The Hōrai Arc (ほうらい編 Hōrai-hen?) is the third arc of Jigokuraku.

The arc focuses on the alliance of the surviving criminals and executioners invading Hōrai to retrieve the Elixir of Life and escape the island. However, Lord Tensen anticipates their arrival and prepares to offer them as sacrifices to their master while Rien, the leader of Lord Tensen, prepares to depart to Japan with the perfected Elixir of Life and create more of the elixir from Japan's populace. Chaos soon erupts with the arrival of the second landing party and one of the members of Lord Tensen, Zhu Jin, resorting to assimilating themselves with the Banko.

Summary[edit | edit source]

Infiltrating Hōrai[edit | edit source]

Fuchi presents the information Mei relayed to him regarding the palace's layout and the under-sea monsters surrounding the island. According to Mei, the place has a floodgate containing large number of ships that they can use to avoid the under-sea monsters and the Tan is located within Rien's laboratory but is warned that the palace's layout is constantly changing. Knowing that they will soon enter enemy territory, Shion pulls Gabimaru and Yuzuriha over to have them instruct the group in the ways of espionage and how to use Tao. Yuzuriha starts off by giving her lesson on how to hide their presence by using Tao, while Gabimaru instructs them in how to use Tao in battle. Once the lessons were over, the group separates into two teams: the Elixir Retrieval Team and the Escape Route Securing Team. After the teams were formed, Gantetsusai recommends that Mei not wait for the Elixir Team and have her escape alone. Gabimaru feels that Mei wanted to do something before leaving the island and asks her if that was true. Mei answers that she wishes to see Rien and Xu Fu to ask them why they underwent a major change in behavior in the past and then leave the island to live a normal life. Having said that, Gabimaru promises her that he will make it happen.

The Elixir Team infiltrates the palace.

In Hōrai, Chōbē joins Lord Tensen in a ritual and gets into conflict with Ju Fa. Rien breaks up their squabble and has Chōbē follow him to his laboratory to show him the Banko, a large Waitanhua flower meant to harvest more Tan, and explains that with Chōbē's Tao he will be able to help the Banko create the perfect Tan he seeks. Chōbē begins to terrifyingly ask himself why Lord Tensen needed to create more Tan and worries that Tōma might get involved with their plans. Rien then brings out his dissection tools and asks Chōbē which part of his body he should extract first. Meanwhile, Gabimaru, Yuzuriha, Sagiri, and Mei manage to sneak their way into the palace and signals the others that it was okay to enter.

While during their planning stages, the group learns from Mei that the palace houses six temples based on the Five Training Methods of Immortality for each member of Lord Tensen, with the Tan elixir located at Rien's laboratory known as the Rentan Temple. She explains that Rien will be in the room where Xu Fu is located since the Waitanhua flower drops at night, making it easy for them to avoid a sudden encounter. As planned, the Elixir Team uses their Tao to get a feel of the layout inside the castle and eliminates the Dōshi guards by suppressing their presence. Once they manage to enter the room, Gabimaru senses the Tao of the layout and sees that there is no one inside, however, he starts to see Tao being gathered in one spot and is revealed to be Ran who was concealing his Tao. Ran reveals that Lord Tensen have been expecting the survivors arrival to the palace after Chōbē's earlier warning and have ambushed them in their respective temples to complete the Rite of Just Consumption, a ritual where they capture the Tao of the humans to sacrifice them to Xu Fu. Ran then tries to convince Mei to join back with Lord Tensen after revealing that Rien has finally completed the Elixir of Life, much to Gabimaru's shock. Mei tells Ran that she is different from the other Tensens and that she has come with the purpose of saying goodbye to them before leaving the island. With their plan of not encountering Lord Tensen failed, the survivors move towards their second strategy of engaging in battle with them.

Battle in the Dō'in Temple[edit | edit source]

Gabimaru and Yuzuriha fights Ran.

Due to the Tao attribute matchup, Gabimaru sees that his Fire Tao will not be able to deal any damage to Ran's Water Tao, however, since Yuzuriha possesses Earth Tao, he orders her to stay and help him fight Ran while Sagiri and Mei search for the elixir, much to the kunoichi's disapproval. After looking at the room, Mei warns Gabimaru that they are not in the Rentan Temple. Ran reveals to them that, before they made their arrival, he reconstructed the palace by controlling the inorganic Tao and says that they are in the Dō'in Temple, which is his domain. Ran then creates spike from the ground to trap Mei's foot. Gabimaru fights Ran, despite his attacks not having any effect, to create an opening for Yuzuriha to throw her Tao-imbued kunai. However, Ran sees through their strategy and has the kunai bounce off his body, revealing that his body is covered in a layer of Tao Armor. After another ineffective assault towards Ran, Gabimaru tells Yuzuriha that it was time to start their next strategy. Ran takes note of what Gabimaru said but senses that nothing has changed in his Tao as he runs at him, however, Gabimaru manages to land an effective blow to Ran.

Ran transforms into his Kishikai state.

