[Cordial Chords] Part 3

Sorry that it took this long to post a Cordial Chords update. Real life hasn't been giving us enough time to finish up editing in a timely manner, so instead I filled the void with some secondary releases.

Anyway, part 3 is a rather short chapter that focuses on Eiji and offers more details on his background. You know, in case you thought there weren't enough reasons to say "ouch" (though it doesn't change the fact that he's an idiot).

Italic text is Engrish (English written in katakana).

Any feedback is appreciated.

-Gsimenas

Credits

Raws:: Mttblue2
Translation: Gsimenas
Editing: Pryun





3


Having taken several of his personal belongings stored in a large manila envelope and signed umpteen documents, Nochizawa Eiji stepped out through the front door of the Yoyogi police station.

It had already been seven days since he turned himself in on the 1st of May. Actually, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it was only seven days.

Eiji had testified the truth about everything, apart from his motives, regarding how he attacked and injured the members of the Fuurinkazan guild in Akihabara and at the Yoyogi Stadium. During the investigation, he claimed that he "held a grudge over some trouble in-game", though that wasn't a complete lie.

He figured that there would be no chance of being released on bail as he had sent as many as six people to the hospital, while not having anyone to vouch for his behaviour upon release; however, today he was suddenly informed that he would be released without indictment. It seemed that the Fuurinkazan guys either hadn't filed a report or withdrew it, but Eiji didn't feel indebted to them for that. After all, just because he was released didn't mean he had any place to go to.

Conventionally, he had no other option but to return to his apartment in the Meguro ward. He did want to get changed, take a bath and, most of all, sleep soundly in a familiar bed.

However, at the same time, he also felt that he absolutely didn't want to do that.

He didn't want to return to his normal life. He never ever wanted to return to those days when he could only wait for his regrets and despair to eat him up bit by bit.

Ever since he was released from the death game in the autumn two years ago…… no, to be accurate, an additional year before that, since 18th of October 2023, the day Yuna—— Yuuna died in Aincrad, Eiji lived in a world with no light to be found.

Having left the Knights of the Blood, he secluded himself in the inn on the First Floor where he had been living with Yuuna, recalling Yuuna's final moments time after time each day. His head was filled with nothing but thoughts such as 'At that time, if only I had done this or that.'

At first, he only blamed himself. 'If only I had been stronger. If only I had noticed the gimmick for that trap zone. If only I hadn't gone out to help those trapped players'——

However, about half a year after the incident, he noticed that he wasn't the only one at fault for Yuuna's death.

'If only those reckless players didn't fall for that painfully obvious trap.'

'If only they had actually read the strategy guide and all had a 《Cough Potion》, an item that was indispensable for the fortieth floor.'

'If only the players that came to the rescue with us didn't prioritise crushing that boss monster and instead helped save Yuuna from her plight……'

At that moment, Eiji had desperately pleaded the main players of the rescue party—— the two members of the Clearing guild named 《Fuurinkazan》. 'I'm begging you, please go save Yuna', he begged.

However, those two answered that they would all be wiped out if the boss wasn't defeated properly and thus didn't even try to leave their posts.

Before he knew it, Eiji became possessed by the thought that Yuuna was killed not by the monsters or SAO itself, but by those two guys. As progress was made on clearing the floors and Eiji began seeing the name Fuurinkazan in the info broker's newspaper, the focus of his hatred expanded to include the other members and even the guild leader.

'They were the ones who killed Yuuna. They wanted to hog the boss's drop items, so they didn't come to Yuuna's aid.'

In a corner of his mind, he realised that this was an absurd grudge that was based on what was practically a false accusation. However, Eiji had no other way to continue living in that world apart from being fixated on that idea.

Of course, he had deliberated suicide many times. If he jumped off the peripheral terrace in the Town of Beginnings into the sea of clouds, he would be able to die without leaving for the Outer Field.

Yet, while no one voiced this out loud, deep in their hearts, everyone clung to a certain idea——'Could the players who died in Aincrad not actually be dead? Perhaps they had been teleported to some other place, where they're waiting for the game to be cleared?', this faint hope stopped Eiji from commiting suicide.

On the 7th of November 2024, SAO was finally cleared and Eiji returned to the real world.

In the hospital that he had been admitted to, he discovered several things.

The fact that Eiji's parents had divorced merely a month after he became trapped in the death game. The fact that the house they had been living in had already been sold off, his parents had both moved out, and that the one taking care of Eiji was Yuuna's father, Professor Shigemura.

And also, the fact that the proclamation made by Kayaba Akihiko, the mastermind of the death game as well as Professor Shigemura's disciple, was true, word for word——

The exact same day and moment Yuna died on the fortieth floor of Aincrad, Yuuna had of course died. In the presence of the professor, who informed the boy of this truth quietly, Eiji began weeping.



Having received a call from the hospital, his parents arrived to meet him several days later, yet it seemed that neither of the two wanted to take their son in. At that moment, for the first time in his life, #Eiji#(鋭二) discovered the reason why the character #two#() was in his name, despite him being an only child. His father and mother were in a second marriage, while Eiji was a child from his mother's previous marriage, and thus he had no blood relationship with his father. Apparently, his mother's former husband had taken custody of his elder brother whose name Eiji did not even know.

When Eiji announced that he wanted to live alone, his parents, having already begun a new life, returned to their respective homes with an expression of relief.

Even so, they did give him a minimal allowance, thus Eiji rented a cheap apartment and, making use of the SAO Incident Victim Relief Programme, received a high school diploma by completing a correspondence course. He had absolutely no desire to go to the survivor school where there was a chance the guys who had let Yuuna die studied at.

Despite qualifying to take an entrance exam, Eiji had no desire to study at university or anything, thus, as before, he remained drowning in despair from losing Yuuna. An end to his dreary days of darkness finally came in autumn the following year—— the moment Professor Shigemura requested his help for a 《project to restore Yuuna》.

Ever since that day, the chance to meet Yuuna again was the only pillar supporting Eiji's will to live. He once again began studying for the entrance exam and even joined Shigemura's lab as an auditing student.

He understood that the digital ghost they recreated from the memories of SAO players wasn't the real Yuuna. Despite this, Eiji couldn't help but cling to that faint hope. This attempt at creating an artificial intelligence from human memories was the first of its kind in the world. In that case, it wouldn't be strange for some miracle to take place within it.

Yes…… a miracle did in fact take place.

By combining the memories scanned from tens of survivors, an AI that made use of the language engine developed by Kayaba Akihiko successfully reproduced Yuuna's personality. Following this, if the final stage of their plan - to steal a large quantity of memories from over a thousand survivors gathered at the New National Stadium and integrate these memories into the AI - succeeded, Yuuna was sure to be revived completely.

However, the AI Yuuna's personality was too much like Yuuna's.

She once again decided to do the exact same thing.

Just like how she sacrificed herself in an attempt to save other players on the fortieth floor of Aincrad, this time too she decided to assist a player from the Clearers…… the 《Black Swordsman》 who had cleared SAO, to stop the professor's plan, knowing that this would lead to her disappearing.

In the stadium's underground parking lot, Eiji fought the Black Swordsman and lost, despite exploiting his exosuit to its very limits. And at that point, he was betrayed by Professor Shigemura, whom he had trusted deeply.

The professor attempted to steal even Eiji's memories of Yuuna.

He did not recall whether this memory scan had been actually conducted or not. When Eiji entered the concert venue upon regaining consciousness in the underground parking lot, everything had already ended.

Yes…… anything and everything had come to an end.

While he was released with his personal belongings, Eiji had no idea where to go now.

If he returned to his apartment, it would only lead to those gray days of monotony again. Nevertheless, he had no intention of contacting Professor Shigemura. The home he was born in had already been taken up by another family. He was so hungry that it felt like his stomach was twisting, yet he didn't feel like going to a restaurant to get something to eat.

When he directed his gaze at the upper-right corner of his vision in an attempt to look at the time, he noticed that nothing was there. That was only natural; after all, he did not have his Augma equipped.

As Eiji's Augma was customised to control his exosuit, it was confiscated along with his broken suit. Assuming he'd get it back, it would probably only happen after it was confirmed that he would not face prosecution, but it was unclear how likely that would happen.

Regardless, if he continued standing on police grounds indefinitely, he'd probably be told to go someplace else by the officer on watch. In that case, perhaps he should continue walking without a care until he became unable to move from exhaustion?

While deliberating this idea, Eiji came out onto the sidewalk in front of the police station and before him…

Idly stood the person that he least wanted to see.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks a lot Gsi for your hard work. Can't wait for the next part ;)

    ReplyDelete