|Episode 138 (Manga)|
|Volume||18 Tower of Shadow|
|Date Released||October 5, 1999 (tankōbon format)|
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Bowels of the Holy Ground →
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Farnese, Serpico and the crow-man watch as Mozgus slams himself down onto the floor again and again. The crow-man explains that Mozgus' actions are done out of faith; he has a daily ritual of slamming his face onto the ground one thousand times in prayer, and has not missed a day in the last ten years, explaining his inhumanly flat and smooth facial features.
His ritual complete, Mozgus is now free to speak with Farnese, who notices that the inquisitor's knees are bleeding due to having been on the stone floor for so long. As the crow-man begins to bandage these wounds, Mozgus explains that one thousand years ago, King Gaiseric imprisoned a sage within the Tower of Conviction. The sage continued to proclaim of Gaiseric's sins despite being imprisoned, so one day God sent down an angel to confront the king.
As the crow-man finishes wrapping bandages around Mozgus' knees, the latter calls his wounds proof of his faith, and says that due to his position as High Inquisitor, he must be an enforcer of God's rules, even if the enforcement brings much pain to others and prevents Mozgus from having a social life.
Farnese has traveled up the Tower of Conviction to explain her misgivings to Mozgus - she does not see how imprisoning and torturing the refugees will being them salvation, and worries about the popularity of the Holy Iron Chain Knights slowly diminishing among them. Mozgus answers with a story: long ago, there was a woman who never sought wealth and devoted her life to helping others. She often found people dying along her path, and would kneel down and embrace them and be with them at the moment of their death, so they would not be alone. One day, this woman came across another dying man like any other, but when she kneeled to be with him, he pushed her away, as he had been living a life of solitude, and her presence during his death would mean invalidating his life's work.
Mozgus then quotes scripture to Farnese, and says that despite all the pain and suffering they may cause to the refugees, they must continue to be utterly devoted to God. Together, Mozgus, Farnese, Serpico and the crow-man leave the room, though Farnese looks back at the hawk symbol of the Holy See, still hesitant about her actions. The entire group is completely unaware that they are being watched through the hole in the ceiling by a mysterious being, who runs down the roof of the Tower of Conviction after they leave.
Down in the camps, Nina is busy giving half of what she has earned as a prostitute to the neighbors, as instructed by Luca, while Casca plays in mud with several children. As they make to leave the area together, Nina's attention is drawn by a young man, Joachim, who wants to see her. Their conversation reveals that Joachim is one of Nina's repeat customers, knows about her disease, and has taken a liking to her, not unlike Jerome to Luca.
Nina asks what business Joachim has with her, but he came to see her not out of business, but concern. She doesn't believe him and thinks that he is trying to persuade her into giving him a freebie with his kind words, but he denies this too. She tells him that if he really is concerned, then to come find her by the riverside at midnight. She then leaves with Casca back to the tent they share with the other prostitutes, where Nina slumps down and buries her face into her pillow.
Like she asked him to, Joachim meets Nina at the riverside at midnight. Upon seeing him, Nina launches herself into his arms and asks if he loves her, which he doesn't deny. She follows this up with another, more sinister question; she asks if would be willing to go to Hell if it means he can be with her. Confused, he replies that he would, and this seems to satisfy Nina, who decides that it's time to show him a place where God has no influence. Both are unaware that Nina has been followed by a concerned Luca, and nobody is aware that Casca is following Luca out of curiosity, attracting spirits along with her.
Nina leads Joachim to a large crevice between two cliffsides, at the bottom of which lies a deep cave which other, cloaked people enter together.