- Not to be confused with Episode 5.
|Spoiler Alert: This article/section contains details about future plotlines described in the light novels, not covered in the anime. Do not proceed unless you want to be spoiled. |
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
Upon returning to the city Kirito and Asuna witnessed a murder within the city, an Anti-Criminal Code Effect Area. A man thrown out of a window while impaled by a spear, died right before their eyes. Both were bewildered as they tried to find a normal cause for the murder, but none appeared so they found themselves starting to investigate a murder case. First they interviewed a witness, a girl, Yolko, who was supposed to meet up with the victim, Caynz. They also retrieved the murder weapon, Guilty Thorn, which they took to Agil to find out more about it. After Asuna and Kirito called it a day, Schmitt from the Divine Dragon Alliance showed up with a group of people from his guild and robbed Kirito of Guilty Thorn. 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. Schmitt gave Kirito a list of names of the members who were part of the «Golden Apple» guild. 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. Kirito explained that Caynz and Kains were similar names when spoken and that Yolko had lied to both him and Asuna. 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. 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.
The quest to retrieve «Excalibur» from the base of Jötunheimr was revealed to the public. However, unlike how 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 Asuna, Shino (Sinon), Ryoutarou (Klein) 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. 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 co-operating with the humanoid-type Evil Gods to wipe out the beast-type Evil Gods. At that moment, an NPC 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 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 are all slaughtered. The party then entered the upside-down pyramid to clear its four floors and obtain Excalibur.
Along the way, at the end of the third floor, they encountered Freyja, a captured beauty, and rescue her. During the battle with the final boss, Giant King Thrym, Freyja transforms into the God Thor after retrieving his weapon Mjölnir, the lightning hammer. After defeating Thrym, the group headed into a narrow staircase and finds «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 uses the sword before giving it to him. They are then met by Urðr and her sisters to receive the reward for completing the request. The group was rewarded with treasure, including Excaliber, who then decide to log out and have celebrate their success at Agil's cafe.
After the Sword Art Onling death game began, Kirito rushed to the village named Horunka to get a headstart 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.