Now it’s Abraham Van Helsing (CV: Suwabe Junichi). Just a warning in advance that the incidents in his route can be rather violent and bloody. This follows from the Common Route.
Chapter 9: Serial Killer
It starts off with a flashback from 2 years ago. Delacroix’s castle has been exploded in various places, and Delacroix himself questioned why Van was hesitating. Both of them fought for different stakes at hand. Van wakes up from the dream of his past. Finis is already dead, yet his heart still feels heavy. Though it is not for certain whether he is truly dead. He recalls Cardia standing next to Finis’ body – though Finis was his enemy, he is still her family. Just then, Fran knocks on his door as they’ve discovered that Cardia’s gone missing.
Some hours earlier, Cardia came to the train station with the intention of finding a lead back at her old mansion. But the station staff informs her that the last train to Wales has departed already. He tells her to come again in the morning, for she can’t remain here due to station checks and cleaning. He also warns her to be careful, as he hands her a newspaper detailing the incidents surrounding Jack the Ripper. He was originally being transported to Newgate Prison, but he escaped with someone’s help. Apparently, the yard secretly captured him, and this concealment has angered Victoria, leading to the dismissal of all the officers involved in his capture. Leonhard has been appointed to take over the case.
As Cardia takes her leave, she’s wary of her surroundings and can’t help but think of Van. However, his goal has already been achieved (killing Finis) so there should be no reason for them to meet any longer. She decides to pass the night in a crowded area, and heads towards the entertainment district, Whitechapel. Soon after she arrives there, Cardia notices something amiss. She keeps hearing the same footsteps constantly following her. Just when she thinks that it’s her imagination, she’s suddenly dragged into a dark alley and a gloved hand covers her mouth before she can shout. To her surprise, her poison doesn’t melt the gloves and she soon loses consciousness as someone greets her “good night”.
When Cardia wakes up, she finds herself tied to a chair and in the sewers. She can only wonder who is the culprit, and out of nowhere she hears a woman screaming. Soon after, a masked man appear humming. The smell of blood comes off him, as he waves two scissors around. Apparently she has been unconscious for 3 days, and he informs that he was killing time while waiting for her to wake up. He insists that he’s cleansing, as that woman is filthy, having entertained customers in the entertainment district. However, he has no intention of treating her the same. Cardia recognises his voice, and realises that he was the train attendant back then – and is Jack himself. Jack tells her that a certain someone saved him when he was captured, and ordered him to capture her. Finis should be dead, so Cardia has no idea who this person is.
As she questions his motives for killing women, Jack remarks how everyone treats him with the same attitude – except that person whom promised to show him a new, beautiful world. He then draws his scissors near her face, and Cardia stays still as he cuts off some of her fringe. He promises to be back, and Cardia feels fear for her life – something she’d never experienced back in Wales. She quickly finds a way to escape. The rope is tied over her gloves, probably to prevent her from using her poison. As she wonders if Finis is really dead, she slowly undoes the rope with the skills taught by Lupin. When her hands are finally free, she hears footsteps approaching. Cardia melts the rope tying her feet with her poison, before hiding while waiting for Jack to approach. She knocks him over as she takes him by surprise, before fleeing.
However, the only exit is locked. Left with no other choice, she heads down another pathway with red-stained walls. She has a bad feeling, and it turns out to be hell indeed. Even in the dark, she can smell what the dark stains are and faintly spots big lumps. Jack soon catches up, and welcomes her to his cleansing area. He overpowers her, as he contemplates cutting the flesh off her legs to prevent her from escaping again. All of a sudden, something knocks Jack away and Cardia finds herself in the arms of Van. She thanks him, and Van replies that she’s gotten herself into an unimaginable situation. Impey had invented a detector for her horologium, and hence managed to track her location – though he personally acted on his own first. Van comments on how quick Jack Blackman is to get up, and explains to Cardia that he was once a secret weapon of the government.
Hidden Strength was research conducted on selected soldiers to combat the vampires, by forcefully drawing out the hidden capabilities of humans. It used all sorts of immoral methods – drugs, brainwashing, torture, intimidation. But they weren’t used for the Vampire Wars in the end, not when they would kill even their allies. While it strengthened them physically, but it also damaged them mentally and made them abusive. The government ordered Tasogare to kill them off secretly, but only Jack escaped. Realising that he’s a man-made creation like her, Cardia is slightly shaken. She questions his purpose for this, when he’d managed to survive. But she soon realises that it’s useless to reason with him, as Van shoots rock salt pellets at him and his mental state is gradually reduced to that of a child’s.
Van explains that Hidden Strength makes use of the person’s past trauma, by constantly reliving it, in order to awaken the hidden capabilities. They soon witness Jack begging to be forgiven, and for his mother not to hit him. Cardia stops Van from shooting any further, and persuades him to hand Jack over to the authorities rather than staining his own hands. But Van is provoked when he hears that Jack even killed those who had children. He switches the bullets, and as Cardia tries to stop him he shoots at the ceiling instead. She thanks him, and just then music starts playing from elsewhere. Jack suddenly gets up and rambles about that person. They follow him to a room with the word “AZOTH” written in red.
A recorded voice congratulates them for clearing the first hurdle, and introduces himself as Azoth. As long as they don’t kill him, more of such incidents will occur. He demands for Cardia, if they want to stop him. He also tells Van to remain a puppet like he did in that war, unless he wants to lose his beloved again. Van angrily asks if Finis is still alive, but of course there’s no answer. Then, a ticking sound is heard and Van quickly escapes with Cardia as the room is exploded. Everything else is buried without a trace left behind.
Chapter 10: Vampire
After they escaped the sewers, they found the exit surrounded by the police. As such, they were held back for questioning though Van did attempt to let Cardia leave first due to her condition. But she insisted on staying on. After a few hours, Saint chances upon them while searching for them. Hearing their situation, he leaves to tell Lupin and the rest to return to the mansion first. As the police search Cardia’s trunk of belongings, Van tells her to let him know if she’s unable to hold on for she looks extremely worn out – physically and mentally. She thanks him, adding that she was happy that he didn’t kill Jack. Whenever he tried to kill someone, Finis included, he always looked as though he was in pain. As great as his murderous intentions were, she could also feel that he was sad. Still, Van refuses to tell her what happened between him and Finis.
Just then, Leonhard appears as he’s in-charge of the case. Van remarks that the queen probably wants to cover up Jack’s identity to the world – after all she was the one who approved of the Hidden Strength experiments. Leonhard acknowledges that no matter what methods the queen use, it’s all to protect the country. Rather than Jack though, she’s more concerned about who aided his escape. Hearing this, Van and Cardia agree to share what they know with him in exchange for his future cooperation in this case.They leave out the details about how Azoth singled out Cardia and Van though. Leonhard also informs them that recently there has been an increase in brutal crimes in London, and wonders if there’s any link. They then agree on how to exchange information in the future, before parting ways.
It’s already midnight when they head back. While Cardia thanks him again, she doesn’t feel that she should return to everyone else’s side. Van tells her to directly ask them if she’s a bother or not. But personally he’d be troubled if she isn’t at his side – for Finis is still alive and after her. His words sadden her, and he shows no intention of explaining to her why he bears such a deep grudge against Finis. It’s none of her concern. Cardia angrily denies this, for he’s one of them. But he rejects that idea, stating that everyone is only making use of each other for their own goal. When she replies otherwise, Van tells her not to think of him as one of them. He doesn’t need any. In the end, Cardia remarks that despite this she’d still think of him as important. For a moment, his will wavers and he only tells her that he can’t forgive Finis and vows revenge.
Van then disappears, telling Cardia to return to the mansion first. Dela is waiting for her, but he insists that he’s only accompanying Sissy. As he questions about Van’s whereabouts, Cardia asks if it’s really true that Van killed his parents. Dela confirms this. Though he only saw the dead body of his mother’s, from the circumstances alone he confirms it. As such, he warns her not to get too close to Van. Once his goal is achieved, he’s to be killed. Cardia once said that she won’t leave him alone. So he doesn’t want to see her sad face when he has to kill Van. Back inside the mansion, Lupin expresses everyone’s worry when she left home. Just as much as she needs them, they need her too. She belongs here so she doesn’t need to hold back. Lupin’s words make Cardia feel that this is really home, and she tears up. While Van’s absence makes her feel uneasy, she feels that she’s returned home.
Cardia recounts to them what happened, and Fran immediately picks up the significance of “Azoth”. It refers mercury to alchemists, but at the same time it’s the other name of the philosopher’s stone – signifying the beginning and the end. In other words, the culprit must want to end something, and to start something else. Saint agrees, adding that the word is made up of the first and last letters of the Latin, Greek and Hebrew alphabets. Though Van thinks that Azoth is Finis, the rest have a hard time believing it. But it’s possible that it’s someone related to Finis. In any case, their target is now Azoth. In the end, Van never returned that night. Elsewhere that night, a noble is running. All of his family and servant have been killed. The city lights come into sight, and he sprints for his life. But the pursuer catches up and ends his life.
The next morning, Van is back at the dining table but they are met with unpleasant news. Last night, Brandl residence was attacked by some beast. The noble’s body was found a distance away in the forest, and the word “Azoth” was written on a tree with his blood. Everyone decides to head to the scene, including Dela who appears to be suspicious about something. There, the police are reluctant to let them through due to reporters faking identities earlier on. They are shocked when Leonhard greets them, and want to get Van’s signature later pfft. The rest make Cardia and Dela wait at the entrance due to the violent aftermath. But Dela remarks that he’d already witnessed a lot worse years ago, and joins them. Left alone, Cardia notices a lot of footsteps at one area, and decides to track them down. She ends up arriving at the scene where Brandl died. The rest soon join her and they decide to split up. Cardia, Van and Dela go to find Sholmes. Naturally Lupin declines, and stays with the rest at the crime scene. They get the address from Leonhard and head towards Baker Street.
On the way, both Van and Dela soon notice that they’re being followed – by Arester. The other two are surprised when Van states that he’s not their enemy, that they were both betrayed by Finis. While he’s after Finis, Arester is after Tasogare. It was Arester who gave him the information that Tasogare was after Cardia. She remains suspicious of him though, having recalled what happened on the train. Van notes that Arester did what he could though, and adds that the elderly man is a university professor. Arester explains that with Finis dead on the surface, he can finally move around freely. He words confirm their suspicion that Finis is still alive, for he saw him walking around the palace the next day that he died. After hearing about the murder cases from them, Arester remarks that both Tasogare and he will lend Van a hand now. His revenge is justified. Van corrects him, saying that it’s their revenge. As the two continue talking, Cardia feels as though they’re comrades – while she’s not.
After they separate ways, they go to find Sholmes. As expected, he correctly analyses their purpose and is intrigued by the idea of helping them (while getting paid by a thief). After hearing their side of the story, he lays out a map with many writings on it. He had been following the cases out of curiousity and found a common point – the victims are all people who were commended during the Vampire Wars. It’s apparent that the culprit is going down the list of people. If the next person is killed, Van is next. Sholmes theorises that Azoth is linked to the government, in order to get his hands on this list. Van is convinced that it’s Finis though. Before they leave, Sholmes warns them that the culprit always strikes two nights in a row. In other words, he’s sure to act again tonight. He tells them to be careful, for the culprit is surely a vampire. Only Cardia seems surprised. Dela confirms that the murderer is a pure-blood like them, from the looks of it.
Afterwards, they return to the crime scene to share the news with Leonhard. Everyone then returns to the mansion to discuss their next move. The police has already sent men to protect the next target, and Van plans to head there too for it’s his own problem. But the rest refuse to back down. Dela also shares his guess that the culprit is probably none other than Neuntoter, a respectable vampire who was also his teacher. Dela wants to persuade him from further falling into the darkness, but Van dissuades him. Neuntoter probably bears deep hatred towards humans, so it wouldn’t do any good to see Dela with them. Moreover, it would mean fighting against his own kind, and teacher. The young boy can’t say anything in return.
Out on the streets, the next target, Mauchly, is openly walking on the streets with his hired bodyguards and the police. In the shadows, Neuntoter notes that Mauchly was the one who foolishly believed that a vampire’s blood could grant youth, and killed many as a result. The past haunts him, as he can still hear the screams in his head. He then springs his attack, taking the men by surprise. But before he can lay his hands on Mauchly, a smoke bomb is set off. Lupin and Fran take to the stage, as they tell Mauchly to flee. But Neuntoter only has his eyes on one man, and he chases after him. This time, Impey and Saint block his way. Once more, he chases past them till he arrives next to River Thames where Van greets him. Cardia leads Mauchly into the sewers. At first, he’s reluctant to escape through it till she tells him to do as he like then – which means being faced with death.
Cardia hears the fighting from above, and rushes back up to see Van being driven into a corner by Neuntoter. It becomes apparent that Hidden Strength was conducted on him, which is no wonder why he, a pure-blood vampire, is overpowering Van. Cardia is unable to remain by the sidelines, and rushes in despite Van’s protests. She tells him to go and find the rest while she buys time. She once caused her loved ones to die, so she doesn’t want to witness it again. To everyone’s surprise, Dela comes to her rescue as he blocks the attack. He tells Neuntoter that the responsibility for their revenge lies with him, and persuades him to stop. But his words fall on deaf ears, as Neuntoter misunderstands that Dela is siding with humans. Van manages to stand up again to shoot, while Cardia quickly sees to Dela’s injuries.
But the next happenings shock her, as she witnesses Van putting his guns down as Neuntoter charges at him. The next moment, countless explosions fall from above and the vampire falls to the ground. Van’s capabilities take Cardia by surprise, for it’s almost as if…… Meanwhile, Neuntoter is back to his senses as he remarks that he was forever stuck in a nightmare – one in which he was always the sole survivor. Dela invites him to join his side, but all of a sudden Neuntoter is consumed by hatred again. Van protects Dela from the attack, and Neuntoter also stabs himself, as if to prevent himself from going out of control again. The young boy is in shock at Van’s actions, till Cardia shakes him out of it, telling him to quickly inform the rest. She remains by Van’s side, constantly begging him not to die. Thankfully, Fran soon arrives and treats him on-the-spot. Van’s life is saved, and the police follow-up on the case. Cardia remains by Van’s side, till he gains consciousnesses.
She’s relieved that he’s alive, for she’s was much more afraid at the thought that he’d died. Van remarks that he probably felt the same way when she stood in front of Neuntoter. He tells her not to do it again, and thanks her for telling him not to die with a warm smile. Just then, Dela enters and questions why Van saved him. He’s unable to accept that Van killed his family for no reason. Van only replies that one can’t kill even for a reason. He reaffirms that Dela will kill him once his revenge is over. Cardia quietly asks if he wishes to die, but Van remains quiet.
Outside, a lone figure walks along the walls of London, looking down at the city his father created. He’s amused by how fear and confusion is spreading through London now, and agrees to accompany the person’s plans for a while longer. He’s curious to see what lies ahead too.
Chapter 11: Doll Face
Days after the incident, everyone is at the table except Van. He had been disappearing from the mansion each day despite his heavy injuries. At the same time, the violent incidents have been on the rise in London. Even if the culprits are caught, Azoth’s identity still remains a mystery. Soon, Van returns but with the intention of telling everyone not to get involved anymore. They’re even more alarmed to see Arester with him, who informs them that 3/4 of Tasogare’s members have vanished. It’s probably Finis’ doings. The likes of Lupin and co. though still have a hard time believing it. Arester expresses his interest in Lupin’s skills, noting that they’re very similar to Tasogare’s. In any case, Van tells them it’s too dangerous and to find news of Isaac elsewhere. Cardia is reluctant, feeling that he’d disappear out of her reach at this rate.
Despite Van’s harsh words, Cardia chases after him when he and Arester exit the mansion. Arester leaves them alone, as Cardia observes how Van’s in pain – as if he longs for death. So she feels that she can’t leave him alone. He only replies that it’s her misplaced worry, and that even if that’s the case it has nothing to do with her. She just needs to think for herself, that’s all he hopes for. When Cardia attempts to express her thoughts towards him, they’re interrupted by Leonhard. He informs everyone that a number of soldiers disrupted the queen’s court, and started to shout and display enormous strength – probably due to Hidden Strength. One even set off a bomb strapped onto himself, hence they died in the end. Before doing so though, the soldiers shouted “Hooray for Finis”. Thankfully the queen remains unhurt. But the perpetrator left behind a box with the words “Azoth”, as well as a mystery text stating that it wishes for chaos and confusion and that the game starts now.
Leonhard agrees to send his men to search for Finis, while the rest help him to track down Azoth. Meanwhile, Van, Cardia and Dela go to find Sholmes once more. They run into the detective outside his residence, and he explains his findings to them while leading them elsewhere. After re-investigating, he realised that many of Finis’ political enemies were involved in the cases – but his greatest one still remains, Renfield. Renfield was a noble part of the party against Finis, and against Isaac’s plans and the Vampire wars. They hurry to his residence, but it appears that they’re one step late as a figure leaps from the 3rd floor. Sholmes remains to check the scene, while the rest chase after the figure – who appears to be deliberately leading them on. Their path is soon blocked by two Tasogare members, who appear to be vampires and enhanced with Hidden Strength. At the same time, Finis appears with his doll-like features. When Van attempts to shoot at him, the Tasogare members protect him.
Enraged, Van chases after Finis while Dela stays behind to save the vampires. He tells Cardia to go ahead and help Van out of the darkness called “revenge”. Just like how Cardia did so for him. She catches up, where Finis denies being involved with Azoth though the current situation works in his favour. He tells Van once more that he can’t kill him, and takes Cardia as a hostage. He tells Van to make his choice, like he did 2 years ago. At that moment, a loud explosion is heard from the palace causing the ground to shake. Finis declares that Van will surely end up not choosing and just be in misery. He disappears, saying that they’ll meet again and that Van is the only one who attacks him with that much emotions – which he doesn’t dislike.
Meanwhile, Dela is saddened that he couldn’t save the two vampires. When they snapped back to their senses, they killed themselves. He can only pray for their peace. Just then, he hears footsteps and is shocked to see the person before him. Before Dela can question anything, he’s knocked out.
Chapter 12: Waking Evil
It turns out that an explosion did occur in the palace. While the queen is safe, many important figures died. Violent crimes related to Azoth continue to happen, and Victoria announces that they’ll defeat the culprit. By now, they feel that Azoth = Finis and are tracking him down. At the same time, Dela has disappeared since that night. Filled with regret, Cardia can only think “what if she’d stayed behind with Dela”. Van also vanished to chase after Finis. As much as she wants to save him this time, she feels helpless. Just then, she hears small stones being thrown against her window. She spots Van outside, and quickly rushes to his side.
But Van is here to bid her goodbye. He was too naive, and ended up dragging everyone else in his issues. It’s a lie to say that he feel nothing for them, but that’s why he feels the need to part ways. They don’t need to walk down the same path as him. The situation has changed, and Van declares that he’ll expose Finis’ secrets without their help. Helpless, Cardia exclaims that there’s no way she can understand his attachment for revenge if he explains nothing. She realises that he’s never once saw her for herself, but only as a tool for revenge. To her surprise, instead of walking away without a word, Van starts to confide in her.
He was once part of Tasogare, and had to infiltrate the vampires to destroy them from within. He didn’t question his task, thinking that they were enemies. But once he started living with them, he formed doubts as to whether they were truly a threat, especially when they welcomed him without a question. He reported that it was a meaningless war and tried to stop it. But in the end, Finis took his family hostage and he was forced to kill the vampires. However, Finis went back on his word and killed his family. Hence, Van has sworn revenge ever since. Once more, he says that he doesn’t need her. Cardia holds him back, still desiring to save him. He questions what she can do for him, if she can kill people for his revenge.
Unable to answer back, she can only step away from him. Van tells her to walk her own path, but also thanks them for the fun and heart-warming days. But he needs to leave, before he starts to treasure those days over his own revenge. As he smiles sadly at her, he remarks that he’s glad to have met her. Van rejoins Arester, as they drive towards St Paul’s Cathedral, aka Tasogare’s HQ. Finis had led his men to attack Arester and his men. The cathedral was a place which Isaac had bargained from the queen during the reconstruction of London, so they guess that it must hide some sort of secret. As they head there, Van recalls his past.
His father had passed away, leaving him to support his sickly mother and younger brother. So Van came to London to join the army. While participating in the entry exam, his talents caught the eye of a squad leader of Tasogare, Arester. Van’s exam was halted midway as he was brought to see Arester at the cathedral. With no knowledge of what just happened, Arester explained to him that he’s already being assigned to Tasogare as of today, an organisation which also supports the country like the army does. In half a year there, Van learnt much under Arester. His admiration for the older man was apparent in Van’s letters to his family back home. His first assignment after joining, was to finish off those experimented with Hidden Strength.
It was certainly not a pleasant first experience for him, as they greatly underestimated the opponents. In the end, only Arester and Van were left standing. Van told Arester to escape first, but the latter remarked that it’s only natural for soldiers to die on the battlefield – but not common people. He eventually asked Van to stop calling him “Professor” if they survive this, before taking out a switch and setting off an explosion to defeat the experiment subjects. But one of them, Jack Blackman, escaped. Apparently, everyone in the team except Van had the switch to set off the pre-installed bombs. Only Van wasn’t told anything, as it’s usually the case that the person can’t make clear decisions if given too much responsibility on their first task.
In any case, Van stopped calling Arester “Professor” from then on, and truly thought of the older man as a comrade. In just a year, Van showed remarkable progress and the duo started to handle the difficult cases. And 2 years ago, the turning point came: the Vampire wars, in which Van was assigned an important task. His duty was to later report the base’s layout to his team. He infiltrated the vampire’s base and came into contact with the leader (and Dela). Van was warmly welcomed, as the clan respected his strength. Dela even got him to promise to teach him how to fight someday. But that promise was never fulfilled. With all the information at hand, Van returned to London with his report and tried to persuade Arester to stop the war, feeling that it was a mistake. Arester agreed to convey it to Finis, and hopefully it will reach the queen.
But before they could compile a report, Finis appeared, having heard every word. He stated that it’s impossible to stop the war, and asked Van to reveal all the information at the meeting. After all, England wants to display its capabilities to the other countries, so they’re making use of the vampires. Arester also refused to obey alongside Van. Seeing this, Finis told them to witness things with their own eyes. Soon after, a poisonous gas was used to killed the vampires. The survivors gathered at Delacroix’s castle, to declare war against humans. Hearing this, Van tried to protest to Finis but he ended up being imprisoned. After being released, he and Arester were ordered to finish off the last vampires. Their family had been taken hostage. With no choice, they killed the vampires – Van defeating Delacroix, and Arester defeating his wife. Dela was nowhere to be seen. Filled with anguish at this one-sided slaughter, Van told Arester to not search for him. In return, Arester remarks that there is no such thing as a righteous war. Their role is to only lessen the losses, and that this country has always been on the wrong path since the start.
After that, they were crowned as heroes of the war, and Van even earned a knight title. But he left Tasogare after that, telling Arester that he can no longer find a reason to kill people. He returned home with plenty of money, only to discover his family dead. For that moment, he could only wonder if this was his punishment as he cried in grief. Van later found out that the assassin was a Tasogare member, and a document with Finis’ stamp was found, ordering the death of his and Arester’s family. This was the start of his revenge against Finis. And later on, Arester leaked the information to him that Finis was after someone – and that was how he came to meet Cardia. Van remarks to Arester that the present mirrors the past a lot. The latter agrees, except for the fact that in the past, they were caught up in the current of fate. But now, they’re confronting their past on their own accord.
Back at the mansion, Cardia gathers the rest to inform them about Van. She expresses her desire to save Van, and requests for their help despite knowing the danger. Everyone notes how much she has changed since she first came here. Lupin adds that everyone first becomes human when they learn love. Hearing this, Cardia finally realises the feelings she has for Van. They track down Van and Arester’s location, with the help of Sissy. Apparently, Lupin had been secretly training the dog to pick up scents. They hear gunshot, and Saint guesses that the location must be St Paul’s Cathedral. Indeed, when they arrive the area is surrounded by unconscious Tasogare members. But more appear each time, so eventually they tell Cardia to go ahead first.
Inside, Cardia sees Van and Arester confronting Finis, accompanied by both Tasogare men and British military soldiers. When Van questions why she deliberately put herself in danger, she replies that it’s because he’s important. She confesses her love, to which Finis laughs at. There’s no way a monster like her can love someone. When Van confronts him again, he calls for the guards to lower their guns and gives him the chance to shoot. Van gladly takes it, but no matter how many times he shoots Finis, the boy only laughs maniacally. And when the body is reduced to an unrecognisable matter, another Finis steps out from the shadows. Seeing that Van is in danger, Cardia steps before him, thinking that Finis shouldn’t hurt her for whatever reason. However, her brother remarks that he has always resisted the urge to kill her. But now she’s given him an excuse to do so, and he vows to see through his father’s plan even without her.
Out of the blue, Arester gives a signal. When Finis questions this, he replies that his preparations to kill Finis have finally fallen into place. At that moment, the soldiers shoot at Finis. The boy falls to the ground in shock, as Arester explains that they were his men in disguise. Finis exposes Arester’s identity as Azoth, which stuns the rest. He also vows to come after the older man, saying that he can’t die. But Arester says that he knows his secret, and calmly whispers something into his ear. In response, Finis shouts in rage, till Arester silences him. Explosions go off throughout the cathedral. Arester congratulates Van for fulfilling his revenge, as well as his own fake revenge. Van grabs him by the collar though, demanding the truth.
Arester only confirms Finis’ words, expressing his surprise that Van didn’t kill Jack, and didn’t perform that well before Neuntoter. At a loss for words, Van releases his grip. The older man doesn’t show any intention of divulging his real motives, but only says that he’s terribly interested in humans. He finds humans most beautiful when they’re wrapped in fear and anger. And to him, he and Finis were ideal in how much hatred there was between them. Thanks to him, he could finally determine Finis’ secret. With him dead now, he can finally fulfill his true wish. Still confused, Van says that his family was taken hostage by Finis too and killed. Arester reveals that he killed his own family. In fact, everything wasn’t Finis’ doing at all, but his. He merely placed evidence directing to Finis, so that Van would hate him. He thought that if it was Van, he could kill Finis. He’d harboured these thought since he met Van.
Livid that his target for revenge was by his side all along, Van aims his gun but a soldier shoots at him first. Arester remarks that all of them have Hidden Strength. In fact, he was the one who came up with this experimentation. Though it failed at first, now he has created loyal fighting machines. He’s thrilled to see Van direct his immense hatred at him now. Arester leaves the cathedral for Van to deal with the soldiers, welcoming him to come to the Tower Bridge. He personally can’t wait till that moment, to see his unique creation.
Chapter 13: Stand By Me
In London, the prisoners start to run wild and break free from their cells. Serious crime cases have already jumped to 200. It’s probably all Azoth’s doing. The police and Leonhard’s men have their hands full. Cardia and Van join the rest outside the cathedral, as they quickly see to Van’s wounds. As they see the situation, Van tells them to return to the mansion before dashing off. Impey swiftly hands Cardia a tracking device he’d secretly placed on Van. Lupin and the rest will help Leonhard, while she finds Van with Saint’s escort. When Lupin and co. join Leonhard, they update him on the situation. The most they can do now is to lessen the damage, while believe in Van and Cardia. Impey adds that only the strongest beastmaster can open up the heart of that beast pfft. Sholmes is with them too, and he shares his analyses with the rest. He believes that Arester wants to target the palace in the midst of this chaos, though he’s unable to wrap his head around the man’s true motive.
Elsewhere, Saint easily knocks out the attackers. Just then, an armoured figure appears before them. Cardia recalls having seen the figure on her first night in the mansion, and Saint seems to recognise the person. He tells her to go ahead, and Cardia does so till she catches sight of Van. But his attitude towards her is just as cold as when they first met. Unfazed, Cardia insists on accompanying him. Van approaches her, and only repeats that they have nothing to do with each other, that he doesn’t need her. To his surprise, she replies that even so she needs him. So no matter what she won’t leave him alone. Even when he shoots behind her over and over again, threatening to end her life, Cardia doesn’t budge. She would regret it more if she left him alone, than if she were to die here. As the rain starts to pour, he eventually drops his gun and corners Cardia against the wall. Despite his attempts to stop her from following him, she presses on till Van loses his cool.
Van: You’re important to me!! I don’t want to hurt you……!! I don’t want you to die……!! It’s because you’re important to me that I’m putting a distance between us……!! And yet you—!? I beg of you……!! Don’t get involved with me anymore……! Cardia……!!
Here, Cardia can choose to reply that it’s because he’s important to her that she wants to remain by his side, no matter how dangerous it is. Once more, she confesses his love for him. In return, Van only pleads for her not to trouble him anymore. He feels that he has no right to be happy. He steps away from her, and says that he’ll disappear from her sight once it’s over, and thanks her for loving him. As he smiles at her, he knocks her unconscious and brings her to the empty mansion. Van then heads towards the Tower Bridge, as he recalls his past with mixed emotions. What he had always thought was the truth, turned out to be an illusion. And while he’s finally on the verge of taking revenge for his family, he feels sadness rather than anger.
At Tower Bridge, Arester waits for him with more men. Van easily takes care of them, till a brainwashed Dela steps forth. It’s evident that Hidden Strength has been conducted on him, as he attacks Van with unimaginable strength and speed. Arester leaves the scene, saying that he’ll be waiting at the cathedral. Left alone with the young vampire, who is filled with rage and grief, Van finally sees the shadow of him in Dela. He realises that this must be how Cardia saw him. Meanwhile, Cardia wakes up and quickly takes out the tracker. As expected, Van went to Tower Bridge. But all of a sudden, the screen displays that it has lost its target. Back at the bridge, Dela snaps out of the trance. While Van had been on the disadvantageous end, before he knew it he was reminded of Cardia and felt the urge to live on. Dela tells him to end his life, as part of his final wish. He doesn’t despise Van enough to kill him, nor is he kind enough to want to forgive him. But more than anything else, he wants to join his parents.
At the same time, Cardia is rushing towards Tower Bridge, where she finds an injured Dela. He reassures her, saying that she should be more worried about Van. It turns out that Van didn’t fulfill his final wish in the end. He tells her to hurry to Van’s side. Dela can’t remember much as he wasn’t clear-minded, but he knows that Arester’s motive is neither to cause turmoil in London, nor to overturn the government – but Van himself. He urges Cardia to head to the cathedral, for only she can stop Van. As she promises to do so, Dela tells her to convey something to Van – that both of their revenge is over. He won’t forgive Van if he dies, and wants him to live on instead. Dela then asks to rest, while she goes on ahead.
Van catches up to Arester at the cathedral, and the latter notes that he didn’t kill the young vampire. It appears that he has to use his final trump card, and it doesn’t take long before Cardia shows up. Before she can say anything, Van remarks that he can’t turn back now. If he doesn’t have his revenge now, all of his efforts would be for naught. She strongly denies this, and conveys Dela’s message. Now, he has another purpose to live besides revenge. But Van can’t bring himself to forgive, and tells Cardia not to come and stir his feelings anymore – to disappear from his sight. While his words sting her, she wipes away her tears and remains on guard against Arester, who offers to get rid of Cardia.
The older man remains calm, even as Van threatens to shoot him. He asks if Van never wondered why his strength far exceeded the normal standards, to the point of being called a human weapon. Cardia’s fears come true, as the man admits that he had conducted Hidden Strength on Van. It took him a long time to do so. What happened during the Vampire wars was to give him psychological trauma – a necessary condition for Hidden Strength. So was his revenge on Finis, as well as Jack and Neuntoter’s cases. By going up against them, Van had to confront his past again and again while tormented by fear and confusion. It was all to perfect Van as history’s strongest and finest piece of art. Obviously, Van is enraged that he lost everything because of such frivolous reasons.
But he’s unable to pull the trigger against Arester, as the latter had secretly instilled that command in Van. Cardia attempts to intrude the scene, but Arester holds his cane against her neck, saying that it won’t be him who will kill her. Ignoring Van’s protests, Arester starts to recite something which sends the younger man groaning in pain: “Look, for I will renew everything. The deed has been done. I am alpha and omega. I am the beginning and the end. I will become his god, and he will become my apostle.” Van eventually stops struggling, and his eyes are now blood-red. When Cardia tries to reach out to him, he knocks her back instead.
Arester even incites that Cardia was the one who made him kill the vampires, and killed his family. He plans to make Van kill the one he loves with his own hands. At the same time, he gives Cardia the choice of killing Van if she wants to. But she refuses, knowing that he only wants to see them fight each other and deepen the scarring of Van’s heart. Before she can finish her sentence, Arester kicks her aside and orders Van to shoot at her legs in hopes of changing her mind. As she pleads for Van to come back to his senses, Cardia waits for the opportunity to slip out and remove her gloves. She lightly touches Arester’s neck, but he remains unfazed as he explains that he’s immune to pain. Even when she threatens to kill him, he doesn’t budge.
In fact, his parents were killed brutally by a criminal and he cried – not out of grief, but at the beauty of the fear and despair of a person’s passing. Ever since then, he started to love death and killed many for its beauty. However, he was always alone, so he desired another person who understands him. So he wanted to make Van into a greater monster than him. Unable to take it anymore, Cardia screams at him to stop – to not look at Van like that. She insists that he’s different, and her poison starts to eat into his neck. But Arester ignores it, saying that he doesn’t fear death if he isn’t alone anymore. Out of nowhere, he stabs himself, with the intention of celebrating the birth of his new comrade. His final orders are to kill Cardia. Arester collapses to the floor, arms wide open, as if receiving God’s blessing.
When she tries to counterattack, Van grabs her by the neck and aims at her, blaming her for killing his family and benefactor. She notes that he must be reliving the nightmare of his past, and thinks that the only thing she can do for him is to let him kill her. She even holds his gun steady, letting him do what he wants as long as it can become his salvation. As Cardia gazes into his eyes, she recalls Elaine, and sees herself in him. Just like her, he must want to be forgiven too. Even though he said he has no right to be happy, surely he must want to regain his happiness. In return, Van angrily replies that he doesn’t need happiness nor forgiveness. For the sake of the lives he’s taken and lost, he needs to continue down this blood-stained path. While he speaks, tears stream down his face. Cardia comments on how he’s always in pain, and offers her life if that means releasing him from it. She’s certain that he won’t lose to Arester’s curse.
But the person who was supposed to kill her, drops his gun and starts to distance himself from her. As Van struggles with the pain, he eventually collapses to the ground. He regains his senses, and sees Cardia before him. He questions if he’s committed yet another mistake, and before Cardia realises it, he stabs himself with a sword on the floor. While she’s in shock, Van remarks that he can finally hear her voice clearly. She assures him that she’s well and alive, but questions his actions. He explains that it was for the best, so as to avoid killing her under the influence of Hidden Strength. Van closes his eyes, and Cardia begs for him to stay awake. As she keeps talking to him, he observes how he’s always making her sad. In return, she tells him to make it up to her then, by staying by her side. His words starts to trail off, as he notes on how selfish she is like a child now, unlike just now – but he loves even that side of her.
When Cardia realises that he’s not longer moving nor breathing, she can only cry while hugging him tightly. A month later, Dela is seen serving Cardia her meal – just like how she did so for him back then. Lupin continues to pursue the terrorist case, while Impey and Fran remain in London in search for something. Saint has returned to France, while leaving them the mansion. When they rejected him at first, he told them to look after it till he returned then. But Cardia feels that the rest will eventually leave the mansion one by one.
As if reading her mind, Dela tells her he plans to stay by her side even if she hates it. He was saved by her and Van, so he’s only repaying the favour. After a while, Cardia suggests visiting Van’s hometown, and paying his family’s grave a visit. She wants to tell them about him. Hearing this, Dela quickly goes to make the preparations before she changes her mind. After all, he won’t be able to rest easy if she continues being depressed like this. Cardia looks out at the clear skies, and seems to hear a voice telling her not to stay locked up inside and to go out.
Here, Van actually loses consciousness before he can confess his love. When Cardia starts to cry loudly, he suddenly tells her not to be so noisy. Thankful that he’s still alive, she hugs his warm body in joy. He tells her not to write him off as dead, though he admits that he was prepared for death. But she woke him back up. However, he also couldn’t leave just like that without conveying to her the most important thing. Van hugs her tightly, saying that he won’t forget his sins but he no longer wants to be influenced by it – and wants to live on with her. Cardia remarks that she’s finally caught up with him, and in return he thanks her for doing so. Above all the hatred and regret he’s accumulated, he loves her.
A month later, the Azoth case has been closed with Arester’s death. So is Tasogare with Finis’ death. Fran and Impey continue to search London for something, while Lupin continues to help them while pursuing the terrorist case. Saint has returned to France, while Cardia, Van and Sissy remain in his mansion till he comes back. Dela has been safeguarding the remaining vampires, while aiming to create a place for them to live. But as he has to represent the vampires, he sometimes has to attend political meetings and parties. That night, Van had just returned from one of those parties and Dela was pretty shocked to see him. It was pure coincidence that Van was treated as invited as a guest while being the bodyguard to Renfield, the diplomat in-charge of mediating vampire and human relationships.
Cardia asks him bring her to a party next time, as she wants to see Dela, as well as Van in a formal suit. He immediately rejects her, saying that she’ll attract unwanted attention with her beauty. He’ll help contact Dela on her behalf. When she sulks, Van hands her a package and says that a party with just the two of them won’t be that bad either. Soon after, both of them are dressed up for a party and he leads her to the top of the palace. The whole of London is lighted up below them, and orchestral music can be heard from the palace. Seeing her, Van stands by his decision not to bring her to the party. He also has to thank Fran for preparing the dress.
Though she’s still restricted by her poison, he wants to give her as much joy as he can till the poison is removed. Cardia answers that she’s happy just to be with him. Van agrees, but adds that he’s still a man. His words puzzle her, but he only says that she’ll understands in the future. For now, he has her dance with him. The two of them will continue to be together. They’ll live on while carrying their sins, and believing that they can gain happiness as a form of redemption.
Extra scene: The night before, Van says that he wants to prepare breakfast. This scares the living daylight out of the guys, as they quickly hint to Cardia to offer to cook instead. Van eventually agrees. The next morning Cardia has finished breakfast and wonders why he’s late. She goes to wake him up, and much to her shock he’s half-naked and half-asleep. She shyly goes along with things, when he tells her to come closer. It turns out that he was looking for his glasses though, while deliberately teasing her. Noting her disappointment and embarrassment, Van says that he’ll do what she’d expected when she no longer has her poison.
Poor Van, much of his life was a lie! Anyway, most of his route was filled with his story and back-story so to be honest I felt that not much time was given to developing his relationship with Cardia. It’s only when he’s finally found peace in the true end, you start to see more of his true personality and interaction with Cardia – which is really cute. But that’s only like one scene. Two scenes, if you include the extra scene. His route is also part of the fraction of guys where Cardia’s poison problem remains so…fingers crossed for a fandisk?
Whew…finally done with this post. ;; I really hope the next one (Fran) won’t take as long because I can’t wait to rant about Lupin. :’3