- For the Anime adaption, see Berserk (2016 Anime).
The story follows Guts and his friends as they make a desperate pilgrimage to the Tower of Conviction, where Casca is being held captive. All the while, the Chief Inquisitor of the Holy See, Mozgus, impedes their progress at every turn, and a mysterious creature plans on invoking another Incarnation Ceremony to resurrect Griffith in his corporeal form.
Taking place after the events of the Black Swordsman arc, Guts' quest for revenge leads him to rescue and protect a girl named Jill while hunting the apostle Rosine, Jill's friend, in the Misty Valley. Succeeding, but badly wounded and exhausted, he is overtaken by the Holy Iron Chain Knights, and subsequently escapes after he and the knights' leader, Farnese de Vandimion, are attacked by spirit-possessed beasts. When Guts learns from a dream that Casca is in imminent danger, his search for her brings him to the holy city of Albion. There, numerous events culminate in Guts defeating the inquisitor Mozgus and his disciples after they are turned into powerful pseudo-apostles by the Egg of the Perfect World. Moreover, Guts succeeds in rescuing Casca. In the midst of the chaos caused by these two branded individuals being in close proximity to one another, and the Egg of the Perfect World invoking the Incarnation Ceremony, Griffith is reconstituted in the physical world using Guts' and Casca's child as his vessel.
Lost Children Chapter
The Elves of the Misty Valley
After his battle with the Count, Guts wanders deep inside a wood for three days. On the third day, in the midst of a downpour, Guts comes across a small group of bandits who have tied up a young girl, intending to sell her into sexual slavery. The apparent leader of the bandits relays a tale to the rest of his men; the tree behind the group was once used by heretics to commit ritualistic suicides by binding their exposed innards to the trunk. One of the bandits, a rat-faced man, takes special interest in the story, dragging the girl over to the tree to reenact the events of the tale. Guts then makes his presence known and fights the bandits. However, his brand activates and animates the tree, interrupting the brawl. While the surviving bandits flee for their lives, Guts saves the girl from the tree, the spirits recognizing their prey as a "sacrifice". Ultimately, Guts manages to use his Dragonslayer and cannon to destroy the monster.
Now safe, the girl screams at the sight of Puck, thinking the elf to be from the Misty Valley. Eventually, however, she calms down and Guts brings her back to her village: a rundown settlement. The girl, named Jill, returns to her mother, who is tearfully relieved to reunite with her daughter. When Jill's father Zepek, a bitter and drunk war veteran, beats her with his cane, Puck intervenes, inadvertently catching the attention of a village mob; subsequently, he and Guts are forced to flee. Later taking residence in a windmill, Guts and Puck learn from Jill that her village has been plagued by a series of attacks from murderous elves coming from the Misty Valley in the east. After Jill's frightening revelation, an elf attack immediately ensues. Seeing the "elves" for himself, Guts manically smiles; his brand bleeds, revealing that they are apostle spawn.
In the village, Guts finds a boy named Thomas being chased by insect-like imps that the villagers consider to be elves. Having killed the Thomas' parents, the fake elves attempt to talk the boy to come with them. As Jill and Puck arrive, they see Guts using the boy as a lure to bait all the fake elves into a run down barn where they become more insect-like as Guts cuts the loft supports to bury the creatures in hay. Guts throws a small bottle of gunpowder into it and fires his cannon arm at it, triggering a large explosion which incinerates all the creatures allowing him and the boy to escape unharmed. Jill and Puck soon see another creature: A child-sized elf with moth features that Guts recognizes as an apostle and the leader of these false elves. The Apostle overpowers Guts by poisoning him with her wing powder and attempts to kill Puck, whom she called Peekaf. She reveals to Guts that she and the other fake elves are in fact children from the village. Jill manages to stop the Apostle by referring to her as "Rosine", causing her to fall back with her surviving children.
Guts collapses from the poison powder as the villagers emerge from their homes and accuse Guts of burning their barn and using Thomas as a lure. While Guts retorts that none of them came out to help the boy after his parents died. Things go south when the villagers see their dead children, reverting from their forms as Rosine's familiars, being consumed in the flame. Knowing that the villagers would accuse him of being in league with fake elves, Guts is left with no option but to take Jill hostage, against Puck's objections, and leaves the village while fighting the poison. Once safely outside the village, Guts releases Jill while apologizing for endangering her. Suspecting Guts is heading towards the Misty Valley, she requests to join him as she knows the Apostle. But Guts tells her to go back to her village, heading off while Puck chastises him before throwing the elf into the grass. Within minutes, Puck finds that Jill is following Guts and agrees to take her to him while learning Jill needs to go to the Misty Valley for answers.
Later stopping to camp for the night, still haunted by the burned bodies of the children in the barn, Guts attempts to fight the poison before seeing the Demon Child laying within his campfire. The Demon Child brought with it the enflamed spirits of the deceased village children with Guts losing himself in a berserker rage and cuts the spirits down. When Jill arrives, Guts almost kills her and stops himself before getting the girl to safety.
As the sun rises, Jill wakes to finds herself lying directly on top of Guts who asks her to sprinkle Puck's elf dust on him so he may heal quickly. While Jill does so, she tells Guts the story of Red-eyed Peekaf and that it was Rosine's favorite story. Jill proceeds to tell Guts the story of her friend Rosine, an older girl who found a Behelit. As Jill later learned, Rosine tends to avoid her parents due them abusing her and each other. She is later revealed that her mother conceived her out of rape by an enemy soldier. Eventually, becoming consumed in the story of Peekaf to the point of comparing herself to the protagonist, Rosine runs away to the Misty Valley where the elves supposedly lived. Rosine's parents disappeared a few days later with search parties failing to find any trance of her or her parents. Jill recalls looking through Rosine's belongings Rosine and not being able to find the strange stone among them.
Once Jill ends the story, Puck confirms the stone from her story is a Behelit. Guts then shocks her by explaining that Rosine used the stone to summon angels to transform her into her current state after using her parents as sacrificial offerings. Guts also warns Jill to not get in his way or she will die while stuffing Puck in a makeshift cage and walking off. Puck sees Jill crying before Rosine appears, revealing that she is still Jill's friend and intends to take the girl to her new home. Guts, sensing Rosine, runs back and attempts to strike her down. Rosine retaliates by dispatching her familiars onto Guts, only to stop them mid way, instead questioning Gut's resolve and the lengths he would go to save Jill. She ultimately decides to fall back at Jill's behest. With Jill enchanted by the bird's eye view, Rosine tells her that she can have her own wings if she joins her and becomes an elf too.
Following Rosine, Guts makes his way to the entrance of the Misty Valley, a wood full of dead trees cloaked in fog. Guts finds himself confronting the bandits that had previously held Jill captive. As it turned out, while fleeing from the possessed tree, the bandits were found by Rosine who transformed them into insectoid monsters. Though he defeats them with little difficulty, Guts finds more insectoid creatures heading his way. He beckons Puck to continue without him, as he manages to slaughter the army of insect-men in his berserk state of mind. Wounded from defeating the last two, revealed to be former knights, Guts takes time to heal his injuries with Puck's leftover dust before resuming his pace.
Back in Jill's village, the villagers give their children a mass burial with Father Hobbes of the Holy See in attendance. The villagers see an army of soldiers that Hobbes recognizes as the Holy Iron Chain Knights. Their female leader Farnese de Vandimion requests to speak with Father Hobbes in private, having her subordinate assist the villagers in burying their dead. As it turned out, Farnese had been sent by the Holy See to investigate the strange events surrounding the Black Swordsman. Having experienced similar stories of supernatural origin in the Gut's wake, Farnese begins to question if the Black Swordsman is just a simple criminal or something more. Regardless, Farnese intends to pursue the Black Swordsman into the Misty Valley as Zepek offers his services.
The Misty Valley
Brought to Rosine's home, Jill learns that the Misty Valley is a paradise for children and wishes she knew this before. After Rosine allows her time to think over becoming an elf, Jill finds Puck who attempts to convince her to not take the Apostle on her offer. Though Jill thought life as an elf would not be bad, especially after considering what life she might live if she ends up like her parents, she quickly becomes disturbed when she sees Rosine's familiars killing each other as part of a deprived game. Managing to use the fog to escape the familiars, Jill and Puck stumble upon a cave filled with cocoons where the captured children are sired. Rosine appears and dismissing what Jill saw to be her children "playing human", she starts to form a cocoon around the girl to begin her metamorphosis.
Luckily, Guts arrives to save Jill while setting the cocoons and the familiars on fire. Though Rosine sets her children on him, Guts manages to annihilate all her underlings at once by setting himself on fire as they bite him, and then puts it out with the insides of one of their cocoons. Furious she charges at Guts, Rosine realizes she is outmatched due to the cramped space and the flames nulling her poisonous dust before she falls back deeper into the cave. By the time Guts finds her, Rosine assumed her true form with the intent to start anew elsewhere with Jill by her side after killing Guts for destroying her utopia. As Puck gets Jill to safety, Rosine makes it out of the cave while battling Guts in an epic battle that pushes them to their limits. However, using Rosine's friendship to Jill to his advantage, Guts manages to land a mortal blow on Rosine before getting knocked into the lake.
After reverting to her usual form, her left arm gone, remembering how she became an Apostle, Rosine silently begs for her parents' forgiveness. As Jill runs over out of concern that for her, Rosine admits that the elves were never real before Puck reveals that he is an elf and that his kind lived in the Misty Valley long before Rosine made it her home. Rosine is happy to learn that the elves are real and that, in a way, she was able to find their home as she slowly loses consciousness. By then Guts bursts out of the lake with the intent to end her despite Jill putting herself in harm's way to protect her defenseless friend. Hesitating to go through Jill to kill the Apostle, Guts finds himself force to run when the Iron Chain Knights arrive and believe he was about to kill two human girls. Once Iron Chain Knights are out of view, Zepek is stopped by Jill from harming the dying Rosine as she flies off before she finally dies.
After escaping the Iron Chain Knights, Guts is found by Jill after she ran off from Zepek and begs the swordsman to take her with him. But Guts explains to her that a life with him is one where she would have no peace due to the restless spirits that will forever hunt him every night. Noticing the spirits attempting to take Jill, Guts drives them off and leaves Jill for her safety. The spirits follow, revealing that there is a darkness within Guts as they gather together to form that embodiment. The entity tells Guts that it was born of bloodshed and it gets stronger with each kill until the man would eventually become a monster like his friend.
The next morning, Jill finds the entire Valley is now a scorched wasteland before deciding to return to her village as she and Puck go their separate ways. Puck finds Guts and drives off small black spirits that attempted to consume him. When Guts comes to, he sees Puck taking out the attacking spirits before they completely withdraw. Thinking on the spirits' words, Guts decides to accept Puck as his traveling companion. However, the two are unaware that Iron Chain Knights are on their trail.
Binding Chain Chapter
The Holy Iron Chain Knights
Eventually, the Iron Chain Knights catch up to Guts as Farnese explains that she was sent by the Holy See to capture him while demanding Guts to surrender. Even though Guts is still weakened from his fight with Rosine, he refuses to stand down and the Iron Chain Knights quickly go on the offense though their inexperience still places them at a disadvantage. Eventually, Azan orders their men to stand down as he battles Guts who knows of the man's reputation as the Bridge Knight. Knowing he is no match for Azan in his current state, Guts attempts to take Farnese hostage but ends up appearing to be taken down by the captain as he was struck by a piece of wood secretly thrown by her right hand Serpico near his arrow wound. Regaining her composure after drawing first blood, Farnese orders her men back to camp with their captive who is fastened to the pole supporting her tent. Dismissing her soldiers, Farnese attempts to interrogate Guts to find out what and who he is while inspecting his effects and the Behelit in his possession. But Farnese finds her interrogation methods ineffective as she orders Guts away while she prays to reaffirm her faith.
With the night fast approaching and the spirits rising from the ground, Guts swallows his pride to request Puck in freeing him while healing him. Regaining his gear, Guts knocks Farnese out, while she was in the middle of self-flagellation, to use her as a hostage while he escapes the camp after setting Faranese's tent on fire. As Farnese comes to, revealed to unable to see Puck, Guts finds himself pursued by Serpico before the spirits cause the latter's horse to buck him off. The spirits soon are upon Guts as he fends them off while noticing that his horse is running straight for a cliff. It loses its balance and they all go tumbling down together, but Guts catches Farnese before she can be harmed by the fall. But as Guts asks her why the Iron Chain Knights are after him, Faranese is frightened when she sees possessed wild dogs that Guts fights off. She attempts to reach the horse to flee, only to find it possessed while it attempts to mount her.
Seeing Faranese about to be raped causes Guts to lose control over himself from being reminded by the Eclipse, beheading the possessed horse before it could violate her. Guts's struggle continues throughout the night until minutes before sunrise, finding himself facing a possessed Farnese as the spirit possessing her compels her to life out her personal vices by forcing herself Guts. But once the spirit departs upon sunrise, Faranese breaks down in shame as Serpico arrives and orders him to kill Guts to preserve what little honor she has left. But Serpico reminds his commander that their mission is only to apprehend Guts, deciding to give Guts a reprieve to Faranese's dismay as he takes her back to camp while Puck senses a profound sadness from her.
All across Midland, many people are having prophetic dreams of a plague ravaging the land, an army that tames monsters, and numerous natural disasters with numerous dead and utter darkness. But in midst of the chaos the dreamers see one figure: A glowing white hawk. The vision is believed by the priests to be a vision from God that something miraculous is to come as a plague caused by Conrad is spreading across the land. At another area, after slaughtering mercenaries and pondering to hunt down Guts for a real challenge, Nosferatu Zodd finds himself facing the white hawk as he transforms before being easily defeated. Coming out of his vision while finding his face scarred and the left horn of his true form chopped off, Zodd is told to go to the sacred ground where the blind gather to await "His" coming.
At Windham, having wasted his life hunting Griffith rather than focus on the plague that came to his lands, the king falls ill and lies on his death bed requesting his daughter Charlotte. But Charlotte barricaded herself in her room for the past five days and refuses to leave to be by her father's side. At that time, the dying king has a final vision of himself on his throne before the white hawk appears and lands behind Charlotte. The king watches in mixed horror and awe as the hawk's head morphs into that of Griffith before he dies. As word of the king's passing spreads, Windham is conquered by a foreign army from the land of Kushan.
Somewhere far away, Guts and Puck come across a village that fell to the plague with Guts worried that spirits of dead might attack him in daylight. Puck points to a large monument composed of giant slabs of stones which are piled into archways on the outskirts of the town, explaining them to be elf shrines. Though told the spirits would not reach them, Guts has a nightmare of Casca being burned alive and finds the Demon Child beneath an angled slab of stone, where the sun cannot reach it. When Guts asks if it caused his dream, the creature responds by reshaping its face to resemble Casca while telling him to go to the sacred ground where the blind gather.
Having been reassigned after her failure to capture Guts, still bothered by her brush with spiritual possessions, Farnese oversees the safe passage of the Windam refugees to St. Albion. The Iron Chain Knights has also been assigned to escort Inquisitor Mozgus to oversee order in the city as heretics have also be sighted around it. Mozgus and his masked disciples, each a master in the art of torture, soon make their presence known when a group of men fight their way through the Iron Chain Knights so that they can assassinate Mozgus for slaughtering their families. Mozgus was relatively calm of the attempt on his life while explaining his deeds had only him acting accordingly to the Holy See's doctrine until the group's leader, who knew it to be an act of hypocrisy, yells out that inquisitor will suffer "divine punishment" for slaughtering innocent blood. His face contorted in rage, Mozgus strikes the leader dead with his bible for his "blasphemous words" and then orders his disciples to place the rest on breaking wheels. All were horrified by the grizzly sight, save Mozgus, his disciples, and a raven-haired girl among the refugees.
Towards the Sacred Ground
Guts returns to Godo's mill, learning that Rickert has become a skilled smith under Godo's teaching and is practicing his craft. Guts notes how much Guts has changed before learning the Casca ran off a month ago and Rickert, though he tried to find her, couldn't leave Godo whose age had caught up with him. Guts visits the bedridden Godo, who asks to see the Dragonslayer and Guts' prosthetic arm. Upon seeing both items having five times the amount of wear seen in a weapons used for two, Godo attempts to convince Guts to abandon his quest for revenge and make a new life for himself. But Guts would not hear of it until Rickert takes him to nearby snowing hill covered in swords. Rickert explains that he made these all swords while practicing to serve as grave markers for their fallen comrades. Guts contemplates how Rickert truly grown to be able to move on and let go of the past.
Spending the night in the ore cave while Rickert mends his affects, despite its elvish nature to ward off foul things, Guts is unable to sleep while he keeps thinking of Godo's words and then of Casca being violated by Griffith. It was only after a vision of the Beast of Darkness tempting him to continue killing that Guts realizes that he never had the right to avenge the Band of the Hawk as he left them a year prior to their deaths. Furthermore, he realized the only thing that kept him sane all this time was Casca and decides to refocus his priorities on finding her. After equipping himself with his freshly mended gear and lighter armor while Rickert presents him with a model of repeater crossbow and a new concept weapon that uses gunpowder, Guts asks the boy if he knows of any place called "Sacred Ground".
Rickert explains there is a city three days away in the northeast called St. Albion where a large monastery known as the Tower of Conviction is located. Guts deems it to be the location from his dream after hearing it to have a heavy Holy See presence along with numerous refugees from the plague. With that, Guts departs as Godo expects this to be the last time the two of them will meet. Along the way, Guts defeats a group of Kushan scouts who were about to kill a boy named Isidro. Dispatching the scouts with little trouble, Guts hurries towards St. Albion with Isidro following before throwing the boy away while facing the animated corpses of the men that Mozgus had executed on the way to St. Albion.
Eventually, after running all night without rest, Guts crosses paths with the Skull Knight who is also heading towards St. Albion. The Skull Knight explains that the God Hand will appear there as the area around the Tower of Conviction has been drawing an immense concentration of negative emotions that will eventually erupt during a millennial event where one among the God Hand will regain corporeal form: the Incarnation Ceremony. The Skull Knight also reveals that the dreams of the Hawk of Light all point to which of the God Hand's members will return to the physical plane. This revelation, along with Casca being at St. Albion, makes Guts realize that he is about to enter another nightmare like the Eclipse. After Guts explains that he will fight fate itself to save Casca and kill Griffith if he gets in the way, the Skull Knight muses that he might just do that while providing departing words that Casca will still be forever alone. Guts then resumes his run towards St. Albion with Isidro still following him diligently.
Birth Ceremony Chapter
Reunion in the Den of Sin
At St. Albion, the first thing travelers see once entering the outskirts are the flayed skins of priests hanged on a barren tree. In the outskirts of St. Albion, a mass campsite surrounding the city that is home to of starving and half naked people while their dead are carted away, Farnese finds herself dealing with beggars swarming around a cart in hopes of sneaking food. While Mozgus allowed the cart-swarmers inside the Tower of Conviction, Farnese learns of his intent to torture them for being sinners from his perspective as Mozgus insists for she to watch the torture process. Soon after, the Iron Chain Knights are given the task to bring all sinners into the Tower of Conviction regardless if they are guilty or not. While Farnese has lost her appetite from what she had seen with the intent to complain to Mozgus that his ethics tarnish her group, she and Serpico soon learn that Mozgus' disciples are not as monstrous as they appear. One of the disciples, a man in a crow-like plague mask, explains that they are all deformities who found a place in the world under Mozgus and only commit their acts of torture in gratitude for the more monstrous man.
The crow-man takes Farnese and Serpico to see Mozgus as he finishes his daily ritual of slamming his face onto the ground a thousand times in prayer. While his disciples bandage his wounds from kneeling for so long, Mozgus explains a legend that the tower once saved as a prison for a holy man whose prayers for God to smite his jailer King Gaiseric were answered. After Farnese states her reason to see him, Mozgus tells her another story before concluding that they must continue to be utterly devoted to God despite the horrible deeds that are to be done. With only Farnese remaining in the chamber as she is still hesitant about her actions, the entire conversation was seen from hole in the ceiling by a mysterious being that runs down the roof of the Tower of Conviction.
