|Episode 176 (Manga)|
|Determination and Departure|
|Romaji||Ketsui to tabidachi|
|Volume||21 Bestial Priest|
|Date Released||June 5, 2001 (tankōbon format)|
← The Arrival
The Rent World→
|List of Volumes|
Azan continues to lead Jerome, Farnese, Serpico, Nina, Luca and Isidro away from the battle going on in the ruins of St. Albion. Luca is the second person to notice that Guts and Casca are missing, and the first to point it out to the rest of the group. Isidro tries to run back to save the two but is held back by Jerome. They scuffle for a few moments but are interrupted by an impressive sight.
Because they are walking along a ridge just below ground level, Azan and the group are hidden from the passing Kushan army, composed of footsoldiers, cavalry and armored elephants. They number in the thousands and are headed for St. Albion. The group (minus Isidro) comes to the consensus that they must leave Guts and Casca behind if they are to survive.
The next event to occur is a loud flapping sound originating from the direction of St. Albion. The group turns to see that the distant Zodd has spawned his wings and is taking off in flight, the naked Griffith sitting on his shoulder. Since nobody in the group has never laid eyes on Griffith before or knows who he is by appearance, they remain in the dark about his importance, and are amazed to see that he's apparently tamed the giant monster on whose shoulder he sits.
The group's attention is drawn back to the ground by the sound of horses that have begun to gallop. Guts has managed to steal the horse of one of the Kushan soldiers and his fighting his way out of St. Albion, Casca sitting in front of him. The pessimistic Serpico is unsure whether Guts can realistically fight through the entire army, but Luca voices her opinion that when it comes to protecting Casca, Guts is capable of much more than any normal human. Isidro remains determined to one day have Guts repay the debt he now owes the boy for saving Casca from being burned at the stake.
Later in the day, after distancing themselves from the immediate danger of St. Albion, Jerome notices that a very small number of refugees were able to survive the collapse of the Tower of Conviction. He notices the irony in the fact that those who didn't cling to God were able to survive while those who did were killed when the Tower fell. As a result, Jerome begins to suffer a loss of his faith. Luca doesn't think his explanation is so simple, however; she believes that those who felt the need to act in order to survive were able to do so, and those who couldn't bring themselves to act were killed. In Luca's eyes, their faith played a big part in their deaths but was not the ultimate cause.
She then bends down to pluck several flowers from the rocky ground around her and ties their stems together. She then walks to a nearby cliff and lets the wind carry the bundle of flowers into the air as a tribute to the Egg-Shaped Apostle. Though it was not human, Luca recognizes that it suffered much throughout its life.
The group begins to split up even more. Guts, Casca and Puck have all left together on their horse some time ago, and now Isidro is the one to gather his affairs and leave. He bids the group farewell and leaves for parts unknown.
Pepe, Fouquet and Lucie all lament not having been able to say goodbye to Casca. Luca tells them and Nina that as long as she's with Guts, Casca will be safe. She then goes off into a tangent, speaking more to herself than the group. She says that having the power to protect someone and the power to be with someone are two different things. Luca writes her thoughts off as the result of her motherly instinct.
Nina separates from the group and heads for a nearby river, intending to soak her sore ankle. As she walks, she convinces herself that she will stay at Luca's side, where she can be protected and learn to be courageous.
As Nina approaches the river, she hears a voice calling her name from near the water. She is shocked to see Joachim walking towards her. He voices his intention to apologize to her for having abandoned her in the cave. He explains that he feared being killed had he stayed with her, and calls himself a coward. He apologizes and turns to leave, but Nina calls him back. Now that Joachim has admitted to feeling cowardly, Nina feels that she is able to identify with him.
Farnese sits on the edge of a cliff, looking out at the distant ruins of St. Albion. She is shocked at how utterly fragile the Tower of Conviction, a structure representing her unwavering faith in God, really was. She reflects on how she used her faith as a cloak against the horrors of the world and as a way of being able to avoid facing her true self - a scared child who constantly relives the night she first burned a heretic.
Serpico asks Azan how he managed to survive the collapse of the Tower of Conviction. The older knight explains that he lost consciousness while fighting and fell on his stomach with his quarterstaff standing upright. When the Tower fell, the quarterstaff acted as a support which prevented the rubble from directly falling on him. Azan begins to tear up, ashamed at the circumstances of his survival and saddened that the refugees he tried to protect had shut the gate of St. Albion during the night, which led to the deaths of most of the Holy Iron Chain Knights.
Azan and Serpico notice Farnese removing her armor. She announces that she intends to leave. Azan asks if she means to depart for the holy city, but Farnese clarifies that she intends to follow the Black Swordsman. Azan desperately attempts to dissuade her, but she instructs him to return to the Holy See and explain to its leaders and to her father that she is leaving the Order. The darkness that surrounded her as a child had taken form the previous night, and the only person standing against it was Guts. Farnese leaves the group, Serpico following close behind.
Nina does not return to the group. She has decided to leave with Joachim, knowing that if she stayed with Luca, she would come to hate her mentor once more. She wants to be with someone who has the same weaknesses and flaws as herself, someone who can feel her pain and help her live, and she's found that person in Joachim. Luca is aware that Nina is not returning and accepts the girl's decision.
The Skull Knight stands on a cliff overlooking the ruins of St. Albion. He contemplates the current situation of the world at large; with Griffith's return to the mortal realm, the very nature of the world will undergo a drastic metamorphosis.