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Sword Art Online - Progressive Volume 4 (ソードアート・オンライン プログレッシブ004, Sōdo Āto Onrain Puroguresshibu 004?) is the fourth volume of the Progressive manga adaptation. This volume covers the final part of the Rondo of a Fragile Blade story.
As the Dragon Knights Brigade members reached the second Floor Boss room before the members of the Aincrad Liberation Squad, Lind declared that he would be leading the raid and gave his opening speech. Meanwhile, Agil approached Kirito and invited him to join their team in fighting against Nato the Colonel Taurus. When Kirito asked what the last team's job was, they saw that members of the Legend Braves were negotiating to be allowed to fight Baran the General Taurus. However, to their surprise, their leader Orlando approached Agil and offered to help with Nato instead, telling his comrades not to be in a rush to glory.
Eventually, Lind attempted to open the doors to the boss room, but Agil interrupted him to mention the possibility of changes to the boss since the beta test and thus suggested a retreat if different patterns of the boss are discovered. Agreeing to the suggestion, Lind attempted to open the doors again, but was interrupted by Kibaou this time. Kibaou stated that the guide was written by a player who had never seen the boss in person, thus he proposed to hear Kirito's opinion, as he was the only one confirmed to have fought the boss in the beta test. In response, Kirito stated that there had been no changes to the regular tauruses, but warned the group to avoid the boss's debuffs, as they could lead to paralysis. Afterwards, Kibaou nonchalantly opened the doors himself, thus upsetting Lind.
As the boss battle began, Agil's party blocked the first attack from Nato the Colonel Taurus, creating an opening for Kirito to attack. After a few successful hits, Kirito reflexively called Asuna to switch with him, but immediately realised that she was not present. Once the party evaded the taurus's attack, the Legend Braves team began their assault, allowing Agil's party to heal with potions. While Agil teased Kirito about the lack of his partner, Kirito noted that Agil was missing his rare axe and was instead using a cheap store-bought one, causing Kirito to ponder if Agil was a victim of the weapon upgrading scam and whether he should share the truth about the fraud with him. At that point, Agil noted that the Legend Braves were handling Nato quite well, while on the other hand, Kirito noticed that the main force was not doing so well.
As more and more players of the main force were paralysed, Kirito rushed to Lind and Kibaou to warn them the situation was becoming dangerous and thus suggested retreating. However, Kibaou persuaded Lind to continue the battle until one more person was paralysed, declaring that it would be a waste to retreat this quickly. Satisfied that the leaders had a plan, Kirito returned to his party.
Some time later, Nato the Colonel Taurus was finally close to defeat and entered its berserk mode. Just when Kirito began to think that there were no changes to the bosses since the beta test, Agil suddenly called Kirito to share his unease about Baran being only a general when Illfang had the title of lord and during his monologue, the actual boss of the floor, Asterius the Taurus King, entered the room through a secret elevator in the floor in the centre of the room, thus blocking the only path of escape for the main force in combat with Baran.
As Asterius began approaching the main force, Kirito ordered teams G and H to immediately assault and dispatch Nato. Due to the two teams attacking all-out, Nato was defeated and the two teams advanced in an attempt to intercept Asterius, but the boss suddenly used a breath attack that paralysed a large number of the main force. Kirito immediately ordered team H to help get the paralysed to safety and team G to help him defeat Baran.
However, while Kirito and the Legend Braves were occupied with Baran, Asterius began preparing for another breath attack. Just when the boss was about to unleash its attack, Asuna entered the boss room and used the boss itself as a stepping stool to jump high enough in the air to hit the boss in the forehead with her rapier. As Asterius raised its head due to the attack, Asuna, flustered that it was looking under her skirt, activated the Martial Arts skill Gengetsu and kicked the taurus in the face.
While Kirito and the Legend Braves were occupied with Baran, and while Agil and the other continued to move the paralysed players to safety, Asuna kept dodging Asterius's attacks to stall for time. However, when Asuna noticed that Kirito had half of his attention on her, she attempted to attack the boss from the back, but was struck by the taurus's tail, making her vulnerable to a follow-up attack with its hand.
