|R.O.D the TV episode|
|"Heart of Darkness"|
|Episode no.||TV 09|
|Airdate|| November 1, 2003 (Japan)|
December 9, 2004 (US)
|Previous episode||"Seduced by the Night"|
|Next episode||"A Christmas Carol"|
Nenene accidentally meets up with the Paper Sisters while they're on a mission, learning about the girls' side job when not guarding her. New faces appear as factions fight for an ancient artifact; confusion erupts as players change alliances and a darker side is revealed.
Nenene meets with two old schoolmates at a reception dinner. They decide, after the dinner is over, to go to some hot springs run near an ancient burial mound.
In the woods, a lady and her bodyguard are hiking towards the hot springs mountain. It's revealed that the man is Drake. The woman is presumably from the British Library; she's returning to Japan for an artifact so important that she would risk Dokusensha finding her. Drake voices his concern over this, but the woman tells him that his job is to simply protect her.
The ancient tomb is now turned into a tourist destination. Unknowingly, Nenene, the Paper Sisters, and Drake and his charge (revealed to be Alice Alice Arquette) converge in the same restaurant, with Junior looking on. Only when Mr. Kim finds and shows the girls Alice's photograph does Maggie recognize Alice. The sisters are about to attack when Nenene interrupts, surprised to see them. Drake takes advantage of this by throwing his tea at them; Alice follows up by overturning and kicking the table, knocking over drinks. Drake and Alice flee, closely pursued by the Paper Sisters and Woo-san, themselves chased by Nenene. Lee notices something about Drake's and Alice's tactics.
Alice leads Drake to a dead end, but opens a secret wall. Woo-san gets in before the wall closes, and Nenene catches up with the sisters. Maggie breaks down the door and the three run after Alice and Drake, leaving Nenene behind.
Alice and Drake are trapped at a gap when the sisters catch up. Drake points his gun at Anita, but Michelle realizes that Drake won't fire. Alice throws one of Drake's grenades, breaking the island they're standing on and getting them across while the girls fall. Maggie throws Anita to safety, where Nenene grabs her, as she and Michelle plunge into the gap. The older sisters survive the fall, but are separated. Alice briefly chides Drake for his inability to shoot, but won't be displeased as long as Drake does his mission (to protect her).
Sonny Wong has arrived, and Mr. Kim tells him that the two know how to fight paper masters. He gives Wong permission to kill them both. Later Maggie meets up with him; Wong largely ignores her, although he surprises Maggie with his immense power.
Nenene asks Anita why the girls never told her about this, and if the missions are always this dangerous. Anita doesn't seem concerned, knowing that her sisters are much stronger and probably safe, and continues with Nenene in tow.
Michelle has fallen into a cavern, but is blinded by the dust. Junior finds her and, without revealing his identity, leads Michelle to a pool of water to clean her eyes. Junior leaves before she finishes washing out her eyes; Anita and Nenene find her soon afterwards.
Alice and Drake have arrived at the hot springs, where there is a shrine. Alice strips to enter the water and retrieve it. When Drake asks what it is, she hesitates, then tells Drake that it's 'a key to unlock a new world'. Instead of leaving immediately, Alice instead bathes for a while in the hot springs, commenting on the water and irritating Drake.
Drake is shot at by a paper arrow and takes cover, ordering Alice to stay in the water. Michelle has arrived, demanding the treasure. Anita jumps Drake from above, but Drake throws her off, knocking off her paper holsters in the process. He then throws a grenade in the water, soaking their paper.
Alice is out of the water and warning Drake about a third one when Wong appears, landing in the water himself. Maggie flies in to Michelle's position and Drake points guns at Anita and Wong. He tells Alice to run and orders the others to drop their paper in the water. The girls comply, but Wong reacts by throwing paper around the cavern. Drake is badly injured protecting Anita instead of Alice, to the latter's dismay.
Drake, realizing that they have no chance, offers the key in exchange for their lives. Instead, Wong kills Alice, impaling her on a giant paper claw. Enraged, Drake tries to shoot Wong, but he easily blocks the bullets. Wong sends a paper drill at Drake, but Anita jumps in the way, using her holsters to block the drill.
The girls and Nenene rush to Drake to protect him. Nenene comments to Wong, "You seem to be the most powerful Paper Master I've ever seen. But also the filthiest!" Unperturbed, Wong moves to take the key as Drake wades into the water to hold a dying Alice. She tells him to push the stone switch in the small shrine to make the hot springs erupt like a geyser. With her last breath, she fires Drake and tells him to go home to his daughter.
A masked Junior suddenly appears, grabbing the key. Wong tries to hit him, but his paper flies right through Junior's body. Drake is shocked when he recognizes the ability. The girls recognize Junior only as the masked attacker in the school library, but are also surprised by the ability. Junior escapes with the key, unscathed.
In revenge, Drake detonates the geyser, attempting to drown everyone after a warning.
The girls meet Mr. Kim afterwards. He's disappointed in their failure, but tells them that Dokusensha isn't stingy and will still pay them. Anita pitches the money vouchers at Dokusensha's departing car.
- Ironically, as Nenene and her two friends are talking about Yomiko Readman and the three sisters, the MC in the background is talking about love overcoming all difficulties.
- Mr. Kim mistakenly believes that Alice has The Book of the Essential Blood.
- It can be guessed that Nenene knew something about Yomiko's agent life by how she reacts to Anita.
- Some traditional hot springs require patrons to be completely naked when using them, not even a bathing suit, as the bath is difficult to clean when they're worn.
- Drake makes his trademark 'my unlucky day' remark.
- Junior's and Wong's abilities are revealed in this episode.
- After Wong's attack, Alice's body does not show any signs of injury except for the blood from her mouth. Earlier, she was impaled at least once through the stomach.
- The episode ends revealing that Drake survived the hot springs as well.