[Cordial Chords] Part 5

Since I got done with my last test before Easter, it's about time to celebrate! And what better way to celebrate than with a translation release? As you may have guessed from the previous chapter, we'll be visiting the SAO server in this one. Next chapter will be the last (and most significant/emotional) one and will thus bring a close to Eiji's (and one of the Yunas') story.

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 and there's ONE instance in this chapter where his real name (i.e. in kanji) was used for whatever reason.

Any feedback is appreciated.



Raws:: Mttblue2
Translation: Gsimenas
Editing: Pryun


Minato Ward, Motoakasaka, Block One(1).

The eight-storey building slightly to the north of Aoyama Street was once the headquarters of Argus.

Having ridden the subway Chiyoda Line and Ginza Line to arrive here from Yoyogi, Eiji and I——we hadn't spoken to each other at all on the train——looked up at the black-tiled building without windows in silence for a few moments. I've laid my eyes on this building through pictures and videos numerous times, but I've never visited it directly till today.

The reason why Argus, a company that had been called a puny maker till the 2010s, grew so much that it was able to build an office for themselves in such a super prime district, was because they had the superhuman genius that was Kayaba Akihiko with them. The game titles for the consoles and PC that he developed sold over twenty million copies worldwide in total, earning Argus an enormous profit. Using those funds, Kayaba developed the NerveGear and SAO, which led to the incident that plunged the company in its entirety to the bottom of hell.

There were no lights in the pitch black building, while some grill shutters were lowered on the front entrance. There was a side entrance on the left side, but there were placards on the glass and it seemed unlikely that the door could be used.

"……Hey, ya know."

I called out in a whisper to Eiji, standing at the boundary of the sidewalk and the building grounds.

"What I wanted to know is the means to access the server; that doesn't mean I wanted you to accompany me to the server itself……"

"Hmph, we've come here specifically because there are no such means. I thought I told you that the OS server is connected to the SAO server through a private line."

"B-but, well, how about the lab at the institute or something?……"

As I persisted, Eiji went silent for a moment, before quickly shaking his head.

"Indeed, the lab at Touto Tech has a terminal for controlling White Yuna and Black Yuna. But it's impossible to access the SAO server through that machine. You need to open up a gate for FullDive use from the server side."

"But I……"

'Dived into the SAO server from the New National Stadium', I attempted to say but stopped midway. In that instance, there was no doubt that White Yuna opened up the gate for us from inside the server. And she was no longer with us.

Having given me a sharp glance as I sank into silence, Eiji took out a portable device from the pocket of his blue track jacket. He launched some sort of app, before muttering.

"I think I should be able to open the side entrance and server room doors with my ID. However, there are remote surveillance cameras inside. If they spot something, the guard will be after us in no time."

"……I see……"

Nodding, I took out the Augma from my bag. The reason I had once again taken it off after using it to pay using points at the family restaurant was because I suspected that I'd have the urge to launch OS and go item hunting.

The moment the virtual desktop booted up, "Yui, you there?", I called out. In no time, white light gathered in the centre of my vision, forming a small fairy.

Being based on the 《SAO care support AI》 that Eiji spoke of a while ago, Yui spent each day persistently improving her abilities; right now, I am unable to even imagine where her limits lay.

This super AI, 'Fuwawaa', gave a big yawn before looking up at me, a cheerful smile appearing on her face.

『Good morning, Papa!』

Turning my back to Eiji as he gave me a suspicious expression, I greeted her in a whisper.

"M-morning, Yui. Though it's already evening……"

『In the business world, 《Good morning》 is a greeting used all day long!』

I was curious about what business she had in mind, but I didn't have the time to get sidetracked right now.

"Hey, Yui. I'd like to infiltrate, I mean, pay a visit to that building right now, so I was wondering if you could do something about the surveillance cameras for a bit……"

Seemingly having understood my extremely vague, roundabout phrasing in an instant, Yui looked up at the black building.

"Okay, piece of cake! …… Though, oh my, isn't that building the former main office for Argus."

"Yeah, umm, it is."

"And what about the person behind you, Papa……"

As Yui tilted her head, I considered how I should explain this, but this would by no means end with just a word or two.

Also, the Augma doesn't have any cameras and instead makes use of an advanced tech that converts data in real time from the user's eyeball sensor, that is, the view that the user's eyeballs perceive, into visuals that can be processed by the system. Meaning that Yui should only be able to see what I myself am looking at, so how is she able to perceive Eiji's standing behind me?

Deciding to ask her about this secret after we got back home, I limited the explanation to the bare minimum.

"Well, we kinda went with the flow and decided to enter this building together…… he has an ID that grants access to it."

『There is no danger involved, right?』

"Sure, nothing dangerous either legally or physically…… or so I expect. Can you do something about the cameras?

『Yes, I have already done something about them.』


『I have ensured that all the surveillance cameras in the building will play a five minute-long looped recording. But the sun is setting, thus someone could notice that the angle of the sun remains unchanged.』

"E……. eh, isn't that a bit too much to ask of a person…… Thanks, Yui, I'll be sure to properly explain this in detail later on."

