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Alicization Dividing (アリシゼーション・ディバイディング, Arishizēshon Dibaidingu?) is the 13th book in the Sword Art Online Light Novel series, published on August 10, 2013.
Asuna and Koujiro Rinko were enjoying a meal together on the Ocean Turtle, as Asuna wondered about their current location. She was not allowed to connect to the Ocean Turtle's Wi-Fi due to security measures, and the only information she was told was vague. She asked Rinko whether she knew anything about it, but she revealed she knew about as much as her. The two then noticed a ship from the large window of the Ocean Turtle, and wondered if that was how they obtained the fish they were eating. Though, they then realized that it looked more like a warship.
Lieutenant Nakanishi came into their conversation, and pointed out that Japan had no warships, before being invited to eat with the women. He explained that the tomatoes they were eating were grown on the ship, as part of an agriculture experiment. Asuna eventually brought the topic back to the ship outside, and he explained that it was an escort ship, named «Nagato». However, immediately after, Lieutenant Nakanishi noticed that the escort was changing course, away from the Ocean Turtle. He reported this fact, through a portable terminal, from his pocket, stating that Nagato was supposed to escort them for another day. He then excused himself from the two, and left Asuna and Rinko to eat alone, as the «Nagato» slowly disappeared from view.
Chapter 9 - Integrity Knight Alice
After falling out of the Central Cathedral's 80th floor, Kirito managed to stab his sword into a small gap in the Central Cathedral's outer wall and was now hanging on his sword while holding on to Alice Synthesis Thirty with his other arm. With a bit of persuasion, he managed to convince her to form a temporary truce and work together to survive until they could return inside the Cathedral. Alice then stabbed her sword and created a chain out of her right gauntlet, which they used to tie themselves together in case one of them fell. During their conversation, he asked Alice whether there was any way to re-enter the Cathedral from the outside on the higher floors. After finding out that they could enter the Cathedral through the Morning Star Lookout on the 95th floor, Kirito thought up of climbing the Cathedral using pitons he created from metal elements, using Sacred Arts, as platforms. By repeatedly going through the process of generating metallic element, changing them into pitons, stabbing it into the wall, getting himself up onto it, and pulling Alice up to the piton he previously stood on using the chain quite some time and getting to about the 85th floor, Kirito spotted grotesque stone statues on a pavement jutting out from the wall a few meters ahead.
As night had already fallen, thus the sun no longer provided the Sacred Power needed for Sacred Arts, Kirito had run out of pitons due to the limited resources around and thus Alice made three out of her left gauntlet. At four mel (meters) to the pavement, Kirito realized the statues were not statues, but were instead recognised as «minions», underlings created by using Dark Arts, by Alice. Kirito, noticing that the pavement was four meters away, while the chain was five meters long, he grabbed the chain and hurled Alice onto the pavement and was shortly afterwards pulled up by Alice in a similar fashion. Together, they managed to fend off the minions, both being impressed by each other's skills. Alice then lent Kirito her handkerchief to wipe off the minion blood on his face, stressing him to wash it before returning it to her. The chapter ends with Kirito wondering on what they should do while they waited for the moon to rise in a few hours and provide them with resources to continue climbing.
Chapter 10 - Integrity Knight Commander Bercouli
After seeing the hole Kirito and Alice had been sucked through had returned to being a wall because of the self-repair Sacred Arts cast upon the tower, Eugeo climbed up the long staircases up to the 90th floor with caution, without finding any human presence, just as the seven o'clock bell rang. There, he found no more stairs, but a large white door, which he pushed and entered the large room on the other side.
To his surprise, the entire floor was a gigantic bath with steam everywhere, where he found an extremely bulky man - who was unmistakably an enemy - bathing. The man introduced himself as Bercouli. After a short time, he rose and retrieved his clothes and long sword before asked Eugeo about the fate of Fanatio Synthesis Two. Eugeo said that she should be receiving treatment, and the statement caused the relieved Bercouli to claim that he would not kill Eugeo. Surprised that Bercouli only asked about the fate of Fanatio, Eugeo demanded to know why Bercouli did not care about the other Integrity Knights, to which Bercouli stated that those Knights were not his disciples. Bercouli finally drew his sword and prepared to duel.
Eugeo noticed that Bercouli's stance reminded him of the «Lightning Flash Slash» technique of the Norkia-style Swordsmanship Class and intended to counter with «Sonic Leap». Noticing Eugeo's uncommon stance, Bercouli asked Eugeo whether or not he was practicing the "Continual Sword" style. Eugeo replied whether it mattered if he used consecutive hit skills, and Bercouli dismissed the question and added that the knights of the Dark Territory could use them but no one in the «Human Empire» could. At that, Bercouli then said that he would start with his "trump card" as well and raised his longsword, which started to vibrate.
Bercouli slashed his blade horizontally at a distance of eight mel from Eugeo, who had jumped forth to the left, avoiding the predicted attack. Activating «Sonic Leap», Eugeo rushed in towards the direction of his opponent. In his way, a transparent fluctuation cut through the air - a heat haze, from Bercouli's attack. Noticing this, Eugeo attempted to draw back his sword, but a Secret Move could not be stopped midway quite easily, resulting only in deceleration, and thus his body eventually came into contact with the heat haze.
Eugeo was blown away, a gash from his left breast to his right armpit had appeared as he fell into the water, with pain surging through his body and blood spewing. Using Sacred Arts, he managed to stop the bleeding, though with his level of skill, he could not fully treat his wounds in such a short period of time. Bercouli, who was surprised by Eugeo's charge attack, sheathed his sword and apologised for nearly killing the boy in a relaxed manner and then explained that he had "slashed the future" with his sword. Noticing that Eugeo had begun chanting his «Armament Full Control Art» and wanting to give him time to finish chanting, Bercouli continued chatting leisurely and continued talking about his past encounter with Dark Knights that were trained in the Continual Sword and explained how that lead to the creation of his Time Piercing Sword from a «System Clock» to counter the new style. As Bercouli was finished talking, he boasted that no one who tried to beat him from a distance had succeeded thus far.
Having thought of a course of action and having completed his chant, Eugeo rose from the water, prompting Bercouli to draw his sword again and warn Eugeo that he would not hold back anymore. Eugeo then released the art and stabbed his sword into the marble floor, freezing his surroundings with ice and rose thorns as far as ten mel and forming a field of icicles around Bercouli as a distraction. Retracting his sword from the ground, he ran towards Bercouli through the meadow of ice.
Seeing Eugeo dashing towards him, Bercouli sliced the air before him horizontally. Shortly afterwards, the icicles shattered in harmony, none spared by the slash he had left behind. With Eugeo finally within the reach of his enemy, together they slashed at one another vertically, and Eugeo's sword shattered - or at least the replacement icicle did, as he had thrown his blade to his right before charging the Integrity Knight, thus reducing the impact inflicted towards him from Bercouli's slash and avoiding being pushed back. Still running, he rotated his body and thrust his left shoulder into the abdomen of the man before him. Using Aincrad style's martial arts technique, «Meteor Break», though it did not activate properly with the lack of a sword, Eugeo managed to push back the large frame. Instead of normally continuing the skill, Eugeo grabbed Bercouli by his waist, and with all the strength he could muster, threw them both into the water, which had already turned cold. Maintaining his hold on the bulk beneath him, Eugeo searched the floors of the bath with his fingertips, finally touching the hilt of his beloved sword once more. Piercing the bottom of the pool with his blade, he continued to use his sword to freeze the area around him, using the power of the recollected memories he had seen in the Great Library Room. Wishing for the Blue Rose Sword to grant him power, he activated the second phase of the «Armament Full Control Art», the «releasing» phase. Cardinal had told him he was not ready for the second stage yet, but he had no choice and was confident that it would work for him. The sword violently shook, and instantaneously, the waters had frozen while rippling in just seconds, trapping the two within layers upon layers of frost.
Beneath the white ice, Bercouli inquired about the origins of Eugeo's strange fighting style. He replied by saying that he was taught by his friend. Bercouli, refusing to be defeated, recklessly attempted to break out of the ice with sheer brawn, and managed to make several cracks in the ice. The shocked Eugeo remembered, the Blue Rose Sword, unlike other swords, had two existences that rooted it. He then activated the other side of the «Armament Full Control Art»'s «releasing» phase, causing enormous blue roses, which bloomed by sucking out Eugeo and Bercouli's «Life», to bloom everywhere, accompanied by chimes similar to a bell's. Dismissing Bercouli's assumption that he had aimed for a draw since the start, Eugeo claimed his amount of «Life» was higher than Bercouli's, thus he was hoping of winning in terms of endurance. Stating that, judging by his appearance, Bercouli became an Integrity Knight at about the age of forty, he caused Bercouli to question Eugeo about how he would know anything about the past life of an «Integrity Knight».
Enraged, Eugeo exclaimed his animosity towards the Integrity Knights, who have forgotten who they once were, and suddenly recalled the identity of the man before him - the founder of his hometown, «Rulid Village», and the hero of the story 'Bercouli and the White Dragon of the North' he heard as a child. Recovering from shock, he told Bercouli that he should have seen the Blue Rose Sword somewhere before, to which Bercouli replied affirmatively, saying that it was at the nest of the guardian dragon of the north which he had killed. Bewildered that Bercouli killed the dragon from his own story, the crying Eugeo explained how the Integrity Knights had forgotten everything because the Highest Minister, Quinella, had sealed away their memories. Bercouli said that the story of how he was summoned from the Celestial World was not exactly logical, but he refused to believe Eugeo's idea as well, claiming that it was also quite preposterous.
When both Eugeo and Bercouli barely had any «Life» left, an extremely round man clad in clown-like clothing appeared before them. The strange man, while comically laughing, declared that if Bercouli was defeated, it would be considered as treachery against the Highest Minister. Bercouli dismissed the man he identified as «Chief Elder Chudelkin», telling him not to interfere with a battle between swordsmen. The Chief Elder, now skipping and clapping in shrill laughter, complained that Bercouli could have easily defeated Eugeo if he used the «other side» of his Time Piercing Sword, stating the latter would be unable to even lift a finger, reimplying Bercouli's treachery for going easy on the intruder. Bercouli defended himself by saying that he fought with all he had, also declaring that he had been lied to, since Eugeo was not an assassin from the «Dark Territory». The irritated Chief Elder stomped on Bercouli's head, swaying left and right atop it, screamed at how he found it hilarious that the Integrity Knights were defeated merely by two kids, and that, minimally, Bercouli and his deputy were to be reprocessed once the Highest Minister awakened. Just as the confused Bercouli was about to ask the meaning behind the term 'reprocessed', Chudelkin chanted a short Sacred Art at a piercing pitch, causing the former to appear as if he was turning to stone. Chudelkin, turning to Eugeo, mentioned he had found a very useful pawn, while Eugeo, calling out Kirito's and Alice's names, lost consciousness.
Chapter 11 - The Secret of The Senate
Kirito woke up from his nightmare shuddering. He had just recently heard the night eight o'clock bell, but the moon had yet to appear. Alice was crouching distantly to his right with her eyes closed. While wondering what Eugeo was doing at that point of time, he realized that Eugeo had been his first close friend, whose natural talent with the sword was simply tremendous, and wondered if he could introduce him to Asuna and the gang someday. Alice disrupted his daydreaming by asking him why he was grinning. In a bitter tone, she stated it was foolish of him to be optimistic in the situation they were in. He replied that it was still possible to create more pitons, which he carefully referred to as wedges, to climb, and mentioned that he was hungry.
