[Cordial Chords] Part 4

With this release, we've crossed the halfway point (actually, we're nearly at the 2/3 mark). This chapter mostly serves as set up for the remaining parts of the story. The end of this part should give you a clue what the next part will be about, though the big action is reserved for the final part. And of course we had to have a chapter in a cafe. At least we avoided food talk this time. Anyway, enjoy the chapter.

Full-width text is used to indicate the use of western alphabet characters in the original text. Italic text is Engrish (English written in katakana) or Eiji's in-game name, because it's hard to tell the difference in translated text otherwise.

Any feedback is appreciated.



Raws:: Mttblue2
Translation: Gsimenas
Editing: Pryun


As I saw signs of sharp antagonism on Nochizawa Eiji's——Eiji's face the moment he recognised me, I thought, "That's to be expected, I guess."

If our places were to be reversed, I would be just as cautious. Not only did I obstruct their plan to restore Shigemura Yuuna, I was also one of the players from the Clearers that he ought to despise.

Following the end of the incident, I had Agil, a man well up in the news, look up some things for me, thus, by now, I too knew the reason Eiji despised Fuurinkazan and the Clearers, and I've also heard about the circumstances regarding how Yuuna lost her life in Aincrad to some extent.

It's only natural to be despised… is what I don't feel. At least, not when it's to the extent where he felt the need to send Klein and the others to hospital.

However, on the other hand, I am able to somewhat understand——though this could just be my arbitrary assumption——Eiji's feelings. After the devastation of the 《Moonlit Black Cats》 guild, I too tried to find something other than myself to blame for the incident. And I had even taken a cold attitude towards Klein and Asuna, who worried about me. If there had been other players in the room where Sachi, Tetsuo, and the others died, I could have grown to vehemently detest them as well.

As I thought over such conjectures in the corner of my mind, I considered how I should greet Eiji.

Yet, before I could say a thing, Eiji opened his mouth.

"……What do you want."

His tone was harsh, but it was better than if "Get out of my sight" were the first words to leave his mouth. I coughed and pointed to the left with my eyes.

"Before I answer that, can we go somewhere else? Just moments ago, that officer over there asked me what I was doing here."


An even more suspicious look appeared on Eiji's face, but he still turned in silence. As he began walking at a quick pace, I hurried after him.

"Ehm…… There's a family restaurant where you can pay in OS points a bit further up. I've got tons of points saved up, so my treat."

Just as I spoke out to him from the side, the clearest tongue click I've ever heard in my life came in response.

"I don't need to be treated by you, even I have some po……"

After spitting this out hatefully, his expression changed as if he had just realised something. While I had an Augma in my bag, Eiji did not have one on his head. It was most likely confiscated as evidence for the incident. And, of course, Ordinal Scale points couldn't be used without an Augma.

While Eiji did become unable to say a thing, he did not resist when we arrived at the family restaurant and I attempted to lead him through the door. Luckily, the inside of the restaurant was practically empty, so I had Eiji follow me to a four-seat table far in the back. Here, our conversation was unlikely to be overheard by others.

Sitting across the table, Eiji once again said "What do you want" in a low voice. As he said this, I placed the menu, picked up from the stand, in front of him.

"Let's talk about that after placing our orders. Pick anything you like."

Just then came another tongue click. Still, Eiji quickly glanced through the menu and pressed the call button after a mere ten seconds. Not having decided what to order yet, I also hurriedly opened my menu.

The waitress who showed up was wearing an Augma instead of using a wireless portable device.

"Beef rib roast stake, C set."

As Eiji showed absolutely no restraint with his orders, the waitress wrote it down on a holo-window that only she could see. And I'll have the same thing… is what I'd like to say, but I had a promise to make dinner with Suguha today, so I decided to only order a cheesecake and something from the drink bar.

Once the waitress left, Eiji sent me a sharp look. For the third time, I was asked "What do you want"——is what I thought would happen, but the question was different this time.

