Tart Magica Chapter 21
Tart's left hand is encased with a black gauntlet, Riz's soul gem encased on it and Tart's hair grows out its original braid. Her soul gem is completely black with impurities now, but the power of Riz's soul gem prevents it from corrupting into a grief seed. The newly transformed Tart stands before everyone as Melissa realizes that Riz has given her power to Tart. Minou glares at them as she calls out that nothing they do will make any difference as the Great Isabeau will never be defeated by any ordinary magical girl. The witch rears up to her full height and comes roaring down at Tart, who slices the caterpillar-like appendage in half. Minou is more than shocked to realize that the attack was able to affect Isabeau. Kyubey continues to observe the fight, noting that Tart has already become something more than a magical girl due to her soul gem having passed its limit long ago. At this point, it is more grief seed than a soul gem. While he doesn't know what Tart is right now, she can no longer be called a magical girl but she is certainly no witch either. Rather, she is the definition of an irregular. Two more of the caterpillar-like appendages attempt to strike at Tart, who leaps away in time causing them to crash into each other. Three more appendages aim their beams at her, but Tart is able to block their attacks easily. Tart slices another caterpillar creature with a scythe made of her magic. Pernelle turns to Kyubey and asks why Tart hasn't become a witch if her soul gem is completely full of impurities. Kyubey responds that it is due to Riz's wish, which has twisted Tart's fate. Normally this wouldn't be possible since the likelihood of a soul gem acting like it still has a will of its own despite the lack of a body would normally be zero.
Enraged, Minou threatens to tear Tart apart for having dared to hurt her mother. She lashes her whip repeatedly at Tart, who blocks the whip with her weapon. Minou continues her assault, not letting up for a second as Tart advances towards her, continuing to block each blow. She swings her sword down at Minou who is knocked backwards by the might of the attack. Tart looks up towards Isabeau's human body, which remains inert at the top of the cathedral before which the battle rages. As Minou struggles to crawl forward, she reaches her hand and calls out towards her mother. Before Tart can direct her attacks towards Isabeau, Isabeau's body begins to shake as a larger body emerges from underneath, a second witch form that looks like a caterpillar's body with skeletal limbs, giant moth's wings spreading out from behind and forearms that look like cannons with her soul gem on each. The cathedral crumbles under the size and might of this new form as everyone gazes up in terror at the true form of Crepuscule de la Reine. However, Tart remains determined as ever as she faces down her foe. Isabeau begins to charge her cannon and aims it at Tart who immediately summons her standard and smashes through the center of it, causing the cannon to crumble. Tart announces to all that it is Isabeau who has been trying to plunge the world into darkness but her attempt ends now. As Isabeau flies above the ruined cathedral, Tart summons a massive magic circle in the sky above her in an attack known as the Gate of Heaven. The center of the circle slides open like a gateway as crosses of light pierce Isabeau and hold her in place. Tart leaps up and swings her weapon down at the witch, slicing the massive body in half and then half again. As the pieces of the witch's corpse fall back to earth, the gate closes and disappears. Tart's shadowy gauntlet also begins to dissipate as Riz's soul gem crumbles. Tart thanks Riz for protecting her until the very end.
Melissa and Elisa race over to Tart, overjoyed that the battle is finally over and their greatest enemy defeated. But Tart faints, weak from the overexertion her soul gem has taken due to the battle. Pernelle hands the girls a grief seed in order to purify her gem but before they can do so, they're interrupted by the lamentations of Minou who stands over her mother's human body. Though her soul was that of a witch, her original body still remains thanks to her wish, but it is now quite literally an empty shell. Melissa and Elisa prepare themselves to defend Tart as Minou threatens to kill them herself no matter what may happen. Suddenly, Minou's soul gem shatters. She demands answers and Pernelle provides them: having been created by an imperfect creator she lost her powers the moment Isabeau was destroyed. Minou is devastated by the news and orders her soldiers to capture and kill them all. La Hire urges his men to pull out but Tart instead walks quietly towards the enemy soldiers with her hand over her chest. Minou promises that Tart will be the first to die and urges her men to kill her, each enemy soldier terrified of the person who could defeat such a hideous creature so easily just moments ago. Tart, however, offers herself as a prisoner. Melissa can't believe what she's hearing as she urges Tart to return with them and the others. Tart asks for forgiveness as she turns and shows them her blackened soul gem, the grief seed having no effect on it. Because her soul gem reached its limits quite some time ago, it is now more a grief seed than a soul gem and so there is no way that another grief seed would have any purifying effect on it. It was due to the miracle of Riz's wish that Tart's soul gem was prevented from corrupting into a grief seed, but now that Riz's soul gem is no more, should Tart try to fight or even attempt to use any magic, she will become a witch completely. Owing to the massive bonds of fate that Tart is bound with, a witch born from her would bring disaster to Europe for centuries and would cause many new witches to be born and die. Not Isabeau's intended dark age, but a dark age nonetheless. Tart refuses to allow such a thing to happen and so she offered herself as prisoner. Melissa begs her not to do this, but Tart holds Melissa's hands in her own and smiles.
Tart turns back to the enemy soldiers and once more offers herself as prisoner on the condition they take no acts of aggression against anyone else. Minou cackles gleefully at the thought of at least being able to execute the "criminal who defiled mother". Tart asks Pernelle to take care of the rest of her people as Pernelle nods and opens several portals for the soldiers to escape through. Alone, Minou knocks Tart to the ground and pins her down, promising her a merciless execution in which her sins will burn through her body until nothing but ash remains. When La Pucelle returned to Rouen, her sentence was handed down. One who repents of her heresy but then returns to heretical ways is called a relapsed heretic, and the punishment for that crime is death by fire. Burning at the stake meant that one's body was entirely destroyed, and in an age dominated by religion, it was considered the most severe form of punishment. Convicted of the worst crime imaginable, La Pucelle could only await her death.
Isabeau de Baviere was reviled throughout the land as the woman who sold out her country. When she met her end in 1435, her funeral service was so quiet and subdued, you wouldn't have thought it was for a former queen (Minou cries longingly over the empty body of her mother). Gilles de Rais was brought to a church trial for the serial murders of young boys from his fiefdom. He was hanged but cremated afterward, joining his beloved La Pucelle in flames (Gilles falls to his knees in tears, crying out his resolve to become a demon and join his beloved holy lady if she truly is a witch). Even at this late date, La Hire had not given up on trying to rescue La Pucelle, and his attack on Rouen led to his capture. Later, he was captured again at Pontoise Trail, but was released in a prisoner exchange for John Talbot. Even after their release, they remained lifelong rivals, and La Hire would come to be known as one of the most gallant generals of the French army. Lord Richemont and John Batard burst into the chambers of King Charles despite the chamberlain's protests. They demand to know if Charles will simply allow them to murder La Pucelle despite the fact that it was her doing that placed him on the throne. Arthur de Richemont would soon win the political battle at the palace and have La Tremoille banished from the court. Afterward, he went on to guide France to many victories in battle as overall commander of the French forces. Charles the Seventh of France would eventually win the Hundred Years War, dubbing him Charles the Victorious. He later convened a new church trial that revisited the reputation of La Pucelle, sullied by the previous trial, and restored her former glory. Some people took La Pucelle's will as their own and reached for their own glory, while for others, their feelings toward La Pucelle led to their suffering and failure. Many, many people were personally affected by the way La Pucelle's life ended.
It is May 30, 1431 and both Melissa and Elisa are hurrying to the public square, racing against the clock despite their wounds not fully recovered. Amidst the throng of people, Tart stands tied to a wooden stake, her hair cropped short as she wears a simple white tunic. She looks up at the sky and holds her hands clasped in front of her despite her rope bonds. Melissa and Elisa push their way to the front of the crowds as a soldier lights the pile of kindle at Tart's feet with his torch. Melissa calls out Tart's name as two soldiers hold her back with their spears. Both girls ready their soul gems so they can transform as Tart turns to look at them. Telepathically, Tart tells them not to save her as no one has any idea of the the kind of disaster she could bring to the world. She would rather ensure her death as a magical girl. Melissa cries out she would rather be with her in her final moments even if Tart were to turn into a witch. Elisa asks if there aren't any more wishes she would like to see fulfilled while she still lives, or if there are any regrets she'd like to correct. Tart smiles and tells them of a dream she had: Her battle was coming to a close, and God himself gave her permission to leave the battlefield. She returned to being a normal girl and returned to her hometown of Domremy so she could live once more in her parent's house. She watched the sheep with her little sister and brothers, and in the dream Riz and her family were there to greet her with smiles on their faces. But Tart knows she must accept her fate. She faces Melissa and tells her she was like an older sister to her. She was the first friend she made after Riz and one of her most precious, and if it weren't for her she would have died back in Orleans. Even though Melissa always looked after her, all Tart could repay her with was her gratitude. Tart turns to Elisa and tells her she always looked up to the nobility of her heart. Having someone willing to oppose and challenge her was a blessing and thanks to her strength of will and fierce words Tart was able to break her heart out of its prison and allowed her to stand again.
Pernelle and Kyubey watch the proceedings from amidst the crowd. Pernelle knows that Tart is attempting to remove herself by sacrificing herself so she won't possibly become a witch. Kyubey finds it hard to understand since Tart wouldn't have had to endure all this suffering at the end if she simply accepted her fate. Pernelle asks Kyubey why he doesn't try to change her decision since he disagrees with her choice and would benefit greatly from her transformation into a witch. Kyubey responds that there is no deep meaning behind it. Tart worked hard and did as he asked which was to defeat Isabeau. In exchange, Kyubey is doing as she asks. He asks Pernelle if this isn't what people call an act of gratitude. Pernelle calls it a prayer, and that a prayer is a thought in one's heart towards all that is noble. Kyubey calls humans and their emotions illogical. Pernelle, Melissa and Elisa pray for their holy lady, La Pucelle as the flames begin to consume Tart. Just before the flames consume her entirely, she says, "I want to say to everything in the world...merci vraiment! Thank you!" as her soul takes on the form of a white dove that flies out of the flames.
Melissa sits on the back of Elisa's horse as the two girls quietly walk down a broad country field. Elisa asks if Tart left her life holding no grudges or regrets. Melissa knows they understood her last words and that there was no despair in her final prayer. Elisa agrees and comments that Tart was betrayed and lost hope at times, but kept fighting even when suffering near-mortal wounds. But those wounds were also proof of the battle she survived and the life she made it through. Even if both girls may become witches someday, they both agree to visit the village in which Tart grew up in. Elisa muses that Tart's witch form would have been a holy lady at the same time somehow, but Melissa says it wouldn't have redeemed her. Elisa wonders when or if she'll ever be redeemed, but Melissa has faith that the day she is saved will one day come. She knows her prayer will reach her. The two girls on horseback look out across a broad field as Madokami reaches out to receive the white dove that is Tart's soul. The final page shows Tart smiling gleefully, her braid flowing down her back, as Riz, her sister, mother, father and brothers all await joyfully at the entrance of her parent's home.