|Episode 144 (Manga)|
|The Black Swordsman on Holy Ground|
|Romaji||Seichi no kuroi kenshi|
|Volume||19 Blood Flow of the Dead|
|Date Released||April 5, 2000 (tankōbon format)|
← Pillar of Flame
|Volumes and Chapters|
Luca, Nina and Casca have all returned to their tent, where they are showered in gifts from the fearful few who now believe that Casca is a witch. The situation worries Luca, as she knows that suddenly living a much more luxurious life than the neighboring refugees will quickly get her and the other girls who live with her reported to the Holy See. She quickly orders the girls to distribute the gifts around camp so as to maintain good relations, but she wants the gifts to stop altogether.
Nina fears being caught even more than Luca does due to the fact that she'd been involved in pagan orgies and ordered Joachim be thrown from the cliff. Suddenly coming up with an idea, Nina suggests that they simply abandon Casca now that it's been proven that she can more or less take care of herself. Luca rejects the idea, as it is against her principles.
A commotion outside alerts everyone to the appearance of the Hunters, knights of the Holy See who periodically patrol the camps around St. Albion in search of heretics. Luca runs outside among the crowd to see Pepe bound at the wrists and being dragged along by the Hunters' horses. Pepe screams and pleads with them to let her go, but the Hunters refuse, using their whips to harm her face and hands.
The lead Hunter mocks Pepe for the fact that no one has yet stepped up to defend her or proclaim her innocence. On cue, Luca rushes forwards, protecting her friend and underling from the lashes with her own body. Luca berates the Hunters, who sit atop their tall horses and live within the protected Tower of Conviction, punishing people from on high. The statement angers the Hunter, who prepares to strike her again with his whip. It makes contact, but not with Luca. Instead, the whip has wrapped itself around a gigantic black-clad onlooker's prosthetic arm.
Guts yanks the whip, pulling the Hunter from his horse. The other Hunters immediately recognize the Black Swordsman, but Guts is not interested in fighting. He grabs the lead Hunter's face and drags him to his feet, demanding to know if they've seen a woman with a Brand on her chest. Nobody but Luca knows what he means by it, but for the time being, she says nothing.
Hearing one of the Hunters charge from behind him, Guts throws the one he is currently holding backwards, knocking the charging Hunter off his horse. Guts takes advantage of the stunned silence to kill two charging horses and their riders in half with one swing each. Sneaking up behind the lead Hunter is Isidro, who pickpockets a ring of keys from the man.
He delivers the keys to Luca personally, instantly infatuated with the attractive prostitute. She is further surprised to see Puck, who to her eyes is a tiny winged human, floating in front of her face. The elf introduces himself, Isidro and the combat-ready Guts, who is solely focused on his search for Casca.