Gabimaru sees that his first step in using Lord Tensen's Tao against themselves went all according to his plan earlier, as Ran starts to bleed from his mouth, and says that he is ready to move on to the next step. The fight continues with Gabimaru gaining the upper hand by continuing to redirect Ran's Tao, causing damage to the Tensen's body, however Gabimaru's endurance starts to weaken and decides to hold off using the next step to his strategy. Ran becomes impressed with Gabimaru's achievement in Tao, saying that he possesses sheer talent, but is reprimanded by the ninja who argues that everything that has been happening so far was the result of the humans attempts to defeat Lord Tensen and says that it was an insult to him to see his efforts as "talent". Sagiri manages to help Mei escape from her bindings and yells out to Gabimaru that they will be advancing to the Rentan Temple. Ran attempts to stop them but is thwarted by Gabimaru and Yuzuriha who cuts his body in half. Seeing as how he can no longer take them lightly, Ran transforms into his Kishikai state.

While sitting in the ritual circle, Rien reviews the strengths and weaknesses of the humans and believes that the Tensens will gain victory over them. He then presents the completed Elixir of Life to Xu Fu and tells him that they are ready to move forward with their plan. Meanwhile, while continuing their journey on foot, the Iwa shinobi find and present to the Asaemon evidence of Yamada Asaemon Tensa's and Yamada Asaemon Genji's deaths. Isuzu becomes heartbroken after finding out that her brother has died while Shugen becomes furious and decides to use the Horse Flute, that was previously used by the Dōshi, to summon the Mōnshin from their nest. Once the monsters were out, Shugen commands them to quickly carry him and the Asaemon to Hōrai.

Gabimaru recalls his conversation with Yuzuriha in using his Tao to increase the power to her Tao-imbued weapons without having to resort to using redirection, however, he notes that there is a problem to this strategy. He then sees Ran about to throw a punch at him and readies himself to redirect the Tao. However, Gabimaru and Yuzuriha are blown away by a large air strike and are overwhelm by Ran's massive strength, resulting in them taking heavy damage. Sagiri and Mei stops their pursuit after hearing the rumbling coming from the Dō'in Temple. Sagiri assures Mei that Gabimaru will be okay since he has another plan. Despite this assurance, Mei still worries after recalling what Gabimaru's plan meant.

Gabimaru revives himself by injecting his body with Plant Tao.

Due to them being outmatched and receiving too much damage from Ran, Yuzuriha grabs Gabimaru and attempts to retreat. However, Ran catches up to them and attacks. Gabimaru manages to block the attack on time but has his left shoulder split after Ran forces his hand down and is thrown towards a pillar. After he falls to the ground, Gabimaru holds in his hand one of Mu Dan's Kishikai plant stingers that he took before his arrival to the palace and pricks himself with it. Having done this, Gabimaru succeeds in his second plan of gaining regenerative abilities from Plant Tao, similar to Chōbē's, and stands back up with his body fully healed. Although his body is more stronger, Gabimaru notes to himself that he has to take caution of Ran's Tao since it can weaken his regeneration but sees that the Tensen's Tao is being used up the more he fights. Yuzuriha says that she is surprise by Gabimaru for sacrificing his humanity all to see his wife who she thinks may or may not exist but is told by him that it is sometimes best for a person to rely on their emotions rather than logic. After hearing his conviction, Yuzuriha stands back up to fight alongside Gabimaru again.

Yuzuriha kills Ran.

Despite being outmatched, Gabimaru tells Yuzuriha that she needs to be the one to make the final blow to Ran because of her Earth Tao. He then sets himself on fire and burns a piece of wood. Gabimaru first throws fire projectiles at Ran, to explode in front him as a distraction, and comes in below to use Ninpō: Fire Bridge but is extinguish by a swift kick. Yuzuriha trips Ran with her mucus string and gives an opening for Gabimaru to make another attack with his ninjutsu but to no effect. The two shinobi then spend the duration of the battle unleashing a barrage of ninjutsu towards Ran but are deflected, however, Ran's Kishikai body starts to fall apart. Gabimaru reveals that their plan was to have Ran use up all of his power by first robbing him of his sense of timing, using Gabimaru's Ninpō: Demon Firefly to overstimulate him earlier, and buy enough time for the transformation to end (using the piece of wood Gabimaru set on fire earlier as a timer). As they come in to attack, Yuzuriha starts to suffer from her injuries but endures until she can make the finishing attack. Ran, in his weakened state, says that he is confident that Yuzuriha will not make the last attack since the little Tao she has left in her body will cost her her life. Despite this, Yuzuriha says that she is willing to make this sacrifice and channels her remaining Tao to her kunai. After recovering a bit of his power, Ran tries to defend himself by creating spikes from the ground. Gabimaru helps Yuzuriha avoid them by lifting her in the air. She then jumps down to come in and strike Ran's tanden, bringing the battle to its conclusion. As he starts to crumble away, Ran expresses how disappointed he is with the outcome of his fight and that he has failed Rien.

After the battle ends, Gabimaru is reminded by Yuzuriha that the Arborification will eventually take over his body and will die but tells her that he had no choice. Gabimaru suggests that meet up with Sagiri and Mei, however, Yuzuriha tells Gabimaru to go on ahead without her since she needed to rest for a while. Before agreeing to leave, Gabimaru sincerely says thank you to Yuzuriha for saving his life when they encountered each other on the island and runs off. After being left alone, Yuzuriha unbuttons her dress and removes the layer of mucus she had on, revealing multiple scars all over her body. Before she passes out, Yuzuriha thinks back to her deceased little sister, Saya, and apologizes to her that her life is about to come to an end.

As he makes his way to the Rentan Temple, Gabimaru recalls the plan to meet up with everyone to the floodgates and have at least five survivors to operate one of the ships. Gabimaru then starts to feel the vines spreading through his body and falls unconscious.

Battle in the Bōchū Jutsu Temple[edit | edit source]

Chōbē betrays Ju Fa and Tao Fa with Tōma's help.

Earlier, in the Bōchū Jutsu Temple, Gantetsusai, Fuchi, and Tōma are confronted by Ju Fa and Tao Fa. Chōbē then comes out from the shadows to convince Tōma to join his side with Lord Tensen. Tōma is shocked to see Chōbē with the Tensens and wonders if he has a reason for his decision to join them. Gantetsusai and Fuchi allow Tōma to join by his brother's side. As Tōma walks up the stairs, he and Chōbē smile and attack Ju Fa and Tao Fa. Chōbē says to Tōma that he was slow but Tōma objects to this comment, saying that he knew that Chōbē was lying about having them ally with Lord Tensen due to his braid being undone. Chōbē corrects him, telling him that he was referring to his movements, although he adds that they have rather improved. Chōbē tells Gantetsusai and Fuchi that he is grateful that they looked after Tōma while he was gone and have them fight Tao Fa as thanks. Tao Fa regenerates from her injuries and expresses her disappointment that Chōbē betrayed them. Gantetsusai brings out his sword and says that he is willing to "take away the pain", only for Tao Fa to reply that he was not her type.

Chōbē and Tōma fighting Ju Fa for the second time.

Ju Fa recovers and becomes furious with Chōbē for his betrayal and for attacking Tao Fa. The Aza brothers then engage in battle with Ju Fa. Ju Fa sees that the brothers have improved greatly since their first confrontation, causing him to struggle and becomes disgusted with their teamwork. Having become frustrated enough, Ju Fa decides to forget about capturing them for the ritual and makes the attempt to kill Chōbē and Tōma.

While down at the first floor, Tao Fa makes her first attack towards Gantetsusai and sends him flying towards a pillar. She then looks towards Fuchi, who she finds cute, and asks if he wanted to engage in Bōchū Jutsu with her. Fuchi chops off her hand and declines her advances, whilst adding that he only had interest in examining her organs, much to Tao Fa's delight. After leaving a first impression on him, Gantetsusai gets back up badly injured wanting to fight Tao Fa again.

Gantetsusai and Fuchi fighting Tao Fa.

With the help of her Tao abilities, Tao Fa easily fights back against Gantetsusai and Fuchi. Fuchi tells Gantetsusai that they need to formulate a strategy to counter against Tao Fa's Tao ability, only to have Gantetsusai become frustrated with the concept of Tao and goes in to attack Tao Fa once again. Tao Fa tells Gantetsusai that it is a pointless struggle to try and fight her if he can not use Tao and says that it would be better for them to allow themselves to be captured and turn into Tan. Gantetsusai objects to this and makes a comment on how she is having fun turning humans into Tan. Having heard this, Tao Fa loses her smile and expresses her sorrow on how Lord Tensen have failed, for the past 1,000 years, in trying to gain immortal bodies through humans, saying that what they are doing is not "fun". Gantetsusai and Fuchi fall to the ground, having taken direct hits to Tao Fa's Tao projectiles, but stand back up with excited after thinking about their own ambitions. Tao Fa sees them running towards her and launches a Tao projectile at Gantetsusai. However, Gantetsusai dodges after feeling a "sensation", much to Tao Fa's surprise, and manages to split open Tao Fa's head with his sword.

Gantetsusai believes that he has gained the ability to sense Tao, however, Tao Fa denies this claim by sending him back with another Tao attack. Fuchi tries his hand at attacking Tao Fa and asks Gantetsusai to observe in hoping that he reawakens the Tao sensation. Tao Fa grabs Fuchi by the throat to send out a barrage of her invisible Tao projectiles, resulting in him taking major damage. Tao Fa says that she found it sweet that Fuchi was willing to get injured in order to help out his friend. Fuchi tells Tao Fa that Gantetsusai was not his friend and recalls the conversation he had with him and Nurugai, explaining to them that although he does not seem Gantetsusai as his "friend" he hopes that everyone escapes the island alive. Tao Fa readies a set of Tao projectiles to attack Fuchi. Although he is unable to sense the Tao projectiles, Gantetsusai could tell that Fuchi was in danger. After remembering Shion's words about him not being able to sense Tao due to relying too much on his eyes, Gantetsusai completely blinds himself by ripping out his left eye while having his right eye covered in blood. Gantetsusai finally becomes able to sense Tao again and grabs Fuchi out of the way of Tao Fa's attack.

