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When you confront those who lurk in the darkness, you also envelop yourself in it.
– The Skull Knight
Approximately 1000 years old, he has vast knowledge of events surrounding the world, as well as remarkable foresight regarding the flow of causality. It is the Skull Knight who breaks into the fifth Eclipse and saves Guts and Casca from their demise. He later resurfaces during the Kushan invasion of Midland atop the twice reincarnated Ganishka in a seeming attempt to assassinate Femto, and with his Sword of Beherits creates an astral fissure used by the angel to trigger the Great Roar of the Astral World.
An ancient being, the Skull Knight is aloof and mysterious with a great awareness of the flow of causality and foreknowledge of events which have yet to happen. 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, the swordsman's 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 to which the Skull Knight turns a deaf ear. He ultimately values the human will to survive and defy fate, encouraging Guts to contend against causality and aptly naming him "struggler". He is also quite insightful, warning Guts that Casca's true desire might differ from the Black Swordsman's own.
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, 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.
The Skull Knight's past is shrouded in mystery. He harbors a particular enmity toward the God Hand. A number of individuals have addressed him as "king" and "Your Majesty". He has also confirmed himself to be a former wearer of the Berserker Armor, and the armor's adaptive helm possessed a skull shape prior to Guts donning it. Furthermore, according to Schierke, the previous wearer of the Berserker Armor fought until it bled them of every last drop of blood. At some point, his current armor was crafted by the dwarf blacksmith Hanarr. He also has a history with several very old individuals, such as Zodd the Immortal and Flora, the latter whom he considers dear.
Golden Age Arc
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 an omen. 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.
As the Eclipse nears a year later, the Skull Knight resurfaces to aid Rickert when his party is ambushed by the Count and Rosine, among other apostles. Just as the Count prepares to devour 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.
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. 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.
Upon entering the Eclipse, the Skull Knight immediately attacks Void, who counters by manifesting two linked portals. After blocking his own strike and having a short stare down with Void, the Skull Knight sets his sights on rescuing Guts and Casca, swiftly dispatching apostles in his way. In his approach, the Skull Knight is targeted by Femto, who uses his newfound abilities to form a compaction ball of demons around the knight. Circumventing the attack completely undeterred, the Skull Knight acquires Guts and Casca and exits the temporal junction point.
Upon returning to the Physical World, the Skull Knight instructs Rickert to tend to Guts and Casca's wounds. A bloodlusted Zodd returns to resume their battle, but the Skull Knight asks that he delay their confrontation. Seeing that Guts survived the Eclipse and proved his prediction wrong, an intrigued Zodd agrees to the knight's appeal out of respect for Guts' "mad luck". With Guts and Casca's wounds seen to, the Skull Knight takes Rickert and the branded survivors to a nearby elfin safe haven.
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. 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. After he and Guts arrive at 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 World, 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, afterward bidding the struggler good luck and taking his leave.
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. Deducing that Guts has not fallen to evil, the Skull Knight wonders 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 then ingesting it.
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."
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. Not long after the encounter, the two witness the large-scale manifestation of the malice pervading Albion. Realizing that the malice is taking form without the occurrence of a temporal junction, the Skull Knight understands that the Incarnation Ceremony has begun.
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 outlook on the situation and her not soliciting his help. Despite this, he notes that he would be unable to assist her, as "All moves as if parallel to that time." Shortly after, he is met by Zodd.
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. Sometime afterward, the Skull Knight looks down at the ruins of the city atop a distant cliff, contemplating the events to come in the wake of Griffith's return.
Millennium Falcon Arc
Hinted to have been the one who told Flora that 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..." 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. 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. 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 brandish his Sword of Beherits, which he uses to entrap the multiplying swarm of felled beasts in an abyssal vortex and return Guts to safety.
Later, inside 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. Suddenly, both are alerted by the invasion of apostles. They step out onto the mansion balcony, from which the Skull Knight leaps, landing on his horse. A surprised Flora asks if the knight intends to fight on her behalf given her impending death, which he confirms, stating that her death should be at ease all the same.
Shortly after, Grunbeld and Zodd arrive on the mansion grounds in search of Flora. While Grunbeld opposes Guts, Zodd opts to hold off his rival, ordering the lower-ranking apostles to bring him Flora's head. When the Skull Knight attempts to shift his focus elsewhere, Zodd impedes him, finding it odd that the knight would concern himself with a woman amid battle and affirming he is the only one capable of holding the knight off. The knight replies that they both have different reasons for opposing each other this time. During their battle, Zodd witnesses Guts donning the Berserker Armor, reminiscing over previous battles between himself and his rival and suggesting that the Skull Knight must want Guts to follow in the knight's path.
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 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 preeminence, due to her being a powerful wielder of magic; and that only those existing outside the confines of the Physical World can confront the Falcon of Light. Later, the Skull Knight informs Guts of Elfhelm's Flower Storm Monarch, suggesting that 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.
