For a list of Berserk manga volumes, refer to Chapters and Volumes
Kentaro Miura first premiered Berserk (ベルセルク, Beruseruku) in 1988 with a 48-page prototype, which won a prize at the Comi Manga School where he was enrolled at the time. On 26 November 1990, the first volume of the manga was published by Hakusensha in its Jets Comics collection. Three more volumes were published under the Jets Comics name until Berserk was serialized by Young Animal (Hakusensha) in 1992, with new episodes being released every second and fourth Friday of the month. Volumes are still published biannually in Japan by Hakusensha (Jets Comics collection), and contain 8-11 episodes depending on the release.
Publication outside of Japan
In America, the manga is translated and published by Dark Horse Comics, which has released 37 volumes so far, the first of which was published in October 22, 2003. As with other Dark Horse manga releases such as Hellsing or Trigun Maximum, the Japanese reading format (from right to left) is preserved in the English release. Moreover, the sound effects are left untranslated in the earlier releases, but are translated in later books starting from volume 12. The company has also started incorporating references to fantasy films, such as Army of Darkness and Lord of the Rings, into the dialogue. However, the content in general remains untouched.
In Europe, the manga was introduced back in 1996, first in France (Samourai Editions), then in Italy (Panini Comics, under its Marvel Manga - later Planet Manga - imprint) a few months later. The manga has also been translated and released in Germany (Panini Comics/Planet Manga) and in Spain (MangaLine Ediciones) since 2001. In France, following Samourai Editions' bankruptcy, the comic series is now published by both Dynamic Visions (since 2002) and Glénat (since 2004), the latter edition being printed in a larger format. A two-books-in-one Max edition (400+ pages) has also been published in Germany and Italy since 2006 (Panini Comics). As of yet, the series is not being serialized in Poland.
In Asia, the Berserk manga has been published in South Korea since 1999 by Dai Won. In Latin America, Panini Comics has published the manga series in a demi-sized (120 pages) edition in Brazil (2005), re-releasing each volume in a deluxe edition from September 2014 onwards.
Black Swordsman Arc
- Main article: Black Swordsman Arc
The story begins when Guts, a man with a mark on the back of his neck, approaches the village under the dominion of a bandit baron. After noticing some women and children being moved in a cage that is to be taken to the baron, Guts enters the tavern and kills all but one of the Baron’s henchmen, instructing the bandit to tell his master that the Black Swordsman has come for him. The mayor, fearful of retaliation from the baron (revealed to be an inhuman cannibal) has his militia arrest Guts, and attempts to convince the Baron to not take action. However, the Baron decides to slaughter everyone regardless, and burns the village to the ground. Luckily, Guts was freed from his cell by Puck, an elf whom he saved from the Baron's men. Guts proceeds to eliminate most of the henchmen before facing the Baron in his true monstrous form. The battle ends with Guts mortally wounding the Snake Baron and torturing him for the location of the God Hand. But upon seeing that the Snake Baron does not know, Guts leaves the monster to die in the inferno.
Later, after spending a night fighting off evil spirits, Guts realizes Puck has been following him. Furthermore, Guts accepts a ride on a carriage with a priest and his daughter, despite initially refusing for their own sake. But by nightfall, the spirits resume their attack, with the father and the daughter killed as a consequence, to which Guts comments that 'People who perish in other's battles are worms.' Regardless of this event, Puck continues to follow Guts as they arrive at a town where an alleged heretic is beheaded. Guts realizes that the lord of the town is an Apostle like the Snake Baron and quickly makes his presence and intent known to the Count. After fending off the Count's soldier, Zondark, Guts escapes with the help of Vargas. Vargas brings Guts and Puck to his hideout, revealing himself to be the Count's enemy and asks Guts to take revenge for him. Vargas gives Guts the Count's Behelit, which he stole before Zondark, now an Apostle spawn of the Count, finds them. While Guts escapes, Vargas is captured and executed in a scheme to lure his killer out.
However, Guts allows Vargas' death to occur, with a livid Puck attempting to stop the execution before he is captured and given to the Count's daughter Theresia as a pet. Puck then learns that the Count became obsessed with heretic hunting after his wife was sacrificed by the heretics. Guts later makes his move on the Count after sunset, reaching the Apostle's chambers and engaging him in a brutal battle. The Count has the upper hand until Theresia comes to the chamber, with Guts taking her hostage to cripple the Count and slowly killing him. But when the Count's spilt blood touches the Behelit, it summons the God Hand because of the Count's desperation to live. Puck notices Guts has a history with one of the God Hand, a being named Femto, whom the swordsman refers to as Griffith, and witnesses Guts' defeat by the demon. After the leader of the God Hand orders Griffith to stand down, the Apostle reveals to have assumed his current state by offering the life of his wife after finding her taking part in an pagan orgy. The Count is then told that the only way he can save himself is by sacrificing Theresia. But the Count's conflict over this revelation results in his spirit being dragged into the Abyss by a chain of countless spirits, including that of Vargas, and the God Hand take their leave. Though Guts convinces her to live despite what she has learned, Theresia vows revenge on him for ruining her life. Guts then thinks back to his days as a youth and of Griffith as he once was.
