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Recap / Sword Art Online Ep 18 To The World Tree

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Suguha used to dislike MMO games, since people who played them deceived one another, hiding their real identities and natures. After Kazuto became trapped in SAO, however, Suguha began to wonder what it was about MMO games that fascinated her brother. At the recommendation of her classmate Shinichi Nagata, she started playing ALfheim Online. With a natural knack for combat thanks to her experience with kendo, and a love of flying, she became enamored with the game.

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Leafa logs in and meets up with Kirito, and the two head to market to help Kirito buy better gear, including a massive sword. Before departing from town, however, they meet with Sigurd, the leader of Leafa's party. Sigurd insists that Leafa remain in his party, since she was a valuable warrior and leaving without good reason would tarnish her reputation. Kirito retorts that people are not equipment. Sigurd, enraged, threatens Kirito, but is stopped by a party member who warned him that attacking a defenseless Spriggan in Sylph territory would be bad form. With that, he declares Kirito and Leafa renegades, players who abandon their territory and considered unfavorably among the playerbase, and warns them that he will show them no quarter in the future.

As Kirito and Leafa depart, atop the World Tree, Sugou continues to harass Asuna. He tries to coax her into giving in to him, but she retorts that Kirito will come to rescue her. Sugou counters with his description of Kirito's reaction to their impending wedding, and that his experience trapped in SAO would scare him away from any attempt to rescue her. Asuna's faith in Kirito, however, remains as unshakable and resolute as ever, with her morale improving thanks to her know that Kirito was still alive. As Sugou leaves, Asuna takes advantage of the fact that the reflection of her cage's keypad was not censored to memorize the door's code, so she can escape later.

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Kirito and Leafa touch down on the ground in order to give their wings a rest. Before making their way through a mountainous route that would lead to the World Tree, they agree to "Rotate": since players would be left vulnurable to attack if they logged out outside of a city, one player would log out while their allies stayed in-game to watch over them.

Suguha logs out first and goes to check on Kazuto, but stops just short of knocking on his door when she remembered his emotional breakdown. Instead, she makes a sandwich for him before taking a bath, still wrestling with her feelings for Kazuto before logging back in so Kirito can log out and take a break. Yui, whom Leafa recognizes as being smarter and different than other Navigation Pixies, talked about her "Daddy" and asks Leafa what it's like to like someone. After Kirito logs back in following a lunch that his sister prepared for him, the two continue towards the mountains.

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Kirito suspects that he is being watched. While Yui doesn't detect any nearby players, Leafa theorizes that they are being stalked by a "Tracer", a spell that can be used to monitor other players. Indeed, a Tracer is following them, monitoring their movements as a party of Salamanders prepare their ambush...

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