|Episode 196 (Manga)|
|Like a Baby|
|Romaji||Midorigo no gotoku|
|Volume||23 Winter Journey|
|Date Released||July 5, 2002 (tankōbon format)|
|Arc||Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc|
← The Night of Falling Stars
|Volumes and Chapters|
A heavily sweating and trembling Isidro raises a tree branch the size of a small sword high above his head, watched intently by Serpico and Puck. He charges forward, swinging his stick down, but his opponent gets the first strike; Guts casually stands with his own branch and smacks Isidro's head with it.
Guts chastises the boy for having used a vertical slash against a much larger opponent, then restates that while he's agreed to teach him the basics of swordplay, Isidro cannot be taught to fight intelligently and must develop the sense to do so on his own. Meanwhile, Puck and Serpico discuss the latter's cooking ability and how to improve a stew he's just cooked for their company.
Elsewhere, Farnese busies herself with gathering wood for the campfire while Casca amuses herself by picking up the dead leaves strewn across the ground and throwing them high into the air to watch them fall. Farnese reflects on the tasks she's tried and failed to perform for her party: when picking wild mushrooms, she was informed by Serpico that she'd brought back a poisonous strain; when washing the party's clothes, she'd accidentally torn them; and while fighting spirits, she'd accidentally burned Isidro when swinging her torch around wildly, trying to hit an enemy. She feels useless among the group, who each seem to have their own prescribed place in the party, while Farnese herself was relegated to being Casca's babysitter.
Farnese reflects on her decision to follow Guts. When she requested to be Guts' traveling companion, she'd imagined herself growing considerably as a person after joining him, something that she feels has yet to happen. She turns to Casca and remembers the terrible things she'd nearly done to her at the Tower of Conviction. Farnese apologizes to her, though Casca cannot understand her words. Farnese decides to join Casca in piling leaves together, attempting to bond with the mentally-impaired girl.
Farnese turns to see a large rabbit, which runs under a nearby rock. Deciding that bringing a rabbit back to camp for food will improve her standing among the group, Farnese places her hand under the stone, feeling for the animal. After a few unsuccessful minutes of groping blindly, she decides that it's of no use and prepares to return to camp with Casca, only to find that she's wandered off. The sun has begun to set, and night is nearly upon them.
Suddenly fearful, Farnese wanders deep into the forest in her frantic search of Casca, calling her name. As night falls, Farnese becomes progressively more worried and panic-stricken. Night falls completely, plunging Farnese into darkness. She begins to tear up, now more worried for herself than for Casca, and she weakly calls out for help that does not come.
The next morning, Farnese is found beneath the roots of a tree by Puck, alive and unharmed. The elf calls out to Serpico and Isidro, who walk over to Farnese. Isidro complains that because Farnese wasn't around during the night, Serpico had wandered off to find her, and as a result left all the fighting of the nightly swarm of spirits to Guts and himself. Isidro casually mentions that protecting Casca the previous night was no easy task.
Hearing Casca's name, Farnese asks if she is safe, and Isidro confirms that Casca had returned to camp the previous day out of hunger. As Isidro and Casca, who's just wandered over, yawn out of exhaustion and express delight at being able to sleep, Farnese catches sight of Guts close behind them. He stares at Farnese for a moment before wordlessly turning back to camp. Farnese can sense his disappointment.
Later in the day, Farnese accompanies Serpico to a river where she sits on a large rock as he gathers water in a bucket. After a moment of silence, she tells Serpico that she is a burden to him and the rest of the group. He says nothing, returning to his task. After a moment of consideration, he asks Farnese if she would like to return to their holy city once more, but she declines without giving him a reason. In reality, she feels that returning to their holy city will result in her being buried among swathes of important people, and she would rather be free of all that while she travels with Guts to discover herself.
After a few hours of traveling, Guts and the rest of his party come across an old shepherd who is herding his sheep and ask him for directions to the port of the big city known as Vritannis, the eponymous holy city. The shepherd directs them towards the quickest path that is devoid of humans, and adds that the port of Vritannis is currently home to a great many ships of allied countries against the Kushan. All signs point to a large-scale war breaking out soon.
The shepherd laments that, with the King of Midland dead and Princess Charlotte now missing on top of the Kushan invasion, Midland will surely suffer devastating blows and will run the risk of splintering and losing its status as a whole kingdom. Guts considers this for a moment, remembering the old adventures he had in Midland while in the Band of the Hawk. He tells none of this to his companions, saying only that Midland had offered him their hospitality long ago then they ask.
The shepherd decides to continue his task and walks down the road. As he does so, he looks back at the group and warns them about dangers on the mountain trail that he's instructed them to use. Isidro asks if the danger is from bandits, but the shepherd says that the answer is much worse - the mountain trails are swarmed with trolls.
Characters in Order of Appearance
|Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc|