Feel free to point out any errors/give suggestions in the comments.
Translation by Dennis, proofreading and editing by Gsimenas and Pryun
Rondo of the Transient Sword Part 25
This time, based on the voice and the appearance of the face under the hood, Nezuha immediately realised that this person is the swordswoman he swindled a Wind Fleuret from (albeit temporarily) three days ago.
The already timid face became more distorted. Even the normally insensitive me can now empathise with his pain of guilt, desperation and self-abandonment swirling inside.
As if trying to escape from Asuna's eyes, Nezuha turned his face towards the bottom right to his limit and managed to squeeze out a strained voice,
" ………… If, if anyone noticed my fraudulent actions…… In such a situation, I will use death to repay my sins. That's been decided since the start. "
"In the current Aincrad, suicide is a sin that's even worse than fraud! Although the strengthening fraud is a betrayal to your customers, suicide is an act of betrayal to all the players who are trying to clear the game!"
The rapier user's words were as sharp as her signature sword skill, Linear. Nezuha's body trembled for a moment, then shrunk even more——after that he looked up as if his face bounced back,
"Anyway! At any rate a blockhead like me will definitely die someday! Whether killed by a monster or died from suicide, the only difference is dying sooner or later!"
At his words――
I couldn't control myself and let out a small laugh.
Asuna threw me a sharp glance, and Nezuha also looked at me as if he was about to cry. I hastily raised both hands, and apologised to the anxious blacksmith who now looked hurt.
"Sorry, I wasn't laughing at your words. You know, just a week ago, the Onee-san there said pretty much the same thing you did…"
Nezuha gazed at Asuna again, with his eyes opened so wide that it seemed like his eyeballs were going to pop out. After inhaling deeply a few times, he timidly asked,
"Umm…… you are Asuna-san from the frontline raiding team……aren't you?"
This time it was Asuna's turn to blink. She straightened her body slightly and returned a question,
"How did you know?"
"Well, everyone knows who the rapier-user in a hooded cape is…… after all, she is the only female player on the frontlines…"
" ……….I, I see……"
While saying that in a complicated tone, she pulled down her hood slightly to conceal her face. I walked closer to her and said,
"Looks like that disguise will eventually become some sort of distinguishing feature huh. Don't you think it will be better to get rid of that before nicknames like «little grey hood» come along?"
"You are SUCH-a-great-HELP! I like it this way! It's nice and warm!"
"I, I see……"
So what if Spring comes? But I kept the question to myself, and looked at the stunned Nezuha. Because I could not suppress my urge to ask him something desperately"
"Err, about that…… you have heard of me too, right…?"
It’s not that I was trying to verify how famous I am. I asked it just to determine how far the stories about the «number one Beater» has spread outside the raiding teams.
"Um, ummm… No, I don't, sorry……"
To be honest, this answer made me relieved and shocked at the same time. My expression became complicated, and Asuna tapped me on my shoulder as if retaliating my earlier remark.
"See, didn't I tell you? You are too concerned with this."
"Actually, I like the bandana quite a lot."
"Then let me give you a nickname. How about «Ukraine Samurai»?"
"Isn't that Bandana covered in blue and yellow stripes? Don't you think it's like the Ukrainian national flag? Or, if you don't like that, «Sweden Samurai» is also quite good . "
"I'm sorry, please give me a break……"
Blacksmith Nezuha had been listening to the exchange between Asuna and I with a stunned expression, but he finally interrupted us timidly.
"Um, umm. …… What you said about a moment ago, is it true? Asuna-san saying things like 'No matter what, I will die someday' …… "
Indeed, this question will be difficult for the person herself to answer. To help her, I responded in a conscious and bright tone,
"Ah, yep yep. She was really amazing — camping and hunting non-stop in the labyrinth area for 4 days, and in the end collapsing in front of me. Of course I couldn't just leave her there, but I didn't have the STR to lift a player up yet, so I had no choice but to use a single-person sleeping bag to…… "
My foot was stomped by the silent Asuna, who started speaking in a firm and calm manner,
" ………To be honest, that thought still hasn’t disappeared, even now. No matter what, we are only at the second floor, while our goal is the hundredth floor that's far beyond us. The will to strive for and reach that goal, and the feeling that I'll most likely die of exhaustion somewhere, have always been clashing with each other. However……"
The hazel pupils shined from the depths of the hood. They are as intense as they were when we met in the depths of the labyrinth, but I think the feeling behind it have really changed.
