|Spoiler Alert: This article or section contains details about plotlines not covered in the anime. Do not proceed unless you wish to be spoiled. |
Alicization Beginning (アリシゼーション・ビギニング, Arishizēshon Biginingu?) is the 9th book in the Sword Art Online Light Novel series, published on February 10, 2012.
Kirito was thrown into Underworld through FullDiving at first, and he and his friends Eugeo and Alice went on an adventure that goes awry. In Underworld, six years later, Kirito reappeared and this time, Kirito, Eugeo, and Alice's sister Selka went on a quest to bring Alice back to her hometown.
Woodcutter Eugeo was in the middle of chopping down a giant tree, more specifically, the «Gigas Cedar». This was Eugeo's and his friend Kirito's «Sacred Task», as the tree was quite resistant, even with several generations and more than three hundred years of diligent daily chopping using the equally tough «Dragon Bone Axe». At that time, only one mel had been cut through, with three more mels to chop down. Eugeo and Kirito lived in Rulid Village, which was a part of the «Norlangarth North Empire». In order to expand the fields and pastures, the «Gigas Cedar» had to be cut down to enter the forest behind it. However, at the current rate, it would take about nine hundred years more to chop the tree down. When they had finished their quota for the morning, Kirito and Eugeo began grappling each other. They stopped upon hearing the scolding voice of their friend Alice, the village chief's daughter studying the Sacred Arts in Rulid Village, who had come to bring her homemade lunch to them. While discussing how they could maintain their food's «Life» longer, they decided to search for ice in the forbidden «Mountain Range at the Edge».
On the following rest day, the three children gathered at the edge of the village and proceeded towards the mountains. Whilst walking, Eugeo pondered on their future, and their past before being assigned to his «Sacred Task» as a woodcutter. Kirito shared his belief that they could choose their desired «Sacred Task», to be guards, if they cut down the «Gigas Cedar». Eugeo refuted the idea, believing the dream to be impossible. Before lunch, they had reached the mountain pass to their surprise. As they went into the dark cave in the pass, the air grew considerably colder, making their breaths visible, even though it was summer. However, to their surprise, when they walked further into the cave, they discovered white dragon bones, belonging to the white dragon who once lived in the cave and had been killed with a sword.
Alice, Eugeo, and Kirito came to the conclusion that an Integrity Knight was the one who killed the white dragon. Then Kirito dragged out a sword, the «Blue Rose Sword», from the bottom of the dragon's remains. It was absurdly heavy, forcing Kirito to leave the newfound treasure there and return to their original goal to retrieve some ice. After they took some ice, they got ready to return to the village, but they took the wrong path, which led them to the entrance to the Dark Territory, the land of the devil races. Alice, Eugeo, and Kirito arrived just when a white Integrity Knight was in a battle with one of the Dark Knights. After the Integrity Knight killed the Dark Knight, Alice tripped while rushing to the dying Dark Knight and accidentally grazed the soil of the Dark Territory with her hand.
The next day began as any other day, but at lunch time, an Integrity Knight appeared at Rulid Village to take Alice away for interrogation and execution because she had broken a rule of the Taboo Index by touching the soil of the Dark Territory. Kirito, in an attempt to free Alice, went after the Knight with his axe, but was forced down by the other villagers. Eugeo stood frozen due to his inability to go against the rules. The Integrity Knight ignored the commotion and left on his dragon with Alice bound to the saddle.
On June 29, 2026, Asada Shino (Sinon) waited for Kirigaya Kazuto (Kirito) at the «Dicey Café» while watching the rain. Kazuto arrived late due to taking a train for the first time after a while. Ordering a drink from the owner of the cafe, Andrew Gilbert Mills (Agil), Shino and Kazuto talked about the recently held fourth Bullet of Bullets, as well as the aftermath of the «Death Gun» murders. Soon, they switched to a new topic, Kazuto's part-time job, which consisted of FullDiving for three days in a dreamlike state. While Shino remarked that he looked unhealthy, Kazuto was not concerned, and returned to the main topic. The two discussed how the winner of the battle royale tournament seemed to be able to predict the patterns of veteran players, and Shino recalled how the person had whispered that her soul would be sweet in English before he killed her. Recovering from her train of thought, Shino invited Kazuto to participate in the next tournament, and Kazuto pondered on the invitation. As they continued their conversation, Kazuto realised that Shino had also invited another person and showed her his phone, which displayed a red dot on a map moving towards them. Once the dot reached their location, Asuna entered the cafe.
