Sword Art Online Unleash Blading

Sword Art Online
Unleash Blading

Dark Emperor, Chapter 1

"Whoa... So this is the Human Empire. I'd heard about it, but it is definitely different from the Dark Realm."
 Sylvie sighed in wonder at her first glimpse of the streets of Centoria.
"Just look at all that food! And there's so much water and so many trees..."
 Sylvie almost took a step towards the food stalls, but she stopped herself and shook her head frantically. She had let the rich abundance of the Human Empire distract her—and that was wrong. Unlike the other inhabitants of the Dark Realm, she was not here for sightseeing. She was here to avenge her parents. To find—and to kill—their murderer. That was why Sylvie had come to the Human Empire. To steal their sword skills and their dark arts and grow more powerful.
 "That's why I became an exchange student...something I'd never choose willingly."

 Full of spirit, Sylvie's blade thrust sharply at Sheyta's neck. But Sheyta easily parried Sylvie's attack, chopping Sylvie's right arm with the side of her sword.
 It only looked like a light tap, but Sylvie's arm went numb. Her sword fell from her hand. Noticing this, Sheyta removed her gaze from Sylvie and said, "Next."
It was barely more than a whisper.
 It wasn't that Sylvie was weak. Even among the Dark Knights present, Sylvie was one of the strongest in her class. But when it came to sword technique, Sheyta Synthesis Twelve was on an entirely different level. She was said to have bested even Commander Bercouli, former leader of the Integrity Knights. Sylvie could not do so much as even get her sword near her.

"Damn... Yet again, I was unable to defeat that lady instructor."
Sylvie and her compatriots received lessons from Sheyta regularly. To be taught by someone from the Human Empire—an Integrity Knight, no less—was extremely humiliating. But Sylvie could not deny the fact that Sheyta was much stronger than her. So her only choice was to choke down her chagrin and work hard at her lessons.
Sylvie was about to drag her feet out of the training hall when Sheyta stopped her.
"Sylvie. Got a minute?"
"What do you want...?"
 Sylvie was secretly surprised that Sheyta knew her name. But she didn't show it as she turned back to look at the knight.
"I want to speak with you."
"Well, I have nothing I wish to say to you. Goodbye."
 With that, Sylvie turned away again to leave. But Sheyta persisted, in the same calm tone.
"I might know a way for you to become stronger."
"To become stronger...?"
 Sylvie meant to ignore her, but she couldn't help but ask. Becoming strong and avenging her parents— that was Sylvie's reason to keep living. Hearing that there might be a way for her to become stronger...well, that was something she could not ignore.
"If you are interested, hear me out."
 Sylvie stared hard into Sheyta's eyes. Just like when she was giving lessons, it was impossible to read any emotion in her gaze. But she looked like she was telling the truth. Then again, what could Sheyta possibly gain from deceiving Sylvie anyway?
 After mulling it over a little, Sylvie nodded and murmured, "I'm listening..."

"An exchange student to the Human Empire?!"
"That's right. The two empires have made entirely different developments in both Sword Arts and Sacred Arts. It would be beneficial to learn both styles. If you wish—"
"I will never go to such a dreadful place!"
 Sylvie snapped at Sheyta. Sheyta's eyes widened a little at the shrill sound of Sylvie's voice.
"Not the Human Empire. Never..."
 She was about to spiral into an angry rant, but she stopped herself, remembering that the woman standing before her was her teacher. Then she took a deep breath to calm herself.
"Is that all you wanted to tell me? Then I take my leave," Sylvie said.
 As Sheyta watched Sylvie walk swiftly away, she murmured softly,
"...Did I say something wrong?"

 Once back in her room with the door shut behind her, Sylvie flung herself on the poorly-made bed and let her anger flow freely.
"That impudent wench! How dare she suggest that I go to the Human Empire, of all places!!!"
 She buried her face in her pillow to stifle her screams. But her muffled voice still echoed through the room.
"Those Human Empire bastards killed my father and mother! I would never go to their homeland... Never..."
Little by little, Sylvie's voice quieted to a whimper. In time, she looked up and touched the sword that lay by her pillow It was the sword she had discovered—the sword that had been bequeathed to her by Shasta, commander of the Dark Knights. Not even her parents, ordained Dark Knights, had been able to wield the blade. That was precisely why Sylvie had it now. But she had a lot of trouble even lifting the sword off the ground.
 As she conducted her daily ritual of polishing the blade, Sylvie recalled Sheyta's words.
"Different Sword Arts than the Dark Realm..."

