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Retrace XCVII: I am

97 - Alice Oswald

Information
Release Date August 18th, 2014
Chapter 97
Volume 23
Story Arc Swan Song Arc
Chapter Guide
Previous
Retrace XCVI: Disagree
Next
Retrace XCVIII: Reverberate



I am is the title of the 97th chapter of Jun Mochizuki's Pandora Hearts.

SynopsisEdit

97 - Duldee Noise

Noise arrives under Duldee's influence

For a brief moment in time, Oz, Gilbert and Vincent are drawn away from their fighting as Noise enters the room, completely under Duldee's control; stating that if she can't have Vincent, then she'll destroy everything, including Vincent.

Within Noise's subconscious, Duldee is ecstatic and laughs maliciously at her triumph over Noise. Seeing that Echo is horrified, Duldee attempts to justify her actions to Echo by explaining that Noise no longer has the will to act as her Contractor anymore. This meant that Noise couldn't control Duldee, who believed that Noise was merely keeping her bound before, anymore. Now, Duldee could simply tangle Noise in her strings and influence her mind by whispering to Noise, and Noise would do as directed helplessly and without question; making her more like a marionette than a human as she is now. Echo doesn't approve however, and insists that she won't allow Duldee to purposefully influence Noise's heart any longer. Angered by Echo's disobedience, Duldee demands that Echo explain herself, wondering what happened to Echo because by saying things like that she sounds almost like a human. Laughing, Duldee commends Echo because she's the oldest incarnation of Duldum, but rationalizes that Echo must've been broken somewhere along the line just like those before her. Submerging Echo in the waters of Noise's subconscious, casts Echo into a "disposal zone", admitting that Echo had worked so very hard during their time together and promising to become great friends with Echo's replacement.

97 - Echo Duldum Duldee

Echo sits a top a pile of past Duldums

During her descent, Echo thinks of how she was created as a reverberation of Noise in order to protect her Contractor's heart from falling apart. Though her purpose was unspoken, Echo knows that there's no denying what's true. Echo sits atop a pile of corpses from the other disposed incarnations of Duldum, thinking of how Duldee created her as another Duldum, but Echo was the nickname the Duldums within Noise were given, with Echo wondering who gave them the name in the first place; unsure of whether it was Vincent or Noise herself. Truthfully, Echo was created in order to preserve Noise's heart because Noise had no possible way to control the powers of the Abyss. After being put in a state of repose by Duldee, the Echoes sink into the depths of Noise's consciousness, where they continue to protect Noise. Even so, gradually Noise's heart has cracked and lead to the loss of her original persona lost; for letting such a thing come to pass, Echo can't help but feel guilty.
97 - Echo, Noise, Duldum

Echo looks to her predecessors

Looking to her predecessors, Echo thinks of how Duldum was originally meant to hijack the consciousness of one of Duldee's targets. Knowing well that if the Echoes were to remain acting for too long, they eventually gain their own sense of self and lose their power and durability, Echo ponders how many Echoes came before her. Echo has always understood what would become of her after she broke free, as it's been an absolute since the beginning, yet Echo still questions how and when she started to cry. Suddenly, Echo's thoughts are drawn to Oz, when Noise demanded that he reject Echo and he refused because of how he cared for her, a sense of sentimentality growing within Echo as she calls out for Oz.
97 - Jack Oz

Jack's return

Outside of Noise's subconscious, Oz is strained as he defends himself against Oswald's attacks, grinding his teeth as he wonders what he's going to do now that Noise has followed them into the past. In Oz's subconscious, the broken remnants of Jack's soul drift toward Oz and grab him by his shoulders, stating that he's being naive because such thoughts won't help him stop Oswald. Jack reveals to Oz that there's no way he can stop Oswald, meaning that he'd have to kill Oswald as Jack did in that exact place over 100 years before. Frustrated, Oz orders Jack to shut up because he doesn't want to kill Oswald, he just wants to find a way to stop him. Unfortunately, Jack distracted Oz too long, and he only comes to realize this too late as Oswald has Jabberwock throw Oz aside with his tail.
97 - Oz Alice Oswald

Alice puts herself between Oz and Oswald

Oswald declares that it's time to end this madness, going in for the kill while Oz is dazed. Unexpectedly however, Alice jumps between Oz and Oswald, though Oswald visualizes her as Lacie and stops before he makes fatal contact with Alice. Then Alice orders Oswald to lower his sword, with Oswald complying; still in a state of amazement. Suddenly, Cheshire makes a run for Alice, his body deteriorating in spots, taking Alice in his arms and running off with her. Though Oz motions to pursue Cheshire, Oswald has Jabberwock set the entire room on fire in order to prevent Oz from following whilst he trails Cheshire alone, knowing how hard it will be to stop Cheshire from leaving that time axis. As Oswald struggles, Levi tells him that he should expect as much since he's using Leo's body, making Jabberwock Leo's Chain rather than Oswald's. Despite this, Oswald ignores Levi and continues his pursuit, questioning why he wasn't able to kill Alice.
97 - Cheshire Alice

Alice, kidnapped by Cheshire

In the meantime, Alice is demanding that Cheshire let her go and asks what he thinks he's doing. Cheshire plainly tells Alice to shut up, explaining that he's saving her because she is in fact her again. As this only confuses Alice more, Cheshire elaborates that the last time they met she had the form of Alice, but was B-Rabbit, and now Alice is the Alice that Cheshire doesn't particularly like; making Alice realize that Cheshire used to recognize her merely as B-Rabbit. Revealing that he doesn't really care what happens to Oz, but if Alice was herself then it was a different story, because if something were to happen to her then The Intention would surely be sad. Pulling on Cheshire's ear, Alice orders Cheshire to tell her what's going on with her twin sister.
97 - Noise Vincent

Noise holds Vincent at gun point

While Gilbert deals with Vincent, who's weak and lying on his side, Oz collapses from using too much of his power, thereby prompting Gilbert to rush to his side. Now alone, Vincent is approached by Noise while under Duldee's control, who shoots him in the leg. Duldee has Noise claim that she wants Vincent, yet he continues to try and separate himself from her, which is why she intends on destroying him; at the same time, Demios is slashing the ground and air behind Vincent in order to keep Oz and Gilbert from interfering. Rolling onto his back, Vincent chuckles and commends Noise because she's exactly like him right until the very end, telling her that he'll willingly give himself to her; something which takes Noise by surprise. Duldee then orders Noise to shoot Vincent again and kill him once and for all, only to have both Echo and Ada force their way into Noise's subconsciousness and the room respectively, stating that they won't allow something like that to happen.
97 - Echo Noise

Echo defends Noise from Duldee

Upon seeing Ada, Vincent continuously orders her to stay away from him, though she doesn't listen and continues her march toward him; only to be thrown away from Vincent by Demios alongside Noise. Noise reaches for her gun, mumbling about how she must kill Vincent, only to stop and grasp her right hand before she can grab it, confusing Oz. The reason for Noise stopping herself from grabbing the gun is in fact because of Echo, who has grabbed taken Noise from Duldee and is now defending her with her short sword; much to Duldee's chagrin. Duldee demands that Echo explain herself and why she's interfering, and so Echo insists that she won't allow Duldee to do as she pleases with Noise any longer. Confused, Duldee asks what Echo means, believing that what she's doing is what Noise wants because no matter what Noise's desires are unobtainable, justifying that it should Noise should at least be allowed to destroy it with her own hands. However Echo disagrees, knowing well that Noise's desire isn't to destroy Vincent because that would completely destroy Noise's heart. Echo reveals that she's aware of Duldee's intent, because destroying Noise's heart is exactly what Duldee's looking to do so that she can take Noise's body as her own.
97 - Duldee Echo

Duldee fully binds Echo

Furious, Duldee attacks Echo by binding Echo in her hair in an attempt to smother her. Before being completely enveloped though Echo manages to hear Oz's voice, something which she feels is so incredibly agonizing and sad, yet even so she can't help but feel happy because of it. Cutting herself free with her short swords, Echo continues her battle for Noise's heart, wondering to herself when it was that Oz's voice started being so special to her. As Echo fights through Duldee's continued attempts to bind her, she realizes that ever time Oz called her "Echo-chan" rather than "Echo", it made her feel as if she was the only one who existed there; something which prompts Echo to say outright that she's not Duldum or Echo, rather she's herself and she's going to continue to protect Noise by her own will and refuses to abide by Duldee's orders.
97 - Echo Duldee

Echo battles Duldee for Noise's heart

As Duldee becomes more and more aggressive with her attacks, Noise questions what Echo's doing because she's missing out on her opportunity to just disappear, telling Echo that if she was obedient and just collapsed into a heap, she'd be able to stay a little longer; though Echo states that she doesn't care, not even if that means she's going to disappear. Suddenly, Noise starts mumbling about how she wants to kill Vincent again, only for Echo to try and get through to Noise by telling her that she doesn't really feel that way. Unable to comprehend why Echo can understand such things when she herself can't even do so, Noise announces that she can't do this anymore as she starts to cry.
97 - Duldee

Echo finally neutralizes Duldee

Hearing this, Echo tells Noise that she sounds just like Vincent because she loved and admired Vincent, even going so far as to imitate his words and actions. Echo says that she's the same, as were the past incarnations of Echo, as they could all see that Noise was slowly losing herself in favor of being sad. This in itself was sad, as the Echoes would always retrieve the pieces of Noise that she'd dropped every time it happened, gathering them so that she wouldn't forget who she was, something which Echo has done herself. Reiterating her reason for existing, Echo explains to Noise that she was born in order to protect her heart, being "the echo of the mirror that reflects Noise". After finally managing to stab Duldee in the forehead with her short sword, Echo drops and tells Noise that because of the pieces of her heart that she's taken into herself, Echo holds the exact appearance and state of who Noise used to be, begging Noise to try and remember her true feelings.
97 - Ada Demios

Demios attempts to decapitate Ada

Vincent continues to order Ada to stay away from him and stop attempting to get closer, which Ada refuses sharply as she draws closer to him, prompting Vincent to ask why she's even there. Happily, Ada admits that she herself doesn't even know why she's there, avoiding another slash from Demios while Oz and Gilbert watch helplessly from afar. Frantic, Vincent screams that Ada is an eyesore and is always driving him crazy before falling back into a state of self pity, where he reviews how close he was to disappearing one and for all, but now it seems as though nothing's come from his actions. Standing strong, Ada tells Vincent that if he wants to disappear so badly, then he needs to give his life to her so that she can teach him to see the fun side of life that so foreign to him and be happy that he was born. Bordering on the insane, Vincent covers his ears and screams for Ada to shut up, leading Demios to go in for the kill and decapitate Ada. Demios' blades stop at the sides of Ada's neck however, cutting off most of her hair while Ada stares down Vincent and says that she doesn't care if Vincent wants to disappear, because she still wants to talk to him.
97 - Vincent Ada

Ada embraces Vincent

While Vincent questions why Ada's always striving to be by his side, Ada asks if he remembers the day that they first met, when they walked through the park together or when they went to see the opera. Everything that they'd done together, even speaking as they are now, are considered to be precious to Ada, and if they were all to just disappear she wouldn't be able to bear it. With Miranda Barma shown coiled around him, Vincent remembers the familiar sounds of the flames all around him from the Tragedy of Sablier. Ada continues, saying that she doesn't care what sins Vincent may have committed in the past to make him feel as though the whole world hates him, all that matters is that she alone accepts all of him as he is now because she forgives him; embracing Vincent warmly as she says so.
97 - Miranda Vincent

Miranda's hold on Vincent is broken

Ada asks that Vincent doesn't cry alone anymore, casting Miranda away with Demios in the process. Unable to comprehend the situation, Vincent starts to cry in Ada's arms as he thinks of how he wasn't afraid to die because he had no desire to live, yet somewhere inside of him all he wanted was to be forgiven. Having believed that such a thing would never come to pass, Vincent anticipated that he'd feel the same way forever, but somehow Ada had now granted him that one thing he always yearned for. While Vincent breaks down in Ada's arms, Noise remembers the first time she saw Vincent cry.

Concerned, Noise ran up to Vincent, asking what was wrong and whether or not someone had been bullying him. Initially attempting to seek consolation from Noise, Vincent went to tell her about the position he was in with Gilbert's "impending death", only to remember what Miranda had told him. Miranda had claimed that she'd place a spell on him so that he can save Gilbert, but he wasn't allowed to tell anyone about it because otherwise the spell would become a curse that would make it so no one would be around to save Gilbert ever again. With this in mind, Vincent pushed Noise to the ground, and said that he couldn't tell Noise because he had to act on his own.

Noise remembers watching Vincent shake while he held back his tears, and since then she's always known that she needed to protect Vincent, deciding to take on her role as Vincent's surrogate big sister as she was meant to. Telling Echo that she remembers now who she is and now she wants to protect Vincent. Teetering, Noise falls over and reviews how she'd never intended on hurting Vincent, but even if he didn't have her there, Noise is thankful that Vincent finally has a place to cry now, with Ada. Both Oz and Echo run to Noise, with Echo catching Noise in her arms before she falls, while Oz takes his place beside Noise as she lays on the floor and cries. Echo, now in possession of Noise's body and able to address herself in 1st person rather than 3rd, asks why Oz is crying, explaining that it's because Oz called her that she was able to stand up and do the things she wanted of her own volition, which Echo thanks Oz for. Smiling, Oz says that he'll call for Echo as many time as she wanted, addressing her as "Echo-chan" once again, which makes Echo smile as she corrects Oz as she always does.

Characters in Order of AppearanceEdit

(*) - Denotes that the character did not appear physically, but as a part of another character's memories.

TermsEdit

GalleryEdit

TriviaEdit

  • Alternate Title: A Study in Echoes.
  • Ada manages to break Miranda's hold over Vincent.
  • Noise returns to her original self after Duldee's defeat.

NavigationEdit

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