Kayaba seemed to spike the difficulty every ten levels. Put that together with the horror on level 25, and Asuna wasn’t the only one who dreaded level 50.
All of which meant Pollista might not be a fluke. She might just be the first warning of worse to come.
If she was… the Knights of Blood couldn’t clear Aincrad alone. They had to rely on other clearing guilds to help. And those guilds in turn depended on other high-level players stepping up when another clearer fell. If new high-level monsters were going to pop up in cleared levels – monsters that could wipe out that vital base of recruits – then the Knights had to rethink their whole strategy.
Kirito let the last primary feather slip through his fingers, and scooted back on the bench to give her room. “Now check your flight gauge.”
Settling her wings back over her shoulders, Asuna sighed. It’d been nice to have someone paying attention just to her, yes, but it couldn’t make that much of a….
Her flight gauge was full. Her flight gauge had never been full.
Black eyes danced at her open-mouthed surprise. Face carefully straight, Kirito cleaned off the Metal Claws and started packing everything back away. “Tae says a good preening adds 20% to her flight time. It’s like item durability. The better you take care of your wings, the better you’ll fly.”
Daring, Asuna stood to spread her wings, feeling the difference in how they caught the breeze wafting over the balcony. No more ribbons of chill sneaking through her feathers to shiver her back. Now azure feathers spread like a slice of sunlit sky, warm and calling for the high winds….
She was up in a thunder of feathers, wings digging into the sky to find the thermal that had to be there. All the stone in this city would have soaked up heat since dawn. There would be a rising wind.