Golden Age Arc
- Main article: Golden Age Arc
Taking place years before the events of the Black Swordsman arc, Guts was born of a hanged corpse and was notice by a band of passing mercenaries and was saved because by Shisu, the camp whore of the group led by Gambino, despite his disapproval. Three years later, Shisu succumbed to leprosy and Gambino reluctantly took the role of Guts' foster father, training the boy to earn his keep as a member of his band, later giving Guts his first scar during a training session. But Guts' relationship with Gambino took a turn for the worst when he is raped by Donovan, a mercenary who claimed to have bought a night with the boy from Gambino. While Guts managed to kill Donovan during a mission that crippled his adopted parent, Guts would later learn the truth that Gamino blamed him for all his misfortune. This resulted in Guts killing Gambino in self defense and being forced to flee for his life soon after. After years of battling as a freelance mercenary,Guts' act of
defeating Bazuso in battle attracted the attention of the Band of the Hawk. A confrontation that ensued resulted with Guts being drafted into the Hawks by their leader: Griffith. Although other members had not yet accepted him, especially Griffith's right hand Casca, Guts proved himself during a mission, with Griffith later confiding to the swordsman his dream to rule his own country. He also explained to Guts that the pendant he wore around his neck was called a Behelit, given to him by a fortune-teller as a sign of his birth right. Eventually, after defeating Chuder's Black Sheep Iron Spear Knights, the Hawks are officially made an army of Midland while Griffith is knighted by the King.
During one of the sieges, Guts encountered Nosferatu Zodd, an immortal, who transformed into a monster that overpowered Guts and the others when they come to his aid. Though none of them were able to take Zodd down, he spared their lives upon seeing Griffith's Behelit, and decided to leave. But Zodd tells Guts a prophecy: if he is truly Griffith's friend, he will face an unavoidable death the day Griffith's dream comes crashing down. While his wounds were being tended in Windham, Griffith meets the King's only daughter, Princess Charlotte, while learning the king's brother, General Julius, attempted to have him killed during a hunt. Not wanting anyone else in his group to be aware of what happened, Griffith sent Guts to kill Juilus. Guts finished the job easily but was forced to unknowingly kill Julius' son Adonis to ensure there were no witnesses. When Guts found Griffith at a royal ball, he overheard him talking to Charlotte about friendship and that a friend must be someone who is his equal. Guts realized Griffith did not consider the Hawks to be his friends, and thought about his own dream, as he did not want to live Griffith's.
Midland and Chuder resumed their One Hundred Year War and the Hawks head for the border. Before they left, Charlotte gave Griffith one of her lode-stone pendant pair and asked Casca to protect him. The Queen, Julius' secret lover, was not happy about her step daughter's relationship with Griffith. Casca knew that she had no chance with Griffith, but still wanted to live for him.
The Band of the Hawk encountered the Whale Armor Knights of Chuder army, with Casca hiding her PMS and participating in the battle. Due to her condition, she was beaten by Adon Coborlwitz, but Guts came and crushed him with just one blow. Casca fainted and fell over the cliff but Guts was able to catch her. Adon Coborlwitz used his crossbow to shoot Guts, sending him and Casca over the cliff.
Guts and Casca fell into the river but Guts dragged Casca out, took her armor off and learned why she had been so weak in the battle. He brought her into a cave, but dared not make a fire, as it would attract the enemy. Guts repaid Casca by warming her with his own body. The next day Casca woke up and Guts gave her his own shirt, as her clothes were still wet. Casca told him how she joined the Band of the Hawk after Griffith rescued her from a noble who wanted to rape her. From that day, she worshiped Griffith, wanting to be his sword, only to find him wanting Guts. She could not forgive Guts because he changed Griffith. Guts began to understand Casca, and developed sympathy and affection for her.
