The arc focuses on the surviving criminals and executioners slowly learning about the history of the island, as well as unlocking the mysterious power known as Tao. Along the way, they encounter and battle against members of Lord Tensen, seven immortal beings who possess the Elixir of Life and rule over everything on the island. Meanwhile, the shogun becomes impatient with the first group attempting to acquire the elixir and dispatches another group consisting of four Asaemon and shinobi from Iwagakure.
Encountering Lord TensenEdit
Gabimaru senses someone watching them from behind and runs after them. He grabs their hood and pulls it down to see that it is a little girl. He then dodges an attack from a tree monster trying to protect the mysterious little girl. Gabimaru avoids another attack from the tree monster and tells the others that he going after the girl, hoping that she might know more about the island. Sagiri follows Gabimaru, knowing that it is still her duty to keep an eye on him, and leaves Yuzuriha and Senta to handle the tree monster. Not wanting him to see her abilities, Yuzuriha knocks off Senta's glasses and drinks a potion to activate her ninjutsu. Gabimaru catches up to the girl but is thrown aside by her, much to his shock by how strong she was. Sagiri then yells out to the girl that they do not intend to harm her. After stopping, the girl throws a punch towards Sagiri but is blocked by Gabimaru. He then notices that her attack feels a lot stronger and that she must be using some sort of power as he falls back bleeding from his mouth. Gabimaru becomes serious and restrains the girl with tree vines, demanding that she cooperate. The girl then starts to cry after becoming afraid of Gabimaru's sinister glare at her. Sagiri tells Gabimaru to let her down and calms her down. Yuzuriha then reunites with Gabimaru and Sagiri after defeating the tree monster. Gabimaru says that he wants to ask the girl about the Elixir of Life but is told by Sagiri that it would not be possible as long as she continues to cry. The tree monster then begins to talk and begs them to let the girl go. It then says that it will tell them what they know about the elixir and will guide them to the village.
At first the group doesn't trust the tree monster, believing that they might be led into a trap, but allows it to guide them to the village after it persuades Yuzuriha that the village has a bath. Sagiri still doesn't believe that they can trust it but is assured by Gabimaru that he will take down the monster if it tries anything. The monster hears him and tells Gabimaru that it will not turn on them. Senta then worries that the monsters and butterflies might come in to attack them but is told by the tree monster that the monsters, known as the Sōshin, will not approach the village and adds that it is not one of them. After arriving at the village and enter the tree man's house, the group talks to him about the Elixir of Life. He begins by telling them the island is known as Kotaku and that there is indeed an Elixir of Life that grants immortality, which is known as Tan on the island. He then maps out the three regions of Kotaku; Eishū, Hōjō, and Hōrai, and tells them the elixir is located in Hōrai, at the center of the island. After Gabimaru asks if he has any proof to what he is saying, the tree man says that they will not have any doubts once they eventually meet the immortal beings known as Lord Tensen, who warns them that they will meet their demise by their hands since they will not allow anyone to leave the island. At the same time, Chōbē and Tōma are quickly defeated by the mystery man and are dropped down a pit of bloomed humans.
Gabimaru and Yuzuriha point their weapons at the tree man thinking that he is their enemy based on what he just told them. The tree man assures them that he was only speaking the truth about those who come to the island and tells them that Tan is created from the "reborn" humans that Lord Tensen has dispose of. He then shows proof that the elixir exist by tearing off his arm and has it regenerate, much to their shock. Having saw this, Gabimaru points his sword towards the girl and asks if she has the ability but is then scolded by Sagiri and Yuzuriha for his rudeness.
Meanwhile, Tensa and Nurugai walk aimlessly on the beach to try to find a current off the island. The two are then confronted by a mysterious woman. As the being switches from their female body to their male body, it asks them if they are the ones responsible for the Sōshin corpses it found in the forest. Tensa and Nurugai sense that the being is dangerous and decides to run. However, it doesn't allow them to leave and attacks. Tensa fights back by rapidly slashing away at their body but sees that it is able to regenerate their wounds in an instant and are unable to escape from it. A sword then suddenly beheads the mysterious being. Tensa looks back and sees that the sword was thrown by his teacher, Yamada Asaemon Shion who yells out to his student to run.
