1912, Atlantic Ocean.
Nicholas de Brabant is standing at the rail of the Titanic looking out over the sea when he is approached by a well dressed, poised, confidant young woman with a French accent. To his surprise, she taunts him pertly with his irresponsibility in travelling so indiscreetly with mortals, and reveals that she knows what he is. She has, she admits, a fascination with danger—and the occult. Telling him that her name is Claire Gibson, she offers him a few drops of her blood as introduction, drawing it from her wrist, which she scratches with one of her long finger nails. Once she has him sufficiently fascinated, she asks for his help.In her stateroom, she shows him a small bejewelled statue of the Buddha carved out of black stone, and tells him its story. It had been removed from a temple, and its subsequent owners all lay under a curse of vengeance; but its value lay not in its jewels, but in its power to grant its owner's deepest wish. Napoleon had owned it, as had Louis-Philippe. Its immediately previous owner had been an opium lord with a crippled daughter—who now walks perfectly. Claire had paid two million dollars for the Black Buddha: she wished for immortal youth; and, if Nick would grant her wish by bringing her across, she would pay him with the statuette. As for the curse, that was why she had decided to travel on the safest ship afloat.
Nick is intrigued by the story of the statue's magic powers: perhaps the Buddha offers him hope that he too may get his heart's desire: a return to mortality. But there is a sudden crash, as the Titanic hits an iceberg.He leaves Claire Gibson in her stateroom and goes on deck to find out what is going on. When he returns, rather out of breath, she is staring at the Black Buddha statuette. He assures her that there can be no danger; but she is unconvinced, since they would not otherwise be putting the women and children off in the lifeboats. To Claire, this clearly indicates the curse at work: the ship is unsinkable, but it is going to sink: it could be no accident. Furthermore, there aren't enough boats for the men.
Believing that it is the curse that caused the collision, and that she is therefore responsible for the impending deaths of so many passengers, Claire asks Nick to kill her instead of bringing her across, for she feels it would be intolerable for live for eternity with the guilt for so many deaths.
They go on deck, where Nick obliges her by draining her before the Titanic sinks. But, curse or no curse, he takes the statue with him when he leaves the ship.