|Episode 146 (Manga)|
|Volume||19 Blood Flow of the Dead|
|Date Released||April 5, 2000 (tankōbon format)|
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Farnese is the last of the crowd of onlookers to remain standing before what remains of the three burning heretics. Her personal guard silently discuss how she always stares at the flames until they die down completely. Several Holy Iron Chain Knights arrive with an urgent report: they've brought a man who can inform them of the heretics' hideout in a nearby cave; and a warrior has just arrived in the camps, killing four of the Holy See's Hunters. Farnese orders the mobilization to the heretic cave, but the soldier adds one more piece of information which stops her - along with Azan and Serpico - in her her tracks: the warrior who has infiltrated St. Albion is undoubtedly the Black Swordsman.
Azan's first instinct is to find Guts, but Farnese stops him, reminding him that it is no longer the Holy Iron Chain Knights' responsibility to arrest the Black Swordsman. She turns to the man who knows the heretics' cave's location, a badly shaken and injured Joachim, and orders him to lead the way there. In reality, Farnese is desperately trying to avoid Guts, still ashamed of and frightened of her last time seeing him.
Isidro has followed the heretics who kidnapped Casca into their cavern hideout. He hides among the rocks that surround the perimeter of the cavern's bowels and watches as the leader addresses his naked followers. He proclaims that the Holy See has lost sight of the true meaning of the dream of the Hawk of Light, but says that he and his followers know the truth: those who possess power are the true victors. To showcase his point, he has Casca brought out, whom all the heretics believe is a powerful witch. She is wearing a wreath of thorns and is being carried in a litter by four heretics. Along with the leader, she is the only clothed person in the cave.
With Puck's help, Isidro is able to identify Casca.
The heretic leader orders Nina be brought in. She is naked, like the other heretics, and the leader plans on having the unwilling girl be killed and having her heart ripped out in honor of Casca, after which Casca is meant to have sex with the man wearing the goat's head.
Isidro is suddenly fearful. He knows he can't let Casca get raped or Nina be killed in good conscience, so he devises a plan to inform Guts of the situation. He sends Puck back to the Black Swordsman to inform him of Casca's location while he remains behind and throws rocks at the heretics, distracting them from both Casca and Nina. Isidro's self-sacrifice is partly in order to curry favor with the Black Swordsman, who might consent to teaching Isidro his moves in exchange for saving Casca.
The heretics climb up towards the cave's mouth where Isidro is standing but are continuously pelted by a well-aimed hail of rocks. The boy thinks to himself that the year he's spent roaming the dangerous land on his own will be worth it when he inherits Guts' fighting style, and he has delusions that his sacrifice will make Luca and her prostitutes fall for him.
With the heretics now thoroughly distracted, Nina rushes to Casca, hoping to escape with her. She is shocked to see that Casca's Brand has begun to bleed, the black-haired girl clutching it in pain. A rushing noise alerts the heretics, Nina and Isidro's attention to the cookpot in the center of the cave, which is now exuding a thick black smoke which takes the shape of many human faces.
Farnese orders the Holy Iron Chain Knights to close in on the cave, Joachim having shown them the way there. The knights see the silhouettes of many naked heretics emerge, but they put up no resistance; the one in front's face has been bitten off, and he collapses before the disgusted knights.
The spirits inside the cave have possessed half of the heretics, using the bodies to kill the other half around the terrified Casca and Nina.