Seeing Asuna's interactions with Shino, Kazuto asked when the two of them had got close. He got upset when he heard that Shino had spent a night at Asuna's house while he had not even been to her house. The three then began talking about how Kazuto's phone displayed Asuna's position on the map, while her own cell phone displayed Kazuto's body temperature and heart rate. The heart measurements came from a sensor implanted under Kazuto's skin, recommended by his part-time job. While Shino made a joke on this, Kazuto quickly covered up, but not before the two girls saw his temperature go up even higher. Shino questioned about his job, to which Kazuto replied that it involved a new Brain Machine Interface (BMI) by the company «Rath». Asuna mentioned that it was related to Alice in Wonderland. Kazuto then went into a full-depth explanation on how the BMI worked based on a theory of quantum brain dynamics. Just when the theory became god-like, Kazuto explained the concept of «Fluctuating Lights», or «Fluctlights». However, he could not recall the memories in the BMI, as his memories were suppressed due to security concerns.
Shino teased Kazuto that he might still be in FullDive; however, Kazuto and Asuna used her joke against her. Afterwards, Kazuto became serious again and talked about how the Dive he undertook was similar to a dream. But, as this project would take a long time and the final tests were about to begin, Kazuto claimed that he would not continue the job for long. At this point, realising that it was nearly six o'clock, Shino, Asuna, and Kazuto finished their conversation. As they departed, Shino stopped abruptly, as she had a bad feeling. When questioned, she claimed that it was nothing, since the feeling was no longer there.
Asuna and Kazuto took the train to the former's home in Setagaya while holding hands. Asuna recalled a scene in Sword Art Online where Kirito was nearly killed by her bodyguard Kuradeel near the Labyrinth on Aincrad's 55th Floor. She then turned to another memory in which they held hands while they watched the floating castle collapse. She was shaken out of her daze when Kazuto stopped and turned to her to talk to Asuna about his plans of going to America to study. He invited Asuna to come with him, which she accepted, wanting to stay at his side forever. Asuna asked more questions on the research of Kazuto's part-time job. Kazuto replied that the machine is most likely used to try to understand the human consciousness. They soon reach at the small park near Asuna's house and a jogger came up to them to ask directions to the station. However, Kazuto recognized the stranger as Kanamoto Atsushi (Johnny Black), a member of «Laughing Coffin», as well as one of the murderers behind the Death Gun incident. Still seething hatred against Kazuto, Atsushi brought out a syringe, filled with succinycholine, from his jacket. Kazuto ordered Asuna to get help while he tried to hold off Johnny Black. Instead, Kazuto got stabbed in the shoulder by the syringe, while he managed to dig his umbrella into his enemy's thigh. Asuna rushed back and called an ambulance, which promptly arrived to the scene. The paramedics attempted to use atonine to stop the effects of the succinycholine, but his heartbeat began to slow down. The paramedics then tried to massage his heart, but, despite this, his heart stopped, leading the paramedics to deem him dead.
Kirito woke up in an unfamiliar forest and realised that he was unable to recall what had happened after stopping in the small park near Asuna's home. Kirito then suddenly realized that he was wearing unusual clothes that seemed to have come from a fantasy game. Thinking that he might have woken up in a virtual world, he tried to log out, but no matter how hard he tried, no windows appeared. After numerous conjectures, Kirito guessed that he was in Underworld and thus attempted to call the operator, Higa Takeru, to stop the Dive, but no response was heard. Kirito then decided to find a source of water to quench his thirst and traveled to a crystal clear stream. Refreshed, he suddenly heard a chopping sound and walked towards it, but not before seeing an exclusionary scene where he saw two boys and a girl standing in a full mid-summer sunlight.
As fast as it had appeared, the scene disappeared. But Kirito had a nostalgic feeling of his childhood memories, even though he had never had any recollections in the Underworld. He turned to the forest where the sound of chopping was heard. It was repeated fifty times with a low-sounding count, followed by a three-minute break. Kirito reached a clearing, where he saw a large tree, no less than four meters in diameter. A boy was standing next to it with an axe in his hand. Kirito, still in a daze and confusion, decided to ask the boy some questions, and started with the question on how to log out, but the boy did not understand his question. Determining that there was no way to escape, he asked for a place to stay, considering it to be the next best question in his current situation. The boy answered that the village was not far off, but asked Kirito to wait if he wanted to be accompanied. Kirito decided to wait, to the boy's delight. The boy offered Kirito a round-shaped bread, which was supposed to be half of his meager lunch, and, realising that he had not named himself, introduced himself as Eugeo. Eugeo gave some bread to Kirito, and checked the Life on the bread. Seeing this action, Kirito confirmed in his mind that this was indeed a virtual world. With a bite of the bread that was extremely hard, Kirito commented that someone should bring a boxed lunch. Eugeo replied that the person who had usually brought a boxed lunch everyday had been taken away by an Integrity Knight six years ago, but he still believed that she was still alive. Now done with lunch, Eugeo explained that his «Sacred Task» was to cut down the giant tree. Kirito tried to cut the tree, and after a few attempts, he managed to land a cut. By the time they finished, dusk had arrived, and they headed back to the village.