In another part of the camp, a prostitute named Luca has been taking care of Casca, by presenting her as her odd sister Elaine, and her "apprentices", Pepe, Fouquet, Lucie, and Nina. As Luca could not bare to have Casca work as a prostitute, she had her covered in bandaged to appear to be diseased for her safety. After passing a heretic who claims the Hawk of Light was sent by the Goddess of Flame, Nina fetches water while Casca noticed nearby animated corpses creeping towards them before the Demon Child appear and wordless ordered the possessing spirits to disburst. Nina, having not noticed, takes Casca back to camp while the while event was watched by the mysterious figure. Nina later meets a young man named Joachim who likes her as she convinces him to come with her to a midnight orgy held by pagans. The two are followed by Luca, who is turn followed by Casca with the spirits not far behind. Once inside, an initially hesitate Joachim is stripped to participate, hallucinating strange sights before meeting the pagan leader, a man wearing only a goat's head, to be "converted". But Joachim snapped out of the pagan allure upon finding the soup he was to taste as his final test was filled with severed body parts. Joachim flees for his life as before Nina and the other participants threw him off the cliff to his apparent death.
While the rest return to resume their lustful acts, Nina falls on her knees over Joachim running off on her before realizing Luca is nearby. After disciplining Nina like a spoiled child before hugging the frightened girl, Luca decides that they return to the camp. But the two saw that the heretics found Casca who learn that she is not suffering syphilis, Luca about to stop a potential rape when some heretics end up being possessed by the spirits and killing each other. When Demon Child appears to drive the specters off, it causes the heretics to think Casca is a witch before Luca, taking the girls back to camp, orders everyone to disperse their gifts out of fear that might attract negative attention from the Holy See.
Unfortunately, Luca finds that Holy See Hunters have captured Pepe on the charge of heresy and comes to her defense. But before one of the Hunters can strike her, Guts intervenes as he just arrives. Though not interested in fighting, Guts proceeds to defend himself from the Hunters while Isidro grabs the keys so Luca can free Pepe. Once the fighting ended, finding he is branded too, Luca takes him to where Casca is. However, Nina stole Casca away from the chaos before they are captured by the pagans while Farnese learns of Guts' presence in the city outskirts, but chooses to avoid him for her sanity and instead on the cave that her subordinate Jerome has someone who can lead them to the heretics' den: Joachim. By that time, seeing then being taken the b-y pagans, Isidro and Puck follow them to the cave where the high priest intends to wed Casca to the Great Goat while Nina is to be sacrificed. Isidro sends Puck to find Guts while he distracts the pagans for the girls to escape. However, Casca's brand rallies the spirits of those eaten by the pagans and possesses most of them as they killed their own people before attacking the Iron Chain Knights. With the exception of Farnese, the knights believe the pagans are under a drugged stupor.
In midst of the chaos, Isidro saves Nina and Casca before noticing the Great Goat has been transformed into a monstrous satyr-like version of himself that attacks the knights before turning his attention to Casca for begin their consummation. Luckily, Guts arrives and frees Casca while castrating the monster and destroying the possessed heretics. After having Isiduro lead Casca to safety, an all-out battle ensues with Guts fighting heretics and Iron Chain Knights at once before battling the Great Goat while realizing he is as a pseudo-Apostle. Guts manages to take advantage of his new arsenal to kill the beast before running after Casca while the Iron Chain Knights managed to eliminate the last of the possessed pagans.
But Guts runs into Serpico who uses the narrow terrain of the cliff to have an advantage over him before the knight is forced to fall back after provoking the swordsman too far. Guts would later learn from Isidro that the Iron Chain Knights, through the manipulations of the mysterious figure, have captured Casca and Nina. While Guts preferred to rescue Casca on his own, Isidro, Luca, and Jerome insist on accompanying him. As Guts remembers the Skull Knight's words that events beyond his control will soon begin, the mysterious observer responsible for the Great Goat's transformation and Casca's capture watches the group approach from the tip of the statue at the top of the Tower of Conviction while Puck flies into the tower to find Casca.
The Tower of Conviction
Incarcerated in a tiny, dark, windowless room with Casca, frightened by her situation while livid over her cellmate's inability to grasp the danger they are in, Nina is taken by two of Mozgus' Disciples to uncover the truth of which of the girls is the leader of the heretic group. Though she attempted to be brave, Nina loses her composure upon seeing the bodies of heretics hanging from the ceiling and quickly confesses all she knows while the torturers were starting with one of her fingernails. With Farnese confirming Casca's apparent relation to Guts just after being told she is being relieved of her duties at her her father's request, Mozgus falsely accuses Casca of being a witch and has her placed in the iron maiden to bleed to death. Though Casca's body frame made it impossible for her to be impaled, her presence within the Iron Maiden causes the blood of its previous victims to come to life, forming deformed human faces while destroying the torture device and surrounding the girl. To everyone's horror, the animated blood starts consuming one of torturers and the heretics, reducing them to bones while everyone else manages to escape. Puck, having witnessed what occurred, is unable to save Casca from being completely engulfed in the deep red liquid yet still alive compared to the blood's other victims. Prior to Casca being consumed, the Demon Child managed to reach her.
