You know what? I hate html.I wish I was doing almost anything else.Like getting laid. I could be having sex right now, but noooo.I watched Utena lose her virginity again this weekend.That scene is so hot.The fine line between obsession and madness is... what was I saying?GIRL ON GIRL ACTION!!!I want that outfit. I like red and black. What a surprise.This layout took forever to get just right. But that was because I took so many breaks.I never ate glue in kindergarten. Hard to tell, huh?Gio keeps talking about food. What a bitch.LEGS.See, I'm being productive. Now if only I could do this at work, where productive is just a dream...GODDAMMIT STOP TALKING ABOUT FOODYou know, those are the only important things in life. Food, sex, and sleep.Everything else is just window dressing.I have to clean my house still. That sucks.I hate cleaning. I should buy maids.I want to go to a museum, but I don't want to get out of my jammies.I suck at being energetic.Funny, you don't look Druish.


Way of the Rose

Jorge Quinones

Chapter 6

Utena took a long look around at what her mind could only describe as a white room. To simply call it a white room, however, would be an understatement. There were no corners, no walls, and no boundaries of any kind, that she could see. The infinite expanse was somehow illuminated, yet there were no visible sources of light, nor were there any shadows cast.

That came as a surprise to Utena, as she lifted one foot, then the other, looking for her shadow. It was then that she noticed what she was wearing.
In place of her usual traveling attire and duster she now sported a boyish looking uniform composed of a long-sleeved white top with red trimming, black shorts, calf-high black socks, with red and white dress shoes. Utena glanced at her left hand with a growing sense of both shock and wonder. The rose-shaped mark that had adored the back of her left hand her whole life was gone. Upon the ring finger of the same hand there now rested a ring made of white gold and adorned with rubies arranged in the shape of a mosaic rose. Her mind finally cleared enough to form three simple words.

"Where... am... I?"

"The Ends of the Earth."

Utena spun towards the voice, her hand instinctually reaching for a sword that wasn't there. Her body stopped mid-motion as her eyes came to rest upon the source of the voice. Before her stood the woman of her dreams, resplendent in her elegant white gown with its red trimming, her flowing lavender hair, and her soft olive-toned skin. Her turquoise eyes shined with a smile that echoed on her lips.

"The Ends of the Earth?" Utena asked as she relaxed her defense stance.

The woman only smiled an expression that was both sympathetic and loving.

"Who are you?" Utena tried again as she slowly approached the woman.

"Welcome home, Miss Utena..." the woman's soft voiced grew distant as she was engulfed in darkness.

"DON'T LEAVE!" Utena shouted as she shot up in bed, her body soaked with sweat, her breath coming in ragged gasps.

Utena took deep, slow breaths to calm her racing heart. She looked around the room, re-acquainting herself with her surroundings. Her saddlebags and sword lay upon the chair where she had dropped them the night before. Her duster lay in a heap on the floor, as did her boots. A soft snoring drew her attention to the corner of the bed where Chu-Chu lay soundly asleep. Utena giggled in spite of herself as she reached over and pulled a small portion of the blanket up to cover Chu-Chu.

"Sleep tight, little buddy," she whispered as she got up, "I'm going to go stretch out..." Utena grabbed her boots, duster, gloves and sword as she silently padded out of the room, making sure not to wake the sleeping desert mouse. Buttoning up her duster to protect against the chill of the morning, Utena walked up the path leading from the Rose's Thorn. She remembered having seen a building very similar to the training hall of her youth the night before. "If it is a training hall," Utena thought to herself, "then maybe I can get a workout in before breakfast..." She approached the building, noting with a smile that a light was visible within. "Well... it looks like someone's home..."


The unmistakable clanging of swords meeting rung out into the cool morning air...


The sounds of shoes squeaking upon a training mat... the sounds of ducking, dodging, and lunging...


Utena listened more and more intently as she approached the training hall.

"Sounds like someone's already training...."


