Kuroyukihime's Return (黒雪姫の帰還, Kuroyukihime no Kikan) is the 1st volume of the Accel World light novel series, published on February 10, 2009.
Even in the future, all the advances and innovation in the world can't change the dynamics of the school playground. And for Arita Haruyuki, a fat kid in junior high, that means he's destined to always be at the bottom of the food chain, prime pickings for the school bullies. But when he is approached by Kuroyukihime, a beautiful and aloof upperclassman, Haruyuki's life is turned on its head as he dives into Brain Burst, a mysterious computer program, and the Accelerated World with her help. It's in the Accel World that Haruyuki casts off his depressing reality and takes hold of the chance to become a Burst Linker, a knight to protect his princess!
Haruyuki Arita is in class, taking down notes from the virtual blackboard when he gets an email. As soon as he opened the email, he was surprised by a sudden sound and a flash of colors causing him to panic slightly. The email was a voice email from Araya, a bully, who told Haruyuki to get him and his friend's lunch, and to meet them at the top of the school roof, out of the Social Camera's view. After Haruyuki had given the food to Araya, he went to the toilets where he could «Direct Link» in peace without being bullied. In the Virtual World, Haruyuki heads to a large tree that's at the edge of the school's network. On his way to the tree, he hears a commotion nearby and looks over to see a group of people surrounding a girl. Haruyuki recognizes her as Kuroyukihime, the Vice-President of the Student Council. Haruyuki then moved away from the commotion and went up the stairs of the tree, where the «Virtual Squash Game» was situated. As Haruyuki played, he thought of how it would be much better if they didn't have classrooms at all, but did everything VR. As he finished his game a voice behind him spoke, which was revealed to be Chiyuri Kurashima who had been looking for him. She then called him an idiot after noticing his score on the game and telling him to link out and join her for lunch, which he refused. After Chiyuri Linked Out, Haruyuki went to play another game before being "Force Linked Out" by Chiyuri who had snuck into the male bathroom to find him. Leaving the bathroom, Chiyuri tried to cheer up Haruyuki by offering him some food that she made for him, but he struck it out of her hand in frustration, and then ran away as Chiyuri picked it up. Later on, when Haruyuki went back to the «Virtual Squash Game», he saw that someone had beaten his score. He then heard a voice and looked around to see Kuroyukihime, who offered him a way to Accelerate faster.
The next day, Haruyuki went to meet with Kuroyukihime in the Upperclassman lounge, still believing that the day before was just a dream until he saw Kuroyukihime sitting at a table. He was then asked by another student if he needed something, to which Kuroyukihime explained that they had a business, to which she then invited Haruyuki to sit next to her so that they could conduct their business. Kuroyukihime then pulled out a cable so that they could cable link, and talk without people overhearing, however at first Haruyuki thinks that is a prank. Kuroyukihime then sends Haruyuki a program via Direct Wired Connection, BB2039, to which he accepts and activates. After 30 seconds the program installed, and Haruyuki then asked Kuroyukihime what «Brain Burst» was, to which she commented on knowing that he'd have the aptitude to install «Brain Burst». Kuroyukihime then said she would explain the basics soon, to which Haruyuki went to say he was ready to know now but was interrupted by Araya showing up.
After an unpleasant dream the night before, Haruyuki wakes up, drenched in sweat. Before leaving home, Haruyuki absent-mindedly connects his Neurolinker to the global net to receive lunch money from his mother, forgetting about the promise he had made to Kuroyukihime the day before. He then leaves the building, but about 3 seconds later he is automatically accelerated, much to his surprise and he is challenged by Ash Roller. After taking in the realism of the stage, Haruyuki loses swiftly. At lunch, Kuroyukihime laughs before stating that is what he gets for breaking his promise to her, through a direct connection. Kuroyukihime then agrees to tell Haruyuki more about Brain Burst. The two then accelerate, and Kuroyukihime asks Haruyuki to challenge her.
The moment the battle has started, Silver Crow hid on an overpass walkway. His plan is to kick Ash Roller by jumping from the overpass and damage him, escape to a high building where his bike won't be able to reach, and wait for time to run out. The plan will make Silver Crow the winner since Ash Roller HP will be lower than his. At first, he successfully kick the biker while falling from the overpass and run to the roof of a building through external fire escape stairs. However, Ash Roller recover and return to his bike, driving towards the wall of the building, then started to ride the bike on the wall with his newly acquired skill after reaching level two, «Wall Climb». Being deperate, Crow tried to use «Head Butt» to fight head-on against the bike, but it missed and hit the ground instead. He stood up, and started to recollect the bike's feature to find its weakness. After he found its weakness, Silver Crow use a chance to grab the bike's black fender above its rear tire. He let himself dragged by the bike while waiting for it to slow down for a turn. At that moment, Crow lifted the bike's rear wheel, which is the only wheel that is linked to the engine, thus stopping the bike from moving. After 5 minutes, Ash Roller jumped off his bike to initiate a fistfight with Crow. Crow won easily in the fistfight.
After the fight, Kuroyukihime praise Haruyuki for able to win regardless of the disadvantage. Chiyuri who saw them together, approach and demand explaination. Kuroyuki, stated that she confessed to Haruyuki, dragged Haruyuki in her arm afterwards while everyone froze on the statement. They entered a coffee shop and direct link. Kuroyuki started to explain about Brain Burst, its players, and the Six Kings of the Pure Color. She then gave Haruyuki a choice to leave her behind under the possibiliy of the former betraying the latter, though Haruyuki rejected. Changing the topic, Kuroyukihime mention that someone from the school is trying to hunt her down through Brain Burst. She tried to uncover the assailant real identity, but she was unable to find the assailant name on the matching list. Thus, she attempt to use the Guide Cursor, a cursor that points to the opponent's direction when he is not in LoS (Line of Sight), to find the opponent starting position. One cursor won't be enough to pinpoint the position, so Kuroyukihime asked him to attend their next battle and use his Guide Cursor as another line to pinpoint the position. Afterwards, Kuroyukihime told him that her investigation of a third Burst Linker led her to Kurashima Chiyuri. Haruyuki, who is unwilling to believe, said that he will prove Chiyuri's innoncent by Direct Connect with her.
As Haruyuki regret his decision, he dismissed it and visit Chiyuri's house as he will need to apolozise to Chiyuri about the sandwich accident before having a chance to direct link with her. Haruyuki were greeted by Chiyuri's mother, then Chiyuri lead him to her room. Struck by an idea, Haruyuki then ask Chiyuri to direct connect with him with apolizing as an excuse. Chiyuri gave him a 30 cm cable because Haruyuki didn't bring any cable. This brought his mind to disarray, but he quickly dismissed it. While they talk to direct link (though Chiyuri were still unable to talk with thought thus only speak like usual), Haruyuki were skimming through Chiyuri's Neuro Linker storage to find a Brain Burst program. While he is searching, Chiyuri apolozise for not helping him with his bullying. She also conveyed that she hate how Haruyuki act like Kuroyukihime's underling after Chiyuri 4 years worrying about him. While both of them were exchanging words about their relationship, each other worries, and how Haruyuki had distancing himself from everyone, Haruyuki had reaffirm that Chiyuri's Neuro Linker had no Brain Burst program, but he noticed that the response was laggy. To this suspicion, Haruyuki checked all networks that Chiyuri's Neuro Linker was connected to. He found out that a backdoor had been installed in Chiyu's Neuro Linker and had been receiving her sight and hearing information. On rage, he were tempted to delete the backdoor immediately, but he refrained himself so he could trace the receiver, thus uncovering the person's identity. He then close all windows, thank Chiyuri, and disconnect the link.