They moved out that evening, even though Casca had not fully recovered, as mercenaries and soldiers were searching for them. Adon took his brother Samson Coborlwitz and one hundred men to ambush Guts and Casca, to take revenge for his defeat. Seeing Casca was still weak, Guts had to face them head on, telling Casca to "go back to the sheath your master holds." Casca met the rescue party, led by Judeau, and came back to find Guts had killed all the enemies, with the exception of Adon, who pretended to be dead. They carried the heavily injured Guts back to the Band of the Hawk's camp, and the doctor ruled Guts out for the rest of the campaign. However, Judeau gave Casca some Elf Dust, which had healing power, to help Guts. Casca found Guts on top of a hill, looking over the Hawks' camp. She personally applied the healing powder while they talked about the camp fires and each person's dream in the Band of the Hawk, and how Griffith's was the brightest, leading flame. Guts let it slipped that he was thinking about leaving the Hawks. This whole experience brought Guts and Casca much closer and they stopped arguing, to the surprise of the rest of the Hawks.
The White Tiger Army, one of the largest armies of Midland, were crushingly defeated when they tried to take Doldrey, a fortified base from which Chuder launched their invasions. When the Midland generals discussed how to attack it, Griffith told them the Band of the Hawk could take the fortress alone, if the King wished it. Believing in Griffith's ability and knowing it would be a small loss if he failed, the King ordered the Hawks to attack Doldrey, which was defended by the most prestigious army of Chuder, the Purple Rhino Knights. The Band of the Hawk was outnumbered 4 to 1, and Doldrey was an unassailable fortress, but Griffith knew that a victory would propel him to the position of the greatest Midland general.
Lord Gennon, whom Griffith spent a night with for money when the Band of the Hawk was still being formed, was in charge of Chuder's army at Doldrey. Taking advantage of Gennon's obsession with him, Griffith used it to draw the army away from Doldrey, against Boscogn's counsel. Griffith set his army back against the river, asking them to fight their best to survive. While Guts and Boscogn dueled each other, Casca led a division of the Hawks, under the cover of fog, and assaulted Doldrey, which was left undefended. Coborlwitz was left behind by Boscone and Gennon, but his knights were no match for the Hawks, and they captured Doldrey. Guts' sword was broken in the duel, as it was weakened when he killed Adon's one hundred men, leaving him defenseless. Just as Boscone was going to finish him, Zodd threw Guts his scimitar. Boscone was surprised and killed by Guts. Casca hoisted the Band of the Hawk flag on top of Doldrey, causing further panic amongst the already shocked Chuder army. The Band of the Hawk routed them and Griffith killed Gennon to ensure his secret would not be revealed.
Griffith triumphantly returned to Windham and was made Lord Protector of Midland while the whole Band of the Hawk was knighted. The Queen and Minister Foss conspired with other nobles to poison Griffith as they feared him, and no longer needed him. However, Griffith anticipated this and kidnapped Foss' daughter, forcing him to act as his spy. Griffith faked his death at the ceremony and returned to put the house where all the conspirators were gathered, locked in by Foss, on fire. He told the dying Queen that it was a battlefield, and the one who lost must die, regardless of rank or status. Foss' daughter was returned to him unharmed, and Griffith's ascension was seemingly unopposed. The nobles' deaths and the assassination attempt on Griffith were blamed on Chuder's agents.
A month later, Guts silently left the Hawks when everyone was still sleeping, but was seen by Casca. She asked him to stay but he said that he could not be buried in Griffith's dream. Corkus and Judeau caught them and took Guts to a tavern while Casca ran looking for Griffith to stop Guts. Guts explained to Corkus and Judeau that he would not let Griffith look down on him, and would be his equal, to which Corkus laughed and left. Judeau asked Guts about his relationship with Casca, and pointed out that Casca could never be with Griffith, who needed Charlotte to realize his dream. Guts gained insight about his feelings, but pointed out that the person Casca was after was Griffith, and that someone like him would never have a chance.
Just when Guts said goodbye to Judeau, they found Casca, Pippin, Rickert, Corkus, and Griffith waiting on the road for them. Guts declared he had made up his mind to leave, but Griffith demanded Guts must win back his freedom in a duel. Guts agreed, at the protest of Casca, who found herself wishing for Griffith to win so that everything would remain the same and Guts would stay. However, Guts easily defeated Griffith with just one blow, completely breaking Griffith's spirit and confidence. He then left without looking back.
Guts was visited by the Skull Knight on the first night after he left the Band of the Hawk. He called Guts 'struggler,' and foretold the demise of the Hawks in one year's time, during the Eclipse. He also told Guts he must keep struggling against death.
In Windham, Griffith visited princess Charlotte and spent the night with her. He was discovered and captured in the morning. The King was furious and ordered Griffith to be tortured under the Tower of Rebirth for one year in secret. The Band of the Hawk were attacked, but they escaped under Casca's leadership. They were outlawed and hunted to the border of Midland. Griffith lost his Behelit during his torture.
Guts learned about the Band of the Hawk at a tournament after a year of training in the mountains, living with Godo and Erica. He saved Casca from Silat, the leader of the Bākiraka clan, whom he defeated previously in a tournament. After hearing the whole story, Guts decided to help the Hawks rescue Griffith. Although Casca blamed Griffith's downfall on Guts' departure, which left Griffith emotionally devastated, they let go of the past and made love.
The Band of the Hawk divided into two groups: one led by Casca and Guts would rescue Griffith while the other prepared for their retreat. With the help of Princess Charlotte, they infiltrated the castle and the Tower of Rebirth. They found Griffith a complete wreck, having his tongue ripped out and all his tendons sliced. The jailer locked them in Griffith's cell and sounded the alarm, but Guts destroyed the door and led them out of the tower. Princess Charlotte then made herself their hostage so that they could escape from the King, who sent four Bākiraka assassins after them. Guts, Casca, Judeau and Pippin killed three of them, but Charlotte was taken back to the King.
The King no longer showed any restraint and sent the Black Dog Knights after them. They were ambushed by the Hawks, but Wyald, an Apostle and the leader of the Black Dog Knights, turned to his demonic form, a gigantic ape-like creature. He killed many of the Band of the Hawk and his own soldiers, knocked Guts unconscious and tried to rape Casca. Guts woke up in time to rescue Casca and finally stabbed through Wyald's neck, apparently killing him. They then looked at Griffith's conditions and realized he would not be able to fight again. Wyald regained consciousness, knowing he would die soon, and attacked them to provoke Griffith to call the God Hand. He picked Griffith up, but could not find the Behelit. Enraged, Wyald showed the Band of the Hawk what a wreck Griffith was and wanted to tear him to pieces. Zodd suddenly arrived on the scene and intervened, protecting the future God Hand, and tore Wyald apart.
A group of wounded Hawks, including the boy engineer Rickert, was waiting separately for the healthier Hawks to bring back Griffith. When Rickert was sent to get water, he spotted an elven shape in the sky. He returned to the camp to find it under attack by Apostles, including the humongous Count and the elven Apostle Rosine. Rickert ran for his life, and he was saved by a fortuitous encounter with the Skull Knight, who prevented the Count and Rosine from killing Rickert. Afterwards, Rickert met up with a group of nomads. The elf Puck was also there, and he gave Rickert a bag of medicine.
Griffith oversaw an intimate moment between Guts and Casca, and became jealous. He was confronted by an image of his healthy self, who informed him that the path to power was still open, and that he could still reach the figurative castle. Griffith commandeered the reins of a carriage, and proceeded down a hill. Guts, Casca, and a group of Hawks gave chase. When Griffith reached the bottom, he laughed maniacally, and then attempted to impale his neck upon a pointed rock. His blood touched the behelit, and it began to rearrange into a face. Guts ran down the hill to Griffith, who mentally urged Guts not to touch him. When Guts laid his hand on Griffith's shoulder, the behelit began to scream as they and the Hawks were transferred to another plane, with the portal, a giant whirlwind, being guarded by Zodd.
Apostles began to appear all around them, and the four faces of the God Hand appeared: Slan, Conrad, Ubik, and their leader Void. Void explained that the Eclipse is a ritual for Griffith to transcend to become one of them, by offering his companions as sacrifices to their apostles. Conrad raised an earthy altar high into the air, which carried Griffith to the top and Guts part of the way up. Once there, the God Hand tempt Griffith to consider their proposal by giving him images of his past and the promise of achieving his dream. At that moment, cursing Guts as he sees him about to reach the top, Griffith proceeded to offer the Band of the Hawk to the God Hand.
All of the present Hawks were then marked with the Brand of Sacrifice, with all but Guts and a horrified Casca being slaughtered and devoured by the Apostles. At that time, cocooned with his physical form dissolving, Griffith found himself before the power behind the God Hand, learning of his ultimate destiny, and accepts it. Emerging as the bird-like demon god Femto, Griffith proceeded to sexually violate Casca, with Guts losing his right arm and eye while attempting to break free and save her. Before the feeding could resume, having knocked out Zodd prior, the Skull Knight breaks through into the nexus and spirits Guts and Casca back to their world. Having Rickert heal the two with Puck's medicine, the Skull Knight convinced Zodd to postpone their fight and brings the three to Godo's cave.
When Guts awoke four days later, he found that Casca's mind had been destroyed. Her ordeal caused her child to be born with horrific deformities merely four days after the incident. After killing an apostle who'd followed the scent of the brand to their mine, Guts became enraged at what the Apostles had done to his companions, and he sought to kill all of the demons. He particularly wanted revenge on the newest member of the God Hand, Femto. He left Casca with Godo, Erica, and Rickert, and set out to search for the Apostles.
- Main article: Conviction Arc
A group called the Holy Iron Chain Knights set out on a mission from the Holy See to solve the mystery of a prophecy of the end days, said to begin with the birth of an angel in the aftermath of the fifth Eclipse. The knights' leader, Farnese de Vandimion, along her right hand, Serpico, and second-in-command, Azan, find the red lake that was detailed in the prophecy: the mutilated remains of the Band of the Hawk. Upon seeing the sign, Farnese deems such an angel born from this event to be an angel of darkness. For two years, the Iron Chain Knight had followed the trail of death and destruction to find "The Black Swordsman," who appears to be linked to the events that are unfolding.
Two years later, after the events of the Black Swordsman arc, a group of bandits discuss how times have gotten worse to the point where their feeling it. They complain how there's no "revenue" anymore the only thing that they could get was a girl who run away from her village, one of the bandits starts taking about the trees with "faces" how years ago they were used in ritual sacrifices where the victims had their inners nailed to the bark of the trees but the others dismiss it as a fair tale, suddenly one of the bandits starts threatening the girl with sexual advances but was stopped by Guts' sudden appearance, they ask where he came from and he replies by saying he was their the whole time. Suspicious towards him they start to threat him, but he offers them a warning to leave quickly if they value their lifes and ask if the story was true. The story turns out to be true and evil sprites start possessing the tree from the story and scaring the bandit off and forcing Guts to fight it, eventually destroying it and saving the girl.
The girl tells Guts her name is Jill and leads him to her village. The villagers, having been terrorized by Rosine and her army of elf demons, panic when they see Puck, whom they presume is one of Rosine's cohorts. Jill's father Zepac abusively drags Jill away, claiming that the girl did not know what she was doing and that he knew best.
Rosine's tiny elven insect demons attack the village and begin eating grain, farm animals, and even the villagers themselves. A boy ran from a farmhouse, crying that his parents had been killed. Guts grabs the boy and used him as bait for the demons. After he lured a group of them into the farmhouse, he used an explosive to kill them. Jill recognized Rosine as her former friend, before the female apostle leaves the scene. The townspeople were angry about the way Guts had misused the boy, Guts and Puck decide to flee from the villagers before the situation could become worse.
Jill meets up with Guts and Puck the next morning. Guts disdained the help of both Puck and Jill, declaring that he would kill Jill's former friend, the apostle. Guts rushes off to find Rosine alone, but he is delayed by attacks from Rosine's gigantic insect apostle minions. Jill and Puck set out to find Rosine on their own, and they find her before Guts. Rosine offers to make Jill an elf. Jill was tempted by the promise of flight, but was uneasy after witnessing the bloodthirsty nature of the "elfs", who would kill each other while playing with each other. Puck urges Jill to reject Rosine's offer.
The Holy Iron Chain Knights arrive at Jill's village. They procure information from the townspeople about what happened, which Farnese and Azan interpret to mean that the Black Swordsman had passed this way. Jill's father Zepac offers to help the Knights, more out of a sense of glory than out of loyalty to his daughter. The Knights accept Zepac's help and they leave the village to search for Guts.
Guts find and destroys the elf demon cocoons, and an enraged Rosine battles Guts, until she is so badly injured that she can no longer fight. As Guts was about to deliver a killing blow, Jill shields Rosine with her body. It did nothing to stop Guts, but before he could act, Zepac arrives and shoots him with a crossbow. Guts is then attacked by the Holy Iron Chain Knights, led by Farnese. Badly wounded, Rosine finally understands the moral of Peekaf's fable, and in her delirium attempts to return home to her parents. Guts escapes during the mayhem, and Puck follows him. Zepac wants to continue to accompany the knights, but Azan told him his place was with his daughter. Zepac attemptd to drag Jill back home, but she evades him and sets out to find Guts.
When Jill finds Guts and Puck, she asks Guts if she could accompany him. Guts tells her that the world was a dangerous place that she was not equipped to deal with, and that she should go home. Jill reluctantly agrees with Guts, but she leaves to go home with a determination to no longer submit to her father's abuse. Puck provides her with magic to help her defend herself against her father.
Later, the Holy Iron Chain Knights find Guts once again. Guts is captured after a long battle when their leader Farnese wildly stabbed Guts with her sword. Farnese has him brought to her tent where she interrogates him. Guts tells her a little of the truth, doubting that she would believe it, and she does not, whipping him madly. She stopped only when Azan discovers what was happening and expresses his outrage. She then orders Guts to be locked in a cage outside.
