The Riddle of Witch Flesh: Part 1

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Long time ago, it had been written, that the one who knows his enemy, as well as himself, needs not fight a hundred battles. While I don't intend to disagree with the great man who wrote so at all, it's vital to understand that his point stands in the realm of pure logic.

It does not, and was never meant to, account for the battles that must be fought. It doesn't consider that choosing morality or emotion, even impulsive actions, rather than calculating outcomes coldly, may often be the right path. Both Magical Girls and Witches are definitely beings born out of passion. And, what‘s more, they were brought to existence for the exact purpose of avoiding that chilling, hopeless world, that terminal station of reason.

A Witch is all that‘s left once we leave reason behind. We have the terrible fortune of having to deal with mystical elements, which we don't truly understand, on daily basis. It seems that everytime you try to establish a rule followed by all Witches, in order to gain advantage, you are eventually faced with one who throughly breaks it.

I have thought that Witches have no control, and then I've met the martial artist Witch. I have doubted their wits, and bit the substitute hook, line, and sinker. I have used to consider Witches mere things that just happen to contain some leftover thoughts, believed that the writings in their world are something like shadows of their past, and that I am putting them out of their misery, only to be begged by a teary-eyed witch to spare her Familiars, in rather broken Japanese.

Some Witches are so fragile in what they are, that their nature changes under one's hand, and some are so strong within their world, that they can just do and be whatever they decide on, whenever.

An Incubator would add, that this shifty unreliability and imperfection is the most valuable trait in humans.

What, then, you may ask, is the point of Witches being cataloged, and why should you read a book concerning the lore of Witches?

Even if we disregard the quote of a strategist, there is also a much simpler saying: "Knowledge is power". Have you ever considered how much weaker could the Incubator's occasional "You don't need to know" be making you? It is my personal belief, that you do, indeed, always need to know. If knowledge holds no value to you itself, let it be power to protect what you hold dear, as well as smite that which you detest, that compels you to read on.

Your learning materials are going to be mostly speculations about the internal mechanics of a Barrier, observations about certain stronger Witches that might give you the much needed edge over them, should you face the still living ones in the future, and finally, the gathered personal accounts of many girls regarding the more interesting Witches they have faced. Please, understand that the Classification of this book is E, meaning it merely must not leave the Twelfth Officio, but every operative can freely read it. This in turn means that it doesn't use anywhere near all the information available, and it most definitely won't use a single page located in the Librarium. Despite that, it will usually attempt to figure out the true state of things, using only the information that is not highly classified.

Most notably, it must not contain any firsthand accounts from the Witches or Familiars themselves, even if the author did have access to a number of these.

Because of that, please keep in mind, the path to understanding is twisted itself, before even attempting to unwrap the chaos that most Witches revel in. The reader may attempt to memorize the many apparently nonsencial, and, at a glance, eldritch 'rune' scripts used by Witches, which clearly don't mantain any of the basic rules of scriptwriting, fit neither for pen, nor brush. But it would be much more useful if she chose to view it as battle notes, an excercise in tactics. And it might be more befitting of a wise person as well - after all, what you are fighting is a girl much like you, with her own life, which must also have been lacking, otherwise she never would have made the wish. Would you pry into her mind, if she was still human?

I had been, quite uniquely as I am told, gifted with telepathy as my major power, so I've never had a choice in this matter. Someone else might find it to be an issue, though. Whether you can put this knowledge to practical use, and whether you would let pity stray your aim anyway, you will probably find, that through understanding the nature of Witches, you are coming to understand the nature of magical girls as well.


There is no single point that the contents of a Barrier would come from. If you would have believed a Barrier to just be the projection of a girl's mind, twisted with a certain complicated pattern every time, which is a common misconception, simple observation proves that wrong.

A great example of this are the writings from arcane texts found in many barriers. Obviously, many Magical Girls of the Twelfth have memorized passages from the Necronomicon or the Tabula Smaragdina, so it would make perfect sense for these verses to find the way into their future Barrier, if they held them in high regard. But, take Goethe's theatrical novel, Faust, which happens to be the most common of these texts by far. It does intristically fit into most - perhaps all – Barriers, without question. But I doubt that all of the girls that have it present in their Barrier have read it. Actually, a quick poll in the Central Archive had proven that only few of the Vanus working there - all of them having some degree of education in literature per the Officio tradition - have actually ever read the book, or even seen any sort of an adaptation.

Kamile photo.jpeg

Therefore, it seems that culture is a major force in a Barrier, and is completely unattached from the Witch herself. Human culture, to be exact, and mind that extraterrestrial Witches come across as completely foreign and alien.

I cannot simply explain why this works the way it does to a layman, because it had requied years to learn, and the intricacies of karma and fate are the most esoteric part of all magic. Still, I will try to further illustrate this issue on the profile of one of the known Alpha Witches, Liliana. After all, her Barrier is simple, compared to a standard Witch, but possibly the most well known of all to us.

Kamile Ignalina [Cl. Rank: E] Status: Active Witch

Kamile was the former Eversor Rank Leader of the Twelfth, a person of considerable skill, who had served the Officio for four years. She had turned into a Witch of her own volition, after being told about her upcoming promotion to a Warmaster, as witnessed by a significant part of the Officio staff. Using her own words, she did it "just to spite the cat and wreck his oh so important resources, because now it doesn't really matter anymore". Her Barrier had completely leveled the former Officio spaces in the catacombs under Prague's "Faust House", and she had subsequently killed more than a hundred of the Officio operatives present at the time, including some of the Vanus. Her rampage was only ended by the Warmaster's Aide issuing an order for tactical withdrawal.

This event had prompted many changes within the Officio policy and structure.

Liliana, Witch of Escapism [Cl.Rank: E]


Also known as: "The Big Fish"

Card: [Witch of Escapism, with an immature nature. Even the act of facing her foes is running away from her immature nature that wants to run away. Attack and defense have become one, and she can't tell the hunter from the hunted anymore. To run away completely is to refuse every choice.]

Engagements: 61, officially. Possibly more, held responsible for at least three unrelated squads of girls from different officios suddenly going MIA on the sea. Still active, always on the move.

Barrier: It simply consists of sea surface with oversized walnut shells. In her first appearance, she had completely flooded the place with seawater, which remained even after she was long gone. On land, her barrier can only be entered through a water source in the area, which is generally dangerous and not advisable, since you would pop up under the surface. The water is filled with various rusty junk. It also seems, that deep below, on the bottom of the sea, there is pool floor. Strangely enough, that is all, there is nothing such as a Labyrinth. This, in practice, means that Liliana will immediately attack anyone who enters her Barrier within seconds.

There are no sightings of her Familiars anywhere outside the barrier, and they don't seem to attempt giving witch kisses to anyone. Liliana doesn’t seem to really use them for anything, try to feed them, or even acknowledge their existence at all. They aren’t aggressive, either. As a band, they are apparently attempting to play Led Zeppelin’s Moby Dick.

In combat, she is often described as incredibly fast for her size, and extremely tough. Despite that, she had been beaten, wounded, and chased away in the past, but always at great costs. Engaging her with any sort of power is definitely not recommended, unless you know precisely what you are doing. Tactics that made it even possible were mainly flying, great land speed, and teleportation, but they can’t win the battle alone.

In the past, there were periods when scrying on Liliana would only reveal cold, empty space, suggesting she has left Earth. But she always comes back.

Commentary: I did not get to meet her, but miss Ignalina was very fond of Moby-Dick. She had apparently claimed that it has no place in the libraries for children, would quote it all the time, and it’s no surprise to anyone that she had ended up becoming a whale herself. I will skip over the main theme, though, mostly because it would inevitably mean going into the reasons for why she did what she did, which seems to be a touchy subject around here. I have no idea myself, anyway.

The way it uses nutshells reminds me of the tradition of children sending nutshells with candles on water. This has no real meaning, kids just do it because it looks nice, and technically, it could mean anything she had associated this childhood memory with. If I had to guess, though, it’s usually done at night, so not only friendship, but also loneliness , isolation, possibly even fear, would be obvious guesses. The nutshells are a good example of association, usually the really fickle part of a Barrier.

The pool bottom had only ever been seen, because someone fell into the water by accident - in the water, you will get eaten right away. I don’t see much sense in it, but the girl who saw it says that it had appeared out of nowhere when she had looked that way.

Well, sometimes, you can do something in the Barrier that you aren’t expected to do, and the whole place then has to adapt to what you did - much like if you had confronted someone with a whole new way of thought and he had to make his mind about it on spot. You can jump through a window that was only supposed to be a decoration, you can pull a rope and all the familiars just die all of sudden as if their strings were cut, something weird may happen if you hit a light switch one too many times. I have known a powerful girl, who would smash down on a witch so hard, she would often break through the floor of the Barrier, the hole leading to a completely different world before dissipating along with the Witch. These places are fragile, because they were just made, and are also incredibly dangerous.

The penguins are surprisingly the most interesting part of it all. You see, much like Miss Ignalina had, as she said, never actually seen a real whale – which is why she doesn’t dive and jump like one at all and just jumps out of the water like a piranha and bites everything in her path – she had propably never seen a penguin either. She had better things to do than visiting a ZOO, and considering her service history, she may well have been that one kind of a Magical Girl who had lived in the twisted world for so long, she had lost the entire notion of correctness. She had relied on her instinct a lot, and you may remember that she had described the way she fights Witches as "Kind of like doing what a smart animal does when it has to attack a human."

Her motherland, Lithuania, is far from the South Pole, so unless she was a passionate Linux user or so, adding a penguin through association is ridiculous. On the other hand, penguins do carry a general meaning, and thus it could be a case of an aforementioned cultural pattern. They are being used by many present day literary authors of various backgrounds and foci, as representatives for higher planes and forces. They also often represent the human unconscious and dreams, both of which fit right within a Moby-Dick Barrier.

It gets a lot more interesting, though: There is no proper source for this meaning. The history of its usage is less than a hundred years old, because nobody has previously really cared about penguins, and older meanings seem to outright contradict it. All those writers are adding them, because they themselves feel like they fit. The meaning had historically first appeared in quite the obscure books, but ended up being referred to by even the most famous of psychologists. Sometime before the World War II, all the smart people had suddenly started dreaming about penguins. So, penguins are, in this sense, definitely a part of human culture now, but their presence in it is hard to justify by logic, and what they represent is the part of humanity which can’t be properly explained, either.

Are you seeing the patterns yet? Witches are thoroughly insane, but their insanity is the one of man. You must understand this. Fighting them and fighting humans or other Magical Girls is the exact same thing. If you ever come across wars, or inter - Officio conflicts, the next time you kill someone whose language and customs you don’t comprehend, give it a thought.

An excerpt from "On the Nature of Witches", by Umika Misaki, Librarian of the Twelfth, former Librarius of the Tenth.