|Episode 187 (Manga)|
|Winter Journey (1)|
|Romaji||Fuyu no tabiji (1)|
|Volume||23 Winter Journey|
|Date Released||July 5, 2002 (tankōbon format)|
|Arc||Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc|
← Of Snow and Flames/Final Act
Winter Journey (2) →
|Volumes and Chapters|
Night has fallen, and the spirits it brings have possessed the snow brought on by a fierce blizzard. Guts carries Casca through the knee-high snow with one arm and wields the Dragonslayer in the other, protecting her from the evil snow-men created by the spirits. At some point in the night, Casca forcibly wriggles out of Guts' grasp, nearly getting herself killed by the snow-men, though Guts is able to save her at the last second. Dawn comes moments later, forcing the spirits to dissipate and allowing a few hours of respite for the two lovers.
The Black Swordsman takes advantage of the peace day brings to set up camp and wash his and Casca's clothes. The sound of Puck's voice draws his attention towards the elf and Casca's direction. She has just eaten Guts' share of food, but Guts decides that it's nothing so important as to warrant any concern.
The naked Casca is protected from the cold by Guts' black cloak, which is wrapped around her shoulders. He refastens it around her body, worried she may get cold, and wipes the remnants of the fish from around her mouth. Puck is surprised and touched at how tender the Black Swordsman has proven himself to be around her, but worries that Guts is running himself ragged.
Indeed, Guts has noticed a great increase in the amount of spirits and incubi which attack him constantly. While Guts' single Brand of Sacrifice used to bring a high number of spirits every night, his and Casca's Brands always being in such close proximity brings much more, and much stronger, spirits. Constant contact with Casca also brings back memories of their days as mighty warriors in the Band of the Hawk, and how Casca led them valiantly. When Guts looks at her now, he sees only a shadow of her former self.
Guts turns to Puck and asks about the elf's homeland. Puck explains that it is a veritable utopia far to the west where it is always warm and elves frolic freely. He then adds he left his homeland due to boredom, an explanation Guts finds hard to believe.
Puck offers to guard the campsite while Guts and Casca sleep. In his dream, Guts is sitting in front of the campfire just like in real life, only now a small dog with lightning-shaped eyes emerges from the flames and stands before him, the same lupine creature which plagued him before his first encounter with the Holy Iron Chain Knights. It asks why Guts does not continue his quest to kill Griffith, then turns to Casca, asking if she is the reason Guts has abandoned his revenge. It turns back to Guts and says that Casca is merely a shell of her former self and is no longer the person Guts remembers her being. The beast walks over to Casca, asking if the reason Guts keeps her around is that she is Guts' personal reminder of the horrors of the Eclipse. The beast suddenly grows immensely in size, now towering several feet high and snarling with malice. It slowly places its teeth over Casca's throat, telling Guts that if she simply is a reminder to him, then she has a use as a sacrifice. It attempts to goad Guts into killing her, saying that if he does, he'll be one step closer to killing Griffith. At this point, Guts begins to plead with the beast to go away, and finally howls with rage when the its jaws kill Casca, blood pouring from her mouth.
Guts wakes suddenly and buries his knife in the eye of an incubus on his shoulder, the source of his nightmare, which he then throws into the campfire. He sees two more such creatures giving Casca nightmares and kills them with two throwing knives. He then turns to Puck, who has fallen asleep on guard duty and is also plagued by a tiny incubus. The once-bright sky is now dark with thick clouds.
Guts bends down over the sleeping Casca, still sweating from his nightmare. He caresses her face, denying that he could ever consider her a mere sacrifice for his revenge.
Characters in Order of Appearance
|Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc|