|Parisian Excursion Arc||
Vanitas , who had been working on the case of the Nine-Fold Murderer, Thomas Berneux , is suddenly contacted by Amelia Ruth , as she fears that she has become a Curse-Bearer. Vanitas agrees to help treat Amelia, but in order to do so she must get herself to Paris; prompting Amelia to book a flight on La Baleine as soon as possible.
Shortly after Noé leaves Averoigne , Dominique de Sade returns there with her automated assistant Chrysler in order to bring Noé with her to a Bal Masque in Altus - only to discover that her grandfather had sent Noé out on an errand in Paris. Dominique then promptly makes her way to Paris, intent on reuniting with her childhood companion.
Fearing that Amelia wouldn't arrive in time, Vanitas pays Dante to help him intercept Amelia before it's too late.
Aboard La Baleine , word spreads of Thomas Berneux's murders in Paris, and the humans begin to fear the idea of Vampires returning to their world - unaware that Vampires have been living alongside them peacefully for quite some time. It is here that Amelia begins to feel the effects of her illness - often times commenting on how cold she is. As Noé listens to the gossip from afar, he notices Amelia waver, and as she falls, Noé rushes to her side and catches her in his arms, asking her if she's alright.
Noé brings Amelia to a café, where she thanks him for his kindness over some tea - but ultimately she rejects his offer to take her to a doctor aboard La Baleine; stating that she'd be fine with a little rest and promising to seek out a doctor later. Upon noticing Noé's confusion, Amelia admits that she has no intention of seeing anyone other than her doctor (Vanitas) for a variety of reasons - thanking Noé again for all his help. Shortly thereafter, Murr makes his presence known to Amelia - and Noé introduces her to his cat - while still having not yet introduced himself.
Just then, the captain of La Baleine announces that they'd be arriving in Paris in about an hour, and so Noé rushes to the window to look for Paris as they grow nearer and nearer to the city. As Noé expresses his excitement, Amelia asks if it's his first time riding a dirigible - which Noé admits to be true - revealing that he'd always been confined to Averoigne until now. Noé carries on about his astonishment over how something so heavy can float through the sky and how he's heard that Paris rivals London in terms of steam mechanisms; hence his looking forward to arriving in Paris. Curious, Amelia asks if Noé is going to Paris for some sight-seeing - only for Noé to grow more serious as he explains that he is going to Paris to seek out The Book of Vanitas; while also elaborating on the legend of Vanitas of the Blue Moon .
Having somehow gotten themselves onto the roof of La Baleine – Dante asks if Vanitas is really going in, which Vanitas confirms – as they know that Amelia is inside and he’s not about to let her get away.
As the clock tolls, Noé voices his surprise that it’s already so late and offers to walk Amelia to her room. Amelia agrees passively, though she’s notably distracted as she can only focus on how cold she feels. Amelia then asks if Noé truly believes that The Book of Vanitas exists, and so Noé says that he’s unsure, reveals that The Master had sent him on a mission to retrieve it. Thus, whether or not The Book of Vanitas is real, Noé must journey to Paris to verify it.
Suddenly, Amelia collapses once again, though as Noé goes to help her, she reveals herself to be a Vampire as well - bearing her fangs at his as she orders him not to touch her. With that, Vanitas launches himself through a nearby window and lands in front of Noé and Amelia - glad to have finally found his patient. With Amelia in a weakened state, Noé cradles her in his arms - prompting Vanitas to ask what Noé's part in all this is; though Noé states that the same could be asked of Vanitas. Vanitas claims that he'd come for Amelia, thus it'd be within Noé's best interest to put her down, suggesting that he’ll get hurt if he doesn’t.
However, Noé refuses, only to have Vanitas immediately retaliate with his knife. Noé eventually falters, and Vanitas notes that he can’t move effectively while carrying Amelia before clicking a button on his knife, transforming it into a bladed whip. As Vanitas continues to pursue Noé and Amelia, Dante comes in through the broken window and questions what’s going on with Vanitas’ weapon. Then, Vanitas gains the upper hand and throws Noé off-balance - only to have Amelia flying into the air - where she stops and remains floating above them; confusing both Vanitas and Dante. This allows Noé to retaliate against Vanitas by throwing him into a nearby wall - then catching Amelia and fleeing the scene as Dante rushes to Vanitas' side. Standing, Vanitas laughs at his own carelessness – as he should’ve known that Noé was also a Vampire by his red eyes. Vanitas asks Dante to hurry, stating that based on what they’d just seen, they don’t have much time.
As Noé carries her, Amelia is confronted within her subconscious by Charlatan who voices how much it loves the warmth there, how pretty Amelia’s flowers are and how he likes it there – asking that Amelia give that place and her name to him. As the creature puts its hands on Amelia – she’s consumed by the darkness flowing out from it. Meanwhile, Noé delivers her to one of the officers aboard La Baleine and requests that she be taken to a doctor immediately while he tracks down Vanitas in order to find out what is going on. Hearing this, Amelia springs forward and wraps her arms around Noé, telling him not to go. Suddenly, Amelia starts panting – while she thinks of how it’s so cold that she could die, which is why she desires something warm. Amelia then sinks her teeth into Noé’s neck, consuming his blood – which frightens the passengers observing the situation. As Noé drops to his knees he thinks of how much his strength is fading and forces Amelia off of him.
Amelia remains frozen in the air, dripping black tears from her eyes and chest as she grows more and more thirsty for blood. Realizing that the blood made her feel warm again, Amelia insists that Noé give her more of his blood, summoning shadowed thorns from the black tears pooling on the floor. Amelia attacks the human spectators - only to be stopped by Noé – who asks that she stop what she’s doing, as Vampires are not allowed to attack humans and if she continued to do so she’d be disposed of. It is at this moment, with Amelia in his grip, that Noé realizes that he can’t move his body properly and that it was likely due to poison from Amelia’s bite.
Just as Amelia is about to kill Noé, Vanitas intervenes – reminding Noé that he’d warned him about getting hurt. Vanitas announces that, just as he’d thought, Amelia’s symptoms had started to show – pointing out that Amelia had been so cold that she could hardly stand, black tears fell from her eyes and chest and with the shadowed thorns it meant that Amelia’s Malnomen name was Eglantine. Confused, a shaky Noé questions what Vanitas means by an “Malnomen name”, with Vanitas explaining that because of her disease Amelia received an Malnomen name, which acts as the shadow of her distorted true name. It had been because of this distortion of her true name that Amelia lost her very self, and thus was succumbed to her thirst for blood more easily. Concerned, Noé asks if Vanitas intends to kill Amelia, and whether or not he’s a Chasseur from the church or one of The Bourreau sent to dispose of her. This makes Vanitas laugh, denying that he is either, Vanitas takes out The Book of Vanitas and claims that he is a doctor and that Vampires are his specialty; surprising Noé.
Vanitas proceeds to open The Book of Vanitas, which shines forth a bright light as Vanitas suggests that they return Amelia’s true name to her. As Amelia is engulfed in the light her shadowed thorns disintegrate, and the light touches her soul – where she is shown to be encased in a forest of thorns. Recognizing the warmth as spring sunlight, Amelia follows it to the edge of the thorns, where Vanitas corrects her by saying that the warmth was hers and hers alone, reaching through the darkness and pulling Amelia back into the warm field where flowers dance through the air. Outside her consciousness, Vanitas speaks Amelia’s true name: Florifel, she who guides spring – believing it to be very fitting for Amelia. Amelia, shown to have regained complete control of herself, thanks Vanitas for returning her true name before losing consciousness h=in his arms.
Just then, two officers point their guns at Vanitas and Dante - looking at the damage Amelia had done and asking what had happened there, while also identifying the two as the intruders aboard La Baleine. Vanitas admits this to be true, and advises the officers not to get involved unless they want to get hurt - only for a piece of debris to fall from the ceiling and hit Vanitas on the head. Catching him off balance, Vanitas then falls back and out of La Baleine through a hole in the wall. Noé rushes to catch Vanitas, grabbing his ankle as the two of them plummet into the streets of Paris. Looking to the moon, Noé sees that it’s a full Blue Moon, reminding him of when he was young.
Meanwhile, the officers aboard La Baleine apprehend the unconscious Amelia and take all of Noé's belongings - including Murr - in as evidence to the event, while Dante barely manages to escape. Dante then immediately sets to work on the Thomas Berneux case again - working alongside Johann and Riche in order to track down the Nine-Fold Murderer and formulate a plan.
Around the same time, Dominique, Chrysler, Luka and Jeanne all arrive in Paris.
After crashing through a church below, Noé sits in the rubble while Vanitas laughs and questions how they managed to survive the fall. Noé then asks what Vanitas did to Amelia on La Baleine, and as Vanitas gets on his feet, he explains that it was simply an inverse operation; having used the power of The Book of Vanitas to make contact with her true name and remove the unnecessary part. Clenching his fists – Noé asks how Vanitas can take it all so lightly when what he’d done was so amazing, asking if he’s right to assume that The Book of Vanitas isn’t a cursed grimoire like the legend says. Astonished by Noé's star-struck nature over The Book of Vanitas, Vanitas remarks on how interesting he finds Noé, asking Noé to introduce himself. After Noé does so, Vanitas remarks that his name means child of the ark and that it’s a nice name. Vanitas introduces himself to Noé, elaborating that while he’d inherited The Book of Vanitas and his name from the Vampire of the Blue Moon, he’s simply a human. Continuing, Vanitas asks Noé to lend him his strength, as Noé is strong, sturdy and a substantial fighter – there’s not a doubt in his mind that Noé would make a great shield. Confused, Noé immediately turns Vanitas down – which doesn’t come as a shock to Vanitas at all. Vanitas asks if Noé had noticed earlier that there’s a surge in situations where a Vampire’s true name is afflicted by a disease and the Vampire goes out of control. If this continues to happen without searching for any cause to it, then eventually Vampires would be wiped out completely - and he intends on preventing that from happening, despite their intention he’ll save them all.
Vanitas and Noé walk through the streets of Paris, where Vanitas persistently asks Noé to lend him his strength; only to be shot down immediately afterward. Vanitas argues that Noé couldn't possibly have a reason why they couldn't join forces, as Noé's yet to listen to what he has to say yet - suggesting that if Noé were to talk it out with him he'd better understand the situation; while also questioning where Noé was going and announcing that he's hungry. Noé simply tells Vanitas that he's quite annoying, admitting that his head feels heavy and that there's somewhere they must go first - which Vanitas accepts, suggesting that they run Noé's errand first and then talk afterwards.
Noé leads them back to The Baleine, prompting Vanitas' concern, where he states that he needs to retrieve Murr and his luggage. Soon after, Vanitas and Noé were spotted by the guards from The Baleine, who identify Vanitas as the intruder and proceed to take both of them into custody.
Ten hours later, Noé wakes from his slumber and asks Vanitas why they're in prison - which Vanitas admits is a good question; elaborating on the situation that Noé had gotten them into by returning to La Baleine. Vanitas explains that he's forgotten that Noé had been stricken with Amelia's poison, so his mind wasn't likely functioning properly, so if Noé had pushed himself in battle he'd have likely collapsed. Noé then realizes that his wallet is missing, and so Vanitas explains that the guards had taken all of their possessions upon their arrest - which brings Noé to the frightening realization that they'd also taken The Book of Vanitas. Noé asks how Vanitas can be so calm about all this - prompting Vanitas to ask if Noé wanted The Book of Vanitas for himself - which Noé denies, explaining the true purpose of his mission. Thinking it over, Vanitas states that The Master had been awfully vague about what he meant. This brings Noé to the realization that Vanitas is right, as The Master had not told him to steal The Book of Vanitas, or even to destroy it, making Noé question what The Master's motives could be.
Remembering when Vanitas announced that he would save Noé, Noé decides that before they move any further, he needs to know how Vanitas inherited The Book of Vanitas and how exactly he's connected to Vanitas of the Blue Moon. Stopping Noé, Vanitas brings forth questions of his own, stating that if Noé really is after The Book of Vanitas, then why not come along with him - why does Noé insist on being so stubborn and continue refusing help? While Noé admits that being closer to the owner of The Book of Vanitas would be beneficial - at the same time he doesn't like Vanitas very much and believes that he wouldn't be able to obediently listen to someone he dislikes. While Noé attempts to decide what to do - a guard comes in and hands him a piece of paper and orders the two of them out - admitting that they're unable to hold them any longer.
Stretching, Vanitas claims that they'd held them for longer than he'd thought as he and Noé leave their prison cell. Vanitas takes the paper Noé had received, which details how humans had all but forgotten the existence of Vampires and as such incidents regarding Vampires must be kept quiet. Vanitas then points out that the paper also has a message from "The Count" on it - who tells Vanitas and Noé to go to the labeled address in order to retrieve their confiscated possessions. Vanitas tells Noé to follow him, earning Noé's thanks as he's never been in Paris before and has no idea where they're going. As they venture out into the streets - Noé is encapsulated by the beauty of Paris. Noticing Noé's reaction, Vanitas smiles and introduces him to Paris, the city of flowers. Though Noé is distracted by the various wonders along their journey, eventually he and Vanitas arrive at their destination: Galerie Vivienne. As they enter Galerie Vivienne, Noé asks if he's right to assume that the Vampire who'd had them released was there, which Vanitas confirms; identifying him as a Vampire appointed by The Queen to keep a watchful eye on Vampire activities in Paris and maintain the balance between the human and the Vampire worlds: Count Parks Orlok.
Vanitas picks the lock to Orlok's office, only to be met by retaliation from Count Orlok's personal security: Nox and Manet . Count Orlok identifies Vanitas as the "human passing himself off as Vanitas", revealing that he'd been told about how Vanitas actively seeks out Curse-Bearing Vampires. This piques Noé's interest - though he's quickly distracted when he hears Murr. While Noé embraces Murr and expresses how happy he is to see that he's all right, Count Orlok returns Vanitas' confiscated items - only for Vanitas to make note of how something seems to be missing. Vanitas suggests that they stop beating around the bush and assumes that Thomas Berneux still has yet to be caught, so Count Orlok doesn't have time to be wasting on them and demands that Count Orlok return The Book of Vanitas and Amelia Ruth to him; as he's yet to finish questioning her. Confused, Noé asks if Amelia is all right, voicing how he'd thought that she'd have been released right away just like they had been. Orlok tells Noé not to worry, as they've decided to take full responsibility for what'd happened and intend on disposing of Amelia, as Curse-Bearers cannot be allowed to live; thus when The Bourreau arrive she would be executed. Noé objects to this, claiming that Amelia is no longer a Curse-Bearer, as she'd been cured - which prompts Orlok to reveal The Book of Vanitas, asking if it was what Noé claims to have cured Amelia. Noé confirms this - revealing that he'd seen it with his own eyes, but Orlok slams his fist into his desk and insists that it's utter nonsense.
Vanitas then states that he was likely summoned there because Orlok had stolen The Book of Vanitas and couldn't figure out how to use it - suggesting that Count Orlok just ask nicely. Offended, Count Orlok tells Vanitas that he'd summoned them both there in order to get a confession out of Vanitas about what exactly it is that he's plotting. Shrugging it off, Vanitas simply states that he's there in order to save Vampires from the path of destruction. Nox and Manet believe Vanitas to be conceited, but Vanitas argues that they must have spoken with Amelia by now, so they must know that she's within the right state of mind - however Orlok writes this off as a farce, as it was by mere coincidence that she was calm and she'll eventually become violent again. Vanitas wonders if this is all because Count Orlok is reluctant to accept that The Book of Vanitas actually exists - but Orlok insists that curse-bearing Vampires are to be beheaded by The Bourreau, as that has been the way since the olden days.
As their argument continues, and Vanitas continues to offend Count Orlok, Nox and Manet move in to attack Vanitas, only for Noé to kick Nox across the room and into a desk. In response, Count Orlok stands and throws his own desk across the room. Deciding on what path to take, Noé takes The Book of Vanitas and asks if he's right to assume that the Vampire that's terrorizing Paris right now is another Curse-Bearer - stating that if that's the case, he'd capture the culprit himself, bring them before Count Orlok and have Vanitas use the power of The Book of Vanitas to cure them right before his eyes. Orlok accepts Noé's terms - stating that he'd stay Amelia's execution by one day. Thanking Count Orlok, Noé and Vanitas leave Galerie Vivienne, determined not to allow what happened to Mina to happen to Amelia.
With Noé and Vanitas gone, Count Orlok asks Nox and Manet to shadow them as they hunt down Berneux and report thier findings to him afterwards.
Elsewhere in Paris, Luka confirms Vanitas's involvement in the La Baleine incident - suggesting that Vanitas' next target will likely be Thomas Berneux. Luka's chevalier, Jeanne, then points out a horde of men heading their way; making Luka wonder if perhaps they're a group of robbers, This prompts further action from Jeanne - who bares her fangs and works to defend her master. After a brief struggle, Luka reminds Jeanne that she can't kill anyone. As Jeanne holds one of the men by his throat, she admits that Luka's right - but at the same time she can't forgive anyone who dares to point a blade at her master and that she'd crush anyone who dared to do so.
Noé storms out of Galerie Vivienne with Vanitas in tow not far behind him - ultimately unsure of where he was going. Vanitas manages to stop Noé and encourages him to calm down so that they can figure out where they are going - but before Noé can protest, a bat flies into Noé's face - drawing Noé and Vanitas' attention to its owner, Dante. Vanitas proceeds to scold Dante for not protecting Amelia aboard La Baleine - but Dante simply states that it wasn't his job to do so; as that is far more than what he was paid to do. Vanitas proceeds to introduce Dante to Noé, calling Dante an information broker and "jack-of-all-trades" willing to do anything for the right price. After much teasing, Dante reveals that he'd found Thomas Berneux and had sought out Vanitas in order to tell him - which Vanitas is immensely grateful for. After Vanitas pays Dante for the information, Dante offers up his bat, which will lead Noé and Vanitas to Riche, who is acting as bait to lure out Thomas Berneux. Looking around, Noé realizes that it'd be much quicker if they traveled by rooftop - grabbing Vanitas and jumping to the top of the nearest building in order to follow Dante's bat - making Dante question what Noé's all about. Unexpectedly, Johann arrives and informs Dante that Lord Ruthven's Bourreau was in Paris and is no doubt after The Book of Vanitas - proclaiming that Vanitas might just get himself killed.
As Noé carries Vanitas across the rooftops of Paris, Vanitas then mentions that Thomas' previous crimes would suggest that his symptoms are cyclical and that if he were to strike again he'd likely do so today. Suddenly, a large booming sound fills the air, and looking to the source of the sound, Vanitas states that it'd come from the Riverside Factory District; imploring Noé to hurry.
Riche is seen running through the Factory District when Dante's bat greets her. Berneux then slams his mutated fists into the ground, sending Riche flying forward. From above, Vanitas sees Berneux moving in on Riche, confirming that it is indeed Thomas Berneux and ordering Noé to stop him. Noé then unexpectedly throws Vanitas at Berneux, which distracts Berneux long enough to allow Noé to successfully pinned him down. Vanitas then hurriedly takes out The Book of Vanitas and uses its power to administer a shock to Thomas that temporarily tranquilizes him; which would allow them to tie Thomas up now and bring him back to Count Orlok.
At this moment, Luca and Jeanne reveal themselves from the shadows and applaud Vanitas' success. Curious, Vanitas asks if Luca and Jeanne are human or Vampire - for which Luca apologizes as he reveals his fangs and proclaims that both he and Jeanne are Vampires. Politely, Luca asks that Vanitas hand over The Book of Vanitas, only for Vanitas to claim that The Book of Vanitas is not a toy and question why Luca even wants it and whether or not he knows what it really is. Frustrated, Luca elaborates that he knows that The Book of Vanitas is a catastrophic grimoire that will bring about the destruction of all Vampires, that its power allows one to interfere with the true names of Vampires - often being called an analytical engine in the shape of a book as a result - and that The Book of Vanitas is an evil device that creates Curse-Bearing Vampires. With this, Luca states that The Book of Vanitas is creating Curse-Bearers and suggests that Vanitas himself if a victim of The Book of Vanitas' power. When Luca sees that Vanitas is confused by what he's suggesting, he reveals that he'd heard of a type of grimoire capable of taking control of your consciousness the minute that it's picked up, thus if Vanitas is being controlled by The Book of Vanitas the only way to save the Curse-Bearers is to dispose of it, which would likely require the disposal of Vanitas as well.
Noé attempts to convince Luca to wait to have this conversation at a later date, as they are in a rush and cannot afford to waste any time. Angered, Luca insists that he doesn't have much time either, as someone very close to him had become a Curse-Bearer and the only way to save them is by destroying The Book of Vanitas; demanding that Vanitas give him the grimoire. Vanitas asks who told Luca such nonsense and reveals that he is a doctor who is curing Curse-Bearers with The Book of Vanitas, and that if Luca wanted he could treat Luca's Curse-Bearer once he was done with Berneux. Enraged, Luca claims that the Curse of the Vampire of the Blue Moon is the reason why his elder brother is suffering - calling Vanitas' suggestion absurd. It is then that Luca realized that he'd revealed the Curse-Bearer to be his elder brother, which makes Vanitas question what that could mean for Luca.
Taking matters into her own hands, Jeanne assures Luca that further talk is pointless and encourages him to give her an order while swinging her coffin at Vanitas - who effectively manages to dodge her attacks and retaliate; cutting off Jeanne's hood in the process. As Jeanne falters, Luca rushes to her side, though she's now more determined than ever. Luca asks if Vanitas is set on his decision to not give them The Book of Vanitas willingly no matter what - to which Vanitas smiles - although he is deeply hurt by it he knows the situation calls for more extreme measures, with Luca addressing Jeanne; who knows what Luca wants and promises to do her best to take Vanitas in alive. With appreciation for Jeanne's dedication, Luca orders Jeanne to do everything in her power to take The Book of Vanitas from Vanitas.
Jeanne confirms her orders and reveals that within the coffin there is a Crimson Gauntlet , Carpe Diem . Concerned, Vanitas tells Noé that it's time to run, and as Noé asks for clarification, Vanitas reveals that Jeanne is Lord Ruthven's Bourreau. Having put on her Crimson Gauntlet, Jeanne sends a blast of fire in the direction of Vanitas and Noé, throwing them, as well as Thomas and Riche, to the ground. As Jeanne swipes at Vanitas with her gauntlet - Vanitas jumps over the attack and Noé rushes in front of Vanitas to grabs Jeanne's arm; stating that he can't have Vanitas dying on him yet. Unexpectedly, Jeanne's Crimson Gauntlet begins to spin, putting Noé off balance while Jeanne draws her sword. Before she can strike however, Vanitas lassos her arm. As Jeanne looks to him, Vanitas tells Noé to run, only for Jeanne to blast more fire throughout the alley they're in. Once the fire clears, Jeanne is shocked to discover that Vanitas and Noé disappeared but before she can seek them out someone throws a flashbang grenade which blinds Jeanne long enough to allow Vanitas and Noé to escape.
Running through a nearby factory, Noé and Vanitas are confronted by Jeanne as she blasts a hole in a nearby wall and digs the claws on her Crimson Gauntlet into Noé's shoulder. Before Jeanne can finish Noé off though, Luca comes running into the factory - distracting her long enough to let Vanitas and Noé flee the scene. Luca tells Jeanne that it isn't safe there and that she needs to hide, while also reinforcing that she mustn't kill. Luca reminds Jeanne that she's not a Bourreau anymore, she's his chevalier - which Jeanne realizes is true and apologizes to Luca for the way that she's acted, asking that Luca find a safe place to hide while she continues her pursuit of Vanitas. While Luca does so, he ultimately comes to the decision that he cannot allow Jeanne to fight this battle alone, and sets out to find and help her on her mission.
Elsewhere in the factory - Noé and Vanitas review their situation, with Noé realizing that no one will listen to what they have to say about The Book of Vanitas; which Vanitas cites as the typical reactions Vampires have when they encounter him. Vanitas explains that as most Vampires have fear of the Vampire of the Blue Moon drummed into them, which is why when he finds new patients he doesn't tell them his name or about The Book of Vanitas. Furthermore, what Luca stated about The Book of Vanitas isn't entirely untrue, as Vanitas reveals that The Book of Vanitas can be used to alter a Vampire's true name into a Malnomen, only that's the opposite of what he's doing by curing Curse-Bearers. Thus, Vanitas states that it is all in how one uses The Book of Vanitas' power, so it's only natural for Vampires to fear it. Even so, Noé stands by the good in Vanitas' act of curing Amelia - which is why he remains adamant that they need to go back so that they can save her - only for Vanitas to laugh as he knows that if they were to do so Jeanne would catch them. Despite this, Vanitas claims that Noé really is an interesting fellow and stands, claiming that he really has no idea whether "it" is going to work, but if it does then it will get them back quickly. Before Noé can question what Vanitas is talking about, Vanitas tells him that he's found one, and only one, way to win against Jeanne.
Vanitas tells Noé that he has to "collar" Luca - and when Noé asks what for, Vanitas claims that it's for Luca's own safety. Elaborating, Vanitas states that he intends on entering negotiations with Jeanne and will use the Book of Vanitas to create an area where Vampires cannot fight - though doing so would put a great amount of strain on a child's body, so it's up to Noé to keep him as far away from them as possible and observe from afar. Vanitas also directs Noé to keep Luca's mouth covered, but in return Noé questions why he shouldn't just take Luca out of the area entirely - but Vanitas reveals that it is important for Luca to lay witness to their negotiations to the very end, which Noé understands.
Johann and Dante race across the rooftops of Paris - with Johann expressing his outrage that Dante would send Riche out after a Curse-Bearer all alone and asking what Dante could've possibly been thinking. Dante voices that the blame doesn't rest only on him, as Riche said that she wanted to help and so he simply allowed her to do so. Johann states that Riche was obviously just worried about Dante because of all of his recent idiotic stunts, mentioning that he hopes Riche is okay. Hearing this, Dante tells Johann that he's over protective and suggests that he instead allow Riche to take care of herself - only for Johann to quickly tell Dante to shut up and explain that this is why he can't stand brutes who can't understand a girl's feelings.
Meanwhile, Jeanne chases Noé throughout the streets of Paris. As Jeanne dives down and attempts to strike Noé with Carpe Diem, she demands to know where Vanitas disappeared to, only just missing Noé as he moves out of the way in time. At this moment, Vanitas jumps through a nearby window in an attempt to drop kick Jeanne - though she simply grabs him by the ankle and throws him at a nearby wall - though fortunately Noé catches him before he can make contact. Vanitas slashes a pile of crates that fall onto Jeanne while Noé swings away on a nearby bridge. Noé admits that Jeanne is amazing, as her reactions are so quick that he can't get close enough to deal with her Crimson Gauntlet - which Vanitas agrees with, though he mentions that Jeanne is a lot more tame than he'd thought - and while this confuses Noé, Vanitas mentions that it is beside the point and that the plan is to go as he'd told Noé earlier.
Emerging from the rubble, Jeanne powers up Carpe Diem and charges at Noé and Vanitas. Seeing this, Noé puts Vanitas down and asks him to go on ahead while he stalls Jeanne. As Vanitas escapes, Jeanne orders Noé to move - though he refuses, prompting Jeanne to attack him repeatedly. Fortunately, Noé is able to dodge every one of Jeanne's attacks, and as Jeanne makes one last move against Noé, he dodges her attack once again and vaults himself overtop of her. Noé reaches out to grab Jeanne from behind - only for her to turn her around and kick Noé into a building. Crawling out from the hole his body created in the wall, Noé says that it's time to see how Vanitas' plan will unfold. At this point, Johann and Dante have caught up with Riche, who'd retreated to the roof of a nearby building to watch events unfold from afar. Johann wraps his arms around Riche - glad to see that she's all right - only for Dante to tell him to shut up - bringing attention to the scene below.
Vanitas and Jeanne stand across from one another, with Vanitas assuming that Jeanne had dealt with Noé already and admitting that he's disappointed with Jeanne after all the stories he'd heard from The Vampire of the Blue Moon about the Hellfire Witch; now realizing that she'd become quite tame. Frustrated - Jeanne asks what Vanitas was trying to say, and so Vanitas reveals that he's grown tired of playing with her - dropping The Book of Vanitas and introducing himself properly. Furthermore - as someone from whom the Vampire of the Blue Moon once fed, Vanitas explains that he possesses a portion of the Blue Moon Vampire's power and is a member of the Clan of the Blue Moon; shocking Jeanne. Vanitas admits that he'd hoped that he wouldn't have to use this power unless absolutely necessary, but as he removed the glove on his left hand, Vanitas tells Jeanne to prepare to face his true form.
Jeanne assesses the situation and attempts for prepare herself for whatever she is about to face; questioning what kind of power Vanitas could have from the Blue Moon Vampire and why he would have dropped The Book of Vanitas. At that moment, Thomas Berneux rises to his feet behind Jeanne. Having finally found Jeanne, Luca sees the imminent danger and attempts to warn her, only to be grabbed from behind and silenced. Berneux then reverts to a mutated form and rushes Jeanne from behind, shocking her as she recognizes the nine-fold murderer. Berneux bites Jeanne shortly thereafter, though as he begins drinking her blood - Jeanne propels herself backwards so that Berneux hits his head off of the wall behind them - incapacitating him temporarily. With Jeanne distracted, Vanitas comes forward and states that it's just as he thought - as fighting monsters is best left to other monsters, before landing a cheap shot against Jeanne - sending her flying backwards. Though Jeanne had realized that it was all a ruse to keep her distracted, it was too late, and Jeanne's body slams into the ground.
Walking up to Jeanne, Vanitas mentions that there's no way he'd have such an ace up his sleeve, revealing himself to have been stalling so that the paralysis on Thomas Berneux would wear off and he could use Berneux to incapacitate Jeanne. Vanitas then asks that Jeanne sit by and watch what he's going to do next. Turning to Berneux, Vanitas states that he'd left Berneux waiting long enough and assesses his Malnomen. Noting that Berneux has a lupine appearance alongside prowling in search of life blood during moon-lit nights, Vanitas comes to the conclusion that Berneux's Malnomen is Loup Garou - he who hunts crimson. Vanitas then opens the Book of Vanitas and suggests that it's time they return Berneux's true name. Vanitas manages to discern Berneux's true name as Bucolicus - he who composes idylls - before finishing the purification is a blast of light, leaving a cured and exhausted Thomas Berneux to collapse to the ground. However, Vanitas then realizes that Berneux was meant to be cured in the presence of Count Orlok. Luckily, Nox and Manet reveal themselves to have been watching from a nearby rooftop, stating that there's no need to worry, as they'd been acting as Orlok's eyes and will report what they'd seen to him.
Vanitas then hears something from behind him - turning to see that Jeanne has managed to get back on her feet. Shocked, Vanitas asks how this could be possible, as Jeanne had taken in the poison from Loup Garou's bites and was subject to the same paralysis as Berneux - but Jeanne insists that she's not done yet and can still fight. Hearing this, Vanitas asks that Noé come out of hiding, prompting Noé to come out from around the corner with Luca in his arms. Jeanne cries out in horror after seeing Luca's present state, and so Vanitas asks if Jeanne understands what he's getting at: if she makes one false move then he'll have Noé snap Luca's neck in a heartbeat. Noé looks on from afar, not able to hear what Vanitas and Jeanne are saying, though he remembers what Vanitas had told him about his plan and wishes Vanitas luck.
Jeanne then gives in to Vanitas, proclaiming that he'd won as tears stream down her face and she begs him not to hurt Luca.Vanitas laughs as he realizes that Luca really is Jeanne's weakness, asking why she's crying and why she has such weak attitude. Vanitas adds that Jeanne gave herself something to protect and that is why she's so weak, but this is good, and while Vanitas takes back his previous statements against Jeanne, he persists that she has grown weak but that weakness also heightens her beauty. Thus, as Vanitas cups Jeanne's face in his hands and moves close to her in her startled state as Jeanne notices that her strength drains away at his touch. Vanitas admits that Jeanne has come to be of great interest to him, prior to kissing her. Frazzled, Jeanne claws herself away from Vanitas and melts to the ground. As Jeanne looks up, Vanitas tells her that her vulnerability is terribly enticing as well, commending Jeanne for it and professing that he now knows what he's feeling for Jeanne is love; grasping her hand and dropping to his knees to ask Jeanne to marry him.
Seeing this, Luca becomes overwhelmed with anger, spouting fire from his body as he openly protests Vanitas' insolence and questions what he'd done to Jeanne. The fire surrounds the entire area, even reaching Dante, Johann and Riche on the roof. Remembering that Vanitas had mentioned "a large formula revision", Noé comes to some sort of realization in regards to Luca, but before he can voice this realization he is blown back by Luca's flames. Concerned, Jeanne gathers herself and sprints to Luca's side, grabbing him and jumping to safety on a nearby roof; telling him that they will withdraw for now. Turning to Vanitas, Jeanne tells him to remember that the next time they meet she'll kill him, she'd hunt him down and kill him. Vanitas, overjoyed that Jeanne is going to seek him out next time, teases her further, only for Jeanne to scream in frustration while holding Luca back. Luca begs Jeanne to let him go so that he can kill Vanitas, but Jeanne tells him that he mustn't kill Vanitas as he'd said they have to avoid killing anyone at all cost. Jeanne and Luca then take their leave, jumping across the rooftops of Paris. Vanitas happily waves goodbye to Jeanne and falls back into the rubble with a smile on his face, sure that things are about to get interesting.
Meanwhile, Nox and Manet descend to the streets, only to find that Thomas Berneux is gone, with Nox suggesting that he must have slipped away in all the confusion; leading the chase after the nine-fold murderer.
Elsewhere, Thomas Berneux is seen running feverishly through the streets of Paris. Berneux questions what had happened to him, making note of how his true name has been restored. Realizing that there's no time for questions, Berneux continues to run, knowing that since he killed people he wouldn't be getting off easy if they bring him to in Count Orlok. Just then, Berneux hears an noise from behind him, only to turn and see a familiar face emerging from the shadows - though he's unable to identify them before the air fills with the sound of a sudden snap. Soon after, Nox and Manet find Thomas Berneux - his body on the ground, dead with a snapped neck and broken limbs. Manet questions who could have killed Berneux, looking around for any suspects - though finding none. As Berneux's body begins to turn to ash - Nox suggests that they make haste and report back to Count Orlok immediately.
In a dark alley, a faint jingling can be heard, as Charlatan continues on his way, giggling as he declares that the parade of the Charlatan is about to begin. Digging his claws into the wall and carving out a path for his claws, Charlatan comments on how he'd warped Berneux's true name so nicely for him, asking whose true name he would be taking next.
When Vanitas and Noé showed up at Galerie Vivienne, Nox and Manet shooed them away - telling them to come back in the morning. Nox gave them the address of Hotel Chouchou - which would put them up for the night - while Manet sent Murr along with them; as they had left Murr behind and he'd found his way back to one of Orlok's rooms.
The next day, Dominique and Chrysler come across Dante and force information out of him about Noé - learning that she could find Noé at Galerie Vivienne.
At Hotel Chouchou, Noé wakes to find Murr meowing loudly and smashing a vase in order to grasp Noé's attention. Suddenly, Vanitas knocks on Noé's window - hanging upside down from the roof - and invites Noé to join him for breakfast. As the two eat, Noé remarks on how beautiful Paris is - having previously heard bad things about the cleanliness of the city and the air. Vanitas mentions that the city did used to be like that not too long ago - but since the discovery of Astermite as a powersource, much of the coal burning production was replaced with the cleaner, less polluting mineral. With this in mind, Noé mentions his astonishment over how a rock was able to create a mineral that hadn't existed in the world before, further mentioning that the Babel incident was astounding as well for rewriting the principles of the world as it did. Vanitas just stares coldly at Noé before standing to stretch and suggesting that they head over to Galerie Vivienne to speak with Count Orlok.
Upon their arrival at Galerie Vivienne, Count Orlok reveals that Thomas Berneux had been murdered; assuring them that they are presently looking into the matter. Vanitas, understanding that Noé is worried about Amelia, asks what is to become of her - leading Orlok to release her. As Nox brings Amelia into the room, she's ecstatic to see both Noé and Murr again - though as they celebrate, Orlok reveals that because they can't be sure that Amelia won't lose control again she will have to stay where they can keep an eye on her. Turning to Nox, Orlok states that Hotel Chouchou is looking for maids at the moment, and so Nox makes note of this and will make preparations for Amelia to be employed at Hotel Chouchou as live-in help so that she can be monitored; which Vanitas assumes is the result of Count Orlok realizing that Amelia's neighbors wouldn't be accepting of her once they'd gotten wind of her past condition. Orlok voices how, despite accepting a portion of The Book of Vanitas' power, he doesn't intend on allowing Vanitas to run around doing whatever he wants. Vanitas gathered as much, believing that he hadn't been killed because Count Orlok saw him as a useful tool with The Book of Vanitas, suggesting that Count Orlok use him as much as he'd like as it would allow quick dispatch of Curse-Bearers while making it easier for him to find patients.
Vanitas then changes the subject and suggests that they get down to talking to business, which confuses Count Orlok, only for Vanitas to remind him that he'd come to speak with Amelia, which Orlok allows; knowing that their "talk" has to do with Curse-Bearers. Sitting Amelia on a sofa in Count Orlok's office, Vanitas reminds Amelia that in the letter she'd written to him she'd stated that she'd known about being a Curse-Bearer for the past two months. As Amelia confirms this, Vanitas asks if anything had happened just prior to that, though when Amelia doesn't seem to understand what Vanitas is getting at he elaborates by asking if she'd see "Charlatan". Delving further into his explanation, Vanitas reveals that in speaking with the Vampires that he'd treated thus far, he'd noticed that prior to noticing their symptoms several of them admitted to encountering the same thing. Vanitas recounts his patient's past experiences as being surrounded by a thick fog all of a sudden and then seeing the Parade of the Charlatan. Orlok asks if Vanitas thinks that it is this "Charlatan" that is making Curse-Bearers appear, which Vanitas admits to not knowing; being the reason why he's asking Amelia.
Even so, Amelia is unable to remember anything about becoming a Curse-Bearer, no matter how hard she tries. Thus, Count Orlok looks to Noé and suggests that he take a look, revealing him to have been a member of the Archiviste Clan; as was dictated in a letter The Master sent to Count Orlok prior to Noé's arrival in Paris that asked Orlok to assist Noé in any way possible. Vanitas simply clenches his teeth in shock, muttering the name "Archiviste" to himself. After Amelia encourages Noé to do whatever it takes to help unearth her lost memories, Noé agrees to help; sitting beside her and biting her arm so that he could drink her blood. When Manet asks what it means to be an Archiviste - with Nox revealing to her brother that the Archiviste Clan was a group of Vampires capable of reading memories by drinking blood - though she'd thought that they were all but eradicated long ago.
Noé eventually finds the memory he's been looking for, and as he enters the memory he can feel everything that Amelia had felt in that moment: her confusion when she got lost on her way home, her fear when the fog drew in and she was surrounded by a horrific parade of machinery and dark creatures and her desperation and terror when she attempted to escape Charlatan. It was when Amelia felt a misguided sense of safety that Charlatan had caught up to her and consumed her, when the lines between Noé and Amelia's minds became blurred and Noé adopted her thoughts of helplessness; knowing Charlatan would defile him, break him and destroy him. Noé screams as he forces himself out of Amelia's memories and drops into Amelia's lap with his hands pressed tightly against his head.
Just then, there's a knock at the door, and Nox goes to see who it is - finding Dominique waiting outside with Chrysler - looking for Noé and teasing Nox as she tells her that she is Noé's fiancé.
|Bal Masque Arc||