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TOPIC | Marcelina Magica [BOOK IN PROGRESS]
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ITS BACK BABY
Im too lazy to explain the whole Madoka Magica cycle but here we go
So, the girl contracts with an Incubator (Who, in this case, is Spikey (pronounced Spee-kay) by making a wish, turning her into a Magical Girl and turning her soul into a Soul Gem. The girl fights Witches and collects Grief Seeds to purify her Soul Gem as it collects taint. When it becomes fully tainted, the Soul Gem becomes a Grief Seed that hatches into a Witch.
ITS BACK BABY
Im too lazy to explain the whole Madoka Magica cycle but here we go
So, the girl contracts with an Incubator (Who, in this case, is Spikey (pronounced Spee-kay) by making a wish, turning her into a Magical Girl and turning her soul into a Soul Gem. The girl fights Witches and collects Grief Seeds to purify her Soul Gem as it collects taint. When it becomes fully tainted, the Soul Gem becomes a Grief Seed that hatches into a Witch.
Characters

Morgan
Morgan is a hard-working and resilient young girl who believes that if she wants something, she'll have to get it herself. She's rather obsessed with the snakes she's adopted out of the woods, and has become sly and sneaky with them.

Gina
Gina is the artist of the group. She will do anything for attention, and we do mean anything; she's thrown herself off of buildings and framed a young girl for murder, all so that she could be noticed.

Candy
Candy, real name Dorothy, loves sweets. She made her wish so that she could obtain the world's most delicious candy to help her candy shop, but ever since she's tasted it, everything else feels like a disappointment.

Julia
A beautiful voice was all Julia needed to make it to the top. She cares for her friends out of fear that they will leave her, and feels as though she must bind herself to other girls to keep them near.

Lilith
The Song Demon rules the western side of Harper City with an iron fist, and punishes any sort of injustice she sees with her Mannaia Tempesta, her sky-shattering voice and a microphone chord. She sees all that goes down, and will ensure that what you have done will not go unpunished.

Charlie
Why won't you see her for who she truly is? Well, her wish answers that. Her arms and legs become subject to horrific transformations, destroying any Witch those grubby little fingers can grab out of spite. When she's not morphing her body into the eldritch monstrosities her soul represents, she's often playing an online game.

Elesa
One week was all it took for the Heart Knight to become a force to be reckoned with. She will ensure that every Witch will feel the same heartbreak she was subject to, before sewing their heart back together and mending their wounds.

Brea
She can only see herself in the mirror, and feels as though only she matters in the world. She steals Grief Seeds from others before taking off, never to be seen again. She ought to be dealt with.

Aleah
She represents the hungry fires of the forge, engulfing her foes and trapping them in an endless cycle of pain and agony. She is a fierce defender of what she believes to be justice, though her opinions are skewed by the harsh environment she grew up in.

Spectre
She doesn't really seem to care for anyone else, but makes sure that the witch you're fighting ends up dead. She's incredibly powerful, utilizing the taint in her Soul Gem to summon her own Witch.

Katria
Words cannot describe how this girl regrets her wish. She goes through every day with a smile on her face and a joke to crack, when in reality, she has never wanted to scream into the air even more than she does now.

Marcelina
She wishes to free other Magical Girls from their fate, but feels as though she must do more than this. She wishes for gratitude from others, reassurance that she will be noticed for what she does. What she really wants, more than anything, is to be seen by others.

Zena
When you think of Zena, you get the young girl who was willing to kill gods for her family. Here, however, she's alone and afraid, with nothing left to guide her but her own foolishness.

Christine
A girl who rules with an iron fist, she fears betrayal more than anything. Although her gang obeys her every command, she still feels as though the only ones who will listen to her are the shadows.

Malia
Calm, yet ruthless, Malia aims to crush her foes with her deafening silence and calm demeanor. She knows not of mercy, and will be sure to send you off with a smile.

Siv
A girl who speaks only for herself. She hates her life as a gangster, so she lies her way up the ranks for a better life. She is no stranger to betrayal, as she has carried it out multiple times. She is truly despicable.

Talia
Desperate for love, Talia will do anything for Christine. She will gladly bloody her hands to please her 'mother', as she has no clue how to otherwise deal with her enemies. She is rather childish, but her skills are more than efficient.

Alexis
Experimental and dangerous, Alexis is one of the greatest threats the Nightingales have faced. She claims what she is doing is for the greater good, as she wants to prevent the ultimate fate of a Magical Girl... By kidnapping and experimenting with Soul Gems.
Characters

Morgan
Morgan is a hard-working and resilient young girl who believes that if she wants something, she'll have to get it herself. She's rather obsessed with the snakes she's adopted out of the woods, and has become sly and sneaky with them.

Gina
Gina is the artist of the group. She will do anything for attention, and we do mean anything; she's thrown herself off of buildings and framed a young girl for murder, all so that she could be noticed.

Candy
Candy, real name Dorothy, loves sweets. She made her wish so that she could obtain the world's most delicious candy to help her candy shop, but ever since she's tasted it, everything else feels like a disappointment.

Julia
A beautiful voice was all Julia needed to make it to the top. She cares for her friends out of fear that they will leave her, and feels as though she must bind herself to other girls to keep them near.

Lilith
The Song Demon rules the western side of Harper City with an iron fist, and punishes any sort of injustice she sees with her Mannaia Tempesta, her sky-shattering voice and a microphone chord. She sees all that goes down, and will ensure that what you have done will not go unpunished.

Charlie
Why won't you see her for who she truly is? Well, her wish answers that. Her arms and legs become subject to horrific transformations, destroying any Witch those grubby little fingers can grab out of spite. When she's not morphing her body into the eldritch monstrosities her soul represents, she's often playing an online game.

Elesa
One week was all it took for the Heart Knight to become a force to be reckoned with. She will ensure that every Witch will feel the same heartbreak she was subject to, before sewing their heart back together and mending their wounds.

Brea
She can only see herself in the mirror, and feels as though only she matters in the world. She steals Grief Seeds from others before taking off, never to be seen again. She ought to be dealt with.

Aleah
She represents the hungry fires of the forge, engulfing her foes and trapping them in an endless cycle of pain and agony. She is a fierce defender of what she believes to be justice, though her opinions are skewed by the harsh environment she grew up in.

Spectre
She doesn't really seem to care for anyone else, but makes sure that the witch you're fighting ends up dead. She's incredibly powerful, utilizing the taint in her Soul Gem to summon her own Witch.

Katria
Words cannot describe how this girl regrets her wish. She goes through every day with a smile on her face and a joke to crack, when in reality, she has never wanted to scream into the air even more than she does now.

Marcelina
She wishes to free other Magical Girls from their fate, but feels as though she must do more than this. She wishes for gratitude from others, reassurance that she will be noticed for what she does. What she really wants, more than anything, is to be seen by others.

Zena
When you think of Zena, you get the young girl who was willing to kill gods for her family. Here, however, she's alone and afraid, with nothing left to guide her but her own foolishness.

Christine
A girl who rules with an iron fist, she fears betrayal more than anything. Although her gang obeys her every command, she still feels as though the only ones who will listen to her are the shadows.

Malia
Calm, yet ruthless, Malia aims to crush her foes with her deafening silence and calm demeanor. She knows not of mercy, and will be sure to send you off with a smile.

Siv
A girl who speaks only for herself. She hates her life as a gangster, so she lies her way up the ranks for a better life. She is no stranger to betrayal, as she has carried it out multiple times. She is truly despicable.

Talia
Desperate for love, Talia will do anything for Christine. She will gladly bloody her hands to please her 'mother', as she has no clue how to otherwise deal with her enemies. She is rather childish, but her skills are more than efficient.

Alexis
Experimental and dangerous, Alexis is one of the greatest threats the Nightingales have faced. She claims what she is doing is for the greater good, as she wants to prevent the ultimate fate of a Magical Girl... By kidnapping and experimenting with Soul Gems.
[b]Witches[/b] [img]https://i.imgur.com/shzXp2A.png[/img] -Art by kormoran Name: Abigail Type: Ink Witch Nature: To Forget Description: Abigail, the Ink Witch. Her nature is to forget. She is desperately searching for a way out of her Barrier, as she needs to see the real world, but she weeps every day because she can’t remember who her friends were. To defeat this Witch, one must bring her a keepsake belonging to her friends. Barrier: Her barrier resembles a forest. Familiars: Name: Harley Duty: To guide Description: Harley, the Ink Witch’s familiar. Its duty is to guide. It wants to help its master through the forest so that it gets home, but is easily distracted by guests, as it always goes off to guide others to Abigail instead. [img]https://i.imgur.com/Vp3j2WO.jpg[/img] Name: Sharon Type: Cage Witch Nature: Animalistic Description: Sharon, the Cage Witch. Its nature is animalistic. Normally, the eyes on this Witch’s cage remain closed, and it remains dormant inside its cage. However, its familiars drive it crazy, and it lashes out at any and all who try to help. Only an old friend can defeat this Witch. Barrier: Its barrier resembles a carnival, with the Witch residing in the main tent. The smell of popcorn is always present. Familiars: Name: Peter Duty: To Laugh Description: Peter, the Cage Witch’s familiar. His nature is to laugh. He sits in the sidelines of the freak show, always finding new parts of the Witch to make fun of. The Witch always does its best to rid its tent of these shadows, but hit incredible agility and ability to multiply means it can never get rid of him, or the guilt that follows after. (Image Not Found) Name: Lisa Type: Scorpion Witch Nature: Abandonment Description: Lisa, the Scorpion Witch. Her nature is abandonment. She is constantly falling apart, so she stitches herself back together with the red string she believes will decide her fate. When one enters her barrier, she cuts off their legs and stitches them to her familiars so that she has ‘real friends’ who will never leave her. Barrier: Her barrier is a cave of red string, with occasional spools sticking out. Familiars: Name: Blaze Duty: To leave Description: Blaze, the Scorpion Witch’s familiar. Her nature is to leave. She pretends to befriend the Witch, only to blame something on her and leave to make a new friend. Despite this, it is incredibly clingy to its other friends. [img]https://i.imgur.com/pSIhS3Wg.png[/img] -Art by Raytini02 Name: Belladonna Type: Antique Witch Nature: Perfection Description: Belladonna, the Antique Witch. Her nature is perfection. She spends every day in front of the mirror, doing everything she can to perfect herself for her familiars. However, she can never remove the glass shard in her chest, so she will always see herself as a failure. Barrier: Her barrier resembles a dressing room full of antiques. Familiars: Name: Apollo Duty: To criticize Description: Apollo, the Antique Witch’s familiar. Its nature is to criticize. It is never satisfied with Belladonna’s changes, and forces her to change herself for him. Despite how harsh he is, the Witch aims for his approval. [img]https://i.imgur.com/RbNHHgi.jpg[/img] Name: Hilda Type: Executioner Witch Nature: Guilt Description: Hilda, the Executioner Witch. Her nature is guilt. She stands at the chopping block, awaiting the victims her familiars bring. She hides her face with her axe, feeling nothing but guilt for what she does. She ensures a quick, painless death for those unfortunate enough to find her barrier. Barrier: Familiars: Name: Zenaida Duty: To Capture Description: Zenaida, the Executioner Witch’s familiar. Its nature is to capture. Their torsos resemble the cages the Witch itself feels trapped in, grabbing at its victims with little to no mercy. [img]https://imgur.com/kdgvBa9.png[/img] Name: Theresa Type: Royal Witch Nature: Decay Description: Theresa, the Royal Witch. Its nature is decay. On its own, it is the center of its own attention, and thus feels the most important. It stays away from its victims, because once a person sees it, its flower will wither away, and it will no longer be beautiful or worthy of its own attention. At this, she will rage, and impale her victims with her needles. Barrier: Her barrier is a hedge maze, with stained glass lined along the walls, telling a story of a Magical Girl who only spoke for herself, and fell when she had nothing left to say. You’ll know you’ve reached the Witch when all the windows around you are shattered, and you stand before an elegant garden. This is where she resides. Familiars: Name: Christie Duty: To tend to the garden Description: Christie, the Royal Witch’s familiar. Its nature is to tend to the garden. It runs around, flailing its giant scissors, planting flowers from the bodies of its victims. It tends to focus its attention towards the Witch’s door, however, and has built up quite the garden for her. [img]https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/521227180139741184/600632809509617664/magical-girl---furnace.png[/img] -By QuetzelMuse Name: Stacey Type: Furnace Nature: Hatred Description: Stacey, the Furnace Witch. Its nature is hatred. It is completely alone, so it takes out its hatred for itself on the walls that confine it. It is constantly reliving the same memory over and over again, so it can never truly be rid of its self hatred. It is not all bite, however, and can be reasoned with. The only way to defeat this Witch is to lead it into the house. Barrier: The barrier resembles a prison courtyard, with a burning house in the center. There is no labyrinth, just an empty prison courtyard. The Witch itself can be found in the corner, surrounded by broken blades and bits of concrete. Even the Witch itself doesn't know what is in the house, and it is too scared to find out. Familiars: Name: Goonie Duty: To burn the house down Description: Goonie, the Furnace Witch's familiar. His duty is to burn the house down. He tries his victims to the burning house to taunt the Witch, and to further its fear of the house. [img]https://i.imgur.com/pOqu4fX.png[/img] -Art by OyasumiKasumi Name: Sandra Type: Candle Witch Nature: Regret Description: Sandra, the Candle Witch. Her nature is regret. She has nothing left, and only continues to burn because she has no other choice. Extra wax builds up when she thinks too hard, so she let's herself become the 'dumb muscle' and burns endlessly. The life she left behind is the only thing she wants to remember, and she will come to know nothing more Barrier: A long hallway that's been trashed with broken furniture, shattered windows that look into the Witch's memories, and torn down posters that display other Magical Girls. Familiars: Name: Chloe Duty: To eat leftover wax Description: Chloe, the Candle Witch's familiar. Its duty is to eat leftover wax. It doesn't want its master to stress itself out, so it eats up the wax that builds up when the Witch becomes overwhelmed to lighten the load.
Witches
shzXp2A.png
-Art by kormoran
Name: Abigail
Type: Ink Witch
Nature: To Forget
Description: Abigail, the Ink Witch. Her nature is to forget. She is desperately searching for a way out of her Barrier, as she needs to see the real world, but she weeps every day because she can’t remember who her friends were. To defeat this Witch, one must bring her a keepsake belonging to her friends.
Barrier: Her barrier resembles a forest.

Familiars:

Name: Harley
Duty: To guide
Description: Harley, the Ink Witch’s familiar. Its duty is to guide. It wants to help its master through the forest so that it gets home, but is easily distracted by guests, as it always goes off to guide others to Abigail instead.

Vp3j2WO.jpg
Name: Sharon
Type: Cage Witch
Nature: Animalistic
Description: Sharon, the Cage Witch. Its nature is animalistic. Normally, the eyes on this Witch’s cage remain closed, and it remains dormant inside its cage. However, its familiars drive it crazy, and it lashes out at any and all who try to help. Only an old friend can defeat this Witch.
Barrier: Its barrier resembles a carnival, with the Witch residing in the main tent. The smell of popcorn is always present.

Familiars:

Name: Peter
Duty: To Laugh
Description: Peter, the Cage Witch’s familiar. His nature is to laugh. He sits in the sidelines of the freak show, always finding new parts of the Witch to make fun of. The Witch always does its best to rid its tent of these shadows, but hit incredible agility and ability to multiply means it can never get rid of him, or the guilt that follows after.

(Image Not Found)
Name: Lisa
Type: Scorpion Witch
Nature: Abandonment
Description: Lisa, the Scorpion Witch. Her nature is abandonment. She is constantly falling apart, so she stitches herself back together with the red string she believes will decide her fate. When one enters her barrier, she cuts off their legs and stitches them to her familiars so that she has ‘real friends’ who will never leave her.
Barrier: Her barrier is a cave of red string, with occasional spools sticking out.

Familiars:

Name: Blaze
Duty: To leave
Description: Blaze, the Scorpion Witch’s familiar. Her nature is to leave. She pretends to befriend the Witch, only to blame something on her and leave to make a new friend. Despite this, it is incredibly clingy to its other friends.

pSIhS3Wg.png
-Art by Raytini02
Name: Belladonna
Type: Antique Witch
Nature: Perfection
Description: Belladonna, the Antique Witch. Her nature is perfection. She spends every day in front of the mirror, doing everything she can to perfect herself for her familiars. However, she can never remove the glass shard in her chest, so she will always see herself as a failure.
Barrier: Her barrier resembles a dressing room full of antiques.

Familiars:

Name: Apollo
Duty: To criticize
Description: Apollo, the Antique Witch’s familiar. Its nature is to criticize. It is never satisfied with Belladonna’s changes, and forces her to change herself for him. Despite how harsh he is, the Witch aims for his approval.

RbNHHgi.jpg
Name: Hilda
Type: Executioner Witch
Nature: Guilt
Description: Hilda, the Executioner Witch. Her nature is guilt. She stands at the chopping block, awaiting the victims her familiars bring. She hides her face with her axe, feeling nothing but guilt for what she does. She ensures a quick, painless death for those unfortunate enough to find her barrier.
Barrier:

Familiars:

Name: Zenaida
Duty: To Capture
Description: Zenaida, the Executioner Witch’s familiar. Its nature is to capture. Their torsos resemble the cages the Witch itself feels trapped in, grabbing at its victims with little to no mercy.

kdgvBa9.png
Name: Theresa
Type: Royal Witch
Nature: Decay
Description: Theresa, the Royal Witch. Its nature is decay. On its own, it is the center of its own attention, and thus feels the most important. It stays away from its victims, because once a person sees it, its flower will wither away, and it will no longer be beautiful or worthy of its own attention. At this, she will rage, and impale her victims with her needles.
Barrier: Her barrier is a hedge maze, with stained glass lined along the walls, telling a story of a Magical Girl who only spoke for herself, and fell when she had nothing left to say. You’ll know you’ve reached the Witch when all the windows around you are shattered, and you stand before an elegant garden. This is where she resides.

Familiars:

Name: Christie
Duty: To tend to the garden
Description: Christie, the Royal Witch’s familiar. Its nature is to tend to the garden. It runs around, flailing its giant scissors, planting flowers from the bodies of its victims. It tends to focus its attention towards the Witch’s door, however, and has built up quite the garden for her.

magical-girl---furnace.png
-By QuetzelMuse
Name: Stacey
Type: Furnace
Nature: Hatred
Description: Stacey, the Furnace Witch. Its nature is hatred. It is completely alone, so it takes out its hatred for itself on the walls that confine it. It is constantly reliving the same memory over and over again, so it can never truly be rid of its self hatred. It is not all bite, however, and can be reasoned with. The only way to defeat this Witch is to lead it into the house.
Barrier: The barrier resembles a prison courtyard, with a burning house in the center. There is no labyrinth, just an empty prison courtyard. The Witch itself can be found in the corner, surrounded by broken blades and bits of concrete. Even the Witch itself doesn't know what is in the house, and it is too scared to find out.

Familiars:

Name: Goonie
Duty: To burn the house down
Description: Goonie, the Furnace Witch's familiar. His duty is to burn the house down. He tries his victims to the burning house to taunt the Witch, and to further its fear of the house.

pOqu4fX.png
-Art by OyasumiKasumi
Name: Sandra
Type: Candle Witch
Nature: Regret
Description: Sandra, the Candle Witch. Her nature is regret. She has nothing left, and only continues to burn because she has no other choice. Extra wax builds up when she thinks too hard, so she let's herself become the 'dumb muscle' and burns endlessly. The life she left behind is the only thing she wants to remember, and she will come to know nothing more
Barrier: A long hallway that's been trashed with broken furniture, shattered windows that look into the Witch's memories, and torn down posters that display other Magical Girls.

Familiars:

Name: Chloe
Duty: To eat leftover wax
Description: Chloe, the Candle Witch's familiar. Its duty is to eat leftover wax. It doesn't want its master to stress itself out, so it eats up the wax that builds up when the Witch becomes overwhelmed to lighten the load.
Stories
(not in chronological order)

This was it. Elesa couldn't believe it; even after each Magical Girl of Harper City banded against the witch Corona, for the first time in forever... They'd lost. But now, that wasn't what was concerning Elesa. No, what terrified her, more than anything, was that her soul gem was tainted to hell. She wasn't ready for this. She didn't want to die. She'd only contracted a week ago, it couldn't be over now. She was writhing in pain as her soul gem sent spasms of agony through her body as it transformed into a Grief Seed.

She was alone. Trapped underneath a broken skyscraper, Elesa didn't bother to move herself. Instead, she dreamed that, instead of witching out with no-one by her side, she was dying in an imaginary boyfriend's arms, who was comforting her that it would be alright, they'd win, and there was nothing to worry about. His words were lost in her ears, though, as they felt like nothing more than mumbles to fill in the empty silence that hung in the air.

But reality soon hit her like a truck: There was no-one there. She winced at the pain once more, tears forming in her eyes, as she berated herself for being so pathetic that she would dream up imaginary characters to push her worries aside. Elesa silently begged that maybe Charlie or Lilith would find her, and purify her soul gem before it was too late. Elesa gave a forced laugh at these hopes. Of course they wouldn't come true.

Elesa looked back to her soul gem. It was now beginning to crack, to which she began to panic again. Just give me a little more time! I still haven't apologized to my friends... She thought back to when her former friends had broken up for good and left her alone, all over some stupid mistake Elesa made. First that, then the incident with her boyfriend... Just let me say sorry! Please! I didn't mean it... Don't let me die alone... Please... She began dreaming up the false boyfriend again, who pet her hair as the pain ripped through her like a bullet. Elesa gave in to her temptations of delusion and let the illusion falsely love her, just to give her a small moment of happiness in this hell. At least let it be quick... I hate this... I don't want to feel this pain...

Then, everything seemed to stop. The pain, the pouring rain, even time itself, it all froze as Elesa gave up, and she froze too. Had her illusion abilities really extended beyond her control, when her soul gem was at its very peak now, and she was going to die? She swallowed the hard lump in her throat, begging it to just hurry up so that she wouldn't have to endure this brutish peace, this deafening silence any longer. This wasn't a chance to die in peace; this was just an extension to her suffering.

Finally, Elesa closed her eyes, and her soul gem shattered.
“You told me this… Anomaly was here?” Marcelina was growing more worried as she travelled through the alleyway. Light blue crystals were sprouting from the walls, indicating that a battle had definitely taken place. “Can you tell me more about her?”

“She’s not from this world, that’s for sure,” Spikey replied as he padded alongside her. “As for her mental state… I think you should see for yourself.”

Marcelina pushed aside a loose crystal that lead into the back of the alley. Large crystals impaled the ground to lean against the side of an old building, providing a sort of inescapable shelter. Inside, she could hear muffled sobbing, followed by a girl muttering, “I wanna go home…” over and over. Marcelina lightly knocked her fist against the crystal, to which the sobbing immediately stopped.

“Y-yeah?” The girl stuttered. “W-what do you want n-now?”

“May I come in?” Marcelina called. “I just want to talk.”

“H-how do I know y-you’re not here to k-kill me?” The girl asked shakily. “Words- They ain’t nothing. They- they’re always empty.”

“Come out,” Marcelina replied. “I’ll show you that you can trust me.”

The other side remained silent for a while, before the crystals began to shrink, revealing a young girl crouched in the corner. Shaggy brown hair fell over her face, and her eyes were puffy and pink. Cuts and bruises all over her body signified that, yes, she had definitely been in a fight.

Marcelina slipped her Soul Gem off her finger and put it in her pocket, before coming over and kneeling down. “See? I don’t have my Soul Gem on me right now- It’s just around the corner. So I can’t hurt you, even if I tried.”

“You’re one of us?” The girl gasped in disbelief, before visibly recoiling. “B-but… Don’t you all hunt… People like me?”

“People like you? Oh, no. We hunt Witches, not people, even if they’re foreigners.” Marcelina sat down next to the girl, pulled a bar of chocolate from her bag and offered it to the girl. “Want some?”

“Sure…” The girl took the bar and just stared at it. “What do you want?”

“I want to help you.” Marcelina looked at the girl with hopeful eyes. “Look… What’s happening to you isn’t your fault. As far as I know, you just came here, and people just started… Attacking you.”

The girl nodded. “Yeah, basically. I came here because… Life at home was hell, and I wanted to get away from it. I finally killed a Witch and took its Grief Seed, and everyone else wanted it, so they did… This…” She shrank back as she held a Grief Seed in her hands, tears forming in her eyes. “They told me I didn’t deserve it… That I was never meant to be here… And they beat me to hell and back. Told me they were ‘protecting the balance’.”

“Why is that Grief Seed so important to you?” Marcelina asked.

“It’s my first one.” The girl held it close to her. “I-I’m so weak, I can’t even kill a Witch on my own… So when I finally got one, I wanted to keep it forever… But I guess that can’t happen, can it? Hell, it might be the only Grief Seed I ever get… People like me have no place in this world.”

“What was your wish?” Marcelina reached out and held the girl’s hand. She flinched for a second.

“My… What?” The girl looked confused. “Why does that matter?

“Your wish. I want to know what you became a Magical Girl for.”
The girl shifted uncomfortably where she sat. “I… I can’t tell you. It’s… Kinda personal…”

“Then fight for it.”

“What?”

“If it’s too personal to tell, then it has to be important to you. And you’ll want to honor your wish, don’t you?” Marcelina helped the girl to her feet. “Yes, this world is gonna fight you. But you have to fight back. You can’t hide forever. If you think you have no place here, then make one for yourself. Alright? And if you dare to doubt yourself for even one second, I will kill you.” Marcelina was holding the girl’s shoulders now.

The girl looked up and gave a small smile. “I… Thank you. You don’t understand how much that means to me…” She started to tear up again, and Marcelina grabbed her to make sure she didn’t fall to her knees. “Sorry… I’m crying a lot, aren’t I?”

“You were just jumped by Magical Girls five times stronger than you, and you’re acting like it’s not okay to cry?” Marcelina chuckled. “Damn. Home life must have been worse than hell. You gonna be okay?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll be fine…” The girl wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her hoodie. “Hey, you have a place I can stay? I’m kinda… Homeless right now.”

“Not a problem, kid. Stay close. What’s your name, by the way?” Marcelina turned as she and the girl were leaving the alleyway.

“Uh, Zena. Zena’s my name,” The girl replied nervously.

“Alright, Zena. Let’s go and get you a life.” Marcelina grabbed Zena’s hand and pulled her down the street towards her house. “We’ve got a lot to do tomorrow.”

“What do you mean?” Zena asked.

“You’ll see.” Marcelina smiled, a surge of happiness pulsing through her. I knew it… I’m not alone, am I? I really can save people from their despair! My wish… It won’t be in vain. Cynthia… I won’t let you down!
The Witch’s barrier faded away, leaving Katria and Aleah alone in the alleyway. Ahead of them stood a Grief Seed with a heart pattern. Elesa’s Grief Seed.

Katria stepped forward to pick it up, but stopped when a hand swiped it from the ground. “Huh, what’s this?” An obnoxiously loud voice asked. It belonged to a girl with orange hair, mean-looking red eyes and a poisonous grin. “Looks like another Grief Seed. Eh, doesn’t matter. You don’t need it, do you?” The girl put the Grief Seed in a small bag hanging from her shoulder that seemed to contain quite a few Grief Seeds.

The three girls were speechless for a hot second. What the hell was this girl’s problem? Did she normally disrespect people like this? “Hey, what the hell?” Katria broke the silence with an angered tone.

“Give that back,” Aleah snarled. “It’s ours. We killed her, not you.”

“True, but you got more than enough Grief Seeds, don’t ya?” The girl seemed to be enjoying everyone’s shock. “Besides, I deserve it. I need to keep myself alive, because I matter more.”

“I’d say you have more than enough Grief Seeds,” Katria pointed out. “Where’d you get those, huh? I’d like to know.”

“Just took them from the less important. They didn’t need them. Nobody will miss them.” The girl checked her fingernails, before glancing at the three. “C’mon, you guys can understand, right? I’m clearly more important than you.”

“I only understand that you’re an entitled, selfish *****!” Katria charged at the girl, spear raised to impale her, when suddenly she was flung backwards. Katria landed on her feet and looked up to see that a lightning bolt had struck where she once stood. She lowered her head to reveal two large, flaming horns sprouting from behind her hair, and rammed into the girl, knocking her backwards. The girl stopped her fall by floating in midair and launched an electric ball at Katria.

Katria dodged and noticed Aleah signaling for her to move aside. As she did so, four red hot metal poles flew by, followed by strings of ember shards. The metal poles pressed into the girl’s skin as the shards wrapped around her. The girl’s eyes betrayed a small glimmer of ‘Ah, crap, I should have just grabbed that Grief Seed and ran away,’ as she struggled to break through her restraints with her lightning.

This did not bother Aleah, who summoned a couple of knuckle dusters and threw a flurry of punches at the girl, showing little to no mercy in her eyes, before rounding it off with a strong kick to the gut, launching the girl into the wall.

“Damn, Aleah!” Katria exclaimed. “I didn’t know you did that!”

“I don’t know what I do anymore. I just want this kid to learn her place.” Aleah summoned a hammer and rushed at the girl, set it on fire, and brought it crashing down on her, sending bits of rock flying here and there.

Electricity crackled from underneath the hammer, as the girl attempted to deflect it, eventually managing to throw it off of her. She was now significantly damaged, her outfit tattered and torn. She reached into her bag, and pulled out a small bomb. “You know, it doesn’t really ma-”

“WILL YOU SHUT UP ALREADY?!” Aleah roared, before summoning a wall of sharp hot metal and throwing it at the girl. One piece must have struck the bomb, because it sent the girl skyrocketing through the air. When Katria saw the girl land on the ground, she rushed forward and yanked the bag from her. The strap broke, causing the bag to spill all of its contents onto the ground.

Katria and Aleah were absolutely shocked. There were possibly hundreds of Grief Seeds in there, most of them about to hatch. Katria could tell that this girl definitely could not have earned all of these Grief Seeds on her own, and what she said earlier made something click. Suddenly, Aleah’s rage was even more understandable.

“YOU *******!” She charged at the girl, impaled her with her spear and set it on fire to rub salt in the wound. She twirled her spear to inflict more suffering on the girl, her face practically flaming. “How many Magical Girls did you steal from, huh? How many did you leave behind?”

“Like I said, they didn’t need them. They’re just gonna… Die, anyways, so why does it matter?” The girl grunted, placing her hands around the spear, but still daring to glare Katria in the eye. “If they couldn’t… Last long enough to kill a Witch, then they’re… Practically useless…”

Katria had heard enough. She pulled her spear out of the girl, which was now dripping with blood, grabbed Elesa’s Grief Seed, and kicked the rest of the Grief Seeds aside. “Come on, Aleah. We’ve wasted more than enough time with this chick. If these things hatch, it’s her problem.”

Aleah, clearly still full of rage, obeyed Katria, and followed her out of the alleyway. “Let this be a reminder, next time you find your hands where they don’t belong. We don’t screw around.” She de-transformed and left, listening to the girl’s pained grunts as she attempted to stand up to collect all the Grief Seeds she’d stolen. “Why didn’t you take those Grief Seeds from her?”

“You’re joking, right? I just told you, it’s her problem if these things hatch and gang up on her.” Katria threw her bag over her shoulder as they turned onto a street. “Besides, other girls are bound to give her the same beating once we tell them about it.”

“What a spoiled brat.”

“Hey, don’t worry. She’ll get what’s coming to her.” Katria put a hand on Aleah’s shoulder. “We’ll talk about what to do with Elesa’s seed tomorrow, alright? You need some rest.”

“Yeah, maybe I do. I’ll see you later.” Without another word, Aleah turned, crossed the road, and headed back to her house, still grumbling under her breath. Katria kept on going towards her apartment, when she felt her phone buzz in her pocket. Curious, she pulled it out to see a text from Lilith.

julia wants to meet up near the fountain for a night out. you in?
The barrier faded away, leaving Lilith and Spectre alone in the warehouse. A Grief Seed was planted in the center of the large room where Spectre stood.
“Hey, what the hell is wrong with you?!” Lilith shouted, swinging her cleaver behind her back. “You don’t just steal kills like that!”
“That Witch was healing. It would have taken you forever to kill it if I hadn’t stepped in.” Spectre bent over and picked up the Grief Seed. Then, she whirled around just in time to block in incoming attack from Lilith.
“I’m the one who beat that thing down,” Lilith growled. “I deserve that Grief Seed. Give it to me.”
“How about no? I just saved you from that thing. I think I’ll take it.”
“You know what?” Lilith dropped her cleaver to the ground. “I was willing to let you be, and stay away from you and your weird hunting methods.” She closed her eyes and tilted her head towards the sky. “But if your hunting involves disrespecting other Magical Girls like this…” She opened her eyes, which were now flashing with a wild fury, and charged towards Spectre. “I guess I’ll just take it off your dead body!”
Spectre reacted immediately. She rolled to the side and shot an ink blast at Lilith, knocking her backwards into a stack of crates. Lilith, slightly stunned by the ink, summoned spikes from the ground to surround Spectre. Spectre leaped into the air and stood on the tip of a spike, aiming an energy blast at Lilith. She responded by speeding from the pile of woodchips and pulling out a microphone with an endless chord, tying that chord around Spectre’s wrist and throwing her into the air.
Everything seemed to slow down as Spectre took aim at Lilith while she was being thrown into the air. Her gauntlet lit up and fired, while Lilith ducked her head and rushed towards Spectre with her cleaver. Spectre lifted her bladed gauntlet to defend herself, sparks flying through the air as the two blades clashed and grinded against each other.
“Not gonna lie, you’re good with Witches!” Lilith taunted. “But you’re an idiot if you think I’m just as dumb!”
“I’m just not used to your abilities, is all,” Spectre replied. “And you’re not used to mine.”
Suddenly, Spectre’s gauntlet lengthened, and another one appeared on her left hand. She twirled around and, with Lilith caught off guard, sent a flurry of jabs at her, before spraying ink on the ground below her. Hands sprouted from the ink and clawed at Lilith, who responded by summoning several cleavers and kicking each one at Spectre, sending a storm of blades her way.
Spectre didn’t move. Instead, she held out her hand, pressing it against the foremost cleaver that was aimed straight for her throat, causing the whole army to stop. The blades dissolved into ink, which bubbled and rose into a giant blob. A blue mermaid’s tail emerged from the ink, as did two shackled hands holding a black crystal. The ink fell away to reveal that these two body parts were attached to another black crystal, this one filled with white faces pressed up against its walls, banging against it and screaming. Two sides of the crystal cracked, and light blue fins broke free to hold the shackled arms.
“What the hell-” Lilith took a moment to process the beast that stood before her. “Wait… Is that a Witch?! Wh-Where’s its barrier?!”
“I am its barrier.” Spectre stepped forward so that she was right next to it. “I’ve learned to utilize my soul gem’s taint so that I can bring forth my inner Witch. As you can see…” She pointed to the key-shaped gem on her chest, which contained very little darkness, if any. “It’s not terribly strong at the moment.”
“But you hate Witches! Why are you using one?!” Lilith cried.
“This one hasn’t been born yet. Therefore, it doesn’t have any of the hatred for humanity a normal Witch has.” Spectre flipped her hair, a calm expression on her face. “I think you can take it, though.”
Lilith stopped for a second, before letting her cleaver fall to the ground. “You’re insane,” She breathed. “But I’d be even crazier to take on both of you.”
Spectre raised an eyebrow, and the Witch dissolved into ink. “Good choice.”
“But I’m not through with you yet. Listen to me, alright? Mess with me, you’re getting a fight. Mess with my friends…” Lilith reached for her own neck and made a snapping noise.
“I’d like to see you try.” Spectre de-transformed, turned around and began to leave. She threw the Grief Seed behind her back. “Here. For all your trouble.”
She left the warehouse without another word, heading straight back to her apartment. Goddamned rookies.
But on her way back, she noticed that something… Changed.
Everything was quiet on the way back. Too quiet. Shouldn’t the crickets be awake and singing by now? And what happened to the curfew siren? Spectre shuddered. This wasn’t right.
She could see a fire burning in the distance, and her heart sank. No… This can’t be… She looked up to find dancing familiars in the shadows, seemingly presenting something to her. But what? Spectre transformed back into her magical girl uniform and prepared to attack, when someone grabbed her hand.
“I’ll handle this,” She said, before a figure rushed out from behind her, stabbing needles into an invisible figure. The Witch revealed itself as a brown doll with a cage for a torso, attacking with dried up vines that attempted to strangle the young Magical Girl. She landed, and her black cloak was blown away, showing herself as the Heart Knight. Her red hair blew in the wind as she turned to face Spectre. “Get out of here.”
“And let you kill yourself?” Spectre stepped in front of the Heart Knight, her gauntlet’s blade lengthening. “Hell no.”
“I can handle this. Get away. Katria’s waiting for you.” She leaped into the air and summoned needles to surround herself, each one attached to a red thread. She fired them at the dancing Witch, the red strings wrapping around the Witch to limit its motions. The needles exploded, but through the smoke, Spectre could see that the Witch was still dancing, sending roots towards the Heart Knight, who landed on the roots and ran towards the Witch. She turned around, surprised to see Spectre still standing there. “What are you doing? Get out of here!”
“You expect me to just leave this thing all to yourself?” Spectre spat. “This… is no ordinary Witch. If we let it go wild, if you die, then this Witch will go back into hiding, and become strong enough to destroy the ci-”
“I told you, I’ve got this!” The Heart Knight replied irritatedly. “Are you always this stubborn?”
“Yes.” With that, Spectre ran at the Witch, stabbing ferociously at its face, hurriedly dodging the dead plants that flew at her. The Witch kept on disappearing and reappearing, laughing maniacally as she continued to dance.
Something was… Off about this Heart Knight. Her fighting style wasn’t elegant nor strategic; it was erratic and impulsive. And from what Spectre knew, she was a friend of Lilith’s. So where… “Hey, wait a second… You have friends, right? Where are they? Aren’t you always together?”
“Not anymore,” The Heart Knight grunted. “I spared a Witch, so my friends decided I wasn’t trustworthy, and left me alone.”
“Why’d you spare it?” Spectre gaped at the girl. “You can’t trust those things!”
“I was gullible then. But not anymore. Now, I can kill any Witch.” She rushed forward and sent a flurry of needles at the Witch, using red string to suffocate it. “I’ve been telling you, I don’t need your hel-” Next thing Spectre knew, brown roots had sprouted from the ground, impaling the Heart Knight and pushing her against the wall, dragging her and slamming her into the ground again and again. Spectre ran forward, leaped into the air, and was about to slash through the roots, when suddenly, flames filled her vision, and she was flung backwards.
“What the-” Spectre looked up to see another Magical Girl floating downwards, carrying the Heart Knight in her arms.
“This one giving you trouble?” She asked, her yellow and white hair floating in the wind. “Don’t worry. Elesa told me about it earlier. Sorry I came in late. Name’s Aleah.”
“Nice to meet you.” Spectre turned back to the Witch, which was still dancing. “Hurry. If we don’t take that thing out soon, it’ll grow-”
“I know, Spectre. Don’t worry.” Aleah set the Heart Knight down on a bench, and summoned a steel cage to protect her. “Others are coming. They’d know it’s bad, if a Witch showed up without a barrier surrounding it.” Aleah jumped, summoning several pieces of burning hot steel into the air with her. One swipe of her hand, and the steel came crashing down on the Witch, who resisted by growing a dead tree from her stomach that grabbed at the flaming bullets.
“Looks like it won’t let up, huh?” Aleah smirked, watching the Witch continue to dance, as if nothing was happening. She threw her wrench at the thing, before summoning a hammer which had a flaming head. Aleah ran at it, and Spectre followed, lengthening her blade even further and preparing to stab it. Aleah slammed her hammer down on the Witch’s head, and, without warning, the Witch disappeared, leaving the hammer to it an empty street. That’s when Aleah and Spectre noticed their surroundings.
Everything surrounding them was destroyed, with fire blooming all around them. The Heart Knight was just getting up, as the cage disappeared. “What… Where’s the Witch?”
“Look!” Aleah pointed to the sky, where there seemed to be bright burst of light. The Witch was floating towards it, lifting up buildings with telekinesis and throwing them across the city, causing even more destruction than the roots that sprouted everywhere to overtake the city.
“That’s Julia and her gang, isn’t it?” The Heart Knight asked. “They’ll never be able to take it on their own!”
“Then let’s go help them!” Spectre started leaping from building to building, with Aleah and the Heart Knight following close behind. As she neared the Witch, she readied her blades and cross slashed it in midair, before spraying ink to propel herself back onto the rooftop of a building. Aleah launched a ball of fire at it, while the Heart Knight restrained the Witch with red strings so that she could impale it with her needles. It didn’t help, because the Witch just smacked both of them down with its dead roots. They pounded the two Magical Girls into the ground, which angered Spectre.
Finally, Spectre decided to spray ink onto the ground in front of Aleah and the Heart Knight, where her Witch emerged and let out a loud scream. Fountain pens rose up from the ground, and were flung at the roots to drive them away. Inky hands grabbed the roots and yanked them out of the ground, only to throw them back at the Witch they came from. Spectre’s Witch slithered up one of the buildings, extended its arms and attempted to drag the other Witch to the ground.
The other Witch retaliated with even more roots that whipped Spectre’s Witch and tried to pull it away. Spectre took this as an opportunity to send a storm of fountain pen heads at the Witch, and then leap down and send a flurry of slashes and jabs at it. Before she reached the Witch, however, she was interrupted by a storm of bright pink candy shards. She looked to the side and saw Dorothy, that pink Magical Girl who loved sweets, along with Julia, Gina and Morgan.
“Aw, you didn’t want us to get in on the fun?” She exclaimed. “C’mon! You guys can’t have it all to yourself!”
A bright red flame rammed straight into the Witch, and as the flames dissipated, Spectre could see Katria, shaking her head and brushing dust off her dress. She looked up and gave a smug grin to Spectre.
“You think I’m just gonna stay home and let you get all the action?” She laughed. “Like hell!” She charged at the Witch again, this time with fiery horns sprouting from her forehead. She made direct contact with its chest and launched it across the city, destroying a couple of buildings in the process. “This thing’s goin’ down!”
Spectre’s Witch dissolved into ink, and Spectre herself went to go and chase after the stronger Witch, lengthening her blade even more and adding a second one to her other arm. She leaped into the air to attack, when suddenly she couldn’t see anything. She was being enveloped by the roots the Witch created, covering her face, her body her hands… She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move, nothing. The Witch was overpowering her.
It didn’t last for long, though, because the next thing she knew, she was falling through the air, and everything around her was on fire. She landed safely on the roof of a building, and looked up to find Katria, floating in midair, her spear falling into her hand, before she went down to join Spectre. Now, the two were back-to-back to each other.
“Hey… Spectre?” Katria asked.
“Yeah?”
“You’re not gonna die on me, are you?” Katria started to cry. “Please don’t… I couldn’t… I couldn’t live if you did… Cus I know that it’s gonna be without me… And I won’t get to see you again...”
“Katria…” Spectre searched for the words to comfort Katria, but didn’t have the time to say much. “We’ll still be together in your dreams, though, right? Because even if I do die, it’ll be protecting you. Now, come on. We have a Witch to kill.” With that, she leaped into the air and threw a spear made of ink at the Witch before running as fast as she could, alongside Julia, who was preparing her scarf to be a whip. Julia stopped and started twirling her scarf while singing a strange song very loudly. The scarf’s movements sent Julia’s voice travelling in waves that shook the whole city and caused the Witch to finally fall to the ground, though it was still dancing.
“Elesa! Now’s your chance!” She called. The Heart Knight summoned multiple needles that caught themselves on fire. She brought them all down on the Witch, to which they all exploded. As the dust cleared, the Magical Girls saw that the Witch had fallen to a crumpled heap.
Spectre watched the other Magical Girls excitedly bounce away, happy that this destructive Witch was now dead, as did Elesa. Katria stepped forward to watch the Witch’s corpse burn up. “Damn, what a mess, huh? We got a lot to fix up tomorrow. Well, I’ll be at the apartment.” She de-transformed and headed towards the edge of the tower, when suddenly, the Witch began to move again. It rose up so quickly, it put lightning to shame.
“Wait, what?! You're supposed to be dead!” Elesa cried. Spectre was about to say something, too, but she didn’t have time. She was now soaring through the air, being attacked by those infernal dead roots that left slashes and marks all over her body, clawing at her and pounding her into dust, before they threw her in an old alleyway. She barely had the energy to even lift her gauntlet, and instead could only watch as a skyscraper smashed into the tower she was just standing on. She looked up to see something large heading hurtling into the alleyway, right at her.
Then, everything went black.
“So, what is it?” Katria approached Lilith and Julia and leaned on the lamp post. “Why’d you call me?”

“It’s about Elesa, and- And how we’re going to explain it.” Lilith looked to the ground, while Julia put a hand on her shoulder to comfort her.

“We’ve been talking for a bit, about how to tell her family what happened… And… We’ve decided…” Julia paused, before taking a deep breath. “We have to tell her parents. About everything. Soul gems, Witches… All of it. They have to know.”

Katria was silent for a hot second, before finally croaking, “Now?”

“Well, what else should we do? Say she was murdered? Ruin someone’s life for a crime they didn’t commit? Tell us, Katria. What do you want us to do? Say nothing? Wait for them to figure it out?” Lilith got into Katria’s face, hurt painted into her eyes.

“But why now, after everything that’s happened? Why would they believe you? Why should they? Didn’t you abandon her? Over a rookie mistake?! You left her to die, and now you’re acting like none of that happened, like just two days ago you and her were fighting that thing together, when you did NOTHING!” Katria roared. “Nothing to help us, to help her, because you thought she was useless!”

“Katria-” Julia tried to intervene.

“Don’t act all innocent, Daffodil! You’re just here because you can’t stand your friend here being guilty over what she did!” Katria turned back to Lilith, who had shock written all over her.

Katria wasn’t done yet. “You didn’t help her when she was fighting those Witches for you. You didn’t help her when she grabbed her mother’s box cutter so she could be beautiful. But I did. And I had to watch her die, unable to do anything, because she thought she failed. That she wasn’t good enough for you to save her, that she could never prove herself. Did she, oh great Song Demon? Or was she just another foolish girl who signed her life away?” Katria was fuming at this point, yelling at the top of her lungs, anything to ruin this girl for ruining her friend. Tears began to form in her eyes as she remembered everything she and Elesa had been through. “You’re acting like I can just... Do this. But I can’t. Because, even though you didn’t kill her, her blood’s on your hands.”

Lilith didn’t speak for a while, just stood there, tears forming in her eyes. She fell to her knees and put her face in her hands. She was visibly shaken, and Julia was glaring at Katria and shaking her head.

“You’re right…” Lilith sobbed. “I’m sorry, Lisa… I’m so sorry…”

“You should be,” Katria spat. “You want to talk to her family? Go talk. But I refuse to. Not because I’m scared, but because you are. You’re scared of facing who you are. And I’m not going to constantly hold your hand and tell you you’re perfect and you can do nothing wrong. Because Elesa? She’s a shining example that you did.” Katria turned to walk away. “I came here thinking you were going to apologize, but no. You just want to feel good about yourself. You’re a terrible friend. It’s about time you realized that.” She began to leave, but stopped when Lilith began to speak.

“Ch-Charlie…” She whimpered. “She…”

“Oh, hell no. You’re not blaming this on somebody else. Don’t contradict yourself and ruin someone else’s life for your mistake. Charlie has nothing to do with this. She said one thing, and you listened. You acted like it was the truth.” Katria was beyond her raging point, but decided not to blow up. She decided to be the bigger woman here, instead of the ticking time bomb. “When you’re ready to face reality, you can call me then.” Without another word, she headed back to her apartment, leaving Lilith and Julia alone at the fountain.

She searched around her pocket for her keys as she approached her door, but something felt wrong. The whole building was silent, even though this was around the time where kids were out and about. Katria pushed open the door, only to find Spectre hanging from the wall by her wrists, shackles locked tight around them. Her heart sank when she found who was sitting on the sofa, an evil grin on her face.

“Marcelina?!”



“It’s about time you showed up,” Marcelina smirked.

“What are you doing here?” Katria demanded. “This- This is crazy!”

“Oh, well, you see,” Marcelina explained as she started to walk around the room. “I’ve had a… Realization. That if we continue to feel despair, then we all might as well be dead already, right? Despair is the key to our ultimate death. So, I’ve got a plan to help us out of the little pit the Incubators have dug us into. But there’s just one tiny problem… Nobody will care!” She started to laugh, causing Katria to cringe. She knew exactly what happened to cause this.

“Marcelina, I know you’re upset about Zena, I get that she was the only person who cared, but you’ve gotta move on! This-” She gestured to the chains around Spectre- “This is no way to deal with your issues!”

“This isn’t about Zena!” Marcelina spat. “This is about gratitude! All my life, I’ve been helping innocent civilians, saving you all from Witches, and what do I get from it? A little longer to live?!” She grabbed a vase and threw it against the wall, nearly hitting Spectre. “And, oh, better yet, the people I’m saving act like this a damn game! They make some stupid wish, act like they’re saving the world as they disappear every night, hiding from their families and friends, while we’re the ones who actually suffered for our wish, doing all the heavy lifting around here! They won’t know crap about what I did! They won’t give a damn because all they know is sunshine and rainbows and ‘Oh, my crush said no, I’m so depressed!’” She stopped for a second and glared at Katria. “But… Soon enough, they’ll appreciate the life I’ll give them. They’ll realize just what I’m getting rid of, and they’ll be grateful. No more pain. No more despair.”

“But what is it you’re doing now? Making us suffer?” Katria tipped her head curiously. “Why? Because we haven’t already? Because you want us to be grateful?”

“Yes!” Marcelina shrieked. “Exactly! I want you all to feel pain, and then never have to feel it again! I want you to suffer for your wishes, as every Magical Girl should! They signed their lives away to do this, to hunt down these monstrosities that could kill them with so much as a snap! And yet, they’re still oblivious… To all the pain that being a Magical Girl causes. Once it’s all gone, that’s it. They’ll know just what pain their families are going through, and they’ll realize that I’m saving them. Saving everyone.”

Katria couldn’t hold it in anymore. What was this chick saying? The pain their families are going through?! That she hadn’t suffered enough?!

“MY FAMILY IS DEAD!” Katria roared, tears falling from her eyes. “MY FAMILY IS DEAD, BECAUSE OF THIS STUPID WISH I MADE! I HAD TO WATCH THEM DIE, AND YOU’RE SAYING I DIDN’T SUFFER ENOUGH?! YOU THINK THAT JUST BECAUSE MY WISH WAS STUPID, THAT I DESERVE TO WATCH YOU SCREW EVERYONE OVER?!”

Marcelina’s face dropped, and so did the shackles around Spectre’s arms. Everyone was silent as Katria broke down into tears, falling to her knees. She dug her nails into her face, trying to resist clawing this chick’s face off.

“I… Had to watch everyone die in front of me. Mom was a cultist, and wouldn’t let me do anything. I just… I just wanted to live my own life… But then some Catholics came. Burned down my house. My sister, my mom, everyone… All gone up in flames, just like that… But I lived. ‘Cause I wanted to be free.” Katria finally looked up, rage burning in her eyes. “So, Chain Girl, you say I’ve suffered enough? Or do I still have to, what, learn how I’m making everyone around me suffer?”

Marcelina remained silent.

“Get out. Get out of my house and stay out. I don’t want to see your face around here ever again.” Marcelina didn’t resist as Katria shoved her out the door and slammed it behind her. Claws began to form at her fingertips as she ran her fingers through the wood, leaving small marks burnt into the doorframe. “What did she do to you?”

“Nothing… She did nothing. She kept on threatening me, pulling out knives and flails, but she did nothing. She couldn’t do anything.” Spectre was still breathing heavily, leaning against the wall for support. “It didn’t matter if she wanted to- She just couldn’t. And neither can you.”

“Spectre, what are you talking about? Is everything okay?” She held Spectre up so that she could face her. “Please… What’s happening?”

Spectre looked up, reached into her pocket, and slowly, silently pulled out her Soul Gem. It was no longer the cloudy blue Katria remembered, but now was a dark, murky black.
“Chloe, it’s gonna be okay.”

Katria fell to her knees as she attempted to comfort Spectre, who shook violently, breathing heavily and holding her Soul Gem close to her.

“The Grief Seeds… They don’t work anymore. They’re useless… And now I’ve only got a little bit of time with you…” Spectre sobbed as she held Katria, making no attempt to hide her fear. “I’m so sorry, Katria… I… I don’t want to become one of them… Please… Help me…”

Katria didn’t know what to do. Everything seemed to move by so fast, yet it all would only crawl forward. All she could do was pull Spectre closer to her as she tried to make sense out of all of this. “Come on. You’ll be fine. I’ll- We’ll figure this out, alright? We’ll find a way…”

Spectre didn’t reply for a while, instead pulling out of Katria’s grasp and staring endlessly into her Soul Gem. Everything was silent as the two girls took in everything that was happening right now, trying to figure out what to do.

Finally, Katria had an idea.

“H-hey, Chloe… Remember all those wonderful things you said we were going to do yesterday? When we were at the park, and you said you wanted a break?” She sniffled. “Remember how we were gonna go down to the coffee shop, and then to the mall? And then to the festival down the street?”

“Yeah… Why?” Spectre looked up with uncertainty.

“I want you to close your eyes, and imagine that we’re out doing those things right now. I want you to imagine every single thing we said we’re gonna do, no matter how tiny it looks to you. Alright?” Katria flashed a pained smile and held Spectre’s hands in her own. “Please… Do it for me, alright?”

Once Spectre’s eyes closed, Katria slowly, silently stood up, and went to her room. She opened the dresser and began to rummage around, until her hand hit the cold steel of the gun. She stood there for what seemed like years, trying to build up the courage to go back to the living room, to face Spectre again.

Slowly, Katria trudged back to Spectre, who was now lying on the ground, fast asleep. This would not make any of this easier, because now Spectre wouldn’t even know she was there. She just stood there, her mind wandering back to the day she first met Spectre.

There had been no Witches to hunt that day, so Katria decided to hang around the construction site, chewing a Pocky Stick. Chloe had come up to her out of nowhere, and just started asking her about what it was like to be a Magical Girl, and if it would be okay to wish for something stupid. Katria, naturally, told her to wish for whatever she wanted, because nobody could really judge her for what she wanted. Chloe then asked if she could follow Katria to a Witch the next day, so she could watch her beat it down. She had admitted that she wasn’t sure if she really wanted to become a Magical Girl, because she was convinced that she would become a prime target for Magical Girl gangs over her ‘stupid wish.’ Katria was astonished that the girl would think that any wish could be stupid, and revealed that, as long as it has a reason to be made, then she could probably wish for a puppy and she could still be one of the best Magical Girls of all time. Katria gave Chloe her nickname and trained her to be a force to be reckoned with, quickly sewing the two together.

And here was where it all ended. With a gun in one hand, Spectre’s Soul Gem in the other. Katria set it down on the coffee table, walked over to Spectre, and gave her a kiss on the forehead. She couldn’t bear to watch what she was about to do, so she kept her eyes on Spectre the whole time. Finally, she was ready to pull the trigger.

“Sweet dreams,” She whispered.
Zena stepped towards the gate to the Witch’s barrier, setting her Soul Gem down on the ground beside her and pulling out a gun. She wouldn’t need magic to defeat this Witch, she was sure. If she wanted Peter to believe that she was worthy to be a Nightingale again, she just needed a gun.

She stepped through to find herself in what seemed to be an antique store. Looking around, she could see strange little trinkets held in the display cases. Trinkets that looked a little too much like Soul Gems. Shuddering, she moved on, dodging the familiars by hiding behind grandfather clocks and vanity mirrors. Occasionally, she’d have to shoot down one of those lanky humanoid familiars, cringing at their dislocated jaws as they screamed incomprehensibly at her.

While she was waiting for two particularly persistent familiars to pass by her, her mind wandered back to the day she met Peter, the former Nightingale leader, in the parking lot, just after saving him from that Pendant Witch. She winced when she remembered how he called her useless without magic to her face, telling her that she could never bring the Nightingales back together, no matter how hard she tried.

“They’re done, Zena!” He’d yelled. “The Nightingales- They’re gone, okay? And there’s no reason you of all people could bring them back together. Some stupid wish, dress up games and a light show isn’t going to change my mind. So unless you can prove yourself useful enough without all that bull, I’m done with you.” With that, he just left, like he didn’t do anything. Not even a thank you for saving him from suicide.

Well, here she was now. She was going to defeat this Witch on her own, and then Peter would have to let her reform the Nightingales. I’m more than capable of being a leader. That wart grown around a **** won’t know what hit’em when I throw a Grief Seed at his face. She smirked when she found the door leading to what she assumed was the Witch’s ‘room.’ Well. Not too hard, now was it?

Zena kicked the door open, and had to shield her eyes from the bright light. She found herself in a fairly small room with a window, a dirty vanity mirror, and a shelves upon shelves of antiques, bits and pieces, stretching upwards so that the room appeared to have no ceiling. She lifted her gun to the Witch in front of her, and fired to get the thing’s attention. It turned its face masked with a mirror towards her, and reached for her with two grotesque gel-like arms. She ran under its piano-key dress when she saw the glass shards embedded into the Witch’s hands, not prepared to lose her arm from being hugged by a giant antique goose.

Once she was behind the Witch, Zena grabbed a grenade from her belt, pulled the pin, and threw it at the Witch, before running back to shield herself from the explosion. She leapt into the air just in time to hear a mirror shattering, before being knocked down by missiles of broken glass. As she fell, something gooey yanked her leg upwards, leaving her hanging upside-down in front of the Witch. She was helpless for a few moments as the Witch just stared at her, seemingly analyzing her.

Zena decided not to wait around to see what this thing wanted with her, and wiggled herself free from its grasp. She began to rapidly fire her gun at the Witch, dishing out a few more grenades, just for good measure. She looked around to notice the Witch’s familiars had gathered around her, shambling towards her with their arms outstretched. She tried to pick off a few, but for every one familiar that she knocked down, two more would rise in its place.

She noticed the Witch preparing to throw more glass at her, so she ran into the crowd of familiars, hoping that the Witch’s attacks would follow. Instead, she looked back to see the Witch visibly confused, retracting the glass back into its body and shaking its head back and forth wildly.

Zena decided to take advantage of its cluelessness and pushed through the familiars, who took their time in attempting to reach for her, climbed a large rope that hung from the window, and fired a few more bullets at the Witch, when she started to feel dizzy all of the sudden. She clung to the rope as she tried to focus on aiming correctly, but soon, she noticed that the Witch had seen her, and fired a storm of glass shards her way. Panicking, she dropped from the rope, right into the crowd of bloodthirsty familiars.

Zena pulled her last grenade’s pin, dropped it right there, and attempted to get away from the blast by shoving familiars aside. However, this time they blocked her path and pulled her back, ripping at her skin as she listened to their screeches.

“Was für grausige braune Haare!”

“Und was für eine hässliche blasse Haut!”

“Wir müssen sie sofort reparieren!”

“Ja! Ja! Schneiden Sie die Unvollkommenheiten ab!”


Zena was flung forward by a bright explosion, her senses blurring so that she couldn’t tell what was going on anymore. She landed hard on her stomach, knocking the wind out of her, while familiars shrieked behind her, and the Witch let out what seemed to be a gross kind of sobbing.

Zena turned and sat up as an agonizing migraine overtook her. Through the pain, she could see that the familiars were retreating, pointing their scraggly fingers at the Witch as they disappeared through doors that appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Once the last of them had left, the Witch was silent for a moment, before turning to Zena, shrieking, and smashing its fists on the ground. Zena tried to fire her gun at the Witch before it could attack, but she suddenly fell over, too tired to even lift her arms. She was still shaken up by the explosion, but this was different. This had to be the Witch’s doing, she was sure.

The Witch summoned several giant glass shards, and Zena, too weak to do anything, could only look on in hopelessness as each one descended upon her, piercing the ground around her and leaving her without an escape. She howled with pain as one shard pierced directly through her stomach, splattering blood all around her as she fell to her knees. She dropped her gun and clutched the shard, writhing in pain. Blood pounded in her ears and flowed trickled down her fingers, leaving her unable to think about anything but this godawful pain.

Finally, Zena lifted one shaking arm to pick up her gun, aim at the Witch and deliver her final blow.

She didn’t notice the barrier fading away around her, or even that the glass shard had disappeared with it. She just lay there in the middle of the old parking garage, bending over and groaning in pain. She noticed the man standing in the far corner, watching everything, but hardly moving to help. She sat up, still wincing from the pain, as she gave him a broken smile.

“W-well, Peter?” Zena choked out, loud enough for him to hear. “Would ya- Would ya say I-I’m a real Nightingale-” She doubled over, coughing intensely in such a way that she didn’t seem to be able to breathe. When she looked back up, blood was dripping from her mouth and was sprayed on the ground below her.

The man stepped out from the shadows, a clearly worried expression on his face. “Zena? What the hell- What happened?! Why are you-” He fumbled his words for a few minutes, before kneeling down. “Why?”

“Why? WHY?!” Zena roared. “You know why! You know damn well why I’d do this sort of thing! Because you demanded that I prove myself useful! And now you’re just standing there, watching, like you didn’t do crap to make sure this happened! Why don’t you prove yourself useful, huh? WHY DON’T YOU PROVE YOURSELF TO BE SOMEONE OTHER THAN A MURDERER-” She started wheezing again, the blood pouring from her lips while she struggled to regain her breath, falling down to the ground once more. Peter could only look on, unsure of what do do.

“I- I’ve gotta go.” Peter backed away slowly, before turning and running out of the garage.

“No,” Zena croaked, feebly reaching out for him. “Don’t leave me… Please… DON’T GO! DON’T YOU DARE LEAVE ME-” She fell over in another coughing fit, clutching her stomach and writhing in pain and discomfort. When she looked up again, she was alone, with only her Soul Gem to keep her company.

Finally, she stood up, picked up her Soul Gem, and staggered towards the exit, and on her way home.
Zena leaned over the railing of the observation tower, looking over the city after checking her phone. Marcelina was in school at the moment, so she’d decided to take some time off for herself.

“So, tell me somethin’, you… Thing,” Zena said as she munched away at a bag of chips. “What’d that Marcelina chick wish for, anyways?”

“Why would you like to know?” Spikey replied.

“Ain’t it obvious? She’s hurtin’ for real. I’ve seen the way she beats down both stupid kids and the seniors, it’s like she’s got a thing for hurtin’ the young ones!” She fell backwards onto the bench, reaching over for a cup of soda. “That kinda thing doesn’t just… Happen, y’know? You don’t just break a kid’s spine, then throw a baby punch at an army soldier at the same time. It’s not natural.” She turned to look at the black and blue Incubator. “What happened to her, huh? Or are you not allowed to share that bullcrap?”

“All I can say is that she wished to save someone from death. I can’t tell you whether her wish was worth it or not.” The thing lifted its leg to scratch behind its ear. Normally, Zena would take this opportunity to beat the everloving hell out of it, but she decided to keep her cool, at least for now.

“Alright, then.” She stood up, grabbed her bag of food, and headed towards the exit. “Guess that’s settled.”

“Where are you going?” Spikey asked, tipping its head out of curiosity.

“Picking her up. I’m gonna have a little talk with her.”


“Marcelina Aksik, please come down to the office,” Mr. Bright called from his desk.

Marcelina gave a short nod, before gathering her binder and heading downstairs. She was surprised to find Zena there, filling out a sign-out sheet with a bag of junk food hanging from her elbow.

“Wait, what are you doing here? Are my parents-” Marcelina began.

“Jeez, girl, right to your parents? They’re fine, alright? I just thought I’d give you a small break from school.” Zena stood up and stretched, walked towards the door and held it open. “C’mon. We gotta talk.”

Marcelina, slightly confused, followed Zena out of the school, into the park. Autumn leaves cascaded from their parent trees, lining out the hiking trail in a sea of gold and orange. The musky smell and the chilly sunlight let a sense of calmness wash over Marcelina.

“So… What did you want to talk about?” Marcelina asked. “I mean, it has to be important if you pulled me out of school…”

“Yep, yeah, that.” Zena pulled a bag of Pocky from her bag. “I’ve seen the way you fight other girls, you know.”

“Oh,” Marcelina sighed. “That.”

“You got somethin’ to hide?” Zena asked. “Listen, you don’t got to tell me the whole thing, but I’d at least like to know what the hell’s going on. You think you can give me a basic rundown, or something?”

“Can we- Can we go find somewhere less… Public? I don’t want any of the other girls to hear anything.” Without waiting for a response, Marcelina looked around before pointing to an old parking garage in the distance. “There. How about we talk over there?”

Zena shrugged. “Works for me.”

The parking garage was absolutely filthy. Old trash was lying around, stuck in between old wires and just mere inches from a trash can, while graffiti made it damn near impossible to tell what the walls were even made of. Zena and Marcelina made their way to the roof, made themselves comfortable in the corner, and began to talk.

“Uh… So, it all started with Cynthia. She was… A good friend of mine.” Marcelina stared off into the distance as she spoke, forgetting that Zena was right next to her. “Thing is, she was… She was really damn depressed. Like, she had a normal life and all, but she absolutely hated herself. Spikey wouldn’t stop pestering me to make a wish, and I honestly wanted him to go away. I didn’t really think too hard about my wish, I just thought that I would make the right choice when I needed to. So, one day, I was over at her house, and… It was hell. Her parents weren’t home, so they had no idea. She told me to wait in her room, while she went down to the basement. Next thing I know, there’s a gunshot from downstairs… And then Spikey showed up. And I made my wish: That she would survive.” She tucked in her knees and looked down to the ground. “But… The thing is, she didn’t want to survive that. I made the stupid mistake of telling her why she woke up, and… She screamed at me. Told me I was being selfish, and that I didn’t truly care about her. That I should have let her die in peace. She shoved me out the door, and never let me back in.”

“So, that’s-” Zena began.

“Not even close. A few months later, I went out to fight a Witch. It had someone kissed, and that someone…” Marcelina shut her eyes tight. “I couldn’t save her. I had to watch that thing tear her apart for her soul. And now I’m looking around at all these younger girls, and I think… They didn’t suffer. They just became a Magical Girl on some stupid whim, and are actually enjoying it. They don’t… They don’t know.”

“Oh…” Zena remained silent for a few moments. “So… You’re trying to scare them out of doing all this? You’re that harsh with them ‘cus you want them to be safe?”

Marcelina shook her head. “Not exactly. I… I want them to feel it. The pain of being a Magical Girl… They all should know what it’s like.”

“Huh.” Zena leaned back, a thoughtful expression on her face. “You know, I was like that, too.”

“Really?” Marcelina asked. “Why?”

“I was in a band of anomalies called the Nightingales. I didn’t exactly know what my anomaly was, but Peter took me anyways because he saw… Something. I dunno, though, ‘cus I couldn’t do jack. Peter’s anomaly was, apparently, that he had no soul. There was Darling, who was essentially immortal, Reed, who could astral project… And there was this foundation. They wanted us. To study, like we were objects. Others did, too. To destroy us, to use us… We were on the run most of our lives.” Zena stopped for a second and stared at the ground for a bit.

“That night when they found us was the worst. Peter tried leading us into the lake so that we’d be safe. I was the only one who decided to actually run, ‘cus I saw them take out the snipers. And everyone else… Well, let’s just say the lakewater ran red.” She chuckled a little bit, perhaps to find some levity in this whole situation. “Every day from then on, I was alone. And, oh, damn it if I didn’t want revenge. I went and annihilated every single site those things used to hold those of my kind. I set’em all free to destroy that rotten world, so that they would pay for what they did to my family. The lizard, the doctor, even that old man- All of them. So that I could set an example.” She sighed.

“But it wasn’t enough. I was still empty inside, longing to see the Nightingales again. The guilt set in, and I started to wonder if what I did was really the right thing. I thought, maybe if I’d gone in with the others, I’d at least get to spend an afterlife with them, and maybe I'd screwed up. I started screwing innocent people over, just like you, for no reason other than to take my pain out on them. It didn't bring them back, but it felt good. Finally, I found my anomaly was to rip holes in space-time and travel to other dimensions, so I came here for a fresh start. Then Spikey showed up, and the wish was made. The Nightingales came back to me, but I'd lost any faith that they'd love me again, as well as my faith in humanity in general.” She looked to Marcelina and smiled.

“See? We’re not so different, are we? I mean, I did kind of cause the end of the world, but the point is, you have someone to talk to.” She shrugged. "But don't look to me for advice. I'm a crappy person as is. It’s best you don’t tell the Nightingales I did that. They’re gonna hate me even more for it.”

Marcelina was shocked. All of this for the Nightingales, and yet… “Zena… What are you saying? You're one of the best people I've met!"

"Nah, kid. You're just sayin' that cus I like you. The Nightingales, I had completely screwed them over by the time they'd died. In debt thanks to me. Other people, too. Scams, affairs, broken relationships... I didn't care. All I really knew was how to survive. I didn't and still don't really give a damn about others. Kinda lost my faith in humanity. You, kid- you're special. I guess it's only natural that a kid who wants others to suffer would befriend a heartless ***** like me." Zena took a look at her watch. "We gotta go, kid. Your class is about to end."

The two walked back to school, exchanging pleasantries about the different Witches they'd fought. When they got back to school, Zena put a hand on Marcelina's shoulder.

"Hey, kid... I know I don't care about who you fight, but... Please, don't hurt the Nightingales, or Katria. They're good people. If there's anyone I do want you to screw up, though... Spectre. That little snitch..."

Marcelina nodded. "Got it, Zena. Have a nice day!" And with that, she ran off to her classroom, just as the bell rang.
Stories
(not in chronological order)

This was it. Elesa couldn't believe it; even after each Magical Girl of Harper City banded against the witch Corona, for the first time in forever... They'd lost. But now, that wasn't what was concerning Elesa. No, what terrified her, more than anything, was that her soul gem was tainted to hell. She wasn't ready for this. She didn't want to die. She'd only contracted a week ago, it couldn't be over now. She was writhing in pain as her soul gem sent spasms of agony through her body as it transformed into a Grief Seed.

She was alone. Trapped underneath a broken skyscraper, Elesa didn't bother to move herself. Instead, she dreamed that, instead of witching out with no-one by her side, she was dying in an imaginary boyfriend's arms, who was comforting her that it would be alright, they'd win, and there was nothing to worry about. His words were lost in her ears, though, as they felt like nothing more than mumbles to fill in the empty silence that hung in the air.

But reality soon hit her like a truck: There was no-one there. She winced at the pain once more, tears forming in her eyes, as she berated herself for being so pathetic that she would dream up imaginary characters to push her worries aside. Elesa silently begged that maybe Charlie or Lilith would find her, and purify her soul gem before it was too late. Elesa gave a forced laugh at these hopes. Of course they wouldn't come true.

Elesa looked back to her soul gem. It was now beginning to crack, to which she began to panic again. Just give me a little more time! I still haven't apologized to my friends... She thought back to when her former friends had broken up for good and left her alone, all over some stupid mistake Elesa made. First that, then the incident with her boyfriend... Just let me say sorry! Please! I didn't mean it... Don't let me die alone... Please... She began dreaming up the false boyfriend again, who pet her hair as the pain ripped through her like a bullet. Elesa gave in to her temptations of delusion and let the illusion falsely love her, just to give her a small moment of happiness in this hell. At least let it be quick... I hate this... I don't want to feel this pain...

Then, everything seemed to stop. The pain, the pouring rain, even time itself, it all froze as Elesa gave up, and she froze too. Had her illusion abilities really extended beyond her control, when her soul gem was at its very peak now, and she was going to die? She swallowed the hard lump in her throat, begging it to just hurry up so that she wouldn't have to endure this brutish peace, this deafening silence any longer. This wasn't a chance to die in peace; this was just an extension to her suffering.

Finally, Elesa closed her eyes, and her soul gem shattered.
“You told me this… Anomaly was here?” Marcelina was growing more worried as she travelled through the alleyway. Light blue crystals were sprouting from the walls, indicating that a battle had definitely taken place. “Can you tell me more about her?”

“She’s not from this world, that’s for sure,” Spikey replied as he padded alongside her. “As for her mental state… I think you should see for yourself.”

Marcelina pushed aside a loose crystal that lead into the back of the alley. Large crystals impaled the ground to lean against the side of an old building, providing a sort of inescapable shelter. Inside, she could hear muffled sobbing, followed by a girl muttering, “I wanna go home…” over and over. Marcelina lightly knocked her fist against the crystal, to which the sobbing immediately stopped.

“Y-yeah?” The girl stuttered. “W-what do you want n-now?”

“May I come in?” Marcelina called. “I just want to talk.”

“H-how do I know y-you’re not here to k-kill me?” The girl asked shakily. “Words- They ain’t nothing. They- they’re always empty.”

“Come out,” Marcelina replied. “I’ll show you that you can trust me.”

The other side remained silent for a while, before the crystals began to shrink, revealing a young girl crouched in the corner. Shaggy brown hair fell over her face, and her eyes were puffy and pink. Cuts and bruises all over her body signified that, yes, she had definitely been in a fight.

Marcelina slipped her Soul Gem off her finger and put it in her pocket, before coming over and kneeling down. “See? I don’t have my Soul Gem on me right now- It’s just around the corner. So I can’t hurt you, even if I tried.”

“You’re one of us?” The girl gasped in disbelief, before visibly recoiling. “B-but… Don’t you all hunt… People like me?”

“People like you? Oh, no. We hunt Witches, not people, even if they’re foreigners.” Marcelina sat down next to the girl, pulled a bar of chocolate from her bag and offered it to the girl. “Want some?”

“Sure…” The girl took the bar and just stared at it. “What do you want?”

“I want to help you.” Marcelina looked at the girl with hopeful eyes. “Look… What’s happening to you isn’t your fault. As far as I know, you just came here, and people just started… Attacking you.”

The girl nodded. “Yeah, basically. I came here because… Life at home was hell, and I wanted to get away from it. I finally killed a Witch and took its Grief Seed, and everyone else wanted it, so they did… This…” She shrank back as she held a Grief Seed in her hands, tears forming in her eyes. “They told me I didn’t deserve it… That I was never meant to be here… And they beat me to hell and back. Told me they were ‘protecting the balance’.”

“Why is that Grief Seed so important to you?” Marcelina asked.

“It’s my first one.” The girl held it close to her. “I-I’m so weak, I can’t even kill a Witch on my own… So when I finally got one, I wanted to keep it forever… But I guess that can’t happen, can it? Hell, it might be the only Grief Seed I ever get… People like me have no place in this world.”

“What was your wish?” Marcelina reached out and held the girl’s hand. She flinched for a second.

“My… What?” The girl looked confused. “Why does that matter?

“Your wish. I want to know what you became a Magical Girl for.”
The girl shifted uncomfortably where she sat. “I… I can’t tell you. It’s… Kinda personal…”

“Then fight for it.”

“What?”

“If it’s too personal to tell, then it has to be important to you. And you’ll want to honor your wish, don’t you?” Marcelina helped the girl to her feet. “Yes, this world is gonna fight you. But you have to fight back. You can’t hide forever. If you think you have no place here, then make one for yourself. Alright? And if you dare to doubt yourself for even one second, I will kill you.” Marcelina was holding the girl’s shoulders now.

The girl looked up and gave a small smile. “I… Thank you. You don’t understand how much that means to me…” She started to tear up again, and Marcelina grabbed her to make sure she didn’t fall to her knees. “Sorry… I’m crying a lot, aren’t I?”

“You were just jumped by Magical Girls five times stronger than you, and you’re acting like it’s not okay to cry?” Marcelina chuckled. “Damn. Home life must have been worse than hell. You gonna be okay?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll be fine…” The girl wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her hoodie. “Hey, you have a place I can stay? I’m kinda… Homeless right now.”

“Not a problem, kid. Stay close. What’s your name, by the way?” Marcelina turned as she and the girl were leaving the alleyway.

“Uh, Zena. Zena’s my name,” The girl replied nervously.

“Alright, Zena. Let’s go and get you a life.” Marcelina grabbed Zena’s hand and pulled her down the street towards her house. “We’ve got a lot to do tomorrow.”

“What do you mean?” Zena asked.

“You’ll see.” Marcelina smiled, a surge of happiness pulsing through her. I knew it… I’m not alone, am I? I really can save people from their despair! My wish… It won’t be in vain. Cynthia… I won’t let you down!
The Witch’s barrier faded away, leaving Katria and Aleah alone in the alleyway. Ahead of them stood a Grief Seed with a heart pattern. Elesa’s Grief Seed.

Katria stepped forward to pick it up, but stopped when a hand swiped it from the ground. “Huh, what’s this?” An obnoxiously loud voice asked. It belonged to a girl with orange hair, mean-looking red eyes and a poisonous grin. “Looks like another Grief Seed. Eh, doesn’t matter. You don’t need it, do you?” The girl put the Grief Seed in a small bag hanging from her shoulder that seemed to contain quite a few Grief Seeds.

The three girls were speechless for a hot second. What the hell was this girl’s problem? Did she normally disrespect people like this? “Hey, what the hell?” Katria broke the silence with an angered tone.

“Give that back,” Aleah snarled. “It’s ours. We killed her, not you.”

“True, but you got more than enough Grief Seeds, don’t ya?” The girl seemed to be enjoying everyone’s shock. “Besides, I deserve it. I need to keep myself alive, because I matter more.”

“I’d say you have more than enough Grief Seeds,” Katria pointed out. “Where’d you get those, huh? I’d like to know.”

“Just took them from the less important. They didn’t need them. Nobody will miss them.” The girl checked her fingernails, before glancing at the three. “C’mon, you guys can understand, right? I’m clearly more important than you.”

“I only understand that you’re an entitled, selfish *****!” Katria charged at the girl, spear raised to impale her, when suddenly she was flung backwards. Katria landed on her feet and looked up to see that a lightning bolt had struck where she once stood. She lowered her head to reveal two large, flaming horns sprouting from behind her hair, and rammed into the girl, knocking her backwards. The girl stopped her fall by floating in midair and launched an electric ball at Katria.

Katria dodged and noticed Aleah signaling for her to move aside. As she did so, four red hot metal poles flew by, followed by strings of ember shards. The metal poles pressed into the girl’s skin as the shards wrapped around her. The girl’s eyes betrayed a small glimmer of ‘Ah, crap, I should have just grabbed that Grief Seed and ran away,’ as she struggled to break through her restraints with her lightning.

This did not bother Aleah, who summoned a couple of knuckle dusters and threw a flurry of punches at the girl, showing little to no mercy in her eyes, before rounding it off with a strong kick to the gut, launching the girl into the wall.

“Damn, Aleah!” Katria exclaimed. “I didn’t know you did that!”

“I don’t know what I do anymore. I just want this kid to learn her place.” Aleah summoned a hammer and rushed at the girl, set it on fire, and brought it crashing down on her, sending bits of rock flying here and there.

Electricity crackled from underneath the hammer, as the girl attempted to deflect it, eventually managing to throw it off of her. She was now significantly damaged, her outfit tattered and torn. She reached into her bag, and pulled out a small bomb. “You know, it doesn’t really ma-”

“WILL YOU SHUT UP ALREADY?!” Aleah roared, before summoning a wall of sharp hot metal and throwing it at the girl. One piece must have struck the bomb, because it sent the girl skyrocketing through the air. When Katria saw the girl land on the ground, she rushed forward and yanked the bag from her. The strap broke, causing the bag to spill all of its contents onto the ground.

Katria and Aleah were absolutely shocked. There were possibly hundreds of Grief Seeds in there, most of them about to hatch. Katria could tell that this girl definitely could not have earned all of these Grief Seeds on her own, and what she said earlier made something click. Suddenly, Aleah’s rage was even more understandable.

“YOU *******!” She charged at the girl, impaled her with her spear and set it on fire to rub salt in the wound. She twirled her spear to inflict more suffering on the girl, her face practically flaming. “How many Magical Girls did you steal from, huh? How many did you leave behind?”

“Like I said, they didn’t need them. They’re just gonna… Die, anyways, so why does it matter?” The girl grunted, placing her hands around the spear, but still daring to glare Katria in the eye. “If they couldn’t… Last long enough to kill a Witch, then they’re… Practically useless…”

Katria had heard enough. She pulled her spear out of the girl, which was now dripping with blood, grabbed Elesa’s Grief Seed, and kicked the rest of the Grief Seeds aside. “Come on, Aleah. We’ve wasted more than enough time with this chick. If these things hatch, it’s her problem.”

Aleah, clearly still full of rage, obeyed Katria, and followed her out of the alleyway. “Let this be a reminder, next time you find your hands where they don’t belong. We don’t screw around.” She de-transformed and left, listening to the girl’s pained grunts as she attempted to stand up to collect all the Grief Seeds she’d stolen. “Why didn’t you take those Grief Seeds from her?”

“You’re joking, right? I just told you, it’s her problem if these things hatch and gang up on her.” Katria threw her bag over her shoulder as they turned onto a street. “Besides, other girls are bound to give her the same beating once we tell them about it.”

“What a spoiled brat.”

“Hey, don’t worry. She’ll get what’s coming to her.” Katria put a hand on Aleah’s shoulder. “We’ll talk about what to do with Elesa’s seed tomorrow, alright? You need some rest.”

“Yeah, maybe I do. I’ll see you later.” Without another word, Aleah turned, crossed the road, and headed back to her house, still grumbling under her breath. Katria kept on going towards her apartment, when she felt her phone buzz in her pocket. Curious, she pulled it out to see a text from Lilith.

julia wants to meet up near the fountain for a night out. you in?
The barrier faded away, leaving Lilith and Spectre alone in the warehouse. A Grief Seed was planted in the center of the large room where Spectre stood.
“Hey, what the hell is wrong with you?!” Lilith shouted, swinging her cleaver behind her back. “You don’t just steal kills like that!”
“That Witch was healing. It would have taken you forever to kill it if I hadn’t stepped in.” Spectre bent over and picked up the Grief Seed. Then, she whirled around just in time to block in incoming attack from Lilith.
“I’m the one who beat that thing down,” Lilith growled. “I deserve that Grief Seed. Give it to me.”
“How about no? I just saved you from that thing. I think I’ll take it.”
“You know what?” Lilith dropped her cleaver to the ground. “I was willing to let you be, and stay away from you and your weird hunting methods.” She closed her eyes and tilted her head towards the sky. “But if your hunting involves disrespecting other Magical Girls like this…” She opened her eyes, which were now flashing with a wild fury, and charged towards Spectre. “I guess I’ll just take it off your dead body!”
Spectre reacted immediately. She rolled to the side and shot an ink blast at Lilith, knocking her backwards into a stack of crates. Lilith, slightly stunned by the ink, summoned spikes from the ground to surround Spectre. Spectre leaped into the air and stood on the tip of a spike, aiming an energy blast at Lilith. She responded by speeding from the pile of woodchips and pulling out a microphone with an endless chord, tying that chord around Spectre’s wrist and throwing her into the air.
Everything seemed to slow down as Spectre took aim at Lilith while she was being thrown into the air. Her gauntlet lit up and fired, while Lilith ducked her head and rushed towards Spectre with her cleaver. Spectre lifted her bladed gauntlet to defend herself, sparks flying through the air as the two blades clashed and grinded against each other.
“Not gonna lie, you’re good with Witches!” Lilith taunted. “But you’re an idiot if you think I’m just as dumb!”
“I’m just not used to your abilities, is all,” Spectre replied. “And you’re not used to mine.”
Suddenly, Spectre’s gauntlet lengthened, and another one appeared on her left hand. She twirled around and, with Lilith caught off guard, sent a flurry of jabs at her, before spraying ink on the ground below her. Hands sprouted from the ink and clawed at Lilith, who responded by summoning several cleavers and kicking each one at Spectre, sending a storm of blades her way.
Spectre didn’t move. Instead, she held out her hand, pressing it against the foremost cleaver that was aimed straight for her throat, causing the whole army to stop. The blades dissolved into ink, which bubbled and rose into a giant blob. A blue mermaid’s tail emerged from the ink, as did two shackled hands holding a black crystal. The ink fell away to reveal that these two body parts were attached to another black crystal, this one filled with white faces pressed up against its walls, banging against it and screaming. Two sides of the crystal cracked, and light blue fins broke free to hold the shackled arms.
“What the hell-” Lilith took a moment to process the beast that stood before her. “Wait… Is that a Witch?! Wh-Where’s its barrier?!”
“I am its barrier.” Spectre stepped forward so that she was right next to it. “I’ve learned to utilize my soul gem’s taint so that I can bring forth my inner Witch. As you can see…” She pointed to the key-shaped gem on her chest, which contained very little darkness, if any. “It’s not terribly strong at the moment.”
“But you hate Witches! Why are you using one?!” Lilith cried.
“This one hasn’t been born yet. Therefore, it doesn’t have any of the hatred for humanity a normal Witch has.” Spectre flipped her hair, a calm expression on her face. “I think you can take it, though.”
Lilith stopped for a second, before letting her cleaver fall to the ground. “You’re insane,” She breathed. “But I’d be even crazier to take on both of you.”
Spectre raised an eyebrow, and the Witch dissolved into ink. “Good choice.”
“But I’m not through with you yet. Listen to me, alright? Mess with me, you’re getting a fight. Mess with my friends…” Lilith reached for her own neck and made a snapping noise.
“I’d like to see you try.” Spectre de-transformed, turned around and began to leave. She threw the Grief Seed behind her back. “Here. For all your trouble.”
She left the warehouse without another word, heading straight back to her apartment. Goddamned rookies.
But on her way back, she noticed that something… Changed.
Everything was quiet on the way back. Too quiet. Shouldn’t the crickets be awake and singing by now? And what happened to the curfew siren? Spectre shuddered. This wasn’t right.
She could see a fire burning in the distance, and her heart sank. No… This can’t be… She looked up to find dancing familiars in the shadows, seemingly presenting something to her. But what? Spectre transformed back into her magical girl uniform and prepared to attack, when someone grabbed her hand.
“I’ll handle this,” She said, before a figure rushed out from behind her, stabbing needles into an invisible figure. The Witch revealed itself as a brown doll with a cage for a torso, attacking with dried up vines that attempted to strangle the young Magical Girl. She landed, and her black cloak was blown away, showing herself as the Heart Knight. Her red hair blew in the wind as she turned to face Spectre. “Get out of here.”
“And let you kill yourself?” Spectre stepped in front of the Heart Knight, her gauntlet’s blade lengthening. “Hell no.”
“I can handle this. Get away. Katria’s waiting for you.” She leaped into the air and summoned needles to surround herself, each one attached to a red thread. She fired them at the dancing Witch, the red strings wrapping around the Witch to limit its motions. The needles exploded, but through the smoke, Spectre could see that the Witch was still dancing, sending roots towards the Heart Knight, who landed on the roots and ran towards the Witch. She turned around, surprised to see Spectre still standing there. “What are you doing? Get out of here!”
“You expect me to just leave this thing all to yourself?” Spectre spat. “This… is no ordinary Witch. If we let it go wild, if you die, then this Witch will go back into hiding, and become strong enough to destroy the ci-”
“I told you, I’ve got this!” The Heart Knight replied irritatedly. “Are you always this stubborn?”
“Yes.” With that, Spectre ran at the Witch, stabbing ferociously at its face, hurriedly dodging the dead plants that flew at her. The Witch kept on disappearing and reappearing, laughing maniacally as she continued to dance.
Something was… Off about this Heart Knight. Her fighting style wasn’t elegant nor strategic; it was erratic and impulsive. And from what Spectre knew, she was a friend of Lilith’s. So where… “Hey, wait a second… You have friends, right? Where are they? Aren’t you always together?”
“Not anymore,” The Heart Knight grunted. “I spared a Witch, so my friends decided I wasn’t trustworthy, and left me alone.”
“Why’d you spare it?” Spectre gaped at the girl. “You can’t trust those things!”
“I was gullible then. But not anymore. Now, I can kill any Witch.” She rushed forward and sent a flurry of needles at the Witch, using red string to suffocate it. “I’ve been telling you, I don’t need your hel-” Next thing Spectre knew, brown roots had sprouted from the ground, impaling the Heart Knight and pushing her against the wall, dragging her and slamming her into the ground again and again. Spectre ran forward, leaped into the air, and was about to slash through the roots, when suddenly, flames filled her vision, and she was flung backwards.
“What the-” Spectre looked up to see another Magical Girl floating downwards, carrying the Heart Knight in her arms.
“This one giving you trouble?” She asked, her yellow and white hair floating in the wind. “Don’t worry. Elesa told me about it earlier. Sorry I came in late. Name’s Aleah.”
“Nice to meet you.” Spectre turned back to the Witch, which was still dancing. “Hurry. If we don’t take that thing out soon, it’ll grow-”
“I know, Spectre. Don’t worry.” Aleah set the Heart Knight down on a bench, and summoned a steel cage to protect her. “Others are coming. They’d know it’s bad, if a Witch showed up without a barrier surrounding it.” Aleah jumped, summoning several pieces of burning hot steel into the air with her. One swipe of her hand, and the steel came crashing down on the Witch, who resisted by growing a dead tree from her stomach that grabbed at the flaming bullets.
“Looks like it won’t let up, huh?” Aleah smirked, watching the Witch continue to dance, as if nothing was happening. She threw her wrench at the thing, before summoning a hammer which had a flaming head. Aleah ran at it, and Spectre followed, lengthening her blade even further and preparing to stab it. Aleah slammed her hammer down on the Witch’s head, and, without warning, the Witch disappeared, leaving the hammer to it an empty street. That’s when Aleah and Spectre noticed their surroundings.
Everything surrounding them was destroyed, with fire blooming all around them. The Heart Knight was just getting up, as the cage disappeared. “What… Where’s the Witch?”
“Look!” Aleah pointed to the sky, where there seemed to be bright burst of light. The Witch was floating towards it, lifting up buildings with telekinesis and throwing them across the city, causing even more destruction than the roots that sprouted everywhere to overtake the city.
“That’s Julia and her gang, isn’t it?” The Heart Knight asked. “They’ll never be able to take it on their own!”
“Then let’s go help them!” Spectre started leaping from building to building, with Aleah and the Heart Knight following close behind. As she neared the Witch, she readied her blades and cross slashed it in midair, before spraying ink to propel herself back onto the rooftop of a building. Aleah launched a ball of fire at it, while the Heart Knight restrained the Witch with red strings so that she could impale it with her needles. It didn’t help, because the Witch just smacked both of them down with its dead roots. They pounded the two Magical Girls into the ground, which angered Spectre.
Finally, Spectre decided to spray ink onto the ground in front of Aleah and the Heart Knight, where her Witch emerged and let out a loud scream. Fountain pens rose up from the ground, and were flung at the roots to drive them away. Inky hands grabbed the roots and yanked them out of the ground, only to throw them back at the Witch they came from. Spectre’s Witch slithered up one of the buildings, extended its arms and attempted to drag the other Witch to the ground.
The other Witch retaliated with even more roots that whipped Spectre’s Witch and tried to pull it away. Spectre took this as an opportunity to send a storm of fountain pen heads at the Witch, and then leap down and send a flurry of slashes and jabs at it. Before she reached the Witch, however, she was interrupted by a storm of bright pink candy shards. She looked to the side and saw Dorothy, that pink Magical Girl who loved sweets, along with Julia, Gina and Morgan.
“Aw, you didn’t want us to get in on the fun?” She exclaimed. “C’mon! You guys can’t have it all to yourself!”
A bright red flame rammed straight into the Witch, and as the flames dissipated, Spectre could see Katria, shaking her head and brushing dust off her dress. She looked up and gave a smug grin to Spectre.
“You think I’m just gonna stay home and let you get all the action?” She laughed. “Like hell!” She charged at the Witch again, this time with fiery horns sprouting from her forehead. She made direct contact with its chest and launched it across the city, destroying a couple of buildings in the process. “This thing’s goin’ down!”
Spectre’s Witch dissolved into ink, and Spectre herself went to go and chase after the stronger Witch, lengthening her blade even more and adding a second one to her other arm. She leaped into the air to attack, when suddenly she couldn’t see anything. She was being enveloped by the roots the Witch created, covering her face, her body her hands… She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move, nothing. The Witch was overpowering her.
It didn’t last for long, though, because the next thing she knew, she was falling through the air, and everything around her was on fire. She landed safely on the roof of a building, and looked up to find Katria, floating in midair, her spear falling into her hand, before she went down to join Spectre. Now, the two were back-to-back to each other.
“Hey… Spectre?” Katria asked.
“Yeah?”
“You’re not gonna die on me, are you?” Katria started to cry. “Please don’t… I couldn’t… I couldn’t live if you did… Cus I know that it’s gonna be without me… And I won’t get to see you again...”
“Katria…” Spectre searched for the words to comfort Katria, but didn’t have the time to say much. “We’ll still be together in your dreams, though, right? Because even if I do die, it’ll be protecting you. Now, come on. We have a Witch to kill.” With that, she leaped into the air and threw a spear made of ink at the Witch before running as fast as she could, alongside Julia, who was preparing her scarf to be a whip. Julia stopped and started twirling her scarf while singing a strange song very loudly. The scarf’s movements sent Julia’s voice travelling in waves that shook the whole city and caused the Witch to finally fall to the ground, though it was still dancing.
“Elesa! Now’s your chance!” She called. The Heart Knight summoned multiple needles that caught themselves on fire. She brought them all down on the Witch, to which they all exploded. As the dust cleared, the Magical Girls saw that the Witch had fallen to a crumpled heap.
Spectre watched the other Magical Girls excitedly bounce away, happy that this destructive Witch was now dead, as did Elesa. Katria stepped forward to watch the Witch’s corpse burn up. “Damn, what a mess, huh? We got a lot to fix up tomorrow. Well, I’ll be at the apartment.” She de-transformed and headed towards the edge of the tower, when suddenly, the Witch began to move again. It rose up so quickly, it put lightning to shame.
“Wait, what?! You're supposed to be dead!” Elesa cried. Spectre was about to say something, too, but she didn’t have time. She was now soaring through the air, being attacked by those infernal dead roots that left slashes and marks all over her body, clawing at her and pounding her into dust, before they threw her in an old alleyway. She barely had the energy to even lift her gauntlet, and instead could only watch as a skyscraper smashed into the tower she was just standing on. She looked up to see something large heading hurtling into the alleyway, right at her.
Then, everything went black.
“So, what is it?” Katria approached Lilith and Julia and leaned on the lamp post. “Why’d you call me?”

“It’s about Elesa, and- And how we’re going to explain it.” Lilith looked to the ground, while Julia put a hand on her shoulder to comfort her.

“We’ve been talking for a bit, about how to tell her family what happened… And… We’ve decided…” Julia paused, before taking a deep breath. “We have to tell her parents. About everything. Soul gems, Witches… All of it. They have to know.”

Katria was silent for a hot second, before finally croaking, “Now?”

“Well, what else should we do? Say she was murdered? Ruin someone’s life for a crime they didn’t commit? Tell us, Katria. What do you want us to do? Say nothing? Wait for them to figure it out?” Lilith got into Katria’s face, hurt painted into her eyes.

“But why now, after everything that’s happened? Why would they believe you? Why should they? Didn’t you abandon her? Over a rookie mistake?! You left her to die, and now you’re acting like none of that happened, like just two days ago you and her were fighting that thing together, when you did NOTHING!” Katria roared. “Nothing to help us, to help her, because you thought she was useless!”

“Katria-” Julia tried to intervene.

“Don’t act all innocent, Daffodil! You’re just here because you can’t stand your friend here being guilty over what she did!” Katria turned back to Lilith, who had shock written all over her.

Katria wasn’t done yet. “You didn’t help her when she was fighting those Witches for you. You didn’t help her when she grabbed her mother’s box cutter so she could be beautiful. But I did. And I had to watch her die, unable to do anything, because she thought she failed. That she wasn’t good enough for you to save her, that she could never prove herself. Did she, oh great Song Demon? Or was she just another foolish girl who signed her life away?” Katria was fuming at this point, yelling at the top of her lungs, anything to ruin this girl for ruining her friend. Tears began to form in her eyes as she remembered everything she and Elesa had been through. “You’re acting like I can just... Do this. But I can’t. Because, even though you didn’t kill her, her blood’s on your hands.”

Lilith didn’t speak for a while, just stood there, tears forming in her eyes. She fell to her knees and put her face in her hands. She was visibly shaken, and Julia was glaring at Katria and shaking her head.

“You’re right…” Lilith sobbed. “I’m sorry, Lisa… I’m so sorry…”

“You should be,” Katria spat. “You want to talk to her family? Go talk. But I refuse to. Not because I’m scared, but because you are. You’re scared of facing who you are. And I’m not going to constantly hold your hand and tell you you’re perfect and you can do nothing wrong. Because Elesa? She’s a shining example that you did.” Katria turned to walk away. “I came here thinking you were going to apologize, but no. You just want to feel good about yourself. You’re a terrible friend. It’s about time you realized that.” She began to leave, but stopped when Lilith began to speak.

“Ch-Charlie…” She whimpered. “She…”

“Oh, hell no. You’re not blaming this on somebody else. Don’t contradict yourself and ruin someone else’s life for your mistake. Charlie has nothing to do with this. She said one thing, and you listened. You acted like it was the truth.” Katria was beyond her raging point, but decided not to blow up. She decided to be the bigger woman here, instead of the ticking time bomb. “When you’re ready to face reality, you can call me then.” Without another word, she headed back to her apartment, leaving Lilith and Julia alone at the fountain.

She searched around her pocket for her keys as she approached her door, but something felt wrong. The whole building was silent, even though this was around the time where kids were out and about. Katria pushed open the door, only to find Spectre hanging from the wall by her wrists, shackles locked tight around them. Her heart sank when she found who was sitting on the sofa, an evil grin on her face.

“Marcelina?!”



“It’s about time you showed up,” Marcelina smirked.

“What are you doing here?” Katria demanded. “This- This is crazy!”

“Oh, well, you see,” Marcelina explained as she started to walk around the room. “I’ve had a… Realization. That if we continue to feel despair, then we all might as well be dead already, right? Despair is the key to our ultimate death. So, I’ve got a plan to help us out of the little pit the Incubators have dug us into. But there’s just one tiny problem… Nobody will care!” She started to laugh, causing Katria to cringe. She knew exactly what happened to cause this.

“Marcelina, I know you’re upset about Zena, I get that she was the only person who cared, but you’ve gotta move on! This-” She gestured to the chains around Spectre- “This is no way to deal with your issues!”

“This isn’t about Zena!” Marcelina spat. “This is about gratitude! All my life, I’ve been helping innocent civilians, saving you all from Witches, and what do I get from it? A little longer to live?!” She grabbed a vase and threw it against the wall, nearly hitting Spectre. “And, oh, better yet, the people I’m saving act like this a damn game! They make some stupid wish, act like they’re saving the world as they disappear every night, hiding from their families and friends, while we’re the ones who actually suffered for our wish, doing all the heavy lifting around here! They won’t know crap about what I did! They won’t give a damn because all they know is sunshine and rainbows and ‘Oh, my crush said no, I’m so depressed!’” She stopped for a second and glared at Katria. “But… Soon enough, they’ll appreciate the life I’ll give them. They’ll realize just what I’m getting rid of, and they’ll be grateful. No more pain. No more despair.”

“But what is it you’re doing now? Making us suffer?” Katria tipped her head curiously. “Why? Because we haven’t already? Because you want us to be grateful?”

“Yes!” Marcelina shrieked. “Exactly! I want you all to feel pain, and then never have to feel it again! I want you to suffer for your wishes, as every Magical Girl should! They signed their lives away to do this, to hunt down these monstrosities that could kill them with so much as a snap! And yet, they’re still oblivious… To all the pain that being a Magical Girl causes. Once it’s all gone, that’s it. They’ll know just what pain their families are going through, and they’ll realize that I’m saving them. Saving everyone.”

Katria couldn’t hold it in anymore. What was this chick saying? The pain their families are going through?! That she hadn’t suffered enough?!

“MY FAMILY IS DEAD!” Katria roared, tears falling from her eyes. “MY FAMILY IS DEAD, BECAUSE OF THIS STUPID WISH I MADE! I HAD TO WATCH THEM DIE, AND YOU’RE SAYING I DIDN’T SUFFER ENOUGH?! YOU THINK THAT JUST BECAUSE MY WISH WAS STUPID, THAT I DESERVE TO WATCH YOU SCREW EVERYONE OVER?!”

Marcelina’s face dropped, and so did the shackles around Spectre’s arms. Everyone was silent as Katria broke down into tears, falling to her knees. She dug her nails into her face, trying to resist clawing this chick’s face off.

“I… Had to watch everyone die in front of me. Mom was a cultist, and wouldn’t let me do anything. I just… I just wanted to live my own life… But then some Catholics came. Burned down my house. My sister, my mom, everyone… All gone up in flames, just like that… But I lived. ‘Cause I wanted to be free.” Katria finally looked up, rage burning in her eyes. “So, Chain Girl, you say I’ve suffered enough? Or do I still have to, what, learn how I’m making everyone around me suffer?”

Marcelina remained silent.

“Get out. Get out of my house and stay out. I don’t want to see your face around here ever again.” Marcelina didn’t resist as Katria shoved her out the door and slammed it behind her. Claws began to form at her fingertips as she ran her fingers through the wood, leaving small marks burnt into the doorframe. “What did she do to you?”

“Nothing… She did nothing. She kept on threatening me, pulling out knives and flails, but she did nothing. She couldn’t do anything.” Spectre was still breathing heavily, leaning against the wall for support. “It didn’t matter if she wanted to- She just couldn’t. And neither can you.”

“Spectre, what are you talking about? Is everything okay?” She held Spectre up so that she could face her. “Please… What’s happening?”

Spectre looked up, reached into her pocket, and slowly, silently pulled out her Soul Gem. It was no longer the cloudy blue Katria remembered, but now was a dark, murky black.
“Chloe, it’s gonna be okay.”

Katria fell to her knees as she attempted to comfort Spectre, who shook violently, breathing heavily and holding her Soul Gem close to her.

“The Grief Seeds… They don’t work anymore. They’re useless… And now I’ve only got a little bit of time with you…” Spectre sobbed as she held Katria, making no attempt to hide her fear. “I’m so sorry, Katria… I… I don’t want to become one of them… Please… Help me…”

Katria didn’t know what to do. Everything seemed to move by so fast, yet it all would only crawl forward. All she could do was pull Spectre closer to her as she tried to make sense out of all of this. “Come on. You’ll be fine. I’ll- We’ll figure this out, alright? We’ll find a way…”

Spectre didn’t reply for a while, instead pulling out of Katria’s grasp and staring endlessly into her Soul Gem. Everything was silent as the two girls took in everything that was happening right now, trying to figure out what to do.

Finally, Katria had an idea.

“H-hey, Chloe… Remember all those wonderful things you said we were going to do yesterday? When we were at the park, and you said you wanted a break?” She sniffled. “Remember how we were gonna go down to the coffee shop, and then to the mall? And then to the festival down the street?”

“Yeah… Why?” Spectre looked up with uncertainty.

“I want you to close your eyes, and imagine that we’re out doing those things right now. I want you to imagine every single thing we said we’re gonna do, no matter how tiny it looks to you. Alright?” Katria flashed a pained smile and held Spectre’s hands in her own. “Please… Do it for me, alright?”

Once Spectre’s eyes closed, Katria slowly, silently stood up, and went to her room. She opened the dresser and began to rummage around, until her hand hit the cold steel of the gun. She stood there for what seemed like years, trying to build up the courage to go back to the living room, to face Spectre again.

Slowly, Katria trudged back to Spectre, who was now lying on the ground, fast asleep. This would not make any of this easier, because now Spectre wouldn’t even know she was there. She just stood there, her mind wandering back to the day she first met Spectre.

There had been no Witches to hunt that day, so Katria decided to hang around the construction site, chewing a Pocky Stick. Chloe had come up to her out of nowhere, and just started asking her about what it was like to be a Magical Girl, and if it would be okay to wish for something stupid. Katria, naturally, told her to wish for whatever she wanted, because nobody could really judge her for what she wanted. Chloe then asked if she could follow Katria to a Witch the next day, so she could watch her beat it down. She had admitted that she wasn’t sure if she really wanted to become a Magical Girl, because she was convinced that she would become a prime target for Magical Girl gangs over her ‘stupid wish.’ Katria was astonished that the girl would think that any wish could be stupid, and revealed that, as long as it has a reason to be made, then she could probably wish for a puppy and she could still be one of the best Magical Girls of all time. Katria gave Chloe her nickname and trained her to be a force to be reckoned with, quickly sewing the two together.

And here was where it all ended. With a gun in one hand, Spectre’s Soul Gem in the other. Katria set it down on the coffee table, walked over to Spectre, and gave her a kiss on the forehead. She couldn’t bear to watch what she was about to do, so she kept her eyes on Spectre the whole time. Finally, she was ready to pull the trigger.

“Sweet dreams,” She whispered.
Zena stepped towards the gate to the Witch’s barrier, setting her Soul Gem down on the ground beside her and pulling out a gun. She wouldn’t need magic to defeat this Witch, she was sure. If she wanted Peter to believe that she was worthy to be a Nightingale again, she just needed a gun.

She stepped through to find herself in what seemed to be an antique store. Looking around, she could see strange little trinkets held in the display cases. Trinkets that looked a little too much like Soul Gems. Shuddering, she moved on, dodging the familiars by hiding behind grandfather clocks and vanity mirrors. Occasionally, she’d have to shoot down one of those lanky humanoid familiars, cringing at their dislocated jaws as they screamed incomprehensibly at her.

While she was waiting for two particularly persistent familiars to pass by her, her mind wandered back to the day she met Peter, the former Nightingale leader, in the parking lot, just after saving him from that Pendant Witch. She winced when she remembered how he called her useless without magic to her face, telling her that she could never bring the Nightingales back together, no matter how hard she tried.