"……However, I am no longer fighting for the sake of dying. Although I am not yet forward-looking enough to be able to say that I'm fighting for the sake of surviving and clearing the game, I have set myself a small but clear goal, and am fighting to achieve it."
"Eh…really? Isn't your goal…to enjoy a full serving of «tremble shortcake»?"
I asked very seriously, but for some reason Asuna sighed and only said "That's not it…", before turning back to Nezuha.
"You too, will definitely find it. Actually, I’m sure that you already have it in you. Something that you should be aiming for..... hence, something that you should be fighting for. After all, didn't you leave the «Starting City» on your own feet?
Nezuha didn't respond immediately, but looked down again. However, his eyes remained open as he stared at the leather boots on his feet. It was only now that I noticed that they were not shoes for use inside the city area, but actual armour.
"............ That's right, there was. My own goals."
I felt a small...but definitely kindling hope, even within his resigned and mumbled answer. But as if blowing his own fire out, Nezuha violently shook his head and continued,
"But, no longer, as it had already disappeared. Before coming to this world. No, even earlier than that…… the day I bought my NerveGear. ……During the initial connection test, I …… had been determined as FNC……"
FNC, that is, Full Dive NonConforming.
Using ultraweak microwave to connect brain with electric signals, Full Dive machine is originally a subtle and delicate equipment that requires detailed tuning for the users.
However, the tens of thousands of consumer-version NerveGear that were sold definitely won’t provide such levels of care. The machine contains an auto-adjustment mechanism, so after going through the tedious and long-winded first time connection test and calibration, one can dive immediately after turning it on, for subsequent uses.
However, albeit rare, there are actually cases of players being determined as «Non-Conforming» after connection tests. Most of the cases involve issues such as one of the five senses being unable to function fully, or slight lags in communications with the brain. Although those can't be considered as critical faults, there are some who are unable to dive because of this.
From the fact that he is in Aincrad, Nezuha's FNC doesn’t seem to be that serious ― but he would have been luckier if it was determined that it was impossible for him to dive. That way, he wouldn't be imprisoned inside this death game.
After packing everything into the carpet, we went back to the empty room near the square and continued listening to Nezuha's confession.
" ………… As for me, my sense of hearing, touch, taste and smell are all working well, but the most important sense — vision, is acting abnormally……"
As Nezuha finished his sentence, he moved his hand toward the tea cup prepared by Asuna on the round table. However, he did not grab the right side handle straight away, but reached slowly forwards, and only held it gingerly after his hand felt the handle.
"It's not like I can't see at all, but the visual ability of my eyes…… that is, my ability to perceive distance and depth doesn't work well. I don't know how far is it between the avatar's hand and the object I want to reach………"
For a moment, I thought "If it's just this sort of disability..." but gave up on that thought immediately.
If SAO is a very orthodox fantasy MMORPG game, Nezuha's disabilities won't be much of a problem. He could just choose a Class with sure hit ranged attacks, that is, a class that manipulates magic.
However, in SAO, there are no mages, nor even archers, at all. All combatants must battle with the weapons held in their hands.
And whether it is using a sword, an axe or a spear, not having a perception of distance perception—that is, the inability to perceive the distance between the avatar and the monster, really is a big problem. Because, the basis of basis of battles in this world is to remember the reach of your own weapon with your body.
After taking a sip of the tea, Nezuha put the cup back to the saucer carefully and smiled faintly ,
"For me, even hitting a stationary weapon on the anvil with the short smith hammer of mine is a difficult task……"