Operation Capture Baba Yaga Castle (Part 6)
Operation Capture Baba Yaga Castle
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|Ox and Harvar make surprising discoveries about Kim, which may lead to their victory. Meanwhile, on his way to Tower Eight, Death the Kid is surprised to encounter two individuals--one an opponent, one a directionally-challenged, uneasy ally.|
Operation Capture Baba Yaga Castle (Part 6) is the fifty-first serialized chapter of the manga Soul Eater. It was reprinted in tankōbon form in Volume 13.
The body of Kim Diehl falls forward, Harvar D. Éclair's blade extending out of her back. Ox Ford stares in horror as Harvar leaves Kim lying motionless on the floor. As Kim's blood forms an ever enlarging puddle, Ox struggles to stand, asking how Harvar could stand to kill Kim. Harvar responds that it was all he could do to assure their survival. While Ox understands Harvar's actions, he refuses to agree to them. Harvar directs the discussion instead to Jacqueline O'Lantern Dupré, still in her lantern form, to ask whether she intends to fight now that she has no meister. To Ox's annoyance, Jacqueline's responds without much seriousness: "Aw, geez, she went and died on me."
Despite his gut wound, Ox stumbles forward to Kim, intending to apply some of Stein's first-aid training to her. Harvar disagrees: Ox requires the first-aid, not the deceased witch. Lifting up Kim's shirt, however, Ox gasps in surprise: her wound is gone.
Kim's eyes bolt open. She kicks Ox back and mocks the boy for exposing her while she slept. While Ox is relieved that Kim lives, Harvar cannot understand: how is it that his fatal impalement left no wound? After picking up Jacqueline, still in weapon form, Kim points to her shirt, proving that indeed Harvar stabbed her, but reminds him why she had to leave Shibusen in the first place: she is a witch, so of course magic could heal her.
To illustrate, she begins to chant: "Tanuncoon, Racooncoon, Pom Pom Pom Kitanu." She touches her enchanted hand to her shirt, closing the tear—but, to her annoyance, still leaving the blood stain. Kim then explains that, as a tanuki witch, she is a master of regeneration. Ox, shocked, cannot help but ask whether Kim is actually an angel, a point Kim gently disputes: "I am a little different from other witches."
Then Kim unleashes from Jacqueline a flood of fire, covering Ox and Harvar. "You have no idea how much I've suffered" because of her Regeneration Magic, Kim yells. Harvar covers his meister, shielding both of them from the fire (but at the cost of Harvar's jacket, caught in flames and tossed away by the weapon). Harvar says he intends to keep attacking Kim repeatedly, leaving her no time to regenerate. Ox orders his weapon not to fight—not alone, anyway, as Ox stands up and orders Harvar to transform. Despite Ox's injuries, Harvar acquiescence.
Kim, her eyes still dazed, is surprised by Ox's decision: "So in the end, even you take up arms against me." Harvar responds that it is not easy for Ox to do so, but what other decision has she left them? Kim screams: "It'd be so much easier if I could just live under the Pull of Magic like all the other witches!!" Ox strikes at Kim, who blocks with fire, yet he can resist asking what she means by the "Pull of Magic." She explains that witches possess an almost limitless amount of magic, and as any person would do when given so much power, of course they are going to use it towards destruction. "Witches are dominated by that instinct" for destruction, Kim argues, attacking with her lantern against Ox's staff. Ox considers this information: unlike other witches, whose magic is destructive, Kim's magic is regeneration—which, he cannot resist mentioning, is why she is "always so beautiful."
Kim continues her attack, performing Volantern with Jacqueline, the fireball exploding and hurling Ox back. Harvar yells at Ox to start fighting with his usual lightning-fast attacks or else they will be killed. Kim is still talking, however, saying that her Regenerative Magic prevented her from fitting into witch society, yet as a witch she could not fit into Shibusen either. At least Arachnophobia would take her in. Kim claims she feels so free now that the Morality Manipulation Machine has allowed her to become the witch she was meant to be. Ox disagrees, reminding her that Shibusen always accepted her and Jacqueline and that they had prepared to make accommodations for Kim, regardless of who she is. Kim does not believe Ox, especially now that she "finally know[s] what it means to be happy." Ox stops, considering Kim's words. "If that's true," Ox asks, "then why do you have such a sad look on your face?" Kim's face is frozen with a smile, but tears fall from her eyes.
Jacqueline yells at Ox, accusing her of saddening her meister. Why can't Ox just be happy that Kim now has a place where she can fit in and call home? Ox answers, "It should be obvious. [...] This isn't the place for you two." He tells Kim to return with him to the Death Weapon Meister Academy, where her friends wait for her. But Kim cannot: she remembers how people looked at her when they learned she was a witch, she knows people cannot change who they are, so no one would change their regard for her. As Kim says, the only thing that is permanent in life is money. Even Ox cannot change who he is, adhering to the same daily schedule, keeping the same ridiculous haircut, always talking about his Two Pillars, and always pursuing her like such a "creep." Hence Ox must be lying: no one is waiting for her because people do not change, and neither can she as a witch.
Ox pauses. He sets Harvar aside. "People can change," he begins. He puts his hands to the sides of his head. "They can change their beliefs, they can let go of their pride. Kim, it doesn't matter if you're a witch." He says any such aspects to people are just "symbols," and he intends to show her how little symbols matter. Ox clutches both sides of his hair. His soul's wavelength enlarges as he pulls at his hair, screaming in pain, the wound given to him by Kim ripping open again. Thus Ox Ford tears out his hair, his two pillars, and tosses that hair to the floor.
Ox turns to Kim. "If you don't want to go back to DWMA, then fine. [...] But if you don't have a place to call home, I'll make one for you." Kim's eyes regain some life. "Will you let me be your home?"
The tears in Kim's eyes increase. She covers her face and sobs, holding Jacqueline down and to her side. The effects of the Morality Manipulation Machine no longer hold sway over Kim.
But then Kim's weapon transforms back into human form, flames spiraling around her fists, refusing to trust that Ox will not betray them. Kim orders her partner to stop: "My eyes are open now!" Jacqueline then feels fingers wrap around the back of her neck, followed by a bolt of electricity: Harvar, transformed out of his weapon form, protects his meister, knocking Jacqueline unconscious. Ox asks Kim to tell them where the Morality Manipulation Machine is, so they may reverse the effects upon Jacqueline.
Ox cannot stand much longer, however, clutching his wound. Kim approaches Ox, kneeling beside him to perform regenerative magic that heals his injury. She sighs from exhaustion, yet she does not stop. Seeing Ox's hair on the floor, she picks it up, intending to fix that, too. Ox discourages her, warning her that she seems exhausted. She does not listens as she closes her eyes and performs her magic chant. She then opens one eye to look at Ox, leans closer, and kisses his nose. Ox is surprised, but Kim blushes and turns away, explaining Ox should take care of himself the next few days, not to shampoo for two or three days. Now that Ox is healed, Harvar picks up the unconscious Jacqueline to get her to the Morality Manipulation Machine before she awakens. When asking why Kim and Ox are "beet-red," Ox cannot speak, and Kim claims she is simply exhausted from using her magic. A less than convinced Harvar ignores their answers.
Security Operations Room
Death the Kid faces a daunting struggle in the fight to take down Baba Yaga Castle and, with it, Arachnophobia: he refuses to go any further because the path they have taken up this point has had a perfect symmetrical pattern—left then right—only now they must make another left. "I don't trust Medusa's directions anymore!" As Liz and Patty Thompson try to pry Kid's grasp from the wall, Liz reminds him that they must destroy the Demon Tool Lock before Arachnophobia stops them. Kid pauses—then screams that Liz forces him to make "the ultimate choice." Liz suggests that she cover his eyes so he cannot tell where he is moving while Patty leads. Indeed, Patty does lead Kid—to collide into a wall, as she pushes him into it. They are now back on track, so they may proceed.
But Kid senses an opponent lurking in the shadows: Mosquito blocks their path, and he desires to taste Kid's blood. Before the Thompsons can transform, they are all interrupted by the arrival of an unexpected person: the immortal werewolf, Free, who is surprised that Kid came here to Tower Two. Both Kid and Mosquito correct Free: they are in Tower Eight. Free is in the wrong tower, and now no one is at Tower Two to destroy that Demon Tool Lock.
- Although in their most recent appearance they were wearing Arachnophobia robes, Liz and Patty are back to wearing their maid outfits from an earlier issue. It is likely that, before they could change back into their customary attire after leaving Giriko's room, the sisters simply put their Arachnophobia cloaks and masks over these maid uniforms.
- Mosquito identifies Kid's blood as Type D.