- For the TV Anime adaption, see Berserk (1997 Anime). For the Film adaptations of the same name, see Berserk (Films).
Golden Age (黄金時代 Ōgon Jidai?) is the second story arc of Berserk, serialized in Young Animal between 1991 and 1997. The arc is preceded by Black Swordsman and spans 102 episodes. This story arc is the most well known in the Berserk series and has been adapted as both an anime series, and a trilogy of films.
The story follows Guts in his prime as he joins a mercenary group called the Band of the Hawk. He quickly rises through the ranks and becomes close friends with the leader of the group, Griffith, and lovers with a female soldier named Casca. However, an object from Griffith's past will forever change the destinies of both men, and the world, forever.
This is the story of Guts' youth from being trained as a mercenary by Gambino, to joining the Band of the Hawk, to the events of the Eclipse, which would fuel his rage, spurring him onward to seek revenge upon the apostles.
Guts is born from a woman, hanged by her neck among other corpses from a tree, which is discovered by a group of mercenaries lead by a man named Gambino. Gambino and his men assumed the infant at the foot of the tree was dead until he began to cry out. Though Gambino's men see the circumstances of this birth as a terrible omen, the mercenary leader decides to adopt the infant at the behest of his lover Shisu who suffered a miscarriage only three days prior. After the death of Shisu, when at the age of three, Guts is trained by Gambino to use a sword and later enlisted in the mercenary group at age nine. But Guts' relationship with Gambino starts to break apart when another mercenary in the group, Donovan, claims that he bought the boy from Gambino for his depraved pleasure. But Gambino's seeming obliviousness to what occurred one particular night, drives Guts to kill Donovan during a job where Gamino loses his leg and is deemed unfit to fight.
Two years pass, despite now able to fight battle against people many times his size and age, Guts feels Gambino is not acknowledging his skills. However, he finds himself being attacked by Gambino as the man blames from for Shisu's death and the loss of his leg while admitting that he did sell Guts to Donovan. Devastated at these revelations, Guts is forced to kill Gambino to defend himself as his adopted father calls out to Shisu before he causes the tent to be engulfed in flames. This alerting the rest of the mercenary group to the situation, believing Guts killed their leader in cold blood with the boy escaping the encampment by horse with the mercenaries pursuing him until he fell off a cliff and assumed he died. But Guts survived and, after fending off a wolf pack, was taken in by another wandering group of mercenaries who are in need of another soldier in their ranks.
Band of the Hawk
Four years after, Guts found work as a mercenary and slowly built his legend as he is involved in an a heavily-defended castle. The mercenaries manage to gain entry and rush in before they are stopped by a single large knight wielding a battle axe, leaving them too afraid to approach. The man is identified as Bazuso, the 30 Man Slayer, also known as the Bear Slaughterer. Though smaller than Bazuso as he requests extra payment for killing him, Guts overwhelms the larger opponent before mercilessly killing him. From above, Griffith and three others watch the fight between Guts and Bazuso, discussing the short lived battle between the two. While soldiers agree that while Guts may be strong, he is no at the same level as their leader as Griffith gives the word to evacuate the fort.
After being paid, turning down his employer's offer to serve him full time, Guts comes across one of the defending mercenary group's members who attempts to kill him and take his reward money. Easily defeating Corcus, Guts is pitted against Casca as she is sent to intervene. Not expecting his opponent to be a woman, Guts easily overpowers her before Griffith intervened. by throwing a lance between Guts and Casca before stabbing the former in the shoulder. Though Guts survived it, he loses consciousness after manages to glare at Griffith in a final moment of consciousness.
Guts awakens in an unfamiliar tent from a surreal dream, Guts remembers Griffith and emerges to find the camp is full of mercenaries of a comparable age to Guts' own. In the distance, Guts notices Casca arguing with Griffith. As their confrontation ends, she storms over to Guts as he recognizes her from his dream before she slugs him in the gut. She leaves after telling him that if she had had her way, Guts would have been left for dead. Guts soon learns from a nearby mercenary named Judeau that Casca is only mad as Griffith ordered her to sleep by Guts' side for two days as her womanly duty despite having gave up such a life. Griffith walks over and introduces himself while explaining to Guts that he is in the camp of the Band of the Hawk, and Guts admits to having heard rumors of their formidable reputation.
As they reach the top of a nearby hill, Griffith reveals that he didn't kill Guts in the hopes that he could be recruited into the Hawks' ranks, and that he has taken a personal interest in him. Guts refuses the invitation to join the Hawks, and instead wants to fight Griffith on an equal playing field now that he's healed. The conditions of the fight are if Guts wins the fight, then he will kill Griffith, and if Griffith wins, Guts will join the Hawks. The one-on-one battle begins. Their duel draws the attention of the other Hawks, but they do not interfere on Griffith's orders, who wants to personally obtain what he desires. Guts agrees to the wager but loses the duel, with Casca convincing the others to accept Guts as one of them now.
