When you confront those who lurk in the darkness, you also envelop yourself in it.
– The Skull Knight[8]
The Skull Knight is an enigmatic figure and a self-proclaimed "foe of the inhumans",[8][3] having waged war against demonkind for a millennium.[5]

Approximately 1000 years old, he has vast knowledge of events surrounding the world, as well as remarkable foresight regarding the events and flow of causality. It is the Skull Knight who breaks into the fifth Eclipse and saves Guts and Casca from their demise.[6] He later resurfaces during the Kushan invasion of Midland atop the twice reincarnated Ganishka, in a seeming attempt to assassinate Femto, and with his Beherit Sword, creates an astral tear used by the angel to trigger the Great Roar of the Astral World.[7]

Personality Edit

An ancient being, the Skull Knight is aloof and mysterious with great understanding of the deterministic nature of the world and foreknowledge of the predestined. As such, he possesses a brutally realistic worldview, oftentimes citing the inevitability of causality's flow. Despite this outlook, he has proven to be quite heroic, saving Guts, his comrades and Luca on multiple occasions. However, Flora has questioned whether his actions are out of genuine care or merely a means of furthering his own agenda, a query which the Skull Knight turns a deaf ear to.[9] He ultimately values the human will to survive and defy fate, encouraging Guts to contend against causality and aptly naming him "struggler".[2] He is also quite insightful, warning Guts that Casca's true desire might differ from the Black Swordsman's own.[10]

The Skull Knight has a long-spanning rivalry with Nosferatu Zodd, who is always excited to fight the knight, calling him "old friend". He is normally indifferent to Zodd, only showing irritation at the apostle's efforts to impede him, though he does openly acknowledge their history and rivalry. He has also known and apparently had a close relationship with the witch Flora for at least several hundred years.[9]

Background Edit

The Skull Knight's past is shrouded in mystery. He harbors a particular grudge against the God Hand. Slan refers to the knight as "Your Majesty" when he appears in Qliphoth.[11] He has also confirmed himself to be a former owner of the Berserker Armor, with the armor's adaptive helm having even possessed a skull shape prior to Guts acquiring it; additionally, according to Schierke, the previous owner of the Berserker Armor fought until it bled them of every last drop of blood.[12] He also has a history with several ancient characters, such as Zodd the Immortal and Flora, the latter whom he considers dear.

Story Edit

Golden Age Arc Edit

Manga E37 Skull Knight Meets Guts

The Skull Knight meeting Guts for the first time.

On the night of Guts' departure from the Band of the Falcon, the Skull Knight approaches him for the first time to leave him with a prophecy. While nearing Guts' campfire, his aura alone throws Guts off initially, resulting in the former Falcon becoming anxious and uneasy. He begins to speak of a perilous event, coined "the Eclipse", that will take place in a year's time, stating that Guts and his companions will be swept away in a torrent of madness and death. Further cautioning the "struggler", the Skull Knight tells Guts to fight and survive in spite of his impending doom before leaving the campsite and vanishing into the night.[13]

Manga E52 Skull Knight Threatens Slug Count

The Skull Knight defending Rickert from the Slug Count.

As the Eclipse nears a year later, the Skull Knight resurges to aid Rickert when his party is ambushed by the Slug Count and Rosine, among other apostles. Just as the Slug Count prepares to engulf Rickert, the Skull Knight intervenes and demands that the apostles cease their slaughter. Surely enough, the threatened apostles withdraw from the scene, and with their departure the Skull Knight, too, retreats into the night.[14]

On the day of the Eclipse, the Skull Knight encounters his old-time rival Nosferatu Zodd, who he presumes is guarding the dimensional gate to the Interstice where the Eclipse is taking place.[15] However, Zodd's true purpose for being there is to engage in combat with the Skull Knight. Accepting that his encounter with Zodd was within the current of causality, the Skull Knight engages in combat with Zodd, handily besting his rival and then breaking into the nearby temporal junction point.[5]

Manga E88 Skull Knight Attacks Void

The Skull Knight attacking Void.

Upon entering the Eclipse, the Skull Knight immediately attacks Void, who diverts the attack back at his assailant via a dimensional portal. After blocking his own strike and having a short stare down with his archenemy, the Skull Knight sets his sights on rescuing Guts and Casca, quickly dispatching the apostles in his wake. In his approach, however, he is targeted by Femto, who uses his newfound abilities to form a compaction ball of demons around the former. Completely undeterred by the angel's attack, the Skull Knight acquires Guts and Casca and leaves the temporary Interstice.[16]

After exiting the Eclipse and returning to the Physical World, the Skull Knight orders Rickert to tend to Guts and Casca's wounds. A blood-lusted Zodd returns to resume their battle, but the Skull Knight asks that he delay their confrontation. Seeing that Guts in fact survived the Eclipse and proved his prediction wrong, Zodd leaves the scene rather intrigued by the turn of events. With Guts and Casca's wounds seen to, the Skull Knight takes Rickert and the branded survivors to a nearby elfin safe haven.[16]

Four days later, in a moonlit valley near Godot's cottage, the Skull Knight appears before Guts and informs the swordsman that, as one branded, he now resides in the Interstice and will be preyed upon incessantly by demonkind and evil spirits alike.[17] He continues on with his monologue as specters of the night begin prowling Guts, but after being silenced by Guts for his mentions of "destiny" and "sacrifices", and witnessing the struggler's declaration of war against demonkind, the Skull Knight begins to understand how Guts survived the Eclipse. When the spirits finally cease their assault, the knight informs Guts that the specters haven't been defeated, but have merely found another "torch" in the Interstice to prey upon, alluding to Casca's endangerment.[2] After he and Guts arrive to Casca's location, the Skull Knight observes that the spirits are merely surrounding her, as she gives birth to a creature he comes to realize is Guts' tainted child. As the sun rises and the child fades into the astral realm, the knight advises Guts to follow the guidance of his brand and heed the darkness he will inevitably confront, so as to not be enveloped by it, afterwards bidding the struggler good luck and taking his leave.[8]

Conviction Arc Edit

In the scorched land that was once the Misty Valley, the Skull Knight treads through the decimated vale, realizing that Guts had some part in the destruction. Realizing Guts hadn't fallen to evil, the Skull Knight begins to wonder just how long the swordsman will be able to continue on his path of carnage. Upon arriving at Rosine's tree, he dismounts his horse and reaches into a small gap between the tree's roots, extracting Rosine's beherit and subsequently ingesting it.[18]

At a later point, the Skull Knight appears to Guts and explains the significance of the Tower of Conviction in the God Hand's design, as the entire area is a haven for the restless dead ripe for being the stage of an Incarnation Ceremony, where Femto will regain his corporeal form as Griffith. He states the Incarnation Ceremony cannot be stopped, as it has been preordained by fate. Guts becomes skeptical of causality's supposed ultimate nature, however, pointing out how both the Skull Knight and Zodd predicted his own death during the Eclipse, yet he still survived. The Skull Knight, impressed by Guts' resolve, reasons that the Incarnation Ceremony could differ from the Eclipse and that Guts might indeed be a "jumping fish" in the river that is causality. Just before leaving, he leaves Guts with a parting message: "Fight, or rescue. Your lover will be left alone. It won't be as simple as catching two birds."[3]

Manga E160 Skull Knight Attacks EotPW

The Skull Knight attacking the Egg of the Perfect World.

In the nick of time, just as the Tower of Conviction partially collapses, the Skull Knight saves Luca from falling to her death and takes her to the Tower of Conviction's burial grounds. When the two are met by the Egg of the Perfect World, the Skull Knight proceeds to strike the apostle down; his attack fails to kill the egg, however, causing him to momentarily question the confidence of his sword, before concluding it simply wasn't the apostle's time to die.[19] Not long after the encounter, the two witness the large-scale manifestation of the malice pervading Albion. Realizing that the malice was taking form without the occurrence of a temporal junction, the Skull Knight comes then realizes the Incarnation Ceremony had begun.[20]

Having distanced themselves from the commencing ceremony, the Skull Knight cautions Luca not to return to the tower if she cares for her well-being, though she returns regardless. As Luca leaves, the Skull Knight muses over her "ignorant fool-hardiness", somewhat perplexed by her calm perspective of the situation, unmoved state of mind, and her not soliciting his assistance. Despite this, he notes that he would be unable to aid her regardless, stating, "All moves as if parallel to that time..." Shortly after, he is again approached by Zodd, an encounter indeed parallel to their previous one outside of the Eclipse.[21] At daybreak, the Skull Knight reappears atop a penetrated tower wall in the midst of battle, motioning the combatants to look in the direction of a reconstituted Griffith.[22]

Long after all parties have left the city, the Skull Knight looks down at the ruins of Albion atop a cliff, contemplating the events to come in wake of the White Falcon's return.[23]

Millennium Falcon Arc Edit

Manga E221 Beherit Sword

The Skull Knight brandishing his Beherit Sword.

Hinted to have been the one who told Flora Guts and his group would visit her, the Skull Knight appears to the witch after Guts' group leaves the Mansion of the Spirit Tree for Enoch Village. When Flora presumes that he has a favor to ask, he replies, "Even if I don't do it myself... that one may also be a factor guided by the law of causality..."[9] He later comes to Guts' aid in Qliphoth just as the swordsman is overpowered by Slan, disappointed to see only her and not the other angels of the God Hand.[24] When Guts finally musters the strength to damage Slan with his cannon arm, the Skull Knight reassures him that his Dragon Slayer – "tempered by the malice of hundreds... thousands of dead" – will be able to run through the angel. Heeding the Skull Knight's advice, Guts pierces Slan in her abdomen, resulting in the decomposition of her assumed form.[11] Slan's abrupt disappearance has adverse effects on Qliphoth, however, as the heart of the domain becomes chaotic and the den begins to collapse. This forces the Skull Knight to reveal his Beherit Sword, which he then uses to seal the multiplying swarm of felled beasts into the Abyss and return Guts to safety.[1]

Later, back in the Mansion of the Spirit Tree, the Skull Knight oversees Flora's finishing touches to the Berserker Armor, stating she must be aware of the danger it poses and its karmic nature. She concedes to his first point, but states that it will be necessary in its intended user's journey, and that the choices she and the Skull Knight have made are not predestined to repeat.[25] Suddenly, both are alerted by the abrupt invasion of apostles in the domain. They step out onto the mansion balcony, from which the Skull Knight leaps, landing on his horse. A surprised Flora asks if he intends to defend her from the intruders, which he confirms, stating her death will be easier if not at the hands of enemies.[25]

Manga E225 Skull Knight Battles Zodd

The Skull Knight in battle with Zodd on Flora's mansion grounds.

Not too long thereafter, Grunbeld and Zodd arrive on the mansion grounds in search of Flora. While Grunbeld opposes Guts, Zodd opts to hold off his rival, commanding the lower-ranking apostles to bring him Flora's head. The Skull Knight finds it odd that Zodd would give chase to a woman, to which Zodd retorts he simply is the only one capable of holding the former off. The knight then comes to the conclusion that both have different reasons for opposing each other this time.[26] In the midst of their battle, Zodd witnesses Guts donning the Berserker Armor, reminiscing over previous battles between himself and his rival and concluding that the Skull Knight must want Guts to follow in the knight's path.[27]

On a moonlit beach sometime later, the Skull Knight appears before Guts, warning of the harm that befalls users of the Berserker Armor and revealing that he was a previous owner of it. He cautions Guts to never make light of the armor if he wants to continue on as a human. With the advice received, a curious Guts then inquires of the knight the reason behind the apostles' attack on Flora's mansion. The Skull Knight reveals that Griffith likely considered Flora an obstacle in his quest for worldly omnipresence, due to her magical abilities; that only those existing outside the confines of the physical realm can confront the Falcon of Light.[12] Later, the Skull Knight informs Guts of Elfhelm's Flower Storm Monarch, suggesting the elf may be capable of restoring a regressed Casca to her former self, but warns that what Casca desires might differ from what the swordsman does.[10]

Manga E303 Skull Knight Ambushes Femto

The Skull Knight attempting to assassinate Femto.

At the height of the Battle for Wyndham, after Griffith assumes his true form of Femto and nears Ganishka's head, the Skull Knight appears and attempts to strike the angel down from behind with his Beherit Sword. However, his arrival is anticipated and sword stroke manipulated via space distortion by Femto, who then redirects it at Ganshika. This triggers a chain reaction with Ganishka's twice reincarnated form that results in the Great Roar of the Astral World, giving birth to the global Interstice of Fantasia and manifesting in place of the apostle the World Spiral Tree.[7]

Fantasia Arc Edit

After Casca has a panic attack, the Skull Knight looks on from afar as Guts leaves.[28] After Casca regains her conscience, the Skull Knight meets Guts at a cliffside and tells him that he must see his journey to the end and that it is not always a happy thing.[29]

Abilities Edit

The Skull Knight is undoubtedly one of the most powerful known beings in the series, whose abilities allow him to oppose apostles and God Hand members alike. In all of his most recent encounters with Zodd, he has sustained no damage, and even bested the apostle during the Eclipse.[16] Other apostles have even shown explicit fear in his presence, as seen with the Slug Count and Rosine,[14] and several God Hand members have had to actively defend themselves when at the mercy of his attacks.

Swordsmanship Edit

Manga E220 SK Swordsmanship

The Skull Knight's swordsmanship on display.