After discovering «Integrity Knights» could get hungry, and hearing Alice's stomach grumble, Kirito accidentally let out a stifled laugh, and discovered two meat buns in his left pocket from before while retreating from Alice. After generating a thermal element with «Sacred Arts», Kirito was cut off, while mid-chanting the word 'burst' to heat up the buns, by Alice, who stole them from his hands, and generated a thermal, aqueous, and an aerial element. She then made a spherical swirl with the aerial element and made the two meat buns hover in there. Next, she threw the thermal and aqueous elements in too and the moment she touched them, she burst them. After about thirty seconds, the elements vanished, and the buns plopped into her hands perfectly round as if they were just made. Alice jokingly acted as if she was going to eat both meat buns, which caused Kirito to yelp pathetically. She then offered him one of the steam emitting buns and they then devoured their buns, Kirito in three bites, and Alice in four.
While praising Alice's ability in «Sacred Arts», he accidentally mentioned that she was Selka's elder sister, which caused Alice to immediately grab his nape to interrogate him. After thinking hard for several seconds, Kirito decided to reveal the truth to Alice that she had a little sister, and said that he was willing to tell her everything he believed to be the truth, though whether she would choose to believe him or not was her choice. After several seconds had passed, she abruptly released his coat's nape, ordering him to talk. She stated that if she found any of his words to be lies, he would be cut down then and there. Agreeing to her terms, Kirito started with the 'duty of the Integrity Knights' and how they came to be.
He mentioned that the only ones who believed that the Integrity Knights were existences summoned by the goddesses' messenger, the highest minister of the Axiom Church, from the Celestial World to preserve order and justice - were the Integrity Knights alone, stating that there was not a single Integrity Knight that was never once a human. He also voiced that the one who had sealed away their memories was not the Goddess Stacia, as what Integrity Knights were told, but instead the Administrator Quinella herself, while referencing that Eldrie Woolsburg, Alice's disciple, did not collapse because he was cut by either Eugeo or Kirito himself, but because the memories of his mother were stimulated, though he was unable to recall anything.
Shaking her head left and right like a child to reject the notion that Eldrie was born of depraved upper class nobles, Alice dismissed his claims as ridiculous. Kirito refuted that the depravity nobles hold was caused by the high social position and numerous privileges granted to them by the Axiom Church in the first place. He continued by saying that the memories of Integrity Knights were not only fiddled with during the «Synthesis Ritual», but also after becoming knights. The enraged Alice did not believe what she perceived as fallacy in Kirito's words, expressing herself through yells. Kirito then shouted back that the Integrity Knights not only had no memory of champions of the Unity Tournament, who were appointed as Integrity Knights, but also had no memory of the criminals they had captured. Alice agreed that she brought Kirito and Eugeo to the church from the Sword Mastery Academy by a flying dragon, and that they were the first criminals she was ever commanded to bring in. Kirito responded that Integrity Knight Deusolbert Synthesis Seven had no memory about the fact that he had brought the young Alice with his own hands from Rulid Village in the northern outskirts to the church. He restated that half of the knights were tournament champions, adding that remaining half were humans brought to the cathedral as criminals. People who possessed a will firm enough to oppose the Taboo Index would possess unmatched power when turned into Integrity Knights, thus the Administrator could kill two birds with one stone.
Finally, he told Alice that her real name was Alice Zuberg, that she was born and raised in a small village called Rulid in the remote northern regions, that she was around nineteen at that point of time, and that she was taken to the church eight years before, because of an incident that happened when she was eleven. He informed her that she went to explore the cave going through the «Mountain Range at the Edge» with Eugeo, and after exiting it, she ended up going beyond the border between the Human Empire and the Dark Territory a little. In other words, the taboo she committed was «Trespassing into the Dark Territory». She neither stole anything nor hurt anyone, rather, she tried to help a darkness knight on the verge of death.
