Chapter 6

The Dueling Arena Forest

At the same moment, Utena was looking at a rather unusual object sitting on her desk. It was a cute barrette, in the shape of a leaf. Obviously, it wasn't hers.

"Hey, Anthy. Is this yours?"

Anthy looked over from where she was playing with Chu-Chu by the side of the bed.

"Look. This hairclip on the desk. Anthy, did you bring it?"

"Oh, that? Yes, Saionji-sempai gave it to me two days ago."

       This is from... Saionji...?

Utena tried to imagine the expression he had while buying something this cute. The thought of it made her laugh.

"Man, that guy just won't give up. I guess he's really into you, huh?" she asked, with a  gentle smile.

Originally, Utena had hated Saionji's efforts to woo Anthy, but she was starting to come around. Maybe he also didn't just see her as the Rose Bride – maybe he thought of her as an actual girl, after all.

       When you think about it, you've gotta feel sorry for him. For the girl he likes to be the Rose Bride, of all things...

She glanced over at Anthy. But Anthy wasn't showing any strong emotion – she was just playing with Chu-Chu as usual.

"So, this hair clip. Have you tried it on?"

"Yes, this evening. But..."


"I'll stop if you tell me to, of course."

"No, I wouldn't tell you to do that," Utena said, flustered. "I don't wanna give you orders. And I mean, this was a present from Saionji, right?"

As she spoke, she opened their western-style dresser. It was already close to midnight, but Utena had just gotten back home. She was still in her school uniform.

After Wakaba had turned her down in the classroom, Utena had gone into town alone. She didn't really have anywhere in particular to be. She'd just wanted to walk while thinking some stuff over. She didn't even think about where she was going. She'd ended up losing track of time, and it was almost 11 o'clock by the time she returned.

"Huh?" Utena asked in confusion, as she was putting away her clothes. "Isn't one of my uniforms missing?"

Utena had her uniforms specially ordered. Since she moved around a lot, and her uniforms often tore or got dirty, she kept three sets on hand. But now...

       I'm sure there were two of them were here this morning...

There was only one uniform left in the dresser. Counting the one she was still wearing, that made two, total.

"Hey, Anthy. Do you know what happened to my..." Utena began to ask. She was interrupted by the doorbell ringing.

"Geez, who's here at this hour?" Utena turned to Anthy, but she simply tilted her head slightly. "Well, if they're ringing the doorbell, I guess it's not a thief or anything."

Refastening the uniform that she'd been about to take off, Utena left the room. Anthy followed after her, Chu-Chu riding on her shoulder.

The front door was at the bottom of the main staircase, a little ways from Utena's room.

       At times like this, it's pretty annoying that we're the only ones living in this building... Back in the South Dorm, they'd taken turns being on call to meet visitors at the door.

Then again, the East Hall received very few visitors. Even during the day it was hard even to spot the doorbell under all the ivy. At night, forget about it.

So Utena had no idea who could be at the front door. Hardly anybody came there in the first place. Not including herself and Anthy, she could count the number of people she'd seen there on one hand.

       Who is it? Could it be that Touga guy...? Utena sort of jogged down the stairs to the front door, and opened it.

But the visitor wasn't Touga.

"Miki-kun... and Arisugawa-sempai!" Miki and Juri stood there. Perhaps they had ran; they seemed to be breathing heavily.

"Why are you here at this time of night? Has there been an accident or..."

"Utena-san, we're the ones who should be asking you. What are you doing here right now?" Miki shot back.

"Uh, I live here...?"

"That's not we mean," Juri said, flatly. "Miki and I just caught sight of you in the Dueling Arena Forest."

"The Dueling Arena Forest? What are you talking about? I've been here at the East Hall for a while now. Right, Anthy?"

"Yes. Utena-sama has been here with me," Anthy responded, as Utena looked to her for support.

"See? What do you say to that?"

"But I thought you were the only one who wears that uniform."


The uniform that had disappeared from her dresser.

Someone wearing that same uniform.

Suddenly it clicked it Utena's mind.

"Miki-kun. Can you show me exactly where you caught sight of this person?"

***   ***

A little earlier.

Wakaba stood before the fountain in the Dueling Arena Forest. As the message had instructed, she was dressed in Utena's uniform, and wearing a wig modeled after her hair.

       Utena must know something about all this after all... Wakaba thought.

She felt uncomfortable; Utena's clothes were a little big on her.

       Is wearing these clothes going to let me learn some secret? Like, there's something that someone would only tell to Utena, or something...?

       Whatever it is, Utena is already caught up in it. With this Rose Bride stuff... with Anthy....

       Ohtori Academy, the Student Council, and Himemiya Anthy... I don't know much about them, but I do know they're super suspicious.

       Why did Saionji-sama tell me not to get involved with the Rose Bride? What is she... what is Anthy...?

The wind was cold. Utena's uniform covered more skin than her usual school clothes, but even so, it was getting towards midnight, and Wakaba was chilled.

       I didn't know there was a place like this in the middle of the forest. Wakaba looked up at the fountain, which was bathed in moonlight. The water wasn't running right now, so it looked more like a large, ornate water basin.

       I feel like I caught a glimpse of something here when I rode on that horse with Saionji-san. So it's a fountain, huh?

Unbeknownst to Wakaba, the fountain was the entrance to the Dueling Arena – a large gate would open at the hand of anyone wearing a Rose Signet. To Duelists, then, the fountain's function was to mark the entrance to the Arena. It could be that it also served to purify their bodies as they entered.

Wakaba didn't know any of that. To her, it was just an old, neglected-looking fountain.

       So... now what?

Wakaba was starting to regret not bringing a watch. It seemed like she'd been waiting there for a long time. But maybe it just felt long, because of the cold and loneliness of waiting in the forest at night, alone.

       Was this some kind of prank...? Wakaba thought, starting to doubt the contents of the letter.


"Tenjou Utena?" a voice came, out of the darkness.

It was a voice that Wakaba knew well.

She'd heard it many times in her dreams.

One that had warned her away from the Rose Bride, and praised her homemade lunch.

The shadowy figure slowly drew closer, from within the forest.

       No way. It can't be... him?

The figure emerged from the forest, and stepped into the moonlight. In their hand was some kind of long object. They stepped into sight, emerging as if in answer to Wakaba's prayers.

"Just so you know, I was going to challenge you to a duel myself."

The moonlight figure was Wakaba's prince – Saionji Kyouichi.

Just as he'd told Touga, he had intended to challenge Utena to a duel tonight. However, he'd been beaten to the punch – he had received a card from Utena, first. It had read "Wait at the Dueling Arena, tonight." Rather brief for a letter of challenge, honestly.

Thus, he'd come here, to the Dueling Arena Forest, to duel with Tenjou Utena.

In order to vindicate himself, he'd practiced heavily for the last month. He'd only met Anthy once per week, and almost all of his time had been spent in intense, ascetic training.

And so...

       There's no way I'll lose... he thought. He'd won against Touga. Therefore, there was no reason to think he'd lost to Tenjou Utena. His original loss to her had been an accident; his month of training had been to completely remove any chance of another.

       I will surely win this time. And Anthy will return to me...

Saionji was confident in his triumph. Typical for him, he hadn't considered the possibility that Utena had become stronger, as well.

       I will obtain the Power to Revolutionize the World. Touga... you can't beat me as you are now. You've changed since you received the Rose Signet.

       Calling me his "dearest friend..." Back then, you would never have called me that. It would have simply been understood, without us saying anything. What need is there to put such things into words?

       And that's why I'm not your "dearest friend" any longer.

       So, Touga. I'll open your eyes for you.

Saionji gripped the katana in his hand more tightly.

His opponent, Tenjou Utena, stood before him, silhouetted in the moonlight. She looked somehow smaller than usual.

       A true master will always appear imposing in the sight of others... I suppose this is the reverse? Saionji mused, attributing it to his own confidence. He didn't doubt Wakaba's disguise in the slightest.

       Strange... Anthy isn't here. The moonlight revealed only one figure: Tenjou Utena. The Rose Bride was supposed to be present as a witness to the duel, but he didn't see her anywhere.

       Perhaps she's gone ahead to the arena? He thought, but really, what reason would Utena have to wait here by herself? And if that was so, where had she gotten the Sword of Dios that she was holding...?

It was foolish to attempt to infer such things, so Saionji asked Utena directly.

"Hey, Tenjou. What's with Anthy?"

***   ***

"Hey, Tenjou. What's with Anthy?" Saionji asked, having emerged from the forest.

Anthy – that's why Wakaba was here, herself. She thought back to the words on the card she'd received.

       Oh no. I can't let him find out I'm actually Wakaba...!

Desperately setting aside her painful memories, Wakaba adjusted her posture. She tried to stand a little bit more like Utena.

       The secret of the Rose Bride... of Himemiya Anthy... maybe I'll learn it now.

Wakaba silently drew her sword. That's what the letter had told her to do – and that if she did, she would learn the secrets she sought...

***   ***

Utena didn't speak, but drew her sword.

       What? Surely she doesn't intend to have the duel here...?

Anthy wasn't present, and the place wasn't appointed Dueling Arena... it was very suspicious. Nevertheless, Saionji drew his sword as well. Tossing the scabbard to the side, he took the kendo gedan, low position.

       There are no roses to aim for on each others' chests. How on earth are we supposed to duel?

There was only one rule in the duels. Whoever lost their rose first, lost. They were wearing no such things.

Which meant...

       So... we need to force the other to surrender, then.

With no rules in place, they would have no option but to attack each other directly. Such a duel could only end when one of them conceded... or fell. It might get gruesome.

       Hmmph... interesting. Perhaps this is why Anthy isn't present. Saionji didn't even flinch.  On the contrary, he grinned with glee as he realized what Utena intended.

       I had intended to make her grovel before Anthy's eyes... but oh, well. I don't want her to see this kind of bloody duel.

He gripped his katana in his hand, and slowly, began to close the gap between them. He kept his stance firm – whenever Tenjou Utena wanted to come at him was fine with him.

***   ***

       What should I do? Wakaba wondered, bewildered.

She'd followed the letter's instructions faithfully so far, but the situation didn't really seem to have improved. According to the letter, if she stayed quiet and drew her sword, she'd learn the secret of the Rose Bride.

       So... do I keep going? Nothing has really happened yet. And Saionji-san hasn't told me anything, either.

       What should I do? At this rate...

Saionji loomed closer in her field of vision.


The sight of Saionji suddenly made Wakaba feel very uneasy.

       I should just ask him directly. Not keep quiet and try to fool him, but just ask him, straightforwardly, in person.

       If I do that, I'm sure he'll...

Wakaba lowered the sword she was holding. She was trying to show that she didn't intend to fight.

***   ***

Tenjou Utena's sword dropped into gedan position. The sudden movement looked amazingly smooth and natural.

       Here she comes! Saionji thought, misinterpreting it as the start of an attack.

This was his chance.

Saionji lunged forward, thrusting upward with his sword.

***   ***

Lowering her sword, Wakaba was about to say something to Saionji. Instead, she gasped. Saionji lunged at her with savage speed. There was no time for words – neither for her to speak, or for him to hear.


In an instant, Wakaba was pierced by Saionji's sword.


Strangely, she didn't feel any pain.


Looking down, she saw the sword emerging from her stomach. A red liquid was slowly dripping down it. She admired the color for an instant, before it hit home that it was her own blood.


The strength left her legs. She slowly slumped down to her knees, leaning forward on to Saionji's chest.




The word filled her thoughts. But in the end, she wasn't able to speak it aloud.

***   ***

       Why on earth...

Tenjou Utena had made no move to evade his sword.

Due to his long training with the sword, he had reacted almost automatically. But he'd never even imagined that he would win the battle with one strike.

       What the hell did she think she was doing...?

Blood slowly dripped down his sword. For a moment Saionji imagined that it was staged; some sort of trick.

The strength slowly left Utena's knees. She dropped to them, leaning forward onto Saionji's chest.

At that moment, her hair fell off.


First it tilted, then slowly slipped and dropped down to the ground.

Under the wig, the girl dressed as Tenjou Utena wasn't Utena at all...

***   ***

When Utena reached the fountain below the Dueling Arena, she was met with an almost unbelievable sight.

Saionji was there.

His sword was covered with thick, red blood. Utena's gut instinct was that it was human blood.

In his arms, he was holding a girl dressed as her. The moonlight revealed her face to be...


Utena immediately broke into a sprint.

"Wakaba!!" Utena cried out her best friend's name as she ran. But Wakaba made no reply. Her eyes were closed – she was limp and unmoving.


The horrible thought sprang into Utena's mind; she tried desperately to dismiss it.

"Saionji, what the hell did you do!?" she screamed, accusingly.

Saionji didn't respond to the question. Surely it was because he was the one who'd wounded her.

"Answer me, Saionji! Did you do something to Wakaba!?" Utena's voice was hoarse, as tears began to fill her eyes.

