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Fanfic / Fairy Dance Of Death

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Fairy Dance of Death (Archive of Our Own link) by Catsy is an AU reboot of the Sword Art Online universe.

The story starts from the premise that Kayaba Akihiko was obsessed with magic and Norse Mythology rather than swords and pure melee. As a result, he created the Death Game of Alfheim Online (ALO) rather than the floating castle of Aincrad—a world in which player-killing is not a crime, and the nine player races are in competition with each other to reach the top of the World Tree.

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 early on. Act 3 is currently in progress and introduces a few new character POVs.

Catsy has put up an interactive world map specific to the series here. There is also a home page which has detailed information such as player demographics and a reference for the fictional magic language used in the story.

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.
    • 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.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the original Kibaou is a jerkass. In FDoD, when elected leader of the Salamanders, he immediately launches a war on the Imps and a pogrom against beta testers.
  • Adapted Out: Despite the appearances of pretty much everyone else from the ALO arc, Leafa is absent. Word of God says she's not in the game, as in canon it was Kirito being trapped in SAO that caused her to play ALO in the first place.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Or, at the very least, sociopathic. Whatever its programmed purpose, the intelligence behind Loki displayed no remorse for orchestrating a plan that could have killed more than a dozen children. And Hel is offering a form of in-game currency as a reward for players who kill other players.
    • On the other hand, the Navi-Pixies are genuinely helpful, though you have to know that something's worth asking about.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Averted by Diabel, who feels the weight of the fact that a fourth of his faction members, the Undines, are dead by the half-year mark.
  • Anarchy Is Chaos: A common opinion, at least among non-Spriggans. Every other faction has leaders that pass various laws and punish players for breaking them, but Yoshihara refuses to do the same to the Spriggans — and Spriggans keep electing her for that exact reason. Because they're not bound thus, no-one wants to form parties with them. Despite the Salamanders spending the first week or so on a killing spree, people would rather form parties with them than Spriggans — to the point that other players will force Imps to work with the very same Salamanders they witnessed killing family members, because Salamanders can be ordered not to kill while Spriggans cannot.
  • And This Is for...: Mortimer to Kibaou before brutally executing the latter.
    Mortimer: This is for every beta tester you murdered, you son of a bitch.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: The Boss Drop for Kirito during the Jotunn battle is the Coat of the Jotunn Lord.
  • All or Nothing: Kayaba implies that only the first race to climb Yggdrasil and two of their allies will be permitted to log out. Fantastic Racism ensues.
  • Anyone Can Die: Once again, as in Canon.
  • The Archmage: Sasha. Not only has she managed to decipher how the Language of Magic works, she is also capable of creating new spells by applying her knowledge and is the only character able to cast spells in all magical elements.
  • 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.
  • Assassins Are Always Betrayed: Inverted. The hitmen that Sigurd hired to get Sasha's notes kept them instead and failed to kill her.
  • Asshole Victim: Sigurd, who was rightly wary of revealing that he is an Argus employee and game designer to the other players, is hardly sympathetic for a host of reasons that have nothing to do with his job outside the game. Even so, he's trapped in his employer's Darwinian sandbox just like everyone else.
    • And in an ironic twist, if Loki's words are taken at face value, Kayaba himself is actually just as trapped as the rest of the players.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Kirito and Asuna have to prove themselves in combat to be accepted as the leaders of Coper's old group.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Sasha manages to decipher the entire Language of Magic by analyzing the standard spells available — allowing her to create new spells out of the blue just by using the right words.
  • Bad Boss: Kibaou, who kills members of his own race simply because he doesn't like being told he's wrong, is 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 Gateway Boss. Not only is it immune to damage unless hit with the proper sequence of elements, but 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.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Almost all the main protagonists have shades of this. They are good people who are also keenly aware of the situation they are trapped in, and act accordingly.
  • 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.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Kirito and Asuna—naturally— in the aftermath of the Mimisdraugr raid fight.
  • Big "NO!": Asuna does this when some players push her Berserk Button by threatening to kill Yuuki.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Asuna towards Yuuki. She even recognizes how these feelings help to break her out of the fear and depression she felt after first being trapped in the death game. For her part, Yuuki looks up to Asuna as both a Cool Big Sis and Big Sister Mentor, which help her overcome the trauma she suffered during the Salamander invasion. The genuine friendship that develops is instrumental in both characters becoming independently strong and among the top clearers in the game.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Due to the game engine, wounds are merely red lines and blood isn't shown.