A grin spread across Utena's lips. "No... sounds like someone's having a one-sided training session..."

Chapter 7


All the dozen or so of the fencers-in-training stood around the main training mat, all of them dressed in padded fencing attire. Each leaned heavily on his or her fellow trainee, their breathing made a chore by the sheer exhaustion each was feeling. Their teacher stood at the center of the training mat, her orange hair spilling messily over her shoulders and down her back. Her dark-green eyes coolly evaluated her trainees from behind her fencing mask. Lady Juri Arisugawa pulled off her mask and set it on her hip, a small grin forming on her lips.

"Come now," she catcalled to her students, "surely some of you have been practicing while I was away?"

As one, all of her students loosed a heavy sigh and resigned themselves to rest on the floor. Juri couldn't help but laugh a hearty yet feminine laugh. It was a laugh of genuine amusement.

"Fine, fine," she said as she regained her composure, "everyone hit the showers. We resume tomorrow morning. I at least hope that some of you have taken something away from this morning's lesson. If any of you wish to stay for another lesson, speak now..."

"Yes, I'd love a lesson..." The sole reply came from somewhere by the main door. Juri narrowed her eyes at the raised hand that poked out above the sea of students. In total silence, the students parted, giving the pink-haired girl unhindered passage to the training mat.

Utena walked calmly towards the mat, her sword high above her head as she stretched out her back. She brought her arms to her sides and slowly turned her head to one side. An extremely audible pop echoed in the training hall. Utena turned her head in the other direction, an equally echoing pop filling the training hall once more. All the while she was being measured up by the eyes of the master swordswoman that stood awaiting her.

"And who might you be?" Juri asked, already reaching for another practice fencing foil.

"My name's Utena. Utena Tenjou," she said with a polite bow.

Juri smiled at the show of respect. With polite nod of her head, she responded, "I am Lady Juri Arisugawa."

Utena returned the smile, "Well, Lady Arisugawa, how about that lesson?"

Juri tossed Utena the fencing foil, handing her mask off to a student. "No boots on my training mat, and do take off that coat, if you please..." she said as she undid the neck of her two-piece fencing attire. A gold chain dangled from her neck, a rose-shaped locket being the only adornment gracing it.

With a shrug of her shoulders, Utena let her duster and right glove fall to the floor, kicking off her boots as well. With great care, she placed her sword upon her duster, giving everyone surrounding her a warning look.

Thankfully, Utena surmised from their reactions, none would be foolish enough to disturb her sword. She stepped upon the mat and held the foil in her left hand, letting her arm get re-accustomed to the weight and feel of the training weapon. Her black short-sleeved shirt hung comfortably from her lean frame, as did the faded woodland-green traveling pants she wore. Her gloved hand tightened around the grip as she brought the training weapon up for a sharp salute.

Juri grinned, impressed by Utena's formal stance and salute. "You are ready, then?"

Utena returned the grin, "Ready as I'll ever be. Yourself?"

"We'll see, won't we?" Juri eased into a relaxed stance, her foil held at the ready. "En guarde!"

As one, the two duelists lunged at each other, each almost caught off guard by the other's speed. The students surrounding the mat visibly flinched when Juri and Utena's foils met with a reverberating clang. Juri looked down at the crossed foils. She cracked a smile at Utena's audacity. Utena had made her take the defensive stance.

"Not bad, Miss Tenjou."

"Please, call me Utena."

"As you wish, Utena..." With a grunt, Juri pushed Utena back as she went on the offensive.

Blow after carefully calculated blow was deflected, though Utena found herself losing ground fast. The more she tried to find a gap in Juri's offense, the more she was pushed back. With a well-placed parry, Utena was able to reverse the tide of battle. To their horror, the students saw Utena begin her offensive; a rather surprised Juri quickly losing the ground she had gained. Once again, Utena and Juri found themselves in the center of the mat, their foils crossed.

"Not bad, milady," Utena offered with a sly grin.

Juri's flirty wink caught Utena off-guard. The distraction proved to be Utena's undoing. With a well-timed maneuver, Juri disarmed Utena, sending her foil flying into their audience. Utena felt a slight pressure on her chest. She couldn't help but smile as she looked down to find the tip of Juri's foil tapping over her heart. Utena chuckled as the students erupted into cheers and clapping, each voicing their congratulations to their teacher.

Utena shrugged her shoulders. "Two out of three?" she asked, her eyebrow arched in anticipation.

"Two out of three," Juri answered as she lowered her sword and signaled for Utena to be brought another fencing foil.

Utena rolled her shoulders as she relaxed her stance. With a quick, sharp movement, she brought her fencing foil up in salute. With a mischievous grin, Utena offered Juri a wink of her own as she brought the sword down and settled into her dueling stance.

Juri could only smile back as she assumed her dueling stance. "En guarde!"

The duelists paced around the training mat, sizing each other up. Juri jabbed experimentally, a move easily countered by Utena. Utena returned the favor with a jab of her own. The students in the training hall held their collective breaths, waiting for the master duelists to make their moves.

"So, whatcha waiting for?" Utena asked as she backpedaled, changing her stance slightly.

"I could ask you the same thing, you know." Juri also altered her stance to match Utena's.

Without warning, Juri launched her offensive. Utena easily blocked jab after jab. Much to Juri's surprise, and to the student's horror, Utena began to laugh. It wasn't a mocking laugh, Juri realized, but the sound of Utena thoroughly enjoying herself. With a graceful parry, Utena turned Juri's offensive around. Utena's laughed proved contagious, as Juri found herself laughing as well, even though she was on the receiving end of Utena's barrage.

"You seem to be having fun, Utena."

"Well, the same could be said of you, milady. May I offer a bit of advice?'

"And what advice would that be?"

Utena's grin matched the smile in her eyes. "Don't blink..."

The students let out a collective gasp, as Utena attacks seem to blur together. Juri's mind raced to keep track of the incoming attacks as her body struggled to counter each as it came. As unexpected as the sudden surge of speed was, even more unexpected was Utena freezing in offensive stance. Juri looked down to see the tip of Utena's foil over heart. At one point in her onslaught, Utena had managed to sneak past Juri's defense. To her surprise, Juri could discern neither how, nor when, it had happened.

"That makes us even, doesn't it?" Juri asked as she to a step back, grinning at the unexpected challenge that Utena was presenting.

"Yes, I do believe it does." Utena stood up from her offensive stance and casually rested the foil against her shoulder.

"Well, care for something a bit different for our final bout?"

"What would that be, milady?"

Juri offered Utena a sly grin as she whispered something to one of her students. She placed her foil at the edge of the training mat and recovered a black ribbon. With a little bit of flourish, Juri tied her wild mane of orange into a simple ponytail, the ribbon even with her neck. Following suit, Utena left her foil at her end of the training mat. When she turned back, she saw Juri looking over her sword, the keen metal glinting in the light of the lights high overhead.

The hand-and-a-half sword was simple, yet elegant, in its design. The lean, double-edged blade came to a bronze crescent-shaped cross-guard, resplendent in etched relief of twin dragons facing inward. The handle of wrapped leather culminated in a bronze endcap. It was a versatile and deadly weapon, in the hands of a proper master.

With an acknowledging nod, Utena motioned for her sword to be brought to her. The young duelist-in-training was quaking in his boots as he brought Utena her sword. She grasped the handle with her left hand, and with a fluid motion, Utena drew her sword from its scabbard. The clear note sung as she brought her blade parallel with the ground, the fingertips or her right hand hovering barely an inch below the tip of the blade.

"So, what are the rules, milady?" Utena asked as she made a few slashes at a non-existing opponent.

"Simple... neither to the death nor first blood... first one to give up loses... fair enough?"

