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Merida (メリダ, Merida?) was one of the founding members of the Sleeping Knights, a group of terminally ill patients who played VRMMO games, and one of the three members of the guild that passed away before the guild came to ALfheim Online. Merida was a beta tester for Sword Art Online, but was unable to play it on its official release. She later registered for Serene Garden after a tumour was discovered in her brain, though she also played virtual reality games like Asuka Empire, where she played as a ninja.
Real Life Appearance
Serene Garden Avatar
In Serene Garden, Merida's appearance was very similar to her real self due to her avatar being based on a real photo of her. However, Merida customised her hair to be green and done up in a ponytail. She wore a tawny, camo-patterened T-shirt and cargo pants with many pockets.
Asuka Empire Avatar
After a tumour was found in Merida's brain, she began feeling a lack of purpose in life. This was worsened by her guilt that her tumour saved her from being trapped in Sword Art Online with her guildmates to the extent that Merida desired to be trapped in Sword Art Online to be able to support her friends, and was even about to use Aiko's modified NerveGear to do so.
Merida was one of the thousand players who were invited to play Sword Art Online during its beta test. Merida was in a medium-size guild during the beta test and vowed to meet her guildmates in the official release of the game. However, shortly after the beta, a tumour was found in Merida's brain, and thus her parents forbade her from using the NerveGear. Because of that, Merida was saved from being trapped in the official service of Sword Art Online along with her former guild.
On May 11, 2024, Merida discovered a very rare Royal Triton Stag Beetle in Serene Garden. Although she spent an hour trying to catch it to no avail, she was shocked to discover that another girl had caught it. She immediately expressed her frustration at someone else catching the bug that she had been hoping to catch ever since she registered for Serene Garden. However, to her surprise, the girl named Yuuki who caught the bug offered it to her without asking for anything in return. Merida was dejected at how she could not offer anything to trade for the beetle, but immediately beamed when Yuuki's sister Ran offered to let Yuuki name the beetle instead of trading something. After storing the beetle in her inventory, Merida thanked Yuuki for letting her have the beetle, and introduced herself to the twins, but then suddenly fainted.
Once Merida recovered, she apologised for worrying the twins, and insisted that she was fine. She then asked how Yuuki caught the beetle without scaring it with her footsteps and was told that Yuuki had jumped accross narrow posts to get to the beetle. Thinking that Yuuki had a high compatibility with virtual worlds, Merida asked her to stand on one leg and was surprised that Yuuki and her sister could do so for longer periods than anyone else she knew. After conversing a bit more, Merida offered to continue their conversation over tea in the village.
In the village, Merida took the sisters to a hard to find store in the village and insisted on treating them to some crepes. During their meal, Meridal told the girls about having been a Sword Art Online beta tester and how a discovered brain tumour prevented her from playing the game on its official release. Merida then shared how she felt that she would have rather been trapped in the game, but Yuuki asked her not to think like that, as she would not be able to meet her parents then.
Changing the topic, Merida asked if the sisters were playing any other virtual reality games and was disappointed that Serene Garden was the only virtual world that they had been to. Since the sisters were worried about the price of virtual reality games, Merida recommended a free-to-play game called Asuka Empire to them, and offered to guide them in the game. Since the twins accepted her invitation, they agreed to meet in the game the next day.
The next day, Merida met the sisters in Asuka Empire with a flashy entrance. After demonstrating one of her skills as a ninja, Merida explained about the life and soul point bars in their field of vision, and about the classes in the game, and then guided the sisters to the capital city for the initiation quest. With Yuuki and Ran having completed their initiation quests within two hours thanks to Merida's help, Merida invited the two to a restaurant to celebrate.
During the next few days, Merida spents several hours a day helping the sisters in Asuka Empire. On May 16, 2024, Merida helped Yuuki and Aiko complete their class advancement quests and invited them to a restaurant to celebrate their class change. After they had finished their meal, Merida complemented how well the two sisters worked together and told them more about Sword Art Online. During the conversation, Yuuki unintentionally revealed that she was not using an AmuSphere, but since she could not tell Merida that she was a Medicuboid tester, Aiko claimed that they were both using modified NerveGears.
The three girls continued playing Asuka Empire, occasionally returning to Serene Garden to check on Merida's beetle and to eat crepes. Two days before the twins' birthday, Merida expressed her desire to visit the twins in real life on their birthday to celebrate.
On May 23, 2024, Merida arrived at the Yokohama General Hospital, but while Aiko was using the restroom, Merida put on Aiko's NerveGear, leaving a handwritten letter to Aiko that she was planning on using the NerveGear to log into Sword Art Online. However, Merida first logged into Serene Garden to release her beetle Roy, in hopes that Yuuki would catch it again some day. Predicting this, Aiko took Yuuki to Serene Garden, and they found Merida at the place where they first met her.
The sisters attempted to persuade Merida not to proceed with her plan, but since Merida persisted that she needed a purpose to live for, Yuuki declared that she would find one for her and challenged her to a duel in Asuka Empire. Some time later, all three met in Asuka Empire and Yuuki had her duel against Merida. Although Yuuki felt reluctant to strike Merida at first, she eventually won the duel.
In the aftermath of the duel, Merida stated that Yuuki's feelings had reached her through their swords. Suddenly, Ran shared her desire to form a guild with the three of them, making new friends over time. Merida resigned and accepted Ran's invitation and was invited to visit Yuuki in the hospital. During the meeting, Merida destroyed her copy of Sword Art Online, promising that she would never say that she wanted to go to that world again.