My Fanfics (Fairly productive month):
Fanfics that I have found interesting and have recently been updated:
A RWBY Fanfic
Summary: What does it take to be a hero? What must one give up in order to defend others? What does one gain? What if you don’t have the same advantages as everyone else? Jaune will have to find out whether he wants to or not. Jaune/Weiss.
A Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic
Summary: Cissnei wanted to save Zack that night, only to find that it was too late. Though she couldn’t bring him back to life, she could keep his legacy alive. That was why she refused to abandon Cloud on his journey, despite going against her former friends and colleagues.
A Harry Potter Fanfic
Summary: Hermione grows up as a maths whiz instead of a bookworm and tests into Arithmancy in her first year. With the help of her friends and Professor Vector, she puts her superhuman spellcrafting skills to good use in the fight against Voldemort.
A Naruto Fanfic
Summary: Sakura is ensnared in a world of deadly intrigue her last year in the Academy. As an unwilling agent of Oto, can she discover what it means to be loyal in a world that promotes deception? Will that loyalty conflict with her growing sense of self-worth? AU
A Naruto Fanfic
Summary: Character study. An accidental meeting brings Zetsu into Naruto’s life as his tutor. With Zetsu trying to sway Naruto to his own philosophy of “the only one you can rely on is yourself”, Naruto discovers that the world isn’t as black and white as his tutor is, that there are at least two sides to every story, and that he has a lot to learn. Hinted NaruIno and NaruTen; grey!Naruto
A Pokemon Fanfic
Summary: Time travel, based on the Anime. So, the world ended. That’s bad news. Who best to get to fix it? Well, there is this guy with a track record in world saving… Not entirely serious. T rating may be overdoing it.
A Legend of Zelda Fanfic
Summary: Sun-dappled glades, ash-coated worlds: a retelling of Majora’s Mask.
A FSN Fanfic
Summary: Sometimes, the tiniest of changes can have the greatest impact on the world. One chance encounter goes in a new direction, and the course of the Holy Grail War is irrevocably changed…
A FSN Fanfic
Summary: Emiya Kiritsugu was happy living the rest of his short days. He had put his past behind him… until he began to dream of futures that had yet to be. Let it be known that the Magus Killer was not dangerous simply because he was dying and had no plans to fight.
A FSN/Worm Fanfic
Summary: Shirou Emiya was going to be a superhero, even if it destroyed him.
A Worm/Supreme Commander Fanfiction
Summary: A Worm Fic. Frustrated with her school life, Taylor Hebert dons an unfinished costume and goes off into the night to fight crime as a superhero. She stumbles across an infamous crime lord, Lung, talking about killing some kids. Taylor decides she has no choice but to act……and Lung kicks her ass. Not because she’s weak. Far from it. Taylor Hebert is hamstrung by being a moral person with an exceptionally lethal power set, one with horrifying and even potentially global implications.
A Worm Fanfiction
Summary: For Taylor Hebert, death was just the beginning. Reincarnated into an alternate reality version of herself she awakens to find herself trapped in a very familiar locker. Now armed with knowledge of her previous life and the ability to not just control bugs but also manipulate their biology, Taylor sets off to do what she always wanted to: be a superhero.
A Worm Fanfiction
Summary: A continuation fic focusing on Taylor Hebert’s life following the climactic conclusion of Golden Morning and a lengthy recovery period. Taylor has her feet under her now, and grimly prepares to face a world she had thought beyond her, that of a normal young woman.
A Worm Fanfiction
Summary: A continuation of the Centopath and Wake fanfic, set in an alternate universe where Taylor’s father has been killed and she proceeds to slowly dismantle the various gangs hold on her city.
A Sword Art Online/ Dark Souls Fanfiction
Summary: A fic in which Kayaba decides to put the player’s humanity on test as they try to rekindle the flames, constantly struggling against the Kingseeker system that keep amplifying the difficulty.
A Sword Art Online/ Worm Fanfiction
Summary: A fic in which Taylor Herbert ends up trapped within the world of Sword Art Online, where the AI slowly begins to override Kayaba’s control, and where the death toll rises with the stakes.
A Fate Stay Night / Demon Souls Fanfiction
Summary: There is never only one change. There are always many changes. Because one thing will change another. It will affect something more. Ripples through time. Irrelevant to some, disastrous to others. There can never be only one change Emiya Shirou. There will always be consequences
Read the rest of the comics at Snafu-Comics – See more at: http://snafu-comics.com/swmcomic/beneath-that-moon/#sthash.NVpJhuQS.dpuf
[-|Back in the Game |-]
[Chapter 1 -o0o- Start]
Kirito leaned back against the wall of the ruined building they claimed for themselves, arms crossed and eyes closed. His mind raced as he tried to think on everything that unfolded over the course of the long night. It was morning now, and daylight slowly broke over the remains of a once great city ages ago.
As predicted, things got out of hands and weapons were drawn in the confusion. The Royal Guards, as it turned out, were still active and many players died once they descended from the skies like Grim Angels to bring order to the chaos. The word quickly got around that death wasn’t permanent, but the fear of pain kept everyone in line.
It became an equalizer that brought the rest of the city to a standstill for the time being. Not that it settled his mind. How many times could someone revive before something other than an EXP penalty was applied? Were there a set number of total lives?
If it were just Elder Tales like he had been playing, then it wouldn’t bother him so much. But being inside of the game with no way out left him wondering if whoever it was that was behind this thought to copy Kayaba’s mad ambitions and then take it a step further. Even if death was fundamentally different from the actual Death Game, this was too much like SAO to begin with—or rather, it embodied the ideal Kayaba had when he envisioned what SAO could be.
It was a world of clean air and overrunning nature, where heavy steel weighed lives that were determined by how much of their health bar remained. While it was no castle in the sky, it was still a world where heroes could be forged. There were monsters that prowled just outside the city, and quests that could mark your accomplishments that added to your fame. It was the sort of world that he imagined Kayaba would have wanted Aincrad to be earnest, lurking just beneath his floating castle in the sky.
Yet, there was no grand proclamation from the overlord of the world that somehow managed to pull them in. No reason given for why they were pulled from their homes and families and friends. There still wasn’t a clear explanation for how they managed to get into the game in the first place. There was no logical conclusion he could think of, and it rankled him.
“This food is crap.” Klein said, holding up what looked to be a sandwich. “Even the earlier meals in SAO weren’t this bad or bland.”
All things considered, Klein was handling the situation better than Kirito expected. His sister had only heard about what it was like to be trapped in the Death Game and she still nearly had a panic attack listening to the chaos unfold. Silica had mentally retreated into herself by the time she arrived, no doubt because she was once more separated from her family and friends on the other side.
Kirito blamed himself. He was the one who suggested they play the game, but he never imagined this could happen again. That made him responsible for their wellbeing, and that meant he had to find some way to get them back. But, to do that, he needed to know something important. “Klein.”
The Samurai looked up at him. “Hm?”
He nodded to the two girls sleeping against one another. “Can you look after these two?”
“Sure, but where are you going?” he asked.
Kirito stood straight and rolled his shoulders, the swords on his back shifting. “To find out if we can survive here.”
[LH -o0o- SAO]
Shiroe, a Half-Alv Enchanter-Scribe, was currently leaning against the stone rail at the top of what was presumably a parking deck at one point in time. His elbows rested against it, leaving his mouth covered by his clasped fingers as he looked out at the rising sun. The blue sky was amazing, and the white clouds lazily drifting above without planes or pollution was beautiful in its own way.
He was still having some trouble believing he was inside of Elder Tales. There was precedence for it, judging by what he read on the Sword Art Online Incident. It was a big thing a few years ago, the largest hostage situation in the world. There were hundreds of attempts to hack the game from the outside and free those trapped within, but it was to no avail.
In the end, it was the players themselves who managed to gain their freedom. While the full details were still unclear after a few months, if this was a similar situation then they had no choice but to find their own way out. But… was that really the case?
There were no established directions or goals to accomplish. They didn’t even know where to start. And, if they didn’t find one soon, people would lose hope and become desperate.
“This food tastes like dog crap,” came from behind him, where Naotsugu sat on top of the upper-half of his armor. His face lost all color as he bit down what looked to be a riceball. “As if being stuck here isn’t enough, I can’t even enjoy rice….”
Shiroe agreed there. They felt hunger and needed to eat, but so far every bit of food tasted about as well as ashes in their mouths. Taste and eating for pleasure were things needed to feel human, though most people only realized that now that they were devoid of it. That would be another thing that would contribute to their problems if they didn’t get some direction soon.
‘My Lord,’ Akatsuki spoke into his mind. She was a somewhat well-known player, though it was presumed she was a man until she approached him and Naotsugu for an appearance-changing potion in his possession. She swore fealty after that, and seemed insistent on following through with it. ‘There’s a player on the move, heading towards one of the hostile areas.‘
He frowned. Just about everyone had buckled down to wait to see how the situation would unfold because they were clueless and the fear of pain. For someone to brave the woodlands so soon meant that either they were reckless, or potentially knew something. Either way, it merited investigation.
‘Can you trail him without being seen or hurting yourself, Miss Akatsuki? ‘ he asked. ‘I’ll follow shortly.‘
‘Yes, My Lord,‘ she replied, before tacking on, ‘and it’s just Akatsuki.‘
He straightened up and turned to his friend. “There’s a player heading out into one of the nearby zones. I’m going to investigate with Akatsuki.”
“I’ll go with you,” he said, tossing aside the remnants of his food. “Safety in numbers and all that… plus it’s better than sitting here with no clue what’s going on and eating crap.”
