2016-08-15 - The Crimson Rose and the Blue Knight

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Title: The Crimson Rose and the Blue Knight

Kasagami has been tasked by Ends of the World with kidnapping Madoka Kaname in order to get Mami Tomoe to give up her Key to the City. Sayaka Miki stands in her way.

Ed. Note: Because of the necessity of doing this scene in one IRL night, the group chose to switch to shortposes partway through, in the interests of time.


Kasagami Araki, Sayaka Miki, Madoka Kaname


Ohtori Academy Chapel

OOC - IC Date:

08-15-2016 - 11-14-2014

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Madoka's days, of late, have been troubled ones. It feels like everyone is either on the edge of violence or has recently been the victim of it; she can count on no hands the number of her close friends whose spirits are untainted by the deadly pall of current events, except for Hitomi Shizuki, who seems, if anything, more blissful in her ignorance than usual.

She feels guilty about her feelings on that front. It's harder than usual to be around Hitomi, even by her existing standards of feeling like a weird outsider from normal life, floating in between worlds.

In a way, the silence of the chapel provides relief. It's quite empty; choir club doesn't meet today and the Father is elsewhere. Madoka stands at the altar, a black silhouette against the backlight pouring in through the stained glass windows, which burn orange and red and gold. Her shadow stretches as far down the aisle as it can, a dark runner which looks, for all the world, like her many problems following her, right at her heels.

She's unaware of the dramatic image she makes, however. In one hand she's got her phone, a recently-texted > MEET U @ CHAPEL awaiting reply, and with the other she is, very clandestinely, the sense of guilty pleasure pouring off of her, fulfilling a lifelong ambition. It's the altar cloth, that gorgeous piece of embroidery, metallic thread and, since this is Ohtori, quite possibly some actual, honest-to-goodness gems. Since she was a little kid occasionally required to be in the pews, she's always wanted to mess with the tassels on one corner.

All that golden cord would look so /nice/ braided, she's always thought so.

This is her big chance to actualize her dream. YOLO, Madoka.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Miki-kun! You think you can just drag one sandbag and go home?" One of the managers, a short freckled girl, has her hands on her hips.

Sayaka wheels about on her cleat heel, using the momentum to sling an arm up and around until her hand slaps over her heart. "I'm late already! Don't you have any sympathy for my poor fiancee?"

"Miki-senpai's engaged?" an underclassman murmurs quizzically.

The captain slaps dust into the underclassman's shoulder. "Not like you'd think." She pauses, sandbag over one shoulder, and shakes her head. "Fine. You're lucky your wife is so cute, Miki. You're on setup tomorrow."

"Yoshi! Just leave it to me, then!" Sayaka drags her cap brim down in rakish acknowledgment, jogging off.

"Wish I knew where she got all that energy," the manager sighs.

"...wife?" the underclassman ventures.


The braids are coarse when rubbed laterally, but so smooth when stroked. It's nice material, as expected--no human institution appreciates the value of longevity more than the church. There is a certain freshness to it, free of the supple quality that human hands lend objects they handle. Perhaps few students dare to touch the tassels. Perhaps Madoka is the first person to touch them since they were crafted!

Doesn't that mean God would know exactly who to blame?

Madoka's earlobe fills with fluttering air, the noise startlingly loud despite the mild pressure of this localized breeze. Sayaka leans over Madoka's shoulder, having shot a sharp puff of air from the corner of her mouth to alert Madoka to her presence. Intrusively she's examining the tassel, then Madoka's face.

"Hey, don't you think that's a sin? Probably not a big one, but..." Sayaka stands up straight, rising well above the pink turnip before her. Her face has the familiar tan dust marks leading up from the neck that she gets after a long day of practice, as does the plain grey hooded sweatshirt she's thrown over her sweaty tee shirt. She holds her bat over her, her gym bag in her hand.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami missed classes. 'Medical reasons' is the only explaination given to teachers by an adjunct of a flunky of a student given random instructions. It was true enough. After the fight with Cure Passion and Hero Fu, she needed a bit of patching up. They weren't opponents you fight lightly.

