|“||We are pillaging this city! There is nothing ‘tame’ or otherwise about our actions! Yes, Milady, I will do anything to get a hold of the objects of your desire. But there was no need to go this far and turn yourself into the villain, even deceiving me in the process! Have you any idea how worried I was...||”|
Commandant Carla Alvarez Santonia (カルラ・アルバレス・サントーニャ Karura Arubaresu Santōnya) is the bodyguard of Lady Lucrezia de Dormentaire and the leader of the Dormentaire military delegation to Lotto Valentino in the autumn of 1709.
Carla has tanned skin, keeps her brown hair short, and wears an outfit akin to a man's military uniform instead of a dress. She does not bind her chest. It is said that she has "her reasons" for dressing the way she does, though those reasons have yet to be made clear.
She has been described as looking to be in her early twenties, though her sharp eyes and the way she carries herself make her seem older.
Carla is an incredibly stolid and stoic individual, duty-bound and devoted to Lucrezia above all else. Despite her unyielding loyalty towards Lucrezia she is certainly not above rebuking her when she thinks Lucrezia is in the wrong.
She is often sympathetic to others and has felt remorse in the face of something she considers unjust. And though she is quite capable of mercy, she is also capable of often brutal punishment, as evidenced when she ripped open the corner of her subordinate's mouth with her fingers and drove the heel of her boot into his teeth.
Carla was born possibly around the late 1680s to a family that had served the Dormentaires for generations, many of them as guards. She was a "capable and outgoing leader" even in childhood, and "thanks to certain circumstances" had become a bodyguard despite being a woman. Since few men of the era would willingly follow a woman's command, she never joined a squad and instead mostly guarded beautiful women in female-only places.
Carla accompanies Lucrezia on a stroll throughout the Dormentaire Estate's gardens in Spain in 1709. Lucrezia (unnamed in the scene) informs her that she has received word from their spy in Lotto Valentino that Gardi Dormentaire's killer is likely somewhere in the city. Carla asks her if it is not simply a matter of apprehending the criminal immediately, to which Lucrezia says no – the Dormentaires want this incident kept private, which is why they are sending in Dormentaire soldiers to the city. As it turns out Lucrezia wants Carla to lead the delegation. Carla is taken aback – House Dormentaire surely has plenty of people better suited to the mission than a mere bodyguard.
Lucrezia observes that her face has "why me" written all over it and apologizes, explaining that it is best to send a woman up against the Clown Count. She assure Carla not to worry; she will place some very reliable men under her command. Carla replies that she understands and that she will deal with the spy, only for Lucrezia to exclaim that Carla ought not to be "silly" - finding the killer is just a pretext and Carla should not actually do anything should she find the killer in the city. At Carla's confusion, Lucrezia laughs and explains that there are all sorts of "nasty rumors" about Lotto Valentino – things like immortality, new drugs, and counterfeit gold; the last rumor is something that Dormentaire-sponsored alchemist Szilard Quates is extremely interested in. He believes that he could recreate it perfectly if he only had the formula.
Carla wants to know if that means Lucrezia would like her to find the formula, and Lucrezia praises her for being quick on the the uptake before saying, "now, you know how greedy our family is, right?" Carla remains silent, believing that she has no right to judge the moral stance of the family she serves. Lucrezia coos that Carla is such a good girl, and announces that she wants everything in the city, from immortality to counterfeit gold to drugs.
She continues on by bringing up their spy, who describes Lotto Valentino as a "glass box made by the alchemists." What Lucrezia would like Carla to do is "shatter that box into bits" no matter how long it takes.
Several months later, Carla and her delegation arrive in Lotto Valentino's harbor in the autumn of 1709. The city strikes her as an "ordinary, peaceful town" upon her arrival. She visits the mansion of the "Clown Count" – Esperanza C. Boroñal – and introduces herself to him. Esperanza's own greeting is polite and graceful, catching her off guard. He apologies if he has accidentally offended her in his "ignorance."
Taken aback, Carla answers him honestly. Based on the titterings of the Dormentaires, she had thought Esperanza would be a lecher, but to her surprise he was anything but; in fact, he did not pay any mind to her 'masculine appearance' and instead treated her the same cordial way as he would any other female guest. She tells him that she is the one who should apologize, and explains that she was just surprised - everyone who typically sees her for the first time regards her with curiosity or mockery. This was the first time she had ever been treated 'normally'. Esperanza dismisses her apology, explaining that he finds women marvels of this earth. She tells him that he is wasting his kindness on her, and he wonders why others stare at her in curiosity - other than for her "extraordinary beauty."
Carla narrows her eyes, but finds no hint of condescension in his tone. Sighing, she thinks that he really is as eccentric as the rumors say - but that the rumors had been wrong to call him a "womanizing lecher." Indeed, the count has treated her to no prejudice whatsoever. Ashamed, she admits that sometimes she is ridiculed for her masculine appearance. Gripped by a 'strange emotion', she puts aside her own feelings and focuses on the mission, warning the count that should her mission end successfully it might cause him great suffering.
At Esperanza's questioning, she feeds him her cover story that she is here to "root out a certain criminal," and that the mission will pick at an "old wound" of the count's. The mission should hopefully prove that the "villain" has been shamelessly hiding in the count's own city this whole time. Esperanza mumbles to himself that he "thought this might be the case," and Carla coolly reveals that she is here to find the murderer who killed Gardi Dormentaire, Esperanza's own parents...and Esperanza's sister, Maribel Boroñal (whom Carla knows is really alive as Monica Campanella).
Some time after Carla leaves the mansion, she heads over to the Third Library's special archives and meets with Dalton Strauss, leaving her subordinates on standby outside. Under her breath, she remarks that this is rather a 'spirited library', judging from the laughter of the students on the second floor. Dalton replies that if they are bothering her he will go quiet them. Her gaze flits to the prosthetic hook lying on his desk, and thinks him rather like a pirate captain. Unintimidated, she reiterates the contents of a letter the Dormentaires had sent him earlier: that her delegation expects to be residing in Lotto Valentino for a long while, and that since her men might want to frequent the library she is here to ask Dalton permission for entry with the promise that they will not disturb the library's patrons (as a basic rule).
With a joking tone in contrast to his hard expression, Dalton points out that the delegation's mere presence defies the basic norms of the city. Still, he supposes it is a good thing that she is minding her manners, and asks if she intends to visit every institution in the city and introduce herself in a similar manner. Carla answers that that is exactly what she intends to do, with the exception of private residences and public facilities (not wanting to cause panic among the citizenry). She had decided to visit Dalton first because they'd heard that the libraries are deeply connected to the aristocracy, and that Count Esperanza is rather 'particular' with the Third Library.
Dalton, shrewd as ever, says that "in other words, you are here to clearly state 'We will be staying in this city from now on, so stay out of our way.'" Carla cannot deny his words, knowing full well the impudence of her own request; changing the subject, Dalton remarks that he has overheard her delegation is in Lotto Valentino to find a criminal. He wants to know if that's really all there is to her visit, and Carla asks if he suspects something.
He replies he would rather if she would desist answering his questions with more questions. Doing so is just as good as admitting that she does have an ulterior motive. However, he will not stand in her way as long as the Dormentaires do not disrupt the library's classes. Carla excuses herself and stands. reaching for the door handle. As she does so, Dalton finally grins and welcomes her to the city.
Later, Carla and her delegation stand in front of the black Dormentaire warship currently docked at the harbor. She sighs at the monstrosity of a warship, finding her situation absurd, and reflects on the journey from Spain to Italy. During travel, she had shared her living quarters with the same crewmen who made light of her and even almost assaulted in her sleep. She had been forced to toss a total of seven men overboard during the journey - though she always pulled them back aboard, not wanting to risk death for fear of rebellion. Over the course of those punishments, the crewmen eventually realized she was not one to be trifled with, and they eventually docked in Lotto Valentino without incident.
She looks at the delegation members standing before her, supposing that she is glad they follow her orders. Still...their mechanical stoicism in everything they did was so uniform and rigid it frightened even her. Uneasily, she thinks that it's almost like they're keeping watch over her.
Carla and the delegation set off through Lotto Valentino's bustling markets. She is acutely aware that she and her men are outsiders, ones breaking the 'tranquility' of the town and spreading anxiety wherever they went. As she walks, she thinks on Esperanza - though eccentric, he seems to be a good man, and though Carla would never say it out loud, she is already more fond of him than she is of the Dormentaires. And yet - walking through the streets, she feels an "ominous sensation" similar to the inexplicable unease she feels with the Dormentaire soldiers. Lotto Valentino only has one church, half-collapsed and on the outskirts of town, and she has yet to see a clergyman or person of faith. Furthermore, the city feels too orderly - its citizens are polite and lively, without the "muddled air" that pervades other cities.
Certain reports said that the city had once been plagued by a delinquent group called the Rotten Eggs, but they they appear now to be inactive. Carla thinks that perhaps the people are being forced to act orderly out of fear; then again, Esperanza doesn't seem like the sort of man who would rule with an 'iron fist.' She has no idea just who or what is controlling the city, and falls deeper into unease.
Carla then notices movement "from the shadow that had been tailing the delegation up until around the middle of the marketplace" - a pursuer so easy to notice (partly thanks to the noticeable rustling he made whenever he moved) that Carla almost suspected he was just a decoy to keep her distracted from a more skilled person tailing them. The pursuer's shadow disappears, and Carla wonders what "that was all about," noting that it looked like he'd been following them out of the library. Was Dalton behind the tail? Clearly Dalton was the sort of person around whom she must keep up her guard. However - was Dalton so impulsive as to send a tail after her that quickly?
The more Carla thinks, the more her head aches. She sighs again and thinks it's all just nothing but confusion. Although...I suppose this mission is an absurdity in and of itself. When she'd been assigned this mission back in Spain, she actually thought that she was being kicked out of service in a roundabout way. Immortality, rooting out deep hidden citywide secrets - she'd thought they were just fairy tales designed to send her off to the countryside and keep her there. The thought that she'd made some sort of mistake had nagged her throughout the trip to Italy. But now that she's in Lotto Valentino, filled with unease...perhaps those orders were sincere after all.
Still, the prospect of immortality is ridiculous. Carla looks around the harbor, and wonders when the Dormentaire spy is going to contact her. Everyone in town knows that the Dormentaire ship had made port, so the spy should make contact with them soon. At any rate, the pursuer and the public's attitude toward her delegation was enough to keep Carla on guard.
Several hours later, Carla finishes making the rounds between the harbor area, the marketplace, and several libraries. In a deserted alleyway, she runs into two men. One is a gentle bespectacled man, and the other stands with a peaceful grin adorning his features. Carla, surprised, wonders if the smiling man is the man who had been tailing her earlier. She asks if they have some business with her, and the tall gentleman says no, but it is a surprise to him that he'd run into the Dormentaire delegation in a place like this. He introduces himself as Maiza Avaro, and his companion as his friend Elmer.
Carla starts at the name - in Lotto Valentino, the Avaro family is second only to the Boroñal family in power. She says that it is an honor, and introduces herself. Testing the waters, she says that Maiza's friend Elmer appears to have been interested in the delegation for quite some time now, intending to get Elmer to react. Elmer's response shocks her: "Yes! That's exactly why I followed you!" Everyone falls silent, and he obviously adds that he might end up sneaking onto the Dormentaire ship.