Utena's answer was an anticipatory half-grin as she took her place on the mat, bringing her weapon up in salute. To her surprise, Juri removed the padded chest piece of her fencing attire as she approached the mat. Her opponent took her place, her bright orange hair swaying against her back. The two-piece fencing garment, now devoid of protective padding, shifted as Juri's defined muscular shape moved within it.

Juri brought her sword up in an answering salute. "After you, Utena..." Utena smiled. "Thank you for the honor... En guarde!"

The unmistakable clang of swords meeting echoed within the walls of the training hall. Juri and Utena concentrated on each other from opposite sides of crossed blades. Both knew that neither would give quarter, and neither would request it. With a push, Juri forced some distance between herself and Utena. There was something new in the way Utena had met her first offensive maneuver. As she began circling the mat with Utena, Juri realized what it was. The raw determination that one felt on the field of honor.

Yes, that was it. Utena was simply emanating that determination. Juri knew that she, herself, was also exuding a sense of resolve that was simply not found during training. They were both treating this as fully-fledged duel.

"And why shouldn't we?" Juri thought to herself. "This is as much a duel as any I've ever had... but we are going to duel on my terms, aren't we my dear?" Juri allowed herself a small smile as she again forced Utena back to allow herself some space.

"Any particular reasons for smiling, milady?" Utena asked between carefully controlled breaths.

"Oh no, none at all..." Juri answered, adjusting her stance for her next maneuver. "Tell me, does it seem warm here to you?"


In the blink of an eye, Juri had lunged forward and was now behind Utena, her sword held with its point down. Utena smiled as she felt the bottom half of her shirt fall off her body.

"Two can play at this game," Utena thought to herself as she turned to face Juri.

With a fluid motion, Juri turned around to face Utena, her body automatically moving into a defensive stance. She never had a chance to fully realize the stance. Juri felt a tug at her left sleeve, and looking up at Utena, saw her grinning broadly, sword resting on her shoulder. She already knew what had happened. With a sweeping bow, she let her left sleeve come sliding off her arm.

"Figured I'd return the favor." Utena said with a shrug of her shoulders.

Juri couldn't help but grin at her opponent.

Almost as if answering some unheard signal, both opponents launched at each other. The students encircling them visibly flinched with each blow that sounded. The combatants were using maneuvers, attacks, and defenses that most of the students had only ever heard about. More pieces of cloth found their way to the training mat with each blade's flash.

To her horror, Utena found herself completely devoid of her shirt. The simple black bra that she wore offered scant comfort as she imagined what the male students around her were thinking. "NO!" she scolded herself. "Keep your mind on Juri..." Utena looked at her opponent, a smug look adorning her face. Utena took stock of the damage she had visited upon her opponent's attire: both sleeves and one of her trousers' legs were missing.

"Okay... let's even the odds."

With a fierce battle cry, Utena charged. To the students' surprise, Juri charged with a war cry of her own. At the last minute, Utena crouched mid-charge and leapt over Juri, the distinctive swish of a well-placed slash sounding. Juri paused in her fully extended stance. As she rose, she felt the remainder of her shirt slip off her body. She turned to face Utena, her head held proudly high.

"Do you normally wear pink, milady" Utena chided with a good-natured smile as she eyed Juri's rather ornate pink bra, the golden speckle of her locket peeking out from her cleavage.

"Not usually. Do you?" Juri asked, a smile of her own giving Utena pause to consider her words.

With a visible gulp, Utena looked down. Her fear was confirmed as she saw her pants in a bundle at her feet. The buttons that had been holding them up had been expertly snipped off. Her rather ornate pink panties seemed to glow under the hall's numerous lights.

"Give?" Juri asked as she rested her blade on her shoulder, very much imitating the stance that Utena had adopted earlier.

Utena kicked aside her pants and brought her sword up to her right cheek, it's point aimed at Juri's fencing trousers. "Not quite yet..."

Juri effectively parried every slash meant for her trousers' buttons and ties. She caught Utena off balance with one particularly overextended thrust, causing Utena to spin away from her. With a slight push, she opened up the distance between them.

"Now, now, Utena, to lose your focus is to lose all." Juri sensed that Utena had begun to rely more on her fighting instinct rather than her true skill. She was proving too good of an opponent to let the challenge slip away in such a manner.

"And to lose your buttons," Utena countered, ducking low and spinning, "is to lose your trousers..." The unmistakable sound of buttons bouncing off the marble floor of the training hall echoed in the stunned silence.

Juri closed her eyes as she felt her trousers, now devoid of their buttons, slide off her hips. "She tricked me," Juri thought to herself with a mental smile, "she led me to believe she was losing her concentration... she was waiting for me to lower my guard just that much... oh, but she is clever, this one..." She turned to address her open-mouthed students. "To answer all of your, no doubt, questions... yes. I always wear thongs." Her brilliant smile seemed to soften the edge in her voice, releasing the tension that had thickly hung in the hall. "And no... I usually match." Juri tugged at the waistband of her purple undergarments. She turned back to face a grinning Utena.


Juri laughed at the audacity of Utena's question. "My dear Utena, there is only one way for this duel to end."

"And how is that, milady?"

"Simple..." As Juri reversed her grip and began her upswing, Utena knew she'd been had. She had let her guard down just enough for Juri to press her advantage.

Utena brought her sword up to attempt to block Juri's slash. She was too late. Juri stood tall and proud, dazzling green eyes intently studying Utena. Her right fist was motionless next to her cheek. Held securely within its grasp was the sword's grip, the blade facing up and away from Juri.

Utena felt something on her chest give. With a surprised squawk, Utena dropped her sword and grabbed the now-parted halves of her bra. As the sword clanked upon the floor, the students erupted into cheers. Backs were patted, money exchanged hands, and a chorus of 'I told you so' echoed within the walls of the training hall.

Still clutching her cloven bra, Utena brought herself up to her full height. She bowed deeply, much to everyone's surprise. "Thank you very much for the lesson, Lady Arisugawa."

As she rose, Juri snapped her sword up for a sharp salute. Holding the salute, she offered a bow of her own. "Thank you very much for the lesson, Miss Utena. Tell me, where are you staying?" A rather attractive purple-haired girl brought Juri a flowing cloak that reached down to her ankles. A golden brooch in the form of an ornate rose adorned its neck.

"At the Rose's Thorn, milady." A nearby student blushed fiercely as she handed Utena her duster. With care, Utena slipped on the old leather garment, fastening it completely up.

With a polite nod, Juri turned and began to walk off the mat. "Have a good day, Miss Utena."

"Thank you. You, too, milady." Utena said as she began collecting up the pieces of fabric and buttons that had once been her clothes. With a lop-sided grin, Utena turned to the few remaining students in the hall.

"Anyone know a good seamstress?"

A pair of wide blue eyes watched Utena as the crowd around her burst into good-natured laughter. "Amazing..."

Chapter 8

Lord Akio Ohtori massaged his temples, his attempts to clear his tumultuous thoughts doing nothing for his headache. He stared down the length of the massive table that occupied the Hall of the Duelists. With a weary sigh, he lifted himself up from the table. As he stood, he depressed a button hidden on the armrest of his chair. As if responding to an unheard command, the lone candle went out as the enormous table suddenly jerked upwards, before beginning its descent in to the inky sea of the tiled marble floor. The grinding of gears whispered at the edge of Lord Akio's hearing. A click echoed off the walls of the Hall of the Duelists as the table finally settled half a foot below the level of the floor. The table slid horizontally away from where Akio still stood to reveal a set of stairs leading down into the deep dark.

Akio straightened his uniform with a sharp tug and took his first step into shadow. His path illuminated as a small candelabrum on the wall to his right flashed into existence when the sole of his shoe made contact with the marbled step. With every other step he made further down the pathway, another candelabrum would ignite of its own accord, just barely keeping the path directly ahead of him lit. Akio made his way down the steps, the silence of the pathway being disturbed only by the sounds of his heels striking the floor.

