|Spoiler Alert: This article or section contains details about plotlines not covered in the anime. Do not proceed unless you wish to be spoiled. |
After Kirigaya Kazuto (Kirito) was attacked by Kanamoto Atsushi (Johnny Black), an old player of Sword Art Online (SAO), he was rushed to the hospital. He fell into a coma due to his injuries, and then mysteriously disappeared from the hospital. Asuna tried to find his location with help from her daughter Yui and Koujiro Rinko, the deceased Kayaba Akihiko's lover.
Chapter 2 - Project AlicizationEdit
Asuna, Sinon and Leafa discussed Kirito's situation in ALO after he was attacked. Kirito was transported to the hospital in order to receive emergency treatment for the poison that was injected into him. The doctors were successful in removing any lingering poison from his body and restoring his heart beat. Soon afterward, he was transferred to a different hospital for better treatment, the ambulance left from the hospital but never arrived at the new one.
Asuna tried her best to search for his location with help from Sinon, Leafa and her "daughter" Yui by trying to figure out why he was kidnapped. They eventually reached a breakthrough, and determined that he was on a secret facility in the middle of the ocean - The «Ocean Turtle».
With the help of Koujiro Rinko, Asuna infiltrated the Ocean Turtle. They managed to track down Kirito, who was in the custody of Kikuoka Seijirou. Kikuoka transported Kirito's body to a place where the fourth generation FullDive technology, Soul Translator, was being experimented with. Kikuoka explained that Kirito's heart and body had recovered from the poison, but that he had incurred brain damage due to a decrease in the amount of oxygen that reached it caused by his heart having stopped. Kikuoka explained that they were currently trying to recover his mind, which was damaged, through the Soul Translator.
The workings of the Soul Translator were further explained. Kikuoka's goal of creating a highly adaptive «bottom-up» artificial intelligence to substitute front line soldiers was revealed. This would be done through duplicating the "souls" of infants in "Light Cubes" and growing them in an accelerated virtual environment. Kikuoka further explained that the Soul Translator can accelerate a person's sense of time by 1,000 times. (1 hour in real time = 41 days in accelerated reality)
Nurse Aki was revealed to be working under Kikuoka, and was taking care of Kirito in his comatose state.
Chapter 3 - Zakkaria Sword Arts TournamentEdit
Five Underworld months after leaving Rulid Village, Kirito and Eugeo woke up in a barn on the outskirts of the town of Zakkaria. They had been working as stable boys for a family of farmers for several months until that day and were getting ready for the Zakkaria Sword Arts Tournament, which was going to be held later that day. The two boys were greeted by the twin daughters of the farmers who brought pies to the boys before they headed off to town.
Kirito and Eugeo participated in the tournament, where the top two performers would be able to receive positions as guards in Zakkaria. After they are assured to be in different blocks, Kirito had to become the top winner in the west block and Eugeo in the east. There was only one performer that Kirito kept an eye out for, as he suspected that the performer, Egome Zakkalight, secretly tried attacking the two before they could register. Egome used the Sword Skill «Vertical» in an attempt to defeat Kirito, but the latter quickly countered Egome's skill with the twin-consecutive Sword Skill «Snake Bite», and won the match by breaking Egome's blade, with the tip breaking off and then stabbing into the floor. This was a stepping stone on their way to reach Centoria's Central Cathedral.
Chapter 4 - Sword Mastery AcademyEdit
Kirito had now spent almost two years in the Underworld, which was considered to be about 18 hours in the real world. Kirito and Eugeo were enrolled in the swordsmanship academy, training themselves to be the top students.
Kirito became a valet to a senior elite-swordswoman named Sortiliena Serlut. He trained with her on most days, and had a great respect for her and her family's Serlut style of combat, which consisted of using unorthodox weapons such as whips. One day after a sparring session, Serlut asked Kirito to show her everything he has, and so he promised that he would show her his true skills in the Aincrad-style the next day and told her to consider it a present. The reason for postponing this was because he intended to show her Sword Skills consisting of consecutive strikes, but the wooden sword he currently had would be unable to do anymore than 2-hit combos. He planned to ask Eugeo for his sword, but when he got around to that, he was reminded that the Gigas Cider branch should be carved into a sword by the next day.
Early the next day, the duo went to Sadore's shop, the man who they were told by Garitta to take the branch to. The previous year, they had left the branch with him to make it into a sword, and since that day, Sadore had completed the one-handed straight-sword at Kirito's request. He allowed him to keep it for free, with a custom name of his own, and told him that he intended for the sword to be his shop's signature. Later that day, Kirito decided to travel to a secluded area in the woods near the school, and attempted to see how many consecutive strikes he could manage. He discovered that like with Eugeo's Blue Rose Sword, he could only make 4-hit moves successfully. When he attempted to exceed that limit, Kirito's pose was thrown off balance, and the sword struck the ground, sending mud flying in Uolo Levanteinn's direction, who had been standing there the whole time watching. Uolo, being the head student of that year, told Kirito that he would be punished for staining Uolo's uniform, but rather than forcing him to clean on a rest day, he said that they would spar in the practice arena. Upon reaching the arena, about 50 students had gathered and Kirito's senior, Sortiliena, told him that she believes in him and told him to win. The spar began, and the two exchanged blows, but before either could hit the other, Miss Azurika, the dorm supervisor, halted the battle with the authority of being the first Swordswoman Representative of the Norlangarth Empire, a title earned at the Four Empire Unity tournament 7 years ago. Uolo told Kirito that his punishment was complete, and left the arena.
Later, Kirito, Eugeo, and both their seniors went to Sortiliena's room and celebrated. After taking Eugeo to their shared room, Kirito went to water the Zephyria Flowers that he had been attempting to grow the whole year, in order to prove that The Underworld had parameters guided by "imagination". Upon arriving at the garden, he spotted two boys, Raios Antinous and Humbert Zizek, nobles whom had harassed Kirito and Eugeo for most of the year. He discovered that they had cut away all the Zephyria flowers he planted, and realized that though the Taboo Index protected property, the law did not claim these flowers as his property, due to being grown on soil that "belonged to nobody." However, a voice in his head told him to ask the Sacred Flowers in the garden, to help revive the life of the fallen Zephyria, and just like that, they grew before his eyes.
In the graduation test of the Academy, Sortiliena finally defeated Uolo, graduating as the best student of the year. During the final graduation of Kirito's senior, Kirito gave her the pot of flowers as a gift, which she happily accepted.
Kirito and Eugeo were now Elite Swordsman trainees with their own valets. Ronye Arabel, with tea colored hair, was Kirito's valet and Tiese Shtolienen, with red hair, was Eugeo's valet. Tiese informed Eugeo that she had finished cleaning and Eugeo was about to dismiss her, though he wondered where Kirito was, since Ronye had finished already but couldn't leave until Kirito dismissed her. In that instant Kirito entered the room through the window, carrying a bag filled with honey pies. He took one for himself and gave one to Eugeo, giving the rest to Ronye and telling her to share it with her roommates.
Then Eugeo asked Kirito if he remembered what their goal was, the latter reassuring that they would defeat the other 10 elite swordsmen in the academy, become Integrity Knights, and continue to move forward to achieve their goal of finding Alice.
- Much of the events within Volume 10 were not present within the web version of the story. All of chapters 3 and 4 were only added within the light novel adaption.
- In the web novel, chapter 2 is the first time Yui and Sinon met, and prior to this meeting, Sinon had only heard of her. In the light novel, the two both participated in the group quest for Excalibur.