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DON'T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER is the first volume of the BURN THE WITCH manga series.[1]


Chapters

BURN THE WITCH (one-shot)

The cover spread of BURN THE WITCH.

As Noel Niihashi walks down the streets of London in her school uniform while musing on how uniforms tell others who she is, she comes across Osushi sitting on the ground and prepares to give him a dog treat, only to be accosted by Balgo Parks, who wishes to see her panties as usual. Kicking Balgo away, Noel notes that he is now able to finish his sentences even after being kicked by her and throws a pipe at him, which he frantically dodges, before brushing off his claim that it could have hit someone by stating that if he could dodge it, even an elderly man could. Emboldened by her challenge of never being able to best her, Balgo tells her to not underestimate him, only to be swiftly incapacitated by a strike to the jaw. Noel enters a nearby phonebooth and deposits a coin emblazoned with the emblem of the Western Branch before saying that she is clocking into work to the receiver, causing the phonebooth to drop into the ground below, much to Balgo's bewilderment.

In Reverse London, standing beneath the partially destroyed gate of the Western Branch, Ninny Spangcole berates the repairmen for not fixing the gate in the week since it was damaged while her latest advertisement plays on a large monitor in the background. When she is told that the installation of the monitor was prioritized, Ninny claims this is just an excuse and, upon being interrupted by the arrival of Noel behind her, demands to know why Noel is late again, leading Noel to state she had to fight off Balgo at the entrance as usual, to Ninny's chagrin. It is revealed that the dragons of ancient fables are not fictitious, but not quite real either: centuries ago, 72% of all deaths in London were caused by dragons, which is why London's coat of arms features dragons on it. The residents of London cannot see dragons, but needed to be protected from them nonetheless; therefore, the residents of Reverse London, hidden under "Front London", took it upon themselves to protect and control the dragons.

As she and Ninny enter the Wing Bind headquarters, Noel points out that Ninny is the one who told the repairmen to prioritize the installation of the monitor, prompting Ninny to defend her actions by claiming everyone wants to see her advertisements. When Ninny reminds her that she asked not to be called "Ninii-chan" because she is Noel's senpai, Noel tells her to call her by her first name, leading Ninny to say "Niiha-chan" is cuter and that Noel is a boy's name, which Noel counters by stating that it is a girl's name in Japan. Billy Banx Jr. walks up and notes that they seem to be having fun as usual before brushing off Ninny's ensuing insult of him being bald. After having them stamp their attendance sheets, Billy walks Noel and Ninny to their Broombuggy mounts before revealing they will be going to Ninebrook Pastures and claiming that it is a fun place. As Ninny grows increasingly frustrated with her boss's remarks, Noel states that they should get going, and the two of them take off on their mounts.

Elsewhere, in London, Balgo sits with his friend Shelby and tearfully states that he wanted to see Noel's panties, prompting Shelby to berate him for being sad about such a thing. When Balgo reminds him that he rejected the story of Noel disappearing into thin air, Shelby confirms this because he considers the idea of people going to Reverse London preposterous, as it is a "fairy tale" like Santa Claus. Foisting Osushi onto Shelby, who is overwhelmed by his cuteness, Balgo convinces his friend to listen to his woes. Meanwhile, in Ninebrook Pastures, Noel feeds her mount while Ninny complains about not being able to join the Sabre Squad and protect the streets of London, leading Noel to note that she is content where she is in the Conservation Rangers. Upon being approached by a farmhand, Noel introduces herself and Ninny, prompting the farmhand to request that they help him harvest a crop today. It is revealed that the people of Reverse London rely upon various types of domesticated dragons for their utilities, such as textiles, electricity, and even meat.

Noel and Ninny climb up the neck of an extremely large, camel-like Dragon as Ninny notes that she actually prefers this domestication of the Dragons to Japan's policy of simply killing them all, but she does not know why they need to be harvesting grapes from this Dragon. It is revealed that the only absolute rule regarding Dragons is that ordinary residents of London are forbidden from coming into direct contact with them - the only ones who have the authority to do so are the witches and wizards who have passed the exam to join the Wing Bind agency. This rule is meant to protect both citizens and Dragons, and violating it is punishable by 100 years imprisonment or something else. Back in London, Balgo brings Shelby to the phonebooth Noel disappeared in and wonders what the WB that appeared on the booth meant. As Shelby begins to leave, Osushi suddenly distorts and transforms into an enormous Dark Dragon.

In Ninebrook Pastures, Noel receives a call from Billy, who asks her to finish up her harvest and perform an extermination for him. Though Noel decides to hang up on him, Ninny overhears and convinces Noel to go through with it. As they speed through the air on their mounts, Noel and Ninny learn that they were chosen because the Sabre Squad is currently doing field training in the north all day and the dragon in question is located in South Braxton, where Noel is from. Noting that they do not have time to go back to the phone gate, Ninny tells Noel to use her coin so they can open the Coin Gate. As she notes that Ninny seems very happy about this, which Ninny admits to being true because they might get promoted to the Saber Squad for defending London on their own, Noel tosses her the coin as Ninny opens the Coin Gate, which they go through.

Meanwhile, as they hide from the rampaging Dark Dragon, Balgo and Shelby note that something is definitely in front of them even though they cannot see it. Suddenly, Noel and Ninny burst out of the Coin Gate behind the Dragon. As it is revealed that Dragons become Dark by coming into contact with people and absorbing their negative emotions, which also gives them the power of human speech, the Dark Dragon demands to see Noel's panties, causing her to immediately realize Balgo is nearby and promise to kill him. Upon noticing the limp Osushi, Ninny deduces that he is dead and the Dark Dragon is a Disguiser, which takes over corpses. When Shelby tries to flee the scene, Ninny pursues him despite Noel's warning that there are two Dragons present, only for Shelby to suddenly unfurl his body and attack Ninny.

With her left arm broken by the attack, Ninny rolls to safety as Shelby reveals himself to be a Disguiser Dragon as well. Noting that he does not want to kill Balgo, Shelby declares that he will devour the witches and become immortal as he attacks Ninny once more, only for Noel to swoop in and rescue her. As Noel reveals that Shelby died when he was 7 while protecting Balgo from the impact of a train, Ninny remarks on the strangeness of a Dark Dragon living among humans for 10 years before Shelby suddenly appears next to them and attacks, sending Ninny crashing into the city below. When the dust clears to reveal Ninny landed next to Balgo, Shelby tells him to leave so he can devour Ninny and attempts to do so, but Balgo blocks his mouth with his arms and reveals that he is doing so because he still believes Shelby is his friend. Shelby prepares to devour them both, but is kicked away by Noel, who admits that Balgo was cool for a moment there before destroying Shelby with Absolute Dragon Shatter, to Balgo's shock.

Later, Noel and Ninny learn that Billy has been promoted to the Sabre Squad due to his decision to send them in to handle the Dark Dragon, while they have been given Balgo to take care of after he became a Dragon-Possessed One due to being bitten by a Dark Dragon after living with one for 10 years. While Ninny hounds Billy, Osushi, now a dog again, asks to see Noel's panties, causing her to chase after him and Balgo, destroying the now-rebuilt Western Branch gate once again in the process.

Characters in order of appearance:

BURN THE WITCH 01. WITCHES BLOW A NEW PIPE

One month after Balgo Parks became a Dragonclad, Noel Niihashi and Ninny Spangcole deal with an incident involving him and Osushi in Reverse London.

The cover spread of 01. WITCHES BLOW A NEW PIPE.

As she walks through the streets of London in a dark hoodie and glasses, Ninny Spangcole ruminates on how pretentious fairy tales are with princesses being fooled into believing they are choosing an attractive man for a relationship, only to be chosen themselves, while the magic they experience along the way disappears partway through. With reporters on the street noticing her and chasing after her to inquire about recent news regarding her band, Ninny decries those who want to be the princess anyway without realizing that the magic will wear off since they do not realize why it does. Annoyed by the reporters asking her why she left her band and by one of them bumping into a woman carrying groceries, Ninny releases a bright flash of light with her hand to briefly blind them and runs into an alleyway, where she scans a Wing Bind coin to open a passageway in the cobblestones and jumps down, leaving her fans to wonder where she went. Concluding that she would prefer to be the one casting the spell if idiots will be bewitched regardless, Ninny unzips her hoodie and reports for duty.

Down in Reverse London, Noel Niihashi rides her Broombuggy, Wordsworth, after a Bud Buck in the plains and begins reciting the incantation for Magic #31. Blue Spark, only for the Bud Buck to begin using its magic, which Noel warns it against doing because this will cause flowers to bloom on its antlers. Suddenly, a massive, wombat-head Dragon bursts through the treetops near the Bud Buck, prompting Noel to instead fire Magic #31. Blue Spark at it from her gun, releasing a five-pronged blast that leaves the Dragon reeling back and results in it turning around to fly away. While Noel and the Bud Buck are sent flying back by the wind pressure from the Dragon's wings, Ninny uses Magic #44. Flash Bumper to create a large net that catches them as she flies down on her own Broombuggy, Marshall, and chastises Noel for not having a plan to catch the Bud Buck if Ninny had not made it here in time. However, Noel counters that Ninny has no right to complain when she was so late, and when Ninny bemoans Noel addressing her by her first name despite her seniority, Noel promises to stop calling her Ninny if she starts calling her Noel, though Ninny angrily questions why she is so casually making demands as a junior.

Shortly afterward, at Wing Bind headquarters, Ninny parks Marshall alongside Noel and demands to know why she took on a two-person job by herself. With Noel simply stating that she did so because Ninny was late, Ninny points out that a normal person would just wait, but Noel reminds her that she gets the entire reward to herself if she does it solo while scanning her phone at the bank stand. Ninny asserts that she knew Noel was after money and responds to Noel noting that she could simply transfer all the money she makes in Front London by claiming that she cannot do so out of pride. Upon seeing that she lost achievement points despite how carefully she picked the flower from the antlers of the Bud Buck, Noel laments this as Ninny celebrates getting points as well and points to her assistance toward the end that saved the Bud Buck as the reason for this when Noel expresses confusion. With several young men ogling at them nearby, Noel explains that she picked the Bud Buck flower without permission since they lose value if they are already flowering prior to being sold and teasingly offers to let a blushing Ninny touch it if she wants to.

Suddenly, an explosion rocks a tower in the distance behind Noel, who turns to see Balgo Parks clinging to Osushi's leash as the latter flies through the air with a pair of large wings. Though initially apathetic toward helping Balgo and debating whose responsibility it is to do so, with them eventually deciding to let him be and instead get drinks from a vending machine, Noel and Ninny are interrupted by Billy Banx Jr., who declares that they need to look after Balgo due to the likelihood of him dying at this rate. Despite this, Ninny merely wonders what Billy is doing here as their former chief, and when Noel reveals that he is back in the Pipers starting today after being demoted from the Sabres, Ninny laughs and inquires about what he did, prompting Noel to explain that he got fired because he did not do anything. As Billy complains about how much this hurts, Ninny dismisses this and refuses to look after Balgo in addition to her regular job because she and Noel are not getting enough money or achievement points for it. In response, Billy informs them that he visited the relevant stakeholders and got Noel and Ninny approved for overtime and bonus achievements, shocking them. After finishing their drinks, Noel and Ninny hop on their Broombuggies as Ninny lays out their selfish motivations for doing this and concludes that they will tell others they are doing this for social justice if asked before blasting off into the air, leaving Billy to observe that they should shout that last part first.

Elsewhere, a man stands on the upper floor of a building and frantically warns Balgo to not come toward him, only for Osushi to crash into the building, leading Balgo to apologize and inquire if the man got hurt. However, the man clarifies that he is not worried about injuries and questions what he is supposed to do if he is arrested for Dragon interaction due to Wing Bind headquarters being so close. Before Osushi can wreak any more havoc, Noel and Ninny fly in to grab him and Balgo, respectively, which prompts Balgo to thank Noel for saving him as an irritated Ninny points out that she is the one who saved him. Above them, Noel rubs Osushi's back and gently tells him to calm down, resulting in Osushi's wings retracting and vanishing. When Ninny asks him what he did to Osushi, Balgo asserts that he did nothing and that this happened while they were simply on a walk. Upon being thanked and asked by the man in the building about his window, Noel moves up to the opening in the wall, startling the man, and instructs him to use Dragon insurance to cover the cost of repairs before inquiring if he came in contact with Osushi. With Ninny telling her to do an exam, Noel complies and holds out her phone for the man to lick, which he does in embarrassment. With her phone determining that the man's dragotoxin levels are at normal levels, to Ninny's surprise, Balgo proclaims that this is a relief, prompting Ninny to repeatedly elbow and punch him while reminding him that this mess was his fault.

Ninny demands to know why Balgo has not put the fence collar on Osushi, since he is the only non-Witch or Wizard who will not be arrested for touching him as a Dragonclad, but Balgo reveals that he did put the collar on and that it fell off when Osushi suddenly sprouted wings during their walk. Picking up on this, Noel questions if Osushi sprouted wings without him doing anything, which a flustered Balgo confirms. Upon being asked by Noel where this happened, Balgo is left perplexed, leading Noel to remind him that Osushi only sprouts wings when Balgo imitates his cry, when Balgo sneezes, when Balgo bursts out laughing, and when danger is closing in on Balgo. Suddenly, a massive Dragon appears behind Balgo and attempts to stomp on him, only for Noel to pull him and Osushi away at the last second while Ninny follows her, leaving the Dragon to shatter the pavement with its stomp and roar. Skidding back with Balgo, Noel orders Ninny to put up the barrier tape, which she does, and uses Magic #4. Stunball, hitting the Dragon squarely in the chin with a tranquilizer and sending it falling back into a building. Though an annoyed Ninny wonders why she was told to put up the tape when this was resolved so quickly, Noel simply states that it was a precaution and answers a phone call from Billy to inform him that they would like an additional reward for subduing a Dragon, which she clarifies the appearance of was not their fault as she admonishes Billy for complaining.

While Noel admits that she does not know what type of Dragon it is and that it should remain subdued for now due to the tranquilizer she used, the face of the Dragon bloodily slides off to reveal that of a Dark Dragon, who lashes out at Noel with a tendril from one of the holes on its face as a shocked Ninny leaps forward and pulls Noel away. With the tendril slamming into the ground and busting open a fire hydrant that showers the area in water, the Dark Dragon approaches Noel and Ninny as the latter comments on the Dragon not being tranquilized after all. The Dark Dragon lashes out with another tendril, leveling multiple buildings and prompting Ninny to call Billy for an emergency Dragon blockade on Rutherford St. because they are dealing with a Dark Dragon. In response, a sign on Rutherford St. flips to display a blockade warning as the citizens on the street are informed by a broadcast from their phones of the blockade and instructed to seek shelter while Wing Bind handles the situation. As Ninny expresses her annoyance at the BBC being allowed to mention Wing Bind like this, Noel attempts to inform Billy of the blockade being set up and the opportunity for the Sabres to move in, but Ninny presses the end call button on Noel's phone and grins as she whistles for her Broombuggy. Upon being asked by Noel why she did this, Ninny explains that this is their chance to prove how powerful they are to Wing Bind, though Noel points out how they do not need to be powerful in order to fulfill their duties as Pipers of taking Dragons to pastures and harvesting from them. Reminding Noel that she wants to get into Sabres, Ninny hops on her Broombuggy and blasts off, leaving Noel to flatly state that she has no interest in doing so herself as Ninny hurtles toward the Dark Dragon, who fires several energy blasts that Ninny deftly evades. As she holds her gun by the barrel in front of her face, Noel instructs Balgo to move back with Osushi and initiates Magic #75. Gatling Claw, leaving Balgo astonished.

Meanwhile, the Top of Horns sit around a circular table and watch a projection of Balgo, with one of them noting that this seems to be a catastrophe. When Inks Director Bruno Bangnyfe reminds them all that it has been a century since such an incident occurred, Anthems Director Roy B. Dipper clarifies that it has only been 96 years, though an irritated Bruno asserts that this is basically a century and that it has been this long since they let a Dark Dragon enter Reverse London. Demanding to know how this could be anything other than a catastrophe and berating Patchworks Director Saka Rynn for not even bothering to show up as he orders Billionaires Director Harry Shayk to stop chewing gum, Bruno angrily questions if none of them have anything to say and if he is the only one taking this seriously. Though Roy points out how he did say something, Bruno ignores him and declares that Balgo should never have been set loose to begin with before turning to Gallows Director Wolfgang Slashhaut and asking him what he thinks. Wolfgang states that this matter has been brought up in their corps on countless occasions in the past month since Balgo became a Dragonclad and refuses to disregard the situation caused by their inaction before concluding that they will commence proceedings to eliminate Balgo.

Characters in order of appearance:


BURN THE WITCH 02. Ghillie Suit

The day after after the confrontation with the Dark Dragon, Noel Niihashi and Ninny Spangcole are called in to apprehend an illegally-reared Dragon.

The cover page of 02. Ghillie Suit.

Watching news coverage of her having exited the band Cecile Die Twice last week without giving any interviews or divulging any information, something considered to be unheard of, as the hosts speculate that she is upset over being replaced by a digital character, Macy Baljure sees a video of Ninny Spangcole expressing annoyance that is pointed to as her denouncing Macy and learns that it was published by a news organization called "The Realist's", prompting her Dragon, Elly, to angrily fire a blast through the monitor, destroying it. As she places her hand on Elly's head, Macy thanks her for being angry on Macy's behalf.

On Saturday, at her residence in Reverse London, Noel Niihashi waters several Planty Potties and promises that they will all get some before having the day's newspaper brought to her by Wordsworth, leading her to thank him for bringing it to her all the way from the mailbox. Alerted upon looking at the front page of the newspaper, Noel hears Balgo Parks fawning over the cuteness of Osushi, who begins smothering him while licking his face, and when her phone begins ringing, Noel tosses it to Balgo, who sees that Ninny is calling. Though Balgo is hesitant to answer a call from Ninny on her phone, Noel hands him the newspaper, which she is forced to perform a Magic Scan on to unlock articles about Reverse London, allowing Balgo to see that Noel has been titled a Wing Bind Headliner. With an excited Balgo wondering what this means, Ninny furiously demands to know why Noel is being featured instead of her on a rare front-page Headliner article meant to cover the most active Wing Bind member of the day. While Balgo timidly observes that this is what it means, Ninny recognizes his voice and questions why he is picking up Noel's phone as she reprimands him for assuming that they have becomes friends solely because Noel is looking after him for the week and for thinking that anyone other than her can pick up Noel's phone without permission, which prompts Balgo to inquire why he is the target of Ninny's anger now as Noel confirms that this is why she had him answer the phone and that no one is allowed to pick up her phone without permission.

Suddenly, Billy Banx Jr. calls both Noel and Ninny to request that they come in for a pressing work matter. Initially declining due to it being a Saturday and intending to take a shower, respectively, Noel and Ninny change their minds upon being informed that this task will be worth five times the normal amount of pay and achievement points. Shortly afterward, after Noel and Ninny come to Wing Bind headquarters, Billy apologizes for calling them in on a Saturday, only for Ninny to ask him if he is here as well because he is getting paid five times as much just to meet them. With Billy declining to comment and moving to explain the assignment to them, Ninny demands that he confirm it, but Noel reminds her that organizations are generally structured so that superiors bear most of the setbacks as well as the benefits. Upon learning that they are being tasked with apprehending an illegally-reared Dragon, Ninny is left shocked while Billy elaborates that they received a tip about one being kept in the western district of Reverse London. Observing that this is extremely notable, Ninny questions why the Pipers are being put in charge of such a case, and when Billy speculates that illegal rearing counts as part of their rearing and conservation duties regarding Dragons, Ninny asserts that this sounds like a technicality, resulting in Billy telling her to count herself lucky that she is profiting off of it before remembering that there was an additional order in the request document.

Some time later, Noel and Ninny fly through the air on their respective Broombuggies, with Balgo seated behind and clinging to Noel. As an irritated Ninny wonders why they have to bring Balgo with them, Noel points out how his predisposition for drawing out Dragons makes him useful for their search. After Ninny declares that she knows this, Noel asks her why she is upset in this case, which leads Ninny to clarify that she is upset due to being unhappy rather than due to not understanding as she compares taking care of Balgo to taking care of the class frog. With Noel noting that this is disparagement of him and inquiring if he will let this slide without a rebuttal, Balgo blissfully proclaims that he is happy to be able to serve Noel and to have his arms so close to her breasts, only for Noel to remind him that a drop from this height would be fatal. Landing on a nearby roof ledge, Noel gives Balgo the mantle and Pipe of a Piper, which Billy approved so that it would be clear at a glance that Balgo is working with them. Though Ninny comments on his smug expression and wonders if he really wants to wear this, Balgo asserts that getting to wear what Noel does is akin to feeling her embrace, disgusting Ninny, who observes that the west district begins around here and asks Balgo if he feels anything. When Balgo expresses uncertainty at what she means, an annoyed Ninny specifies that she is referring to the illegally-reared Dragon, but Balgo reminds her that he only has a predisposition for drawing Dragons to him, not communicating with them.

However, before Ninny can berate Balgo further, she is interrupted by a loud explosion and looks over her shoulder to see smoke rising from the office building of The Realist's. Shocked by this, Balgo states that an explosion seems like a big deal, and when Ninny dismisses it, Balgo wonders why she is not heading over there, prompting Ninny to explain that dealing with terrorists is out of their jurisdiction and a job for the police. Despite this, Noel decides that they should head over in case it involves their Dragon, which Balgo praises her for, and notes that there will probably be points involved even if it is not the Dragon, resulting in an exasperated Ninny following her on Marshall. Upon reaching the building, Noel identifies it as belonging to The Realist's while Ninny admits that this is why she did not want to come here. With a large crowd gathered outside that begins fawning over Ninny's presence, Balgo brings up Ninny being featured in The Realist's the other day. Ninny tells him to be more specific since she is featured in their headlines three times a week, leading Balgo to clarify that this was a video of her expressing annoyance that was portrayed as her hating Macy, to Ninny's bemusement. When Noel observes that no one is inside the building, Ninny points out how it is Saturday and states that The Realist's is less exploitative than Wing Bind is while approaching a fan of hers in the crowd, who nervously requests a handshake. As Ninny questions if he noticed anything about the building before or after the explosion, another fan pops up from behind him and reveals that a man entered right before the explosion, which Ninny thanks him for.

Suddenly, Ninny sees Macy standing at the window on one of the upper floors and calls Marshall, who flies her up the side of the building while Ninny calls Wordsworth to follow her, instructing Balgo to blend with the onlookers when he attempts to join her. Shielding herself from falling glass when another window is blown out by an energy blast, Ninny enters the building through the destroyed window and observes that her eyes were not deceiving her. Upon being asked why she is here by Macy, who steps out from behind a corner, Ninny returns the question and inquires why Macy is in Reverse London. Macy comments on The Realist's writing a terrible story about Ninny hating her, and when Ninny points out how it was the office of The Realist's in Front London that published this story rather than the one in Reverse London, Macy brings up a rumor she heard that a building being destroyed in Reverse London will cause the same building to be destroyed in Front London, which Ninny admits is true. With Macy explaining that she came here to destroy The Realist's because they only publish stories that harm Ninny's reputation, Ninny begins to assert that she is used to it, but picks up on what Macy said and questions if Macy caused the explosion that just occurred.

However, Macy reveals that it was Elly, who comes into view behind her, and pets the latter's head as a mortified Ninny mentally notes Elly's size and requests that Macy hand it over to her since direct contact with a Dragon is a felony in Reverse London. Though Ninny promises that she will stay quiet about this so Macy does not get in trouble, Macy refuses to hand over Elly, and as Ninny frantically warns her that she is doing this for Macy's sake since the latter will end up dead if this is discovered, Macy counters that Ninny is the one who taught her to never believe anyone who says they are doing something for Macy's sake while Elly rushes toward Ninny. Suddenly, Noel shoots Elly in the face, sending her flying back, and enters the building as she observes that Ninny does not seem happy about this turning out to involve their Dragon, though Ninny says that she would be psychotic if she were happy after discovering that this involved someone she knew. Upon making eye contact with Noel, who recognizes her and apologizes for not doing so sooner, an enraged Macy throws a desk at Noel and demands to know why she is being friendly with Ninny before vowing to kill her. With a confused Noel turning to her for an explanation, an embarrassed Ninny informs Noel that Macy has feelings for her and acts this way whenever Ninny acts friendly with other women, further perplexing Noel. After observing that they cannot deal with Macy directly like this, Ninny flies up to the roof of the building while instructing Noel to draw Macy's attention so she can subdue the latter from above. Suddenly, a massive energy blast bursts off the side of the roof, sending Ninny flying off Marshall and forcing Noel to catch her as Bruno Bangnyfe notes that he sent her flying farther than expected and inquires if Ninny is dead, since he will need to write up an incident report if she died on the job, as a stunned Noel seems to recognize him.

Characters in order of appearance:


BURN THE WITCH 03. She Makes Me Special

Bruno Bangnyfe commences his assault in an attempt to capture Balgo Parks, but Noel Niihashi and Ninny Spangcole outmaneuver him and flee alongside Macy Baljure.

The cover page of 03. She Makes Me Special.

Outside the Top of Horns meeting room, Billy Banx Jr. peers around the side of the entrance before being confronted by Sullivan Squire, who stands behind him against a wall with Arkvine and questions why he is here. With Sullivan admonishing Billy for being unable to say goodbye when he was transferred even after all she did for him, Billy admits that he has actually come by to give her a formal farewell in light of his transfer, but Sullivan assumes that he is lying and has heard of the crisis his subordinates are caught in. However, Billy expresses confusion at the mention of something happening to them, leading an unimpressed Sullivan to note that it seems unprincipled to not inform Billy since he is their direct superior as she reveals that the elimination of Balgo Parks was approved yesterday and that Bruno Bangnyfe is on the move to initiate it. After reminding Billy of Bruno's methods and instructing him to look out for his subordinates, Sullivan departs with Arkvine, leaving Billy to muse on the messy situation.

Meanwhile, at "The Realist's" office building, Bruno assures Noel Niihashi that he is not trying to kill her or Ninny Spangcole and that she simply needs to stay out of his way and follow orders. Despite Bruno presuming that Noel's shock is due to her recognizing him, Noel flatly states that she has no idea who he is, to Bruno's shock and irritation, while a battered Ninny identifies Bruno as the Director of the Inks to her and wonders why he is here. Still annoyed despite Ninny recognizing him, Bruno calls in an emergency Dragon blockade on Penfront Street below that excludes the crowd of ordinary citizens but not Balgo, whom he describes as a Wing Bind employee identifiable by the Pipers mantle he is wearing. As the blockade is erected, Bruno orders Balgo to be detained on the spot because he is the culprit behind a terrorist attack on a newspaper using a Dragon, astonishing Noel and Ninny. With Ninny realizing that Bruno ordered Billy to give them the mantle and Pipe for Balgo, Bruno confirms this and details the cover story of a Dragonclad with the power to attract Dragons attacking the office of a tabloid that once wrote a humiliating article about him, though he admits that he does not care whether or not this story makes sense. Upon being asked why he is detaining Balgo, Bruno reveals the elimination order set for Balgo yesterday and that this will put a bounty on his head within 72 hours before concluding that the one who puts Balgo down will have their name remembered in Reverse London for all eternity. Bruno elaborates that he is taking Balgo into the temporary custody of the Inks and that he is guaranteed to die once the elimination procedure is finalized, but as he warns Noel and Ninny to not bother negotiation or complaining since he is working within the scope of counter-Dragon law and does not plan on killing them unless they get in the way, Noel insults the dye job of his hair, prompting an enraged Bruno to declare that he will kill her.

Seeing the front of the office building's roof damaged by Bruno's power, Ninny yells Noel's name and clarifies that she was praising her when the latter asserts that she did nothing worthy of blame, only for Noel to deny having done anything worthy of praise either. After claiming that he was treating Noel and Ninny nicely since they are low-class employees, Bruno proclaims that he will be writing up two incident reports today and does not care about the resulting workers' compensation forms. However, Noel and Ninny turn around on Wordsworth and hurtle toward the ground, leaving Bruno to express surprise at them not intending to fight him before seeing that they are headed toward Balgo, who is being accosted by members of the Inks. With Bruno angrily instructing his subordinates to look upward and activate their Shields, Noel fires a blast from her Witch Kit that sends the Inks flying away and flies away with Balgo. When Balgo expresses incredulity at Noel coming to his rescue, Noel simply observes that the end result makes it look like she has, which leads Balgo to celebrate this as luck being on his side even though he does not know what he has gotten himself into.

Up on the rooftop, a cursing Bruno finds Ninny pointing her Witch Kit at the back of his head and stating her intention to ask him a question. As a smirking Bruno chastises her for her rude attitude and questions what she is being taught in the Pipers, Ninny demands to know why Bruno brought Macy here and why she is with a Dragon, and after telling her to keep it to one question, Bruno affirms that he scouted Ninny and brought her over, only to reveal that she found and raised Elly from an infant and denies this being his doing before informing Ninny that Macy is one of the rare Humans born in Front London with significantly strong magical abilities as a Watcher who can see Dragons. Ninny is left stunned by this revelation and the idea of Macy eventually making her way to Reverse London on her own like she and Noel did, allowing Bruno to kick her Witch Kit out of her hand and into the air while lecturing her on holding it while agitated since it could discharge. Suddenly, Noel flies overhead on Wordsworth and grabs Ninny's Witch Kit before firing it and her own at a shocked Bruno, resulting in two powerful explosions surging across the rooftop. Running out of the blast toward Macy, Ninny calls Marshall and hops onto him as she grabs Macy's hand and pulls her into the air away from the building. Though Macy protests this, Ninny assures her that she is being taken somewhere safe while Elly busts through an entrance on the rooftop behind them and roars in distress at the sight of Macy being carried off. Nearby, Bruno expresses frustration at Noel and Ninny attempting to take Balgo and Macy away from him and summons his own Dragon, Rickenbacker, while concluding that this is naive of them.

Elsewhere, Ninny tells Macy to stop crying and reminds her that they could not take Elly since she is harmful to normal people. With Ninny declaring that she hates Macy's tendency to complain, a tearful Macy takes this as proof that Ninny really does hate her, prompting Ninny to wonder why she has to deal with Macy. Shortly afterward, Noel, Ninny, Balgo, and Macy rest on a set of billboards attached to a radio tower as Noel notes that they should be safe for the time being after coming this far and with the protective Cloth she cast over them. Sitting beside Macy, Ninny inquires about what happened, and when Macy asks Ninny if she knows that Ninny never liked being in their group, Ninny somberly confirms this. Macy elaborates that she is simply a tall woman who can look beautiful and knows how to dance, which is why she was put in stylish clothes with fancy makeup and made out to be an icon of fashion and mystique. With Ninny assuming that this is why Macy quit, Macy clarifies that she would have quit a long time ago if this was the entirety of her situation and that she could not quit because Ninny was there and Macy would have become a nobody again had she left.

However, Macy recalls finding an infant Elly two months ago and thinking that she was a hallucination brought on by drugs since no one else could see her, only to be surprised when she drank water after Macy brought her home, which led her to realize Elly was alive. Recounting how she fed Elly all sorts of food, though the Dragon preferred fruits and vegetables, and how she started to look more and more like a Dragon as she got bigger while never using the bathroom, Macy concludes that she felt special due to Elly being a Dragon only she could see. After bringing up how Ninny and the rest of their group were amazing for their ability to perform on stage and sell merchandise, Macy admits that she was the only one who was not being her true self and that she felt no one would notice her if she quit, but observes that things changed when she brought Elly home because it felt like the latter was giving her strength and would take her somewhere special. With Macy detailing how Bruno came to her last night and told her that he needed her and Elly's powers, Macy asserts that it seemed like she was finally being led somewhere special and begins to say something to Ninny, only to be interrupted when Rickenbacker crashes through the Cloth with Bruno on his back. Inquiring if Noel and Ninny finished saying their final goodbyes, a grinning Bruno lists off their multiple crimes and pulls a tablet out of his jacket to reveal that Balgo's Punitive Dragon designation has just been finalized, meaning that every Witch and Wizard in Reverse London now intends to slay him, leaving Balgo stunned and confused while Elly continues to roar.

Characters in order of appearance:


BURN THE WITCH 04. If a lion could speak, We couldn't understand

The elimination of Balgo Parks is put on hold when Cinderella reveals herself to Noel Niihashi, Ninny Spangcole, and Bruno Bangnyfe.

The cover spread of 04. If a lion could speak, We couldn't understand.

With Balgo Parks confused by Bruno Bangnyfe's declaration that all of Wing Bind is now hunting for him, Bruno deduces that Noel Niihashi and Ninny Spangcole have not told him anything, leading him to maliciously assert that the smallest mercy one can give to a dead man walking is to not tell him when he will die, further unnerving Balgo. Huddling next to Ninny, Noel suggests that they split up after she counts to three and take Balgo and Macy Baljure away, but though he cannot hear what they are discussing, Bruno reminds them that Balgo will be a target no matter where he goes in Reverse London and questions where they plan to take him. Suddenly, as Macy realizes she can hear Elly's voice getting closer, a screeching Elly drops down onto Bruno, who states that he no longer has any use for her and raises his hand to attack her, only for Elly to disappear with Stealth Scale while still in midair, shocking those present. Ninny thinks back to her earlier encounter with Elly and muses that she thought Elly had simply been emerging from the darkness when she first appeared, but concludes that Elly had actually been erasing herself from sight. With Bruno in disbelief at a Dragon using Stealth Scale, Elly's claw reappears and slashes through one of Rickenbacker's wings before rising into the air underneath the full moon and molting into her true form, Cinderella.

While Cinderella lands on a clock tower in the distance, a stunned Ninny wonders how she completely changed her shape and size, and when Noel speculates that she molted in the moonlight, Ninny begins to piece together what this could mean, prompting Bruno to affirm that Cinderella's use of Stealth Scale, her molting in the moonlight, and the six talons on each of her claws means that she is one of the Märchen. Upon being asked by Balgo what a Märchen is, Noel explains that they are seven Dragons likened to and named after fairy tales who are rumored to have existed even before the formation of Reverse London: Snow White, Red Dress, Golden Axe, Bubbles, Sugar House, Band of Animals, and Cinderella, who only molts into a full-fledged Dragon in the moonlight. When an awed Macy picks up on the name, Noel elaborates that the name also stems from Cinderella scattering Star Ash when agitated. However, before Noel can finish recounting how Star Ash engulfs anything it comes into contact with in light according to her reference book, Cinderella spreads her wings and unleashes a flurry of Star Ash across the surrounding buildings, resulting in dozens of powerful explosions that startle those watching and lead Ninny to angrily assert that these are just bombs.

Calling out to Balgo, Bruno proclaims that they are putting his elimination on hold and dons the face mask wrapped around his arm as he details how Märchen are the progenitors of Dark Dragons and permanently authorized for elimination, making them humanity's hypothetical enemy, though he admits that he never thought he would see one in person and considers it electrifying. With Ninny aghast at the idea of him trying to fight Cinderella, Bruno clarifies that he will be killing her instead since he could not ask for a better opponent to gain recognition from, and after warning Noel and Ninny to not get in his way, Bruno asks Rickenbacker if he can manage with just three wings and is heartened by Rickenbacker's affirmative growl while they take off toward Cinderella. Astonished by Bruno actually attacking, Ninny suggests that she and Noel perform a frontal attack and call for reinforcements from headquarters, only for Noel to decline because this has not nullified Balgo's designation as a Punitive Dragon and any reinforcements they call will kill Balgo. Before she can disagree with this, Ninny sees more Star Ash hurtling toward her and quickly flies away from the building with Macy on Marshall as Noel does the same with Balgo and Osushi while the roof of the building explodes behind them. Upon being asked by an incredulous Ninny if the Star Ash is sentient, Noel denies knowing and explains that her book only contains information about the legends of the Märchen.

