2017-06-04 - Fierté: Kasagami vs. Takeo, First Duel

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Title: Fierté: Kasagami vs. Takeo, First Duel

Kasagami has challenged Takeo to a duel to prove the validity of her reasons to initiate a challenge bracket. Other Duelists observe (or don't).


Utena Tenjou, Takeo Akamizu, Kasagami Araki, Anthy Himemiya, Kozue Kaoru, Shizuru Fujino


Duel Arena

OOC - IC Date:

06-04-2017 - 01-23-2015

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Duel Arena +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
  The most forbidding feature of Ohtori's campus looms at the far rear of
  campus, but remains visible even at the main gate. It is an odd structure, a
  great white decagon that slopes upward, forming the support for a hulking
  jade pagoda. This pagoda, however, is made not of tile, but of living
  forest. A dark canopy of leaves forms a vaguely pyramidal roof, supported
  invisibly by the gnarled trees beneath. Though this arena is akin to a
  potted plant on a grand scale, it's hard not to see it as a single discrete

  Entrance to the arena is possible only through a single, grand gate. Bone
  white, the gate sprouts stylized marble wings at either corner, which arch
  up to form a frame for a three-meter diameter carving of a rose, its white
  petals worked so delicately they appear silken-soft. This gate is locked at
  all times, only permitting entry to those with the proper signet ring.

  Inside, a fairy-tale path of white stone guides a visitor through the
  graveyard darkness of the forest, until they reach the center, where a wide
  corkscrew of a stone staircase is driven into the soft earth. Ascending
  feels oddly effortless, though the steps are as identical as they are many.
  At the top is the duel arena, an uncanny place that feels as though it were
  hung from the sky. This stone-floored dueling field is rarely the same
  twice, changing according to the people and emotions that fill it.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki transforms into Crimson Rose Duelist!
<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYIiS8CfQoY


Utena and Chu-Chu are seated next to each other at the low table in the middle of their bedroom, hunched over an invitation card. There's an opened envelope nearby, its rose seal cracked.

They stare at the card.

They look at each other.

They look over at Anthy.

"You really have to do this?" There's a hint of a childish, nasal whine in Utena's voice, but she's not totally without gravitas, either.

And there's no understanding at all, but in the end, there is acceptance.

"All right," she acquiesces, "But I'm coming with you. Just in case."

It's an automatic reflex, a pair of them, distrust of the Council and the twinned urge to protect Anthy. But right now it's something else too, something she's unwilling to admit or even dare to think.

Her hand floats upwards, unbidden by consciousness, to scratch at the pink stubble at the nape of her neck.

Then she grabs her hat from her desk, settles it at its now-usual rakish angle, and leads the way out the door.


The Rose Bride and the Engaged await the Duelists at the pinnacle of heaven, the rose-gated arena in the sky. Sunset has transformed the realm from cheerful blue to blazing gold. There's a blinding red ruby off to the right, and if one or the other combatant can force their opponent to have to face it, the tides of battle might turn then and there.

In her sleek boys' winter uniform, with her hair shorn to something that could reasonably called 'nothing' in comparison to its former glory, and yet differently glorious all the same, Utena is in some ways cooler-looking than ever. Androgynous and rapier-slender -- has she lost weight? she's very pale -- she could easily be the Prince of Ohtori without any gendered complications, in the eyes of someone who hadn't met her before.

But there's a vulnerability present too, something that wasn't there before that fateful night, or, if it was, was exceedingly well hidden. Something in her eyes, which retain the blueness the coming of night has denied the sky. She seems almost lonely, standing there with her arms folded begrudgingly over her chest. Out of place. Like she's missing some crucial piece of herself.

That is, of course, the case.

This is the first time she's been near a duel that didn't involve her, and she finds it a hideously uncomfortable experience. It makes her feel gross, and maybe a little bit sick. Her lips are very small in her face, disapproving.

Her eyes are huge, and somehow sad.

COMBAT: Anthy Himemiya transforms into The Rose Bride!
COMBAT: Takeo Akamizu transforms into Chevalier Knight Lancelot!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Not long after Utena arrives, Takeo arrives. This time in the arena however he arrives fully transformed. His armor already in place, but his swords not present yet. He stops once he steps into the arena and cocks a head to Utena in a questioning look. "Utena-san. I hope you're okay, I was hit by those guys too a while back. I was off my feet for weeks." He frowns, and runs his hand through his hair. He then moves to his starting point and folds his arms over his chest. He gives a nod to Anthy in greeting, and a slight smile to go with it. "Anthy-san. I hope you are well as well?"

He stops when he reaches his place in the arena and looks around. It feels ... different then when he was here last. This match is more like an exhibition than anything. He frowns slightly. He could have refused Kasagami, but .... He felt deep inside of him like he couldn't. How much of that was him, and how much of that was Lancelot. He shudders inwardly a little. He WAS Lancelot, so isn't this who he really is. "Frightening thought." He says softly and to himself. He rolls his shoulders, his eyes scanning the arena, already thinking how he's going to go about this duel.

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

A screech of a falcon off on the hunt some ways away in the forest and the sound of boots hitting stairs mark the arrival of Kasagami Araki. An almost jaunty humming can be heard getting louder as she makes her way up. Her paces are unhurried but not slow, as her good eye scans the scenery, taking her first trip up to the Arena and savoring every second.

She burns everything into her mind as she makes her way to the top through those arches.

"Hmmm~ hm hm hm hmmmmm~!" Ends Kasagami as she comes to a standstill. Her family sword in all it's obscene length is rested against her shoulder, black and red scabbard covering it. The young woman's face is curled into a grin that seems to grow slightly wider as she spies her opponent.

"Takeo-kun! You really did come! I was a bit worried that maybe you'd refuse after all. Indulging me like this, I'll have you made into a gentleman yet!" For being the man's opponent, she sounds unreasonably happy to see him.

Her eye widens however, as she spies the pair. Anthy, she expected. But the short haired young woman with that rakish hat and winter uniform is entirely not. It's only for a moment, but all of that ferocious charm fades into surprise, and a little shock.

"Utena-chan. I didn't expect to see you here, right now. Well, I can't blame you. Best seats in the house. Just...stand back, okay?" Her achilles heel, that hint of concern, surfaces.

Anthy gets a long peering look. "Thanks for coming all this way, Rose Bride." Her voice might come off as a little flat to the girl. She doesn't spare her a second look, as slowly she grasps her blade and pulls off the scabbard. That ruby red orb casts red, bloody shadows down it's slightly curved length as steel greets air. The wooden sheath is tossed aside.

Once more, her blade touches her shoulder, and she nods to Anthy.

"Ready whenever you are." She licks her lips as adrenaline and excitement start to flow through her veins in anticipation of the fight.

<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The Knight Lancelot strides in, armor a shiny canvas for the sunset's rays, to all appearances ready for the challenge of the evening. He offers greeting, and in return the Rose Bride gives a pleasant, bland smile and silently offers Lancelot the comfort of assuming all is well with her.

After comes Kasagami Araki, wearing charm like a cloak -- though the veiled gaze of the Rose Bride misses little, even as it betrays nothing. She appears content to reflect Kasagami's disinterest from her place at Utena Tenjou's side.

When all are assembled, duelists and witnesses alike, the ritual begins.

Red fabric whispers across the smooth arena floor as the Rose Bride makes her stately approach, steps measured beneath the bell of her full skirt. With her she brings a breathless still, the sort that would doom sailors to long days adrift, which permits even the slightest of sounds to carry to the edges of the arena and all its occupants.

True to her title she has two roses gathered to her breast, both hands cupped around them so only gentle curls of crimson and dark orchid show. They are fresh blooms, diagonal death wounds still dripping water from their stems, culled from her personal garden that very morning. The duels call for sacrifice and the Rose Bride obliges, as ever.

Her face is as calm as the absent winds, her eyes lowered to the beauty nestled between her palms. Even as she steps up first to Takeo Akamizu, then Kasagami Araki, she is all demure deference.

Each duelist in turn experiences the intimacy of receiving a token from the girl who might one day belong to them. She steps in close without asking, glasses lenses clear as the sky and wider even than her aquamarine eyes, and slides Takeo's dark orchid rose stem-first into his left chest pocket. From gown to coiffure to measured bearing, she is every inch the princess to his knight.

Next is the swordswoman; they also make a striking pair, submission and aggression, as the Rose Bride tucks a crimson rose into place above her heart. At no point does she meet Kasagami's eyes, keeping her own veiled with long lashes. The evening smells of roses long after she turns and walks to the architectural abstraction that serves for the arena's gate, more than two cut flowers might account for.

The Engaged awaits her there, tall and noble and slender as the remaining daylight. Upon reaching Utena she turns, skirt sweeping behind, and takes her place by the pink-haired girl's side. She addresses the duelists in a soft voice:

"If the rose is knocked from your chest, you lose the duel."

She looks up to Utena, hands clasped before her, and then back to the two proud combatants, doing her best to ignore the assembled crowd and any weapons they may carry.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"Is that her?"

Sitting on the edge of a velvet backed chair, she raises a set of opera glasses- and considers Utena Tenjou. She'd seen her that day in the hall, but she didn't get a good look at her- had different priorities at the time. Today she had all the time she needed to look.

"You'd almost swear it wasn't an accident. That she lopped it all off just because she wanted more girls to shout-" Her voice is suddenly high, mocking and theatrical, "-Utena-sama!"

But even viewing her from a distance, she knows it's not fair of her. The girl standing there looks wan- her eyes sad. No longer possessing the fire of someone who told her on that day that while she usually doesn't want to fight- today she kind of does.

It's a disquieting change.

It's not long after that she looks a little sad too as she lowers a set of opera glasses.

At this point, maybe it'd only take a small nudge.

After a moment of silence she murmurs inaudibly, "Better this way."

She's distant for a while, as if her head were composing some melody.

And then she looks at the actual duelists. Better to enjoy the show than dwell on the inevitable, and yet already- "They're both acting so concerned about the Engaged's well-being." She says with a roll of her eyes as Anthy moves to pin the roses- to explain the duel, "When after today- we're all going to be fighting for the right to kick her while she's down."

She shakes her head, and leans back against her chair- as she watches the Rose Bride cross the gap to pin a rose on each of them, "Well whatever. Maybe we'll get to watch Araki's ego take another hit to follow up the thrashing Kikukawa-san gave it."

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Utena is a coiled spring, all prepared to be pissed off and judgemental about her night being interrupted by yet another pointless duel. But she knows both of these people, and both curiosity and concern wind up overriding the simplicity of frustration, the refuge of disgust.

What are these two even fighting over, anyway?

Still, her mood has left her unprepared for Lancelot's statement, and her expression is blank, as though she doesn't quite understand what he's referring to. "...those guys..." she mutters, shaking her head. "Whatever. I dunno what you've heard, but I'm fine."

It sounds like she's trying to convince herself.

Kasagami's entrance, on the other hand, her brash enthusiasm for all this, makes her withdraw further, taking a step towards the exit in response. She is as unprepared for the older girl's shock as the older girl is for her presence, and shakes her head slightly, eyes falling to the ground, tracing the giant red rose seal engraved there.

"Sure, senpai."

There's something else red there, too, and she winds up chasing after the trail of Anthy's gorgeous gown, before her gaze finally catches up once the Rose Bride pins her first rose. Again she feels like an intruder, unable to square her presence with the intimacy she associates with the pinning of the rose.

Finally she takes another step back, and another.

"Himemiya..." Her voice is immediately, unknowingly tender, in stark comparison to the rather bleak dullness that she had for the two Duelists. "Do you, uh, do you have to stay? Or is it over?"

There's so much uncertainty in her, a tentativeness that is not gentle, but fragile. How easy it is to imagine her asking instead, with a stretch and a laugh, 'Do you wanna blow this popsicle stand?'

COMBAT: A new initiative order has been generated! Please check it with +initiative.
<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

The vice president of the Student Council has a teacup in her hands as she looks down to the arena before them, her eyes good enough for these details at the moment. ...Except of course that the Engaged and the Rose Bride each get a bit of extra scrutiny now; Utena, with her... different appearance, different eyes. Anthy...

Anthy is always an enigma. Himemiya.

Regardless, Shizuru looks to the duelists only after, and then to smile down at Kasagami over Kozue's words.

She sips her tea. "Delusions of nobility," she repeats her earlier words. "But we'll see Araki suffer. Now, or later. It's inevitable on the path she's chosen."

"But I think we can learn a lot, don't you, Kaoru-kun? About all involved."

<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Lancelot gives Utena a look he's positive deep in his core, Mai has given him. A look that says, "Right. Sure you are." He finally gives Utena a slight smile. "Donuts. Eat some donuts." Which is when Anthy comes up and begins to pin the rose to him. He holds his breath. He knows where his heart lies, but he can't deny the intimacy of this moment. He almost blushes, but manages to let out a soft, "Merci ma femme." He gives Anthy a small, tight lipped smile and his eyes watch her as she moves back to her position. Conflict riddled in his features.

As she moves to pin Kasagami, Lancelot says evenly, "Of course I accepted. Ive never backed down from a fight, especially against a bully." He slams his fists together and lightning erupts there. Swirling up his arms and arcing between his hands as he slowly pulls them part. Despite the crackling of the lightning, a sound like swords being slowly drawn can be heard, and when they are at just the perfect length, he spreads his arms wide, the Lightning solidifying into two gleaming, impossibly white blades with ornate hilts. Arondight, Demon's Bane has been drawn. He gives them a test spin and takes a fighting pose, feet in just the right position, one blade held across his body the other high in an en guarde. "And you Kasagami Araki, are just another bully that I gotta drop."

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

Roses, and not the scent of her own, catch in Kasagami's sense of smell. She barely manages to maintain a confident smile as the rose is affixed, radiating all that charm and aggression she's saved up for this moment. By how she leans back, coat fluttering, she's all but preening for the crowd she's pretty sure is watching them from afar.

The only stakes here are ego. Best to put on a good show for the audience.

Utena is spared one final glance. It lingers. And then her eye closes and she lets out a huff. "That look doesn't suit you, Utena." Her words are almost chastizing.

And then, Anthy marks the start of the Duel. The Engaged and Rose Bride cease to exist for now in the young woman's mind. The world shrinks, down to herself and her opponent. At first, she settles into a sideways stance, blade held above her head and it's length cradled by her right hand with one leg in front of the other not too unsimilar to a runner's pose. She looks Takeo up and down once. His twin blades has her whistling in interest. Those aren't normal swords. Her body shivers in anticipation.

"Bully? Is that what you think I am, Takeo-kun? Wrong. A bully picks on the weak. I seek out the strong."

Muscles flex, and then she's leaping for the man with a yell. Her coat billows behind her, the tall young woman swift and straightforward in her approach. Clearing the space between them in a flash, she lands on her right foot. Her shoulder flexes, a telltale sign that she's about to bring down that sword right towards Takeo!

But then, her bent knee pushes up, and she's leaping above him in a dramatic mid-air spin. Her ponytail flaps in the wind as she puts her whole body into the aerial pivoted strike!

"Show me what you've got, Takeo-kun! Don't you dare hold back on me!"

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Rose on the Wind on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Lancelot fails to brace Kasagami Araki's Rose on the Wind, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki is Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

A minute, polite dip of the Rose Bride's chin acknowledges Lancelot and his gratitude. Kasagami's lack of acknowledgement is again met with the same.

Utena's voice summons the immediate attention of the Rose Bride, and those aquamarine mirrors soften at the corners. She gives her Engaged a smile, letting the sunset warm it. "It is over, Utena-sama." Not for the two dueling, of course, but it seems the Rose Bride does not consider the outcome of the match something she needs to oversee. It's hard to tell which of them moves first as they turn to go.

As cap-crowned pink and tightly-curled purple drop out of view down the great spiraling staircase, the duelists can faintly hear strains of continuing conversation.

"Would you like stir-fry tonight? It is quick to cook, and there are fresh snow peas..."

<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"You seek out the strongest?" Lancelot says as she comes in. He crosses his blades but just a half second too late, as Kasagami si flipping over him. It staggers him and he lets out a slight, frustrated growl. "The Strongest?" He asks resetting himself, and then dashing after Kasagami. He mvoes as fast as the lightning that he controls, a blur of motion that one might be surprised isn't accompanied by a crack of thunder.

His left blade lashes at Kasagami, the ring of metal on metal fills the arena, and with an accompanying sparks, he slashes with his right blade. "What a joke." He says as the blade is turned again. He spins, slashing with both blades, the force of the blow creating a thunder crack of it's own with a metalic ring as Kasagami's blade intercepts his twin swords. He pushes on the blade, sparks flying and lightning dancing along the blades. "Yet here you are. Wanting to strike at Utena-san while she down. While she's weak!" He suddenly lets up on the pressure being pressed between the two combatants, allowing Kasagami to "win" the contest. He drops to his knee, Kasagami's blade sliding past him and he slashes with both his own toward Kasagami's legs. "Sounds like a bully to me!"