Maiza muffles Elmer with his hand and excuses him as "somewhat confused," putting him to one side. He informs Carla that the townspeople are rather unnerved by the Dormentaires' presence and that he wants her to explain why her delegation is here, so that he can update the other aristocrats and try to restore some semblance of calm to Lotto Valentino. Carla replies that she's already informed Count Boroñal of their purpose, but Maiza says that it is rather difficult for other aristocrats to approach the man.
Carla is not unaware of the threat underlying Maiza's words, and she complies by giving him the delegation's cover story. She asks him as a "fellow aristocrat" to understand the position House Dormentaire is in. Maiza is relieved, and agrees before tapping Elmer on the head. He calls Elmer rather eccentric, and warns Carla that he might cause her trouble in the future so he (Maiza) will personally apologize for his actions in advance. He hopes that she will show him her kindness. The rest of the delegation exchanges empty greetings with the two and the delegation - led by Carla - exit the alleyway and out into the square.
There, Carla speaks with Niki, who has been sent to talk with her on behalf of Lebreau, the Dormentaire spy. Niki gives her Lebreau's message and Carla confirms it, adding that she will hear a more 'detailed report' at a later time. After Niki thanks her, Carla notes that she seems rather uneasy and asks if she has a problem with the delegation. Niki begins to tell her that she has some rather "mixed feelings" about the city, but squeals in fright when a pair of hands cover her eyes and a voice asks "guess who?"
It is Elmer, who receives an elbow in the ribs courtesy of Niki and falls to the ground. He yelps and laughs that he didn't expect her answer to be 'that strong'. He remarks that the English word for that joint is an 'elbow' and wonders nonsensically if the word is connected to his name - after all, it is only one syllable apart. If it makes Niki happy, he'll gladly change his name to Elbow - and he groans again, hunched over his ribs. Niki lights up as she recognizes him as Elmer. Carla looks on in confusion as Maiza joins them and Elmer laughs as he greets his old friend. "It's been a while, Niki. ...So have you found a place to die?"
A few months pass, during which time more and more Dormentaire soldiers make port in the harbor. The Dormentaires by this time have largely integrated into the local society, and the mood of the town has settled somewhat. During the first month or so, Carla's choice of clothing made her the subject of multiple rumors, leading to people sometimes attacking her as she made the evening rounds alone. Carla successfully fended off all her attackers, sometimes with vicious results (a few lost their wrists, others their ability to reproduce) and so the attacks died down after those first months. Now, towards the end of the year - most of the local men "cower in fear before her" and only ignorant greenhorn sailors attempt to jump her.
Carla runs into Elmer multiple times on the street during those months, and on several occasions personally stops his attempts to sneak onto the Dormentaire ship.
One night towards the end of the year Carla is heading toward the residence of Jean-Pierre Accardo with lantern in hand when she runs into Elmer out and about the streets. He loudly and cheerfully greets her, and she suggests that he should lower his voice, given that it is the middle of the night. Elmer chatters on about how he is so glad to have run into someone he knows, given how scary it is to walk by oneself at night. He doesn't know how to fight but he promises he is "great company" so Carla should relax and smile. Carla asks if he is drunk, and Elmer puffs out his chest.
Carla considers the man before her and how she still - even after all this time - cannot get a grip on his personality (deeming him a man "akin to a jellyfish"). She'd kept an ear out for him, given his connections to both the Avaros and the Third Library -- but she still has no idea whether or not he poses a threat to her mission. She asks him if he has some business with the resident of the building before them, and Elmer admits that he does, but it's too late now to bother him. He was just wondering whether he should come back tomorrow or sneak in.
Elmer is so nonchalant that for a moment Carla doubts she'd heard him correctly. Sneak in? Before she can interrogate him, the door to the building swings open and out emerges Jean himself, who asks if they have some business with him. Carla tells him that she's come to file a complaint about his newest play, concerned that part of the story had been modeled after House Dormentaire. Jean tells her that he only used the Dormentaires as a motif but the story itself was in no way related to the Dormentaire family. Above all, the play is a work of fiction. Carla, albeit dissatisfied, accepts his claim and goes away.
Several weeks later (in 1710), Carla and her men search the streets under the pretense of pursuing the criminal as usual. They day takes a turn for the unusual when Monica Campanella appears before them and announces that she is the criminal that they've been searching for. In reality, Carla had known all along that she was Esperanza's younger sister, and Lebreau's report had confirmed that she was the criminal who had taken Gardi's life. Carla had conveniently ignored this knowledge, since her real goal was not to capture Monica but to take over Lotto Valentino for the Dormentaires.
Monica's surrender, therefore, is an unwelcome and unexpected wrench in Carla's plans. She escorts Monica onto the Dormentaire warship and into its residential quarters - a simple room with no window, and cheap furniture (a bed, chair, and table total). Monica takes a seat at the table and rests her head upon it as Carla goes to fetch her food. When Carla returns, Monica thanks her and Carla tells her there's no need for thanks. Carla asks her if she really has no regrets, and Monica smiles and says "none whatsoever."
Carla narrows her eyes and observes the girl as she eats, thinking that Monica looks like an ordinary village girl with nothing that would belie her aristocratic origins. Carla mutters that she just "can't understand this" and looks Monica in the eye, asking her if she truly is the criminal the Dormentaires are after. Monica smiles softly and nods, stating firmly that she was the one who killed Gardi Dormentaire. Carla simply can't accept that Monica is a criminal. It doesn't sit right with her. She warns her that as the sister of Esperanza, her words will not be taken lightly as a jest. Monica whispers that if only everything had just been one big joke, "things would have been so much happier."
