Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sword Art Online - Side Story Compilations

Just once, I saw a real shooting star.

It was not during a vacation; it was from the window of my house. For people living in towns with crisp air and actual dark nights, shooting stars are not uncommon. But unfortunately, Kawagoe City of Saitama prefecture, where I have lived all fourteen years of my life, has neither of those qualities. On a clear night, even a second magnitude star can barely be seen with the naked eye.

But, late one midwinter night, when I happened to glance outside my window on a whim, I saw it. On that deep night without many stars, the city lights formed a whitish canopy covering the sky. And in an instant, it was cut by a quick flash of light. My soon-to-be 5th grade self childishly thought, “I must make some kind of wish...”. Up to that point was fine, but the wish which appeared in my mind was, “I wish my next monster drop is going to be a rare item.” It was the kind of wish no sensible person would make. I suppose it sprang from the fact I was playing an MMORPG I liked at the time. The shooting star I glimpsed that day, I saw it once again three (or was it four) years later—glowing the same color, moving at the same speed.

However, this time, I did not see it with the naked eye, nor was I beneath the dark grey night sky.

I saw it through a Nerve Gear, the world’s first full sensory type VR interface, at the bottom of a gloomy, virtual dungeon.

I left the NPC, Hanna (female, estimated to be fifteen years old, surname, Heinemann) to tend to the shop, and moved towards the workshop while carrying the heavy sword. After Kirito, who came along, opened the door without requiring any additional prompting, the sound of the water wheel’s rotation became remarkably louder.

 “...It’s such a relief that Aincrad’s summers aren’t that hot, really.”

His impression was probably due to spotting the furnace burning red hot in a corner of the room, I thought, as I heard him speak behind me. I lowered myself onto the chair beside the anvil and unintentionally broke into a wry smile.

“If you care about the heat, you should just take that off when you’re within the area, at least.”

The trademark of Kirito, who possessed the cool second title of «The Black Swordsman», was that black leather coat of his that extended below his knees; if one were to take up that sort of appearance in the real world during August, it would probably eventually result in heatstroke. Leaving the sheathed Dark Repulser on the anvil for the moment, I shifted my view to Kirito, who was leaning against the wall, and he had a bitter smile on while scratching his head.

“It’s like, well, aside from sleeping, I just can’t calm down without this on nowadays, you know...”

“That said, don’t tell me you actually had the same one equipped since the first floor?”

Previously, when I was chatting with my close friend, Asuna, at this very spot, the topic ended up being Kirito’s only set of clothes. According to her, it seemed that he had the same appearance ever since he got his hands on a unique rare, «Coat of Midnight», from the floor boss on the first floor.

At my question, Kirito smiled once again and shook his head. “I do have to update my armor every now and then. This «Blackwyrm Coat» is the... fourth generation, I guess?” “Oh... That’s a monster drop too?” “Nope, it’s player-made...” That somewhat complicated expression that flashed past Kirito’s face as he replied did not escape my gaze. Maintaining my smile, I pressed on without a moment’s delay. “Oh. Which shop is it from?” “Well, that’s... it’s just something from A-«Ashley’s»...” “Ohh. Hehh. Is that so.” As I dragged my words out, Kirito made the truly conspicuous motion of averting his eyes.

Ashley was a charismatic seamstress, widely said to be Aincrad’s number one. Although it wasn’t like she was a business rival to me, a smith, she set up shop in Lindas like me, in the northern section and it was thrice the size of mine (with two water wheels), not to mention the shop’s name, «Ashley’s», was one most could not help but notice. In addition, the person in question was a considerable beauty in her early twenties.

Likely due to being aware that the defensive line-up in my - Lisbeth Equipment Shop- included lightweight armor for swordsmen using one-handed swords as well, Kirito babbled on with an expression on the verge of letting out a cold sweat effect.


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