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Disabling Strike on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki perfectly dodges Lancelot's Disabling Strike, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Dodge!
Kasagami Araki's Fade ability activates!  Kasagami Araki's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami lands from her leap, dashing past the man only for his lightning speed to have him up in her face! Her eye widens, and a gasp escapes her. She's seen the man in combat in glimpses, but never has she truly crossed blades. Only instinct saves her from getting slashed.

The left blade comes in, and Kasagami brings up her sword with both hands. A spin, and that lightning blade scrapes along her old family sword. Spinning in turn comes that right blade, the pair crashing into one another with force enough that Kasagami's coat flutters behind her from the impact!

Muscles scream, and roses war with lightning as their blades and magic push at each other. Kasagami is grinning again, breath fast out of pure enjoyment of the challenge and rush of a fight. The pressure is gone, and she swings.

Wind kicks up from the force of her blow, the young woman unbelievably strong. But the nimble young man lashes out at her! She leaps up, those blades kissing the bottoms of her steel toed boots, leaving gashes along them before she lands. She winds up for an overhand swing, two handed, aimed right across the shoulder, right where that rose is! She'll have to cut through the man to get to it!

"Hmph! I'm keeping a girl who shouldn't be involved in this kind of conflict out of it! The sooner one of us claims the Rose Bride, the sooner she won't get crushed by the tide of our clashing ambitions! Someone that idealistic and naieve isn't cut out to wield the power to bring Revolution!"

But instead of a blade, it's her foot that's aimed for the man's chin with the kind of fury only a sharp jab to the heart could make someone give. Her heart dies a little at those words. She hates it.

But does she have a choice?

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Kassie Kick on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Lancelot narrowly braces Kasagami Araki's Kassie Kick, taking 22 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Lancelot's Block ability
activates!  Lancelot's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Kozue remembers him trying to charm her with French and a kiss upon the back of her hand. Only to learn later she was being turned down. "Fascinating delusions at least. But still delusions."

Crossing her arms, the opera glasses are held haphazardly, swinging back and forth to tap on the edge of her forearm.

The Engaged and the Rose Bride leave. Maybe part of her is glad that they don't have to watch all of this.

She wishes it were a more distant part.

"Maybe we will."

She watches the opening blows are traded. Smirking- as she listens to Kasagami say she's just keeping a girl who shouldn't be involved out of it, "Though it seems you've already got her pegged. She's got it bad doesn't she?" Bad enough to delude herself into thinking she knows what's best for her.

"And the other one- Lancelot. Just by throwing his cord, he put his name into the hat to do the same thing he's accusing her of. Its funny how they feel the need to measure their nobility against each other." A beat, "I'd substitute another word for nobility but... well..."

There's this mild smirk on her lips.

<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Years before he was Lancelot, Takeo was an accomplished martial artist. Winning Tournaments and eventually earning a scholarship to Ohtori through that martial arts. So it doens't surprise him when the kick comes for him. He ALMOST parries wiht his blades, but doens't want to cut off Kasagami's leg. That would be the extreme level of uncool. So instead he slams his elbow down, but a hair of a fraction too late. It manages to keep the foot from coliding with his chin, but it instead slams into his shoulder and pushes him back.

Lancelot smiles. It is a wicked, and playful smile. The kind one might give their significant other when they know something that the other doesn't know. "That's what you want to fight me with? This is you fighting the strongest?" He shakes his head and tsks. "You're good Kasa-chan," he says the anme mocking, "You might even be able to hold your own against the real Lancelot of Old in a few years." He gives her a salute with one of his blades, the left one held to the side. "But I can do something you can't." And to demonstrate, he winks.

SOME BATTLE MUSIC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZQFsV8owK8&index=85&list=PLE3D07CF18375CFC0

He chuckles, and is suddnely a blur of motion again. This time however, he doens't come right for Kasagami. He goes for her blind side. The side that she can't see out of because of her damaged eye. "So come on Kasa-chan! Show ME what you've got!"

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Show me what you got on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly braces Lancelot's Show me what you got, taking 11 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Down the Rose Bride and the Engaged go, amidst the opening arguments of the Duel before them. Shizuru watches the stairs, and wonders about the way they on't even stay for the Duel itself.

Soon however her attention is back on Kasagami and Takeo, watching their broad strokes as she sips at her tea. She gives extra attention to fighting styles, movements...

She keeps her feelings on the matter to herself, except to say, "Delusions are always interesting to the right person. I'm certain they find their own fascinating."

Shizuru sounds rather bored with them.

"I know Araki-kun well," Shizuru answers Kozue lightly. "Though she's really not very difficult to read." A faint laugh, "As if any of us is anything more than a bully."

Shizuru smiles, leaning down to watch the next strike. "My, Kaoru-kun, if not nobility than whatever could they be measuring? I'm afraid you'll have to explain it to me. As a poor, innocent woman I can't comprehend such things."

A beat, "Perhaps one of them will slip and injure the other. Or get angry enough. I wonder what will happen?" Teasip.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"As a poor innocent woman like yourself..."

Now she's looking sidelong at Shizuru. A knowing look that they can share given that they're not being overheard at the moment.

"...you'd have no interest."

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Shizuru glances sidelong back at Kozue, looking gamely her way with a lifted eyebrow and dull red eyes. She shares that knowing look herself.

"Oh, my," the older girl answers, and looks back out to the duel.

She smiles. It is not a pleasant expression.

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

For all the insults, all the emotional dissonance of her fight, crossing swords with Takeo is a rush. She can't help but laugh amidst the adrenaline high, a mad dog one moment, and a sweeping, dancing Duelist the next. Power and grace feeding into a lust for battle that sings in her eye.

"You're not so bad yourself! What, is he around somewhere? I'd LOVE to find a true Knight like that! Bring on King Arthur himself if you can rouse him from his grave!"

Her eye narrows as suddenly the young man is a flash. She steps back, reigning in her aggression with a shallow, shuddering breath.

"Heh. The strongest? No. Neither of us are, not yet. We won't be until we hold that Power in our hands, Takeo. For now, let's sharpen up our blades on each other's ambitions and souls!" Cries out the young woman, only encouraging his flashing steps and blades as he keeps to her blind spot.

"Mmm. Good strategy! I can barely keep up with you even with my good eye, so you're making me guess twice, hmm?"

Instead of her sword, her right hand is held out in her blind spot as she just listens to each step. She circles quickly with jaunty steps, almost skipping as her sword's tip scrapes lines and sends up sparks onto the beautiful engravings of the Arena floor. Her hand is closed.

Only once she thinks he's close enough does she open it. In her hand is nothing but dark crimson, a sudden swirling void of rose petals.

And each one is as sharp as her sword as the flutter out in a small tornado that has them sticking like tossed knives into the ground, and anything they impact!

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Thorns of the Bloody Rose on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Lancelot narrowly counters Kasagami Araki's Thorns of the Bloody Rose, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Lancelot's Reverse
ability activates!  Lancelot's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Lancelot's counterattack, Lightning Stream, partially gets through, doing 26 Fatigue damage to Kasagami Araki!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

He doesn't intentionally give himself away. He was waiting for the woman to do something and when it comes, he rolls to her good side and slams his baldes together with a cry of: "LIGHTNING STREAM!" Arondigt clashes and lighting explodes in a steady stream of electricity toward the other swordsperson. He quickly gets to his feet, winks, and dashes toward her bad side again.

"You don't get it Kasa-chan." He says as he stays over in his opponant's bad side. "You can't just BE a good fighter." He slashes repeatedly as he speaks. High, low, mid, high mid, low, low, mid, low, high. His blades a blur of motion as he just pushes her blind side. "You can't jsut challenge people. You don't just hone your reflexes. You have to know your opponant as much as you know yourself." His slashes continue. A veritible avalanche of assualts. "My sensei taught me that. So, while you were slapping stick for a warm up. I was studying you." His swords crackle and thrum with the lighting, even as he continues his assault. "You are vain. You are overconfident. And you favor your good side."

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Taunting Assault on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki fails to brace Lancelot's Taunting Assault, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki is Quipped!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

There's no time to dodge, or even move as that stream of lightning crashes into her. She should've known, but instead is quite literally blindsided by the whole burst. She screams, high enough to be heard all the way to the Executive Tower. And yet only those observing would actually hear it.

It chokes off into an outright snarl. His attacks come in a flurry. Wild swings of her sword manage to ward off most of them, but not all. A slash at her leg, her arm, part of her coat loses it's arm in turn. Darkened, burnt flesh is exposed to the air already sizzling from his earlier strike.

And then, even as he continues to find gaps in her defenses with her speed, she slowly parries them. With each and every strike, she gets a little better. A dozen different chances to take her rose foiled, even as she uses her body as a shield.

Engagement Duel or not, she wants to win. With every word, she wants to win more and more. Her enjoyment stays, singing in her heart, but her face twists in anger as she ripps off the tattered cloth of her uniform's arm.

"I'M NOT INTERESTED IN TACTICS LIKE THAT!" Howls Kasagami, ducking back into a roll with his last strike. Her sword slips from her fingers, skidding to her boot.

"You can keep your calculating mind-games to yourself! I want POWER Takeo-kun! Sure, you can size up a single opponent and find their weaknesses, but what about ten opponents? One thousand!? The entire world!?"

Both hands flash out of the pockets of her coat, and rose-dipped throwing knives glitter in both of her hands. And then she's a spinning marionette, tossing the gleaming pieces of metal and their rose-accented magic at the man's limbs, the sides of his chest, and most importantly, towards that rose.

"The power to destroy anything and everything that I gets in the way of my dreams! That is what the Power to Revolutionize the World is to me! Absolute!" Toss! Spin, a leap in the air, and down they rain.

"Unquestionable!" Land, she kicks up her sword, and goes back to a mid-stance, classic and deadly.


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

There's no time to dodge, or even move as that stream of lightning crashes into her. She should've known, but instead is quite literally blindsided by the whole burst. She screams, high enough to be heard all the way to the Executive Tower. And yet only those observing would actually hear it.

It chokes off into an outright snarl. His attacks come in a flurry. Wild swings of her sword manage to ward off most of them, but not all. A slash at her leg, her arm, part of her coat loses it's arm in turn. Darkened, burnt flesh is exposed to the air already sizzling from his earlier strike.

And then, even as he continues to find gaps in her defenses with her speed, she slowly parries them. With each and every strike, she gets a little better. A dozen different chances to take her rose foiled, even as she uses her body as a shield.

The Rose Bride might not be on the line, but she wants to win. With every word, she wants to win more and more. Her enjoyment stays, singing in her heart, but her face twists in anger as she ripps off the tattered cloth of her uniform's arm.

"I'M NOT INTERESTED IN TACTICS LIKE THAT!" Howls Kasagami, ducking back into a roll with his last strike. Her sword slips from her fingers, skidding to her boot.

"You can keep your calculating mind-games to yourself! I want POWER Takeo-kun! Sure, you can size up a single opponent and find their weaknesses, but what about ten opponents? One thousand!? The entire world!?"

Both hands flash out of the pockets of her coat, and rose-dipped throwing knives glitter in both of her hands. And then she's a spinning marionette, tossing the gleaming pieces of metal and their rose-accented magic at the man's limbs, the sides of his chest, and most importantly, towards that rose.

"The power to destroy anything and everything that I gets in the way of my dreams! That is what the Power to Revolutionize the World is to me! Absolute!" Toss! Spin, a leap in the air, and down they rain.

"Unquestionable!" Land, she kicks up her sword, and goes back to a mid-stance, classic and deadly.


COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used King's Blades on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Lancelot narrowly dodges Kasagami Araki's King's Blades, taking 9 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The rain of knives is a steady stream of steel and Lancelot moves quickly to avoid them. A jerk of the shoulder, a roll, he runs ahead of most of them. But one catches him. Right in the upper thigh. He rolls forward and is out of that deadly rain and stands up. Not bothering to remove the knife inbedded in his leg. "You're wrong Araki." He states flatly, and in a tone that brooks no arguement.

He begins to walk forward, confident, and proud as he stalks toward the other duelist. "How do you beat ten, or even ten thousand opponants?" He smiles. It's a warm smile that more resembles the easy, and outgoing boy Takeo is in class, or if found outside of the academy. "You bring your friends." He says, and it is there, that one might recognize that smile. It's the same he gives to anybody whom he calls friend. "Eri-chan is there to keep me from being an idiot." He lashes with his left sword. "Azyana-san is there with a word of advice." He slashes again. The entire time just moving forward, attempting to drive her back with each swing. "Yua-chan plays me music to quiet the nightmares." A thrust, followed by a spinning slash. "And Mai-Chan?" He smiles fondly. Happily. "I'm invincible with her by my side. With each of them, I know, no army of Darkness, no servent of Morgana can stop me." He then slashes with both swords in a cross, his left going for the blinded shoulder, the right slashing form the opposite side at her midrif with a cry of, "LIGHTING SLASH!"

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Lightning Slash on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly dodges Lancelot's Lightning Slash, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Lancelot is Psyched!
Kasagami Araki's Fade ability activates!  Kasagami Araki's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Lancelot's skills are beyond question. Indeed, for all of her shouting about his tactics, Kasagami has picked up more than a single thing from seeing how the man fights. She'd never admit it, but she's as eager to find weaknesses in the young man as he is in her.

And drive her back he does, and not just with his blade. Her scowl turns into a grimace. Lash, thrust, stab. Her blade meets his, again and again. But once more, he finds those gaps, but they're all minor strikes. Kasagami twists aside what she can't parry, and what she can't parry, she takes it on her limbs. Her uniform is a mess, coat in tatters, but her rose is pristine. She knows the rules. Even here, with nothing but their pride and egos at stake, losing an arm in the fight would be better than losing the rose. Her heart thunders.

She steps aside from that last stab, and finally, both swords come for her at once. Her blade is raised high, and she bats aside the slash to her blind side through sheer instinct and well honed reactions. And then she leaps backwards in a backflip that clears a good third of the arena. She skids to a stop onto her knees. An elbow wipes away her good eye. Her middrift is utterly exposed, slashed and sizzling from the thunder and blade given to her.

Her laugh comes low, and then higher, and almost shrill. It's not a happy laugh, but one in mourning for fear of crying instead. "And everyone calls me naieve! Takeo-kun! I can't hate you for thinking that way. It's good that you have friends, loyal soldiers, to call upon if you need them. But if you think you're invincible..."

She wipes her lips, and shakes her head even as she raises her sword to the sky.

"Takeo. If you lead your friends in that overconfident way, you're going to suffer. You think that you're invincible alongside them, but you're not. And neither are they. If you rely on the gathered strength of your friends, without pushing yourself to the absolute limit, without gathering as much power as you possibly can, all that's going to happen is that someone very close to you..." A pause. Her voice almost cracks. She prays Takeo can't see the tear in her eye.

"Is going to end up a smoking corpse. If you really want to change the world, Takeo, it's true that you need a real court of friends to hold sway and fight with. But the person at the top has to be stronger than anyone, stronger than all of their court combined. For it's a King's blade that protects the Kingdom, that bleeds and suffers and dies so they don't have to. And only overwhelming force and strength can make sure you aren't burying your beloved Mai-chan on a rainy weekend, cursing your own weakness."

Slice. With a haunted look that stares into and through Lancelot with a single steel grey eye, a dozen lines of roses fall all around him, swords of petals appearing from nowhere to slice and slash into his body. Their rosey scent is tinged with something darker, almost charcoal like. The edges of those roses are darkened, burnt even from the dark red of their center.

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Petals of Bloody Despair on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Lancelot narrowly braces Kasagami Araki's Petals of Bloody Despair, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Lancelot is
Quipped!  Lancelot's Block ability activates!  Lancelot's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Kasagami comes in, and he brings both blades up in an X to parry the incoming attack. He grits his teeth as he pushes into the strike, the blade slowly lowering until the point nicks hsi cheek. He turns hsi head anway and pushes Kasagami's blade away. He rolls backward and brings the back of his hand to his cheek, wiping away at the blood from the long line that burns and stings and bleeds. He gives a grin to his fellow duelist.

"You don't understand." Lancelot says as he rolls his shoulders. "I am overconfident. That is my greatest weakness. I'm also not the sharpest crayola in the crayon box." He shrugs a shoulder. "But. When I'm with my friends?"

Lancelot suddenly dashes forward, feinting toward her bad side. At the last second he leaps to the side toward her good eye and extends a hand as he cries out; "FLASH BANG!" Sending a white orb of lighting that explodes on the side of her face with the working eye. It is loud as thunder erupts form the explosion, and bright as a lightnig flashes in all directions.

Lancelot now stands on a pillar looking down at Kasagmai, his blades crackling with energy. "With them by my side, I can do damn near anything!"

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Flash Bang on Kasagami Araki.
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Her laugh is almost weak, a mourn to a present that could have been. She could have been Lancelot, so proud and positive. Instead, her bitter heart masked with bombast, lovers for a night and more, and her own obsessive need for perfection in her sword arts, all she can see is a fool in front of her.

One that she envies. Hard enough that it hurts.

"Spoken exactly like someone that doesn't know the terror of losing those beside you. I wonder. When you're standing over the broken bodies of those you've lead to battle, to fulfill your own ambitions, will you be able to stand up again Takeo? I'd prepare yourself for that if I were you."

Her laugh comes back, though, and she grins. "It's a real shame, though! I like you, Takeo-kun! You make me angry in the best possible ways! If we weren't enemies, I'd call you a brother I'd been missing all my life!" Voice almost manic between the pain of the fight and her own swirling emotions.

And then, she lets out an agonized grunt as stars fill her head and her good eye is blinded. Her ears ring, she's blind, and Lancelot alights upon a pillar. With a bleeding ear, Kasagami lets out a gasp and tries to shake off the horrible migraine threatening to consume her consciousness.

With another war-cry that pierces to that great red orb above, Kasagami leaps forward with reckless abandon, full instinct as her head slowly starts to clear. She's a blurr of motion, pale against Lancelot's lightning-enhanced power, but instead relying entirely on obscenely enhanced leg strength. There's a series of craters where she kicks off towards where she thinks she saw the man. Her blade is a spinning, whirling flurry as she lashes out wildly all around her, slicing into the floor of the arena, and the pillars around it. Hard enough that she's just as likely to cleave through stone as she is into her opponent! The debris is as worrisome as her obliterating sword strikes that cut furiously in an offensive-defense!

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly braces Lancelot's Flash Bang, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Diversion applied to
Kasagami Araki!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Rose on the Wind on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Lancelot fails to dodge Kasagami Araki's Rose on the Wind, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Kasagami Araki is
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Girl's got legs. This is the thought that runs through Lancelot's mind when he underestimates Kasagami's speed. It was true when he said he was overconfident, because this right here proves it. Kasagami's blade cleaves into the pillar he's standing on, and Lancelot tries to leap to safety, instead slamming into debris from another. He hits the ground and rolls coming to a stop several feet away. He pushes himself to his feet, and lighting begins to coalesce around his blades.

"Okay Araki," he says softly. "Time to see why I'm the Lightning Knight." You know. Incase nobody had figured it out yet. "Anima - " He says, drawing the word out, and drawing power into him. Lightinng covers his arms, legs, and swirls around him like a miniature lightning storm. Tendrils of energy whip and crack, even as his hair flutters around him, snapping the cord he keeps his pont tail in. The howl of the wind, the crack of thunder, and the snapping of electricity are nearly deafening.

Lancelot stands at the center, drawing this power into him. He can feel it through every pore in his body. The absolute strength and fury of the storm that he stands in. That he is. The lighting is thick along his blades, and the energy of that primal force so fills his body that lighting appears to literally drip from his body, but most frightening, it appears to drip form his eyes. He briefly, ever so briefly, wonders what would happen if he kept drawing on this power. If he just drew all that primal energy into him from around him into his being. Would he become a god? Or would it, as he believes would most liekly happen, just simply burn him into nothingness. He closes his eyes, and takes a deep breath. Savoring the power that coarses through him.

Then his eyes snap open and he points both blades of Arondight at Kasagami, "TEMPESTAS!" All that power funnels down the length of his body, down the arms, to the end of the blades and explodes outwards in a blast of lighting that has the strength of thousands of lightning bolts. Errant cords of lighting whip and crack around the beam that ripples through the air, burns and incinerates the air it travels through, shaking the area around Lancelot with it's power.

And all of that power is aimed directly at Kasagami.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Lancelot has used Anima Tempestas on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki counters Lancelot's Anima Tempestas with Bloody Rose Storm, initiating a BEAMWAR! Please see +help beamwar
for further information.
BEAMWAR! Kasagami Araki and Lancelot's attacks collide. Lancelot has the advantage!
BEAMWAR! Now accepting mana bids for the first of three rounds! Now accepting new BEAMWAR entrants in this round only!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

With a long, tired sigh, Kasagami's vision returns to normal. A portion of the pillar she sliced off comes crashing down towards her, and is reduced to dust from an almost careless cut from her nodachi. A few more breaths, and she stands tall with her blade at her shoulder.

She's an absolute mess, clothing torn and body sizzling. But there's a grin of pure martial enjoyment, even more high on conflict than she was when she was merely sparring Takeo with words back at the Student Council Meeting.

"I really am...a lucky woman!" She mutters aloud, not even to herself, much less her opponent.

Her mirth fades into pure attention though as Lancelot draws forth the power of his lightning. That whipping, snapping energy has Kasagami's good eye going wide in surprise. Such power! Such fury! Such crackling madness!

As that lightning drips from Takeo's eyes and then it drips from his blade. Those many, many bolts of power explode out from the young man.

And Kasagami finds herself grinning like a demon, fear, excitement, terror and anticipation all at once in her scarred visage. She doesn't bother hiding her tears down her eye.

"TAKEOOOO! A lesser man would die from something like that! But you're using all of your power, all of your desires, against me when even that girl isn't on the line!? You truly are a warrior, no, a KNIGHT! And how could a King not but give the same in turn! May this dirty, rotten world tremble at our might! This humble Liege is honored by you!" Screams out Kasagami, rejecting the fear, and holding her excitement close.

She could dodge, she could weave, but she doesn't. The storm comes for her, and her blade rises. She stands still, confident, in the face of Lancelot's ancient power. Arrogance or a warrior's confidence, she refuses to move, refuses to not accept what to her is a challenge to be shattered.

The roses on her coat turn to dust. Her coat itself is soon rendered into nothingness, both of her sleeves too rent to less than tatters as she gathers in all of her emotion, her loss, her pain, her love and regrets. Dark-edged, crimson roses rise high into the air. They reach for the castle looming above them, but never quite reach. An infinite sea of dark red rose-blades swirl, and the Castle Where Eternity Dwells looms entirely out of reach.