Distracted by this development, Kirito was about to be struck by Baran, but was saved by the Legend Braves. Seeing that Asterius was about to fire another breath attack at Asuna, Kirito rushed to her in an attempt to move her outside the boss room; however, they were still within range of the breath attack when it was fired and were thus paralysed by it.
Asuna questioned why Kirito put himself at risk to save her, but Kirito answered that he himself did not know what spured him to action. Meanwhile, Asterius prepared to fire another breath attack at them and, just when Orlando was about to intervene, a chakram struck the taurus's forehead, cancelling the attack, and Nezha entered the battle. He asked for someone to carry Kirito and Asuna to safety and for the rest of the raid to focus on Baran while he occupied Asterius's attention.
The day before the boss battle, Argo visited Asuna and Nezha during their lunch break and informed them about rumours of a hidden log-out point on the floor, reminding Asuna of how she had fallen for such a trap once. Although Asuna was not interested enough in it to request Argo to conduct an investigation, Argo decided to search for the origin of the rumour anyway.
By asking the people in Taran, she managed to trace the rumour to an Non-Player Character (NPC) in an alley who gave her a vague hint about finding a so-called world of truth by crushing the hermit's perch on the peak of Bald Mountain. Later that evening, Argo surmised that this might have been a hint to beating the boss of the floor and wondered if she should request Lind and Kibaou. However, she concluded that the two were too concerned with competing to delay a boss fight without evidence, thus she decided on a different approach.
In the early morning the next day, Argo returned to the 1st Floor and found her way to the cave that the first rumour about a hidden log-out spot indicated. After easily dispatching the monster guarding the cave, Argo ventured inside, where she found a secret passage that she had been unable to detect during her previous visit. In the passageway, she was surprised to find a mural indicating the change made to Illfang the Kobold Lord in the official service of the game.
In a panic, Argo rushed to Asuna, inadvertently attracting the attention of a Trembling Ox, and informed her about that the boulder the hermit was sitting on hid intel about changes to the boss of the floor, thus they needed to break it immediately. However, Asuna did not have her weapons with her and, at that point, the Trembling Ox began to target her. Realising that the Ox was attracted by her red cape, she used it to trick the ox into ramming the boulder. After several such attacks, the boulder was broken, revealing a passage underneath it. Inside, they found a mural depicting the three bosses and that a chakram could be used to deal with Asterius's breath attack.
Just as Baran the General Taurus was finally defeated, Argo finished telling Kirito how they had the intel on how to defeat Asterius the Taurus King. She had informed Lind about the boss's weakness and the usefulness of Nezha's chakram on it, thus Nezha was entrusted with stopping its breath attacks. However, the majority of the main force was already exhausted, thus Orlando's Legend Braves were left as the main force fighting the taurus.
Meanwhile, Kirito absentmindedly listened to Argo praising Asuna, while he was actually focusing on the expression Asuna made when he saved her. After giving a creepy smile, Kirito noticed that he had recovered and thus he invited Asuna to join the fight with him. Asuna, embarrassed by what had happened and wondering about what expression she showed Kirito, initially refused. But, at that point, Asterius's hit point gauge finally turned red, thus Agil called them to help defeat the boss and, after reminding Kirito about his claim that he would acquire the Last Attack bonus, Asuna charged into battle ahead of him.
Meanwhile, the Legend Braves defended Nezha from the boss, but as Orlando's shield began to crumble, several other front liners came to his aid, inspired by his courage. At that point, Asuna and Kirito joined the battle. After Asuna discarded her hooded cape, the duo assaulted Asterius and defeated it by using several consecutive Sword Skills, including Martial Arts kicks.
Everyone rejoiced at the defeat of the boss without casualties. But moments later, Agil and several other victims of Nezha's scam confronted him with their suspicions. Although Kirito attempted to defend him, Nezha prostrated, admitted his crime, and claimed that he had wasted all the money he acquired from the fraud. At that point, an emotional player grabbed him and shared the hardships he and his party endured because of the scam.
Just when several players were about to execute him in a fit of rage, Orlando and the other members of the Legend Braves intervened, prostrated, and admitted their responsibility for the scam. As they offered all their equipment as compensation for the fraud, an auction soon began in the boss room. Meanwhile, Lind approached Kirito and requested him to inform the other players of their success. After Lind left, Kirito discovered that Agil confronting Nezha was actually part of Asuna and Argo's plan to resolve the incident peacefully.
On the way to the next floor, Asuna and Kirito discussed whether the Legend Braves forced Nezha to commit the scam, as Kirito began to suspect that this was not the case. Asuna shared her suspicion that Nezha and the other Legend Braves aside from Orlando had started the scheme for Orlando's sake, as Orlando did not seem like the kind of person to be involved in the scheme and endorse Nezha so naturally.
Thus, Kirito decided that there was no need for pointless prying, but recalled that not everything had gone as Asuna had planned. In the boss room, a member of the raid had accused the Legend Braves of their scheme leading to someone's death. This accusation incited another public execution attempt, but it was interrupted by Lind, who used his authority as the leader of the raid to order Orlando to judge his group with his own blade.
Instead, Orlando pierced himself with the sword, but Lind stopped him when only a sliver of his hit points remained. He then declared that Orlando the criminal had just died and was reborn to start anew. This proclamation caused nearly everyone in the room to suddenly laugh. Kibaou then confronted Joe, the person who had accused the Legend Braves of indirectly killing a player, and discovered that Joe could not even provide the name of the person who had allegedly died. Thus, Argo offered to conduct an investigation and Lind decided to withhold judgement until the story could be proven.
In the present, Asuna changed the subject to the Last Attack bonus. As she had not received the one for Asterius, she determined that Kirito must have acquired it. Kirito began to mumble and suddenly noted the the door to the next floor was in sight. As they reached the door with two elves carved upon it, Kirito proclaimed that the real Sword Art Online began on the third floor.
- Asuna was part of the boss raid from the start, as a member of Agil's party, in the novel, thus there were forty-seven, rather than forty-six, members in the raid at the beginning.
- Lind assumed leadership of the raid through winning a coin flip, rather than being the first to reach the boss room, in the novel.
- Orlando was the member of the Legend Braves who demanded that their group be allowed to fight against the boss in the novel, instead of offering to aid Agil's group.
- In the novel, the Legend Braves were allowed to join Lind and Kibaou's parties in fighting against Baran, thus Orlando did not have a conversation with Kirito and Agil in the novel.
- As Kirito had followed Nezha and overheard his conversation with his friends in the novel, he already knew that the other members of the Legend Braves were involved in the weapon upgrading scam by the time of the boss battle.
- Orlando used an Anneal Blade, rather than a Stout Brand, for the boss battle in the novel.
- Lind was the one who opened the doors to the boss room in the novel.
- The majority of the chapter was not part of the novel.
- In the novel, Nato had three hit point bars, instead of two.
- Agil was not a victim of the scam in the novel.
- Agil was the one to first show concern about the main force in the novel.
- In the novel, Kirito was not so concerned about the number of players in the main force who were paralysed until Asuna noted that it would be difficult to retreat if the number continued to grow.
- In the novel, Lind met Kirito with an expression of disgust,which he soon hid, instead of an expression of panic.
- Lind did not mention that Kibaou would be the next leader if the raid had to regroup in the novel.
- Nato's charge attack, when its hit points reached the last bar, was omitted.
- Asuna was the one who felt uneasy because Baran was regarded as just a general in the novel.
- Asterius had six horns, instead of two large ones, a beard long enough to reach its stomach, and was armed with a hammer in the novel.
- Nato's defeat was simplified in the manga. Kirito's first attack to the taurus's horns to stun him, second attack towards the taurus's hammer to prevent its attack and the final Gengetsu kick that defeated the monster were all omitted.
- Baran was defeated before Asterius's first breath attack.
- Asuna's entrance and the following attack on Asterius were not part of the novel.
- Asuna did not have the Martial Arts skill in the novel.
- The majority of the chapter, until Asuna and Kirito were struck by Asterius's breath attack, was not part of the novel.
- Kirito did not try to take Asuna to the boss room door when escaping from the breath attack in the novel.
- Asuna was not nearly dead during the breath attack in the novel. She had only lost twenty percent of her hit points due to the breath attack.
- Asuna and Kirito were paralysed by Asterius's first breath attack, rather than the second, in the novel.
- In the novel, Asterius targeted Lind and Kibaou after its breath attack, instead of Asuna and Kirito.
- In the novel, Nezha came to the boss room wearing a bronze breastplate and gauntlets, as well as an open-faced helmet.
- In the novel, Orlando nearly called Nezha by his name, but stopped midway to avoid revealing that he was part of their group.
- Nezha did not ask anyone to carry Asuna and Kirito to safety, as Agil did it without being asked.
- The entirety of the chapter is a manga-original story.
- In the novel, Argo had to complete a series of quests to earn information on Asterius and the series of quests began in the jungle outside the second floor Labyrinth, rather than the mountain where the Martial Arts master lived.
- The Martial Arts quest was not associated with the quest for obtaining information on the boss in the movel.
- Nezha and Argo met just outside the Labyrinth, rather than in the mountain for the Martial Arts quest, in the novel.
- Kirito was the one who dealt the Last Attack on Baran the General Taurus in the novel.
- In the novel, Kirito had to retrieve his and Asuna's weapons when they were free from the paralysis.
- Lind showed an expression of disgust when he saw Argo in the novel.
- Argo addressed Kibaou, rather than Lind, when she shared her intel on the boss with the raid party.
- Asuna and Kirito participated in the battle against Asterius for the majority of its duration in the novel, instead of only beginning their assault at the last moment, in the novel.
- In the novel, Asuna did not remove her hooded cape, but the force of her jump ripped the hood off her head.
- In the novel, Asuna and Kirito aimed for the Last Attack bonus to ensure that the Legend Braves did not acquire it and become more powerful.
- Asuna and Kirito each used only a single Sword Skill each to defeat Asterius.
- In the novel, Argo left after delivering her intel to the raid party and avoided contact with the raid members afterwards.
- Shivata's role was omitted in the manga. Instead, Agil was the one who confronted Nezha with two other players in the manga.
- In the novel, Kirito only considered explaining that he was the one to give Nezha his chakram, but did not take any action.
- In the novel, Lind and then Joe intervened in Nezha's case before the Legend Braves did.
- The Legend Braves only admitted their involvement in the fraud when Nezha was in danger of being killed.
- In the novel, Lind assigned errand duty to Asuna and Kirito because they had no interest in the auction. Agil was not told to stay, as he was not one of the victims in the novel.
- The resolution of the fraud case was not orchestrated by Asuna and Argo in the novel. Additionally, Agil had no part in the resolution in the novel.
- Kirito planning to give Nezha's Vendor's Carpet, as well as the Mighty Strap of Leather was omitted in the manga. The scene was replace with a manga-original scene of Asuna and Kirito discussing about the Legend Braves and Orlando.
- In the novel, an ambiguous phrase led to people considering an execution, instead of an outright demand for one.
- In the novel, the fraud incident was resolved peacefully once the Legend Braves admitted their part in the incident and offered their equipment as compensation. The scene where Orlando pierced himself to atone for their crime and Lind stopping him at the last moment was not part of the novel.
- The fact that Orlando and the Legend Braves had also invested their own hard earned money in their equipment was omitted in the manga.
- The scene where Asuna explained to Kirito that Lind and Kibaou were concealing their animosity towards him because the two of them were struggling for power and could not openly exclude him was omitted.