Monica goes on to "properly introduce" herself, stating that "Monica Campanella" was a pseudonym she was given ten years ago. Her true name is Maribel Boroñal, the phantom of House Boroñal said to have died ten years ago, and the one who stabbed Gardi to death. Carla processes what she's just been told - "Monica Campanella" was not some bastard child of a mistress - no, she was a full-blooded aristocrat, born to Esperanza's parents. However, the records back in Spain claim that Maribel Boroñal is dead - stabbed along with her parents by the same 'burglar' who stabbed Gardi Dormentaire all those years ago.
In reality, Maribel changed her name, abandoned her status, and began living a new life in Lotto Valentino as a novice alchemist.
Carla mumbles a question - why did Monica decide to reveal herself now? To Carla, Monica's surrender does not make sense if it was done out of guilt. It has been several months since the Dormentaires first made port, and Carla is suspicious about the spy's report - Monica does not look twenty, and she couldn't have been more than ten years old at the time of the incident. Carla cannot believe a young girl of ten was responsible for the deaths of three people. Curious, she asks Monica what happened that night - Monica says she killed Gardi, but what about her parents? Was that her doing?
Monica tilts her head questioningly at Carla's inquiry - wasn't it all planned by the Dormentaires? Carla is confused. Monica elaborates - by it she means the play that's currently showing in theaters. Wasn't Jean the poet-playwright working alongside the Dormentaires? Wasn't it Carla and her delegation that provided the script for the play reenacting that cursed night?
Carla pauses. The play that's being shown right now? She informs Monica that she recalls that the play was a tragedy about a noble's elopment. Carla herself had checked the script opening day, and there was nothing in it related to the ten year old murder. According to Monica, that was the 'first version' - the play that's currently in theaters is the play that she say only in name. Carla is dumbstruck, and Monica states that she will "confess everything. I will confess everything about my crimes--the story that being told in the play."
Monica tells Carla what happened in vivid detail. How she'd followed Gardi to a room during a Dormentaire party, how the naked body of another girl had been lying on the floor - how Monica had tried to run only for Gardi to cover her mouth and toss her onto the bed, squeezing her throat - and how her parents had ran into the room to save her. Going into a coughing fit, Monica had been unable to see as she struggled to regain her breath. And when her eyesight cleared, she saw her parents dead, stabbed by Gardi with a candlestick.
Carla's throat has gone dry by this point, and she wonders if these are things she is allowed to know. Lucrezia had never gone into detail about Gardi's death, and Gardi's name itself was "practically a taboo" in their conversations. That was why she had her suspicions about their spy's accusation, but the sheer weight to Monica's words is making it difficult for her to disbelieve her.
Monica continues her recounting. She says that it did not occur to her at the time that her parents had died - even though it was impossible for them to have survived their throat wounds. At that time, she had no idea people could die so easily. She'd grabbed hold of a lit spear-length candlestick and tried to save her parents, only for the candle itself to fall onto the floor. The bedsheets had caught fire, causing Gardi to turn in panic. And Monica had pierced him with the candlestick, splitting his flesh, causing his warm blood to spill onto her face. She'd called out for her parents, and then cried out for her brother as the flames grew higher and higher.
The Dormentaire servants rescued her, but she had not learned until much later that the man she'd stabbed was Gardi Dormentaire. According to her, the Dormentaires did not want an official trial to take place because they would have to reveal that Gardi had murdered her parents, two prominent aristocrats in their own right. Carla puts the pieces together and says that that was why they'd make it look like an unknown intruder was the culprit.
Monica goes on to say that the naked girl in the room had been 'bought' by Gardi...and that she (her body burned beyond identification) would be buried as Maribel Boroñal, stripping Monica of her aristocratic status. The Boroñal family lost most of its influence to House Dormentaire, and her brother Esperanza had agreed to their terms in order to protect her. And so, Monica says, he was kicked out to the Lotto Valentino countryside, where the Boroñals had a vacation home. More importantly, Lotto Valentino is a city that few aristocrats visit.
Carla inwardly sympathizes with Monica, but keeps her voice neutral as she asks Monica why she confessed her crimes. Monica supposes that since she's managed to elude capture by the delegation for months, her brother must have protected her yet again. She says that several months ago she'd fallen into despair and entrusted herself to Esperanza, not even caring that she might be caught.
Carla pauses. Esperanza had been the first person she'd spoken to in Lotto Valentino, and when she'd informed him that she was here to arrest the criminal he replied with "an understanding look" that she was hoping he would pretend to not notice the delegation out and about. He had said that he would give the delegation free rein as long as they did not drive him to choose between his loved ones and the people in his care.
Monica begs Carla to stop Jean's play. She is the one at fault; Huey has nothing to do with the current situation - he does not know about her past. Monica falls silent, overcome by desperate emotion.
Carla orders one of her men to bring her a copy of the current script, and she is enraged to find its contents completely different from the story she'd seen opening day. Suppressing her fury, she orders her men to find Jean-Pierre and bring him to her quick. But not even the full delegation - numbering by now at over a hundred persons - is able to find him.
Over the next few several days, Carla manages to bring a stop to the play's theatrical run, but through word of mouth its contents were already known amongst the citizenry. Although Carla's true mission hasn't been outed, Carla has no choice now but to accomplish her decoy mission. And since Monica the criminal is already in Dormentaire custody, the Dormentaires no longer have an excuse for staying in Lotto Valentino - which bodes ill, since the delegation had almost no leads concerning the city's secrets.
Carla considers deeming Monica 'mad' and releasing her, but she knows that things have progressed too far now. It is likely that the citizens - motivated by reward or curiosity - would end up pursuing Monica on their own if she were to be released. The most logical course of action would be to secretly kill Monica and claim that their culprit had gone missing, but Carla does not have the authority to execute such a plan. And besides - if what Monica said was true, Carla almost feels sympathy for her.
Carla wonders to herself how in the world Jean was able to write such a play - antagonizing House Dormentaire is one thing, but how did he know so much about Monica's past? Perhaps he had a connection to someone in the alchemy workshop, but then again even Carla hadn't known about Gardi's...preferences. And another thing - in the play, the hunt for Monica was ordered by "Gardi's sister," who resented the killer. In real life, Lucrezia (Gardi's sister) had of course told her that the hunt for the criminal was a cover up and not to be dealt with seriously.
Carla punches her cabin wall, overcome by restlessness. She is again struck by how terribly wrong Lotto Valentino feels, and decides to focus her efforts on arresting Jean.
At some point Carla writes to Lucrezia, asking her about Monica's fate. She'd expected two possible answers - that Lucrezia would either order her to kill Monica (an order that Carla would have reluctantly obeyed) or that she would order her to release the girl and return for now (at which Carla would have been overjoyed). But Lucrezia's response was unexpected - like she'd said before, Monica doesn't matter. Her fate is in Carla's hands. Don't forget the Mission. The decision is left up to Carla, and she wonders whether or not Monica would be able to live an ordinary life if she released her. Should she kill her?
Carla calls herself weak, unable to either kill or save Monica. In the end, she chooses to keep Monica in their custody, thinking that once their true mission is completed perhaps she can save her. She lets her men know that Monica is to be imprisoned on her orders, and that they must maintain secrecy on the incarceration.
Several months later, Carla is aboard the Dormentaire warship, doing paperwork. Looking over the stack of letters on her desk, she is determined to discern the secrets of Lotto Valentino - and she might have a lead. Apparently, someone called the Mask Maker is connected to the counterfeit gold. Her thoughts are interrupted when one of her men barges into her room and informs her that the city is under attack. Carla hurries out onto the the deck and is greeted with the sight of Lotto Valentino in flames. While she can make out citizens fleeing in panic, she can make out no signs of the culprits. Completely at a loss, Carla wonders if perhaps this is the work of the Austrians, that the War had arrived in Lotto Valentino.
She asks her subordinate if he can assess the situation with their colleagues in the other headquarters, and he exclaims that he believes it is in fact their headquarters that are the targets. No deaths have been reported, but reports claim that the arsonist is a 'mysterious masked man.' Carla is reminded of the term "Mask Maker" from the reports on her desks, but she shakes off the thought and sharply replies that this cannot be the work of an individual.
Carla realizes that she's on to something - that there are multiple Mask Makers, not just one - and she concludes that the culprits are targeting House Dormentaire. Her subordinate collapses, and Carla takes cover immediately. She'd heard no arrow whistle, or gunshot - and furthermore, there are no visible injuries on her subordinate. She then realizes that her own arms and legs have gone limp, and she is unable to stand. She looks over to the deck and sees the other crewmen have fallen too. Before Carla blacks out, she sees a well-built masked man appearing from a shadowy corner of the deck, upwind from the others. As she is unconscious, she and her men are carried off the ship and laid out in the harbor.
When Carla comes to, Maiza bends over her and asks if she is alright. She sits up and takes stock of her surroundings, realizing that she is no longer on the warship - which is floating slightly away from the harbor. A little ways ahead of it is another ship, smoke billowing from its hull. Outraged, Carla shouts at Maiza to tell her what is going on, and he asks her to calm down, noting that he has only just arrived himself. She ignores him and looks back towards her ship, floating further and further away from the harbor. She mutters to herself "So this...this is Lotto Valentino's answer," and Maiza asks her what the burning ship is, exactly.
She explains that it is a second-hand ship the Dormentaires purchased here. The only ones who should have known of their ownership of it would be Carla herself, several of her men and....their spy. Maiza exclaims - a spy? What was the Dormentaires' true purpose for being in Lotto Valentino? Carla stops herself from answering at the last second, and wonders if the drug had dulled her thought processes, leaving her vulnerable to spilling information to the enemy.
In a hostile voice, she accuses him of assuming she'd answer his question, and declares that Lotto Valentino is now the Dormentaires' enemy. There is no need for words or kindness on his part. She warns him to remember that he and the others have turned against House Dormentaire, and although she does not know if he understands the implications or if he's truly oblivious to what has transpired, it is clear that the city has made its choice. She advises him that he ought not to be so careless as to think that Lotto Valentino will still be standing in a year's time.
Still, she cannot help but give Maiza some mercy. She tells him to go find the citizens and tell them to flee elsewhere.
Following Monica's death, Carla ceases smiling. Elmer notices this and begins following her in the hopes of making her laugh. Every time he speaks to her, Carla would give him the same reply: "Silence. You alchemists are my... House Dormentaire's enemies." Elmer does not give up, and continues to follow her. One day, Carla tells him that if he wants to see her smile so much, he should give her some information on the local alchemists. The next day, Elmer (telling her to keep them to herself) brings her a large quantity of technical notes from the Third Library.
Carla feels a chill at Elmer's determination, but forces herself to smile and tells him that "from this point forth, you will move as directed." Elmer says that she shouldn't force herself to smile, and concludes that he'll just have to find her more information. With that, Elmer continues to follow her until he eventually becomes a Dormentaire spy, reporting to her the local rumors and other sundry information.
By 1711, Lotto Valentino's harbor is filled with Dormentaire warships and every building is adorned with flags and signs bearing the Dormentaire crest. The warships themselves are linked together like a seaborne fortress. Carla (still in charge of all Dormentaire personnel in Lotto Valentino) approaches Victor Talbot and Szilard Quates standing on the harbor - two alchemists sponsored by House Dormentaire who have been sent to the city to figure out the process behind the counterfeit gold and claim it for the Dormentaires. She listens to Victor object to the floating fortress - how does something so massive stay afloat? What about the tides and the storms - and makes her presence known, apologizing that even the Dormentaire delegation does not know how it works.