That night, Guts escapes from his confinement after Puck acquired the key and released him. He knocks Farnese unconscious, kidnapping her and using her as leverage to escape. During his flight, Guts is attacked by some of the creatures that continually plague him since he got the Brand. Farnese gets an inkling that Guts may have been telling the truth, but her faith makes it impossible for her to really believe, effectively rendering her unable to detect Puck's presence. Farnese's half-brother Serpico arriveds on to rescue her after she'd been possessed by one of the spirits who were left from Guts' massacre, after one of them took control of a horse and attempted to rape Farnese, and Guts gave her up to Serpico after he slightly wounded Guts' cheek as payment for the kidnapping and to appease Farnese's bloodlust.
Puck leads Guts to an area blessed by elves, and as Guts sleeps, Casca's child gives him visions warning him that Casca is in danger. At the same time, everyone in Midland has bad dreams: visions of a disease, monster-taming conquerors, and a savior in the form of a hawk of pure life. As the King of Midland dies, seeing the hawk to be Griffith, the country is invaded by the army of the Kushan Empire, while plague is unleashed by the God Hand known as Conrad.
When Guts rushes back to Godo's house, he learns that Casca wandered off while she was with Erica a month ago. Guts describes some of his visions to Rickert, who reveals that the place he saw was the holy city of Albion. Guts, after having his gear repaired and replaced, leaves with Puck for Albion determined to find Casca while gaining a traveling companion in Isidro. On the way, Guts encounters the Skull Knight and is told that the festering malice of the unjustly killed spirits is at its zenith in Albion, and that an Incarnation ritual will soon occur that will restore one of the God Hand to physical form.
Weeks prior, Casca was found by a group of prostitutes led by a woman named Luca, and taken with refugees to Albion. But also making his way to the city, with Farnese as an escort, is the Holy See's inquisitor Mozgus to deal with the heretics that have been plaguing the city and killing the resident priests. When a prostitute named Nina took her boyfriend Joachim to a goat-worshiping cult, she was followed by Luca and Casca. Joachim had second thoughts about the cult and ran. When Casca was spotted by a cult member who attempted to rape her, her child briefly appeared to save her. This event convinced the cult that Casca had magical powers, and they began to worship her. Luca took advantage of the situation to lead Casca and Nina away.
Another of Luca's prostitutes, Pepe, was accused of heresy. When the man who was apprehending Pepe pointed out that no one was challenging her arrest, Luca came to her defense. Before he could act against Luca, Guts arrives and intervenes with his sword. Guts demands to know what has become of Casca, and Luca, noticing that Guts had the same brand as Casca, agrees to take him to her. However, Luca's actions had panicked Nina, and as a result the cowardly prostitute had taken Casca back to the cult.
The cult's goat-head leader decides to mate with Casca and sacrifice Nina. Isidro and Puck find them, and Isidro throws rocks at the cult members from above while Puck dashes off to get Guts. Joachim helps Farnese to find the cult, and she orders the arrest of all the cult members. Guts arrives to stop the Goat-leader from raping Casca after the leader was possessed and altered to a pseudo-apostle, and Guts orders Isidro to lead Casca away while he fought the goat leader, and kills him with the help of the bombs Rickert gave him prior to setting out. When Guts tries to catch up with Isidro, he is delayed by an ambush by Serpico. Isidro is forced to lower Casca and Nina down a ravine with ropes, and before he can follow them down, Farnese's forces arrest both Casca and Nina.
Farnese takes the two women to the leader of Albion, the priest Mozgus, and tells him that the Black Swordsman had tried to rescue Casca. Mozgus places Casca in a iron maiden, and when it touches her skin, it awakens the spirits of those who died in the torture chamber. The spirits proceed to possess their spilled blood and kill those within, save those able to escape or be protected like Casca. Guts, Puck, Isidro, and Luca go to the tower to find and rescue Casca. Luca attempts to buy their way in, but Guts impatiently rushes ahead. While Luca rescues Nina, Guts locates Farnese and demands that she tell him what happened. Farnese, still in disbelief, tells him of what she knows, and follows him after he rushes off. Puck locates Casca, but is unable to stop the blood from carrying her away. He later informs Guts that despite the carnage, Casca is unharmed.
