|Episode 172 (Manga)|
|Volume||21 Bestial Priest|
|Date Released||June 5, 2001 (tankōbon format)|
← Tidal wave of Darkness (2)
The Sky Fall→
|List of Volumes|
Guts, Casca, Isidro, Puck, Jerome, Farnese and Serpico begin their slow walk along the outer wall of St. Albion. All of them - with the exception of Casca and Puck - are armed with a burning piece of wood, pressing them into the faces of the giant spirits as they approach, warding them off. Isidro outwardly asks what the blob-like monsters before the group are, and Puck explains that the spirits of those who died of the plague and torture have risen and are possessing the dead bodies of the starved refugees. As they swallowed the living refugees, the spirits grew in power, and Puck feels the spirits' desire for salvation, even beyond death.
Isidro proclaims that this couldn't possibly be the answer. If it were, then other spirits would be rising all over the world and wreaking havoc. Farnese concurs, though she recognizes the similarities between the situation she now finds herself in and the time she had been attacked by possessed dogs a month prior.
Just then, a tendril of spirits rises above the main mass like a snake. It lunges directly towards Farnese, but Guts manages to throw some explosive balls into its mouth before it can do any harm. Farnese is saved and, having fallen to her knees in the midst of the attack, is helped up by Serpico. She stares at the back of the Black Swordsman in front of her, a man who faces the darkness head-on.
Isidro notices that the shapeless mass of spirits is also creeping from behind. Farnese's first instinct is to pray, but Guts warns her not to. He instructs her to to unclasp her hands and put them to good use by warding the spirits off. With a newfound resolution, Farnese swipes her burning stick at them, defending the back along with Isidro and Serpico while Guts and Jerome defend from the front.
Nina is still in the barrel, but she isn't faring much better than Guts and his party. Despite having a watertight physical barrier guarding her from the spirits, the barrel has long since been swept up in the literal sea of dead bodies that roam St. Albion. Nina is jostled around violently within her confines, smashing her body into the insides of the wooden barrel as it tosses and turns. She quickly panics and tries to push the lid off of it, desperate to be let out. She suddenly coughs into her hands. As she draws them away from her mouth, she notices small drops of blood on her palms. She remembers Luca's words about the fearful having a strong desire to live. Nina calms herself down enough to curl up into a ball, ready to be jostled, uncomfortable and scared if it means that she'll survive.
The refugees who have sealed themselves inside St. Albion are now running about inside the Tower of Conviction, where their panic creates utter chaos. They are cramped inside the halls and staircases, all trying to find somewhere safe. In the center of the Tower is a cylindrical opening that stretches from the bottom to nearly the top of the structure, and the different floors of the building all open out to it dangerously. The crowded halls means that many refugees are shoved into the cylindrical pit, where they are devoured by and absorbed into the spirits which slowly follow them from below.
Puck diverts the group's attention to the Tower of Conviction. It is literally full to bursting; as the group watches, the walls of the Tower explode, allowing thousands of spirits to rush outside and make up the new composition of the Tower. They all rush towards its peak. Casca shrieks in terror. Guts pulls her into another hug as he watches the spirits coat the Tower, making the gigantic hand-shaped Tower, which was once made of brick, now be composed of human faces. The resulting image brings to mind the giant hand that appeared at the Eclipse. On each finger stands the silhouettes of the incorporeal God Hand. Void is on the thumb, Slan on the middle finger, Ubik on the ring finger and Conrad on the little finger. Femto is not present on the index finger.
Puck feels the desires of the individual spirits shift; where they previously desired salvation for their faith and retribution for their torture, they all now desire a single thing: the world that the Egg-Shaped Apostle so desperately wants to birth. It sits in the palm of the giant hand, its facial features rearranged into a normal human face. It smiles contentedly and cries tears of blood, like a Behelit.