Leafa informs Kirito about the details of “The World Tree” inside Alfheim Online.
Kirito wipes out a group of player killers, saving a girl named “Leafa” in the process. Grateful for Kirito’s assistance, Leafa offers him a free drink at a nearby neutral town. Kirito learns that different fairy species have their own towns that are extremely dangerous for other races to enter, as the native players can freely attack while others can’t fight back. Despite this Kirito encourages her to take him to a closer town called “Sylvein” in Sylph territory, where Kirito, Yui and Leafa stop by at a local pub after a fun flying experience. While there, Leafa explains how the World Tree has floating city atop of it. The player who reaches it can seek audience with Fairy King Oberon, be reborn as “Alf”, and fly anywhere in the game to their hearts content. However no players have ever reached the top, and Leafa commens that it could be years before that ever happens. Enraged at the idea that saving Asuna could take that long, Kirito insists that he doesn’t have that kind of time to succeed in his mission to find his dear friend. Seeing how much going to the tree means to Kirito, Leafa offers to guide him there the next day at 3 PM. Leafa proceeds to log out for the day, where she wakes up in reality as none other than Kirito’s cousin, Suguha.
Meanwhile inside of a large bird cage at the top of the World Tree, Asuna is confronted by Sugou, who proudly calls himself “King Oberon”. Sugou taunts the captured Asuna about how inspiring the Sword Art Online incident truly is and how much he loved taking the 300 players who tried to peacefully log out. “The King of Fairies” proclaims that soon he will be able to mentally attack anyone’s mind as he pleases, brainwashing them with false memories. At the verge of breaking down from learning this, Asuna softly cries out for Kirito to rescue her soon.
More information is revealed in Captive Queen that pushes the story forward into a field of hopes and disappointments. The main negative point here is how Asuna’s role is now simply being the damsel in distress captured by the devious Sugou. Asuna has been such a strong character, so it’s disappointing and unfortunate to see her downplayed into the role of a princess stuck in a tower waiting for her knight in shining armor. Sugou being the main antagonist in this arc story was downright obvious; I suppose one good point of this development is how thoroughly he embraces his title as “King Oberon” as he treacherously claims that Asuna is his Titania, the queen of fairies and the wife of Oberon in fictional medieval tales. We also learn more about Alfheim Online through Leafa’s explanations about the race-specific territories and the dangers of entering them. I’m assuming that the city area on top of The World Tree likely goes similar rules, as a way for Sugou to protect himself at all times. Outside of the background information, the best piece of material here is seeing Kirito’s cousin Suguha come into a much bigger role as a main companion throughout this arc. What happens next between these two false siblings and Yui shall be interesting, to say the least. Overall, while I’m not a big fan of where Asuna’s character is going, the development elsewhere is looking very strong and I have to admit that I’m a sucker for complicated and cheesy fairy tales.