When the Band of Hawks are hired to an enemy encampment holding two thousand soldiers to burn their supplies, Guts is placed in charge of the rear guard as its position would sever to test of skill and trust. Though he ends up getting left behind as he remains to fight off the cavalry as the mission is a success, Guts finds himself saved by Griffith to his shock. As the others celebrate, Guts sits on he edge of the rampart while recognizing Griffith to be an ideal leader. Guts is later summoned by Griffith for a private meeting, the latter revealing an odd necklace holding an item called a Behelit, whose owner is destined to obtain the world in exchange for his own flesh and blood. When Guts asks Griffith why he saved him, the latter reveals his desire for a kingdom while telling Guts that he belongs to him now and only he chooses when Guts dies.
Egg of the King
Guts serves three years in the Band of the Hawks, commanding one of its formidable raider units as group is recognized by the King of Midland. Griffith is knighted viscount while the Hawks now fighting under the Midland banner against the Kingdom of Chuder. During this campaign, Guts raids a castle occupied by Chuder forces that is occupied by one figure: A legendary swordsman and rumored immortal named Nosferatu Zodd.
When the forty nine of the fifty men send in were slaughtered by Zodd, the last one escaping horribly mangled and living for a few seconds, Guts decides to fight the inhuman Zodd. Though Guts manages to cut the top half of Zodd's blade clean off, the figure is delighted to have found a worthy opponent while transforming into a demonic monster. Zodd overpowers Guts before the Griffith arrived with the Hawk to rescue their comrade. While the monster is distracted by his mens' arrows while livid over their interference in his fight, Griffith attempts to get Guts to safety before Zodd blocks their escape route. Guts and Griffith attempt to take out Zodd, but the latter is knocked out when he managed to slice the beast's arm off. After reattaching his arm while expressing delight in another opponent who can harm him, Zodd was about to kill Griffith when he noticed the behelit around his neck. Laughing in shock, Zodd punches a hole in the room while delivering a prophecy to Guts that death will come to him at a time when Griffith's ambition comes crashing down. With that, Zodd flies off with the Hawks gaining a quizzical victory.
While Hawks have their wounded tended to in Midland's capital city Windham, after being punched by Casca for his stubbornness and blaming him for Griffith's condition, Guts decides to train before is found by Griffith. After telling Griffith that Zodd only left upon seeing his Behelit, he asks why he personally came to save him. The discussion comes to an end when the King of Midland appears, Griffith meeting the king's daughter Charlotte. When Griffith saves Charlotte from trips over a paving stone, he is reprimanded by the king's brother Julius who backhands the youth, before he and the king's group walk off. But Charlotte and Griffith exchange a quick glance before she heads off with them, showing interest in each other.
Julius later learns from Minister Foss that the upcoming autumn hunt will comprise the Hawks rather than his own White Dragon Knights as is custom. The paranoia this causes in Julius allows Foss to plant a sinister idea in his mind: assassinating Griffith with a "stray" poisoned arrow during the hunt. As the autumn hunt begins, Guts is the only member of the Hawks to have a distaste for the whole event, while Griffith and Charlotte have a bit of a good time until the former finds a crossbow bolt lodged in his breastplate. As the Hawks rush to their leader's side, Griffith is revealed to still be alive as his behelit shielded him from the arrow. The Hawks all marvel at Griffith's amazing luck, but Guts suspects something greater than luck is responsible for Griffith's survival. As the others talk amongst themselves of the miracle, through Guts think it might be more than just that, Griffith catches sight of Julius and intuitively knows he attempted to kill him. Once back at Wyndam, Griffith summons Guts to a study in a tower to confide of the attempt on his life. Griffith that gives Guts orders to kill Julius and ensure no one knows of the deed.
After watching the manor for a while, Guts makes his move after Julius finished training his son Adonis in swordplay. After Guts murders Julius, he notices a silhouette standing in a doorway and runs the figure through. When knocked into the light of the chamber's adjacent hallway, Guts is surprised to see he impaled Adonis as the boy dies coughing blood. The realization that he murdered a child sinks into Guts' mind as he promptly escapes being seen by the guards as the Julius' retainer Hassan puts the manor on high alert for the "robber" that murdered his masters. Though Guts escapes, he accidently knocks himself out and dreams of becoming a monster like Zodd. Coming too yet barely conscious, Guts reaches a tavern where the rest of the Hawks are to find Griffith. As it turned out, the King declare the Hawks to celebrate in this moment of ceasefire between Midland and Chuder. But Griffith left the party with Charlotte to share a moment outside by a large foundation at the top of a long flight of stairs.
After Casca insists to dress his wounds for their leader's sake, Guts observes Griffith recalling Charlotte's thoughts of war and posits to her that all men are fighting to preserve their dreams and detest those who live without purpose. Absorbed in Griffith's words like Guts, Charlotte admits she fell for him at first sight and asks if that charisma is how he gained so many friends. But Griffith admits that he never saw any in the Hawks as his friends and that the group was only founded so he can achieve his dream. But Griffith does explains that his ideal equal is one with their own dream and not held back by others with conflicting dreams. Guts is profoundly hit by these words, realizing that his promise to help fulfill Griffith's dream will never earn him a spot as Griffith's friend.