Ju Fa and Tao Fa transform into their Kishikai.

As he dodges Tao Fa's Tao attacks, Gantetsusai remembers his former master's wise words to him about letting go some of his strength in order to see things more clearly. Fuchi sees that although Gantetsusai is now able to perceive Tao he will not be able to harm Tao Fa without his help to hinder her Tao. He then comes up with the idea of grabbing Tao Fa from behind to weaken her while Gantetsusai makes the cut to her tanden. Having remembered his master's past words to him, Gantetsusai uses the Tao sensation to not harm Fuchi as he makes the cut to Tao Fa's tanden. After her tanden is destroyed, Tao Fa calls out to Ju Fa. Ju Fa senses that Tao Fa is in danger. Knowing that Ju Fa can not be defeated without a Water Tao user, Chōbē prepares to enter his transformation but is quickly stopped by Tōma. At the first floor, Tao Fa transforms to reach out to Ju Fa to merge their bodies together. While having memories of their past, Ju Fa and Tao Fa transform into their Kishikai.

Chōbē and Tōma team up with Gantetsusai and Fuchi to fight the monster.

The monster releases a loud shriek to cause pain to their enemies eardrums and flies up in the air to release multiple spores to affect them with uncontrollable laughter. Chōbē enters his transformation and jumps up in the air to attack. Chōbē cuts the side where Tao Fa is, causing it to feel pain due to his Metal Tao hindering Tao Fa's Wood Tao. However, Chōbē is attacked by vines released by the monster and is thrashed around the outside area. Chōbē is sent back inside the temple where he is insulted by Gantetsusai while his brother worries for him. Fuchi calms them down and explains that the monster can only be taken done if they work together. Gantetsusai and Chōbē refuse to work with each other at first but is convinced by Fuchi that their main enemy at the moment is the monster and agree to cooperate.

Chōbē shields the others from the monster's vine attacks. With Gantetsusai and Fuchi not being able to manifest Tao and Tōma's Tao not being to cause any harm to it, Chōbē sees that he is the only one that will be able to take down the monster. Tōma protects Chōbē from a sudden vine attack and grabs Fuchi's hand to strengthen his Metal Tao. Fuchi comes in to strike Tao Fa, while Gantetsusai attempts to attack as well but misses after the monster creates some distance up in the air. They then see the monster change its body to its defensive form. Seeing as how they need to destroy the monster's two tandens, Chōbē tells Gantetsusai that he will work with him to kill Ju Fa while Tōma and Fuchi aim towards killing Tao Fa with the strategy they used before.

Chōbē, Tōma, Gantetsusai, and Fuchi defeat Ju Fa and Tao Fa.

The monster takes on the combined efforts of the four humans. Despite receiving multiple injuries to his body by the monster's vines, Gantetsusai continues to press on to give Fuchi and Tōma an opening to attack. Tōma then comes in to protect Fuchi from the monster's spores. Chōbē sees that they are barley holding up against the monster but knows that they only have one last chance at victory. Gantetsusai manages to get under the monster by jumping into the pool and slices it in two with an air slash, giving Fuchi and Chōbē the opportunity to destroy Ju Fa and Tao Fa's tandens.

Ju Fa and Tao Fa emerge from the pool with their bodies damaged. Fuchi holds Tao Fa and tells them that they no longer have to fight anymore as they slowly die. Since he does not have the right Tao attribute to kill Ju Fa, Chōbē stabs his stomach and takes out two bottles of Water Tao he took from Rien's laboratory earlier that he planned to use against his rematch with Gabimaru. He then pours it on Ju Fa to have them slowly die. Gantetsusai comes in to cut Ju Fa down, stating that he wanted to be the one to defeat the Tensens but also remembers Tao Fa's griefful words. He then places down one of Tao Fa's peaches and thanks her for "the fun". While in the afterlife, the spirit of a young Tao Fa comforts the spirit of a young Ju Fa, telling him that she was happy that he was her partner.

Battle in the Taisoku Temple[edit | edit source]

Sagiri and Mei encounters Gui Fa in the Rentan Temple.

A bit earlier in the Rentan Temple, before the defeat of Ran, Ju Fa, and Tao, Sagiri and Mei encounters Gui Fa sitting in the Rite of Just Consumption circle and warns them that if they should take another step forward from their spot then they will use force. Gui Fa reveals that they knew Sagiri and Mei were coming with the help of the ritual circle. Sagiri grabs her sword after thinking that she could stop Lord Tensen from tracking the others movements if she were to disrupt the ritual. However, Sagiri is pulled down by Gui Fa's weighted Tao technique after noticing how she reached for her blade. Sagiri says that she has not come here to fight but rather to apologize on behave of the other humans for trespassing on Lord Tensen's territory and suggest that they end the conflict with one another by having the humans leave the island. Gui Fa accepts Sagiri's plea, however, Gui Fa warns her, by creating a Tao illusion, that it would be pointless for them to return to Japan since Rien plans to initiate his plan of releasing multiple Paradise Butterflies around the world to have them turn the human race into Waitanhua flowers. Once this has been accomplish, the humans will fuse together with the Banko in order for Rien to harvest more of the perfected Tan. After being released from the illusion, Sagiri becomes horrified with the eventual pandemic. Sagiri asks Gui Fa why Lord Tensen is willing to go to such lengths, to which Gui Fa explains that they feel nothing for humans and only view them as great material to create the elixir, while pointing out that all each side can do now is kill one another. Having said that, Gui Fa sees that Shion's talisman is slowly starting to fade away.

