"Snow, Flames, and ... (1)" is episode 185 of the Berserk manga.
Farnese and Serpico have set up camp for the night in the ruins of an old rural house. They've started a fire, but it does nothing to abate the biting cold or the snow that falls on them. Serpico has grown quite fond of traveling without a large host following him, but Farnese is much less amused, being unable to appreciate anything thanks to the freezing temperatures and the constant hunger. Serpico asks if she wants to return to the holy city, but Farnese refuses to give up on her search for the Black Swordsman, or to return to the mansion she once lived in, which looks out onto the city square where heretics are burned.
She asks Serpico, who is standing on the edge of the house's ruins, to come join her by the warm fire. He refuses, saying that he will keep watch for approaching Kushan in the night. She quips that nobody would be fool enough to travel when it is this cold out, but Serpico remains where he is nonetheless.
He remembers the day he first met Farnese, on a similar snowy night. As a young boy, Serpico was quite poor and lived with his mother. The less well-off commoners were given food rations which Serpico would routinely fetch, but several older boys would commonly beat him and steal the rations. One particular occasion, Serpico had found a brick after being beaten and proceeded to bludgeon the leader of the boys with it, securing possession of his food.
Living in the holy city, every aspect of Serpico's life revolved around religion; all was devoted to God. Serpico lived in a small hovel on the outskirts of the city with his mother, who was bedridden and emaciated due to illness. She often had Serpico do her bidding but disapproved of his getting into fights, demanding that he act the part of an aristocrat. Serpico's father was of noble blood but had long since abandoned him and his mother, who always had hope that Serpico's father would one day return and provide for them. She one day gave Serpico a small locket with the image of herself, Serpico, and his father depicted in it, hoping that Serpico would be able to use it to prove his identity as the son of a nobleman.
The day after fighting with the young boy and bludgeoning his head, Serpico was faced with the bandaged boy once more and his older brother, who were out for revenge. They beat Serpico mercilessly, stopping only when he was nearly dead. Serpico remained lying on the ground long after they had left, allowing himself to be nearly completely buried in the snowfall.
Once night fell, Serpico was found by a passing Farnese and her servants. Her very appearance showed off her high aristocratic status, which Serpico had disdain for due to his mother urging him to act like a noble. Farnese ordered her servants to have Serpico brought to her mansion where he could be warmed and tended to. After being brought into her home and placed in a bed, Serpico could hear Farnese arguing with her maidservants about who would treat him. Farnese insisted that Serpico was her responsibility and wanted to tend to him alone. As she nursed him back to health, she made Serpico vow to serve her as payment for saving his life.
Once he recovered, Serpico returned to see his mother and told her what had happened, explaining that he was now employed by Farnese's family and would be able to hire a servant to care for his mother, who urged him to take advantage of the opportunity to mingle among the nobility.
As it turned out, Serpico had had the good fortune of being found and employed by the Vandimion family, whose wealth is so vast that it rivals the treasuries of small nations. His employment involved his being something of a plaything for Farnese, whose maidservants often grew tired of the girl's eccentricities. Her parents were never around, her father being too occupied with his work and her mother often going on extravagant vacations, so they expressed their love through buying possessions for Farnese. Besides her servants, she lived alone in an enormous mansion with no one to keep her company.
One night, Farnese went to bed and ordered Serpico to hold her hand throughout the night because she was scared of the storm outside. There was a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder, and she ordered Serpico to make it stop, which he obviously could not do. The wind sent a large tree branch through the window, frightening Farnese, who ran out of her room. Serpico followed close behind, but she continued to run until she was outside the mansion entirely. When Serpico found her, she was dancing in the rain, unafraid of the storm anymore. In the moment where she was unafraid, Serpico noted that Farnese seemed to be a completely different person.
Not long after this incident, Farnese led Serpico through the small wood behind the mansion where Farnese had set up a makeshift crematorium, where she burned all she deemed evil in the name of her faith. Serpico knew of her fondness for burning those the Holy See deemed evil, having heard that she used to burn the heretics outside her home personally.
A year after being employed by the Vandimions, Serpico caught sight of the family patriarch: Farnese's father. She ran up to him, but he dismissed her, being too busy speaking of business matters. Only then did he notice the plush rabbit Farnese carried around with her, and he ordered her to dispose of the filthy toy. She gladly did so using her crematorium, despite the fact that she was seemingly very attached to it.
One day, having a moment alone together, Farnese's father asked the young Serpico about the locket he carried around his neck. Serpico dutifully removed it and showed it to Farnese's father, who looked at it knowingly. It was at this moment that Serpico came to realize that Farnese's father and his own father were one and the same. Serpico's father had asked his son to keep the information a secret, lest Serpico's new half-siblings, Farnese and her three brothers, find out. Serpico agreed, and as a result he was granted nobility. When Serpico asked his father to meet with his mother, the master of the house Vandimion dismissed the idea.
Serpico noticed how distant Farnese and their father were. News of her activities and growth was relayed to their father by the servants hired to look after her. Serpico suddenly identified much more with his young half-sister, who knew her father only as well as Serpico did, despite having lived with him all her life.
Characters in Order of Appearance Edit
|Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc|