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Southwestward

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Quote1 But Krista... don't worry. I'm here entirely for my own sake. Quote2
— Ymir states her intentions to Krista

Southwestward (南西へ Nansei e?) is the 3rd chapter of the 9th volume and the 37th chapter overall of the Attack on Titan manga, written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama.

Overview

In a horse pulled cart, Hange Zoë is seen fiddling with a rock and when Armin asks what they will do next and why they are bringing Minister Nick with them. Hange explains that the Church of the Walls has known secrets about the Wall but hid them, making Eren get angry at him. Levi then questions why Hange is playing with a rock, and she reveals it is a piece of Annie Leonhart's hardened skin that did not disappear. Hange theorizes that it is what the Walls are made of and if Eren can harden his Titan over Wall Maria, they may be able to take it back. Armin suggests a night operation while the Titans are dormant. Once at Ehrmich District, Nick sees the sad faces of the civilians and Levi lectures him about not telling his secrets. Nick later says that there is a girl going under a false name in the 104th Training Corps who might choose to talk to them. Eren, Armin, and Mikasa run to find her. Earlier, Krista and Ymir are patrolling with Nanaba. When she refuses to let the two leave due to danger, Krista questions Ymir on her reasoning for join the military only to be told that it is for Ymir's sake alone. Later, Connie's squad arrives at his home town, only to see a Titan laying in the wreckage of his house. The squad then sees a Titan tiny arms and legs and wonder how it got there in the first place.

Summary

Sixteen hours after the Titans were spotted, sitting in a cart together with several other people including Eren, Mikasa and Armin, Hange plays with a rock in her hand. Armin suddenly speaks up, wondering what they should do now that Wall Rose has been breached and asks why they are bringing along Minister Nick.

Hange then reveals that Nick had previous knowledge about the Titans in the Wall but chose to keep it a secret, prompting Eren to get angry at the minister. Levi then states that even though Nick may be capable of preserving
Levi holds Priest Nick at gun point

Levi holds Nick at gun point

this secret he is not so sure about the other believers, he goes on to say that even though he is hurt he is capable of watching over one person and that he would rather avoid hurting the minister. He then notes that Hange is playing with a rock and states that he did not know she had such a dreary hobby.

Hange claims that it is not a rock, but rather a fragment of the Female Titan's hardened skin. When Armin notes that it has not disappeared, Hange explains that she was also surprised by it remaining after Annie left her Titan form, and therefore she decided to make a closer investigation. Hange compared it with a fragment of the Wall and came to the realization that the two are very similar, leading her to conclude that the Walls are built around Titans using their ability to harden their skin. This opens for a possibility of sealing breaches in the Wall using Eren's Titan abilities.

The group speculates on employing this strategy to recover Wall Maria, eventually Armin suggests going to Shiganshina District at night to repair the Wall. Even with this new hope, there are still doubts regarding whether or not Eren will be capable of using his abilities to this extent, but Eren assures that he will be able to do so.

When they arrive at Ehrmich District, Nick is shocked when he sees all the refugees gathered in the city. Levi lectures Nick on the true gravity of the situation, and the reality of what they are facing. Levi and Hange press Nick to tell them more, but he still refuses to divulge any further information. He does however reveal that there is someone who can provide them with more information, a former member of the 104th Training Corps who has joined the Survey Corps and is going under a false name. Eren immediately wants to go to the battlefield and find the girl, but Hange says that she still does not know the names of all the new recruits. They try to describe her to Hange, eventually saying that she is the girl who is always with Ymir, much to the surprise of Hange and Levi who recognize the name Ymir from Ilse Langnar's notebook.

A few hours earlier, Krista and Ymir are patrolling Wall Rose along with Nanaba and Henning. Ymir asks Nanaba and Krista to return because they do not have any vertical maneuvering equipment. Nanaba refuses her request, saying that they need someone to help them relay messages. Krista then confronts Ymir about if she joined
Connie encounters a Titan

Connie encounters a Titan

the Survey Corps for her sake, Krista goes on to say that Ymir should have been in the top ten instead of her and asks her if her attempts to protect her has anything to do with her family. Ymir confirms this, but states that she is there entirely for her own sake.

Nine hours after the first Titan sighting inside Wall Rose, Connie's squad arrives at his hometown. Connie rushes into the village first despite the others' protests, only to find that the village is destroyed. Distraught, Connie shouts out that he has come back home and starts running through the village, looking for anyone still alive. He soon comes across what is left of his family's house, with a Titan lying in it.

Reiner pulls him back from the house and the other members of the squad advance on the Titan, but they quickly realize that the Titan's frail limbs would be incapable of supporting the large body and that the Titan is in a position that makes it unable to move, leaving the group puzzled as to how it got there.

Characters in Order of Appearance

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