2018-01-18 - Haine: Kasagami v. Yukino, First Duel

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Haine: Kasagami v. Yukino, First Duel

Yukino, mildest-mannered of the Duelists, faces Kasagami in the arena. Their fight is nontraditional, and revealing, to both those within and without that mysterious place.


Yukino Kikukawa, Anthy Himemiya, Shizuru Fujino, Kasagami Araki, Miki Kaoru


Duel Arena

OOC - IC Date:

01-18-2018 - 03-20-2015

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ 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.
<Pose Tracker> Yukino Kikukawa [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Yukino pauses outside of a closed bedroom door. She knocks several times, lightly and gently and a bit hesitantly, and is untroubled when there's no answer.

She's holding two glasses, so this was a little bit more complicated; the rim of one glass impacted the wood, each time. Perhaps that explains some of the hesitation, but not all of it.

"Ne, I know you can hear me," she calls through the wood, without anger. Just worry, and maybe a little bit of regret. "And... I don't know everything that's going on..."

She pauses again, bites the inside of her cheek, aware that she probably knows more than almost everyone else. That is her blessing, and her burden.

That means she just told a lie to her old friend. She's getting too good at that.

"Ummm... listen. I'm going to fight Araki-san today. For Haruka-chan, and for you. If... if you think it would make you feel better, to watch... you can come..."

There's a long silence, interrupted only by the sound of fizzing bubbles.


She bends, and puts one of the glasses on the floor. Fortunately this door opens inward.

It's a cream soda, the real kind, with ice cream burbling and melting into the soda and syrup. It has a cherry on top. They've shared a lot of them, over the years, late nights in the tower working hard side by side. Sometimes afternoons too, they'd just go into town and drink them together because they felt like it.

Yukino starts drinking her own as she walks away, but discovers she isn't that thirsty.

The fizz feels like a beesting on her tongue.


Yukino is punctual. A little TOO punctual, actually; she's the kind of person who always arrives a few minutes early to make sure she won't be late even if something goes wrong, and so it is that she's the first to ascend to the heavens-embraced Dueling Arena.

Then she waits there, awkwardly, alone. To pass the time, she squints up through her spectacles at the somberly, impossibly rotating upside-down castle above. But she doesn't want to be taken by surprise, either, and constantly looks back over at the entryway.

Nervous, pidgeon-footed Yukino. Her hands are fisted in her skirt, which is as normal as ever; the least-different Student Council uniform, in its mustard and red and gray. Even she, however, has dressed for the occasion, with epaulettes and cords.

Her gem is green, and she has another sigil, too, something she hasn't worn in almost a year: a now-defunct armband, white cloth with the school seal on it, and a D embroidered over that. The Disciplinary Committee used to wear it together, back when it was just the two of them.

Just her and Haruka.

This tradition was lost with the passing of the torch.

She isn't entirely unarmed, however. Dangling between her fists is what looks like golden chain links. And there's something else within her palm... something that glints.

"I want to do this," she says, as much for her own benefit as to convince the others, when they arrive. "We're going to do this, Araki-san." Not -senpai; indeed, Yukino is the elder of the two, a second-year student and a more senior member of the Council, at that.

Of course, Kasagami has the only title that matters, here...

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

The Student Council Secretary arrives before her, by virtue of her overdeveloped punctuality. Once the Rose Bride sweeps in and takes up the appointed place, though, it is as if she has always been there. The soft quiet sounds of her footfalls are her only herald, and she says nothing to girl with her visible nerves and her golden chain.

She waits, in all the resplendent drama of her ballgown, near the center of the Arena -- a drop of red upon its smooth surface like a single scattered rose petal. The curled purple of her hair shines; the gold of her crown gleams. With hands clasped before her, with lashes low and thick across green eyes, without visible motion or emotion, she waits.

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

As is her normal for the Duels, Shizuru Fujino, vice president of the Student Council, is simply there when the other Duelists arrive on the balcony. It is as if she was always here, a fixture in the Student Council, an institution unto herself as much as a presence. It is perhaps strange, disorienting, that the truth is that she will graduate soon, with her tea and her vanilla wafers and her red eyes, always hiding something.

All three are in evidence today; she is sitting at a small table, with opera glasses, with a cup of tea and a pot before her. Shizuru watches Yukino, below, fists in her skirt, golden chain in her hands. She is silent.

...But she has a small smile on her face. The engagement ring she wears is still on her finger, and her self-assurance is unquestionable. She belongs here. ...And somehow, as always, puts herself above it all...

...On the surface. Shizuru sips her tea, and ignores the cold reaction much of the rest of the Student Council is likely to give her now--no, not ignores. Revels in.

Her eyes are for Yukino, and the Rose Bride.

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

It'd take a fool to be late to a Duel. And despite popular opinion, Kasagami Araki is only occasionally a fool. Not here. Not for a Duel, something almost sacred to her. Even moreso now that she's claimed such an exalted position, won her prize, and now seeks to dominate her fellow Duelists. She arrives exactly one minute early, enough time to ascend the seemingly endless stairs and enter with a spring to her step. She whistles Ring of Fire jovially, dressed in her usual Student Council uniform, and coat draped over her shoulders.

"And the flaaaames went higher~!"

Her good eye squints as she notes that defunct armband, not out of any opinion, but out of cluelessness. There's an eager air to Kasagami, facing off against a Duelist that's entirely unknown to her. She spent last night imagining just what Yukino could be capable of. She'd hardly underestimate any Duelist, the Arena has taught her that many times over by now.

Arms open as she walks up the last steps, and enter the Arena. At first, Anthy is utterly ignored in favor of her opponent. "Yukino-chan!" It's not quite disrespectful, not in tone. It's like she's greeting an old friend, even if her smile is wolfish and violent.

"You're right about that! You know, you're the first one to actually challenge me! That takes a spine! I thought you'd never go for it, really, but I underestimated you and for that I am honestly sorry." She dips into an over-exaggerated bow. She's slightly mocking, but not by much.

A laugh, loud and boisterous. "Do me proud, and howl for me, Yukino! I want to see what lives beneath those glasses of yours! ANTHY!"

She finally turns, and looks to the girl. A wink, and she snaps her fingers.

"Let's not keep this brave Duelist who'd challenge a King waiting! Then bring your liege her sword!" Commands the young woman, gloved hands clenching in anticipation. Her arm aches. The adrenaline pumps, and the thing that can soothe her pain is right there.

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

It would be impossible to mistake the whistling, larger-than-life entrance of Kasagami Araki. The Bride stands impassive while the duelists exchange their words, eyes on the elegant pink lines crossing the arena floor.

Her Engaged commands the duel begin, with a shout and a snap of her fingers; as if activated, she moves only then.

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 cream and crimson 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.

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

That is, to any observers. Each duelist in turn experiences the intimacy of receiving a token from the girl who will belong to whomever is the victor. The cream bloom, all understated dignity, slides home first upon the uniform of the Student Council Secretary. The two are almost of a size, and in the bespectacled closeness of the diminutive Rose Bride Yukino is welcome to find a servile reflection of strange devotion; she is just as welcome to see a means to an end, or nothing at all but a girl in a gown.

The Bride turns to face her Engaged with emerald eyes downcast. She crosses the broad Arena floor at the same measured pace to stand with rounded shoulders before that imperious presence. Her palms cup a rose, deep and rich like a pool of heartsblood, and lift it so that she might reach the breast pocket of the tall young woman.

At the last she looks up to Kasagami with a flicker of living emerald from the impassive elegance of a doll's face. Her gaze passes and fades; the gentle breath of her words fills the air.

"Rose of the noble castle," and splayed fingers curl to cradle a blooming spark of light.

"Power of Dios that sleeps within me." Is it wind that pushes the Rose Bride's skirts to flutter and rise, or does the growing sphere of white before her have its own strange gravity?

Eyes closed, throat bared, back bent, she calls: "Heed your master and come forth!" One of many swords within the Rose Bride stirs.

From red-rose pommel to gold-wound-black the hilt of the Sword of Dios pulls forth from her chest, offered as if by inverted deathstroke to the hand of the One Engaged. The Bride bleeds light in scattered rays that spill across Kasagami's face and streaming hair.

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

He hears the knocking of course. There's no response. None whatsoever. He spends the dimming hours of afternoon atop the sheets of his bed, facing the empty twin. His music had become more intense over these past two weeks, but outside of that his time in this room has begun to far outstrip his time outside of it. An old fashioned answering machine with a casette tape stood plugged in atop a nightstand.

At the farewell and the clink on the floor, he continues staring off into space for a while before bringing up his feet to a seated position. His thumb presses down on the timer of his stop watch with a click, stopping it. Rising, his posture had the sort of listlessness of a sleepwalker as he steps towards the door.

Opening it outward, his eyes settle upon the lone cream soda. Considering it, he bends over and lifts it up, allowing the coolness to flood his palm.

He doesn't quite smile, but as he takes a sip of the cream soda, his hand hits the reset button on his watch...


Nothing if not dutiful, he shows up on time, but he's not here merely because of duty. His uniform pristine, he crosses onto the observer's deck. He doesn't look at the others, especially not Shizuru. And trying harder still not to look at Anthy to remind him further of what he has lost. His attention right now is on Yukino. His voice a whisper.


The exchange between Yukino and Kasagami is familiar in a way. It stirs memories of his own fight with that duelist. But...

Seeing her right there. Standing up to her. It brought the taste of cream soda to the tip of his tongue again as he speaks to himself.

"You're ready for her after all. Aren't you?"

There's light wonder there in seeing this in comparison to the girl he's spent so many quiet moments with - his friend. And in this moment he realized that he would miss her after graduation. As bittersweet as that was, he realized...

"... it's nice seeing you like this."

He may have mixed feelings about the idea of outright cheering for someone else to win. But he did feel better.

It's what allows him to get through the miracle of Anthy summoning a sword for Kasagami to wield.

Sliding down into a chair, sitting up straight, his thumb is primed over the start button on his watch.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgRP1Mv5mLs

The rituals, both of them, are familar to Kasagami now. Not quite comfortable. That would be boring, and in Kassie's eyes, beneath her. She stands tall and proud, her smile both smug and eager for the violence to come. Here, she doesn't have to think. About her lack of Setsuna's hand in hers, the youma that took her parents, or just how annoyingly barely out of reach her dream seems to be. Revolution beckons, and she can scratch it with her fingertips this high up with the Castle looming overhead.

She takes the downcast Anthy's offered rose with her usual gaze: one of nearly open distaste for it's holder, with a certain amount of disregard for her existance at all. Anthy, to her, is truly nothing more than a hood ornament. But one that is also a poison she doesn't yet realize.

Then, she sweeps behind Anthy like a ball dancer, magical winds and shining light casting her face in brilliant warmth as she bends to accept the Rose Bride. A brilliant, fabulous fulcrum, her strong arm easily holds the young woman's weight as she closes her eyes. Her long black hair billows out, her ponytail brilliant and consuming as her black coat joins it in the magical wind conjured by the Rose Bride.

She doesn't hesitate in drawing the blade as it's hilt appears in Anthy's chest, wrenched out with a warrior's savagery without care for the one she's holding. It's a taking, a conquering King ripping something precious out from that which she's claimed for herself without regards for what she's tearing it from.

The beautiful longsword's blade gleams with light as she holds it before her, pushing Anthy back up to her feet. And most importantly: out of the way.

"Grant me the power to bring World Revolution!" She at once howls and whispers, words coming to none but Bride and Engaged.

And so much like that violent ripping as she pulled out the Sword of Dios, sparkles of magic wash around her from the motion. Coat turns to a brilliant sable cloak about her, earrings shine into existance with ruby hawks on them, and on her back sits a royal coat of arms of crossed swords and the noble falcon in blood red upon it. Strong legs flex, and she gives her opponent a daring glance, just enough to transform.

And then she's gone, using her enhanced swiftness to rush Yukino. It's not a trick, not some tactic, just a simple straightforward charge that leaves vague, stained glass-like afterimages behind her. The sword clenched in both hands, she lets the tip spark against the ground in a low, single upwards vertical slice aimed right for the flower on Yukino's chest! It's a savage testing blow, already trying to suss out just what kind of fighter her unexpected opponent is!

"Let's see what you can do, Yukino!" She offers in a warrior's feeling of rapture. The ache in her bad arm is utterly gone thanks to the Rose Bride's touch.

<Pose Tracker> Yukino Kikukawa [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Yamiyo no Prologue https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsPG1tUmB74

Yukino, passive in the face of the oversized personalities of Ohtori Academy, ignores the -chan, and shrugs in the face of the backhanded compliment. It's only Kasagami's orders and demands, at the end, that make her frown. And it's a pretty soft frown at that. Her freckled face isn't well-suited to dramatic displays of feeling.

"I'm not doing this for you," she repeats firmly, paraphrasing herself from their last meeting, and the low intensity to her words puts the lie to any incapability of her face to express what's in her heart. There's a grand truth in those six words, the loose string in the tapestry that leads to what's inside Yukino Kikukawa, and it's resonant when it escapes, even in the slightest.

And she gets the last word, too, at least before battle begins, in that Kasagami has moved on to the Rose Bride. Does it really count, if your quiet but meaningful words aren't responded to because there's someone more important to pay attention to? Is that really a 'last' word? Or just a lonely word?


Anthy gets the sense, when she's close to Yukino, that she isn't being looked at at all. This happens sometimes; indifference to the Rose Bride, in a Duelist, is not always kinder than a more meaningful relationship of any kind. But she's unable to penetrate a glint of afternoon sunlight that glazes Yukino's lenses opaque -- a trick Anthy herself is not unfamiliar with, of course.

Perhaps Yukino is avoiding looking at Anthy Himemiya.

In any event, they manage this usually extraordinarily intimate moment without ever meeting eyes.

Afterwards, Yukino takes a couple steps back, putting distance between herself and her opponent before anything even begins. And as power rises within Anthy, drawn out by Kasagami, there's a faint echo coming from Yukino, too.

It isn't the same at all, in any respect, really. But she's concentrating, with increasing fierceness, on something... else.

When Kasagami charges her, the duel isn't over in a moment for one reason and one reason only: she tries to say fewer syllables. She doesn't reply at all. In fact, she speaks at the same time, shouts over Kasagami's second demand.


It becomes Kasagami's turn to go unanswered, to claim the dubiously valuable ground of having had the last word.

But is it the last word if you're alone?

An instant before the Sword of Dios would have claimed the cream rose, Yukino simply shimmers out of existence. And her sword slices through only air.

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

"Hello, Kaoru-kun."

Miki may avoid looking at Shizuru, but Shizuru doesn't shy away from his presence. She doesn't bother looking at him, of course--but she doesn't have to for her voice to snake his way, full of a pleasant poison. It is a voice that almost taunts by its very existence--she knows what she's done, after all, and does not hide her face, shows no shame.

No, she focuses on the Duel, watching the miracle of the Sword of Dios as always... And Kasagami's familiar term of address for a girl she doesn't really know. Yukino's defiance is delicious, prompts Shizuru to quietly dip a wafer into her tea, bring it to her lips. She waits, through all of it.

Her eyes reflect all of it.

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

The moment Kasagami charges, his thumb clicks start. It's both a quiet and loud sound. His breath catches and -

His brow furrows. There's a certain familiarity in how Yukino calls out that word. What does it mean?

Well right now it means that the shining blade contacts nothing but air.

There's a certain amount of relief in that.

Even when Shizuru looks at him he aggressively doesn't look at her. "I'm not here for small talk Fukushachou." It's both strangely blunt and rude - for him at least. Others might think it strikingly polite under the circumstances.

"I'm just here to watch the duel."

His expression looks quietly thoughtful however as if he's working out a math puzzle out loud. He doesn't seem to be talking to anyone in particular though. "It's not Roman..."

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

She is a feather resting upon a bulwark, with the curve of her back arched across the solid strength of Kasagami's arm. There is a blankness to her face, in closed eyes and parted lips, that speaks of transportation -- whether of rapture or agony, who can say?

Only the Rose Bride... and she would never.

The Sword of Dios comes freely, snagging not once on her ribs or her heart or her soul. A shove later, and the Bride is discarded and out of the way of her Engaged, taking some of the pain of scorched nerves with her as she goes. She catches her balance a few stumbling steps later, then takes up her customary attendant position near the edge of the Arena.

She watches Kasagami rush the Secretary in all her straightforward, terrifying speed; she does not blink when reality seems to, removing Yukino from the path of the Sword of Dios.

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

Kasagami doesn't stop her smile, or her friendly, anticipating look as those words greet her ears. The frowning, mousey girl is met by a single squinting brow, and followed by another laugh.

"I'd certainly hope not! That wouldn't be right, after all. Hmm, I am curious though! What are you doing this for?" Chin-tap, almost pondering really.

"Or maybe whom is the better answer?" It's a probing question, a real shot in the dark. She knows next to nothing about Yukino aside from what the public of Ohtori does. Yukino's personality is the exact kind to fade from her mind. Well, until today.

Yukino's lack of dramatics may annoy, but they let her get away in a feat that has Kasagami's eyes widening. Bells ring in her ears as they peal, and that shouted name echoes as well. Her swipe catches air, and she claims yet another word. "What the..." She spits out as Yukino is absolutely gone. Almost like a chameleon, or an invisible woman. Her valorous heart flares. She's surprised, and brings up her sword defensively over her rose. Eyes, one good and one restored by the Sword, pay careful attention.

"I didn't know you were a stage magician, Yukino-chan!" This is an outright taunt, simple and useful. Make them angry, make them face you. She pauses, only to chuckle.

"Really, though, that's unbecoming of a Duelist! Here I was wanting to see what kind of sword you used, what skills you had, and you just dissappear on me!" She'd be casual, if her full body wasn't alert and clenched. Instincts and skill await a strike, only for an idea to strike her.

One booted foot hits the Arena floor, and it cracks beneath. She sends herself high up into the air, sword swiping around her, a neat arc to protect her Rose jealously. Her now freed hand reaches towards the naked air, and the grinding sound of short nails on glass can be heard. Then, a shattering, as she concentrates. Tearing, scouring, a few stained-glass shards of reality react to the Sword of Dios and her own arrogant desire to rule, her hand clenching them jealously as she holds it high.

Hammer and nail, Kasagami's counter is through overwhelming force. Mickey was right in his duel with her. Those shimmering shards of glass, refracting their colors, rain down as she lets out a war cry in the air as they're thrown. A brilliant act to force Yukino to react, to dodge, to show herself. Kasagami believes in her opponent, at least that much no matter how seemingly cowardly her tactics.

"Dance away!" In a backflip, she lands as glass shatters and turns to dust on the arena floor.

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


Something really weird happens with her stained-glass shards: they vanish, between her and the floor of the dueling arena, as surely disappearing into thin air as Yukino herself did. The bird's eye view of the arena is pristine, and it is empty. The Engaged doesn't get to see her ammunition detonate, not until she lands; it's like passing through a veil, closer to the ground, and she's back in reality.

Alas, all she CAN see is the wreckage of the sigil-engraved floor.

There's no sign of Yukino. Whatever she did to avoid her doom, she must have done it while Kasagami was on the wrong side of the only marginally metaphorical curtain.

But she does speak. Her voice comes from everywhere and nowhere, echoing strangely. Eerily. She is a ghost in the arena. The ghost of the arena, for the moment.

"I don't have a sword, Araki-san," she murmurs. "Sorry not sorry to disappoint you..." That line almost sounds like she's not herself, like she's quoting someone else, like some kind of inside joke.

There's a sudden blur of movement to Kasagami's right -- then her left -- behind her?! Something's coming from all sides, straight for her--!


There at the edge of the ring, a shadowy tendril passes the Rose Bride's gown. It doesn't tug, simply continues on its way along the circumference of the stone platform.



When Yukino screamed that name and vanished, Shizuru and Miki and all the rest didn't just see that; they saw something else. Something that was already there. Something prepared in advance. Something planned.

They saw some thing move.

Tendrils slackening from the underside of the arena, suckers popping almost like an octapus' as it propelled itself around. But it isn't an octapus. It is too green, almost leafy green, the sort of spring color denied the city for too long. Maybe it was all hogged by this monster.

Like fuzz from a dandelion -- and that's about all the detail that's to be had, even with opera glasses, from this distance -- thousands and thousands of little bits of monster float into the air. They fill the arena.

And they bounce light between them at every possible meeting, creating a maze of invisible veils that Kasagami yet struggles to understand, and that Yukino stands within.

Cringes within, gripping whatever it is she has in her palms. Even with this tidal shift of scenario, she's still at terrible risk.

Blood wells on the back of her hand, the only way she was able to save her rose.

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


"No," Shizuru Fujino agrees with Yukino, from her perch sitting on the desk, holding a cup of tea in her hands. But she does not go on to commisserate over a problem that she herself announced, all that time ago now. She does not bring up her own opinions of Kasagami now. ...No, she considers the way Yukino has to clear her mind after Shizuru intimates that she's seen something.

Rather than leaning in as if in conspiracy, the Vice President seems to relax somewhat, shoulders back, tilted away very slightly... Lounging. At ease.

"But," she marks a mild impasse.

"Why, then, did I lose, Kikukawa-san?"

Again, the -san, the address befitting their ages. More than she shows most.

She watches with apparent placidity for the answer... But she does not look away.

"Of course," Shizuru replies to Miki, as if indulgently. "But my my, so prickly today." It's idle, of course, though Shizuru has a way of making things sound as if she has a grand plan. ...But her attention includes the Arena above all.

"Diana," Shizuru repeats, with a smile spreading across her features. "My, my, what a secret you had, Kikukawa-san..."

She sees the danger, of course; she sees the red blossoming from that hand. But she sees Kasagami's difficulties as well. She does not look away.

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

The appearance of Diana, Yukino's child, in all of it's - well glory causes a slight gasp as he takes in full view of it. "She's...!"

The connection to his sister feels inadvertent. The two are as different as different could be. And yet there's still the faint tang of sweetness upon his tongue. He's unable to distinguish between cream soda and milk shake for half a second.

And just a few moments later he solves the puzzle. It becomes obvious upon seeing the leafy green of the Child. At least to him... "<Anne of Green Gables.>" He says in only slightly accented, nigh perfect English.

It's a different thought, and a comforting one. Drawing to mind thoughts of the friendship between Haruka and Yukino rather than any thoughts of his sister and...

His hand tightens around his stop watch as Shizuru's words settle in.

"We're both members of the Student Council and duelists besides." Miki says evenly. It's a declaration of solidarity. Like a sacred trust that Shizuru broke. "We're expected to act in a certain way - in how we settle our conflicts with each other."

After a short length of time, he adds, with a singular glance Shizuru's way, "I'm not expected to think well of someone who's forgotten that."

Isn't it more personal to him than that? It must be.

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

It's the fact that there's pure emptiness in her high-soaring jump that clues in Kasagami to some part of the trick. She has a sharp pair of eyes, moreso than before, and that difference between up in the air and on the ground only helps her to come to a realization: whatever power Yukino has, she can alter senses. An illusion, some kind of veil, something. But a dangerous trick indeed. Even her voice is everywhere at once. It's annoying, truly, but somehow it adds to the thrill through sheer unexpected trickery. Kasagami Araki decides instantly she hates Yukino's way of fighting.

But that doesn't mean it isn't exciting for the conflict-craving Engaged. "Well, that's just a shame isn't it? Yukino-chan! What is a Duelist other than someone with a dream and a sword in their hand that fights with all they are!?" Her voice grows angrier. Just like with Shizuru, something about Yukino feels like it's cutting into the pure beauty of a Duel.

"Prove you're worthy of being here!" She howls angrily as that motion almost seems to surround her. Right, left, Kasagami is right there.

She doesn't break her step, doesn't slow down, her sword strikes. Kasagami once again grips it with both hands, and swings. As those flashes reach her, she gives hard cuts, blurring like a samurai with the magic in her hands, given to her by the Sword. Worst of all, her blade seems to split, to strike four times. Up, behind, from below, and parrying. Like light refracted from stained glass, her brilliant shining blade intercepts more strikes than any single line of metal ever could.

And in turn, Kasagami strikes at where she anticipates the invisible Yukino would move from such, cleaving and searching for her, trying to find a pattern to it all.

And even in these, reality is refracted and her blade hunts.

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

Illusion fills the Arena and swallows shards of colored light.

The Rose Bride smiles.

It is so small and so quick a thing that it would take eyes just as quick -- and undistracted by the lightshow taking center stage -- to spot, a fleeting change that makes small curls at the corners of her mouth. It passes again in the time it takes to shatter a stained glass window.

There is no surprise nor shock on her doll's face, certainly. She glances down without altering the angle of her head to follow the progress of that tendril. Then: she watches the striving duelists once more, and their violent splintering of color and light.

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


Yukino looks away.

She doesn't want to look at Fujino-senpai right now. She doesn't want to look at anyone. She licks her lips nervously, clears her throat, shakes her head.

"I'd rather not say," she opines, but when that inadequacy finishes settling into the corners of the room, her shoulders slump, she sighs. "Because... because you were upset."

That's sort of like analyzing a locust-spewing flame tornado and coming up with 'storm' as the description, but at least it's something.

"I don't think I can win," she goes on, "Because I am upset. All the time."


Kasagami's sword makes contact -- with Kasagami's sword.

More glass joins the aftermath of the Engaged's first efforts to ferret out her opponent, but this time it isn't stained. It's just a shattered mirror.

...many shattered mirrors. What Kasagami saw as a threat was only her own reflection, set up all around her. A reflection further quadrupled by the magic of her own strikes.

"Come find out," she mutters defiantly, as to what a Duelist is without a sword. "Face the mirror, Araki-san."


Through their glasses, they can see Yukino clearly, her Element transcendent in her hands -- it is many, many mirrors, all connected by golden chains. She has spread them to all manner of directions around her.

She is not elegant in how she avoids Kasagami's assault, but it helps that she has yet to try to strike back, and that Kasagami has no idea where she is, that even her premise of trying to strike where she'd move is, as yet, still based on the mistake of attacking her mirrored selves.

Even so, she stumbles a little, and picks her way quite delicately across the glassed plain.


Just as Kasagami is able to fathom that she's seeing herself, striking at images of herself, she sees something else instead.

The mirrors, in their half-dozens (there are far more, but with this strange spiderweb of invisibility all around, that's about all as can be seen at once), dinner-plate sized, their surfaces swim for a moment, as though liquid, and then resolidify reflecting someone else.

Setsuna Meioh stares back at Kasagami from all angles, her brilliantly garnet eyes seeming to leap from the mirrors straight at the Engaged.

And, in this shocking moment, yet another mirror -- this one as-yet unseen -- peels off from the configuration of the rest to come streaking in, sharp edge-first, straight towards Kasagami's rose.

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

A sacred trust. The tone could almost be amusing to Shizuru.

"My, is that your objection? Maybe you have more potential than I imagined." Amusement drips from her tone, enjoyment obvious in both the Duel and in this moment. "Expectations can be useful... But there are times to break them. To exceed them."


Shizuru keeps watching Yukino's face. She does not need to reach out and touch her, but there is a quality to her expression, an expectation as firm and strong as if the Vice President had reached out an elegant hand to pull Yukino's chin back towards her. Yukino does not want to look at anyone, does not want to say, but Shizuru does not relent.

The answer comes, and Shizuru looks at her quietly, appraisingly. She is not surprised at Yukino's perception. She recalls that moment well.

"...Yes," she admits. "I was. Araki-kun gets under my skin in a way that few can. I should really appreciate her more for it."

A beat, "...I think you have a chance. Because so is she. You just have to know how best to..."

A smile, "Push."


Shizuru finishes her statement to Miki and looks down at the duel, finishing her waver casually. The tea still steams, still so very hot. ...If it were closer, it might fog some of those mirrors, but it is not, and Shizuru is able to watch all of them. It's a fascinating Element; Shizuru does not intend to miss a moment of it.

"...Learning when to break expectations is a part of growing up, Kaoru-kun. You'd best learn, before you're left behind."

The perceptive now could see Shizuru's interest--her excitement, dull as it may be, keeping her focus downward.

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

Kasagami strangely doesn't speak in her reaction as her own sword hits itself. Mirror on glass, she's one to wear her reactions not on her sleeve, but vaguely on her torso. Her eyes widen from their slits of surprise, and she's grinning. She still hates the trickery that Yukino invokes, but she can't help but find it fun in it's own way.

Shining blades face one another, and Kasagami lets out a hefty sigh. That defiant tone only encourages her. "Cheap tricks only come around to bite you, Yukino! Still, this one's elaborate, I'll give you that. And who am I to deny someone who enjoys a good mirror, huh?"

Smirking to herself, she's on high alert. And most importantly, she grows still. Her own swords have cut an inch or two variously out of her sable cloak, but she's still kept her head. And more importantly, the rose.

Her free arm, the girl wielding her sword in one at her own onslaught, is kept over her rose. Legs brace, she pulls her sword back into a motion that would be sheathing if this sword didn't have a living sheath. For all her recklessness, Kasagami can pull up a bit of patience when she has to. Her eyes narrow, waiting for the slightest bit of movement.

Setsuna stares at her, and those deep dark eyes burn into her soul. Guilt rises up, and Kasagami reacts with a howl. Of pure, and utter wrath.

She tells herself it's an illusion, all in her head. Again and again. She knows this, from their fight thus far. But still, that gaze burns her right into the soul.

Her sword glows, briefly painted with dark red roses as Kasagami gives a howl that's both one part warcry, and one part crying, tears falling to her cheek howl. If she can just win, she can be with Pluto once again!

That thought adds a resolve-stiffening moment of clarity to Yukino's assault, and this single-bladed strike is made with magic-shattering power.


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

Yukino is far from graceful, but Miki hears music in the flashes of her mirrors. He's not quite certain what she's doing to Kasagami here but he has an inkling of an idea. His expression watches the spin of the chained mirrors. Follows how Kasagami keeps striking... what?

Any other time he's not certain how he would feel about such tactics. But right now he feels himself wondering if Yukino might pull it off...

The world feels more beautiful for that thought.


Closing his eyes for a moment, he has to take a breath and focus on that music to keep his calm under Shizuru's prodding. It's getting to him and he knows it.

So he wills himself to be calm. He knows he's no good at this game. Maybe he knows if he's baited into it he'll lose. Maybe he remembers his sister's warning, even if he'd never admit that.

"You're less than a month from graduation, aren't you Fukushachou?"

He doesn't bother waiting for a response. Everyone knows this.

"It's like you're telling me that I have to learn these things for my own sake."

Without a glance he continues, "And I've never trusted any selfish adult who tries to tell me anything like that."

Perhaps he's saying Shizuru is 'close enough.'

Kasagami's howling draws his eyes back to the arena quickly enough. "Senpai..." He says softly as he finds Yukino again, breathless with anticipation. Could this be it?

<Pose Tracker> Yukino Kikukawa [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Omoi Sore wa Shoujo no Kirameki (Yukino's Theme) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5HNET5PELo

Without even aiming for it, or even apparently being aware of it, Kasagami renders the mirror coming for her rose unto dust. Such is the magnitude of her strength.

And in that moment, brief as it is, the two combatants are connected meaningfully for the first time -- since her blade, and its roses, impacted the edge of a mirror directed by Yukino to strike her. It was a parry. It sends vibrations up the Sword of Dios... and down the chains connecting the mirrors.

They whisper unintelligable curses, right on the edge of perception.

Unseen by Kasagami, Yukino rubs the bridge of her nose, lifting up her glasses from underneath, then lets them resettle. It's a frustrated gesture, but in more than one way. She's wincing a little, at the corner of her mouth.

And the truth bursts out of her. Yukino's never been one to commit to decisive action -- having pushed Kasagami to the brink, she retreats from it, herself.

"I'm sorry!" she cries, and means it -- means it. It was so easy to play on her opponent's weakness but it's so ugly too, it's too horrible to watch, to withstand. She might do it again and then apologize after, again. "But... I'm not sorry too. This is how I feel, all the time, and because of you now it's how Miki-kun feels too. You know? Or maybe you don't know, you don't seem like someone who spends very much time caring about other peoples' problems... or even really bothering to know about them..."

Yukino talks and talks, and her voice is carried by her many chains. It bounces from all directions but it is coming from only one, and slowly, slowly, Kasagami is going to be able to figure out where, especially if Yukino keeps talking.

Yukino keeps talking. Tears well in the corners of her eyes.

"But I know everything! I have to know!" What does that mean? She doesn't say, but the many images playing across the mirrors provide a clue; they're like scrying windows across campus, showing a scintillating kaleidoscope of scenes. Students studying for their finals. Students holding hands under a tree. Students knocking books out of each others' hands, knocking lunch trays to the ground. Students sneaking out after curfew, and sneaking back in.

The buzzing life of Ohtori's hive, its student body.

And something else, beneath -- men in black passing envelopes between them. Monsters in the tunnels beneath the island, and the soft clanking of sparkling, magical gears. Witches in the hallways; you haven't lived until you've been trapped in an invisible maze with a bunch of mirrors infinitely-reflecting the inside of a labyrinth back at each other. It's something to do with gymnastics. Balance beams, parallel bars, all on a mat made out of cell phone charms.

Kasagami has lived now.

"SHE would have done something about it! SHE would have at least fought! She WAS fighting, until YOU came along!"

There's so much hatred packed into that YOU. Kasagami gets her wish, gets to see what lives behind Yukino's glasses.

It is fury, and disgust, and it is all aimed right at her.

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

Shizuru does not blink at Kasagami's scream. She drinks it in, letting the sound echo around her from the Dueling Arena as she lets her attention drift towards her and her superlative sword strokes amidst the clear pain of this Duel. It is unkind, yes, it is not the expected form that such a contest should take. ...But expectations, as she says...

She takes no issue with the tactics, of course. Kasagami calls it a cheap trick, but Shizuru can see the expense written in every mirror, checks written and cashed day by day, moment by moment. Shizuru has indeed seen Yukino Kikukawa.

And now she hears Kasagami's scream.

"I am," Shizuru answers pleasantly. If one expects her to be rueful, as she's so often been at that, bittersweet, she does not show it today--nor does she show any feeling except hapless resignation to the future in this moment, as if what will be simply will be. But it's like...

"My," she responds. "Yes, I suppose I am just talking to hear my own voice, aren't I? I'm a wicked, wicked person. But..."

Shizuru lets that hang on the air, as she watches the Duel continue. "...Even if you don't trust me, others have, and will."

The next comes like a knife, delivered with a smile, as she continues, "Your sister did."

Shizuru lets that hang on the air as the watches the mirrors... As she sees Yukino call out with that hatred, talking of a girl they both know. It is just as well that it's impossible for anyone to see her eyes, just this moment.

There is, after all, no pity to be found in them whatsoever.

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

"You know, Yukino..."

