Magia Record Story Little Bird's Star
The following is a summary by bigscarythings.
At the very start of Arc 1, Kuroe is on a train to Kamihama, having heard a Rumor: Come to Kamihama City. There, Magical Girls can be saved. Desperate for a solution, she decided to roll on in...when she suddenly feels a Witch's signature. A Labyrinth has engulfed the train, like it did in the anime, and Iroha is facing off against the witch - but unlike the anime, Kuroe has never met Iroha before.
Kuroe is terrified...but she can't simply leave this girl to die. So she leaps out the window to try and enter the Labyrinth, but...instead, she falls, and falls, and falls, straight into Kamihama City. She's actually quite relieved that she didn't have to fight the witch, given how weak she is...but kicks herself for being just that.
In narration, she remarks she wouldn't have had to go to Kamihama City in the first place. She wonders if she can really be saved...
Sometime later, between Arc 1 Chapters 5 and 6, Kuroe and some other anonymous Black Feathers are in Fendt Hope, commiserating about their weakness - a group of them were being tailed by a Witch while they were delivering a parcel from Mitama's shop, and a White Feather had to bail them out.The Black Feathers feel bad that they're not as strong as the White Feathers - one girl remarks that if she were as strong as they were, she wouldn't have needed to join the Magius in the first place. She remarks that the duty of Black Feathers is to protect the Rumors...but how can they do that, especially against someone like Yachiyo Nanami?
Kuroe asks who that is; another girl says she's an experienced magical girl on Mifuyu's level who's been slaying Rumors; Kuroe recognizes the latter point. Yachiyo and the other powerful magical girls live on a completely different level than the weaklings - they figure that to a girl like Yachiyo, they might as well not even exist. A girl says if she hadn't met Mifuyu, she'd be a Witch right now; Kuroe agrees.
In a brief flashback, we see how she and Mifuyu met - after Kuroe literally dropped into Kamihama, Mifuyu finds her while pursuing the witch. She makes sure Kuroe is okay, and Kuroe explains that heard the rumor about magical girls being saved in Kamihama. Mifuyu is all ears, starts explaining the Magius's pitch - and the rest is history.
Back to the present, Kuroe says she's grateful for the invitation to join the WoM, but she feels like a dead weight. The other girls agree. The Black Feathers aren't even strong enough to fight witches - how can they save others from being killed by them, or even support the strong ones in combat?
Just then, however, Mifuyu and Nemu walk out of a room, with Mifuyu shouting that their conversation isn't over, but Nemu dismisses her. She says the Rumors are her number one priority right now, and refuses to engage with Mifuyu further on their mysterious subject. Instead, Nemu goes straight up the Black Feathers with a request for their assistance. Kuroe says she's unsure if girls as weak as them can help, but Nemu insists that they are the only ones who can do so.
The girls, yearning for the chance to be useful, instantly take the opportunity without hearing another word. Kuroe is quiet all the while; Nemu turns and asks her personally, and Kuroe hesitantly agrees, saying if there's something she can actually do, then she'll do it. Nemu thanks them all, and explains that she needs their help to investigate the Rumors. In the background, however, Mifuyu seems disappointed, just closing her eyes and saying nothing.
Nemu explains further that she wants the girls to investigate a rumor - something like "The Uwasa of the Jealous Coward". Kuroe recaps that Rumors collect human emotional energy, and is concerned that people will be killed as a result. Nemu explains that according to folklore, people who committed suicide due to the tragedy of their situation turned into grudges and cursed the living (think yokai). Nemu based the Uwasa on this idea, but in her version, she has it so that those who fall under the Rumor's curse will have their energy drained and fall unconscious, but won't die.
Kuroe is still hesitant, but seems more okay with this. In any case, Nemu asks the girls to check on the Rumor and make sure it's working as intended. The Black Feathers are worried about doing this work on their own, but Nemu assures them that she will accompany them, since the Rumors appear only under special circumstances. Mifuyu, still looking worried, cries out for the Feathers to be careful as they all depart.
In downtown Kamihama, pedestrians around them chat about their day-to-day lives. Kuroe quietly watches them go as she passes by, wondering if she'd ever had conversations like these before becoming a magical girl...but in a flashback, we see her in the gym room in the evening, looking depressed and being silent. In the present, she remarks she can't remember.
In an underground area (kind of a subway-looking place), Nemu and the feathers struggle with their mission - there's no sign of the Rumor, even though Nemu notes that a gathering of a lot of students should have made it easier for it to manifest. Kuroe still angsts about how she can't fight witches despite being a magical girl, and remarks aloud that perhaps it's impossible for the Black Feathers to be of use. The others agree, and start asking if they can leave - they have lessons to attend to, or they live out of town, or their parents will worry if they don't start heading home soon... Nemu says in that case, she doesn't mind, and dismisses them.
Kuroe, however, stays. Nemu asks if she's alright; Kuroe says yes, saying there'll be no problems if she's home late. But all this tears her up even more - unlike her, those girls have normal lives despite being magical girls as well. She wonders if maybe she's the only one who can't be normal anymore...
Out loud, she brings herself to say something like "Good for them" - and in that moment, the Uwasa Labyrinth manifests, much to Nemu's surprise, and they hear the shrieks of the departing Black Feathers.
The Feathers shake a bit, and then collapse; Kuroe asks what happened to them. But Nemu, rather than being horrified, falls into a smile - the Rumor is a success. Abruptly, their surroundings revert turn to normal, and the Feathers are alright, but still unconscious. Nemu says she'll call some other Feathers to help manage things here, but asks that Kuroe stay behind to watch over them in the meantime. Kuroe says she will, but asks for an explanation of what just happened. Nemu simply explains that the conditions fo the Uwasa of the Jealosu Coward were fulfilled, and so the girls were struck unconscious by its curse. Nemu says the rules for its appearance work exactly as planned, and has verified its effects on its surroundings. Today's investigation is complete.
Kuroe doesn't like this - the girls were attacked by a Rumor; will they really be okay? Nemu says they will be - they just need some rest and they'll most likely recover. And even if they're out of commission for longer than that...well, the operational impact will be negligible. Kuroe, to herself, realizes that she and the other Black Feathers are useless to the WoM after all...
Nemu, forging onward, immediately tasks Kuroe with investigating more rumors througout the city, starting tomorrow. Kuroe protests - didn't Nemu just say that the investigation was complete? Nemu repeats that the investigation was complete for *today.* Kuroe tries to refuse, saying she's absolutely clueless about the rumors - she hadn't even seen one with her own eyes until just now - but Nemu assures her that no knowledge of them is necessary for investigation. She also says that if anyone intervenes with the Rumor, Kuroe must protect it. Kuroe thinks back to what she heard about Yachiyo Nanami, and is appalled - she can't even fight a witch; how can she fight other magical girls?!
But Nemu says that Kuroe has the "aptitude," which baffles Kuroe, but Nemu keeps paving over her, saying that she'll assign some White Feathers to Kuroe since the latter is so concerned. With that, Nemu takes her leave before Kuroe can say anything else. Kuroe glances over her friends, and sighs, wondering what she's gotten herself into...
The next day in Fendt Hope, the robed-up Amane twins meet up with Kuroe, explaining that Nemu sent them to join her. Kuroe stiffly thanks them both; Tsukuyo asks if she's uncomfortable, but Kuroe explains she's just overwhelmed by all this stuff happening that she doesn't understand. Tsukasa cajoles her to pull herself together; Nemu asked them to do this, so they'll do it! Tsukuyo agrees, saying Kuroe has nothing to worry about - they'll back her up.
Kuroe thinks to herself that it's true - the White Feathers truly are confident and dependable. Tsukasa asks where they should start investigating, but Kuroe...has no clue. All she knows is that Nemu said it's easier to find rumors where many people gather; but all the same, yesterday, the rumor appeared in a desolate area. The twins decide to assume Nemu was being truthful, and decide to explore areas close to schools.
Later that morning, in downtown Kamihama, the girls have no luck finding one whit of the Rumors. They retreat to the same subway-ish area to regroup. Tsukuyo speculates that there must be other conditions in play, then. Tsukasa asks where Kuroe surveyed the other day; Kuroe says it was just this section of Sakae. In that case, Tsukasa figures they'll have better luck looking somewhere else.
This concerns Kuroe - if Rumors aren't just confined to one ward, but rather appear everywhere in Kamihama, isn't that dangerous? She thinks back to what happened to her friends the other day - she doesn't like the notion of making others suffer, even if it's not directly by her own hands. Tsukuyo asks what's up; Kuroe says nothing, and they move out.
Next, they head over to Hokuyo Ward, with all its stately houses. Kuroe is surprised at how few people are present, but Tsukuyo explains that the students here typically take cars or buses to school rather than walking. Kuroe apologizes for her confusion, saying she's an outsider. Tsukasa tells her not to worry about it, then says they'll do some investigating here before moving onto another location. Just then, however, Kuroe spots a poster for a missing cat - she wonders if she can help find it...
But the twins feel a sudden spike of magic, instantly recognizing it as Yachiyo's. Kuroe panics, and the trio agree to run for it. They flee into the woods, but Kuroe stumbles over a gnarled tree root, giving the Mikazuki quintet a chance to catch up. Yachiyo and Iroha say they just want to ask some questions; Iroha especially, who wants to ask if they know a girl named Nemu Hiiragi. The twins refuse to say anything - and they're very busy right now, so they mustn't be distracted, either! Felicia takes it to mean that the twins are up to no good, though the twins valiantly try and fail to convince her otherwise.
Sana says that even if the Amanes aren't up to something nefarious, Mikazuki can't just turn a blind eye to WoM activity, and Tsuruno squares up to fight. Tsukuyo says it's very rude of them to jump to violence as the answer, but if they're left with no other choice, then so be it - the twins cast aside their robes! Kuroe gives in to all the excitement around her and throws off her robe, too; Tsukasa's like "Wait, why did you just do that?!" and Kuroe's like "Because you just did?!" As they bicker, Tsuruno seizes the advantage and targets Kuroe, and that gives the twins the chance to set up their flute binding. But Yachiyo instantly knows what's up and orders Tsuruno and Felicia to target the twins, throwing the duo off their groove.
The twins are knocked onto the ground, with Kuroe just as helpless on her two feet. The twins panic about what they should do, and realize there's only one thing they can do: retreat! The twins implore Kuroe to run, too, as Tsuruno and Felicia chase after them. Alas, Kuroe isn't fast enough, and gets cornered by the remaining Mikazuki girls, who are eager to start questioning her.
Kuroe cowers before Yachiyo's intimidating presence, but Iroha steps in to ask the first question - does Kuroe know Nemu? Kuroe, stammering, insists that she doesn't. Yachiyo asks what they were doing in Hokuyo, then. Kuroe insists she knows nothing - she's just a Black Feather! She's nothing! This only angers Yachiyo further - Kuroe knows nothing about what the Magius are doing, but blindly follows their orders anyway? Why is Kuroe even there to begin with?
Kuroe stammers more - in her thoughts, she says she wants to be saved - that if she were strong like Yachiyo, she wouldn't need to have joined the Magius - and out loud, asks Yachiyo in turn how someone on a level like her could possibly understand where Kuroe is coming from...
And in that moment, the Uwasa labyrinth manifests one more, this time with a shadow copy of Kuroe appearing with it. Kuroe's shadow self effortlessly blasts aside Yachiyo, the the labyrinth despwans shortly afterwards. Yachiyo gets back up to her feet, only angered further - Black Feathers can control Rumors, now? Kuroe stammers, wide-eyed, saying he had no clue this was going to happen; Yachiyo believes she's bluffing, and Kuroe is helpless to respond, left to wonder what on earth just happened...
A little while later, Tsuruno and Felicia return without success in their hunt - the Amanes escaped. Still, Tsuruno observes that the Amanes seemed very well-acquainted with the area, and seemed to know where they wre going, which means they must know this area quite well... Felicia, whose eyes land on Kuroe, figures they must've been able to catch Kuroe because she was much more unskilled than the Amanes. This stings Kuroe - she was a dead weight on the White Feathers again :asuka:
Yachiyo explains to Tsuruno and Felicia that they had tried asking the feather about Nemu, but to no avail - in fact, she even attacked them with a Rumor! Which leaves the question of what they should do now...
Yachiyo decides they'll carry on as planned. When Sana asks what exactly they'll do about Kuroe, Yachiyo says they'll take her with her to surveil her. While this is basically kidnapping, Tsuruno says given Kuroe's control over the rumors, they can't just leave her to her own business. But Felicia is mad - she refuses to go camping with the enemy! Yachiyo says they're just keeping her around for a little while, and asks Felicia to cool her jets.
Kuroe is baffled - what's this about camping? - but Iroha explains that a campground recently opened up in this area. Yachiyo's manager got them a free trip for the night, and at Kuroe's confusion over that, she explains that Yachiyo is an agency model, hence the manager. Yachiyo gripes that "Tamaki" doesn't have to go into that level of detail...
In any case, the girls arrive at the campsite; Yachiyo asks them all to stay there while she goes to greet the owner. Meanwhile, Kuroe tries to telepathically contact the Amanes...but to no success. Iroha guiltily notices Kuroe feeling awkward, and scoots over to introduce herself, asking for Kuroe's name. Kuroe shrinks, mumbling for Iroha to leave her alone. Felicia snaps at her, but Tsuruno reins her in, saying that Felicia wouldn't be very happy if she was being bugged by a stranger, too, right? Kuroe remains silent, and Iroha takes a deep breath, and asks if Kuroe would like to join them and spend the night.
Kuroe just blurts out "What?" Sana, too, says this is all quite sudden. Iroha apologizes, but says she thinks it'd be good for them to get to know their fellow magical girls. And besides, the point of camping is to disrupt your usual routine - she's heard camping is a good place for self-reflection while you're cut off from the world, and thinks it'd be a chance to Kuroe to really consider why she's with the Magius in the first place, given how dangerous it is... To that, Kuroe tells Iroha to mind her own business. Iroha backs down, apologizing, and says Kuroe must have had a reason for joining.
Yachiyo returns shortly afterwards, having secured the campground owner's permission, and having thought it over, has decided that Kuroe will be joining them after all. She's decided that she can't have Kuroe unleashing that Uwasa in town. So until Kuroe starts explaining what's going on, she's going to be stuck with them. Iroha puts on a smile, saying they'll all do their best to make sure Kuroe has a good time - but that's going to be hard, given that poor Kuroe is not happy with this situation one bit.
The camping trip officially begins, stating with a tutorial from the guy who owns the campgrounds. Kuroe is like "oh god what am I supposed to do", but luckily, she receives contact from the Amanes! They hadn't been able to reach her, either, so they slipped back into the area, only to find that Kuroe is being held hostage by Mikazuki. The Amanes apologize for leaving Kuroe behind; Kuroe says it's fine, she's just grateful for their help.
Simply put, the twins don't stand a chance of fighting off all of Mikazuki at once, and they have no strategy at hand that'll work around them. They instead decide they'll go ask Nemu to provide backup, but with no phone reception up in these mountains, they'll need to make the long trek all the way to Fendt Hope. They ask Kuroe to wait, saying they'll be back ASAP. Kuroe decides that to make sure she doesn't derail any plans the White Feathers come up with, she'll play along with Mikazuki for now. She mumbles "Alright..." out loud, which Iroha and Yachiyo seem to overhear - but Felicia interrupts things by telling Kuroe to quit dragging her feet and go.
Iroha asks Kuroe to help pitch the tent, with Tsuruno saying that she who doesn't work doesn't eat. Kuroe, defiant, says she doesn't want to eat, anyway - but her growling stomach suggests otherwise. Iroha, concerned, asks Kuroe again to help, even if only a little, but Kuroe, thinking to herself, says it's awkward to work together with a total stranger...
