Tonight on Deadliest Fiction, we bring you a brutal, no holds barred fight to the death between two super-strong, armored sword wielders that strike fear into the hearts of their enemies! Prepare yourselves for a showdown as Guts, the infamous Black Swordsman and renowned Apostle slayer, crosses blades with Striga, the fearsome vampire general and muscle of the Council of Sisters! It'll be a vicious struggle where we compare their weapons, skills, and abilities to determine the answer to the ultimate question...
Born from the corpse of a lynched woman, Guts was a sickly infant adopted by Shisu, lover of the mercenary Gambino, who allowed her to keep the infant despite the bad omen around him. Shisu would die three years later to the plague, leaving the young Guts in the care of Gambino, who proved to be a poor parent figure. From a young age, Guts would be trained vigorously in the art of combat and swordsmanship and eventually began aiding Gambino's mercenary company in combat, proving himself as a talented fighter. Gambino, however, deeply resented Guts and blamed him for Shisu's death, a loathing that would culminate in him allowing Donavan, a fellow mercenary, to rape the boy in his tent. Traumatized, Guts secretly murdered Donavan during the company's next battle, haunted by the man's claims that Gambino sold him for a night. The relationship with his father figure worsened after Gambino lost his leg, and ultimately ended when Gambino drunkenly attempted to murder him, forcing Guts to kill him in self-defense, then flee into the night, entirely alone.
Guts would work as a mercenary for several years, his skill with a sword turning the tide of several battles, until he encountered the Band of the Hawk, a mercenary company led by the charismatic Griffith. Griffith, fascinated by him, defeated Guts in a duel and talked him into joining the Band. Guts proved himself as one of the Hawks best members, becoming a raider captain within three years and serving as Griffith's closest confidant alongside the fiery Casca, with whom Guts had a rivalry that eventually evolved into a mutual attraction. Despite their close bond, Guts felt estranged from the ambitious Griffith and eventually left the Hawks to try and find a dream so he could stand as an equal to his friend, a move which deeply hurt Griffith and led to him seducing the Princess of Midland, which led to his capture and Midland attempting to wipe out the Hawks.
Once again on his own for a year, Guts continued to hone his skills, training in the mountains and fighting in tournaments, until he learned of the predicament of the Hawks, who had been reduced to outlaws led by Casca. Tracking them down, Guts reunites with the Hawks in time to drive off a raid, and ends up beginning a relationship with Casca. The two plan a rescue mission for Griffith, reduced to a cripple after a year of torture, and briefly defeats the Apostle Wyald during the escape. Shaken by the state of Griffith, Guts and Casca contemplate heading out on their own, a conversation overheard by him, leading him to summon the God Hand, a quarter of godlike beings who offer to allow him to join their ranks if he sacrifices his friends. Griffith accepts the deal, joining the God Hand as "Femto" as the Hawks are slaughtered by the demons of the Hand. In the massacre, Guts loses his arm and right eye and is forced to witness Griffith raping Casca, with the two being saved only by the intervention of the Skull Knight.
Hiding out at the home of Godot, a blacksmith who he had befriended, Guts discovers Casca has regressed to a mute, childlike state due to her trauma and declares war on demonkind, training himself back to physical shape and equipping himself with a prosthetic hand and a massive blade called the Dragon Slayer. Fully prepared, Guts sets out to kill every Apostle he can find and, in time, get his revenge against Griffith.
The high general of Styria, Striga is a member of the Council of Sisters, an alliance of four vampires who ruled over Styria with the scheming Carmilla as it's leader while Striga's lover Morana served as the strategist and economist and Lenore as their diplomat. As the resident fighter of the group, Striga often questioned Carmilla's plans, recognizing that the ambition of her schemes could lead to them overextending, but reluctantly followed along with them regardless. After both being informed of Carmilla's plan to conquer the various nations left in chaos following Dracula's attack on mankind and witnessing Lenore's seduction of the forgemaster Hector, Striga, alongside Morana, are sent to the front, leading the Styrian army against various human resistances. The ferocity and resolve of even the lesser human forces shakes the couple, who realize that maintaining an empire will require constant fighting, and they resolve to bring it up to Carmilla upon their return to Styria.
This conversation is never had, as Isaac assaults their castle with a horde of Night Creatures, overwhelming their forces and mortally wounding Carmilla, who kills herself in a last-ditch to kill him. Striga and Morana arrive to see the flaming ruins of the castle and feel Carmilla's death, and the two decide to set out on their own, recognizing that their leader's dream was impossible. Their desertion, combined with the deaths of both Carmilla and Lenore, leads to the dissolution of the Council, with Isaac taking charge as King of Styria in their stead.
Weapons, Equipment, and Abilities
Weapons and Equipment:
- The Dragon Slayer: An enormous blade made with "the ultimate steel", the Dragon Slayer, as it's name suggests, was a sword created by the blacksmith Godot as a weapon to kill a dragon, but it's unwieldy size and weight made it impossible to use. As Guts had been trained to fight with weapons far larger than him since he was a child, this made it the ideal weapon for him. The blade can easily cleave through anything in it's path, often traveling through multiple targets in one swing, while it's broad side enables Guts to use it as a shield from attacks. Due to it's use against mystical foes like Apostles, the Dragon Slayer can be wielded against both astral and physical foes.
- Armor: Following the loss of his original armor during the Eclipse, Guts wears a set of distinct, dark black half-plate armor that covers most of his body save his forearms and head. It was this, combined with his cape, that earned him the title of "Black Swordsman".
- Cannon Arm: Created as a substitute for the loss of Guts's left arm, the Cannon Arm is a metal prosthetic that enables Guts to continue wielding two-handed weapons. It's also an effective weapon on it's own, capable of crushing a man's head, on top of the tricks contained within the arm itself.
- Repeater Crossbow: The Repeater Crossbow is a hand-cranked crossbow that can be fixed onto the Cannon Arm. Guts can rapid fire crossbow bolts from it, making it an effective tool against a large number of enemies or for when he needs to make a quick ranged attack.
- Cannon: The weapon that earns the arm it's namesake, the Cannon Arm is a miniature cannon that the arm can turn into with a simple flick of the wrist. To fire it, Guts must load it with a cannonball and powder (something he does in his off-time) and then pulling a cord to fire it. Guts is able to pull the cord with his teeth, making it a brutal surprise for any foes that have grabbed him.
- Throwing Knives: Guts also carries a bandolier of small throwing knives with him, which he often used when the situation called for precise or stealthier kills.
- Miniature Bombs: Given to him by Rickert, Guts carries a pouch of miniature bombs, which can be lit and thrown, exploding after a count of three. The bombs are powerful enough to blow a hole through a troll and tear up the face of the Goatman Apostle.
Powers and Abilities:
- Peak Physicality: Two decades of training and combat have honed Guts to a level of insane physical skill that borders upon superhuman. He's strong enough that not only can he wield the massive Dragon Slayer, but each swing of it can effortlessly cleave through several armored men at once, completely ignoring their armor and reducing them to bloody chunks. Despite his hulking size, he's formidably fast, to the point where he can out move a hail of arrows and catch a chakram with just his fingers, while his durability is legendary for the sheer amount of pain he can withstand. He's been stabbed, shot, beaten by super-strong Apostles, and fallen from enormous heights and walked it off long enough to keep fighting. He even once killed a hundred men with two arrows sticking out of him, the last fifty of whom he killed with the use of one arm.
- Master Swordsman: Guts is one of the greatest swordfighters in the land, owing to his extensive, harsh training teaching him to comfortably wield large swords at a small age. Using this, Guts combines his large strength and deceptive speed to overwhelm and crush opponents quickly. He once fought the legendary Nosferatu Zodd, an undefeated warrior, and managed to not only break his sword, but land a hit on him, and his skill enables him to battle all manner of enemy, from hordes of armored knights to the demonic Apostles.
- Skilled Tactician: Guts may come off like a brute, but much of his survival is thanks to his quick wits and strategic skill. He effectively led the raiders in battle after battle, and his knowledge of battle strategy has helped him win against insurmountable odds time and time again. Many of his fights with Apostles, beings far stronger than him, are won not through sheer strength, but quick thinking and ruthless pragmatism enabling him to make bold choices others wouldn't, like taking hostages, using civilian corpses as cover, or pulling the cannon at point-blank.
- Skilled Marksman: Thanks to training from his comrade Judeau, Guts is a skilled knife thrower, regularly landing headshots with his crossbow in the heat of a fight and making clean kills from several feet away with his knives.
Weapons and Equipment:
- Sword: In combat, Striga wields an enormous gold and silver two-handed sword capable of effortlessly cleaving through both men and horses in two with one strike. Despite it's size, Striga is able to easily wield it one-handed, allowing her to switch between slashes and melee strikes during combat.
