Disclaimer: I do not own Sword Art Online. It belongs to the rightful owner Reki Kawahara.
Originally meant as a oneshot but going to be a three-shot now, or maybe 4 chapters…?
Honestly to sum things up… I went ahead since I'm in cabin fever right now haha, even though we don't get to that part this chapter, but welp either way I've loved Kirito x Alice for the past 5/6 years I guess haha, but only now managed to finish writing, but yeah...
Note on Spoilers: Following of the light novels mainly though the anime covers the general setting, it does work about some details form the LNs so some minor spoilers there if you intend to read them at some point.
Chapter 1 – Pushing on with Half Broken Swords
In the night sky, a lone flower of light was beginning to bloom, its petals scattering away in it's reborn flight.
Whenever he gazed upon the length of the blade under some light, he could see a reflection of himself.
Sometimes just a fragment, only as long as the blade was.
When he looked at the reflection of himself in it, what was it that he would now?
An avatar of the identity which revealed him to his real life face – of Kirigaya Kazuto.
But it was a reflection of who he had ended up to that point.
Or was it just an image of the swordsman he had been. He couldn't tell sometimes, the image reflecting back to him gave glimpses of his past self, memories and what he had struggled through to this day.
When had it began? Back as a child, in the real world, or the child born home in the Underworld.
Between the two childhoods, which was his real one?
His head was in deep darkness.
Unlike the night that held the faint warmth and welcomed the passage of starlight, this was a completely empty space.
The mindspace that resets at zero.
He woke up just slightly, his open eyelids staring straight upwards, his body unable to sit up a single bit.
His voice didn't come out and the remaining strength left his body.
He couldn't hear anything.
His mind was in shatters, but the fragments reflecting amidst flashing swords seemed to every so slowly recollect.
"A sword… I wanted… to be a swordsman…"
The simple, vague wish of the child was spoken in earnest thought of his true feelings. The ideas that came to the mind of an 8 year old were often eccentric and fleeting.
A metal sword in his hand. The material of an extremely rare, almost impossible to find, black ore. He imagined swinging it on his path of youth, growing up with it and having it mended anew from the chipped cracks and dull edges as a result of his journey.
His coat would sway from the wind and the impact of his blows, his feet always on the move as his whole body, refining and assessing every strike, would take him across the green fields.
Travelling across cultivated farmlands and untouched wilderness.
Sometimes he struggled to imagine where he would go. What was he setting out to do before he even started the journey.
'Well, I'll just figure that out later!" He often settled the idea there as a child. He could work that out later when the time came.
The important thing was the image he had.
He mused on the title of 'The Wandering Swordsman' a couple times. Where did he intend to go? He wondered that again to no conclusion and set aside the name.
It was the centrepiece and defining item of the entire vision.
Since a long time ago, he could no longer remember how old he was when he became obsessed with it.
That was where he had began.
Shrouded in the black night sky, he could remember the shooting star that passed as he watched from the window of his room, carrying his wish across the sky.
It may have been a common idea to many kids in their youth, declaring the bold idea aloud. But to him, he felt it was unique.
It was different from wanting to be a hero. That was the common wish he heard almost all the other kids say at one point or another. He had nothing against the idea, if anything it might come hand in hand, but it didn't have the value to it that he wanted.
That was the roots of the dream which had lasted and grown to this point.
However, Kirigaya Kazuto was born on October 7th 2008.
"GAH!" He coughed when he back hit the floor, his body rolling to the side as his stomach and chest ached, struggling to breath after the air had been knocked out of him.
"Onii-chan!" Suguha was leaning over him, holding his shoulders as she looked at him aghast. "Grandfather! You went too rough!"
He tried to get up, his body convulsing as his arms shook and quenched on empty air.
He had dropped his sword.
The wooden kendo stick lay across from him on the woodworks as he pulled himself up on his arms, dragging and scraping his knees against the floorboard.
His hand outstretched to the wooden practise sword stopped before touching it. Panting, he tried to reach out again but stopped again.
The feeling washed over him, like being splashed by cold water. He didn't want to touch it.
It just wasn't right. The weight, reach and shape of it all.
It just wasn't what he wanted.
"Did that wake you up Kazuto?" The old man kicked his sword out of reach, looking down at him with gritted teeth, "get up and take this seriously. You don't have any of the pride to learn our passed down school."
The black haired boy steeled himself and glared at his grandfather in frustration, his face quenched with angry tears.
But there was something else besides that. He felt... disappointed. Not in himself, so much as the kendo stick which he held in his hands.
It wasn't right.
The foundation of his vision was completely different.
"What are you glaring at me?!" The old man scowled darkly and struck him to the side with the bamboo blade, causing him to roll over again. "I said to take this seriously!"
He heard Suguha cry out as he rolled on his back, breathing heavily. The strike burned through his entire left side and felt like it had left a bruise.
Panting heavily, he covered his eyes with an arm as Suguha rushed to him again, trying to help as he tried to hide his embarrassed weakness.
The child sobbed a little, stifling his bad feelings.
"... You're useless. You don't listen, and don't have what it takes." Their grandfather turned away and walked to the opposite end of the hallway without looking back at him.
His sobs came out completely now, feeling his little sister at his side struggle to help and hug him comfortingly as he laid on his side and curled into a ball.
The old man walked to the entrance, his sword now hang on the rack as he cast one last glance at them.
"If only you had the talent of your father..." he muttered under his breath, the words just barely reaching his ears before he left, slamming the door closed.
"O-Onii-chan..." The black haired girl spoke softly, asking him for a response as he turned away from her. "It's alright... I'll stay here until you are better."
She took a kneeling position and waited just as she said.
They hadn't even been there long.
But it already felt like he had enough.
His motivation weakened and he found no strength to pick up the bamboo sword again.
The weight which was far too light.
A physical body which required balance and health.
Years of practise and training to be skilled in speed and technique.
He had realised it soon after he tried sparring with Suguha for the first time.
'This i-isn't... what I want… it's not… w-what I'm looking for...'
The last of his coughs came to an end after a few minutes. His body still hurt but he managed to get up with Suguha's support.
"Onii-chan... challenge grandfather again when you've recovered... " She picked up his sword and held it out to him.
The boy shook his head and turned away as she nodded and placed it on the shelf herself.
His mind wondered on those last words.
' "Your father"...?'
It felt strange coming from him. His father was always busy working overseas, and he had never seen him in the practise hall.
And why had it felt directed at him.
That was probably what had prompted him to start searching. He had found it after a while and confronted his mother, in reality his aunt, about it.
He didn't ask more than what he needed to confirm.
The gap seemed to widen between him and Suguha then. Had he done it intentionally? He couldn't know for sure but in due time, he had confronted her about it and had made up with his family.
But his grandfather's words remained.
He had been speaking of his father, not Suguha's.
A man who he had no memory of.
Curling up in his bed, he remembered hiding from the old man the next few days.
They had yelled at each other when they came to face again and the rest followed after.
He wasn't who his grandfather wanted.
But that didn't matter.
Whether his grandfather had wanted him to be talented like he called his father or not, it wouldn't change him.
His hands had no will or value in holding the wooden practise stick.
He wanted to wield the sword just as he had always dreamed to.
He continued living his days that ticked by his childhood days after he pulled off the cover and got out of bed again.
The world around him reminded him of it at every step he took.
It hurt him every time he thought about it.
His wish persisted, and his dream did not die.
It was what he wanted.
Even if he forgot it someday, he would always remember that it was what he spent his childhood doing.
Because it was his genuine dream.
He stopped by, looking out of the window at the outside world which he had once wanted to wander, the blade flashing in his hand.
In response, the world reminded him of a fact which he could never change.
The age of swords was a time of the distant past.
The soul of 'Kirito' could only continue on, longing to have lived in such an age forever.
Surface of the Central Cathedral, 24th Day of the 5th Month
Human Empire Calendar 380
The last sunset of the day had disappeared into brilliant bright golden hues as they sat together watching.
About 5 mel of golden chain kept them together.
It was difficult to manage with so little room to spare if the worst came and one of them would fall. For the time being, they were safe on the stone ledge as long as there were no other traps that would be activated in the night.
But it was much too close.
They had been overly conscious of the space between them the whole time, but had stayed together to avoid the range of awakening any more of the gargoyles.
Even then, they had settled into a more comfortable atmosphere between them, there hadn't been need to sit quite so closely besides one another.
It seemed like a good sign, that at least the Integrity Knight was getting along with him, even though she had repeatedly forbade him to touch her, which he had no intention of doing of course.
The situation had changed entirely once he had began talking of what he knew of the past and Alice had resolved her decision.
Intending to oppose the Axiom Church, the seal had appeared and stopped her again, just as he was able to have a good look at it.
Without thinking about it, he had taken ahold of her and tried to prevent her going further. But Alice had already made up her mind. The blonde knight had asked him to hold her close, absolving the barrier that she had put up against them, and he had complied, witnessing the pain both she and Eugeo felt.
He held back as red stained his jacket and he felt her tremble against him as she looked up with her remaining eye, the deep blue of the summer sky.
Her mouth moved as she tried to say something. For the second which it lasted, he didn't know if Alice had been unable to let her words form or if the sound had been blocked to his ears.
Either way, he missed what she had tried to say, before her expression contorted and her eye closed, losing her strength.
"Damn it..." Kirito held the Integrity Knight that had fainted in his arms, holding her tightly just as he promised. Bringing a hand up to her face, he winced at the blood that was still dripping out of where her right eye had been moments ago. " System Call. "
He felt overly conscious with his hand pressing over the Knight's face but couldn't worry about their skin contact at a time like this.
Focusing on gathering as much of the remaining spatial resources as possible, he chanted the healing art again. It took him several tries until the bleeding finally stopped.
"Alice..." He spoke her name, knowing she couldn't reply. There wasn't enough resources here to attempt restoring her yet, and he had never done it before either.
Just like Eugeo, she had broken the Seal of the Right Eye . At the academy, Azurica-san had repaired his partner's eye with sacred arts.
'Perhaps if we get to the 95th floor, I can try...' The black haired swordsman looked up, the light emitting out from above him. There's at least another 30, no 40 metres...'
He glanced down at the female knight, her arms now limp, loosely hanging at his sides. Her armour was heavy, but there was no way he could take it off.
"Ah... damn." A bit of blood leaked out from her eye again, down the side of her face and he wiped it off carefully and tried to use the sacred art again. It flickered out of existence and didn't activate again after the second time which he tried.
He laid the blonde girl against the wall again properly and looked around quickly before grabbing the edge of the coat which he had taken from the armoury and ripping a part of it off as cleanly as he could.
It was a rough shape but he had to apply some pressure over her eye to bandage it for the time being.
Leaning over her again, Kirito firmly placed the black cloth over her eye socket with care, brushing up her golden locks and inclining her head forward, he tied the improvised eye patch behind her head after brushing through her locks again.
Pulling back again, he sighed in relief after examining her again. A second later he stilled up, brushing her hair down and hoping she wouldn't be mad at him for messing up her hair like that.
'T-There was no helping it. She'll understand that...' He hoped internally. There still might be a problem in having physical contact with someone he had been fighting with just this morning. 'No wait, aren't I being overly conscious...?'
