|Episode 131 (Manga)|
|To Holy Ground (1)|
|Romaji||Seichi e (1)|
|Date Released||April 5, 1999 (tankōbon format)|
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To Holy Ground (2)→
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Very early the same morning, Puck wriggles out of the sleeping Erica's hands and wanders down the stairs of Godo's house, where he finds Rickert practicing his smithing. He praises the boy for his diligence. Rickert thanks Puck for cheering up Erica, who had been saddened by the facts that Godo has begun to weaken and that Casca has run away. Rickert puts a particular emphasis of his thanks on Guts' still being sane. He suspects that had Puck not been with Guts on the latter's journey, then he would have gone mad with bloodlust. Guts' concern for Casca has proved to Rickert that the former is still sane.
Their conversation is interrupted by Godo, who has summoned the strength to rise out of bed, dress, and walk down the stairs. He wants to continue his blacksmithing while he has the strength to do so. He shifts his responsibility to Erica onto Rickert, and tells the story of how he met her: her house had been burned down and her family killed in the One Hundred Year War. Godo happened to be passing by when he noticed her and, on a whim, decided to adopt her, and she became the only aspect of his life that did not revolve around blacksmithing.
Godo dutifully begins to mend the chips and cracks in the enormous Dragonslayer. He instructs Rickert to relay a message to Guts: "Don't turn out like me".
The next morning, Guts equips himself with his freshly mended equipment, the Dragonslayer in particular looking newly-made. His armor has been slightly updated, now lighter in weight and more comfortable to wear than his old armor. Rickert, who is outside with Guts, gifts him with a new model of repeater crossbow and a new concept weapon that uses gunpowder.
Rickert inquires as to where Guts plans to begin searching for Casca. Guts answers with his own question, asking Rickert if he is aware of any places commonly known as Holy Grounds. The only place Rickert can come up with is a three-day journey to the northeast, a place called St. Albion where a large monastery known as the Tower of Conviction is located. Apparently, the refugees created by the spreading plague have taken refuge there, and there is also a heavy Holy See presence. The signs point to a witch trial, worrying Guts.
Guts turns to leave, but Rickert calls out to him, saying to return safely with Casca. Guts takes the opportunity to yell out a goodbye to Godo, who is watching from his bedroom window. With that, Guts departs without looking back. Godo thinks to himself that it's likely the last time he and the Black Swordsman ever see each other.
One month prior (taking place during Guts' trek to Godo's house), Farnese leads the Holy Iron Chain Knights, along with several hundred refugees and a steel wagon, to St. Albion. Azan informs her and Serpico that some refugees they are shepherding are from Windham, which has been taken over by a nation known as the Kushan Empire. Serpico asks whether they should intervene in the situation, due to the facts that the Kushan Empire are enemies of the Holy See religion and that St. Albion is located very close to the border of Midland, which the Kushan now control. Azan silences him, saying that if they need to intervene, they'll receive orders from the Holy See to do so.
Farnese recalls a time between Guts' escape from her clutches and her being made a refugee escort, when she was questioned by the Holy See's higher-ranking members in an amphitheater in their main city. They asked how, after two years of hunting for the Black Swordsman, Farnese had let him escape. She explained that the Holy Iron Chain Knights are not yet suited to take on so mighty a foe as Guts, but the officials accused her of insolence. They berated her for letting several men under her command, all of whom were from wealthy, high-ranking families, die. Though it appeared she was about to lose her position as the Iron Chain Knights' figurehead, the officials let her know that since she is from the extremely affluent and prestigious Vandimion family, a deal was made with her father to preserve her position. On the final note that they will soon assign her another job (as they have suspended her current hunt for the Black Swordsman), she was dismissed from their presence. As Farnese left the amphitheater, she heared the officials converse about the dream they all experienced with the Hawk of Light and how best to interpret it.
As Farnese leads the Iron Chain Knights in their new escort mission, she thinks back on her near-rape by the possessed horse and how she had stripped and forced herself on Guts while she herself was possessed. She remembers how the spirit who possessed her had suggested that she is not as close to God as she would like to be.
As they wander through the city, the refugees stare in awe at the enormous, armored carriage being led by the Holy Iron Chain Knights. Its occupant is made obvious by four large wooden wheels that are suspended by above the carriage: the signature torture device of Inquisitor Mozgus, sent by the Holy See to oversee the situation at St. Albion. The refugees speak of his brutal torture methods, which involve binding people to wheels similar to the ones on the carriage and pointing them towards the sky, leaving the trapped victims to die. Mozgus' bodycount using this method purportedly rivals the death count commonly associated with small wars.
As the convoy passes along the foot of a ridge, several men aim and fire their crossbows harmlessly at the armored carriage from above. They are opposed to Mozgus' presence in St. Albion, and indeed, opposed to his very existence.