“Would you want to risk whole villages of innocent people on the chance one werewolf might behave like a civilized guy? I wouldn’t. And I’m one of the guys who goes furry.” Klein knocked a fist lightly against Issin’s shoulder. “’Course, I’d want to track the wolf down, hogtie him, and just drag him back for Tetsutora to thump on. But I don’t need to worry about getting bit….”
Hands wrapped around warm ceramic, Kirito grinned at him.
“What?” Klein squinted at his grin, scanned his guild’s matching smirks. “What?”
“Hate to break it to you, Leader,” Harry One leaned his elbows on the table, wiggling his eyebrows. “But it sounds like you fit the build.”
Stifling a giggle, Asuna nodded. “The Commander is noble. He leads the Knights of Blood well; without him, we wouldn’t be half as far clearing Aincrad. But that’s our guild. You, Klein… you do the right thing.”
“A paladin upholds the law, and the right,” Tae said solemnly. “But first of all, he protects the people. The strong, and the weak; the noblest citizens….” Her gaze fell on Kirito. “And the outcasts.”
Kirito felt Asuna stiffen, and lifted a hand from his mug to squeeze her fingers in comfort. It’s all right. I know what I am.
“But… but…” Klein stuttered as he shoved back from the table, ears bright red, “C’mon, that’s just what a decent guy does!”
Kunimittz and Dale traded amused glances. “Paladin.”
Which was interesting, Kirito thought, mind racing. Gods, he wished he could talk this over with Vincent, the elan had always hinted that the magic behind a ranger’s favored enemies was far more than study and fighting spirit – and that power wasn’t as strong in SAO as it should be. Meaning divine. But since Christmas… well. He’d been lucky to even glimpse the ranger’s tattered red cloak at a distance, leading him to new quests. Stheno was still in her cave, still herself, but keeping her conversations near as stilted and cryptic as an NPC. And as for seeing Yui….
He didn’t know how Stheno managed to keep bringing the little girl into SAO. Maybe because Yui was one of the few to whom it was still just a game. But those few times he and Asuna had been able to hug her, the little medusa could read the fear gnawing at them. Sense the time counting down for them all. It made her cry. And then Asuna cried. And then he tried not to cry, and just wanted to kill something.