He let out a sigh and considered their situation again. 'If possible, I want to continue soon, but...'
The golden chain which connected them rattled as he sat down again next to her. Staring at it for a little while longer, he looked up again before moving to lean against the wall as well, folding his legs on the edge.
Alice's own legs, covered in armour likewise, were resting stretched out, her boots extending over the edge a little. He moved in beside her and wrapped around her shoulder before then retracting and trying again behind her back.
Now that she was unconscious, he became worried if she slid down the wrong way, however unlikely. His hand rested over her waist, keeping her position up as he stared over the blonde's face.
She had put her faith in what he had told her and suffered for joining his side.
"I'm sorry, I should have considered this might happen..." He felt more at ease as he could hear the one eyed girl's slow breaths of recovery. "But... thank you. I won't let your, or Eugeo's, efforts go to waste."
The laws of the Taboo Index, Administrator and the 'seal', the programmed code into everyone born in the Underworld. He couldn't rest until all of it was changed.
Not for both his dear childhood friends.
'... Huh...?' His mind flickered again. The feeling from before welled up and a short memory of both Eugeo and Alice as children, running amongst the fields appeared. 'Memory...? No, that's...'
He didn't know why he could imagine both of them playing around as kids in the countryside or why he felt such a strong friendship between all three of them, but the thought disappeared again.
'Eugeo...' His partner should still be climbing up through the tower on the inside. Or had he perhaps arrived at the 95th floor and was waiting for them above?
Lifting his hand again, he found himself holding the golden chain in his hands. He looked again up and down Alice's armour and nodded.
He would have to wait a little longer before attempting to climb higher first, especially as he thought of how he could lift Alice onto his back securely.
The moon was hidden by the clouds as he continued to wait as the minutes ticked by until it slowly began to shine through.
Before he could get up and try, a soft feeling relaxed into his right shoulder.
"Ah, A-Alice...?" He mumbled and saw that she was still asleep, her head however, now rested against his shoulder.
With an innocent expression, he smiled a little, glad that she wasn't in agony as she drifted into a light sleep.
He felt tired himself now, especially after proceeding through the fights against the Integrity Knights and climbing all the way up here.
'When was the last time I slept well... before the Academy...?' They had rested a little on the way here but hadn't slept properly at all since the night before he had killed Raios. 'No, it's not safe to sleep here, especially when Alice isn't awake either...'
His eyes blinked. They felt dry and exhausted. His mind flickered awake, telling him he wouldn't be able to sleep here.
'T-That's right... I won't be able to fall asleep... I'll just close my eyes for a little...' He argued as he found himself unintentionally leaning to the right, his cheek nuzzling into something very soft. 'Just for a few minutes...'
He felt his hold stay firm against the knight, and watched as the moon ducked behind the dark clouds again and the accompanying night sky, lit by a few stars, welcomed him into his first pleasant sleep in several days.
The pair sitting on the ledge, several hundred metres above the ground, of the tallest building in the human territory, were wrapped into the gentle embrace of the night.
If possible, Kirito felt himself wanting to sleep longer like that. Just to rest for a bit longer, a much longer while.
A couple hours had passed when the moon shone down again, this time fully unveiled and letting it's light reach them.
He had stuttered awake in a panic and scolded himself for letting himself sleep before quickly getting up and speaking the incantation once more.
The wedge formed into his hand properly this time as he nodded it reassuringly, moving it in his hand as he stuck it into the wall above his hand.
He felt that the spatial resources were still limited even with the moon's light being reflected on the tower and focused on using it all to create as many wedges as possible and climbing up the wall a little with them as he stabbed in several to climb up.
With the 5 metre chain between them, he could only go about as high before descending again. Once more, he crouched besides Alice as he detached the chain from his belt and wrapped it around her armour, moving her into a more preferable positions before he sat in front of her and tied the chains over his coat.
His body shivered for a moment as he shuffled back and felt her cool breath against the back of his neck and shook himself into focus.
He shook the chains a little and moved her arms to rest over his shoulders as he checked again to make sure she was securely fastened to his back and moved his hands beneath her knees as he stood up and faced the wall.
"Let's go, Alice." He hesitated, feeling her skirt stretch at his back as he heaved up the knight and slowly balanced upon the wedges he had created, this time a much lower distance between each other.
It took a little effort, but they were just enough distance to stretch his arms and bend his legs up to climb without disrupting the balance between him and Alice.
Feeling the pressure now, without her able to help him if he ended up falling, his arms moved with the full strength of her life on his back as he reached, pulled himself up and climbed.
His movements were slow, taking a half dozen seconds for just one of his limbs to move up to the next wedge, one at a time.
About half a minute to move up half a metre, half a mel.
When he reached up to where he had driven the wedges into, he began chanting, lifting one hand up as he made the incantation, stressing their balance on his remaining limbs.
He drove the wedge in a single, carefully calculated movement and pulled them up on it as well.
Panting from the effort, he struggled with his voice to speak the english words properly.
It was now taking 2 minutes to advance half a mel safely.
A few times the wedge had tilted or slipped out and he had almost lost his footing as one of Alice's legs slipped from his hand and he had to make a desperate grab and reach up in a single movement.
He hoped desperately for all the moon to continue shining and not become hidden again. His hope almost gave out as the spatial resources run out again for a moment and the wedge failed to form.
They were now just a little of halfway up from the ledge to the open balcony of the 95th floor, and he was left there waiting as he hang in struggle, retrying the sacred art again and again for a hope that it'd be sufficient any time now.
On the back of his head, he could hear just faint mutterings from the girl on his back. He heard his name a few times too amongst it.
He wasn't sure if she woke now that it would be any less dangerous with how he had attached the chain all over her armour.
Listening to her whispers however, kept giving him the strength to go forward. There were people relying on him.
Her weight on his back was a constant reminder to him, even in this situation.
Reapplying his centre of gravity, his body bent further, however uncomfortable it was to keep his position, it made their weight easier to deal with as he balanced, waited and kept chanting repeatedly over and over again.
Bit by bit, they climbed ever so slowly higher, half a mel at a time.
Carrying her on his back, Kirito pressed on up the tower, however painfully slow it would take.
Rulid Village, 9th Day of the 6th Month
This had been where it began, where the three of them had all been born apparently.
The girl's father ordered her. It was the first conversation she had with him after 8 years.
"This village has no place for one who committed a taboo." Her father's words were absolute, showing no signs of any wavering doubts.
Though the keen eyes were not exempt of emotion either. Or so, the girl at least felt through her remaining one eye. Perhaps that was just some lingering hope within her.
The golden haired girl stiffened up, the weight of the traitorous criminal she was carrying doubling in weight upon her.
The black haired man on her back along with his best friend had journeyed for 2 years to the Central Capitol to the South.
Her father, Gasupht Zuberg, the chief of the village stood firm, his decision absolute. As the leader, he was abiding by the law which they lived. The laws of the Taboo Index whose creator had now departed.
His eyes stayed cast downwards to the floor, as if they were begging her to not return. He did not have the means to force her himself. Could he have brought himself to do it even if he could?
The golden knight's gauntlet quenched into a fist slightly before loosening as she readjusted her hold on the man she held.
"…I see." Alice spoke after a while, wondering what sort of expression she was making right now. She resisted the urge to open her mouth anymore.
With no further words to be exchanged, the knight turned around swiftly away while holding a steady grip on the swordsman on her back.
The villagers kept watching her as she left down the same way she had come. They whispered about them but nobody offered any signs of help.
The golden knight paid them no heed and cast her eyes down.
'… Where to now… Kirito…?' She thought to continue down the path for a little longer before circling back to where she had landed Amayori.
There was no other place that she knew for her to take him. She was walking towards the gate, sensing a few people trailing her movements to make sure that she left the village for good, down the road southwards.
If she continued on, she would reach the town of Zakkaria that she had flown over on the way here. Past that was yet another town and then the capital. They could not return there and the next settlement would not be any more hospitable.
Alice arrived at the gate of the village and passed them without looking back, feeling the town guardsman take his position again at the watch.
Continuing down the road, the blonde was at a loss.
The crime of touching the other side.
The crime of standing up for one's own justice.
The crime of abandoning her fellow order of Knights.
With nowhere else to go, she stopped in her tracks.
After turning her back on them and leaving without a word, she couldn't return now.
'Right now, I need to get back to Amayori...' She thought about setting up camp, at least for a few nights here before she could make her next decision. 'Kirito isn't eating enough… I need to find somewhere -"
Her senses from her years as an Integrity Knight picked up the running footsteps from a distance that makes her stop in her tracks.
The voice came again as a light brown haired girl jogged towards, huffing n between her breaths to catch up despite them not being too far away from the village yet.
"… Wait!" Emerging from the tree line, the young girl called upon them as she placed her hand on the oak. "Nee-sama!"
The female knight felt her body stiffen as she watched her jog the last few steps and stare up at her face.
Even now, as she came running towards her, her head hurt with no memory of this girl who had called out to her.
But there was no mistaking the only person she could be.
"Sel...ka…" The familiar name formed from her lips, her body repeating the two syllable name to whom it belonged, for the first time in many years.
She saw the faint drops of happiness collect in Selka's eyes, suddenly torn between extending a hand gently to wipe them off and reassure her that it was her and that she had returned.
The other side of her held stronger claim over her body, and she couldn't bring herself to reach out at all with the conflicted weight on her back.
"It… it really is you right, nee-sama…?!" Selka searched her remaining eye, the same colour as her own when she looked in the mirror, her hands clapped together as though her long prayer had been answered.
Her remaining blue eye looked anywhere besides straight at Selka,
"..." The knight didn't respond and shifted her hold on the boy she carried, causing the village girl to notice.
"Kirito… is he alri- ! What happened?! H-His arm…" Her left hand clasped over her mouth in horror. She reached out with her right arm shaking as she touched the empty sleeve, confirming her worst fear. "N-No… how can..."
Alice clenched her teeth tightly. She had prepared herself for the question that followed.
"… Eugeo… where… is Eugeo…?" Selka shoved her hair back as an empty gust blew past them, covering her eyes for a moment.
She could imagine just how hollow in realization they would appear and turned away completely from her, unable to bear it.
"Selka-san..." Her honorific caused her to flinch slightly. "… Eugeo… was a brave swordsman… until the end, he stood true to the justice he believed in… until… he fell while sacrificing his own life… and Kirito… has lost his senses and arm in battle against the highest administrator…"
She could not tell her everything just yet. But there were some things which could not avoid.
"… And… I'm sorry but… I am not your sister, Alice Zuberg."
Outside Rulid Village, 10th Day of the 6th Month
The summer was rather cold this year. Or perhaps it was always like this in the northernmost sector of the human territory.
'Maybe it will improve in time ...' The summer months hadn't began in earnest after all. 'I hope it does...'
She hesitated undoing the black swordsman's jacket, rethinking if a single layour would be enough before deciding she ought to consider how she would wash their clothes.
To the east from here, there was a lake which she had seen when they had flown here.