Shion fights Zhu Jin.

In the Taisoku Temple, Shion manages to cut Zhu Jin's body 215 times to slow down his regeneration, as per discussed in the group's planning stages, but reaches his limits. Zhu Jin creates some distance from Shion to recover but returns in a weakened state after losing too much Tao. The Tensen then manipulates their cut up remains and targets them towards Shion and Nurugai to buy time to recover completely, but sees that their scheme was not enough to fool Shion feared for their life after the Asaemon starts to express his grief and rage towards the Tensen for killing his student. As a desperate attempt, Zhu Jin manipulates Shion's broken sword to fly towards him. Shion manages to dodge the blade but gives Zhu Jin a split second opportunity to fall into the water behind them and emerge fully recovered in their Yin form. Zhu then partially transforms her body into her Kishikai and fights Shion and Nurugai once again. Shion tells Nurugai to stay back while he handles trying to kill Zhu Jin. He then comes in to strike Zhu Jin's tanden, disembody her, and places his sword to the Tensen's plant ovule. Shion is then assaulted by the vines protecting the ovule but continues to hold his blade down with little regards to his life.

Nurugai begs Shion to not go through with his plan since it will cost him his life but is told by him to leave so that he can correct his wrong doing of leaving Tensa to die. Nurugai becomes hesitant to leave him behind but is given no other option and makes her way out. As she continues to run outside, Nurugai sympathies with Shion, having not forgiven herself for causing the deaths of her people and wanting to die, but remembers Tensa's words to her that made her realize that she wants to live on. She then has a vision of Tensa picking up her sword and giving her the courage to go back to safe Shion.

Shion starts to feel his life slowly being eaten away as his body becomes wrapped in vines but realizes that his stab to the plant ovule has been proven effective. However, Nurugai grabs Shion away from his blade to remove the vines and embrace him to help recover his lost Tao. Shion tells Nurugai that he has to kill the Tensen in order to avenge Tensa but is told by Nurugai that they must leave since Tensa would not want them to risk their lives, explaining that she saw him smiling knowing that they escaped alive. Nurugai hugs Shion and asks that instead of seeking revenge she would like him to tell her more about Tensa after they escape the island. Having been touched by her words, Shion agrees to flee with Nurugai while leaving Zhu Jin to regenerate slowly.

All-Out War[edit | edit source]

The Mōnshin breach the walls.

In the Rite of Just Consumption circle, Gui Fa sees that all the Tensens have been defeated while Sagiri takes note of the talismans remaining intact, giving a possible indication that her allies have survived. With the ritual over, Gui Fa prepares to leave to report back to Rien with no intentions of fighting Sagiri or Mei. Before leaving, Sagiri asks Gui Fa if they wanted to avenge their comrades. Gui Fa explains that as a Tensen they harbor no bonds with the others and says that Mei was no exception but asks her why she chose to return to Hōrai. Mei answers that she finally came to understand life after remembering being cared for by Hōko. Upon hearing this, Gui Fa says that they are envious of Mei. The palace then unexpectedly starts to shake, to which Gui Fa says that it was a bad sign. Outside, the tremors are revealed to have been done by the Mōnshin horde commanded by Shugen to breach the walls.

A three-way conflict breaking out in Hōrai.

After the conclusions of each battle with the Tensens, the surviving criminals and executioners are suddenly confronted by Iwagakure shinobi from the second landing party who were ordered by Yamada Asaemon Shugen to eliminate the criminals while sparing the Yamada Asaemon. As matters start to get worse, an army of Dōshi targets both teams as ordered by Rien at the floodgates. Hōrai then turns into a war zone with each side fighting against one another. While at the floodgates, Rien orders Gui Fa to enter the Main Temple Annex to protect the Basin. Shortly after, he is confronted by Shija who orders the ninja to destroy the ships except for one.

In the Rentan Temple, Sagiri protects Mei from the Iwa shinobi and the Dōshi. Two Dōshi then charge in to attack the two females but are hung by a liquid string created by Yuzuriha, much to Sagiri and Mei's happiness in knowing that she is alive. After hearing about the events going on outside from Yuzuriha, Sagiri wonders if it's possible to persuade the Iwagakure ninja to join their side, only to be told by Yuzuriha that it would not be possible since they are out to hunt the convicts. Isuzu then appears and becomes glad to see that Sagiri is okay but changes her mood after Sagiri explains to her why the Yamada Asaemon needed to ally with the criminals. Isuzu tries to persuade Sagiri that Yuzuriha is their enemy by reading out loud her past crimes from a book she pulls out and asks that she join her side. Meanwhile, Kiyomaru confronts Shion and Nurugai while Jikka confronts Chōbē and Tōma (who separated from Gantetsusai and Fuchi for the time being in order to find an escape route) and both take the time to read their crimes.