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 Sword of Beherits. 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.
In Elfhelm, when a restored Casca has a panic attack upon seeing Guts, the Skull Knight looks on from afar as the swordsman leaves the scene. Shortly after, the Skull Knight meets Guts on a cliffside and reveals that what lies at the end of the swordsman's journey is not merely a beautiful scene. Afterward, he briefly speaks to and is subsequently accompanied by Gedfring before descending deep into the forest of stone, seeking repairs to his armor from its creator, the dwarf blacksmith Hanarr. There, Guts is shown a blood memory seeped into the Berserker Armor of its previous wearer's dying moments, to which the Skull Knight claims that what Guts witnessed was "the end of a foolish king, and the beginning of a dead man stalking the endless night."
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. Other apostles have even shown explicit fear in his presence, as seen with the Count and Rosine, and several God Hand members have had to actively defend themselves when at the mercy of his attacks.
As his most attributable skill, the Skull Knight's swordsmanship is masterful, allowing him to easily dispatch apostles in their released form with a single stroke of his thorned sword. Despite the sword being of normal size, he has demonstrated the ability to cut apart numerous apostles in their monstrously large true forms. Relying only on his base swordsmanship and wits, he is able to sever the arm of Zodd the Immortal in combat. In the Qliphoth, he was able to effortlessly dispatch all of the creatures spawned near Slan, including numerous ogres.
Upon swallowing his thorned sword and coating it in ingested beherits to create his Sword of Beherits, its capabilities become enhanced. One stroke of his transformed 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 entrap several ogres and trolls as he cleaves open a space portal to transport Guts to safety. He is also capable of using these portals for near instant travel. On the head of Ganishka's Shiva form, a stroke from the Skull Knight's Sword of Beherits, intended for Femto, is manipulated by the angel and redirected at the apostle – its large-scale, space-cleaving properties ultimately sparking the Great Roar of the Astral World.
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 despite Femto's efforts, escaping the temporal junction unscathed. 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.
Most peculiar is the Skull Knight's exceptional foresight; he possesses a great knowledge of that which has yet to unfold.
Japanese Voice Actor(s)
- Tsutomu Isobe: Berserk: Millennium Falcon Hen Seima Senki no Shō
- Akio Ōtsuka: Berserk: The Golden Age Arc/Berserk (2016 Anime)/Berserk Musou
English Voice Actor(s)
- The Skull Knight states that, like Guts and Casca, he also resides in the Interstice.
- Flora states that Guts is a "fellow sufferer" to the Skull Knight.
- Puck states that the Skull Knight "kinda feels like an elf" when first encountering him.
- Despite the Skull Knight's stance as a foe of the inhumans, he has spared apostles: specifically, the Count and Rosine, after they slaughter the Band of the Falcon members traveling with Rickert.
- ^ a b c d Berserk :: Volume 41, "Gorge"
- ^ a b c d e Berserk :: Volume 18, "Spirit Road (2)"
- ^ a b c Berserk :: Volume 13, "Storm of Death (1)"
- ^ a b Berserk :: Volume 13, "Afterglow of the Right Eye"
- ^ a b c d e Berserk :: Volume 34, "Fissure"
- ^ a b c Berserk :: Volume 14, "Demon Child"
- ^ a b c d Berserk :: Volume 24, "Elementals"
- ^ a b Berserk :: Volume 13, "Vow of Retaliation"
- ^ a b Berserk :: Volume 28, "Boy in the Moonlight"
- ^ a b c Berserk :: Volume 26, "Whore Princess of the Uterine Sea"
- ^ a b Berserk :: Volume 41, "Phantom Death"
- ^ a b Berserk :: Volume 28, "Proclaimed Omen"
- ^ Berserk :: Volume 27, "Fire Dragon"
- ^ Berserk :: Volume 9, "Skull Knight"
- ^ a b c Berserk :: Volume 10, "The Eve (2)"
- ^ Berserk :: Volume 12, "Feast"
- ^ a b c d e f Berserk :: Volume 13, "Escape"
- ^ Berserk :: Volume 13, "Sprint"
- ^ Berserk :: Volume 16, "Beast of Darkness"
- ^ a b Berserk :: Volume 20, "Omen"
- ^ a b Berserk :: Volume 20, "Collapse"
- ^ Berserk :: Volume 20, "Shadow of Idea (3)"
- ^ Berserk :: Volume 21, "Dawn"
- ^ Berserk :: Volume 21, "Determination and Departure"
- ^ Berserk :: Volume 26, "Vicinity of Hell"
- ^ a b Berserk :: Volume 26, "Companions"
- ^ a b Berserk :: Volume 26, "Claw Marks"
- ^ a b Berserk :: Volume 26, "Flames (2)"
- ^ Berserk :: Volume 26, "Berserker Armor (2)"
- ^ Berserk :: Volume 41, "Barrier"
- ^ Berserk :: Volume 41, "Cherry Orchard"