|Episode 139 (Manga)|
|Bowels of the Holy Ground|
|Romaji||Seichi no harawata|
|Volume||18 Tower of Shadow|
|Date Released||October 5, 1999 (tankōbon format)|
← Fierce Believer
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Nina leads Joachim further and further down into the cave, following a few cloaked men who are headed in the same direction. Their walk is short, and ends when they come across the place Nina has been looking for: the bowels of the cave, where a massive orgy is taking place. In the center of the wide cavity is a bonfire which is heating a cookpot. The people closest to the fire are dancing around it almost primitively, and those furthest out towards the walls of the cave are having sex. Several people are playing tribal, rhythmic music with a pronounced drum beat. Everyone within the cave is naked. There is an obvious pagan subtext to the whole affair, especially upon seeing a man with a massive goat's head sitting with his back to the cave wall, surrounded by women.
Eager to join in, Nina takes Joachim's hand and leads him down. Upon seeing them, several women approach to strip them naked. Joachim harbors confusion and misgivings about the whole affair, but Nina is happily being ravished by the girls, inviting Joachim to join her. The entire scene is discreetly watched by both the mysterious being previously seen at the Tower of Conviction, and Luca, who has snuck into the cave to follow Nina.
Joachim nervously approaches Nina to have sex with her, but his vision is obstructed by flashes of light and visions of the women's hands caressing Nina's body turning black and writhing around. When Joachim grabs her breast, his hand appears to sink right into it, as though they have merged. Joachim suspects they are illusions.
Joachim then looks up into the smoke caused by the fire and sees the form of a woman with bird-like wings. A pagan priest who is not partaking in the orgy announces the smoky woman's arrival: the Goddess of Flames. The Goddess can also be seen by Luca, who suspects that drugs have been mixed into the cookpot and are flowing into the air.
Joachim has begun to have sex with Nina, but the effects of the fumes are causing illusions. His vision is blurring, and he feels as though he is literally swimming in the writhing flesh of the people around him. As he orgasms, he feels himself losing his physical form. Once his senses return to him, he finds he is still laying atop Nina, who grabs his head and kisses him. She gets up and leads him to the goat-headed man to have him "converted". Under the influence of the drugs in the air, Joachim follows Nina's instructions of kissing both the goat-man's heart and penis (which is shaped like a snake, and seems alive). She then tells him to drink a bowl of the soup which is boiling in the cookpot. He does, but feels something solid hit his lips.
He lowers the bowl, and finds a whole human finger in his mouth. The fright he feels is enough to snap him out of the delirium. He turns to look at the cookpot itself, and sees several small bodies melting in and around it. Overcome with fear, Joachim runs from the cave, but Nina orders his capture by the members of the orgies, fearing Joachim will tell the Holy See of the heretics within the cave.
Joachim is caught outside the cave by the orgy members, led by Nina. Together, they cast Joachim down the side of a nearby cliff, seemingly killing him. The last thing he sees before being absorbed in darkness is Nina's crying face.