第10話 紅の殺意 ／ Crimson Killing Intent
[—Base of Nights of Blood Oath—]
Heathcliff: If you want her, you have to use your dual blades to take her from us. If you can defeat me in combat, you’ll be free to take Asuna. On the other hand, if you lose, you will join the Knights of the Blood Oath.
Kirito: Yeah, okay. If you wanna settle this with swords, that’s fine by me. We’ll have ourselves a duel then.
[—October 20, 2024 Floor 75: Collinia—]
Guy: In a hurry, folks! The good seats are going fast! Who’s next?
Asuna: My god… You’re such an idiot. How could you agreed to a dual?
Kirito: Okay. Come down. I’m sorry! It’s not like he gave me any other choice.
Asuna: The other day, when you used your dual-wielding skill, I’ve never seen anything like that before. The thing is, the commander has his own unique skill too.
Kirito: I know. I’ve seen it a bunch of times myself. The Divine Blade. It maximizes his offensive and defensive moves. His attack is strong, but his defense is incredible.
Asuna: No one’s ever seen the commander’s HP bar dip down into the yellow zone before. His invincibility is way beyond the normal game balance.
Kirito: I know.
Asuna: What if you lose? I don’t care if I don’t get my leave of absence. I care about you having to join the Knights of the Blood Oath.
Kirito: Well, I’m not planning on losing easily. Hmph.
Heathcliff: I’m sorry about this, Kirito. I didn’t think it was such a big deal. This is crazy.
Kirito: Maybe I can get a cut of the tickets?
Heathcliff: No. But when we’re finished, you’ll become an official member of the guild. I’ll consider this your first mission.
Kirito: His shield?
Heathcliff: Your reaction time is very impressive.
Kirito: Yeah, and your defense is impregnable. Not yet! Give it time!
Asuna: Be careful…
Kirito: Now’s my chance!
[—October 22, 2024 Floor 50: Algade—]
Kirito: Um… Don’t you guys have uniforms that aren’t so flashy?
Asuna: Actually, that’s one of our less flashy ones. You look great!
Kirito: I’m in a guild…
Asuna: I guess it’s all my fault, isn’t it?
Kirito: No. This is a good opportunity. As a solo player, I got as far as I could go.
Asuna: That makes me feel a little better. Hey, Kirito.
Asuna: Why do you avoid guilds… and people? I hope you don’t mind my asking. I mean, it’s not because you were a beta tester or because you have unique skills, is it? You do care about people.
Kirito: It was a long time ago. About a year or so… up to now… that was the only guild I was in. It was small. Including me, there were six of us in it. They called themselves the Moonlit Black Cats. As players, they were good. But their levels were way lower than mine. And I thought if I’d told them what my level was, they wouldn’t have wanted me around. So I decided to keep my mouth shut about it. And I joined up with them. I’d watch them… messing around, having fun, and I guess I wanted to be part of that too. Then one day… I’m the reason the whole guild was wiped out. If I hadn’t hidden the fact that I was a beater, I could convince them how dangerous that trap really was. I killed them… Sachi… all of them.
Asuna: I’m not gonna die, got that? I can’t die, because… I have to protect you.
[—October 23, 2024 Floor 55: Grandzam—]
Kirito: I gotta train?
Godfree: That’s right. You, me and one other guy are gonna form a party. Then, we’re all gonna go clear the dungeon on this floor.
Asuna: Hold on, Godfree! Kirito and I are already in…
Godfree: I can’t do anything about it, ma’am. Besides, as second-in-command, you know we can’t ignore the rules. If he’s gonna be joining us, then it’s my job, as commander of the front lines, to take the kid out and evaluate his skills.
Asuna: But… that’s ridiculous! He doesn’t need evaluation. He’s stronger than you!
Godfree: Keed, in thirty minutes, I wanna see you at the western gate.
Asuna: We finally had a chance to be alone.
Kirito: I’ll back soon. Think you can wait for me?
Asuna: Mm-hm. Just be careful.
Godfree: Hey, Keed! We were waiting for ya!
Kirito: Are you serious?
Godfree: Yup! Look at it this way, we’re all in the same guild, so I figured now’s a good time as any for you guys to bury the hatchet.
Kuradeel: About the other day, I apologize for my behavior. I was rude to you and I… I promise it won’t happen again.
Kirito: Yeah, sure.
Godfree: All right, Ladies. Time to focus. Today, I’ll be checking out how you react to dangerous situations. So, I’m gonna need you to hand over all the crystals in your storage.
Kirito: Even my teleport crystals?
Kirito: Yeah, okay.
Godfree: Awesome! Now, let’s go clear a dungeon!
Kuradeel and Kirito: Yay…
[—Floor 55: Dungeon Entrance—]
Godfree: This looks like a good place to take a break. Showtime, Ladies.
Asuna: Say “Ah! “
Kirito: We’ve been poisoned!
Godfree: What the hell is going on? You packed the water, Kuradeel. What’d you do? You, bastard!
Kirito: Antidote crystals, hurry!
Kuradeel: Poor sad old Godfree. I always knew you were a colossal idiot. But this proves you’re even dumber than I thought.
Godfree: Don’t do this! No… No! Stop it!
Kuradeel: Here’s my plan. Our party was walking alone when… we were attacked by this gang of criminal players who appeared out of nowhere. You both fought hard, but you were killed in battle. It was just me against all of them. And somehow, I courageously and single-handedly fought them all off! You know, I just killed an innocent bystander because of you. How am I gonna live with myself.
Kirito: From over here, you look like you’re having a blast doing it. Why the hell would a guy like you join the Knights of the Blood Oath. You’d be more at home with one of the criminal guilds.
Kuradeel: What an interesting observation. You have sharp eyes.
Kirito: You’re with Laughing Coffin, the murder guild.
Kuradeel: That’s where I got this skills to paralyze bastards like you. Where’s my head? I better stop talking or the poison will wear off. And we wouldn’t want that. Time to finish you off for good!
Kirito: The poison’s not wearing off!
Kuradeel: How’s it feel? Come on! I wanna know how it feels, knowing you’re about to die like a dog. What? Is your tongue paralyzed too?
Kirito: Is this it? Is this where I’m gonna die?
Kuradeel: Come on, now! It’s your last chance to say something. You really are going to die!
Kuradeel: Why do you keep struggling? Are you afraid of dying after all?
Kirito: No… I’m just not… ready yet!
Kuradeel: Is that so? That’s the way I like it! Die! Die! Die!
Asuna: Heal! I made it. I made it in time… Thank God… I made it… I was tracking your position on the map the whole time. And I saw Godfree disappear. I got worried something happened. Are you alive? I’m not dreaming, am I?
Kirito: No… You’re not…
Asuna: Hang on. I’ll finish this.
Kuradeel: A-Asuna… I-I can explain everything. We were just training, and all of the sudden, there was this… Damn you! I give up. I surrender. Please don’t kill me! I’ll leave the guild. You’ll never see me again, I promise! Please! I don’t wanna die! The oldest trick in the book! And you fell for it, bitch! God damn you… You murdered me…
Asuna: I’m sorry. This was… all my fault, wasn’t it?
Asuna: I’m sorry. But I… I should… stay away from you… for your sake…
Kirito: Asuna… My life belongs to you. I’ll give it up for you. I wanna stay with you until the end.
Asuna: And I promise I’ll do anything to protect you too… forever, no matter what. I swear.
Kirito: I’ll do everything I can… to make sure you get back to the real world. Asuna… Could I… stay with you… for the night?
Asuna: D-Don’t look! Not yet anyway. Wh-What are you waiting for? Get undressed. Don’t you sit there. It-It’s embarrassing.
Kirito: No way! I didn’t… I mean, I-I just… All I wanted was to spend the night with you tonight and… Not the, uh, other thing…
Asuna: Huh? You… You… You dummy!
Kirito: Hey, what are you smiling about?
Asuna: I was just having a dream… about my old life. It was weird. In the dream I had, everything in Aincrad, everything that happened and meeting you was just that… a dream. And I was so scared. But it wasn’t. Thank God, it wasn’t.
Kirito: No, that sounds weird. Don’t you wanna go back?
Asuna: Of course I do. I do. It’s just… I don’t want my life here to disappear, is all. The last two year’s been very special to me. I realized that now. Listen, Kirito. I was thinking maybe we could leave the front lines for a while.
Asuna: I’m scared. I feel like if we return to the battlefield now, something bad’s gonna happen again. Or maybe I’m just tired of it all.
Kirito: I know what you mean. I guess I am too. In the southwest of Floor 22, there’s this tiny little village by a lake and a forest. We could get a house together. And then…
Asuna: And then, what?
Kirito: Then… we get married.