As the Iblis continues its advance on Carthage, Ion Fortuna is in the infirmary on the airship Raguel. Meanwhile, Sister Esther Blanchett has finally met Father Abel Nightroad in the catacombs beneath the city. Abel is glad she is there, because the computer needs the touch of a human before it will run the program to stop the Iblis. She finally tells him that, even in his Crusnik form, she isn't afraid of him, and Abel thanks her and gets her typing the code into the computer while he assumes Crusnik form and battles the creatures trying to kill him and stop her from entering the cancellation code.
After the foes are defeated and the code entered, Abel's touch activates the program, and he only realizes, after laying a clawed hand on the panel, that he is still in Cruisnik form, and still, to his own eyes, a monster. But once again, Esther tells him that she isn't afraid of him, and lays her own, smaller hand, atop his own as a gesture of trust.
A week later, the papers talk about the good fortune of the natural storm dissipating before it reached Carthage, which amuses Lady Caterina D'Sforza. Meanwhile, Father Tres' eyes have been repaired, allowing him to see again, and a laser has even been added to his arsenal. Meanwhile, at sea, Ion, Esther and Father Nightroad have been sailing to the Empire, across the Mediterraean sea. But Abel has been constantly sick all the way, but they find a man in the sea, who just manages to climb on board before passing out. He is Vatican agent Hughes de Watteau, and he tells of how he was tracking smugglers before he was washed overboard in a storm. The Smugglers soon catch up with them, and try to capture the boat, but Hughes, also known as "Sword Dancer" stands up to defend them and capture the smugglers.
In the Empire itself, forces are aligning both for and against the travellers. The Emperor sends Lady Astharoshe Asran, who once worked with Father Abel in Venice, to meet and help the travellers, but members of the Rosenkreuz Orden, who believe that humans deserve only to be ground beneath the feet of their betters, also known as the Vampires, are working to undermine any friends the humans may make, including Count Ion.
When Ion arrives, he immediately goes to see his grandmother, only to find her house in a shambles, her servants all dead and her burning. In fact, the house burns down around him and he barely escapes. When he does, he is accused of causing his grandmother's death and the burning of her house and servants by the Yenciri, a group of vampire enforcers that works for the senate of the Empire.
Ion and the others run, and are saved by the timely intervention of Astharoshe Asran, who vouches for them and takes them back to her home. Meanwhile, though, machinations go on in the background, where Ion will be accused of his grandmother's death before the entire council when it sits in session on the morrow. The plotters mean not only to bring down Ion, but the Emperor as well, and turn the Empire into a new place, while the old burns down to ashes...
Out of one frying pan and into another for Abel and his companions. While the Emperor wishes to set up friendly relations with the humans, obviously, not all of her subjects feel the same way. We never get to see the Emperor, but animals seem to be attracted to and unbothered by him(?), which leads to questions as to who the Emperor is and what he or she looks like.
This series is extremely intriguing and keeps you guessing. The art is visually stunning and easy to follow, even the fights (which is not always true for all manga), and the character designs are amazing. Both are excellent reasons to read this series, and I know I will continue to.