Romance with Casca
During a battle between the Hawks and Chuder's Blue Whale Knights, Casca silently suffers from menstruation as she knocked off her horse by Adon Coborlwitz. Though saved by Guts as he drives Adon off, he ends up falling while attempting to save Casca when she passes out into the river below. Luckily, Guts manages to get himself and Casca out of the water before dragging the latter into a nearby cave. Despite them both being freezing cold, Guts couldn't risk lighting a fire and decides to keep her warm with his body heat after stripping her of the wet clothes. When Casca comes to, finding herself covered in a blanket of leaves while she attempts to leave, she learn Guts stripped her and punches him in a face for it before getting emotional when fact she is a woman is brought up. After Guts gives her his shirt to wear, lamenting that he is the last person she would rather by saved by, Casca tells him her life story and how she came to join the Band of Hawks. She continued to explain the early days of the Hawks of how they came to the service of a feudal lord named Gennon and that Griffith has always pushed himself to achieve his dreams any cost to others or even himself. Though Casca wanted to be the one person Griffith would depend on more for his dream, only for her world to be turned upside-down when he recruited Guts: The one person who lest supports Griffith's dream and nearly got their leader killed several times.
When Guts hears soldiers outside, he and Casca stay as they learn as Adon has sent his men to hunt them down. After giving Casca a short-term remedy for her fever, Guts tries to get her and himself up the cliff before they walked into an ambush. Scarred by Guts, Adon reveals his intention to have Guts tortured while have Casca by violated by his men for their sexual pleasures. When Guts retorts with a quip that gets him smacked on the head by Casca, Adon orders her men to attack the pair as they resolve to fight despite being greatly outnumbered. After Guts kills Adon's brother Samson while protecting Casca, he gives her cover to flee back to Griffith while he holds the Blue Whale Knights off. But some of Adon's men pursue Casca and manage to pin her down so they can rape her. Remembering Guts' words to her, Casca musters the strength to pick up a nearby tree branch and stab her would-be rapist in the eye as Judeau arrives with reinforcements. As the sun rises, Casca finds that Guts survived his fight with the Blue Whale Knights and single-handedly killed all of Adon's men.
Guts is brought back into the Hawks' camp via stretcher, and he is tended to by their medic, who informs him that will not be able to fight for the duration of the campaign. Worried by Guts' refusal to stop fighting, as well as touched to learn Griffith considers her to be as important as Guts, Casca receives a bag of elf dust from Judeau so she can dull Guts' physical pain. As Casca administers the elf dust, Guts says that he considers her, Griffith, and the rest of the Hawks to be admirable for having dreams to move towards compared to himself. While Casca figures he intends to leave the Hawks, he assures her that he will stay with them until their campaign ends.
The Battle of Doldrey
Later into the campaign, Midland forces attempt to reclaim the impenetrable fortress of Doldrey from Chuder due its an internal crisis of succession. One of Midland's generals is informed by a footsoldier that they are suffering heavy losses at the hands of the Holy Purple Rhino Knights. Attending a war council meeting, having made a name for himself in the conflict as the White Hawk, Griffith is tasked by the King to over the reclaiming of Doldrey with only his men. While the rest of the council believe Griffith to be mad for not requesting additional aid, the king allows Griffith to mobilize the Hawks for his mission. When the Hawks learn of this, Casca confides to Guts that Doldrey is overseen by the previous lord the Hawks served under: Gennon of the Chuder Empire's Northern Battle Front. Having heard that Griffith slept with Genon after being offered a fortune to build his group into what they are now, Guts sees that that Hawks' involvement may be more than just Griffith's duty to Midland. Within Doldrey's walls, Adon is demoted by General Boscogn, the leader of the Purple Rhino Knights, who informs Gennon that the Band of Hawks are approaching the fortress. While allowing Boscogn the honor to take on the Hawks with his men, Gennon insists for Griffith to be brought to him alive so he can keep the warrior as his sex slave.
Arriving near Doldrey as the Purple Rhino Knights assume outside the fortress in anticipation of the an imminent charge. He doesn't think too highly of Griffith's decision to place the Hawks between Boscogn's forces and a river, leaving them with nowhere to run. As the battle begins, the Hawks split into two with on group under Guts charging Boscogn and the Purple Rhino Knights head on before falling back on Griffith's order. As Gennon decides to personally take command after fearing Boscogn might end up killing Griffith, a second Hawk group led by Casca quickly enters Doldrey and take over the stronghold. But Casca ends facing Adon, demoted to castle defense while intent to avenge his brother. Though Adon feigned mercy to poison Casca, she manages to kill him before ordering her men to resume the raid.
On the battlefield, Gennon is informed that his soldiers are being hindered by Guts as Boscogn steps in to face the swordsman personally. As both sides cease fighting, Guts finds himself in a dire situation as his blade is snapped in two before he is knocked off his horse. It seemed Guts was on the verge of death until an enormous cleaver-like blade lands before him. At Griffith's insistence, Guts uses the sword to strike Boscogn down. Upon learning that Doldrey is lost, Gennon finds his men fleeing for their lives while he is killed by Griffith. As the Hawks enter Doldrey to celebrate their victory and weeding out the last traces of Chuder soldiers within its walls, it is revealed that the sword which Guts used to killed Boscogn belongs to Zodd as the immortal contemplates an upcoming event before riding off.
The Tombstone of Flames
Returning to Windham as heroes, the Hawks learn they are to attend an banquet thrown in their honor. With the exception of Griffith, who is used to being in the presence of aristocrats, the other key male members of the Hawks feel out of place among in their formal attire while surrounded by adoring women. When Guts notices Casca, she drags him to the terrace to discuss what he will if he really means to leave the Hawks. But the Midland royal family before Guts could answer, Casca running back in while Guts remains outside as he has another reason to attend to banquet. The king declares that the One Hundred Year War has come to an end with an armistice with Chuder, adding further that he intends to award Griffith by making him general and his commanding officers knighted lords of the rechristened White Phoenix Knights. But what the Hawks did not know is that Griffith's rise to power had made him many enemies with a ring leader of conspirators lead by the Queen of Midland, who had an affair with Julius and a more personal reason to see Griffith dead as she and Foss arranged for him to die from drinking a poisoned wine goblet.
Believing their scheme succeeded, the queen and her conspirators celebrate their deed in a tall and narrow tower. The Queen noticed Foss acting agitated despite the minister assuring her that his underlings silenced the cupbearer to leave no loose ends. But minutes after Foss leaves to survey the fruits of their endeavor, the conspirators themselves locked in and the tower has been set on fire. The queen rushes to the window yell for help, finding only Griffith waiting for her. Griffith reveals he knew of the attempt on his life and had the poison substituted for a drug that causes a temporary near-death paralysis to fool everyone. He then explains while she failed to indirectly kill him, he succeeded in directly killed her and walks off as the burning tower crumbles to the ground. Griffith later meets with Foss, revealed to have bought the fearful minister's loyalty by having Foss' old associates hold his daughter Elize captive. After Foss is reunited with his daughter, Griffith plays her captors gold for their service. But as the men were untrustworthy, Griffith arranged for Guts to kill them so there would be no loose ends before revealing his survival to the Hawks. The events of that night were later covered up as rumors to be either the act of Chuderian assassins or a third party bent on obstructing the armistice between Midland and Chuder.
A month after the queen's funeral, Guts packs his belonging to proceed with his intention of leave the Hawks so he can find his own path and be seen by Griffith as an equal. As Guts leaves, he is noticed by Casca as she tries to use their newly-formed friendship to stay. But he is not persuaded as Judeau and Corkus take him to a tavern to converse, learning of Guts' reasons. After sending Corkus off, Judeau explains he and the other Hawks were nothing before meeting Grifith and though he cannot stop Guts, he will see him off on his way. While walking to the outerwall, unaware that Guts and Griffith were behind them for his safety, Judeau admits the fact that Griffith's lack of opposition means he would eventually have Charlotte's hand in marriage and become the new king of Midland.
But upon reaching the outer wall as morning dawns, Guts finds his path blocked by Griffith and the other Hawks. Griffith asks Guts whether he really means to leave them, which Guts confirms while thanking everyone present for all the time he's spent with them. However, while the others do nothing to stop him, Guts finds his path blocked by Griffith. Griffith reminds Guts that the only way he can leave the Hawks is to defeat him a duel. Though Casca pleas the two not to fight, Guts sees this as the only way as Griffith has no intent to let him leave his side. Once Pippin removes Casca, Guts and Griffith proceed in their duel. But unlike the previous duel years ago, Guts wins his freedom and walks passed a shocked Griffith while ignoring Casca's pleas.
Later camping out in the woods after sunset, on edge since, Guts starts to have second thoughts of his decision before encountering a mysterious skeletal horseman of outer-worldly origin. The Skull Knight, knowing he was born from a dead woman, addresses Guts as a struggler while revealing to know he is blessed with an ability to escape death. The Skull Knight also reveals that an eclipse will occur in a year's time, telling Guts that he and his friends will face unimaginable tragedy and death before fading away.
Fall of the Hawk
Still horribly distraught that Guts left him, Griffith sneaks into Charlotte's chambers and kisses her to her shock. Despite her initial surprise, Charlotte gives into her feelings as the two proceed to make passionate love on her bed. But though Charlotte got satisfaction while losing her virginity, Griffith was too consumed about Guts to enjoy himself. Leaving the following morning, Griffith finds himself arrested by guards and taken to the dark dungeon where the king expresses utter disappointment as he whips Griffith, livid that he would take his daughter from him. But Griffith realizes that the king has incestuous feelings for his daughter while telling the king that he only won the war because of his advisors and military experts.
After exhausting himself from dealing a furious barrage on Griffith, the king orders the torturer, a small, deformed man with a harelip and protruding forehead, to inflict as much pain as he can on Griffith while keeping him alive. After leaving Griffith to rot as the torturer tosses the behelit necklace into the sewer, the king visits Charlotte after she was sedated by a doctor upon learning of Griffith's arrest. In a moment of weakness, the king attempted to undress his daughter as she awakens and screams in disgust as she kicks him in the face. Running off and projecting blame on Griffith, ensuring no one knows of man's carnal relations with his daughter, the king arranges for the Hawks to be ambushed by the Midland Army. Luckily, Casca took command and lead the Hawks to safety as they now have been branded criminals for their association with Griffith.
As the months passed, suffering horrific pain at the hands of his torturer, Griffith starts to lose his grip on reality while thinking of every person he met with Guts being the only person who rivals Griffith's own dream. Griffith then starts having visions of another realm of existence where four inhuman beings refer to him as their "kinsman".