'I'll need to make a bucket first...' With that in mind, she had free fallen trees which she can make use of. 'No, that comes later.'
Right now however, she wanted to use them to complete the hut they had planned. The elder Garitta, who had been Eugeo's grandfather, had spent the day yesterday speaking to her and had come this morning as promised where he had taken them inside the forest.
Just as he said, it was quiet here. They were surrounded by trees all around them within the spacious yet modest meadow that was home to a variety of wildflowers preparing to bloom.
The ground was soft and the soil was suitable for construction, with separate areas of short grasses undisturbed by the growth of daisies and clovers.
A pleasant scent covered the whole area and the land was flat with no hidden roots travelling near the surface.
Surrounding it, where the masses of trees that had occupied the surrounding area of the forest where the Gigas Cedar had once stood.
The wide meadow was approximately 30 mel in diametre, roughly circular all around.
"Do you remember?" The elderly man's eyes glinted kindly at an old recollection, his backbone straight as he led her around the area, "back before you were taken away, you and Eugeo used to come here to play in secret."
Stopping in her tracks, the one eyed knight turned to glance back. Amayori craned her neck to look over at her and lifted her wing a little to give her full view of the black swordsman.
She had laid Kirito in a soft spot once her faithful dragon had settled in herself and leaned him at her back. Amayori had tucked her tail in warmly around him without needing to be asked and began staring into the skies above them.
"I'm sorry..." She held her sad smile, feeling reassured by her considerate companion, "I... have no memories of that time anymore."
"Oh, I see..." The elderly Garitta nodded sadly but didn't press further, and went silent for a minute. "... A long time ago, I lost my wife. She drowned in an accident. After that... many things happened, but I lost more than half my memories of her."
"Ah, my condolences," Alice blinked in surprise before closing her eyes sadly to the elderly man.
"It's alright, it's nothing for you to worry about," Garitta smiled softly, "it was the blessings of Stacia that kindly made me forget my grief. Had I not, then... before long... well, all it means, there's more left for you young ones to do."
"Eh? What do you mean..." Integrity Knight Alice was someone who had been created in the body of Alice Zuberg. Now, it was too late to ever recover the memories of the original owner, the childhood friend of Eugeo. She didn't know if it was strictly true to say she was the one who had forgotten. "I'm..."
"Even if you've lost your memories of those days, there are still many other important times you do remember, right? That is why you've come back here, why you're continuing on for the sake of that young man." He stroke his white moustache a little and nodded towards the rebel swordsman.
Alice looked at him again, now a few more mel away from last time as they continued walking.
He was staring emptily across the meadow, unmoving from his spot against Amayori, his remaining arm holding onto the backpack on her dragon.
2 weeks had passed as she checked in every day on him, making sure he was well fed and for any signs of his conditions improving.
The apprentice sisters in at the centre of Axiom Church had been trying their best but he never seemed to heed their responses at all and she could see the lack of hope they held for the man.
It was only when she would enter the room and tried to feed him herself that he did respond. It made her a little relieved, that he at least listened to her as she took him to the Cloudtop Garden on the 80th floor and tried to give some exercise.
He could barely stand and she carried him between there and took the elevator down again to the Dragon Landing Field on the 30th floor.
Only when she tried to feed him herself would he open his mouth just enough, be able to chew and swallow. In the nights she had ended up falling asleep at his side in the room as the sisters woke her up hesitantly and she was able to relax that he had closed his eyes at last after she had stayed at his side.
It made her feel relieved at those times, but it only made her worry even more after she stepped out. It had only been a few days, but she quickly began fearing the worst of what would happen if she missed visiting a single morning or evening.
Would he never open to anyone again if she was wounded in battle and unable to reach him?
Her heart had grown heavy. It still felt heavy at this very moment.
The sense of direction and conviction that she imbued into her blade felt dulled.
She couldn't bear to take herself away from him in this state and... more than that, each time she gazed into his empty eyes, her heart would flicker and sting as though it was touched.
So dark that she felt she was sinking into them in some nights, she felt like she could just see it there.
The twinkling light of his will, pressing through the abyss that he had fallen into.
Kirito would return.
She herself wanted to be one to bring him back after he had stood up and guided her. It was her turn now, but she didn't know what she could possibly do.
Asking him that question, the distant light in his eyes seemed to tell her to choose and forge the path for herself.
That had brought them here, back to where it all started.
"Yes... you're right Garitta-san," she smiled just a bit more happily. "That's why I'm here. I will keep Kirito safe until he returns."
The elderly man nodded, hiding a relaxed smile behind his moustache before clapping his hand on the tree besides them that was sticking out from the edge. "Now then. The trees on this side in particular are of high priority. You can tell by the surface of their bark alone that they have grown and absorbed the resources for a long time now. Their Life will last for many years after they are cut down."
She nodded appreciatively as the former 6th generation woodcutter of the Demon Tree began expertly advising her where to start.
"I am happy to provide any help I can be with cutting the trees down. There's a couple of spare axes I keep. But well... it might be tough work for you without experience," Garitta commented in question while glancing to her dragon as well, wondering if she might be able to help as well.
"There is no need to worry. If it is just down to strength, I can manage." She raised her arm and reached beneath her cloak to the sword at her hip. She unsheathed her Fragrant Olive Sword as the midday sun glint of it.
"Oh, such fine craftsmanship..." He admired the deep golden blade as he mused, "Eugeo and Kirito themselves used a unique blade to cut down the great Demon Tree. Now, cut it at an upwards diagonal so it falls this way."
Alice nodded and took a few paces forward as the elderly Garitta stepped aside. She breathed in calmly as she moved in her cloak covering her armour as she bent her knees in preparation.
"Do not worry if it takes a few tries, an axe is meant to be better suited for this after all. Rather, will that beautiful sword of yours be alrig – " The old man blinked for a second. With his wrinkled eyes, he had completely missed the movement but the blonde girl had her sword raised up after finishing a slice. "… Hoh…?"
The gust of wind followed a second after along with the collapse of the tree which slid down a little and completely off the stump in a single movement.
Alice kept staring at the tip of the stump. It had been clean at least. But her grip on her sword felt wrong. Readjusting her hands, she moved to the next of the iron trees and swung again in practised form.
It cut through almost cleanly as before. But once again, in the last moments, her movement had gone weak and left a curve in the otherwise straight cut.
After cutting down 5 of them, all in the span of a single minute, she sheathed her sword with a sound and turned back to the former woodcutter.
"..." The old man froze in shock as he stared at the sight before turning to a delighted smile at the young girl as he let out a merry chuckle. "My… I have never seen a lady with such strength. Hah, all three of you kids ought to have received the same calling together."
"Hm…?" She froze on her slightly pleased smile at the way he had spoken, almost like a grandfather about his children. " 'All three of you kids'…?"
"Huh… oh..." The old man opened his eyes and then frowned, glancing back at the black haired youth again. "… Oh right… strange..."
"… What is…?" Alice inquired curiously as she stared at Kirito himself.
"I… for some reason, had some strange thought..." Garitta brushed his beard with his hand, "that… all three of you… where kids together… I could almost imagine young Kirito as a boy… no, don't mind the poor memory of this old man."
He shrugged and laughed it off gently as he began pointing to the fallen tree, expressing how impressed he was again after examining further.
The thought of Kirito as a boy kept lingering to her for a while longer as she began cutting off the individual branches one by one in clean cuts, preserving the shape of the log and collecting them all in a pile.
'When did Kirito meet Eugeo exactly…?' She decided to ask Selka in the evening. The younger sister of Alice Zuberg had promised she would bring dinner for them after she had finished her duties at the priesthood.
Her mind turned back at the battle, remembering what the Highest Pontifex had said. ' "Boy from the other side." '
Garitta returned after he visited the village and brought them the lunch. She had felt guilty, watching the old man struggle up the hill as he reassured her it was fine.
The elderly man was retired now and spent much of his time in his home, as his declining age began to catch up with him.
She had insisted that he rest after already showing her the basics but had stumped her again when he brought up his words from before.
He told her he wanted to pass as much on to the youngsters as he still could. There was a growing difficulty between two groups at the village who were competing for woodcutters to expand their farmlands.
Alice didn't have any interest in getting involved needlessly. Garitta had felt the same and wanted to at least teach those that wouldn't become involved in that business of self-expansion.
The female knight was using it only to give a refuge home for the wounded swordsman she wanted to protect, just as she promised.
Selka had told her that evening at the camp fire they set up about what she knew about him. He was a Lost Child of Vector but sometimes he had done things which had made Selka wondered if he could recall a bit of his past.
For some reason, she had instantly felt the same.
The conviction and mystery with which he had cut through the tower didn't feel like that of someone who had no memories of his past life.
Perhaps he had remembered it only on the way since he departed from Rulid, 2 years ago now.
Although she was deeply interested, she could find out no more. Selka had also began giving her curious looks that made her stop for a little. Despite herself, she felt a little glad as the ponytail haired girl relaxed besides her before she had to leave again to the village.
'But… Selka is the sister of Alice Zuberg… not me...'
That thought kept persisting at the forefront of Alice's mind.
The elderly Garitta had brought a couple draw knifes afterwards and shown her how to shave off the wood bark and prepare the foundation by digging them around the spot in the meadow before he had to retire for the day.
"This will probably be all we can do for today," she spoke as she lay besides Kirito who was now on the back of the tree. She felt it wasn't as comfortable as Amayori's skin though and used all their baggage as a cushion for him. "Sorry, looks like we'll have to wait a little longer."
"Aah..." He moaned only silently and her heart almost skipped when he seemed to nod. Or had she just imagined it?
"Kirito… is this… alright for you here?" She wondered. The elder Garitta had tried to ask them to stay in his hut but she adamantly refused again, not letting the old man who was clearly struggling go without a proper bed to rest in and reassured him they would stay with Amayori under the treetops.
"Aah, aah..." He responded twice now. That hadn't happened before. Her hand cupped over his as she rubbed him, checking his temperature as night had now come.
The dull sounds felt reassuring to her, as though it was rekindling just a bit more of his past self.
Amayori at that moment let out a reassuring "kuru kuru" as she almost hopped over to them, enjoying the feel of grass at her feet.
"Thank you, Amayori… you've already done enough..." Alice's heart stung again as she faced her cherished companion who lowered her face to her causing the blonde to cup over her and nuzzled her chin affectionately. "Sorry… would you maybe… put up with my selfishness a little longer? I'm just much more reassured if Kirito is by your side right now."
The pale blue dragon inclined her head curiously as the blonde knight's hand awkwardly travelled around her harness.
She couldn't help to wonder that she was dragging Amayori along with her when she could be freely flying in the skies if she just undid her harnesses.
The female dragon pulled away, inclining her head at her master.
"W-What is it…?" Alice inquired at the awkward look her dragon gave her as she stood on her hind legs and gazed down. "A-Amayori…?"
She then bend down again, this time over to Kirito on her left. Her head gently nuzzled to the side of the black haired youth.
"Aah..." He let out a sound, as though acknowledging the dragon's warmth and care.
Alice smiled and carefully lifted Kirito's arm delicately, feeling no resistance as she brought his hand to Amayori's head, petting her gently.
The dragon blinked and looked at the pair.
Then, ever so gently, she brought her head to Kirito's waist and then lifted him with her nuzzle.
"A-Amayori, what are you doing…?" Alice began worrying as she held a hand to Kirito's back, not having any idea what the dragon was up to.
Kirito made no response in turn, but didn't seem panicked or worried at all, his legs resting on the dragon's snout a little as he was lifted in the air just slightly.
And then lowered into Alice's lap.
"H-Huh?!" She jumped and stared at Amayori. Kirito rested in her arms now, pressed against her chest, now having taken her armour off and placed it aside. "W-What are you up to?! Amayori?"
The female dragon closed her eyes and smiled at her before then getting up and walking off on her two legs as though imitating her.
"Aah, aah..." Kirito moaned in her lap and his breath tickled against her neck, held in a perpendicular cradle as his face suddenly fell into the collar of her neck.
"W-What?!" Alice stared in disbelief. She had never seen her dragon act like this. Her face was beat red at the feeling of Kirito's face right next to her. She probably couldn't turn to look at him without pressing her cheek onto him. "Amayori! E-Explain this young lady!"
Her dragon wagged her tale and flashed her a glance, still smiling apparently, pleased at her work. She returned back to the spot where they were building the house.
Amayori had dug out the grass herself and smoothed out the soil for them, clearing out small rocks as well. She had also helped in picking up and lifting the logs into place.
Integrity Knight Alice however had no problems in lifting whole trees in her hands. The elderly Garitta's jaw had dropped completely to the floor when he had seen the young girl lift a 7 metre iron tree and carry it from one corner.
Amayori had been watching and had then also decided to help carry them anyway. This had led to Alice coming to Kirito's side and keeping him relaxed instead.
She directed a pointed look at Amayori who cheekily let out a sound as though she was teasing her, and looking pleased as though things had gone exactly according to her plan.
Alice sighed and shuffled Kirito down a little, being forced to hold him in bridal style position as she checked over him.
His eyes moved unsteadily but without a doubt, recognised and identified her. And he then kept staring and she had began to feel like she would fall deep within them.
She shook herself as she turned away, unable to look at him as she then fell to the side before she felt Amayori catching her with her head.
The blonde jumped and stared again, looking at the black sky. She hadn't realised how tired she had become after moving almost non-stop all day between the trees and back to Kirito, holding the cup to his lips slowly as he would slowly take drinks, at least enough to stay hydrated.
The knight nodded, casting an accusing glance at her dragon who returned it with a cheeky smile as she moved some large stones which she had picked up from inside the woods in her mouth before then looking to the skies and deciding to sleep as well as her knight master had finished wrapping night clothes and blankets around the black swordsman.
As night fell, the three settled around where Amayori had chosen, a little underneath the trees, watching over the still immobile Kirito who Amayori kept close to the centre of her body.
They had spent the previous night wrapped around her faithful dragon's body after she had curled up around them and tucked them in under her wings just like this.
She couldn't remember it all to well but after Amayori had wrapped her wings around Kirito to keep him warm, she had fallen asleep against the dragon's neck where she woke up.
Apparently, Amayori wasn't having it tonight.
"W-What is with you today..." Alice signed as she tried to lean back but each time, the dragon only lifted her neck up and shook her head. This meant Alice had to move an inch closer to her left again, an inch closer to Kirito.
The silver dragon laid her neck back down as Alice leaned back only for her to lift it again. The female knight scolded her and gave her another pointed look which the dragon returned, deadpanningly. "Fine. This is just because you won't let me rest."
Begrudgingly, she slide sidewards, onto the blanket which Kirito was resting on, and her thigh pressed against the top of his head.
"S-Sorry!" She explained and froze again, feeling awkward as Kirito kept his eyes closed, laying on his back as she eased off again from him.
Alice sighed as she leaned back at last, hoping to get some rest.
She heard Amayori moving again and before she could open her eyes to look, she had been gently pushed to the side, and fallen partially onto the black haired youth.
Her eyebrow twitched as she felt a tick mark form for a second, fiercely trying to repress the blush on her face. Her left hand hand thankfully narrowly missed a certain spot and was carefully extended in between his legs.
"Amayori..." The blonde knight spoke in a dangerously low voice as Alice tried to move from the position of being directly above Kirito, facing the opposite way. If she lost her balance, she dreaded where Kirito's face would end up in now. She slowly turned her remaining eye to face her dragon. "Enough playing around."
The female dragon closed her eyes and shook her head. Alice gapped at her. "… 'No'…? What do you mean… no?!"
Amayori gave her another smile before wrapping them both in together around her wings as Alice yelped and struggled to get out.
She was released a few seconds after and got up again, turning away and checking Kirito. He was sleeping as soundly as before, undisturbed at all by how naughtily disobedient her dragon was being.
Caught in the distraction, Amayori's tail had wrapped herself around her leg and pulled her in again as her wings covered her, this time causing her to lean down on all fours, just besides Kirito.
Alice glared at her as Amayori tucked her head inside and covered them in wholly. At least she wasn't directly on top of him now or in a worse position.
Clicking her tongue, she saved her words for later as her dragon covered them completely around her and the temperature inside from her body heat drew them into a pleasant rest.
She had more things to say to her naughty dragon. But kept silent and complied to Amayori's wishes for tonight.
'Honestly… what is she doing...' Alice grumbled, opening her eyes as her night vision came into effect and she could see Kirito's resting face just centimetres besides her. She was glad nobody could see her face right now. Especially not Amayori right now. Jumping to the side, she turned to face the opposite direction away from him as the dragon's wings seemed to relax and tuck her in further. 'But… if it means we'll be saying goodbye soon...'