But the real reason was the letter sitting on her pillow as she got back to her dorm. A name, time, place, and objective. Kidnap Madoka Kaname. Deliver her to the appointed drop off point. For a woman with such high, noble aspirations it nibbled at her increasingly dead heart. Justifications came and went. It was all for her dream. All for a single throne. All for the Power to Revolutionize the World. To break through the shell of filth killing the beauty of her world, and finally find the light she so desperately wants. And deep down, to end the suffering she's grown so tired of.

One hand, her Rose Signet Ring shining, is placed upon the single picture of her parents and herself. A tear streaks down her good cheek. Then, both hands shoving open the balcony window, two boots alight on the windowsil.

"...I'm so sorry, Mom, Dad, that your daughter's become such a villain. In my World, things like that won't happen ever again. I promise."

A breeze slips through and Kasagami Araki is gone. A rose scented blurr amongst rooftops it will no doubt lead to ghost stories passed around the next day. She heads to the Chapel, right on time towards the stained glass window Madoka has her back against. Time seems to slow for Kasagami. She forces down the growing self loathing, the guilt over the awful act she's about to commit. It's unbefitting of a true King. Cure Passion's words still linger in her mind.

Is she a Shining King, or a Crimson Tyrant?

All around the Chapel, the supports and walls and pews seem to be encrusted with dark ivy. The vines appear from nowhere, and soon dark red roses erupt all throughout the Church. The light and shadow mixing behind Madoka solidifies. The stained glass ripples, and the tall shadow of Kasagami Araki falls over Madoka and Sayaka alike, overtaking Madoka's own ominously. Shining steps of light, like some kind of heavenly glass crunch under boots with little regard. Coat swaying in unseen wind, nodachi in one hand, and wings of dark red rose petals trailing her, Kasagami walks slowly down to ground level. Her single steel grey eye is cold, even as her heart beats. She tells herself she can do even this.

The angel of roses abandons Heaven in search of a throne through the pain of an innocent soul.

Her wings shatter in a flurry of crimson petals that fill the chapel as the stairs to heaven crumble. The only thing left is the imposing figure of Kasagami with a forced grin of a demon.

"You know, back in Medieval times, you'd get burnt at the stake for that kind of thing, Madoka Kaname."

Her gaze turns from the pink-haired young woman to the unexpected stranger beside her. Schnickt. A thumb unsheaths an inch of shining blade. The sound fills the Chapel.

"I've got business with this girl. Get out. Now."

Her resolve, for one easily missed moment, falters.

"...Please. Run away, kid." Comes a soft, whispered utterance.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

It's so entirely pleasant, the way the very, very tips of each thread isn't frayed at all. They all end in perfect, tiny little knots. Each one is the same size and style, tied with mediculous care by someone -- presumably the person who designed the cloth as a whole. It's not possible that a student snuck in here for years and gradually, one at a time, added them while nobody noticed, such that they simply became a part of the pattern, an accepted, established part of the tapestry... right?

Sayaka has shower thoughts, but Madoka has shower curtain thoughts. She'll stare at the patterns of ferns painted onto the plastic all day, until their shapes lose all meaning and just become green and yellow on white, and then they resolve into new meanings. Gaps between fronds become eyes, noses, mouths. Fingers. A little cat; a funny hat.

Madoka imagines the slow, patient, phenomenally sneaky person who managed to tie this tassel into dozens of knots, and a tiny smile flirts with her lips. It's impossible to deny, spreading from the corners and meeting in the middle. She's in awe of it, and a little jealous of it, at the same time...


Madoka squeals, as is her wont when she's startled by Sayaka coming up behind her to tickle her, or to lean over her to see what she's reading, or... to blow air in her ear. The twintail on that side flutters, the bright red ribbon flapping joyfully, a sail filled first by her best friend's breath, and then again by her own motion through the air as she leaps and whirls.

"Whihihi," she laughs, her giggle echoing impiously off the walls of the chapel, "You startled me, Sayaka-chan. Come, look closer, there's something amazing..."

Just as she's saying that, reality begins to warp. She's been so focused on such a tiny physical detail that the roses first infect her awareness through scent; their heavy perfume, almost sickly sweet when in such a mass quantity, especially in this confined space, mingled with the subtler notes of the vines themselves, which smell, strongly, of life itself, of growth, of change. In such company, scent of earth, of rich wholesome dirt, is almost jarring in its absence.

She sneezes. The noise is tiny and cute in a way that embarrasses her, but right now she is -- and this is rare and worth not taking for granted -- too afraid to feel humiliated by her most minor behaviors. Already so close to Sayaka that they're easily entwined, she bends over her friend's ring, looking for the telltale glimmer of light she expects to see... the sign of a Witch.

Instead, Kasagami announces her presence behind them. This time, her yelp isn't cute or funny. It's just terrified. She stares up at this unfamiliar face, with long coat and longer sword, and her throat bobs, trying to summon moisture. Her lips struggle to shape words.

"Um, uh, I... I-I... I'm so sorry!"

About the tassels, presumably. An apology seems like the wisest course of action right now, and she bends in half, so deep is her bow, staring at the floor. It's a much safer subject for her eyes than that terrible grin.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42wNpJO12Ro

This chapel hadn't been polite enough to wait for Sayaka to become a Puella Magi to threaten her, and it isn't reasonable enough to stop now that she has, either. The creeping vines rustle and slither, their noise not unlike the sharply indrawn breath that slips past Madoka's ear. Sayaka doesn't turn around, because right now her back is Madoka's only shield, and its broad side is already in place to defend her. Action is the best cure for fear. Power is prerequisite to action.

It's so much easier this time.

Madoka's tremulous hands are cupped from both sides, manuevered together, pressed palm-to-palm. Sayaka seems strangely serious, her face calm as she rests her chin atop Madoka's head, wrapped protectively around her. It must be perplexing to the newcomer. Did this girl crack? Does she want God to save her?

"Namu Amida Butsu," she says. One iridescent blue eye opens, mischievous. "Now we're Buddhists. No more visiting this chapel." With a quick dip of her head, Sayaka puffs Madoka's other ear, to even things out.

Slipping free of Madoka, Sayaka lifts her head and lets it tilt back until her eye rolls down and lands on the inch of bright steel gleaming in the stained light. It's visible in her eye, a white parallelogram across her blue iris.

"Ohtori students are supposed to be welcoming to guests on campus," Sayaka says. "But this time I don't think I can do what you want. Sorry. You see..." The lanky girl draws her hand over the ground, arm fully extended as she turns, and the passage of her palm is marked with an increasingly fervid spray of cyan bubbles from the ground. The ring on her finger is struggling, growing incandescent as she moves, vibrating with some restrained music. "I'm Madoka Kaname's hero."

The bubbles flush from the ground on all sides, now, dribbling up rapidly through a grating formed by the spreading rings of musical staff beneath her feet. Sayaka's legs are sheathed in white, gloves puff about her wrists, twin halves of a blue and gold knightly tunic seal together about her torso as she twirls up along with the seasong. When she drops to her feet again it is amidst the succulent ripple of an endless milky cape, and she is facing the newcomer. Lifting her chin like a schoolboy on Easter Sunday, she allows her cape to seal about her throat, fastened by a draped and corded aiguillette.

She catches a sword out of the dissipating sheets of water and slings it dry of half-notes and droplets. "She's had enough of your type," Sayaka says with a deceptively kind grin. "Don't even look at her without her permission."

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Instantly, Madoka is down and apologizing. Terror cries out from the young girl. The darkest, most horrible part of Kasagami's soul rejoices at the sound. Power. Strength. Dominance. An intoxicating sound that she'd never openly admit to enjoying.

The better part of her soul wants to put her blade straight into her own heart, already skipping a beat in shame at terrorizing a helpless person. Another tatter of her heart burns up and turns to ash.

"Let me give you a piece of advice. Don't show fear to predators. It'll end poorly for you." She all but spits to Madoka. A bitter mask of contempt hiding intensifying self loathing. This girl is innocent, helpless. A precious treasure. Why must the World be so cruel? Why must she be so cruel in turn?

A puff, an irreverant statement despite so much tension, and Sayaka Miki refuses to flee. Refuses to back down. In a shower of bubbles, sheet music, and pure power of her Heart, a sword is drawn. Sayaka Miki seeks to be the brave knight against the Tyrant before her. It brings a pure, naked smile to Kasagami's face. For all that she desires the mantle of a King, the mantle of a Knight impresses her. And let it never be said that Sayaka doesn't deserve that.

"Then you refuse me? You refuse to flee like a coward? Even before the might of Executive Director Kasagami Araki of Ohtori's Student Council, you'd draw a blade for the sake of your dear friend? Unbending, unbroken, telling me to cast aside what little vision I have left? All so someone close to your heart can be safe, sound, and free?"

Kasagami's head tilts to Heaven, and weeps for but a moment. It moves the chivalry of Kasagami's heart, even darkened as it is by her pain and the webs of the Ends cast around her.

Her gaze returns to Sayaka. Metal slowly slides from sheath as she draws her blade. That sheath is tossed aside, ramming into ground and pew, reducing it to beyond splinters. The impact causes wind to burst throughout the Chapel, sending Kasagami's coat swaying, possibly as well as Sayaka's cape.

A glance to Madoka. "Get safe, Madoka." Her voice tries to be commanding. It sounds almost apologetic in nature.

And then, both hands gripping her blade, she all but seems to teleport towards Sayaka in a trail of red flowers. "Show me the depths of your noble soul. If you have the strength, cut me down and save your friend. For the sake of your pure desire, I'll fight you with everything that I have."

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sayaka surrounds herself with a tide of music, and emerges from it transformed, transcendent. It is an act of glory as much as it is an act of courage. Of defiance. Of love.

But before that, Sayaka surrounded Madoka with herself. Familiar words, familiar faith, familiar casual use of both, but more importantly, the warmth of her chest, the palms of her hands, the tuck of her chin. Sayaka transformed herself into a Knight, but first she transformed Madoka with a deeper magic.

Her breathing slows, just a little. The sound of her heartbeat recedes from her ears, just a little. And, the memory of that safe feeling surrounding her as she does so, she's able to uncurl herself from her bow, just a little. An inch, a beat, a breath at a time.

Sayaka may have created seven veils out of her simple, harsh command, but this little princess commands attention without meaning to, by the simple act of not leaving. She looks upon this self-proclaimed predator, this Student Council member -- a shark is a shark is a shark -- and gradually becomes more sad than scared. "W-why are you doing this?" she implores, shakily, wide-eyed and confused. "Please, we don't need--"

Her attempt to forestall the fight is interrupted by an explosive collision of sheath and chapter, causes her to jump to keep up with her heart in her throat, and the speed of Kasagami's motion forward is terrifying for entirely new reasons.

"Be safe, Sayaka-chan," she whispers, she prays, she promises. She's not going anywhere.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The bright tip of Sayaka's sword slashes out to the side as she shakes out one end of her cape in outrage. "Are you kidding? You're on the Student Council? You're supposed to protect students!"

The scabbard goes off like a grenade in the pews, and Sayaka lowers her angry jaw and wind-bared forehead into the resulting impact, her short blue hair rippling behind her. There's a lot of praise in this challenge, as well as arrogance, but nothing sticks out to Sayaka quite so much as the cloyingly hypocritical concern for Madoka. "I told you! You don't even have permission..." Sayaka shouts, swivelling her grip to seize her sword in both hands, slinging it forward as soon as Araki disappears and shifting her shoulders behind it as she goes. "To look at her!"

Sayaka cracks her blade into Araki's, the clangor driving her back in skid on her bootheels. The foe is stronger, the weapon far heavier than Sayaka's. She doesn't miss a beat, however, and is already treading her feet against the momentum as it runs out, such that she springs back like a rubber band into Araki, a rapid combination of three advancing blows engaging the nodachi in flashing arcs of silver. She isn't yet confident that Araki really intends on going through her rather than around her to get Madoka.