Eventually, the blood that holds Casca is taken by Mozgus, who has been transformed into an apostle spawn, and resolves to burn the "witch" to cease the spirits' rampage. Guts fights Mozgus and his torturers, while Isidro uses a rope to rescue Caska. After being saved by the Skull Knight from falling down a ravine, Luca encounters an outcast in the shape of a behelit, an Apostle who has begun the chain of events in Albion for his ultimate purpose: to be the egg of a new world. The apostle takes his leave as the animated corpses of those who died of starvation and disease amass into monstrous mounds that make their way to the Tower of Conviction while consuming the living in their path. Though Guts manages to save Casca, he and his group are forced to watch most of the denizens of Albion die for their faith as the Apostle reaches the top of the tower while ingesting Casca's child. Soon the ritual begins, resulting in the Apostle's being destroyed from the inside along with the city itself. By morning, as a legion Kushan soldiers arrive, Guts and his group find a fully reconstituted Griffith, before he is taken to safety by Zodd.
Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc
- Main article: Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc
Guts, Puck, and Casca return to Godo's cave. Godo had died in the interim, and Rickert, Godo's apprentice, had taken over as blacksmith. Griffith finds them, and offers Guts and Rickert a position in the new Band of the Hawk. Guts angrily rejects the offer and attacks Griffith, but Zodd serves as Griffith's protector, and he fights with Guts until Griffith decides to leave. In the ensuing fight, Godo's cave is destroyed. In anger, Rickert asks Guts what really happened to the Hawks, and Guts tells him the full story. Rickert wants to join Guts' new party, but Guts declines, telling Rickert not to follow in his path and to protect Erica. Rickert and Erica both leave to live their lives together.
Puck proposes that Guts take Casca to Puck's kingdom, Elfhelm, in the hope that the king would be able to heal Casca's mind. After they left, Puck encounters Isidro, who had agreed to tote Farnese and Serpico's baggage but stole it instead. When Farnese sees Guts, with her faith shattered by the events at Albion, she swears to follow him, in order to learn what Guts understood about the world that she did not.
The newly formed party entered a strange wood. With Guts and Serpico elsewhere, Isidro is attacked by a group of trolls. Unable to fend them off by himself, he is rescued by a mysterious young witch named Schierke, who is accompanied by the elf Ivalera.
Traveling further into the forest the party is attacked by a group of golems. While the golems were seemingly invincible at first, the party begins to destroy them once a flaw was found in their design. Schierke's mistress Flora orders the attack to be stopped, and Guts and his party are invited into her home. An old man also arrives and asks Flora for help saving his village from a plague of trolls. Flora makes a deal with Guts: if his party helps the town, she would provide a means to nullify the power of Guts and Casca's Brands. She orders Schierke to accompany Guts on this mission. She gives artifacts of power to each member of the party, but Guts refuses to take the axe she gave him, saying that he needed to stick with the sword Godo made for him.
When the party arrives, they gather the townspeople into a church. Guts and Serpico fight off the monsters while Schierke erects a magical barrier from the top of the church. This task completed, she then calls upon a water spirit to wash away the monsters. Farnese is so impressed with Schierke's display that she asks, and receives permission from Schierke, to become her student in witchcraft. Cascs falls off the church, and when Farnese attempted to catch her, she too is pulled into the water.
With Serpico injured, Guts, Isidro, Schierke, and the elves go to find Casca and Farnese. They track them to a cave that seems to be a base for the trolls. While Schierke and Isidro fight with the trolls to save Caska and Farnese, Guts goes further into the base and finds that Slan is there. Slan destroys Guts' armor, and he is unable to escape her tentacles until the Skull Knight arrives to help. With the cave collapsing, the Knight opened a portal with his sword, seemingly coated in Behelits, allowing them to escape.
The town saved, the party returns to Flora's wood. When they arrive, Flora is under attack by Griffith's Apostle minions, including Zodd. The Skull Knight holds off Zodd while Guts' party take on the rest of the Apostles. Guts was in trouble without his armor, and Flora commands Schierke to take him into her home and give him the Berserker's Armor. This armor greatly aids Guts, but Schierke has to use her magic to call Guts back from his berserk state. Although the group was able to fend off Griffith's minions, Flora was killed. Schierke decides to leave her home and accompany Guts on his quest.
Griffith begins making plans to defeat the Kushan Empire, led by the Apostle Ganishka, who refused to follow Griffith. Ganishka kidnaps Charlotte, and Griffith mounts an all out attack with the sole purpose of rescuing her. Griffith and Zodd break into Charlotte's bedchamber, and Zodd flies them to safety. With Griffith's objective achieved, he orders a retreat. Charlotte makes Griffith Midland's top general, and places him in charge of all of Midland's forces.
