- The name of this volume is "alternatively" translated as Mother's Rosary (Yen Press).
When a mysterious swordsman, nicknamed Zekken (Absolute Sword) appears offering an unheard of eleven-hit combo Original Sword Skill (OSS) to whoever can beat them, Asuna takes up the challenge, only to find that Zekken is a girl and needs her help in more ways than both of them know.
Lisbeth asked Asuna if she ever heard of Zekken. Asuna asked if Zekken was a new kind of equipment. Lisbeth explained that Zekken was a swordsman, who was nicknamed as such due to their outstanding skills. Asuna, who was an Undine healer and had also received the nickname «Berserk Healer», became curious about how someone would receive the name Zekken.
On New Aincrad's 22nd Floor, winter season had arrived. With the arrival of the new patch that introduced Aincrad to ALfheim Online (ALO), Asuna had set her goal to return to the house she and Kirito once owned in Sword Art Online (SAO). Upon reclaiming their home on December 24, 2025, Asuna took charge of interior decoration and their home became a hotspot for visiting friends nearly everyday.
On January 6, 2026, Asuna, Leafa, Lisbeth, and Silica gathered at the house to do their homework for school, making use of FullDive's practical functions. Though they were fighting to stay awake, since Kirito sleeping with Pina and Yui on a rocking chair in the corner seemed to have a hypnotic effect on those around him. At one point, Lisbeth brought up the topic of Zekken. Asuna was unaware of Zekken, since she had been away to her family household in Kyoto without Internet. Asuna was temporarily lost in thought about her time in Kyoto, thus Lisbeth kicked her under the table to get her attention to continue the conversation.
Zekken had appeared several weeks before and posted a duel notice on MMO Tomorrow that was taken up by thirty players, and all thirty were defeated. The reason for people taking up the challenge was the offered prize, an eleven-hit OSS. After hearing about the unbelievable prize, Asuna enquired more about the mysterious player. The other girls informed her that Lisbeth, Leafa, and even Kirito lost, though before being defeated, Kirito had said something to Zekken before losing and did not reveal to the others what he had said. Also, after the duel, he told Lisbeth that Zekken could not have been a former SAO player, as Zekken would have most definitely received the Dual Blades skill instead of him.
Upon waking up from FullDive, Asuna went down for dinner with her mother, Yuuki Kyouko, who informed her that she would be having an in-home tutor and that she would be transferring schools next semester. Asuna begged her mother to reconsider, but her mother was firm in her decision, claiming that the school was equivalent to an asylum. As their conversation continued, Kyouko mentioned that she wanted Asuna to have a career that she could be proud of. At that point, Asuna asked about the person she was introduced earlier that month and Kyouko explained that marriage was a part of her career. Asuna was against marrying the man that she was introduced to and stated that she would choose her own partner. Kyouko claimed that she did not mind, as long as Asuna chose a suitable partner, but immediately stated that she did not deem the person Asuna was currently interested in, or any other person from her current school, to be suitable for her. No longer having the strength to continue arguing, Asuna got up from the table, saying she would consider transferring. Before leaving, she asked if her mother despised the fact her parents were farmers. Her mother became outraged, but Asuna ignored her and closed the door.
Back in New Aincrad on the 24th Floor in Panareze the next day on January 7, Asuna and Kirito remembered the first time that Kirito visited Asuna's house in Selmburg to have the Ragout Rabbit's Meat cooked. They then talked about what they wanted to do with their amassed money, from buying Asuna's old house in Selmburg to reviving Agil's shop, with interest to the owner. Asuna then set out to challenge Zekken, and Kirito told her that Zekken was strong, but in an unusual way. Asuna was then called away by Lisbeth to go see Zekken.
Upon arriving at the square, they saw a challenger resign. After weaving through the crowd, Asuna saw a young Imp swordswoman requesting another challenger. As Asuna was expecting to see a burly man, she questioned whether Zekken's gender was the real reason Kirito lost. Zekken then asked for the next challenger and Asuna stood up to accept. After setting the rules of the duel, they decided to have it take place on the ground. Zekken sent the challenge invitation, revealing her name to be Yuuki, and Asuna chose the total loss mode. With that, the high speed duel began.
Asuna struck first, but Yuuki dodged skillfully and then used a counterattack, which Asuna was barely able to escape from with just a graze on her chest. With this, she realised that her suspicion of Kirito being affected by Yuuki's gender was undeserved. After realizing that Yuuki did not have much experience of fighting other players and thus not expecting any feints, Asuna took her by surprise by using the Boxing skill that she had learnt, followed up with a four-hit combo.
Yuuki was caught off guard initially but was able to see through the Sword Skill and countered with her own eleven-hit Original Sword Skill. Yuuki stopped just short of the final hit of her skill, then took Asuna's hand and flew her to the 27th Floor. There, they went into an inn and Yuuki introduced Asuna to her guild, the «Sleeping Knights», and asked her to help them defeat the floor's boss with just the seven of them in order to engrave their names on the «Monument of Swordsmen». Asuna asked why Yuuki did not enlist Kirito's help, to which she responded that he deduced her secret. Yuuki quickly changed the subject and began discussing strategies to defeat the boss. After arranging to meet at one o'clock the next day, Asuna left the inn, but shortly after her senses dulled and she was left in darkness.
Asuna had been rudely interrupted by her mother, who had unplugged the AmuSphere's power source. Asuna was angered by Kyouko's action and they got into a fight, disputing over why she was so addicted to the AmuSphere. After the argument, Asuna was told to eat dinner, but she refused and Kyouko walked out of the room shaking her head in frustration and disappointment. When Kyouko left the room, Asuna felt the thrill and excitement from meeting Yuuki, so she got dressed and left the house with her mother asking where she was going. Asuna stopped in front of a small park, where she reached for her cell phone to call Kirito, but then she had a fight with her feelings. If she called and met Kirito, she would have an emotional breakdown causing her to tell Kirito everything that had happened about the school transfer and how she wasn't going to be able to go on ALO anymore. However, she decided to be strong even though she was weak in reality, just then snow began to fall.
Asuna and the Sleeping Knights met to hold a strategy meeting at the inn on the 27th Floor. Using her organizational skills as former sub-leader of the Knights of the Blood, Asuna assessed the team's battle strength. She assigned Yuuki, Jun and Tecchi as the vanguard, Talken and Nori to the mid-range, Siune and herself to support. After resolving the formation issues, Asuna left until the day they challenged the boss.
On January 8, 2026, the group met up and began to make preparations. Asuna noticed that the group didn't show signs of self-deprecation like most high level groups but rather they each seemed to take personal enjoyment in the game. Also, considering school began that day for regular people, Asuna started to wonder who these six people were, and how they met. Asuna had informed her friends of what the Sleeping Knights plans were and though she turned down their offers to assist, they sent her off with an excess of items to aid her. As they made their way to the boss room, Asuna began to wonder if she really was needed, and Siune assured her that she had been a great help in avoiding enemies and saving time. After noticing some movement, Asuna cast a spell to summon Searchers which fanned out and revealed three hiding players, who said they got lost and are waiting for their friends. Asuna still found them suspicious but they proceeded toward the boss anyway. The boss was a two headed giant and the group was eventually defeated.
After being defeated by the boss, the Sleeping Knights let out a small amount of complaints. Asuna then realized that the group from earlier used them to gather information on the boss so that the larger clearing guild could beat it. Not wanting to have to wait for the next floor, Asuna roused the guild to go at the boss again. When they returned, they found a larger group waiting in front of the boss room, and a gnome warrior denied them access, and then told them that if they wanted to complain, they should head to their guild headquarters. Seeing that the guild was determined to block them, Asuna and the Sleeping Knights prepared to attack only for another person to join in, Kirito. He wall-ran along the edge of the room, to appear between the two sides, and made a declaration to the clearing guild, the way was blocked off. The Salamander leader ordered the mages to attack and to everyone's disbelief, Kirito cut through them using an outside system skill called Spell Blast, which stunned everyone. He then held up three fingers to Asuna, telling her he would stall them for three minutes. The seven Sleeping Knights broke through the twenty guild members blocking the way while Klein and Kirito held off the thirty-player reinforcements in the back. They made their way to boss room. Kirito and Klein's health fell into the red zone and as high level magic spells began to fall upon Kirito and Klein, Kirito threw up a victory sign and the boss door closed.
