|Episode D0 (Manga)|
|The Guardians of Desire (2)|
|Romaji||Yokubō no shugotenshi (2)|
|Volume||2 Guardians of Desire Part 1|
|Date Released||March 3, 1991 (tankōbon format)|
|Arc||Black Swordsman Arc|
← Guardians of Desire 1
Guardians of Desire 3 →
|Volumes and Chapters|
Guardians of Desire (2) (欲望の守護天使(2) Yokubō no shugotenshi (2)?) is the 4th nonnumerical chapter of the Berserk manga series, written and illustrated by Kentaro Miura. This chapter is also the fourth of sixteen chapters that do not go by conventional chapter labeling.
Guts lifts the bandaged man by his neck and demands to know how he came to possess the Behelit. The man claims to have stolen it from the Count. Guts drops him, and the bandaged man elaborates: his name is Vargas. Seven years prior, when the Count was still human, Vargas worked as the castle physician. There came a day when the Count suddenly ordered inquisitions and executions, taking prisoners into the castle dungeon where they were tortured and eaten. Disgusted by this behavior, Vargas and his family escaped from the city but were caught. As punishment, Vargas had half his face and his legs removed and was forced to watch as his family was eaten. Before Vargas himself was eaten, he managed to fake his own death and escape the dungeon, taking the Behelit with him.
Vargas does not know the Behelit's true purpose. Guts explains that it is used to open a portal between the world that humans live in and another dimension in which the God Hand, a five-member group of demons, reside. Both Puck and Vargas are shocked by this revelation.
Inside the castle, Zondark's injuries are being tended to, but he cannot remain calm due to a mad desire to kill the Black Swordsman. The Count appears and orders everybody but Zondark to exit the room. The Count catches him around the neck as the mad soldier bashes his own head against a stone pillar; he begs the Count to be allowed to kill Guts. The Count accepts his wish, and he forces Zondark to look directly at him. The Count opens his mouth, from which a large slug-like creature appears and crawls down Zondark's throat.
Outside the castle, Dahl is informed by a soldier that an informant knows the Black Swordsman's location. The Count exits the castle and declares that the now blank-faced Zondark will be in charge of killing him. Zondark begins to laugh at the prospect of killing Guts.
Back in Vargas' lab, Puck inspects the Behelit while Guts watches. The elf is shocked to learn that the Behelit is alive - one of its eyes opens and looks at him briefly. Guts says that, despite being alive, the Behelit poses no danger, and adds that he also does not know how to use it to reach the God Hand. Guts then asks Vargas how the Count came to possess the Behelit. Vargas replies that it was by chance; a caravan of merchants rolled through the city and, not knowing the Behelit's purpose or value, sold it to the Count.
Vargas finds and opens a map of the castle's floor plans and points out an escape passage Guts could use to infiltrate it. He moves towards Guts and begs him to kill the Count, but when he places his hand on Guts' shoulder, the latter reacts violently, pushing Vargas away and ordering him never to touch him. The subsequent moment of tension is defused by Puck, and Guts declares that he will kill the Count, but not for Vargas' sake.
Suddenly, the door to Vargas' lab is destroyed, and Zondark steps in. Guts draws his sword and engages the injured man in combat, but the new strength behind Zondark's blows indicate to Guts that he is no longer human. Zondark charges, but Guts dodges and slices off his right arm. After a short moment, Zondark begins to grow tentacles from his new stump to replace it. Using his tentacles to grasp his hammer, Zondark once again engages Guts in combat, the speed of which has greatly increased - Zondark's arm moves like a whip, and the hammer cleaves through the supports around Vargas' lab. The ceiling begins to cave in, and Puck is saved from falling debris by Vargas. They then turn to watch the ongoing battle, marveling at how Guts is keeping up with and blocking every one of Zondark's whip-like strikes.
Guts begins to use his cloak to disorient Zondark. He capitalizes on Zondark's confusion by dealing a quick blow to Zondark's head - it is sliced off from left temple to cranium. However, Zondark does not fall. Instead, the slug-like creature emerges from this new wound and praises the Black Swordsman's skills, and Vargas realizes that the slug is actually the Count. The latter then notices the Behelit on the ground, though it is quickly picked up by Vargas, and he promises to torture Vargas as he once did seven years ago. The Count then turns his attention back to Guts, but before they can resume their battle, the ceiling caves in, and Zondark's body is crushed. Guts, Vargas, and Puck escape through a passage hidden beneath a floor tile as fire engulfs the laboratory.
The three emerge from a sewer grate hidden beneath a bridge, and Guts explains that while the Count may have been using Zondark's body, which was burned in the fire, the Count himself is not dead due to Zondark's being possessed by only a portion of the Count's power. As they prepare to part ways, Guts demands the Behelit from Vargas, and snatches it when Vargas hesitates to hand it over. He then leaves with Puck, leaving Vargas alone under the bridge, but not without a final farewell from the elf. Now alone, Vargas is accosted by a tentacle that emerges from the sewer.
Later, Puck berates Guts for having stolen then Behelit. Since both Guts and Vargas oppose the Count, the elf says, they could have been allies. Guts laughs at the idea, saying that being allied with Vargas would have spelled his own doom. The two round a corner and overhear several people talking about an upcoming execution. According to the discussion, the person scheduled to be executed has some relation to the Black Swordsman, and his execution is meant to serve as a warning. Upon hearing this, Guts walks off.
Settling down in a ruined house to inspect his equipment, Guts ignores Puck's attempts to speak to him. Frustrated, Puck flies off. While Guts cleans out his equipment, he stares at the stump that remains of his left arm and touches his closed right eye. As he does, he remembers Vargas' story of being disfigured by the Count and his plea with Guts to kill the Count for him. Guts punches the wall in frustration.
Vargas has been brought to the execution scaffold. The Count, overlooking the scene, announces that Vargas will be given no trial. Dahl reports that Vargas is not in possession of the Behelit, so the Count deduces that Guts has it. Puck watches watches the execution grounds from afar and, while trying to figure out how to save Vargas, he notices Guts is also watching from an alleyway. The elf flies over, thinking that Guts intends to save Vargas, but the Black Swordsman says he simply wants to watch the disfigured man die. Guts points out that, at the entrance to the execution grounds, a regiment of soldiers is waiting; the Count has set up an ambush, hoping that he, the Black Swordsman, will appear to save Vargas.
Puck curls up in empathic pain as Guts says that all people who set their goals too high are destined for self-destruction, like Vargas, whose ambition is to see the Count dead. Through all the emotions Puck senses that Guts harbors, he calls out the Black Swordsman for feeling fear. Guts claims not to know what the elf is talking about, so Puck explains that Guts has notices a parallel between himself and Vargas: they both fight against monsters humans cannot hope to defeat, and Guts' fear stems from seeing Vargas fail in beating the monsters. Guts scoffs at the notion, and an offended Puck flies away. Left alone, Guts' expression reveals that he was indeed affected by Puck's words.
Puck flies back to the execution grounds, where the headsman prepares to behead Vargas. In desperation, he charges towards the scaffold to save Vargas, but he ineffectively crashes into the flat side of the headsman's axe and renders himself unconscious. The execution proceeds as planned, and Vargas is killed, but not before he screams one final plea to the unseen Black Swordsman to kill the Count. Seeing the execution has made Guts feel uneasy, and he turns away, back into the alley, where he sees the fetus-creature lying on the road. Its head transforms into Vargas', and the disfigured man's dying plea echoes in Guts' mind.
Later, Vargas' body and head are brought to a mass grave, where they are found by Guts. Looking into the remaining eye of Vargas' severed head, Guts vows not to lose to the monsters like Vargas did. Suddenly, pain in Guts' Brand of Sacrifice alerts him to the spirits of the other dead people around him rising from the ground to attack. They all cry out for the Count's death, and one of them attempts to possess Guts so that it may kill the Count itself using Guts' body. Through force of will, Guts expels the spirit from his body and drives the other spirits away.
Guts turns and walks back towards the Count's castle, declaring that he will fight the Count as a living person rather than as a puppet for some dead person's desire to see the Count dead.
Characters in Order of Appearance
|Black Swordsman Arc|