Just as that storm is about to reach her, she lets down with her blade with both hands, holding nothing back. The Arena shudders from the sheer impact, as two who would be noble hearts war with ambition, desire, loss, and love alike as lightning and roses clash as one.

BEAMWAR! Kasagami Araki has placed her bid! Lancelot still needs to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The Crimson Rose Duelist, as lightning crackles around her, calls out with pride in herself, and her family's skills.


<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

He was expecting the power of the storm, of the Lightning Knight, to push Kasagami down with its sheer power, and she would be unable to resist it. So it surprises him when Lancelot feels resitence. He blinks and sets his feet. "My king died almost two thousand years ago!" He screams back into the storm. He blinks. He said that. Without thinking, he said that. Then he grits his teeth and puts his will into the power. Urging it with willpower alone to press forward.

He takes a step forward and screams worldessly into this storm. He can't give in. He has to prove to himself, that he can stand in this arena, that he can WIN. He screams again worldessly, urging his lightning forward, as he draws even mroe of that dangerous primal energy into him.

BEAMWAR! Lancelot has placed his bid! Kasagami Araki still needs to bid!
BEAMWAR! Kasagami Araki has placed her bid!
BEAMWAR! Kasagami Araki rallies, overwhelmingly driving back Lancelot! Kasagami Araki has the advantage!
BEAMWAR! Lancelot takes 20 damage! Kasagami Araki takes 0 Fatigue damage!
BEAMWAR! Now accepting mana bids for the third of three rounds! No longer accepting any more BEAMWAR entrants!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami howls the entire time. The lightning lashes all throughout her. She's tired, emotionally exhausted, but she pushes back all the same. Her uniform is ripped asunder, leaving bandages about her chest and taut muscle, a shredded pair of tights and a savage look on her face.

A smarter woman would back off, try to evade, but Kasagami wants to win just as much. And so she does the only thing she can.

She presses on, even as her arms are leaden and her vision shocked through with darkness and lightning. Her laughter reverberates all throughout the arena.

"SHOW ME EVERYTHING TAKEOOOOO!" And then, roses turning to dust and gutting out, she tries to turn her blade upon the young man's rose regardless of the cost to her body, a final one handed strike with all of her power.

BEAMWAR! Lancelot has placed his bid! Kasagami Araki still needs to bid!
BEAMWAR! Kasagami Araki has placed her bid!
BEAMWAR! Lancelot rallies, his Anima Tempestas exploding through Kasagami Araki's Bloody Rose Storm for a total of 146 Fatigue damage! Lancelot is victorious!
BEAMWAR! Kasagami Araki is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The Knight has tears in his eyes, as he slides back. Memories flooding him of events thousands of years dead. He screams once more and then pushes forward. First once step. Then another. Then another. "You say I've never lost anything? I LOST MY KING, MY BEST FRIEND, AND THE WOMAN I LOVED!" He puts every ounce of power into this storm he is channeling. "AND IT WAS MY FAULT!"

At the word "fault", power explodes from Lancelot and courses through the lightning he is slamming into Kasagami's own power. It gorws, and envelops that raw, passionate thing, sending even more lighting in every direction. With every second however the beams begin to overwhelm Kasagami's own attack, and then envelope it, leveraging all that fury, all that primal power, directly on Kasagami.

The explossion is loud. It rocks the arena, and shatters other pillars, as well as sending a spiderweb of cracks in every direction.

Lancelot stands there panting. He is also steaming, the power he channeled making his armor hotter than the air around him and steaming in response. He falls to a knee panting, his eyes only for Kasagami.

He uses Arondight to get to his feet and then walks forward to Kasagami. He steps lightly on the blade, just to make sure that nodachi isn't suddenly coming at him. He then casually flicks the crimson rose off Kasagami's chest. He speaks softly. "I claim this round Kasagami-kun." He takes a deep breath and lets it out. "Now. Learn from this. Study what happened. Rise through the bracket." And he kneels down to whisper to the woman beneath him. "And try again."

He dissipates Arondight, then his armor drifts away on motes of blue mana. Takeo replaces Lancelot as he walks away. "As I said Kasagami. Anybody wants to get to get to Utena, they have to go through ME first." He looks toward where he KNOWS the Student Council is watching. "And now you all know a fraction of my power. So. Bring it." He nods once, and heads toward the elevator.

There is just no way in hell he is taking the stairs after all that.

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

Roses are rent to dust, Kasagami is struck down to the floor and she goes skidding in a furrow that utterly ruins the beautiful iconography of the Arena. Screeching to a halt, body sizzling, she looks up with her good eye dazed and bewildered. Her breath comes fast. At first, her face flushes with shame.

Her heart is stronger even than her body, burnt and alight with lightning as it is. Her hand is double clutched hard around her sword. Beneath Takeo's shoe, he can feel her trying to lift her blade, to fight once more. She loses the duel, and only after several seconds later does she finally begrudgingly stop trying to raise that blade and once again give the man retribution.

Her face is awake with pain, despite all her exhaustion, and it softens into a smile.

One hand rises. And she faintly tries to flick her upperclassman on the nose playfully.

"You win. We're both idiots, aren't we? Hah! I guess you do know my pain too. You bet your lightning-stuffed ego I'm going to improve. Takeo-kun, that's a promise! I'll get strong, and show you just what it means to have might!"

A fraction of his power? Kasagami laughs aloud. "Agreed. Next time, when we cross blades? You're worthy of learning the true secret of the Araki family. Look...nngh!...forward to it."

Huff. Slowly, slowly, she grabs her blade, and crawls to her feet with the help of her weapon.

"You could've left me a jacket, you uncouth jerk!" She finally howls as he takes the elevator. Stumbling, falling to a knee, and pushing again, she uses her sword like a cane. Adrenaline slowly falls, and Kasagami laughs all the way down the stairs. And yet, amidst all that, her phone rings in what remains of her pocket. Flick.