Forty minutes into the boss fight, the wits and supplies of the Sleeping Knights began to wear down. Since New Aincrad bosses lacked health bars, they were unable to tell how much longer they had to go to beat the boss, but Asuna shouted to the group not much longer, again. After recalling Kirito's fight with The Gleam Eyes, Asuna came up with an idea, and cast an ice magic attack to hit the giant's neck, proving that the neck was the bosses weakness. She then told Yuuki to go for the neck after the bosses next attack. Yuuki reassured Asuna, unintentionally referring to her as her elder sister. Yuuki jumped off Tecchi's body and struck the boss's neck using sword skills to remain in the air. Landing five hits on the neck and repeating the combo, her strikes staggered the boss repeatedly. The boss started to crack and eventually the giant was split in half. With the boss fight over, Asuna and the Sleeping Knights headed to Asuna's house to party with food bought in the city. Upon arriving at Asuna's snow-covered home, the Sleeping Knights remarked at how nice the house was and began to tell tales about the other VRMMOs they had played, one including a bug-based VRMMO created in America. Asuna then asked Yuuki if she could join the Sleeping Knights which caused a shift in the mood. The Sleeping Knights refused her offer, telling her that they were disbanding soon, and then changed the subject to the boss drops. After concluding the party, the group headed to the Monument of Swordsmen to see their names on the boss clearing list. After confirming their names on the wall, Asuna asked about why Yuuki referred to her as an elder sister. Yuuki, stunned that she had said that, logged off immediately and was never heard from again.
On January 11, three days after Yuuki's disappearance, Asuna had tried messaging the Sleeping Knights and learnt from Siune that she had no information about Zekken in real life. She also stated that their reason for not talking to Asuna again was for her sake. After receiving a message from Kirito to meet him on the rooftop, Kirito asked if Asuna wanted to meet Zekken again no matter what, even though the Sleeping Knights said it was better not to meet again. Asuna retold her entire encounter with the Sleeping Knights and even still she wanted to meet Yuuki again and talk to her again. Kirito then told her that Yuuki was at Yokohama North General Hospital. Asuna asked how Kirito knew, and he replied that it was the only place that was testing the Medicuboid.
Upon arriving at the hospital, Asuna went to the desk and asked for a patient who could be named Yuuki. She was then met by Doctor Kurahashi, who took her to an isolation wing. The doctor told Asuna that Yuuki was staying there as a patient involved with the Medicuboid. Taking advantage of the AmuSphere's ability to cancel out the senses the Medicuboid was developed to block out pain using that function. Where the AmuSphere or NerveGear could only block pain to the body to a certain degree, the design of the Medicuboid became the world's first medical FullDive machine developed at a state level.
The doctor then informed Asuna of Konno's condition on how when she was born a Caesarean section was performed, but unfortunately the blood used during the procedure was contaminated. After a month a blood test was performed and at that point the entire family had been infected with the contamination. The doctor then led Asuna to a sterile room where through a window Asuna saw a person with tubes and medical devices sticking out of her. Asuna then realized that person through the window was Yuuki. She then asked the doctor what Yuuki's condition was, upon which he revealed that it was Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Kurahashi continued to explain Yuuki's condition to Asuna, and how most newborns infected with AIDS were less likely to survive and yet Yuuki was able to attend elementary school despite having to take heavy doses of medication. She was able to attend school regularly until it go leaked out that she was a carrier of HIV and rumors started to spread leading to harassment. Shortly after Yuuki tried to transfer schools, her immune system started to deteriorate and that led to an opportunistic infection. This led to her being placed in full-time isolation, and, eventually, participating in the Medicuboid experiment. The doctor then informed Asuna that even though Yuuki was in isolation, the bacteria in her body were constantly multiplying and, at this stage, she would be blind and unable to move, thus Yuuki had been in FullDive a full three years.
Understanding the pain that this condition has caused Yuuki, Asuna recalled the moments before Yuuki disappeared at the monument, and asked about Yuuki's sister. The doctor then informed Asuna about how Aiko, Yuuki's older twin sister was also infected and died as a result of an opportunistic infection.
At that moment, Yuuki spoke to Asuna, saying she could see her through the camera. She then asked the doctor if Asuna could borrow the other room, wherein there were AmuSpheres with ALO installed on them. Asuna then logged in to speak with Yuuki, when they meet they hug and Yuuki remarked that her sister had the same smell as Asuna. Yuuki then recounted the history of the Sleeping Knights and how originally there were nine members but three disappeared and that they had decided to disband once the next one disappeared. So, they decided to seek an adventure to honor the memory of her sister. They explained that the reason they were disbanding was because two of the members were not expected to last past March so they decided to defeat a boss just the six of them. Unfortunately, they were defeated and after much debate they decided to seek out another member to help them defeat the boss.
Yuuki then revealed that there was one more thing she wanted to do, which was to attend school again. Although Yuuki realised that it was unreasonable, Asuna claimed that it might be possible, surprising even her.
On January 12, Asuna arrived at school with a Double-sided Visual and Hearing message probe, which was designed and calibrated by Kazuto and the mechatronics course students. After coming to school they headed to the teacher's office to introduce Yuuki to the teacher and explain the situation.
In class they began to study when the teacher asked Yuuki to read from the textbook to the rest of class, and from that point Yuuki became a full participant of the class.
After class Yuuki asked Asuna if they could go sightseeing outside of school and see the rest of the area. Once Yuuki and Asuna were outside of the school, Yuuki directed Asuna towards her old house at Hodogaya, in Yokohama. As they arrived at the house, Asuna asked Yuuki whether they should go inside, but Yuuki declined, saying that they only stayed there for less than a year. Yuuki then talked about the time she spent at the house with her sister and family running and playing. About how they cooked barbecue in the backyard, and after hearing that Asuna never did anything like that Yuuki proposed they have a barbecue party at the house on the 22nd Floor in Aincrad. Yuuki then shared her worries that once she was gone no one will be left to take care of the house, at that statement Asuna suggested that Yuuki marry someone, possibly Jun, and at that Yuuki said that Jun is too young. In response, Yuuki jokingly suggested marrying Asuna, laughing at the thought of her name becoming Yuuki Yuuki. Asuna balked at the idea, and Yuuki apologized, reassuring her that she was merely joking and saying that she already knew that Asuna had someone she liked: the person that helped fix the probe. Yuuki warned Asuna about Kirito, saying he was also living in a different world.
Yuuki thanked Asuna again, saying that even if the house was demolished, her memories would remain. Yuuki then talked about her mother and how her mom turned to Jesus and talked to her and her sister when they cried. Asuna then talked about how her mother never listens to her and she cannot muster the courage to talk to her directly and get her to listen. Yuuki then confessed that she herself was not strong here either, as when she was in the real world she always knew her parents were sorry for giving birth to her and was not nearly as optimistic at heart. She then later decided to smile and act strong despite the pain and, even if her actions were fake, present the most realistic side of her to people regardless of what other people thought. Asuna then said it was that quality that allowed the two to become friends, and Yuuki corrected her saying it was her persistence and determination that made them become friends, not her personality, since many people would not have gone to those lengths. Yuuki told Asuna to use that same determination when talking to her mother. Asuna thanked Yuuki and they headed back.
After they returned to the station, the power to the probe became depleted and they promised to go the next day for lessons again. Asuna returned home around 9 PM and went to her brother's room to take his AmuSphere and install the memory card of her other ALO character, Erika, into it. She then logged in, putting her weapons into a chest in her and Kirito's house on the 22nd Floor. She then went to see her mother, who first asked her why she was late. Her mother then told Asuna she missed dinner and if she wanted food she would have to get it herself. Asuna then mustered up her courage and asked her mother to FullDive with her so they could talk about her transfer. Asuna's mother was still adamant about the transfer, but agreed to dive, and they appeared in the forest house. Asuna then told her mother about the time she visited her grandparents and how there was a time when her mother could not come home due to business and Asuna ended up apologizing to her grandparents for that. They had told Asuna that they understood her reasons for not coming, and that their daughter was doing great things. They even kept a book of all her accomplishments, despite not having the digital skills to gather this information themselves. They had also stated that they wanted their home to be a place that Kyouko could always return to. Asuna told her mother that she truly wanted to choose her way of life after finally understanding what her grandfather had told her. After they come out of the FullDive, Asuna's mother agreed to let her stay in the SAO Survivor School, under the condition that she received a regular tutor and prepared for college.