Meanwhile, Bruno removes one of the spray canisters from his waist and sprays a symbol onto Rickenbacker's wing before summoning Hunger Shadow, who bursts out of the symbol and lunges onto Cinderella's head while attempting to bite her, only for Cinderella to effortlessly blow it to shreds with a blast of flame from her beak. With Bruno disappointed that Hunger Shadow could not even draw a drop of blood, Noel and Ninny join him in the air, which leads Bruno to inquire if they left Balgo and Macy somewhere safe. After Noel confirms that they left Balgo and Macy somewhere since anywhere else is safer than here, Bruno requests that they cover him while he breaks the horn of the Crown-Shaped Horn on Cinderella's head, since this should kill her. Though Noel questions if Bruno is certain that this is not simply a legend, Bruno reminds her that they are fighting a fairy tale and have nothing else to rely on before informing them that their value will be raised if they help him defeat Cinderella and that he will even accept their transfer to the Inks, only to be annoyed when both Noel and Ninny bluntly deny wanting this.

Noel, Ninny, and Bruno separate and fly around Cinderella, where Noel and Ninny cast Magic #68. Supernal Jail in unison, fencing Cinderella in with a dozen large beams of light that become interconnected with a thick band around the middle. Impressed by this, Bruno paints another symbol in the sky and summons Greedy Curtain, enveloping Cinderella in its sludge as he promises that she will die as soon as she sticks her head out. Suddenly, Cinderella blows up both her restraints and the top of the clock tower, injuring Noel, Ninny, and Bruno as she flies into the air. With Bruno standing before an incapacitated Rickenbacker and observing with frustration that Cinderella's own blasts cannot kill her either, Noel concurs with this as she sits next to Ninny, who claims that this is unfair while Balgo expresses concern for Noel. When Cinderella turns around and begins flying toward Noel and Ninny, they erect Shields with their Witch Kits as Ninny wonders why Cinderella is mad at them instead of Bruno. However, Macy pleads with them to find a way to resolve this without killing Cinderella because the latter might be coming to see her, and as Ninny loses her concentration by turning back to admonish Macy for still being fixated on this, Cinderella blasts them both with a powerful explosion, leaving Ninny incapacitated.

Rushing over to Ninny in concern, Macy begs Cinderella to stop and attempts to get the latter to recognize her, only for Cinderella to prepare to unleash more Star Ash before being interrupted by Noel and Ninny attacking her. Ninny reiterates that this will not work and that Macy cannot reach someone she cannot get through to no matter how much she loves them, and as she requests that Macy stop treating this like a fairy tale where Cinderella gives her strength or takes her somewhere special, Ninny concludes that the magic always wears off in fairy tales because the power granting it never belongs to the protagonists. As she affirms that she and Macy are the ones who cast the magic, Ninny sees Cinderella preparing to attack once more and moves to intercept her with Noel, who instructs Balgo to clutch the Pipe they gave him and tremble in a corner when he asks her if there is anything he can do. Suddenly, as Ninny kicks him away to protect Osushi and Balgo tearfully complies by taking out the Pipe, a sword blade made of energy sprouts from the end of the pipe, stunning him, Noel, and Ninny while Osushi begins to lick his neck. Though Balgo questions what the sword is, Ninny counters that she should be the one asking this question as Noel wonders how it can be sprouting from the Pipe they gave him. Upon looking behind her, Noel sees that Cinderella has stopped moving and is looking intently, and from Wing Bind headquarters, Billy Banx Jr. fires a narrow, powerful beam of energy from the tip of his left index finger that pierces Cinderella's skull and destroys her Crown Artery, killing her, which bemuses him.

The next day, at Wing Bind headquarters, Ninny is outraged that she and Noel are not receiving any compensation for this job. Though Billy disputes that they are receiving nothing, Ninny clarifies that five points and five pounds is as good as nothing and not something she can accept after they slayed a legendary Dragon, but Billy counters that it is impressive for them to not be forced to pay anything since their pay was docked for all the property damage sustained during the fight. Upon being told by Billy that Bruno was given credit for delivering the finishing blow, Ninny furiously declares that he did not kill Cinderella either, only for Billy to point to her wording as meaning that she and Noel did not do so themselves. With Noel resigning herself to this, Billy notes that the Patchworks are collecting and preserving Cinderella's corpse before having a blushing Macy enter the room in a new outfit. With Ninny aghast at having to look after Macy as well, Bruno confirms this and reveals that Macy is now a Dragonclad as well, which means they will be conserving her at home. While Billy and Macy assert that this will be fun, to Ninny's chagrin, Noel asks Billy what will happen to Balgo.

In Wolfgang Slashhaut's office, Bruno hands Wolfgang an application releasing Balgo from his status as a Punitive Dragon. Admitting that he never thought Bruno would give him this, Wolfgang recalls how the investigation determined that Balgo came into contact with Macy two months ago and that this may have served as the trigger for Cinderella's appearance, which is reason enough to keep him alive should he serve as their trump card for eliminating the Märchen. Meanwhile, in the waiting room where Billy shot Cinderella from, Sullivan Squire investigates the hole in the glass left by his beam and expresses relief at having not underestimated the son of a hero before ordering the hole to be patched up. Later, as Balgo leans against a fence encircling a tree outside, he sees Noel approaching and informs her that Billy took his mantle and Pipe, which he is disappointed at not being able to keep. Suddenly, Noel embraces Balgo, and after she confirms that something good happened, a blushing Balgo laughs and congratulates her while Osushi watches from a window above.

Characters in order of appearance:


Author's Notes

BTWVolume 1 Intro Image.png
This thing they call "drawing manga at your own leisurely pace" is something that I have yearned after for years now to be able to realize. It's awesome!
Tite Kubo

References


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THE DEATH AND THE STRAWBERRY (Volume 74) DON'T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER

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