第4話 黒の剣士 ／ The Black Swordsman
Rosalia: What are you talking about? Why should we have to share these healing crystals with you? Your pet lizard has healing powers, you know.
Silica: But you never fight on the front line. So, who are you to talk? You don’t need to use any crystals!
Rosalia: Of course I do. You’re the popular one around here, Silica. I can’t expect the boys to help me when I need it.
Guy: Oh, come on. It’s not like that.
Silica: Fine! I don’t care. You want my items, take ‘em. But I’m never going to team up with you again! I know, there is a ton of other parties out there who’d love to have me on their side.
Guy: Wait! Don’t go! Silica…
Silica: I’m out of healing crystals!
Silica: Pina! Pina! Pina…
Silica: Pina… don’t leave me all alone here… Pina!
Kirito: What’s that feather?
Silica: It’s Pina… My best friend…
Kirito: You’re one of those beast tamers, aren’t you? I’m sorry. If I’d got here sooner, I could’ve saved your friend.
Silica: No, it’s all my fault. I was stupid to think I could make it through the forest on my own. Thank you for saving me. You did what you could.
Kirito: That feather. Check and see if it has an item name attached to it.
Kirito: Hey, don’t cry. That means Pina’s heart’s still here, there’s a chance you can revive it.
Silica: No way! Really?
Kirito: Mmhmm. On the south side of Floor 47, there’s a field dungeon called the Hill of Memories. I heard somewhere that the flower growing at the top can revive familiars.
Silica: Floor 47, huh.
Kirito: I’d offer to go get it for you. All you’d have to do is pay for the trip. The thing is, the flower won’t bloom unless the familiar’s master’s there.
Silica: Thank you so much for telling me about it. If I work hard to raise my level, then someday I could…
Kirito: Sure but the time limit’s three days to revive it.
Silica: No way… It’s all my fault. I’m so sorry, Pina…
Kirito: It’s okay. You have three days. Take this equipment. It should boost you five or six levels. And if I tag along, I’m sure everything will work out.
Silica: But, why would you do all this for me?
Kirito: I’ll tell you, but only if you promise not to laugh, okay?
Silica: I promise I won’t.
Kirito: All right, it’s because you look like my little sister.
Silica: Hehehe… I’m sorry. Um, I know this isn’t enough col to pay you back, but…
Kirito: No, it’s cool. Besides, it works with why I’m here. We’ll be helping each other out.
Silica: Huh? Okay then, my name’s Silica.
Kirito: My name’s Kirito. I guess we’ll be working together for a little while.
Guy1: Hey look! It’s Silica!
Guy2: It took you long time to get back. We were getting worried.
Guy1: You wanna team up with us? We’ll take you wherever you want to go!
Silica: That’s really nice of you to offer, but… Well, I’ve sort of already agreed to be in a party with him, so… ‘Kay, later. Bye! I didn’t mean to put you on the spot like that.
Kirito: Didn’t know you had fans. You must be popular.
Silica: No… They don’t take me seriously. They want me to be their mascot. Maybe they’re right. They call me Dragon Tamer, and I guess… It went to my head.
Kirito: Don’t worry about it. We’ll make it in time. Promise.
Silica: Do you live around here, Kirito?
Kirito: I’m on Floor 50. It’s kinda far, so I was thinking of getting a room tonight.
Silica: If you stay, I’ll take you out for some cheesecake. It’s really good here.
Rosalia: Well, if it isn’t Silica! Wow. You made it out of the forest alive. Good for you, girl.
Kirito: Something wrong?
Silica: Oh no, nothing.
Rosalia: Hang on. What happened to your little friend the lizard. Did he run away?
Silica: Pina died saving me. But, I’m gonna get Pina back!
Rosalia: Really? I guess you’ll be heading for the Hill of Memories then. I wonder if you’ll be able to clear it at your level.
Kirito: Of course, she will. It’s not that difficult to level.
Rosalia: Oh god, this girl seduced another player. No, it’s not difficult, but you don’t look that strong.
Kirito: Come on.
Silica: Why would she have to be so mean?
Kirito: Well, is Sword Art Online your first MMO?
Kirito: A lot of people’s personalities change when they play games online. And some actually like playing the game as the bad guy. You see how our cursors are green. Well, if you commit a crime against another player, your cursor’s gonna turn orange. Then they become what’s called a ‘red player’ — the worst, also known as player killers. They’re all about murder.
Silica: They kill other players?!
Kirito: In a normal game, they role-play as the bad guy, have some laughs — and it’s cool. But Sword Art Online isn’t normal. It’s definitely not a game.
Kirito: I’m sorry.
Silica: Well, I think you’re good, so… I mean, you saved me after all.
Kirito: Looks like you cheered me up instead. Thank you, Silica.
Silica: Well, where the heck is our cheesecake already? Excuse me, our dessert hasn’t shown up yet!
Silica: I wonder if he’d laugh if I told him I wanted to talk some more.
Kirito: Silica, you still awake?
Kirito: I forgot to tell you some stuff about Floor 47. But it can wait till tomorrow.
Silica: No, now’s fine! Actually, I was just thinking I should ask you about… That was so close…
Kirito: Uh, what’s up? Something wrong?
Silica: No, nothing. What’s that thing do, Kirito?
Kirito: It’s a Mirage Sphere.
Silica: It’s pretty.
Kirito: This is the town area of Floor 47. And that’s the Hill of Memories. I was thinking if we take this route, we can… Hm?
Silica: What’s wrong?
Kirito: Shh! Who’s there?!
Silica: Um, who was it?
Kirito: An eavesdropper.
Silica: But they can’t. I mean, you can’t hear through a door unless you knock first.
Kirito: But if your listening skill is high enough, you can. It takes practice. Not that many players have it.
Silica: Why would they want to listen to us?
[—February 24, 2024 Floor 47: Floria—]
Silica: Wow! This place is like a dream!
Kirito: I know. The whole floor is covered in flowers. That’s why they call it the Flower Garden.
Silica: Uh, couples…
Silica: What?! Nothing! Sorry to keep you waiting.
Kirito: What’s wrong?
Silica: Uh, nothing, nothing at all.
Kirito: Come on.
Silica: What’s that for?
Kirito: If anything bad happens while we’re in here, I’m gonna tell you to warp out, okay? When I do, use this crystal. You can jump to any town with it.
Kirito: No “but” use it.
Silica: I understand.
Kirito: Let’s get going. If we take this path, it’ll lead us right to the Hill of Memories.
Silica: Um, Kirito…
Kirito: Calm down! That thing’s not that strong.
Silica: Oh, Kirito, save me! But don’t look! Save me! But don’t look!
Kirito: That’ll be… difficult.
Silica: Darn you! Put me down… now!
Silica: Did you see anything?
Kirito: Not really.
Silica: I hope you don’t mind me asking, but… What’s your sister like?
Kirito: Why do you wanna know?
Silica: Well, you said I looked like her. I know it’s not polite to ask about your real life, but… What’s she like?
Kirito: I called her my little sister, but she’s really my cousin.
Kirito: We were raised like brother and sister since we were babies, so I doubt she even knows. But I know. And I guess that’s the reason I avoided her. Our grandfather is really strict. When I was eight, he made us take classes at a local kendo dojo. But after a couple years, I stopped going. Grandpa beat the hell out of me for that.
Silica: That’s awful.
Kirito: Anyway, then my sister stood up for me and told him to stop. She said she’d train hard for both of us. And she did. She trained hard. She even made it to the nationals.
Silica: She did? How awesome!
Kirito: Yeah… I’ve always felt guilty for putting her through that. I wouldn’t doubt it if she hates me. God knows she could’ve been doing something else. Maybe that’s why I wanted to help you. In a weird way, it makes me feel like I’m paying her back. There it is.
Silica: If you don’t mind me saying, you’re wrong. I don’t think she hates you at all. She wouldn’t work that hard for you if she didn’t like you. Promise. And I bet she even loves kendo.
Kirito: There you go again, making me feel better. Maybe you’re right. Man, I hope so.
Silica: Okay then, I’m gonna do my best too!
Silica: Ki-Kirito! Owie…
Silica: Is that reviving flower around here?
Kirito: Yeah, over there! Go ahead. Pick it up.
Silica: You sure it’ll bring Pina back to life?
Silica: I’m so glad.
Kirito: There is a bunch of strong monsters lurking around here. Let’s revive it when we get back to town. I’m sure Pina would want it that way.
Silica: Is something wrong?
Kirito: Whoever’s hiding out there, come out now!
Rosalia: If you saw through my hiding skill so easy, your detection skill must be really high, swordsman. Ooh, it looks like you were successful getting your hands on the Pneuma Flower. Congratulations. Now, hand it over before you get hurt.
Silica: What are you talking about?
Kirito: No one’s handing anything over, Rosalia. Not to you, or the orange guild. Or should I say Titan’s Hand? You’re their leader, right?
Silica: But Rosalia’s cursor is green.
Kirito: It’s an easy trick. The green members find their victims, then they lure them straight to the orange players for the ambush. That was one of your pals last night eavesdropping on us, wasn’t it?
Silica: Then, the reason you were in that party with me and the others was to…
Rosalia: How perceptive. I was observing their strength, watching them earn all that beautiful money. You were who I was excited about and I was so sad when you left the party. But then you told me you were getting a rare item. What I want to know is, if you knew about us, why did you bring her here? Are you dumb? Or does she have you wrapped around her finger?
Kirito: Nope. You’re wrong both times. See, I’ve been looking all over for you, Rosalia.
Rosalia: What are you talking about?
Kirito: Remember ten days ago, you attacked a guild called the Silver Flags? The leader survived, four didn’t.
Rosalia: Oh, the losers with no money…
Kirito: Their leader went back and forth, from the warp-point to the front lines, morning till night. And with tears in his eyes, he begged everyone he met to avenge his dead friends. But he didn’t want you killed. No, he wanted you to go to prison. Do you have any idea how he felt?
Rosalia: Can’t say I do. Only idiots take this seriously. So, what if we kill someone here? There’s no proof, dying here means you’re dead IRL (In Real Life). Anyway, it’s time you started worrying about yourselves.
Silica: Kirito, there’s too many of them. We should get out of here.
Kirito: No, it’s okay. You’ll be safe if you stay here. Keep the crystal handy till I say so.
Silica: ‘Kay… but… Kirito!
Guy: Dressed in black… One-handed… No-shield… Holy crap! It’s the Black Swordsman! Rosalia, that guy… ! He’s the beater who plays solo on the front lines! He’s with the Assault Team!
Silica: No way, he is?
Rosalia: Why would someone from the Assault Team be all the way down here? Go on! Take him out! And take everything he owns!
Silica: I’ve got to save him! He won’t last! What’s going on?
Rosalia: What the hell, you idiots?! Kill him already!
Kirito: Four hundred in ten seconds, give or take. That’s about the total damage the seven of you can inflict on me. I’m level 78. I’ve got 14,500 HP. My battle-healing skill auto-regenerates six hundred points every ten seconds. We could stand here all day, and you wouldn’t get anywhere.
Guy: That’s not possible!
Kirito: Wanna bet? If your numbers are high enough, you’re invincible. MMOs that use leveling systems are unfair that way. My client spent his entire fortune on this warp crystal, and he’ll get his money’s worth. It’s been set to the coordinates of the prison. And I’m sending all of you bastards there!
Rosalia: Well, I’m green, and if you hurt me, you’ll go orange and… !
Kirito: I’m a solo player, got it? I don’t care if I have to play as orange for a couple of days.
Kirito: I’m really sorry, Silica. This whole time, I was using you as bait to catch ‘em. I thought you’d be scared if I told you the truth about me.
Silica: I can never be scared of you… ‘cause you’re a good person. Um, do you really have to go?
Kirito: Yeah… I’ve been away from the front lines for five days. I need to get back.
Silica: I-I think it’s cool here with the Assault Team. I could try for a hundred years and never make it. Um, I…
Kirito: You know, levels are just numbers. And a person’s strength in this world is just an illusion. Sure it’s cool and all, but there are more important things than that. We should meet up in the real world. That would be cool ‘cause I like having you as a friend.
Silica: Okay, we will. I promise.
Kirito: Well, ready to revive Pina?
Silica: Pina, when you get back, I’ll have lots of stuff to tell you about. About the amazing adventure I had. And about this one day when I got to have my very own big brother.