Kirigaya Suguha, the cousin of Kazuto (Kirito) who grew up with him as if she was his younger sister, and her mother, Kirigaya Midori, visited Kazuto at the hospital on his sixteenth birthday. Suguha's parents had revealed to her that Kazuto was actually her cousin, and that he had already discovered this at an early age. A month later, Kirito reawakened on November 7th, 2024.
Two months after Kazuto returned to the real world, Kazuto watched Suguha performing her daily exercises with her shinai and decided to challenge her for a match at their family dojo. Despite displaying the amazing skills that he had acquired from his imprisonment, the body of the former Black Swordsman was still inferior to the well-trained body of his cousin, and thus resulted in his loss.
After showing interest in practising kendo again alongside with Suguha, Kazuto remembered he had to visit Asuna, who had yet to awake after the events of SAO. When Kazuto had awoken from SAO, he found Asuna with the help of a man claiming to be affiliated with the Ministry of Internal Affairs - SAO Countermeasures Division. The man told Kazuto that Yuuki Asuna had been admitted to another medical institution in Tokorozawa, and had yet to awake, along with three hundred other players. None of the players had awoken in the two months since then. Upon visiting Asuna, Kazuto met Yuuki Shouzou, Asuna's father who was also CEO of the electronics company RECT, and Sugou Nobuyuki, Asuna's fiance.
Nobuyuki suddenly raised the topic of their marriage for discussion and stated that he wanted to make the marriage official. Moments later, Shouzou took his leave, and thus Nobuyuki dropped his polite facade and gloated on how his impending marriage to Asuna, which she was conveniently unable to refuse in her comatose state, would grant him control over RECT. When Kazuto protested in shock and disgust, Nobuyuki explained that RECT Progress had taken custody of the three hundred comatose SAO players after the SAO incident drove Argus into bankruptcy, and thus, as leader of RECT's FullDive Division, he was responsible for Asuna's well-being. Because of this, he believed that he was entitled to some compensation. Before leaving, Nobuyuki warned Kazuto to never see Asuna or contact her family again, and invited him to the wedding next week to inflict further misery on him.
That night, Suguha found Kazuto in his room with the heating off, wrapped in despair due to Nobuyuki's revelations. After learning what was making him depressed, she comforted him and encouraged him to never give up. When Kazuto fell asleep, she tucked him into bed and lay next to him, crying because of her conflicted feelings for him. The next day, after Suguha embarrassedly realized she had slept in his bed and left in a hurry to morning practice, Kazuto received an email from Agil (Andrew Gilbert Mills) with an in-game screen shot of Asuna in a golden cage. After viewing the photo, Kazuto went to the «Dicey Café», owned by Andrew, to enquire about the mysterious photo. Andrew informed him that the photo came from ALfheim Online, and after telling him more about the game, let him take a copy of the game to investigate. After adjusting the game to his requirements, Kazuto created his new online persona, the «Spriggan» «Kirito». As the game was about to bring Kirito to the Spriggan capital, it suddenly froze and dropped him to an unknown void.
In ALfheim Online, two Sylph fairies, Leafa and Recon, were resting after flying. They were friends in real life who started playing ALfheim Online together. Earlier, Leafa had formed a party with four players to go into a dungeon; however, while returning to their homeland in Sylph territory, they were ambushed by a group of Salamanders.
Meanwhile, at the end of his free fall, Kirito found himself in a forest. After checking his surroundings he made sure the game had a logout feature. Upon checking his character stats, he noticed that all the skill levels he had were the same as his SAO character. Remembering he had packaged Yui, he frantically looked in his inventory, and found MHCP001, the package he stored Yui in. Upon using the item, Yui appeared as a small «Navigation Pixie». They had a conversation, during which they discovered that ALO was a copy of SAO, which explained why his skills were so high-leveled. Yui also informed him that there was a battle ongoing in the area, and Kirito decided to investigate it.
During that time, Leafa was attacked with a magic spell cast by the Salamanders and had to escape to the forest. Despite her attempt to hide, she was soon discovered. Refusing to surrender, she called out to the Salamanders to come at her if they were not afraid of the Death Penalty. At that moment, Kirito crash-landed nearby. At first she thought was a rookie, but to her surprise, he saved her by defeating the Salamanders. Afterwards, Leafa taught Kirito how to fly without a controller and took him the capital of the Sylphs, Swilvane, to thank him, but as she forgot to teach him to land, he crashed into the "Tower of the Wind" as they reached the city. Later at a pub, Kirito explained to her that he needed to get to the top of the World Tree to see someone. Seeing how forlorn and desperate he seemed at this, Leafa offered to guide him there the next day. After agreeing to a time for their meeting the next day, she logged out.
Having logged out, Suguha, the person controlling the avatar Leafa, sat in her room, thinking about Kirito. During the time Kazuto was imprisoned in the death game, despite initially hating what virtual reality games had done to him, she grew curious about why he was so fascinated with the virtual world, and thus she asked her mother for an AmuSphere. She also asked her classmate, Nagata Shinichi, to teach her how to play virtual reality games, which brought them to the world of «ALfheim Online».
