|Episode 197 (Manga)|
|Volume||24 Mansion of the Spirit Tree|
|Date Released||December 24, 2002 (tankōbon format)|
|Arc||Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc|
← Like a Baby
|List of Volumes|
Isidro runs through a forest, a large basket of fruit on his back and a merchant riding a horse hot on his heels. Isidro has stolen the man's food, and the merchant is racing to get them back. The dead leaves and branches littering the forest floor slow Isidro's progress, and he is eventually knocked to the ground by the merchant, who has caught up.
The merchant dismounts to retrieve his stores of food from Isidro, chastising the boy for thievery. However, believing Isidro to simply be a lone boy who is down on his luck, the merchant offers the boy a single apple and tells Isidro to make nothing of it. The boy feigns crying of joy and hugs the man around the waist, whereupon Isidro executes a belly-to-back suplex, literally dropping the man on his own head.
Isidro grabs the basket of food once more and walks off, but the merchant struggles to raise himself on all fours, telling the boy that he'll pay for having double-crossed him. In response, Isidro pitches the apple he was given at the merchant's face, knocking the man out.
On his way back to camp, Isidro stops to briefly practice his swordplay. As he does so, he laments that he'll never be able to best Guts during their sparring matches. Puck - who's been accompanying Isidro - mentions that while Guts' monstrous strength, superior skill and nearly two decades' worth of fighting experience gives him the edge in swordplay, Isidro himself does have a knack for throwing projectiles with deadly speed and accuracy. Isidro agrees, thinking back on all the times his throwing ability has saved his life. He then scoops up a small stone in each hand and throws them ambidextrously into the air, hitting two different birds perched in the branches above him, intending to bring their bodies to camp to eat them. Puck is greatly impressed by Isidro's being able to throw with both hands, and this seems to affect the boy. He stares at both his hands, formulating a plan.
Later, Isidro spars with Guts using a single stick two-handed, as usual. Guts is impressed with Isidro's new resolve, noticing that the boy is fighting with a renewed passion. Noticing an opening in Guts' defense, Isidro extracts a second, hidden branch from his trousers, dual-wielding his weapons. He swings his new weapon at Guts' groin, but the latter blocks it with his prosthetic hand and manages to land his own blow on Isidro's head, claiming victory.
Isidro is greatly demoralized that his new tactic didn't work, but Guts says that Isidro has put up his best fight yet. He points out that Isidro's wisely attacking from below (utilizing his short stature) and dual-wielding (taking advantage of his ambidexterity) work to his advantage. Isidro thinks on Guts' words for a moment before asking the Black Swordsman if the latter should approve of Isidro trying new tactics without having a solid basic grasp on swordplay. Guts responds by saying that Isidro's practicing every day is allowing him to further his understanding of swordfighting, and adds that since he and Isidro's fighting styles are different due to their different physical builds, Isidro should not focus on copying Guts' techniques, but rather develop his own skills which he can use to their fullest extent.
Guts turns his back to Isidro, but continues to speak. He says that while practicing is good, the only true way Isidro can gain fighting experience is by fighting in real battles, where the opponent intends to kill and where arrows and cannons and other enemies serve as constant distractions and threats. His final piece of advice is that Isidro continue to use his quick wit to escape from dangerous situations whenever possible.
Serpico steps up and commends Guts for complementing Isidro before inviting the Black Swordsman to gather firewood.
Later, Isidro lounges around on a large rock near the edge of a waterfall, thinking back on the night he had left his old village in search of adventure. On that night, he'd told his father, who had been chasing after him, that if one does not seek out life's great experiences, they never happen.
Isidro snaps out of his reverie and considers that maybe he's been on a battlefield ever since the night he left home. He vows that he will one day never need to rely on anyone for help. Puck suddenly appears, asking Isidro what he plans to do after learning to properly use a sword. Though the elf suggests mundane professions like government work, Isidro loudly proclaims that he has no interest in nobility or aristocracy; he wants to become a legendary warrior.
Not far away, Farnese tasks herself with removing the feathers of the birds Isidro brought back to camp, Casca alongside her. As she plays with the plumage that Farnese throws into the air, Casca suddenly feels a small pain in her Brand of Sacrifice, which begins to bleed. She glances back into the forest behind her, where she can see a creature with furry arms lurking about.
Elsewhere in the forest, Serpico kneels down to collect fallen branches from the trees when Guts, who's agreed to help him gather firewood, throws a small stick at his head, which he easily dodges. Guts says that he knows Serpico did not invite him to gather firewood, but rather to finish the fight they began on the cliff near Albion. Serpico feigns innocence, claiming to simply want to befriend Guts.
The Black Swordsman gives Serpico the cold shoulder, intending to leave if there is no fight to be had. Suddenly becoming aware of a small berry flying towards his face, Guts casually intercepts it by catching it in his hand. He turns back to Serpico, the person who threw it, and finally becomes interested in their conversation; Serpico has completely dropped his affable demeanor and stares directly into Guts' eyes, expressing his desire that the Black Swordsman die. But, he explains that he cannot bring himself to fight Guts as long as Farnese intends to follow him. Now that she is on a path to self-discovery, Serpico also finds himself learning things about Farnese and desires to see who she really is as a person. Serpico says that if Farnese remains safe while in Guts' company, then he'll remain friendly for her sake. But, he says, if she were to come to any great harm, then he'll personally fight Guts. The latter accepts Serpico's decision.
Suddenly, the pair of them, along with Isidro and Puck near the waterfall, hear a loud scream of fright. Isidro is the first see its source: Casca and Farnese are being forcefully carried away into the depths of the forest by the creature with furry arms. He runs along behind it, gradually catching up until he is close enough to throw a stone at the back of its head. It stops and allows Farnese and Casca to drop off its shoulders while it stands ominously behind them, growling. Isidro catches up to the two girls, and is now close enough to see that the creature that carried them off is like nothing he's ever seen: its entire body is covered in thick fur, its arms are longer than its legs, like a monkey, and its big lipless face is covered in short tentacle-like protrusions. It also carries a large axe.
Isidro recognizes the creature as a troll, remembering the shepherd's words at the foot of the mountain. He tries to stare the creature down, but is put off by its exceptionally ugly face. As it advances, Isidro bends down to pick up some stones, but realizes that the creature is not in itself all that big: it is only about the Isidro's size in terms of height. Isidro decides that this is the perfect opportunity to test out his new sword skills.
Characters in Order of Appearance Edit
|Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc|