- Not to be confused with Episode 5.
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Early and Late (アーリー・アンド・レイト, Ārī Ando Reito?) is the 8th book in the Sword Art Online Light Novel series, published on August 10, 2011.
Sword Art Online Light Novel Volume 08 is a collection of three side stories:
- A Murder Case in the Area (Aincrad 57th floor, April 2024)
- Calibur (Alfheim, December 2025)
- First Day (Aincrad, 1st Floor, November 2022)
A Murder Case in the AreaEdit
Part 1 Edit
On April 22, 2024, Kirito took a short nap in the fields within Danac on a pleasant morning to enjoy the favorable weather settings, rather than participate in clearing the 59th Floor's Labyrinth, for which Asuna scolded him. Upon awakening and seeing that the vice commander of the Knights of the Blood had fallen asleep as well, sensing she had done so out of exhaustion over her duties, the solo player watched over her to prevent red players from pulling a sleep PK on her. When the Flash finally roused from her rest several hours later at dusk, she managed to suppress her embarrassment over her realization of the situation and offered to treat the Black Swordsman to a meal as thanks for his action, which he accepted.
After entering a restaurant in Marten on the 57th Floor and ordering their food, Asuna repeated her thanks to Kirito, as she had not been able to acquire a lengthy, peaceful sleep for a long time. While the two discussed how their meals could be improved with the addition of some ingredients, they suddenly heard a terrified scream from outside. Running to the source in the town square, the duo found a player tied to a rope hanging from a window of the second floor of a church, suffering continuous damage over time (DOT) from a barbed spear impaled into his chest. Though the solo player and the vice commander tried to save him, they were unable to reach him before the spear completely depleted his hit points (HP) and his avatar disintegrated. Kirito, Asuna, and the crowd that had just witnessed the event quickly searched for a duel winner notice, as duels were the only way to decrease a player's HP within an Anti-Criminal Code Effect Area, but to no avail.
Joining the Flash within the church, the Black Swordsman reported no one had seen any player attempting to sneak away from the building. Examining the rope to which the recently deceased player had been fastened, Asuna theorized the player killer had tied his opponent to the rope and the other to the furniture within the room, before thrusting the spear into his body and pushing him out the window. However, Kirito reminded her there was no winner notice for a duel, though it was the only method they knew for damaging another's HP within a safe haven. Knowing disaster and panic would result if someone had learned how to kill players within a safe zone, they agreed to cooperate together in determining how the discovery had been made and its mechanics, so they could announce to everyone else how to counteract it.
Part 2 Edit
After retrieving the rope and spear as evidence and dismissing the players guarding the church, Kirito and Asuna interviewed the first person who saw the incident: a young woman named Yolko. Identifying herself as the one who had screamed, she explained she just had dinner with the murder victim, whose name she disclosed as Kains and who was an old guildmate, when they were separated from each other in the plaza, just before Kains fell from the window. She felt she had seen someone behind him in that moment, but unfortunately was unable to recognize them and was unaware of any motive anyone would have for killing Kains. Escorting Yolko to a nearby inn and sending a warning to the playerbase of what had occurred, Kirito and Asuna decided to examine the rope and the spear for any information leading to the killer. As neither of them had a sufficient Appraisal skill and Asuna's blacksmith friend who had the skill would be occupied with business at their current time of day, Kirito elected to contact Agil for his help.
Upon reaching Algade on the 50th Floor and stopping to grab a quick bite to eat, the detective players arrived at Agil's Shop. Though the ax-wielder complained to Kirito over the impromptu message as he closed his store for the day, he quickly changed tone when the subleader repeated their request for his assistance. When reporting what had happened earlier, the Black Swordsman and the Flash reaffirmed their belief it was not the result of a duel, as Kains was unlikely to have accepted a duel under his circumstances, and the details were too complicated for the matter to be spontaneous. Agil took and inspected the rope with the Appraisal skill, pronouncing it to be only an Non-Player Character (NPC)-store item. However, he was able to determine that the spear, which was called Guilty Thorn, was crafted by a player named Grimlock, whom he failed to recognize. Kirito and Asuna concurred to search for Grimlock on the mid-level floors, as no player could have garnered enough experience to create a weapon of that type without joining a party, and few people would willingly craft a weapon so obviously designed for Player vs. Player combat in Sword Art Online, where death was permanent.
Part 3 Edit
Part 4 Edit
Part 5 Edit
Part 6 Edit
The next day, Asuna and Kirito paid Schmitt a visit; he was willing to assist them as long as he was able to talk to Yolko again. Yolko was suddenly murdered during the conversation and Kirito attempted to capture a hooded man on the roof.
Part 7 Edit
Schmitt gave Kirito a list of names of the members who were part of the «Golden Apple» guild.
Part 8 Edit
Part 9 Edit
Schmitt felt guilty for being an accomplice in the death of the guild leader and decided to visit her grave only to find Yolko and Caynz still alive.
Part 10 Edit
Kirito explained that Caynz and Kains were similar names when spoken and that Yolko had lied to both him and Asuna.
Part 11 Edit
Three members from the killing guild «Laughing Coffin» showed up at the deceased guild leader's grave and attempted to kill Schmitt, Yolko, and Caynz. Kirito stepped in to save the day.
Part 12 Edit
Asuna caught Grimlock, the spouse of Griselda, hiding in the bushes. He admitted to being the mastermind behind the death of his wife, but explained that he did not have her murdered to steal the ring. Instead, he did it because he did want her personality to change from what it had been originally in the real world. After Schmitt, Yolko, and Caynz left with Grimlock to settle matters with him, what seemed to be Griselda's ghost appeared to Kirito and Asuna to thank them for uncovering the truth behind her death, and the two promised to her that they would clear the game.
Part 1 Edit
The quest to retrieve «Excalibur» from the base of Jötunheimr was revealed to the public. However, unlike how Kirigaya Kazuto (Kirito) and Suguha (Leafa) expected, it was not a quest to clear the Inverted Ice Pyramid, but another quest to slaughter all beast-type Evil Gods and the sword had yet to be obtained. After Kazuto and Suguha called Yuuki Asuna, Asada Shino (Sinon), Tsuboi Ryoutarou (Klein), Ayano Keiko (Silica) and Rika (Lisbeth) to form a party of seven to attempt raiding the ice pyramid again, they gathered at Lisbeth's shop in Yggdrasil City to prepare and then came to Jötunheimr via a secret passage that Kirito and Leafa had found nearly a year before.
Part 2 Edit
There, they called Tonky to transport them to the dungeon, but the creature instead took them downwards, until they were able to clearly see what was happening on the ground, where they saw players cooperating with the humanoid-type Evil Gods to wipe out the beast-type Evil Gods. At that moment, an Non-Player Character calling herself «The Queen of the Lake», Urðr appeared. She told them of a once beautiful Jötunheimr where the roots of the World Tree touched the floor and the endless void in the center of the land was filled with water of the purest quality. The Frost Giants had used the «Holy Sword Excalibur» to cut off the roots of the great tree and this resulted in Jötunheimr turning into a frozen wasteland. After telling that the quest to slaughter the beast-type gods would result in the humanoid-type Evil Gods to invading Alfheim and would reward a «Fake Sword Caliburn», instead of the real Holy Sword Excalibur, Urðr requested the fairies to enter the inverted ice pyramid dungeon, called Thrymheim, and retrieve the real sword from a plinth to return Jötunheimr to its former state before the beast-type gods were all slaughtered.
Part 3 Edit
The party then entered the upside-down pyramid to clear its four floors and obtain Excalibur.
Part 4 Edit
Along the way, at the end of the third floor, they encountered Freyja, a captured beauty, and rescued her. During the battle with the final boss, Giant King Thrym, Freyja transformed into the God Thor after retrieving his weapon Mjölnir, the lightning hammer.
Part 5 Edit
After defeating Thrym, the group headed into a narrow staircase and found «Excalibur». After much effort, Kirito pulled the blade out while the fortress began to collapse. While falling, Tonky saved the group but to Kirito's dismay, «Excalibur» was lost. Suddenly, Sinon sent a Retrieve Arrow towards the blade and made Kirito swear that he would think of her every time he used the sword before giving it to him. They were then met by Urðr and her sisters Verðandi and Skuld to receive the reward for completing the request.
Part 6 Edit
The group was rewarded with treasure, including Excaliber, who then decided to log out and have celebrate their success at Agil's cafe.
After the Sword Art Online death game began, Kirito rushed to the village of Horunka to get a head start on the quest which would reward him the «Anneal Blade» which was strong enough to last him for the first three floors. During his quest, Kirito found another beta tester like him. Coper, who proposed that they try to complete the quest together to obtain the quest reward. However, once Kirito acquired the item needed to complete the quest, Coper purposely activated a trap which released a horde of monsters, in a bid to claim the quest item for himself. Kirito realized that Coper was trying to kill him. After a tough fight, he managed to escape but Coper died. This heavily affected Kirito as he realized he could die in this game. Kirito returned and completed the quest, but stayed at the house of the quest giver and watched her tend to her daughter, which tearfully prompted him to remember Suguha.
- This book claimed that Kirito formed a party with Asuna for the first time during the murder in the Area incident. However, this was retconned in the Progressive series where they had first formed a party over a year before the murder incident.
- There is a non-canon ending of the Calibur side-story, called Calibur SS.