Sword Art Online 16.9
Translation of Sword Art Online ME 13, Sword Art Online 16.9.
The large rocking chair’s runners made a soothing sound atop the wooden deck.
The gentle up-down motion, like swaying atop waves, drew one into slumber alongside the sunlight filtering through the trees. Shutting one’s eyes would set a certain course for sleep. However, I resisted the weight on my eyelids and continued staring into the profile of the one I loved most, lying atop myself.
The faint breathing from slumber had reached my ears since minutes ago. The grains of light on her lowered, long eyelashes trembled without sound. Though the breeze from the lake was slightly chilly, I felt no cold thanks to the heat from where our two avatars touched.
Yes—these were all fictitious data.
Our bodies, both hers and mine, were fictitious ones composed of countless polygons and the same went for the rocking chair, the wooden deck, and the log house behind; they were no more than data sent into the Nerve Gear my real, unconscious body somewhere in the real world worn on the head, alongside the up-down motion, the light flowing through the trees, and the warmth and suppleness from our touching skin.
The word, «
In that sense, the floating castle, Aincrad, where we lived—or were imprisoned—in was a true fictional world. A castle of stone and steel, over ten kilometers tall, floating in an endless sky. It far exceeded that bridge constructed over empty space.
It was practically a dream without end.
No, that would be off. Though this dream had continued for two years already, the time to wake from it will come. When the death game could be cleared and all of its players freed—or when the HP bar, our fictitious life, reaches zero.
Thus, I might as well remain here… in a corner of Aincrad’s twenty-second floor, far from the front lines. After all, here, where there were no terrifying monsters or villainous player killers, I could view this warm, pleasant, and beautiful dream forever. Until the time comes when the game was cleared by someone else’s hands……
The desire from deep within my consciousness made my avatar tremble slightly.
Mild breathing. Her pale pink lips moved a little and her whispers streamed across.
“……What is the matter, Kirito-kun…?”
It seemed she felt my fears and unease even when asleep. Raising my left hand, I gently caressed that long hazel hair as I replied.
“No… it’s nothing. I was just… a little……”
A childish voice that sounded so unreliable, it surprised myself.
Her eyelashes lifted slowly and her hazelnut-colored eyes looked up at me. Urged on by her soothing gaze that drew in all of my fear, I continued my words.
“…I was just feeling a little uneasy. Everything around us is merely fictional… no, even we are… so I was thinking how we would wake up from this dream, too, someday…”
“……I suppose so…”
The lips that answered so showed a smile tinged faintly with sorrow.
Her gaze shifted towards the outer circumference’s opening barely visible beyond the trees.
“You know, I’ve always liked power lines ever since I was a child.”
I initially thought I heard wrong. Chasing her sight, I gazed towards the distant blue skies, but naturally, there was not even a single power line to be seen.
“Power line… you mean those cables for electric power or signals, right?”
“…And why those? I recall there always being talk about how they made the scenery worse and was being buried into the ground here and there…”
“Yes, most of those around where I lived in the real world were made underground too. But since they were hidden after being buried, don’t you think that disqualified them from being liked or disliked?”
“Well… I guess so…”
I nodded in neither confusion nor comprehension.
That pure white right hand then lifted up and sketched a smooth line in the air.
“I had always felt curious upon seeing power lines. I thought about how the mail, photos, and such sent by many people were all flowing through those lines. I was really amazed those could reach who they were addressed to, without becoming jumbled up.”
Thoughts about packets, headers, and how it would be optic lines rather than power lines that transmit data went through my mind, but the conversation likely had nothing to do with those. Data from different senders to different receivers crisscrossed endlessly within a single transmission line. In that sense, it certainly seemed like a small miracle a single mail could reach its destination.
Still, why the sudden topic… those hazelnut-colored eyes stared into my own as though sensing that doubt.
“Kirito-kun, we can currently feel each other’s presence.”
Her voice was soft, yet firm.
“That sensation data is travelling to and fro through the long distance between us in the real world at an immense speed. This world and our bodies may be fictional… but the signals transmitting our voices, these sensations, and everything else certainly exist, don’t they? To reach me, they’re rushing through those many cables as quickly as they can.”
Her finger, pointing towards the sky, poked into my left cheek as she spoke.
Adjusting herself, she reached up and our lips overlapped. It began with gentle pecks. The union of our fictional organs gradually deepened, gradually intensified. Tender, moist noises. A sweet fragrance. Breaths, growing rough.
I imagined while accepting the multitude of signals for these sensations. The unending lights flitting through the multicore fibers running through the sky or under the ground. Those were hardly fictional. That definitely existed there—or perhaps here.
This connection between Asuna and me.
A maddening longing welled up from the depths of my body, compelling me to hug her slim frame tight. My hand had unconsciously slipped in her thin sweater.
“Nn… don’t, no more today, until… the night…”
Despite Asuna’s whispers interspersed with her breathing, she made no effort to stop my hunger kiss. The rocking chair hit against the wooden deck at an irregular, heavy rhythm.