 The next day, Sylvie stopped Sheyta and asked to become an exchange student. She had only one condition: That she be allowed to take her parents' sword. And Sheyta did not object.

"Yahoo! What a pretty girl you are! You sure know how to pick 'em, Sheyta!"
 A week had passed since her study abroad was settled. Sylvie had gone to the training hall to meet the person assigned to escort her to the Human Empire and was met with a gleeful squeal most out of place for the setting.
"Indeed. Meet Sylvie, our exchange student."
"So this is her. Hi there, Sylvie. I'm Eydis. Nice to meet you!"

 Eydis eagerly thrust out her right hand. Sylvie recalled there was a ritual where people clasped hands and shook them. But she had no intentions of letting her guard down around someone from the Human Empire whom she had only just met.
 Eydis grabbed Sylvie's hand all the same, pumping it merrily. Try as she might, Sylvie could not shake off the girl's surprisingly strong grip.
"We're gonna be together the whole time until we get to the Human Empire! We've gotta get properly acquainted first."
 Eydis's grip on Sylvie's hand stayed tight as a pensive look filled her face.
"Aww, but it makes me sad thinking I'll have to say goodbye to such a pretty face once we get to the Human Empire. Hmm, maybe I should ask Kirito to let me have a few days off after I get back. That way, we could spend even more time together. See? Wasn't that a great light-bulb moment?"
 Eydis chattered on so quickly that Sylvie couldn't get a word in. Eydis prompted her with a, "Don't you think so?" and Sylvie finally managed to squeeze out an, "I don't know..."
"Oops! Right, you don't know what 'light bulb' means! See, 'light bulb' is Sacred Tongue for an inspiring idea or strategy! Kirito uses a lot of Sacred Tongue, you know, so it rubbed off on me."
 Eydis rambled on, paying no mind to Sylvie's reaction.
"There's this girl, Shirley. She came to the Human Empire on exchange before you."
 Eydis smiled at Sylvie, who stared blankly in reply. The knight's innocent cheer softened Sylvie's guard a little without her knowing it.
"I'm sure you must be scared, but don't worry. Shirley will tell you everything you need to know about the Human Empire. We'll also help ya out, too."
"But I'm not scared."
 Angry with herself for letting her guard down, Sylvie's tone was intentionally sharp. But Eydis didn't seem to notice, and said,
"Ooh, what a brave girl. So, should we head out? Well then... See ya later, Sheyta."
"Yeah. Have a safe trip, Sylvie."
 And thus, Sylvie abruptly set off on her journey to the Human Empire. And after a few weeks' travel, they arrived in Centoria, the center of the Human Empire.

