Thanks to an incident caused by Kuradeel, Kirito and Asuna's bond has grown stronger, and they marry.
Asuna is granted temporary leave from the Knights of the Blood, and she and Kirito begin living together by a lake on the 22nd floor.
Kirito and Asuna pass the days peacefully, in a land far removed from battle.
One day, after hearing a rumor about a ghost-sighting, they set off for the forest, where they meet a young girl, wandering through the gloomy woods.
When the girl collapses right in front of them, they take her in, but she has lost her memory.