Kirito told Alice about her past, describing the events while vividly recreating an image of the occurrences in his head, as if he was there himself, though Kirito himself doubted that could be possible, thus he dismissed such a thought, believing this to have been just a detailed description by Eugeo. With a barely audible voice, Alice stated that she was unable to recall anything. Kirito then warned her not to force herself to remember, as it may cause her to end up like Eldrie. Though she had yet to believe his story, Alice urged him to continue. Kirito revealed that her father's, Gasupht Zuberg's, name and that he was the village chief of Rulid, stating that her mother's name was unknown to him, and that Alice had a sister named Selka, as he had earlier mentioned, whom thought of her sister highly, and tried her best in following Alice's footsteps by becoming a sister apprentice at the village church, just as Alice had.
Alice made neither a response, nor any movement on her porcelain-white face. Suddenly, she uttered Selka's name, and after a brief pause, again. She was sure that she had said the name before, and that her mouth, throat and heart remembered the name, despite the fact she could remember neither her face nor her voice, whispering that she had called out the name before day after day, night after night, whispering that she did have a family out there beneath the night skies. Her faltering voice eventually turned into a feeble sob. When Kirito reached out his hand to comfort her, she rejected his hand with her back facing him. She shouted in a teary voice, commanding him to look away, while pushing her right hand against his chest, her left, repeatedly wiping the tears from her eyes. She eventually dug her face into her knees that she was hugging and trembled violently.
Void of his realization, tears formed in Kirito's eyes as well. Noticing them, he gathered his resolve to defeat Administrator and bring Alice back to her hometown. He then realized, the reason behind his tears was that, under the assumption that everything went according to plan, the one reuniting with Selka would not be the crying golden knight before him, as after Alice's memories of her childhood were returned to her, her memories as an «Integrity Knight» would most likely vanish. He was unable to stop himself from pitying the one before him, who was sobbing away with her back curled up like a child.
Two to three minutes after Kirito had stopped his tears from flowing, Alice's violent sobs gradually turned into quiet weeping. Kirito then thought of the ideal outcome: they would continue to climb the tower and enter it via the 95th floor, somehow avoid fighting Alice and reunite with Eugeo - whether they would use the dagger given to them by Cardinal on Alice depended on the situation - then either defeat or convince Integrity Knight Bercouli Synthesis One, charge to the top floor of the cathedral, render the sleeping Administrator powerless, find Alice's «memory fragment», and return her memories and personality. Finally, Kirito would establish contact with Rath to prevent the invasion from the «Dark Territory».
Hugging her knees with her eyes turned down, Alice muttered that, after they had been sucked through the tower wall, Kirito had said that he and Eugeo made themselves criminals in order to correct the Administrator's mistakes and to protect the «Human Empire». Some time after Kirito nodded his head in confirmation, Alice told him she had yet to believe him, even though she did admit that she could not deny the fact that minions from the «Dark Territory» were positioned on the tower's walls, the fact that Integrity Knights are humans, but, on the other hand, she also could not deny the fact that the main order given to the Integrity Knights was to protect the borders of the Human Empire.
When Kirito was thinking about how the Administrator had taken away the chance of humans to fight back, his thoughts were interrupted by Alice's question of whether the two of them were planning to single-handedly battle against all the invaders from the land of Darkness, if they could manage to defeat the Administrator. He answered the still teary-eyed girl with another question, asking her if the Integrity Knight Order could undoubtedly defeat the invaders themselves, which caused her to be at a loss for words. Staring at the night sky while preventing himself from confessing the truth about the «Underworld», he blatantly stated that even the goblins, whom he had crossed swords with, had fearsome strength and brute, despite being the weakest of the creatures from the land of Darkness, and because the Darkness Territory was filled with «Darkness Knights» and «Darkness Art» users, the Integrity Knights would be unable to be victorious with such a small army, even if the Administrator herself would join the battle.
