Author's Notes: Hey there, E. Pedro here to present my latest work Magia, Pacem, Bellum Terrarum. This is my first work in the Puella Magi Madoka Magica fandom, so please do feel free to point out anything and everything I can do to make your reading experience a pleasant flight! [Updated: Apr 13, 2012]
Magic is not a miracle.
It is not the pure wellspring of goodness we had all hoped it to be.
Instead, Magic is a path, paved in tears and suffering ,
Suffering that goes unnoticed in our cruel, uncaring world.
Magic is a cycle, perpetuated by grief,
Grief that grows heavier and harder to bear with each passing day.
And yet, magic still exists, and continues to exist.
So, as long as there is grief, there will be those who will fight for hope.
Whether their struggle will yield fruit, or be dashed against the stones – only time can tell.
There it was again, Homura thought, that cherry blossom tree in the graveyard across the Mitakihara River. From her room's window in the Mitakihara General Hospital, Homura could clearly see that cherry blossom tree bathing in sunlight. Homura had never thought much about it, but she started to see the irony in that scene. The tree was dead, her bark dried and her blossoms withered. Its baring branches swayed weakly in the wind.
Every time Homura awoke in that hospital bed, the girl shot upright and panted heavily. The memories of the timeline she had chosen to reset were still fresh in her mind, tormenting her in her waking moments. Then, she would turn to her side and see that same cherry blossom tree, dead.
Why was this tree dead? Why did it bother Homura so? The young girl could only sigh.
With composed determination, Homura rose up from her bed and started to prepare her things. It was time for her to go to school again – the Mitakihara Middle School. There, she would repeat that fateful month she had lived through time and time again. There, she would try to make good on the promises she had made to protect Madoka Kaname.
This time would be different, she told herself. This time would be different.
This time, she will defeat Walpurgisnacht.
Magia, Pacem, Bellum Terrarum
Homura Akemi, the new transfer student in Madoka Kaname's class, seemed perfect. Blessed with both peerless beauty and dutiful studiousness, it was hard for her peers to remain unimpressed. Madoka watched this girl from her seat at the back of the classroom, very much fond of her.
That afternoon, their teacher lectured about the Second World War – a topic almost everyone in the class found boring. The majority of the class was already nodding off to sleep. Madoka's best friend, Sayaka Miki, already had her face buried in her desk.
Homura, on the other hand, sat upright and took down notes without the slightest hint of disinterest. She had been writing like that throughout the class, stopping only to part her hair or to scan through what she had written. Madoka's admiration for Homura grew.
"Homura-chan sure is studious." Madoka thought, "Class is almost over, but she's still at it."
The face-desked Sayaka sensed Madoka's thoughts through telepathy. Sayaka responded telepathically with jealous and tired irritation.
"Fuah~ How does she find this stuff interesting? World War II happened ages ago… almost a freakin' century!"
"Hmm… History is the only subject she pays this much attention to. Maybe she likes the subject." Madoka pondered back. She then turned to the white, ferret-like creature napping in her bag and smiled at it. "Isn't that right, Kyuubey?"
Kyuubey's only reply was a small nod and its odd, wide smile. Madoka smiled again and tried her best to listen attentively to the teacher's lecture. Sayaka, on the other hand, stayed face first on her desk.
"I'mma sleep for real this time, Madoka." Sayaka yawned telepathically, "Wake me up when class is over, aight?"
It was too late – Sayaka was already fast asleep. Rather than wake her up, Madoka just smiled.
"Maybe I should take it easy too." She thought, taking out her own notebook filled with drawings and doodling to pass the time. Before she could realize it, the school bell rang and classes were over.
Madoka woke up the sleeping Sayaka, gathered her things then prepared to leave. While waiting for Sayaka to finish, Madoka searched the room for Homura but she was nowhere to be found. Much like always, Homura made her exit without saying a word to anyone else. Madoka was disappointed.
For a moment, she considered trying to go after Homura to try and break the cold silence that had persisted between them since they met but eventually decided not to. After all, that afternoon, she and Sayaka would be participating in their very first Witch Hunt under their unofficial 'mentor' Mami Tomoe, their upperclassman. Both she and Sayaka were excited for that afternoon. She decided to talk with the strange transfer student some other day.
Meanwhile, Homura made her way to the school library – a place rarely visited by the students. After decades of development in computers and information technology, many people saw books and libraries as obsolete. Homura didn't mind. It would only mean that she would be able to read in peace.
The section Homura visited was dedicated to the Second World War, filled with books describing the major battles and the tremendous suffering the War brought about. These books oftentimes sat untouched by anyone save for Homura. This time, though, a handful of books – including some of the books Homura was looking for – were not on the shelves.
Homura frowned. She had been meaning to borrow those books, but someone had already beaten her to them. It wasn't a big deal, she thought. She just chose a few other books that caught her interest then looked for a comfortable seat somewhere in a closed-off corner.
During her search, she found Mami Tomoe already seated on a comfortable armchair and reading one of the books Homura was looking for. Homura greeted the golden-haired girl with a glare.
"So, you like reading about the Second World war, Akemi-san." Mami smiled, "I'm glad to know I'm not the only one."
Mami then showed Homura the book she was reading – an encyclopedia of the weapons of the Second World War. It had entries describing everything from combat knives to battle rifles to the German Reich's Schwerer Gustav siege gun Homura didn't know why Mami would want to read that book..
"Why are you here?" Homura challenged, "Starting to feel like your flintlocks don't have enough stopping power?"
"I get by with my flintlocks just fine, thank you." Mami replied, her smile cooling quickly, "It's not unusual for Puella Magi like us to want to study battle tactics and weaponry. Even these old tomes can be exceptional references, you know."
"Mami then stood up from her seat, picked up the small pile of books she had taken from the shelves then stuffed them into her bag. The book of World War II armaments, however, she handed to Homura.
"You wanted this book, right?" Mami asked, "Its section on artillery is superb, mortars particularly. You will like it, I'm sure. It's an interesting read for enthusiasts like us."
"That's not why I'm here."
"Why then are you here?" Mami asked, her voice now sharply inquisitive. Her perpetual cheerfulness was now nowhere to be found.
Homura replied with cold silence – it was a stalemate. Mami sighed and her cheerfulness returned, paired with a little more caution than before.
"Well, as long as these books keep you from harming Kaname-san or Miki-san, I'd be happy to share what I know with a fellow enthusiast." Mami cheerily said, forcing the book into Homura's free hand, "I have to go now, Akemi-san. Enjoy your reading."
Taking her bag of books with her, Mami went on to the checkout counter then left for the nearby café downtown in a hurry. Madoka and Sayaka were waiting for her there, after all. Homura however just stood there, gripping onto the book tightly. She turned to a nearby window and saw the setting sun grow dimmer and dimmer.
"You know nothing, Mami. Nothing." Homura muttered, her voice shaking, "I… I envy you."
In the white, blank nothingness of Homura's home, a pendulum suspended in the air swung back and forth endlessly. Aside from the hundreds of formless screens floating around and the simple couches that served as seating and bedding, the room was completely empty.
Homura took a seat and fished out the book of armaments from her bag. She randomly flipped through the pages then came across the 300mm mortar gun, the type of gun that formed the backbone of the defensive battery of Corregidor Island in the Philippines during the Second World War. Just as Mami had presumed, the mortar gun, as well as the other mortars, piqued her interest.
The arrival of a white, ferret-like creature, however, would interrupt her curious reading.
"You wanted me?" The creature squeaked, its eerie smile ever present on its face.
Its arrival startled Homura, causing her to knock her bag off her seat. Its contents then spilled to the floor. Homura gathered her composure, ignoring the books, then turned to the creature with cool and collected expression.
"Yes, I did." She said coldly, "Tell me about Walpurgisnacht."
"Walpurgisnacht?" Kyuubey asked, glancing at the books that had been scattered all over the floor, "So that's what you've been up to. If you've read all of those books, you should already have a fairly good idea of…"
"Incubator!" Homura hissed, her glare now bordering on murderous intent, "Tell me about Walpurgisnacht. She was a Puella Magi once, wasn't she?"
"Very well." Kyuubey said, hopping onto one of the sofas then facing Homura, "It will be a long story… or should I say long stories. Are you sure…?"
"I have the time. Out with it."
To Be Continued
Chapter 2 Preview:
"The Second World War, a time of great suffering and great grief
Such was the time that brought about the birth of Walpurgisnacht
If I can learn more about her, surely, this time... I will end her rampage.
However, it will soon become clear...
This will be a fractal story."