December 8, 2012
As Suguha and Kazuto fell into sorrow, Kazuto remembered when he discovered the truth about his parents and thought his gaming addiction was a way to run away from reality, but after his two years in Sword Art Online he understood that the real and virtual worlds were the same. He then told Suguha that he would wait for her in the north terrace of Alne back in ALfheim Online.
Suguha also felt sorry for how she treated Kazuto and decided to enter ALO again. However, Recon suddenly appeared before her, revealing to have escaped from the Salamanders by paralyzing them with poison, and followed her all the way to Alne. As Recon noted that the Spriggan was nowhere to be found, Leafa stated she said something mean to him and that they would not be seeing him again, and told Recon that they should head back to Swilvane. However, Recon used the opportunity to confess his love for her and tried to kiss her, but the surprised Leafa punched him and sent him rolling down the stairs. He quickly returned and told her that he thought that if he was honest about his feelings she would understand him.
Leafa arrived at the terrace where Kirito was waiting and they decided to fight to express their feelings. As they prepared for battle, Leafa recognized his stance as the one he had used when he fought her in their kendo duel and realized why he seemed so accomplished. She then decided to do begin their duel by launching the first attack. The battle quickly went up to the skies, but Leafa suddenly dropped her sword and fell towards Kirito, intending to be slashed by him. Instead, Kirito also dropped his sword and caught her. He told her that he wanted to apologize, but did not know what to say so he wanted her to get a free hit on him. The two apologized and hugged, and, afterwards, Kirito stated he felt that he could never fully return to reality until Asuna woke up, which is why he did not know how to think of Leafa, but she assured him that she would wait until he came back for real and agreed to help him finish his quest.
Back in front of the dome, Recon was surprised to be joining Kirito and Leafa in their raid on the World Tree. Kirito summoned Yui and asked her if she had learned anything about the Guardian Knights, and she responded that their individual stats were not very high, but they made up for it in sheer numbers and thus she believed that the quest was intended to be impossible. Kirito muses that the monsters add up to a single, unbeatable boss, but Yui also believed that Kirito could break through with his speed.
Feeling pressed on time, Kirito, Leafa and Recon decided to challenge the Grand Quest again without calling for help. The operation began smoothly with Kirito attacking and Leafa and Recon staying behind for healing support, but everything changed when the Guardian Knights instantly re-spawned into massive swarms and began targeting Recon and Leafa when they started using healing spells, to which Leafa noted that the Guardian Knights had a different targeting algorithm from regular monsters. Recon immediately took the offensive for Leafa, attacking with magic and attracting the Guardian Knights' attention. He then used Sacrifice to self-destruct himself while taking the lives of all the Guardian Knights around him, thus creating a large gap in the mass of the Guardian Knights. Due to using the spell, Recon turned into a «Remain Light» in the process and incurred a huge death penalty.
With Recon's sacrifice, Kirito rushed up to the gap, but more Guardian Knights blocked his way and attacked while the gap was immediately sealed up. Leafa despaired that the grand quest was impossible as she healed Kirito, but was immediately surrounded by more Guardian Knights. But, before they could attack her, a squad of Sylph warriors appeared, followed by a squadron of Cait Sith dragoons as Sakuya, Alicia and their forces had arrived in the nick of time. After they destroyed most of the nearby Guardian Knights, they explained that they owed Kirito their help because not only did he help bring their alliance together, but also gave them the money needed for the raid preparations.
Leafa decided to take action and fought back-to-back with Kirito, eventually, reopening the gap. Kirito flew towards the highest part of the dome, but another group of Guardian Knights appeared in front of him. Leafa threw him her sword and with both swords, he broke through the mobs and arrived to the summit. Sakuya and Alicia then retreated as their mission was completed.
At the top, however, the doors remained closed. Kirito asked Yui why the doors would not open, and Yui told him that the door lacked a quest flag and, instead, was locked by system administrators, thus players were never intended to open the door. As more Guardian Knights re-spawned and surrounded them, Kirito remembered the card Asuna had given him earlier, and gave it to Yui. Yui transferred the data from the card to the door and was successful in opening it. She then told him to hold her hand as it was about to teleport them.
- Adapted from Volume 4
- The Words of Power for Recon's wind gust spell (Þú fylla heill austr) was actually the incantation for a basic water healing spell, not an offensive wind spell. The voiced version of the spell does not make this mistake.