Chapter 6

The Dueling Arena

Night at the Dueling Arena.

Whether because of the dark clouds that had been gathering since evening, or because of some unnatural quality of the Dueling Arena itself, not a single star could be seen.

But something else glowing in the darkness more than made up for the lack of stars - the chandelier-like upside-down castle. It shone down on the arena, bathing it in light.

And in between the arena and the castle, another object glittered, too. A glass box - about long enough for a person...

"What's that?" Utena, the first one to climb to the arena, exclaimed when she saw it. "Is someone in there...?"

She could see a human-like shadow inside the glass.

"A coffin...?"

A long box that held a human body - that sounded like a coffin.

Utena strained her eyes, trying to confirm the contents, but at this distance she had no hope of telling who might be inside.


"Kozue!" Miki cried out from behind Utena.

       Kozue-chan? Utena still wasn't sure. To begin with, she could barely tell that there was a human-like shadow there at all.

But Miki seemed certain that it was Kozue in the coffin. He ran towards it past Utena. However, trying to reach a box floating in the air was quite a hopeless proposition. Miki slowed, then stopped when he was directly under it.


Just as Miki said, the one in the glass coffin was indeed Kozue. She wasn't moving. Or perhaps more likely, she couldn't move.

"Kozue, answer me! Kozue! Can you hear me?" he called up to her. There was no sign that she heard him.

"If you cherish her, you must duel." The words fell from his lips like a spell. "You must duel."

Miki drew his sword and slowly turned to Utena, who was approaching him from behind.

"Miki-kun, I don't want to duel you..." Utena was still reluctant. She'd decided to participate in the Dueling Game and protect Anthy... but she hadn't thought that she'd have to fight Miki.

While she hesitated, Anthy came up to her and pinned a white rose to her lapel.

"A small rose from within me... for you."

The white rose matched Utena's school uniform well. They almost seemed deliberately coordinated.

"A rose that flew here from the Ends of the World... for you."

As Anthy continued to recite, Utena's school uniform suddenly changed. Tassels appeared on her shoulders, and gold lace ran down her chest. The bottom of her coat gained white frills. It still looked essentially like Utena's uniform, but now gave a more gaudy impression, more in line with the Student Council's uniforms.

"Anthy... what is this?"

"The duel is a hallowed ceremony. You need to dress appropriately." The answer came from Touga.

Utena looked at Touga's special uniform.

"That's right," he continued. "The Student Council uniform is intended as dueling attire."

"What...?" Miki exclaimed. Although he'd been against the duels, he'd been walking around the school every day in an outfit designed for them. It was a bit of a shock. 

"Mickey, you may have believed otherwise, but the Student Council are not representatives of Ohtori's student body. The organization was not created to plan events. We are nothing more than a gathering of Duelists."

"That's absurd. I'm..."

"...a Duelist. Isn't that right, Mickey?" Touga looked significantly at the saber in Miki's hand. Indeed, Miki was standing in the Dueling Arena, holding a sword. In front of Utena, no less. If he wasn't a Duelist, what was he?

"Let's start the duel, Miki-kun."


"Yeah, just having a duel should be enough to satisfy Mr. 'Ends of the World,' right? So let's get it over with."

"Utena-san, I..."

"We have no choice. If we don't duel, they won't return Kozue-chan, right?"


"Nothing says we have to go all out, like some life-or-death thing. Whoever gets their rose knocked off loses, that's all. So..."

"Hold it, Tenjou Utena," someone cut in sharply. It was Touga. "If you don't fight with all your power, the girl won't be saved. The duel is a hallowed ceremony. If you don't take it seriously, 'The Ends of the World' won't consider it a proper duel."

"What? How are you so sure?"

"Did you arrange this after all, sempai?"

"No, I didn't."

"So how do you know?"

"...the duel is a hallowed ceremony," Anthy stated, as if delivering a prophecy. "It's as Kiryuu-sempai says. The duel will not accept deceit."

This time, nobody protested. Anthy sounded quite certain, and everyone, including Utena and Miki, understood that she was speaking the truth.

"Tenjou Utena, you want to meet your prince, don't you?" Touga whispered into her ear. "If you don't keep winning the duels, he'll never appear before you."

"What!?" Utena's countenance hardened.

"Your strength and nobility - to lose a duel is to lose those, too."

The prince's words echoed in Utena's memory: "If you don't lose your strength and nobility..."

       Will I really be able to meet him if I keep winning the duels? And Kiryuu Touga - why does he know those words, too? Is it because he's my prince? Or...

For his part, Miki looked once again at Kozue in the glass coffin. Of course, she couldn't say anything. But staring at her, Miki almost felt like they could communicate telepathically. They said that twins occasionally felt like they could sense each others' feelings. Perhaps that's what Miki was feeling now.

Silence fell over the Dueling Arena.

Finally reaching a decision, Miki spoke.

"Utena-san, let's start."


