|Spoiler Alert: This article or section contains details about plotlines not covered in the anime. Do not proceed unless you wish to be spoiled. |
The Day Before (ザ・デイ・ビフォア, Za Dei Bifoa?) is a bonus side story, written by Kawahara Reki, that was included in the limited edition version of volume one of the DVD/BD sets for the anime. The story is about Kirito and Asuna's day after Kirito proposed to Asuna.
The day after his proposal to Asuna, Kirito contemplated on how the the idea of an in-game marriage had always frightened him, but this anxiety had finally been erased by Asuna. Considering the consequences of his sudden proposal, such as Asuna's status amongst the players and finding a new place for the couple to live together, the boy recalled a log house that he had found for sale a year and a half ago, hidden in the forests of the 22nd Floor of Aincrad.
That afternoon on October 24, 2024, the couple travelled to the 22nd Floor. Having reminisced on the consequences of the 25nd Floor's boss fight, the debut of the Knights of the Blood following the battle, as well as Asuna's stunning impact during the next boss battle meeting, on the way to the log house, they finally arrived at its location, only to discover that the house was no longer there.
Still shocked, Kirito apologized to Asuna, insisting that the log house had definitely been there the last time he had visited the place. Seeing her boyfriend's bemusement, the girl reassured him that she believed him and that just being brought to such a lovely place made her happy. Asuna proposed having their official marriage there despite not getting their new home; however, having noticed Kirito's unease about the mysterious disappearance, she allowed the boy to investigate the case until the end of the evening.
As the two discussed and debunked possible explanations for the phenomenon, Kirito momentarily considered the possibility of the house becoming an aerial fortress, before immediately deeming such a theory to be implausible as well. At that moment, the fencer's gaze was drawn to the skies, where she noticed the log house hovering in mid-air. Upon closer inspection of the house with the help of a sight-enhancing skill after being notified of its whereabouts by the girl, Kirito realised that the house in the distance was held in the air by an immobile tornado. At that moment, Kirito also noticed a person inside the house through a window, prompting him and Asuna to rush to a cedar tree directly beneath the house in hopes of finding a way to assist the trapped player. Upon arriving in the vicinity of the tree, the pair encountered Toto, a small dog marked with an icon for a quest in progress. Just as Kirito deduced that the pup's quest was the cause of the flying log house phenomenon, Asuna, enamoured of the adorable creature, called it into her arms before the boy could protest against such an action, triggering a gale that transported them to the log house.
After being swallowed by a small tornado, Kirito, Asuna and Toto were sucked into the log house. Once inside, they found a familiar information broker «Argo the Rat» who explained that she had been trapped for two days in the house due to starting the quest but not being able to complete it. Having a brief discussion about the circumstances, Kirito and Asuna deduced that the key to continuing the quest was Toto. It turned out that, because of her kynophobia, Argo had fled from the dog into the house, causing the event to start without the animal, which, subsequently, caused the malfunction. Few moments later, the group realized that the house was moving, and, after a short flight, they arrived at an unknown location.
Once landed in an isolated part of the 22nd Floor, Asuna, Kirito, Argo and Toto met three monsters acting as Non-Player Characters (NPCs) and identifying themselves as a «Lion», a «Scarecrow» and a «Tin». Having explained that the Witch of the West had taken their girl-friend, Dorothy, along with their courage, brain, and heart, respectively, they asked for an assistance in a rescue mission. Asuna and Argo immediately realized that it was a quest based on the Wizard of Oz story. Since Kirito had a vague memory about the story, he decided to follow the two female players' lead.
After a short travel, during which Kirito doubted his ability to truly love someone else, the group of seven arrived at a big castle, which turned out to be a dungeon named the «Witch's Castle». Taking advantage of being overleveled for the location, they easily defeated guarding monsters and reached the boss room, where Dorothy was trapped. Since the three NPCs became unable to fight because of their story-wise weaknesses, Kirito, Asuna and Argo decided to face the Witch of the West. Despite being initially paralyzed due to an in-game event, they quickly regained ability to move thanks to the «Lion»'s roaring. During a quick fight the players dealt much damage almost killing the boss. However, it was ultimately Toto who, by jumping out of Asuna's chest and biting the witch, made her fall into a pot, thus defeating her. After the fight, the group proceeded to liberate Dorothy.
On their way back, thanks to Asuna's explanation, Kirito understood that the «Lion», the «Scarecrow» and the «Tin» had what they needed inside them all the time. He also realized the feelings he had for Asuna were indeed true love.
After bidding farewell to the NPCs, Kirito, Asuna and Argo returned and noticed that the log house was now in its original location. Before leaving, the information broker thanked them and promised to keep the secret of their engagement.
Once the couple was alone again, Asuna started giggling, thus loosening the tension. Feeling that the last thorn in his chest had disappeared, Kirito navigated his menu and sent a marriage request to the girl, who then happily pressed down the «YES» button.
- The story implies that Asuna and Kirito disbanded their party before the 25th Floor's boss fight. However, an official timeline provided with the Hopeful Chant side story has retconned this event to take place after the boss fight.