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Chapter 1: Home

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A/N: Before I delve into this story I would like to clear some stuff up. The seventy-fifth boss is still as it was, 14 people died and all that. It's after the victory of the clearers; however, that my story line really begins to divulge from the canon. I will take elements that are mentioned in passing during SAO 2, and other incidents, and add them to my plot line, though much later. Second thing is that I will be introducing Yuuki Kono to the story line. For those who do not know she is a character from SAO 2. However, it would be much harder to add her guild mates, therefore I will not be adding any of them into my story.

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Floor 75: Boss Room

November 7, 2024

6,147 Players Remaining

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Kirito fell backwards in exhaustion, Asuna quickly following and the two sit, trying to regain some of the energy they had just spent.

As Kirito glances around he notices that even Heathcliff was currently sitting and out of breath, as well as drinking a health potion.

"How many did we lose?" Klein asks from very near them, his katana resting on his shoulder, and guild mates surrounding him.

Kirito opens his menu and goes to the map that shows their entire group, before feeling his stomach drop instantly. "14," he says numbly, staring in shock.

Agil lets out a grunt of surprise while any players within hearing distance physically move at the news.

Heathcliff sits for another moment, trying to regain his composure, before standing to address his raiding party. "We must move on, if only to honor those we lost. We shall go to the next floor and drink to the lives of our fallen.," his voice echoing through the circular room.

Though none of them feel like it the large group rises and trudges up the steps, hearts still heavy, but determined to see Floor 76. Heathcliff himself activates the warp gate and they cross into the next floor as one.

Instantly a cold wind buffets them, and snow is piled high on the ground around them. Great towering pines surround them and mountains rise up above them on the horizon in all directions. It seemed that they themselves were up the side of a mountain too, for the air seemed thinner and they could see downwards, some ways, though not incredibly far.

They move in unison, weapons still drawn for fear of mobs, and journey towards the valley below, which they had seen a large town in. The trek is longer than it needs to be because everyone kept falling up to their hips in snow, until finally Heathcliff with the help of his Knights begin to plow the snow away for the players.

In the end everyone is shivering and red or blue when they arrive at the massive beer hall in town. Everyone takes a seat near one of the many fires, sometimes sitting next to NPC's and sometimes with their own groups.

Fuurinkazan had opted to leave early, taking the teleport terminal as soon as they arrived in town.

"Hot chocolate please," Asuna says thoughtfully, getting a smile from Kirito.

"I'll have the same please," the Black Swordsman looks up at the NPC. A dim light flickered in their eyes.

"Me too," Klein says, laughing at a group of HDA delegates who were currently having a chugging contest.

"I'll have mead," Agil's deep voice

The NPC flits away to the next table of players.

Moments later their drinks slide across their table, settling in front of each player.

"Thank you!" Asuna says cheerily.

They sip at their hot drinks while Agil downs a mouthful of mead.

They sit dozing slightly as the cold begins to disappear from their limbs.

"So how do you think we're gonna make it to Floor 100?" Klein asks. The silence, which had not been uncomfortable suddenly becomes tense.

"We have to," Agil says, pushing an empty cup away from him.

"Yeah but how? This isn't some make believe world where good always wins... it's, it's real life. There's no guarantee, fourteen people lost their lives yesterday... fourteen. What are the next bosses going to be like? We won't even be able to keep up if it's like this. The odds are against us," Klein says softly.

The group stays quiet, mulling over what he had said. The flames lap away at the wood.

"Say what you will about Heathcliff, but he is fair. It can't be impossible to win," Kirito tries to reassure them.

"But people will die, and lot's of them too," Klein replies flatly.

Kirito doesn't try to answer this time. They finish their hot chocolate while Agil gets through his second mug of mead. Most other adult players were already drunk. A few were even hitting on the barmaids.

"I think we should head out," Agil says. A group of Knights and a group of Dragons were talking, hands already on their swords. Heathcliff was nowhere to be found. Klein waves at his guild mates, whose glossed eyes and flushed cheeks were more than enough proof they wouldn't be back till later.

The group flinches in the cold, and their breath wafts high into the night. Klein stares in amazement, neck crooked backward to look up. The stars were nearly the entire sky, as the black took up a minute amount of the space above them. From the base of the mountains the views were incredible, and the four could see up the towering peaks. Ringed around the highest ones flashed occasional bursts of lightning, and snow fell continuously.

It takes awhile to find but eventually they find their way to the center of the city, where the teleport terminal lay.

"See you guys later," Agil says with a smile, before disappearing into a blue ball of light.

"I should probably be off too. Tomorrow'll be way funnier if I wake the guys up early,"

"Later,"

Kirito and Asuna wait until the light has dimmed to step up onto the terminal, still staring at the gorgeous sky.

"Floor 22," Kirito mutters mindlessly.

They appear in the small town closest to their home. The snow was heavy on the tree limbs and the massive pine forests were completely whited out. Still, the stars were perfect, hanging high above their heads, farther even than where the next Floor ought to have been.

They enter their cottage and strip out of the heavy woolen overcoats and change into their normal sleeping-wear.

Opting for sleep the two move to the bedroom in silence, holding hands. Asuna grunts slightly as she falls onto the bed, and Kirito groans.

"Damn game had to have pain," The Black Swordsman grumbled under his breath.

"Its not fair. The game being this beautiful, but Kayaba using it to kill people," Asuna muses, turning on her side.

"Yeah, I don't get why he'd do it," Kirito settles into a comfortable position as he speaks.

Asuna hmphs as her eyes close, and both of them are so tired that soft snores fill the room just seconds later.

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