Fourteen. Fourteen of us gone.
Kirito leaned against Asuna’s shoulder, blue feathers half-wrapped around him as they wavered on their feet. Both their HP bars were lower than he’d like, despite the cure grievous potions they’d drunk, but he couldn’t complain. With the shreds of healing magic that had fallen into player hands since Klein had called the Silver Flame, a reluctant high-level ranger had had just enough cure spells to keep the pair of them on their feet. Klein and Issin were laying their cures on the last players still suffering the undead corruption left in the Skull Reaper’s wake. Moonswords didn’t have to worry about that. Much.
Still hurts like hell, though… fourteen. I can’t believe it.
“We lost a third of the raid.” Asuna wrapped her wing tighter, voice dazed. “Seventy-fifth floor, we knew there’d be a difficulty spike, but… so many of us, this will break guilds, and where will we find more clearers willing to take on bosses like this, before…?”
Before we hit Recon’s time limit, and everyone is yanked into Aincrad whether they’re willing or not, Kirito finished silently.
He’d done research; he knew Argo was doing more. Nothing they’d found had given even a glimmer of hope they might be wrong. ALO had to be Beniryuu’s backup plan; his way to deliver on his end of the bargain with Aincrad no matter what happened in SAO. After all, clearers might die. Players might give up, and retreat again to the Town of Beginnings. The Japanese government might despair of saving anyone from Kayaba’s deathtraps, and unilaterally pull the plug on every player left. If Aincrad was going to play Beniryuu’s part in the Draconic Prophecies, the ancient red had to have another plan.
I was in ALO. I fought there. The system recognized me. Even with Stheno’s magic to transfer my spirit across the planes… we saw what happened with the bebilith. The game glitched around it, because Cardinal had no stats for a demon. But ALO handled me perfectly.
Which meant SAO and ALO avatars were compatible. Which further implied the games and worlds were compatible, and one could substitute for the other.
A backup plan. And there’s probably a backup for the backup we don’t even know about yet.