The Grand Quest (グランド・クエスト, Gurando Kuesuto?) is the twenty second episode of the Sword Art Online anime adaptation, as well as the eighth episode in the Fairy Dance Arc. It aired on December 1, 2012.
After Yui informs Kirito that "mama" is above them, Kirito attempted to fly to the top of the World Tree. Leafa flew after Kirito and tried to warn him about the barrier that prevented players from getting to the top by flight. Ignoring the warning, Kirito kept ramming the barrier until Leafa grabbed Kirito's arm and urged him to stop while Yui called out for "mommy."
Meanwhile, at the top of the World Tree, Asuna was sitting in her chair until she received a warning notice and heard Yui's voice. Asuna tried to find where the voice was coming from, looking down from the edge of her cage. Asuna tried to call out to Yui that she was up in the tree, but realized it was hopeless. Instead she then tried to find something to drop.
Kirito was still attempting to break the barrier until Yui told Kirito that she tried to use the Warning Mode to contact Asuna. Kirito seethed before he noticed something falling out from the tree. Kirito grabbed the item that appeared to be a card. Leafa did not have any knowledge of the card, but Yui recognized it as a system admin access code, giving access to GM controls with a system console. Kirito and Yui believed that Asuna dropped it for them. Kirito asked Leafa where was the gate that lead to the inside of the World Tree. She responded that it was at the tree's base, but it was heavily protected and not even the best raid parties could break through. Kirito then held her hand, thanking her for everything, and decided to go alone through the rest of the way and began his descent.
Yui asked Kirito if he was sure about breaching the gate alone, but Kirito replied that they must at least try and that they would not die in the real world even if they failed. Kirito also stated that they had wasted too much time already and he would go insane if he waited longer. They eventually made it to the base, but before Kirito could enter, the two statues blocked the pathway and asked if he wanted to go in, then a window popped up and asked if Kirito wanted to attempt the Grand Quest, which he accepted. Kirito then pulled out his sword and Yui wished him luck before he walked into the dome.
In the dome, Kirito saw the pathway that led to the top of the tree, and flew to the pathway. Massive waves of Guardian Knights began to spawn and attack Kirito. While having flashes of Asuna, Kirito managed to kill several guardians and pressed his way to the top. However, he was suddenly shot by an arrow and spotted Guardian Knights wielding their bows and arrows. Ignoring the onslaught, Kirito continued to fly up, but was constantly impaled not only by arrows, but thrown swords as well. Kirito eventually succumbed as his HP reached 0, and became a Remain Light.
While waiting for the Resurrection time to hit zero, Kirito realized that his strength meant nothing aside from only skills and status. He thought he was able to go beyond the boundaries of the game, beyond the limits and was able to do anything, recalling his memories of Sword Art Online. As Kirito thought about himself, a Guardian Knight flew over him and engaged a battle stance. Kirito looked around him and saw other knights doing the same thing, while at the bottom of the tree, he saw Leafa entering the dome. Leafa dodged the attacks of the Guardian Knights, grabbed Kirito's Remain Light, and tried to fly out. As she headed toward the entrance, the Guardian Knights struck her with their arrows, and then the other Guardian Knights threw their swords at her, but she managed to escape.
Outside the gate, Leafa brought Kirito back to life by using a World Tree Dewdrop. Kirito thanked Leafa, but told her not to do things like that again, as he did not want to cause her more trouble. Kirito then walked back to the gate, but Leafa stopped him and told him to go back to his "normal self" and tried to confess her love to him. Kirito realized what she was about to say, but he apologized and stated that he must see Asuna again. Shocked, Leafa backed away, having realized Kirito was actually Kazuto. She calls Kirito "big brother", causing Kirito to recognize Leafa as Suguha. Shocked even more, Leafa immediately logged out.
In the real world, Suguha woke up crying. Kazuto knocked on her door and asked Suguha what was wrong, thinking that she was upset because of him using the NerveGear again. Suguha opened the door and explained the problem was she had attempted to forget about Kazuto by falling in love with Kirito, who turned out to be Kazuto. Kazuto tried to remind her that they were siblings before Suguha informed him that she already knew the truth about them not being real siblings for the past two years. She asked if it was the reason why he quit kendo and avoided her and she thought that his kindness after he came back from SAO was a gesture of giving her a chance. She then told him that he should have stayed as a jerk so she would not have realized that she liked him, she would not have been sad about Asuna and Kazuto's relationship or tried to fall in love with Kirito. Kazuto was stunned and could only say that he was sorry, causing Suguha to close the door and cry on her bed. Kazuto leaned against the door before he fell into sorrow.
- Adapted from Volume 4
- Leafa's name was written as "Leefa" on her menu window, even though the author has confirmed on his twitter that the official spelling is "Leafa".