Berserk centers around the life of Guts, an orphaned mercenary warrior, and his relationship to Griffith, the leader of a mercenary band called the Band of the Hawk and Berserk\\\\\\\'s setting is inspired by medieval Europe
Guts is born from a hanged mother and discovered by mercenary leader Gambino, who teaches Guts swordplay and enlists him in his mercenary group. Following a gruesome battle, Gambino is crippled with Guts left as the family breadwinner. One night, Gambino attacks Guts in a drunken rage, but Guts kills Gambino in self-defense and is chased from the camp by other mercenaries. Over the years, Guts finds work as a mercenary, slowly building his legend. After defeating a feared mercenary captain during a castle siege, Guts is attacked by a captain of the Band of the Hawk. Easily defeating him, Guts is pitted against Casca, a female captain, whom he prepares to defeat when he is interrupted by Griffith, the enigmatic, white-haired commander of the Band of the Hawk. As they duel, Griffith, having witnessed Guts\\\\\\\'s swordplay during the castle siege, declares that should Guts lose the fight, he will enlist in the Band of the Hawk. Guts agrees to the wager but loses the duel.
Guts serves his years in the Band of the Hawks, commanding one of its formidable raider units as the Band of the Hawk fights in the King of Midland\\\\\\\'s campaign against the Kingdom of Chudor. During this campaign Guts encounters Nosferatu Zodd, a formidable demon Apostle who defeats both Guts and Griffith, but stops short of killing them when he notices Griffith\\\\\\\'s pendant, a Crimson Behelit. Laughing, he disappears from the dungeon, offering the Hawks a quizzical victory.
Griffith is knighted by the King and takes an interest in Princess Charlotte, the King\\\\\\\'s daughter. The King orders Griffith to take Doldrey castle, an impenetrable fortress commanded by the fearsome Rhino knights under General Boscogn. Griffith breaks his forces into two groups, drawing the Rhino knights from the castle with one and infiltrating the castle with the other. With the Hawk\\\\\\\'s flag flying from the castle, Griffith declares victory and allows the Rhino knights to scatter. The King promotes Griffith to general. Guts, yearning for his own path, leaves the Band of the Hawk. Declaring that Guts may only leave after defeating him, Griffith and Guts duel, which Guts swiftly wins. Guts departs as a distraught Griffith sneaks into Princess Charlotte\\\\\\\'s room and copulates with her. The next morning, Griffith is arrested by the King and imprisoned in a dungeon, as the Band of the Hawk are ambushed by the Midland Army.
Guts continues to wander, visiting blacksmith Godo and his granddaughter Erica and competing in a tournament against Bakiraka warrior Silat, whom he realizes is leading an attack against the now outlawed Band of the Hawk, commanded by Casca. Guts comes to the Hawks\\\\\\\'s aid and helps them escape. As they rest, Casca reveals her daring plot to rescue Griffith from his prison. Exhausted physically and mentally from commanding a demoralized, wounded and fleeing army, she asks Guts to take command as she throws herself over a cliff. Guts saves her and in an intimate moment, the two declare their love for one another.
The next day, Casca, Guts and several Hawks soldiers infiltrate Griffith\\\\\\\'s dungeon. Inside is Griffith, crippled beyond healing and missing his Behelit necklace. The Hawks escape with him. Infuriated, the King recruits Wyald, a beastly, psychotic killer and leader of a genocidal pack of mercenaries. The two groups clash in a fierce battle, and to Guts surprise, Wyald transforms into a gigantic, warped monster, who Guts can barely fight. As Wyald prepares to kill Griffith, Zodd appears and kills Wyald. As Zodd departs, he speaks to a silent Griffith about his missing Behelit necklace, and how by its own nature it shall return. That night, the Hawks young engineer Rickert tends wounded Hawk soldiers at a remote camp when it is invaded by a horde of warped Apostles who devour the survivors. Rickert runs for his life and is saved at the last moment by the Skull Knight, an armored skeleton atop a steed.
At the campsite, Griffith witnesses affection between Casca and Guts. Consumed with jealousy, he commandeers a horse cart, which he crashes into a pond, mysteriously finding his Behelit. As Guts, Casca and the Hawks find him, he watches the Behelit cry blood. The sun disappears and plunges the world into darkness. Warped apostles surround the Hawks. The four faces of the God Hand appear and with Griffith as their audience, declare that he must sacrifice his men to realize his dream of a kingdom, reasoning that they will die on the battlefield anyway. Griffith agrees to the God Hand\\\\\\\'s proposal, and the Hawks are marked with the Brand of Sacrifice. The Apostles swarm and devour them. Griffith is enveloped in a cocoon, which transforms his body. The only survivors are Casca and Guts. The cocoon ruptures, casting a winged Griffith into the air, now known as Femto, the fifth God Hand. As Griffith rapes Casca, the Apostles restrain Guts and force him to watch. Guts tries to break free by cutting off the lower part of his left arm, but another Apostle tackles him and punctures his right eye. Suddenly, the Skull Knight bursts into the realm, rescuing Guts and Casca and disappearing through the gateway. He delivers them to Rickert, who takes them to Godo\\\\\\\'s cave.
Guts awakens and discovers that Casca\\\\\\\'s mind has been destroyed, erasing their intimate history together. Casca miscarries a deformed fetus, which vanishes. The Skull Knight appears and explains to Guts that the Brand of Sacrifice will call demons to it, and that Casca\\\\\\\'s child is Guts\\\\\\\'s son, corrupted by Femto\\\\\\\'s rape. Guts, enraged at the death of his companions and Griffith\\\\\\\'s betrayal, vows to kill all demons. Leaving Casca with Godo, Erica and Rickert, Guts departs in search of his new found enemies.