A year after leaving the Band of the Hawk, after training in the mountains yet not finding his dream, Guts visits blacksmith Godo and his daughter Erica. Guts later participates in a combat tournament where he learns of a bandit group is all that remained of the Band of the Hawk. Recognizing the the description of the leader as Casca, Guts finds her and the other Hawks while driving off a dark-skinned foreign mercanary named Silat sent to kill them. Guts soon learns how Griffith got imprisoned for sleeping with king's daughter and that Casca took over as leader when the king attempted to wipe them out in an ambush. The Hawks also reveal that learn where Griffith is being held and plan to save him.
Later, Casca has Guts follow her to a secluded area with the intent to fight him as she blames him for how far the Hawks have fallen since he left them and that it was because of him that Griffith acted in weakness. She even admits that she loves Griffith, despite knowing he would marry Charlotte. Coming to terms with the fact that she has no place beside Griffith, Casca asks Guts to take over the protection of the Hawks. But Guts stops Casca from committing suicide, the two kissing each other under the waterfall before moving to a nearby tree to have sex. Though both are new to it, they eventually embrace each other while declaring their love for one another. The following day, Guts tells Casca that he will stay with the Hawks so they can rescue Griffith. They, Judeau, and Pippin go to Windham to rescue Griffith while Corkus leads a team of able-bodied Hawks to cover their escape. Rickert will remain behind to treat the wounded. As Guts and the Hawks ride to Windham, none of them know that a chain of events is about to unfold.
Reunion in the Abyss
Three days later, the Griffith Rescue Squad composed of Guts, Casca, Judeau, and Pippin arrive in Windham in the dead of night. They arrive to graveyard where Judeau informs Guts to be the entrance to a secret passage that their spies discovered. Entering the tunnel, the group arrive to a mausoleum deep within Windham where they're greeted by two hooded women who are waiting for them: One of them being Charlotte, who is the one who provided the intel for the Hawks. The group come to an ancient, large and imposing tower that Judeau explains to be the Tower of Rebirth while Charlotte reveals Griffith is being kept in the prison's lowest level. Though Charlotte wants to accompany the Hawks, despite initially declining as using her as a hostage would only worsen things for Griffith, Casca accepts on the condition that the princess must leave them if so ordered by Griffith once they find him.
After killing the guards, the group descend the stairway leading to the lower levels. When Guts asks how far down the hole stretches, Charlotte reveals the hole is much older then the tower as she tells the legend of the Midland's mysterious founder Gaiseric. Judeau has also heard the story, and with Casca correcting him, reveals how Gaiseric's empire came to an end when God sent angels to wipe out his city within a night. Charlotte, revealing her family are allegedly descended from Gaiseric, explains the city did exist and what remains is at the bottom of the hole beneath the Tower of Rebirth. Casca loses her torch while stumbling on the stairs, the torch landing amongst the ruins of an enormous destroyed temple surrounded by corpses that each have an odd symbol engraved on their decayed foreheads.
Eventually, the group reaches the end of the staircase and find Griffith's cell. With no answer from inside, the group find Griffith's naked body lying face-down on the floor. Guts runs to and cradles Griffith in his arms, him and Judaeu seeing the horrific results of their former leader having been gravely tortured and mutilated for a whole year. Upon opening his eyes, Griffith sees a emotionally troubled Guts and is unable to choke his former ally. Suddenly, having watched them descend the stairs, Griffith's torturer locks the group in and informs Charlotte that he called the guards while expressing delight in having more subjects to torture. When the torturer admits to be the one who mutilated Griffith while describing his deeds in detail, Guts bursts from the cell and runs the man through beform sending him to his death. Seeing the guards coming down the stairs, Guts tells the others to stay close behind him as he mows down the guards one by one while Pipin carries Griffith.
Once at the entrance of the Tower, the Hawks manage to convince the aged king to order his men to hold their arrows upon seeing Charlotte with them. Also seeing Griffith as the Hawks flee towards the escape tunnel, they are unaware that king has sent his personal assassins, the Bakiraka, to kill Griffith with additional orders for no harm to come to Charlotte. While the Hawks deal with one of the Bakiraka, Charlotte intercepts a dart from another Bakiraka intended for Griffith. After a momentary ceasefire to get Charlotte out of harm's way Bakiraka proceed to go all-out with their assassination attempt before the Hawks manage to kill their assassins and then escaping the tunnel. After executing the last of the Bakiraka for failing him, the King was about to have Anna imprisoned for cooperating with Charlotte until his daughter convince. After lying to his daughter that he will let Griffith be, the king is far from allowing him or the Hawks to escape with their lives and sends his guards to give Wyald, beastly and psychotic leader of the vile Black Dog Knights, the task of hunting the Hawks. Though Wyald refused at first while in the middle an orgy, he accepts upon learning that Griffith is his prey.
Hawks versus Black Dogs
Reaching the farm, the Hawk bandage Griffith and place him in a cart before they ride as far from Windham as they could. But Wyald and his men have already caught their trail, burning the farm and piking the its residents for aiding the fugitives before catching up to the Hawks as Judeau recognizes the group. As they see the bridge where the rest of the rescue force is waiting form them, Guts and Pippin remain behind to hold the Black Dogs at made. But as more of the Black Dogs are charging them, Guts soon realizes they fear no one else more than Wyald as he ends up facing the Black Dogs' leader and realizes he is similar to Zodd in his enormous bloodlust in Wyald. Once the others reach the other size of the bridge, which the Hawks rigged to explode, Guts and Pippin follow suit as Casca lights the fuse that destroys the bridge with the many of Black Dog Knights killed in the explosion.