On the next day (friday), Haruyuki met Kuroyukihime and both of them apolozise to each other about yesterday's quarrel in the caffee. When Kuroyukihime apolozise for driving Haruyuki to said that he would Direct Connect woth her, he admit that he did and use a 30 centimeter cable for it, but before he could report his finding, Kuroyukihime had power walk to the school in a manner that Haruyuki couldn't caught up to her.
At lunch time, newspaper club came to Haruyuki's classroom to interview him about rumors that Haruyuki is Kuroyuki's boyfriend. Haruyuki denied it and give a unrefutable excuses. Though when he mentioned that she tends to be annoyed on the topic of Chiyuri, the newspaper club members suggest that it means Kuroyuki is jealous of Chiyuri.
After school, Haruyuki and Kuroyukihime met each other at the school gate and walk together while talking about Cyan Pile. Haruyuki then report her that a backdoor was found. Though Kuroyuki tried to refutted the claim by the lack of evidence, Haru gave her a choice to believe it or not. Haruyuki also told her that Kuroyuki shouldn't act so warm towards him, she should just treat him like a chess pawn. This drove Kuroyukihime to slap him and cry. Suddenly, a metal screech sounded and he reflexly voice burst link command.
While accelerate, Kuroyukihime confessed her love to Haruyuki and give him a farewell. She use Physical Full Burst command, which can only be used by level 9s and above and it takes 99% of users accumulated burst point as its cost, to push Haruyuki away from the car's direction. Thus, Haruyuki is saved while Kuroyukihime sustained a vital injury.
After the incident occured, a police patrol car is dispatch to the scene to arrest Araya. Immediately after, an ambulance also rushed into the scene to send Kuroyuki to hospital with Haruyuki as the ambulance's passanger. At the hospital, Haruyuki stare at the ER's red light while reminising of the past, thinking how to prevent the incident although knowing that it is for naught. A nurse came out of the operation room, approach Haruyuki to ask for Kuroyuki's home telephone number since her Neuro Linker didn't register any emergency contact for them to contact. Haruyuki were lost at words when being ask. The nurse then ask if he is her boyfriend and present Kuroyuki's Umesato Middle School student hand book to Haruyuki. The nurse flip the notebook to the last page, revealing Kuroyuki's face-shot and Haruyuki's face-shot beside it. Touched, Haruyuki start weep over the floor while hugging the book.
At around 10 PM, the ER light were turned off. A doctor in charge of Kuroyukihime operation came out of the room and inform her condition to Haruyuki. Her bleeding has stopped, but many of her organs were damaged intensively. Thus, she was placed in a capsule top-half transparent to have micro-machines fix her organ and tissues. Finished explaining, the doctor retire to the hallway, leaving Haruyuki and the nurse. The nurse tried to encourge Haruyuki and showed Kuroyuki with the hospital camera. Then, Haruyuki noticed her Neuro Linker which were still intact on her neck. The nurse mentioned that it is to monitor Kuroyuki's brainwaves and connected to the hospital network, also ensuring her safety with the network's firewall, but Haruyuki realized that the firewall's protection could easily brought to naught with Brain Burst's capability, making Black Lotus (Kuroyukihime) a soft target to be hunted down for another burst linkers in the hospital. He thought for a little and after determining that Cyan Pile would take advantage of this situation, Haruyuki decided to guard her by challenging any burst linkers that went into the hospital. In order to do that, Haruyuki start staring at the entrance all night long.
After staring the entrance until around 8.45, Haruyuki saw Mayuzumi Takumu entering the hospital. Haruyuki raise his hand to greet him, then Takumu replied by raising his hand and tap his Neuro Linker with another. Haruyuki thought he was being methodical as usual since it is a policy to sign in to hospital network whenever one go into a hospital. However, Haru started to be suspicious when Taku face sideway and cover his mouth. Feeling uneasy, he managed to conclude that Takumu is a suspect candidate of Cyan Pile candidate. Haruyuki cited Burst Link command in the next instance and challenge Cyan Pile, whose name appeared on the duel list.
