|Episode 198 (Manga)|
|Volume||24 Mansion of the Spirit Tree|
|Date Released||December 24, 2002 (tankōbon format)|
|Arc||Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc|
Mansion of the Spirit Tree, Part 1 →
|Volumes and Chapters|
Steeling himself, Isidro charges towards the troll, his sword raised. Despite it seemingly being an ape-like beast, it wields its axe with enough dexterity to deflect the boy's sword, causing him to stumble. Isidro turns just in time to notice the axe swinging down above him and block it with his sword, but the impact sends him rolling along the forest floor.
The troll chases after Isidro, intent on killing him. Isidro can only run away, startled at how fast and skilled the troll is. He takes cover behind a small tree, but the troll simply swipes through it, nearly cutting Isidro's head. He runs away once more, but trips on a protruding root. When he turns onto his back, Isidro sees the troll standing directly in front of him, its axe raised. Before it can swing, however, a small cluster of berries flies through the air and hits the troll's snout. Though they were not thrown with much force, the berries seem to frighten it, and it runs away. Isidro only has time to briefly examine the berries before he hears a girl's voice behind him, instructing him to remain still.
Her face obscured in shadow, the girl instructs Isidro, Puck, Farnese and Casca to remain calm and to observe the forest around them. They notice a whole horde of trolls, many of them armed with primitive weapons, perched in the branches above them. Showcasing her knowledge of trolls, the girl informs the group that trolls do not hunt alone. She orders everybody present to huddle together in the middle of the clearing they stand in. In another bizarre ritual, the woman forms a circle around them using a length of rope and places several odd objects around its perimeter, like a bag of sand and a small twig. She tells them not to exit the circle under any circumstances.
Isidro asks what the girl's ritual is meant to do, but Puck is the one to answer; he recognizes that the girl is in the middle of performing a magic ritual. The news startles Farnese in particular. Another elf, this one female, appears atop the girl's hat and casually explains that the girl is a witch, and the ritual she is performing will protect the group from the trolls.
The witch finishes her ritual by drawing a five-pointed star in the air with her staff, leaving a pentagram floating in the air. Several trolls charge forward but cannot physically pass the boundary denoted by the rope, as if an invisible wall as been erected. When the creatures touch the wall, the pentagram that the witch drew glows bright and seems to hurt the trolls with its mere touch.
The witch then extracts a small clump of hair from her person and blows onto it, scattering the hairs into the air. They float on a nonexistant breeze, and with a great burst of speed, they rush towards the trolls, causing them great pain to the touch. Though they appear unharmed, the trolls flee for their lives, leaving the group alone.
The witch explains that the hair she used was able to channel fire magic, which is able to hurt beings not of the mortal plane just as fire arrows can hurt mortals. Her words are not understood by any except her companion, the female elf. The witch decides to simply leave the group with some advice: leave the area, or else face more troll attacks. Isidro says that he and the rest of his group have experience when it comes to fighting the supernatural, but the witch coolly replies that, based on the fight she observed between him and the troll, the group would stand no chance. She walks off.
Her remark has angered Isidro, who steps forward to argue with her. However, he accidentally walks over the rope, which wraps around his ankle and trips him. As he stumbles forward, he hugs the witch around her torso for support, unintentionally groping her. He stays immobile for a moment as he comes to realize that the breasts he's groping are not those of the old woman he imagined, but those of a young girl who is of a comparable age to himself. She turns her head to face him and, offended by his behavior, smacks his face with her staff, hypnotizing him.
Isidro spends the walk back to camp in the branches above the forest floor, hypnotized into thinking that he is a chimp. Before he and the group can arrive, they run into a very concerned Guts and Serpico.
The young witch watches the group from a distance. She is amazed that, despite the group's not being magic-users themselves, they were all able to perceive the pentagram she drew in the air, which no normal human should have been able to see. For this, she blames a "layer" which has invaded the area. What's more, her witch's eyes can perceive a certain distortion in the air which emanates only from Guts and Casca.
Characters in Order of Appearance
|Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc|