|“||I'm not speaking to the crazy cult leader; I'm talking to the crazy man who took me as his wife. Listen. People get hurt and suffer pain, and that pain makes them stronger. You want to know why I have it together right now? It's because of you and your little followers. And this is for the crazy cult leader: Die weak and die numb, you fucking son of a bitch.||”|
Celice Artia (シリス・アーティア, Shirisu Ātia) is a private investigator working for the European detective agency St. Crystelle Firm. In 2002, she infiltrates the religious cult SAMPLE as Miss Lucotte Diaz (ルーコット・ディアス Rūkotto Diasu)—only to forcibly wind up the temporary 'wife' of Bride, the cult's leader. Under the influence of drugs, she is herded aboard the luxury cruise liner Exit, where she eventually regains her senses and takes her revenge on Bride.
Personality[edit | edit source]
Celice has some degree of confidence in her skills as a professional, enough so that she feels comfortable enough to quietly make fun of the SAMPLE believers when she's in the church.
Though initially shattered by the events she witnesses at the hands of SAMPLE, Celice is ultimately a strong-willed individual, declaring to Bride that all the trials he'd put her through had only made her stronger in the end, and she is completely willing to get revenge on him for his monstrosities.
After her ordeal, Celice is filled with nothing but hatred for SAMPLE.
Chronology[edit | edit source]
After graduating from Hillrom University, Celice promptly found employment with St. Crystelle Firm—a European detective agency—and earned her colleagues' trust by doing both legal and illegal jobs.
One month in the summer of 2002, Celice's boss taps her shoulder and says that she has a new assignment: a client has approached the agency because their son had joined a religious organization and eventually ceased regular contact with his parents. She is to infiltrate the organization and investigate. He hands her a CD-ROM with the details and tells her to listen to its contents before deciding whether to accept the job; he has no intentions of forcing her to take on a job 'like this'.
The CD briefs Celice on SAMPLE, a cult that partakes in child abuse—worshiping a child's screams of pain or their death itself in gratitude for the child "taking on all the misfortune in the world." She decides to take the job and adopts Miss Lucotte Diaz as an official cover identity. The application process is surprisingly easy; the only question she is asked is who referred her to the organization.
After three days, Celice is finally allowed to meet the leader of the organization. Dressed in the red and black garb of SAMPLE, Celice waits alongside other SAMPLE members inside a church in Tokyo, Japan for the leader to arrive.
When the moon reaches its apex, a young man enters the room, accompanied by a dozen white-clad children and four adults clad in red-and-black uniforms: two women, who appear to be secretaries; a large gorilla-esque man; and a masculine figure whose entire head is wrapped in bandages. The young leader blames his lateness on video games, asks the utterly sedate congregation to 'settle down', and then acknowledges he is not much of a speaker. He asks the believers to welcome newcomer Miss Lucotte to the fold with a round of applause.
Celice steps forward and thanks him. The man informs the congregation that Celice grew up in England and that her hobby is baking cookies, babbling that he can also bake cookies but is too afraid to let others try them. Celice inwardly deems this man 'pathetic', doubting someone like him could really be this group's 'founder'—though she still sees the group itself as little more than eccentric.
Then the man remarks that 'Lucotte' graduated from Hillrom University—but this is the alma mater of Celice, not 'Lucotte', and Celice is horrified as he subsequently invokes the detective agency's title. He moreover identifies her as an undercover agent, inviting the crowd to applaud her bravery; the onlookers do applaud, much to Celice's confusion. Finally the man introduces himself as Bride, the "forty-third 'founder'" of SAMPLE, and simpers that it is a pleasure to make her acquaintance.
Celice's mask of calm crumbles. Meanwhile, Bride talks a bit about SAMPLE's faith and shows her their sacred texts—loose-leaf papers, some of which are blank—before announcing he will now 'become' the founder. His two secretaries hand him two syringes, which he plunges into his neck simultaneously. At Ccelice's alarm, he explains the 'glucose solution' helps him properly act as a leader; then, he moves to the altar, removes his glasses, and leans back. His joints crack; his groan becomes something like a scream, and when he falls silent, Celice notices all the followers' expressions have gone blank.
It is here that Celice concludes she made the wrong decision. Bride finally turns around and re-greets her by her real name, diffidence vanished, before inviting the congregation to sing. As he begins conducting the children in a tuneless song, Celice observes the children wear headphones over their ears and blindfolds over their eyes. Furthermore, their hands have been bound behind their backs, and their feet are restrained by chains.
Although their voices seem to lack emotion, Celice is certain that the children are screaming. The congregation seems to find the singing euphoric, much to Celice's repulsion. Bride does as well; once the children fall silent, he approaches Celice and declares she will have to become his temporary wife until he has found his "true heart's desire," at which point they will divorce and he will grant her a gentle death.
A group of seven or eight armed Southeast or East Asian men burst through the front doors. With a single shriek, Celice retreats. Bride remarks at her side that these men are not allies—both groups had a "little trouble" with each other the other day, the others are as much foreigners in Japan as Bride's congregation. Since the men intend to kill them, Bride commands his congregation to fight back.
Carnage ensues for a full half hour. During those thirty minutes, Celice watches the SAMPLE followers fight with serene smiles—even when they are terribly injured. The smiles unnerve her; as the bloodbath begins winding down, she scoots on her rear until her back finds the back wall while Bride delivers a speech nearby—by the time the speech is over, the fight has essentially come to an end. Bride notes to Celice that SAMPLE believers do feel pain; they simply strive not to suffer from it. So saying, he stabs a syringe into her neck.
The syringe's contents effectively render Celice a 'shell'; she is unresponsive from this moment forward. Bride retrieves his glasses, once again diffident, and leads her toward the exit—mumbling that they are at least man and wife as far as doctrine is concerned, official paperwork notwithstanding. His secretaries procure several photographs of his spouse and god candidates, which he shows to Celice—whose mind remains absent—as they walk.
Once outside the church, Bride opens the door of a waiting car and lays Celice on its backseat. He sees the bandaged ma off, enters the car, and instructs his driver to take them to Orihara's place.
In August, Celice, her 'husband' Bride, and about two hundred SAMPLE members prepare to board the luxury cruise liner Exit in Yokohama Harbor—gathering in the waiting rooms of the harbor's terminal building alongside other passengers. Still barely conscious due to being continually drugged, Celice 'responds' to everything Bride says with a mere monotone "...Yes." Bride praises her for being an excellent wife and interim priestess before kissing her. For a brief moment, Celice is lucid; she screams, struggles, and is knocked unconscious when one of the secretaries delivers her a karate chop. Bride hands her off to the gorilla-esque man; since they are surrounded by SAMPLE believers, the scream summons no concern.
When they reach immigration inspections, Celice 'passes' by doing what Bride tells her to do and successfully boards the ship in the role of Bride's 'sickly fiancée." She is then taken to her and Bride's suite and laid atop its bed , which results in her regaining a bit of sanity. However, by the time night falls, she has not moved. As she lays there, hugging a change of clothes to her chest, she is too overwhelmed by the memories of the church bloodbath to plot a means of escape.
That she can hear Bride speaking to his two secretaries—something about Viralesque on Entrance and Immortals—does not help; his voice goes through one ear and out the other while the memories replay in her head. Eventually Bride breaks away from the conversation and attempts to leap on top of Celice—citing "quality husband-and-wife" alone time—only to fall short, his side slamming into the bed's corner. After some flustered excuses, he offers Celice his hand and suggests the reception party will cheer her up. In the meantime, during the few days she will live as his wife, she should try to experience as much agony as possible.
The pair presumably spend some time at the reception in the party hall, where acrobats and a live orchestra entertain diners in a celebration of the voyage's first day. Later—two and a half hours after leaving their suite—Bride and Celice attend a magic show by Luchino B. Campanella at Ristorante Cuculo. When Luchino invites audience member Sylvie Lumiere to participate in a trick, Bride films them with his camera while Celice sits dazed at his side.
