Fairy Dance of Death by Catsy is an AU reboot of the Sword Art Online universe.The premise is based on what if Akihiko Kayaba had created the Death Game of Alfheim Online rather than the floating castle of Aincrad—a world in which the nine player races are explicitly in competition to escape the game, and player killing was not a crime but rather a predictable by-product of human nature and tribalism in the face of mutually exclusive goals?Act 1 follows several characters: Kirito, Klein, Asuna, and Argo, with a handful of side characters occasionally getting a viewpoint segment. Act 2 elevates (canonically) minor characters Sasha and Tetsuo to viewpoints and has reduced focus on Klein and Asuna.Catsy has put up a world map specific to the series, here. The page also has detailed information on the magic language used in the fic.
Tropes found in this fanfiction:
Absurdly High-Stakes Game: As in canon, you die in the game, you die in real life. Slightly more forgiving in that Kayaba saw fit to include a one-minute window in which rare items and high-level magic can resurrect fallen characters. Problem is, thanks to the Salamanders' Player Killing spree, a month passes before even a handful of Undines (the only faction with a racial advantage in learning healing spells) are able to grind enough experience to learn even the basic restore-at-one-hit-point spell. Kayaba actually anticipated this, and compensated for the higher death rate by trapping 20,000 players to canon SAO's 10,000.
Accidental Murder: Somewhat commonplace. Sasha inadvertently killed one of her attackers by knocking them from a long height and Kirito has done this a few times as he doesn't intentionally fight to kill, but deaths occur anyway due to critical hits.
Action Girl: Asuna and Yuuki form an action girl duo. Alicia qualifies as well. Argo has some shades, but tends more towards The Chessmaster.
Adult Fear: There are children in the game. Because of the Fantastic Racism, some players only see them as their race, which in this game is not a good thing.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: [Argo] filled the room with another colorful and lengthy diatribe about Kirito's ancestry, hobbies, sense of self-preservation, wits or lack thereof, likely perversions of choice and preferred computer operating system.
Bad Boss: Kibaou, who kills members of his own race simply because he doesn't like being told he's wrong, highly incompetent as a leader, and caused the majority of the problems in the first act after conquering the Imps and having them commit PK raids.
Barrier Change Boss: The 25th Floor Boss. Not only is it immune to damage unless hit with the proper element, it shifts its pattern at certain points.
Being Good Sucks: Kirito is a lot more proactive in FDOD than he was in canon, mostly because the rampant Player Killing of the Salamander invasion is harder for him to ignore than the slow attrition of SAO's initial days. He is thus instrumental in stopping the invasion and helping forge the anti-PK treaty, but because the Spriggans are too anarchic to follow a leader, their race is locked out of it, rendering him just as outcast as he was in canon. And even though players are starting to believe that Kayaba will permit repeated logout attempts, no-one wants the Spriggans to be part of the first logout wave. Poor Kirito.
Big Damn Heroes: Kirito does this a lot. Saving Silica for example in Act 2. Klein gets a few goes himself as well to a party of trapped Cait Sith and a Valley Boss.
Calling Your Attacks: Defied and parodied by Asuna after she mused that the flashy Special Attacks in the game made her feel like a manga character who'd been given super powers. She wondered if it would get any more powerful if she yelled "Linear!" while she was using the skill, and decided against it since she hadn't seen anyone else doing anything so silly.
Dramatic Irony: Assuming that this is the same girl from the light novels, Asuna is completely unaware of Yuuki's real-world illness and the fact that her death is a Foregone Conclusion.
Early-Bird Cameo: Kinda; since the plot is that players are trapped in ALO instead of SAO, characters from both arcs appear in the story. A twelve year old Yuuki Konno (from Volume 7 of the light novels) enters ALO as an Imp.
Even Evil Has Standards: Rosalia, a villain in the canon series who leads a PK guild and originally sets Silica up to be killed, comes off as somewhat much nicer and considers robbing the girl to drive her to stay in the church. She even shows hesitance towards the thought of killing her.
Mind you, she still leads a party of thieves who'll kill you if you don't stand down.
Fantastic Racism: A result of many players believing that the Death Game is All or Nothing. As only the first race to climb Yggdrasil and two of their allies may be permitted to log out, non-allied races are considered by many to be nothing more than obstacles to be eliminated.
In part 2 it's easier to find multiple races in a party, but Spriggans are universally hated by most with the exception of a few. Undines and Sylphs outright ban them while the RCC usually don't bother checking to see if the character is blacklisted before denying them service.
The majority of the players post-Treaty of Arun now agree that Kayaba will probably permit the Death Game to continue after the first triad of races logs out, and that it would be best for the Salamanders(the best fighters), the Sylphs(the most numerous) and the Undines(the healers) to remain logged in through all three theoretical "waves". However, the corollary - that the smallest and least potent factions should be permitted to be permitted to log out first - drives most players to rage. Check the racial percentages.
Harmful to Minors: A certain 12-year-old girl named Yuuki who was in Everdark during the Salamander invasion. It's implied that she entered the game with someone close to her and watched them get cut down. Considering the number of children in the game, she's probably not the only one. Most stay in a church in Arun, but some like Silica are players as well.
Hollywood Torches and Hollywood Darkness: Averted by the death game's creator, and the averted tropes discussed by name in the internal monologue of the dangerously Genre Savvy Kirito as he regretfully observes—in a dark cave—that these convenient gameplay conventions don't exist in ALO.
Played straight and lampshaded when Asuna wonders if there's an NPC who keeps the braizer's fueled in the Undine faction leader's castle
If I Can't Have You: Corvatz makes it clear to Tetsuo that Sasha isn't to help the other factions clear the 25th Floor. If the Salamanders can't have her, no one can.
Interspecies Romance: Klein (Salamander) and Alicia (Cait Sith) have something going on after his Rescue Romance during Act 1. The trope is subverted though, because no matter what species they are in the game, they are all humans in real life.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Asuna in this fanfic tends to come off this way. She lashes out at people who try and help her including Kirito (physically) and Diabel (verbally) out of pride. She comes out slightly better in Act 2 towards Kirito.
Language of Magic: Canon ALO had this, although the words of the spells were Old Norse. This fic takes it to an extreme with an original Con Lang called Majutsugo used to construct the incantations shown in the story in a consistent way.
Some characters, such as Sasha, can mix the language words to form new spells.
Loss of Identity: Explored, as all the players react differently to being trapped in the death game. Asuna reflects on how much she's changed since launch day. Kirito, Argo and other beta testers have a head start, but try to use that knowledge to help others. Even minor characters get some thoughtful examinations: Argo mentions how Skarrip, the Sylph leader and an ALO art designer, tends to always talk in his extremely formal persona since the Death Game began. And the Fantastic Racism is fairly widespread despite insistence of many players that it's all just a game.
MacGuffin Girl: Sasha has become this by the 25th Floor. Because of her mastery of the system and the puzzle bosses weakness relating to magic, both the Puca, Cait Sith, and the Salamanders are trying to secure her.
Took a Level in Badass: Asuna and Yuuki eventually go from total newbie and crying child to clearers. Granted, this happened to Asuna in canon. The Yuuki from canon was already badass when she first appeared.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Especially if you're the Undines, being the Water Magic race with a blue-dominated color scheme. Most of the other races have certain colors or color schemes associated with them, and hair and clothing to match.
Zerg Rush: What the Salamander invasion of Everdark was called by one of the Undines after hearing a description of it.