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[PP - F15] Just that Slow [Floor Boss Battle]


Takao

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With silence in the air, Opal began to flutter out of the space as she had previously called out to Teleport to Urbus. She would not stand these callous looks or pondering minds anymore. The Damage was done, the death bell tolled. Now they would be consumed with these thoughts with their eyes set to the doors of the Spider Boss. However, Opal would be settled on the lower floors, her destination was Urbus but for how long?

-Teleport to Urbus, Exit Thread-

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As Hikoru watched what was about to unfold, he felt something inside him snap. He wasn't expecting anyone to die until the boss, but now the two strongest players had died in front of him. Players that he had known for so long, friends even. Ssendom was even supposed to make the food for his wedding with Ariel, and he and Zel had helped him for so long. He fell to his knees, then held his face in his hands. He didn't know what to do. No, he did. He grabbed his hair and screamed. He screamed, letting all his anger, frustration, mourning, loss, everything out at once in one scream. He felt tears coming, and he knew he couldn't be here any longer, he looked at Ariel, then ran away from the boss fight, from his problems, from everything that had just happened. He knew he couldn't stay there, not for much longer. He had to leave, he just had to. He would eventually come back to the front lines, but when, he didn't know

~Hikoru leaves the thread after a Mental Breakdown ^-^

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Ebony stared as Zelrius broke apart into crystals,followed closely by Dom. Well, things had gone downhill very quickly. She felt surprisingly calm even after the two had been massacred. She saw clearly now. Maybe it was time to join up with the Azure Brigade. She wasnt about to let anyone get away with killing her friends, and if she had to paint a target on her back by joining then she would. She glanced around momentarily, feeling compelled to stay. If people still wanted to stay and fight the boss, they would need a healer. Then she remembered what Takniel had said to her. She was her own person, and without Zel or Dom it was too dangerous to continue. The deaths of those who continued in the fight wouldnt be on her if she left, it would be on them. She glanced around. She would message Tristan later to see if she could join. If not she would be waging her own private war. She turned around and walked out of there.

 

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Macradon was ready, his blood pumping, a smile gleaming on his lips. He was ready to fight the boss and its small critters. Or so he thought. Out of a sudden, something happened that he did not see coming. Oikawa, one that he were familiar with went to Zelrius, the Commander of the Azure Brigade. 14 hits would strike through the commander and let hims wither into pixels and crystals. Macradon stood in shock, not knowing how to react. He was unsure of what to do. "No, this cannot happen" he said out loud "NO!" he yelled out in confusion and anger. He could not comprehend what was happening. With a shocked face and an open mouth, Macradon could not get a word out. 

He did not know what to do and collapsed onto his knees. "No, no no no!" he muttered as he would look at what would happen next. The Vice Commander, Opal, rushed for Dom "No" he thought with near tears in his eyes. "NO!" he roared as the Vice Commander would slice through Dom. 6 sweeps through the Berserker was enough to take out Dom. "No ..." he said quieter, trying not to break into tears. He would grab tight on his sword as he would Charge towards Opal with a swift speed. He would make a battle roar as he would get closer and unleash a serious of strikes out of sword art, but he was not fast enough. Opal escaped with her crystal. His swings became slower and slower until he just stopped and looked quietly into the ground.

Gritting his teeth, he would look back up. Opening up the visor on his helmet to wipe off a few tears that had fled his eyes. "It's no time for cries, it's a time for clearing the floor" he thought and would get back into position with a serious look again. "It's all fun and games until a psycho kills your buddy" he thought. A vary bad thought that really didn't make any sense to anyone. His anger was boiling, his fear tearing through his mind, though he would keep himself locked into what he was now. "I need to get stronger ..." he thought "... I'll finish what you started, Dom" he said quietly for himself. Opal ... a player killer, and from a player killer guild he had never heard about. Everyone was given a huge setback from two frontliners with huge damage being deleted right in front of their eyes. He could not believe what just happened, he would try to keep himself together, but it was hard to do so. he would get into position with his group again "Let's just ... let's just get this done" he said with a slightly sad tone.

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Still, she couldnt help but glance back, her eyes falling on Macradon who seemed to be all set to stay. She barely knew him, but it seemed like he was planning on staying. It seemed like multiple people were planning on seeing this through. All of a sudden she felt incredibly guilty. These were people she had fought with, and healed... She sighed. She couldnt leave. As a healer it was her responsibility, no matter what Takniel told her. It was her responsibility to keep these people safe. She sighed and turned around, walking back and standing next to Macradon. She would stay, even if Mac and her were the only ones fighting this boss. It was her duty as a healer.

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Manta wasn't sure how to react. Things had been going well in her life lately, and now hey had all taken a turn for the worse. Much worse. She had been dating him, and she felt as though she had grown to love him. She had thought of Oink as a friend, especially after their fight back when he was part of the guild.. Now he had killed one of her best friends in the world. Maybe she should just stop getting close to people. It seemed to be a running theme in her life, or at least SAO. Sousuke had gone missing, Erin had become distant, and now Zelrius was dead. Things were majorly messed up. She was so distraught over Zel's death that she barely even noticed that Dom was gone too. She barely even considered the fact that she could be a target too, as a newly appointed commandant. Despite all this, and how much she wanted to chase after Oink, she was a logical person. Zel was dead now, and there was no way to change that. But her other friends were still alive. Ebony, Tristan, Mac. At the very least Ebony and Mac looked to be staying. She couldn't abandon them and leave them to die. She would grieve and plot revenge later. They had a boss to fight.

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The rasp of a blade leaving its scabbard caught Takao's attention. His head turned just in time to watch Oikawa decimate Zelrius, but what his eyes saw didn't match what his head registered. Oikawa, whom Takao had previously thought to be rather level headed despite the slight indiscretion of the previous boss fight, cleaved away their alleged Hero's health in chunks. It was over as quickly as it started, and Zelrius was reduced to nothing more than the pixels and polygons he'd found himself all too familiar with. It might as well have been blood, for they were a clear indication of the same end.

Death.

"W... Wait-" Takao muttered, trying to piece together what had happened. Jade eyes shifted toward Ssendom next as the sounds of combat shredded the brief silence that followed Zelrius's fall. Opal had leapt from the shadows and done to Ssendom what Oikawa had done to Zelrius. Wide eyes grew wider as he watched, frozen into inaction, as Ssendom exploded into the same confetti-like celebration of death.

"...Kuso..." He hissed out through clenched teeth. He didn't know them well enough to mourn their deaths. His wandering thoughts occupied themselves on the most pressing matter at hand. The boss fight. Their hardest hitting player was dead. One of their minion sweepers was dead. Two of their higher level front liners had killed the aforementioned players, and had promptly gone awol. For the best, he thought, lest more death plague their dwindling numbers. Hikoru broke down shortly after and fled, something he couldn't be blamed for. It was a lot to process-- No. It was too much to process. So who was left? Of those that hadn't left, they had their main tanks: Tristan, Mack, Calrex, and Heathcliff. Ariel was still present, though he didn't expect her to stay. Jomei, Zandra, and Manta remained, which meant that four of their sources of single target damage remained. Their healer, Ebony, had decided to stay too. Macradon and himself were what remained for minion sweeps. Eleven players were left.

"Okay... Tristan, Calrex, and Heathcliff use howl. Three plus the boss on Tristan, four on Calrex and Heathcliff... Macradon, Mack, and I take out four each, that's twelve... Two handed straight sword has the highest AoE hit. Mack and I take four each, Macradon takes the remaining three and hits the boss..." His thoughts were clouded with numbers and strategies, trying his best to distract himself with the boss fight. It was something he never thought he'd find himself doing; thinking at length about the very thing that terrified him to the core was unexpected. "Ariel, Jomei, Zandra, and Manta all hit the boss, plus Macradon... That'll be about three fours of its health..."

He looked up at the remaining eleven players and cleared his throat. "Everybody, listen up." He called out, his voice echoing across the empty room. "I... can't even begin to explain what just happened. That was..." Takao began to speak, though his sentence ended with a sigh. It was insanity. Ridiculous. Unfathomable. Unacceptable. A hundred different words to convey the same message. "If anybody wants to leave, nobody here will blame you. But if you're leaving because you think we can't win without Ssendom and Zelrius, you're wrong, and I'd like to ask you to stay and listen, because I have a strategy." He waited a moment to see whose attention he'd garnered before continuing.

Assuming the role of leader wasn't something he aspired to do, but the fear of more players leaving and the boss going untouched was enough to inspire him to action. He couldn't wait to see if anybody else would step up, so he spoke. "We still have our tanks. Tristan can pull the boss with howl, plus three minions. Calrex and Heathcliff can grab four more each with howl, which takes care of eleven of the projected twenty two. Mack and I will take out four each, and since our AoEs hit the least, Macradon will take the remaining three and hit the boss too. If Jomei, Manta, Ariel, and Zandra all target the boss, we'll be able to take it out in two rotations. We're not dead in the water. We can still do this."

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Splash. Pixels fell apart where Zelrius and Ssendom were. Swords had flown where their bodies once stood. They were....they were....

Heavy breathing resounded through his entire body. His brain wasn't quite managing to process what had occurred, leaving him somewhat dazed. This...was reality right? Well, sort of. They died. They died in the game. But....that means they're dead dead. Fully dead. Ssendom was a friend and fellow commandant. He was someone who was...there? He wasn't really sure how to feel about that death to a greater extent, unsure.

But...Zelrius gone. The only person to witness as many floor boss deaths as he did. The one who was there for so long with him. The sword to his shield, quite literally. The Hero of Aincrad who went through his own troubles. Tristan wanted to see what was wrong with him lately. Now he can't ask that from him, never see what was troubling that poor soul. Never even say goodbye and thanks for all the fish. All....gone. What was he meant to do? Cry? Break down on the spot? Ignore and pretend it never happened? It...it was overwhelming him. He took a deep breath, then found himself staring at the floor, breathing heavily, while a single tear dropped down his eye. What was he meant to do? Well, let's focus on the boss first. There was a boss to fight. No more people can die. No more.

Tristan nodded to Takaos plan, though his head still was somewhat dazed. Right, he'd do what he did everytime. Simple. Yeah, let's do that.

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The Irishman, smiling down at the noirette, turned his head as he saw a white blur rush past him. Concerned, he completed his turn so he could see clearly over his shoulder. Olive eyes lay upon the familiar site of white and blonde, Oikawa was running towards the door to the boss' lair. "Oikawa?" he said quietly to himself, "He seems quite eager to-"  His eyes widened with a gasp as the shrill sound of the man's rapier scraped against its scabbard as he unsheathed the weapon. Something was not right. It was then he noticed just what, or who, the man was running towards. Jomei's heart dropped and everything froze for a moment. "Noo!" Jomei shouted out, activating his own <Charge> skill to up his movement and rush Oikawa. The alcohol made his movements slow and sloppy. Not enough time. Jomei's body skid to a halt and watched in horror as Oikawa's rapier sliced through the blonde boy like hot butter. One after another, the blade stabbed into his tuxedo clad body until there was nothing left. 

Zelrius was dead.

Jomei shuddered, watching what was left of the guy everyone knew so well shatter like glass and rain down to Oikawa's feet. He began to hyperventilate, his hands shaking, only staring at Oikawa. It frightened him even more when he heard the sound of another blade being drawn. Was someone getting revenge on Oikawa? Or possibly, was someone coming after him? Spinning on his heels, Jomei turned to look towards where the sound came from, only to see the last look on Ssendom's face as a large katana swiped through him, ending his life just as quickly. Ssendom, one of Jomei's best friends, was gone from this world. The culprit? Clad in white and red; Opal. Jomei did not know what to do, how to feel at the moment, two of his friends were just cut down by two of his other friends. "W..What the hell..." Jomei said, his voice choked up. "What the HELL!?" he repeated with a shout. Oikawa was gone, vanished with the use of a teleport crystal. Opal, on the other hand, stood there laughing for a moment. With grit teeth, and a rage building up inside of him, Jomei stormed off towards the woman. His eyes filled with an anger no one had ever seen before. He felt betrayed, lied to, and pissed off more than anything. "They were our friends, Opal.. Our friends! And you just cut them down like they meant nothing to you!.... You're right. You're not the Opal I knew." And with that, she was gone just as well, without any words to the man. Jomei brought his fist up to wipe the tears from his eyes and cheeks, his shoulders jerking with each sob. He listened to Takao talk, that they needed to still do this. Jomei knew with four of the higher leveled front liners now gone, he needed to step up to the occasion. Jomei turned, eyes red with tears, and walked to Takao's side, drawing his own blade. "I'm with you."

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Once again it seems like things happened almost instantly as Calrex's eyes widened beneath the Grand Chariot II's helmet. Both were unexpected as he saw two people, Opal, the vice commander of the Knight of the Blood Oath, and Oikawa, his close friend and former Commandant of the Azure Brigade, turn their weapons on two of the most powerful fighters in their group.

First Zelrius, the teenage boy, founder of the Azure Brigade, and bearer of the Dual Blades, was slain by the blonde's rapier. The bluenette never really had a chance to get to know the boy, and not it seemed he never will. Second came Ssendom, as Opal targeted him with her katana, unleashing a powerful assault. For a second he thought the brunette would survive as, but right as the young man's healing mod kicked in the regenerated health was also depleted.

Many emotions were rushing through him again as he gritted his teeth, his body lurching over, either to vomit or to coil his muscles to strike. His fists tightened as if they were ready to smash the earth. However, as he felt every muscle in his body continue to coil eventually he felt himself take a deep breath. He felt the rush of emotions begin to subside, almost be completely removed from existence. Beneath the helmet, the lights in his eyes were completely darkened as only a sinister blue light gleamed beneath them.

He remained silent, even more silent than he was before as he listened to the people around him. Some were in disarray from the assassinations, while others were trying to rally who remained in preparation for the battle. All of it, every single bit of information he absorbed quietly.

First came Macradon, who mustered what courage he had left to continue. Second came Takao, as the fellow brunette straight sword wielder tried to take up the team leader position. Third was Tristan as he resigned himself to their current situation. Last was Jomei, who also tried to pull himself together.

Gently resting his hand on the Grand Blade II the eerily silent Calrex took a couple of steps forward, standing facing the door, his eyes dead set on whatever lurked behind.

"...give nothing...take everything..."

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Macradon would pull up his visor slightly as Ebony approached, despite looking like someone to leave, she remained and stood by Macradon's side. "I appreciate that I'm not alone" he said with his smile aimed at Ebony as he then pulled down his visor again. Everything went fast, way too fast. People had left the frontlines, which was imminent at this point. The amount of feelings that flew through the room was easily felt. Everyone were confused and some scared of what just happened, but it did not stop most of the people present to stay and clear the boss. Takao, taking quick command over everything that just happened would appoint everyone at whatever would happen "Aye!" Macradon answered Takao who appointed him to minion slaying as well as a good shot at the boss. 

Macradon would look at his team. The teams seems to be broken up into other pieces. Macradon await Mack to make new teams as Macradon was not sure of what team he was part of or who were in his party. Everything seemed all worked up and nothing was really as it should be. His team, team Alpha, was missing out Zelrius, and he was not sure if the teams still were as they were before all this happened, but Macradon would await using his banner of command til he would see what team he was part of. "So ... uh ... teams?" he would ask back at Takao "Do we just follow what he established at the meeting?" he asked. If he was part of that team, he would save the banner of command for someone else who did not tank, as the damage wasn't that huge for them, but it could be something that would benefit. He would think of it before he would use it.

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(Nice Dramatic Ending post for you, music)

Zelrius had just had his swords drawn, his expression blank, 100% ready to ignore everything Takao and the 'Raid Leaders' said and just do what he did best; Hit things for everything they're worth. Or, on the surface, the boy thought that's what he was good at it. It wasn't until his 'Detect' Skill automatically kicked him to warn him of a hostile, which the golden haired boy quickly dismissed as it picking up the boss, until he felt the metal slide through him and his HP drop. When the boy looked down to see a Rapier, he turned his head as far as he could, catching nothing more than the glimpse of that same Rapier puncturing his virtual skin a few more times and the familiar sight of Blonde hair and white clothing flopping back and forth. Within moments, that sight was gone, replaced only by complete blackness and big red words "YOU ARE DEAD".

Within moments, Zelrius felt a rush of all emotions. Confusion, Hate, Sorrow, and most of all Regret. The confusion; Who was that, and why now of all times? Though both the questions were answered by his still deftly quick mind. Oikawa, and this is the best of all times, when Zelrius isn't watching over his back and isn't guarded on both sides by hulking men such as Ssendom and Tristan. Then came the Hate; For a moment, his ego got to him, the hate for Oikawa taking Zelrius and his abilities away from the public. Not long after, the Sorrow. By the end of the day, Zelrius was just a boy. A normal teenage boy who never wanted the heartache and hardship that was Aincrad. Who, by the end of the day, Loaded the game SAO in search of another hundred hours of excitement and fun, same feeling he got when playing any new game. And deep down, that boy wanted nothing more than to just have a group of friends he considered a Family. Something he never quite achieved, but atleast pretended he did with a group of people. One of those people being Oikawa himself, who had now taken his life.

If he had time to cry, he would have, but unfortunately, there were only seconds in between the death notice and the actual death. However, the only reason he wasn't dead yet, was simply because those few seconds were expanded into eternity, as they often did for people in their last few moments. The regret followed shortly after. It was ironic really, Zelrius up to this point, had thought he had done everything the way he wanted, but that was a complete lie. He regretted a long list of things, and since I don't have [censored] else to do, for once in my Roleplaying career, we will go into detail.

