Sword Art Online: “If You Were Here” chapter 2

Chapter 2

“Kirito and Eugeo…… is it. Hmm, so these kiddos are this year’s winners?”

As a beautiful-to-an-extreme-degree silver-haired and silver-eyed woman stared down at us with a listless expression, I felt an unprecedented amount—— to be precise, about as much as I had felt in Asuna’s flat in Selmburg, the main town of the Sixty-First Floor of the nostalgic Floating Castle Aincrad, when she told me, “Kirito-kun, hurry up and take your clothes off too”— of tension, as I gave the following response to the woman’s question.

“Yes, that is correct.”

“Why are there two of you, exactly?”

When asked that question, I glimpsed beside me, but it seemed that Eugeo had even lost his ability to speak due to the excessive tension. That’s not all that surprising——after all, we were dealing with the Supreme Priest of the Axiom Church, the ruler of the entirety of the Human Empire that surpassed even the emperors of the four empires in authority. Her name was 《Administrator》——a name that was familiar to me yet one I had never heard of in this world; however, I lacked the composure to be concerned about that now.

Kneeling on the marble floor of the 《Grand Corridor of Spiritual Light》 on the fiftieth floor of the Central Cathedral, I once again opened my mouth.

“That would be because our battle in the finals resulted in a draw.”

“A draw~? Chudelkin, did that thing even have a time limit, again?”

Administrator‘s gaze fell upon a small man, wearing a clown-like outfit and headgear, dyed in garish blue and red. Based on the fact that the man had named himself as 《Chief Elder Chudelkin》 to us a while ago, he seemed to be a substantially distinguished personage even within the Axiom Church, but you would definitely not get that impression from the way he looked.

“Hahah…… As I recall, the finals should have had no time limit whatsoever……”

When the short-but-plump-as-a-balloon-clown answered in a shrill voice, Administrator gave a slight nod.

“So it is…… You guys, you’re both from the North Centoria Swordcraft Academy, as I understand? You wouldn’t happen to have orchestrated that draw, now, would you~?”

That very moment, Eugeo beside me tensed up even more, sweat forming on his forehead. This reaction wasn’t surprising either; Administrator‘s suspicion was, after all, a one hundred percent unembellished truth.

The reason why Eugeo and I had set off from Rulid Village, overcoming trials and tribulations to become Integrity Knights, was to find a girl named Alice Zuberg, Eugeo’s childhood friend who had been apprehended by an Integrity Knight nine years ago, and for all three of us to return to Rulid. In order to accomplish such a goal, so grand that we couldn’t possibly achieve without both of us assisting each other, we could not allow either of us dropping out of the Four Empire Unification Tournament.

Hence, Eugeo and I had held practice after practice in secret before the tournament to work out a sword fight sequence so intense that no one would catch on, and so prolonged that everyone in the audience, including the nobles and the imperial families, would be satisfied with it; that is, we staged the entire fight. For the climax, we acted out a charge at each other with a Sword Skill, blowing away each other’s sword and causing both of us to collapse, unable to stand back up; the umpires, apparently having no doubts about the outcome whatsoever, declared a draw and mutual victory——and that’s how we ended up here.

But of course, we could not allow her to acknowledge that our fight was staged.

“Why heavens no, Supreme Priest-sama. I……I mean, my humble self(3) and Eugeo fought with all we had; however, we were unable to determine which of us was superior to the other. If this outcome is displeasing, we would be honoured to hold a continuation of the finals right here and now.”

When I refuted her claim in an unaccustomedly polite manner, the Supreme Priest gave a minuscule smile.

“Oh my, that does sound interesting…….. Though, I can’t have the survivor turning useless on me if one of you ends up killing the other…… So, for this year, I shall acknowledge both of you.”

‘Whe~~~~w’, as I heaved a sigh of relief in my mind, the Supreme Priest approached us, seemingly sliding several centimetres on the floor.

“Now then, I shall appoint you as swordsmen apprentices. Let’s see, w-h-i-c-h s-h-o-u-l-d I c-h-o-o-s-e…… Eugeo, you’ll be number thirty-two; Kirito will be number thirty-three. From now on, you shall call yourselves Eugeo Synthesis Thirty-two and Kirito Synthesis Thirty-three.”

“……Understood.”

As Eugeo finally spoke up, I followed suit with a “We are honoured!” in a raised voice. I thought that I may have overdone it, but Administrator just slightly extended her smile, before nodding.

“Do your best…… So that those names one day come true.”

Leaving us with those enigmatic words, the Supreme Priest turned around and departed towards the grand doors deeper in the hall. Chief Elder Chudelkin approached us, acting as arrogantly as possible.

“Hohihi……I put number twelve in charge of your tuuutelage. That one has just awakened, so this is a perfect opportunity for some warm up.”

“U…… Understood.”

As I stared blankly, unable to understand what he meant by the words ‘just awakened’, an enormous grin found its way on his enormous mouth for some reason.

“No need to fret about the minor deeetails. Your rooms are on the twenty-eighth floor, so take your tiiime resting there for today…… Starting tomorrow, you’ll have a fuuuun practice waiting for you, after aaall, hoho hohho……”

After letting out a high-and-mighty laugh, Chudelkin also turned around. However, after spinning around once without stopping, he once again looked down upon us.

“Ah, I forgot to mention, but if you happen to encounter any knights other than the one in charge of your tutelage within the tower, you are not to start a conversation with them without permiiission. All the knights are veeeery busy people, understaaand?”