Recently, she hadn't been paying much attention to Wakaba. She hadn't even noticed that something was going on in her life.

Now, those regrets slammed into Utena like a wave of emotion.

       This is all my fault... I was too caught up in Touga's words. I was only thinking of myself, not of Wakaba...

       How... how could this happen?

Utena's mind was in turmoil. Her dearest friend, Wakaba, was on the ground. Wearing Utena's own school uniform. A uniform which was covered in red, sticky blood. Blood which stained the sword of the boy who stood in front of her.






As all these emotions tore through Utena's heart, she was focused on only one question.

"Answer me, Saionji!" she shouted again.

Slowly, Saionji nodded his head.

       …! For a moment, Utena was speechless. Then she burst out, in rage,

"Duel! Duel me, Saionji!"

Strangely, they were the same words she'd said the first time she'd challenged him.

"I'll never forgive you. Never!"

Utena's heart was overflowing. She was gripped by the urge to smash everything.

***   ***

"O, noble castle... Power of Dios that sleeps within me..."

In response to the power of Anthy's words, the hilt of a sword sprang from her breast.

"Heed your master, and reveal..."

Utena took the hilt that emerged, and drew it forth.

The Sword of Dios. A miraculous sword, said to contain the Power of Dios.

"The power to revolutionize the world!" Utena cried, as she brandished the sword, and ferociously dashed towards Saionji.

While climbing the stairs to the arena, and while the dueling rose was being placed on her chest, Utena had been nursing the same feeling.

       This is vengeance for Wakaba...!

Although that thought filled her heart, she'd managed to be patient.

Wakaba had been rushed off to the hospital by Juri and Miki. There was nothing more Utena could do to help, except pray. All she could do for Wakaba was to duel, here, now, in the arena – at least, that's what Utena was thinking, just then.

Like a wild tiger let loose from its cage, Utena charged at Saionji. With all her might, she struck out with the Sword of Dios.

However, her attack was too direct. Saionji easily parried it.

“You're too easy, Tenjou Utena.”

“Shut up! You... Wakaba...” Utena came at him again.

However, Saionji deflected, or evaded, all of her blows. Carried away with emotion, her attacks were too monotonous.

But she didn't stop. Like a crying child in a fight, she put all her strength into her blade.

Utena vs Saionji

       This is for Wakaba...!

       For Wakaba...!

       For Wakaba...!

That one thought filled Utena's head.

But her body couldn't keep up for long. At the rate she'd been swinging her sword, fatigue set in quickly. All too soon, the strength began to leave her sword.

And Saionji was not an opponent who would miss that fact.

Saionji began to batter Utena's sword, returning the offensive. The heavy blows came down at her, one after another. Utena couldn't parry them; she had to fall back.

The tide had completely turned.

“What's wrong, Tenjou Utena? Looks like you're cornered.”

Utena, retreating, was quickly drawing near the edge of the arena. It was fenced with a small wall, but it only came up to about Utena's knees. Furthermore, here and there, it had crumbled away. One false step beyond the edge, and in an instant, one would plummet down to the foot of the arena.

There was no way of knowing exactly how high the Dueling Arena was, but judging from how long it took to walk up the stairs, a fall would mean certain death.

Utena took a fleeting glance behind her.

Saionji didn't let the opportunity go to waste.

A diagonal downward slash, turning into a thrust. Anybody would find it difficult to respond to effectively. At the moment, Tenjou Utena certainly couldn't.

Saionji's sword flashed towards Utena's rose, like it was being sucked in.

Somehow, Utena attempted to throw herself out of the way of the blow. However...

At her left breast...

Saionji's katana pierced the side of her chest without a rose pinned to it – the location of the human heart.


In shock, Utena collapsed backwards, onto the ground.

       I've won! Saionji thought, seeing Utena fall. He clenched his fist.

At last, he'd had his revenge. He had kept his pride, and the Rose Bride – Himemiya Anthy – would return to him.

And yet, he didn't feel the sense of exaltation that he'd expected. He felt only shame.


He'd been training a month for this victory. It had been all he'd been able to think about. And yet, his heart still felt clouded.

       Why...? Saionji asked himself, as he stared at the fallen Utena.

       I won. I won against Tenjou Utena. He repeated it to himself, but it failed to lift his spirits. On the contrary – the sight of her uniform called to mind the silhouette of another girl dressed that way...

