Leafa receives an email from Recon that says, “I was right. Be careful. S.” Before Kirito’s group can interpret the message, the trio find themselves cornered by twelve players.
Kirito and Leafa’s journey to the World Tree takes them both inside a dark cave, at which point Leafa stops to receive a vague message from Recon that states, “I was right. Be careful.S.” Soon afterward the group is chased and cornered by a group of players belonging to the “Salamanders”. Thrilled by the challenge, Kirito combines his strength with Leafa and Yui’s magic in order to transform into a giant overwhelming beast. At the end of the showdown only one foe remains, who Kirito bribes into revealing that party had received orders to attempt to kill them with overwhelming numbers. Upon arriving in the next town Suguha (Leafa) takes a break in reality and is called by Shinichi (Recon), who explains that Sigurd is working with the Salamanders to ruin an alliance tweety between the Sylph and Cait Sith races. In the game Leafa explains the situation to Kirito, who resolves to assist her with this problem before heading to the World Tree.
This episode brings some tangled surprises to Alfheim storyline, and the writer’s love for online gaming and fantasy shows as Kirito pulls some unique tricks with the game’s rules of magic to bring down the party’s foes. Meanwhile, one matter I should have touched upon much sooner with these episode recaps is the comparison between Kirito’s circumstances in Alfheim Online compared to Sword Art Online. Some viewers may think that without the threat of real death the series has lost something crucial, or that Kirito helping Leafa seems pointless since Asuna needs more aid than anyone else in the series right now. But while the deaths and suffering may not be real in Alfheim, we still experience the intentions and motivations behind the people who are playing as these characters. In real online games there are players who steal, scam, kill others, and even bitterly gang up on others in order to achieve their own greedy goals. It is due to his traumatizing experience with the real consequences of this in Sword Art Online that this hits so close to home with Kirito, to the point that he’s strongly motivated to protect players that are attacked or even treated unfairly.