However, Wyald and other Black Dogs managed to escape the blast and continue their relentless pursuit with many of them killed off in other death traps the Hawks prepared. While Guts wonders why it seems death happens whenever Griffith, he remembers that Zodd's prophecies involving Griffith and the Skull Knight's cryptic message of an upcoming eclipse are connected. Eventually, the group reach the rest of their group with Corkus and Gaston leading their the rescue force against the Black Dogs while Guts faces Wyald. But while his men are forced to retreat, Wyald refuses out of ecstasy of facing a worthy opponent as he transforms in a monster. As Guts realizes Wylad's similarities to Zodd, the monster knocks Guts out the other Hawks face him when he attempts to grab Casca. Having been hidden away in a small hollow beneath a tree's roots, finding himself unable to hold a sword and join the fight, Griffith is taken to safety while seeing Casca crying over an unconscious Guts. After taking out her defenders, Wylad was about to ravage Casca when Guts comes to and saves her while telling to leave as he wishes to deal with the monster personally. No longer seeing the fight to be fun as his opponent is actually hurting him despite the injuries he inflicted, Wylad decides to utterly destroy Guts. But through dogged determination and sheer will despite his body broken and his sword on the verge of shatter, Guts manages to outwit Wyald by using so he can jump on the monster and fatally stab him before he is knocked out.
After an arduous process of recovery after the battle, some of the Hawks remaining behind to marvel as Wyald's body, Casca tends to Guts' wounds before she learns from Judeau that the damage done to Griffith is beyond their ability to heal and that Griffith may never even walk again. Inside the cart, able to understand Griffith despite his tongue removed, Guts helps him get his armor on. Suddenly, Wyald, revealed to still be alive yet dying, managed to crawls his way to the Hawks' camp and grabs Griffith. While intending to use him as a hostage, Wyald demands Griffith to give him new life by summoning the "angels" known as God Hand, which Griffith remained having a vision while imprisoned. While the Hawks refuse to back down, Wyald reveals the full and irreversible damage done to Griffith's body to demoralize them.
But as Wyald finds Griffith does not have his behelit, Zodd appears from behind Wyald and impales him with him on his horned head and lifts him high into the air. With the humans confused of the two monsters having a discussion what they can and cannot do as Apostles to the God Head, Zodd ends Wyald's life by ripping his stomach wide open while Guts grabs Griffith. before Zodd departs while Wyald's lifeless body reverts to a shriveled old man, he speaks to a silent Griffith that he regains his valued possession while telling Guts that his prophecy of an unavoidable death will soon occur.
Before the Eclipse
Once the Hawks have relocated to Midland's border, a discussion over Griffith's injuries is brought up among the group as they come to terms that their former leader's fighting days have ended with their legacy. But, some Hawks realize that Casca had successfully led them during the past year as she decides to continue being their leader until they regroup with the rest of their band. After talking to Guts in private that she and the others are still reliant on Griffith's dream, she goes to the cart to change Griffith's bandages. She was caught off guard when he embraces her, and unable to bring herself to stop him, allows Griffith to have his way with her while left emotionally troubled. After talking with the others on they will do now that the Band of the Hawk will soon disband, Guts finds Casca as she lies that Griffith is resting while explaining to Guts that she intends to care for Griffith while urging Guts to leave on his own and follow his dream.
At the camp site, Griffith witnesses affection between Casca and Guts while seeing a vision of himself as he was. Consumed by the vision, and another of a life he would have had with Casca, Griffith commandeers a horse cart with Guts and the others in pursuit. Eventually, the cart crashes into a pond before Griffith comes to and attempts to commit suicide. But Griffith stops himself at the last second, lashing a minor gash on his neck, while finding his Behelit in the riverbed, recalling Zodd's prophecy of a treasured belonging returning to him. The blood leaking from Griffith's neck slowly runs down his arm and touches the Behelit, causing it to open its eyes. As Guts and the others draw near, the former blaming himself for Griffith's condition, they notice a solar eclipse and many silhouettes of naked men and women all along the river around Griffith. When Guts is within running distance of Griffith, who is unable to tell him and the others to stay away, the Behelit's facial features rearrange before it cries tears of blood.
As the Hawks rescue Griffith, the Hawks' young engineer Rickert tends to wounded Hawk soldiers at the camp before being tasked to fetch a bucket of water from a nearby lake. Seeing what appeared to be an elf flying off in the direction of the Hawks' campsite while getting the water, Rickert hears a commotion from the same direction. Thinking that enemy soldiers are raiding the camp, Rickert runs back to his injured comrades. But he finds the campsite enveloped in darkness, encountering the elven being and a slug-like monster among several other monsters. The creatures advance on Rickert before driven off by the Skull Knight, the youth finding what remained of the wounded Hawks dead and piled up to his horror.