       Don't be foolish. That wasn't my fault. If that girl hadn't put on that charade...

But as if to refute his words, his thoughts kept going back to Wakaba.

When she'd slapped him across the face.

The two of them at the arcade.

Her octopus-shaped wieners.

The present they'd bought, bickering all the while.

       Wanting me to buy toothpaste... what a strange girl. Saionji smiled slightly. A kind smile, which didn't suit the environs of the Dueling Arena...

As if responding to that smile, the fallen Utena moved.

       What…? Saionji doubted his own eyes. But Utena was certainly moving. Right in his view, she was slowly, but surely, lifting herself up.

       It should be over… surely…

       I won…

       There’s no way she should be able to stand up. Impossible…

But despite his protests, somewhere in his heart, he was relieved to see it.

***   ***

       I’m alive…?

That was Utena’s first, simple thought as she opened her eyes, after having been stabbed in the left side of her chest.

Saionji stood before her. They were in the Dueling Arena. Across from them stood Anthy, in her red dress.

       Well, it doesn’t seem like a dream…

She slid her gaze down to her chest, where Saionji was supposed to have stabbed here. Sure enough, her shirt was cut there. But underneath was a shining white object.

       This is…!

It was the white, shell-shaped compact: the one that Wakaba had bought her, to match hers.

       Wakaba… Utena’s heart blazed.

       Thank you, Wakaba. You helped me out again.

       It’s alright. Everything’s going to be alright.

Utena took the Sword of Dios in hand, and stood. Her eyes were calm again.

“Hmph. To survive that, you have the luck of fools.”

Even Saionji’s scorn didn’t break Utena’s calm. She just coldly lifted her sword.

“Let’s go,” was all she said.

As she did, the castle hanging overhead began to shine. The light was coming from a person – it looked like a young man, descending directly down towards Utena. The boy, who somewhat resembled Anthy, seemed to melt into her.

       This power… again. And this scent…

As Utena was enveloped by the scent of roses, she felt filled with power…

She sprang forward. Her movements were so sharp, they defied description. In an instant, she had closed the considerable distance between her and Saionji, her sword going for the rose on his chest. She seemed like a completely different person than she’d been just a short time before.

       This attack…!

This was how it had gone the first time Saionji had lost, as well. After the castle had begun to shine, a single attack – this sharp thrust, which seemed to come from an entirely different person - had scattered his rose.

This was what he’d feared in this repeat match – this explosive, instantaneous force of Tenjou Utena’s will.


Obviously, he had prepared for this. His special training over the last month had been so that he could match Utena’s thrust, at this exact moment.

He responded superbly.

As Utena’s sword stretched out towards him from across the short distance, his own sword leapt up to protect his rose. This was why he’d switched from jodan to gedan.

The Sword of Dios met Saionji’s katana with a clash of metal.

       Yes – I parried it!

So far, so good. This was proceeding exactly as he’d envisioned it during training.

But he hadn’t parried it at all.

Saionji’s katana went rebounding back, torn from his hands by the force of Utena’s blow.


The power was shocking. To think that Utena’s attack had enough force and weight behind it to deflect his own tachi katana…!

Staggered by the attack, Saionji lost his balance and fell backwards onto his rear.

Utena’s next attack cut straight down from an overhead, jodan stance.

There was no way for him to evade it.

And he wasn’t holding his sword.

Quickly, Saionji drew out the item he kept in his front jacket pocket:

The silver fountain pen. The one that he and Touga had been awarded upon their graduation from middle school.

       It should be easy to block a direct downward stroke…

Saionji held up the pen to intercept the plummeting Sword of Dios.

Perhaps the same miracle could happen twice.

***   ***

As he fell, despite losing control of his body, Saionji managed to draw out something that sparkled like silver.

Still, Utena didn’t hesitate. She brought her sword down.

It was a light attack. But it was enough to cleanly bisect the fountain pen, raised to ward off the attack, and to scatter Saionji’s rose.

       I won…! I won, Wakaba.

From somewhere, loud bells began to clamor. They seemed to be celebrating Utena and Anthy… and to be lamenting for Saionji.

Wakaba’s compact had saved Utena. But Saionji’s fountain pen, the twin of Touga’s, hadn’t been able to help him.

That’s just how it was.

Utena was the victor of the duel.

The Rose Bride was still Tenjou Utena’s, and Saionji remained a loser.

But for a loser, Saionji’s expression seemed strangely happy.



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.