Three days later, Asuna held a great barbecue to keep a promise made to Yuuki with the other Sleeping Knights, the rest of her friends and even some of the race leaders (Eugene, Sakuya, and Alicia) came. Later, they joined a hunting party, and even though the other races tried to recruit the Sleeping Knights, they were all refused. If a group like them joined any one side it would upset the balance of the six races. As the players started talking about the boss of the next floor, the whole party decided to march to the boss room to have a go at the boss. In the 28th Floor's boss room, the party faced a crustacean-like boss and managed to defeat it, having both Kirito and Yuuki's, among a few other names, engraved on the Monument of Swordsmen.
In February, Asuna, together with the Sleeping Knights, took down the 29th Floor Boss, thus repeating their feat from the 27th Floor.
Later, during the ALO sword tournament, Yuuki and Kirito faced off in the finals with Yuuki defeating the single sword wielding Kirito with her 11-hit combo OSS. With this victory Yuuki became the 4th Champion of the ALfheim sword tournament.
Afterwards, Yuuki visited the Kirigaya residence. Yuuki was wary of Kazuto due to his overly sensitive nature at first, but since both of them were one-handed single sword users, once she got to speak to him, they soon both ended up passionately chatting in depth about Sword Skills and Kazuto's probe on multiple occasions, even making Asuna jealous at times.
Asuna then fulfilled the promise she had made with her mother and went on a trip to Kyoto to the main house. While on the trip, she was able to go around and converse with her friends using the two way probe.
On March 29, Asuna received an alarming message from the hospital, and rushed there by taxi immediately. Once there, she asked the doctor what had occurred and how had it happened, learning that Yuuki's heart had momentarily stopped, and while they were able to momentarily revive her, Yuuki did not have long to live.
On Doctor Kurahashi's request, Asuna held Yuuki's hand, but then heard her voice, asking her to go into ALO one last time, surprising Doctor Kurahashi, who believed that Yuuki had wished to spend her last moments in the real world.
Asuna then used the AmuSphere in the next room to log into ALO, and met up with Yuuki in the place where they first met. Yuuki executed her 11-hit combo Mother's Rosario one last time before collapsing to create a scroll for her skill. She then gave the scroll to Asuna for her to receive a copy of the skill, asking her to pass it on to another person.
Much to Yuuki's surprise, her friends from the Sleeping Knights, as well as Kirito and his other friends, arrived, in spite of the former group's promise not to say goodbye. While fighting back the tears, the other Sleeping Knights promised to cheer her on. Overhead, thousands of other players flew over, having heard of Yuuki.
Yuuki was deeply touched, and admitted that she had always believed that she would die without accomplishing anything of any significance, while large amounts of resources were used to prolong her life. In the end, however, she was content to end her journey in Asuna's arms, surrounded by friends and admirers. After several moments, Yuuki peacefully passed away in Asuna's arm in ALO.
On April 4, a week after Yuuki's death, Asuna attended her funeral at a Christian church in Hodogaya. To Yuuki's relatives' surprise, more than 100 people, mainly ALO players, were in attendance. After the service, the players turned to the yard to discuss the «Absolute Sword» incident, while Asuna sat alone in the shade of the church.
Asuna then began to consider whether life was just a tool to transfer genes to increase the chances of their own blood's continued existence. She pondered how Yuuki had thought, until just before her death.
An Si-eun (Siune) approached Asuna and revealed that, surprisingly enough, she had recovered, and was released from the hospital soon after Yuuki had died. An Si-eun felt intense survivor guilt at outliving Yuuki, Ran, Merida and Clovis, but Asuna comforted her. An Si-eun then reminisced about her friendship with Yuuki, who gave her the strength to endure the hardships she faced through chemotherapy, and stated that Jun's condition is improving.
At that moment, Doctor Kurahashi and Kazuto approached them. Doctor Kurahashi congratulated An Si-eun on her recovery, and informed them that the Medicuboid tests were successful. Doctor Kurahashi revealed that there had been an external provider for the initial design for the Medicuboid and, after Kazuto heard her name, he revealed that she was also the person who had taken care of Kayaba Akihiko when he dived during the Sword Art Online incident.
- The story was originally named as Zekken in web version of the novel.
- The arrival of the raid guild's reinforcements at the boss room door, as well as Kirito and Klein coming to help Asuna and the Sleeping Knights, in chapter 6 was not part of the web version of the novel.
- A sentence about Yuuki continuing to fight her virus was changed to Yuuki being given HAART (多劑併用療法, Tazei Heiyouriyou?, lit. multi-drug therapy) soon after birth in a later version of the volume.