As this is the one with the most interest so far, I decided to bash out a quick prologue as a taster.

Let me know what you think, about 2 hours of writing.

Now I know, it's another fix of this genre, and idea, and I make no secret out of being inspired by Fae is Foul, and Halkegenia Online (Read these by the way, good stories) I just feel that, in both, things seemed to go too smoothly. I have a more pessimistic view on human nature, and feel that people would have lashed out more in fear and confusion.

Things going so easy, especially the relations with Tristain, right off the bat felt a little unrealistic to me.

Also, a shout out to my FF mate, Indogma. Betaing for his story definitely gave me the inspiration to start writing again.

So, if you have the time, check out his story, "The Warband of Wolves"

P.S. Sorry for the re-upload, I had some issues with the format and some spelling errors, and, well, had to change it. It was bugging me.

P.P.S That's right, a second upload. Was reading through the whole fic to pick up on any plot points I may have added in and forgotten, and had a few issues with what I found in my Prologue. I fixed some of them, but not all. To fix all of them would require a complete rewrite of the chapter, and I just don't feel like that yet. (27/08/2014)

Prologue

Arrival

The sunlight poured across the rolling hills of the countryside as it rose above the horizon that had hidden it from view. It's golden glow nurturing the life it revealed. White daisies fluttered gently in the breeze, on the hill overlooking the Tristain Magic Academy. It was the beginning of a new day. A very important day.

Within one of the parapets at the corner of the schools wall, a young girl with strawberry pink hair began to awaken. The sun shining in through her windows alighting upon her face. Scrunching her eyes she sat up, stretched and, not yet awake, she did her hair, as she did every morning without fail. As she dressed herself in her school uniform, she could not shake her worry.

Today was an important day after all. Her cloak clasp now done, she looked at the wand on her nightstand, willing herself to have the courage to take it in hand.

Slowly her hand reached out and lifted it from where it rested, she held it for a moment, coloured eyes taking it in, how unimpressive it looked, yet how impressive its nature was.

With a firmed grip, she placed it within her cloak, and exited her room.

Today Louise Francois le Blanc de La Vallière would not fail.

*scene break*

'This day did not exactly go as planned...' thought an extremely exasperated Louise. In the space of the few hours she had been awake, she had blown up a classroom attempting to perform mere alchemy, knocked out a lecturer with an explosion, sent to the principal's office and been ferociously ridiculed by some of her classmates. And worst of all, she had bragged about her competency in her summoning spell which, truth be told, she was just as useless at performing as with every other type of magic she had tried.

Now here she was, watching her classmates summon successfully one after the other. Nothing was going in her favour, her arch nemesis, Kirche, had even summoned a salamander. A powerful fire-breathing lizard.

Having to stomach the cow's bragging was not improving her mood.

Soon enough it was Louise's turn.

"Hey Louise," Kirche called out, "with all your boasting, you should be able to summon something even more amazing than this. Right Louise?" as she scratched her salamander's head.

"Well of course!" Louise responded confidently, before murmuring quietly to herself, "Please, work."

Gripping her wand tightly, she prepared herself, then she began her summoning chant, "My servant that exists somewhere in this vast universe."

Her classmates looked on in confusion, murmuring amongst each other about the apparent absurdity Louise's spell was already turning out to be.

"My divine, beautiful, wise and powerful servant," Louise continued, completely unfazed, "heed my call. I wish for a servant from the very bottom of my heart, to answer my guidance and appear!"

Wand arm held in the air she brought it down with a flourish and…an explosion tore the ground apart, sending students scrambling for cover as they were pelted with earth, and smothered by smoke.

At this point, something was created. Nobody could see it. But that didn't change that it was there.

It was energy. A force of energy designed to do one thing, find the servant its creator wished for. So it flew off in search of its goal. All over Halkegenia it searched, though to no avail, and in a decision rarely seen in history, it abandoned its search of the realm, and instead headed towards the Gate, to search other worlds. It passed back over the elven held lands to reach Shaitan's Gate. Passing by the elven sentries, the force passed through the silent liquid mass of blackness and entered a new realm.

Here, were it possible, excitement filled it, it could feel the presence of the one it sought. The one it needed. The one its master desired.

All over the world it searched, again, to no avail, it could not locate the being for which it hunted. What it did find was a case of metal filled with other metals, well, a whole collection of them. The presence seemed to emanate from within them, all of them at once. Confused, the force entered one, and found itself intricately connected to all of them at once, in a new world of sorts, a world of electricity and numbers.

And here it found what it was looking for, and eagerly it raced towards its goal, but was impeded. A mass of complicated…. for lack of a better word, code, threw up metaphorical walls of fire. These were met by the unstoppable power the force brought to bear. However, much to the force's chagrin, bigger and thicker walls of flame arose. Stopping it in its tracks. Having none of this, the force drew upon the latent power of the realm it had journeyed to, untapped and unused by the civilization inhabiting it, and tore the walls apart.

Racing through the now undefended pass, it entered a new realm. Halting in confusion it surveyed its surroundings. It didn't recall passing through a gate, yet here it was, in a completely different world. Dismissing this fact out of hand, the force raced for the target that called to it, a giant tree, towering over the island continent. Drawing up to the tree it paused a moment and then latched on with all its might, then raced back for the gate dragging the immense tree along. The force felt many other beings, somehow connected to the tree being dragged along with, but it didn't care. This was its mission, and it could not fail.

Upon dragging its prey back through Shaitan's Gate, chaos erupted across Halkegenia.

.


.

A sword, wielded by a faceless knight was brought down upon a being with wings, followed by more swords, wielded by exact copies of the faceless knight.

The one wielding the blade blocking them, grunted in exertion. His black hair swaying across his face, he pushed his assailants back before cleaving them in two.

A rush of energy swept through him, rejuvenating his depleted health, his two Sylph companions on the ground below him having just completed their healing spells. Looking upwards, the black swordsman saw a large group of approaching Guardians, and took the offensive a shout tearing out his mouth. With a burst of speed from his wings he charged, slicing through a cluster of them in a single blow. The defeated guardians behind him stilling for a second before they burst into purple flame and polygons, like an absurd piñata. Without a moments hesitation he swung his sword upwards, cleaving another Guardian up its middle. Rending it apart.

Like angry hornets, more Guardians charged the warrior, swords readied to pierce his body, again, a single swipe carved them apart. This fodder barely even slowing him down. Below his companions, Leafa and Recon, watched him in awe.

"Woah," breathed Recon, completely overwhelmed with this show of strength.

"But there are too many!" Leafa replied, her eyes analyzing the situation above.

The warrior, turned away from his companions to look forward, and saw only a few Guardians in his path.

Confused he started forward, only to see what his companions had already seen. The portals that were summoning the Guardians were all alight, shining blue, and from them, a veritable horde of Guardians emerged.

Within moments there was a swarm of them blocking his path. A swarm so thick, he couldn't see the luminescent ceiling beyond them.

With a sharp intake of breath he readied himself.

'This will not stop me, I WILL SAVE HER!' he thought.

Readying his blade for a charge, the black-haired swordsmen rocketed forward with a roar of defiance. Eyes wide in determination, daring anyone to stand in his way.

"There's no end to them…" he grunted, his blade slicing through any that came too close.

A sudden barrage of strikes forced him to retreat. Grudgingly giving ground with each one he was forced to deflect.

Looking up, he saw something that shocked him, a number of Guardians were pointing their swords at him…from bows.

Long range combat wasn't his specialty.

Another burst of energy signaled his companions healing spells taking effect once again. Health returned, energy restored, he was ready.

However a number of his foes turned their attention towards the ground.

"Why are they targeting us?" Recon asked, panic in his voice.

"They're probably using a different targeting algorithm from the monsters outside." Leafa replied coolly, "Dividing our roles this way is futile."

Leafa grit her teeth and moved to take to the skies after the warrior, but a hand grabbed her arm, "Wait!" Recon called, "Leafa, I don't really understand all this, but this is important, right?"

Leafa looked into his eyes, "It is. I don't think it's just a game. Not right now."

Recon, looked towards the dueling swordsman, and readied himself, for what he knew to be madness, but for the girl he liked, he would commit to it wholeheartedly. "Then I'll help!" he cried out, flying into the sky before Leafa could stop him.

Charging at the masses assaulting their comrade, Recon readied a wind blade, and sliced through the first unsuspecting Guardian in his path. Then four more in quick succession, bursting into purple flame and smoke as he passed.

"Y-You idiot!" Leafa called out from below, before noticing the swordsman's rapidly declining health, "Oh no…" and began to cast another healing spell.

At this a pair of Guardians raced towards her, right past the beleaguered warrior. Seeing this Recon swept in from the sides and cut them down with his wind blade.

"Recon, that's enough…get outside!" Leafa cried. Recon just turned to face her, a serene look on his face, and smiled. Confused, Leafa watched on as he dispelled his weapon and began to chant.

Four lines, then six, then eight lines of magical inscription circled around him, vanishing to be replaced by twenty-four lines circling him at all angles, like a sphere, fluctuating inwards and out. Still he chanted.

"That's dark magic…" noticing the nature of this magic, Leafa grew concerned, as the lines began overlapping so much that Recon appeared only to be an expanding ball of light.

'I hope this helps you, I'll see you later..' Recon thought, his gaze flicking towards the woman on the ground, before yelling out the final words to his spell. He disintegrated in a massive explosion, destroying everything around him.

All that remained was a small green flame, his 'remain light'

"Self destruct magic?" Leafa questioned, replaying it over again in her mind, her face distraught. "The death-penalty for that is really harsh….you're such a fool"

When the smoke faded, the warrior could see a massive hole in the wall of Guardian bodies. He could see his goal. Unable to contain himself he shot forward. Passing through the swarm, as Guardians shot by on all sides, swerving around the few that managed to get in his way.

But he wasn't fast enough, a solid wall of Guardians crashed together in front of him, blocking any access to his goal, with the sheer mass of bodies.

He was knocked back, completely off-balance, and as he fell, a sword was thrust through his stomach and another through his chest. Gasping in shock, he fell, and more were thrust into his body, his chest, his arms, while Leafa looked on, hands over her mouth and tears in her eyes, at the sheer brutality with which he was savaged.

Eventually one of his assailants planted a foot in his face and kicked him off it and its companion's swords. Sending him plummeting to the ground.

"No…" Leafa breathed into her clasped hands, "No…this is impossible!" Above her, tens of thousands of guardians filled the sky. Literally a solid mass of bodies hovered between them and their goal. "This is just…"

Unable to do anything else at the moment she fed the wounded warrior with more healing magic, as two guardians hovered on either side of her. Looking at them in determination, she prepared to receive their blows, unable to divert her efforts away from healing her brother.

Just as one was about to cleave her from head to toe with its claymore, a large myriad of war cries came from below. Looking below her, she saw a force of fellow Sylph warriors flying up to meet her.

"The Sylphs?" The beleaguered warrior said, unable to believe his eyes.

"But why?" Leafa interjected

Then glancing to her left she saw a squadron of dragons flying her way, ridden by Cait Sith warriors.

"The Cait Sith dragoons?" Surprised, Leafa couldn't help but speak aloud.

"Sorry we're late." Lady Sakuya said, flying up next to the Cait Sith leader Alicia Rue, and Leafa.

"Sorry. It took some time to ready our gear." The feline Alica Rue replied playfully.

The two then flew off to assist the warriors above.

"Dragoons, ready breath attack!" Alicia Rue cried out to her warriors.

"Sylph's ready additional offenses!" Sakuya ordered her own.

The Guardians swarmed down en masse, to meet their new opponents, "Fire breath, NOW!" shouted the feline leader, and from the mouth of every dragon, a pillar of fire erupted. Bearing down upon the defenseless Guardians. It was a broadside of fire that decimated the front ranks of Guardians.

As the last of the fire attacks ended Sakuya commanded her own soldiers to initiate their own broadside attack "Fenrir storm…Fire!"

Compressed tunnels of wind rained down on the Guardians, sending their ranks into further disarray.