After a few moments of silence, Alice admitted that even Knight Commander Bercouli, whom she briefly referred to as 'uncle', held the same worry in his heart. But in the end, the upper class nobles who practice swordsmanship and Sacred Arts concentrate solely on the beauty of a single strike which would most likely be useless in actual combat, meaning that their only option was for the Integrity Knights to battle on their flying dragons, trusting in divine protection from the three goddesses. Alice then asked Kirito if he understood the situation. Still facing forward, Kirito agreed to her statement but he also remarked that the situation was brought upon by the Administrator herself, as she had no trust in the people of the Human Empire, because she feared for the loss of her autocracy, which was why she had gathered the winners of the Unity Tournaments and the offenders of the Taboo Index, turning them into loyal knights. Hearing no rebuttal from the golden knight beside him, he continued by stating that if the Administrator had believed in the people earlier on, an army comparable to the forces of Darkness would be in existence, but she allowed the upper class nobles to indulge in their lives rather than fighting for their world, causing their souls to stagnate while referring to Raios Antinous and Humbert Zizek as examples.
As he was suggesting to build an army within the year and so, Alice cut him off by shouting that such a thing would be impossible, yelling that Kirito himself had witnessed the corruption in the hearts of nobles firsthand, stating they would merely pretend to fight, while merely trying to protect their own lives and assets. He refuted her by affirming that most nobles would be sunk in their cowardice, however, some high class aristocratic families had still retained their pride as noblemen, and many lower class nobles and common folk would be willing to protect their hometowns and undoubtedly their world. He stated that if all the weapons held within the tower were to be distributed, and if Integrity Knights taught the people real, polished swordsmanship and Sacred Arts, it would be possible to build up a grand army within a year. Nodding at Alice's bewildered statement of common folk, he added that recruiting volunteers alone would gather a large number, stating things such as guard corps already exist here and there.
Agreeing to Alice's statement that Administrator would not allow such a thing to occur, he told her that because an unfaithful army is as frightening as the forces of Darkness to Administrator, the only choice is to topple her and utilize the remaining period of time to build a formidable army. In silence, Kirito felt a great cynicism, until it was broken by Alice's inquiry whether she could meet Selka if they cooperated and retrieved her sealed memories, which Kirito gave a small nod to. He then explained his prediction, that despite Rulid being a day or two trips on a flying dragon from the Cathedral, the person reuniting with Selka would be 'Alice Zuberg', not 'Integrity Knight Alice Synthesis Thirty', as the latter would vanish after Alice would regain her memories, as it is merely an 'artificial Alice' created by Administrator's hands.
With a stout smile, yet a hoarse voice that barely restrained her tempestuous emotions, Alice wailed that she - 'the other Alice', had stolen the body of the real Alice, saying 'what has been stolen, must be returned', and that her parents, Selka, Eugeo, and Kirito himself, all longingly wish for the 'real Alice' to be returned. Then, she requested Kirito to bring her to Rulid and give her a glimpse of her 'family', before she becomes 'the real Alice'. Looking at the puffy-eyed girl who stared back, then back at the night sky, he swore to do so, looking back at her with a nod.
Replying Kirito's nod with a curt one, Alice was cut off mid-sentence, stating she was discarding her mission as an Integrity Knight, as she started a piercing scream, her hand pressed tightly against her right eye. Getting up onto his feet, Kirito recalled the scene he had witnessed a mere two days ago, Eugeo's right eye had burst into crimson tears of blood, right after he had sliced Humbert Zizek. That very night, Eugeo explained in the academy’s disciplinary chamber, that his right hand froze and his right eye burned with pain, with unfamiliar letters glowing deep red appeared before his eyes, right as he was about to slash Humbert.
Yelling at the girl who was experiencing the very phenomenon, Kirito pulled her hand away from her eye, revealing it to be deep red, instead of blue. Appearing on her iris was the mirrored image of the words 'System Alert' in English letters. Holding Alice's face in his hands, Kirito commanded her to empty her thoughts, yelling the occurrence was probably due to her rebelling against the Church, while wondering who was responsible for it. Alice trembled with her eyelids shut, muttering about how horrible it was not to only have her memories manipulated, but her consciousness itself manipulated as well. Gripping Kirito's shoulders, she asked him whether the one responsible for it was Administrator. Kirito's answer caused tears to reform in Alice's eyes, saying the ones responsible were probably the «Gods». Alice then shouted to the skies that she was not a puppet and she refused to be controlled. Asking Kirito to hold her, her right eye burst, warm blood splashed onto Kirito's face.
Eugeo regained consciousness hearing a woman's voice calling his name, asking him if he had awoken up from a nightmare. With the lower part of his face buried in a pillow he was hugging, Eugeo stood before an ajar door. Peering inside, he saw a lamp emitting dim orange light, and two absurdly tall beds that stood side by side, with one of them occupied by a person. The person called him to come closer, offering him shelter from the cold. Wondering who it was, he mistook the voice for his mother's. He then inquired the said voice, that belonged to his 'mother', on the condition of his father and his brothers. To his shock, the voice answered that he had killed them. Seeing his hands smeared in blood, he screamed aloud.
Eugeo then suddenly woke up from his dream and, after scrubbing his hands against his shirt vigorously, he realized that the moisture he was wiping onto his shirt was just his sweat, instead of blood. He then realized he was leaning against a bedpost, crouching on a deep crimson expensive-looking textile carpet, while facing a wall that was quite distanced from him, which was strangely made out of neither stone nor wood. After spotting several clouds and the moon hanging beyond golden pillars and the glass walls before him, and a circular crystal-embedded ceiling flourished with art above him that held no stairs, he realized he was on the highest floor of the Central Cathedral, meaning Administrator was near.
Behind him, stood a circular bed with four golden posts that held up a canopy, from where violet draping fell from. A silhouette, seemingly amorphous, lay beneath a wide stretch of silky cloth. His curiosity of the identity of the silhouette overtaking him, Eugeo climbed onto the enormous bed and crawled toward the figure.
As he neared the figure, Eugeo began to hear the sound of someone's breathing. He then lifted the cloth, revealing an asleep female with hair of pure silver, and a dress the same color as a «Stacia Window», whom he regarded as too beautiful to be human. Urges to touch the woman flooded his mind as he inched closer. As he reached out his hand, suddenly, a voice from afar commanded him not to, and to flee from the being before him. Seemingly recovering from a daze, Eugeo instinctively pulled back his hand, and began forcing himself to confirm the situation he was in. Questions surfaced in his mind, as he lowered his gaze to the sleeping woman, drowsiness came over him, to which he shook his head in opposition against. Then it came to him, the person before him was none other than the highest Administrator.
Wondering if he could win against the sleeping being, his hand searched his waist for his beloved sword, which turned out to be absent. Finding himself weaponless, Eugeo considered that victory was not achievable within the situation he was in. After disposing the idea of using the dagger granted upon him by Cardinal, the voice from afar returned, telling him to again run.
Before the message of the distant voice reached his consciousness, the sleeping woman's eyes slowly fluttered open, revealing a set of enchanting silver eyes. Eugeo unconsciously let out a sigh. After Administrator raised her body, she called Eugeo a pitiful child that had never experienced love, as Eugeo tried to argue back, his mother, Tiese and Alice are mentioned, at last she makes Eugeo have a vision of when he was a kid and sees Alice and Kirito snuggling together. Administrator spoke and Eugeo returned to the top floor of the Central Cathedral, as she continued speaking, Eugeo remembered all the hardships without reward that he faced in Rulid Village. As Eugeo was about to fall in despair, he tried to remember Tiese and Alice, but at the end, their memories got covered in darkness and Eugeo is enticed by Administrator as he calls a Sacred Art to remove his Fluctlight's core protection.
Kirito finally arrived to the 95th floor after climbing for two hours from the terrace. He was tired from having to climb with Alice attached to his back due to her losing consciousness from the shock of breaking her Seal. After having arrived to his goal, Kirito started to relax his body, but at that exact moment Alice woke up and they undid the chains holding them together. As Alice was worried about the sweat and dust, Kirito told her to take a bath as a joke, but Alice actually considered that and informed that there was a bath five floors below them.
