|Spoiler Alert: This article or section contains details about plotlines not covered in the anime. Do not proceed unless you wish to be spoiled. |
Open-Air Bath (露天風呂, Rotenburo?) is a magazine bonus short story written by Kawahara Reki. It was initially released on February 9, 2013 as part of a pencil board (下敷き, Shitajiki?) appendix to Dengeki Bunko MAGAZINE Vol.30. On September 28, 2020, the story was re-released via the Kawahara Reki Channel on NicoNico as the first entry of the channel's subscribers-only vintage (お蔵出し, O-kuradashi?) side story lineup.
The story is set in Sword Art Online near the end of the Aincrad Arc and features an episode of Asuna inviting Lisbeth to an open-air bath and bringing Kirito along to act as a bodyguard from the sidelines.
In Sword Art Online, Asuna had two hobbies that had no direct benefit to clearing the death game: the first was «cooking» and the second was «baths». Although Asuna had a bathroom with a small bath in her home in Selmburg, she also had an exhaustive list of sleeping quarters that included large bath-houses on every floor for times when she felt the desire for a bigger bath. However, the latest bath that she found out about from Argo was not only outside the Inner Area, but it was also an open-air bath, meaning that both monsters and Orange Players could attack them at any time. Although weapons could be placed right beside the bathtub, equipping armour for protection would require manipulating various windows.
On October 1, 2024, Asuna grumbled to her friend, the blacksmith Lisbeth, that she felt that she could not enter the bath and relax while having to be on guard against hostile attacks, as Lisbeth was polishing Asuna's rapier, before Lisbeth came up with a solution with a smug smile on her face.
Later, Asuna and Lisbeth were enjoying the open-air bath and Asuna claimed that it was the second best bath she had ever entered in Aincrad, with the best being the first bath she had tried on the 1st Floor. The bath was supposed to be a key part of a quest, which involved an assault from a mysterious ninja squad at the location of the bath if the player proceeded with the quest. There was also the possibility that monsters unrelated to the quest or hostile players would attack them, yet, in spite of this, the girls were completely relaxed as, Kirito was guarding them from beyond the wooden door to the bath while waiting for his turn to take a bath.
- In this story, it was claimed that it was the first time Asuna bathed with someone else. However, this was changed in the Progressive series, where she had bathed with Kizmel, Kirito, and Argo on separate occasions, all taking place almost two years before her bath with Lisbeth.