Near the conclusion of the first kuru of the series we are introduced to the apparent main antagonist of the story, as well as witnessing how hard the obstacles that will face the protagonists can be.
SynopsisAlicization Ep 12
Let's go back immediately to the comparison between Kirito and Eugeo with the Integral Knight Eldrie Synthesis Thirty-One, which immediately makes the two boys understand that it will not be possible for them, without the possession of their swords, to think they can face it individually: in this regard Kirito devises a strategy, allowing us to witness for the first time the dynamics of a battle between the Arts Sacre.
Kirito goes on the offensive with very little success, crushed by the magical properties of Eldrie's whip but, as expected, Eugeo's assistance proves to be fundamental in order to immobilize and injure the knight.
During a brief exchange between Eldrie and Kirito, the former turns out to be familiar with the type of attack used by his opponent, a familiarity probably derived from what Kirito suggests is a previous encounter with the Serlut style.
Eldrie's response, however, suggests that his summons may have removed his memory, a reflection suddenly interrupted by Eugeo who, behind the rider, is about to strike, although his attempt is promptly stopped by Eldrie's whip, now changed in snake.
The revelation of Edrie Woolsburg
Defeated and cornered, Eugeo remembers why Eldrie sounded so familiar to him: he is in fact Eldrie Woolsburg, winner of the last fencing tournament.
This revelation deeply shocks Eldrie, who begins to have a mental breakdown which culminates in his loss of consciousness and a peculiar prism outside his forehead.
This prism, Kirito speculates, is the cause of the manipulation of the memories of the Integral Knights: for this reason it encourages Eugeo to provide further memories of the nobleman's past in order to completely expel the prism and bring Eldrie back to himself.
The two, unfortunately, are stopped by an archer riding his dragon, forcing them to flee, assisted by a mysterious voice which directs them into the intricate labyrinth in which they find themselves until they meet what appears to be their invisible guide, which leads them into a portal.
A mysterious ally?
Kirito and Eugeo find themselves inside a building, welcomed by a rather peculiar and mysterious female figure who, without getting lost in chatter, explains cryptically how that place is inside the cathedral but, at the same time, is inaccessible from the outside without his consent.
The girl therefore takes the two of them inside an immense library which, according to her, contains all records of the entire history of Underworld from her creation to the present, in addition to all the sacred arts, explicitly called system commands by her.
Immediately Kirito questions her new knowledge about her identity, leading the girl to present herself as Cardinal, past ruler of the world, now librarian.
After freeing the two boys from their chains, Cardinal invites Eugeo to a hot bath to recover from the previous battle and invites him to freely read all the library records.
As soon as the boy goes far enough, however, Cardinal's cordial tone becomes more serious, mentioning to Kirito how all the records are fabrications of the pontiff of the Church of Axiom, confirming the nonexistence of any divinity in Underworld, explaining how they are simply two accounts with absolute administration powers never used by a human being.
The clear knowledge of the true virtual nature of Underworld leads Kirito to immediately understand how Cardinal is not a simple inhabitant of that world but an entity closer to the real world, a hypothesis that Cardinal does not hesitate to confirm: she is in fact the personified interface of the Cardinal System, the program that deals with the management and monitoring of all aspects of the virtual worlds created with the Seed.
Cardinal, however, does not possess the authority he should actually possess, limiting his control to what is inside the library, unable to contact the outside world.
The true gods of the Underworld
She explains that a time, 450 years ago, something like real gods was actually present: the four members of Rath staff who laid the foundations of all Underworld, generating families, educating the inhabitants of autonomy and laying the ethical and moral foundations that would have served as skeletons for the Taboo Index.
However intelligent and excellent in their duties, however, one of the four administrators was particularly selfish, ambitious and malicious, traits that his virtual descent inherited by going to train the nobles and ministers of the Axiom church, including the pontiff, current Underworld administrator.
Cardinal then proceeds to tell the origin of "Administrator": decades after the logout of the four members of Rath a political marriage generated Quinella, a girl who was assigned the task of seeking knowledge about the Sacred Arts.
The origins of Quinella
The young Quinella, through her studies, managed to understand the basic functioning of system calls, their meaning in English, so as to use them to evoke complex and advanced Sacred Arts.
By testing his skills on local fauna, Quinella understood that by eliminating other forms of life, it could have increased its System Control Authority, gradually becoming more powerful and, at the same time, more ambitious.
He built the cathedral with the intention of governing peoples and began to create a system of laws that prevented the possibility that someone could obtain a higher level of Authority than his own, creating the Taboo Index as it is known now.
After so much effort, however, Quinella realized that she had aged to the point that she had reached the end of her life. Old and sick, in her bed, in despair Quinella decided to try several system calls until she was able to successfully open the complete list of all possible system commands in Underworld.
With this enormous power, Quinella restored her youth and, in an attempt to subtract the authority of the Cardinal System through a complex Sacred Art, she imprinted her primary direction in her own Fluctlight.
This directive, the basic command of the Cardinal System and its only reason for existing, is the preservation of order.
This action irreparably transformed Quinella, making it an entity whose sole purpose is to maintain the state of Underworld eternally in the situation it has designed.
Thus, with his self-proclamation as pontiff of the Church of Axiom "Administrator", Alicization Ep 12 ends, leaving us in suspense until the next events.
Considerations on Alicization Ep 12
If on one hand we are introduced to the origin of Alice's problem and, consequently, to the definitive obstacle that Kirito and Eugeo will have to overcome in this series, on the other hand in Alicization Ep 12 we are subjected to a huge load of information that further expands the virtual world of this series, explaining to us for the Taboo Index to exist and how it originated.
The revelation that its existence is purely liable to discourage anyone from raising the level sufficiently to compete with the administrator is, without doubt, a rather unexpected twist, which also explains why the Index has gaps large enough to allow to people like Raios and Humbert to behave in such a perverse way: since their crimes do not cause the death of other entities, the nobles do not increase in level through their immoral acts and, for this reason, they are not a problem.
Thanks to her call, Quinella was the only inhabitant of Underworld to have had the opportunity to interface with the English language in a real way, leading her to be the first to fully realize that her world is, basically, a huge RPG in which through the right actions he could increase his power.
Quinella best villain in Alicization Ep 12
The fact that it has forbidden anyone else to do the same and, at the same time, to access the basic commands of the program, to become immortal and to merge with the Cardinal System to become administrator makes Quinella probably the most articulated villain in the franchise, as well as suggesting the disturbing idea that a virtual program of that type can independently reach such a level of awareness.
It is also not negligible that his behavior and disposition are fruit hereditary the traits of a Rath employee, giving us a potential (albeit unknown) possible antagonist in the real world.
Developments after Alicization Ep 12
Considering that the series has reached the end of the first block, which will end effectively with the thirteenth episode on the pending interruption of Cardinal's story it is probable that the next episode will continue illustrating Cardinal's origins as an anthropomorphic entity after his powers were taken away from Quinella, thus leaving the road open for a more action-oriented part in the second block.
Overall Alicization Ep 12 advances the story and establishes new enemies, compensating for the lack of exciting and engaging events with the completion of the framework of the key Alicization events, structuring the setting with important and necessary details.
"The library essay" was the last episode of 2018 for Sword Art Online Alicization, making an appointment on January 6 for episode 13, entitled "The Administrator and the Mediator".