|Spoiler Alert: This article or section contains details about plotlines not covered in the anime. Do not proceed unless you wish to be spoiled. |
Continuation: Aria of a Starless Night is the seventh Material Edition of the Sword Art Online series. Kawahara Reki published it under his pen name Kunori Fumio. It was sold at COMITIA 97 on August 21, 2011. The story is a continuation of Aria of a Starless Night and was later published as part of the first volume of the Progressive series under the name of "Intermission - Reason for the Whiskers".
After the defeat of Illfang the Kobold Lord, Kirito was the first player to arrive to Urbus, the main town of the 2nd Floor. He decided to conceal his presence in town, fearing that news of him being a Beater had spread. While in hiding, Kirito spotted Argo fleeing from two players and thus used his Tracking skill to follow them, eventually arriving to the valley outside the town. Hearing the voices from the bottom, he climbed up a nearby cliff to observe the quarrelling group.
While eavesdropping, Kirito learnt that they were pursuing Argo for information on a certain Extra Skill that could be acquired on the 2nd Floor. Since the situation was becoming highly volatile, he decided to interpose between the two parties. Seeing their ninja-like outfits, Kirito recognized the two men as members of Fumaningun, a guild he knew from the beta test. However, before a conflict could erupt, a Trembling Ox entered the scene and targeted the two ninja, causing them to flee.
Reminding Argo about her promise for a free piece of information of his choosing, Kirito asked her for the reason of her whiskers. However, hearing that she was about to remove the whiskers and answer him, Kirito abruptly changed his request to have her tell him about the Extra Skill instead. Argo agreed to granting his request under the condition of not being blamed for the outcome of his choice.
The two arrived to a small hut, where they found an old-looking man who was offering the Martial Arts Extra Skill for completing his quest. After Kirito accepted the quest, he was informed that his goal would be to break a nearly unbreakable rock in a half with his bare hands. Before Kirito could request to cancel the quest, the old man painted whiskers on his face, revealing that the whiskers would remain on his face until the rock was broken.
At that moment, Kirito realised that Argo had attempted the quest during the beta test but was unable to complete it, and thus she remained with permanent cat-like whiskers throughout the remainder of the test. In the official version of the game, she used makeup to recreate the whiskers due to them having become a part of her image.
At first, Kirito wanted to abandon the quest as well, but as Argo started laughing at his appearance, he decided to complete it. Three days and three nights later, Kirito finally managed to break the rock, thus freeing himself of the whiskers and acquiring the Martial Arts skill.