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Recap / Sword Art Online Ep 17 Captive Queen

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Kirito takes out two of the Salamanders attacking Leafa, forcing their leader into retreat. After a rather heated greeting, Leafa wonders why a Spriggan is in Slyph territory, to which Kirito says he got lost, making Leafa laugh and easing the tension between them. Kirito asks for information about the World Tree, but Leafa wants to get out of the forest first and return to neutral territory: even though another town is nearby, it is owned by Sylphs, which would leave Kirito, a Spriggan, vulnerable to attack without the ability to fight back. Kirito, however, is undeterred.

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After learning to fly without the use of a flight controller, Kirito and Leafa arrive in Swilvane. He meets Recon, who is suspicious of him due to his being a Spriggan. At a restaurant, Leafa explains that the reason all of the races are trying to get to the top of the World Tree is because whoever accomplishes the feat first would gain an audience with the Fairy King, who would reward all members of that player's race with ascendance into a new race capable of unlimited flight, Alfs. In order to get there, however, the player would have to fight his way through powerful NPC Guardians. Leafa doesn't think anyone would reach the top for years, but Kirito is determined to do it soon. The two arrange to meet in-game tomorrow at 3:00 PM and log out.

Unbeknownst to Kirito, Leafa's player is actually his sister, Suguha.

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Meanwhile, atop the World Tree, Asuna is visited by the Fairy King Oberon, played by none other than Nobuyuki Sugou. Sugou reveals that he plans to use ALO as a means to experiment on using VR technology to alter memories, his team having re-routed the minds of 300 players logged out from SAO after it was cleared to use as guinea pigs in his experiments. Asuna threatens to tell the police about Sugou's sick scheme upon finding a way to log out, to which Sugou tells Asuna that he could have her memories altered if he felt so inclined. Sugou eventually leaves Asuna in her gilded bird cage, with Asuna desperately pleading for Kirito to save her.

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