Tart Magica Chapter 4

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It is January 1429 as Tart and her new friends start their journey to the northern fortress city of Vaucouleurs. Riz asks Tart if this is really what she wants, since it seems she left her village in a great hurry. Tart responds that her mother has left on her spring pilgrimage and while her brothers and father will be surprised, they should be fine. Right now feels like the best chance she has and that she needs to follow the commands of the voice of her angel. Tart flashes back to the day they buried Catherine. After they finished burying her, Tart stands before her headstone and places her cut-off braid before it. Riz says it won't change what happened here, but she made sure that the people who hurt her will never attack another village again. Tart turns to Kyubey and asks what she should do now that she is a magical girl. Kyubey tells her that the reason that France is embroiled in so much war is because there is no true king sitting on the French throne. Charles the Dauphin is trapped in the south of France and is unable to reach the cathedral for the official coronation. Not only that, there are also witches who have helped to bring calamity and disaster to all of France which has only helped the English to gain new territory. Kyubey reminds Tart that it is her duty as a magical girl to defeat these witches, but if she wants to save the country then doing so will also beat back the threat of the English and bring about the coronation of the true king. Tart agrees to the plan, but worries that Charles would not want to meet with a simple peasant girl. Riz reminds Tart that they once passed Vaucouleurs on the way to her aunt's house and that the head of the guard there could possibly write them a letter of recommendation. Tart clenches her fist tightly and, as she turns towards Catherine's headstone once more, vows to save her country.

The flashback ends as Riz tells Tart that she too made a vow that day to Catherine, to always protect Tart, saying Catherine would have wanted it. Tart thanks Riz, but Riz insists that now that they are partners, she doesn't need to be called Mademoiselle anymore. Riz tells Tart she is only a year older than her after all to which Tart is shocked, thinking that Riz was much older than her because of how cool and mature she was. Riz looks a bit gloomy as Tart races off on their journey to Vaucouleurs. Kyubey asks Riz if she as a girl isn't happy to look older since humans seem to venerate those that are older than them. Riz can only look with annoyance as she picks up Kyubey by the tail and throws him behind them.

Having arrived at the fortress city, Tart initially heads off to speak with the authorities, but Riz stops her. She feels something is off about the town and she can sense the faint presence of a witch. As they enter the town square, the people seem to be in an uproar as a young lad in a cloak rushes past Tart, bumping her in the process. He stops to help her up and introduces himself as Jean de Metz, a squire of Vaucouleurs. Tart introduces herself and asks to see the captain of the guard. But it seems that not only has he gone missing, but so has everyone inside the keep as well. His fellow squire, a man named Bertrand de Pulengy, drags Jean off to help him protect the keep as best they can. Riz and Tart head further into the keep to investigate, suspecting this to be the work of a witch. As they wander the abandoned keep, they find no one and are unable to pinpoint the location of the magic they sensed. Suddenly the walls warp and Tart disappears before Riz's eyes. It seems the keep itself was the witch's barrier and the suits of knight's armor standing in the hall spring to life and begin ambling towards Riz.

Riz dashes past and around the suits of armor, piercing and slashing them with one of her daggers. As she dashes past, she manages to wrap the suits in a whip made of shadow and pulls the whip tight, ensnaring the suits in a vine made of shadow magic. She disposes of the familiars as outside, Tart and Kyubey hope Riz is ok. From above, someone points their finger at Tart as an arrow hits Tart on the back of the head. Kyubey points out the figure standing on one of the defensive walls looking down at them. It appears the captain of the guard, Robert Baudricourt, has been witch-kissed as well as the other soldiers. One of the witch-kissed soldiers aims another arrow at Tart as she narrowly dodges it. Tart turns to Kyubey for help as Kyubey explains that they can't very well attack the commander they need to meet the dauphin and that it would be better for her to find and eliminate the witch quickly. Kyubey asks Tart if she has a weapon but Tart isn't aware of any nor does she have any inherit knowledge of how to fight. Kyubey is surprised to hear this, but tells Tart that this doesn't mean she can't fight. She needs to only imagine a weapon she's used to and she can create it with her magic. Tart recalls the sword lessons she had with Riz as an unseen figure lurks around the corner and aims a cannon at her. Kyubey warns Tart just as the cannon goes off, Tart taking the brunt of the hit and being knocked back partially by the resulting explosion. Kyubey is amazed that she is basically uninjured despite taking that last attack. Tart focuses her magic and conjures a sword made of light magic. She swings her sword down and the town's walls are cleaved in half by an enormous force of magic, causing the witch's barrier to shatter. Vines begin to creep out from the stone walls as the witch begins to emerge now that her barrier has been destroyed.

The vines combine to form a humanoid shape as it reaches a hand down to try to grab at Tart, however Tart stands her ground and grabs at the fist with her own bare hands. The soldiers who were witch-kissed begin to regain consciousness as Tart holds the witch's fist back. The soldiers can only watch and marvel as Tart obliterates the witch with a blast of magic from her soul gem. The witch disintegrates into particles of light which bathe the villagers. While Kyubey is impressed with her display of magic, Tart looks around frantically for Riz, wanting to be sure of her safety first. Riz appears from a nearby shadow and apologizes for not being there to protect Tart. She notices how polluted Tart's soul gem is and asks Kyubey if anything happened. Kyubey explains that Tart's power might be too strong since a single attack from her is as powerful as it is and therefore drains a great deal of magic from her. Tart wonders what happens if she uses up all of her magic and Riz responds that Tart will become a witch herself should that happen. Riz has seen it herself happen many times and Kyubey confirms it to be true. However, Riz reaffirms to Tart she will be her right arm so that will never happen to her. From her years of hunting witches she's managed to amass quite a few grief seeds. It's at this point Tart realizes that the witch she just defeated was a magical girl once like herself. Kyubey explains that once someone turns into a witch, there is no way to save them. He tells Tart that humans have legends of people giving themselves to the devil and becoming witches and that in a way those legends are true. Tart made a wish to save her country and considering the damages that witches do, he doesn't see what the trouble is. Tart vows once more to do what she can to save her country. At this point Baurdicourt walks up to the girls and introduces himself, asking who they are and what was that creature he saw just now. Tart blurts out a confused explanation before Riz clarifies it for him. Jean and Bertrand, the squires from earlier appear, having seen the witch and damage from afar. The soldiers are ready to arrest Tart and Riz on suspicions of attacking the keep but Bertrand defends them and insists that the soldiers release the girls. He pledges to give the girls whatever help he can. Riz worries that things are going too smoothly for Tart while Kyubey muses that Tart's fate may be greater than even he was initially led to believe. Kyubey compares Tart to cogs in the wheel of fate and the better lines up they are, the faster the wheels will turn.

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