[SAO -o0o- LH]
Having left the others behind, Kirito made it to one of the nearby zones around the outskirts of the Player Town. It was an area where enemies ranked between Level 20 to 30 on average, far below his own. As a Level 90 character, he could at least sustain a reasonable amount of damage before being threatened and could get back to safety if necessary. It would serve its purpose well.
Like he told Klein, he had to know whether or not it was possible to survive here. In context, he meant whether or not he could survive here as he had in SAO—whether or not he could fight as he had done for those two years.
He had been a Soloer in SAO, one of the very few of them in the end. Those who did were often easy prey for enemies in one form or another, with no one to watch their backs if they blundered, so the numbers tapered off the further into the game. It taught you to be cautious, but more than a fair bit of the reason it was possible was because Sword Art Online had been unbalanced in a sense.
It was the first VRMMORPG on the market, a game where you were meant to conquer the one-hundred floors. There were no other games like it on the Full Dive at the time, so the appeal to it wasn’t the balance. It was the feeling of being a hero often told of in folktales and fiction. You, a single person with steel in hand, could carve out a legacy for yourself.
That was what Kayaba pitched, and people like Kirito had bought it—hook, line, and sinker. They got to be something more. They got to be something greater than themselves. The game sacrificed balance to tell a story of Kayaba’s own design, and that was part of what made it possible to pull the solo act for as he did.
Kayaba wanted someone to rise up and challenge him. He wanted heroes forged through blood and trials. And, by chance, it had been Kirito who met those requirements and fulfilled his wishes.
Kirito didn’t think he could be a Soloer in this world. Elder Tales was different on a mechanical level, even if the circumstances at the moment were similar on a surface level. Elder Tales had twenty years of refining put into it and was known as one of the best MMOs to date, while Theldesia was, on a significant scale, vaster than what Aincrad had been.
That was why he came here. To find out if the Black Swordsman could become someone who could clear the game again, so that the others could get back home to where they were meant to be without the risk of death. To find out if he could be a hero who didn’t break a promise to protect someone who was terrified of fighting, only to watch her die after he told her it would be all right.
So he wouldn’t be able to only offer flowers and tears of regret in front of her grave.
The clicking of mandibles caught his ears and broke him from his thoughts of Sachi’s fate. His eyes skimmed the woodlands for the source, and they fell on a nearby flower the size of a bush that rustled and then moved. The soft dirt beneath it was upturned and gave way to what looked to be a brownish-red spider that trembled, shaking loose dirt free as it stalked towards him.
It was a Florarachnid, an insectoid-class monster somewhere in the mid-20s level. And it wasn’t alone as more uprooted themselves, numbering six in total coming for him. On the bestiary it registered that they were territorial predators and would brazenly attack anything that came into their aggro-range—even an Adventurer over sixty levels above them.
The hiss of his sword leaving his sheath, a sound he hadn’t heard for months now, resonated in his ears as he pulled out the [Lunar Fang] and held it in front of him. The pristine white blade caught the morning sun as it was swung across the body of the first mob of the group, cleaving it in two cleanly.
The monster’s remains literally popped into gold coins, prismatic bubbles, and a bottle of something he presumed to be used as a crafting component. As interesting as that was, it took a backseat to the fact that he still had five others trying to rush him. He knew there was a skill for that called Whirlwind and he brought up the menu hoping to use the technique to blow them all away.
That was when he came across the first major problem. He had to touch it and work with it, devoting his attention to it. That was something that not only took time, which was a very bad thing since they were getting ready to jump at him in two seconds by his count, but was outright impossible for anyone who used two weapons at once without sheathing one.
He dismissed the menu and then darted backwards at an angle to avoid getting swarmed and funnel how they came after him. Realistically speaking, he could probably kill them all if he ran in swords swinging. That was fine for now.
But what about stronger enemies, or those around the level cap? Not having access to their skills without the menu really was going to be a serious problem. It would definitely kill the pace of the eventual Front-Liners of this game.
Button pressing worked fine when you were on the other side of a screen, with a behind-the-back camera view. But SAO had quickly showed why that didn’t work and why Kayaba at least had the common decency to allow for Sword Skills. If whoever sucked them into the game copied his methods somehow, then that had to be the key.
There had to be some kind of trigger for the game’s equivalent of those skills. Maybe he had to assume a position, make a motion, or issue a vocal command? If there was ever a time to find out, it was now. He would just try all three at once.
Kirito thought about how it looked on the screen. The avatar would spin, sweeping his weapon fast enough to create a gale that cast the enemy back as the blade cleaved through flesh. He assumed the position, took a deep breath as he faced the spider-like monsters, and followed through the motions. “WHIRLWIND!”
His body moved on its own quickly enough, as though it had been seized by the technique itself. The Whirlwind was unleashed, wrapping his weapon with wind as he spun and then billowing out around him in a wave. It pushed them back and did more damage than his base strike had, killing four out of five within the technique’s range.
But he couldn’t move in the aftermath, his body frozen against his will. It was similar to SAO then, with Sword Skills doing greater damage than rudimentary strikes at the cost of the cool-down leaving him vulnerable. That proved to be something he hoped to avoid in the future as the remaining Florarachnid lunged for him and sank its fangs into his legs before it could wear off.
A pained groan left his mouth as he stabbed the blade down, into the abdomen that made up the bulk of its body, to kill it. It hurt, as he suspected. There was no getting around that. But things got worse when an icon appeared beneath his health bar to show he had been poisoned.
There was a painful feeling lingering in his body even now, like lava pumping along with his blood. It felt like he was melting on the inside, liquefying so that the spiders could suck away the slurry inside the remaining flesh once he was dead. If this was how the DOT poison felt on the other side of the screen, then he would start investing in some Anti-Toxin potions and maybe a talisman of some kind.
The good news was that the poison’s duration would fade in ten seconds and he wouldn’t lose more than a thousand in health. The bad news was that he would have to tolerate dissolving on the inside for those ten seconds without the benefit of adrenaline. He didn’t want to think about what would have happened if he had been bitten when there was more than one of them and they managed to swarm him as a result.
He gritted his teeth and waited for the duration to expire. The melting feeling stopped immediately, and the passive regeneration now that he was out of combat kicked in. It was gradual, but as his health rose the pain started to numb. At full health it was like he never was hurt. He would chalk that up to a basic test of how the health system functioned.
Either way, with all the nearby ones dead, he took a moment to look through his skill tree in the menu. He would activate all the skills he had, one at a time, and take into account how his body responded to each one. Then he would venture further inside to test if he had what it took to face off against a real challenge.
[LH -o0o- SAO]
‘From the look of it, he’s experimenting with using the skills in combat now,‘ Akatsuki reported dutifully. She was ahead of them, keeping an eye on the player they were tracking now.
Shiroe took in the information and compartmentalized it as he and Naotsugu traversed the path that had been taken, markers left behind by Akatsuki leading them towards him. It brought him to a conclusion easy enough. ‘I think he may be a SAO survivor, possibly one of those they classified as a Clearer.‘
Naotsugu looked towards him. Since all three were connected as they traveled as a party, they could hear one another broadcasting messages in what was once the Party Chat. ‘What makes you think that? ‘
‘It sounds like he’s testing the system of the game and comparing it to those of the Death Game,‘ Shiroe explained. ‘Using the system and mastering it are two different things entirely, but firsthand experience combined with over two years of combat would naturally engrave a certain fighting style into his instincts.‘
Naotsugu snapped his fingers. ‘I get it. It’s like the difference between a veteran soldier being called back for war compared to a newly enlisted recruit—he’s not sure if the rules of engagement are the same, but he’s already been accustomed to the heat of battle.‘
‘That seems to be the case,‘ Akatsuki added in. ‘His speed seemed to have increased as well, presumably the Lightning Step movement skill. He’s heading towards the Dark Woods portion of the zone. I can keep up, but it will mean pulling further away from you, My Lord. Should I keep up my pursuit? ‘
‘Please do, Miss Akatsuki. Just continue to leave markers behind and we’ll follow them, but stay hidden. Once we have an understanding of who we’re dealing with, then we can decide our next course of action. But I want to do this peacefully if possible.‘
‘Just. Akatsuki.‘ With that said, she went silent on her end of their connection. That left Shiroe and Naotsugu to their own conversation.
“So, what are we going to do when we run into him?” Naotsugu asked aloud. “I mean, it’ll come across looking weird if we just tracked him from Akiba. With everyone on edge, he might attack us.”
“To be honest, while I have a few questions in mind, I’d be happy just getting some answers in general.” Shiroe admitted. “We don’t know anything, and while it’s likely he doesn’t know anything about the current situation either, we can compare the present situation to the events of the SAO Incident.”
“…I had a teenage cousin who got caught up in that,” Naotsugu said, after a pause. “He made it out of it okay, and I took time off work to visit him with the family. He told me that he hid in the Town of Beginnings the entire time he was logged in because he was afraid of monsters and everything.”
“Understandable,” Shiroe said. “The game didn’t turn out like anyone expected, and people rarely handle change well.”
“I’ll admit that I thought it was a bit of a waste, being in a game and all without exploring the world like we did before when Kanami was around,” he admitted, though he didn’t sound too proud of it. “I mean, could you have imagined what would have happened if she was in the country when Sword Art Online came out?”
He was referring to the leader of the Debauchery Tea Party, and the one who held them together. It was basically a pick-up group that turned into something more, a guild without being a guild, dedicated to exploring every inch of the world of Elder Tales for the sake of doing so. They had split apart before even the Beta of Sword Art Online came out, but they were well-known amongst the veteran players of Elder Tales.
If she had been in the country, Shiroe could imagine she would have definitely been one of the trapped players. But that knowledge didn’t bring him any comfort considering the horrific body-count. Not to mention she would have been separated from her daughter, something that he wouldn’t wish on any parent.
