It’s now been about a year since someone cleared the 2nd floor of Aincrad.
A year is a duration that’s not short or too long. For the players inside SAO, however, they felt like the year lasted longer than a typical year in the real world.
A lot of things happened during the span of one year. In the real world, a lot of changes happened, these were unknown to the players because they were all still stuck in the game. Inside SAO, because it is a gaming world, information traveled very fast throughout the player base.
The most popular topic everyone followed is the clearing progress of the frontliners in Aincrad.
Things sped up after someone cleared the first floor. There hasn’t been a single case of being stuck on a floor for more than a month. The things the players saw when they were still living on the 1st and 2nd floor convinced them that it is entirely possible to beat this death game.
It really lifted their hopes when someone went and cleared the 2nd floor in one day. The other players picked up the slack and they threw themselves into a furor, training and beating monsters just to speed up the clearing speed if only a little. They didn’t wait around hoping for someone to beat it for them.
With so many players in hardcore mode, the clearing speed basically took off.
They used 1 month to clear the first floor. Someone then beat the 2nd floor in one day. In just a short year, the players are already on the 55th floor with the cooperation of all players and the sharing of information. The players are now more than halfway done with Aincrad.
The frontliners never stopped to pat themselves on the back. They continued working with each other, guilds, squads, individual players, they helped each other to reach this point with the top floor of Aincrad as their ultimate goal.
Frontliners are few in number, there are only about a hundred or so hardcore frontliners out of tens of thousands of players in SAO. They can be distinguished from average players by their abnormally high levels, and their advanced equipment. The frontliners did most of the floor conquest in Aincrad.
The frontliners can be generally divided into 5 factions.
Firstly, The Fuurinkazan, a clearing guild led by Klein. They are a relatively normal guild who didn’t use underhanded tactics like hoarding hunting grounds, they eschewed bullying average players, and other unsightly behavior. Hence, they are very well-respected among the general community. Even so, they still managed to market themselves as highly capable frontliners.
The second faction: those associated with the Divine Dragons Alliance, these players are notorious for being willing to do anything to become the strongest guild. They are not below harming a player (not to the extent of death), turning themselves into orange status (potentially harmful player) if they can get their hands on rare items or mobs. They are very secretive although it is known that the leadership changes frequently, probably because its members would do anything for more power.
The third faction: the Knights of Blood Oath, arguably the strongest guild in all of SAO, led by Heathcliff, they are publicly known as the strongest clearing guild. They are not as numerous as other large guilds but all their members are talented elites. Asuna is the vice-leader, by the way. With two very capable players, including Heathcliff, KoB is evidently very strong compared to other guilds.
The fourth faction is one no one expected, this guild was originally an ill-fated guild that is third-rated at best in the original work. Unlike the original work, Moonlit Black Cats appeared among the top-ranking guilds in SAO.
Moonlit Black Cats are led by Souta.
In one year’s time, a certain benefactor indirectly motivated them to try harder at training and farming resources. They started as a small guild of 6 members, they let capable players join and now they are among the top 5 guilds in SAO.
The Black Cats are also very salient for being the only players in a raid group to completely outclass other players in equipment and gears. They are easily the guild with the least members in the top 5 guilds but they are people who can fight on par with Divine Dragons Alliance and Fuurinkazan just by relying on their superior gears.
The main reason why the Black Cats are always the biggest whales with the best equipment in the raid group could be attributed to a certain bug-like player who defied common gaming logic for breakfast.
The fifth and weakest faction would be the solo or individual frontliners.
There are only 2 players that appear frequently in raids. One of them Agil, looks like a shrewd businessman who managed a shophouse. In actual fact, he is a big-time MVP who devoted his resources to raising mid-level players, he’s someone who never left his friends or comrades behind during raids or grinding sessions. Even without joining any guild, he somehow found the time to train himself into a raid-group-level player.
Meanwhile, Kirito is the remaining solo raid frontline member.
Due to a certain someone’s stellar performance, Kirito didn’t get isolated from other players during the 1st-floor boss raid like in the original work. He also didn’t enter into an ill-fated relationship with the Moonlit Black Cats, he didn’t get a psychological trauma like in the original work. But, he seems to like moving alone rather than with a group. He has more friends than his counterpart in the original work. However, he rarely partied up with anyone. His ability, on the other hand, is not to be questioned. He is known as the Black Swordsman among the players.
There was another faction that boasted the largest number of guild members. The Aincrad Liberation Force, formerly known as the Aincrad Liberation Squad, or The Army, as it is more commonly known, got decimated during a raid on the 25th Floor Boss. Up until that point, they were the largest guild and strongest guild in SAO. After suffering major losses during that fight, the Army bowed out of further clearing raids. They also started slacking on training and furthering frontline objectives. They are still notable but not as active as before.
These factions displayed amazing effort and cooperation to take down about 66% of the 55 cleared floors. They are idols who players held in high esteem for risking so much, sometimes even their lives, to clear this death game where others are hesitant to do so.
Meanwhile, a certain person is responsible for the remaining 34% of cleared floors.
Yes, it’s just a player. He’s none other than Wu Yan!
If the frontliners who regularly conducted raids on floor bosses are heroes and idols then Wu Yan is like a god in the minds of other players.
He used his own power and skills to contribute about 34% of all the floor clears in Aincrad. Who else could pull off something like this?
Even the most influential guild can’t compare to him in terms of achievements.
He never appeared in front of the players so they can only speculate about his movements. Even the best information brokers can’t trace him without spending a lot of time and effort tracking him. It’s rumored that he always dived straight into the next labyrinth after a floor is cleared and he never farmed out in the fields. On the rare occasions that he’s spotted on the fields, it’s usually because he’s dealing with a field boss.
Only during the early days of a floor clear will the players get a chance to catch a glimpse of this legendary player. There are dubious reports about Wu Yan sightings in the town but credible reports are usually buried underneath false positive and lots of fakers who dressed like Wu Yan.
Already a godlike existence among the players, slap a bit of mystery on him and you get a player who is ranked the most eligible player in SAO, 99 out of 100 wants to date him. The remaining 1% is probably being tsundere, lying, or just jealous.
What else do you call a player who can clear floors solo while other players had to band together in raid groups to clear floors? For players who wanted this death game to end as soon as possible, he’s god.
A year ago, he had the qualities to become the strongest player in SAO. Now, he’s the strongest player, hands down.
Every player who is lucky enough to gaze upon Wu Yan saw a fairy on his shoulder so they gave him another epithet…
The fae swordsman