Amayori had been her faithful companion for several years now, or rather all of her life as Integrity Knight Alice.
She was her most treasured partner.
It pained her to imagine saying goodbye to her now.
But Alice decided that she couldn't keep the harnesses on her any longer.
She had run away from the knight order on her back, she was turning her back on the people she had sworn to protect and taken Amayori along with her.
It was wrong of her to keep her faithful dragon tied along with her.
Resolving herself that she would let go of the leather bridle around her, she shivered a little lonelily, going ahead with her cherished companion's wishes one last time.
Her back suddenly pressed against Kirito's side and she turned to look over her shoulder.
His right arm was still missing, and his side was completely exposed.
She would use the sacred arts to restore it as soon as Solus would shine anew.
Her head turned away from him again, unable to look at him for much longer.
Even if she had run away, she still felt bound by the life she had chosen as a knight. 'It's not right for me… to touch him like that.'
She didn't know what she would do when it came to changing him yet at all. If she didn't at some point then the Life of his clothes would reduce and then -
Alice slapped the side of her face quietly, erasing her thought process and blaming Amayori for making her think like that.
'But… even sleeping like this, is too much...' She kept herself turned away and with as much distance as Amayori's wings would allow her, she tried to not touch his body in such a way. 'For a Knight to become involved with such feelings… it's not something that was forbidden by the Taboo Index, nor the Highest Pontifex but… even if we're the same, people that once lived in the Human territory, for a Knight that protects it with their life… I cannot hold such intimacy with him..."
She pressed the feelings back inside, as much as she could.
'So why… does this soul of mine… feel like...'
Where had it all began?
If he searched through his memories, and ordered them from when he was a child…
The life which he had with his childhood friends.
It was strange as he searched through, as though there were parts of 2 lives he had led.
Or at least parts of it.
As he looked through, there seemed to be more.
A land of swords in a steel castle, floating in the sky.
At that age from 14 to 16, the only memories he could find where in that place, another world.
'But… I must have come from somewhere… where it all began...'
There were two childhoods he seemed to have.
One happy until it's end. The other seemed friendless and empty.
The feelings within him transcended any further thought and gave him no reason to doubt.
'Rulid… that was where… I was born, along with Eugeo and Alice, all of us back then...'
That was the childhood in which he had certainly lived.
With his two dear friends, he had been at home there.
The other world… 'Earth'… he must have gone there after his memories stopped in the 'Underworld'…
He seemed to recall being part of that experiment.
Born into a world created by humans.
'Why should that matter…? That world… That was where I… came from to the regular world…'
It was not a fake world.
Even if he had been birthed in the dubbed 'real world'.
Kirito, the name of his soul, had been born there from the first time.
Honestly had intended to write this 2 years ago now lol, back when cour 2 of Alicization was airing but now it's all finished… so yeah very late to the party, so yeah cannot promise frequent updates at all I'm afraid but will get it out before Unital Ring at least.
But yeah, Alice's Adventures in the "Otherworld" :
The Kirigaya residence was similar to the wooden houses of the underworld. At least in it's woodwork.
Alice stared at the 'light switch' for a moment before raising her finger to turn on a room's lighting for the first time.
" «System Call – Generate Luminous Element» "
Tracing her fingers over the plastic, she made the incantation while speaking in the Sacred Tongue.
"... Kh," she opened her eyes, focusing in determination, before yelling, "... «Discharge» !"
Moving her body in practise she pressed her finger inwards at the switch with full force.
She heard the clicking sound.
A fraction of a second later, the lights came on.
Alice huffed before folding her eyes and noddng smugly to herself in pride.
"A-Alice, there's no incantation required here," Kirito smiled awkwardly at the innocent expression of the blonde knight, "there's no concentration needed to gather resources either..."
"R-Right, of course not," the blonde nodded, embarrassed at her first time flicking on a light switch. "T-Then next is..."
Stepping forward seven paces, she did an about turn to face the white box as she suddenly became conscious of Kirito moving behind her as he mumbled, "t-then e-excuse me."
He leaned upwards as he opened the cupboard and began rummaging inside above her. Alice tried to shuffle to the side but the black swordsman placed his other hand on the shoulder holding her still.
It would be easy to brush aside. But the comfort felt through the fabrics, the warmth converged from his skin, and the gentle touch reached through her body of metal, the sensors sending the information of how it all felt to her fluctlight.
A feeling that was much stronger than he had been back when she had tended to him. Only a feeling of gladness kept her from moving.
"Yosh, here it is," Kirito brightly smiled as he showed her some sort of plastic box, "cup ramen!"
Alice watched with keen interest as he pulled open the lid to reveal the food inside before adding Aqueous Elements to it and bringing it back to the white box.
Sensing a connection with the device, Alice nodded battle ready, hesitantly reaching forward with the hand and pushing the button.
The door of the white box popped upon as she caught it in her hand, and held it open as Kirito nodded and put the 'cup ramen' inside. He then turned the 'rotar' to the 2 minute mark and nodded to Alice who closed the door and the machine whirled to life.
After 2 minutes, it ringed once and Alice pressed the button again to open the door in shock as a bit of steam poured out.
The 'cup ramen' had transformed.
"I-Incredible! What is this godly device called?!" she asked, handing the strange food to the black haired swordsman.
"K-Khihi... it's called..." Kirito stiffled his laughter and looked as serious as he could, "a microwave."
"Micro... wave... What an ingenious idea!" Her blue eyes wondered at the wonderful name as she turned to it, closing the door and giving a bow to the legendary technology. "Thank you for your service, Microwave."
Kirito coughed, watching how adorable it was.