"You don't need to go easy on me. I'm tougher than I look."


"Utena-san, you're the one who should be careful. I'm going to give it my all."

Miki raised his saber.

The time for words had passed.

***   ***

"O, noble castle..."

As the words left Himemiya Anthy's lips, a small light flickered to life beneath her breast.

"Power of Dios that sleeps within me..."

The light within her chest grew brighter.

"Heed your master, and reveal..."

Slowly, it continued to grow. Before long, the light took the shape of some kind of rod.

       This is just like before, with Saionji. The Sword of Dios...

The rod - the hilt of the sword - glittered beckoningly at Utena. The blade of the sword was too dazzlingly bright to see, but it certainly looked as if it was growing from Anthy's breast.

       I don't get how this works at all, but...

Utena took the hilt.

       I'm pretty sure this was how it went...

Utena drew the sword out of Anthy's body.

"The power to revolutionize the world!"

As if in response to Utena's words, the light from the castle above sparkled on the Sword of Dios. The light gave off a feeling of overwhelming nobility, that somehow reminded Utena of her prince.

Holding the sword, Utena turned to face the young blue-haired boy standing before her - Kaoru Miki. His Rose Signet was on his finger, and his saber in his hand.

"Miki-kun, I didn't expect to have to duel you."

"Neither did I. But..." Miki's crystalline eyes were cloudy.

"Yeah, I get it. Here were are, standing in the Dueling Arena. We... don't have a lot of choice." Utena pointed her sword at Miki, as if inviting him to attack. "But this time won't be like the basketball game. I have my own reasons to win, you know."

"I understand. Now, here I come."

From his basic fencing stance, Miki suddenly lunged forward.

       He's fast!

In the nick of time, Utena managed fend off the attack. Seeing this, Miki gave a satisfied smile. Both at the fact that he wouldn't need to go easy on her, and because he had managed to surprise her.

He continued to launch attacks, in rapid succession. He aimed for her left foot, forcing Utena to lower her sword. But the attack never came - it was a feint. The sword's direction changed in mid-strike, towards Utena's chest.

Twisting her upper body, Utena escaped Miki's sword by the skin of her teeth. That left her off-balance, and she fell back heavily.

Utena vs Miki

"You're pretty good, Miki-kun." Now that she'd secured a little distance, Utena finally had time to speak. As it happened, they were the same words she'd said during the basketball game.

"Well, I have my own reasons to win," Miki said, looking resolute. It was the face of a man fighting for something important to him.

Above him, the glass coffin quietly watched over the fight.

The duel had only just begun...

***   ***

When Miki and Kozue were little, their parents bought them a piano. It was a white grand piano - a little big for a child. The young siblings sat down to play together on the tall, wide bench. They had to claw their way up onto it to sit down.

"Okay, let's go!" Kozue said.

"Mmmhmm!" Miki nodded.


They played the first note - a high "re." Before the day was over, Miki had learned two songs, and they enjoyed playing piano together.

The first time they'd went in a pool, they'd done it together. Just like their first phone call, their first time in an art room, and their first chess game.

But fencing was different. Miki had started that by himself. Everyone was surprised when they heard that the quiet, docile Miki had taken up a so-called combative sport like that. But as long as he didn't give up the piano, and always wore protective equipment, the adults in his life allowed it.

Kozue hadn't said anything about it. She'd had a fight with Miki for about two days, but afterwards started dropping in on Miki's practices and cheering for him in his matches, as if nothing had happened.

Maybe Miki had been trying to establish an identity as his own man by taking up fencing. Maybe that's why he'd chosen such a "barbaric," sword-wielding sport.

The fencing sword was surprisingly hard. Seeing how it bent when swung through the air, he'd sort of expected it to be softer, like a flag. But the steel saber was as solid and piercing as wood or ice.

Thus, as soon as he started fencing, Miki started coming home with bruises, making Kozue worry. Maybe they were the result of Juri's strict style of instruction. More and more, she had started taking over his training personally, to an unprecedented degree. She probably saw a natural genius in him.

Nor was she wrong. Even counting the club members in high school, only Miki had skill approaching Juri's.

And now, his sword was aimed at Utena.

There was no chink in Miki's Juri-trained defenses. Blocking off any opportunities for Utena to attack with calculated movements, Miki slowly forced her towards the edge of the arena.

       Kozue... I'll save you, right now.

He brought up his sword, aiming to the upper right. Utena leapt back to avoid it.

But that was what Miki had been counting on. His goal had never been the rose on Utena's chest - he'd just wanted to force her back.

       Hang on, Kozue. I just need to go after Utena-san a little more...

       Utena, I liked you. When we were together, I felt drawn to you.

       I didn't... I didn't want to duel you. But I'll make sure I win.

Brandishing his sword, Miki gradually pressured Utena. Just a few more steps until she was at the edge of the arena.

Victory was in sight.

***   ***

A duel.

This was only Utena's second one, and Miki's first.

The Rose Bride, Himemiya Anthy, quietly watched their fight. Whoever won would have the right to do with her as they wished, but to look at her, she considered that to be someone else's problem. The tears she'd displayed during the last duel were a distant memory.

"Anthy, who do you want to win?" Touga asked her, not taking his eyes off the duel.

"I am the Rose Bride," Anthy calmly answered. She didn't look at him, either. "By the rules of the Rose Signet, I obey the victor."

She was as expressionless as always. Touga smiled slightly in response.

***   ***

Utena was forced on the defensive against Miki's sword. It was sharp indeed. He may have lacked Saionji's raw strength, but he still pushed Utena back with his precise movements.

       It's just like that basketball game. He's treating this like a chess problem, trying to find the best path to victory...

She understood that she was being pushed up against the edge of the arena. But if she tried to slip away to the left or the right, Miki was there to stop her.

       Man, he's tough. He's a totally different type than Saionji...

Barely avoiding Miki's blade, Utena kept looking for an opening to escape to the side. She caught a fleeting glimpse of Togua, out of the corner of her eye.

       He said that if I don't keep dueling, I won't be able to meet my Prince. I wonder how much he knows...?

In the moment that Utena glanced at Touga, Miki's sword slipped past Utena's, honing on on her rose.


Utena desperately dodged backwards to avoid the blade. But although she might have saved her rose, she found herself tumbling backwards.


Miki descended upon the fallen Utena.

Utena barely brought up the Sword of Dios to meet Miki's saber. But, able to bring his weight to bear, Miki began pushing it back.

Past the locked blades, Utena could see Miki's face. His forehead was damp with sweat, and his eyes locked on the rose on Utena's chest. Perhaps it was the only thing on his mind... or perhaps he was just trying to avoid meeting Utena's eyes.

Beyond his shoulders floated the upside-down castle.

       Touga said that the one engaged to the Rose Bride, who continues to win the duels, will ascend to the castle. And that if I lose, I won't be able to meet my prince.

Miki's sword and the Sword of Dios scraped against each other, creating an unpleasant noise.

       Does that mean that my prince is in the upside-down castle? Or...

       If I don't win, I won't be able to meet him.

       I won't be able to meet my prince.

       I won't meet him.

       I won't meet him.

       I won't meet him.


       I will meet him. One more time... so...

"...won't lose." Utena choked out. "I won't lose!"

In that instant, the mysterious figure of a young man descended from the castle in the sky. He was a beautiful youth with an untarnished air about him. Somehow, he resembled Anthy...

The youth descended directly towards Utena, seeming to melt into her body.

       This smell... it's just like back then. The smell of my prince...

It was the scent of roses. The same scent that had enveloped her during her first duel, with Saionji. The scent of the prince who had saved Utena as a child.

"I won't lose!"

Utena raised her right foot to press against Miki's waist.

"There's no way I'll lose!"

With a kick, Utena knocked Miki back. He went tumbling towards the center of the Dueling Arena. He scrambled back to his feet, bringing his saber in a fighting stance.

But Utena had righted herself faster, and was already bearing down on him.

       She's fast!

The Sword of Dios struck out.

Miki's chest was defenseless.

A cut.

And his rose scattered.

Somewhere, bells began to ring. There were a lot of them, judging by the volume.

Utena had won.

Crestfallen, Miki dropped to his knees.

At the same time, the image of the young man left Utena, and rose back towards the castle. The light of the chandelier-like castle winked on and off, as if welcoming their master home. Utena raised her head to see.

"Miki-kun, look!"

Miki looked up in response to Utena's call. The glass coffin floating in the middle of the air was slowly descending.


His arms flung wide open, Miki ran to meet her. Inside the coffin, Kozue still seemed to be unconscious.

When the glass coffin was a few meters above the ground, it suddenly vanished. Gravity took hold of Kozue, and she hurtled downwards.



Miki threw his whole body into trying to catch Kozue. But he wasn't able to stop her entirely, and they went crashing to the ground together.

"Huh...? Miki...?"

Above Miki, Kozue opened her eyes. For a moment, she felt like she'd just woken from a dream. She took in her surroundings, and was surprised to notice Utena and Touga.

"Wh, where am I? What just..."

"Kozue, are you alright? Are you hurt?"

"I was crying in the music room... and..." Kozue hesitated. "No... I don't remember anything..."


"I don't understand what's happening. Somebody tell me!"


"I know I don't know anything! I don't understand anything..." Kozue began to cry in Miki's arms.

"It's okay now. It's okay, Kozue." Miki tenderly held her head.

Utena watched them, relieved. Her smile held a touch of jealousy for their close sibling relationship.

However, Touga and Anthy just looked down at them, expressionless.



Cover & Translation Notes
Chapter 1 * Chapter 2 * Chapter 3 * Chapter 4 * Chapter 5 * Chapter 6



Translated by Dallbun, coded by Giovanna, and hosted on Empty Movement.