Utena, Revolutionary Girl Fan Fiction ❯ A Tale of Two Princes ❯ Phoenix Fire: The Dark Duelists Rise ( Chapter 9 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Title: A Tale of Two Princes
Chapter 9: Phoenix Fire: The Dark Duelists Rise
Rating: PG-13
Poetry is mine
Shoujo-ai Content
Utena and its characters do not belong to me. I am just borrowing.
Kozue had an instinct for situations. She could feel the dregs of danger begin as slow pricks along her skin. Despite the warnings however, she moved closer to the young woman. She reached out a hand to touch upon the curled shoulders and did not leap back in fear when cold death settled behind hazel eyes turned to met her.
"J-Juri are you-"
The fencer shook her head and then an unsettling grin crept at the corner of her mouth as she replied, "I've never been better." She pulled herself upright and stepped in closer to the girl.
Kozue leaned in to the beginnings of a familiar embrace, and yet there was something, amiss. There was a certain lack of hesitation that Juri no longer seemed to have, and while it would have been a welcomed change, it was far too sudden. There was a slow beat between them and then the embrace furthered its advance until it contorted into the pull of a long and deep kiss. After the moment had passed the wild child found a way to look into the panther's eyes again, and all at once the deadness faded away, replaced by sorrow.
"I'm afraid I'm not myself tonight,"' Juri whispered.
"I see that."
Her voice became very low and solemn, "I'm sorry."
The girl was confused, "For what?"
Juri released a long breath and drew the girl in as if to kiss her, her right hand moving along the girl's blouse to rest at the heart. It beat once and then Juri leaned in close to whisper, "For this, love."
Kozue would have screamed except that the sound was squelched by the lips of the young woman that held her. The girl's smaller frame contorted in Juri's arms for a minute, then slowly it appeared, and with the greatest of care the fencer removed it from her lover's chest.
When it was over she carried the girl to a safe place and then fled towards the orchards, a tamed collection of trees that could have been a forest if it wanted to be. When at last she could run no further she fell to her knees, fist tightly clenching the object she had removed. It was a sword. The finest rapier she had ever held. The hand guard curved into an almost wild and unorganized pattern, but any closer inspection would have shown how purposeful the design was. A fire of rage built around what she wanted to keep as stoic calm, but her heart could not contain such things. She cried out, and her anger and sorrow were nearly enough to pull the trees from their roots.
"Why did have to be you," she sobbed. "Why did it have to be you? This is no way to keep revolution! This is not how you save eternity, or memory!"
She swallowed hard, and then closed her eyes. In the distance she could hear footsteps approaching. She opened her eyes, and when she saw who it was she gritted her teeth, jumped up sword in hand, and charged.
Memory is the thing
It is the tie that binds
It is because of what you would not let go
That you were left behind
Memory is the thing
It is the key to all
It is that reaching so much for the past
That you never see your fall
You have to learn
You have to know
You must keep the memory precious always
But you must always learn to let it go
Memory is the thing
Memory is the key
If anything here should be forgotten
Then it might as well never be
The lesson is balance
The lesson is control
It is the knowing when
And thenwithout regret
It is the letting go
The elevator rose slowly in the waking dream, the illusion formed from stardust and darkness. He spoke as he had once before in his nightmares. And the more he spoke, the more real his surroundings became. They took up a solid footing into reality, as if they had always been, and had never been destroyed. The voice compelled him onward and when at last he gave up to his finally raging confession the elevator stopped.
The elevator stopped and then the dream he thought he was going through the motions of turned on him. A shadow stood in the doorway of the elevator. And the voice spoke very calmly, "I see, well then you have no choice. You must revolutionize the world. The path has been laid before you."
Touga stammered to his feet. He moved forward and felt that his actions were not his own. Manipulation, and puppet strings seemed to be everything that surround him as he stepped through the elevator doors and into the dark room of the crematorium. He shook himself into a state of wakefulness, and though fully aware the images still gathered around him. He looked over at the computer like man who was leaning against the far wall, near a long row of shoes. The wall was dotted with what appeared to be tombs engraved with the rose seal. Slowly a tomb began to slide further into the wall, until it vanished completely leaving an empty space, and the burning glow of the crematorium's fire behind it.
The man made a "Tsk" noise and turned his head to look at Touga. A half hearted attempt at a smile tried to make way on the corner of his mouth as he said, "It is useless. None are strong enough to defeat her. There are a hundred failures here. You are just going to be one more."
"What is this place?"
"It is the edge of a path."
"Who is doing this? Why are these-"
"Dreams are the key to memory forgotten. She tries to fight the inevitable."
"And what is that?"
"She can not see that everything must fade. Everyone will forget eventually."
Touga shook his head, "But that does not mean we have to forget it all and so soon."
The man frowned, the man who was, Touga began to realize Professor Nemuro. "You're just like her. No wonder you'll lose."
"Like who?"
He shut his eyes, "Tokiko."
Touga was going to ask more but then he felt it, the sharp stabbing pain in his chest that felt like a million swords, a million thorns being pushed into him. He fell to his knees and tried to seek the form of the person who had assaulted him, but there was no one. There was only a voice, a voice he clearly recognized.
"And now the end truly begins... and the revolution can take shape."
His voice failed him and his eyes began to shut. He crumpled to the floor and the voice, it watched him there. It let him have the rest for a second or so, before speaking again.
"You have entered this space as nothing more than a fallen duelist, but you will leave... a prince."
Over the edge and we've all fled
To that little space behind the heart
That little part that is increasingly dark
Darkened by the world as we grow
Bittered by life as we come to know
All life's illusions and pretty dreams
Our hopes our wants are not what theyseem
Into the end we all must go
And what we become there
Only he really knows
As she sprang forward the figure casually moved to the side. He chuckled as she stumbled, and her rage grew as she spun back around for another attack. She lunged fiercely and again he moved casually away, grabbing at her wrist with inhuman strength.
"Don't you know, Juri...This place is nothing but a dream." He pushed her back and she fell. "'Of course that doesn't mean the dream can't harm you. Everything in this school was made to make illusion solid."
She winced as she pulled herself to her feet. He seemed pleased and smiled. It faded away when he noted her ever increasing anger. He shook his head.
"Your emotions are your worst enemy in a fight. They distract you and lead you to make fatal errors. I thought you'd have learned that by now. I thought, I'd taught you better."
Juri's grip around the sword tightened and she shut her eyes. "You can't be here. You...you died."
He shrugged, "We all die eventually. I died, you were there...you held my hand and I was grateful. But remember what I said... even if you're just imagining me it doesn't make me any less of a threat."
"A threat?"
He nodded.
She let her grip loosen on the sword and with a long exhale she felt her anger begin to quiet. He looked as if he had never been ill. He looked better than he had when he was well. He was a dream though, an illusion, and she knew that whatever the reason for his presence she would not be happy with the answer.
Sensing her troubles he spoke, "Ghosts are convenient for certain tasks, the school likes ghosts."
"We are easy to forget."
"So...you are a trap."
He grinned. It was nice to have her contemplating his motives again. He would tell her the truth; it was a good way to resolve things. "I am your test."
"For what?"
"To see if you are worthy." He let the words sink in and watched as she tried desperately to keep her feelings from bursting out all around her. He continued, "Are you worthy to follow her footsteps? Can you be a prince? Can you change the world, Juri?"
She remained silent as her thoughts raged with a thousand curses for whoever was responsible for the events she was now encountering.
"Fault," he said suddenly as if reading her mind. "You can blame the prince; you can blame the end of the world, and the bride. The system is simple really, if you look at it. What makes a revolution stay? What makes it capable of continuing change?"
She had no answer she wanted to give.
"That's right...it's right there on your mind. It's a battle. The fights get smaller, but there is always a battle. If you lose this he gets your memories and the game starts all over again like it had never happened. If you win-"
"We keep fighting for our freedom. What kind of victory is that?"
"If you win, Juri, he'll lose this school. And doesn't that make a difference?"
She shook her head, "This is all wrong. This is a poor way to make things right."
"It is...the only way that it can be done," he replied with a sad shrug. He looked at the sword, "That's a grand piece you have, very sharp, that one I expect, and deadly as well."
"It isn't mine."
He smirked, "No. I thought she was yours. I thought you two-"
"That's enough!" The words echoed through the trees and then she stood up a bit straighter, "If we are to duel, Ruka, then let us duel. If you are my test then you should test me."
He smirked, "I've already been testing you. You care about what happens to those students don't you? Every injury to them was an injury to you. It cut at your insides, because part of you wants to remember."
She thought about Shiori's letter and how, it was not so much a shock as it was a memory. The way she fought against it because she didn't want it to be true. And then, deep inside there was a spark of hate and anger towards those responsible for dragging Shiori into the duels. For using her to such an extent, and the more she thought about it, the feeling did, indeed, extend to all the others whose stories she had heard.
Ruka smiled and ran his fingers through his hair, "You think of her instead of the one whose sword is in your hand. That's curious...why, Juri?"
Her eyes narrowed, "It doesn't matter. Any thoughts I have of Kozue you would only try to use against me. You learned that from Touga."
"I learned that from many people...But I see you are restless for this battle...You have been doing very well so far Juri. You might even pass, but you still have all that anger, and all that regret. Those things are what you use to defeat yourself."
She took a defensive stance and waited for him.
"You haven't even asked what the rules are," he chuckled.
"There is no bride to win, no roses on our chests... What other rules could there be expect that this...is a duel. It's a real duel, no protection and no play."
"You learn very quickly, but this duel ends when one of us is completely defeated."
She let a toothy grin slide, "Death is no defeat...It's just the beginning."
"So true."
He opened up his hand and stretched it out into the shadows. A soft light appeared and from it he pulled a sword. He took his stance and stared at her for a long time before he nodded and the duel began.
The call rings clear as the Phoenix rises here
And the purpose is put and we must make no mistakes
From this moment until the end
We are duelists
And duelists are never friends
Touga gripped the sword and stared vacantly at the girl he had pulled it from. Somewhere, far in the reaches of his mind, he thought he hated himself for doing this. The feeling never lasted too long though. He closed his eyes for a moment and then stepped out of the girl's dorm. The shadows watched him leave and they were...concerned.
"He's being used and not by us."
"One of them was bound to fall and he...has a history."
"He will not be easy to defeat."
"She'll find away."
The first voice grew sullen, "And the girl...she..."
"There are always risks. This is the only way."
"But Juri was right... It does not excuse us; this is a poor way to keep a revolution. She will need help."
"We must not interfere any further."
"I did not say we would." There was something in the tone that had a hint of plotting behind it, but the other voice did not heed it.
To be continued...