|Episode 194 (Manga)|
|Wings of Light and Darkness|
|Romaji||Hikari to yami no tsubasa|
|Volume||23 Winter Journey|
|Date Released||July 5, 2002 (tankōbon format)|
|Arc||Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc|
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The Night of Falling Stars→
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Mule is led out of the camp by Sonia to meet Griffith. Along the way, Mule marvels at the sheer enthusiasm with which the Hawks go about their day, especially in light of the Kushan invasion. Eventually, Mule notices several Kushan horsemen inside the camp, and he yells to alert the Hawks to their presence. Sonia calms the young noble and explains that these few Kushan aren't enemies.
Locus rides up to Mule and Sonia to further elaborate upon her previous statement. The Kushan that are within the camp have switched sides in favor of being killed, and now occupy a purpose that is similar to war slaves that are used by the Kushan. Mule barely registers any of Locus' words, too intimidated by the man's dominating presence.
Locus continues to speak nonetheless. He explains that the Kushan held captive by the Hawks are sent to fight like the Kushan's war slaves three times. If they survive the third time battle against their own, the Kushan captives are required to make a choice between joining the Hawks in earnest or being put to death. Those that choose the former are officially inducted into the Band of the Hawk and allowed the same rights as regular members.
Mule listens intently this time, and proclaims that while the Hawks' reasoning behind these tactics is sound, he still cannot abide by it, seeing as the Kushan as a whole are responsible for many of the recent tragedies which befell Midland. Locus says that on the battlefield, one takes whichever allies will choose to join them, regardless of their origin. He rides off.
Unaware of who the man he's just spoken to is, Mule asks Sonia for his name. She simply replies, "Locus", and Mule is suddenly amazed, having heard of Locus' legendary exploits in childhood stories. Mule asks Sonia why such a prolific warrior has joined the Hawks, and she replies that Locus isn't the only celebrity among their ranks. She also cryptically adds that, eventually, Mule will discover things about the Hawks that will make the revelation that there are Kushan among them pale in comparison.
Sonia leads Mule into a dark forest, a shortcut to Griffith's location. In the pitch-black wood, Mule loses all sense of direction and cannot see things directly in front of him, including roots which he stumbles and trips over. When he listens to Sonia's footsteps, he finds that they are smooth and regular. Mule is amazed at the girl a few feet ahead of him, and he privately suspects that she can see in the dark. She promptly turns around and offers her hand to him in order to better lead him out of the forest, showcasing her uncanny ability to seem to know whatever he is thinking.
After a few more moments of walking, Mule detects an eerie presence surrounding him and Sonia. He attempts to alert Sonia, but his eyes adjust to the darkness and he can faintly perceive that the figures which surround them are not the beasts he imagined. Rather, they are human - if somewhat animalistic in appearance - and are armored.
Sonia turns to Mule and explains that they've stumbled across members of the Hawks colloquially known as the war demons. They are the warriors responsible for having killed the remaining Kushan after the main battle earlier in the day and eating their corpses. Mule squints down at something which lies in the center of a group of four war demons, and indeed can see that they are in the process of feeding on the body of an unskinned and uncooked deer.
One of the war demons grabs Sonia by her ankle and dangles her in the air before the terrified Mule. It apparently knows Sonia by sight, and is delighted to see that she's come to see the war demons again. Sonia seems more annoyed at what is happening than scared, which confuses the war demon. Some more demons sneak up on Mule and grab him by his face, preventing him from coming to Sonia's defense.
The war demon that holds Sonia begins to lick her face, intent on eating her, but she calmly says that she will tell Griffith if the war demon tries anything. The war demon is suddenly fearful, but before it can do anything, its wrist is grabbed by the hulking Grunbeld, who squeezes so hard that the war demon's wrist shatters, and is forced to drop Sonia. She is caught in Grunbeld's free hand and placed gently on the ground, saving her from a fall on the head.
An instant later, an arrow is shot through the arm of the war demon that has Mule suspended by his neck, forcing it to drop the young noble. Grunbeld knows the identity of the archer, the same one that led the bowmen against the Kushan: Irvine. Irvine sits nonchalantly in the branches of a tree directly overhead, having gone undetected until now.
Grunbeld explains to the war demons that Sonia and Mule are honored guests of the Hawks and aren't to be harmed. The war demon addresses Grunbeld by name, and Mule realizes that Grunbeld is also rather famous, having fought for over a decade in the One Hundred Year War.
Grunbeld then turns to Sonia and addresses her as the "Hawks' medium", a title which confuses Mule. He and Sonia decide to make their way out to the other side of the forest. Along the way, Mule begins to question everything he's seen so far. He starts to wonder what exactly the Band of the Hawk is, if it contains people like the war demons, who hardly seem human at all.
Upon finally exiting the forest, Sonia and Mule come face to face with Nosferatu Zodd. Sonia is not frightened at all by him, and she calmly explains to Zodd that she's brought Griffith's guest. Zodd removes himself from their path, revealing Griffith sitting on the stump of a tree, small white wisps flying around him.
Characters in Order of AppearanceEdit
|Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc|