Tart Magica Chapter 16

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A girl of around fourteen years old was sent to France to wed the king. That girl was Isabeau de Bavière. The timing of her arrival and coronation, in the thick of the Hundred Years' War, placed the young queen in the heart of the turmoil. The people of France pitied the poor young queen for her unlucky fate. But no one in the country realized that the truly unlucky would be those very sympathizers. Isabeau was a young girl with a sweet bearing, but her enchanting beauty and manner were so overwhelming, everyone around her fell under her spell. But the unusual beauty that surrounded her seemed to come at the price of a terrible curse. That curse undermined the entire Kingdom of France. And the first to be sacrificed was the king himself. One day, the king was attending a ball when, without warning, the dancing guests suddenly ignited, and the flames spread among them. The king became deathly afraid that he would combust as well. Thankfully, he was unharmed at the event, but the incident left deep scars on the king's psyche. The poor king's frayed nerves left him in such a state that he could no longer rule. Isabeau had orchestrated the masquerade ball to celebrate the marriage of one of her ladies-in-waiting. The next incident involved the king's younger brother, Louis I, duke of Orleans. With the king ailing, the position of regent was in debate. A war of wills flared between Louis I and the king's uncle and cousin as they contended for the right to the regency. The king's nephew, "John the Fearless" of Burgundy, arranged for Louis of Orleans to be assassinated in the streets of Paris. The poor man's body was hacked to pieces. He had been murdered on his way home from a visit to Isabeau. The next to fall was John the Fearless, who had ordered the assassination of the king's younger brother. This assassination was orchestrated by Isabeau's own son, the Dauphin Charles. Over the course of a very short time, the only one with power in the palace was none other than Isabeau. And the very last sacrifice to her curse was the country of France itself. It was Isabeau, acting on behalf of her husband Charles VI, who signed the treaty with England that ceded the right to inherit the throne of France to the offspring of the English King. A condition of the treaty was the following: "We (King Charles VI) hereby offer the King of England our daughter to wed, and the issuance of that union shall become the next King of France." The Dauphin Charles was the king's own son and otherwise would have been the next King of France, but rumors had been spread that he was illegitimate and his veins contained no royal blood. His alleged involvement in the assassination of John was also used to disinherit him. His sister's child would, according to treaty, become the King of France and England, allowing Isabeau influence over both countries. She not only forfeited Charles's inheritance, but also the land and people of France. She sold it all to the English in exchange for adding to her own personal power. In the end, Isabeau came to be known as "The woman who swore France away."

As Isabeau appears in the courtroom, Riz, Melissa and Tart stand ready to defend the newly crowned king, already transformed into their magical girl states. Minou chides them for their lack of respect to the queen who came to celebrate Charles' coronation. Charles continues to stammer as he crawls across the ground, being helped up to his feet by Gilles and Jean Batard. He begs Tart to save him from his mother, the queen, and demands she kill her. At his word Tart rushes forward and stabs her sword straight through the queen's heart as she stands there. Charles initially laughs at this display, but the queen smiles as a white miasma escapes from the queen's wound and she merely stands there smiling. Tart leaps back, certain she had injured the queen but thinking to herself that it didn't feel like she had stabbed her. Riz summons her shadowy tendrils and ties the queen up as Elisa and Melissa both swing their weapons directly at her. Isabeau merely smiles more broadly, completely unharmed from both their attacks. She raises her finger and shoots a beam of magical energy at the two girls, causing them to be knocked away hard. Riz wonders what to make of this, seeing as Isabeau hasn't even transformed yet but before she can think of anything further, Minou appears from behind her and lashes her into a wall with her whip. Tart draws her power to herself and summons her standard, unleashing her "La Lumiere" attack directly on Isabeau, the excess power blasting out the castle's windows. However, the dust clears and Isabeau remains where she stands, not a hair on her head harmed. Tart is amazed that she remained undamaged even after using that much magic power on her, but Minou sneaks up behind Tart and knocks her down with her whip, Tart's soul gem partially tainted from the amount of magic she's used up. Charles panics and hides behind Gilles and Jean, cowering and begging the queen to spare his life. Minou begins to admonish Charles but before she can finish the queen staggers and Minou runs to catch her. Isabeau whispers something to her as Minou stands and declares the words of her queen "In one year's time death shall befall La Pucelle!" She turns to Charles and tells him she will do him the favor of not killing him yet as this premonition is their gift to him in honor of his temporary coronation. Minou and Isabeau leave through Minou's portal as Charles cries and the magical girls tend to their wounds.

The following day, the group gathers to discuss the night's events and make plans for the future. Jean asks Tart for her opinion on what their next course of action should be now that Charles has been crowned. Tart believes they should head to Paris to liberate the capital of his kingdom, but Paris is where Isabeau makes her home and no doubt it'll place Tart in grave danger. Even so, Tart knows that even if her life lasts only one year or two she will do everything she can to make sure that light is brought to France (not that she's in a rush to die or anything). Gilles agrees wholeheartedly and turns to Charles, asking him to send their combined forces to Paris immediately. Charles stumbles about, like someone lost, as he wishes that this were all a dream or at the least a nightmare. He yells out at them, claiming that not even the "Holy Maiden" was able to harm a hair on her head and that Isabeau is the worst monster the world has ever seen. He slams his fists on the ground as he moans about the situation, asking if he is still king even if it doesn't feel like it. As he wails and cries out, the chamberlain appears and orders some servants to take him back to his room despite the king's protests. As Charles is led away, the chamberlain turns to the rest of the group and tells him not to make any drastic moves for the time being if they wish to see him recover. As a newly crowned king with newly acquired territories, he'll be heavily burdened with work and it's not as if Paris is going anywhere. He orders them to not do anything until after the king has recovered. As he leaves, he passes by Elisa and Oswald, who inquire as to the chamberlain's whereabouts during last night's celebrations. He responds that he doesn't have to explain himself to them and despite what they may think, he does worry about his country as well and refuses to allow them to ruin it.

Tart's followers want to liberate Paris as quickly as possible. However, the chamberlain La Remoille advising the haggard King Charles, sending entreaties to the English forces asking for a ceasefire. The result of the endless delays was that the army had to wait until close to August before it could depart from Reims. Finally the order came for the army to advance toward Paris.

As Tart finishes rallying the troops and waving her standard in the air, Kyubey walks up remarking on how much Tart has risen in the world since they first met. He asks if she remembers that time and Tart feels like it was such a long time ago. Kyubey says that Tart has made his words into a reality since Tart has actually seen the crowning of a king, but it seems he has lost much of his faith in her. While Tart believes that it's due to her lack of moral strength, Kyubey feels it is now time to tell her something important since she is heading to Paris. Isabeau is not in Paris, and while Kyubey may not know exactly where she is at this moment, he does know she is the eye of the storm. It seems her plan since the beginning is to spread grief seeds all over France and allow them to hatch, just like the witches they saw in Domremy and Vaucouleurs. With the chaos brought on by these incidents, Isabeau will deliver these lands into the hands of the English army and their allies and thus bring the country under her influence. Tart asks Kyubey why he didn't tell her this from the beginning, but Kyubey thought that if Tart knew what she was to face, she might have felt overwhelmed and wouldn't even try to fight. But even now she's grown stronger than before and the people have made her a national hero. Because of this, she has gathered the hopes of everyone around her and added to her fate, giving her room to grow stronger, even stronger than Isabeau. But first she has to fight the witches all over France as well as the forces of England in order to put a stop to Isabeau's plan. As he finishes speaking, Elisa aims a well-placed kick to Kyubey's head, sending him flying into the courtyard floor. Elisa aims her rifle at him but Tart and Melissa hold Elisa back from finishing off Kyubey. Riz turns to Tart and tells her that while Kyubey may want Tart to fight Isabeau, she is still rather dangerous and will stop at nothing. Tart acknowledges this but she knows she still has to move forward. At these words, Riz holds Tart tightly from behind, knowing that Tart is Tart after all. She lets go, and urges Tart to keep going forward, no matter what happens.

Maybe it was coincidence, but the new King Charles seemed to suffer the same mental health problems as his father, the previous king. From August 1429, Charles showed no signs of recovery. In fact, just when everyone thought he had finally given the order to liberate Paris on September 9, only two days later, the order was rescinded. Shortly thereafter, the order came to disband his army altogether. It seemed the king's confusion was worsening. All of the forces who supported La Pucelle were completely disbanded. With that order, most of La Pucelle's greatest comrades in arms - Alencon, La Hire, Gilles de Rais, and La Batard - were dispersed. Some took their fight to the north of France, while others returned to their own territories. And Tart went questing throughout France for some eight months, virtually alone. But it was the decision of La Pucelle to act under the orders given to her by her angel. Tart and her friends kept moving forward, never flinching from a fight. It was a lonely battle with neither the friendship and support of her comrades, nor the kind words of her king. And as a result of that long, ongoing battle fate was leading them to a particular time and place.

May 1430 in Compiegne, a town in the north of France. It was a strategically important town about halfway between Paris and Reims, and it was under the control of England and its allies prior to the coronation of Charles VII. However, following the coronation, it came back under French control. La Pucelle went riding in support of Compiegne, but the king gave no authority or troops to help her. So in the end, her participation in the battle was with little more status than a group of mercenaries. The four magical girls arrive just outside the city, with Elisa expressing a feeling of foreboding as they stare down at the city walls. The girls leaped down from the precipice where they stand and slash at a witch's barrier with a symbol of a cuckoo at the center. It seems they've finally found what they've been searching for as Minou greets them from inside the barrier. She makes light of Tart, calling her everyday battles futile as she continues to fight alone and without support and had hopes it would amuse her more than it has. Elisa asks if that's why she came down herself to fight and promises her a battle she won't be able to stomach. Minou for her part summons her portal and lets through an army of mind-controlled magical girls. She raises her hand and several brands drop down onto the girls, causing them to be consumed by despair and transform into witches. She commands the witch army forward as she declares this to be the appointed time at which death would befall La Pucelle.