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The Black Swordsman
Apostles (使徒 Shito?) are the reccurring antagonists of the Berserk series.
An Apostle is a demonic monster that was originally human, who acquired a Behelit and activated it in a moment of despair, summoning the God Hand to achieve their dreams in exchange for a sacrifice. The sacrifice required is normally (but not exclusively) a loved one, and as such, is always a thing that defines their humanity. As a consequence, one can deem an Apostle to be one who is rejected by humanity and rejects humanity in return. The usual variety of Apostles are those that transform their bodies into monstrous beasts, while a few possess unique abilities.
The Apostles have only one absolute law decreed on them by the God Hand: "Do as thou wilt," allowing all Apostles to act on their free will in how they use their new status of being. However, this same law does not protect Apostles from one another, allowing Apostles loyal to the God Hand to eliminate those who interfere with their designs. Whilst Apostles are free to do as they please, they usually heed the call of the God Hand when they are needed, as seen for their migratory gathering at the site of the Eclipse and later to join Griffith's Neo Band of the Hawk.
Each Apostle is unique in its true form, a spiritual reflection of themselves made flesh with red-colored eyes. Their appearance varies greatly, from warped versions of animals to demonic and hellish monstrosities, many of which include their human features somewhere on their body. Conversely, the features of their true form are often reflected in their human form, ranging from the obvious like Wyald's ape-like face to the more-human like appearances of Locus, Irvine and Grunbeld. The Egg of the Perfect World is the only exception to this rule, which could be attributed to him being highly deformed before transforming.
When an Apostle is killed, their spiritual essence taken into the Abyss, the body reverts back to its original human form with all injuries remaining on the human body analogous to the injured parts of the Apostle's body. Such an example would be Wyald as he reverted to his old, withered body torn in half and with Guts' broken sword through his neck. This makes it easy for Apostles to conceal their existence from the world in the event of their death.
Many apostles are defined by their lack of empathy, extreme desire and sadism, though there are exceptionally disciplined apostles such as Zodd, Grunbeld, Irvine and Locus. However, most exist solely to prey on humans. They have an inhuman enjoyment of pain, as with the Count who used his authority to round up supposed heretics and torture them, and the Apostle spawn of Rosine routinely killed one another for fun in imitations of war. The Apostle emperor Ganishka desecrated the city of Windham with mutilated corpses of the citizens he massacred.
Whether Apostles are evil to begin with or become this way upon transformation is unclear, and many exhibit strange ideas about morality if they have any at all. Rosine and the Count are probably the greatest cases of this; a case could be made in particular for Rosine, who may have not been evil so much as insane by the time she is revealed. Though very regimented, Locus fully recognized the bloodlust that most if not all Apostles revel in. Griffith describes to Guts that he has not changed at all since becoming a God Hand, and that if Guts had a problem with it, it was his own fault for not seeing it sooner.
Almost every Apostle shows up in the series in a human form, but they are capable of transforming into something that is typically larger than their previous form. The act of doing so doesn't seem to be painful to Apostles and varies with different Apostles. Some are instantaneous while others might do a special stance or action before changing form. It should also be noted that changing form is not permanent, and Apostles can always return back to their human states whenever they desire (as shown with Zodd frequently). Most Apostles are extremely powerful and boast powers and strength that greatly exceed that of the average human.
Size is no guarantee of power, and while many Apostles are incredibly terrifying for their monstrous appearances, the most dangerous ones are those that utilize powers or abilities not immediately evident to their form. Examples are Rosine, who was able to fly at speeds high enough to break the sound barrier and create sonic booms, and Irvine, whose very specific and refined usage of arrows he creates makes him as of yet untouched. The forms and abilities seem reflective of what the Apostle wished for upon transformation. The Count's body, already very slippery and malleable, regenerated any damage Guts inflicted on him, keeping the fight largely in his favor until Guts was able to cut off his head. Rakshas boasted a similar power, with an amorphous body that recognized no harm unless his face was struck.
Even in human form, even the weakest Apostles still boast strength and reflexes far beyond that of typical humans. Wyald was completely untrained in combat, but with his monstrous power, easily mutilated other challengers like Barbo and kept up with trained swordsman Guts.
Some Apostles are able to create Apostle spawn, usually by some method of transforming humans, though the method varies as can the effects. The Count created a spawn from Zondark by forcing him to ingest a parasitic slug, which the Count could speak through and monitor through, and which granted Zondark the Count's regenerative abilities. Rosine's elves were spawn created from hundreds of kidnapped children, while compliant adults were turned into monstrous insectoid guardians that could shift between human and insect forms at will, and followed her orders in her absence. The Egg-Shaped Apostle used tendrils to "sting" and infect humans, granting them Apostle forms they could assume reflecting their beliefs: the Great Goat Head turned into a real goat-headed demon, while Mozgus and his disciples turned into angelic spawn with wings. As a rule, any human that is transformed by an Apostle is called such.
Finally, though not so much an ability so much as a biological quality, Apostles have evil flowing through their bodies and their bodily fluids can cause several things to happen depending on how it comes into contact with humans. Ganishka's Reincarnator was a vat made from stitched-together Apostles and used to turn embryos from pregnant women into rapidly-growing Daka soldiers, and used it to initiate a second, artificial rebirth to become Shiva. Griffith, having become Femto, was able, by raping Casca, to taint her two-week-old embryo into a mutated fetus that was born in under a month, though whether he knew this would happen is questionable. Finally, Guts has been using the Dragonslayer to kill Apostle after Apostle for so long that their blood has imbibed it with dark properties, and it now exists partially in the Interstice along with its master and is that much better at killing demonic beings for it.
List of Apostles
(A † indicates the Apostle has died)
- Nosferatu Zodd
- Keeper of the Hounds†
- Female Apostle†
- Snake Baron†
- Egg of the Perfect World†
- Wyald is, chronologically speaking, the first apostle to be killed by Guts in the series.
- The Female Apostle is, for her part, the first apostle to be killed by Guts from the reader's point of view.