone about what is going on, you might pay the price for it as well."
Yui tried to point out, "But they haven't tried to delete me yet even though I'm an AI from Sword Art Online."
While it was true that Yui might be okay for now, Kirito was still afraid that might be conditional. He responded, "I have a feeling it's because you don't really pose a threat by yourself. Unfortunately, that might change if we go around telling others that I was one of the people trapped in Sword Art Online."
Yui could see that her Papa was frightened of the idea that she could be deleted again and tried to assure him, "If anything like that happens, I think I would be able to retreat back into your Nerve Gear Papa."
That did make Kirito feel a little better, but it was not enough. He gave her a mixed response, "Well it's good to hear that you might be able to do that, but I'm still afraid of what would happen if they did attempt to delete you. When you turned into a Navigation Pixie, you mentioned that I won the raffle to receive one. That raffle was probably rigged by the Game Master to give a warning that they might be capable of doing something to you. All things considered, telling anyone about this is a risk that I'm not willing to take."
After hearing what her Papa had told her, she concluded, "So we are completely on our own then."
"For now yes. Things might change in time, but for the time being it would be for the best to avoid speaking of this to other people." Kirito looked at his hands as he said in a voice filled with shame, "There is enough blood on my hands already. I should try not adding to it."
It was Yui's turn to open her eyes wide with shock, "What?"
Kirito sighed as he explained, "I have the blood of nearly ten players on my hands. A number of my actions during the game came close to raising that number substantially. After you were nearly deleted Yui, I took some rather rash actions, and they nearly cost your Mama her life. I don't ever want to take a risk like that again. If I take the risk, maybe it can lead to me returning to the real world, but it could be at the cost of another. If that were to happen, I don't think I could ever forgive myself. The blood will never wash off."
Yui knew exactly what he was talking about. She had seen everything that happened in the game and witnessed the deaths of all the Sword Art Online victims, including the Black Cat Guild and the three Laughing Coffin members that Kirito killed. Yui had always considered herself responsible for what happened because she was unable to provide the players with mental health counseling before they reached the breaking point.
She looked away from her Papa as she responded with a hint of sorrow in her voice, "I understand. I'm sorry Papa."
Kirito could tell by the look on her face and the sound of her voice that Yui believed she was partly to blame for this. He told her, "Yui it's not your fault. What happened to those players happened because of the decisions I made. It was on me, and it always will be. Don't even think about shouldering that burden."
Yui turned to face her Papa as she started to say, "But Papa . . ."
Kirito cut her off, "No 'buts' Yui. You need to be able to let it go, but I can understand why that would be easier said than done."
Tears began to well up in Yui's eyes, and Kirito could tell that Yui would need a lot more than that. To be more accurate she deserved a lot more than that after everything she had been through. Kirito walked up to Yui and crouched down, so the two of them could be at eye level.
Kirito looked into Yui's eyes filled with sincerity and empathy as he told her, "What I witnessed throughout the game is probably a mere fraction to what you had seen during those two years. I cannot begin to fathom what your pain must have been, but I can understand that you would feel regret over not being able to help those people. As I told you before, it was beyond your control. Your inability to act was Kayaba Akihiko's fault, but you can't let what he did make you think you are not a good person." Kirito then pointed to where Yui's heart would be and told her with a smile, "I don't know if you have a heart like the one I have, but I know you do have one and that you truly are a good person. Don't let yourself think otherwise."
Yui was pleasantly surprised to hear Kirito refer to her as a 'person' rather than an AI. She merely said in response to that, "Papa." Tears were beginning to well up in her eyes again, but they were for happiness rather than sorrow.
Kirito continued his point with a firm but calming voice, "What makes you a good person Yui is that when you did have the ability to do something, you did what you could. When we were down in the special dungeon to save Thinker, you could have left Asuna and me to die and save yourself after you regained your memories, but you choose to save us even though you knew you were putting your life at stake. Putting one's life on the line for someone else proves that you care about me and that you are a good person and always will be."
This time it was Kirito's turn to hug Yui, and Yui was happy to return it. Being embraced by the man who saved her life and took her on as his daughter was the happiest moment of Yui's life. She knew the circumstances were less than pleasant for her Papa, but he still did what he could to cheer her up and make her feel that she mattered. The only way this moment could have been any better was if her Mama was there as well. Unfortunately, Yui knew it would be sometime before that was possible, and that thought could not be more correct.
While they were hugging Yui told her Papa, "You're a good person too Papa. So try not to think so little of yourself." This time it was Kirito's turn to be surprised. Yui happily continued, "You may have made mistakes and isolated yourself from others, but when you saw others in need, you always tried to help them. It didn't matter if you knew them or not. Whenever a bad situation arose regardless of whether it was because of a decision you made or because of someone else's actions, you did the best you could. Even after you found out that I was an AI, you and Mama did not think little of me. You still treated me well, and you called me your daughter. I wouldn't be here now if it weren't for you. So please try to let go of your past as well."
Kirito was nearly at a loss for words as he tried to respond, "Yui I um . . ."
It was Yui's turn to cut her Papa off, "I don't want to hear any 'buts' from you either."
Kirito responded in a somewhat embarrassed tone, "I wasn't going to say that."
Yui saw that she jumped the gun a little, and responded, "Oh. Then what were you going to say Papa?"
Kirito scratched his head as he sheepishly answered, "I was going to say that I guess we both could use some help with trying to let things go."
Yui happily suggested, "We can learn together Papa."
Kirito chuckled at the suggestion, and responded with a smile, "Yeah we can."
Hideyoshi had been watching Kirito and Yui's exchange. He saw everything from their wonderful 'father/daughter' moments to his reasoning for why he will not tell other players about his predicament. Hideyoshi felt a little bit of shame for needing to observe all of this, but he was required to observe them whether he liked it or not.
Hideyoshi was impressed by what he had heard Kirito state. He thought to himself, "The kid seems to be pretty smart to have figured out so much within a day. It's amusing that he figured that asshole was either an idiot or has a god-complex. Sugou definitely has elements of both. It was definitely stupid to place this kid in the game and let him roam around freely, but that asshole has ironically taken a few steps to make it clear to the kid that telling others is a temptation, and it will result in dire consequences."
He then turned his attention to Kirito's AI companion. Based on the AI's appearance and personality, Hideyoshi would almost be convinced the program was a human. "I also find it incredible that an AI is capable of having human like feelings and responses. What did Kirito call that AI again? Yui?"
Repeating that name seemed to put Hideyoshi into deep thought as he pondered further, "That name sounds familiar for some reason. Where have I heard that name before?" After a few more moments of thinking, he then realized, "Wait a minute, is that program the Sword Art Online mental health program that was codenamed 'Yui?'" After considering the facts, Hideyoshi came to the conclusion, "Based on their dialogue, I suppose that is most likely the case."
Hideyoshi brought his hand to his chin as he continued to observe Kirito and Yui. "So an AI that was originally denied its ability to be of assistance to the players presented itself to one of them to be 'adopted' as his daughter. This is very intriguing indeed. Their interactions almost have me convinced she is a real person. It will be most interesting to see how their story will develop." Hideyoshi smiled at the screen, and he appeared to enjoy the idea of observing some of Kirito and Yui's time in Alfheim Online.
Date: Friday, November 8, 2024
Location: Alfheim Online – Spriggan Territory – Ancient Ruins Area – Neutral Town
After getting a good night's sleep, Kirito and Yui prepared for their first real day trapped in Alfheim Online. The two of them knew this was going to be a long journey. They had decided it would be best to circle around the entire world of Alfheim Online and check as many sections as they could in each territory before heading to the World Tree, Yggdrasil.
