- For the Anime adaption, see Berserk (2016 Anime).
The story follows Guts and his friends as they make a desperate pilgrimage to the Tower of Conviction, where Casca is being held captive. All the while, the Chief Inquisitor of the Holy See, Mozgus, impedes their progress at every turn, and a mysterious creature plans on invoking another Incarnation Ceremony to change the world which resurrects Griffith in his corporeal form.
Taking place after the events of the Black Swordsman arc, Guts' quest for revenge leads him to rescue and protect a girl named Jill while hunting the apostle Rosine, Jill's friend, in the Misty Valley. Succeeding, but badly wounded and exhausted, he is overtaken by the Holy Iron Chain Knights, and subsequently escapes after he and the knights' leader, Farnese, are attacked by spirit-possessed beasts. When Guts learns from a dream that Casca is in imminent danger, his search for her brings him to the holy city of Albion. There, numerous events culminate in Guts defeating the inquisitor Mozgus and his disciples after they are turned into powerful Pseudo-Apostles by the Egg of the Perfect World. Moreover, Guts succeeds in rescuing Casca. In the midst of the chaos caused by these two branded individuals being in close proximity to one another, and the Egg of the Perfect World invoking the Incarnation Ceremony, Griffith is reconstituted in the physical world using Guts' and Casca's child as his vessel.
Lost Children Chapter
The Elves of the Misty Valley
"On that day, the dead Sun hung over all the nations": A mother pilgrim and her daughter watch the end of the Eclipse. She fears it is a bad omen and begins to pray with her daughter when the Holy Iron Chain Knights ride past. One of the knights, Serpico, asks his Vice-Commander Azan his opinion with regards to the attractiveness of the mother pilgrim which Azan dismisses with disgust while wondering how Serpico could think of such things given the "miracle of our solemn and dreadful God" they have witnessed. Serpico quietly understands why the older Azan remains single. Their female Commander Farnese commands their silence, and Serpico teases Azan for making her angry. The Holy Iron Chain Knights discover the lake of blood with the dismembered and partially eaten remains of the Band of the Falcon. One knight reports that this is the prophesied "red lake." Azan retells the prophecy: after the Sun dies five times, a red lake will appear to the west of a city with both an old and new name. This proves a "fifth angel" will appear. Farnese complete the retelling by identifying the "fifth angel" as "the Hawk of Darkness" who as the master of the sinful will rule the blind sheep and call down upon the world an age of darkness.
Two years after those events, a group of bandits sit during the rainy night at the foot of a tree with a young girl tied up nearby. They lament the poverty of the times that has limited their haul but believe they can sell the girl into sexual slavery. One of them, a small rat-faced bandit, tries to rape her, but she knees him in the groin to the laughter of the others. The apparent leader of the bandits relays a tale to the rest of his men: the tree behind the group was once used by heretics to commit ritualistic sacrifices by nailing their victims' exposed intestines to the trunk and forcing the victim to run around the tree. When they doubt his story he points out the numerous nails in the tree trunk. He also feels that the "bumps" in the bark resemble human faces. The recovered rat-faced bandit decides to reenact the ritual with the young girl. Suddenly, a glowing burr strike his hand. He looks and sees Guts sitting behind the same tree glowering at him. While Guts complains about his inability to catch any sleep, the rat-faced bandit challenges him only to have his boast silenced by Guts' knife cutting his tongue. Guts ignores the man and asks the leader if his story is true. The leader affirms it, and Guts laments his choice of shelter from the rain. He warns the dumbfounded bandits to leave; however, they take this as a challenge. Guts quickly smashes the face of the leader with his metal left hand. The rest stand between him and the tree and tell him it is too late for him to beg. Guts, feeling his brand begin to bleed, agrees it is "too late." The "bumps" on the tree's bark become faces of actual spirits that attack and begin to devour the bandits.
While the surviving bandits flee for their lives, Guts saves the girl from the tree. The spirits recognize Guts as a "sacrifice." Ultimately, Guts manages to use his Dragon Slayer and cannon to destroy the monster. The Sun rises, and the spirits depart from the shattered trunk. A small portion of a root comes to life to threaten the girl, but the glowing burr strikes it and releases its spirit. Puck appears to her to take credit for yet another patented elvan secret technique. Now safe, the girl screams at the sight of him, thinking the elf to be from the Misty Valley.
Meanwhile, the leader, rat-face, and two others bandits flee only to find themselves enveloped by a mist. Multiple bright lights fly around them. These appear to be insect-like elves. When the leader declares that this cannot be a "kid's fairy tale," a human-sized insect-like elf informs them that they are, indeed, in a fairy tale.
The girl calms down and brings Guts and Puck back to her poor village. The girl, named Jill, returns to her mother, who is tearfully relieved to reunite with her daughter. However, Jill's father Zepek, a bitter and drunk war veteran drinking with other drunk comrades, becomes enraged when Jill responds to the demand to buy them more booze by rebuking him for constantly reliving a battle he lost long ago and never thinking about her or her mother. He knocks her down with his cane and blathers about the war and his "bum leg." Jill glares back at him as her mother begs her to apologize. Zepek knocks his wife aside to beat Jill further for her opposition.
Puck intervenes to stop the beating. The sight of an elf stuns Zepek, who announces to the entire village that Guts has "an elf" with him. While Jill protests that Puck is not an elf from "Misty Valley," the village men surround them. One demands to know if Puck's "kind" eats crops. They demand Guts hand over Puck. Guts states this is fine by him, to Puck's rage, but he wants to know why first. An old woman attacks him from behind; he easily dodges her. As she lays on the ground, she demands he return her granddaughter. Guts suspects killing one or two of the villagers will calm them down as he stuffs Puck into his pouch. Puck and Jill separately try to get them all to stop. Guts creates a diversion by attacking barrels on a cart, and he and Puck make their escape.
As they hide, Puck rants about the response of the villagers to a "cute" elf while Guts wonders when he made his pouch his home. Jill finds them and directs them to an abandoned windmill outside the village. Guts advisers her not to visit them during the dark if she wishes to avoid a repeat of the previous night.
That night, in her home, her father beats her mother for failing to provide drink fast enough. One of his cronies announces he needs to urinate. He walks drunkenly towards her room; she bars the door. He pounds on it repeatedly before giving up. In despair, she leaves through her window and runs to the windmill. She arrives as daylight breaks through, and she sees attenuated spirits above the exhausted Guts. Puck advises her to leave him alone for awhile. Jill sits with him.
A last tentacled spirit with a large eye crawls above the sleeping Guts. He crushes it with his iron fist. He awakes to find Jill sleeping with her head in his lap. She is woken by a sleeping Puck falling from his perch and landing on her head. Guts and Puck learn from Jill that her village has been plagued by a series of attacks from murderous elves coming from the Misty Valley in the east. Puck vehemently protests that elves would not do that. After Jill's frightening revelation, as night approaches "elves" attack the village. Seeing the "elves" for himself, Guts manically smiles as his brand bleeds, revealing that they are Pseudo-Apostles.
The flying insect-like creatures quickly skeletonize a dog then attacks cows and other livestock. A family tries in vain to barricade their home against the creatures. Their son watches them break through and devour his family. Jill's drunk father beats her mother for suggesting they go outside to search for Jill.
In the village, Guts finds the boy, later identified with the name "Thomas," being chased by the insect-like creatures who call him to play with them. He orders the boy to stay down while he uses Dragon Slayer to swat, crush, and slice the creatures. The swarm halts their attack for a moment and continue to call the boy to play with them. Behind their doors and shuttered windows, a few peeking villagers marvel at Guts. During this pause, Guts gets a good look at the insect form of these "elves." He laughs at them then asks if the boy wishes to be with them or gain revenge for his parents. The boy chooses the latter. Jill and Puck arrive to see Guts using the boy as a lure on Dragon Slayer to bait all the fake elves into a run down barn to the horror of the peeping villagers. Inside the barn, the "elves" declare the chase "boring" and transform more fully into insects. Guts cuts the loft supports to bury the creatures in hay, throws a small bottle of gunpowder into the pile, and then fires his cannon arm before escaping with the boy.
Outside as the barn burns, Guts compliments the boy for his ability as a lure then instructs him to watch: "bugs burn real nice." Jill and Puck soon see a child-sized elf with moth features who is the same figure who confronted the fleeing bandits. Since his brand bleeds, Guts concludes the figure as an Apostle. She calls herself an "elf," and Jill identifies her as such, but Puck does not believe she is an elf. Guts tosses throwing knives at her which she easily deflects. She then calls upon her minions whom Puck feels resemble something other than elves. Before he can finish his thought, the Apostle flies at Guts and dusts him with her poisonous wing powder. Puck flies to Guts and tries to argue with Guts not to harm the "elves" further since he senses they are all human children.The Apostle regards Puck for a moment. She calls him "Peekaf," scolds him for helping a human, then declares he must be punished. As Guts becomes overwhelmed by the effects of the poisonous powder, Jill jumps in between him and the diving Apostle, whom she calls Rosine. The Apostle stops, says, "Jill?" then flies away with the rest of her minions. Guts collapses from the effects of the poison. To make matters worse, a villager accuses him of destroying his barn and provisions. Others condemn him for using the boy as bait. The weakened Guts can only laugh and ask if any of them bothered to unlock their doors when the boy fled outside. While chagrined, the villagers insist he return Jill and Thomas to them. To make matters even more worse, the villagers see in the barn the bodies of children burning. Guts realizes the creatures transformed back when they died. Concocting "a change of plan," Guts seizes Jill and holds his knife at her throat.
Puck pleads with Guts not to anger the villagers further; however, the villagers are able to see him and conclude Guts is on the side of the elves. One villager tries to attack him; in deflecting him Guts slightly cuts Jill. With Jill as a hostage, Guts slowly makes his way through the crowd. Once safely outside the village, Guts releases Jill and tells her to go back home. An enraged Puck screams at Guts for cutting Jill; Guts simply grabs Puck, shakes him to release his healing dust on her wound, and then tosses him away as he apologizes to Jill. Suspecting Guts heads towards the Misty Valley, she requests to join him as she knows the Apostle. Guts refuses and explains that her friend is no longer human and he is about to kill her.
Puck follows Guts ranting about his behavior towards Jill. He stops when he notices Guts' blood on the ground. He asks Guts to show him his wound, but Guts acidly replies that he never made Puck his "pet," and orders Puck to leave him. He then grabs the protesting Puck and tosses him into the grass. A sulking Puck then sees shows pass him.A sick Guts tries to tend to his wounds as the memory of the burning bodies of children haunt him. He eats cocoa leave to help him stay away in what he can only assume will be a "long night." His brand begins to bleed.However, what appears in the fire is not a malevolent spirit but the Demon Child. Crying burning children float in the fire around the Child. This sight shocks Guts. He demands of the Child if he brought them. Meanwhile, Jill runs in the night with Puck on her head giving directions.
A crying burning child tries to embrace Guts. He cuts down the child, vomits, then rages at the Demon Child. The Child rises in the flames and disappears before Guts' sword smashes his campfire. Facing a night of fighting the spirits of children, Guts enters into a rage. Jill and Puck come upon him in this state. As they watch in horror, a spirit of a child approaches Jill from behind asking for his mother. Guts turns and nearly strikes her. Instead, he protects her with his body as the burning child spirits finally grab on to him. He flees holding her off the edge of a small cliff.
As the sun rises, Jill wakes to finds herself lying directly on top of Guts who asks her to sprinkle Puck's elf dust on him so he may heal quickly. He then ask her who is Peekaf. Jill tells Guts the sad story of "Red-Eyed Peekaf," and explains that it was Rosine's favorite. Rosine had confessed to her that she often felt just like Peekaf. Jill continues with the story of her friend Rosine, an older girl who collected all sort of things including an "egg-shaped stone that looked like a human face" by a river bank. Jill comes to understand that Rosine avoids her parents since they abuse her and each other. She is later revealed that her mother conceived her out of rape by an enemy soldier. Eventually, becoming consumed in the story of Peekaf to the point of comparing herself to the protagonist, Rosine runs away to the Misty Valley where the elves supposedly live leaving her "treasures" to Jill. Rosine's parents disappeared a few days later. Search parties failing to find any trance of her or her parents. Jill looked through Rosine's belongings but could not find the strange stone. Soon after, the "elves" began attacking the village.
Once Jill ends the story, Puck confirms the stone from her story is a Beherit. Guts then shocks her by explaining that Rosine used the stone to summon angels to transform her into her current state after using her parents as sacrificial offerings. Guts warns Jill that they are not in some child's fairy and to not get in his way again or she will die. Jill tries to slap him; Guts tells her to stick with child's fairy tales and leaves. Puck pursues raging at Guts' failure to treat children like children. Guts calmly makes a stone cage, stuffs Puck into it, and leaves him observing that Puck never learns.As Puck tries to comfort Jill from his cage, Rosine appears with her minions confirms her identity to Jill. A short distance away, Guts feels his brand start to bleed. Rosine invites Jill to Misty Valley after telling her minions that Jill is a friend. As Rosine embraces Jill to fly away with her, Guts suddenly appears and attempts to strike Rosine down. Rosine dodges still holding Jill but loses the long "tail" of her left wing. She screams in pain as her face changes to a more insect-form. She screeches to her minions who also transform in to their more insect-form to attack Guts. Jill begs Rosine to stop. Rosine falls silent and flies away with Jill.
Puck confronts Guts with the question that he intended to kill Jill as well. Guts dryly asks him would it matter if he did. Puck flies into rage and strikes Guts repeatedly on the nose with another patented elf attack. As Guts rubs his sore nose, Puck unleashes invective upon him. He declares Guts lower than a zombie and abandons him. Left alone, Guts wonders if he held back in his attack.
With Jill enchanted by the bird's eye view, Rosine tells her that she can have her own wings if she joins her and becomes an elf too. As they fly, Rosine questions Jill about Guts. Since it appears Guts is traveling to Misty Valley, Rosine reveals that "some dependable grownups" guard the valley.Following Rosine, Guts makes his way to the entrance of the Misty Valley, a wood full of dead trees cloaked in fog. As his brand bleeds, he finds a large ball-shaped mass of human corpses. The four bandits who previously held Jill and escaped Guts crawl out of the mass. While fleeing from the possessed tree and Guts, the bandits were found by Rosine who transformed them into guardians. As Guts wounds them, they take on insectoid shapes. Guts defeats them after some difficulty but finds more insectoid creatures heading his way.
As Guts combats these creatures, some distance away the enraged Puck flies raving about Guts' behavior. He jumps on a flying bird to take a moment to consider what happened to Guts to make him what he is. In his chibi form, Puck recalls a similar chibi version of the God Hand and wonders about their relationship, "especially the raven-looking one," and Guts, until the progressively irritated bird ditches him. He finds himself in Misty Valley, steels his resolve, and proceeds to look for Jill. Meanwhile, Guts fights countless insectoid creatures.
Back in Jill's village, the villagers bury the charred children's corpses with Father Hobbes of the Holy See in attendance. An army of soldiers ride past that Fr. Hobbes recognizes as the Holy Iron Chain Knights. Their female leader Farnese requests to speak with Father Hobbes in private, having her subordinates assist the villagers in burying their dead. With Zepek eavesdropping, Farnese explains that they have been sent by the Holy See to investigate the strange events surrounding the Black Swordsman. Having experienced similar supernatural stories with slaughter following in the Gut's wake, Farnese begins to question if the Black Swordsman is just a simple criminal or something more important to their religion. Regardless, Farnese intends to pursue the Black Swordsman into the Misty Valley. Zepek reveals himself to offer his services to them.
Guts struggles with two large insects who reveal they use to be knights. He finally kills them after suffering great wounds in the process. He reaches into his pouch to discover Puck left it filled with his dust.
The Misty Valley
Meanwhile, in Misty Valley, is surprised to find an idyllic word without any apparent enemies. He feels at ease and nostalgic. His reverie is disturbed by the sound of playing. He spies a group of Rosine's "elves" happily playing catch with a berry. Puck senses something but cannot help himself join in their play until they all stop and stare at him. The "elves" huddle and discuss how he looks different, to which a chibi Puck quickly alters his hair, ears, and eyes to look more like them. His ruse proves successful as one hands him their ball which is not a berry but a human eye. He stands stunned in a chibi form while the "elves" curiously poke him until one announces their queen has returned. Puck dutifully follows them to a huge cedar tree. Puck watches in awe as glowing figures fly about the tree. These figures appear more like elves like him, but they fly past him without apparently noticing him. Puck then sees the "elves" bringing food to Jill sitting at the base of the tree while Rosine sits above her. Rosine explains that the Valley always has food, the flowers always bloom, and it never becomes cold unlike their village.
Rosine asks Jill if she has decided to join them, but Jill remains reticent. Rosine invites her to stay and think about it more for the night, but then asks her if anything as fun as what she has experienced exists in their village. Puck discretely lands on Jill's shoulder. He explains he has come to rescue her. When asked where Guts is, Puck declares he has abandoned Guts for, among other things, trying to kill her. Jill confesses she had wondered if Guts did intent to strike her. Neither noticed, that Guts had held back to his own surprise. Jill explains to Puck Rosine's offer to become an "elf," and she asks his advice. A horrified Puck reminds her that these same "elves" kill and devour humans. Jill tries to rationalize that as a necessity since she has never been at more peace than in Misty Valley. She talks about the "cold" and "hunger" of her village to Puck, but she remembers the comrade of her father actually entering her room and trying to rape her. Puck senses her fear. Jill continues expressing her fear that she may become like her mother, a passive woman unable to intervene when her own child suffers abuse, or even her father, an abusive, drunken fool. She squeezes Puck hard as she contemplates this then apologizes for hurting him without meaning to do so.Jill then sees two large groups of the "elves" arrayed like armies playing war. They wield limbs of insects like swords and use other substitutions. The war is not a game: the "elves" slaughter one another. The victorious group parades the dead on "pikes," as Puck concludes the only humans, or monsters, could be so cruel. One chases down a fleeing "elf," transforms into his more insect-form, then brutally rapes his victim to death with his stinger. Jill vomits. A group of victorious "elves" come to her with the body of a slaughter "elf" and demand she eat it. She panics and swats them away and then notices that the corpses of the dead "elves" become that of human children.The victorious "elves" wonder why she will not accept their gift, why she hit them, and they then transform as they conclude she is not a friend. She and Puck flee into a dense fog. Managing to use the fog to escape the familiars, Jill and Puck stumble upon a cave filled with cocoons where captured children transform into the "elves." Rosine appears, and dismissing what Jill saw to be her children "playing human." To them, war and slaughter are "fun" and new children provide replacements. She starts to form a cocoon around Jill to begin her metamorphosis. Puck tries to wake up Jill; Rosine denounces him as Peekaf and blames him for her reticence.
Suddenly, a nearby cocoon is slashed open depositing a skeletal half-formed "elf." The sight stirs Jill who screams. Rosine and her minions look in horror to see most of the remaining cocoons set ablaze. In the fire, the silhouette of Guts appears. Rosine sets her fully transformed "elves" on him. Guts annihilates them all by unleashing fire all around him. Jill, looking at him, for a moment sees him as a "terrifying monster."
Outside, the drunken incompetent Zepek tries to lead Farnese, Azan, Serpico, and the rest Holy Iron Chain Knights, though he fails to maintain his mount. Fortunately, for him, Farnese instructs them to carry on into the forest on foot. They pass through the remains of Guts' fight with Rosine's "adult guardians," whose corpses have all reverted back to their human forms. Azan concludes the Black Swordsman has companions, but Serpico, after studying the carnage, concludes only one man with a massive edged weapon did it. Farnese halts their conversation and inwardly vows to capture Guts.While complimenting Guts on his initial repulse of her minions, Rosine sends more to attack him en masse and bite him slowly. Guts gives and evil smile, then rushes into the fires to burn the "elves" attacking him. He then slashes open a cocoon so its liquid contents extinguish the fire. Rosine demands to know if Guts is really a human. Furious, Rosine charges Guts. She finds herself hampered by the flames which limit her maneuverability and nullifies her poison. Guts quickly removes her left antenna. As the fires burn and Guts brand bleeds, a resigned Rosine concludes that "it's all gone," and she transforms into her full Pseudo-Apostle form. She vows she can start again, in another place, so long as she has Jill and kills Guts. She attacks Guts unsuccessfully with a long stinger she grew out from her head. She wryly wonders if the loss of her antenna caused her to miss. Guts struggles with her speed, but he willingly takes her stinger in his right forearm to bring her close. Rosine accepts this believing she has won. She flies up with him mocking their "date." She tries to faux kiss him as she expects him to die only to notice he has his cannon pointed at her abdomen.He fires. Both fall to the ground. Guts wonders why he "missed." As he rushes to grab Dragon Slayer and then secure it to his hand, he suspects that either Jill's story about her or her appearance caused him to hold back: "Am I really such a softie?!" He laments that he cannot avoid her whip, he is low on gun powder, then sees Jill surrounded by the flames. Jill encourages Puck to escape, but, for his part, Puck refuses to abandon her. Jill collapses in despair over her choices. While Puck screams at her, Rosine appears to take her away from the fire. She sets Jill in a safe place and asks her to wait until she finishes off Guts. Jill cannot help but notice that Rosine's bowels have extruded outside of her injured abdomen. As Rosine promises a new life the two will enjoy, Guts appears from behind her and runs her through with Dragon Slayer. Rosine screams, and Dragon Slayer just misses Jill's head. Rosine flies away with parts of her intestines falling from her. Puck, to his horror, concludes the Guts knew Rosine would come to save Jill and merely waited for the opportunity to strike. Guts protects her from fire by allowing the contents of a cocoon to spill on her.
Rosine in agony flies with Guts holding on to Dragon Slayer which impaled her. She demands to know who he is and why he is so persistent, and Guts interrupts to suggest that she has forgotten all of the humans she "snacked on" as a reference to the Eclipse. Rosine cannot accept a mere human inflicts pain on an "elf," and she cast him away.
As a child, Rosine walks holding her Beherit and declaring she has found Misty Valley. Returning to her present, and enraged Rosine declares that humans cannot defeat "elves." She aims her head stinger at his head, but he evades so it pierces through his cheeks. He takes the opportunity to mortally wound her with Dragon Slayer. Rosine recalls, that "they weren't there," meaning that actual elves did not appear in her "Misty Valley." She waited, in vain, for them, then finally realized it was all a silly fantasy. Her parents find her, but after her relieved mother embraces her, her father starts to beat her. Her blood falls on her Beherit which causes it to transform. As she wishes "everything just go away," its eyes begin to bleed.Rosine falls near a tree inwardly asking for her parents' forgiveness. She has transformed back to her more human form but retains her injuries. Jill rushes to her to hear Rosine state that "they weren't there . . . there weren't really any elves." She concludes none exist, but Puck flies to her to tell her that is not true. Rosine still calls him "Peekaf." He suggests that real elves once lived in the Valley but left for reasons he does not know. Jill proudly presents Puck as a real elf.
Rosine touches Jill's hand and Puck sitting in her hands. She replies that the elves "were there," and Jill is lucky to have found hers. She claims that Jill will be "safe" from what happens in the real world, "even the bad stuff." An enraged Guts approaches and raises Dragon Slayer. When Jill pleads that Rosine is already dying, Guts slaps her away. An angry Puck cannot reach him. He raises Dragon Slayer above a compliant Rosine, but Jill throws her body across her. Guts rages again, but he is suddenly struck in his right side by a cross bow bolt. Sitting in the grass, a triumphant Zepek declared he has taken down the Black Swordsman.
Farnese order her knights to protect the children and capture Guts. Guts escapes, and Azan admonishes Zepek to stay and protect his daughter while the Holy Iron Chain Knights pursue Guts. Rosine suddenly stands and declares she must go home. She starts to fly away, and when Zepek tries to arm his crossbow, Jill and Puck beat him. As Rosine flies, she fears she is late. As she recalls herself looking out of her window, she knows her parents are worried. Suddenly, she feel hungry, and as she wonders "what's for dinner tonight?" she falls. As she falls, she remembers the story of Peekaf as she briefly recalls a happy dinner with her parents.
Jill watches with Puck and thinks that Rosine has traveled a road the end of which she will never reach. Zepek rants at her, but she orders him to return to the village and she walks away with Puck. Jill eventually finds Guts, but he brusquely warns her not to follow him. As he explains that a life with him is one where she would have no peace from spirits that will forever hunt him every night, spirits begin to surround them both. Guts drives them off, and he tells Jill to return to her home since no paradise exists for her. To follow him involves one battlefield after another. Jill walks away. Puck asks her if she will be fine alone, and Jill responds that she will at least try to change her world. Puck leaves her with a package of something to "sting" her father with whenever she likes. As he flies away, Jill asks him why he stays with Guts. Puck smiles and declares he cannot leave "that idiot" alone. Looking at him, Jill thinks that elves, "really do look best in the blue sky."
The Skull Knight rides through the smoldering remains of Misty Valley which includes the charred remains of Rosine's children. He concludes "The Struggler"--Guts--has been there. He dismounts and inspect the charred remains of Rosine's tree. In its hollow, the Skull Knight finds her Beherit and swallows it.Some distance away, a bleeding Guts drags his sword. The spirits around Guts taunt him as a killer of countless children and accuse of rationalizing their deaths for his own survival. They claim that a darkness exists within Guts as they gather together to form that embodiment. The entity tells Guts that it was born of bloodshed, and it gets stronger with each kill, until Guts will become a monster like his friend.
Puck flies searching for Guts and rehearsing the lecture he will deliver to him. He finds Guts covered by the spirits. He kicks and punches Guts, demanding he fight back. A chibi Puck begins to beat the various spirits. Guts slowly opens his eyes to see Puck destroying one spirit after another. Guts calls to him, and Puck wacks him on the forehead. Guts laughs and admits he finds it hard to to remain tense around Puck: "takin' it seriously just seems so silly." This is the first time Guts admits any appreciation to Puck.
With the sunrise, the spirits disperse but remind Guts that "the Beast" lives and Guts will become a monster. To Puck's confusion, Guts answers the spirits in declaring that he is only what he is, and he will make his way to Griffith. A chibi Puck proudly declares that he will help heal Guts, after he properly washes himself, and that only because of him does Guts survive. Guts inwardly concludes that Puck "has some medicinal value." He smiles and tells Puck he stay in his pouch. A normal Puck startles for a moment realizing this is the first time Guts has called him by his name. Behind them, Farnese and her knights gather.
Binding Chain Chapter
The Holy Iron Chain Knights
Farnese demands his surrender and explains that the Holy See sent her to capture him. Even though still weakened from his fight with Rosine, Guts refuses. The inexperienced Iron Chain Knights unsuccessfully attempt to capture him. Eventually their superior, Azan, orders them to stand down. He then engages Guts in single combat. Guts knows of Azan's reputation as "the Bridge Knight." Realizing that he is no match for Azan in his current state, Guts attempts to take Farnese hostage, but he ends up appearing to be taken down by her as he was struck near his arrow wound by a piece of wood secretly thrown by her right hand Serpico.
After returning to her camp with the captured Guts, Farnese orders him fastened to the pole supporting her tent then dismisses her soldiers. Farnese attempts to interrogate Guts to find out who he is while inspecting his effects and the Beherit in particular. Farnese's methods become frustrated whipping when Guts refuses to break. She orders him taken away, then she prays to reaffirm her faith.
Guts is imprisoned in a very small cage outside in the camp. With the night fast approaching and the spirits rising from the ground, Guts swallows his pride and requests Puck's assistance. He returns to Farnese's tent to retrieve his gear and observes her shirtless and flagellating herself. He knocks her unconscious to use her as a hostage to assist his escape and then sets her tent on fire.
When Farnese regains consciousness, she is unable to see or hear Puck and wonders to whom Guts speaks. Serpico pursues them until the spirits cause his horse to buck him off. The spirits soon catch up to Guts. He fights them with a protesting Farnese slung over his horse. His horse runs straight for a cliff, loses his balance, and they all tumble down together. Guts catches Farnese before she can be harmed by the fall. When Guts asks her why the Iron Chain Knights pursue him, Farnese becomes terrified by the sight of the possessed wild dogs that Guts fights off.
She attempts flee with his horse only to find the animal possessed. His horse attempts to mount her, and the sight of her about to be raped causes Guts to lose control over himself as he is reminded of the Eclipse. He beheads his possessed horse before he could violate her, with his sword blade stopping just above the horrified Farnese's own neck.
Guts' struggles with the spirits throughout the night until minutes before sunrise when he finds himself confronted by a possessed Farnese. The possessing spirit compels her to confront her own desires by forcing herself upon Guts: she starts to strangle him with her wrist bindings as she sits on his sword demanding he split her. Guts resists her, and once the spirit departs upon sunrise, Farnese breaks down in shame. When Serpico arrives, Farnese repeatedly demands that he, "Kill him!" apparently to erase the revelations about herself. Serpico reminds to her dismay that their mission is only to apprehend Guts. Serpico does appear to recognize Puck since he bids Guts and "you, too, little one," fairwell. As Serpico takes her back their camp alone, the still unseen by her Puck senses a profound sadness from her.
All across Midland, the people have prophetic dreams of a plague ravaging the land, an army that tames monsters, and numerous natural disasters with numerous dead and utter darkness. In midst of the chaos, the dreamers see one figure: a glowing white hawk. Since a plague caused by Conrad spreads across the land, the priests interpret these dreams as a vision from God that something miraculous will come. At another area, after easily slaughtering mercenaries and pondering a hunt for Guts as a real challenge, Nosferatu Zodd finds himself facing the white hawk. Though Zodd transforms he is easily defeated. Coming out of his vision and finding his face scarred and the left horn of his true form chopped off, Zodd hears he must go to the sacred ground where the blind gather to await "His" coming.
At Wyndham, having wasted his life hunting the escaped Griffith while ignoring the plague, the king falls ill and lies on his death bed requesting his daughter Charlotte. Charlotte had barricaded herself in her room for the past five days and refused to come to her father. The dying king has a final vision of himself on his throne before the white hawk appears and lands behind Charlotte. The king watches in mixed horror and awe before he dies as the hawk's head morphs into that of Griffith. As word of the king's passing spreads, a foreign army from the land of Kushan conquers Wyndham.
Far away, Guts and Puck come across a village that fell to the plague, and Guts worries that spirits of dead might attack him in daylight. Puck points to a large monument composed of giant slabs of stones which are piled into archways on the outskirts of the town, explaining them to be elf shrines. Though told the spirits would not reach them, Guts has a nightmare of Casca being burned alive and finds the Demon Child beneath an angled slab of stone, where the sun cannot reach it. When Guts asks if it caused his dream, the creature responds by reshaping its face to resemble Casca while telling him to go to the sacred ground where the blind gather.
Towards the Sacred Ground
Guts returns to Godot's mill and learns that Rickert has become a skilled practicing smith under Godot's teaching. Guts notes how much Rickert has changed before learning that Casca ran off a month ago, and Rickert, though he tried to find her, could not leave an old and sick Godot. Guts visits the bedridden Godot who asks to see the Dragon Slayer and Guts' prosthetic arm. Upon seeing both items having five times the amount of wear seen in weapons used for two, Godot attempts to convince Guts to abandon his quest for revenge and make a new life for himself, but Guts will not hear of it. Erica brings Guts with Rickert to nearby snowing hill covered in swords. Rickert explains that as he practiced he made the swords to serve as grave markers for their fallen comrades. Guts consider how much Rickert has grown to be able to move on and let go of the past.
Guts spends the night in the ore cave while Rickert mends his affects Despite its elvish ability to repel foul things, Guts cannot sleep as he fixates upon Godot's words and the memory of Casca's violation by Griffith. Only after a vision of the Beast of Darkness tempting him to continue killing does Guts realize he never had the right to avenge the Band of the Falcon as he left them a year prior to their deaths. Furthermore, he realizes the only thing that has kept him sane all this time is Casca, and he decides to refocus his priorities on finding her. After equipping himself with his freshly mended gear and lighter armor and after Rickert presents him with a model of repeater crossbow and a new concept weapon that uses gunpowder, Guts asks the boy if he knows of any place called "Sacred Ground".
Rickert explains there is a city three days away in the northeast called Albion where a large monastery known as the Tower of Conviction is located. Guts deems it to be the location from his dream since it possesses a heavy Holy See presence along with numerous refugees from the plague. When Guts departs, Godot tells he that he expects this to be the last time the two of them will see each other.
Meanwhile, having been reassigned after her failure to capture Guts, Farnese oversees the safe passage of the Wyndham refugees to Albion. As the Iron Chain Nights make their way with a long line of refugees, Farnese daydreams and recollects her official reassignment. She learns that her relief comes not simply from her failure to capture the Black Swordsman but also from her significant casualties, many of whom were sons of high nobles. She learns that the Knights serve a symbolic purpose, and Farnese shudders at the revelation that her position always was nothing but symbolic. To add insult to her injury, the status of her father and his family are the only reason she receives a reassignment. She then thinks about how she never saw the miracles of the Hawk of Light as reported by others; however, she does remember what happened to her with Guts' horse: her "miracle." She angrily tries to dismiss her memory as a mere illusion without success. She tries to tell herself that even if she is not a witness to miracles and she cannot become a conduit for her god she can at least remain steadfast in her faith, only to recall the evil spirit informing her that she is "too far from God."
The Iron Chain Knights must also escort the Inquisitor Mozgus to oversee order in the city as heretics have also be sighted around it. Mozgus and his masked disciples, each a master in the art of torture, soon make their presence known when a group of men fight their way through the Iron Chain Knights so that they can assassinate Mozgus for slaughtering their families. Mozgus remains calm during the attempt on his life and explains that he acted accordingly to the Holy See's doctrine until the group's leader yells out that Mozgus will suffer "divine punishment" for slaughtering innocent blood. With this, Mozgus' face contorts in rage, and he strikes the leader dead with his holy book for the leader's "blasphemous words" and then orders his disciples to place the rest on breaking wheels. All present are horrified by the grisly sight, save Mozgus, his disciples, and a raven-haired girl from among the refugees.
Along the way, Guts defeats a group of Kushan scouts who were about to kill a boy named Isidro. Dispatching the scouts with little trouble, Guts hurries towards Albion with Isidro following. Silat and his servants observe Guts' escape. Silat cautions that they cannot defeat Guts without suffering losses. Instead, they must search for "the Land of Oracles."
Birth Ceremony Chapter
Reunion in the Den of Sin
In a refugee camp outside of Albion, a few refugees notice the skin of a flayed priest hanging from a tree in the camp. They remark that this has happened before, and it will bring a search for heretics. The following morning Farnese finds herself dealing with refugees swarming a cart of provisions--"alms"--intended for the inhabitants of the Tower of Conviction. While at first unmoved by their pleas, Farnese pauses to listen to the cries of a mother with a starving infant. Mozgus appears on a horse and states that the boldness of the mother will brings God's mercy. Mozgus allows the refugees who attacked the cart along with the mother inside the Tower of Conviction. Mozgus separates the rest of the refugees from the mother and assures her she will see them again. A physician nurses the infant. Mozgus genially observes that the child will later "bear the weight of payment," and, with a smile, escorts the mother to her "faithful service."
Mozgus escorts the mother, Farnese, Serpico, and Azan to the torture chamber where the refugees taken in are already suffering. As Mozgus happily describes how the refugees surrounding the Tower of Conviction are a "den of thieves," and the discovery of the skin of the priest led to a rounding up of suspected heretics, Farnese turns her head away from the sight of a woman whose breasts are being brutally tortured. Mozgus angrily insists that she must not avert her gaze. He reminds her that the horrors of torture are a part of her faith: "God does not rain benevolence alone on this Earth. He is also a strict arbiter." He then commands the mother that she shall not flee, for while her actions brought about the salvation of her child, "sin is sin," and her punishment is a trial he hopes she will endure. Farnese can only watch.
The Iron Chain Knights are tasked to bring all sinners into the Tower of Conviction regardless of actual evidence of guilt. Farnese tries to argue with a prisoner that the innocent will be proven innocent in trial while her prisoner protests that no one has ever left the Tower of Conviction. He further claims he has been denounced for other reasons. Watching from a tent, Luca mutters that this accused lived off the fear of others. She is with a Holy Chain Knight, Jerome, who complains openly to her about Farnese: she is merely an ornament who does not act like one.
Casca, with her face hidden by bandages, pokes her head in their tent, ruining the moment. Luca calls her "Elaine" and scolds her for interrupting her work. Luca promises to give Jerome a "freebie" next time, but he insists on paying her as well as giving her a long pearl necklace with the promise to one day make her his mistress. After he leaves, Luca divides the pearls and payment among her fellow prostitutes since they share everything. She gives one, Nina, medicine for an undescribed condition. Nina takes the disguised with bandages Casca to fetch water. On the way, they encounter a prisoner in stocks being pelted by rocks from other refugees. A mother insists her child throw a rock to avoid suspicion of being a heretic. Nina hesitates, then throws a rock.
In nearby area of the refugee camp, a pagan priest holds a staff with a dead black bird he calls "the Hawk," and he proclaims "the Goddess of Flame's revelation" that the Hawk shall alight and cast away the invaders. Other refugees demand his silence out of fear of being all denounced as heretics. Nina hurries Casca away as an old man complains that the poor used to get along with pagan priests until the hunts for heretics.
As she fetches water, Nina notices blood running from between her legs mixed with pus. She recalls the warnings of a physician that if the "bad blood" reaches her brain she will lose her mind. She fears she will become like Casca. As the Sun sets, Nina confesses her fear for her future while Casca's brand begins to burn, and skeletal remains begin to stir. Casca notices the animated corpses creeping towards them . Two eyes appear to observe as the Demon Child appears in the grass amongst the corpses. Without a word the Child compels the spirits to disperse. Casca appears to notice the Child, but Nina takes Casca back toward camp while the two eyes watch them leave then gazes upon the Tower of Conviction.
In the dinning hall of the Tower of Conviction, the memory of the starving refugees robs Farnese of her appetite. She sits alone. Members of the Iron Chain Knights, including Jerome, complain about the constant screams of those tortured ruining their appetites. He complains openly about Farnese, only to be interrupted by Serpico spilling food on their table. When he approaches Farnese, she scolds him not to waste food.
Now in her armor with Serpico trailing behind her, Farnese descends a spiral staircase. She encounters the Twins feeding crows. Another disciple, The Crow, a man in a crow-like plague mask, explains that they all have deformities which rendered them outcasts from their societies. Mozgus accepted them all and told them they have a place in the world and can be agents of their faith and needed by God. The Crow considers this a miracle which shocks Farnese. He further confesses he does not enjoy the torture he commits, but he does have pride to serve in what he considers to be a "holy post."
The crow-man takes Farnese and Serpico to see Mozgus as he finishes his daily ritual of slamming his face onto the ground in prayer. The Crow explains Mozgus repeats these prostrations, twice a day, for a thousand times, and he has not missed a single day over the past ten years. While his disciples rebandage his knee wounds from kneeling for so long, Mozgus tells the legend that the tower once served as a prison for a sage whose constant prayers to God during his tortures to smite his jailer, the supreme king, were answered. Mozgus equates the pain he feels in his legs as a reminder that the application of the strict laws must bring pain to others.
Farnese asks if the pain they cause really serves their faith. She notes how their actions alienate the refugees and how her own knights have come to question their purpose. Mozgus tells her another story to argue that people cannot know what helps; they can only follow the scriptures for, "for God and God alone do we act." He commands her to not deplore her distressing duties, the "misunderstandings" of the people, her own death or the death of others. She shall not question God but exist devoutly for God. Farnese remains in the chamber considering his words with Serpico, who deems them a "shady" but "flawless argument." The entire conversation was seen from hole in the ceiling by a mysterious being that runs down the roof of the Tower of Conviction.
Nina later meets a nervous young man named Joachim. He is her frequent customer, but Nina tells him to seek another girl. When he protests, she reminds him of her "condition" and challenges him to take her if that is what he wants. As he continues to stammer, Nina challenges him to meet her at the riverside at midnight. He appears to her surprise, and she asks him if he loves her, if he is willing to lie with her, and if he is willing to die with her. He stammers agreement, and Nina starts to take him away. Luca sees them from a distance, and she follows them curious about Nina. As spirits rise, Casca, occasionally sneezing, follows Luca.
Nina takes Joachim to join a group of refugees entering a cavern. Their journey ends at a pagan orgy. Shocked, Joachim watches the scene and sees a naked man wearing only a goat's head being caressed by women. Nina urges him on to join the orgy. Watching from a distance, Luca realized her suspicions prove correct: Nina is a pagan. Naked women remove Joachim and Nina's clothing, and the still shocked Joachim watches as the women pleasure Nina. Nina invites Joachim to join with her, as the mysterious eyes watch. Joachim begins to fondle Nina but sees other ghostly hands caress her as well. As he engages with her, he sees his hand sink into her breast, which he suspects is an illusion as a shadowy figure appears in the smoke above the bonfire. A pagan priest proclaims her the "Goddess of Flame."
Watching from a distance, Luca wonders if the pagans mixed hallucinogens in the pot on the fire to create illusions. As Joachim continues his intercourse with Nina, the people around him seem to melt, and he feels he is falling. He finishes back in apparent reality. Nina wishes to present him to the Great Goat as a new convert. She instructs him to repeat an oath, kiss the Goat's chest and "member," which appears to be a snake, then drink from the cauldron. Joachim is shocked to find the soup contains human body parts. He realizes he is not hallucinating and flees while Nina calls for the adherents to kill him. He runs off a cliff to his apparent death, seeing Nina smile as he falls. After the other pagans leave, Nina's smile turns to tears as she calls Joachim, "a big liar."
Luca concludes that Nina is a pagan. As Luca approaches her, Nina panics and hits Luca in the head with a rock. Luca slaps and then spanks Nina over her knee like a spoiled child before hugging the frightened girl. Before they can leave, they find Casca surrounded by naked male pagans. Some recognize her as a friend of Luca. Curious about her supposed disease, one removes her bandages. He tries to rape her, but Casca's brand starts to bleed. Her pupil resembles the the Eclipse, and she sees visions from her rape. She screams, which stops the man, as Luca runs to save her. All look to see spirits appear over them. A spirit possesses one who then feeds on the face of another man. More men are possess who attack the others. Watching in horror, Luca wonders if Casca is the source of this. The possessed survivors turn to Casca and declare her "meat" and a "sacrifice"; however, the Demon Child appears before her to drive them off. The spirits leave the men as Casca, in vain, tries to hold the vanishing Demon Child. The pagans conclude Casca is a witch and bow down before her.
Some distance away, at the bottom of the cliff, Joachim stirs under the gaze of the mysterious eyes. The shadowy figure leave him.
Isidro finally catches up to Guts, who is resting against a bare trunk in the fields outside of the Tower of Conviction. He tries to steal the Dragon Slayer, but despite the encouragement of Puck, he can barely lift the weapon. Guts retrieves the sword and advises Isidro not to hang around him just before the angry spirits of men broken on wheels appear, the remnants of the executed victims of Mozgus. Guts destroys most of them as he tosses Isidro down the side of a hill for his safety. He then continues running towards Albion for the rest of the night without rest.
Guts crosses paths with the Skull Knight, who is also heading towards Albion, and explains that he wanted to get Guts' attention. The Skull Knight finds it interesting that Guts has an elf as a companion then notes that the two had first met two years prior: "the ties that bind are strong" The Skull Knight explains that the God Hand will appear there since the area around the Tower of Conviction has been drawing an immense concentration of negative emotions that will eventually erupt during a millennial event where one among the God Hand will regain corporeal form: the Incarnation Ceremony. The Skull Knight also reveals that the dreams of the Falcon of Light all point to which of the God Hand's members will return to the physical plane. The Skull Knight then asks Guts about the whereabouts of Casca but quickly concludes she must be present near of the Tower of Conviction as well. He explains that this concentration is an attempt to imitate the Eclipse.
The Skull Knight concludes that this is a part of causality and cannot be changed. Guts disagrees, reminding the Skull Knight of his own nickname for him: "The Struggler." Ever cryptic in his responses, the Skull Knight considers the possibility that since Guts, by virtue of his brand, lives in the Interstice, he may yet prove a variable. He leaves warning Guts that Casca, "your lover," will be left alone, then promises to see him again. After he leaves, Puck suggests that the Skull Knight feels, to him, "like an elf." Guts resumes his run towards Albion with Isidro still following him diligently.
Farnese recalls a frightful night of her childhood. She heard a sound scarier than the wind, and when she approached her window, she saw it was the sound of the flames consuming a person in the courtyard. This memory blends in with her burning accused heretics outside of the Tower of Conviction. Jerome wonders at her enthusiasm, and another knight informs him that Farnese has been a devoted burner of heretics since she was a child. She received her orders to hunt down the Black Swordsman due to her zeal in burning heretics. For her part, Farnese recalls Mozgus' orders to her. Serpico prevents a refugee from bullying the son of one of the condemned. He pauses at the sight of burning bodies, then asks Farnese for her leave. Later, when Jerome compliments Serpico for protecting the boy, Serpico explains he was once in the same position when his own mother was burned as a heretic.
In her bed that night, Farnese stares into the flames of her fire place noting that whenever she does, she remembers when she first went to the courtyard as a child to see a burning. She was handed a torch and, frightened of it, she immediately threw it on the pyre. Since scary shadows cast by the people on the stakes changed with the fire, the child Farnese eagerly added more and more torches to the praise of the watching adults. The praise and the sight initiates a "warmth" in her "underbelly" as she smiles. Not understanding the sensation, she felt it due to the fire. Farnese masturbates to this recollection, particularly of the burning heretics, then curls up in shame crying to herself that she is "not in the wrong."
Back in the refugee camps, refugees shower Casca with gifts to Luca's consternation. She fears this will attract the attention of Holy Chain Knights acting as heretic hunters, and a panicked Nina suggests they get rid of Casca. Lucie arrives to inform them that the hunters have captured Pepe on the charge of heresy. A few onlookers speculate that other prostitutes jealous of Luca's group's popularity in the camp denounced her. Luca comes to her defense, and before the captain can strike her, Guts intervenes. He demands to know from the captain whether or not they captured a woman with a "brand." The Holy Chain Knights resist, and as Guts lethally deals with them, Isidro steals the keys so Luca can free Pepe. Both can see Puck who begins to heal Pepe's injuries. Seeing Guts destroying the knights, the refugees begin to turn on them by throwing rocks at the captain, forcing their retreat. Luca recognizes that the woman "with the brand" is Casca, and she offers to take Guts to her. The mysterious eyes watch them leave.
Meanwhile, Nina lays in bed and tries unsuccessfully to communicate with Casca. Nina's imagination progresses quickly from Luca and the rest being delayed, to captured, to her own imminent arrest and execution. As she cries, Casca places her hand on her head. Nina decides she regrets her suggestion to abandon Casca, and she decides to flee the camp with Casca instead. Along their way, she starts coughing and notices blood. A band of pagans led by their priest find them. Back at the camp, as Isidro and Puck search for Casca together, Puck finds it odd that so many refugees can see him. They see the pagans taking Casca and Nina and follow them.
Farnese stares at the charred remains of a burned accused. Her men note that she always stands and watches burning until the fires burn out. More men arrive with an unseen refugee who reported the location of the pagan hideout. They also informer her of the appearance of the Black Swordsman. Farnese forbids pursuit of the latter in favor of attacking the former. She orders the refugee, who is revealed to be Joachim, to lead them to the hideout. As they prepare to leave, Farnese shivers and holds herself thinking about Guts.
Isidro and Puck follow the pagans into their cave where the priest intends to wed Casca to the Great Goat and sacrifice Nina. Isidro sends Puck to find Guts while he distracts the pagans by pelting them with rocks to allow the girls to escape. However, the pain from her brand prevents Casca from moving. The spirits of those eaten by the pagans gather. Outside, the Holy Chain Knights arrive. When they enter the caverns, they are surprised by pagans running to them pleading for protection. They are followed by possessed pagans who attack both pagans and the knights. The naked possessed pagans begin to devour the armored knights, chewing off faces and biting through armored gauntlets. Azan rationalizes their strength as coming from drugs, but Farnese inwardly recalls the feelings she had when attacked by spirits previously.
Isdro succeeds in reaching Casca and Nina. With considerable embarrassment, he hands the naked and coughing Nina his cloak. The pagan priest, the man with the goat head, and a few surviving pagans make their escape; however, the mysterious eyes sees them. The man wearing the goat-head briefly sees the eyes before a tendril with a claw at the end strikes him in the chest. This transforms the man into a monstrous satyr-like version of himself. The transformed man attacks and ravages the Holy Chain Knights. Farnese stands shocked at the sight and realizes what she sees is the same at the night when she was with Guts. The Holy Chain Knights begin to panic. Outside and ignorant of the carnage in the caverns, a bored Jerome consoles the guilty Joachim. They are distracted by the flying Puck which allows Guts to enter. Inside, the transformed Great Goat turns his lascivious attention to Casca.The light from the flying Puck distracts the Holy Chain Knights inside the caverns enough to allow Guts to rush by unchallenged. He comes upon the Great Goat initiating his attempt to rape Casca. His member is now clearly a snake that slithers over Casca as her pupil reflects the Eclipse. Guts' Dragon Slayer swiftly castrates the Great Goat, removes his arms, then cleaves the possessed pagans into pieces. For a moment, he and Casca look at one another, finally reunited after two long years. The Holy Chain Knights recognize "the Black Swordsman." Farnese stands petrified with fear of him. As Guts and Isidro plan their escape, and the knights debate whether or not Guts is now an ally, Farnese breaks from her panic and declares they must kill all who refuse to surrender. As Guts and his party attempt their escape, Farnese desperately orders pursuit to Serpico's silent consternation.
The Great Goat attempts to prevent Casca's escape. After having Isidro lead Casca to safety, Guts successfully tests his new arsenal to kill the beast as the mysterious eyes watches. Meanwhile, as the possessed pagans continue to advance on the Holy Chain Knights, Azan demands that Farnese be taken away for safety. Farnese protests as she looks Serpico to support her.
Serpico, however, is confronting Guts on a narrow passage on the side of a cliff. The two engage in a pointless duel with Serpico taking advantage of the narrow confines to limit Guts' ability to draw his sword. Ahead, Isidro instructs Nina and Casca to be lowered to the ground by a rope on a pulley under the watchful eyes.
Elsewhere, Joachim hears rocks being thrown by the hidden mysterious figure. He follows the noise to find Nina. She is shocked to find him alive, and for his part, Joachim immediately announces their presence as "heretics" to the Holy Chain Knights. Despite his protests, Casca appears to ignore the agitated Isidro and acrobatically descent the rest of the cliff face to present herself to the knights who have captured Nina. Farnese notices that Casca was the girl that Guts rushed into the fray to save.
Serpico ultimately cannot defeat Guts; however, and he nimbly makes his escape. Both silently acknowledge slightly more respect for the other. For his part, Serpico wonders why he has become more serious. Guts finds a regretful Isidro and learns of Casca's capture. His initially becomes enraged with Isidro, but he does not abuse him and even seems embarrassed by his reaction. He can only watch the captured Casca calmly ride away with a Holy Chain Knight.
The Tower of Conviction
While Guts would prefer to rescue Casca on his own, Isidro, Luca, and Jerome insist on accompanying him. As Guts remembers the Skull Knight's words that events beyond his control will soon begin, the mysterious observer responsible for the Great Goat's transformation and Casca's capture watches the group approach from the tip of the statue at the top of the Tower of Conviction while Puck flies into the tower to find Casca.
Incarcerated in a tiny, dark, and windowless room with Casca, a panicked Nina clutches Casca. Casca pats her on the head. Nina begs Casca, whom she believes to be a witch, to save them and becomes livid over Casca apparent inability to understand. Two of Mozgus' Disciples enter to take one of them away to learn which of them is the leader of the heretic group. They initially pick Casca; however, the smaller of them, The Imp, becomes enraged that Nina did not even protest the choosing of Casca and decides to take her instead. As she is conveyed to the torture chamber, Nina tries to harness the strength of character of Luca, but one sight of the horrors in the torture chamber breaks her.
Farnese learns from a senior priest dressed similar to a Roman Catholic cardinal that she has been recalled to the Holy See, despite her protests, due to the influence of her wealthy and powerful family, specifically her father. Farnese leaves his chambers and takes violent revenge upon Serpico whom she accuses of spying for her father. She reminds him that he is sworn completely to her and that she, alone, is his master. They are passed by the two Mozgus Disciples conveying Nina back to her cell. The Imp castigates Nina for confessing everything before they could even rip off a fingernail. As Nina repeats her tearful apologies, the torture suggests she enjoy her last night alive "bought with the blood of your friend."
Mozgus congratulates Farnese and declares that while his torture chambers can barely keep up with the prisoners he believe nearly all of the heretics of Albion have been captured. Mozgus then questions her as to the details of her encounters in the cavern including the presence of the Black Swordsman. Farnese then notices Casca who is playing with a horn-like part of the Imp's hood much to his irritation. Farnese identifies her as someone important to the Black Swordsman as one of the torturers informs Mozgus that the prisoners have confessed she is their sorceress. Mozgus inspects Casca, notices her brand, and declares it a "mark of a witch." He declares they must investigate her "in more detail," which involves the placement in an iron maiden, after the corpse of a previous occupant falls from it.Some distance away, Puck follows the sound of screams. He arrives in time to watch Casca placed in the iron maiden. Casca appears oblivious to the danger as the door closes. As the spikes approach her body, her brand begins to bleed. The blood on the spikes becomes spirits of previous victims, forming deformed human faces, which explode the iron maiden leaving Casca unharmed.
Outside the Tower of Conviction, Guts follows Luca but senses a presence and blood flowing from his brand. Guts first thinks the presence is an Apostle but corrects himself calling it a "stranger." Luca pays a guard at a window to find Jerome which distracts him enough for Guts to enter the Tower. Back in the torture chamber, all including Mozgus are stunned as the human-faced blobs of blood advance along the floor. The blobs surround Casca but do not harm her. Serpico realizes they are blood, and the blood on the floor congregate to form more human-faced blobs. When one of these touches a torturer, it covers him and dissolves him. This throws all in the chamber into a panic. The blobs covering Casca start to call her "sacrifice." Puck approaches her, and Casca reaches out to her. The blobs cover her as Puck screams.
Outside, Guts watches Serpico and Farnese leave with other Holy Chain Knight to meet with Azan. Guts snatches Farnese and demands to know the location of Casca. Farnese, frightened by the blood spirits, does not want to reenter the chamber, but Guts forces her to show him a way in.
In her cell, Nina sobs and regrets her weakness. Outside her door, she hears people screaming to seek higher ground and forget about the prisoners. In answer to her panicked protests, she hears "monsters are coming!" Her door opens to reveal Luca, Jerome, and Isidro. She is asked where Casca is. Nina knows, but also knows the torture chamber is below them where the "monsters" are, so she feigns ignorance. They are soon confronted by the human-faced blobs of blood that fill the hallway.
Guts enters the torture chamber with Farnese but only finds skeletons and the smell of blood. Shocked, Farnese realizes the skeletons are the prisoners and torturers. Guts sees a helmet moving and discovers Puck underneath it. Puck reveals that while the blood blobs instantly dissolved others, they did not harm Casca since he can still sense her presence. Farnese, still unable to see Puck, wonders why Guts mumbles to himself, only to suddenly see him. Shocked, she then vaguely recalls Puck from the time she was possessed and mounted Guts. Guts leaves her, telling her she may do whatever she wants, but if she gets in his way he will kill her. Farnese pauses, then sees collections of blood coalescing at her feet to form faces, and runs after Guts.
Mozgus and his disciples bar themselves in his chambers on the topmost level of the tower. While his disciple Crow warns him to stand back lest the door break, Mozgus proclaims that the blood is a test of their faith. He orders the human-faced blobs of blood to repent as they to break through the door. The mysterious figure uses one of his tendril to drop down into the room from the hole in the ceiling.
Inside a mass of the human-faced blobs of blood, Casca appears asleep but unharmed. Floating in her arms is the Demon Child.Mozgus challenges the entering mass of blood to come at him while his disciples plead for him to withdraw. As he speaks his challenge, a tendril from the mysterious figure touches him. Other tendrils touch his disciples. In another area, Luca, Jerome, Isidro, and Nina struggle to reach higher ground only to find themselves trapped by the blood. A sudden blast of fire scatters the blood. In it, Casca is seen with the Demon Child who separates from her. The scene resolves with a transformed Mozgus holding Casca and declaring a miracle has happened.To prove the triumph of his god to everyone else, Mozgus declares he will have Casca burned as a witch. Isidro, with a reluctant Jerome, oppose this, and Mozgus unleashes his disciples upon them.
The attacking transformed disciple Bubblehead blows a hole in the wall which draws the attention of Azan, the Holy Chain Knights, and refugees at the foot of the Tower of Conviction. Luca slips through the hold but is caught by Nina who is in turn caught by Jerome. The mysterious figure watches them from above then sees the figure of the Skull Knight on the roof. As Bubblehead prepares his next attack and Jerome struggles to pull up Nina and Luca, the Skull Knight draws his Sword of Thorns. While Nina contemplates the fact she holds Luca's life in her hands, Luca suddenly asks Jerome to look after Nina and lets go of her grip.
The Skull Knight rides down the side of the Tower and catches her. Nina, Jerome, and Isidro as well as the Holy Chain Knights below are stunned by this sight, while the mysterious figure scurries away unnoticed. Bubblehead completes his attack which consists of hurling a large pillar at Jerome, Nina, and Isidro. Before it can crush them, Guts bursts in and shatters it with Dragon Slayer, and he then turns his attention to Mozgus.
Outside of the Tower of Conviction, the Skull Knight rides over ground upon which human corpses are neatly lined as far as the eye can see. Held in his arms, Luca asks the Skull Knight if he is "Death." The Skull Knight merely asks why she chose to die. Luca protests that she had hoped to land on one of the jutting out sections of the tower and merely break her lets. As the Skull Knight ponders this, Luca, surveying the field of corpses, assumes she is dead and not in "heaven." The Skull Knight reveals that they are in the burial fields outside of the Tower and if she wishes to remain alive she should stay back as he dismounts and demands that the mysterious figure reveal himself.
Within the Tower, Mozgus and his disciples unfurl large wings. Mozgus surmises that Guts is the "Black Swordsman," and he declares he will not release Casca. Guts responds by throwing his knives which Mozgus' disciples deflect. Guts realizes that they are not actual Apostles but "Pseudos"; however, the bleeding from his brand suggest to him they will prove difficult. Puck warns Guts of Bubblehead's attack, and the two engage. Jerome, for the first time, sees Puck sitting on Isidro's head. The Imp and Angel Face join. Farnese enters and is shocked by what she sees.Luca contemplates the meaning of recent events and concludes that the real world has begun to crack. She sees a silhouette of an egg-shaped being sitting amongst the corpses. The figure state that they are in his "garden" and "living humans" may leave. He tries to attack the Skull Knight with his tendrils, but the Skull Knight easily severs them much to his shock and fear. He tries to escape, but Skull Knight cuts him just before he lands on Luca and carries her away. The Skull Knight muses that he cannot escape far then thinks about his form. Luca awakes in a candle-filled cavern. Erected before her is a parody of the sigil of the Holy See: the skin of numerous mean combined and draped like the form of a bird on a stand intertwined by human spines and skulls.The figure correct her that, unlike the Holy See's shrines, his is made of flesh. When asked his identity, he responds that he is "Nobody." He explains his story: he was a deformed outcast who eventually hid in a deep hole at the foot of the Tower of Conviction during the day and only ventured out at night to feed on garbage. However, one day men deposited corpses in the hole, burying him. At that point, he saw "the Five Angels." They offer to grant him his "wish" in exchange for "something." The "something" the figure offers is the world itself in exchange to create the "Perfect World."
The mysterious observer reveals himself to be a living beherit: the Egg of the Perfect World. The Egg-Shaped Apostle further explains that he observed everything that occurs around Albion which includes the indiscriminate killings by those with power--the "order"--and those who sought to escape it by rituals that gave shape to their fears. When Luca asks if he seeks to destroy Albion and its people, the Egg-Shaped Apostle replies that he saw Nina leaning on her strength. Luca's "light" not only warmed people, it revealed the horrors, he explains as he recalls the pagan orgy Nina participated in. Though the people may hate the world, they lack the will and strength to change it. As he continues his discourse, he tongue shows Void's brand of the sacrifice. He is about to reveal the "missing piece" between the old world and the when the scene shift back to Guts fighting Angel Face.
As Guts defends himself against the disciples, Farnese surveys the scene, with the transformed Mozgus and his disciples, and concludes that whenever Guts appears, her world, her faith that protects her from her childish fears, "breaks." The Crow sends off Mozgus under the protection of the Twins. Isidro tries to attack Mozgus only to carried off by him with Casca.
Meanwhile, Luca does not believe the what the Egg-Shaped Apostle told her. He reminds her that she has already seen "monsters" or "miracles": those transformed into Pseudo-Apostles. He protests that he has merely guided individuals towards their fates and suggests that, perhaps, Luca was similarly guided to bring Casca to Albion. As the Skull Knight approaches, Luca asks why the Egg-Shaped Apostle brought her to his shrine. He attacks but the Egg-Shaped Apostle disappears. His voice replies to her question: it did not matter who heard it, he merely wanted someone to hear his story. The Skull Knight first surmises that the Egg-Shaped Apostle still had some strength to avoid his blow, then correct himself that his Sword of Thorns "hesitated," indicating that it was not yet time for the Apostle to die. To Luca's question as to his, the Apostle, and all other oddities' identities, the Skull Knight cryptically replies that they are that which people of her world should not become involved. He then suggests, depending on what happens in this "holy ground," that may change.
As the shrine's cavern begins to cave in, the Skull Knight swallows what appears to be a Beherit, then carries Luca to safety, though he cautions her not to consider herself safe yet. They see a large egg-shaped shadow with two eyes.Guts struggles against the remaining disciples. He finally tries his hand-canon and critically wounds Angel Face. He then uses his explosives and Dragon Slayer to dispatch the Imp. When he kill the Crow, the Crow thanks his god for the blessing of having met Mozgus. He dies in the attitude of prayer. Guts turns to approach a shaken Farnese, but an apparent earthquake interrupts them.The corpses on the ground around Luca and the Skull Knight begin to groan. The form large collections that take on the shape of faces. Luca notes the similarity to the blood monsters in the Tower of Conviction. The Skull Knight states that it is the essence of malice that resonates with that in the Tower; however, he wonders how it could form "with such a dark color" without "the gate opening." He whisks Luca away on his horse as the monsters notice them. At the gates of the Tower of Conviction, the senior priest conveys his fear of the loss of Farnese to Azan then confesses he had hoped the Tower would have been a quiet place to retire. The blood monsters burst through the walls, and the Tower becomes unstable. Farnese falls, but Serpico grabs her hand. Ultimately, the top of the Tower collapses into the shape of a hand. Luca's fellow prostitutes watch from a distance. Below them, from the refugee camp, they hear screams. Refugees begin to become possessed by spirits and attack and devour other refugees. Fires spread, and the fires take the shape of a giant brand.Guts rises confused from the rubble in the "palm" of the hand and sees the fiery brand. At the foot of the Tower, Azan and the remaining Holy Chain Knights try to convey refugees from the Tower and the blood monsters only to be met by masses of refugees from the camp pursued by their possessed brethren. They are trapped between the two threats when Mozgus suddenly burns away the blood monsters and possessed with fiery breath, which he triumphantly calls, "God Breath." After first unceremoniously tossing away Isidro, he declares to the Holy Chain Knights and refugees that faith and burning the witch Casca will save them all. With his "God Breath," and the work of the Twins, Mozgus keeps the blood monsters and possessed refugees at bay while the refugees erect a pillar and pyre with which to burn Casca.
Guts watches refugees drag Casca to the pillar; however, ghastly amalgams of the dead rise to prevent him from rescuing her. These amalgams are founded on the bodies of the disciples he killed: Angel Face, the Imp, Bubblehead, and the Crow. The amalgams around each disciple's body coalesce and begin to take the shape of the members of the God Hand: Void, Conrad, Ubik and Slan. Guts cuts them in vain, but remembers the Skull Knight's cryptic discourse that what will happen will be a "shadow." His brand does not ache as it should. If the figures are not the real God Hand, he wonders, then, about the location of the fifth: Femto. He tries to cut through the figures as the refugees pile the wood at Casca's feet. Guts rages that, like at the Eclipse, he cannot save Casca.
The Skull Knight deposits Luca some distance from the Tower and advises her, if she wishes to continue living, she flee. Luca thanks him but states she has to go to the Tower to do what little she can. The Skull Knight watches her leave and notes that she bears herself as if dealing with a trivial matter. He marvels at what he first concludes is her "ignorant foolhardiness," but he then wonders if it is something else. Nosferatu Zodd appears to take his attention. As figures resembling the four members of the God Hand appear on the top of four of the Tower's "fingers," the Skull Knight concludes that humans cannot alter "this festival" and all of them exist in "the current of Causality."
Egg-Shaped Apostle scurries up the Tower noting that his life will soon end. He looks down on the flying Mozgus and wonders if he had met him would he have become useful and "somebody" like his disciples. As he declares the start of the end, he sees the Demon Child lying in the rubble. He notes that the Child had saved Casca many times. He senses he is dying, cradles him in his tendrils, and declares him the same as him. He swallows the Demon Child so they may die together and, perhaps, the Child will "dream in the cradle of the new world inside me."
Guts vs. Mozgus
Jerome remains afraid that the fact he knows Nina will be discovered along with all of his other secrets involving Luca. He uses the reappearance of Isidro to feign securing the heretics while suggesting that Farnese and Serpico reorganize the remaining Holy Chain Knights to separate himself, Nina, and Isidro from Farnese and Serpico. At the foot of the Tower, as the refugees cry for her burning, Casca has a vision of herself naked before the Apostles devouring her comrades during the Eclipse. Mozgus flies above them demanding the lighting of the pyre as a stunned Farnese watches. Guts vainly cuts down the rising blobs as torches fly towards the pyre. The pyre lit, Guts rages unable to reach her, and Casca can only look up and cry.
Yet above her, standing on a make-shift winch braced by Jerome, Isidro attempts to rescue her. He jumps down to her on a line, cuts her bindings as the flames rise, then Nina tosses off a large brick tied to the other end of the line to pull up Isidro clutching Casca. The flying Mozgus rages at and pursues them as Farnese and Serpico watch. Guts succeeds in cleaving through the monstrous blobs to reach and strike Mozgus as he wonders if he can change fate as he remembers the symbolic utterances of the Skull Knight.
The refugees below believe a "black demon" defeated the "angel" Mozgus. For a brief instant, Guts believes he sees the Egg-Shaped Apostle whose body has organized into a face like an activated beherit. A human embryo is visible within him. However, Buts must quickly turn his attention to the Twins who fly to Casca. Isidro pulls her away as Mozgus engages Guts. When one of the Twins tries to seize Casca again, Jerome deflects him. He then realizes Farnese and Serpico have been watching and accepts that he no longer explain away his assistance.
Mozgus transforms further into a scaled stony form whose wings appear to end in huge fists. The refugees rejoice at the triumph of Mozgus while Farnese begins to think his form is more "bestial" than "angelic." Mozgus brandishes his book of scriptures damaged by Guts' Dragon Slayer as he lectures Guts on his faith. He orders the Twins to recapture Casca while condemning the rest. Realizing that Guts' survival means his other disciples have died, Mozgus vows revenge. In their fight, Guts finds him tougher than Apostles he has faced. Unfortunately, the Twins advance with their double-saws on Casca, Isidro, Nina, Jerome, and Puck which distracts Guts during his battle which Mozgus notices.
Below, the Iron Chain Knights under Azan's command try to hold off the possessed refugees. Unfortunately, the flames that have held back the monstrous blobs begins to die out. Above, Mozgus unleashes his "God Breath" on Guts who tries to stop the Twins. The fire does burn away the Twins' masks to reveal their faces. Guts tries to find a vulnerability by stabbing into Mozgus' open mouth. Unfortunately, Mozgus simply bites down on Dragon Slayer. Guts then attempts to blind Mozgus with his throwing knives.
As the two fight, Isidro encourages Jerome that Mozgus' occupation with Guts allows them to concentrate on the Twins. Nina, however, inwardly panics and seeks to escape by rationalizing that she is no longer needed. Nina starts to run off only to realize she is running towards Farnese and Serpico: "the Heretic Hunters." As she pauses, she finds herself within the Twins' saws. She slips off the edge of the Tower, avoiding the saws, and falls into a wooden container below. Puck assures Isidro and Jerome that he can still sense that she is alive. He then tells him he can take on the Twins to the surprise and doubt of Jerome and Isidro. Puck flies to the Twins and temporarily blinds them with his "Puck Spark." Isidro immediately aims stones at both the Twins' eyes. The blinded Twins crash. No longer concerned with his position, Jerome promptly decapitates them both. Mozgus rages at the loss of his last two disciples and the opposition to his faith. Guts replies he will not allow Mozgus to touch Casca again. Down below, the monstrous blobs resume devouring refugees.
The panicked refugees call upon Mozgus to save them again. Mozgus ignores them and continues his attacks on Guts. Guts finds no vulnerable spot. All those watching, including Farnese, marvel that Guts can continue. Mozgus points to the pleas of the refugees below, but he interprets them as pleas for his, and his god's, victory over Guts. He demands to know how Guts can consider the life of one "witch" more important than the lives of thousands of refugees. Farnese watches as Isidro demands Mozgus explain how burning Casca will save thousands. Puck wonders if Casca's brand attracts the monsters.
Guts interrupts Puck and Isidro's argument to denounce the refugees who only pray, who only bow down, and cling to one woman. Mozgus retorts with another confession of faith and demands Guts repent. As he preaches, Guts believes he sees a weakness: the wound he created before Mozgus transformed into his current stony form. As he aims for it, Mozgus brings his wings down upon him: "God Pressure." As Mozus preaches, Guts fills the defect with his explosives. He genially notes that while Mozgus' faith may be his armor, "on the other hand, it's where you're most vulnerable." This creates an opening that Guts eagerly exploits. As he cuts down Mozgus, he orders him that, should he see his god, he should tell him to "leave me the hell alone!"
Mozgus commits himself to his god. Guts allows his flaming and dying body to fall to the ground below. Farnese watches as flaming feathers float down. She is stunned by the words of a refugee child who announces, "Mother, the angel died!" The refugees fall into panic as nothing can stop the monstrous blobs that fall upon them. The refugees pressed up against the Tower beg for Casca to be sacrificed as the monstrous blobs begin to devour them. Isidro and Jerome watch silently, but Casca begins to cry out from the pain of her bleeding brand. Puck briefly receives a vision of the attacking Apostles from the Eclipse, tries to comfort Casca, but she swats him away. Guts embraces her. Above them, on the "fingers" of the Tower, the silhouettes of Void, Conrad, Ubik, and Slan stand on their respective fingers as a bright egg appears in the palm.
The Incarnation Ritual: Climax
The Egg-Shaped Apostle looks down upon the refugees being devoured. He equates them with the people who long ago drove him into seclusion. They, like he and his world, will all dissolve. He asks the "misshapen child" within him if he can hear the "roaring lullaby of death." The embryo within him does not appear to be the Demon Child; however, he appears to be a normal human infant.
The refugees outside the Tower try to escape the monstrosities by entering it through a gate. Azan and his knights attempt to fall back with them only to find the gate close, trapping them and refugees outside. Meanwhile, Nina, sitting in the box into which she fell, fears she has broken her right foot. She calls for someone to help her as she tries to walk with a stick. She falls and sees a swarm of refugees running towards her as they now flee the blood-blob monstrosities inside. Luca pulls her away before she can be trampled. Realizing that Nina cannot run, Luca seals her in a barrel as the blood-blobs enter the courtyard. On top of the wall above, Isidro, Jerome, and Guts holding Casca, who appears to try to catch Puck, watch the blood-blob monstrosity break through the inner gate with a force that means it can climb up the wall and reach them. Serpico alerts everyone to a fire outside the wall. All turn to look at the flaming body of Mozgus surrounded by a small group praying refugees. His fire creates a small island of safety in the mass of the monstrosity outside. Guts quickly distributes kindling for torches as Farnese stares intently as Mozgus. As Guts explains to Jerome they need to survive until dawn, Farnese wonders how he can talk of survival and, more surprising, how she finds his voice so reassuring.
The huge blood-blobs reach the top of the wall. Jerome, Guts, Serpico, and Isidro keep them at bay with torches. When Isidro outwardly asks what the monsters are, Puck explains that they are the restless spirits of those who died of the plague and torture who are possessing the dead while gaining strength from the despair of the living they consume. Isidro complains that if everyone who died bitter transformed in this fashion, the monstrosities would cover the world. Silently, Puck regards the bleeding brands on Guts and Casca.
Staring at Puck, Farnese inwardly agrees with Isidro that "this kind of thing shouldn't be." She remembers the possessed dogs from her time as Guts' hostage and wonders if such entities represent true reality. She is broken from her thoughts by Guts tossing explosives into the "maw" of a blob coming close to her. Protecting her from the flying debris with Dragon Slayer, he yells at her that if she does not want to die she should try to make herself "a little useful." His admonishment embarrasses her. She ignores Serpico's attempt to help her stand as she realizes that Guts standing against the advancing nightmare is the "one and only thing that is certain." More of the blood-blob monstrosity approaches the party from behind. Farnese exclaims, "Oh, Lord," and receives another rebuke from Guts: if she is praying her hands are closed. He reminds her she holds a torch. Slowly, Farnese tries to brandish it as the blood-blob monstrosity advances upon the from both sides. Screaming, Farnese starts to burn it.Nina rolls inside her barrel it flows in the mass of the blood-blob. Frightened, she coughs up spots of blood into her hands. She concludes that her fear of her death is what keeps her alive. Above, the numbers of refugees trying to escape by seeking higher ground pushes many of them off stairs and walls into the devouring monstrosity. As Casca screams from the pain from her brand, Puck alerts the rest that the very Towers overflows with the monstrosity. It coalesces with the remnants of the Tower to fully form a hand with the four members of the God Hand standing on their respective fingers. Puck feels overwhelmed by the souls of the living and dead all screaming for one thing. The Egg-Shaped Apostle knows what it is. His beherit-shaped body smiles as blood appears to stream from his serenely shut eyes. With the blood-blob monstrosity held at bay in front and behind them, Guts and the rest stand transfixed by the sight of the tower of the monstrosity. Puck feels that all of the souls cry out for the same thing as he notices the beherit in Guts' pouch resonating with their voices. The pain in their brands overwhelm Guts and Casca. The souls appear to collectively call out to "God" as the towering hand glows brightly. A ball-shaped light descends from the sky to the "palm" of the hand. Within, the human embryo quickly transforms into an adult with long, flowing hair.The Egg-Shaped Apostle feels the light "brimming" as his body cracks. Blood suddenly bursts from the "mouth" of each individual "blob" forming the towering hand-shaped monstrosity. Suddenly, Guts regains his control, looks up and screams "Griffith!" as the Towers starts to collapse, raining stones, the few surviving refugees, and monstrous blobs. From a distance, Luca's three fellow prostitutes watch the collapse and the Sun appear in resulting smoke. The Sun appears over the remains of the Holy See's sigil protruding from the debris.
The Incarnation Ritual: Conclusion
The night having passed, only Guts and his party appear alive. The monstrosity is gone, leaving the ruined Towers with crushed bodies amongst the debris. A barrel opens to reveal Nina survived. She begs them to search for Luca, who is discovered, shivering, in a deep well. Before they can thank their luck, spears strike the ground in a circle around them. A platoon of Kushans led by Silat, who was sent by his lord to find a particular person whose appearance on this patch of land was foretold by an oracle, reveal themselves. Silat orders them all seized, though he does not mind if they "suffer some injuries," particularly Guts. Guts orders the "women and the kid" to remain behind him as he begins to hew down the attacking Kushan. Serpico wryly reminds Farnese that such a situation is why he had said "this is no time for leisurely witch hunting," and she angrily commands his silence. Finding being stabbed by a sword better than being eaten, Serpico joins in the fight with great skill. Jerome hisses to himself that Serpico had been faking his languid personality. Serpico takes a moment to tell Guts that, "personal feelings aside," he is reassured to have him fight with him but feels they will be overwhelmed.
A Kushan lassos the women, demands Guts, Jerome, and Serpico's surrender, but before he can finish his threat, Azan crushes his skull. He joins Guts' comrades, but before the battle can commence, the ground shakes. A transformed Zodd bursts from the debris, crushing a few Kushan in the process. While he wonders why Zodd would be there, he sees the Skull Knight on his horse on the remains of the wall above them. The Skull Knight seems to know Guts looks at him, and he points to the distance. Guts follows his direction.A stunned Guts sees a light in over a distant part of the ruins surrounded by white birds. Within this light and floating feathers appears a reborn naked Griffith. Guts, his comrades, and even the Kushans stand stunned by the sight. Only Zodd moves towards Griffith and kneels before him. Griffith, placing his hand on his head, accepts him.
Guts rages at the sight of his enemy, but finds himself stopped by the sound of Casca "oooing" behind him. She reaches her hand out in Griffith's direction. Silat regains his senses and orders his men to seize Griffith. He reminds his stunned men that the reinstatement of their clan depends on them. They attack only to be quickly slaughtered by Zodd. Azan encourages Guts' comrades to engage the few Kushans remaining to face them. Guts, however, stands watching Casca moan and hold her hands towards Griffith. Puck tries to gain his attention as a few Kushan begin to surround the two. Guts ignores them all as he restrains Casca who appears desperate to reach Griffith.
Guts' comrades, led by Azan, make their escape. Luca notices Guts and Casca's absence. Isidro tries to turn back and comically fights with Jerome. Suddenly, all in the party turn to see a massive Khushan army arrayed across the fields below them. They all hide and watch the host advance upon the ruins of the Tower. They then see the flying figure of Zodd with the naked figure of Griffith riding on his neck. They do not know who Griffith is; however, Farnese senses he is "something not human." A loud sound from the ruins of the Tower heralds Guts riding a Khushan horse as he cuts down Khushans before him. Casca hold on to Guts while Puck struggles to hold the reigns.
The party notice a few straggling refugees. Jerome notes that the believers who "clung to God" and took refuge in the Tower died when it collapsed. The non-believers who did not rely on this god but fled the refugee camp survived. He vows to never pray again. Luca observes that those who tried to "go on living," rather than just tried to escape their fear, survived. She gathers flowers. When Nina asks her why, Luca cryptically replies they are for "the chick that died within the egg," who died without ever hatching or meeting or knowing anyone. She wonders to herself if his wish was granted what it will mean for the world.
Isidro takes his leave in search of Guts. The prostitutes offer him "one on the house," but Isidro reluctantly refuses as his nose bleeds and he finds it difficult to run. Thinking of Casca and Guts, Luca concludes that the power to protect someone and be with someone are different. Thinking on that, Nina hobbles off claiming she wishes to cool off her foot. She considers that staying under Luca's protection is her best course of action. However, she encounters Joachim. Scared to return to the refugee camp, Joachim hid in the mountains. He apologizes to Nina and confesses he thought that if he did not betray them her pagans would kill him. He apologizes again for being a coward who abandoned her. Nina tells him to wait.
Sitting by herself, Farnese muses that the Tower of Conviction became a tower of rubble that disappeared like a sand castle, much like her faith. She corrects herself that it was all nothing more than a diversion to escape her fears, the darkness from her childhood. She recalls her lashing of Guts as an occasional outlet for despair that sullied her faith. Nevertheless, all of her status, the entire edifice of her faith, was easily brushed aside by the darkness. She imagines herself as the scared child, huddling in her bed with her stuffed bunny, in the ruined tower.Azan reveals to Serpico he survived because his iron club prevented the rubble from crushing him. He notes the irony of surviving because those whom he tried to protect, the refugees, betrayed him by closing the gate. They both notice Farnese removing her armor. She concludes that because of her childhood fear she adorned herself as a priest.She announces to the two that she is leaving to follow Guts. When Azan protests they must give their report, Farnese reaffirms she has renounced her vocation and asks him to notify the Holy See and her father. Serpico dutifully bids Azan farewell and follows Farnese. With uncharacteristic determination, Farnese ignores Azan's protests over desertion. Instead, she muses that she never escaped from her childhood darkness which ultimately became real before her eyes. Only the Black Swordsman stood up against the darkness. She wonders, as Serpico rushes to keep up, if Guts is her prophet or saint.
Jerome asks Nina if she is sure of her decision as they continue to walk away from Luca, Jerome, and the rest of the prostitutes. She concludes if she stayed with Luca, one day she would hate her and herself again. She beliefs if she stays with a man who shares her weakness, the two may become a little stronger and kinder together.
The Skull Knight sits on his horse on a crag that gives him a view of the ruins of Albion and the Tower of Conviction. He notes that this was the fissure that started the crumbling of the shape of the world.
- Many details involving the intricate workings of the God Hand and the Spiritual Realm are hinted at during this Arc, and expanded on in the next. Above all, Guts firmly settles on finding Casca and never leaving her alone again, and Griffith's rebirth signifies both the reconstruction of this world and a new chapter in the many causal relationships to be had in the remainder of the series.
Anime and Manga Differences
- The 2016 anime adaptation omits the Lost Children chapter.
- In the manga, Guts takes Farnese to the middle of the road, while in the 2016 adaptation Guts takes Farnese to an abandoned mansion.
- In the 2016 anime adaptation Guts fights the Keeper of the Hounds after kidnapping Farnese, while in the manga, the fight happens by the end of Golden Age arc.
Lost Children Chapter
Guts only major fight is with Rosine's minions and Rosine herself. The minions merely get in Guts' way and their sheer numbers almost overpower Guts, while his first skirmish with Rosine ends badly, only surviving because of Jill's intervention.
His climactic battle with Rosine has multiple stages. He lightly damages her wings and burns all her children which makes Rosine transform into her Apostle form. Guts is quickly put on the defensive as on top of Rosine's blindingly fast attacks, sonic booms follow her assaults. He takes advantage of a slower, more precise attack she makes and has her impale his arm and carry him into the air, providing a position from which to blast her with his cannon arm, blowing a hole into her abdomen. Guts crashes on the ground and ambushes Rosine while she is distracted with Jill and impales her with the Dragon Slayer. He is carried up once again and almost gets killed by her spear-like appendage, but only gets pierced through his cheeks and manages to bite down on it, and inflicts the final blow with the Dragon Slayer as they both fall to the ground. Rosine flies away and dies shortly after Guts is forced to leave when the Holy Iron Chain Knights arrive.
Binding Chain Chapter
Guts' only real confrontation here is with the Holy Iron Chain Knights. While he manages to kill most of the soldiers sent his way, he is exhausted from his battle with Rosine and defeated by Azan. After subsequent capture and escape, he spends a night defending his hostage, Farnese, from possessed animals.
Birth Ceremony Chapter
Many battles take place over the course of this chapter. The first is a skirmish with soldiers attempting to apprehend him at Albion, which goes predictably. Later, pursuing Casca in the pagans' cave, Guts is forced into battle with the Great Goat, who is now a pseudo-apostle. The Great Goat proves to be a more dangerous adversary than expected, being agile enough to evade Guts and strong enough to inflict heavy blows. He is however eventually outmatched by Guts' skill and wit.
Many skirmishes follow, leading up to a battle with Mozgus' disciples sans the twins, all of whom now bear wings and enhanced physical power from their transformation into pseudo-apostles. The combined tactics of Bird, Angel Face, Bubblehead, and the Imp push Guts to close calls several times, but Guts outsmarts and defeats them all, down to a duel with the Bird that ends in the latter's death.
Following this, demons force the characters into battles between Guts and Mozgus in his "Stone Angel" form, and the rest of the cast attempting to survive the Twins. All opponents are eventually overwhelmed and killed. Puck, Isidro, and Jerome take down the Twins while Guts impales Mozgus through the heart, his only weak point.
- This arc is also known as the Retribution Arc in unofficial translations.
- ^ Berserk, Volume 14, "Black Swordsman, Again"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 14, "Elves of Misty Valley"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 14, "Jill"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 14, "By Flight"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 14, "Evil Insect"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 15, "Will-o'-the-Wisp"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 15, "Red-Eyed Pikaf"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 15, "The Girl I Remember"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 15, "World of the Winged Ones"
- ^ a b Berserk, Volume 15, "Guardian (2)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 15, "Pursuers"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 15, "Misty Valley (1)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 15, "Misty Valley (2)"
- ^ a b Berserk, Volume 15, "Cocoons"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 16, "Flying Demon"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 16, "Bloody Night Sky"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 16, "Between Man and Demon"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 16, "Firefly"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 16, "The Road Home"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 16, "Elf of the Blue Sky"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 16, "Beast of Darkness"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 16, "Holy Iron Chain Knights (1)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 17, "Recurring"
- ^ a b Berserk, Volume 17, "Morning of Truth"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 17, "Revelation (1)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 17, "Revelation (3)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 17, "Cracks in the Blade"
- ^ a b Berserk, Volume 17, "Feeble Flame"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 17, "To the Holy Ground (1)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 17, "To the Holy Ground (2)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 18, "Kushan Scouts (1)"
- ^ a b Berserk, Volume 18, "Tower of Shadows (1)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 18, "Tower of Shadows (2)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 18, "Children of Shadow"
- ^ a b c Berserk, Volume 18, "Zealot"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 18, "Bowels of the Holy Ground"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 18, "Witch"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 18, "Spirit Road (1)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 18, "Spirit Road (2)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 18, "Pillar of Flames"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 19, "Black Swordsman on the Holy Ground"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 19, "Straying"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 19, "Ambitious Boy"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 19, "Monsters' Cave"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 19, "Reunion"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 19, "Ambush"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 19, "Prisoners"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 19, "Iron Maiden"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 19, "Blood Flow of the Dead (1)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 19, "Blood Flow of the Dead (2)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 20, "Spider's Thread"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 20, "Those Dancing at the Top, Those Crawling on the Ground"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 20, "Hell's Angels"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 20, "Unknown One at the Bottom of the Deep"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 20, "The Frightened"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 20, "Omen"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 20, "Collapse"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 20, "Shadow of Idea (1)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 20, "Shadow of Idea (2)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 20, "Shadow of Idea (3)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 21, "Leaping Fish"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 21, "Monstrous Priest (1)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 21, "Monstrous Priest (2)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 21, "The One Who Clings, the One Who Struggles"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 21, "Tsunami of Darkness (1)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 21, "Tsunami of Darkness (2)"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 21, "Resonance"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 21, "Falling Sky"
- ^ a b Berserk, Volume 21, "Dawn"
- ^ Berserk, Volume 21, "Starting a Journey with Resolve"