At this moment, as the warrior looked on, a look of joy on his face, and a sense of overwhelming happiness within himself, pain struck. His scream of pain was mirrored by all the other warriors within the World Tree. Clutching their heads, they writhed in agony. All across Alfheim, players were dropping to the ground, screams and moans of suffering echoing across the realm, magnifying the suffering as it seemed to compress in on itself.

It was at this moment that, like every other player in the world, Kirito lost consciousness.

.


.

Luctiana was having a relatively peaceful day.

She had finally convinced her uncle Bidalsha to allow her to conduct her own private research on humans. Ecstatic wasn't a word up to the job of describing how she felt. Running down the passageway of her uncles home she decided to head to Shaitan's Gate, it was her shift to monitor the mass of energy. Today there had been reports of multiple fluctuations, though there was no cause for alarm, extensive study into this phenomenon had discovered a link between the Gate and the summoning rituals the uncivilized human mages performed on a semi regular basis.

However it was still protocol to document it.

It had long been a dream for many elves to finally fully comprehend the nature of the Gate. Once that crucial information had been obtained, they would be able to more effectively contain and control it. The Gate, had such potential to be a world-ending hazard to Halkegenia, and only the elves seemed to be aware.

If the humans could be made to understand, then perhaps they wouldn't keep attempting to reclaim their 'Holy Lands', but instead leave it to the greater wisdom of elves to maintain. However the few attempts at educating the Western barbarians had proved fruitless endeavors, their fear overpowering their reason.

As Luctiana was heading down the stairs to her post a voice called out. "Luctiana, are you well today?"

She turned at the call, to see her fiancé Ari and his close friend Madarf coming from a side passage. "I am well, Ari, thank you for your consideration, I was just on my way to watch over the Gate if you would like to accompany me…" she smiled brightly.

"We would be glad to, would we not, Madarf?" Ari responded brightly, his friend merely nodded and moved to fall into step beside the couple.

On the way down, Ari pursued small talk in the form of questions about Luctiana's progress in her research, which though having not made any strides in the last few months, did open up the path for the recent good news.

"Is that so." Ari mused, "I would not have expected your Uncle to have gained permission for you to follow that research so close to the border, on your own. But then again, it isn't like those savages have trespassed on our land recently."

Arriving before a vast oaken door, inscribed with countless seals of warding and protection, Ari increased his pace a tiny bit to reach the door before his friend and fiancé, and opened it, ushering them through the sole entrance to the cavern that housed the Gate.

The sight before them was always one to steal her breath away. Luctiana looked upon the 'Shaitan Gate', a shifting pool of liquid energy. Fifty meters in diameter, it looked like a giant hot spring, if not for the black liquid energy being the matter that bubbled and roiled inside of it, and also for the dozens of high-class elven mages prepared to hold back anything that should try to use the gate, from either side.

Luctiana walked right up to the edge and knelt down, hand hovering above the surface. To touch would be a folly few remained to tell of. Not because they died, but because most were sucked through the gate, to not be seen again.

Truly a terrible fate, to be separated from their people, and left to drift alone in whatever realm they appeared.

It was at this moment that a spike of energy appeared, manifesting itself as a spike of 'energy' lifted up from the surface and collapsing down again.

Ari looked at this in concern, "I have not seen a reaction that strong before."

Looking around, Luctiana saw many of the elven mages were expressing similar thoughts to one another, but they maintained their position and vigil.

Another spike appeared, followed swiftly by another.

The occurrences began to occur frequently and repetitively. Luctiana, Ari and Madarf backed away from the Gate, as it's surface began to resemble an active volcano. The Elves around the cavern began to chant in unison, creating a barrier to contain the ever more tumultuous energy, fear ever more evident on their faces. Each and every one of them knew the power the Gate held, and what little chance of holding it back they actually had should the condition worsen. Then without warning surface erupted, as though a large boulder had just been dropped into water. A wave many meters high rose up, and engulfed Ari as he rushed forward to throw his fiancé away from the Gate's edge into the arms of Madarf who hurried her even further away.

Screaming in despair, she watched her fiancé as he melted away.

'That's not how the Gate works, something is wrong! The Gate is a gate, why would it dissolve him?' Her analytical mind not once ceasing its recording and dissection of what just happened.