Iroha seems to pick up on this and says yes, this must be very awkward, but...maybe she and Kuroe can gather some wood for the fire together? Yachiyo scolds Tamaki for being so soft on Kuroe, but Iroha says she wants to get to know Kuroe better. But finally, Kuroe agrees to go with Iroha...thinking to herself that if it's just her and Iroha, she has a better chance of escaping...
Iroha finds a spot deep in the woods to start gathering. Kuroe doubts they'll be able to gather much with just the two of them, but Iroha clarifies that they already have the logs prepared - they're just here for the kindling. Kuroe remarks that Iroha knows a lot, but Iroha just says she's just parroting what the owner said earlier; Kuroe kicks herself for not listening back then. Iroha, sensing the awkward atmosphere, decides they should just start looking.
After an even more awkward silence, Iroha asks if Kuroe could at least tell her name. But Kuroe still does not speak, though the awkwardness is getting to her, too. In the meantime, Iroha picks up some twigs, remarking that she hadn't collected sticks like this since she was a kid - she's missed those days gone by. Kuroe decides, finally, that she should start talking, too - it may help distract Iroha and create an opening to flee.
So Kuroe remarks it's been a while since she's done something like this, too. Iroha startles at her response; Kuroe continues by pointing out some sticks that could come in handy. As Iroha crouches to gather some, Kuroe braces herself to bolt - but Iroha shrieks, spooking Kuroe. Nothing to fear, though - Iroha just got a caterpillar on her arm and it made her freak.
Kuroe nobly flicks off the terrorizing bug; Iroha thanks her and apologizes, and Kuroe waves it off. Still, Iroha feels so embarrassed - and Kuroe realizes that unlike Yachiyo, Iroha is...just a normal girl. And finally, Kuroe says her name. Iroha is stunned - but quickly reintroduces herself, saying it's nice to meet her :rengay:
Still, Kuroe wasn't able to escape, despite having the golden opportunity to do so. They return to the campground, where the owner approves of their kindling; Iroha says it was all thanks to Kuroe, which flusters the latter some.
Meanwhile, Felicia and Yachiyo have the real Newbie Camping Experience, which means they're having a rough time setting up the tent :sakurakoproud: Yachiyo insists she followed the instructions to a tee, which makes Tsuruno wonder if Yachiyo is bad at reading manuals (and Yachiyo's like "no! the illustrations are just hard to read!!!") Felicia says they should just wing it without the guide and get it done already. Kuroe thinks pitching a tent is a quite simple process to her, really - but it does mean Yachiyo has weaknesses, and isn't a completely untouchable god after all.
The owner figures it's time for someone to help FeliYachi with the tent, so Kuroe pipes up, saying the duo's pitched the tent inside-out, which is why the instructions don't work. She also adds that they should move it further away from the river. The girls are surprised; Iroha asks if Kuroe has done this before. Kuroe says she was taught in the past - and in her mind, elaborates that she was taught such by the WoM during their outdoor training camps. She remembers having to cook a boatload of food...
In the meantime, Felicia reviews the manual again and confirms Kuroe's assessment, calling her by name, since Iroha had used it earlier. Kuroe is thrown off, but Felicia's like "I mean, it's your name, right?" and Kuroe admits that yes, it is. Still, she never thought her experience as a Black Feather would come in handy...
Shortly after that, the tent is ready; the girls thank Kuroe for her help. Next, they sit down to cook lunch together, and Iroha asks if Kuroe can help them with that, too. Given that there's no sign of the Amanes yet, Kuroe says yes.
Lunch turns out to be kebabs! Kuroe instructs them to keep the meat and vegetables separated by alternating them on the skewer. Tsuruno praises Kuroe for knowing her stuff (Kuroe is bothered at being called by name again), and tries recruiting her for Banbanzai - but Yachiyo dunks on her a bit, asking if Banbanzai is active enough to need another chef.