Shugen slashes Fuchi.

Gantetsusai and Fuchi are confronted by Shugen who demands that Fuchi tell him why his criminal's hands were not tied. Fuchi explains to Shugen that the Yamada Asaemon needed help from the criminals to escape the island. Shugen understands where Fuchi was coming from but tells him that he no longer has to be by Gantetsusai's side since he is here and ask that he execute him. Fuchi refuses by explaining that they need to mainly focus on finding a way to escape the island while worrying about other matters later. Upon noticing Fuchi's tsuba missing from his sword and being used as Gantetsusai's eyepatch, Shugen becomes furious with him for mistreating his Yamada Asaemon soul. Gantetsusai clashes swords with Shugen but is unable to hold his own against Shugen's ability to imitate the skills of the other Yamada Asaemon. Fuchi intervenes by blocking Shugen's next attack and tells him that he is prepared to defy him since he no longer wants to see anybody else die. Having heard these words, Shugen is reminded how Fuchi always had a caring side for others and ceases his assault, saying that he has not changed since the day they met. However, knowing that he fights to keep balance in the world, Shugen slashes through Fuchi's body and prepares himself to kill Gantetsusai.

Shija steals the Elixir of Life.

In the underground floodgate, Shija exploits Rien's vulnerability by ordering the ninja to target the ships containing the Paradise Butterflies and Xu Fu, leaving her open to allow them to grab the Elixir of Life from the Tensen. Rien becomes distraught as she tries to remotely kill the ninja passing the elixir to each other but sees that she has been deceived as she has been targeting Shija's cut off mask while the elixir is taken outside by another ninja, much to their satisfaction. The ninja then signals the second team that they have acquired the Elixir of Life.

Gabimaru faces off against a squad of Iwagakure shinobi.

Earlier, Gabimaru encounters Kinkakubō and Ginkakubō who try to disrupt his mentality by using the Transformation Jutsu to reshape their faces into the Iwagakure chief and Yui. However, Gabimaru states to them that he is not fooled by their attempt and comments on the flaws in their technique. The two then became obedient in providing him with information. Gabimaru wanted to know the real reason behind Iwagakure's involvement with the mission but is told by Kinkakubō that what the chief is planning is unknown to them. After hearing the signal that the elixir has been captured, the two move towards their plan to kill Gabimaru by asking that he consume Ginkakubō's toxic saliva but is told that he refuses and that they are his enemies if they attempt to halt his escape. Kinkakubō tells Gabimaru that it would be pointless for him to return back to the mainland since his wife does not exist but sees that he is not convinced. The shinobi move towards using the genin to attack Gabimaru but are easily defeated. He then uses his time to get a good idea of the situation that is occurring in Hōrai by using his Tao sensory ability. Gabimaru detects that Shija is located at the floodgates, Sagiri is safe for the time being, and that Fuchi has unfortunately fallen. Gabimaru makes his way to the Rentan Temple to meet back with Sagiri with no intention of helping out the others and plans to steal the elixir from the ninja squad and escape through the floodgates.

Dire Straits[edit | edit source]

Zhu Jin fuses with the Banko.

Meanwhile, having been left alive by Shion, the head of Zhu Jin travels along the underground water current to reach the Main Temple. After arriving at the temple, Zhu Jin crawls towards the Banko and merges with it, resulting in them bursting out of the temple as a giant plant monster. The Plant Tao users, including the Tensens, then start to resonate with the Zhu Jin-fused Banko out in the open, causing them to sprout flowers from their bodies. At the same time, the Dōshi turn back to their former human forms but are soon turned into trees after the Zhu Jin-fused Banko infects them with Tan. A horde of giant Buddha-like flower monsters then emerge from the dust and confront the Iwagakure shinobi who start to go into bloom from the atmosphere.

Shugen notices that Fuchi and Gantetsusai's bodies are mysteriously covered in flowers and is approached by Iwagakure shinobi from the floodgates. They inform him that Shija has been killed by Rien and is about to leave off to the mainland in a burning ship and presents him the Elixir of Life that they managed to retrieve. Shugen decides to depart to the floodgates and orders the shinobi to confirm Gantetsusai's death and to bring Fuchi to him if he is still alive. One of the shinobi then reconstructs their face and reveals themselves to be Shija alive, having substituted their body with another shinobi during their battle with Rien. Rather than follow Shugen's orders, Shija throws two kunai at the flower bed to have both of them killed and tells the shinobi to follow Shugen while they go look for Gabimaru. Shija looks at the situation unfolding and becomes delighted to know that they will eventually go up against Gabimaru in a death match.

Gantetsusai holds Fuchi's dead body in his arms.

Fuchi wakes up conscious and sees that Gantetsusai is barley alive. He starts to suffer from his wound from Shugen but tries to focus on treating Gantetsusai's injuries. As he does this, Fuchi sees an apparition of himself who tells him that his newfound ideals will not help him in the era he is living and that treating a convict will put the Yamada clan's reputation at risk. Fuchi understands what his other self is telling him but says that what he has learned since coming to the island will matter and wishes that he could share this knowledge with Shugen. Shortly after, Gantetsusai wakes up with his wounds healed and sees Fuchi lying dead in front of him. Fuchi hears Gantetsusai cry out to him and becomes delighted that he heard him call him by his name for the first time but knows that he does not have any strength to respond back. Gantetsusai becomes furious with what has happened to his comrade and carries Fuchi in his arms. In his last thoughts, Fuchi warns Shugen that he should not underestimate the survivors since he has observed their strong will to survive and wishes luck to both his enemies and allies as he accept his fate.

Shugen manages to enter the Main Temple and arrives at the floodgates where Rien is almost about to escape. While Sagiri, Yuzuriha, and Isuzu fight off the monsters approaching them, Mei starts to suffer from the effects of Zhu Jin disrupting her Tao. Sagiri and Yuzuriha try to persuade Isuzu into cooperating with the criminals, however, Gantetsusai arrives and boldly states that they do no need to join forces after revealing what happened to Fuchi. After giving him a proper burial, Gantetsusai vents out his anger to Isuzu and refuses to cooperate with her. Isuzu agrees in not joining forces due to her confidence in Shugen's abilities to complete the mission and intends to commit seppuku for the death of her comrades. However, Jikka arrives along with Tōma, Chōbē, Kiyomaru, Shion, Nurugai, and the Iwagakure shinobi to tell Isuzu that one person will not be enough to handle everything and vouches that they need everyone's cooperation in order to return home. He also tells them that he has developed a plan that can take down the Banko and might also have a way for the criminals to earn their freedom but says that they especially need the help of Gabimaru to do so.

The two landing parties join forces to destroy the Banko's tandens.

Chōbē and Mei warns them that in order to take down the Banko they need to destroy its five tandens scattered around the area before morning or else everyone will undergo Arborification from breathing in its Tan particles in the air. The group then comes under attack by the monsters but are incinerated by Gabimaru who is shown to be suffering from Zhu Jin's influence similar to Chōbē. With Gabimaru in a worst state, Jikka sees that he has to change his plans. Despite hearing from Shion that everyone is suffering from lose of stamina, Chōbē says that they have no other option but to push forward and asks Gabimaru if he had anything to lose after seeing his condition. Gabimaru answers yes after remembering his wife. Shion also takes note of how he can not afford to lose Nurugai. Though she promised to not work with the criminals, Isuzu says that she will force herself to put off Shugen's orders in the meantime. The group then prepares to plan out their strategy after having everyone onboard. Seeing as how Gabimaru is suffering, the Iwagakure shinobi take the opportunity to make an attempt to kill him by throwing kunai but are deflected by Jikka who anticipated their attack. After becoming well equipped with the items they took from the shinobi, everyone pairs up with an attacker and booster based on the Tao restorative cycle and sets off to destroy the tandens.

The five teams reach their designated tandens and prepare to destroy them simultaneously at the sound of the conch by Yuzuriha. However, Zhu Jin soon becomes aware of their interference with them trying to gather enough Tao for the Rite of Just Consumption ritual and creates clones of Lord Tensen from the tandens to stop them.

Gabimaru vs. Gabimaru[edit | edit source]

The two Gabimaru's clash.

After arriving at the Banko's Metal tanden, Gabimaru and Sagiri find themselves confronted by Shija who is excited to reunite with Gabimaru. Gabimaru knows that Shija is on a mission to kill him but tries to avoid fighting, since he is not in the proper condition to, and tries his hand at requesting their help. Shija happily agrees to support him but says that they will help by bringing out his true fighting capabilities in a battle to the death. Seeing as how he has no other options after Shija made up their mind, Gabimaru engages in an intense hand-to-hand combat fight against his successor. After ending the fight with a clash of their own Ninpō: Fire Monk, Gabimaru strategizes that close combat may be the only way for him to defeat Shija. However, Shija tells Gabimaru that they are able to precisely predict what he is thinking and his actions after spending years observing him, though Gabimaru also tells them that they can do the same with Tao. He then allows himself to be sent back with a kick from Shija in an attempt to destroy the Banko's tanden but only manages to destroy the statue beneath it. Upon closer inspection, Shija sees that Gabimaru obtained a body similar to the Dōshi they learned about and is suffering from weaken regeneration. After reminding themselves that one of the ways for him to recover is a Tao Restoration, Shija realizes that Sagiri is with Gabimaru for this particular reason and angrily targets her. Sagiri stands her ground against Shija but is unable to react on time to their speed and is taken down. However, she manages to have them back away by using a shinobi drug. After being asked why she is choosing to help Gabimaru despite their job of being only a monitor, Sagiri says that she has come to understand that it is possible to sympathize with others even if they are Iwagakure or the Tensens.