About sixty days had passed since Asuna awakened in a cage in ALfheim Online. She had felt no fear in the golden cage; all she hoped was that Kirito would come to save her. Sugou Nobuyuki, using his avatar, Oberon the Fairy King, taunted her on her actions and aloof attitude towards him, and began inappropriately touching her face before stopping short of removing her clothes. He then revealed that ALfheim Online was only a cover, allowing his team to secretly experiment on the three hundred SAO players they rerouted into ALO after Kayaba Akihiko had logged the players out. With the SAO players as test subjects, Nobuyuki's team had made great advances in the alteration of the human mind's thoughts, memories, emotions, and senses. When Asuna threatened to tell the police about the experiment as soon as she was released, Oberon warned her that her own memories and emotions could be altered as well. He went to log out to meet with his team in the real world, expressing his hope that she would be more submissive to him the next time they met.
In the afternoon, Leafa and Kirito reunited at the pub. As Kirito only had starting equipment, they went to the market to acquire a better set for him. Afterwards, they went to the Tower of Wind for a better starting point for their trip. There, they encountered Sigurd, the leader of the party that Leafa had been a part of. He was enraged because he had learned that Leafa had decided to leave his party. After Leafa confirmed this, Sigurd declared that she would regret it and left. Some time later, as Leafa and Kirito were about to depart, they were approached by Recon, who claimed that he had some suspicions and would be staying in Sigurd's party to gather more evidence. After the conversation was finished, Leafa and Kirito began their journey.
Meanwhile, Oberon told Asuna about his meeting with Kazuto in the hospital. Although Oberon intended to break Asuna by sharing this with her, he inadvertently dispelled her worries and gave her determination instead. When Oberon was about to leave her prison, Asuna pretended to be weeping, when she was actually observing him enter the code to open her cell through a mirror.
During a battle on the way to the World Tree, Leafa was awestruck by Kirito's swordsmanship as he defeated a group of monsters without much difficulty. Some time later, as they journeyed through a tunnel, called the «Legrue Corridor», to the town of Legrue, they were forced to engage in battle against a party of twelve Salamander players at a bridge just outside the town. With Leafa acting as support, Kirito revealed his battle prowess against the opposing party. Using an illusion spell, Kirito took the form of a demonic figure similar to The Gleam Eyes from SAO. In this form, Kirito wreaked havoc onto the Salamanders, inflicting fear and slaughtering the group members one by one. At Leafa's request, Kirito left the last member alive for questioning.
After bribing the last Salamander mage with many items that Kirito acquired from his rampage, and after being contacted by Recon, Leafa learned about Sigurd's betrayal, as well as how a large Salamander army was planning to assault the alliance meeting between the Sylph and the Cait Sith races. Kirito and Leafa rushed through the tunnel, ignoring the horde of monsters they met on their way as they catapulted out of the tunnel.
Once they had located the sixty-eight Salamander players and the fourteen Sylph and Cait Sith players, Kirito intervened by claiming that he was the representative of the Spriggan-Undine alliance. Kirito was challenged by «General Eugene», the leading commander of the Salamander players, in order to support his claim. During their one-on-one duel, Kirito was pressured by the unblockable «Demonic Sword Gram» and had to resort to dual wielding his black greatsword and Leafa's katana. The climactic duel ended with Kirito's victory.
Upon Eugene's revival, on Kirito's request, by the Sylph leader, Sakuya, he decided to believe Kirito's earlier claim when a Salamander named Kagemune, the leader of the Salamander party that assaulted Leafa and Recon a few days prior, claimed that he had witnessed the Spriggan with an Undine companion. Heeding Kirito's threat of a war against the four races, Eugene commanded his army to retreat and left the scene after telling Kirito that he wished to fight him again.
Sakuya then learned of Sigurd's actions from Leafa. With the help of the Moonlight Mirror spell cast by the Cait Sith leader «Alicia Rue», Sakuya spoke to Sigurd and, acting as the Sylph leader, removed Sigurd from the Sylph territory by banishing him, marking him as a renegade of the Sylphs. Later on, Kirito confessed that he was lying when he claimed to be an ambassador for the Spriggan-Undine alliance. While talking to the two leaders, Kirito voluntarily gave them a large, heavy bag of «Yrd» to help fund their planned World Tree raid. When everyone left, Kirito and Leafa continued their journey towards the town of «Alne».
Meanwhile, Asuna began her escape when she believed that Sugou Nobuyuki would be asleep. Yearning to reunite with Kirito, she whispered to herself that she would do her best, as she finally left her golden prison.
- While in the light novel Kirito was able to learn on his own that Suguha was not his real sister, he was not aware of this within the web version of the story.
- In the web version of the story, it was 2000 people who were trapped within ALO, as opposed to 300. Though, this is likely because the Light Novel also only had 10,000 players, while the Web version has 50,000.
- In the light novel, Sugou states that the wedding between him and Asuna was to take place in one week. However, in the web novel, the wedding was originally going to be in one month.