General of the Blazing Flame (猛炎の将, Mōen no Shō?) is the twentieth episode of the Sword Art Online anime adaptation, as well as the sixth episode in the Fairy Dance Arc. It aired on November 17, 2012.
After Kirito and Leafa swiftly exit the cave and start flying, they noticed the World Tree in the distance. Kirito then asked where the meeting would take place. Leafa pointed to the location and informed him that they only have twenty minutes to get there. Both increased their speed as they tried to reach the Leaders in time.
Yui detected sixty-eight players on their way, presumably the Salamander's attack force, and another fourteen ahead of them, the Sylphs and the Cait Sith diplomats. The group saw all the other players in front of them, but Yui said that there were only fifty seconds left before they made contact. Admitting defeat, Leafa told Kirito to go to the World Tree while she tried to save Sakuya, the Sylph leader, but Kirito rejected the plan, claiming that running is not his style.
Just as the Salamanders were about to begin their attack, Kirito interrupted the confrontation by landing with a boom between the two factions, requesting that the Salamanders sheathe their swords. As Leafa approached Sakuya to inform her of the situation, Kirito demanded an audience with the Salamanders' commander. Annoyed by the fact that Kirito had interrupted their attack, the commander revealed himself, allowing the boy to speak in deference to his bravery. When the Spriggan boy bluffed by claiming to be an ambassador to the Spriggan-Undine alliance and threatening that hostilities against them would prompt all four races to wage war against the Salamanders, the Salamander general refused to believe his claims, as Kirito lacked guards and was equipped with suspiciously-shabby gear. Instead, drawing his weapon, the commander challenged the boy to withstand his onslaught for thirty seconds in a one-on-one battle to prove that he was capable enough to be an official representative of his faction. Recognized the weapon as the Demonic Sword Gram, Sakuya identified the commander as General Eugene, the strongest player in ALO.
Eugene used the sun's rays to blind Kirito and began the first assault. Kirito attempted to block the Demonic Sword Gram but failed as Eugene's weapon mysteriously phased through his blade, causing Kirito to be hit and blown to a cliff, much to Leafa's surprise. Alicia Rue, the leader of the Cait Siths, explained that Demonic Sword Gram's unique skill, «Ethereal Shift», allowed the sword to phase through swords and shields when the opponent attempted to block the attack. Kirito retaliated, but was hit by Ethereal Shift again. As they continued to fight, Kirito pointed out that thirty seconds had already passed but Eugene had already decided to change the rule to a deathmatch and continued attacking him. Eugene began to take the upper hand in the battle by using his sword's unique ability and repeatedly damaging Kirito while parrying all his attacks, so Kirito tried to get some distance between him and Eugene and used Smokescreen to buy him some time to by covering the field in smoke.
Taking advantage of the diversion, Kirito borrowed Leafa's katana and seemingly vanished. Eugene cleared the smokescreen and Kirito was nowhere to be found, prompting everyone, except Leafa, to believe that Kirito had fled. Just then, Kirito surprised everyone as he soared down from the sky to clash against Eugene, surprising the general by drawing Leafa's katana right after he blocked Eugene's attack with his great sword, causing «Ethereal Shift» to lose its effect.
Taking advantage of his experience of dual-wielding from Sword Art Online, Kirito attacked fiercely and Eugene is not able to defend against the onslaught and counter-attack due to the limitation of «Ethereal Shift», combined with Kirito's god-like speed, eventually falling to him. Everyone was amazed by the outcome of the battle, with the diplomats cheering and the Salamanders acknowledging his skill.
Per Kirito's request, Sakyua revived Eugene in the aftermath of the battle. Acknowledging that Kirito was the best fighter he had ever seen, Eugene began seriously contemplating the validity of Kirito's claims about the Spriggan-Undine alliance. Just then, Kagemune, one of the Salamander soldiers under Eugene's command, interrupted his general's contemplations to inform Eugene that Kirito was the one who had destroyed his party the other day. To everyone's surprise, Kagemune then falsely alleged that Kirito had been accompanied by an Undine back then to increase the credibility of Kirito's claims as his way of returning the favour to the boy for sparing his life during that encounter. Taking the word of his own ally into account, Eugene decided to withdraw his troops, as the Spriggan's allegations now seemed credible enough, while the dangers of antagonising four races at the same time outweighed the possible benefits of the conflict. Expressing his wish to have another battle against Kirito someday, Eugene and his army took their leave.
Upon being informed about Sigurd's treachery by Leafa, Sakuya presumed that the man's actions were motivated by the fact that the Sylphs' power had been falling behind the Salamanders, while a future 5.0 version patch was rumored to include a reincarnation system that would allow the player to change their race if the lord of that group gave their approval. She presumed that leader of the Salamanders had agreed to turn Sigurd into a Salamander if he brought Sakuya's head. Sakuya then asked Alicia to open a Moonlight Mirror to talk with Sigurd. Sigurd was surprised to see the mirror and Sakuya, who informed him that his plan to kill her had failed thanks to Leafa and Kirito's efforts, much to Sigurd's scowling. Sigurd claimed that Sakuya's rule would fall without him leading the Sylph military, but Sakuya ignored his threats as she banished the man from Sylph territory, stating that he could find something else to occupy him as a renegade in neutral areas. Sigurd cursed Sakuya before she completed the banishment procedure, forcibly teleporting Sigurd out of Sylph territory.
After Kirito admitted he lied about being an ambassador and there was never any Spriggan-Undine alliance, saying that he just made it up on the spot in the crisis situation, while Kirito himself was not allied with anyone, the two leaders flirted with him and asked him to join their respective forces. Leafa then tried to stop them by saying that he was her partner, but while she was a loss for words, Kirito rejected the offers of both leaders, and told them about his need to reach Alne fast. After hearing that the purpose of the Sylph-Cait Sith alliance was support each other in reaching the top of the World Tree, Kirito donated a bag of Mithril Yrd coins to them to help them prepare for the assault towards the World Tree. The leaders thanked Kirito and left, telling him he was welcome to visit them once he returned from the World Tree.
As they saw the groups off, Leafa approached Kirito and leaned on his arm, but backed away when Yui popped out of Kirito's pocket and accused him of cheating, as his heart was beating faster when the leaders were clinging to him, but he excused himself by saying that he could not avoid it because he was a man. With this, Leafa asked what Yui thought about her and was surprised to hear that she was just okay. Kirito messed up by telling her that she was not like a girl, in a sense that it was easier to get along with her. He then changed the topic by taking off and proceeding to Alne before the sun set.
Meanwhile in the bird cage, Asuna got up and entered the code she had memorized earlier to open the gate and left her prison, stating she would do her best for Kirito.
- Adapted from Volume 3, Chapter 4
- The prerequisite to have a Two-Handed Sword skill level of at least 950 to wield Gram was not mentioned in the novel.
- In the novel, Eugene used a fire spell to clear Kirito's smoke spell. In the anime, he clears it with the blow of his sword.
- In the anime, it is not mentioned that dual wielding had been attempted by other players, although no one had managed to efficiently use the style in battle, as it is difficult for a person to manipulate two swords with both hands and have them working in sync.
- Eugene does not notice Kirito carrying a second sword in the anime until the latter uses Leafa's katana to block his sword, to his surprise. In the novel, he spots the katana earlier yet dismisses the action as an act of desperation.
- The anime omits parts of Kagemune's conversation with Eugene, including referencing what had happened to Gtacs's party, as well as a reference to Sigurd.
- In the novel, Kagemune winks at Leafa before leaving the scene to imply that his lie to Eugene was his way of returning the favour for sparing him during their previous encounter.
- Sigurd's threat to submit a complaint to a GM over his banishment was omitted.
- Jötunheimr is not mentioned at all in the anime.
- The ring of words that can be briefly seen at the end of Kirito's spell chant says "Þú fylla heill austr", even though that is the incantation for a basic healing spell.
- "Running away isn't my style" - Kirito