Before long, an entreaty, half stifled with tears, pierced through my sense of hearing.
“Kirito-kun… reach me… to me… send me, you, Kirito-kun…!”
I drew Asuna’s body closer with both hands in place of a vocal answer.
25th October, 2024, 2:30 PM.
While walking through the small path leading to the main town through the lake’s shore from the log house, Asuna shook her head violently without warning.
Despite my flustered question, she simply brought up both hands and hid her face.
“I-Is your stomach hurting?”
Guess not. Though eating strange mushrooms here could still cause one to experience the bad status effect, «Stomachache», our lunch was teriyaki chicken with Asuna’s special soy sauce and even in the rare chance our real bodies were to experience a stomachache, that sensation should be intercepted by the Nerve Gear.
And so, I wondered exactly what could be causing her such anguish, before—
Asuna abruptly spoke in a soft voice with her head down, depressed.
“Ugh… was I always like this…?”
“Like this… like what?”
The heel of her palm immediately stabbed into my left shoulder.
“What are you trying to make me say out loud, it’s that!”
I finally understood what Asuna was getting at after a peek revealed her side profile to be crimson red. She must be embarrassed over the multiple violations of the Ethics Code since this morning.
“What, you just meant that?”
“Don’t just call it that and brush it off so easily!”
“Aren’t you the one who called it ‘that’ first…?”
Another palm heel strike came flying, so I cleared my throat and picked my words better.
“No, well, erm, right… we are married, so doing something like that is only natural and there’s no need to be so upset.”
“Don’t just call it s-something like that, that’ll make me all the more embarrassed.”
“Er… erm, hmm, s… wait, what are you making me say!”
A third palm heel strike shot forth and I almost tumbled into the lake’s water on our immediate right.
The main town for Aincrad’s 22th floor, «Coral», appeared more like a village rather than a town. Separating the inner and outer areas was a wooden fence, a meter and a half in height, too, with its buildings all made from wood. This thoroughness applied to the teleport gate in the village’s heart, constructed from polished logs, as well. Its residents were few and not even a single player was around beside us.
In exchange, it had a rather extravagant selection of wood products. The rocking chair Asuna and I were on earlier was bought on impulse from this village when we passed by yesterday and saw it in the store front. We have visited this village again in order to get together the furniture for the log house.
The bedding, table, and chairs were provided from the start, so all we had to buy were furniture for storage. And in Aincrad, ninety percent of their significance laid in their value as «interior decoration». After all, most items could be stashed in one’s own inventory and the main feature of a player house, «a large capacity storage at home», was provided from the beginning in the shape of a treasure chest.
As such, I was thinking we only had to buy shelves for the living room and drawers for the bedroom.
“Wow, this is amazing!”
Upon entering the first furniture shop, Asuna let out an elated cry without any trace of the shyness from earlier.
“Look, look, Kirito-kun! What a lovely table!”
“Ooh, it sure is huge.”
An unsatisfied glare came from my wife despite my pure intentions in expressing my honest opinion.
“What, that’s all?”
“No, well, all tables have going for them is their size, so…”
“Look closer, look at this smooth walnut! It can easily sit ten people, the tabletop’s over ten centimeters thick, and the grain’s utterly exquisite.”
Quietly distancing myself from Asuna whose cheek was practically on its smooth surface, I checked the price pasted on the other side of the table.
I leapt up high with that shout.
That surprised Asuna as expected, and she asked, “W-What happened!?”, which I answered by pointing at the price tag with my trembling right hand.
“I-I-I-I mean, just look, i-i-i-it says seven hundred thousand col here…”
However, Asuna simply nodded in acceptance upon hearing that.
“700k, huh… well, I guess I can’t expect it to be too far from around that much…”
“E-Eeeh!? This must be a rip-off, it’s just a table, you know!? It’s just wood, just some plank!!”
“Listen here, Kirito-kun, if this same table was sold in the real world, it would probably cost 10m yen.”
“W-Whaat!? Ten million… can’t you buy an entire house at that price…?”
Feeling strength leave my waist, I stumbled as I backed away and sat on heavily onto a chair on display.
Now with an exasperated look on, Asuna approached me from the front and beamed as though out of retaliation for earlier.
“Hey, Kirito dearest. I’ve simply fallen in love with this table. ♪”
My head shook from side to side in quivering motions.
“I just know it’ll look dreamy in our living room. I’m sure it’ll make our meals all that better too.”
My body shivered in jerking motions.
“Also, 100k’s written on that chair’s price tag.”
Leaping off and rolling onto the floor, I was welcomed with gentle words from my young bride who looked down at me with a smile.
“But it could be a little too big for our home. Shall we search for something smaller?”
My head nodded endlessly, denied from any other course of action.
In the end, Asuna and I exited the village and returned after buying a table of a reasonable size at a reasonable price along with its chairs, both rather more refined than what the house started with, a decorative shelf and chest, various other smaller articles, and a heap of groceries.