The following day, still traumatized by what he saw, Rickert comes across a moving convoy of entertainers help him reach the Midland border where the rest of the Hawks will be after saving Griffith. Upon arriving at the border, Rickert parts ways with the entertainers while an elf named Puck gives him elf dust. As Puck visits the caravan's fortuneteller who sees an evil omen in the youth's future, Rickert walks towards a forming solar eclipse with an ill feeling in his heart. As the eclipse is formed, Rickert finds the Hawks camp' ravaged by a strange tornado before seeing the Skull Knight and Zodd facing each other. Hiding, Rickert overhears that the Hawks are inside the tornado while Zodd is given the task to guard the tornado from would-be intruders like the Skull Knight.
|“||The lives of those who bear the brand, from the last drop of blood to the last moment of your agonizing death, will feed life to the new child of darkness.||”|
—Void upon branding the Hawks for sacrifice.
In a silent scream, Griffith's Behelit transports everyone to another plane of existence: a world where the sky is made up of human specters surrounding the solar eclipse, and the ground is made up of enormous faces, which in turn are made of much smaller faces. As Guts carries Griffith back to the others, the strange group reveals they are all in the Eclipse, an event which occurs once every 216 years, and they are soon joined by the four beings who they worship: The God Hand. After the last of the God Hand have formed from the environment, a tall and slender figure welcomes everyone to the "festival" while Griffith recognize him and the other demons from his vision while imprisoned. Despite Gut's confusion over the God Hand's cryptic words, the demon explain that Griffith has been chosen to join them as their final member and his transcendence will require the Hawks to become his sacrificial offerings for the naked people, revealed to be their servants as they assume their true monstrous forms. Though Guts attempts to ask Griffith if he is really considering the God Hand's proposal, the slender being explains that Griffith's will and desire shall decree their preordained fate as he then causes the ground to reshape itself into an enormous hand of faces to bring Griffith into the sky. With Griffith sitting on the palm and the God Hand each occupying a finger, Guts begins to climb up the arm to reach his friend while the other Hawks watch.
The smallest God Hand swoops down towards Griffith and shows him visions of his past to show him his true self as one willing to sacrifice others for the sake of his dream. The tallest of God Hand concurs while creating the illusion of the bright castle in the distance with the promise that all of Griffith's dreams will be made a reality. Seeing Guts as he manages to reach him, Griffith acknowledges that Guts is the only ally he had who actually made him forget his dream. In his heart, with complete sincerity, Griffith offers his sacrifice with the palm clutching into a fist so Guts cannot reach him. The tallest God Hand then announces the advent of the "Promised Time" as he brands all the Hawks with a symbol that marks them as the Apostles' meal, their violent deaths giving new life to what Griffith will become. Guts can only watch from the top of the enormous hand before he attempts to get Griffith out of the fist. The God Hand watch with apathy, saying that Guts does not have the strength to break through while musing that he is trying to "save" Griffith from what he wants. Though Guts denies it, he ends up accepting the truth that Griffith is the man that the God Hand revealed him to be. Seeing that some of the Apostles climbed up after him, a furious Guts charges at them and manages to kill some of them The female God Hand member is impressed, yet states the irony that Guts' actions would only fuel Griffith's transcendence even further.
On the ground, Casca is dumbstruck by the horror happening around her before Pippin holds off some of the apostles so she and Judeau can escape. But they do not get far as one of the apostles bites off the horse's front leg while another closes in on the two. As the apostle flails its whip-like appendages, Judeau sacrifices himself so Casca can kill it. After Judeau dies, Casca attempts to hold off the apostles before they disarm her and then disrobe her for their depraved pleasure. As for Corkus, the fear from watching his fellow Hawks being devoured drives him to maddened denial as he flees for his life. Then, Corkus comes across a naked woman who allures him, before turning to her true, monstruous form and killing him. By the time Guts reaches the ground floor, seeing the aftermath of the apostles' slaughter, he finds himself completely surrounded as the apostles reveal Casca is still alive at the moment. Though Guts attempts to reach her, one of the apostles bites down on Gut's left forearm. Before the Apostles can begin to further abuse Casca in front of Guts, a loud heartbeat is heard, drawing all their attention to the giant hand in the middle of the chaos.
Within the fist, having seen and felt the death of his comrades while emotionally apathetic, Griffith finds himself in an abyss where he sees a heart-like deity that reveals itself to be the embodiment of humanity's collective perception of evil and has long manipulated events since humans first thought it up out of a need for something to blame their hardship and suffering on. The deity opens Griffith's eyes to the truth of human nature and that his purpose is to determinate the fate of all humanity, he proceeds to complete his transformation. Rechristened "Femto" by the God Hand as the fist opens back up, Griffith uses his new body to descend towards Guts while beckoning Casca to be brought to him. Unable to move, Guts could only watch as his former friend proceeds to sexually violate Casca until he could no longer bear it as he uses broken blade to amputate his own arm to free himself before attempting to kill Griffith. But the apostles pin Guts down and force him to watch Casca being ravaged before one of the demons punctured his right eye as the deed is done. But in an unexpected event, having defeated Zodd, the Skull Knight bursts into the Nexus and has a brief stand off with Void and then Griffith before spiriting Guts and Casca back to their reality. Though the God Hand did not expect the turn of events, Void deemed it to be moot while welcoming Griffith as their final member with a new Age of Darkness to soon begin.
