After witnessing Yolko dispersing into polygons, Kirito spotted the hooded murderer fleeing from the crime scene and attempted to capture him. During the pursuit, the hooded murderer took out a teleportation crystal. When Kirito noticed this, he used his blade throwing skills to attempt to distract the hooded man, but the attack was blocked by the Anti-Criminal Code Effect Area effect while the murderer was not surprised by the attack. The hooded murderer then began to use his teleportation crystal, and, while Kirito was chasing him, the bell suddenly rang, preventing him from hearing where the murderer was teleporting off to.
Frustrated in his failed attempt to capture the perpetrator, Kirito returned to the room and slammed his fist against the wall, which prompted the «Immortal Object» pop-up to appear. Meanwhile, Asuna was guarding the terrified Schmitt, who fully believed that the murderer was the vengeful ghost of their deceased guild leader, Griselda, because the assassin's robe was similar to Griselda's outfit. But Kirito still believed that it was not a ghost, as ghosts could not use teleportation crystals, and believed that there must have been a logical explanation to the two murders within the safe areas.
After sending Schmitt back to the «Divine Dragon Alliance»'s headquarters, Kirito and Asuna contemplated about the recent events. Asuna began to believe that the black robed player really was Griselda's ghost by having seen it twice. But Kirito still insisted that it was not a ghost, because a ghost would not be able to use or need a teleportation crystal. It seemed Kirito had an explanation regarding the teleport crystal, but he quickly disregarded it after. After a moment, Asuna gave Kirito a sandwich. Kirito praised the sandwich, thinking that the sandwich was bought, but he was then told that it was handmade by Asuna. Kirito jokingly suggested to auction Asuna's handmade food, in order to get rich. This angered Asuna, causing Kirito to lose grip of his sandwich. As he witnessed the sandwich shattering into fragments, he fell to the ground, at first seemingly upset with the disappearance of the sandwich, but in reality, he realized the truth about the crime, exclaiming that what they had seen was something else and that there had never been any weapons or logic that could make murders possible in safe areas.
Meanwhile, in the 19th Floor's fields, the «Hill of the Cross», Schmitt visited Griselda's grave, asking for forgiveness. Then a ghost-like voice was heard, repeatedly asking "Oh really?" and thus frightening Schmitt. Then he realized that something was getting close to him quickly and Schmitt turned around, only to find a rabbit. Schmitt, now relieved, turned around to find a hooded ghost. The ghost asked Schmitt what he had done and took out a sword. Frightened, Schmitt confessed that on that day, he had found a crystal and a memo in his belt pouch, but he was then interrupted by a man's voice asking him whose orders was it, and a second hooded ghost appeared. Schmitt believed that the second ghost was Grimlock's and replied, saying that he did not know who had given the order and claimed to never have murdered anyone. The two "ghosts" then took off their hoods and were revealed to be Yolko and Caynz, who were very much alive, shocking Schmitt.
Meanwhile, Kirito explained to Asuna that Yolko and Caynz were in fact still alive, stating that within safe areas, a player's hit points (HP) could not be lowered under normal circumstances, but the durability of objects, on the other hand, could still be decreased, like the sandwich which lost its durability and shattered into fragments. The spear that pierced Caynz's armor did not lower Caynz's HP, but the armor's durability instead, which explained the dispersing shards, and that by timing for the moment the armor broke, Caynz teleported away, resulting in an effect similar to the death special effect. As for Yolko, Kirito guessed that she had the dagger piercing the back of her clothing, as she had never shown them her back while talking with them. When her clothing was about to shatter, she acted as if a dagger from the outside had hit her and fell off the window, teleporting out at about the moment that it would shatter. Kirito also presumed that the hooded murderer was Caynz, who imitated the appearance of a hooded murder to make it look as if Yolko was killed by him.
At the Hill of the Cross, Schmitt realized Yolko and Caynz's plan and stated that he was only following an order that someone had paid a lot of money for him to do. Schmitt was then suddenly attacked by a dagger and became paralyzed by it. The attackers then approached, with Schmitt recognizing them as members from the infamous player killing guild, Laughing Coffin, and they revealed that they had come with intention to kill Schmitt, Yolko, and Caynz. Just as the situation looked grim, Kirito arrived in the nick of time on a horse to save them and scared off the player killers by claiming that he had reinforcements arriving soon. Heeding Kirito's warning, PoH, Red-Eyed XaXa and Johnny Black departed from the scene. Schmitt thanked Kirito for saving them, but asked how he knew that they would be ambushed. Kirito responded that he did not know for sure, but thought it was a possibility.
Kirito began questioning about the two weapons made by Grimlock. Yolko and Caynz admitted that Grimlock was not willing to help them at first, but eventually gave in to their request. Kirito told them that Grimlock did not oppose to their plan for Griselda's sake, surprising Yolko and Caynz.
Kirito then recalled the conversation with Asuna. Asuna asked Kirito what he would do if he got a legendary drop. Kirito responded that he hated that kind of situation; that is why he went solo. Asuna responded that in her guild, they have a rule that the item belongs to the person who received it. She continued, saying that in SAO, it was up to the player to announce what he or she received after a battle. In order to prevent having secrets and lies between the party members, she believed that it was best to set such a rule. She also believed that this rule would make marriages mean something in SAO, explaining that once two players were married, the item storage is shared with the significant other. After getting married, the player cannot hide anything anymore. Asuna thought that it was romantic and realistic, while Kirito, out of curiosity, asked if Asuna was ever married. Asuna misunderstood the question and prepared to attack with a fork. Kirito quickly cleared up the misunderstanding and realized something about the storage sharing. Kirito asked what would happen to the items if one of the couple died. Asuna then tells him that they would likely be sent to the spouse's inventory instead of being lost. Both then quickly realized that when Griselda died, due to her in-game marriage status with Grimlock, the ring had ended up in his inventory, and that he had stolen it from his own storage.
Now in the present time, Caynz questioned if it was Grimlock that sent the memo and killed Griselda. Kirito explained that Grimlock hired the Laughing Coffin to commit the murder. Kirito also explained that Grimlock helped with Yolko and Caynz's plan so that he could use their plan to bury the ring case forever, by getting all three of them to get together and exterminate them for good, thus explaining the appearance of the Laughing Coffin.
Asuna arrived with the captured Grimlock, the client of the Laughing Coffin who was watching from a distance. After being cornered, he admitted that he was the mastermind behind the death of his wife, whose real name was Yuuko. His actual motive was that he did not want her personality to change from what it was originally in the real world. Believing that his Yuuko had vanished and wanting to keep Yuuko as she appeared in his memories forever, he decided to kill her, convinced that he killed his wife out of love. Asuna corrected him, saying that it was not love, but a feeling of possession. Startled by Asuna's words, Grimlock fell to the ground, shaken. Schmitt and Caynz then went to Grimlock, thanking Kirito for helping them, and asked if they could take him, to which Kirito agreed.
As the case drew to a close, Asuna asked Kirito what he would do if he was to get married and noticed a side of his partner that he had not known before. Surprising Asuna, he replied that he would feel lucky to be married to someone because that would mean that they would love every side of their partner that they already knew and would have another part of them to love. Before leaving, Kirito grabbed Asuna's arm to show her Yuuko's ghost and felt that Yuuko could then rest in peace. Asuna suddenly asked if they can add each other as friends and, even though Kirito still insisted that he was a solo player, Asuna urged him to think about it while they get some food as they head back to town.
- Throwing Pick x 3
- Sandwich - given by Asuna
- Record Crystal
- Guilty Spike
- Aincrad Floor 57
- Marten inn
- Marten park
- Marten restaurant
- Aincrad Floor 19: Hill of the Cross
- Adapted from Volume 8, A Murder Case in the Area, Parts 7-12.
- Though the light novel depicts Kirito in his Blackwyrm Coat, Kirito wears a different, unnamed coat in the anime.
- In the novel, Schmitt was asked to write down the names of all Golden Apple members and he gives the parchment with the names to Kirito. While waiting for Grimlock on the 20th Floor, Kirito read the parchment and noticed that Caynz's name was romanized as Caynz, instead of Kains, which clued him in that the murder was a hoax. In the anime however, Kirito deduced the truth through his sharp intuition after seeing his sandwich burst due to hitting the ground with low durability.
- In the novel, Asuna and Kirito traveled to the 20th Floor in an attempt to ambush Grimlock at an Non-Player Character (NPC) restaurant that he apparently likes, but in the anime, they just sat on a bench to have dinner.
- Schmitt's past is not revealed in the anime. In the novel, it states that he was a sportsman.
- In the anime, after the ghost talks to Schmitt, the latter looked around and found a rabbit, before turning around to see the "ghost". In the novel, Schmitt saw the "ghost" after the "ghost" talked to him.
- Kirito did not mention that Caynz had a second teleportation crystal to pretend as if he was dying in the anime. In the novel, he mentioned that he must have stabbed himself outside the safe area, and teleported back into the city to look as if someone had killed him.
- The Laughing Coffin members did not seem to recognize Schmitt as the leader/sub-leader of the DDA in the anime. Instead, they called him a "bigshot" due to his membership in the DDA.
- In the novel, Kirito took several precautions in case he would be attacked by the Laughing Coffin members by drinking an anti-poison potion and having multiple healing crystals on him. In the anime, this is omitted.
- The dialogue between the Laughing Coffin members and Kirito is much shorter in the anime than the one in the light novel. When Kirito came to rescue Yolko, Caynz and Schmitt, the leader, PoH, did not recognize Kirito in the anime, but in the novel, PoH remembered Kirito and that they had met somewhere before.
- In the anime, when Kirito chased the Laughing Coffin away, he stated that he has reinforcements arriving soon. In the novel, after they left he sent a message to Klein stating that they got away.
- XaXa's threat to Kirito that he would chase him by riding a horse was omitted.
- Schmitt's paralysis status seemed to wear off after the Laughing Coffin members left in the anime. In the novel, Kirito gave Schmitt an anti-poison potion instead.
- In the novel, Grimlock denied his guilt of having Griselda murdered at first, saying that Griselda must have tried the ring on which is why he did not receive the ring himself after she was killed and only admitted his guilt after Yolko unearthed an «Eternal Storage Trinket» with Griselda's seal of the guild leader and her marriage rings, proving that Griselda could not have tried the ring on.
- In the novel, Asuna was the one to detect Griselda's manifestation and alert Kirito to her presence. Additionally, Griselda's apparition appeared in the middle of the night rather than at sunrise.
- Asuna's and Kirito's promise to Griselda to carry on her will and free all the players by beating the game was omitted.
- If you married someone, that means you love every side of your significant other that you already know. So if you find a new side after to love, doesn’t that mean you’ll love your partner even more? - Kirito