Meanwhile, as Luca, Isidro, and Jerome free Nina while fleeing from the animated blood, Guts finds Farnese attempting to flee with Serpico and the torturers. Guts grabs Farnese and, despite her warning him of what is occurring in the underground torture chamber, intimidates her to take him to Casca. Upon reaching the torture chamber, Guts and Farnese find the blood no where to be seen as Puck reveals to the former what occurred as the latter starts to see the elf to her shock. While Guts lets Farnese go so he can find Casca, she decides it would be in her best interest to follow him. As the events unfold, Mozgus and his disciples have barred themselves in the former's chambers on the topmost level of the tower. Mozgus tells his faithful followers that the blood is but a test of their faith and gladly welcomes it as the blood manages to burst into the room. The mysterious figure uses one of its tentacles to drop down into the room from the hole in the ceiling at that moment while flaring its other tendrils to pierce the inquisitor and his followers, transforming them as a result.
Eventually, while fleeing for their lives, Jerome, Isidro, Luca and Nina find themselves avoiding a torrent of flame spewed by Mozgus that evaporates the blood blob with Casca freed while protected by the Demon Child. Casca is abducted by Mozgus who deems his transformed body a miracle while having his claw-wielding disciple attack the group. In the fight that followed, the disciple managing to make a hole in the wall, Nina and Luca are hanging for dear life before the latter releases her grip and is saved by Skull Knight as he was about to attack the mysterious being. Guts arrives in time ahead of Farnese to save Jerome, Isidro and Nina before charging at Mozgus as the inquisitor flies out of harm's way with wings sprouting from his back. As the disciples also sprout wings, Mozgus expresses being fight Guts as God's emissary while announcing his determination to burn Casca at the stake. After Guts recognizes that Mozgus and his disciples have become "pseudo-Apostles", he finds himself initially outmatched while dealing with four out of seven opponents. But as Farnese soon realizes her religion is but a veil that disperses in his presence, Guts manages to get the upperhand against his four opponents while Mozgus takes off in flight away from the Tower of Conviction with the twin disciples, and Casca in his arms while Isidro had grabbed the inquistor's head.
The Incarnation Ritual: Prelude
After saving Luca, the Skull Knight has come to a stop just outside the outer wall of the Tower of Conviction where the bodies of refugees who died of starvation and disease were placed. Luca considers the circumstance of she finding herself with the Skull Knight, whom she believed to be the Grim Reaper, utterly surreal as he calls out the mysterious figure from hiding. The figure tells the Skull Knight that the living are not welcomed as the two proceed to fight, before the figure spirits Luca away. While Luca comes back to her senses, she finds herself in a small cave that is filled with lit candles and an alter reminiscent of the Holy See made of the skin and bones of priests.
At this the mysterious observer, revealed to be a living behelit, introduces himself to Luca as the Egg of the Perfect World. The Apostle explains that he was a deformed outcast who made a hole to live in after being ostracized by St. Albion's people. Coming across a behelit by chance while his home was being used by the residents to dump their dead, the figure made a pact with five angels to be the one to give birth to a "perfect world" by sacrificing the current world. The Egg-shaped Apostle further explained that he observed everything that occurs around Albion and had also influenced events like the giving more to the Great Goat and Mozgus's faction as part of an ordained moment that had been in motion once Luca brought Casca to St. Albion. Before the Apostle could answer Luca that he wanted someone to know his story, the Egg flees when Skull Knight attempted to strike him down.
The Skull Knight realizes that the Apostle is under the protection of Causality, eating the Apostle's discarded behelit while warning Luca to involve herself further. But as the Skull Knight takes Luca out of the collapsing cave, they encounter the first of mound-like creatures composed of the emaciated refugees' corpses. Luca notices the face's similarities to the animated blood before more rise up as the Skull Knight silently acknowledges the meaning of these manifestations before getting Luca to safety. Once at the outskirts of the St. Albion, the Skull Knight advises Luca to not approach the tower. But she goes back to St. Albion none the less and the Skull Knight deems she is beyond his ability to save as he turns his attention to Zodd as he arrives.
At the same time, as Azan attempts to restore some order while finding Farnese, the possessed blood within the Tower begins to force its way out of the Tower. Outside St. Albion's walls, the sea of corpses spreads around the city's outskirts as some of the spirits possess the bodies of living refugees and use them to commit atrocities and wanton carnage. Those still alive and unpossessed believe they are being attacked by the heretics and flee towards the tower after it has semi-collapsed into the shape of an open hand reaching towards heaven.
Having survived the tower's collapse, along with Farnese as Serpico arrived to save her, Jerome, and Nina, Guts witnesses the carnage unfold as tents in the slums have been set alight. Guts sees the resulting bonfire forming a pattern of a giant Brand of Sacrifice, realizing it has begun. While using his flames to deter the spirits, managing to get Isidro off his head before throwing the boy into the tower ruins, Mozgus assures the people that this calamity will be stopped once they burn Casca at the stake.
Refusing to allow the people to kill Casca while Mozgus and his twin disciples hold off the corpses, Guts attempts to make his way down the tower before four human-sized shapeless masses slowly rise and assume distinct forms. The sight of them has Guts recognizes them to be Void, Conrad, Ubik and Slan and attempts to attack them before remembering the Skull Knight telling him that the God Hand are incorporeal beings and thus cannot be easily harmed. He eventually ignores them and Guts fights his way down the tower while noticing the Egg-Shaped Apostle climbing up. The apostle has started to bleed out from being wounded by the Skull Knight and has little time left while questioning how his fate would have been if Mozgus found him before becoming an apostle. The apostle then notices the Demon Child and realizing it is dying from having used the last of its power to protect Casca from Mozgus' flames. The apostle takes the child in his tendrils before swallowing it, intending for them to have each other's company while witnessing the fruits of his labor from atop the tower.