Victor acknowledges her and asks who exactly designed this monstrosity in the first place. She replies that it was an engineer from the Strassburg family (see Trivia); they'd been ordered to follows his plans exactly but not even their workmen could comprehend its intricacies completely. Victor recognizes the man as that "machinist living on that island up north" and shrugs, turning his gaze back to the colossus. He derisively says that the engineer must be "even crazier than the rumors make him out to be" creating something "like this." He asks Szilard's opinion, and Szilard hmphs that they should be more in awe of House Dormentaire for bringing those plans to life.
Szilard turns to Carla and asks whether she's arrested the Mask Makers yet. She admits that they'd captured several men affiliated with the Mask Makers, but they were nothing but thugs who had no idea as to whom their leaders were. Szilard hmms over the word "thugs' - he finds it hard to believe that someone who employs "such worthless creatures" would be capable of producing such high quality counterfeit gold. To emphasize his point, he pulls out a counterfeit gold piece from his pocket.
Carla is certain that the Mask Makers' leader is behind the counterfeits. The drugs were originally commissioned to local alchemists by some of the aristocrats, and they are no longer being circulated. Furthermore, the influx of counterfeit gold has been decreasing since last year too. Victor shrugs and figures that the leader is either dead or has skipped town. Or he is in hiding, says Szilard, and he points out that he and Victor can't do anything until Carla finds them clues to decipher. In any event, he'll take matters into his own hands. So saying this, Szilard boards the Dormentaire ship.
Victor spots men dressed in anachronistic full suits of armor and scornfully comments that it is as if the city's "gone back in time a couple hundred years. What is this, a stage play?" Carla murmurs that his judgment may not be all that inaccurate - theatre is just about the only entertainment this city as. Victor says he's going to take a look around the city and asks if there's anything he should keep an eye out for, not wanting to make trouble.
Carla replies that though the residents seem to want the Dormentaires uninvolved in certain things, there is really only one thing that might prove trouble to Dormentaire operations. With her eyes averted, she tells him what that would be: "One must not look down on women while in the presence of the governor. That is all."
Some time later, Carla receives word that another explosion has taken place in the Dormentaire food stores (the first explosion had taken place somewhere that also housed firearms). She races to the scene, mind filled with images of last year's arson. Noting that it had been exactly one year since that day, she cannot call this incident a coincidence. Arriving at the storehouse, she asks the guards if the Dormentaires have been attacked. One of them stutters and says no, they hadn't seen anyone while standing guard. And if they were inside, they'd be charcoal by now.
Once the blaze is extinguished, Carla and her men investigate the scene and learn the the explosion had originated somewhere near the middle of the storehouse. Carla turns to Szilard and Victor (who had accompanied her to the scene) and asks for their opinions, suggesting that perhaps it was some sort of delayed detonation device. Victor thinks on it and says that such a device is certainly possible, but what bothers him is that several places went up in smoke at the same time. Perfect device synchronization would be impossible.
Szilard pokes at the rubble with his cane and picks up an object hidden under pieces of burnt shelf, which he deems to be part of a clock. He presumes that the mastermind combined explosives and clocks in order to "ignite multiple locations at a predetermined time."
Szilard and Victor continue talking, and Szilard determines that this was a warning to the Dormentaires courtesy of the Mask Makers. If they choose to ignore the warning, well, Szilard believes that they may well find explosives planted in their satchels. Victor eventually turns to Carla and confides that someone responsible for this destruction likely won't stop with "half-hearted warnings," and that they should expect more to come.
Ten days since the first explosive pass. Carla (who suspects that alchemists are behind the incident) goes to the Third Library alone and asks Maiza if he really does have no idea who is behind "these incidents." Maiza does not. If he did, he would have told her or attempted to stop the culprit himself. He assures her that he will do everything he can to help her stop the incidents from happening, and Carla counters that they have no need for his help. After all, just as she'd told him a year ago, the entire city - including Maiza and the alchemists - is the enemy of House Dormentaire. Although she admits that she might have gone too far when she said they would wipe Lotto Valentino off the map.
Maiza demurs that the Lotto Valentino he knew is already no more, and Carla responds that he must truly hate the Dormentaires. She thinks that he actually has plenty of cause to want to attack them, but Maiza only smiles and shakes his head. He says that he does not hate them, that in fact he's never had much love for this city. Perhaps it is for the best that they have taken control of it...although he never wished flames to lick its streets.
Carla, with gentle sympathy, says that Maiza ought not to concern himself with such matters. If nothing else, he can curse his own fate for being born into such a place. Maiza's eyes widen as he points out that he thought he was also under suspicion. Carla agrees that he is her enemy, but only because of his involvement with Lotto Valentino. Otherwise, he seems like a man she can trust. Maiza says that she is much too kind, and that he is powerless to do anything for his hometown.
Carla asks if that is why he is running away, and at his reaction she explains that she's heard he plans to leave the city soon for the New World with other alchemists. She quietly warns him that as long as the alchemists continue to be her top suspects the delegation will not allow them to set sail, even if Esperanza gives them permission. She advises that he pray the culprit is discovered before he leaves.
Although Carla has no need to feel guilty over her actions, there is remorse deep within her heart, and she finds herself saying "if we should ever meet outside this city, perhaps in the New World... Let me buy you a drink."
The next day (afternoon), Victor and Carla stand aboard one of the seaborne fortresses' decks, looking down upon the burning remains of Szilard's ship. Victor confirms with Carla that the previous day's targets were Szilard's ship and a manor on a hill. Carla confirms that he's correct and that there were happily no fatalities from either incident, although Szilard and Gretto Avaro received minor burns. She tells him that Gretto was sent to the Meyer alchemist workshop for treatment - coincidentally the workshop that House Dormentaire sponsors. Carla reveals that she's ordered their spy cease activities for the moment, but since they are still sponsoring the workshop, they're maintaining contact with their spy, since he still works in the workshop. They usually have Niki (the Meyer family maid) pass messages between them. Now that the Mask Makers are attacking the city, she'll have need of their spy once again.
Victor, on the topic of people their spy associates with, says that he's more and more convinced that Lotto Valentino is awful (especially after talking with Niki) and that he'd have liked to go somewhere nice. Like Naples. Carla can't fully agree, and Victor concedes that the patisserie lady was nice and that he's heard good things about others like Esperanza, though it doesn't seem like the "bastards" here like him.
Carla understands full well that Victor despises the Lotto Valentino residents from the bottom of his heart, and she supposes that's why he's been mixing with the foreign alchemists (Nile, Denkurō, and Zank Rowan) so much. Victor then qualifies his statement about Esperanza, saying that doesn't mean he isn't a 'crackpot'. He'd better go speak with him in person. Carla doubts that Esperanza will be well-inclined toward him, since the governor is only sincere with women.
Victor asks if that means Esperanza has "opened up" to her, and Carla chuckles wryly, saying that he shouldn't tease her so - although it is true that the governor greeted her courteously and without comment on her occupation or appearance, unlike Victor. A churlish Victor scowls that she doesn't need to keep reminding him about that and he's apologized for their first meeting plenty of times already. He's sorry enough about it - Carla had trounced him, Lucrezia had mocked him, and he definitely learned his lesson. And on the topic of Lucrezia - Victor's face softens, and he mumbles that she'd take great delight in mocking him now were she here to see what was going on.
He looks out toward the horizon, and remarks that Carla had told him Lucrezia was supposed to arrive today by ship. They talk about Lucrezia and her lovers, and at one point Victor wonders how in the hell Lucrezia is able to move so quickly during wartime. He labels Lotto Valentino as "freaking terrifying." After all, Austria's already taken over Naples "just a stone's throw away," but everyone here in Lotto Valentino is so calm. "Oh, a war? What in the world is that all about?" The city's being "jerked around" by Horse Dormentaire, the Mask Makers are stirring up rebellion, and in general the city's full of it. "Lotto Valentino's one hell of a godforsaken town."
Victor changes tunes and says that he'll keep Lucrezia safe when she arrives...although he'll tell her to return home as soon as he sees her. Carla states firmly that he ought to leave Lucrezia's security to her and her delegation and pay attention to his own duties.
At some point that day or earlier, Carla prepares countermeasures for a possible attack on the harbor, and orders that no other ships launch until after Lucrezia's vessel (when it arrives) docks safely.
Sunset arrives, and Carla stands on the harbor as Lucrezia's ship comes into view. Victor stands nearby alongside Nile, Denkurō and Zank, trading friendly barbs with the three as they watch the ship. And then, to their horror, an explosion rocks the Dormentaire ship and sets it ablaze. Carla tries to prepare a Dormentaire ship to sail as Victor clambers aboard another ship, whips out a pistol and roars at the sailors to ready the ship and in the next moment another explosion sparks and the ship is blown to pieces.
Carla falls to her knees on the deck of the Dormentaire ship, her face pale as she watches the debris scatter across the waves.
Around five days pass. Carla and many Dormentaire soldiers gather in the Third Library. The men are distressed that the city's alchemists appear to have gone missing, even the three foreigners. They bicker amongst themselves, and one freshly scarred soldier finally cries out that the alchemists must still be in hiding and they all should burn the library down - drive them out like rats. The men fall silent, and Carla finally speaks up and tells them to "stop this." Fire won't be any use of them, so they ought to not take any unnecessary actions.
The soldier accuses her of being too soft, and declares that this is why "you just can't leave this kind of work to a woman. They're too sympathetic." The man grows more arrogant when she remains silent, and since after the explosion Carla is guaranteed to lose her position he sees no need to bow his head toward her.
He starts to lambast her - reminding her that as Dormentaire soldiers they are obligated to corner the accused alchemists even if it means burning the city to the ground. He sneers that perhaps she's found a "handsome alchemist" for herself, but before he can continue his tirade Carla thrusts her hand into his mouth, tears open the corner of his mouth, and throws him to the ground with incredible strength. Blood spews from his wound.
Lying on the ground, the man's garbled attempt at an apology is ignored as Carla slams her armored heel into the man's mouth (causing several of his teeth to snap off). As she begins reprimanding him, she twists her metal heel deeper into his mouth. She coldly informs him that because "Lady Lucrezia desires it," Lotto Valentino will become a possession of House Dormentaire. Though right now it is public property, it will belong to Lady Lucrezia. The matter of her life or death is irrelevant.
Completely detaching herself from her emotions, Carla continues to drive her shoe into the man's mouth. She declares that no one has the right to burn the books and materials that will soon belong to her lady, and finally withdraws her heel when she is certain that the man (his face afresh with new wounds) is unconscious. She turns to the frozen soldiers and orders them to take him to the fortress' medical wing.
Looking upwards, she thinks of Maiza and mumbles to herself that he can try and run, but she will make certain that the Advena Avis does not leave Lotto Valentino.
Several days later, Carla is in the middle of patrolling the city when several explosions go off right before her eyes. She orders the soldiers nearby to assist in firefighting and rescue operations, and she returns to the floating fortress in the harbor. There, she demands that her men update her as to the situation, but none of them can supply her with the specifics. However, reports soon trickle in regarding the details. It turns out that the explosions themselves are being set off in places that had already been besieged by explosions over the last two weeks, leading to almost no casualties--although people are suffering injuries thanks to the ensuing stampedes.
Carla sighs in relief at the lack of fatalities and dispatches more soldiers to the conflagrations. A man runs in and informs her that The Mask Maker has been spotted, fleeing through the streets. Carla thinks to herself that there must be a reason for the Mask Maker appearing out in the open-perhaps as a decoy? Then what is he distracting them from? Another soldier comes up to her and informs her that there's trouble -- the Advena Avis is on the move.
Carla heads down to the harbor and climbs to the top of a low smoking building (accompanied by Dormentaire men) as the alchemists board the Advena Avis. When Maiza - the last alchemist on the harbor - turns to board himself, she leaps off the roof and lunges at Maiza with her sword. Maiza draws his knife and deflects her blade. As two of her guardsmen bore down upon the ship, Carla offers Maiza a "...not bad" as the two step away from each other. She reminds him of her promise to keep the Advena Avis from sailing, and he asks that perhaps she wouldn't mind turning a blind eye just this once.
Carla orders him to keep quiet, leaps into the air, and charges. He parries her attack easily with his knife. Nile and Denkurō (having dealt with the two guardsmen) descend from the ship and join Maiza on the docks. Denkurō informs Maiza that they won't leave without him and Nile tells him to return with Denkurō to the ship. Maiza says to Carla that they'll only shed blood needlessly and asks her to back down. Carla counters that he has no right to say that when they've let loose a decoy in the city to act as bait in their stead.
Maiza furrows his brow in confusion and asks her what she means. Carla stops and looks into his eyes, finding no evidence of a lie - not to mention, she believes that Maiza is not the sort of man to use another as bait. She takes a moment to reconsider - if the Mask Maker has nothing to do with these alchemists, she might lose the person responsible for sinking Lucrezia's ship if she tarries at the harbor. But...she cannot back out now.
She tells Maiza that it's a shame; she would have preferred to speak with him on different terms, and he expresses the same sentiment. Seconds later, several spheres shatter against the ground, spreading fluid that ignites and subsequently creates a wall of flames between the group and the Advena Avis. Carla turns and is shocked to see ten people standing on the rooftop she'd leapt from earlier, all dressed in the garb of the Mask Makers. Several explosions sound in the distance and she turns to see the floating fortress ablaze in its entirety. She exclaims "you...so it was you all along!" realizing that The Mask Makers must have been responsible for sinking Lucrezia's ship. She glares at them with fury, but they ignore her, pointing Maiza and the others in the direction of the Advena Avis.
Maiza and Denkurō exchange glances, and then clamber onto the ship. Nile's objection is fruitless as Denkurō grabs his collar and drags him aboard as well. Denkruo calls to Zank (at the helm) to depart, and at Nile's fierceness he points to a warship that had detached itself from the floating fortress. He cries out that the Advena Avis is unarmed. If the other ship opens fire, the alchemists are done for.
Carla bellows accusations at the Mask Makers, but they remain silent. She wonders where the Dormentaire musketeers are, and attempts to figure out another way to climb onto the rooftop. To her shock one of the Mask Makers lightly leaps down from the roof and Carla orders them to remove their masks and disarm themselves, noting that the air now smells like peaches.
The Mask Maker approaches them and removes her mask, revealing herself to be Lucrezia. Carla and her men drop their weapons and fall to their knees at the sight of their mistress, and tears well in Carla's eyes. Lucrezia giggles at how adorable Carla's face is, and remarks on the typical stony-faced visages of the men. She looks around and asks where on earth Victor has gone to--she was so looking forward to seeing the expression on her face.
Lucrezia fills Carla in on the specifics surrounding "this incident," and Carla wipes away her tears of joy to begin furiously berating her mistress. She asks a pouting Lucrezia what in the world she was thinking - had she any idea how much damage she caused for her own ends, how many people she'd indirectly injured?
Lucrezia protests that in Victor's letters he'd said the locals were all awful people and so she thought she'd give them a little scare. Carla points out that the injured Dormentaire soldiers outnumber the injured locals, and she asks Lucrezia what if a child or an innocent outsider had been caught up in the explosions. Did Lucrezia have any idea how anxious the alchemists were?
Lucrezia smiles brightly and lets her know that "that" was a Dormentaire plan from the beginning. Since Lotto Valentino was built for alchemists, the Dormentaires intended to take over their research but allow the alchemists themselves to scatter before other nobles or countries got hold of them. And anyway, Carla is perfectly aware that this was all quite tame by Dormentaire standards, so why does she look so mad?
An irate Carla reminds her that they are pillaging the city, and that there is nothing tame or otherwise about such actions. And then: "Yes, Milady, I will do anything to get a hold of the objects of your desire. But there was no need to go this far and turn yourself into the villain, even deceiving me in the process! Have you any idea how worried I was..."
They hear several low explosions from the city, and Carla expresses her surprise at more bombs being discharged. Lucrezia comments that it is strange - the fortress was supposed to be the last of the explosions. Carla seizes the opportunity to highlight the events as an example of how things do not always go to Lucrezia's plans, and continues to lecture the sulking Lucrezia while the city burns.
- At the end of Crack Flag, Lebreau (Fermet) tells Jean that he has spoken with Carla and they have decided that Lebreau will take care of Monica's child. It is unknown if he actually spoke with Carla or not.
- The engineer from the Strassburg family would be Carnald Strassburg, a famously accomplished individual from Growerth, an island off the coast of northern Germany. The fictional island is the setting of one of Narita's other light novel series Vamp!, in which Carnald is often referenced as Growerth's only famous talent.
- According to Elmer, Carla always smiled after talking with Maiza, when she thought no one was looking.
- It is unknown whether or not Carla was ever given part of the immortality elixir; her fate has not been detailed yet in the narrative.