|Episode 223 (Manga)|
|The Blaze, Part 1|
|Volume||26 The Berserker Armor|
|Date Released||December 24, 2003 (tankōbon format)|
|Arc||Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc|
← Claw Marks
The Blaze, Part 2 →
|Volumes and Chapters|
A distressed Schierke runs into the burning mansion in search of Flora, and the injured Guts sends Isidro and Serpico in after her. Left alone, the Black Swordsman peers through the flames and smoke that cover nearly the entire clearing in which the Spirit Mansion lies. He is barely able to make out the figures of what he knows to be Apostles; those who set Flora's mansion alight.
Guts charges through the flames with his sword drawn, unseen by the Apostles until the Dragonslayer is buried deep within an Apostle's torso. Due to the fact that he is still heavily injured from his encounter with Slan, Guts' strike is not strong enough to kill the Apostle. It grabs the Dragonslayer by the blade and removes it from its body before transforming and striking Guts with a large clawed hand, sending the Black Swordsman flying. The Apostle deduces that Guts is allied with Flora and advances to attack once more, but its charge is intercepted by the timely arrival of the Skull Knight, who kills the Apostle with a single well-aimed blow.
When Guts demands an explanation, the Skull Knight admits that he and Flora are well-acquainted, explaining how the Skull Knight knew to appear in the Qliphoth. The Apostles surrounding Guts and the Skull Knight recognize the two as the Eclipse's survivor and intruder, respectively, and their choice of words reveals to Guts that they were personally sent to Flora's mansion by Griffith himself. He then notices Nosferatu Zodd in his human form step forward to greet him.
Zodd and Guts' short conversation is interrupted by Grunbeld, who desires to be the one to fight Guts. He explains that being sent to kill a helpless old woman in her home is hardly an honorable act for a warrior to commit, but did so out of devotion to the Band of the Hawk. Now that a worthy fighter like Guts has appeared, Grunbeld feels that the journey to Flora's mansion was justified. He challenges Guts to single combat, but the latter is too disturbed to hear the former's words after hearing that Grunbeld has declared himself to be a member of the Band of the Hawk.
Schierke has entered the flaming mansion, only to have her path into most of its rooms barred by walls of fire. Serpico and Isidro urge the girl to escape the blaze while she still can, but Schierke remains determined to find Flora. Serpico cannot extinguish the flames with his Sylph Sword for fear of fanning the flames.
Suddenly, Flora sends a telepathic message to Schierke. Asking the young witch to remain calm, Flora makes a request for her disciple: to bring a pure black set of armor with a skull-shaped helmet to the Black Swordsman.
Characters in Order of Appearance
|Falcon of the Millennium Empire Arc|