Hello everyone! How are you all today? I've been pretty good myself. Before I start, I do want to apologize for how long it's taken me to get this chapter out. I't took me a little while to get situated in college and what not, so hopefully I can get back to a more regular writing schedule. Most likely these chapters will take longer to get out, but I guess that's the nature of the beast. Anyways, my life has been pretty good over the past few weeks. I'm finally down at college and I've made new friends. Anyways, I hope you enjoy the chapter!


-Floor 2-

"10."

Aiden said to himself in his head as he ran towards the body of his girlfriend. He opened up his inventory as he quickly moved forward.

"9."

PoH swept Zan's legs out from under him and quickly blocked an attack from Isami as the man slashed at him.

"8."

Zan pushed himself back up to his feet and activated Quick Strike, slashing through PoH and spinning on his heel.

"7."

Aiden continued to scroll frantically through his inventory as he looked for the one item he needed.

"6."

Isami charged at the guild leader and struck at him, only to have PoH block the attack once again and spin his weapon out of his hands.

"5."

Aiden slid on his knees as he finally reached his girlfriend who had only seconds until she would shatter into oblivion.

"4."

Zan sprinted forward, trying in some way to stop the attack before it could happen. PoH unleashed a flurry of attacks on the unarmed Isami.

"3."

"Aiden?" Lucy asked through her blurred vision.

"Don't worry, everything's going to be fine." Aiden quickly replied as he finally found the item he was looking for. He pulled it out of his inventory and into the world. The revival item.

"2."

Aiden looked up just for a second to see PoH's flurry of strikes come to an end. They ended with PoH stabbing Isami through the stomach, just out of reach of Zan. The teen saw Isami's health bar drain quickly, before reaching its end at zero.

"1."

Isami looked over at the couple as PoH pushed him off his blade and towards the ground. Aiden wasn't sure, but he thought he saw the man smile and nod, before slamming into the ground. Aiden activated the revival item and a blindly bright white appeared out of it, engulfing the couple.

"Isami!" Zan called out as he pushed past PoH and over the man's body. "Oh no."

"What are you doing?" He asked. His voice wasn't hard or angry, rather gentle and loving. It was that of a father's.

"I'm so sorry." The teen said. "I'm sorry, I couldn't save you."

"Don't worry about me, worry about yourself. Get out of here, save yourself."

The teen nodded and said, "Yes, you're right."

"And Zan." Isami said.

"Yes?"

"Tell them my real name. Tell them my name is Oto. Then find my family and tell them that I loved them, and that I thought of nothing but them in my final seconds."

"Of course." Zan replied.

The man smiled with watery eyes, but his smile was genuine. He wore a sad mix of joy, sorrow, pride, and fear. "Now, run." Oto said, before his body shattered into fragments.

"Are you done playing hero?" PoH asked from behind Zan. The teen didn't even have to turn around to know that reinforcements had arrived.

Zan looked up to see the white light that once enveloped Aiden and Lucy had faded and the two teens now held each other in their arms. However, he could also see that Lucy's health bar was only filled enough to have 1 health in it. "So, that's how it works then, huh?"

"Answer me!" PoH yelled at the teen.

Zan rose to his feet, and turned to face PoH and the rest of the Laughing Coffin. "Aiden!" He yelled out, whilst facing his enemy.

Aiden's head rose and he looked at the former nemesis. "Get her out of here." Zan said.

"No, you can make it out too."

"No I can't." Zan replied. "She's almost dead, someone has to hold them back. So go, and beat this game."

Aiden opened his mouth to protest, but knew he was right. "I'm sorry it had to end this way."

"I am too. I was looking forward to our dramatic end. To seeing which of us was stronger."

"I was too. Thank you."

"Don't thank me yet, you aren't out of this quite yet. Now go!"

Aiden picked Lucy up in a bridal carry and took one last look at the single teen ready to face what seemed to be an army of enemies. Then, he turned and ran.

"Aiden, what're we doing? We have to help him!"

"He's made his choice and we're allowing him to do so. We're living another day."

"But he isn't! We have to help!"

"We can't." Was all Aiden replied as he continued to flee, not looking back. His girlfriend continued to protest as he ran, but was still too weak to truly fight back.

"I'll take that as a no then." PoH said to Zan.

"You always were a clever one." Zan replied with a smile.

"You know what you've done here, right?"

"I've sealed my own fate."

"Exactly." PoH replied. "Kill him."

As soon as the word's left their leader's mouth, the guild member's began attacking like a pack of wild hyena's intent to rip him apart.

-Flash Back-

"And there's no other treatment options?" Zan asked whilst holding his girlfriend's hand. Ai sat in the chair of the hospital's room, her eyes filled with tears. The girl's mother and father sat in the room along with them. Her mother's makeup running from the tears that were flowing from her eyes, her father stone faced.

"I'm afraid not." The doctor replied. "Chemotherapy would be our best option at this point. The surgery removed the tumor, but with chemotherapy we'd be able to kill any other cancer that is currently spreading throughout her body."

"Whatever it takes." Her father replied. "We'll do whatever it takes."

"So, how's Ai doing?" Chimei asked as the two friends walked along the small sidewalk towards their school.

"She's only seeming to get worse. The doctor's dropped her survival probability from 70% to 50% yesterday."

"Has it gotten that bad?"

"It seems so. It just keeps spreading throughout her body. They can't seem to completely wipe it away."

"I thought the chemo was meant to prevent that."

"It was, but she went into remission shortly after."

"So how're you holding up with all this?"

"I'm doing the best I can. I put on a brave face and pretend that everything's going to be alright when I'm around her, but I know she just sees through it."

"She'll be able to hear and talk to you, but please keep it brief. She needs all the energy she can get." The nurse told the teen.

"Of course, thank you." Zan replied. The nurse then walked away and Zan stepped into the room.

"Hey." He said weakly. His voice was soft and caring.

"Hi, honey." Ai replied from the hospital bed as her boyfriend came into view. She looked worse and worse every day. The chemotherapy had taken her hair away, and she continued to get weaker and more frail every day. Her muscles had deteriorated badly to the point where she looked more like a skeleton than anything.

Zan didn't seem to be any better. Bags hug from under his eyes from being sleep deprived and he looked disheveled to say the least. They each knew they looked terrible, but neither ever said that they did.

"How're you feeling?"

"A bit better." She replied. It was a lie and they both knew it, but the lies always made him feel better, even if only for a little bit.

"That's good." Zan replied. "I brought you a gift."

"Another one?" She asked with a smile. "You really should stop spending money on me."

"You know I couldn't if I tried." He replied as he brought up a small, wrapped box and handed it to the girl.

"What's inside?"

"Open it and you'll see."

With boney finger and precise movements, the girl slowly unwrapped the box to find it was coated in velvet. She opened up the velvet box to find a golden, heart shaped locket on it. As she opened up the necklace, she found a picture of the two of them in front of a small lake. A picture her mom had taken, but a picture that she'd always loved.

"Thank you." She said with a smile.

"You're welcome." He replied as he leaned down and pressed a kiss to her forehead.

The two sat in silence, before the girl began to weep. "Thank you. Thank you so much, Zan. Thank you for being here with me through all of this."

The boy wrapped his girlfriend into a careful hug and could feel her tears press through his shirt. "I'll always be here with you, until the very end."

"It's your turn." Ai's father said as he exited the small hospital room. His eyes were red from the tears that he was still wiping away.

Zan stepped forward and into the room, prepared to have a conversation he never wished he would've had to have.

He stepped carefully into the room, closing the door behind him. The room filled with the sound of machines and his footsteps as he crossed over to her bed.

"Hi, Ai." He said as he sat down and gripped her hand. She didn't respond though, how could she? She had become unresponsive two weeks ago. Her cancer continued to get worse by the day and she was only breathing with the help of a machine.

"I… I guess I don't know what to say."

The teen sighed, before saying. "I guess I won't beat around the bush here." He said as tears began to stream out of his eyes.

"I can't thank you enough for what you've given me. You gave me hope, a future, everything. That day that you and Chimei first talked to me changed my life forever. I just want to thank you for that."

"I-I can't believe… I can't believe this is it. I-I'm gon… I'm going to miss you so much. I love you so much. I'm so sorry it had to end like this. I wish we could've had a better life. I wish we could've moved out into the suburbs and had the life you always wanted us to have. I wish things weren't like this."

The teen sat on the chair next to her, holding her hand, and just continued to cry. Eventually he heard the door creak open and the doctor and her parents walked in.

"It's time." The doctor said. "I'm so sorry."

As the three of them walked out of the room together, the only sound they could hear was the machine making a single long and steady sound. The sound of a heartbeat flat lining. The sound of Ai's life ending.

-Back to Reality-

"Soon." Zan said as he took a step towards his attackers who quickly rushed towards him. "Soon, I'll see you again." Another step. "Soon, we'll be together again." One more. "All three of us. Me, you, and Chimei. I can't wait to see you both again."

The first attack came down, which Zan quickly dodged to the side. He then swiped his dagger at his attacker, only for it to be caught by another's blade.

The teen ducked under the swing of another's sword and stabbed into the first attacker's chest. However, he received a strong slice to his leg for his own attack.

Zan then dodged backwards from another attack and activated Quick Strike, flying past three players and dealing damage to all of them and healing himself.

The agility type stopped just short of hitting another player and was hit by a mace swing to under his chin. The teen flew backwards and landed on his back.

Another attacker stood over him and drove his sword downwards. Zan then swept the player's feet from under himself and began to rise, but was sliced by a halberd wielding woman from behind him.

He rolled forward, feeling the pain from the gash in his leg burn up and down his body. He then stabbed into the woman, but a man came down on his arm with a war hammer, breaking it.

Zan gritted his teeth and was forced to drop his weapon in pain. Another sword wielder attempted to land a swing on his neck, but missed as the teen ducked below it.

The teen then kicked the sword wielder in the stomach, causing him to double over. However, before he could land another attack, he felt a cold blade slid between his shoulder blades and appear from his chest.

The teen turned, with the blade still in him, and landed a strong punch to the man's face. He then received another war hammer strike to the face, knocking him off his feet.

As he looked up at the sky, he could see small figures in the clouds. Happy figures. He then closed his eyes, not feeling pain, but relief. Relief that it was finally over, relief that he felt good about what he had finally done, relief for knowing he would see those he cared for again.

"This is what happens to traitors." He could hear PoH's voice said from above him.

"Then let it be done. I've made my peace with this world." He replied with a smile. He never did open his eyes though. He felt the final blade stab into his body, but felt no pain. He never did feel any pain, even as his health dropped to zero and he had officially died in the game.

"Soon." Zan whispered, before shattering into pieces.

-Floor 4-

The couple sat alone on the edge of a quiet bridge. Their feet dangled over the edge and above a clam river that led out to what seemed like an endless ocean. They sat hand in hand, but neither said a word.

"I can't believe he's gone." Lucy said. He voice wasn't sad, but filled with disbelief.

"I know." Was all Aiden replied.

"Just… what do we do now?"

"I… I don't know."

"We don't even have a home to go to now."

"We could always stay with Lizbeth or Asuna."

"I guess, but it just… it won't be the same." Lucy said as she dropped her head onto her boyfriend's shoulder.

"I know it won't be, but we have to live on."

"If nothing else for him." Lucy agreed. After a long amount of silence, she said, "I'm going to miss him so much."

"I will too. We all will, but life moves on."

"Why do you think they did it?"

"Who?"

"Zan and Isami. Why did they kill themselves for us? What made us so important?"

"Isami saw us like his kids. He would've done anything for us. As for Zan, I… I don't know, but I'm glad he had a change of heart."

"I am too. I just wish he would've had it a long time ago."

"I do too."

"Aiden."

"Ya?"

"I've said this so many times, but please, don't leave me in the dark anymore. Don't leave me behind anymore. Don't try to protect me anymore."

"I won't." He replied, trying to make his voice as sincere as he could.

It was a lie though.

They both knew it.

That night, the two of them walked back to Isami's old house and used most of their money to buy it. They walked through the empty house, missing the familiar sound of Isami's cooking and nearly breaking at the sight of his old room now empty.

The two of them walked into their familiar bedroom and laid down. Neither of them having anymore words to say, but plenty of tears. They comforted each other that night, knowing it wouldn't be the last night that they would have to do such a thing.

In the end, they fell asleep in a house that felt foreign even though only one person in it was missing.

One person that would be missing forever.


Remember that poll I had a long while back. Everyone said to keep Ruhe alive. Nobody wanted her to die. So I killed Isami and Zan instead. I do want to take a moment and talk about my current time table for this story. Seeing as I'm most likely just going to get busier and busier, I will end the story at the end of this arc. I plan on working with the Laughing Coffin now that Zan is dead and I'll hope back into the main story when the time comes. However, I don't plan on stopping writing. I actually want to start laying down the ground work and planning for a bigger project. Over the course of the next few years, I'm actually going to attempt to write my own novel! However, I'm still in the early stages of universe and character creation as well as creating an outline for the entire novel. Thank you all for you're support so far though and your continued support. I'll see you all in the next chapter! Bye!