Guts' party is attacked by monsters sent by Ganishka to pillage the countryside. Guts once again dons the Berserker's armor, allowing him to defeat the monsters, but once this task is accomplished, he becomes a threat to his own companions. Schierke is aided in her efforts to calm Guts by a strange child, which Casca believed was her own. Schierke assures Serpico that she would always be there to stop Guts from bringing harm to Farnese.
Guts and his party arrive at the city of Vritannis. Farnese believes that she could procure a ship for Guts, and she goes to her family for help. While she is gone, Schierke discovers that Kushan children are being enslaved by pirates, given permission to trade in slaves. When Schierke aids these children, she is observed by Griffith's seer Sonia. Impressed by Schierke's good deed, Sonia seeks to befriend her, and the seer describes her relationship with Griffith in a story where she refers to herself as a kite.
Isidro seeks to track down Schierke before she could get in trouble by brazenly striding about with a witch's hat, and he encounters Mule Wolflame, who was similarly trying to find Sonia to protect her. Mistrustful of one another's intentions, the two get into a fight.
Eventually, the pirates catch up with Schierke and attempt to stop her. Schierke paralyzes the pirate leader with her staff, which greatly impresses Sonia. Isidro and Mule intervene, with Mule challenging the leader to a fight. The leader lures Mule onto a ship, where the unsure footing leads to Mule's defeat. Isidro steps in, and proves to be more able to fight in the swaying conditions, and the pirate leader offers Isidro a position on his boat. The leader stumbled onto the sleeping Azan, who angrily defeats the pirate in combat.
With the pirates gone, Sonia offers Schierke a position in the Band of the Hawk. Schierke rejects the offer, saying that she had a group of companions already, and Sonia and Ivalera accuse her of being in love with Guts.
Farnese's brother Manifico arranges for her to marry a man named Roderick, who could provide them a ship. The deal is struck, but Guts becomes concerned when Farnese does not return to his group. He sends Puck and Ivalera to investigate. They discover that Farnese had become trapped in an arranged marriage, and Guts decides to go to try to talk her out of it. However, Serpico challenges Guts to a sword fight, wanting him to stop interfering in Farnese's affairs. Guts defeats Serpico but spares his life. Roderick agrees to captain a ship for Guts, and he and Manifico accompany the party on the voyage to Elfhelm.
An attack by Ganishka's forces provides a complication, and Guts and his group fight their way through monsters to get to the ship. Ganishka himself appears in the sky, and Guts and Zodd are forced to work together to drive him away.
Once at sea, Roderick's ship comes under attack by the same group of pirates that had skirmished with Guts' party previously. The pirates' boats proves to be no match for Roderick's warship, and they are soundly defeated.
Manifico approaches Roderick about an idea to enslave the inhabitants of Elfhelm for commercial purposes. Roderick rejects the idea, but Manifico convinced Puck to go along with it by offering to make Puck the king of Elfhelm.
With Guts safely on his way to Elfhelm, Griffith launches his final attack against Ganishka. In a last ditch effort to gain the power needed to transcend the apostles, Ganishka enters the device he used to create artificial apostles, and becomes a gigantic, powerful, uncontrollable monster. Griffith's forces close in on the newly mutated Ganishka and his spawns, and Griffith is face to face with Ganishka before the Skull Knight appears out of nowhere and slices at Griffith with his Sword of Actuation. Griffith (in Femto form) quickly deflects the blow onto Ganishka. During that moment, an explosion of light engulfs the world, causing creatures from the astral plane to become visible to many who could not see them before. Ganishka is defeated and turned into a gigantic tree by the blow. Falconia, Griffith's promised kingdom, sprouts up from the trees base, and his army marches towards it.
- Main article: Fantasia Arc
The Fantasia Saga returns focus to Guts and his allies on Roderick's ship the Sea Horse, still sailing towards Elfhelm. The ship's crew soon finds they are being pursued by the now possessed pirate ship that survived defeat at their hands previously. The possession has enhanced the pirate ship's maneuverability greatly (it can now submerge and move at greater speeds than before) and before long the Sea Horse is boarded by a team of possessed pirates and squid-like creatures. The squid creatures run rampant aboard the Sea Horse shortly before a fully healed Guts appears and downs a couple squids with a few deft blows. It is revealed, however, that the squids are actually just part of a much larger sea monster, which Guts manages to cut down quickly using a new technique. With the squid attack repelled and the ships cannons ready, Roderick orders his crew to fire point blank into the pirate ship. Having repelled the attack, Guts ' party arrives at an island. Intending to resupply, the Sea Horse anchors, and Guts and the party go ashore. On the island Isidro befriends a girl named Isma who saves him. Isma tells Isidro about a sea god who supposedly lives in the seas suronding the island.