As the duel initiate, they were transfered into the Purgatory stage. Silver Crow observed Cyan Pile appearance and notice an Enchanted Armament which he assume as a short range weapon basing on Cyan Pile's color (His color is close to pure blue, meaning that he is a short range) and Cyan Pile faced each other since they were in the same room. Cyan Pile also express his surprise when knowing Haruyuki is a burst linker and also his depression and jealousy over the fact that Chiyuri seemed to "enjoy" taking care of Haru who always "pretend" to be pitiful more than dating with him. Haruyuki internally denied his claim and intend to make him understand, but as Cyan Pile put up his stance, he had no choice but to defeat him to guard Black Lotus, who is in a coma state.
As the fight begins, Silver Crow planned to flank him and move to a more spacious area, but had his left armed pierced to the point of amputated as the enchanted armament double its length and pierce through it. As a result, his back is slammed onto the wall. Regradless, he stood up then run to the entrance without looking back. There, he found a working elevator and use it to access the rooftop to find a spacious area. He find some spectator, but he ignore it as Cyan Pile is also moving upward to the rooftop using the elevator.
On the rooftop, Silver Crow manage to chrip Cyan Pile's HP to 60% with his speed and combos attack. However, as Haruyuki pinned him to the ground, Pile activate his special technique, «Splash Stinger». Crow dodged some of it, but it cripple his HP to 30%. He stood up and tried to initiate his combo attack again. Unfortunately, his right leg broke right after he start running and limit his speed to naught. Cyan Pile, feeling victorious, saying that Haruyuki should disappear, then he activate his another special technique, «Spiral Gravity Driver», pressing him to the first floor by colliding him to floor after floor, crippling his HP to below 10%.
After sending Silver Crow to the first floor, Cyan Pile boast his "victory" to the specators, saying that it is a waste to throw him away for using too much point. Meanwhile, Crow find Kuroyukihime being in the same room as him and confessed his inability to protect her. He thought of her and realized that the meaning of strength is that to still look up to the sky even after being thrown to the ground. His will to continue fighting begin to grow and white light begin to emit from his cracks from the battle and wings begin to sprout from his back. Crow then fly upward to the sky while surprising the gallery as he is the first flight-type avatar. Cyan Pile, who is now flustered, activate Lightning Cyan Spike to shoot Crow down. He easily dodge the projectile and punch Pile deeply into his chest and lift him to the sky.
In the sky, Cyan Pile beg Silver Crow to surrender as his defeat will fully drain his point. Crow then ask him to acknowledge that he can't defeat Haruyuki in a game, like Haru cannot defeat Takumu in the real world. Crow also ask Pile to become his and Black Lotus's ally, and reveal all secret they have been covering to Chiyuri. Pile wordlessly agree. With this, both of them return to the rooftop and they ceasefire as their HP was coincidentaly on the exact same number, which will result in a draw when the timer runs out. Kuroyukihime who uses the elevator to go to the rooftop came out of the elevator. Crow saw her and both of them started running and hug each other. She thank Crow, who has fought to the point of badly damaged and apolozise to Pile, whom she ran from everytime he challenge her to battle. She offer a fair battle as an apolozy, then change her dummy avatar to her duel avatar, reveal her identity as the traitor of Accelerated World to the gallery. She ask Crow to lift her up to the sky, and declare war to the six kings of the pure.
Three weeks after the battle, Haruyuki visit Kuroyukihime who was moved from ICU to general recovery ward on that day for the first time. He report that a patch has been released and render the virus to be useless, Taku's parent has been executed in the Blue Legion (by loss of point), and Nega Nebulus has taken control of «Suginami Third Battle District» and «Fourth Battle District». Haru also returned her student handbook. Kuroyukihime tell her real name to Haruyuki in hope for him to use it towards her.
In the chapter's narration, Haru explained the time when he and Takumu went to Chiyuri's house and confessed everything (the reason Takumu confessed to Chiyuri two years ago, how Taku felt cornered since then, the battle, and the backdoor virus). Chiyu was angry at first but later forgave them after being treated all first-class parfaits as much as she wants.