"……Is that a survivor school uniform?"


Looking at my blazer with slightly conspicuous piping embellishments(1), I nodded.

"Ah, yeah…… that's right."


He gave a short snort, but he didn't seem to be planning to say anything else. 'What's up with that, sheesh'…… I thought, but it's not like I came here to speak about school, thus I took out my tablet from my messenger bag. I displayed the page that I had bookmarked and presented it to Eiji.

"Know anything about this?"


Having picked it up in silence, Eiji glanced through the screen and, at that very moment, a noticeably stern expression appeared on his face.

"A Yuna…… desktop mascot?"

He quickly followed the link and said in a hoarse voice.

"For a price, you can change her clothes……and have her sing to the user, it says? No…… I don't know; not about something like this. Did the professor approve the creation of such an app……?"

"The management rights for Black Yuna…… I mean, Idol Yuna were apparently taken away from Professor Shigemura's hands."

When I revealed this piece of info that I discovered with Yui's help, Eiji's suddenly had his breath taken away for a moment.

"Currently, Yuna is being independently operated by an entertainment company named 《Ario Room》 , as well as Kamura."

"……Ario Room is the company that the professor put in charge of Yuna's management. Though, Yuna's appearance schedule was effectively decided by the professor and me. She…… the one you call Black Yuna is a being that was created in order to assemble SAO survivors, after all……"

As Eiji muttered this, it seemed like a faint aura of pity appeared on his face. However, it disappeared right away, replaced by a tone of resignation.

"……If that's what the professor decided to do, there's nothing I can do about it. I no longer have the right to say anything about how Black Yuna should be used."

'Are you sure you're actually okay with that?', were words that I swallowed down. It seems that Professor Shigemura ceding the rights to Black Yuna was done to take responsibility for the havoc caused during her first live concert nine days ago. And the one who thwarted the Yuna restoration plan that the professor and Eiji had staked everything on… was me…… albeit, there would have been a lot of casualties if I hadn't done so.

Having raised his eyes off the tablet, Eiji once again formed a stern expression as he looked at me.

"……And so? Did you really go out of your way to see me to tell me about this? Hold on…… how did you know that I was going to be released to-……"

However, Eiji closed his mouth as the waitress approached us at that moment.

She lined up the sizzling steak with a round bun as part of the set, as well as a plate with a piece of cheesecake on the table. 'Would that be all?', 'Yes.', after this short exchange, the waitress left a paper bill before leaving, after which Eiji shot a glance at me.

"Ah, go ahead, feel free to dig in first. I'm gonna go get a drink, want some?……"

At that point, with an expression that seemed to scream 'Why are you doing this?', Eiji bluntly said "Oolong tea, hold back on the ice."

At the drink bar corner, I poured some iced oolong tea, as well as some hot coffee for myself, and returned to my seat, where I found that Eiji had already finished off half of the steak and bun. Was he that hungry or was he just trying to get things over with quickly?—— most likely both.

Giving up on continuing our conversation while eating, I took a piece of the smallish cheesecake with the fork and carried it to my mouth. The taste reproduction engine in ALO was constantly being updated, yet to the brain itself, rather than to the tongue, it just couldn't induce the kind of sense of fullness that real food could. Speaking of which, virtual desserts didn't have the issue of making you feel guilty about the sugar and calories involved either.

In the end, it wasn't like Kamura and Professor Shigemura developed the Augma independently from scratch; it was just a product that re-used Kayaba's FullDive tech——of course, it was remarkable that they managed to downsize it to that extent—— but with its FullDive featured sealed away, so, if someone felt like it, it should be possible to reproduce the sense of taste in an AR environment as well. I wonder if the reason why no one had done so is because of a marketing strategy decision, or because they were holding back due to Kayaba.

As such observations crossed my mind, I put my fork to work, putting an end to the cake in no time. Meanwhile, Eiji finished eating his steak at practically the same moment, and drank his oolong tea in one gulp.

I was honestly curious about the kind of meals you'd get in a police cell, but even someone with a skill of reading the mood as low as mine could tell that this wasn't the best time to ask about such a thing. Making use of the opportunity provided by Eiji taking in a breath, I suddenly brought out the main subject at hand.

"Yesterday, I installed that desktop mascot into my Augma."

At that very moment, Eiji's stern expression returned as he said, 'And?'

"……And, at first, that mascot Yuna did nothing that you wouldn't expect from such a program, but…… once I told her my name, she suddenly started acting as if she was affected by some abnormal load, and……"

As I explained all of that, I started having less and less faith in whether that actually happened, but if I just said "Actually, nevermind." now, the whole thing would just end with me going all the way to Yoyogi, a place that required me to take a route that was in the opposite direction than the one I needed to go back home, after school and treating Eiji to some steak; all for nothing. Resolving myself, I finished the sentence.

"……She said, 'Kirito, save me.'"


As Eiji remained silent, his upturned gaze was fifty percent 《Is this guy okay?》 and 《Do you think I'd fall for that》 each.

……No, that wasn't all. 《Don't tell me…》 and 《Could it be》 were gaining presence bit by bit, exceeding his initial misgivings.

"……'Save', that all?"

At his question, raised in a whisper, I quickly nodded.

"Yeah. That's all she said before another drop-frame affected her…… afterwards, she didn't say anything that was unbefitting of a mascot."

"……So, based solely on that, you went so far as to look up when I'd be released and came to see me?"

This time, I couldn't give an answer so easily. Because, 'Why did I go so far?'……is not the kind of question that I avoided asking myself.


"Perhaps, if any other word were used instead, I would have just assumed that I misheard it or there was some bug with the program, and would have forgotten all about it right away…… but, when a word such as 'save' was used, I kinda……"

After drinking up the now cold coffee that remained at the bottom of my cup, the bitterness making me frown, I spoke about the conjectures that crossed my mind yesterday.

"If someone used the mascot to send a message, there's only two people who could have done that. It was either White Yuna…… the digital ghost of Professor Shigemura's daughter who should have disappeared at the stadium, or Black Yuna the idol operated by Ario Room. Though, I'm guessing you didn't make Black Yuna's character that complicated, right?"

Eiji didn't answer my question right away and instead, after several seconds, muttered.

"Two, huh."


"……Nothing. ——Indeed, Black Yuna…… though the professor and I call her YUNA, written in the western alphabet; she has only one impetus - 《a desire to sing in front of a large crowd》. She didn't even understand what our plan entailed. Even if the right to manage her was transferred from the professor to Ario Room, it has no impact on Black Yuna's role as an AR idol. If so, there's no way she'd voice any displeasure…… I think……"

His explanation suddenly faded out, thus I looked into Eiji's face. Noticing my gaze, he quickly shook his head.

"Well…… There were several occasions when she did something that she wasn't programmed to do, like showing eagerness in reading an irrelevant book, or interest in the memory data that we had materialised into objects. Though, I can't really imagine that the foundation for her personality has changed. If it's really one of the Yunas that sent you a message, it would be……"

At that moment, Eiji once again shut his mouth. Staring at a single point on the table, he did not move a single muscle.

Thinking about it reasonably, it couldn't have been Black Yuna that sent the message. Nevertheless, he was probably reluctant to take a leap in logic and infer that White Yuna was still out there somewhere. Bearing a hope only for it to be crushed right afterwards…… As someone who tried to acquire a revival item to bring back Sachi, I could understand his pain.

Nevertheless, now having explained all that had happened, I had to bring up the core question. Asking that very question is why I came to see Eiji.

I exhaled deeply, then once again breathed in—— but then stopped at that point. After hesitating for about two seconds, I asked something different from what I had planned.

"Umm…… I wonder, how should I call you? We can't go on with 《#you#(socchi)》 and 《#you#(omae)》 forever now, after all…… Eiji? Nautilus? Nochizawa-kun?"

Just then, I got an intense stare from beyond the gently wavy forelocks of his.

"The third one is a definite no-go. Second one is a no-go too……Just use Eiji."

"G-gotcha……Then call me Kirito……"


Placing my trust in the assumption that that answer was an 'okay', I moved forward with the topic.

"So…… Eiji, the reason why I came to see you was because I wanted you to tell me what's become of the old SAO server that White Yuna ran on.

"The old SAO server…… you say?"

After parroting my words in a mutter, Eiji frowned.

"Well, naturally, the professor shut it down and sealed it away again………… No, wait. You said that Black Yuna is running not only as a desktop mascot, but as the real thing too?"

"Ah…… Yeah. Umm……"

I picked up my tablet from the table and went to the official site that I had bookmarked.

"……Look, she's having a mini concert in Akihabara and Osaka today. Also, a new song is being released at the end of the month, it seems."

"In that case, the SAO server is still running."

I took several seconds to digest Eiji's words.

With 'It can't be' and 'I knew it' sentiments mixed in, I unconsciously gave a sigh.

"……So that's it…… Meaning, Black Yuna is also an AI based on SAO, huh……"

"Yep. Regardless of how simple her impetus is, it's impossible for Professor Shigemura to have created an AI that could speak as naturally as her when it's not even his field of expertise."

Upon asserting this, Eiji extended his hand towards his glass. But noticing that only water from the melted ice remained, he stood up.

"This time, I'll go get your share. What do you want?"

Thinking that this was the first time I've ever been asked about getting a beverage from the drink bar in such an edged tone, I answered, "In that case, some ginger ale."


As I've already grown used to that response, I waited quietly at the table and Eiji returned in no time. Having placed a glass and straw in front of me, before sitting down on his chair and taking a sip of his cappuccino, he continued his explanation.

"Black Yuna wasn't the only one running on the SAO server. Ordinal Scale itself is running on another system that was hidden on the SAO server."


"Have you ever heard of the name 'Cardinal System'?"

At this question, I nodded reflexively.

"Ah….. yeah, I have. It's an autonomous system that controlled SAO and made maintenance unnecessary…… It swiftly dealt with any bugs or glitches, controlled inflation and deflation, and even automatically generated quests."

"Hmph…… That's right. Apparently, the name for the Cardinal System comes from 《#cardinal numbers#(kisuu)》, cardinal numbers. Do I need to explain what a cardinal number is?"

"Err…… It's a number that denotes quantity and number, if I recall correctly? Like 'one', 'two', 'three'……"

"Well, that'll do. That means that the Cardinal System is a system that controls the game based on cardinal numbers. Player and monster stats like HP and STR, weapon and armour specs, various correction and resistance values - everything and anything was managed and processed through cardinal numbers…… Well, it's an awfully ordinary thing in RPGs though."

"I see……"

Predicting where this was going, I shoved my straw into the ginger ale. Eiji took another sip of his cappuccino, his gaze roaming through the air.

"……However, Kayaba Akihiko created a prototype for another system that was based on the exact opposite principal. Not cardinal numbers, but 《#ordinal numbers#(josuu)》……it managed players through ordinal numbers."

"Ordinal numbers…… numbers that denoted sequence and number in a series……?"

"That's correct. The Ordinal System, the opposite side of the coin of the Cardinal System…… Being a outside-the-company board member of Argus, Professor Shigemura discovered the system that, in the end, Kayaba never made use of while examining the SAO server. The professor copied and recycled it for Ordinal Scale. The main server for OS is located in Kamura's subsidiary, but it has a direct connection through a private line to the SAO server in Argus's headquarters. In order to have Black Yuna and White Yuna in OS, you see……"

"……That means that Ordinal Scale, in a sense, was SAO itself…… is that it? Even the old Aincrad bosses that appeared during the event battles weren't just lookalike remakes……"

"We just reused the original data as is. Have you noticed that the locations where the bosses appeared were lined up with the coordinates of the Aincrad Labyrinths?"

"Yeah…… Though, only after several battles."

As I nodded, Eiji glimpsed through the eastern window—— towards the Yoyogi Gymnasium that should lie beyond it.

"That was because we couldn't change the location where the bosses would appear. Though luckily, the Ordinal System automatically tailored the nearby parks and plazas…… Supposing Kayaba had made use of the Ordinal System, rather than the Cardinal System, SAO players would have also been managed based on ranking numbers.

"If that were the case, it wouldn't have been possible to avoid having rankings specified, so there would have been more PK victims……"

"Though, there would have been fewer reckless idiots who'd take on monsters that were obviously out of their league."

Having said this in a low voice, Eiji grasped his coffee cup with both hands. Some bones became clearly visible on the back of his hands.

But after several seconds, he breathed out and took his hands off the cup, before continuing the explanation.

"……There was another merit to reusing the Ordinal System. The language engine developed by Kayaba for SAO had three levels. The least advanced one was an engine for ordinary NPCs. This was followed by an engine for event NPCs and care support AI. And the most sophisticated one was an engine for last bosses…… As a container for White Yuna, no, Yuuna, the professor naturally chose the last boss language engine. However, a problem lay there. Under the Cardinal System, the last bosses were formidable but not immortal. If attacked by tens of high-level players, it was possible for them to be defeated."

"And if it were defeated, the language engine that provided Yuna's personality after all that effort put into it would be reset……"

As I muttered this, Eiji's lips became faintly distorted.

This wasn't something hypothetical, but what actually occurred. My battle against Eiji in the New National Stadium, as well as the defeat of the last boss together with Asuna and our comrades, took place merely nine days ago.

But Eiji only gave another side, before confirming my words.

"That's how it goes…… Yet, this wouldn't be the case with the Ordinal System. I still don't know why, but Kayaba set it so that the top-ranked under the Ordinal System would be granted immortality. Whether it's because he planned to be that person…… or perhaps……"

Without finishing that line, he drank up his cappuccino. It was my turn to head to the drink bar this time, but I couldn't stand up due to all that shock I had from the words I just heard.

"He-hey, hold on. Im…...Immortality? You mean the top-ranked would be…… invincible?"

"That's how it is."

Asserting this, Eiji looked at me with a scornful expression.

"No, h…… hold on. It's not like I was planning on going on OS to wipe out people left and right."

"Nobody said anything of the sort."

"I-I'll have you know, I'm planning on retiring from OS, you hear."

"Hmph, do as you please."

With that blunt declaration, Eiji reclined on the sofa. The rays from the setting sun coming through the window blinds behind him drew red lines on his face.

I also finished my ginger ale and muttered this, recalling my memories of that day.

"……So that's why White Yuna had us Dive into Aincrad and fight the last boss under the Cardinal System's rules. On the other hand…… if the last boss were to be summoned to the real world to fight us under the Ordinal System rules, we would've had no chance of winning……"

"Yuna…… Yuuna was that kind of person. Always calm, intelligent, and kind to everyone……"

Having whispered this in such a low volume that even I, sitting right in front of him, could barely hear it, Eiji suddenly opened his eyes wide, before lowering his head.

I think he was one or two years older than me, but with the sharp look gone from his face, it suddenly gave off a childish impression. However, this only lasted for a few seconds, before Eiji glared at me with his brow once again creased.

"……And so? What of it if the SAO server is still running?"

"Ain't it obvious."

After glimpsing at the time displayed on my tablet, I said.

"Tell me how to access the SAO server. I want to Dive into Aincrad once more."


1. ^ In sewing, piping is a type of trim or embellishment consisting of a strip of folded fabric so as to form a "pipe" inserted into a seam to define the edges or style lines of a garment or other textile object. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piping_(sewing))


  1. Thanks for the chapter :)

  2. Thank you so much for this translation, will be waiting for the next one