As his most attributable skill, the Skull Knight's swordsmanship is masterful, allowing him to easily dispatch apostles with merely a single strike from his thorned sword. Relying only on his base swordsmanship and wits, he is able to sever the arm of Zodd the Immortal in combat.[16][7] Despite the sword being of normal size, he has demonstrated the ability to cut apart numerous apostles in their true, monstrously large forms.

Upon swallowing his thorned sword and coating it in ingested beherits to create his Beherit Sword, the capabilities of his swordsmanship increase tenfold. One stroke of his Beherit Sword alone operates on a dimensional scale, as seen in Qliphoth; during the collapse of the domain he is able to use his newly formed sword to not only send a horde of demonkind into an abyssal vortex, but also slice open space-time portals for near instant travel.[1] On the head of Ganishka's god form, a stroke from the Skull Knight's Beherit Sword, intended for Femto, is manipulated by the angel and redirected at the dying apostle – its large-scale, space-cleaving properties ultimately sparking the Great Roar of the Astral World and killing Ganishka.[7]

Other Skills Edit

Almost always atop his horse companion, all of the Skull Knight's most recent battles have been fought on horseback. His horse is both fast and agile, capable of swift, precise movements, leaping great distances and even running up and down vertical surfaces. While saving Guts and Casca and concurrently being attacked by a newly born Femto, the Skull Knight has no trouble acquiring the two mercenaries thwarting Femto's efforts, and escaping the temporal junction unscathed.[16] However, he himself has demonstrated superhuman speed and strength, bounding up a vertical tunnel by jumping off its walls, and moving so fast as to appear a blur even over large distances.[19][20]

Most peculiar in the Skull Knight's repertoire of abilities is his foresight; he possesses strong causal awareness – knowledge of that which has yet to occur.

Notes Edit

  • The Skull Knight states that, like Guts and Casca, he also resides in the Interstice.[3]
    • Flora later states that Guts is a "fellow sufferer" to the Skull Knight.[9]
  • Puck states that the Skull Knight "kinda feels like an elf" when first encountering him.[3]
    • Skull Knight is referred to as "King" by the residents of Elfhelm.[30]
  • Despite the Skull Knight's stance as a foe of the inhumans, he has blatantly spared apostles: specifically, the Slug Count and Rosine, after they slaughter the Band of the Falcon members traveling with Rickert.[14]

References Edit

  1. ^ a b c Berserk, Volume 26, "Companions"
  2. ^ a b c Berserk, Volume 13, "Vow of Retaliation"
  3. ^ a b c d e f Berserk, Volume 18, "Spirit Road (2)"
  4. ^ Berserk, Volume 20, "Those Dancing at the Top, Those Crawling on the Ground"
  5. ^ a b c Berserk, Volume 13, "Storm of Death (1)"
  6. ^ a b Berserk, Volume 13, "Afterglow of the Right Eye"
  7. ^ a b c d e Berserk, Volume 34, "Fissure"
  8. ^ a b c Berserk, Volume 14, "Demon Child"
  9. ^ a b c d Berserk, Volume 24, "Elementals"
  10. ^ a b Berserk, Volume 28, "Boy in the Moonlight"
  11. ^ a b Berserk, Volume 26, "Whore Princess of the Uterine Sea"
  12. ^ a b Berserk, Volume 28, "Proclaimed Omen"
  13. ^ Berserk, Volume 9, "Skull Knight"
  14. ^ a b c Berserk, Volume 10, "The Eve (2)"
  15. ^ Berserk, Volume 12, "Feast"
  16. ^ a b c d e Berserk, Volume 13, "Escape"
  17. ^ Berserk, Volume 13, "Sprint"
  18. ^ Berserk, Volume 16, "Beast of Darkness"
  19. ^ a b Berserk, Volume 20, "Omen"
  20. ^ a b Berserk, Volume 20, "Collapse"
  21. ^ Berserk, Volume 20, "Shadow of Idea (3)"
  22. ^ Berserk, Volume 21, "Dawn"
  23. ^ Berserk, Volume 21, "Starting a Journey with Resolve"
  24. ^ Berserk, Volume 26, "Vicinity of Hell"
  25. ^ a b Berserk, Volume 26, "Claw Marks"
  26. ^ Berserk, Volume 26, "Flames (2)"
  27. ^ Berserk, Volume 26, "Berserker Armor (2)"
  28. ^ Berserk, Volume TBA, "Barrier"
  29. ^ Berserk, Volume TBA, "Cherry Orchard"
  30. ^ Berserk, Volume TBA, "Gorge"
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