Erica is wandering through a wood not far from her and Godo's house, finding and stripping dead branches. She blows hot air onto her cold hands when a snowflake falls on her nose; it has begun to snow. She spins around when she hears a voice singing.
It's Puck, dancing around and singing in the air. Mistaking him for a bug, Erica claps her hands over him as she would to kill a fly, stunning Puck. When he begins to weakly sing again, Erica gleefully runs through the forest to find Rickert and show him the interesting creature she's found. Her path is blocked, however, by a menacing, shadowy figure. Though at first scared, when it speaks and reveals itself to be Guts, a smile quickly overtakes her face.
Together, they return to Godo's mill, where Rickert has learned to smith and is practicing his craft. Erica delivers the wood he requested, and he is surprised to see Guts enter the room behind her. Having not seen each other in two years, Guts cannot help but notice how Rickert has grown, how long his hair is, and how muscular he has become thanks to his becoming a blacksmith. They greet each other warmly, but the formalities are quickly dispensed with.
A tense look grows over Guts' face, and he asks if Casca is still safe at the house. Both Rickert and Erica have crestfallen looks, and Rickert weakly admits that Casca has disappeared. Guts angrily grabs the boy's shirt and demands an explanation. Rickert doesn't say anything, but Erica begins to cry, yelling that it is her fault that Casca's gone. This prompts Rickert to explain the situation.
A month prior, Casca had grown tired of spending all her time in the cave near the house. Feeling bad for her, Erica decided to let her out and play with her, but when her back was turned, Casca left on her own.
Guts angrily asks why they haven't gone to search for her, but the question angers Erica, who pounds her fists angrily on Guts' stomach. She calls him a hypocrite because he is angry that they haven't properly cared for her, even though he had left for two full years and avoided the same responsibility. She says that over the past month, Rickert had gone out countless times in search of Casca, with no success. Rickert can no longer leave the mill for long periods of time because of a new circumstance: Godo's old age has caught up with him. Guts climbs the stairs to the old man's room and finds Godo lying in bed. He asks to see the Dragon Slayer and Guts' prosthetic arm, forcing himself to a sitting position so as to better inspect them. He judges that Guts' equipment shows ten years' worth of wear, despite the fact that Guts has only been using them for two.
During the two years that Guts was on his journey, Godo has contemplated the Black Swordsman's quest. He knows that Guts' revenge is aimed at something that is beyond human. Godo cannot condone Guts' quest and suggests that Guts abandon it in favor of settling down somewhere far away from his problems.
Godo says that Guts is on his quest for revenge because if he were to settle down, he would have to quietly accept the deaths of the Band of the Falcon, something he knows Guts cannot do. The Black Swordsman has replaced sorrow with rage. Casca is a reminder of the past, and thus a reminder of his time with the Falcons. Godo criticizes Guts for leaving Rickert and Casca, whom Guts has abandoned despite the fact that they have just as much a right to revenge as he does.
Characters in Order of Appearance