As we stored all of our belongings into our joint storage, we were empty-handed like on the journey here. Though we did not even hold onto our swords, we could equip them in an instant with the «Quick Change» mod if the time called for it.
We had spent our own sweet time shopping and the bottom of the upper floor was dyed crimson with the setting sun. I honestly did not have much interest in the interior design, but Asuna’s footsteps seemed light as though satisfied after shopping for the first time in a while.
“Hey, Kirito-kun. About that huge table we saw in the first shop…”
I answered with an involuntarily strained smile to her sudden words spoken with a smile.
“R-Right, well, it would be nice if we can buy it in the future.”
“No, I didn’t mean that. You didn’t look too closely at the price tag, did you? That was made by a player. It must have been consigned to the NPC shop.”
“The maker was called «Mahokl». Ring any bell?”
“No… can’t say I do…”
“Same here. But I think making a table like that must have needed a mastered woodworking skill. That’s amazing… I was reminded again that Aincrad has so many people living with all they have, even outside the clearing group.”
“……There sure are…”
I nodded deeply at Asuna’s words.
Even while we wholeheartedly enjoyed this brief intermission now, the players of the clearing group must be fighting their way to the labyrinth in the seventy-fifth floor far above. And the blacksmiths, like Lisbeth, must be creating and repairing their weapons. And the merchants, like Agil, must be purchasing and facilitating the trade of their drop items. Aside from them, there were the leather craftsmen, the tailors, the information brokers, the medicine dealers… The thousands of players were putting their all towards their individual goals day after day.
Their efforts were no fictional illusion either. Even if this world could vanish someday, their memories here would remain. If they wished for it, even until they met with true death in the real world.
I reached out with my right hand as I walked and held Asuna’s left hand.
Asuna, too, smiled as she gripped my hand back.
“You know, Kirito-kun? You know how you were saying everything in this world were fictional?”
After I nodded at that abrupt question, bewildered, Asuna continued while gazing at the sunset skies in the distance.
“Fiction means that it isn’t real, right? Like a fictitious claim or a fictional account of war.”
“Or a fictional creature.”
“Hehe, yes, yes. But you see, there is something that actually exists despite being fictional.”
I tilted my head at those puzzling words.
“Wouldn’t that be a contradiction? It’s fictional because it doesn’t really exist…”
“You’ll understand if you think back to the word’s meaning.”
A bridge could not be constructed over the air. Hence, it could not exist. That would be the etymology behind the word. With that in mind, I looked up at the bottom of the upper floor soaked in madder red.
The words Asuna spoke hours ago suddenly came back to me—the phantasmal scene she showed me.
“Ah… do you mean that, bridged across the sky… the power lines?”
Asuna happily nodded at my murmur.
“Correct! The power lines stretched up high with utility poles and pylons are called «
“……Honestly, I hadn’t thought about power lines at all…”
Lowering my sight from the skies above, I muttered.
“…But I’m glad to learn all of that from you today, Asuna. It made me feel like looking at them from my room’s window again when we’re back in the real world.”
“Ehehe… I’m glad you think so.”
I trembled as my love for Asuna welled up upon seeing her innocent smile, and I drew her slender body closer and hugged it tight.
“Hold on, Kirito-kun, we’re in the middle of the road!”
I gently sealed the mouth that flustered shout came from.
It might have been out of anger or exasperation, or perhaps she simply gave up… but after my face separated a long ten seconds later, Asuna stared at me with teasing eyes and whispered.
“Geez… —It’s only a little farther, so let’s hurry home.”
Good day, Kunori Fumio here.
Even the “16.X” series I randomly stumbled onto is now on its fourth book. Though it reached “16.9” numerically, Kirito and Asuna’s married life isn’t even on its second night yet… (haha)
It’s far too late now, but with regards to the title, it’s because in “Sword Art Online” that I once serialized on my website, I skipped through the six days from Kirito proposing to Asuna in chapter 16 to chapter 17 where they move into their forest home. And between those two chapters was a short story with the title, “16.5”.
This doujinshi series is an immediate continuation of that short story, so it began with “16.6”. However, the next story will neither be “17.0” nor wind up here… (it seems there were even character names that first appeared here and all…) I’ll think a little more about whether I’ll struggle on futilely with “16.9.1” or something else!
By the way, I’m writing a short short with the title of “16.8.5” for a mini clear file, a novelty for the «Evolution Declaration! Dengeki Bunko Fighting Fair» that begins on 10th August. As the name suggests, it’ll be a few hours before this story, so do get it if it pleases you!
Also, I’m cutting it too close with my work this time, so I wasn’t able to draw art for the cover… The photo resource was gratefully obtained from «mandegan» *. I hope to try harder next time…!
“架空” – “ka kuu” is a noun / adjective meaning “fiction” or “overhead (aerial)”. It can also be interpreted as “virtual” in certain cases. I will be using words based on “fiction” for most of this since it fits best.
mandegan – Can be found here.
- Translation – Tap