Gabimaru becomes restored after receiving confirmation of Yui's existence.

Shija restrains Sagiri and holds her to her statement of wishing to understand others by giving her the drug she tried to use on them earlier, explaining that the intense effects of the drug was used to reduce the number of children in Iwagakure that could not endure the training, and expresses their passion for wanting death. Shija then asks Gabimaru why he would want to cling to life. Gabimaru answers that he desires a normal life with his wife and refuses to believe in Shija's words that she does not exist. Shija tries to get through to Gabimaru by revealing that his relationship with Yui has been a lie, explaining that Yui has been faking her emotions to mask the murders committed. With this said, Gabimaru stands back up after Shija confirmed to him that Yui is real, resulting in his body healing after having his Tao stabilized from his strengthen emotions. Gabimaru tells Shija that he is ready to look for a normal life with Yui and will not allow them to stand in his way.

Gabimaru finishes off Shija.

The two clash once again but with Shija taking damage after noticing that Gabimaru is able to fight at full strength. Shija then throws out everything that was taught to them by Gabimaru and uses Fire Monk to come in and strike Gabimaru near his heart. Gabimaru praises Shija for their attack, saying that it would have killed him if he was still human, but also adds that he is not ready to die so he can make it back home. As a final attack, Gabimaru holds on to Shija and uses Ninpō: Fire Monk Maximum Fire Power to finish them off. Remembering the first time they developed feelings for Gabimaru, Shija chooses to help Gabimaru by using the last bit of strength to create a whistle from their hair to signal the Iwagakure shinobi to kill each other as to not have them get in his way. They then tell him that Yui is indeed alive and is waiting for him while the Iwagakure chief has not done anything to harm her. Before succumbing to their wounds, Shija asks Gabimaru in a form of a marriage vow if he would fight them again if they were reborn, to which he answers yes with a smile. Shija becomes happy to hear his answer and thanks him and wishes him luck in his future battles to come. Gabimaru leaves Shija's side and comes back to Sagiri to continue with their mission on destroying the Banko's tanden.

Break Down, Come Apart[edit | edit source]

Jikka cuts down the Zhu Jin-fused Banko.

After the sounding of the next signal by Yuzuriha, the four teams prepare to destroy the tandens simultaneously. With the timing being right to destroy the main body, Jikka stands back up ready to take down the Banko. However, Gantetsusai believes that it may not be so easy after the Banko transforms as a result of receiving sunlight. After stripping down to his loincloth to focus on his concentration, Jikka uses his special intuition to avoid making any fatal mistakes and positions himself to a right location where all factors to take down the Zhu Jin-fused Banko have been met. Using Gantetsusai's sword, Jikka slashes the head of the monster from a distance, causing Gantetsusai to become astonished at what he just witnessed from the Asaemon. Gantetsusai then holds on to an infant clone of Zhu Jin and starts to understand Fuchi's kind action at the time where he allowed a Dōshi to roam free, leading to him stating that he does not desire to fight monsters any more and that he does not want to grow old. Jikka approaches the tanden of the main body and prepares to cut it. Before letting him, Gantetsusai warns Jikka that destroying it may affect Gabimaru and Chōbē sense their Tao are connected to it. Despite the warning, Jikka fully accepts the risk and proceeds to cut the tanden without hesitation. With all the tandens destroyed, the traces remaining of the Zhu Jin-fused Banko start to wither away. However, Jikka and Gantetsusai become shock to see that the beheaded body is still active. Going off of what Mei told them earlier, Gantetsusai tells Jikka that the monster's Plant Tao has been replenished due to it receiving morning sunlight and will have to try their hand again at destroying the tandens, though he questions if it was possible for everyone to get the timing right again.

The Zhu Jin-fused Banko being brought down once and for all.

At the Wood tanden, Chōbē sees the tanden starting to slowly regenerate and finds that it might not be possible to make another synchronize attempt after being low on power. Tōma yells out suggesting to Chōbē that their best option would be to leave behind their task of taking down the monster and finding a way off the island together so as to not make the same mistake of risking his life like their father. Despite his brother's desperate call, Chōbē finds that he is the only one that can end it all and uses his vines to reach the roots of the other tandens and destroy them in order to cut off the regeneration link to the main body. Chōbē's plan becomes successful and causes the Zhu Jin-fused Banko to be completely destroyed.

Chōbē falls after sacrificing himself to destroy the Zhu Jin-fused Banko.

After destroying the monster, Chōbē falls to the ground with his younger brother calling out to him. He holds on to Tōma's hands but is crumbled away and mutters the word "cursed". Chōbē then has memories of the time he held a baby Tōma in his arms in front of his parents and how they made him realize that he is now responsible for protecting him as his older brother. In the afterlife, Chōbē kneels down before his parents and begs for forgiveness for the sins he had committed in his life but becomes happy to know that he was a good older brother at least and runs to his parents with open arms as a child. As Tōma morns the passing of his older brother, while holding on to what seems like a plant ovule, Chōbē's spirit is held on to by a mysterious hand.

Chapters[edit | edit source]

Chapters
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