“They’re done, Zena!” He’d yelled. “The Nightingales- They’re gone, okay? And there’s no reason you of all people could bring them back together. Some stupid wish, dress up games and a light show isn’t going to change my mind. So unless you can prove yourself useful enough without all that bull, I’m done with you.” With that, he just left, like he didn’t do anything. Not even a thank you for saving him from suicide.

Well, here she was now. She was going to defeat this Witch on her own, and then Peter would have to let her reform the Nightingales. I’m more than capable of being a leader. That wart grown around a **** won’t know what hit’em when I throw a Grief Seed at his face. She smirked when she found the door leading to what she assumed was the Witch’s ‘room.’ Well. Not too hard, now was it?

Zena kicked the door open, and had to shield her eyes from the bright light. She found herself in a fairly small room with a window, a dirty vanity mirror, and a shelves upon shelves of antiques, bits and pieces, stretching upwards so that the room appeared to have no ceiling. She lifted her gun to the Witch in front of her, and fired to get the thing’s attention. It turned its face masked with a mirror towards her, and reached for her with two grotesque gel-like arms. She ran under its piano-key dress when she saw the glass shards embedded into the Witch’s hands, not prepared to lose her arm from being hugged by a giant antique goose.

Once she was behind the Witch, Zena grabbed a grenade from her belt, pulled the pin, and threw it at the Witch, before running back to shield herself from the explosion. She leapt into the air just in time to hear a mirror shattering, before being knocked down by missiles of broken glass. As she fell, something gooey yanked her leg upwards, leaving her hanging upside-down in front of the Witch. She was helpless for a few moments as the Witch just stared at her, seemingly analyzing her.

Zena decided not to wait around to see what this thing wanted with her, and wiggled herself free from its grasp. She began to rapidly fire her gun at the Witch, dishing out a few more grenades, just for good measure. She looked around to notice the Witch’s familiars had gathered around her, shambling towards her with their arms outstretched. She tried to pick off a few, but for every one familiar that she knocked down, two more would rise in its place.

She noticed the Witch preparing to throw more glass at her, so she ran into the crowd of familiars, hoping that the Witch’s attacks would follow. Instead, she looked back to see the Witch visibly confused, retracting the glass back into its body and shaking its head back and forth wildly.

Zena decided to take advantage of its cluelessness and pushed through the familiars, who took their time in attempting to reach for her, climbed a large rope that hung from the window, and fired a few more bullets at the Witch, when she started to feel dizzy all of the sudden. She clung to the rope as she tried to focus on aiming correctly, but soon, she noticed that the Witch had seen her, and fired a storm of glass shards her way. Panicking, she dropped from the rope, right into the crowd of bloodthirsty familiars.

Zena pulled her last grenade’s pin, dropped it right there, and attempted to get away from the blast by shoving familiars aside. However, this time they blocked her path and pulled her back, ripping at her skin as she listened to their screeches.

“Was für grausige braune Haare!”

“Und was für eine hässliche blasse Haut!”

“Wir müssen sie sofort reparieren!”

“Ja! Ja! Schneiden Sie die Unvollkommenheiten ab!”


Zena was flung forward by a bright explosion, her senses blurring so that she couldn’t tell what was going on anymore. She landed hard on her stomach, knocking the wind out of her, while familiars shrieked behind her, and the Witch let out what seemed to be a gross kind of sobbing.

Zena turned and sat up as an agonizing migraine overtook her. Through the pain, she could see that the familiars were retreating, pointing their scraggly fingers at the Witch as they disappeared through doors that appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Once the last of them had left, the Witch was silent for a moment, before turning to Zena, shrieking, and smashing its fists on the ground. Zena tried to fire her gun at the Witch before it could attack, but she suddenly fell over, too tired to even lift her arms. She was still shaken up by the explosion, but this was different. This had to be the Witch’s doing, she was sure.

The Witch summoned several giant glass shards, and Zena, too weak to do anything, could only look on in hopelessness as each one descended upon her, piercing the ground around her and leaving her without an escape. She howled with pain as one shard pierced directly through her stomach, splattering blood all around her as she fell to her knees. She dropped her gun and clutched the shard, writhing in pain. Blood pounded in her ears and flowed trickled down her fingers, leaving her unable to think about anything but this godawful pain.

Finally, Zena lifted one shaking arm to pick up her gun, aim at the Witch and deliver her final blow.

She didn’t notice the barrier fading away around her, or even that the glass shard had disappeared with it. She just lay there in the middle of the old parking garage, bending over and groaning in pain. She noticed the man standing in the far corner, watching everything, but hardly moving to help. She sat up, still wincing from the pain, as she gave him a broken smile.

“W-well, Peter?” Zena choked out, loud enough for him to hear. “Would ya- Would ya say I-I’m a real Nightingale-” She doubled over, coughing intensely in such a way that she didn’t seem to be able to breathe. When she looked back up, blood was dripping from her mouth and was sprayed on the ground below her.

The man stepped out from the shadows, a clearly worried expression on his face. “Zena? What the hell- What happened?! Why are you-” He fumbled his words for a few minutes, before kneeling down. “Why?”

“Why? WHY?!” Zena roared. “You know why! You know damn well why I’d do this sort of thing! Because you demanded that I prove myself useful! And now you’re just standing there, watching, like you didn’t do crap to make sure this happened! Why don’t you prove yourself useful, huh? WHY DON’T YOU PROVE YOURSELF TO BE SOMEONE OTHER THAN A MURDERER-” She started wheezing again, the blood pouring from her lips while she struggled to regain her breath, falling down to the ground once more. Peter could only look on, unsure of what do do.

“I- I’ve gotta go.” Peter backed away slowly, before turning and running out of the garage.

“No,” Zena croaked, feebly reaching out for him. “Don’t leave me… Please… DON’T GO! DON’T YOU DARE LEAVE ME-” She fell over in another coughing fit, clutching her stomach and writhing in pain and discomfort. When she looked up again, she was alone, with only her Soul Gem to keep her company.

Finally, she stood up, picked up her Soul Gem, and staggered towards the exit, and on her way home.
Zena leaned over the railing of the observation tower, looking over the city after checking her phone. Marcelina was in school at the moment, so she’d decided to take some time off for herself.

“So, tell me somethin’, you… Thing,” Zena said as she munched away at a bag of chips. “What’d that Marcelina chick wish for, anyways?”

“Why would you like to know?” Spikey replied.

“Ain’t it obvious? She’s hurtin’ for real. I’ve seen the way she beats down both stupid kids and the seniors, it’s like she’s got a thing for hurtin’ the young ones!” She fell backwards onto the bench, reaching over for a cup of soda. “That kinda thing doesn’t just… Happen, y’know? You don’t just break a kid’s spine, then throw a baby punch at an army soldier at the same time. It’s not natural.” She turned to look at the black and blue Incubator. “What happened to her, huh? Or are you not allowed to share that bullcrap?”

“All I can say is that she wished to save someone from death. I can’t tell you whether her wish was worth it or not.” The thing lifted its leg to scratch behind its ear. Normally, Zena would take this opportunity to beat the everloving hell out of it, but she decided to keep her cool, at least for now.

“Alright, then.” She stood up, grabbed her bag of food, and headed towards the exit. “Guess that’s settled.”

“Where are you going?” Spikey asked, tipping its head out of curiosity.

“Picking her up. I’m gonna have a little talk with her.”


“Marcelina Aksik, please come down to the office,” Mr. Bright called from his desk.

Marcelina gave a short nod, before gathering her binder and heading downstairs. She was surprised to find Zena there, filling out a sign-out sheet with a bag of junk food hanging from her elbow.

“Wait, what are you doing here? Are my parents-” Marcelina began.

“Jeez, girl, right to your parents? They’re fine, alright? I just thought I’d give you a small break from school.” Zena stood up and stretched, walked towards the door and held it open. “C’mon. We gotta talk.”

Marcelina, slightly confused, followed Zena out of the school, into the park. Autumn leaves cascaded from their parent trees, lining out the hiking trail in a sea of gold and orange. The musky smell and the chilly sunlight let a sense of calmness wash over Marcelina.

“So… What did you want to talk about?” Marcelina asked. “I mean, it has to be important if you pulled me out of school…”

“Yep, yeah, that.” Zena pulled a bag of Pocky from her bag. “I’ve seen the way you fight other girls, you know.”

“Oh,” Marcelina sighed. “That.”

“You got somethin’ to hide?” Zena asked. “Listen, you don’t got to tell me the whole thing, but I’d at least like to know what the hell’s going on. You think you can give me a basic rundown, or something?”

“Can we- Can we go find somewhere less… Public? I don’t want any of the other girls to hear anything.” Without waiting for a response, Marcelina looked around before pointing to an old parking garage in the distance. “There. How about we talk over there?”

Zena shrugged. “Works for me.”

The parking garage was absolutely filthy. Old trash was lying around, stuck in between old wires and just mere inches from a trash can, while graffiti made it damn near impossible to tell what the walls were even made of. Zena and Marcelina made their way to the roof, made themselves comfortable in the corner, and began to talk.

“Uh… So, it all started with Cynthia. She was… A good friend of mine.” Marcelina stared off into the distance as she spoke, forgetting that Zena was right next to her. “Thing is, she was… She was really damn depressed. Like, she had a normal life and all, but she absolutely hated herself. Spikey wouldn’t stop pestering me to make a wish, and I honestly wanted him to go away. I didn’t really think too hard about my wish, I just thought that I would make the right choice when I needed to. So, one day, I was over at her house, and… It was hell. Her parents weren’t home, so they had no idea. She told me to wait in her room, while she went down to the basement. Next thing I know, there’s a gunshot from downstairs… And then Spikey showed up. And I made my wish: That she would survive.” She tucked in her knees and looked down to the ground. “But… The thing is, she didn’t want to survive that. I made the stupid mistake of telling her why she woke up, and… She screamed at me. Told me I was being selfish, and that I didn’t truly care about her. That I should have let her die in peace. She shoved me out the door, and never let me back in.”

“So, that’s-” Zena began.

“Not even close. A few months later, I went out to fight a Witch. It had someone kissed, and that someone…” Marcelina shut her eyes tight. “I couldn’t save her. I had to watch that thing tear her apart for her soul. And now I’m looking around at all these younger girls, and I think… They didn’t suffer. They just became a Magical Girl on some stupid whim, and are actually enjoying it. They don’t… They don’t know.”

“Oh…” Zena remained silent for a few moments. “So… You’re trying to scare them out of doing all this? You’re that harsh with them ‘cus you want them to be safe?”

Marcelina shook her head. “Not exactly. I… I want them to feel it. The pain of being a Magical Girl… They all should know what it’s like.”

“Huh.” Zena leaned back, a thoughtful expression on her face. “You know, I was like that, too.”

“Really?” Marcelina asked. “Why?”

“I was in a band of anomalies called the Nightingales. I didn’t exactly know what my anomaly was, but Peter took me anyways because he saw… Something. I dunno, though, ‘cus I couldn’t do jack. Peter’s anomaly was, apparently, that he had no soul. There was Darling, who was essentially immortal, Reed, who could astral project… And there was this foundation. They wanted us. To study, like we were objects. Others did, too. To destroy us, to use us… We were on the run most of our lives.” Zena stopped for a second and stared at the ground for a bit.

“That night when they found us was the worst. Peter tried leading us into the lake so that we’d be safe. I was the only one who decided to actually run, ‘cus I saw them take out the snipers. And everyone else… Well, let’s just say the lakewater ran red.” She chuckled a little bit, perhaps to find some levity in this whole situation. “Every day from then on, I was alone. And, oh, damn it if I didn’t want revenge. I went and annihilated every single site those things used to hold those of my kind. I set’em all free to destroy that rotten world, so that they would pay for what they did to my family. The lizard, the doctor, even that old man- All of them. So that I could set an example.” She sighed.

“But it wasn’t enough. I was still empty inside, longing to see the Nightingales again. The guilt set in, and I started to wonder if what I did was really the right thing. I thought, maybe if I’d gone in with the others, I’d at least get to spend an afterlife with them, and maybe I'd screwed up. I started screwing innocent people over, just like you, for no reason other than to take my pain out on them. It didn't bring them back, but it felt good. Finally, I found my anomaly was to rip holes in space-time and travel to other dimensions, so I came here for a fresh start. Then Spikey showed up, and the wish was made. The Nightingales came back to me, but I'd lost any faith that they'd love me again, as well as my faith in humanity in general.” She looked to Marcelina and smiled.

“See? We’re not so different, are we? I mean, I did kind of cause the end of the world, but the point is, you have someone to talk to.” She shrugged. "But don't look to me for advice. I'm a crappy person as is. It’s best you don’t tell the Nightingales I did that. They’re gonna hate me even more for it.”

Marcelina was shocked. All of this for the Nightingales, and yet… “Zena… What are you saying? You're one of the best people I've met!"

"Nah, kid. You're just sayin' that cus I like you. The Nightingales, I had completely screwed them over by the time they'd died. In debt thanks to me. Other people, too. Scams, affairs, broken relationships... I didn't care. All I really knew was how to survive. I didn't and still don't really give a damn about others. Kinda lost my faith in humanity. You, kid- you're special. I guess it's only natural that a kid who wants others to suffer would befriend a heartless ***** like me." Zena took a look at her watch. "We gotta go, kid. Your class is about to end."

The two walked back to school, exchanging pleasantries about the different Witches they'd fought. When they got back to school, Zena put a hand on Marcelina's shoulder.

"Hey, kid... I know I don't care about who you fight, but... Please, don't hurt the Nightingales, or Katria. They're good people. If there's anyone I do want you to screw up, though... Spectre. That little snitch..."

Marcelina nodded. "Got it, Zena. Have a nice day!" And with that, she ran off to her classroom, just as the bell rang.
pinglist
@eternalFangirl @Everburn @Pikapoochi @Sumoru @Zemo @Yoaisami @FrozenGlacier @saltedsnails
(if you wish to be removed, let me know!)
pinglist
@eternalFangirl @Everburn @Pikapoochi @Sumoru @Zemo @Yoaisami @FrozenGlacier @saltedsnails
(if you wish to be removed, let me know!)
[b]art[/b] [img]https://i.imgur.com/vvszVbL.png[/img] -Kormoran [img]https://i.imgur.com/wmrUuR8.png[/img] -Dawnpainterz [img]https://i.imgur.com/JlFTH40.png[/img] -zecchou
art

vvszVbL.png
-Kormoran

wmrUuR8.png
-Dawnpainterz

JlFTH40.png
-zecchou
reserve
reserve
@FrozenGlacier @Yoaisami @Zemo @Sumoru @Pikapoochi
Aaalright! Here's the thing! Just so you know, this isn't in chronological order, so a lot of the stories are kinda jumbled up... But I'm too lazy to put it together lmao
@FrozenGlacier @Yoaisami @Zemo @Sumoru @Pikapoochi
Aaalright! Here's the thing! Just so you know, this isn't in chronological order, so a lot of the stories are kinda jumbled up... But I'm too lazy to put it together lmao
Oooh! That's so cool!
Oooh! That's so cool!
M5RKs.gif saltedsnails
professional dragon hoarder
majors in procrastination
all-around soup enthusiast
+8 FRT

gfCdYdH.gif
status:
broke
Neat! So there's new art (and an official design!) for Katria!
Neat! So there's new art (and an official design!) for Katria!
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