『That is a promise! Also, no keeping secrets from Mama, you hear!』

"Of course, I'll inform Asuna about this too."

Having finished the conversation in whispers, I quickly turned around. Eiji's expression was full of suspicion, but as someone who had been working with Black Yuna, he should be able to deduce something as trivial as the fact that I was speaking to an AI.

"Eiji, seems like we'll be able to get around the cameras. I'll leave the door to you."

"……I've just been released, you know, so I'll run away without you if a guard comes."

For a second, I hesitated whether I should say something like, "While I won't be abandoning you", in response, but gave a short answer in the end.

"Gotcha…… Let's go."

Having given each other a slight nod, we looked to the left and right of the road, before stepping onto the building grounds. Here and there, some passers-by could be seen, but it didn't seem like they were paying any attention to us.

Having approached the side entrance, Eiji held his device over the verification system. Without giving me any time to feel worried, I heard the system making a 'pipi' sound, followed by a clank as the door unlocked, thus we promptly opened the glass door and entered.

At that moment, the surveillance camera on the ceiling of the dark passage suddenly looked down at us. Its red indicator seemed to be staring at us.

Turning around, Eiji,

"Oi, are you sure we're okay here?"

The moment he whispered that, Yui, who was standing on my shoulder, seemingly took offense and jumped to face him.

『Please inform this person that we are a hundrecent okay!』

"……We're a hundrecent okay."

It wasn't clear how much Eiji trusted my response, but there was no turning back after coming this far. Pushing him by the back of his track jacket, I made him go forward.

At the end of the short passage lay the entrance hall; the room was dyed purple by the remaining rays of sunlight coming through the front grill shutters. We'd be visible from the road in front of the building, thus we quickly crossed the room and plunged into the elevator hall.

Among the three of them, only one was still powered. Upon Eiji pressing the 'down' button, the door instantly opened.

What surprised me was the fact that the elevator had buttons for six underground floors in addition to eight above-ground floors. Eiji didn't hesitate to press the button for the fifth underground floor. According to the information plate on the wall, B1 through B3 were the parking lot, B4 was the data centre, B5 was the server room, and B6 was the machinery room.

"……Wouldn't you normally put the data centre and server rooms on the upper floors? It would be bad if they got flooded due to a downpour."

As I asked this, to my surprise, Eiji didn't give his typical "Hmph", but instead formed a faint smile. However, this shred of a smile vanished instantly, as he responded bluntly.

"When I came here for the first time, I asked the professor the exact same question. I'm told there's an underground water cooling system on the fourth and fifth underground floors that is cooling down the server. Also, while the underground floors are susceptible to flooding, they're resistant to earthquakes."

"…………I see……"

It was unclear whether it was Kayaba Akihiko's idea to set up the server underground, but come to think of it, Aincrad's system console was also located beneath the Town of Beginnings. Yui, who was about to be deleted at that location, was now sitting on my left shoulder, swaying her feet to and fro.

Upon leaving the elevator, I saw a passageway lit only by emergency lights stretching on straight forward. It was so dark that I couldn't see the floor, but Eiji proceeded without any hesitation.

There was a verification system beside the sliding door at the end of the passageway as well; this time, when Eiji held his portable device out, it took a bit of time before it opened. The inside was completely pitch dark, while a chilly and dry air flowed out of it.

As I felt an indescribable pressure causing me to hesitate stepping forward, this time it was Eiji's turn to push me in the back.

"Hurry up and get inside."


When I somehow managed to step forward, the sliding door closed behind me.

Pitch darkness. But in the depths of the room, multiple red and blue lights continued blinking. I could faintly hear the roar of an exhaust fan.

The moment I took one step closer as if drawn in, a white light dispelled the darkness. Eiji had pressed the light switch.

My eyes, half-closed for a moment, opened wide.

Inside the approximately ten jō-sized space, there was another room with glass walls. Enshrined in the middle of it was a jet black mainframe that was far bigger than me.

Inside the two front panels with sculpture-like figures, numerous indicators switched on and off restlessly. On the silver plate, attached to the panel on the right, were three characters: SAO.

"So this……is the SAO server……"

When I muttered this, Yui, sitting on my shoulder, spoke out in an unsurprisingly nervous voice.

『Inside, Aincrad still exists even now, I see……』

Nodding in silence, I turned around and looked at Eiji.

"Now that we're here…… we can log in to SAO, right?"

"Yeah…… There's an access point that you can only use in this server room. No other signals reach here, so you should be able to pick it up automatically."

Once he gave this answer, Eiji took out a worn-out AmuSphere from the boxes piled up in a disorderly manner beside the glass partition. Before I could say a thing, he quickly equipped it on his head.

"Naturally, I'm going too."

Now that he declared that, I couldn't just ask him to wait here. Besides, if he's using an AmuSphere, at least there shouldn't be any danger to his real body.


Once I also firmly attached my Augma to my head, I looked for a place suitable for a FullDive. However, of course, I couldn't find a bed, mattress, or anything of the sort.

On the other hand, Eiji sat down on the floor without any hesitation and leaned his back against the glass wall. I sat down in silence beside him, assuming the same posture.

Exchanging glances, we matched our timing. We both inhaled, gathered some air, and shouted at the same time.

""Link start!!""

The Augma, whose FullDive function White Yuna had unlocked during the stadium battle nine days ago, detached my consciousness from my body, making it soar through a rainbow space.

The sound of the wind.

Chilly air was stroking my cheeks. I felt the fragrance of flowers. And the sound of water flowing.

The moment I suddenly opened my eyes, a sky dyed a red as deep as blood due to the setting sun expanded as far as I could see.

The sky——

Yet, that was impossible. There was no sky in Aincrad. Lying on the stone paving, what I saw should have been the bottom of the floor above——a roof made from stone and iron. In that case, was this not Aincrad? Did I end up Diving into some other world……?

As my gaze remained fixated on the endless evening sky, my thoughts of disbelief were cleared away when a familiar voice suddenly reached my ears.

"Papa, please wake up!"

With that, my ability to think finally returned and I quickly sprang up. First, I looked over my body and hands, noticing a black leather coat with black fingerless gloves, as well as a metal plate on my chest. There was no doubt about it—— this was me in SAO, the avatar of the 《Black Swordsman》 Kirito. When I moved my hands around my back just to be sure, the hilts of my two beloved swords touched my palms as if clinging to them.

The moment I lowered my hands, stood up, and turned around, it came into my view. Standing about two metres away was Yui, the girl-in-a-white-one-piece-dress version, rather than her pixie form from ALO. The white stone-paved pathway extended straight ahead, with flower beds filled with multicoloured flowers in full bloom to the left and right.

And, towering over the end of the pathway, stood a magnificent and dignified deep crimson palace.

"The Ruby Palace…………"

Muttering, I took several steps forward, before Yui's black hair, swayed by the wind, came into my right hand. Yui raised her left hand and grasped my coat.

"So, this is Aincrad's hundredth floor, huh……"

When I spoke out again, Yui nodded.

Strictly speaking, this was the third time I've come here. However, in the first instance, I was led here by White Yuna in a state of not being able to tell whether I was in a dream or reality, thus my memories of that time aren't clear even now. The second time, I appeared in the sky above the palace and descended straight inside.

So, this would be the first time I got to gaze thoroughly at the Ruby Palace.

If I hadn't fought Heathcliff…… Kayaba Akihiko on the seventy-fifth floor, the conquest of the floating castle would have probably continued until we reached this palace with our own feet one day. Or perhaps, we would have been defeated on some floor without being able to accomplish this goal……

"……Is the last boss still inside……"

In response to my half-soliloquous utterance, Yui answered in a whisper.

"No…… the server appears to still be in the status where the last boss…… 《An Incarnation of the Radius》 has been defeated by Papa and the others."

"That so…… An MMO has no credit rolls or a second world, huh……"

In that case, at this moment and onwards, the palace would probably continue towering on the hundredth floor without any inhabitants. Having somehow suppressed the strange, strong emotions overflowing me, I looked around my surroundings.

And so, I finally realised that Eiji was nowhere to be found.

"Huh……where's Eiji……?"

"The only ones to appear at these coordinates are Papa and me, you know?"

Yui looked up at me, her lovely eyes a faint light of surprise.

"……By any chance, did you not have a plan on regrouping prepared beforehand?"

"……N-no. I was sure we'd appear at the same place……"

I mumbled some excuse, but if you think about it, there's no way that would have happened. In MMORPGs, 《appearing at the place you logged out last time》 is part of the basics; I logged out right after defeating the last boss nine days ago, thus I appeared on the hundredth floor——but outside rather than inside the dungeon.

In that case, Eiji too should have appeared at the place he logged out the last time…… the place he had been at when SAO was cleared one and a half years ago. Most likely, that place was the vast Town of Beginnings… some inn within that town.

"……As if I can find you……"

I moaned, while Yui once again gave a stunned expression; at that moment.

A tiny insight went through my consciousness.

There's no way that guy——Eiji would patiently wait for me at the Town of Beginnings. He was sure to go out on the search himself. Not for me, but for her…… for Yuna.

"Let's go, Yui!"

Shouting this, I grasped Yui's hand and began running in the opposite direction of the Ruby Palace, towards the Teleport Gate at the southern edge.


1. ^ Japanese addresses use a block-based system, rather than a street-based system that is more common in a lot of places in the West (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJIRIN3WP_M for more info).

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the translation! This story really confuses me. We watched Aincrad crumble. Kayaba himself stated he wished the castle still existed somewhere which is why Aincrad appearing in ALO was so meaningful. If he knew there was a backup server the entire time anyway then he wouldnt have said that.

    Also, Kiritos dark repulser shattered, how does he still have it? Theres so many inconsistencies with the OS stories and the other arcs, especially Alicization where a lot of what they discuss is brand new stuff Higa discovers. It's so confusing trying to make it all still be coherent!