Hi! Here’s our first surprise of the day, to celebrate the release of “Sword Art Online IF – Official Novel Anthology“, we’ve translated Reki Kawahara‘s story “Sword Art Online – If You Can Smile“, a prequel to the crab-verse timeline!

I hope you enjoy this Day 1 release as much as Touka and Tharuth enjoyed working with me!

(I feel so sorry for them.)

Tharuth’s Note: It was super fun working on this with Cel and Tonka! I hope you guys enjoy, it’s my first time editing a translation so hopefully it’s easy to read, and any feedback or criticism would be very much appreciated!

Note: Since this story is a prequel to the 32/33 books, you can read it without any fear of getting spoiled! If you wish to read more about the crab-verse (or Cakeverse), you can find the translated books on DreadfulDecoding’s website.

• Translation: Celest
• Translation-Check: Touka
• Editing: Tharuth

Sword Art Online – If You Can Smile

※ This short story “IF”, takes place in an alternative timeline during the events of Alicization, where the Elite Swordsmen-in-Training, Raios Antinous and Humbert Zizek were hospitalized after getting bitten by a poisonous crab. As a result of which, Kirito and Eugeo weren’t arrested as criminals, and continued on to graduate at the North Centoria Imperial Sword Mastery Academy. 

“Ahh, the water’s so clear even though it’s so close to Centoria.”, I said, filled with admiration while gazing out at the shining Ruhr River.

As I approached the shore to take a closer look, I could see the distinct, rounded gravel that filled the riverbed, as well as the cluster of small fish gently swimming around. If we were in the real world, there’s a beautiful place called the Nagatoro Valley in the Saitama prefecture which I got to visit during a field trip back in primary-school. I remember telling myself, “Wow, what clear water!”. However, even when compared to the Valley, the Ruhr River’s water was still a few degrees ahead in terms of clarity.

Inside any Virtual World, the water’s degree of clearness could easily be adjusted through a simple shader, but those simple shaders and sliders didn’t apply to the Underworld. Just like in the Real World, the water could be easily polluted if you threw trash into the rivers and lakes, which also made them harder to clean up. Speaking of which, rumour had it that the cause of Raios and Humbert’s hospitalization came from a lake where nobles carelessly threw their garbage directly into from their private estates, which led to the lake’s water turning into stagnant, and inviting the poisonous crabs to make it their home.

Despite being close to Centoria, the biggest city within the Human Empire, the reason this river’s so clean is because the people living nearby don’t throw their trash into it. There wasn’t even a single tangerine peel in sight. I know the people of Underworld can’t break the law, but even if they could, the beauty of the River symbolized the absolute authority of the Axiom Church ruling over the Human Empire.

Anyway, that’s what I’d been thinking while leisurely standing along the shore.

“Kirito-senpai, did you find something?”

Snapping me back to reality, I quickly turned around.

With a gentle smile on her face, the person who approached me was a petite girl with short, brown hair. Her outfit, a short gray jacket, and a box-pleat skirt like what high-school students would wear around Shibuya in the Real World; if it weren’t for the small longsword hanging from her left waist.

“Ah, uh… no. I just noticed there’s fish here.”

“Fish?!” she excitedly repeated after me, as she came up to take a closer look.

“Ah, you’re right; but aren’t those the same species of fish that live in the Academy’s pond?”

“Wow, is that right? It’s impressive that you can tell just by looking at them from above.”

As she looked at me with admiration, Swordswoman Trainee, Ronye Arabel smiled shyly.

“When the sun shines, their backs reflect a bluish-silver colour, so you can tell if you look closely. I used to have fish back at home when I was younger.”

“I see. Did you have any other pets besides fish?”

“I have a dog! He’s quite old now, but still very healthy. He’s a《Burha-Crested Dog》from Wesdarath, a super-rare breed in Norlangarth.

“A dog, huh? That’s nice.”

Thinking back on it, Asuna did always love dogs… but I couldn’t afford to be seen crying by Ronye right now, so I buried my thoughts.

“What’s his name?”, I quickly replied back. Ronye blinked before replying.

“His name is Chiel. Um, Kirito-senpai… if you’d like, you could always come over to see it at our place? Summer vacation’s going to start soon, and my parents would love to meet you.”

I couldn’t help but wryly smile and nod, getting caught off guard by Ronye’s quick and brave request.

“Yeah, I was also thinking of coming by to say hell—”

“Really?!”, Ronye exclaimed as her face lit up.

I then heard a voice calling my name from behind.

“Hey, Kirito! I think it’s about time you help me out already!”

When I turned around, a young man with flaxen hair wearing a neat cerulean-blue uniform was standing higher-up on the field next to the shore, waving his right hand. He seemed to be struggling to unfold a fabric that was hanging from his left hand.

“My bad, my bad!”, I shouted back and began making my way to him with Ronye.

The field was covered with both some thin sheets and thick, linen blankets. A girl wearing the same uniform as Ronye, with her hair colour similar to autumn leaves, took out some tableware sets from a large basket. She was Elite Swordsman-in-Training, Tiese Shtolienen.

As for the boy holding the blankets, this is my partner and best friend, Eugeo. He was once a woodcutter who had only ever held an ax, but since our time together, had now become the fifth-ranked among the only twelve Elite Swordsmen-in-Training at the North Centoria Imperial Sword Mastery Academy.

“Eugeo, I’ve been meaning to ask ever since we set out; what’s with the blankets?”

As I approached him, Eugeo responded with a somewhat troubled expression.

“When I told Vitoh we were going over the Ruhr River, he entruste— er… no, he lent it to me, and said it was a must-have.”

“Huh? Also, is that a net to catch fish or something?”

“Not quite, it’s a sunshade. He told me to put that pole in the ground and use it as a support.”

“A sunshade, huh…” I repeated, looking down at the wooden pole tied with leather straps by Eugeo’s feet. It seemed like we needed to assemble the set like something similar to a tarp in the real world, but…

“Isn’t this pole… a little too small?”

“Oh wow, you’re right.”, Eugeo nodded along. The six bundled poles were barely eighty centimetres long. If we thrust them into the ground and stretched the fabric on top, there would be barely enough space to even lie down.

I couldn’t help but feel that we were getting sabotaged, but I quickly let it go.

Vitoh Berkel was an Elite Swordsman and lived in the same dorm as us. He was also a skilled practitioner in swordsmanship, martial arts, and the Sacred Arts. Rumour had it he was from a fourth-ranked noble family, but he was surprisingly straightforward and down-to-earth. I didn’t think he’d be the type to bully commoners like us.

When we moved into the dorms in April, Vitoh kept his distance from us for a good while, probably because of the pressure and intimidation that Raios Antinous, the eldest son of a third-ranked baron and another Elite Swordsman, had on all our dormmates. As soon as he and Humbert were hospitalized, our interactions with all our dormmates greatly increased since then, and I even had the chance to spar with Vitoh on multiple occasions.

I guessed we might’ve misunderstood something about the sunshade? Regardless, the sun had been getting harsher for quite a while now, and there weren’t any trees large enough to provide enough shade for all of us around the Ruhr River’s eastern coast, so any kind of shade was greatly appreciated.

“Hm…”, While groaning, I picked up the poles by Eugeo’s feet. After closely examining them, I noticed something.

“Oh.”, I quickly untied the leather straps and thrust the poles inside the ground, leaving aside two extra poles. The bottom end of the pole held in my left hand had an insert that was pierced through, while the one in my right hand had a finely-machined tip.

“That’s some impressive craftsmanship.”, Ronye said in amazement beside me. Precise woodworking and carpentry like this were significantly more common in the Real World, but it was quite unusual here in the Underworld. The tools required for this kind of work were limited to enormous, water or wind-powered wheels.

With that in mind, the equipment was obviously really expensive, so I definitely needed to be careful and avoid breaking it; which I kept reminding myself while connecting the poles together. After I was done, the six short poles connected together to form two pillars taller than me.

I firmly thrust the pillars into the ground along both sides of the sheets. Eugeo and I then spread out the thin fabric and hooked the two poles to their metal eyelets. Finally, we pulled the long strings from the corners of the fabric and fixed them into the ground with some small iron pegs that Vitoh also lent.

“Wow, Solus’ light shines through the tent, it’s so pretty!”

This time around, it was Tiese letting out her cheers. We’d finally finished setting up our mountain-shaped tarp; or rather, our tent.

She was right. The natural colour of the fabric allowed the sunshine to pass through, and the interior would be too dark if it were to completely block it. Fortunately, the summer heat in the Norlangarth North Empire wasn’t as harsh as the one in Saitama Prefecture back in the Real World, so this setup was perfect for today.

“Wow, gotta hand it to Vitoh for lending us something so useful!”, I said, while brushing off the dust from my hands. Eugeo nodded along with a smile.

“I’ll have to thank him properly when we get back. Of course, you’ll be coming with me, Kirito.”

“Yeah, of course.”

After shrugging, I began taking off my boots and crawled into the tent.

The front and back of the tent were wide open, so the riverside breeze blowing through the tent felt extremely refreshing in the warmth. The fabric’s texture was also extremely comfy, making me want to lie down; but it’d be awkward to get caught slacking off in front of Ronye and Tiese, currently prepping our food.

“Let me help you.”, I offered, but the two girls immediately shook their heads.

“Prepping meals are also part of our page duties!”

“You two just need to relax and wait for us with drinks!”

I awkwardly took the two cups Ronye gave me, and passed one to Eugeo as he made his way into the tent and sat down cross-legged.

The wooden cups were filled to the brim with Siral Water. It had a nice lemon-mint scent, but unfortunately, it wasn’t cooled. The capital, Centoria, was far more advanced than Rulid Village or the town of Zakkaria, but it wasn’t easy to get a cooler, even there. If you wanted to have ice-cold drinks during a midsummer picnic, you’d need to be a high-ranking noble at the very least; but even more likely as part of the Emperor’s family, who could afford to use any kind of ice extravagance. Hmm, I think those Integrity Knights from the Axiom Church could probably enjoy that privilege if they ever had any outdoor activities too.

After taking a sip of the lukewarm water, I noticed that Eugeo blankly staring into the cup. After I quietly asked him, “What’s wrong?”, my partner blinked and looked up.

“Ah, nothing… well, I was just remembering something from the old days.”

“The old days? You mean when we were planning to go to the capital?”

“Even before that, like when I was still just a little kid. I remembered going all the way down to the mountains to grab some ice, just because we wanted to drink ice-cold milk in the middle of summer.”

“You mean… when Alice accidentally broke the Taboo Index?”, I said lowering my voice, and Eugeo gave a small nod in return.

“Lately, I just keep thinking about what happened. If I just knew how to use Cryogenic Sacred Arts back then, like I do now, we wouldn’t have needed to go look for ice.”, Eugeo murmured with a pained smile.

“Oh well, it would’ve been for nothing. Once milk is frozen, it tastes horrible anyway.”

“Is that so?”

I thought this was a concept unique to the Underworld for a second, but then I remembered that in the Real World, defrosting milk would cause the composition to separate making it undrinkable as well. However…

I tapped on Eugeo’s shoulder as he was sipping from his cup, still clearly affected by the last conversation.


“Hey, so it seems almost impossible to keep the inside of the basket cold for a long time, but couldn’t you maybe just cool our Siral Water until it’s almost frozen with your Arts right now?” I grinned at my partner as he tilted his head.

“Excuse me?”, Eugeo muttered while frowning, and stared at the cup.

“Well, I guess there’s this one Technique I’ve been working on recently. I might be able to use tha—”

I snapped my fingers before he could even finish speaking.

“Perfect! Ronye, Tiese, can you prepare two more cups of Siral Water for us?”, I quickly exclaimed while turning around. The two girls gave a confused look at first, but immediately gave us two more cups with their rings, and poured the bottled Siral Water.

“Um, here you go, but the food still isn’t ready…”

I smiled back at Ronye and placed our cups on their rings.

After I stepped slightly back, Eugeo approached the cups, cleared his throat, and raised his right hand.

“System Call. Generate Cryogenic Elements.”

Two blue dots appeared on the tips of Eugeo’s index and middle fingers, as they illuminated the space around them. Cryogenic Elements were part of the Eight Elements; Ronye, Tiese and I can use them as well.

Even in this small form, the Cryogenic Elements emitted a slight chill, so if we kept them close to the cups, then it’d also be able to cool down the cups of Siral Water. Additionally, if those dots were to come into contact with the cups, they would freeze instantly. If we also used the command,《Form Element》to transform the elements into something sharp, the cups would then shatter. I pondered what Eugeo planned to do next while intently watching.

After taking a deep breath, Eugeo started another Technique.

“Form Element: Flake Shape.”

Wait, just like the chocolate flakes? The Cryogenic Elements already began to take shape before I could even be surprised.

The two luminous dots slowly rotated around each other, making a scraping noise as they cut each other. The newly-made, thin, petal-like slices of ice silently fell from the Cryogenic Elements into the four glasses.

It may not have looked like it, but I couldn’t help but notice how advanced his Technique was. The easiest way to manipulate Elements was to completely release them, but when you try to fire, transform, or adhere them, it needed an extremely strong sense of imagery and direction. What Eugeo used seemed to be a type of transformation Technique; it’d be impossible for a clumsy practitioner like me to transform the Elements into thin petals while keeping their form.

“It looks just like snowflakes softly falling during the winter…” Tiese softly whispered in amazement.

I almost reacted by saying, “That looks like it could make some high-quality shaved ice.”, but swallowed those words. “Snowflakes softly falling during the winter.”, was so much more poetic.

The gently-falling snow touched the surface of the Siral Water and disappeared instantly. Gradually, small drops of water began to condensate on the cups.

The beauty of the Technique wasn’t just its appearance. The generated flakes weren’t actual ice, and were instead a visualization of coldness, and wouldn’t dilute the Siral Water either as they melted either. I was sure Eugeo hadn’t worked on the《Flake Shape》Technique just to have cold drinks; this was all a part of his Sacred Arts training. His skill was a testament to his determination to get to the top of the Elite Swordsman-in-Training and represent the academy in the Norlangarth North Empire Swordsmanship Tournament. He wanted to win the Four Empires Unity Tournament and be able to pass through the Gates of the Central Cathedral, where he could finally reunite with Alice, the childhood friend he’d lost all those years ago.

The two Cryogenic Elements took another minute to transform all their Energy into the beautiful snow and then disappeared.


I rubbed Eugeo’s back as he took some deep breaths, and then tried to grab my cup.

“That’s cold!”, I suddenly raised my voice. Despite asking Eugeo to cool the Siral Water down until it was almost frozen, I couldn’t help but be surprised by how cold it actually was.

“It’s cold!”, Ronye and Tiese also cried out in unison after trying to pick up their cups as well.

I picked up the last cup with my left hand and passed it over to my partner.

The sunlight permeating through the tent made the Siral Water shine like jewels. A small bird that perched itself to the right of the supporting pole chirped cheerfully, finally announcing the arrival of summer.

“Well then, to the end of our semester exams!”

Eugeo, Ronye and Tiese joined me with smiles.



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