Both of them figured that in the worst case scenario they would travel throughout the entire world and not find a single Sword Art Online survivor. Then it would mean if the other players were anywhere, it was in the World Tree. They also considered the possibility that other survivors would probably travel like he has, and would eventually travel to the World Tree as well. In their minds, Kirito and Yui figured all roads would lead there.
If it ever became necessary, they knew that Kirito's already powerful stats would have been improved even further between traveling and fighting in different areas, and he would probably be more prepared to handle the World Tree. They also figured that even with his current stats, it would be a difficult feat to accomplish without becoming stronger and finding potential allies. As a result, they decided they would attempt to find allies that could help them with the World Tree as a secondary objective.
Before they could begin this journey, Yui suggested, "Papa, it might be best if you attempt to acquire some new equipment. While your general stats are good, if you do not have proper weapons or armor to back them up, you will remain vulnerable due to your low level of hit points and mana points."
Kirito sheepishly agreed, "You have a good point. Do you know where we can accept any new quests?"
Yui answered, "Similar to Sword Art Online, there are NPCs that will provide you with opportunities, and you can also check out the quest boards that are provided in various establishments, such as inns and taverns."
Kirito then noticed the board near the exit of their inn. Kirito decided to take Yui up on her advice and took on some quests which would take him all around the Spriggans' 'Ancient Ruins' territory.
Prior to Kirito setting off for his first quest, Yui saw that there was a decent number of players around. This gave her an idea as she flew up in front of her Papa and told him, "Hey Papa I was thinking that there might be a way of getting around your logout problem."
Kirito responded in a hopeful tone, "Really?"
Yui nodded and responded, "Maybe instead of attempting to tell others about your inability to logout perhaps you could indirectly tell them."
Kirito was confused about what Yui was saying. "What do you mean by that Yui?"
Yui responded, "When you showed me your inability to logout back in the forest yesterday, it read, 'Action Failed.'"
Kirito was still not sure what Yui was getting at. "That's right. Why?"
Yui explained her plan, "Well what would happen if you attempted to logout in a public place where others can see the 'Action Failed' status? That might attract some attention. Based on their reactions, it might be enough to tell them what is going on."
Kirito's lit up at Yui's suggestion as he said, "That sounds like a good idea. I'll try it."
Yui took a seat on her Papa's shoulder as he prepared the logout button. As he pressed the logout button, Kirito and Yui's body disappeared. For a moment, Kirito thought, "What's going on? Am I being logged out? Is this it?"
Much to his disappointment, after that process was over, he saw that the only thing that happened was that he was in a different location. He recognized this area when he flew over it last night.
Kirito said in a frustrated tone, "What the hell? We were just transported to the outskirts of town."
Little did Kirito know that prior to his arrival in Alfheim Online, Sugou had implemented a special code in his logout button. As Kirito had already seen, the logout button would not let him leave the game. Whenever there is no player within viewing distance of him, it would simply state 'Action Failed.' However, if there were players in his vicinity, the logout button would seemingly work, but in reality, it would result in one of two things.
One possibility was that it would result in Kirito being transported to a nearby area where there were either no players or to an area others would assume that he was logging into the game. The other possibility was that it would knock Kirito's avatar out for a few moments. Seeing temporarily motionless avatars was not uncommon if players were traveling in a party. Sometimes one of the players would need to leave for a few moments to go back to the real world for a little while, and the still active party member would watch over things. In this situation, it was the former that happened. After seeing this happen, Kirito knew that it would probably take a lot more effort to convince someone else that he was truly trapped here.
Kirito said to Yui in a depressed voice, "It seems like it will be difficult to convince another player of my situation even if we wanted to tell them."
Yui sighed as she agreed, "It sure looks that way."
Kirito was annoyed that this was yet another possibility that would not yield him any results. However, he decided that would be something to worry about another day. Instead, he decided to learn something from this situation and said, "I have a feeling that whoever is responsible for this is giving me the equivalent to a warning. I bet he or she is saying something like, 'This is my game so obey the rules.'"
Yui asked her Papa in a worried voice, "What do we do now Papa?"
Kirito was more or less resigned to what he thought was necessary and stated, "I guess the only thing we can do for now is play along. Are we still signed up to handle the quest I accepted?"
Yui was able to quickly confirm, "Yes we are."
Kirito tried to psyche himself up for the road ahead. "We should get going then. It seems like our only chance of finding other Sword Art Online players and finding a way out of here would be by completing them."
Yui did not have the enthusiasm that Kirito had as she asked, "Before we go, do you mind if I ask you something Papa?"
Kirito turned his attention to his shoulder as he asked, "Sure what is it?"
Yui asked with a skeptical voice, "Are you sure that taking on quests will really help you find a way out of this world?"
That was something that Kirito did not have the answer to. "Well not exactly. I am just going by past experience."
After hearing her Papa say that, it made her interested in hearing more as she inquired, "What do you mean by past experience?"
Yui could tell right away that this would be another 'long story' cut short. "After I had fought throughout Sword Art Online for nearly a year, I managed to gain Kayaba Akihiko's attention. He was so impressed with my skills that he awarded me the unique skill 'Dual Wielding,' which could not be obtained by any other means than through his selection. When I fought Kayaba's avatar, 'Heathcliff,' he told me that he expected me to be the one to ultimately fight him. It is possible that the Game Master of Alfheim Online wants to test me before he or she makes an appearance or sends me a message." Kirito was attempting to sound optimistic about his situation, but anyone who listened closely could tell that he had difficulty believing what he was saying himself.
Yui could tell that her Papa was putting up a façade, so she asked in an even more skeptical voice, "Do you really think that will be the case?"
Kirito decided to let go of his façade and stated, "To be entirely honest, I am not sure in the least, but for now it is the best shot we have. Only time will tell what will happen. Besides I can't accomplish anything if I stand around doing nothing. If I complete these quests, I can at least feel that I might be making some progress."
Yui nodded in agreement and stated, "I guess I understand where you are coming from Papa. Action is the best way to solve problems."
"That's right." Kirito attempted to revitalize his enthusiasm to complete the quest, "So are you ready Yui?"
Yui gave her Papa a determined smile and stated, "I'm always ready Papa." She then jumped back into her Papa's breast pocket and was ready for him to get into flight mode.
With some renewed resolve, Kirito said, "Good. Then let's get started."
Kirito and Yui were ready to officially begin their adventures in Alfheim Online. He entered into flight mode and took off. Luckily, for Kirito, he had a more skill with his landings after about three more flights. After three days of questing, Kirito was able to save up more than enough money to purchase more reasonable equipment.
Due to Kirito's high stats, he was able to take on more difficult quests that beginner players would not dare to take on alone. This allowed him to not only gather the money he required, but he also managed to vastly improve his hit point and mana point levels. Kirito figured that if certain environments in this game were as bad as Yui had informed him, he would probably need as many hit points as he could get. However, he was not too sure how much he would need mana points. Due to spending two years in a game that did not utilize magic, the idea of needing to use magic was unfamiliar to him. Although, he figured there would probably be a time when the need for magic would arise, so he decided to improve upon it as best as he could.
Prior to departing from the Spriggan zone, Kirito wanted to make sure of one fact. He asked Yui, "You are absolutely sure that you did not feel the presence of any Sword Art Online survivors within the Spriggan zone while we were handling those quests?"
Yui nodded as she responded, "I'm positive. The only other explanation for that besides not being there in the first place would be if they somehow masked it, but I doubt that would be the case."
Kirito asked in a quizzical manner, "If you don't mind me asking Yui, is it due to the Nerve Gears that you are able to tell who the Sword Art Online survivors are?"
Yui sadly responded, "Most likely yes. The Nerve Gears are where your avatar data is located and thus they give off the same signals. However, I am not sure if that is only the Nerve Gear or the minds of the players that go into the Nerve Gear that would allow me to recognize them. If it is the player's minds that give me the signal, it could be possible that I might recognize them even if they were to use something else. Regardless, it was thanks to receiving the same signals before that I was able to recognize you so quickly Papa despite some of the differences in appearance between your avatars in both worlds."
Kirito decided it would be for the best to change the subject. "I see. Well I guess that does explain a lot. In that case, where do you think we should head to next Yui?"
Yui explained the Alfheim Online map, "Well to the North we would be heading into the Reclamation area that belongs to the Leprechauns. Due to their close proximity to the Gnome zone, it might be snowy in that area as well. To the South we would be heading to the Wetlands area that is the property of the Undines."
Kirito carefully considered the options as he asked Yui for advice, "Do you think we should head North?"
Yui informed Kirito, "In most circumstances, that would probably be preferable, but I think we should probably head South?"
Kirito gave Yui a questioning look as he asked, "Why is that?"
Yui explained in a matter of fact tone, "If we head to the South, we will reach the Alpines and the Desert areas much faster, and we are more likely to find more players fighting each other due to the Southern areas being more at odds with each other. It is possible that if other players from Sword Art Online were sent into Alfheim Online, it is likely they might have higher than normal stats similar to you Papa."
Kirito's eyes open in realization to what Yui was saying. "So what your saying is that if other players have stats similar to me, they might be more willing to fight other players to prove their superiority which could give us a lead."
Yui did not want to get her Papa's hopes up to high, but she thought it was probably the best place to find a lead. "It's far from a guarantee, but it is the best idea that I can come up with."
Kirito did not have any problem agreeing with that assessment. "If that's the case, it is good enough for me. Let's get going."
Date: Friday, November 15, 2024
Location: Alfheim Online – Imp Zone – Alpines Area – Inside a cave
Kirito and Yui's time in the Undine Zone was short lived. It was much smaller and easier to explore by comparison to the Spriggan Zone, so they were able to explore it rather quickly. While they were there, they had overheard some of the players speak about the Sword Art Online incident. They learned that apparently nearly all the surviving players had returned to the real world, but there were a handful that had not awakened yet.
Needless to say, Kirito was sorely tempted to tell those players he was one of those players who still had not returned to reality. However, he knew that it was doubtful they would believe him, and he had to remind himself of his reasoning for not telling other players. Perhaps after some time had passed, he would consider telling someone, but that time was still a ways off.
When Kirito and Yui crossed the next border, they reached the Imp zone or more specifically, the Alpines area. This place had numerous mountains, some of which seemed to pierce the sky. However, even the tallest mountain was at best half as tall as the World Tree. Throughout each mountain, Kirito could see the entrances to numerous caves. Yui pointed Kirito to one cave in particular. While it would be a long road ahead for them, it was one of the only caves that would lead directly to a mountain village.
After walking all day, Kirito said in a voice mixed with annoyance and frustration, "We have been traveling in this cave for nearly two days. When do you think we will reach the next town?"
Yui attempted to rejuvenate her Papa's spirit. "It shouldn't be too long Papa. The neutral mountain village should be nearby. If we keep this pace up, we should be able to reach it before sundown."
Kirito stopped to lean on the cave wall as he said in an exasperated tone, "I sure hope your right. I would rather sleep on a bed tonight."
Yui could see that her Papa was not keeping up the pace, so she tried to encourage him. "Don't worry Papa it's not that far away."
Kirito sighed. "Yeah I know. It's a shame that I can't fly in caves like this."
Yui nodded in agreement. "Unfortunately, your flight ability would not have been enough to fly us over the mountains. However, even if we could, it would be slightly harder to scan for the players within the caves from the outside than it is the scan for players inside the caves from the outside."
Kirito asked in a confused voice, "Why would that be the case? You still have to scan through the same amount of mount don't you?"
Yui was not entirely sure of the answer herself. "To be honest, I'm not sure either. I guess something about the programming makes it easier to scan from the interior to the exterior rather than the other way around."
Kirito was not going to bother trying to understand the logic of that. "I'll take your word for it."
Yui tried to change the direction of the topic. "Luckily, we are more likely to find players exploring the interior of these caves." That was true because they had run into over a dozen players during their time in these caves. Most of them did not try to attack them. The ones that did attack Kirito were cut vertically in half.
Kirito asked, "How many more of these caves do you think we need to explore then?"
Yui tried her best to estimate. "Due to the nature of this cave, we managed to cover quite a bit of ground, but we still have a ways to go. As of this moment we have covered about five to ten percent of the area, but we will need to explore at least eighty-five percent before we can reach a satisfactory level. Only then can I be certain whether or not there are any other Sword Art Online survivors here before we move onward to the Salamander zone."
Even though Kirito thought it would be necessary, the thought of exploring more caves like this did not sit well with him. Especially since he had enjoyed the idea of flying and did not like being grounded in this game. "That's going to take a while isn't it?"
Yui could tell that her Papa was getting frustrated, but she knew that lying to him would not do them any good. "I am not going to lie to you Papa. Due to the nature of the Imp zone, this is probably going to be the hardest area to explore in the game. I wouldn't be surprised if we are here for at least two or three weeks before we have explored this place entirely."
If this were Sword Art Online, Kirito would probably not have had too much of a problem with that. However, the longer he was trapped in this game, the more anxious he became. "It's incredible that we are going from only taking two to three days to thoroughly explore the Spriggan and Undine zones to taking two to three weeks for this one." Kirito took a breath before trying to find the bright side to this. "At least this is the harder area. It will probably be easier in later areas right?" He looked towards Yui who nodded. "Exploring the caves isn't so bad since I don't have to waste money on lighting equipment. This makes me glad I at least have night vision. Considering how strong some of these monsters are in here, exploring these caves on my own would be near suicidal without night vision or at least having a partner."
This caused Yui to come up with a question that tempted fate. "I wonder who would be foolish enough to come into these caves without those precautions?"
As if on cue to a regular cliché, Kirito and Yui could hear something that sounded like a battle. Yui sensed the area up ahead and could see that two players were fighting several powerful monsters, but neither of them were Sword Art Online survivors. From what Yui was observing, it appeared that the players might get killed if they did not intervene. Kirito decided that was exactly what he would do.
When Kirito arrived, he expected to see players in Imp avatar form, but to his surprise he saw on female Puca and a male Cait Sith battling monsters that seemed to resemble were-wolves. These monsters were between two to three meters tall, with long sharp claws on their hands and feet. They had red eyes that allowed them to see in the dark and their jaws were filled with strong, sharp teeth. If they would bite a player, they could probably tear off their appendages.
The two players seemed to be holding their own, but it was likely they would not be able to keep it up for long. The area was somewhat lit, but the light was getting dimmer by the second, and Kirito was not sure whether or not Pucas and Cait Sith's had the ability of night vision as well.
Regardless, Kirito was still surprised that he would run into a Puca and Cait Sith in this area as he thought, "I never would have thought I would see this."
Yui asked, "Are you going to help them Papa?"
Kirito answered, "Not right now. If you decide to enter someone else's fight before they really need help, it could make things worse. For now, I am going to see how the fight progresses for those two." Yui respected her Papa's judgment and observed the fight for the time being.
The female Puca had eyes of gold and golden hair that was tied into a pony tail and reached to the middle of her back. Her clothes were a mixture of white and green colors, and her pants had musical symbols on them. She had a silver flute in her possession that she utilized for her music magic.
After managing to dodge one of the were-wolf's attacks, she managed to retreat enough steps back to play her flute. There were three were-wolves in front of her that she targeted to feel the effects of her music magic. When she played her flute, you could literally see the music come out of the flute and attack her targets. First the music disabled the monsters' movements before destroying them completely.
Upon witnessing what that music magic was capable of, Kirito fearfully thought to himself, "That is some lethal music. I never would have thought I would actually see a Puca here of all places let alone use that magic in battle."
Unfortunately, despite the Puca's accomplishment, several other monsters took the place of the ones she had slain. She said in a frustrated tone, "Damn this is not good."
Suddenly she felt drool hit the top of her head. She immediately looked up and saw that another monster was on the cave's ceiling dropping in to attack her. She quickly used her flute to project a defensive barrier around her before the creature's claws could connect. However, the creature's initial failure did not deter it from attacking again, and the Puca knew that she could only keep the barrier up for so long before she would need to retreat and attack again from another safe distance. She knew that she was good for attacking monsters from a distance but close combat was not her specialty.
Luckily before the creature could attempt to attack her again, the creature's claw was stopped by a whip. The whip belonged to her companion the male Cait Sith. Similar to other Cait Sith's he had the ears and tail of a cat. He had wavy hair that reached to the middle of his neck. His hair, ears, and tail were dark brown. The Cait Sith had gray pants and a golden red shirt that had gray armor on top of it. His primary weapon of choice was a whip that could stretch more than twenty feet.
As he attempted to keep the creature's claw in check, he told her, "Don't worry about this guy. I got him. Focus on those reinforcements over there."
The Puca quickly nodded in agreement before getting into a position to eliminate the newly arrived monsters. While she was killing those monsters, the Cait Sith quickly utilized the Earth magic he had been learning to eliminate his target. He was able to have a pillar form from the ground to impale the monster he had caught in its chest. Unfortunately, since he did not specialize in Earth magic like Gnomes do, the magic took quite a bit more out of him.
He was quickly running out of mana points and he saw that even more creatures were appearing. The male Cait Sith said in frustration, "I knew that this was going to be a challenge but this is ridiculous."
Since he was a Cait Sith, he had a few extra appendages to worry about. On two occasions, one of the were-wolves nearly bit his tail off. It was a good thing he knew how to utilize his enhanced speed and his wall run ability. It was thanks to that he was able to not only escape such attacks but counterattack the monsters as well.
After a few more minutes of fighting and killing as many of the creatures as they could, the male Cait Sith and the female Puca were back-to-back as more monsters kept coming and were surrounding them. The two of them were exhausted and nearly out of power. The male Cait Sith asked his companion, "Merida how are your mana points?"
The one referred to as Merida stated, "It's not looking too good. I'm running low. I can probably use my magic three more times, but that's it. Even if I was able to, I would probably only kill seven or eight of them at most. There's got to be more than twenty of them. Even if I used my magic to create a defensive barrier, it would only last a few minutes under such an onslaught." Merida then asked her companion, "How about you Clovis?"
Clovis responded in a frustrated tone, "I'm not doing much better. The hit points for all of my monsters are too low now. They won't stand a chance anymore. Without them, I could probably kill at least seven as well, but no matter how I look at it, this is a losing battle." He then looked towards the way they came to see it blocked by the creatures. "It looks like our best chance of escape is cut off too."
Merida asked in a desperate voice, "Can you tame any of them?"
Clovis shook his head as he answered, "It is possible, but the success rate for these guys is only twenty percent with my current ability. Even if I was successful, I would leave myself open to getting attacked by the other monsters. There are too many of them to take a risk like that."
Seeing that they had no other choice, Merida prepared her flute to continue fighting. "I guess we are just going to have to stick it out then."
Suddenly the two of them heard and unfamiliar voice, "Perhaps you would like some assistance?"
After hearing that request, Clovis responded on impulse in an enthusiastic tone, "We would love that . . . wait what?"
A few seconds later, three of the monsters were cut diagonally in half and before Clovis and Merida stood a lone Spriggan warrior.
They did not ask the question, but the look on their faces indicated they wanted to ask the stranger, "Who are you?"
As if he was reading their minds, Kirito responded, "We can talk later? For now, let's kill the rest of these monsters."
Clovis said with a dumbfounded look on his face, "Right."
He then readied his whip and attacked the one closest to him. Clovis managed to strike its face and knocked it off balance and it fell to the ground. Afterwards, he immediately brought his whip back and launched it on a monster that was next to the one that he just attacked. With his precision, he managed to knock it on top of the first monster. Clovis then utilized his earth magic abilities to create pillar that would impale both of the monsters on the ground.
One of the other monsters saw Clovis' actions and attempted to attack him from behind, but Clovis noticed it coming. Before the monster's attack could connect, Clovis used his enhanced speed to narrowly avoid it. He then countered by using his whip to wrap around the monster's head. Before the monster knew what hit him, Clovis used his enhanced speed to run up the closest wall. It utilized his whip as a pulley of sorts, and it off its feet. Thanks to their 'back-up' Clovis was able to use this opportunity to attempt to tame the monster. Luckily, he was successful in taming the monster and used it to help him continue fighting several of the other were-wolves.
Kirito managed to cut down several of the were-wolves without any problem. Despite seeing how strong he was, they kept coming at him. When one of them tried to strike Kirito with its left claw, Kirito merely stepped to the side, and cut its arm. The creature barely had time to realize its left arm was gone and scream in pain because Kirito then jumped up and sliced its head off.
After Kirito was successful in decapitating the monster, three new reinforcements appeared behind Kirito. He barely had time before they jumped and attempted to attack him with all their might. The speed of the attack was so great that it would be difficult for someone even with Kirito's reflexes to dodge.
Before he could do anything to defend against their attack, they were suddenly stopped and destroyed by what appeared to be physical musical notes. Kirito noticed this was Merida's doing, and she had his back. The two gave quick nods to each other before they went back to concentrating on the fight.
The fight continued for a few more minutes. Finally, there were no more reinforcements, and Clovis and Merida were finally notified that they had 'cleared' their quest. It was such a relief to the both of them because even with the help they received from Kirito, it was not likely they would be able to continue fighting for much longer. Their mana points were depleted and their hit points were only about twenty percent.
After the dust of the battle settled, Clovis and Merida turned to their savior. He was someone neither of them had met before, and his skills were extraordinary. Even though he only joined in at the end, he hardly received any damage due to his reflexes. They could tell that he appeared to be a friendly person since he decided to help them rather than let the were-wolves kill them off. Not to mention, after the fight, he put his sword back in the sheath on his back rather than point it at them.
Clovis decided to take the initiative and stated, "We appreciate the assistance. Without your help, we probably would not have made it out of this alone."
Merida stated, "Yeah you saved us. Thanks to you we won't need to worry about those penalty points now. Although, I suppose we have more than enough time to make up for them even if that was the case."
That last statement caused Kirito to raise an eyebrow. "It wasn't a problem, but what do you mean by that last part?"
Clovis quickly covered for his companion's slipup. "She doesn't really mean anything other than we have a lot of time on our hands."
"Ah I see. I suppose I do to." Kirito could not help but ask, "Anyway, why were you two here on your own? I don't recall either one of your races having the ability of night vision."
Merida sheepishly responded, "Yeah we know. We actually brought some material to help light the area for us. However, we didn't think there would be so many enemies to complete this quest. We were told to wipe out a pack of them, but this was more like four of five packs. Plus, we really underestimated their combat abilities. Even without biting, their attacks packed a wallop."
While Clovis was grateful for Kirito's aid, he was frustrated that it was needed to begin with. "We should have at least brought Nori with us. She is a Spriggan just like you, but she was already on a quest with some of our other guild members."
What Clovis said caught Kirito's attention. "You two are members of a guild?"
Merida answered, "That's right. We are currently stationed in the village up ahead."
Kirito saw this as a potential opportunity to learn more about the monsters in the area. While Yui has been helpful during his time here with providing navigation, finding out information about monsters in the area from experienced players could prove beneficial. "I see. I was actually on my way there when I came across you two."
Clovis offered, "We'll accompany you there. We were going to head back after our quest was done, and there is no point traveling by yourself."
"I suppose traveling together until we reach the village would make the most sense." Kirito decided it would be best to introduce himself, "In that case, I think introductions are in order. My name is Kirito," Kirito then pointed to his breast pocket, "and this is Yui."
Yui then emerged from her seat in Kirito's breast pocket and greeted the other players, "Hello." She then took a seat on Kirito's shoulder.
Merida was the first to react to Yui's appearance. She said in an enthusiastic tone, "Oh you have a navigation Pixie. She's so cute." Hearing Merida call her cute caused Yui to blush a little. Merida decided to reciprocate Kirito's introduction, "My name is Merida."
Clovis walked up to Kirito responded in a friendly voice, "My name is Clovis. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance." He then offered Kirito his hand.
Kirito took Clovis on his offer and shook his hand. He responded in a friendly tone as well, "Likewise." After shaking hands, Kirito remarked, "So you are a Cait Sith?"
Clovis was surprised to hear someone actually ask him that. "Yes. Why are you interested?"
Kirito responded, "Well you're the first player I have seen that is a Cait Sith."
That surprised Clovis even more. He asked skeptically, "Really?"
Kirito answered, "That's right."
After considering a few facts, Clovis said, "Well I suppose it isn't that strange. The home territories for the Spriggans and Cait Sith are literally located on the opposite sides of Alfheim Online, so I guess me being the first one you have seen isn't too farfetched."
Kirito then asked the question that had been on his mind for a while. "How does it feel to have a tail?"
Clovis found that question to be rather random, but he figured he should not be too surprised. "How does it feel?" He was not entirely certain how to answer the question either. "Well I guess after getting used to it you never really think about such things anymore. I suppose the best way to describe would be," Clovis' explanation was interrupted by Kirito grabbing his tail.
Feeling Kirito grab his tail caused Clovis to feel a mild sense of discomfort. Kirito had seen how a cat would react to someone grabbing its tail, and Clovis' reaction was almost a perfect replication, barring any attempts to scratch the grabber's face. Kirito, Merida, and Yui could not help but laugh as Clovis' reaction to Kirito touching his tail.
Kirito said in an amused voice, "Well I suppose that answers the question better than anything you could have said."
After Clovis recovered from that, he indignantly told Kirito, "Don't do that again!"
Kirito apologized in a chuckling way, "Sorry. I just couldn't help myself."
Clovis more or less accepted the apology and said, "Fine. Let's just get going." Clovis started walking to the cave's exit in a hurried manner with Kirito and Merida following close behind.
Kirito quietly asked Merida, "Did I really offend him that much by touching his tail?"
"I don't think so. Clovis just plays this game so much that he sometimes forgets that is not his real body. Not to mention, he has gotten tired of some of our guild members pulling the same prank on him." Merida laughed a little as she continued, "Seeing him react like that never gets old."
While Kirito could understand the idea of really getting into and becoming a part of the virtual world, even he was concerned about what would happen if people became too addicted to it. "Is he that addicted to this game?"
Merida responded, "You can say that. However, the same could be said for our other guild members as well, including myself. Although, I would say it is especially true our leader, Ran, and her twin sister."
Kirito thought to himself, "This sounds like an interesting group of people."
Interesting was hardly the first way to describe Clovis and Merida's guild. Their guild was a tight-knit group that viewed each other as family. It would remind him of his days in the Black Cats guild. Kirito would eventually learn a lot more about this guild, and it would further affect his perception on the virtual world and life.
The first amazing thing that Kirito would see in this guild would be their leader, Ran. When Kirito gazed upon Ran's appearance he was stunned. His eyes opened wide and he thought to himself, "Asuna?"
The girl before him had an uncanny resemblance to his missing in-game wife Asuna. This girl was of the Sylph race, and she had long flowing golden hair that reached to her waist. The color may have been different but the style and length of her hair was remarkably similar. Kirito had to stop himself from blurting out Asuna's name.
He was not the only one to mistaken her appearance of Asuna's. Yui nearly shouted out the word, "Mama," on impulse upon seeing her, but she realized that the signal she was receiving from this girl was definitely not her Mama's. Kirito even looked at Yui to make sure this girl was not Asuna. When Kirito looked at her, Yui shook her head to confirm that the girl was not the one.
Ran noticed the bewildered looked on her guest's faces and managed to get their attention back by saying, "Hello are you in there?"
Kirito woke from his dazed state and apologized, "I'm sorry. You just look like someone that I know."
Ran laughed a little upon hearing that. "I've heard that before. Anyway, my name is Ran, and I'm the leader of our guild. Clovis and Merida told me what you did for them. On behalf of our guild, thank you very much for your assistance."
After Kirito was sure he would not say anything stupid he returned the greeting, "My name is Kirito, and helping your friends was not a problem at all. I saw some players in need, and I decided to step in and help them. It seemed like the natural thing to do."
Ran playfully responded with, "Is that right? You have an unusual method of thinking for a player in this game. I have seen a fair number of players who would rather watch other players get killed by monsters and then take the weakened monster by surprise to obtain the reward rather than helping the players achieve their goals."
"Yeah I've seen that happen before." Kirito may not have been in this world for too long, but he was getting used to the idea of players killing others for fun, especially since some of his worst enemies in Sword Art Online were player killers. "Well I don't think that way. When I play a game like this, I would prefer to make decisions that would be similar to what I would do in the real world if such a scenario were to actually happen."
Ran was pleasantly surprised to hear Kirito say something like that. "That is a good way of thinking Kirito-kun. You have a different way of doing things." After hearing Ran call him Kirito-kun, it caused him to think back to how Asuna had been referring to him with that suffix over the past few months as their friendship eventually developed into something more.
Kirito knew that he could afford to keep thinking of Ran as being Asuna. He knew they were two different people, but they looked so similar. He needed to do something to temporarily get his mind off her, so he attempted to change the subject. Kirito said, "Speaking of doing things differently, do you mind if I ask you a question?"
Ran did not mind answering a few questions. "Sure go ahead."
Kirito asked, "You're a Sylph right?"
Ran nodded, "Yes I am."
Kirito then asked a follow up question. "Then why do you have your guild's base set up in Imp territory rather than in Sylph territory?"
Ran could see why Kirito would be interested in that, so she explained, "Due to the nature of our guild that doesn't really matter to us."
Kirito asked in a curious tone, "The nature of your guild? What do you mean by that?"
She answered in a proud voice, "Well you already met Clovis and Merida. As you can see, they are not Sylphs either. In fact, I am the only member of our guild that is of the Sylph race. We take pride in being a diversified guild. The remaining six of members have taken on a avatar of a different race, so each of us represents a member of a different race within Alfheim Online."
Kirito thought, "That's a unique guild formation." He then said, "Is that so? How were you able to come together like this?"
Ran provided the details bit by bit. "We all met each other in the real world prior to coming here. We had a few discussions about how we would live in this world. Due to the diversity of our interests, we decided it would be for the best if we chose to use that to our advantage. We all choose to represent different races of Alfheim Online and that we would all begin our journey by meeting up in Aarun which is the city at the foot World Tree, Yggrassil, and it is at the center of Alfheim Online."
Kirito wanted to know more, so he inquired further. "So after you all met up, you have been traveling to the different territories of Alfheim Online ever since?"
Ran was starting to like how she was explaining the history of her guild. A part of her was hoping that maybe it would somehow be seen as significant to other players in the near future or at least give them some inspiration. "That's right. For the past few months we have been going from one territory to the next and setting up our temporary headquarters throughout the world. Now that we are in the Imp territory, we are simply at around the halfway point of our journey. So far our routine has been to visit a territory for a few weeks in order to explore and experience it to its potential. We also want to give each of our guild members an equal opportunity to experience his or her own territory. After we are done with this territory, we are going to head north to the Undine territory, but that won't be for a while. Since we only arrived in the Imp territory a few days ago, this area is still new to a number of our members as you can clearly see. I have a feeling that we probably won't be leaving here until late December or early January."
This was one history lesson that Kirito did not feel like sleeping through. "I see. Sounds like you guys have been going through a lot. What do you hope to accomplish at the end of the journey?"
"We hope that after we experience every territory of the world that we will be ready to conquer the World Tree and establish a name for ourselves." Kirito's eyes opened slightly in surprise to what he was hearing. "If we could accomplish that, current and future players will all know who was able to accomplish the so called 'impossible' task."
Kirito could not help but feel quite a bit of empathy towards them. "That sounds like a wonderful goal. You're all working together to achieve what others disregard as impossible. I can relate to something like that."
Ran could tell Kirito was being sincere as she responded, "Well I can appreciate that. We have told some other people this goal before, and they were less supportive than you were."
Kirito assured her, "Well don't let them get you down. I'm sure as long as you guys keep this up, you will prove them wrong."
Ran responded, "Well that's what we intend to do. I look forward to seeing the looks on their faces when we prove them wrong." Kirito and Ran laughed a little when she said that. It was now Ran's turn to ask a question, "If you don't mind me asking Kirito-kun, what are you attempting to do?"
Kirito figured answering her question was the least he could do. "I'm actually traveling around the world as well."
Ran asked in a curious manner, "By yourself?" The idea of traveling the world was hardly original, but usually players would travel with a partner.
"Not really, I have Yui to keep me company." He gesture to Yui who was still on his shoulder. "With her by my side, things have been going rather well. I am hoping that we will be successful in finding my friends soon."
Ran was getting an idea for why Kirito was traveling. "Looking for your friends huh? Do you know them back in the real world?"
Kirito realized he may have said to much, and he tried to cover it up as best he could. "Sort of. We were friends, but we lost contact with each other. However, I was told that they might play this game like I do under the same usernames. Some of them might be players here in the Imp territory, so I decided to pay this area a visit and see if they would want to reestablish connections."
Hearing Kirito say that seemed to have an odd effect on Ran as she responded with, "Wanting to reestablish connections that were lost huh? I suppose I can relate to something like that as well. If it helps, you can stay here in our headquarters if you want until we leave."
Kirito asked, "Would you really be willing to provide shelter for me and Yui?"
Ran happily responded, "Of course, but if you wouldn't mind, I would appreciate it if you would be willing to help our guild members out like you did with Clovis and Merida. Since you were able to help them out, that must mean you are a skilled player, and we could use an ally like you."
Kirito briefly thought over the terms of the 'contract' that Ran was presenting him and he stated, "That sounds fair. You have a deal."
Kirito stretched out his hand and Ran shook it to signify that the deal had been sealed. Ran remarked, "A wise decision. If you are ever interested, I am sure the others would be willing to accept you as a new guild member."
Kirito was a little surprised by what Ran was offering him. "Are you sure that you can just offer me something like that without talking to your other guild members?"
She told him with a confident grin, "A few might be a little annoyed by that, but they will probably come around soon enough. So how about it? Would you want in?"
After hearing Ran's offer, Kirito was not sure what to say. He thought, "They are heading the opposite direction as me, but if my other survivors are trapped in the World Tree rather than in the other territories, I could use some help. However, if they spend weeks in every zone, that will probably take longer to arrive at Aarun than it would for me to continue visiting each zone myself." Kirito looked to Yui for some advice, but she appeared to be having difficultly coming up with a decision as well. "There is also the possibility that being affiliated with a guild could put them or myself in danger as well."
Yui told him, "I think she is probably a good person Papa. We might be able to trust her and her guild."
Kirito decided not to entirely give her an answer by saying, "Could you give me a little time to think it over?"
Ran replied in an understanding tone, "Of course take your time. I was coming at you with a lot to think about after all. Even if you don't want to join us right away, you can take me up on my offer anytime."
Kirito said in a sincere tone, "Thank you I appreciate it."
Ran made a hand gesture to show that everything was fine. "It's not a problem."
Kirito decided to change the subject by asking another question. "So you mentioned that the nine of you have been playing this game for months right?"
Ran answered, "Yeah that's right."
Kirito was curious about the progress they had made in their travels. "Since you have been traveling all over the world, have you guys been able to make a name for yourselves so far?"
Ran responded in a relatively saddened voice, "Not really. We haven't really become much more famous than any other guild that is out there. Sure we may get more recognition since we are a 'diverse traveling guild' rather than a guild that simply stays within the borders of their territory. However, besides taking on a few relatively high ranking quests, we haven't been able to really stand out too much."
Kirito was not entirely sure why Ran seemed sad. He figured she was probably hoping they would have more results by now. "That's a shame. I bet as time goes on, you will get your chance to really stand out."
Ran's tone changed back to being a happier one, "I appreciate hearing that Kirito-kun. I really do."
After talking so much about Ran's guild, Kirito remembered that he still did not know one piece of vital information. He said, "If you don't mind, there is something else I need to ask you?"
Ran was amused by how many questions Kirito was asking her, but she was fine with it. "What is it?"
Kirito was a little embarrassed to be asking this question at this point. "Well it's just that I don't want to seem rude or anything, but what is the name of your guild?"
Ran was perplexed by this question. "Clovis and Merida didn't tell you that?"
Kirito scratched the back of his head as he told her, "No. They simply told me to follow them because they were heading to this town. I just happened to be going in the same direction as them at the time."
Ran responded, "I see. Then I would be more than happy to give you a formal introduction." Ran then changed the pitch of her voice to express her enthusiasm for this introduction, "Our guild is known as the Sleeping Knights. As you already know, our goal to achieve something that will make us forever remembered throughout all of Alfheim Online. Welcome to our temporary headquarters."
Kirito: Well it looks like we have a new batch of characters to add to this story. I can't help but imagine how this will affect the future of this story. It also makes me wonder how many people saw this coming. It was loosely hinted at in Chapter 5 that the Sleeping Knights would be making an appearance, and it makes me wonder whether or not the readers speculated that. I bet it will be one of those things when they look back and see the narration and dialogue in a different light. What do you think of this development Asuna?
(Asuna does not make a response)
Kirito: Asuna are you there?
Asuna: (She returns to reality) I'm sorry what did you ask?
Kirito: I'm asking what you think of the inclusion of the Sleeping Knights in Fairy Dance Alternate.
Asuna: Oh that. I think it was a good idea to include them in this story, and I hope the readers will agree, but the end of this chapter does make me sad Kirito-kun.
Kirito: What does? The fact you didn't get much screen time this chapter?
Asuna: No. It's the fact that we are going on hiatus starting right now.
Kirito: (Freaks out a little) You have got to be kidding me.
(Klein and Agil enter the room)
Klein: Unfortunately, Asuna's not kidding Kirito.
Agil: (Agil shows Kirito the writer schedule) According to this, the author is currently not writing the subsequent chapters for Fairy Dance Alternate at this time.
Kirito: But we just got started on the current story arc. We were going to find out more about what happened to me during my two and a half months trapped in Alfheim Online before Asuna enters the game herself.
Agil: The author decided this would be a good stopping point.
Kirito: Why would the author think that?
Agil: Well the author figured that if the hiatus began with the previous chapter, the audience would be expecting Asuna to head into the game to find you in the following chapter. At least now with the Chapter 6 omake and what happened in this chapter, the readers should be fully aware of what to expect when the story comes back from hiatus later this year.
Klein: Yeah. You can say it softens the blow for the readers and allows them to enjoy the eventual Chapter 8 easier.
Asuna: Do you guys know when we will return from this hiatus?
(Lisbeth and Silica enter the stage)
Lisbeth: Unfortunately, that has yet to be determined, but the current plans indicate we will probably return sometime in the summer or early fall.
Kirito: That seems kind of far away.
Silica: It does now, but you really should not forget the saying that time does fly when you are having fun. I'm sure the readers will have other things to occupy their time.
Lisbeth: Well that is an interesting way of putting it.
Agil: In the meantime, the author plans on writing new chapters of the other story "Of Science and Magics: The Side Stories" for a few months. Additionally, the author has been producing a few chapters for another Sword Art Online related story that will be a 'secondary project.'
Asuna: Does the author plan on returning to Fairy Dance Alternate after releasing a few chapters of those stories?
Lisbeth: (She pulls out the book of the author's plans) According to the author's personal plans that would be the case, but we all know that such plans are always tentative and subject to change.
Kirito: Do you have any idea why the author is doing this?
Lisbeth: If I were to venture a guess, I suppose the author will probably write a handful of chapters for one story and then switch to the other. I think it could work from an artistic perspective because it could help keep things fresh rather than always working on the same story. I know from firsthand experience how involved creating something can be and if you are not able to give a strong effort into it, the final product will fail.
Klein: While that is definitely one of the author's reasons, isn't there also another reason besides that.
Agil: The other reason for it is that the author also knows that interest in the Index franchise is on the rise. Between the release of the Railgun anime in the West and as well as the Railgun's second season, titled Railgun S, that started airing in April 2013, interest in the Index franchise will be at an all time high, so it would be a perfect opportunity to release chapters for an Index related fanfiction story.
Silica: Won't the readers of this story find reasons like that annoying though?
Agil: That might happen, but the author is a regular person as well. This is ultimately the author's choice, and the author only wishes to fulfill the promise that was made in the first chapter. In case you forgot, the author promised that "Of Science and Magics: The Side Stories" would come out of hiatus eventually. If the author believes this is the preferable course of action then I guess we need to live with it.
Klein: Not to mention, that at least this author is telling the fans that the story is going on hiatus for a few months rather than leaving them hanging without a single clue about what is going on. Additionally, in terms of pure story content, regarding word count and pages, the author has produced more for this story already in seven chapters in comparison that that story's first eleven chapters. Let's not forget, the author's other story, "Of Science and Magics: The Side Stories" is a good story too. Perhaps some of the readers should read that story and support/review it as well while they wait for Chapter Eight.
Lisbeth: I doubt all the readers here are fans of the Index franchise, but I guess there is a chance they might like it. After all, some of the writers here have produced some good Index/Sword Art Online crossover stories.
Asuna: In addition to that, didn't you just state that the author attempting to write another fanfiction story related to Sword Art Online as well.
Agil: That is correct. As of this moment, the author is writing a 'preview' for it and will publish a few chapters during the summer and fall to give the readers and idea of what to expect. After the preview is completed, it will probably be reduced to secondary project next to Fairy Dance Alternate. However, the author is excited about producing chapters for that story as well because it allows for a different set of creative ideas that could not be used in either of the current stories. Besides, the author is not going to be neglecting Fairy Dance Alternate entirely. There are plenty of ideas that are being placed on the planning board as we speak. In fact just recently, the author has written down several ideas for some rather interesting plotlines and direct dialogue that will be used in future chapters.
Kirito & Asuna: Can we hear them?
Agil: Of course you can't hear them now. (Kirito and Asuna are disappointed) Not while the readers are listening in otherwise we will do them a disservice by providing spoilers. (Knowing they will hear the spoilers later gets them excited)
Klein: (He turns to the audience and breaks the fourth wall even further.) You hear that readers. You have nothing to fear about Fairy Dance Alternate's future. It should have no problem returning in the future. In the meantime, be sure to support both of Knowledgeseeker66's stories and provide reviews. Knowledgeseeker66 loves to hear your feedback as well as seeing you participate in the polls that are set up.
(Kirito, Asuna, Agil, Klein, Lisbeth, and Silica all gather up to speak to the readers)
Kirito: Please continue to support "Fairy Dance Alternate" and "Of Science and Magics: The Side Stories."
Asuna: Also be sure to look forward to Knowledgeseeker66's new Sword Art Online fanfiction preview project that is currently being written.
Agil: The current hopeful release date of the first chapter is currently slated for July 8th, 2013, but due to possible complications that date is subject to change.
Klein: Be sure to keep an eye out for the preview sheet that will be made available in June of 2013 on the Sword Art Online fanfiction forum SAO Nexus Fandom.
Lisbeth: Knowledgeseeker66 has been working on this project for months. I hope you readers will be as excited to see its debut as I am. I hope you will provide feedback for that story too.
Silica: Remember that feedback really matters to Knowledgeseeker66, and it is highly valued. It does not matter if you are a member or a guest/anonymous reviewer because Knowledgeseeker66 accepts both. Also if someone could help us get a TVTropes page, we would appreciate that too.
Everyone: We will see you again later in 2013. Try not to forget about us. Until next time, we are logging out.
(All the characters hit their logout button, but only Kirito is left behind)
Kirito: Oh come on you have got to be kidding me! Damn you Suguo!
(Curtains close and a sign reads: "See you again next time," while Kirito comically shouts)
Kirito: Hey don't close the curtains on me like this! Let me out of here!
Author Notes: As I have stated before, for those of you who wish to speak with me regarding the future of Fairy Dance Alternate as well as the new Sword Art Online fanfiction project I am also working on, be sure to check out the Sword Art Online Forum "SAO Nexus Fandom." I set up a topic for Fairy Dance Alternate for current and future fans to openly discuss the story. Keep in mind that sometime in late June 2013, I plan on starting a topic where I will introduce to you my new upcoming fanfiction story. While the plans are still tentative, I hope to begin the publication of the story on July 8th, 2013.
As the omake stated, Fairy Dance Alternate will be going on hiatus for the next few months, but I will return in the near future. I have been carefully setting up the plans for the next batch of chapters, but it will take time to implement them. It is sometimes frustrating to see the plans outlined and not being able to do anything about it right away. That is especially true for the ending that I have planned out for this story. However, from my experience it is sometimes for the best when it takes time to complete them. After all, on the way to the ending, certain new plots can develop more than I thought they would and that can make the previous plans more interesting. That was the case when I came up with ideas, such as involving the Sleeping Knights, expanding Asuna & Lisbeth's friendship, and a few other areas while I was writing the earlier chapters of the story.
Regarding certain mechanics of Alfheim Online, there are a number of them that I am familiar with, such as only Imps being capable of flying in dark places, such as caves and certain races having a greater affinity to certain types of magic while they are capable of utilizing all magic. However, there were a few mechanics I was not a hundred percent sure about, mostly due to a lot of it not really being shown on screen in the anime or light novel. I decided to have that one type of earth magic attack since that has been the case in numerous other Japanese RPGs, such as Tales, Final Fantasy, and Arc Rise Fantasia. Since I do not recall them showing us how 'offensive music magic' worked, due to there being very few characters that choose to be Pucas, I decided to use what I saw in Tsubasa Resevoir Chronicles where the musical notes physically manifested itself as an offensive attack. I figured 'what the hell.'
On another note, I want to make a few things clear about my use of the Sleeping Knights. According to the fan translated Volume 7, it was stated that Yuuki's twin sister, Ran, died a year before the events of that novel. Since that novel takes place from January 2026 to April 2026, that would mean Ran probably died in early 2025. As a result, it is likely that Ran was still alive during the two and a half months prior to the main events of the Fairy Dance Arc, and she probably did not die until after the conclusion of the canon story arc. This will also mean that both Ran and Yuuki's parents have been dead for approximately a year at this point. That would give Kirito something in common with Ran and Yuuki.
Since Ran was the first leader of the Sleeping Knights, it would mean that the Sleeping Knights would have existed at this point as well and all nine members were probably alive. While I am not sure about the exact time when all of the members of the Sleeping Knights were 'assembled,' I am not going to worry about that detail since this is a fanfiction story. However, it was explicitly stated that there was a time when all nine of them were together, and they did not start talking about disbanding their guild until after the first three of them died. Additionally, since the six living members in Volume 7 had a different avatar to represent a different race in Alfheim Online, I have a feeling that other three would probably have the remaining three races covered.
Due to some of the Sleeping Knights already being deceased prior to their introduction to the canon storyline, some of the characterization for those characters will be somewhat original on my part. However, since the general characterization of the Sleep Knights was a 'true companions' mindset and they were all relatively strong fighters, I think that characterization should work for those three as well. Despite their unfortunate circumstances, the Sleeping Knights generally did their best to be cheerful, so I would expect those three to be similar in that sense.
Out of curiosity, how many people guessed that I would be using the Sleeping Knights before the end of the chapter? Did you notice the mini hints I provided in Chapter Five regarding the 'guild' Kirito was staying with? Did you recognize the names Clovis, Merida, and Ran from the fan translated light novels? Were you simply surprised when Ran finally introduced who the Sleep Knights were at the end of the chapter? I would definitely like to know that.
As you may know, in the Sleeping Knights' story arc, they wished to have their names remembered, so they could leave behind a legacy of sorts for after they left this world. You can expect that to be a mini-subplot for them in Fairy Dance Alternate as well. I hope you will look forward to seeing more of the Sleeping Knights in future chapters and will leave a review regarding your thoughts of this chapter and your hopes for future chapters after the story returns from hiatus.
In light of the new feature that allows writers to list four characters on the character filter instead of only two, I have decided to take advantage of this update. I have decided to add Lisbeth and Yui as being 'main characters.' I believe Lisbeth can count due to her involvement in the plot and interactions with Asuna in the previous chapters, and Yui will remain important in this story similar to the canon storyline. Additionally, I have plenty of plotlines in the future that will involve Lisbeth and Yui, so considering them to be main characters in Fairy Dance Alternate feels natural to me.
On another note, as a reminder, I hope that you will participate in the new poll for Fairy Dance Alternate's first "Character Popularity Poll." The poll will include canonical characters, original characters, and characters that have only been mentioned in canon but have appeared in this story. As I stated before, I would like for you to select your top five characters that have appeared in this story so far based on their portrayal in Fairy Dance Alternate rather than based on their possible canon counterparts. In my case, my choices would be Asuna, Kirito, Lisbeth, Agil, and Yui. If I was selecting based on canon, I would have chosen Kirito before Asuna, and Lisbeth would not be in my top five choices. While I do like Lisbeth, due to her lack of major plot involvement, lack of character development, and not being used to her full potential beyond a few side appearances, I can honestly say that she would not be so high on my list. Now that you know my list, I hope you will provide me with yours.
"Of Science and Magics: The Side Stories"
"Understand the past, so you will know why they fight for the future."
Story Arc One: Birth of the Devil – Chapters 1-5
Summary: What is the origin story of the 'Devil of Academy City?' This story will dive deeper into Touma's past, and answer the questions regarding that mystery. Follow of the story of Touma's time in the Child Error Facility with his friends Sasaki Ai and Yamasaki Yuudai.
Story Arc Two: Formation of the Friendship – Chapters 6-8
Summary: The main plot takes place one year before "Birth of the Devil," and it provides more details regarding Touma and Mikoto's childhood and their families.
Story Arc Three: Tales of a Child Error – Chapters 9-11
Summary: It takes place parallel to Side Story One and Two from a different character perspective. This story follows the story of Yamasaki Yuudai as it reveals details about not only his past, present, and future but of others as well.
Story Arc Four: Devil's Reign – Chapters 12-Ongoing
Summary: Begins where Side Story One left off, and it will be about the challenges that await Touma during his reign as the "Devil of Academy City."
"Into The Fog"
Summary: Reiko Narukami had always wished that she could be 'normal,' but she knew it was a wish that could not be granted. With her move to Inaba, Reiko's life has become far less normal by adding the urgency to solve kidnapping and murder cases to her list. This is a retelling based on Persona 4 Golden/The Animation with a female protagonist.
Series – Persona
Pairing: Reiko "Rei" Narukami and Rise Kujikawa
As stated in the summary, "Into The Fog" is a retelling based on a mixture of Persona 4 Golden and anime adaptation with a female protagonist, Reiko "Rei" Narukami, rather than the canon male protagonist, Yu Narukami. This story will also contain a number of altered and original scenes. A fair share of character interactions and scenes are and will be altered due to the protagonist's gender. For example, Nanako, the protagonist's young cousin, is more receptive and comfortable interacting with a female cousin, and they develop a sisterly relationship much faster.
There will also be a few original plotlines and story arcs to go along with the story as well. One of the most notable ones will involve the protagonist, Rei, realizing she 'swings' the other way and trying to find out if she can be accepted by others over the course of the story. EnchantedSlytherin plans on that to be one of the more emotional plotlines of "Into The Fog."
Similar to the video game and anime, there will be a number of side/supporting characters outside the Investigation Team. There will be a mixture of both canon and original characters throughout the story. A few characters that originally only had a handful of scenes in the story or were mentioned but not seen, such as the protagonist's parents, will have a more significant role in the plotline.
It is a story I would recommend. EnchantedSlytherin's writing continues to improve with each chapter, and there is definitely a lot of potential with this story and the portrayal of the characters both canon and original.