Starts Kassie, way too casual for a fierce Duel. The shattering mirror, Kasagami almost backhands it away in execution. She makes one single spin around, and then she swipes air meaningfully as she gathers her breath in a smile that's all anger and violence, and nothing of the impression that Yukino started to make in her. "I believe you." She adds. Yukino retreats, and Kasagami growls. "On both counts. That's right, blame me! Blame me for other people being too weak to be victorious in this lovely Arena of ours! Look at that ring of yours, Yukino-chan! Look again! That's the symbol of a warrior, and don't deny it! I care about the problems of this world, not Mickey's or anyone else! There's a difference, and a Duelist fights for their own dream!"

Teeth grit. 'Or bothering to know them'. That last part makes her heart skip a beat. Briefly, briefly, she feels she's alone. Not entirely, the Shepherds have given her family and Rinji and Pluto have done more than the same. But it's a low blow, and maybe Yukino knows it.

That hate hits her, but Kasagami stands tall. She grins as it hits her, and her sable cloak flutters as does her hair. Each bouncing chain is met with her shining sword, only for the girl to again and again leap backwards. To the edge of the Arena, to where she last saw Anthy.

"Anthy!" She holds her sword upon high, then bends upon one knee. She offers the Sword of Dios upon the altar that is Anth's body, and eyes the girl. Even her cloak is tossed from her back.

"Let's finish this. I shall take your body upon my blade!" She whispers, awaiting the Blessing of the Rose Bride, unafraid.

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

The Rose Bride tracks Yukino's inexpert progress across the Arena, cloaked as the duelist is in the fragile safety of all those Element-wrought reflections. She watches, and recalls the glint of white off of lenses covering eyes that avoided her own, and wonders.

She sees the summoned image of a dark woman with sad eyes, sees it do the job it was meant to do, and does not flinch as Kasagami howls her wrath. Neither does she show the faint disappointment she feels when Yukino apologizes for the only blow she's truly landed so far this duel.

Kasagami brings the violence of the Arena with her to its edge, and amongst the wicked edges of mirrors and swords the Bride seems soft indeed -- all delicate bare arms and whispering red silk, infinitely vulnerable. Gripped by the command of the One Engaged, the Rose Bride heeds the call for her blessing.

The Sword of Dios angles above her, and she twirls to face away from her Engaged as that black cloak flutters away and down. She bends like the greenest sapling, supple to the limits of ligaments and beyond. The drawn bow of her back, smooth and unquivering, betrays not a whisper of her muscles' screams.

Her body, an altar for this sacrament of blade and ambition.

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

It has the effect of Miki looking momentarily like he got slapped. His stopwatch hand growing a little lax.

His hand trembles a little - and Shizuru might believe he's growing angry. But Kasagami's scream that hatred of Yukino draws his eyes back to the arena. Back to Yukino. Gentle Yukino who always stayed long hours with him to do paperwork without complaint. Being criticized and reviled by the Engaged who took what he put on the line.

He can't stand that. Just like he can't stand what Shizuru is trying to do here.

"Do you really expect me to believe Kozue trusted you - or anybody?"

He says in a sotto voce. There is a certain amount of loathing in his eyes though as he looks upon the woman who tortured - and he thinks would have murdered his sister.

"I'm not a little kid who believes things like that anymore. And after what you did-"

His eyes look away from her to the arena.

"-there's noone on this council that would ever trust you again."

Yukino's apology is just like her in how she means it. He doesn't understand the dynamics going on here but he can't truly believe there's any malice in her. But then in retracting it - he finds his focus squarely on the arena. "Senpai..."

Even if Yukino is the one dueling. It feels like she's offering...

"...you supported me all along didn't you? I didn't know..."

And it takes no time for him to realize that Yukino is angry at Kasagami replacing Haruka's position.

There's a certain swell of solidarity there. Each of them disliking this Engaged for different reasons. Yukino believing it was unfair that he lost only for the one that replaced Haruka to win. A representation of everything wrong with these duels. This system. This school.

It's in that moment that he can say with a quiet fervor like a building song. "... you can do this. Don't let her beat you!"

The duel reaches its climax as the bride protects the blade... and all he can do is watch with bated breath.

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

Both hands hold the Sword of Dios aloft upon Anthy, letting her kiss the sword's flat side as Kasagami then draws it away. The length of the slightly overlong blade thrums with red, shining magic. Crimson envelopes the sword, and then after with only the vagues push to help Anthy to her feet, she strikes.

She can't see the Element of the girl she's fighting, but she does see their strikes. Dandelions creep into her vision, and Kasagami finally sees through the trick. Like a mirror to infinite light, the young woman lets out a snarl as her sword creeps along, exploding into infinite blade thanks to the blessing of the Rose Bride. Testing, and then striking at each vague point of light in the mirror, and shattering. Her boots screech, and they come to a standstill.

And then her sword falls. She seeks out a single rose in that moment of weakness as her blade is everywhere at once! Every single mote of reflected light, it finds form in one last strike to Yukino's rose, a weak and singular swipe that's seemingly without effort.

A neat, prepared strike to end a rose and claim her victory!

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

"You -- you're not listening," Yukino protests, but she's far too upset to be articulate and in any event, the rage that has tsunami'd through her is starting to give way to fear.

That's not unreasonable. As the blessing of the Rose Bride fills the Sword of Dios at Kasagami's command, she is faced with something she can't fight, not even fight in her own way, doing the best that she can with the meager strengths she has, as she has here today.

Maybe she knew that already, in that moment she could have won but didn't. Maybe that's why she's been backing off.

The girl that Kasagami unveils with her blade, ripping away those layers of invisibility -- in the end, she's the only one reflected in the mirrors, over and over and over.

Well. Almost the only one.

There's a second girl, too, a blonde in a green student council jacket. She marches up and down the hallways and the courtyards. She lectures people. She encourages them sometimes, too. She yells at Shizuru's passivity and Touga's flirtations and gets all her idioms wrong. She enforces the rules and tries desperately to bring order to a chaos she has no way of understanding, no way except through Yukino, who shadows her with sports drinks at the ready, and spicy curry buns on request, when a Red Bull will not be enough, but doesn't bring any answers.

She seems determined and loud and outsized in her every affect, as she sticks a finger in a girl's face and demands to know why they woke up in the middle of a crop circle burnt into the gardens, because how dare they, this is CIVILIZATION and they are RUINING it, ruining this place they've all worked so hard to make wonderful.

Really, she seems like someone Kasagami might have liked a great deal.

And she wears a white armband, the same as Yukino's.

The same as Yukino's was; it is shredded to bits too small to mend by the onslaught seeking her, seeking Kasagami's victory.

She watches it scatter to the sky at the same time as her cream rose petals do. She didn't watch as the many blonde girls faded from the mirrors, as they were lost to sight behind an infinity of blades and Dios' light. She couldn't see anything past her tears.

"Her name was Haruka Suzushiro," Yukino spits out. "And you never cared to know it. And now it's too late..."

Her fist clenches, as her Element fades away into light and Diana, all the while on the underside of the arena, fades too, into darkness.

Her tears well over and pour down her cheeks, and she turns away from the victor.

"I'm sorry, everyone," she whispers into the wind, and receives no answer but the rustling of her lost paperwork, torn from her arms yesterday, which blows straight into her face, slapping against her all over. Instinctively she grabs onto it. It's what she knows.

One page escapes her, winds up under Kasagami's boot.

'Graduation Seating Chart', it says.

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

Shizuru enjoys the silence that results, the little changes in Miki, the tremble. She waits for his reaction--and is rewarded with Yukino and Kasagami's growing drama, instead. Kasagami's recriminations echo, and Shizuru lets them go. ...These she focuses little on; she takes the opportunity to add something, with a low amusement.

"You don't really understand your sister," she points out. "Her feelings... Her desperation. Her perspective." She lets that hang on the air.

"...But you're welcome to believe what you like. After all, as you say..." She sighs, lightly, "You're not a little kid."

What sort of sigh was it? That is left for the interpreter. But it comes off terribly indulgent, the sigh of an adult condescending to the child. ...Just as he likely expects, now.

She does not seem to give the moment of the Sword's blessing--the Rose Bride's power--its proper gravitas, but this, too, is a smoke screen, an artifice, as surely as the mirrors below. ...Because she is watching with great interest the sort of power afforded here to Kasagami. ...What Yukino can do, against it, if anything. Her trickery has scored points so far, even if she did apologize. And yet...

THe moment passes, into another moment, and another. The girl in the mirrors is familiar to Shizuru. She knows her well, better than one would imagine. So many days spent watching her anger, sending her into little fits of it again and again.

Shizuru watches in silence. Her tea has finally grown cold. Her smiles are done, though there is no cloud of depression over her in this moment. ...No, she is neutral, as always. Except...

Shizuru lifts her cooled tea, and brings it to her lips, finally setting down her opera glasses. She keeps her own counsel, rather than saying anything more to Miki Kaoru.

...But she has an implied promise to keep all her own. A letter should do the trick.

She thinks on it, as she looks into the distance over the sound of bells.

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

Discarded again with a shrug of a shove by her Engaged, the Bride regains her balance and transmutes a stumble to a sedate rotation; she finds her place by the Arena's edge once more, a spot along the outer edge of the inscribed rose emblem that she knows by heart. Her skirt has not even finished its trailing spin by the time Kasagami looses her last strike at Yukino.

Who is unveiled, she and another, and then she is defeated; are those two things the same? Perhaps, perhaps... Only a luminary few are privy to what transpires atop the spiraling stair and beneath the castle in the sky. All of Ohtori and Southern Cross hears, though:

The sonorous proclamation of the tower bells that something momentous has occurred.

Severed cream petals seek the sky and sweep the floor, skating along where the surface is smooth and tumbling like blown feathers over the inelegant ruptures left by booted impact. One slides to a gradual rest at the smooth hem of the Rose Bride's voluminous gown where it skims the ground.

She looks at that stray scrap of fragmented flower and remembers troweling mulch into place above the seed that would become the bush it grew from, so many springs ago; she looks to the Sword of Dios and follows its miraculous edge to the young woman wielding it, who struck down the rose and the girl and all of her fine simmering hatred.

There are so many people here who despise Kasagami Araki.

That is something, at least. She is not one to feel kinship, this lonely thorny witch whose heart is so well hidden even she no longer knows it. But she can taste the hatred in the air, and it pleases her. The Rose Bride luxuriates in her own antipathy and sinks into the poisonous comfort she knows it to offer as she prepares herself to go home to the Araki Estate once more.

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

The protests, perhaps predictably, mean little to Kasagami. She simply keeps on coming in, even against the tempest of Yukino's rage! And as it ends in fear? The young woman only presses the advantage even further. After all, a good predator seeks prey. And prey are fearful.

White, perfect teeth emerge. Those layers are ripped away, and she eyes Yukino openly. The girl's backed off, perhaps smartly, but Kasagami doesn't hold back.

Reflections meet, and they end in a single glasses wearing girl. The cream-colored rose scatters, and Kasagami flips her hair to the side in one motion. Tears fall, and Element fades. She never sees Diana, but Kasagami knows victory. Her boot stamps down upon that seating chart, and she reflexively crunches it. Her hand lets the Sword of Dios fade back into it's rightful home, and soon enough she's at Anthy's side, taking her back to the Araki Estate. But never one to end quietly, she addresses her leaving opponent.

"You're right. I simply took the position I gained. But that's how power works, Yukino! If you don't take it for yourself, don't grab every piece of it for your own dream...well, then you can't change the world and make it into a place of your dreams!" She Shakes her head, and walks out.

"The only thing that matters is power!" She snarls out, before vanishing to the stairs of the Dueling Arena.

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

The last word, in the end, is Kasagami's.

Yukino is present, isn't ignoring her, and isn't able to summon a reply.

'Haruka would have,' she thinks, she knows.

She really is a failure in every conceivable way.

The last word in the arena is 'power'.