- Day Armor: The Day Armor is a specially forged suit of armor that enables Striga to go out in sunlight, on top of offering the usual protections customary to a full-plate suit of armor. Notably, it even covers her eyes with a see-through material, enabling her to see without burning her face.
Powers and Abilities:
- Vampire Physicality: Striga possesses a superhuman level of strength due to her nature as a vampire, while her status as a military leader means she's a step above the vast majority of her fellow vampires as well. She's strong enough to stop a charging horse dead in it's tracks with one hand and then cut it and it's rider in two with her sword, her punches send fully grown men flying several feet away, and she can crush a man's skull with one hand. In terms of other feats, she also possesses the traditional vampire's immortality, speed, and enhanced senses, which allowed her to eavesdrop on Hector and Lenore's conversation from afar.
- Expert Combatant: Striga is effectively a one-woman army, holding off an ambushing force entirely by herself while her surviving troops rallied, and she utilizes a mixture of her skill as a fighter and her enormous strength to crush her foes. She's able to wield her sword one-handed while attacking with her other hand, allowing her to quickly clean through crowds, and even the aforementioned engagement with the ambush failed to land a single hit on her as she tore through countless enemies.
- Tactical Expert: Striga works as the Council's foremost military genius, managing a campaign surrounding over eight hundred miles of territory, and frequently brings a logical perspective to the more ambitious plans of the other Council members, such as recognizing logistics issues and putting doubt on trusting Hector to create forces for them. She's shown to do well in thinking ahead, as she worked out several possible strategies on how to control and run the conquered lands once the campaign was over, though these plans were never started due to the fall of Carmilla.
- While Striga has a considerable years advantage on Guts, her foes during that time were humans and other vampires, enemies that are admittedly challenging but largely not to her level. Born into a world of constant struggle and pain, Guts has been fighting since he was a child, and his travels have not only pitted him against incredibly formidable human warriors like General Boscogn, but also a greater variety of foes thanks to otherwordly monsters like Nosferatu Zodd, Wyald, and the Count. He's not only been fighting nonstop, but he's faced insurmountable odds and regularly triumphed, often by the skin of his teeth.
- The two combatants are even here because of their skills and shortcoming with different types of tactical thinking. Guts is by and large not an ambitious, large-scale thinker, and while he was an effective raid leader during his time with the Hawks, his most impressive intelligence feats are his split-second improvisations and tricks, exploiting weaknesses and the environment around him to score victories over powerful foes. Striga is a smarter large-scale tactician, managing armies and campaigns that involve a lot of moving plans and resource management alongside Morana, but she is shown to have an overly honorable way of thinking, being surprised by ambushes and dismissing the idea of mercenaries turning on employers dishonorable, which is restrictive and leaves her open to being affected by dirtier tricks. Ultimately, they have different strengths and weaknesses that balance each other out on this front.
- Guts is an absolutely brutal, remorseless killer, and he'll gladly cut down anyone or anything that gets in his way without a moment's hesitation and resort to some truly underhanded tactics, like using corpses as cover or taking a child hostage, but he is, deep down and no matter how much he denies it, a person capable of genuine compassion and kindness, and there are lines he won't cross when it comes down to it, such as actually going through with harming a child. Striga, meanwhile, sees herself as inherently superior to the human race, referring to them as "cattle" and openly plotting to herd them into concentration camps, with her redeeming traits coming entirely from her sense of honor and her relationship with Morana. She has none of the moments of kindness or empathy that Guts rarely shows, and simply sees her enemies as prey to be killed.
- Guts may be bordering on superhuman, but Striga actually is, boasting a superior strength and speed to him thanks to her vampiric nature, though his own physical condition is nothing to scoff at, and has enabled him to keep up with creatures physically superior to himself in the past.
- Voting closes on August 20th (my birthday, for those interested).
- The battle will be during the Conviction arc of Berserk, and in between seasons 3 and 4 of Castlevania.
- The Scenario: In their travels, Guts and Puck come across a town besieged by the Styrian army, and Guts is reluctantly conscripted into the town's defense when the army attacks while he's resting there for the night. Drawn out by reports of a mysterious black swordsman tearing through their forces, Striga, drawn to both a good fight and recognizing the threat he poses, personally steps in to put down the strongest sign of resistance.