  • Bluffing the Murderer: Argo challenges the first Cait Sith leader, Raikouji, and demonstrates that she knows he set up Thelvin to get killed. But he then he sees through the bluff, realizing it's just her word against his....
    "You still don't have any proof, you know," [Raikouji] seethed, visibly trying to get control of his anger.
    Argo gave him another infuriating smirk. Her right hand stole into her cloak, and when it withdrew, she held in her fingers a tiny eight-sided object that seemed to be made of some kind of opaque blue crystal. "I do now."
    She still doesn't — it's just a piece of rock candy. "It's not my fault he's never seen a real recording crystal before."
  • Brutal Honesty: Kirito points out to Philia that her and Yoshihara's switching places was playing with fire and it was a miracle she didn't get assassinated earlier. Philia doesn't contest this.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Sakuya didn't think much of Sigurd to begin with, but it gets worse in Act 2:
    Sakuya: You’re condescending, arrogant, self-important, sexist, and act as though you think women ought to fling their pantsu at you every time you manage to tie your shoes without personal injury. [etc., etc.] All of which pretty much puts you in the category of ‘people I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire’, but on top of that, you also apparently hire assassins to kill kids.
  • Breakable Weapons: When a weapon doesn't have enough durability, as Asuna learned, or on a rare chance during an upgrade, as Kirito witnessed it happening to his Anneal Blade.
  • 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.
  • Canon Foreigner: Part and parcel for any AU, but so well-done that the author has had to make an an entry in his FAQ that states he won't identify which characters are simply bit players from canon and which are OCs.
    Catsy: If someone who doesn’t already know the characters can’t tell the difference, then I’m doing my job as a writer right.
  • Cast from Hit Points: The only way Sasha can cast the spell needed to break the defenses of «Hrungnir the Impervious» is to split the cost between her MP and HP. It leaves her with only a small fraction of health... and the undivided attention of a boss many levels higher than she is.
  • Chair Reveal: Skarrip does this when he outs himself to Sakuya as the NPC god Loki.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Diabel mentions this as he feels personally responsible for the deaths of his faction and the fact that a full 1/4 of the Undines are dead by the start of the third act.
  • Challenging the Chief / Klingon Promotion: If you defeat the leader of your race in a duel, you become the leader.
  • The Chessmaster: Argo, who wields her contacts and acquired knowledge as an information broker like weapons. Lampshaded early in Act 2:
    Alicia: Should I be worried? When you start thinking, it usually ends with you sending my people around the world like game pieces.
  • Competitive Balance: Each of the nine races receives a different set of bonuses to their skills and attributes.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Played with. Boss monsters scale their difficulty dynamically — even mid-fight — based on how many players have engaged them.
  • Darker and Edgier: In SAO, PK'ing didn't start until about a year into the game. In this fic, it starts the day after the game begins, with the Salamanders invading the Imps.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Skarrip was replaced at some point by Loki, the King of the Jotnar.
  • Death of a Child: Many elementary school children become stuck in ALO, and they are just as much at risk of dying as every other player. Poor Robert.
  • Desk Jockey: Faction leaders who are defeated in battle or duel lose their positions to the victors ... or worse. To avoid the risk they have to remain within their capital cities, dependent on others for information and unable to level up. Inevitably, there have been aversions:
    • On the second day, the Imp who'd just been elected leader was outside the Safe Zone when Kibaou's Salamanders launched their surprise attack. Things have gone more-or-less badly for the Imps ever since. Other leaders took heed.
    • The Spriggan leader Yoshihara developed the ability to disguise herself so she could go out with her crew. That worked pretty well. Until someone learned of the trick, and arranged an ambush.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Sakuya confronts Skarrip, who reveals itself as the NPC Loki, and then disappears, making her the new faction leader. Other players only know the last two, which are shocking enough. As for Sakuya,
    there came a point where the surrounding noise and chaos became so overwhelming that it circled back around on itself and elevated her to a state that was almost zen-like. It was not a state of peace, precisely… it was a state of detachment, like that of a person who has endured so much that they become numb to it. Her sister had once colorfully referred to it as having no fucks left to give.
  • Diving Save: Kirito managed to save two other Clearers this way, but he couldn't get the third...
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Asuna towards Diabel. She doesn't take kindly towards his attempts at coddling her.
  • 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.
  • Dragon Ascendant: If his words are taken at face value, [[spoiler:Loki.
  • 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. Recon — Suguha's Sylph friend in canon Fairy Dance — also appears.
  • Elemental Powers: ALO has seven schools of Elemental Magic — the basic four, plus Holy and Dark. And there's Illusion, which works more-or-less like the others. Any player character can learn any of them, but six of the nine races have elemental affinities which give them big advantages in doing so.
  • Emergent Gameplay: Explicitly named and discussed between Kirito and Asuna regarding some of the tactics players use, such as switching.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: Each chapter begins with an Epigraph, most of which are excerpts from the Alfheim Online game manual. In many cases these quotes convey information about game mechanics that isn't repeated (or explained in as much detail) in the chapter that follows.
  • 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 simply robbing the girl and leaving her alive, internally justifying it to herself that doing so will probably to drive Silica to stay in the church, where she will be safer. Rosalia 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. But even she was aghast at how her partners willingly started killing off the Church children.
    • Everyone Has Standards: Nobody, and I mean nobody besides the ones responsible, are willing to stomach anyone who did that. The problem is that they know too well how to hide themselves so they can't be brought to justice.
  • Everyone Can See It: Kirito and Asuna, of course. Though it takes a little bit for both of them to accept it.
  • Evil Gloating: Kibaou combines this with "The Reason You Suck" Speech in the climax of Act 1 — and pays for it instead of just listening to Klein when he said to Get It Over With.
  • Exact Words: After the tutorial, everyone thinks only the first race to clear Yggdrasil and two of their allies will be able to gain «Unlimited Flight» and log out. Argo employs this trope to slowly start convincing people otherwise, in hopes of fostering the cooperation needed to save everyone.
  • 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 Act 2, it's easier to find multiple races in a party, but Spriggans are almost universally mistrusted. Undines and Sylphs outright ban them while the NCC 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 most numerous), the Sylphs (second most) and the Undines (best healers) to remain logged in throughout all three theoretical "waves." However, the corollary — that the smallest and least potent factions should be permitted to log out first — drives most players to rage. Check the racial percentages.
      • Of course, there's also nothing saying that any player that gains «Unlimited Flight» has to log out...
      • It gets so bad that partying with a Spriggan is enough to make people suspicious.
  • Fictional Geneva Conventions: After Kibaou is deposed as leader of the Salamanders, eight of the nine races — barring Spriggans — hold a Peace Conference, agreeing to the Treaty of Arun, in an effort to limit PKing:
    • Reducing someone's health to zero is only to be done in self-defense or in defense of another.
    • If a player's health enters the red zone, they are allowed to retreat uncontested.
    • Damage Over Time is not to be used if a player's health is in the Red Zone.
    • Shoot the Medic First is Averted. If anyone is near a Remain Light and trying to resurrect a player, they are not to be attacked.
    • Leave No Survivors is Averted. If they surrender, then you are to take them alive no matter what.
      • That being said, they can't actually enforce it. As Kirito pointed out, most shopkeepers don't bother checking the list to see who's blacklisted or not, so just about any non-Spriggan can do as they want. The best their leaders can do is exile or banish them, which isn't that much of an issue if they're self-sufficient, and you can't send them to prison since killing in a PvP game isn't against the game's rules.
      • By the time Act 3 has started, another war is on the verge because the Salamanders under Corvatz are seizing territory from the Sylphs.
  • For Want Of A Nail: Akihiko Kayaba decided he liked Norse Mythology and created ALO instead.
    • In Spite of a Nail: Despite Beta Testers actually being well-liked, Kirito is as isolated as before because Spriggans are too disorganized to be trusted to abide by a treaty.
  • Functional Magic
  • Fun with Acronyms: PoH, as in canon, though in this fic the P stands for Prophet.
  • God In Fairy Form: Loki, Hela, and Thor individually reveal themselves to various players as—at best—Raid Boss tier NPCs and—at worst—GM-level A.I.s seeking to interfere with the players' progression throughout the game (both for and against). Removing their player disguises permanently locks them in their NPC form, however, and is not done lightly.
  • Good Feels Good: A mole in the newly formed Spriggan-faction Clearing group mocks the guild's, "multiracial party of friendship and diversity {that} brought unicorns and rainbows to the World Tree." He then shortly follows it up by withdrawing his direct services from his handler.
    "Truth is, I kinda like being on Team Unicorns and Rainbows for a change. Beats the hell out of Team Rocket. No offense."
  • Harmful to Minors: A certain 12-year-old girl named Yuuki who was in Everdark during the Salamander invasion. It's later revealed that she entered the game with her sister, who died in the Salamander invasion. 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.
  • Helping Would Be Killstealing: In this AU, potentially the modus operandi of Heathcliff aka Akihiko Kayaba. Unlike in canon, where his character was explicitly overpowered to the point of possessing a Unique Skill and being rendered an Immortal Object by the game engine before his HP even entered the yellow zone, in this version he's merely a respected Salamander clearing group leader who is just as vulnerable as the other players. note  And given the statements and actions of Loki and Hel, there is a degree of doubt as to just how much control he is exerting over the game world, or even how much influence he is still capable of.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin & Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: Played straight and averted, respectively, when Kirito is ordered to drop his sword to save Silica in Chapter 16. He flat-out refuses to surrender his sword because the moment he sheathed it, the bandits would do whatever they wanted and since they were violating a treaty, they would kill all witnesses anyway.
  • Hollywood Torches and Hollywood Darkness:
    • Averted by the death game's creator in some caves, 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 braziers fueled in the Undine faction leader's castle.
  • I Didn't Mean to Kill Him: Coper claims that murdering Yoshihara wasn't part of the plan. They'd intended to either force her to abdicate or rezz her before her remain light expired, but he got stabbed in the back by Krensh and all but two of his crew were killed in the process. He's lying. Killing her — and all the other candidates — was Mortimer's plan all along.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Corvatz makes it clear to Tetsuo that Sasha isn't to help the other factions clear the 25th gateway boss. If the Salamanders can't have her, no one can.
    • Sigurd decided flat-out to have her killed because of this, only failing because she left to join the boss raid by the time his hitmen arrived. And he was ordered by Skarrip, who was really Loki.
  • I Have This Friend: Yoshihara says that Prophet dated a friend of hers. Asuna doesn't believe it. She's telling the truth. Sort of. She's possibly Yoshihara's friend impersonating Yoshihara talking about herself.
  • Interspecies Romance: Klein (Salamander) and Alicia (Cait Sith) have something going on after his Rescue Romance during Act 1. Ultimately played with, though, because no matter what species they are in the game, they are all humans in real life.
  • Irony: Heathcliff nearly gets Killed Off for Real in the battle with the 25th gateway boss. It does not escape him either.
  • 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 softens up a bit from Act 2 on, which confuses Kirito.
  • Knowledge Broker: Argo combines this with The Chessmaster. She has contacts everywhere and knows just about everything.
  • 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 Conlang 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.
      Kirito: I get it. You're a Linux mage in a world of GUI apprentices.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: The Salamanders interfering with the 25th Boss fight makes it go off the rails.
  • Lesser of Two Evils: Yoshihara was a lazy leader who didn't even want her position and got it as a joke, but everyone else was far worse than her for the position and she acted as a stop-gap. So Mortimer eventually had her killed, so Coper could take the position.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Downplayed, since high-level magic uses words that are tongue-twisters for monolingual Japanese speakers.
    Catsy: This is the reason why despite how ridiculously OP it is capable of being in the right hands, Alfheim is not overrun by super-mages, most players focus primarily on melee unless they have a free racial magic, and magic does not overwhelmingly dominate in PvP encounters: it's goddamn hard.
  • 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 then he later gets replaced by Loki. And the Fantastic Racism is fairly widespread, despite insistence of many players that it's all just a game.
  • Love Epiphany: Kirito and Asuna each have one of these after nearly being killed by Laughing Coffin.
  • Master of Disguise: «Phantasmal Mimicry» is a High-Level Spriggan Spell that allows you to look like one person down to every last detail. Yoshihara and Philia ground so that they could use it to switch places.
  • MacGuffin Super-Person: Sasha has become this by the 25th zone. Because of her mastery of the game's magic system and the puzzle boss's weakness relating to such, both the Cait Sith and the Salamanders are trying to secure her.
  • Master Swordsman: Kirito is already making his mark. Yuuki isn't far behind, if at all.
  • Meaningful Name: Prophet, who considers himself a prophet of the goddess Hel.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Asuna, the night after killing XaXa, went through this on the subject that she intentionally killed him.
  • Nerf: A plot point in the aftermath of the Mimisdraugr raid. Yui used her access to the Mimisbrunnr to hide the Spriggan-Undine raid group's progress through the dungeon from Loki and gave a small hint towards a boss mechanic that may have otherwise doomed the raid. Heimdallnote  admonishes her out by stating, "{she is} not a Navi-Pixie," and calling her out for overstepping her role. They finally come to the compromise where Yui is stripped of the vast majority of her system access and is trimmed down to a sleeping Navi-Pixie, inserted into Kirito's inventory as the players are leaving.
  • Not What It Looks Like: In chapter 33 Yoruko wants to show something to Caynz. She starts unbuttoning her coat, causing Caynz to freak out. Turns out she was hiding a Navi-Pixie in there.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business / Oh, Crap!:
    • Yoshihara has a devil may care attitude, but she takes news of a child-killing Spriggan PK seriously. And when Prophet's name comes up she flips out. She knows the guy because he was dating a friend of hers and doesn't want to bring her under fire by snitching.
    • In Chapter 41, Kirito and Asuna meet with Argo to share information about the recent developments, and find she's not her usual mercenary self.
    Kirito spoke up again. "Any fees involved I should know about?"
    Argo's smile ticked upwards on one side. "Not tonight. Not for this."
    More than anything else, more than any of the cautionary language in Argo's far-too-dramatic warnings, that one response made Kirito wonder just how radioactive this secret was that she was sitting on.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: A group of children held hostage by the PKer group Laughing Coffin manage to escape by deliberately triggering Harassment Penalties on each other and sending themselves to the NPC jail.
  • Oxygen Meter: Anyone not an Undine, who are immune to drowning, gets one when underwater.
  • Parental Neglect: Several dozen pre-teen kids get into ALO, even though it was designed and marketed as a PvP game.
    Sasha suspected more than a few of the kids had indulgent parents who hadn't paid any attention to the purchase of ALO and the Nerve Gear beyond thinking, "it's fairies; that's suitable for kids".
    In her less charitable moments, she hoped those parents had spent the last six months feeling as guilty as they should.
  • Pinky Swear: Asuna uses this to bond with a traumatized pre-teen girl.
    She leaned a little closer, and stage-whispered unnecessarily. "Can you keep a secret? A really big secret?"
    "Yubikiri?" Asuna smiled as she held up her pinky finger. Yuuki smiled too—the first time she'd done so—and pinky-swore.
    The "really big secret" is that Asuna's family name is Yuuki — the same as Yuuki's given name.
  • Privateer: The Salamanders during Kibaou's time had several groups of these running around. More than a few Spriggans were part of them, including Coper.
  • Protectorate: Yuuki, an Imp, is this for Asuna, an Undine.
  • Read the Freaking Manual: Read The Friendly Manual: Argo says these exact words to Asuna after getting fed up with the latter's noobishness... with a Dramatic Ellipsis to signify a mid-sentence self-censoring.
  • Red Baron: Argo The Rat.
  • Relationship Upgrade: By chapter 44, Kirito and Asuna both acknowledge that they've had one.
  • Resigned to the Call: Kirito is made the Spriggans' Lead Clearer in Chapter 40.
    Never before could Kirito recall being given so many very good reasons for doing something that was practically the polar opposite of what he wanted to do.
  • Restricted Rescue Operation: Taking down the Sandmen and rescuing their prisoners—some who have been held for months in isolation—is Yuuki's overall drive in the Third Act. The problem is both in the setup, she's an Imp in a relatively hostile Salamander capital city and she has no idea how high into the hierarchy the kidnapping ring goesnote , as well as in managing the aftermathnote .
  • The Reveal: Chapter 38 reveals that Prophet is «PoH» and he had been in a relationship with Philia.
  • Rule of Escalating Threat: invoked By design, for any good game. As the players progress through the World Tree, each new level presents a more difficult challenge than the last. In some cases, such as the 25th gateway boss, the Difficulty Spike is lethal.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When Prophet's gang shows up in the Sewers, and tells Rosalia's gang to "Begone", one of them does. He's the only survivor.
    "I'm not fucking with the Prophet," the Imp called back as he soared towards the tunnel back to the surface. "If you have any sense, you won't either."
  • Selective Obliviousness: Asuna, criticizing Undines who persist in treating Kirito as the stereotypical Spriggan:
    "They need to get it through their heads, Yuuki," Asuna said, rubbing her side. "They're no better than the Salamanders when they act like that."
    Kirito decided prudently not to point out the irony of criticizing someone for their prejudices against one race by making generalizations about another.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: In chapter 39, Kirito denies that Asuna is, when he and Philia are discussing traveling together.
    Philia: I give up. I take no responsibility for the consequences.
  • Shout-Out: Seeing the boss charging her, Sasha thinks about an English-language novel she'd read in college, "about rabbits, of all things ... Sasha finally understood on a visceral level exactly what the word meant — what it was to go tharn."
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Various, but particularly the original names of some cities which weren't specified in canon:
      • Parasel (Undine): From Paracelsus, a Renaissance scholar who more or less invented the undines (and sylphs, and others) out of whole cloth in one of his alchemical tracts.
      • Penwether (Spriggan): From the Penwith district in Cornwall, England, from which the spriggan myth originates.
      • Domnann (Leprechaun): a theorized nominative form for Danann (Danu, as in the goddess); the Tuatha Dé Danann were fairy creatures in Irish folklore related to leprechauns.
      • Nissengrof (Gnome): from nisse, a name for gnomes in Norse folklore, and Old Norse grof, for hole. The city of Nissengrof is subterranean and built around a massive open-pit mine.
    • Equally notable is the entire creation of a magical language (majutsugo) with a complete set of rules for grammar, syntax, and vocabulary.
  • Single-Attempt Game: The fic uses the same premise as its source material, that "players die when their avatars do", in Sword Art Online, except now it's Alfheim Online. The protagonist survives due to having been a part of the non-lethal beta tests and therefore has more experience than most everyone else.
  • Soft Water: Invoked by the Undine, not taking fall damage if they land in water is part of their racial trait. Averted with every other race.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Kirito doesn't like Coper, but he decides to become the lead clearer in order change things for the Spriggans.
  • These Hands Have Killed: As Kirito pointed out most Spriggans have blood on their hands, whether by choice or circumstances. Asuna herself goes through this after killing XaXa.
  • Thwarted Coup de Grâce: Kibaou is about to deliver a killing blow to Klein when his monologue is cut short (literally) by a Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Asuna and Yuuki eventually go from total newbie and crying child to full-on clearers. Granted, this happened to Asuna in canon. The canon Yuuki was already badass when she first appeared.
  • Translation Convention: The story is written in English, but characters are meant to be speaking in Japanese when not specifically discussing English or Old Norse.
    Blane: ... unless there's something specific you're looking for and you already know what it's called, the manual might as well be in English.
  • Trauma Button: Yuuki undergoes a PTSD attack upon entering Everdark due to the Salamander invasion where one of the Salamanders attempted to assault her and she lost her sister Aiko. It's mentioned that several other Imps have undergone the same.
  • True Sight: A potion can grant this, which is how they knew to target Yoshihara.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Argo versus Raikouji in Act I.
  • Vigilante Man: Kirito has taken this role at the end of act two. Since the treaty of Arun isn't properly enforceable, he's decided the best way to stop PK'ers is to end them himself. Asuna decided to go with him. Yuuki herself also comes to this conclusion separate from them.
  • We Can Rule Together: Hel offers Kirito the chance to take Prophet's place by serving her and gaining Eternal Life. He refuses.
  • Wham Episode: The end of Act 2, where it's revealed that the Sylph leader Skarrip was replaced at some point by the Norse god Loki, an NPC with nine health bars (whereas even the 25th gateway boss only has four), intelligent enough to come up with plans and arguments on his own.
    • Chapter 34: Harder Mobs are spawning, Sigurd is actually the Lead Artist of the game, both the Imp and Salamander leaders have been replaced, Prophet and his group aren't listed because they aren't going by their real names so they can't be tracked them by that means, and Yuuki has decided to seek revenge against her sister's killers.
    • Chapter 37: Prophet is revealed to be none other than PoH himself, Vassago Cassals, and is a player that serves Hel; Coper kills Yoshihara and thus becomes the leader of the Spriggans.
  • Wolverine Claws: Argo's favorite weapon.
  • Worthy Opponent: After revealing himself to Sakuya, Loki states this was the original task he was given by the Allfather. However, he decided it would be far more fun to keep the players around for him to play with. Permanently.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Prophet's group tormented and killed some of Sasha's kids without a second thought.
  • Zerg Rush: What the Salamander invasion of Everdark was called by one of the Undines after hearing a description of it.
  • 0% Approval Rating: No one likes the Spriggan Leader Yoshihara and she doesn't like the job, but because she does virtually nothing in office the Spriggans can do what they want and constantly elect her over the other candidates to keep it that way, while by staying in her capitol she can't get killed after someone else tried before. She's killed by Coper in Chapter 37.