Sensing the end of the stairway, Lord Akio slowed his descent. As if on cue, two candelabrums directly in front of him flared to life, banishing the encroaching darkness. The candelabrums flanked a massive door, the entirety of which was covered with a tangle of roses, their thorns glinting in the flickering candlelight. The ornately carved golden handleset, bereft of the thorny ivy that covered the door, stood out like a beacon amid a dark sea. Akio stopped an arm's length from the door, his steel-gray eyes focused on the handleset. With the silent grace of ritual, he removed the dress coat of his uniform and hung it on a coat hook that shone at the edge of luminescence. The cufflink on his right sleeve came off soon afterwards; the sleeve of the silken shirt was rolled up by deft fingers to bare a lean and finely muscled forearm. The countless scars that marred the olive-toned skin glowed white beneath the candlelight.

Eyes closed, breath held, Lord Akio Ohtori reached for the handleset. The thorny ivy that covered the door exploded in a blur of movement. With a piercing grip, the thorns encircled the entirety of Akio's forearm, completely immobilizing his arm and halting his hand just as his fingertips barely caressed the handleset. Blood wept from both new wounds and old scars reopened. Akio calmly regarded his arm, his eyes taking in the sight of the rose thorns, bathed in his own blood, as they glistened in the candlelight. He looked up at the door. The steel-gray of his gaze locked onto the rose seal that had been uncovered with the shifting of the rose thorns.

"I, Akio Ohtori, Lord of the Ends of the Earth, bid entrance to the Sanctuary of the Rose." The challenge was given with practiced ease.

In silence punctuated only by the sound of blood dripping to the stone floor, the thorny ivy of the guardian roses slowly uncoiled from around Akio's forearm. They receded to the far sides of the entrance to expose the massive door. The handleset depressed of its own accord, and the door swung open to admit Akio.

The chamber within glowed and ethereal blue, the inner walls basked in soft hues. At the center of the circular room there stood a tall domed structure similar to a birdcage in appearance. The support structure of the cage was of highly polished silver wrought in intricate patterns designed to emulate rose blossoms and petals. The silver cage overlay a glass dome, the fluid sealed within being the source of the soft blue light.

At the geometric center of the birdcage floated a young girl. Her iridescent white dress flowed around her in gentle patterns, the fair skin of her arms and feet glowed with a life and fire of their own. The maiden floated in a curled position, her knees close to her body, her calves nearly touching the back of her thighs, her delicate arms wrapped loosely around her legs, her face close to her knees. The gently swaying mass of deepest violet that was her hair alternated between allowing full view of her person and completely obscuring her from view. On her forehead, just above her brow, was a simple red marking. The circle and teardrop shapes combined to resemble the silhouette of a keyhole. The blood-red of the symbol stood in stark contrast to her fair, almost pale, pink skin.

Akio Ohtori entered the sanctuary, his steps precise and his pace brisk. He stopped a foot away from the massive birdcage; a mirthless smile played across his lips as he observed the slumbering you lady within. Possessive eyes traced every contour and detail of her form. Akio's steady breathing played counter-point to the rhythmic splashing of blood dripping from his injured arm to the dark stone floor.

"Soon," Akio intoned as he reached up with his bloodied arm and pressed his hand, fingers spread, onto the glass. Warmth emanated from within the seemingly cold dome. "Soon you will awaken, and your power will be mine once again... a bride surrounded by roses..."

Akio threw back his head and laughed, the malevolent sound echoing off the black stone walls of the perfectly circular room. He gently passed his hand along the glass with all the tenderness of a lover's caress. In its wake, his hand left a long bloody smear. Backlit by the inner light of the dome, the blood glowed with its own ethereal hues as it slowly began dripping down the glass.

To Be Continued...