|“||Once everyone is in the Abyss, the Nightray family can live happily together again!||”|
—Bernice's warped reasoning
Duchess Bernice Nightray (ヴァーニス＝ナイトレイ, Vānisu Naitorei) was the wife to the head of the Nightray Dukedom, Bernard Nightray, and mother to the five legitimate Nightray heirs: Fred Nightray, Claude Nightray, Ernest Nightray, Vanessa Nightray and Elliot Nightray. When The Head Hunter began beheading her children, Bernice was distraught, having her mind crack under the burdens of loss. While in this vulnerable state foreigner Isla Yura "coiled himself around her", warping her mind and inviting her to join his Cult. Bernice conspired with Yura to undergo an event called "The Feast", where Isla Yura's Cult would perform a mass sacrifice as part of a ceremony that would plunge the world into the Abyss. Bernice's tragic tale was only concluded when she attempted to sacrifice Leo, thereby prompting Humpty Dumpty to take action to protect the vessel of Glen Baskerville's soul - forcing Elliot to impale Bernice before he could behead her.
Bernice married the heir to the Nightray Dukedom, Bernard Nightray, at an unknown point, thereby joining the Four Great Dukedoms alongside her younger brother. Together, Bernice and Bernard had five children, Fred, Claude, Ernest, Vanessa and Elliot, whom Bernice cared for dearly.
When a boy was found before the Nightrays' Door to the Abyss, barely alive, Bernice welcomed him when Bernard announced his decision to adopt young Vincent into the Nightray family. Gilbert had been adopted by Bernard sometime later, as the brother of Vincent, and Bernice loved them both as if they were her legitimate sons. However, unbeknownst to her, when Bernice or Bernard were not around, Fred, Claude, Ernest and even her own brother would attack Gilbert and Vincent viciously.
After Gilbert formed a Legal Contract with the Nightray family's Black Winged Chain, Raven, Fred was found murdered, headless, in the streets of Reveil, witnesses calling that the assailant the Queen of Hearts or the Head Hunter. Bernice was devastated, even more so when her brother was also decapitated by the Head Hunter. Not long after, Gilbert was poisoned by the Head Hunter, nearly dying from the ordeal himself. Bernice's sanity crumbled, and so a foreigner moved in on her, wanting to get close to the Four Great Dukedoms.
Isla Yura told Bernice of his goals to plunge the world into the Abyss, warping her mind to believe that the Abyss was a golden paradise where she could be reunited with her family and the living and the dead could live together in perfect harmony. In an act of desperation, Bernice believed Yura, developing a hate for Pandora for keeping the existence of this Abyssal paradise from people who she believed had a right to know in order to have their souls saved. She joined Isla Yura's cult, which allowed Yura to approach Bernard in order to strike up a deal. Together, she and Yura expanded the cult and made the necessary preparations to recreate the Tragedy of Sablier in order to make the world fall into the Abyss.
Bernice's two remaining eldest sons vowed to hunt down the Head Hunter and kill her for what she had done by targeting the family and destroying Bernice's sanity. One day, Bernice was escorted out of the Nightray mansion safely by Elliot as it burned to the ground, this was when it was discovered that Bernice's sons, Claude and Ernest had also been decapitated, their bodies lying in the center of a massacre of guests of the Nightray mansion, and so Bernice was driven further into the clutches of Isla Yura.
While Bernice distanced herself from the Nightray family, she was known to still care deeply for what was left of her family, and after Gilbert left the Nightray mansion and vowed never to return, Bernice was know to often keep Gil at the mansion by force if he ever did return to visit Vincent or for any other reason he may have had.
The Feast Arc
The Head Hunter showed herself for the first time in a few years when she destroyed one of the Sealing Stones and killed three people protecting it, Elliot escaped the Nightray mansion with Leo in order to get answers. Bernice was frantic over the thought of losing another one of her sons to the Head Hunter, and so she and Vanessa feverishly searched for Elliot, also sending out valets to help them search Reveil.
As the keeper of the broken Sealing Stone had given Oz a box with clues to the location of the next Sealing Stone, Rufus Barma came to the conclusion that the Sealing Stone had something to do with Isla Yura, prompting him to have Pandora summon Isla Yura to their country as a witness to the situation. Yura later visited Bernice at the Nightray mansion, also speaking with Bernard in order for Bernard to try and find out some information on the Sealing Stone that Yura was rumored to own, although he failed to do so.
Yura later met with Rufus and whilst Oz spied on the two, Rufus offered to introduce Yura to Oz, as Yura was a big fan of Jack Vessalius. After meeting, Yura invited Oz to his mansion, however Oz informed him that he couldn't go to Yura's mansion without a Coming of Age Ceremony to introduce him into society, which would never be able to happen because of the Baskervilles. Yura then suggested having the Coming of Age Ceremony in his mansion, which would allow Pandora to come along and search the mansion for the Sealing Stone. However, Oz was unaware that he had just supplied Yura with the final components that he needed to recreate the Tragedy of Sablier.
Bernice attended Oz's Coming of Age Ceremony, although she did so in secret as part of Isla Yura's cult, which soon used Humpty Dumpty and the orphans of the House of Fianna to sacrifice all the nobles in the ballroom for their ceremony, also setting fire to the mansion and blocking the exits so that no one could escape
Oz wakes in a room far from the Seal, where he is greeted by Bernice. Phillipe was asleep in her lap and she explained that she had brought Oz and Alice away from the Seal because she'd seen how much pain it had caused them. Oz asks what Bernice and the cult were playing at by using such young children, Bernice began to answer when Isla Yura entered the room with more members of his cult. He explains that it had been his goal all along to reenact the Tragedy of Sablier, and when Oz brought up the subject of the Coming of Age Ceremony, he unintentionally brought Yura all the components her still needed to reenact the Tragedy of Sablier.
Oz argues that the Abyss is a prison of darkness, although Bernice called him a liar, as did the entire cult. Bernice claimed that the Abyss was golden place of salvation where the living and dead could exist happily together and that because Pandora kept the Abyss hidden from the public, many don't get saved. She then explains that they were wretched people who only cared about themselves, and as such they were sent to the fake Abyss, the dark prison, like the illegal contractors, and how the cult's purpose was to lead people into the true Abyss.
Isla Yura adds that the Tragedy of Sablier was a tragedy only because the entire world wasn't plunged into the Abyss, only a few 'lucky' people. Phillipe then begins to whimper in his sleep, and the Illegal Contractor's Incuse appears on his chest, Yura explains that if anyone were to get in the way of their sublime rite, they'd be beheaded by their Humpty Dumpty. Leo is then delivered to Isla Yura by his cult and Yura explains that he was another part of the Ceremony, being the blood of a friend. Before Leo and Alice are kidnapped by Yura and his cult, Yura reveals to Oz that he doesn't actually believe in what he's told his cult, and that he's only been collecting the Cult's money for his own personal gain.
Bernice takes Leo when the cult transports Alice and Leo, and she and some other members head to a separate area to perform "the miracle". Elliot arrives and kills all the cult members aside from Bernice, who he is stunned to see his mother. When she asks him to come closer so they can kill Leo together, Elliot freezes. He makes an attempt to get through to his mother, telling her of Vanessa's death and about the experiments being held at The House of Fianna, with Yura reaping its benefits. Bernice seemed to believe him at first, but as soon as Elliot mentioned that Humpty Dumpty is the Head Hunter, his mother slapped him and denied it. Elliot suddenly felt pain as Humpty Dumpty emerged, and as Bernice was about to sacrifice Leo, Elliot unintentionally stabs her with his sword.
Just like with Claude and Ernest, Bernice was fatally wounded, but not dead. That is until Humpty Dumpty appeared and decapitated her, which lead Elliot to the discovery that he was in fact the Head Hunter.
AppearanceBernice's appearance would suggest that she was middle aged when she died, yet significantly younger than her husband. Bernice Nightray's attire consisted of a flowing black dress and a black corset covering her torso, with a thinner ruffled black material at the ends of her sleeves as well as around the neck line of the dress. Over top of her black dress, Bernice often wore a robe, blood red in color, to mimic the Baskervilles as this was customary for all members of Isla Yura's Cult. Like Elliot, Bernice had lightly tan colored hair, rather long in length with her bangs styled to the sides of her face to flow down the frame of her body until reaching Bernice's midsection, as well as the same blue eyes as Elliot. Finally, around Bernice's neck she wore a chain which had a small stopwatch hanging from it, which had a leaf covered vine-like etching in its side.
Bernice's personality is kind, motherly and nurturing, as she cared for not only Elliot, but Phillipe, Oz and Alice as well as if they were her own children. This aspect of her personality shines through when Oz asks her what the cult was doing using the orphans for their personal gain, which made Bernice pause and appear to feel guilty about the concept. Bernice was polite and calm when she spoke, rarely raising her voice in conversation in order to make a point, something which other members of her family quite often did.
Although Bernice seemed innocent enough, she proved otherwise when she displayed her broken sanity, believing that that Abyss would bring salvation because it would reunite her with her deceased family members and that Pandora was her enemy for keeping the Abyss hidden from the public. This was because of Isla Yura's manipulative prying when Bernice was spiraling into depression and facing desperation for something to be able to return her fallen family members to her.
While Bernice did not fight often, she was shown to wield her weapons in a reverse-grip style, similarly to Isla Yura, as shown when she went to sacrifice Leo to the Abyss during the second Coming of Age Ceremony.
Bernard and Bernice were married for many years, and together raised a large happy family. Unfortunately, Bernard's only dedication lied with his want to clear the Nightray family's name of their traitorous title that they had earned during the Tragedy of Sablier. Following the deaths of his three eldest sons and his brother-in-law, Bernice broke down completely, mourning the loss of her children. When Isla Yura came and offered her an alternative in order to reunite with her lost family members, all in pursuit of approaching Bernard, Bernard saw nothing wrong with using his wife's connection with Isla Yura to further development in their Chain experimentation being held within Sablier. Bernard would later use this connection once again in order to try and get information regarding the Sealing Stones from Yura, however he failed and continued to allow Yura to manipulate his wife, while pretending like nothing was wrong in order to cover up his partnership with Yura.
While Bernice was known to love her only daughter dearly, Vanessa's opinion of her mother was not good. Following Fred, Claude, Ernest and her brother's deaths at the hands of the Head Hunter, Bernice was stricken with grief. In Vanessa's opinion, her mother had lost her sanity, and her feelings of detachment from her mother grew even more when Vanessa discovered that her mother had fallen for the manipulative lies of Isla Yura.
Unlike his elder sister, Elliot was known to have been on good terms with his mother. He cared for her, helping her escape the Nightray mansion as it burned to the ground following Claude and Ernest's assassinations, and even trying to write a song to give to Bernice for her birthday to make her feel better, although Elliot was unsuccessful. Elliot was shocked to find his mother in preparation to sacrifice Leo to the Abyss, and although he tried his best to change her mind by explaining the situation's reality to her, Bernice stopped listening to Elliot and slapped him upon hearing him accuse Humpty Dumpty of being the Head Hunter. This lead to Humpty Dumpty's stand against Bernice to save Leo, taking over Elliot in order to have Elliot impale her with his sword. Elliot was shocked by this and felt the pain when he discovered he was the Head Hunter following his mother's death.
- "Have you come to Oz-sama?"
- "Are you feeling quite well? We thought you might find it painful being near the Sealing Stone, so we carried you to a room away from it..."
- "Liar... liar. What a liar... you are..." (Bernice responds to Oz calling the Abyss a place of darkness).
- "The Abyss promises to... bring us 'salvation'! It is a golden paradise where we shall be freed from all bonds... such as the shackles of time and the horrors of death. It is a place where both the living and the dead alike can reside in happiness. Yet Pandora desperately hides the existence of the Abyss and attempts to monopolize its blessings."
- "Everyone's soul cannot be saved that way. Thus, pitiful individuals who live only for their desires... are taken to the false Abyss, like Illegal Contractors, and punished. So we shall guide everyone to the true world... in Pandora's place."
- "You have come at the perfect time, Elliot. Come over here... and let us welcome this miraculous moment... together."
- "Let me go, Elliot. You must not interfere with our mission."
- "It will soon be time. If we can Shepard the world into the Abyss. everyone can live happily together."
- "How dare you. Humpty Dumpty is a holy power sent from the Abyss so we can realize our mission." (Response to Elliot calling Humpty Dumpty 'the Head Hunter').
- "...see? You are being punished for getting in our way. Watch quietly from over there. Vanessa's death is sad indeed, but... not to worry. When we go to the Abyss... we can all smile and live together once more."
- "...E... lli.. ot..." (Bernice's last words)
(*) - Denotes that the character did not appear physically, but as a part of another character's memories.
- Bernice's birthday was only a week after Oz's second Coming of Age Ceremony.
- Bernice's favorite flower was the statice, which acted as the inspiration for the naming of Elliot's composition - which was originally meant to be a gift for Bernice before he instead gave it to Leo.
- Bernice seemed to lack the malice for the Vessalius family that Bernard had taught their children.
- Bernice's personality is based on the character of The Carpenter from Through the Looking Glass And What Alice Found There, because of her seemingly equal partnership with Isla Yura (The Walrus) which had ended with him manipulating her into helping control the orphans of the House of Fianna whilst he reaped all the benefits.
- Bernice's name was misspelled as 'Vernis Nightray' in Pandora Hearts 18.5: Evidence.
|Previous Dukes/Duchesses||Raymond Nightray (†) • Bernard Nightray (†) • Bernice Nightray (†)|
|Previous Members||Fred Nightray (†) • Claude Nightray (†) • Ernest Nightray (†) • Vanessa Nightray (†) • Elliot Nightray (†)|
|Adoptive Members||Gilbert Nightray • Vincent Nightray (†) •|
|Previous Valets||Leo • Hans (†) • Echo (†)|
|Chains||Raven • Dormouse • Humpty Dumpty (†)|
|Abyss Worshiping Cult|
|Previous Leader||Isla Yura (†)|
|Previous Members||Bernice Nightray (†) • John (†) • Helen • James (†) • Orphan I • Orphan II • Phillipe West|
|Previous Allies||Bernard Nightray (†)|
|Previous Chains||Humpty Dumpty (†)|