“Nine years ago, Aincrad beat the Five Nations back, almost at the cost of our existence. Many youkai clans were obliterated. Some races, like the medusas, are all but extinct. Those of us who lived, despaired.” A sigh. “So when the ancient red dragon Beniryuu approached the Council of Lords… they listened.”
Kirito’s voice, low and determined. “What did he say?”
“I was not there.” If that wasn’t a quietly disgruntled ranger, Klein would eat his bandanna. “Years passed. Strange rumors spread, of some subtle magic the Council of Lords wished to see accomplished.” The claws of a metal gauntlet clicked, curling into a fist. “Then last year, in the Month of the Holly… I was asked to visit a dream.”
Klein held his breath.
“What dream?” Kirito asked, as if he had to drag the words past clenched teeth.
“You already know.”
Klein reached for lemonade, throat dry. If he’s saying what I think he’s saying… oh man. We are so screwed.
“I have aided those I met in this dream,” Vincent went on. “Both those born of Aincrad, and those who might choose to become of Aincrad. And I will continue to do so, while the magic that lets me visit this dream lingers.” A deliberate pause. “But one day we will wake.”
“One day we’ll go home,” Kirito insisted.
“Dragons’ lies are darkest when they lie with truth,” Vincent stated. “Beniryuu’s enchantment brings your mind to this realm. It cannot bring your body… yet.”
“Beniryuu’s enchantment?” Kirito pounced. “We were told – the Dark Pack-”
“The red dragon has taken human forms in the past,” Vincent growled. “A mage. A merchant. Even a crafter of… games.”