Kirito started wondering about what had happened to Eugeo and, towards that, Alice commented that he must be on a lower floor, because he could not defeat Bercouli. Kirito asked Alice about her wound and she said that she could not heal it at that moment and did not want to. Kirito decided to look for Eugeo by using the umbra element to track his sword and, after following the umbra element, they arrived to the earlier mentioned bath.
As they entered the bath, they noticed that it was completely frozen, and discovered that this was caused by the Blue Rose Sword's Armament Full Control Art. Inside the bath they discovered Bercouli afflicted by the chief elder's art, Deep Freeze. Alice started to cry and after the tears fell on Bercouli's cheeks, cracks started to appear on Bercouli's neck and face. Bercouli was glad that Alice had broken the seal that prevented her from revolting against the Axiom Church and told Kirito that Chudelkin took Eugeo to the highest minister's room, before turning back into stone.
While Alice held onto Bercouli's shoulders crying, Kirito found the Blue Rose Sword buried in the ice and took it. He also found the scabbard and hung it on the right side of his belt. As he turned around, Alice told him that holding two swords fitted him. Kirito asked her if she had seen Administrator before, and Alice answered that once, but she was full of fear. After a while, Alice made up her resolve and started ascending the stairs with Kirito following her while carrying the two swords.
Alice stopped climbing after reaching the 95th floor again for Kirito to catch his breath and device a strategy to face Chudelkin. As they reached the 96th, they arrived to a narrow corridor leading to the Chamber of Elders. As they entered, they found spheres with human heads emerging from them and a Stacia Window in front of each one. Alice noticed that they were chanting and Kirito deduced that they were checking the Transgression Quotient of every person in the Human Empire. After she watched how the Elders were treated, Alice became shocked and decided to kill them to relieve them of that kind of life, but, just as she was about to stab her sword into one of them, a voice was heard. They decided to find the source and thus, proceeded to a corridor similar to the one from which they came from. At the end of this corridor, they found another room, which one was filled with gold objects and toys, among which they found Chudelkin.
Before Kirito could react, Alice had already rushed towards Chudelkin, grabbed him and pointed her sword towards him. Chudelkin asked how was it possible for Alice to still be alive and Alice answered that she had rebelled against the Axiom Church. Chudelkin started badmouthing the Integrity Knights and, later, mocking Alice while remembering how she became an Integrity Knight. Meanwhile, Kirito was thinking about why Chudelkin was talking so much, but before he could reach a conclusion, Alice stabbed Chudelkin with her sword. However, instead of blood, a red, poisonous gas came out. Taking advantage of the diversion, Chudelkin escaped through a secret passage.
Kirito and Alice followed Chudelkin through the passage and climbed onto the 99th floor. Just before arriving, Kirito heard Chudelkin chanting. He entered the floor watching out for an ambush that never came. Chudelkin was not in the room. After Alice arrived, they deduced that they could only enter the 100th floor through an elevator, which Alice activated with a Luminous element, but before they could ride the platform, another Integrity Knight appeared.
The Integrity Knight was Eugeo. Kirito could not believe it, but Alice deduced that he must have chanted the Art that allowed Administrator to transform him into a Knight. Kirito still could not comprehend the situation, but after Alice told him that there was still hope, Kirito made up his mind to fight. Eugeo thanked Kirito for bringing his sword. Kirito tried to give the Blue Rose Sword to Alice, but Eugeo snatched it with an Incarnation Art, while Alice explained to Kirito what happened, Eugeo prepared himself to fight and entered the stance to perform «Sonic Leap». Kirito did the same and the fight began.
- Interlude IV was not present in the Web Version.
- In the web novel, before Eugeo began chanting the final word of the core protection removal art, he feared that Kirito would be the one to return to Rulid with Alice and marry her, while in the published version, he feared that Alice would be afraid of him and loathe him for breaking the Taboo Index by cutting Humbert and fighting against the Integrity Knights and the Axiom Church.
- In the web version, Eugeo stopped chanting the core protection removal art just before he finished the last syllable of it, as he noticed a purple prism, which contained Alice's memory, on the ceiling.