Guts vs. Mozgus
Managing to get down another way, parting ways with Farnese and Serpico while taking Nina with him, Jerome regroups with Isidro as they manage to rescue Casca. Mozgus sees this and attempts to recapture Casca before he is impaled by Guts' Dragonslayer. The force of the attack sends the two flying into the outer wall of St. Albion, destroying a large chunk of it and frightening the refugees as they mistook Guts for a demon while he sees Casca and the others under attack by the twin disciples. But Guts has his own troubles as Mozgus, revealed to have survived as his bible blocked the attack, fully transforms and intends to punish the mercenary for his transgressions. Guts finds himself overwhelmed by Mozgus' titanic strength and impenetrable hide. At the same time, after Guts manages to deflect their master's attack at them, the twin disciples are knocked out by Puck and Isidro long enough for Jerome to decapitate them before they gained their second wind. Mozgus is enraged even at seeing the last of his disciples killed with Guts reaffirming that he will not allow any more harm come to Casca.
As the fight occurs, the flames that Mozgus produced to hold off the sprits begin to die out with the Holy Iron Chain Knights and the terrified refuges defenseless as the latter plea for Mozgus to save them. But Mozgus is too preoccupied with Guts to pay them mind, while asking the swordsman of is willing to deny the people their hopes and dreams for God's triumph for Casca's. Having been the losing end for almost the entire fight, Guts retorts that all the refugees ever do is pray and that they are unable to move on because of their obsession with a single woman. As the enraged Mozgus attacks, Guts notices that his attempted impalement did damage to the inquisitor in the form of a shallow wound. Guts places Rickert's explosives on Mozgus's chest and trick the inquisitor into using his flames to detonate them, widening the wound so he can land the death blow. Though the dying Mozgus attempted to take Guts to the grave with him, the mercenary flips him over the battlements to his death. Upon impact, Mozgus reverts to human form with the only remnants of his monstrous form being the feathers slowly floating to the ground.
With Mozgus dead and spirits now starting to pick them off, the refugees plea Jerome and Isidro to kill Casca as Guts approaches her to forcibly pull her into a protective hug. Though Azan and his forces attempts to fall back into St. Albion, the city is placed in lock down with the knights and refugees still outside at the mercy of the spirits. Atop the Tower, the Egg listens to despairing refugees being consumed while addressing the Demon Child which has transformed into a normal-looking baby infant.
The Incarnation Ritual: Climax
Having managed to survive a fall during Guts' battle with Mozgus with a twisted ankle, Nina is saved from the stampede of barricaded refugees by Luca. The reunion is short lived as the corpses are forcing their way into the city. As Nina cannot run, Luca places her in a watertight barrel and hammering the lid to keep her safe before seeing the animated blood approaching her. Luckily, Luca took refuge inside a well at the last second before the barrel holding Nina is swept up in the literal sea of corpses flooding into St. Albion. Though Nina nearly attempts to break free in a panic, assuming her mentor died, she remembers Luca's words about the fearful having a strong desire to live. Nina calms herself down enough to curl up into a ball, ready to be jostled, uncomfortable and scared if it means that she'll survive.
With both sides of St. Albion's wall surrounded by spirits, things seem hopeless for Guts' group until Serpico directs their attention to a few stranded refugees who are praying over Mozgus' enflamed body with the countless spirits not approaching them due to their dislike for fire. After every able-person is armed with a burning wooden plank torch to ward off the spirits, Guts assures Farnese and Jerome that they have to last until dawn. When Isidro outwardly asks what the monsters are, Puck revealed them to be the restless spirits of those who died of the plague and torture who are possessing the dead while gaining strength by consuming the living. Though Farnese almost resorted to praying while breaking down from the horror now surrounding them, Guts encourages her to unclasp her hands and put them to good use in warding the spirits off. With a newfound resolution, Farnese swipes her burning stick at them, defending the back along with Isidro and Serpico while Guts and Jerome defend from the front.
Within the Tower, despite believing they would be safe, the refugees find themselves in a death trap as the both spirit types converge within the tower before covering it in a form that instilled horror in Casca's eyes: The hand-like structure on the day of the Eclipse with the four God Hand appearing on the fingers. Having explained the spirits' collective desire was salvation for their faith and retribution for their torture, Puck notices a change in their desire to be the birth of a "perfect world". Puck then calls Guts' attention to his satchel, revealing that the behelit within is responding to the surrounding horrors. But a burst of pain emanating from their brands cause Guts and Casca to lose consciousness as the final phase of the Incarnation Ritual begins.
Sitting upon the palm as the spirits forming the hand all cry out for God, the Egg's face rearranged into a normal human face as it smiles contentedly and shreds tears of blood while the hand clutches into a fist. Within the Apostle's cracking body, the infant begins to age rapidly while growing long white hair. In moments, once the Apostle's life has come to an end with his purpose fulfilled, the spirits coating the tower vomit blood as the structure completely collapses. Outside the wall, having lost his men to the spirits, Azan had lost consciousness and was saved from being crushed under the tower due to his upright quarterstaff acting as a support to prevent the rubble from directly falling on him.
The Incarnation Ritual: Conclusion
As dawn rises on the ruins of the Tower of Conviction, Guts and his group have survived the nightmarish ordeal along with Nina, who is reunited with the group, and then Luca. But the reunion is short lived as a large number of Kushan scouts lead by Silat, who was sent by his lord to find a particular person whose appearance on this patch of land was foretold by an oracle. Despite the fight last night having took its toll, Guts receives unlikely aid from Azan. But before the fight begins, Zodd appears in his apostle state alongside the Skull Knight who points Guts into the direction of something that catches the mercenary's eye. Standing atop the ruins of the Tower of Conviction is Griffith, basking in the morning light naked and in his original human form.
As Zodd kneels before Griffith, Guts finds himself unable to move towards his former ally despite having spent two years trying to find and kill him. Zodd prooceeds to slaughter any Kushan that attempts to get close to Griffith, Azan leads Farnese and the others away. By the time the group realize that have left Guts and Casca behind, the former keeping the latter from walking towards Griffith, they are forced to hide as the Kushan army is marching towards the city and decide it would be in their interests to stay hidden. But then, the group witnesses Griffith fly off on Zodd's back while Guts managed to steal one of the Kushan soldiers' steeds and escape on horseback with Casca.
After reaching safety, the group find Luca's apprentices and other survivors with Jerome noting the irony that only the faithless survived. But Luca explains it is more that the others died because they hesitated to act as they have, gathering flowers to pay her final respects to the Egg while assuring her group that Casca is alright. While soaking her ankle, despite deciding to remain with Luca to become strong, Nina is found by Joachim and decides to stay by his side as they are both flawed and can help each other live. Luca is aware of Nina's choice and accepts it. As Isidro takes his leave, Farnese realizes she used her faith as a crutch and decides to follow after Guts instead of returning to Vritannis.
Farnese tells Azan her intent while he grieves for their men, taking her leave with Serpico following after her. Back in the ruins of St. Albion, the Skull Knight observes the destroyed city from atop a cliff and contemplates how Griffith's return to corporeal form will soon bring a drastic change to the very world itself.
- Many details involving the intricate workings of the God Hand and the Spiritual Realm are hinted at during this Arc, and expanded on in the next. Above all, Guts firmly settles on finding Casca and never leaving her alone again, and Griffith's rebirth signifies both the reconstruction of this world and a new chapter in the many causal relationships to be had in the remainder of the series.
Anime and Manga Differences
- The 2016 anime adaptation omits the Lost Children chapter.
- In the 2016 anime adaptation Guts fights the Keeper of the Hounds after kidnapping Farnese, while in the manga, the fight happens by the end of Golden Age arc.
Lost Children Chapter
Guts only major fight is with Rosine's minions and Rosine herself. The minions merely get in Guts' way and their sheer numbers almost overpower Guts, while his first skirmish with Rosine ends badly, only surviving because of Jill's intervention.
His climactic battle with Rosine has multiple stages. He lightly damages her wings and burns all her children which makes Rosine transform into her Apostle form. Guts is quickly put on the defensive as on top of Rosine's blindingly fast attacks, sonic booms follow her assaults. He takes advantage of a slower, more precise attack she makes and has her impale his arm and carry him into the air, providing a position from which to blast her with his cannon arm, blowing a hole into her abdomen. Guts crashes on the ground and ambushes Rosine while she is distracted with Jill and impales her with the Dragonslayer. He is carried up once again and almost gets killed by her spear-like appendage, but only gets pierced through his cheeks and manages to bite down on it, and inflicts the final blow with the Dragonslayer as they both fall to the ground. Rosine flies away and dies shortly after Guts is forced to leave when the Holy Iron Chain Knights arrive.
Binding Chain Chapter
Guts' only real confrontation here is with the Holy Iron Chain Knights. While he manages to kill most of the soldiers sent his way, he is exhausted from his battle with Rosine and defeated by Azan. After subsequent capture and escape, he spends a night defending his hostage, Farnese, from possessed animals.
Birth Ceremony Chapter
Many battles take place over the course of this chapter. The first is a skirmish with soldiers attempting to apprehend him at Albion, which goes predictably. Later, pursuing Casca in the pagans' cave, Guts is forced into battle with the Great Goathead, who is now Apostle Spawn. Goathead proves to be a more dangerous adversary than expected, being agile enough to evade Guts and strong enough to inflict heavy blows. It is however eventually outmatched by Guts' skill and wit.
Many skirmishes follow, leading up to a battle with Mozgus' disciples sans the twins, all of whom now bear wings and enhanced physical power from transformation into Apostle Spawn. The combined tactics of Bird, Angel Face, Bubblehead, and the Imp push Guts to close calls several times, but Guts outsmarts and defeats them all, down to a duel with the Bird that ends in the latter's death.
Following this, demons force the characters into battles between Guts and Mozgus in his "Stone Angel" form, and the rest of the cast attempting to survive the Twins. All opponents are eventually overwhelmed and killed. Puck, Isidro, and Jerome take down the Twins while Guts impales Mozgus through the heart, his only weak point.
- This arc is also known as the Retribution Arc in unofficial translations.