The Golden Age Arc
This story is set in a time of chaos, in a land where the Midland Kingdom and the Chuder Empire have been locked in a widespread war for over one hundred years.
During one battle, a lone mercenary, Guts, attracts the attention of the mercenaries of the Band of the Hawk, and is ambushed by some of them on the road.
After losing in a duel to the leader of the Hawks, Griffith, Guts is forced to join their band, where he acquires many new comrades, including a woman named Casca, a Unit Commander in the band.
With Guts fighting as the Raiders Captain, the Band of the Hawk continues to come off victorious in all of their battles, and finally earns recognition from the King of Midland himself.
Fighting now under the Midland banner, the Band raids a castle occupied by a legendary swordsman and rumored immortal named Nosferatu Zodd. Zodd defeats both Guts and Griffith, but in the last moment he notices the Crimson Behelit that Griffith wears around his neck, and leaves without killing them.
The Band of the Hawk continues to gain fame on the battlefield, and in the end, using only 5000 men fighting with their backs to the river, manages to capture the impregnable Fortress of Doldrey. This victory brings the end to the war between Midland and Chuder.
Though Guts is praised as a hero, he chooses to leave the Band. He believes that only in doing so will he become worthy of being a friend to Griffith. The shock of Guts' leaving forces Griffith's hand, and he spends the night in the Princess's chambers. As a result, the King of Midland, furious, throws Griffith in the dungeon and gives orders to hunt down the Band of the Hawk as traitors of the state.
A year later, Guts, having learned of the troubles of the Band of the Hawk, rushes back to help the outlawed remnants of the Hawks rescue Griffith. However, they are too late. All the torture had left Griffith in a condition that allows for no hope of recovery. And it is this despair that activates the Crimson Behelit...
To fulfil his own ambition, Griffith chooses to be reborn as "Femto", one of the Five Angels...
and offers in exchange the lives of his devoted comrades and followers, the lives of the entire Band of the Hawk...
The Band of the Hawk, sacrificed for the sake of Griffith ambition, is slaughtered by the monsters called Apostles, with only two of those present there left alive - Guts who has lost his left arm and right eye, and Casca who suffered a mental breakdown and became as helpless as a child.
In order to avenge his companions, Guts decides to wage a war against all of the Apostles and Griffith. He sets out on a solitary road of revenge, dressed in black armor with a giant sword Dragon Slayer on his back...
After leaving helpless Casca in the care of his old acquaintance blacksmith Godo, Guts continues on his path of revenge, becoming known throughout the lands as the Black Swordsman. However, the intense fights with monstrous Apostles and sleepless nights filled with warding off spirits of the dead exhaust him to his limit.
It is then that the Holy Iron Chain Knights, a unit of Knights under the direct control of the Holy See, tracks him down, believing Guts to be the Hawk of Darkness recorded in the Revelations. Led by their Maiden General Farnese, the Holy Iron Chain Knights manage to surround and capture Guts.
After being taken to their camp, Guts manages to escape by taking Farnese as a hostage, but is attacked by spirits. Farnese, witnessing the horrid fight between Guts and the evil spirits, experiences terror that makes her forget even her prayers. In the morning, distressed Farnese is taken back by her loyal servant Serpico, who came chasing after them.
In the middle of his journey, Guts receives a warning that Casca is in danger, and rushes back to Godo's place. However, when he arrives there, he learns that Casca escaped and has been missing for a month.
"I'll never... lose her again!"
To save Casca, Guts heads to the Tower of Conviction after receiving a hint that he will find her there.
But what is waiting for him there...? And what is going to happen to Casca...?
— NEW —The Hawk of the Millennium Arc
After rescuing Casca from the Tower of Conviction, Guts returns to Godo’s place to find that the old blacksmith has passed away while he was gone.
Instead, he finds his former friend Griffith waiting for him there.
Overcome with hatred towards Griffith, who sacrificed the Band of the Hawk for his own dream, Guts gives in to his emotions and attacks him. However, that anger doesn’t reach Griffith, and he leaves Guts once again.
Even though the fire of revenge burns in Guts anew, he understands that he won’t be able to follow Griffith while he needs to protect Casca, and he decides to take her to the place where they should be able to find safety - Elfhelm.
Exhausted by a trip filled with fighting evil spirits while protecting helpless Casca, one day Guts gives in to the darkness growing within him and attacks her, shattering the fragile relationship they had. Just as Guts was about to be crushed under the weight of his burdens, he meets Farnese, Serpico and Isidro, a boy striving to become a swordsman. They had been following him since the events at the Tower of Conviction.
The three become his new companions on the journey towards Elfhelm. However, there are new obstacles awaiting them on their way. As a result of Griffith’s resurrection, the border between the Mortal and the Astral worlds is thinning, and Ethereal creatures such as Trolls begin to appear in the real world.
When Guts and his companions attempt to banish the trolls with the help of young witch Schierke from the Forest of the Spirit Tree, a new group of enemies appears in front of them…
… an army of Apostles who call themselves “The Band of the Hawk”.
To continue his journey, Guts, bearing now a set of mysterious berserker armour that he has received from Schierke’s mistress, Witch Flora, now has to cut his way through the Apostle soldiers of the new Band of the Hawk and the warriors of the monstrous Emperor Ganishka of the Kushan Empire…