At some point after they are back in the suite, Celice stands at vacant attention in a corner of the room while Bride confers with several of his liaisons: he suggests they truly start on day three and until then spread their 'colors' throughout the ship. Throughout the second day, SAMPLE believers accordingly go about their business wearing SAMPLE's red-and-black pattern.
When evening falls on the third day, pandemonium breaks out on Exit. Celice remains on the bed while Bride—now dressed in his red-and-black lab coat—listens to gunshots and screams via his radio. Attending him are his secretaries and the white-clad children; in response to Bride's stimuli, the children begin to 'sing'. The children's scream-song triggers Celice into reliving the experience at the church massacre, a traumatic memory so intense it shocks her out of her stupor.
Realizing that Bride and the others have left her alone, Celice fights through her fatigue to totter out of bed. She dons a red-and-black dress, and, upon checking the hallway is empty, exits the suite. Of all the memories etched in her mind the past few days, one surfaces in particular: that of Sylvie at the magician's performance. Celice breaks into a run, desperate to save Sylvie and herself from Bride. As she runs, the P.A. system crackles to life—and a self-professed Mask Maker announces his group has taken over Exit and is planning to crash it into Entrance in roughly fifteen hours. But the voice echoing through the corridor is no stranger's voice—it is Bride's.
Celice manages to survive the next few hours undetected, though this is not entirely ideal: the ship is accelerating, meaning that the collision may happen sooner than Bride predicted, and she still has yet to find either Bride or Sylvie. When she wanders into the shopping mall, however, she does discover Nile and Denkurō Tōgō—two of the immortals whose photographs Bride showed her and are now displayed throughout the ship—speaking with a group of ordinary passengers in front of the fountain.
As she shuffles over to them, Nile—bloodied—reacts to her SAMPLE clothing by raising his blade. Denkurō catches his arm—stopping the blade in the nick of time—and has Nile notice Celice's expression is filled with fear and despair. The shock of nearly losing her life sends Celice crumpling to her knees; where Denkurō apologizes via handing her a handkerchief, Nile apologizes via severing his offending hand in remorse. Although startled by the sight of his hand reattaching itself, and on the verge of passing out, Celice manages to say that "they" are after Sylvie, the men's companion. This is concerning enough for Denkurō to run back to the immortals' cabin with Celice in his arms.
Hours pass until noon, the predicted time for an early collision between Exit and Entrance. The ships decelerate on their approach and crash into each other's left sides near their bows, the impact shuddering through both ships—and both swing back and repeat the process about ten times, each contact less severe than the last. Five minutes pass to find both ships still rocking but ultimately still afloat.
While rockets are launched and clashes continue, Celice is looking for Bride. The ships are rocking toward each other by the time she has reached the deck—the edge of which Bride is sliding off. He manages to grab the lowest part of the railing, but Celice—having shucked off her loathsome dress—races to seize his hands before he loses his grip. Firmly supporting his wait, she sarcastically credits him and his followers for her mental clarity right now; then, with a grim smile, she invites him to die weak and numb.
The ships bear down upon each other once more. Celice does not let Bride go until the moment before impact—an impact which cleaves Bride's arms from his body. Although Celice hears no scream, the crunch and trajectory of his bloody limbs satisfy in its stead.
In the aftermath of the incident, Celice overhears an upset Claudia Walken rage to her brother over SAMPLE kidnapping Illness, vowing that she will hire a private detective to find her missing friend. Celice asks if the siblings are in need of an investigator; introducing herself as Lucotte, she says her friend Celice works at a large detective agency that might be able to help. Moreover, 'Lucotte' herself has a personal score to settle with SAMPLE; so saying, she hides her hatred behind a false smile.
It is stated that the retainer's fee and Hollywood connection Claudia provides Celice will later cause her to ascend the ranks in her company at an exceptional rate.