Zelrius regretted how he felt like he betrayed and mislead Oikawa from the start. He hated how the man somehow ended up hating the boy so much, that it led to this moment, and everything in between. More than that, Zelrius hated how Oikawa wasn't the only person he felt like he lied to and led on. There were countless girls and woman he had hit on and flirted with, all the while not actually caring for any of them, except Kiru. Zelrius regretted how he ignored Dom and Tristan for the last few months, convinced that they began to resent and hate him, just as everyone else up to that point. Most of all, Zelrius regretted how he used Manta. All the while, he had loved Kiru, and would have gone to hell and back for that girl, but never had the courage to tell her or try to make any moves on her. So instead, Zelrius' fear for ruining his friendship with Kiru caused him great emotional pain, leading the boy to use Manta as a sort of 'get away' from that. It seemed the girl actually loved him, and to be quite honest, Zelrius had not a single feeling in the world for Manta other than minor contempt.

But in the end, quite honestly, Zelrius did more than accept death; he was happy. As said before, he was just a boy, and there was nothing that Zelrius wanted more than to be free of the complexities and mental tiredness that Aincrad had given him. Being the Hero, everyone was watching him, his every move. Everything was the boy's fault, and even before the Dual Blades, Zelrius often felt like everyone else forced the world on his shoulders. And he bore it all, until the last minute. Up until Oikawa had just ended his life, Zelrius was ready to die for the people of Aincrad, and that's all he ever did anything for. From the moment he joined the Knights of Christ and fought bosses alongside Shark and Ryujin, through every fight, every meeting, every party, every grinding session, every shop visit and every joke, all the way to the death message, the boy did whatever he felt it took to make sure as many people as possible got out okay, and now, he failed, but was more than happy dying now.

DtdUhxf.png

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OOC: I tried to make sure I got everyone. If I missed you please let me know and I will edit.

Even Mack was stunned by the rapidity with which Opal and Oikawa assassinated their chosen targets and disappeared. The colossal axe man had barely readied Invictus before both of the killers had fled from the scene, followed closely by Hikoru. As a professional soldier, the ginger man had seen actual deaths on the battlefields of the world, not often, but he had witnessed it. The entire raid was in danger of falling apart at this point, what was called for was swift and decisive action. As he had at the planning meeting for the Boss Raid, the red-headed warrior raised his axe in both hands and slammed the steel sheathed butt cap down on the ground a half dozen times until silence reigned over the group. Drawing back the deep hood on his crimson cloak, Mack allowed his piercing storm grey-eyed gaze to sweep across the assembled players.

"Opal has acted with neither the consent nor the foreknowledge of the Knights of the Blood Oath. I believe I speak for Commander Heathcliff when I say that from this moment on and in the presence of all these witnesses that she is expelled from the Knights of the Blood Oath. She is our enemy and she and Oikawa will be brought to justice for their actions. For the time being, I will be assuming the position of Vice Commander and Macradon, with the retirement from front line fighting of Lowenthal, will assume my duties as the Commanding Officer of the Crimson Blades and Commander of the Vanguard. In that capacity, my first official act is to invite Tristan and the rest of the Azure Brigade and the Azure Knights to a guild meeting at the conclusion of this raid. All players here assembled are also invited to attend. Clearly, the rumors of the Laughing Coffin guild are real and they must be properly dealt with, that will require all front line players working together." Mack thumbed quickly through his inventory and Invictus was replaced, for a moment, by the Banner of Command. The Banner's support pole thumped the ground once and attack bonuses were sent to Heathcliff, Mack, Tristan, and Macradon before Invictus again replaced the banner.

"But, those issues must take a backseat for now to the primary matter at hand. We have gathered with the primary objective of eliminating the fifteenth floor boss. Takao's better at math than I am, if he says it can still be done then it can still be done but teams will need to be re-balanced and it's likely that we will be seriously lacking in terms of reserves," Mack continued, quickly changing tacks since they all still had a job to do. "Tristan will be the first one through the doors and he will draw the minions. Heathcliff and Calrex will follow with the same plan. I will round out Alpha Team and I will clear only minions with AoE attacks. Ariel, if you will consent to stay, I would like you to take command of Bravo Team otherwise I'll leave it to Manta to lead them. That team will consist of Ariel, Takao, Macradon, and Manta. Takao use your AoE for three minions and the boss. The tanks can handle a minor minion swarm if we need to and Macradon can tank for Bravo. Finally, our reserves. That was supposed to be Oikawa's command, but he's obviously out. Jomei, I would appreciate if you'd lead Charlie Team which will consist of you, Zandra, and Ebony. Focus on bringing down Limbo and Ebony, if the anyone needs healing you know what to do and if not then feel free to hit the boss. We can still do this and we need to do this to show the rest of the players trapped here that, even without four of the top tiered players in the game that floors can still be cleared. We cannot afford to let despondency and depression set in, that will poison our efforts to continue pushing forward. Also, if you need a teleport crystal, Takao and I have gathered spares from a lot of dungeoning. I have four extra, speak up if you need one and it will be supplied free of charge. Takao, if you've nothing else left to add then we await only your order to get this started."

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OOC: appropriate music

A decent plan. this is what the blonde wanted for a boss fight. The planning meeting at the KotB was sufficient to prove to her that their plan was at the very least decent. She came here ready to follow the plan. The previous two deaths... well Azide's primarily numbed her so what transpired before her didn't had that much of an impact on her. All she knew was that now two players were dead. A boy with blonde hair, who Ariel liked to taunt by calling him 'golden boy' for various reasons. A regular client of her shop even when business was really down... her former commander from an old era... fellow frontliner... adventurer perhaps.... She would've liked to add more to that list but she never knew him more than that.Their last interaction between them was when she went to get the rings for her wedding from his shop.

On the other hand she was hurt at Opal's statement... she felt betrayed. But at this point she was just a little surprised, she already witnessed one change in Opal, a favorable one from the lewd and flirty witch she'd meet at her shop. She even managed to think of her as a friend, not as close to family as Calrex or Teayre but still someone who she cared about and wanted to deepen her bonds with. She bit her lower lip in frustration so hard that IRL it would start bleeding a long time ago. She covered her face with her left hand, rapier still in her right one, and began slowly chuckling. Trust was something she rewarded few people with and that girl broke her heart a bit when she revealed herself as a member of a pking guild.

Then there was the Berserker, that lived up to his name until the very end going in all damage and little evasion or mitigation. She'd only know him a bit, did a quest with and made a deal that was beneficial for her shop. Despite the orange marker she found him quite honorable, keeping his promise and part of the deal after already getting what he wanted. When the reformed Brigade was made, she became more fond the guild despite bad memories, his presence having a significant role in that. Again she barely knew him and couldn't help but feel only minor regret with his departure. She lightly cursed at herself for becoming so cold... there was a time when she would care for all, wish to protect all as a member of the original Guardians of Aincrad guild. Now, she only cared for a handful of people that she called family and friends.. Ssendom, didn't get to become either of those. A business partner, a strong frontliner with a big ego and the one who should've been the cook for her wedding were the only noticeable aspects the blonde will remember him by, sadly.

She clenched her teeth as Oikawa used a sword art that she only had reserved from high ranking monsters and ended a life with it. That sword art effect and movements while killing one of the most known player in Aincrad... it was something she couldn't forgive so easily. The apex of what she considered a beautiful and refined weapon mastering, rendered to the mere status of a tool... a means that was used to kill a innocent with a 14 hit combo sword art. She felt like the noble fencing(rapier) skill she took so much pride in.... got perverted by Oikawa's action. She wanted to go to him and inquire about why would he do that but he vanished, she was unable to catch him as he fled.

As the two made their escape, some tried to go after them... some started shouting. Her own future husband had left her without a word after a cream that contained a multitude of feelings, her heart ached at the sound and at the sight of his watery eyes. She wanted to comfort him... embrace him and cradle him until he calmed down but he simply ran away, casting one more look at her. She started breathing irregularly... she could feel her heart breaking apart by that one act...."Why?" she whispered to the air around her, the invisible confident. She was set to chase after him but abstained as she steeled her heart and turned around, looking at the remaining members. People still wanted to continue, broken in spirit, discouraged but still with a will to go on. Takao took initiative and went to assume his initial role as the raid leader, he spoke of numbers and a chance to win. She then went by Takao's side and showed a slight smile: "I'm with you on this!" she added as she then listened to Mack's words next.

"Who gives a damn about promotions?" she asked in a harsh tone. Then extended a hand towards where Zelrius and Dom and added: "The Hero' how most liked to call him.... 'The Berserker' as that was his skill.... They cared about their titles and status and look where that got them." she clenched her fist around her rapier and slashed the blade against the hard floor against them the continued while eyeing each one of them. She showed a angry expression alongside a grin as only a true battle holic would and spoke loud enough so that the rest of whoever remained could hear them. "I'll gladly take point in killing that boss. On the floor 10th boss fight, the old brigade refused to help simply because we weren't the ones running the show so were asked by our commandants to stand back." she looked at Tristan. "I think this was before you joined."

Then she directed her gaze towards each of them and walked as she told what was on her mind: "But the front lining team didn't stepped down. Mari, alongside a handful of players: my guild's leader Shark, Crozeph, the lonely crow of Square One, Rebehah a solo player at that time, my rapier senpai and Mari the pink PKer that almost everybody feared" she added with a lopsided grin. "They did the impossible and fought the Orochi... the 8 headed snake mob and defeated it. Yes today we are at the 15th floor way above the 10th, but we're also a bit more than double in numbers than that time and a bit better prepared gear wise." she paused and breathed in the continued: "So instead of turning our tail let's give the ones on the lower floors hope, something to aspire towards. Each one of us started from floor 1 and wanted to join the front lines when we level up. But it was only because of those before us who kept clearing floors one after another, so let's honor them and go kill this damn spider!!!" she added at the end as she arched her back, making a horizontal slash motion and pointing with her black bladed rapier towards the boss room entrance. She would usually avoid giving a pep talk like this to such a public but didn't want this chance to go to waste. If they retreated now just because a few members were missing, it would've stained the intrepid spirit that represented the front lining team with cowardice.

OOC: wooooowww this took way more than intended, I guess inspiration hit me like a brick wall and I just had to wrote it down, good or bad I'll let each and one of you decide on your own:D Thank you if you read my little selfish text wall.

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Takao's gaze lingered on the single exit, staring into the darkness that Oikawa had disappeared through. Their actions marked the end of an era, and the start of another. Their days of coasting through the floor bosses with minimal difficulty were over, at least for some time. Now they would fight and struggle to claw their way up. Every inch would be a battle, and their lives would undoubtedly be at risk every step of the way. Jade eyes moved from the shadowed exit and set to glancing over the remnants of the vanguard. Some eyes were on him, some on Mack, others were elsewhere. Mack had taken command as a leadership figure, and that he was fine with. His mind was much too focused on the numbers to organize bodies.

"Yeah. That sounds good. Mack, y'need to make sure you hit your four, so I'd maybe consider getting those accuracy boosts up. If anybody misses their four besides the tanks, we'll have monsters not following hate. Anybody that isn't safeguarded, I'd recommend you do so now. If I've done the math right, we should be able to take this down in about two rotations. Under ideal circumstances. But this is a floor boss, we need to be prepared for the unexpected. If there's any last minute preparation anybody needs to do, I'd suggest doing it now." No time to sugar coat things and no time to smile. He spoke in monotone, his interest in preparing the remaining players superseded his desire to comfort them. They were brothers and sisters in arms, just as they always had been.

Takao reached over his shoulder and firmly grasped the handle of his sword. The leather creaked as his grip tightened, hesitating for a moment to draw the blade. But the hesitation was drowned out by a sense of responsibility, and the quiet rasp of his blade leaving the scabbard on his back rung out through the dark corridor. Takao turned on his heel and faced the closed doors, his eyebrows furrowing. A rather loud voice continued to tell him to simply turn around and run away, that it wasn't too late and that their progression wasn't worth the pit building in his stomach; but Takao knew better. He turned his gaze and settled it onto Tristan, offering him a slight nod in return. "After you."

- - -

COMBAT POST ORDER

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The entire area had exploded with emotion, as one would consider in such an event after so much had happened. Tristan was still in shock, his brain still processing what had occurred. The first which was spoken was that about how this fight will go, which then transpired in terms of the future, along with some flash of the past. Tristan heard what Ariel said and in a voice that sounded like he was far too tired or elsewhere "Yeah, I was in Guardians of Aincrad I think at the time. Or something like that, it was in a time when I was away from the frontlines, but I have heard of the bravery repeated vocally to know of what happened. I heard it was a dangerous fight, but I think it's safe to say we are prepared too...I think? I don't know. I just....I just want this fight over with and done. I'll lead. Yeah, we'll do that...". His voice lacked a lot of the collected coolness and confident nature it usually had, no voice of the man who spoke words he usually thought himself as rather correct. He then remembered his shared friend inventory with Zelrius and Ssendom, which they had since summer time last year between the three of them to ensure ease of using each others items. He quickly checked his non battle ready items and indeed, it was all there. Well, icing on the cyanide cake.

(Doors will open after player reps thingy sorted as aforementioned)

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(I can't fall asleep due in light of this. Saw quite a few ways to cheat the system to live, and could easily argue it. But I am tired of Dom, so lets send him out Zel style.)

The Berserker had the Greatsword Despair slung upon his shoulder, he stood there with his eyes solely on the door of the Front Lines Boss completely unsuspecting of what was the grim fate of not just one but two Commandants to come. Vigilant as he stood, he heard the striking of blade to skin, turning to look and his eyes widening with surprise he saw his good friend kill his other close friend. Oikawa drove his demonic weapon into the back of Zelrius multiple times. As the Berserker slinked forward slightly to speak he felt a cold blade and stared at the tip of the Katana that pierced his back through his chest. He closed his lips and smiled, turning his head to be able to see Opal's crazed striken face, "Congratulations Opal... I was wondering when you would." Was all he stated knowing the woman had nothing but hatred and contempt for the Berserker.

He turned his head to the draining health bar, knowing that the Emergency Recovery wouldn't work. Once he saw it trigger, he thought about using the Healing Fog. With math applied he would live, but in Dom's mind he felt his want to stay alive had but depleted. Everything was in shambles in his life before Aincrad and with the Berserker Unique Skill, his happiness was being taken away in the world of SAO. He motioned his greatsword plunging the blade tip into the ground moving his attention to Tristan, giving the massive Tank a nod taking his last seconds as the health bar finished depleting, "Remember this name Tristan. Kikyo... I know she is here... But I haven't found her yet." Was his last words as he closed his eyes knowing his gear would be transferred to the God-Tank because pf the friend shared inventory the three Commandants shared.

With his last words spoken and his eyes closed he could have his final thoughts. Immediately the first face that came to mind was Meokka, there was so much left to say and so much left to do. He would have given anything for closure on their predictament, wondering if he would ever get a chance to say one last time that he loved her and to finally say he had moved on. Someone else had captured his heart, and was someone willing to give up everything for. He wanted to accumulate enough money to have an extravagant home to give to her so they could share their memories until they escaped or the game claimed their lives.

He thought more and more qbout the blonde girl who was the first to ever get Dom to open up. He had been a mental shell of himself since the ending relationship of the blunette both times, that he had finally found someone who made him want to try at happiness again. The worst of all feelings was that she wasn't here so he could give her the last goodbye. But amongst everything there was only one face that stood in his mind before the sign signfying his life was over, 'Kikyo, I am sorry I never found you in this god forsaken world. I just hope you remember that I liked to be called Dom in the real world and realize.' Were his final thoughts, 'I always did love you Kikyo... And I am sorry it never became that for you Hunie.' With that the sign appeared and he became particles that evaporated into the air with regrets of never getting to finish what he started.

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Hikoru breathed and returned to the scene in which he had just fled from. After talking to his friend Lowe, he knew he couldn't abandon this group and just leave them to die. They needed players that could do damage, and that was something he could do. He came over to the group, a ragged stare in his eyes, and the fire of passion in his eyes. He would help defeat this boss, and he would avenge the players that had fallen. He knew he would make Opal pay, and he would be the one to do it. He breathed and looked at the group with his teeth grit and his eyes filled with determination

"Put me into that roster, and let's do this." He said with a tone of malice in his voice. He hated spiders, and he would make sure to make this boss pay. He breathed and waited for the doors to open, ready to kill this thing quickly

(OOC: I know that I left, but it was out of character for Hikoru. But it gave me a spark of muse and I knew I couldn't just leave like that, it breaks character. My appearance takes place after my thread with Lowenthal, and that will contain some major drama, and some good Character Development ^-^ I already talked to Tristan a bit and he said it was OK, but i'm not sure if I still keep my stats or not. Some Admin or someone please contact me and inform me if I do or not if you can ^-^)

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Tristan took a deep breath, looking around, then at his hand. It was shaking. He couldn't properly hold onto himself. It was...too much. No. He couldn't do it. Tristan unequipped the weapon and shield, then walking to Calrex and presenting a trade request for the Achilles skill, saying "It has no points into it, but I think it still benefits you the most out of everyone here. I'm sure you won't disappoint in its use.". He smiled and waited for Calrex.

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As Calrex continued to stand poised for combat the bluenette's eyes continued to emit the sinister blue lights. At least, until he looked down to see a trade request appear suddenly in front of him, "A...trade request...for..."

With each pit of information absorbed into his mind the bluenette felt the void that seemed to take in everything around it subside, his eyes slowly first losing the blue lights, then lightning back to their normal shade, "This is..."

Turning back to look at the young man who initiated it, the Grand Chariot masked the look of disbelief on his face. As the redhead known as the Twinefire Tank spoke it seemed like a period of lag occurred for Calrex to process it before shaking his head, snapping back to reality. Since a smile couldn't be seen beneath the stoic appearance of his helmet, he simply gave a nod before pressing the accept button, "I'll be sure not to squander it..."

"Is that really all I can say? Tristan's...gifting me the thing that made him nigh invincible in the past battles. I guess...Zel and Dom's deaths...really messed with him..."

Giving a calming breath he continued, "Thank you Tristan. I'll carry the Invincible Warrior title in your stead. Get some well needed rest my friend..."

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