With that proclamation, the Chief Elder once again turned around and hopped away. Once the doors in the distance opened and then closed, we were the only ones left in the hall.

Our audience somehow ended without a hitch, thus I heaved a drawn-out sigh audibly this time. Having stood on one knee this entire time, I now relaxed my legs, sitting down cross-legged atop the marble.

“I’m so so beat…… So that’s the Supreme Priest, huh, sure is as intimidating as you could expect from one……”

Following my remark, Eugeo also hugged his knees and repositioned himself, before a wry smile appeared on his face.

“Sure is, huh, considering that you remained so composed even in front of Norlangarth’s emperor, I didn’t think that there was anyone other than Azurica-sensei who could make you flinch, Kirito.”

“I-it’s not like I flinched or anything. Actually, weren’t you yourself incapable of even speaking back there?”

“That’s because I figured I’d leave everything up to you from the very start, Kirito.”

“Why you!”

After ruffling Eugeo’s hair with my right hand, I turned my gaze overhead.

On the absurdly high ceiling, there was a beautiful piece of art, probably based on the creation of the world myth; this once again made me aware of the fact that this was the inside of the Central Cathedral——a white tower that was visible everywhere in the central capital but could never be approached. Eugeo and I were still wearing our Elite Disciple uniforms, thus we felt incredibly out of place. Though, I’d have to refuse an outfit like the one the clown was wearing.

Placing my hands on my knees, ‘Alley-oop’, I stood up, before giving my right hand to my partner.

“So then, how’s about we go over to that twenty-eighth floor or something for now, Eugeo Synthesis Thirty-two-kun.”

Grabbing my hand, my partner responded with a displeased expression.

“I’m not going to use that naming. Feels like I’d eventually bite my tongue, after all.”

“《Synthesis》 sure is damn hard to pronounce. Though I have no idea what it means.”

As we held such a conversation, I began walking towards the door opposite to the one that the Supreme Priest and the Chief Elder had gone through—— and instantly stopped.

“……? What’s up, Kirito?”

“Wait…… could this be our chance…… I mean, a perfect opportunity? Starting tomorrow, Number Twelve-san whatsit will become our teacher, right; today might be our only chance to freely move about within the tower by ourselves.”

“Eeeeh…………”

That very moment, Eugeo took on his 《expression exclusively used for when I propose something dicey》 as he was about to make some sort of retort, but then he just closed his mouth. After maintaining silence for several seconds with a pensive look on his face, he gave a very slight nod.

“……The monk who led us to the fiftieth floor here told us something. That up to the forty-ninth floor of the Central Cathedral is where the lower-ranked monks and nuns, as well as servants and apprentices live, while the high-ranked priests, Sacred Arts users, as well as the Integrity Knights live above the fifty-first floor. I have no idea what Alice is currently up to……but if she’s become a Sacred Arts user, running into her within the tower as apprentices is……”

“Unlikely, huh. Nevertheless, it’s not like we can just go about asking everyone we meet if they know where we can find Alice……”

Once I responded as such, Eugeo suddenly grimaced.

“…………Truth be told……”

Head greatly drooping and fists squeezed tight——

“Truth be told, I had intended to say it to the Supreme Priest. ‘Please allow me to meet Alice’ ……’The Axiom Church was in the wrong when it apprehended a mere eleven year-old girl as a criminal nine years ago.’ But I couldn’t bring myself to say any of it. The moment I caught sight of the Supreme Priest’s silver eyes……my body froze up like a chunk of ice……”

Eugeo suddenly raised his right hand, pressing it against his right eye. As my partner’s head drooped down even further, I strongly embraced his shoulders.

“Don’t blame yourself, Eugeo. I myself had to give it my all merely to answer what was asked of me. Besides…… if you had said something that defied the Axiom Church back there, our rights as apprentices would’ve likely been revoked and we’d have been thrown into jail.”

“…………You… have a point.”

Pressed against my shoulder, his head gave a nod and Eugeo took a step back. A smile still burdened by pain yet having regained some of its usual firmness found its way on his face.

“……Some day, when I become a true Integrity Knight rather than just an apprentice, I will be sure to tell the Supreme Priest what must be said at that time.”

“Yeah, sure. Though I would like to find Alice before then.”

Having responded with a grin, I sent my gaze towards the door that the Supreme Priest and Chief Elder had used to leave the room.

“You know what, let’s pay a little visit over there. Seeing as we’ve only just arrived at the Cathedral today, the ‘we got lost’ excuse might just well work for us.”

“……I’m kinda getting the feeling that we’re eventually going to end up in that jail after all.”

Despite answering as such, Eugeo stood beside me and we began walking towards the northern, rather than southern, door.


Sword Art Online: “If You Were Here”

Sword Art Online: “If You Were Here”

Score 7
Status: Completed Type: Author: , Artist: Released: 2019 Native Language: Japanese
If You Were Here is an Alicization what-if story, answering the question of what would have happened if Raios and Humbert hadn’t been around to force Eugeo and Kirito into breaking the Taboo Index.In this timeline, Eugeo and Kirito graduate from the Swordcraft Academy, win the Four Empires Unification Tournament, and become Integrity Knight apprentices at the Central Cathedral. However, Quinella (Administrator) and Cardinal are still at odds with each other. Can Kirito find a way to resolve their century-old conflict and bring the two to work together?— The story was released as a bonus with the 8th BD/DVD volume of the Alicization cour 1-2 Blu-Rays/DVDs and is based on Material Editions 28 and 29, with 50 pages of original content not part of the M.Es.

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