At the village, Selka, a girl learning the Sacred Arts from Sister Azariya, explained the rules of the village to Kirito, and he went to sleep with many unanswered questions. The next day, Selka persistently nudged Kirito up for the morning prayer. After church worship and breakfast, he met up with Eugeo to continue the «Sacred Task». At noon, they talked about the Sacred Arts and epidemics that took twenty residents three years ago. Kirito then began cutting, but a strong feeling through his mind makes him ask Eugeo if there were anything harder than the axe. Eugeo replied that the Divine Instruments were the only things harder. Eugeo then brought out the «Blue Rose Sword». The swordsman wielded the heavy sword with intent to cut the tree with it. They went back to the tree, but because Kirito's Object Control Authority (OC Authority) was not high enough to properly use the sword, he could not activate any skills with it and missed hitting the designated area of the tree, thus the tree's Life fell by only one point. The two then decided to use the axe instead to finish the day.
Back at the church, Kirito took a bath. Once finished, he went to his room, where Selka awaited him. Kirito asked Selka about her sister Alice, and she responded to the best she could, while being upset that her Sacred Arts were not as good as her sister’s. Kirito told her that no matter what, she was amazing. Soon, the bell chimed nine and, just before she left, Selka asked Kirito if he knew why Alice had been apprehended. After Selka was told that Alice had transgressed against the Taboo Index by touching the soil of the Dark Territory, Selka left for the night, leaving Kirito in his room alone, pondering about Alice’s appearance. A bright golden light flashed before his eyes as he fell asleep.
The next morning, while Kirito was washing his face, Sister Azariya approached and told him that Selka was missing. Knowing that he bore responsibility for her disappearance by informing her why her older sister had been taken away, Kirito left with Eugeo to search for Selka. They arrived at the «Mountain Range at the Edge» and heard a young girl screaming from inside the cave. Kirito and Eugeo ran inside, and discovered a group of goblins. Kirito decided to charge all of them head on as the group of goblins decided to kill them. Within the first attack, Kirito and Eugeo took down four goblins. In another instant, Kirito confronted the leader of the goblins, «Lizard Killer Ugachi» while Eugeo went to deal with the other goblins. Although Kirito's first two blocks had failed, he used his «Sword Skill», «Sharp Nail», effectively breaching the goblin’s defense. However, due to his subsequent carelessness, he received a cut, the extreme pain of which paralyzed him. When Ugachi lifted his machete to kill Kirito, Eugeo came in and knocked Ugachi back, but was easily counterattacked and had his stomach sliced open by Ugachi's sword. In a flash, Kirito recalled some of his memories from his first time in Underworld, which gave him the strength to kill Ugachi. Afterwards, Kirito freed Selka and took her to Eugeo, who was heavily injured. Due to Kirito's insistence, she used a highly dangerous Sacred Art to transfer some of Kirito's Life to Eugeo. Before losing his consciousness, Kirito heard a voice, claiming that it awaited the two boys at the top of Central Cathedral, and giving him overwhelming energy.
Two days later, Kirito and Eugeo returned to their job of chopping the «Gigas Cedar» and to their surprised, they discovered that the axe felt amazingly light. They reached the halfway mark much earlier this day and Kirito, having noticed an increase in his Object Control Authority after the fight with the goblins, decided to bring out the beautiful sword out again. This time, Kirito successfully activated «Horizontal» against the tree. Seeing the skill, Eugeo expressed interest in learning Sword Skills. Kirito taught Eugeo the basic Sword Skills that he used and the latter would practice extensively on the «Gigas Cedar». Within five days, the «Gigas Cedar» was cut down. Gasupht Zuberg, the village leader, announced a celebration for the fall of the tree. At the climax, he allowed Eugeo to choose his next «Sacred Task». After some deliberation, Eugeo chose to be a swordsman. However, the current Rulid Village guard, Jink, thought that it was unfair for Eugeo to leave before him, so it was decided for the two of them to duel to see which one of them was stronger and should be the first to leave. Eugeo, using a skill he learnt on his own, «Slant», easily defeated Jink in the duel by striking his sword. The celebration continued for the rest of the whole day until the bell chimed ten.
The next day, Garitta awaited for Kirito and Eugeo along the path towards the fallen tree. Before the two boys left to Zakkaria, the elder gave them a branch of the Gigas Cedar as a gift. Garitta then told the two to visit a man named Sadore so that he could craft the branch into a sword. The two thanked Garitta, and both walked towards the path to finding Alice, on a path they would not be coming back from for a long time.