"We're here at last. This is the Central Cathedral, Sylvie."
"The Integrity Knights...do they all live here?"
"Basically, yeah. Except lots of us come and go on missions and such. Entokia, Nerguis, and me, we spend a lot of time in the Dark Realm, you see."
 Then that must mean my parents' killer is here somewhere. Or perhaps someplace different...
Just as Sylvie's thoughts were racing, she heard feminine voices in the distance. She turned and saw two young women running towards her.
"Hello, Lady Eydis!"
"We've come to meet the exchange student!"
One of them had red hair, the other, brown. Neither of them looked much older than Sylvie, but they both wore grand armor.
"Hi-hi, you guys. Meet Sylvie, our exchange student. Sylvie, meet Ronie and Tiese. They're both Integrity Knights."
"Integrity Knights?"
 Sylvie's eyes opened wide. To be sure, she had deemed their armor to be fine indeed, but she didn't think they would be Integrity Knights.
"Hi there, Sylvie. I'm Ronie Arabel Thirty-Three."
The brown-haired knight smiled at her. Sylvie thought she might as well nod and reply.
"And I'm Tiese Schtrinen Thirty-Two. I look forward to getting to know you."
The redheaded one had an ornate sword in addition to her armor. Much like Sylvie's own blade, it was probably quite sharp.
"Oh dear, are you tired? Well, I'm not surprised. You did travel all the way from Obsidia Palace."
"Ronie and I were going to give you a tour of the Cathedral, but maybe it can wait until tomorrow."
 The two girls were being tactful—perhaps they'd noticed how surprised and guarded their guest was. And it was true, she was tired. But she would not give anyone from the Human Empire the satisfaction of knowing that.
"Don't worry. I'm not tired."
"Are you sure? I wouldn't mind giving you a tour, then."
"Aw, can't we do it tomorrow? I'm supposed to meet up with Kirito right after this. If we do the tour tomorrow, I could join you guys."
 Eydis sounded dissatisfied. But the two young ladies would make better guides. Sylvie was uncomfortable with how close Eydis had tried to get to her during the journey over.
"I want to settle in quickly. And I wish to begin my sword training as soon as possible."
"Wow, Sylvie, you sure are eager! Okay, let's take her on the tour, Ronie."
"Yeah. Lady Eydis, since you have business with Kirito..."
 Eydis nodded reluctantly.
"Yeah, fine, I guess I'll go. Stupid Kirito... Well, see ya later, Sylvie! I'll be around in the Cathedral for a while yet."
 Eydis waved at Sylvie, who obligingly returned the gesture. The thought that the friendly girl wasn't quite out of her hair yet frustrated her a little.
"Okay, let's take you to see Swordmaster Deusolbert first."

She was introduced to Deusolbert, who taught the sword, and Soness, who taught Sacred Arts. She was also shown the dining hall and the bath. By the time their tour was over, the sun was just setting.
"Well, I think we've covered everything. Thanks for your attention, Sylvie."
Ronie still wore her friendly smile.
"Tomorrow morning, you'll learn Sacred Arts, then in the afternoon, Deusolbert will teach you the sword. Should we have somebody escort you?"
 Sylvie shook her head.
"No need."
"Understood. Well, see you tomorrow, then."
"Hope you have a relaxing rest of your day, Sylvie."
 As she watched the two walk away, Sylvie murmured quietly to herself.
"I met several Integrity Knights today...but none of them carried a large sword like the man who killed my parents. Eydis did say some Integrity Knights weren't here. So maybe my target is away at the moment..."
 A part of her was disappointed that she hadn't found her parents' killer. But another part of her was relieved that she didn't have to fight yet.
"Regardless, training should be my top priority now. That swordmaster did sound quite powerful, after all."
 She gripped the hilt of her weapon to give herself a boost of courage. The sword—resembling the bones of a beast—was icy to the touch. But it was smooth and calmed the nerves in Sylvie's heart.
"But after all the excitement...I am quite tired. I'll rest in my room."

"Whoa! Are you the new exchange student?!"
 A girl entered Sylvie's dorm room and greeted her with a booming voice.
 Sylvie yelped, her hand darting to her sword as she glared at her visitor. She had brown skin, silvery hair, and a friendly smile.
"Oh! Sorry I spooked you. I'm Shirley. I'm an exchange student from the Dark Realm, just like you. Nice to meet you!"
 Shirley... She was the other exchange student from the Dark Realm who Ronie mentioned earlier. Knowing she was dealing with a fellow Dark Realm dweller, Sylvie removed her hand from her weapon.
"I am Sylvie, a Dark Knight. Happy to be learning with you."
"It's been ages since I've talked to someone from the Dark Realm, and oh, it's such a comfort!"
"Likewise. It's unsettling, being surrounded by Human Empire citizens."
 All the tension bottled up inside of Sylvie released. Keeping constant company with someone from the Human Empire ever since she left Obsidia Palace had put her on edge. But her new acquaintance was a girl from the Dark Realm, just like her. She was even the same age.
"I felt uncomfortable too, at first. I mean, their arts are completely different from ours. For a start, they call the dark arts 'Sacred Arts' here!"
"Yes, I did hear them say that. Silly of them. Dark arts is the correct term."
"I know, right? They just don't get it, do they?!"
 They looked into each other's eyes and shared a giggle. Sylvie wondered when the last time she laughed like that was.
"Oh, Sylvie, I'm glad you came here. I think you and I are going to be great friends!"
"Likewise, I'm glad to have you here as well. I was uncertain what kind of person my roommate would be. Happy to be your training partner, Shirley."
"Me too!"

 After supper together, the girls became fast friends.
"So, Shirley, how long have you been here?"
"Let me think... About two months. And I've already gotten pretty good at using the Human Empire's version of the dark arts!"
"Two months... So, do you know a male Integrity Knight with a really large sword?"
 If Shirley had been there that long, she might have seen him. But Shirley proved Sylvie's assumption wrong by shaking her head.
"A man with a really large sword? Hmm... Doesn't ring a bell. Eydis and Fanatio use swords, but they're both ladies."
 Sylvie's face grew grim.
Shirley asked, "Did you come here looking for that man, Sylvie?"
"You could say that..."
 Sylvie answered vaguely, not wanting to reveal that he'd killed her parents.
"Too bad you don't know who I'm talking about."
"Yeah, I'm sorry about that. But I hope you find him!"
 Shirley's smile was so sincere that Sylvie couldn't help but smile back.
"And as for me, I'm gonna get powerful enough to defeat Eydis and avenge Lady Lipia!"
"Eydis... You mean, that Integrity Knight? Oh, so she defeated Lady Lipia..."
 The revelation that Shirley was also here to seek revenge made Sylvie happy. She and Shirley already had a lot in common. If their goals aligned, they might be able to help each other achieve them.
"So you're also here for revenge, then. Thank goodness... Shirley, let's both get strong enough to kill those rotten Human Empire dwellers!"
"Kill them...?"
 Sylvie's impassioned words seemed to confuse Shirley.
"That's right. That way, that silly peace treaty will end and we can go back to normal, right?"
"Go back to normal... As in, go back to war?"
 Shirley's tone was filled with disgust. This worried Sylvie a little. Shirley said she wanted to defeat someone from the Human Empire. So why is she so hesitant to go to war against them?
"If the Human Empire bastards come at us, I guess we'll have to go to war... But we won't lose this time!"
 Sylvie tried to bolster Shirley's spirits, but she only shook her head in denial.
"But if war breaks out again...I would be very sad. The orphans would suffer more."
"Defeating Eydis is my goal, but it's not like I hold a grudge against all Human Empire dwellers."
"But why?! The Human Empire is the enemy of the Dark Realm!"
 So many Dark Realm dwellers had died in the war against the Human Empire. Sylvie's parents were also slain by an Integrity Knight from there. Thus, she always assumed that most of her kinsmen shared her sentiments.
"I do want to defeat Eydis to avenge Lady Lipia, but Eydis wasn't the one who killed her. It was Emperor Vecta that murdered Lady Lipia. And I heard the Integrity Knights and Kirito took him out."
 Emperor Vecta killed Lady Lipia? That was news to Sylvie. It didn't seem like Shirley was lying to her.
"I want to defeat Eydis in combat... Finish the duel that Lady Lipia couldn't."
 For some reason, it sounded like Shirley looked upon Eydis with love and respect. But why? They were enemies.
"I really like the people here. Asuna taught me how to cook, and Ronie and Tiese are kind to me."
 Sylvie had no words. They were kinsmen and they had the same goals, so she thought they could fight side by side.
"An Integrity Knight killed my parents."
 Shirley's eyes widened.
"That's why I can never make nice with the Integrity Knights."
"Oh...I'm so sorry. I guess you do need to avenge them."
 If Vecta were still alive, Shirley would have pledged her life to killing him. So she could not fault Sylvie's feelings.
"So this man with the giant sword is the one you're after. But the people of the Human Empire are very powerful."
"I'm well aware of that! That's why I came here! To steal their arts! And then, someday..."
 She would kill them all. She would kill the man with the big sword, that smug outsider Sheyta back in the Dark Realm, and all the rest of them.
"It's late... I'm going to bed."
 She could not express her heart's true desires in front of Shirley, who liked the Human Empire.
"All right... Goodnight. See you tomorrow, Sylvie."

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