|I thought getting her outta the forest would mean somethin'...turns out, the whole world was a colossal forest, where it was still kill or be killed. [...] We've gotta get children outta this forest, at the very least. Else the same thing's just gonna happen agin an' agin...|
|— Artur Blouse chooses to end the cycle of violence|
The military has lost over one hundred soldiers due to the defection of Eren Yeager and his followers. Acting Commander-in-Chief Dot Pixis has Hange Zoë and Nile Dok secure the personnel who either know of Zeke Yeager's whereabouts or protect the Queen's residence. Pixis reveals that he plans to negotiate with the "Yeagerists" by offering them knowledge of Zeke's location and that he hopes to bring the two sides together for the sake of Eldia's survival.
Hange takes the remaining members of the 104th with them to investigate a restaurant after noting the line of work taken up by many of the Marleyan prisoners of war. The Blouse family arrives at that same restaurant, where Niccolo now works. Midway through their meal, Falco Grice and Gabi Braun reveal their identities to him, as Gabi tries to warn him of the upcoming Marleyan invasion. However, she admits to killing Sasha Blouse, causing Niccolo to attack her in grief. Falco protects her, taking the blow of a wine bottle that breaks over his head. Sasha's father manages to talk everyone down, realizing that both sides have lost people they cared about. Defeated, Niccolo asks Hange to wash out the unconscious Falco's mouth, because he suspects the wine has Zeke's spinal fluid in it.
Nile Dok holds a military meeting and confirms that over one hundred soldiers have escaped from prison, as have the guards looking after them and have also freed Eren Yeager. Certain they were behind the murder of Commander-in-Chief Darius Zackly, he refers to the anti-Corps organization as the Yeagerists and asks Hange Zoë what their goal is. Hange reveals that their one and only goal for now is to reunite Eren with Zeke Yeager and the killing of Zackly was to demonstrate their resolve. Roeg questions how they managed to put together the "Yeagerists" in such a short time and concludes that numerous soldiers trust in Zeke's support. Hange theorizes that their recent attack is also in part due to the military devising a plan to have a soldier loyal to the military try to inherit the Founding Titan from Eren without informing the Survey Corps. Nile replies that it would not have been hard to imagine the results if they had. Roeg demands to know how Hange will take responsibility for this. Hange states that they will accept any punishment but deems it highly irresponsible to remove them from the Corps.
Just then, acting Commander-in-Chief Dot Pixis enters and reminds them that they have a visitor and they should not be bickering among themselves. He asks how many know the whereabouts of Zeke, and Hange replies that includes Levi Ackerman and thirty soldiers stationed with him, along with three soldiers in charge of supplies and themselves. Pixis orders Hange to bring the three in and asks Nile about the safety of Historia Reiss's residence, knowing that the Yeagerists will try to reach her. Nile plans to confirm while Pixis entrusts Armin Arlert to fortify their defenses. When asked if he had any long term plans, Pixis reveals they should surrender to Eren, but not submit to the Yeager brothers. He intends on negotiating with the Yeagerists by putting Zeke's location on the table. He also informs them that they would be watching over the "rumbling" experiments and notifies them that no mentions of the murder of the Commander-in-Chief will be made during these negotiations.
After dismissing the other soldiers, Pixis goes to Kiyomi Azumabito and apologizes for her having to see this exchange and asks her to stay by the harbor for her own safety. She gets a hold of Mikasa Ackerman and asks that she go to the Azumabito ship in case something happens. While appreciating the concern, Mikasa vows to stay and fight as an Eldian. Kiyomi insists that they came there only for her sake but Mikasa dismisses her claims saying that she did not care about who led the nation as long as the rumbling succeeded. Kiyomi agrees that the Azumabitos will be done for if the rumbling fails, losing Hizuru's trust and being overrun by debts. She laments the bad reputation the Azumabitos had earned during the times of great turmoil but assures Mikasa that regardless of what might become of the nation, she wants to protect Mikasa.
Outside, the senior members of the Survey Corps along with Hange discuss the current situation. Jean Kirstein asks if Hange is fine with entrusting everything to Eren and Zeke, which Hange refutes, stating that they need to figure out Zeke's intentions to avoid making bigger fools out of themselves. For this, Hange takes them to a restaurant, claiming it to be a suspicious line of work for Marleyan prisoners of war.
At a restaurant, Niccolo replies to another Marleyan that his guests are right on time. Mr. Blouse arrives with his family along with Falco Grice and Gabi Braun. Gabi starts to get nervous but Kaya assuages her fears by telling Gabi and Falco that Niccolo is a Marleyan and that he can be trusted. As they start eating, Falco and Gabi are amazed by how great the quality of food is. In the kitchen, Niccolo is informed he has visitors from the Survey Corps. He tries to excuse himself, but agrees when Onyankopon reveals that the Anti-Marleyan Volunteers had been detained and they have questions to ask him. Jean notices a bottle of wine that is usually served to the Military Police and tries to get a sip. Niccolo swiftly grabs it and demeans him as an Eldian, surprising the others there. Falco pretends to be sick so he and Gabi have an excuse to leave their dinner. They find Niccolo in the basement and reveal their true identities.
Surprised, Niccolo asks why they are here and Gabi excitedly proclaims that they smuggled aboard the airship the Survey Corps used in the Raid on Liberio. Putting together who they are, Niccolo asks if they have killed anyone, perhaps a female soldier and Gabi victoriously claims that she brought her down. Horrified that the killer of Sasha is in front of him, Niccolo swings a wine bottle at Gabi, which strikes Falco in the head as he tries to protect her. He punches Gabi and brings them to the dining room, revealing to the stunned Blouse family who they are. Niccolo offers the knife to Mr. Blouse asking him to avenge his daughter and if he would not do so, Niccolo would himself.
The Survey Corps hears the commotion and rushes in. They are surprised to see the girl who shot Sasha and plead with Niccolo to stop where he is. Overwhelmed with grief, Niccolo holds a knife to Falco's neck and threatens to kill him. This infuriates Gabi who implores Niccolo to come back to his senses and not lose to the island devils. Just then, Mr. Blouse requests Niccolo to hand over the knife which he then passes over to his wife, who compels Niccolo to let go of Falco. Mr. Blouse says that Sasha grew up as a hunter in the forests and he was responsible for sending her outside of the forest to become a soldier. However, he eventually realized that the whole world was a larger forest and Sasha had ventured too far into it, which led to her inevitably losing her life in a foreign land. He decided to spare Gabi's life as a way to stop the cycle of violence which led to the loss of his daughter.
Niccolo lets go of Falco and slouches as he is held by Jean and Connie. Gabi is stunned to see that they harbor no ill feelings toward her. As Mikasa attends to her injuries, Kaya attempts to attack Gabi, but is stopped by Mikasa. Niccolo slumps over and, admitting it may be too late, he asks Hange to wash out Falco's mouth with water. When asked why, Niccolo reveals that all the wine in the bottles has probably been infused with Zeke's spinal fluid.
Characters in order of appearance
- The chapter title could be a reference to the "Children of the Forest" from the American television series Game of Thrones, a series that Hajime Isayama is known to be a big fan of.