"Madoka!" she shouts. "Call Mami-senpai!" She's not going to tell Madoka to run until she thinks the danger here is worse than the danger of leaving Sayaka's protection altogether. Catching her sword against Araki's, Sayaka leans her weight on it hard and vaults, kicking off against the side of the altar in a clatter of candlesticks to sail over the blade. Scissoring her legs in the air to twist a slash around behind her, she seeks to keep Araki constantly occupied.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Madoka doesn't run. She too doesn't flee. She lacks strength of arms, but has ample strength of faith. It's a kind someone like Kasagami couldn't possibly comprehend as she is. Maybe in time. But for a Heart so smashed to the ground by circumstance, that important kind of strength goes utterly unseen.

But the words she understands are leveled at her. Kasagami isn't the smartest, but she does have understanding of the most dark kind of empathy, of pessimistic understanding of what causes suffering. She's brooded, sobbed, agaonized over such philosophy, and Madoka's words hit her in the chest. She knows. She knows what the girl is trying to say, or at least thinks she does.

"I can't tell you the reasons. Sorry. It wouldn't do you any good either way, Madoka Kaname."

A sharp whistle cuts through the air. Sayaka Miki proves herself not an opponet to be underestimated, by spirit or by blade. Increasingly, pain flies away from Kasagami's eye into the enjoyment of conflict. Enjoyment of fighting and the most primitive of actions. Struggle and pain. Her regard for Sayaka only grows.

"You're not wrong. But I'm worried about the greater student body, here. Call me an angel, call me a demon. If I have to cut down...even..." Hesitation costs her. For all her immense strength, her wrist falters. Kasagami reacts on instinct, leans back, and ends with the slightest of cuts on her cheek as Sayaka passes her. Boots dig in, and the ground cracks.

"For the sake of Ohtori...no...for the sake of this world! I'll cut down everything in my way, and become it's KING!" She shouts. Sayaka comes.

Three strikes come in. She uses her advanced strength, leverage, experience, and speed. The tip of her nodachi catches all three, only to send Sayaka flying. Sayaka in turn uses it in kind, to spring right back towards her.

There's no physical threat to Madoka. That would utterly disgrace herself and Sayaka at once. No, she's not yet that desperate or low. She hasn't been beaten down quite that badly.

Blades clash, right in the middle of that absurdly long sword. Sayaka's greater momentum carries her forward, past Kasagami's power. The Wish to safe her friend proves true, for now. Sparks fly, turning into bubbles and roses dancing eagerly together.

Sayaka kicks off once more, and suddenly Kasagami is on the defensive. The blue-haired girl's speed is impressive. The two are equally matched. The small, guardless end of her blade sparks as their impact arrives. In the next instant, there's the sudden flash of dark red roses. The cloth of Kasagami's coat is sliced before Sayaka.

A larger shadow falls, two hands grip her blade, and Kasagami laughs bitterly.

"Impressive! What's your name, little Knight-to-Be? You don't lack in spirit or honor. It's so very...refreshing!"

And then, that long blade slams down to the earth, smashing a single unrelenting crack through old stone right out the building. Behind her, the force of the impact shatters stained glass. Even as some of it impacts into her back, Kasagami ignores the pain.

She has a wonderful, gallant Knight to put down for the sake of a Throne.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The impact rips through the ground Sayaka is about to alight upon. Her musical platforms can't be summoned that quickly; she has no option but to land upon it while the screeching force is still passing. Blasted back, she slams her sword into the ground, and when it snaps, she draws two more, shining, from her cape to dig into the red carpet between the pews, sawing down the slats until she drags to a halt.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Madoka may be utterly disobedient to Kasagami's injunctions -- to come with her, to not show fear, to get somewhere safe -- but she follows Sayaka's orders immediately, really snapping to in a way that demonstrates, conclusively, that these two have worked together before in stressful situations. Maybe she's not as innocent as she seems... though why she's so willing to let others fight for her remains a mystery, if that's the case.

And of course, she isn't willing at all; even as her fingers hit the Mami Emergency Speeddial Button (one of the first lasting impacts her magical life showed, she's had it programmed in for most of a year now), she's looking between friend and apparent foe, the blue knight and the red warrior who would be king, with a sort of desperate, urgent awareness. It's the look of someone who is waiting to be needed, and terrified that the moment is coming soon.

"Mami-senpai," she babbles frantically into the phone, which picks up after a few rings -- "It's Madoka-chan, someone attacked me and Sayaka at the campus chapel, a girl with a really big sword, she says she's on the Student Council..."

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"...Dual-wielding, huh?" Mutters Kasagami as Sayaka draws out twin swords upon her lost one. Merely shattering her blade won't be enough. She'd need to shatter spirit and body alike. A deep, sucking breath and Kasagami /moves/.

Once more, that massive blade swings. It aims to horizontally slam to her blade, and by extension, Sayaka, into a Chapel support column. Crimson roses fly. A name is uttered. An ally. Regrettably, after a flurry of merciless blows aimed for neck, chest, and limbs, Kasagami leaps back in a blur to recover her sheath.

"Sorry, kid. It looks like I can't afford to hold back. It's been...an honor. Sorry it ended up like this." Her tone is absolutely mournful.

And then, she's behind Sayaka. A single, rose-fluttering-silvery blade flashes towards her in motes of light, ambition, and the slightest hint of smokey regret. Kasagami holds nothing back, offering her purest of sword-strikes to Sayaka's body in an attempt to put her down.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Though it's not beyond her magical talents, Sayaka has not yet in her relatively short Puella Magi career dual-wielded in combat. She just needed some antilock brakes here.

Swiveling down to her knees, Sayaka grits her teeth and waits for the blow, which shatters both embedded blades with a glass-like tinkle of metal. The remaining momentum slings Sayaka against a pillar, something in her back making an unpleasant pop.

Dragging another blade from her cape, Sayaka draws and parries with one motion, then meets the next few swings neatly, sharply, her eyes hard. She inches around the pillar with a fencer's sidestep as blows start slipping through, here and there managing to get the stone to take the blow instead of her, slowing her foe.

"Your apology isn't worth anything to me," she fumes.

The final blow is fast enough that Sayaka can only follow with her eyes. Her body, a split second behind, doesn't catch up. It hews into her cloak and through to her body, it drives her down through a pew as if her body itself were the axe. She retches something dark, there unseen with her head in the carpet.

Her legs are slack, her arms splayed, her sword loose from her hand. But the soul gem on her belly is already hard at work.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Reh?!?" wails Madoka, alarmed. "No, it's not the Treasurer... or the vice-president... no, no -- no!" It goes from negations of Mami's repeated guesses to a scream of horror as Sayaka goes down. Her legs go out underneath her, as she sinks to the floor behind the altar. "I don't know who she is, please come quickly, senpai! Sayaka-chan's in trouble!"

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Another blade is drawn as swiftly as one is shattered. Kasagami doesn't relent. The passion of Sayaka Miki is something to behold, and the idea of 'finite blades' on the young woman is thrown away like garbage.

Pillars are cut apart, parries are made, and with each one Kasagami seems to laugh. Enjoyment grows. Soon she's lost in the fight, swing her blade with purpose and yet recklessly, with strategy, but animal instinct.

And yet it's not enough to quite take Sayaka's head so early. Her words are a smashing hammer to her chest, and the fleet-footed Director halts. She stumbles back, almost as if stunned. Then she grins.

"So you have nothing but loathing for me? It's unfortunate. I'd rather a brave Knight like you be my ally. But so be it. A King must cut down even the valiant for their Throne. God cast down this world by my Blade for such a thing!" She cries passionately, and charges.

Sayaka goes still, and doesn't seem to rise. Blade returns to sheath, and she's walking away. Already, she's reaching for Madoka, to try to steal her away into the night.

"Let's go. I'll tell you again. My name is Kasagami Araki, Executive Director of Ohtori's Student Council." It's only then that she casts a look back.

"If you still live, feel free to grow stronger and come for my life any time you want. I'll look forward to it, you shining noble soul. God curse us...God curse bastards like me, that we must all wallow in suffering." Laments Kasagami even as her blade is rested and she tries to lift Madoka by the scruff and towards the Church's exit.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Her back is so stiff. There's a point at which the body fuses pain into a big solid plank to spare you the details. It knows you get the idea. It's a kindness.

Sayaka's hand extends weakly, but by the time it plants on the ground, it is strong. It gathers carpet between clenching fingertips as she peels her face from the floor. A knee beneath her, and she swings her shoulders up, pigeon-kneed. Her first few steps are wobbly, but each less so than the last. Her boots are soft-soled, and so that is how Kasagami finds her when she turns back.

Her eyebrow is wet and hot with something, but Sayaka doesn't wipe it. With a painful heave, Sayaka slings a sword glistening across the room, where it embeds in the ground between the captor/captive and the door. "Why wait?" she seethes, teeth clenched, lips drawn back. She whips another sword from the aether. "Give her BACK! MADOKA!" Sayaka launches herself into a leap.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Kasagami Araki," Madoka rapidly squeaks into the phone, before she does something stupid -- what with being lifted off the floor like a disobedient kitten, her first reaction is to panic and try to punch her would-be captor, with the phone hand. The last thing Mami hears is the sound of breaking, before the line goes dead.

It's not much of a punch. Even if they were still both normal girls, Sayaka would have acquit herself far better in comparison. "Put me down!" she shouts, trying to wriggle, to struggle. To make noise, to buy time. At moments like these, it isn't Sayaka's advice she goes to, or Mami Tomoe's.

It's Junko Kaname's, bestowed upon her baby girl while nursing a whiskey at midnight.

"Loud," Junko says sternly. "Be loud."

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

By all expectations, Sayaka should be unconscious or worse. It's why Kasagami walks away, sure in her victory. It's why she doesn't realize that Sayaka still rises. Only when she calls out, does Kasagami's good eye widen, and she whips about. On pure instinct, the gripped Madoka is pulled behind her. Just in case. She tells herself it's so her 'Target' is safe. In truth, it's for the sake of someone innocent.

King and Knight may well be more similar than either may wish to admit, and yet as far apart as distant continents.

"H...How!? How can you even move? Even..." the words catch in her throat. Kasagami swallows. 'Give her back'. The blue-haired knightess leaps. Madoka is let go for an instant. A single, hard boot is aimed for the blad ethat seeks Kasagami. At once, one blue rose, one dark red rose appears on their bodies. The sound of an impact, naked blade on steel toe, passes by. A click of true blade, a passing sword slash. Kasagami steps out of one boot, her other deprived of her by Sayaka's strike. Her good foot now walks on a small bed of crimson. Pain envelopes her, a sucking breath, and then out. Teeth grit. A single, blue flower is slashed to pieces as sword and Heart of the would-be Tyrant is poured into Sayaka mercilessly to throw her aside into a pew. The only mercy is a catch, as she tries to lay the brave young woman gently on the altar.

"Such valor, I'm utterly unworthy. Forgive me. I'll work hard, to one day, be worthy of even a feeble blade like yours." She offers. A merciful swat to the back of the head.

And then, one right to the back of Madoka Kaname's neck. Kasagami walks, every motion suffering, but one she internalizes as deserving.

"Be silent, Madoka. It's for your own good. I'm so very sorry, kid. So very sorry." Those blows land, at once utterly unfelt physically, but striking mentally. Tears flow as she walks out with Madoka. The softest blows lay the worst wounds, and Kasagami Araki slowly hates herself all the more.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sayaka's body is heavy, soft, and very, very far away. Her head lolls, trying to fix her eyes on Madoka. Instead they find Araki, mercifully cradling her... paying tribute?

Sayaka has a red grimace for that.

"I..." She's fading. "...protect..."

She clenches her eyes shut, remembering how frightened Madoka had been in that cell, how she'd clung. "...not again..." she swears hopelessly.

Her hand swings loose beside the altar.