Madarf knew his friend was gone, and forcibly moved Luctiana towards the door as she reached out in vain to where Ari had stood. The Gate was getting worse, and he wanted to make sure neither were around when it peaked.

Just as he managed to pull Luctiana through the doorway it happened, tendrils of energy erupted from the surface, flailing wildly, bubbling all the same. Within moment the barrier was overwhelmed and the tendrils snaked out to latch onto the Elves within reach as they desperately tried to recreate the barrier, some dragged screaming into the pool, other dissolving within moments of being struck.

Luctiana started to murmur very fast, and the same sentence over and over again.

"This is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong.."

Madarf slammed the doors shut.

He knew they needed to be closed, that the mages within were not enough to restrain the power, and yet he also knew, not a single one would abandon their post.

Sealing the door, was the only way to survive.

From the other side of the door, shouts of despair and fear could still be heard, yet also ones of determination and resolve.

Madarf could only wait, comforting Luctiana in his arms, and hope that the Grand Will was watching over them.

.


.

Louise's explosion was now fading away, the results now clear to see. Students began to pick themselves up, seeking out those who had been nearby, to make sure nobody was badly hurt. As with the majority of the Zero's explosions, people seemed to miraculously avoid damage, whereas objects and scenery would be pulverized. It was a weird kink to her failure that nobody could understand, but everyone was grateful for.

Kirche looked over to Louise, seeing her standing where she had been as she cast her spell, without anything to show for her effort.

"Well well, Louise the Zero. I guess you were just full of talk again." Kirche mocked, dusting herself off, "I guess you really are just useless as a mage."

Her classmates all laughed at Louise's embarrassment, as they picked themselves up and patted the dust and smoke from their clothes.

Louise stood there, in the middle of her class, staring at the ground in shame. Only Tabitha was paying enough attention to notice the tears forming in the poor girls eyes, but chose continue reading, her staff leaning on her wind dragon's flank.

Professor Colbert moved towards her, tone comforting, "Louise I'm sorry, but perha…!"

He was cut off abruptly, as the ground began shaking violently. The force had returned with its cargo, and as it vanished it deposited the fruits of its labour upon the ground. Unfortunately, the burden was a little large for the area.

The ground cracked, the school walls crumbling. Ramparts fell to the floor, sending students and familiars alike scuttling for cover. Dark clouds in the sky seemed to coalesce out of nothing, thunder and lighting roiling around within, lashing out violently.

Bolts of lightning struck the parapets, knocking tiles and stone flying into the students running about screaming as the earth beneath their feet tore open.

Guiche, with hands over his head, moved towards his current girlfriend, Montmorency. He may have been an insufferable womanizer but Guiche had some strength to his character.

Reaching out with his unencumbered arm, he moved to grab her hand and pull her to safety. But as he reached out to her, the ground suddenly split open beneath her, and before she had time to even scream, she fell. The last thing he saw, was her wide blue eyes, brimming with tears, reaching out for his help as she hung from the exposed flesh of the earth, hand caught in a crack as the ground snapped shut upon her before Guiche could take a step, a slight spray of blood squeezed out from the closed crevice, spattering across his face, and staining his previously immaculate clothes. Freezing into immobility, he just stared at the spot she had vanished, unmoving, in shock, as droplets of blood trailed down his dust covered face.

He barely even registered the movement as he was suddenly thrown sideways as Kirche barreled into him, knocking him out of the path of some falling tiles, thrown from a thunderstruck parapet.

Then quite as suddenly as it had begun, it was over. Quiet and calm skies, steady unyielding ground, and silence. Just stunned silence.

A small scream pierced the silence, and everyone's attention snapped to the culprit, before focusing on what had gained her attention.

Gasps were heard, as before their eyes, in the horizon, maybe 20 miles from their school, stood a tree, a tree so gigantic it reached into the clouds.

Kirche looked at Louise, a stunned look on her face, "No, you couldn't have."

Nobody heard her.

Nobody cared to.

People had a lot more to worry about.

Yggdrasil was now in Halkegenia and it had plans.