Still, Felicia can hardly contain herself, asking if they can have a BBQ dinner at Mikazuki sometime! (Sana notes that Felicia must want a BBQ just for all the meat, and Felicia's like "Yeah, just meat'll be fine!") Iroha says if they do have that BBQ party, they'll be sure to invite Kuroe, too. Kuroe says she'd rather have takoyaki than just meat...but Iroha insists a takoyaki party will be fine, too, and Kuroe doesn't really know what to say.
Kuroe realizes she's been putting down her guard, and urges herself to stay sharp - she's being held captive by them, after all, and shouldn't get sucked into the warm atmosphere...
Still, it's grilling time! (surely it's foreshadowing for the Juri & Ranka (BBQ ver.) alt) Once everything's cooked up, the girls tuck in, enjoying the atmosphere and the tasty food. Kuroe glances aside and sees the lost cat from the poster earlier, with some folks trying to catch it as it slips out of their reach once more. Kuroe thinks to herself that the cat is scared - they shouldn't chase it, but let it approach on its own terms...
As they eat, Yachiyo mentions that the owner said the waterfall here is a kind of power spot - drinking from it brings you luck. Yachiyo meant to make tea with the water to finish off their meal, but didn't have the chance to bring the water, so Kuroe offers to fetch it instead - but Yachiyo instantly knows what's happening, and warns Kuroe not to run. Kuroe kicks herself for being so obvious, as Iroha offers to accompany Kuroe again, grabbing a canteen. Kuroe realizes that now that the girls know her intent, she can't try fleeing again...so all she can do is keep her head down and go with the flow.
And so she does...for perhaps a little too long. As Kuroe and Iroha wander the woods, Kuroe observes they've been walking in circles for some time, and Iroha admits they're lost - she tried using a map sketched out by Yachiyo, but she can't follow it. Kuroe figures they'll have to navigate their way back to the campsite, but Iroha says Kuroe must be exhausted - so she'll go back alone and get clear directions. Kuroe, acting on instinct, takes off after Iroha, knowing that if Iroha's lost now, she sure as heck isn't making it back to that campsite on her own!
But rather than finding Iroha, she stumbles across a young woman instead. The stranger apologizes for startling Kuroe, and reckons that she must be here for the waterfall - most people who get lost around these parts are looking for it, after all. The woman says they'll lead the way to the waterfall, having been there herself many times - and sure enough, they arrive at their destination shortly after. There's just one problem, though: people come here to gather water, but Iroha was the one carrying the canteen...
Well, nothing to it - the stranger offers an empty bottle to Kuroe. Kuroe thanks her, touched by her generosity. As she fills the bottle, she realizes she should have taken this whole opportunity to escape...
Still, Kuroe's guide offers to take Kuroe back to where she was. Kuroe thanks her, and asks if she always helps the lost when she finds them; the stranger says yes, which makes Kuroe feel guilty again for being so useless. But verbally, she praises the stranger, who brushes it off, saying it's no big deal, really, Kuroe is just being enthusiastic because she's being helped out.
The young woman then remarks that she wouldn't have gone to the waterfall if she didn't have problems of her own. Kuroe asks what problem can be solved by going to the waterfall, and the stranger says yes, going there solves nothing - and drinking from the waterfall doesn't really bring you any luck. But for her, it's a place where she can refresh herself, begin anew, and find the strength to try again. To her, it's very much a power spot - a place where she can heal and find herself spiritually renewed.
This gets Kuroe to ruminate on things, too - she joined the WoM to solve all her problems, but she's really done nothing to help further its goals. But what can she do? She can't do anything on her own, and she has no idea what her options are... Bitterly, she wishes she could be strong, too, just like her guide. The Uwasa Labyrinth immediately erupts again, with Kuroe's shadow self as well.
The young woman shrieks as the shadow attacks, and with that, the labyrinth vanishes as quickly as it came. The stranger is unconscious again, and Kuroe is aghast, realizing she's not helping anyone, but has hurt this woman instead - this woman, who has done nothing but help her.
Iroha comes charging onto the scene, anxious, saying she sensed an Uwasa here. She finds the unconscious young woman on the ground, wondering what happened. Desperate, Kuroe shrinks in on herself once more...and begs Iroha, at last, to help her.