“But now I can see why he didn’t want to leave the town,” Naotsugu continued. “We’re walking through the wilds, never knowing when something is going to crawl out and attack us. At least we know we’ll respawn, but for them it was a different story entirely.”
Shiroe nodded. “I kept up with the news to an extent, but after the first month the number of deaths tapered down and it slowly sank into just another old news topic. It was like the country was trying to sweep it under the table. That made it worse when the players were freed and some of the news broke—even with some attempts at censorship, the stories that managed to get out didn’t really do much to help.”
“How far will you press him for answers you aren’t sure will do us any good?” Naotsugu asked. The tone of his voice made it clear it would be a serious matter. “If he’s an SAO survivor, you’ll be asking him about something a lot of people still want to forget. My cousin was safe for the most part, but it was still traumatic enough that he doesn’t so much as look at a videogame. And a co-worker was telling me about how someone was killed over some in-game issue that spilled out after the fact just a week ago.”
“I heard about that myself.” Information on what happened in SAO was somewhat conflicting and unreliable. While everyone in general agreed it was a nightmare, you have some people who embellished parts of it and their roles. The incident Naotsugu mentioned was someone pretending to be a Clearer, which an actual one saw as an insult that he couldn’t forgive.
The resulting fight led to one man’s death, and the report that followed had the assailant claim that he saw friends die trying to help beat the game. He claimed that hearing someone who didn’t stand on the frontline, a player who lurked on the first floor out of fear, taking credit from the dead had been too much for him to listen to and he snapped. The jury was debating on it.
Shiroe’s eyes were hidden by his lenses as they came to a stop beneath a break in the canopy. “… Right now, we’re grasping at straws. I don’t want to force answers out of him, especially not for a sensitive topic. But we need a source of authentic information, even if it appears irrelevant, and he’s the only one acting in a manner outside of the rest who are hiding away.”
Shiroe adjusted his glasses by the bridge between the lenses. “I’ll try not to be too forward about it, but I’m acting as best I can in the circumstances. I don’t care if he’ll end up hating me for it, but just having some way to differentiate things beyond speculation could set a lot of minds at ease. For that, I’m willing to ask uncomfortable questions.”
Naotsugu placed his hand on his forehead and sighed. “See, this is the sort of thing that got you that reputation of yours, you know?”
Shiroe didn’t deny that. Instead, he silently pressed onwards, his friend following a step behind. The silence was palpable, only to be broken when Akatsuki spoke through their mental connection again.
‘My Lord,‘ she said. ‘He’s approaching the area where the Raid Boss dwells. I think he intends to face it by himself.‘
‘This could work to our advantage,‘ Shiroe stated. Negotiations were easier when done under a banner of goodwill, and a position of power. The goodwill would come from assisting him in either escaping or combat, while the power would come from demonstrating their combined talents. ‘I’ll cast a movement spell and speed up our approach. Keep me informed.‘
‘As you command,‘ she answered. ‘I’ll await you there.‘
Shiroe then turned to Naotsugu. “You can walk away if you want. I won’t blame you.”
“As if.” Naotsugu grabbed his shield off his back. “I followed you this far out and you’re all squishy and everything. You need someone to act as a Tank, and that’s me.”
“…Thank you,” Shiroe told him, after a pause. The sincerity in his voice was clear enough to dispel any doubts he didn’t appreciate it.
[SAO -o0o- LH]
Kirito was staring up at a giant spider nestled in a web that hung above, lining the canopy. Layers of webbing overlapped, cocoons of withered husks loitering within them. They created a mesh so dense that it blotted out the sun and weighed down on the branches more than the Raid Boss of the zone.
The Broodspider of the Forest was a Raid x 1-ranked monster for players in their 30s to take on, with the more difficult part of the battle being dealing with the adds or minion-ranked monsters it spawned. It, like many of its kind that had been slain before by his blade until now, was some unholy hybrid of a plant and arachnid. It chittered at him while looking down from above with eyes of burning gold in the darkness of the canopy.
Kirito couldn’t help but cringe as, to his disgust, it excremented a long, wide, thick batch of silk from its spinneret that swelled to nearly half of its size. His expression shifted to being somewhat concerned when it then split apart into what looked to be a few dozen smaller spiders of its ilk. They were weak at a glance, being minion-rank and thus only 1/3 as powerful as the others he’d faced to this point, and would die in one hit without a skill.
But there were so many of them, descending towards the ground on strands that came out of their spinnerets. All of them were likely to be poisonous as well. That wasn’t going to be fun.
He debated running inside of his head. He really did. But he still needed to see if it was enough, if the skills he honed in the Death Game would be enough to conquer a foe such as the boss. He wouldn’t run away, even if he had to do it alone.
That was when another player came up next to him. He was clad in heavy armor, wielding a shield and sword. Kirito reasoned he had to be a Guardian from it. However, why he was there eluded Kirito personally.
“Hey, you weren’t planning on dealing with all of them alone, were you?” the Guardian asked, from out of nowhere. It was a fair question.
“Kinda,” Kirito told him, drawing his second sword. It wasn’t night, but the darkness from the webbing blocking the sun would still give [Black Raver] the damage bonus. “I can’t leave until I know something, and there’s only one way to find out.”
“Know what?” asked the Guardian. It was another fair question.
“If I have the strength to triumph over a boss of this level with the skills I have,” he told him. “So that those who don’t want to fight won’t have to in order to survive, and so that I can clear whatever stands in their way to getting back home. The first step is knowing my limitations in this game, and bosses exist to test the skills of players.”
“As good a reason as any, I guess.” The guy flashed him a smile and then set his eyes on all the enemies lowering themselves and the boss. “You wouldn’t mind if we helped you out, would you?”
“We?” Kirito received a party invite from a Shiroe not a second after he asked. It listed him as an Enchanter, so Kirito presumed he was lurking around the perimeter of the battlefield to remain safe from harm. He accepted and was connected to the man telepathically, just as a girl who appeared to be a ninja landed on the opposite side of the Guardian.
‘Good Morning,‘ the Enchanter said through their mental connection. ‘My name is Shiroe, and I’ll be providing support from the rear line. My associate is Miss Akatsuki, an Assassin who will be assisting in attacking, and Naotsugu, a Guardian who will act as a Tank. I’ll also be managing the coordination of our teamwork, if there are no complaints? ‘
‘No,‘ Kirito replied. He wasn’t expecting help when he came here, but a pick-up group consisting of a Swashbuckler, a Guardian, an Assassin, and an Enchanter would prove interesting at the very least. ‘I’ll need to concentrate on fighting, so I’ll leave support and managing up to you for now.‘
‘Very well,‘ replied the Enchanter as the first wave of spiders touched down and began their march towards them. ‘Then let us begin.‘
[Chapter 1 -o0o- End]
Name: Level – Class (Species – Build) and Sub-Class
Shiroe: Lv. 90 Enchanter (Half-Alv – Crowd Controller) with Scribe sub-class
Akatsuki: Lv. 90 Assassin (Human – Shadow Blade) with Tracker sub-class
Naotsugu: Lv. 90 Guardian (Human – Fortress) with Border Patrol sub-class
Notes: The fallout from SAO had more than government and global issues, but on a personal level as well. Kirito personally gave the other members of the Black Cats of the Full Moon’s families his condolences—and, in Sachi’s case, he also left flowers on her family grave because he really does blame himself for promising to protect her and failing.
Likewise, just because they managed to end back up in the real world didn’t mean that any issues that cropped up in the game didn’t spill out of it, like what happened with Grimlock and Griselda. That’s one of the more hotly debated issues at present in the public.
Chapter 9: The Last Servant Summoned
Leaving her home, Rin Tohsaka felt a myriad of feeling at the moment.
First and foremost was a sense of accomplishment and pride. Like her father before her, she had managed to summon a Servant… albeit not the one she wanted. Still, the summoning in itself was a success and the Command Seals on her hand were proof of that. Now all that was left was to claim the grail that should be hers, even though she didn’t have a wish that needed to be granted.
But not all of her feelings were so pleasant.
Her servant infuriated her. There were some people who could get under her skin, but he was special considering he managed to antagonize her to the point she had wasted a Command Seal on him. Oh, he’d better prove his worth or so help her….
Rin came to a stop partway down the hill leading to the school, looking down at where the Matou Residence was. There was a foreigner there, blond hair and red eyes, muttering words that she couldn’t hear at that distance to her sist—to the Matou heir. As he walked away, she saw that Sakura looked dejected for a moment, her violet eyes clouded with dark thoughts as she reached up to touch the decoration in her hair.
It was odd. Rin thought that she had crushed whatever remained of her storge affection, but now she wanted to say something to soothe whatever had been said to make Sakura look like that. Her hand was already moving to reach out for her and the words were forming in her throat. All that stopped them was when she caught sight of the Command Seals on her hand.
The Holy Grail War was beginning, and there was no way that the Matou didn’t have someone fighting in this war. That meant she was possibly an enemy that had to be defeated. The thought made her hand drop, leaving her to watch as Sakura walked towards the school with her back to Rin.
It was then she made a call, seeking to soothe her curiosity and steel her resolve if necessary. “Archer,” she whispered. “Can you see if that girl has Command Seals on her hands?”
His response was swift and dutiful, contrary to his behavior to this point, leaving her presence for a mere moment to fulfill her request. “She does not.”
Rin let out a breath she didn’t know she had been holding. “That’s good I suppose.”
“May I ask why you suspected she would have one?” Archer asked.
“Her family is one of the three involved in the creation of the Holy Grail,” Rin said, keeping her distance as she trailed behind Sakura. They were heading in the same direction, but she didn’t dare approach her side as she had when they were children walking with their mother between them. Those days were gone. “She’s the only known Magus of her line, so it seemed like she would be the prime candidate.”
“I see.” She could practically hear the wheels turning in Archer’s head. “The fact that she doesn’t seems strange, in that case.”
“It’s probably because the war is starting earlier than it should have,” Rin guessed. “If I wasn’t contacted, I wouldn’t have known. So either she isn’t entering or….”
Archer finished where she trailed off. “She hasn’t summoned her Servant yet.”
Rin’s lips pursed into a thin line at that thought. There was one Servant left to be summoned: Saber. That was what Rin had hoped to get when she performed the ritual, because they were known for their balanced stats according to the records her family had of the war.
“Master,” Archer said, making Rin realize that they were closer to the school than she thought. The gates were practically upon them. When did she get distracted? “What will you do if she does become a Master?”
That was the question then, wasn’t it? She didn’t know how well-trained Sakura was, meaning that if they got into a conflict she couldn’t predict the odds…No, Rin would win. The real question was would she be able to claim victory without permanently injuring her?
The smart and pragmatic thing to do would be to capture her brother. With a hostage, she could force her to surrender her Command Seals after having her Servant kill itself, removing them both safely from the war. But Shinji would no doubt suspect something if she called him out.
They were never seen remotely near one another after the last time they had met. While most people still suspected it was because she’d rejected him, she knew it was because she had thrown away the chance to reunite with Sakura for the sake of upholding the tradition of the Art. Though, to her surprise, a decent number of those girls who would speak to her actually said they pitied Shinji when the rumors spread of her turning him down.
Honestly, they painted her as the villain—what with how the frail and weak Matou heir, taken by her beauty and grace, put his heart on the line for a confession in private. Yet, he was turned down and crushed by her brutal denial, slinking back to his classroom and looking as though he was ready to keel over. Supposedly he’d been so disheartened that he gently turned down every effort to console him, leaving other women to want to heal his broken and reasonably wealthy heart.
He may not have been a magus, but he was crafty. That was partly why she doubted she’d be able to get him alone to actually capture him. Even if she did, the thought of Sakura looking at her with hatred in her eyes for taking her brother away left the bottom of her stomach feeling as though it was about to drop. It was stupid that she felt this way after so long, but that was something she couldn’t erase.
She came to a conclusion after an elongated pause. “…You should be good enough to deal with whatever Servant she summons if you pick them off at a distance, right?”
“Of course,” Archer said. “I’m an Archer, after all. I wouldn’t be much of one if I couldn’t pick a target off before they realized it.”
How smug he sounded annoyed her, but in this case it also bought some comfort. If he was this confident, then he could probably do it. That made her glad that she had gotten the ranged-specialist in the end.
Stepping through the threshold of the gate, she watched as Sakura met up with the Emiya boy and her brother. The latter of who glared at her when he noticed her standing behind Sakura. He placed a bandaged hand over her shoulder and whispered something in her ear while Emiya looked on confused for a moment. When Sakura shook her head, he guided her inside the building with Emiya following behind.
“Is he still angry about that rejection last year?” Rin heard from behind her. The voice was one she recognized and warranted her attention, leading to her looking over her shoulder to see Ayako there in her uniform. She looked a bit concerned and sheepish. “I don’t think I’ve seen him looking that mad before.”
“Who knows?” Rin shrugged. “That being said, was that a lovelorn gaze I saw coming from you, Mitsuzuri-san?”
“It’s not like that.” Her denial would be more believable if her face wasn’t turning a sanguine hue. Of course, after the moment, passed she stared at the door he went behind wistfully and sighed. “I’m just worried about him since he injured himself while helping Emiya last night.”
Rin raised an eyebrow. “Is that right?”
“You saw the bandages on their hands, right?” She nodded. “Sakura called me last night and told me the three of them were at Emiya’s place cooking when Shinji had a coughing fit while they were handling the ceramic plates. They broke and cut their hands in the process, so Shinji and Emiya weren’t going to attend the club today.”
“Isn’t that a bit inconvenient for your club?” Rin pointed out. “They’re both important, aren’t they?”
She could only shrug. “Losing both the Vice-Captain and Substitute Vice-Captain leaves me short-handed, but I’ll manage until then. Sakura said she’d help out, so there’s that. Either way, I should head there now.”
With that, Rin allowed Ayako to walk towards the club without further commentary.
Archer had been summoned once more, as he usually was, only this time he felt somewhat more at peace with himself than the usual bitterness that made up his ethereal existence. He had parted with Rin after saying he would do his best, and hadn’t been subjected to another bout of being a Counter Guardian between the usual lags in the summoning, meaning that for this brief moment he had some measure of relief from his eternal Hell of condemnation.
But, while he was familiar with the how every time he was summoned things were different, he took the time to try and spot differences within the dimension that he was now a part of. Normally there wasn’t much—a misplaced stone, someone new when they hadn’t been before, or Rin actually being a cup size larger than usual. The point being, it was usually something small and inconsequential, making it easy to miss.
Other things were more apparent. Like the fact that Rider’s boundary field was missing. That either meant she hadn’t been summoned, or that Sakura was the one holding her reins instead of Shinji. Given that she didn’t have Command Seals, he found that scenario unlikely and would have to make a note to see what that meant later down the road.
Oddly enough, the minor changes were what seemed to bother him the most. When an assortment of minor changes piled on top of one another they often caused for major changes. And, in this case, they all seemed to stem from Shinji Matou.
Shinji Matou was a prime example of someone who couldn’t be saved, no matter what. In his life as Shirou Emiya, he was arguably Shinji’s only friend and the only one besides his sister who genuinely liked him. At least before what happened with Sakura came to light and the resulting Grail War of his time, which was arguably the first time his idea of saving everyone was proven to be impossible. Every time they had met after his indoctrination into being a Counter Guardian, it had always been simpler to kill him to save more lives.
The fact that Sakura had another hair decoration that she treated fondly, as though drawing comfort from it in the wake of Gilgamesh appearing to tell her to kill herself, meant that she had another pillar to support herself. Given her circumstances, the fact that she had another supporting figure meant that there was another chink in her armor that could be exploited. That was troubling in its own way, and may result in him having to kill Rin’s sister somewhere down the road—which may not be as much of a mercy as it usually would.
And then there was the fact that Ayako had been staring at Shinji Matou with a look that was both fond and concerned. Rin’s teasing, and the subsequent denial, only further hinted at a budding relationship. As she would never consider such a thing given his usual personality, it meant that he most likely wasn’t as vile as he could have been due to some intervention in the past.
That meant he wouldn’t be as likely to lash out at others for the sake of his ego. And because he wasn’t abusive, he and Shirou Emiya wouldn’t have as much animosity between them. That meant that when he summoned Saber—which was another constant, even if the Saber in question could vary from Nero to Mordred to Okita Souji—Shinji would not be an enemy to be defeated by him.
What change this would bring about would depend on what happened next, but Archer was already putting plans into place to ensure the least amount of casualties should the worst case scenario come about.
“We’re going to try this one more time,” Shinji said as he set down the bag he brought with him from his workshop. They were in the shed that Emiya called his own, having left the school-grounds thirty minutes ago to get things done as soon as possible. The walls were lined with runes, meant to prevent prana leaks and sound, leaving it somewhat secure in addition to being within the boundary field of the estate he lived on. “One more time, and then we do the summoning.”
“Shinji, if we didn’t find out the last few times, what will be different this time?” Shirou asked. It was a fair question. Why waste time on something when there was nothing further to gain?
Shinji ran his hands through his hair and shook his head. “My pride demands I make one more attempt.” He set down a towel and two cups that he filled with bottled water. “After this we’ll summon your Servant. Now cast Reinforcement on this.”
Shirou sighed as he grabbed the slip of shenfu paper Shinji handed him. Shinji had a better understanding at magic comprehension and explained that elements acted as a modifier to spells in a subtle sense, such as if someone with an Imaginary Numbers element were to use Reinforcement then the object that was affected would be able to interact with spiritual entities on a more efficient level. They were trying to figure out what his element was through an abstract method, since they didn’t have an exact test to determine what it was because he didn’t correspond with any of the basic ones.
“Trace: On.” The magic circuits in his right hand grew luminous and then slithered up the slip of paper. The shenfu became rigid and took on a metallic sheen. Shirou waved it around to see that it had also lost its flexibility.
Shinji took the paper and examined it. Then he pulled out one of his shenfu with the fuwen for ‘Metal’ on it and channeled his own prana into it. It took on a similar nature to Shirou’s, but he recognized the differences. “It looks like the Metal Eastern Element at a superficial level, but it’s not the same. The texture feels different… maybe metal is too broad and it’s something more constrained, specialized at its core within that frame. We’ll try the water method next.”
Shinji stuck one finger into one cup filled with water and cast Reinforcement on the water itself. The volume of liquid in the cup rose until it overflowed and spilled down the sides onto the towel. He pulled his finger out and the water followed, until he held the finger up with a sphere of water the size of a soft ball loitering there. “I have a Water element, so if I perform Reinforcement in a broad sense, it simply gives the water more volume and makes it easier to manipulate.”
“So if I do the same….” Shirou stuck his finger inside and cast Reinforcement on his water. Like the paper it took on a metallic sheen, but that was all at a glance.
Shinji stuck a finger inside to see if the temperature had changed, such as if the Fire Element had been introduced. He pulled it back after he felt a sharp sensation and watched blood mix into the water. He frowned. “Did you just make the water sharp enough to cut me?”
“I guess?” Shirou shrugged. “It’s not like there’s been a need to cast Reinforcement on water of all things.”
Shinji grumbled under his breath about how it was even more confusing now as he put up the things for the element testing and started drawing the circle for the summoning. “Since we couldn’t get a catalyst we don’t know what Servant you’ll get, but it will definitely be in the Saber class.”
“Shouldn’t yours be here too?” Shirou asked.
Shinji scoffed. “I left Rider to his own devices for the day. I didn’t want Rin’s Servant to detect him around one of us and he tends to rub people the wrong way. I’ve checked on him through our shared senses every now and again today, but he’s mostly lingered in astral form around the base of the mountain.”
Shirou’s inquisitive expression asked the unspoken question.
“I’ll explain after you summon your Servant.” Shinji stood up and stretched his back, cracking bones audibly within the shed. “Now, I think you understand how the whole system works when it comes to the Command Seals and Servants, but I want to tell you about it in greater detail since it could mean life or death.”
He unwrapped his hand and showed Shirou his remaining two seals. “Of the three families who worked together to make the system of the war, the Matou were the ones who made the Command Seal system. Because of that we know how to utilize it better than anyone else.”
Each of the three families had, in some form or way, cheated in the previous wars using the advantages they had garnered. The Tohsaka had local allies and laid claim to the nodes where mana gathered since they provided the land, giving them access to the most resources. The Einzbern made the grail itself and were the ones who could use it for the Third Magic, according to the Old Worm’s notes. The Makiri themselves gamed the system through the Command Seals.
“The Command Seals utilize mana gathered over the decades between the wars and compacted them into these markings,” he continued. “Most competitors see it as a means of manipulating a Servant for short-term compliance, or compiling their effects by using more than one to enforce a rule, but with it you can actually interface with the grail system itself.
“For example, let’s say that you summon a Servant into a class but it could have fit in multiple classes at once. With the seal you can install an additional class, reopening the connection between the Throne of Heroes and downloading that class information. A Servant would then be a Double Class.”
“Double Class….” Shirou scratched his head. If it was possible to enter more than once class, then what was the point of constraining them into a single one? It did seem like a cheat being exploited, but the practicality of it was questionable. “When was the last time someone used it?”
“Not since the Second War,” Shinji said. “It requires two seals to enforce the Double Class—one to make the initial change and one to interface with the grail and stop it from auto-correcting the change after a set period of time. And, despite being able to have both sets of Class Skills, their Noble Phantasms and Personal Skills don’t change.”
“And if you’re using a catalyst, then you’re summoning a Servant in what would be an ideal form,” Shirou reasoned, crossing his arms in thought. “So there’s no need for a shift in the class then, since it wouldn’t be worth the cost.”
Shinji nodded his head. “We don’t have a catalyst for you, so if by some chance you get a Saber that was also a renowned spell-caster then you can invoke the Double Class and give them access to skills they wouldn’t otherwise have because of the system constraints. That’s why I’m tell you now.”
Lancer would be a perfect example. If Cu Chulainn had been summoned under the Double Class system as a Lancer-Caster, then his Rune Magecraft would have been more effective. It would have probably plowed straight through Rider’s level of Magic Resistance.
“Another use is as an external battery,” Shinji went on. “You can burn the Command Seals as a power source for magecraft that goes beyond your limits. I don’t think you have any spells that would require that kind of power, and in most cases anything you can do a Servant can do better, but keep it in mind as a last resort.”
“Right…” Shirou didn’t think he would need a Command Seal for that. His Rune Magecraft was limited after all, and Reinforcement didn’t require that much energy itself. Still, he wouldn’t hesitate to burn it if he could use it to save someone else.
With that explanation out of the way, the two began the process of summoning his Servant. Blood was shed for the sake of power as Shirou stood with his hand outstretched and his circuits opened. Shinji stood off to the side to stay out of the way.
He closed his eyes when there was a flash as the fifth element composed itself to take on the form of the Servant. When he opened them again, there was a woman clad in silver armor that glinted in the evening light, with a blue dress beneath it. Matching gauntlets and greaves covered her hands and feet, though she lacked a helmet as one would expect, leaving her blonde-hair and green eyes on display for all to see.
Standing proudly, the Servant spoke to Shirou and asked, “I ask of you: Are you my Master?”
“I am,” Shirou stated, revealing the Command Seals fixed on his wrist as a shriek of surprise left Shinji’s mouth while he pointed to the regal woman. “Shinji, what’s wrong?”
“Arthur Pendragon,” he said, barely above a whisper. “King Arthur.”
“Who are you?” she asked with her invisible blade in her hands. Shinji couldn’t see it, but he knew from the memories of Waver what it was like. The gleaming, golden blade of Promised Victory being raised to slay the monster that once loitered on the bay was something that had been deeply entrenched onto both Waver’s, and subsequently Shinji’s, minds.
“Forgive the rudeness of calling you by name, King of Knights,” Shinji said, putting on a diplomatic face when he gathered himself. “I am the Master of Rider for this war, Shinji Matou. Your Master and I have entered into an alliance for the duration of the war, as we’ve been friends for some time now and there are other matters that must be addressed.”
Shirou held up his hands. “Wait, wasn’t King Arthur….” He trailed off when Saber turned her eyes on him. “I mean, you’re really King Arthur?”
“You were unaware of my identity?” the Servant asked her Master.
Shinji spoke for him. “Your Master didn’t have a catalyst so we were uncertain which Servant would be summoned, and I had recently come across memories of the former Master of Rider, from the last Grail War ten years prior. During that time, a previous template of yourself had been summoned, so I became aware of your identity through those means. It was pure circumstance that these facts aligned.”
The Servant stood silent for a moment, before replying, “If those are the circumstances, then it cannot be helped. However, I ask that you keep silent on my identity from this point onwards.”
“Of course,” he said. “In exchange for any perceived slight, and as a token of goodwill, I will give you the names of Caster, Assassin, and Lancer.”
“You’ve already fought them, Shinji?” Shirou asked. “And you didn’t tell me?”
“Lancer attacked my home after I summoned Rider,” Shinji explained. “He’s an incarnation of Cu Chulainn, an Irish folk-hero. In addition to his speed and the use of a spear, he’s capable of summoning dogs in a limited number, and the use of Rune Magic. More than him though, Caster in herself is the largest problem.”
He reached into the bag he brought to produce a smaller box. He removed the lid to showcase the sphere of swirling violet. “Recently there have been a number of people slipping into comas from what is perceived to be gas attacks. In truth, it’s because of this.”
Shirou leaned in and caught the scent of it. “It’s laced with prana.”
“I analyzed it and found that it’s used to steal od from people who aren’t capable of magecraft,” he explained. “It also has the side-effect of rendering men impotent, so even if the victims wake they won’t be able to have children. She’s doing some major damage while amassing power, making her a credible threat the longer it goes on to anyone without sufficient Magic Resistance.”
“Such an act is intolerable,” Saber spoke, more than a note of disdain in her voice.
Shirou nodded in agreement, happy that his Servant shared the same idea. “We have to stop her.”
“Rider and I already attempted to confront her.” Shinji put the sphere back into his bag. “However, the Assassin of this war is a skilled warrior named Kojiro Sasaki. His swordsmanship managed to hold back Rider, and Caster assisted him by binding Rider in place. I had to use a Command Seal to retrieve him before he could be eliminated.”
“So their Masters are in an alliance as well,” Shirou figured. “Do you know where their base is?”
Shinji rubbed his eyes. “The Ryuudouji Temple.”
Shirou tensed. “That’s where Issei stays. If she’s been there for a long time then—”
“He’s probably under her control already,” Shinji stated factually, having already reached the same conclusion. “I was careful talking to him today, since there’s no telling if there’s a trigger on him or anyone else from there. He seemed normal, but we can’t be sure he hasn’t been made a sleeper agent of some kind.”
“And there’s no telling what will happen if we try and check on him in school,” Shirou said through his gritted his teeth. “Damn.”
“That’s why we need to work together.” He looked between Saber and Shirou. “The mountain has a barrier around it that weakens any spiritual entities that try to enter it from anywhere but the front, where Assassin guards the gate. Working together, Rider will deal with Assassin while you bypass them and eliminate Caster. If we do this properly, we can end the threat they pose to the city tonight.”
“Certainly, they must be made to cease this at once,” Saber acknowledged.
“So, do we go there now?” Shirou asked.
“No, you need to go register for the war within the next two hours or so,” he told him. They had decided to hold off on the registration until now because Shinji wanted to operate on the principle it was better to ask for forgiveness than permission, and doing so belatedly like this prevented Rin from finding out prematurely. “I’ll meet you on the road there afterwards with my Servant—and wear a mask so that you don’t end up being accidentally outed to Tohsaka.”
Shirou nodded, albeit reluctantly. “Okay, we’ll meet you there soon.”
With that said Shinji left the shed and made it halfway across the yard before his face tightened up and he clenched his fist. He couldn’t help but wonder why Emiya got that Servant of all the possible ones? A loyal knight with a blade made to slay evil would be so much better in his hands than Emiya’s.
It just seemed like Shirou kept upstaging him at every turn—first having circuits and then having a better Servant. What next?
Shinji took a deep breath and drove away his reservations and jealousy for the moment. There was work to be done tonight, and he couldn’t let these feelings ruin his chances. For Sakura’s sake, he had to do this right.
Saber found it strange to be riding behind the son of the Magus Killer, her hands wrapped around his waist as they drove near-silently on the streets of Fuyuki. They were still on Shinto side of the Miongawa, having just come from the Church after Shirou completed his registration. Nothing seemed amiss as she waited outside of the Church, but he did come back with a small frown courtesy of whatever discussion he had with the moderator of the war.
In the short time they had known each other, Saber found him to be a strong contrast with his father. Her former Master was a cold man whose betrayal had cost her chance for the grail, yet the boy who bore his last name didn’t seem to have that cold and calculating nature that Kiritsugu did. Rather than stony silence, he offered her food once their discussion had abated.
Unfortunately, her inability to go into astral-form left her with little recourse but to don a cloak to hide her appearance. At least it was night, so they didn’t draw too much attention. The search for clothing could come later, preferably a suit of some kind like the last time she had been summoned.
“I think I see something ahead,” her Master said with his voice slightly muffled. He had a black cloth wrapped around his face, covering his hair and mouth, and his sword was nestled in a bag over his shoulder. He slowed the motorcycle to a crawl as a silhouette came into view ahead, a masked man wearing a Chinese Opera mask.
Next to him, a Chinese General materialized while welding a polearm weapon. He was a Servant, that much was clear. And bloodlust was wafting off of him as he stood there, despite his calm façade.
Saber’s response was to stand in front of her Master as he came to a stop and hold her hidden blade at the ready. The opposing Servant’s grip on the haft of his weapon seemed to tighten, and a challenging smile seemed to etch itself on his face. She could tell he would relish the challenge.
“Enough,” said the masked figure next to the Servant. The voice matched the Master she had met before. “We’re on the same side for now, remember?”
Shirou tilted his head. “Shinji?”
“Idiot, don’t use my name!” Rider’s Master said. “We don’t know if she has familiars listening in. Call me something else!”
“Like what?” her Master asked.
“I don’t know, think of something!” The masked boy shook his head. “We don’t have time for this! We need to act fast if we’re going to take out Caster tonight and—”
The vibrating of his phone cut him off as he pulled it out and looked at the screen. It must’ve been rather important considering how he was the one expressing the severity of their clandestine activities tonight. It certainly made him tense, his fingers wrapping around the handle of the case he carried in his left hand as he listened to the response on the other end.
“Okay, got it.” Rider’s Master hung up the phone and then he opened the case he was carrying and pulled out a bow. “That was a warning that I had set up. There were at least a dozen signals, so it’s a toss-up between Caster’s minions or Lancer’s hounds.”
Her Master reached for the sword slung in the bag hanging over his shoulder, as though he was getting ready to fight. Another contrast to his father, though one that was rather foolhardy. She stopped him.
“Master, there’s no need for you to fight,” she told him, removing her cloak. Her armor glinted in the moonlight. “This War is for the Servants to clash with one another. The Masters need only to concern themselves with the other Masters. You and Rider’s Master should take shelter somewhere safe.”
“I mean no disrespect, Your Majesty,” Rider’s Master told her. “The closest safe-house that I’ve established will take ten minutes to reach, and if we split up we’ll risk being overwhelmed after separating, or picked off by the Servant.”
“Take Rider with you then,” she said. “If we’re in an alliance, then he should be able to keep you both safe.”
“I do not coddle those who seek to ride into battle,” the Servant spoke for the first time that night. The tone was heated, as if he found her suggestion reprehensible. “Only those who resolved to fight under their own strength and die have any right to stand on the battlefield. If the boy cannot do so, then he doesn’t have the right to call himself my Master.”
“… It’s exactly as he said,” the masked boy said bluntly, looking towards his Servant. “His strength is for fighting other Servants, not on enemies beneath him. I wouldn’t ask him to, nor would I expect him to defend me.”
Saber spared the Servant a glance, as if rebuking his words. It was clear that the dynamic between the two was not the same as the previous war’s pair. Though their Masters had entered into an alliance, she felt that she couldn’t trust hers to his care. Then there was no more time to talk as snarls reached their ears.
Clad in a hunter’s garb, Lancer appeared at the top of a lamp post with his spear on his shoulder. “Well, tonight is turning out to be productive,” he said, half-amused. “First a sword-wielding Archer, now a woman clad in armor masking herself as a Saber without a sword. I hope you’ll put up a better fight than he did?”
And, with that, she determined that he was nothing like the Lancer of the war prior. “We shall see if your tongue is so brazen after I’ve cut you in twain, Lancer.”
She didn’t get the chance. Rider had already lunged for the Servant, his halberd now an axe. With a war-cry, he cleaved the light pole in two and forced the lance-wielding hero to abandon his perch.
“Well, that was rude, don’t you think?” Lancer said, the hounds circling him in a defensive manner. “My business tonight is with Saber.”
“You fled from our last encounter,” Rider stated, baring teeth in a feral smile. “I will not be denied my battle a second time! Even if I have to cut through her to do it.”
Her grip on her sword tightened at the admission. Rider’s Master placed his hand to his mask and shook his head.
“It’s a bit rude to deny the woman her due in battle,” Lancer mused, “but since you insist then let’s take this somewhere private. I’ll be back for her once I’ve dealt with you.”
He whistled and snapped his fingers. The hounds moved to follow him as he took up his spear and jaunted over the concrete wall towards the south were there were woodlands to be found for their duel. Naturally, Rider chased after him.
That left the three of them to their own devices. There was an unnatural silence to be found for a moment as they processed what happened. Then, the remaining Servant spoke.
“Forgive me for speaking out of turn, Master,” Saber said to Shirou, her tone restrained while carrying an underlying fury in it. “But I do not think this alliance will be very successful if he cannot rein in his Servant’s behavior.”
“I… I’m sorry about him,” he said. “He’s… well, I’m not going to make any excuses. But the Command Seals can’t—”
She moved before he finished, leaping into the air as Hero’s Instinct spoke to her and swinging the invisible blade in her hand. It clashed with a red streak that suddenly appeared, roaring as the steel met with the sheath of churning wind, only to shatter in the wake of her blade. The shockwave of the impact rustled the Masters behind her, sending her own a step back and Rider’s to his knees.
“What was that?” he asked, slowly rising to his feet and reaching into his case for something out of her view.
Pressed for time, she summed it up in one word. “Archer.”
Then she brought the blade around to deflect another shot.
Standing on top of a building closer to the bridge, Archer fired another sword-turned-arrow at Saber. He knew she could block it, but his objective wasn’t to kill her expressly. Not that he could with the arrows he was using, since they were in the middle of the street and an arrow that could do so would level the surrounding area.
“Master,” he said. “I believe I have Saber’s attention.”
“So what happened to not being much of an Archer if you couldn’t pick off a target before they realized it,” Rin said through their shared sense of hearing, throwing his earlier words back in his face. “Lancer was forgivable given you couldn’t get the distance, but I’m starting to question if you’re really worthy of your class.”
“Your words wound me, Master,” Archer said, his tone lacking sincerity in it. Even if circumstances changed, Rin would still be Rin. “If it’s any conciliation, Rider will probably deal with him… or the other way around. Besides, isn’t this why you came up with such a reckless plan?”
“Just lure her away!” Rin demanded. “I’ll deal with the Masters.”
“As you wish.” He nocked his bow and drew back the string, taking aim at his younger counterpart’s Servant. He let go, and the arrow flew across the distance uncontested until it met the invisible sword. When she moved, leaving the two Masters at a calculated distance to see whether or not he would prioritize her or them, he fired at her again.
She smashed it as prana-laced fog was conjured to blanket the area while the two Masters stealthily disappeared behind an alley on the enchanted motorbike. She burst out of it then and advanced at inhuman speeds, no doubt having learned the trajectory of his arrows and coming to attack him. He gave her three seconds before he fired again.
“Their Servant has left them,” he said. “Proceed with your plan, Rin.”
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Ha! Bet you thought I was done with my comic reviews! Well, the truth is I am unpleased with the Marvel Reboot and thus decided to skip the unnecessary bits and pieces. I’ll just wait until it settles down first.
But we’re here for a different purpose. That would be my review of Magneto # 19! Let’s get to it!
The comic opens with Magneto trying to stop the Incursion, but the Ultimate Universe is fighting back by deploying robots and the 616-Universe civilians are stupid enough to just watch. Naturally, Lorna goes to save the civilians while he thinks back to how he needed to interrogate his MGH dealer for something stronger, though it was likely to kill him if he used it. Turns out those people stayed behind on purpose to see Magneto, once again showing that he still has fans despite everything.
Some time in the past, Magneto visited some guy who looks like a demon known as Sugar Man. Normally he would kill the guy, but right now his knowledge of mutant genetics and he needs a way to boost his power quick and dirty. Once he gets that, he kills the man. It’s about what we expected from him.
Despite the enhanced MGH, the amplifiers, and siphoning Earth’s magnetic energies into his body, it isn’t enough power. Yet his body can’t handle it anymore, and between his addiction to MGH and the upcoming fight, he knows he’s going to die. So, before that, Briar asks her who she really is as the comic ends.
Okay, review time…
More of a transitional issue, showing the measures he’s taken in order to accomplish his goals and how he knows that his death is imminent. Still don’t see why Lorna is wearing her old outfit, but I guess that can’t be helped in the grand scheme of things. Overall, it’s nothing new but not bad.
It gets a 3 out of 5.
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[-|Back in the Game|-]
[Prologue -o0o- Start]
The first thing that Kirigaya Kazuto, known to his friends as Kirito, noticed as he opened the door to the Dicey Café was that it still had its quiet ambience since the first time he entered. The place was mostly abandoned, though Agil insisted that it picked up after dark. Klein had vouched for him that time Kirito asked, while complimenting the fine selection of alcohol the majority of his peers were too young to indulge in.
The man himself was there, sitting at a table with a drink in a classic mug. He was listening as the girl Kirito came to know as Silica talked animatedly about something, while Klein nodded along and smiled. Then he saw Kirito and waved him over. “Nice to see you made it.”
Silica turned and greeted him as well with an innocent smile of her own. “You came!”
“I had some free time today and Sugu is still at practice.” He took a seat between the two of them. “So, what were you talking about?”
“I finally managed to tame a Waterfowl Dragon Pup!” she said excitedly. “It looks just like Pina did!”
“That’s great,” Kirito said. He had given her the location of where the dragon was, a small spring in a part of the Fourland Dukedom. Considering she was just around Level 25 and there were no Player Towns in that area, making the trip successfully and then taming the dragon pup while its mother was away hunting must’ve been tricky. More so when you considered that Waterfowl Dragon Pups fled from characters over Level 30, and killing the mother would trip a flag and leave the player unable to tame any of its kind unless you took an egg and hatched it yourself. “And you did it by yourself?”
She nodded. “I used a Topaz Carbuncle to draw in anything that was aggro’d by my presence, and then used a Chameleon Potion to hide myself,” she explained. “It still took me a long time to get there, and a lot of MP items.”
The Topaz Carbuncle was one of the variations of the standard Carbuncle that could be summoned by equipping a [Topaz Ring] accessory. That allowed it to act as a tank rather than a barrier-caster. It took up an accessory slot, but the ability to change the functions of her standard phantasmal summoning was too useful to not exploit.
“Congratulations,” Kirito told her. It was after that the café owner came in from the back and Kirito greeted him. “Hey, Agil. How’s business been treating you?”
The café owner sighed. “Seriously kid, we’re outside of the game. Use my real name, will you?”
Kirito had the decency to at least apologize. “Ah, sorry. It’s just that I spent so long knowing you by that name it stuck. ”
“Mhmm.” Agil nodded. “I understand that, but I’m still going to have to insist on it. You know that not everyone still reacts well to being reminded of that place.”
“True enough,” Klein added. The events of SAO really did a number on a lot of the players in the grand scheme of things. More than a few had told their stories on how things went on the inside, how they had to fight to stay alive and saw friends and peers killed or committed suicide, and that hadn’t help the situation at all. Out of his guild-mates, he was virtually the only one who still missed what Sword Art Online could have been—a whole new world to explore and play through.
“I wish they didn’t to take away my AmuSphere a few days after I got it,” Silica chimed in, somewhat bitterly. “It was a gift.”
There was already public outcry from the entire SAO incident, which was the largest hostage situation in human history and led to thousands of people being killed—a good number of them children at that. But after it came to light that Sugou Nobuyuki, former chief of RECT, had kidnapped 300 people using the very same system that Kayaba had made and experimented on them, it had been the last straw. The very implication of how it could be used for mind-control led to a recall of all public FullDive Technology until further notice.
And the government carried it out with brutal efficiency. If they didn’t, not only would it be a serious disregard for the citizens’ safety, but it would make the entire country look weak to foreign countries. Since all NerveGear and AmuSphere devices had a registry, they used it to track down all the devices they could and disposed of them. Sure, there was a reimbursement for it, but it ultimately spelled the end of the VRMMORPG community in Japan at least.
“It just means that we’ll have to wait until they’ve come up with a replacement for them,” Klein told her. “The system is too profitable to completely scrap, but they will have to rebuild it from the ground up and install better safety measures. Besides, it’s not like it’s the entire MMO genre is dead. Elder Tales is still pretty fun for a game almost as old as I am.”
She nodded at that. “True, but… it’s just not the same. I miss being able to touch Pina.”
Kirito did know how she felt about it not being the same. For as happy as he was to be out of the Death Game, and to have his girlfriend back, he missed the world that composed the Aincrad and Alfheim. It was a world where he was more than what he was outside of it, and a world that was beautiful in ways that what others considered reality couldn’t compare.
And both of those wonderful places, formerly filled with thousands of people who felt similar to him, were ruined by Kayaba and Nobuyuki. The former destroyed his own world the moment he turned it into a Death Game, taking away the joys to be found in exploring every inch and every mystery of a beautiful world with the threat of death looming over them. The latter tainted the game for Kirito the moment he found out what happened to Asuna, and then he trampled on the goals and hopes of the others trying to conquer the World Tree.
“Well, I give it another six months or so,” Kirito said in the end. “After all, even beyond games, the FullDive has too much potential to simply vanish.”
“Mhm.” Klein took a sip of his drink and then changed topics. “So, you getting along okay with your girlfriend out of town?”
“It’s not like we have to be right next to each other,” Kirito said defensively. Asuna was with her parents in another part of the country, on some kind of business for the next few days, so they had to resort to long-distance communication. Though, Asuna had been a little distant after what happened during her captivity at the top of the World Tree. “Besides, she’ll be with us when we go on the dungeon tonight.”
“Is your sister going to be there too?” Silica asked.
Kirito nodded. “That makes five with the three of us included. We just need a healer now to fill the sixth role since Sugu spec’d her build to be a War Shrine Maiden and you don’t have the Unicorn summoning for healing.”
“Great,” Klein said. “We’ll meet up in Akiba then?”
“I’ll be there resupplying and seeing if the expansion pack adds anything to what the shopkeepers have in stock,” Kirito explained. “We can meet up at the usual place after that, take a Fairy Ring over to the Tsugao Region, and work our way to the dungeon there.”
Klein raised his drink to that. “Sounds like a plan.”
[SAO -o0o- LH]
Novasphere Pioneer expansion pack update in:
[SAO -o0o- LH]
Kirito found himself at the base of an ancient tree, surrounded by the ruins of a modern city reclaimed by nature. It looked like centuries of urban decay had allowed moss to flourish over every surface, no doubt due to the moist air that smelled clean and refreshing, while carrying a chill to it that stung his face. His second thought was why was he standing in the middle of what looked to be the setting of Akiba in Elder Tales.
The last thing he remembered was getting ready to meet with everyone, since they didn’t have school or work tomorrow, and then catching a Fairy Ring out. Then he felt a sense of weightlessness as he was wreathed in light and pulled. The closest matching sensation was the use of a teleport crystal in….
“It can’t be,” he said, reaching behind his back and feeling the hilt of his swords brushing against his finger tips. The first was the [Lunar Fang], a blade said to have been forged from a drop of moonlight and silver, giving a bonus in damage against phantasmal enemies. The second was [Black Raver], a blade grew stronger in the darkness that he got as part of a raid before he had left the game over two years ago.
He looked down to see he was dressed in the [Stygian Cloak of Kir], a piece of armor that appeared to be a long, black coat with buttons in the front. His accessory necklace, the [Ebon Wolf Charm], hung against his chest. He had equipped all of them to his avatar so they could get through the dungeon he planned to go into easier because he was going to use the Teaching Function to help the others.
Kirito wondered if he was having a dream and then pinched his cheek. It actually stung, making him wince. If it was a dream he shouldn’t have felt that, but pain was never enabled in SAO either. That didn’t help at all.
Tempting as it was to write it all off as him having passed out in front of the computer, he made the motions to open the menu in both of the previous VRMMORPGs he played. It didn’t appear. He was willing to brush it off as a dream then and there, at least until a status screen appeared in front of him at a thought. The format matched the Elder Tales one, yet he could interact with it by touch like in the previous games.
He found and pressed the logout button. It wasn’t responsive. He sucked in a sharp breath and felt the moist air chill his lungs on the way down, irritating the lining until he coughed. It wasn’t a dream, but a nightmare.
“What’s going on?” he heard from behind him. Twisting his head and dismissing the status screen, he found his little sister’s avatar standing before him, feeling around her body inquisitively with her hands. Sugu was dressed in the garments befitting her class as a Kannagi, with a katana exclusive to her class. “How did this happen?”
“Sugu,” he said, grabbing her attention. “You’re here too?”
“Onii-chan?” she asked, taking in his appearance. “Onii-chan, is that really you?”
He nodded. It must’ve been enough to confirm his identity in her eyes, because she ran towards him and ended up slipping on the wet moss beneath her sandals, falling forward with a startled yelp. Kirito stretched his arms out and caught her before she could hit the ground, asking, “You okay?”
“Y-yeah, I think so.” She stood upright and tested her footing, finding it to be a lot less stable than she liked. “Onii-chan, what’s going on?”
“I think we’re in the Elder Tales game,” he said. “The menu, the setting, the equipment—they all match for the most part.”
“But how?” she asked. “We weren’t using AmuSpheres or NerveGears, so how did we end up in the game?”
“I….” He paused, unsure of how to explain what was going on. He didn’t even know what was going on. It didn’t make any sense. They were staring at a computer screen in their respective rooms one minute, and then here they were. “I honestly don’t know. I was working under the assumption I fell asleep at some point, but—”
“Why can’t I logout?” he heard a woman ask to anyone who would listen. “How do I contact the game master?”
“This is all a dream, right?” another man said, laughing to himself. “I just fell asleep at my desk waiting for the expansion. None of this or you are real, right?”
“No, you’re the dream!” a third person said. It was a man clad in silver armor. “Now how do I wake up?”
“Shit,” Kirito said as he grabbed Sugu’s wrist and pulled her along. “We need to get going, now!”
“Wh-what?” She almost stumbled over her feet trying to keep up with him as he pulled along. He was being so forceful. “Onii-chan, you’re hurting me!”
“Sorry,” he said, not really slowing down or stopping. “But if this is anything like what happened before, things are about to get really bad, really fast once the panic sets in.”
It was too late, as someone in the crowd screamed. “IT’S SAO ALL OVER AGAIN! WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!”
If the crowd around them was nervous and confused before, that stirred fear into them at the possibility. When you considered the death count of the mentioned Death Game and some of the stories that were leaked online and mentioned, it painted a horrifying scenario. The look on Sugu’s face told him she thought the same.
“OH GOD, NOT AGAIN!” screamed a woman, most likely another survivor of the game. It only added weight to the assumption that it wasn’t a dream and kick started a chain reaction as people began to fully panic.
Kirito grabbed his sister and lifted her into his arms bridal-style, taking off as fast as he could for one of the ruined buildings before things escalated. He’d seen it before, after Kayaba’s announcement at the beginning of the Death Game—people pushing and lashing out in the Town of Beginnings as they tried to come to terms with their situation. He was not going to risk his sister being killed by someone on accident.
In SAO, you couldn’t feel pain then and you couldn’t be killed in a [Safe Zone]. He wasn’t sure that applied here. While outright fighting couldn’t be done in the city limits, before because of the Royal Guards, there was no telling if something had gone wrong. After all, the game had suddenly become real. If that wasn’t capable of causing a bug or system crash, he didn’t know what could.
Once they were inside of one of the sturdier-looking buildings, he set her down and began rifling through his Friend’s List. He found that some of the others were present as well. Were they trapped in the game too?
He pressed Klein’s name and felt a sudden pinprick in his head that made him wince. “Ow.”
‘Kirito?‘ he heard in response, inside of his head.
[SAO -o0o- LH]
“Hoo boy,” Klein said with a sigh, scratching the back of his head as he looked into a reflective piece of broken glass. Looking at how he stood, with a sword on his hip and clad in armor again, he couldn’t help but sum up the circumstances in four words. “This can’t end well.”
In remembrance to his time to Sword Art Online, he replicated his outfit and previous fighting style as best he could when he joined the game by becoming a Samurai. He also had a sub-class as a Rune Knight, to add some variety to his swordplay. He had chosen the Wolf-Fang race, giving him thick crimson hair on his head that concealed a pair of light-red wolf-like ears, with a red and gold bandana wrapped around his forehead.
The armor he wore was something he had custom-made, consisting of black armor and red robes beneath that gave him a boost in fire resistance. His sword was a drop that Kirito had given him from a Level 40 boss they had tackled recently, known as the [Ansyn Blade], which increased the duration of magic that was applied to it through sigils, charms, or spells. The accessory that he had was called a [Neophyte Talismancer’s Pouch], increasing the number of charms he could carry by providing an inventory slot for them.
He heard the screams in the distance growing louder and could pick up the gist of it. Somehow, without a NerveGear, they had gotten sucked into the game world. Klein looked around to see the other players slowly starting to panic as they pressed the air in front of them in a way that was reminiscent of the menus in Sword Art Online while in privacy mode. He gave it a few minutes before things on his end got out of hand here as well.
It was then he felt a tug in his mind and heard, ‘Ow.‘
He recognized the voice. “Kirito?”
‘Klein, is that you?‘ was the response.
“Where are you?” he asked, looking around. Though there were other players around, none of them had Kirito’s appearance. “I don’t see you.”
‘I think we’re connected through our minds,‘ Kirito said. ‘I clicked on your name in my menu and then felt a poke in my head.‘
‘We’ve got ESP now?‘ Klein thought as he scratched his head. ‘That would be so freaking cool if I knew what was going on. How did we get here?‘
‘I don’t know, but I checked the menu and the logout button isn’t working,‘ Kirito explained. ‘Things got into a panic on my end once someone cried it’s the same as SAO. Sugu is with me, but I want to meet up with the rest of you before it turns violent.‘
‘Okay, give me a place to meet up at,‘ Klein thought to his friend. ‘But first, I’m finding Silica. If this gets real bad, she’s liable to get trampled.‘
[SAO -o0o- LH]
“Oh no,” Silica said in an almost muted whisper, blinking at the sight of the small dragon in front of her. One minute she was looking at it from across a screen as her avatar sat at the edge of a riverbank in Akiba and pampered her pet. The next minute, she was the one sitting at the bank, listening as the dragon made tiny chirruping noises at her.
Its big, red eyes seemed to shine like rubies in the moonlight, and its small body was covered with teal-colored feathers that whitened around the tips of its wings. They felt like swan feathers with how they tickled her fingers. Just like her SAO pet dragon.
If there was ever a time to be careful what she wished for it, was now.
She stopped petting the dragon pup and looked down at the reflection on the water from the moonlight. With fox-ears on her head because of her chosen race, she was draped in the red robes that made up her [Acolyte Robe] armor and holding a [Ewallen Scepter] that felt heavy in her other hand. She felt the night breeze making her hair tousle about and smelled the freshness of the water nearby.
It made tears sting the corners of her eyes, and she brought her hands up to cover them as the terrible feelings of fear and confusion swelled up inside of her. The tiny dragon climbed up to her shoulder and licked her cheek, letting small inquisitive cries out as the tears. It served as the best balm to soothe her tears as she grasped the dragon in her arms and held it close.
There was a niggle in her head then, and she heard a voice. ‘Silica, are you okay?‘
“Klein?” She sniffled. “What’s going on?”
‘Somehow, we’re trapped in the Elder Tales game,’ Klein explained. ‘I’m coming to get you and meet up with Kirito and his sister, tell me where you are?‘
She curled up into her herself and rocked back and forth with her dragon. “I’m by the riverbank.”
‘Okay, give me a few minutes and we’ll meet up with the rest,‘ he assured her. ‘If you need to bring up your menu, just concentrate on your forehead and think hard about it and it will pop up. The Friend’s List will let you talk to others like I’m doing.‘
“Okay.” She said, taking a deep breath and holding the tiny dragon against her chest. Its warmth and softness was a security blanket, which the dragon seemed eager to provide as it chirruped. “Come soon.”
[SAO -o0o- LH]
Asuna’s first reaction to being trapped in this world was not to be confused or sad, but to be furious.
She had just gotten out of ALO not too long ago, just dealt with Nobuyuki, and was just on the road to getting herself together after what the bastard had done to her. Now she was once again inside of another game against her will. She stomped the ground and bit down on a series of swearwords, planning to find someone who knew what was going on when she heard a voice that gave her pause.
“Mama!” said a Pixie that fluttered in front of her, wearing a long dress and a blue flower in her dark hair. Her dark eyes glimmered with wet tears of happiness as she clasped her fingers together and smiled.
The sight of her daughter quelled her anger and brought a smile to her face. After ALO had closed down, the best they had been able to do was work out something so that she remained conscious within Asuna’s Laptop despite being data. Now here she was, as she had last seen her within the World Tree.
Asuna gingerly grabbed her tiny body, pressing it against her cheek and nuzzling her with affection. “How are you here like this?”
“I don’t know,” she admitted. “There was this… light that came through the system when you were playing the game and getting ready to meet with Papa. It grabbed me and brought me here, and then you showed up.”
As if to compound her joy, she felt a touch on her mind and then heard a voice. ‘Asuna, are you okay?‘
“Kirito, its Yui!” were the first things she said. “Yui’s back in her body!”
‘What?‘ He sounded surprised. ‘She’s here?‘
‘Papa!‘ Yui said, somehow intercepting their telepathic line and interjecting herself into it. ‘I missed you!‘
‘Yui… I missed you too,’ he thought. ‘I was working on a VR probe in my free time, but I never thought you’d be here with us without the FullDive available.‘
‘Well, if there’s one good thing that’s come out of here, it’s this,‘ Asuna claimed, having gotten the hang of communicating with her thoughts. ‘Where are you?‘
‘I’m in Akiba,‘ he said. ‘Where are you two?‘
‘Nakasu,’ she said. ‘I had just logged into the game and was heading for a Fairy Ring when I ended up here.‘
‘Shit, that’s right,’ he said, grasping some detail. ‘When you log into the game, it determines what server and area you’re in relative to Earth. On the Yamato region, the prefecture you were in roughly equated to Ninetail Dominion, so you automatically ended up in their Player Town. Everyone else we planned to meet is in here with me.‘
‘We’ll come to you,‘ she said. ‘I just need to find a map and—‘
‘No,’ he said curtly. ‘Absolutely not.‘
Her eyebrows raised and her mental voice gained an edge. ‘Excuse me?‘
‘Sorry, that came out harsher than I meant for it to. It’s just this is bringing up a lot of bad memories and I only got you back not too long ago,’ he explained. ‘Listen, the gates aren’t working and there are a ton of monsters between there and here that are dozens of levels above yours. We have no idea if there are rules to this, or if you or Yui will die permanently if killed. We can’t risk moving until we know more.‘
Asuna frowned, but nodded her head. ‘Fine, I’ll work on gathering more information here.’
‘I’m not really sure about what I can do, but I’ll help,‘ Yui added.
‘We’ll work something out soon,‘ Kirito promised. ‘You two stay safe and stay in touch.‘
[SAO -o0o- LH]
A chuckle, an act of mirth, stood out amongst the discord in Minami.
There was one player there positively delighted at the circumstances he found himself in, and he made no effort to hide it. He twirled the dagger in his hands and felt the cold, familiar steel within it. There was no denying that it felt right, and he had come back to where reality was for him.
How he got there? Where he was? What this meant? How to get back to reality? All of these questions meant nothing to him as his lungs burst into laughter at the sheer randomness and absurdity of the situation.
Trapped in a world that reminded him of the greatest time of his life, Johnny Black was the only one in Minami that laughed loudly into the night.
[Prologue -o0o- End]
Name: Level – Class (Species – Build) and Sub-Class
Kirito: Lv. 90 Swashbuckler (Human – Dual Blade) with Sword Saint sub-class
Leafa (Suguha): Lv. 29 Kannagi (Half-Alv – War Shrine Maiden) with Acrobat sub-class
Klein: Lv. 37 Samurai (Wolf Fang – Standard Katana) with Rune Knight sub-class
Silica: Lv. 23 Summoner (Fox Tail – Non-Exclusive) with Beast-Tamer sub-class
Asuna: Lv. 34 Swashbuckler (Human – Fencer) with Chef sub-class
Johnny Black: Lv.? Assassin (Human – Guerrilla) with Poison-User sub-class
Notes: … I marathon’d Log Horizon and came up with this idea. Obviously, I had to tweak the timeline, so basically the expansion pack release happened after the events of Fairy Dance, but everyone is the same age they are in canon. It shouldn’t break the suspension of disbelief.
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