After the Eclipse
Emerging from the tornado, noticing Rickert while having him tend to Guts and Casca, the Skull Knight convinces Zodd to postpone their battle for another day. Upon seeing Guts surviving the death that he foretold, Zodd accepts the request while telling the humans to leave before his follow Apostles return to their reality once the tornado dissipates. As the group leave, Zodd expresses being anxious to see how Guts will live in this new world full of demons and death. The Skull Knight, initially unaware of Guts' relation to the blacksmith, arrives to the home of Godo as the area was home to the Elves and a nearby ore cave would perfect to keep Guts and Casca save from any foul creature. Some time after, the Holy Iron Chain Knights arrive to site of a "red lake" where what remains of the Band of Hawks is floating. The knights were sent by the Holy See Religious Order to investigate a prophecy that foretold the eclipse to mark the birth of an angel known the Hawk of Darkness who were usher in an age of darkness. The knights' leader recognizes the signs of the prophecy has been fulfilled and that preparations for it must be made. Elsewhere, a young girl has also sensed the event and reached the same fearful conclusion.
Four days later, his right eye bandaged, Guts wakes up and finds himself in an ore cave near Godo's house along with Rickert. When Guts asks where Casca is, he finds her reduced to child-like state of mind with no memory of him. An upset Guts runs off before he is found by the Skull Knight while his brand suddenly began to bleed without warning. The Skull Knight explains to Guts that he is now a being of two realms, living in the dimenisional intersection where the realms of the living and the dead are connected in presence. The Skull Knight then gives Guts his sword so he can fend off the restless spirits that are attempting to take his body, telling the mercenary that he is now destined to forever be hunted by demons and spirits. But Guts, yelling his distain towards fate and sacrifice, manages to drive off the spirits while vowing to kill Griffith, the God Hand, and the Apostles to avenge his comrades. When Guts realizes the spirits are now making their way towards Casca, he convinces the Skull Knight to take him to her.
Though the Skull Knight notes the spirits are not attacking Casca by the time they find her, Guts charges in regardless before Casca births a tiny, black fetus-like being from her body. Though Guts attempted to crush it, Casca stops him and he realizes the creature is his unborn child tainted as a consequence of Griffith violating Casca during the eclipse. The child then disappears as the sun rises, the Skull Knight perceiving that it would return out of need to be with its parents. Taking his leave, the Skull Knight tells Guts that should he wish to hunt the Apostles, his brand will be his guide and telling him that he must embrace evil to hunt evil.
A month of training to fight with one eye later, Guts tells Rickert that he intends to leave him and Casca with Godo while he goes on a journey before the youth locks the gate in case Casca once more attempts to escape. After a frustrating night, Guts puts on an all-black set of armor and cloak with throwing knives and a prosthetic arm Rickert made from scrap. Godo then gives Guts a freshly-made sword to help Guts on his quest. But Guts soon senses the presence of a pig-faced apostle that has detected him and Casca. As Godo did not know Guts intended to fight monsters, the sword he gave him eventually shatters after landing a few hits with Guts knocked into the armory. Luckily, while learning the functions of his prosthetic arm, Guts finds an absolutely enormous sword: The Dragonslayer. Mustering the strength to use it, Guts strikes the Apostle down and deems the Dragonslayer a suitable weapon for his use. Soon after, despite Rickert pleading Guts to stay with Casca, Guts departs to hunt down his new found enemies.
- As a prequel taking place two years before the first arc, it sets up the storyline of the Berserk series. It explains how Guts lost his left arm and his right eye along his with his branding and utter hatred for Griffith. It is also significant in revealing the origins of the Demon Child that constantly follows Guts.
- The prologue of the next arc, which introduces Farnese de Vandimion and Serpico, takes place after the Eclipse.
- In later story arcs, Guts would learn more about the nature of the God Hand and the being they serve under.
Anime and Manga Differences
- Both the 1997 anime series and the Golden Age trilogy omit Wyald.
- The 1997 anime series omits Donovan, while the Golden Arc first film alludes to him during Gut's coma.
- Neither the 1997 anime series nor the Golden Age trilogy establish the Queen of Midland as Julius' secret lover.
- The Bakiraka are omitted in the 1997 anime series.
- Griffith's deduction that the King lusts for his own daughter was omit in the 1997 anime.
- King of Midland's sexual assault on Charlotte was cut from both the 1997 anime series and the Golden Age trilogy.
- In the 1997 anime series, all scenes featuring the Skull Knight are absent.
- The arc ending is only present in the third film. The 1997 anime series ends with Guts losing his right eye.
- Neither adaptation includes the birth of the Demon Child.
- Guts' fight against the Keeper of the Hounds is not shown in both anime adaptations.
- Guts's duel with Griffith.
- Guts encountering Nosferatu Zodd.
- Guts defeating the Blue Whale knights on his own.
- The Battle of Doldrey.
- Guts's second duel with Griffith.
- Guts takes on and kills many soldiers in the Tower of Rebirth.
- Guts, Pippin, Judeau and Casca fight the Bākiraka.
- Guts fights Wyald.
- Guts battles many demons during the Eclipse.
- Many key characters are introduced in this arc such as Casca, Rickert, Silat, Charlotte, Nosferatu Zodd and the Skull Knight.
|Golden Age Arc|