While running away, Nurugai notices that the blind Shion is somehow is able to follow them. Tensa explains that Shion is able to maneuver through obstacles through his senses. After the three manage to create some distance away from the being, Tensa introduces Shion to Nurugai and receives criticism by his teacher on his sloppy sword techniques. Shion explains that he was prepared to leave the island after executing Akaingu, who tried to seduce him, but was unable to find a good current. After he had searched around the island, Shion explains that he came across one that was suitable but sensed a strange sound and an odd presence. Tensa suggests that they investigate the current. Shion agrees but points his sword at Nurugai, demanding that Tensa explain why he was covering for his criminal even though he knew that it violates the rules. He tells him that based on her background, Nurugai is innocent. Shion says that he knows about Nurugai's past but explains that as Asaemons they are only meant to be used as blades and have no say in the matter of who is not deserving of being executed. Tensa justifies by pointing out the fact that Shion saved him off the streets because he felt that he had potential in him and says that he sees potential in Nurugai as well. Shion smiles and agrees to overlook the matter. The three then try to come up with a strategy to fight back against the regenerative being. However, it suddenly appears behind Tensa and Nurugai and overhears their conversation. Shion jumps in to push them out of the way but receives a cut to his throat by the being as a result. The being reacts fast to Tensa's furious attacks and punctures holes to Tensa's chest.
Tensa has a brief flashback to a conversation he had with Shion about him wanting to help others and falls to his knees as he feels himself slowly dying from the being's attack. Despite his predicament, Tensa refuses to give up and fights back with all his might to save the others but is struck with a fatal blow to his stomach. With his throat damaged, Tensa tries to yell out to Shion and Nurugai to run. Shion senses Tensa's warning and takes Nurugai with him as he runs while Tensa protects them from the monster. During his final moments, Tensa thinks about how his life could have gone in the future and is ultimately killed by the mysterious being. Nurugai begs Shion to go back but is told that Tensa sacrificed his life in order to have them retreat and is assured that the time will come when they can repay this debt before the two of them escape from the island. However, Shion wonders if there is anyone that is able to stop it.
Sagiri accompanies Gabimaru to the bath house. After walking in, the two accidently sees the little girl, Mei, undressing and notices a strange marking on her shoulder. Sagiri then offers to give the two of them a proper bath. While washing himself, Gabimaru recounts the time his wife gave him a proper bath and how she gave him advice about he needed to relax his body. He also remembers how he requested that she not cover her scar with her bangs, to which she happily agrees to. After finishing up, Gabimaru shows respect to Mei by telling her that she should not be ashamed of her scar since appearances should not matter. Sagiri becomes shocked that Gabimaru was able to act respectful and sees that Mei now feels comfortable to be near him. As the three of them return back to the house, Sagiri feels that Gabimaru is slowly changing for the better, while on the other hand, Gabimaru realizes that he has no time to waste. Despite his extensive research tiring him, Senta insists that he keeps watch, however, during the night, Senta falls asleep in front of Gabimaru and gives him the opportunity to leave for Hōrai.
As he rushes to Hōrai, Gabimaru comes across a field of multiple, immobile, tree humanoids similar to Hōko. While Gabimaru continues to advance forward, an unknown person follows him from behind. Gabimaru's travel leads him to a large gate that he assumes holds the Elixir of Life beyond the entrance. Gabimaru prepares to enter, however, he notices the mysterious being that previously killed Tensa behind him. The being becomes displeased with Gabimaru's arrival and asked that he leave since it is not in the mood to capture another human after their previous encounter with Tensa, Shion, and Nurugai. After hearing this statement, Gabimaru shockingly asks if it has been turning humans into the elixir. With no other choice, the two engage in battle. Gabimaru breaks the being's wrist and snaps its neck with a kick but sees that they are able to regenerate and has incredible speed and power. He then uses Ninpō: Fire Monk to set it on fire, seeing as how it was too dangerous to interrogate about the Elixir of Life. However, the being survives and deals a devastating blow to Gabimaru, sending him crashing to the wall. The being changes from its female body to its male body and wonders if its attack killed Gabimaru, becoming ashamed since it thought that he could make for good Tan. The being sees that Gabimaru is alive and is questioned by him on whether it was Lord Tensen. In turn, the being asked if Gabimaru was even human.
Gabimaru and the being create destruction in their wake as they battle. The being becomes impressed with Gabimaru's skills, stating that it had not come across any human like him for the past few centuries. Gabimaru demands that it tell him where the Elixir of Life is and sees that no of his attacks are having any effect. However, after strike the being's navel, Gabimaru sees that he has done damage after it coughed blood but wonders why it worked. The being then changes back into a female and becomes annoyed with Gabimaru, deciding that it was time to kill him. After taking a stance, the being sends out a barrage of invincible force attacks towards Gabimaru that causes major damage. Unable to do anything to defend himself, Gabimaru rushes in to deliver a series of punches to the being. It becomes overwhelmed with Gabimaru's strength and sees that it can not regenerate fast enough. With its body torn apart and immobile, Gabimaru once again asks where the Elixir of Life is located. The being smiles as it starts to bloom flowers and gives a statement about "them being furious with it." Gabimaru looks in horror as he sees the being transforming into a huge monster.
Gabimaru tries to calm himself and analyze the situation but is suddenly hit with a flash of lightning from the monster. He becomes badly injured from its attack and causes more strain to his body after dodging its tail. Gabimaru is then hit with another bolt of lightning and is unable to use ninjutsu due to his body being passed his limits. A barrage of attacks from the monster's tails direct towards Gabimaru, causing massive damage. Gabimaru becomes overwhelmed by the monster and starts to question whether the things he is experiencing is reality or a nightmare. He then blacks out and wakes up to find his wife next to him, becoming relieved that he was only having a nightmare. However, Gabimaru takes a moment to look at her and knew that he was dreaming but was glad that he got to see her once again and apologizes that he may not be able to come back to home.
After regaining conscious, Gabimaru is about to be crushed by the monster but makes a desperate attack towards it. He then remembers his chief's words to him about taking down his enemy if he is about to die by their hands. As a last resort, Gabimaru sets himself on fire and attempts to kill the monster as well. However, Gabimaru burns away the monster's tail wrapped around him and falls to the ground, slowly falling unconscious as he pictures his wife. Mei then appears beside Gabimaru and unleashes her power to create a crater. She holds on to Gabimaru as the two slide down to escape the monster. The monster tries to attack them but fails after they have successfully managed to make it down. The monsters form starts to crumble away and reverts back to the being. It then wonders what was Mei's reason for wanting to help Gabimaru.
Later, the members of Lord Tensen have a discussion on what genders they prefer. The leader arrives and has them focus on discussing the humans that have made landfall on the island, seeing as they may pose as a threat. The man that defeated the Aza Brothers, Ju Fa, becomes furious with Zhu Jin, the being that previously attacked Gabimaru, for allowing two humans to escape from them and failing to kill Gabimaru. He then blows up their head and becomes disappointed with them being in an elderly state after expending too much of their Tao. The leader berates Ju Fa for causing harm to Zhu Jin and gives him a menacing glare, reminding him that only he is allowed to hurt Zhu Jin. He then asks about the humans he dealt with. Ju Fa confirms that he has defeated the brothers and has dropped them down the blooming pit that should be far to deep for them to climb out of. After finding a Mōnshin corpse within the forest, the leader states that they should not underestimate the humans since killing one of those monsters was out of the ordinary. The leader also warns him of not overlooking the possibility of the brothers escaping from the pit and that if each human are inhuman then they will cause them trouble. He then asks Zhu Jin if he has killed Gabimaru, to which they answers yes. Despite this predicament with the humans, the leader says that they should have no worries as long as they are united in their cause. The group then toast to their eternity and to Sōshi. After drinking the cup, Zhu Jin rejuvenates.
Meanwhile, Sagiri hears from Senta that he has accidently allowed Gabimaru to leave his sight, much to her disappointment. Senta explains that he was unable to track him due to the mist. Sagiri suggests that they go after him if he has managed to navigate throw the mist. Yuzuriha refuses and asks Sagiri why she was concern for Gabimaru's well being. Hōko interrupts and offers to guide them to Hōrai, seeing as how he noticed that Mei has followed Gabimaru. Knowing that Hōko is able to navigate throw the mist, Yuzuriha becomes onboard with Sagiri in finding Gabimaru. As the four travel to Hōrai, Sagiri starts to wonder why she was hoping for Gabimaru's safety.
While down at the valley, after regaining consciousness, Gabimaru goes over what he knows so far about the thing he fought earlier and strategizes, believing that he will be able to take down the monster if he were to fight alongside with allies. Gabimaru then finds himself face to face with Tamiya Gantetsusai and Yamada Asaemon Fuchi. The swordsman looks pleased to see the ninja badly injured and asked if he felt like dying.
The Power Known as TaoEdit
Gabimaru notices that Mei is behind still unconscious and is prepared to defend her. He and Gantetsusai then start to anticipate each other's moves before either of them make a move. Fuchi ceases their prediction battle, believing it to be meaningless, and suggests that they try to extract information from Gabimaru. Gabimaru thinks back to his chief's words about being the first one to make the kill but believes that the standard approach for a ninja will not work, since he can sense how strong Gantetsusai and Fuchi are, and suggests to them that they should team up. Gantetsusai ferociously brings his sword down to Gabimaru's head, telling him that he is disappointed with his cowardly act. Fuchi suggests that they hear Gabimaru out if he has a reason for going this far. After explaining his experience on the island, Gantetsusai and Fuchi become shock to hear about Lord Tensen and start to ask questions. Gantetsusai agrees in teaming up with Gabimaru since he will have the chance to meet Lord Tensen if they head to Hōrai. Fuchi wonders why Gantetsusai wanted to cooperate with Gabimaru since he is part of the competition. Gantetsusai explains that he does not care about receiving the pardon and that his only desire is to become a legendary warrior by fighting against strong foes such as Lord Tensen. Fuchi agrees to cooperate with Gabimaru as well after becoming interested in the undying Lord Tensen. With their own ambitions set, the three agree to form alliance. Fuchi says that they should exchange information. Gabimaru agrees and starts off by talking about Mei. He turns around and sees that she is awake, however, Gabimaru becomes shock to see that Mei has matured slightly.
Gabimaru explains to Gantetsusai and Fuchi that Mei was originally a little girl but has matured for some unknown reason. Gabimaru then hears Mei speak his name for the first time and asks her who she is and what was the power she used to safe him. Meanwhile, Yuzuriha asks Hōko who or what is Lord Tensen. Hōko explains that Lord Tensen is a group of seven immortals that were once one hermit but separated after the hermit achieved enlightenment. He also tells them about the past natives of the island and how they underwent a condition known as Arborification where they turned into the trees they see in front of them in Hōrai. After hearing Hōko talk about the islanders faith, Senta gives his theory on how the island is not actually a spiritual realm cut off from the outside world, based on the various cultural religious aspects taken from the mainland, and explains that everything that has been happening on the island are all the works of a "creator" who has been plotting something, which might lead them to the Elixir of Life and a way off the island. Going off Senta's theory, Yuzuriha that they will not be able to stand a chance against someone or something that has been scheming for the past 1,000 and adds that Gabimaru and Mei are possibly already dead. Sagiri denies this claim since she believes that Gabimaru is driven to keep himself alive in order to see his wife again. Later, Gabimaru asks Mei if there is a way to fight against Lord Tensen.
Mei says that she uses a power called Tao but confuses the three with her odd way of explaining. At the same time, Hōko explains that Lord Tensen can use Tao, which is life energy can be found in everything. Meanwhile, rushes to attack Shion from behind but has her sword knocked out of her hand by his scabbard without him looking back and falls back into her sheath. Shion says that he refuses to teach Nurugai swordsmanship despite her wanting to avenge Tensa. Nurugai begs Shion to teach her and wishes to know his secret of being able to perceive the things him. Shion explains that he is able to sense "waves" from everything that is around him and can capture everything in specific detail. Shion, Hōko, and Mei then go in depth, to the people they are talking to, about Tao, saying that it can not only be used to sense their surrounds but can also give an increase in strength to one's body similar to a gods but can only be unlocked if a person's spirit is balanced. Shion says that this power can not be quickly mastered and that this is still little he knows of it. Nurugai asks that he teach her swordsmanship instead, prompting Shion to tell her the right way to wield a sword (though she was confused if whether he was absent mindedly doing thing or it was on purpose). A Sōshin then approaches Shion from behind but is instantly cut down using the sensation of the waves around him. As the two defend themselves against the Sōshin, Shion says that he will not teach Nurugai but is free to learn as she sees fits. He then tells himself that he does not have the capabilities yet to defeat Lord Tensen and needs time to improve his skills. Meanwhile, Gabimaru, Gantetsusai, Fuchi, and Mei are confronted by a horde of Sōshin. Gantetsusai rushes in to cut them down and wishes to learn Tao in order to defeat Lord Tensen. He then puts Mei up on his shoulder and ask that she teaches him how to use Tao while practicing on the Sōshin. Gabimaru then sees something else among the crowd and wonders what it was.
While engaging in sexual intimacy, the female member of Lord Tensen asks the other, Mu Dan, of the possibility of one of the humans making it out of the Tan pit. Mu Dan answers that it would be impossible since the pit is too deep and the walls are meant to keep those from escaping. However, despite the reassurance, Chōbē manages to climb out of the pit with his brother on his back. After getting out, Tōma suggests that they should think about finding a way of the island but is boldly told by Chōbē that he will take his revenge on the two members beings. Chōbē then says that he has figured out that their weak points lies with their lower halves after noticing how the one he cut in half regenerated from it instead of the upper half. The two brothers are then approached by a Dōshi, students of Lord Tensen, and says that he has been sent by Lord Tensen to check on them down the pit while his other comrades have been sent to the other humans locations. He then asks that they return to the pit, however, Chōbē charges to attack. The Dōshi fights back by punching Chōbē but has his hand ripped off. The Dōshi sees that Chōbē is more than human and wonders if he can use Tao. Chōbē says that he will defeat the Dōshi and have him answer his questions about Lord Tensen. He then sees that the Dōshi's hand has regenerated and summons the Sōshin to fight on his behave. Chōbē orders Tōma to take them down while he fights Dōshi. He attacks him but is unable to harm the Dōshi due to not being able to use Tao. With his disordered Tao, the Dōshi sees an opening to attack and rips out Chōbē's throat. Tōma panics at the sight of his fallen brother, however, Chōbē's eye suddenly opens.
Tōma rushes to Chōbē as the Dōshi is about to send him back into the pit. However, Chōbē wakes up with his neck fully heal with strange marks and injuries the Dōshi face. The Dōshi sees that Chōbē's throat has regenerated and believes that this is the result of him being infected during his time in the pit. Chōbē tells the Dōshi that he senses a strange aura coming from him and figures that is the source of his power. The Dōshi senses that Chōbē's Tao seems to have grown and decides that he should kill him since he may pose as a threat to Lord Tensen. The Dōshi sends out an invisible force attack and breaks Chōbē's arms. However, his arms are shown to instantly repair themselves. The Dōshi sees that Chōbē can no longer be seen as human and questions whether he was afraid of losing his humanity. Chōbē says that he has no problems with this since he believes that things in life will often change but not the bond he has with his brother as he remembers their past childhood. The Dōshi takes damage from Chōbē and struggles to fight back as Chōbē's Tao begins to grow. Desperate, the Dōshi orders the Sōshin to come to his aid but turns around to see that Tōma has killed them all. After gaining the upper hand, Chōbē tries channeling Tao to his hand in the same way the Dōshi did and strikes him down, causing the fight to come to an end. Tōma comes up to Chōbē and sees that the strange markings on his neck is starting to spread and becomes worried.
Gantetsusai continues to slay away at the Sōshin and asks Mei about his progress of being able to use Tao. Mei nods her head saying no, telling him that he was fighting strong and that Tao is suppose to be both strong and weak. Gantetsusai then asks Mei if Gabimaru was making any progress as he fights the Sōshin, only for her to say that he was also fighting too strong. Meanwhile, Fuchi excitedly analyzes the Sōshin's bodies and relays the information he gathered to Gabimaru and wonders about Mei. Gabimaru wonders himself after she saved him by using her power. A Dōshi then jumps in to attack Gantetsusai and retrieves Mei off his shoulder. The Dōshi becomes happy to see that he has found Mei and asks that she return to Hōrai since the Dōshi are in need of her aid. Gabimaru demands an explanation from the Dōshi. The Dōshi tells them that Mei is a similar being to Lord Tensen and desperately asks that she come back to Hōrai to guide him and his fellow Dōshi. Having learned this, Gabimaru starts to think that he should not get involved with other matters that don't involve his goal, however, after he sees Mei face in tears, Gabimaru comes to her side to protect her, explaining that he can not bear to see her cry again. The Dōshi sees Gabimaru as a nuisance and tells him that he, alongside another Dōshi, will bring Mei back to Hōrai. Gantetsusai notices the other Dōshi's appearance as a butterfly and instantly becomes enraged.
As Gabimaru prepares to get ready for battle after the two Dōshi summon their respective insects, Gantetsusai rushes in to cut the butterflies and says that he seeks vengeance on the Butterfly Dōshi (thinking that he is the insects leader) that made him have to cut off his left hand. Gantetsusai is then hit by an invisible attack and is warned by Gabimaru of this ability. Gabimaru and Gantetsusai engage in battle with the two Dōshi and accidently attacks hits each other. Gabimaru analyzes the Dōshi's fighting style and sees that they attack with the invisible technique from a distance and that they attack with their insects at close range. Gantetsusai then starts an argument with Gabimaru for getting in his way earlier. The Dōshi asks why they were willing to protect Mei despite not having any connections with her. Gabimaru answers that he is simply repaying a debt to Mei for saving his life and asks why the two of them wanted her. The Dōshi explains that they are in need of Mei to complete their Tao training in terms of Bōchū Jutsu where they must engage in intimate congress with her in order to combine both chi's of Yin and Yang, therefore strengthening their Tao. He also tells them about Lord Tensen having chi's of both Yin and Yang cycling through their bodies after years in practicing Bōchū Jutsu, which gives an answer to Gabimaru about why the beings were switching from male to female. The Dōshi reveals that Mei was banished by Lord Tensen for only having Yin chi and was "marked" by Rien, as well as given an option of either being recreated from the start or act as the Dōshi's Bōchū Jutsu partner. Gantetsusai becomes disgusted with the Dōshi's reason for wanting to take Mei and tells Gabimaru that he will be the one to defeat them. However, he sees Gabimaru become angry after the Dōshi said that Mei was "marked" and hears him furiously tell them to stop talking about Mei as if she is an object. Seeing as how defeating them will require more effort, the Dōshi use the insects to transform, causing Gabimaru, Gantetsusai, and Fuchi to get ready for battle as they protect Mei.
Gantetsusai jumps in to attack the Butterfly Dōshi but misses after the Dōshi moves out of the way and sends out the butterflies to sting Gantetsusai. Gantetsusai manages to dodge the attack but starts to feel dizzy after inhaling the butterflies powder from their scales and orders Gabimaru to assist him, only to be told that he is busy fighting the monstrous Centipede Dōshi. Gabimaru takes note of the body being tough and how he won't be able to see the invisible attacks coming towards him. After the Butterfly Dōshi sends a few butterflies to sting Gabimaru, Gabimaru uses Ninpō: Fire Bridge to ignite them and create a flaming wall separating them from the Dōshi. Gabimaru sees that he doesn't stand a chance as long as he can't sense the opponents Tao. After interpreting Mei's words, Fuchi yells out to Gabimaru that he was focusing too much on his strength and that in order to perceive Tao he needs to accept both his strengths and weakness. Fuchi says that Mei has helped him sense his own Tao by making physical contact and has Gabimaru do the same. Gabimaru has Mei holds his hand but unable to sense anything. Fuchi tells him that he has to accept his weakness in order for his heart to be in a stable state. Gabimaru finds it hard to believe that that is the only way but hears Mei tell him that weakness gives rise to strength. Gabimaru then remembers Sagiri's past words to him about having emotions, which he thought was weakness, is a kind of strength, resulting in the awakening of his Tao. With this done, Gabimaru steps back into battle. Fuchi tells him to wait but hears Mei say that she senses that Gabimaru's possesses a huge amount of Tao. Gabimaru manages to sense the Dōshi's Tao attacks and causes the Centipede Dōshi's transformation to fall apart. The Dōshi's looks at Gabimaru and could tell that his skills resembles that of Lord Tensen's. Gabimaru kicks the Dōshi away and tells him that he was now able to fight against their master.
With no other choice but to cooperate, the Dōshi tells Gabimaru that the Dōshi were sent by Lord Tensen to discover the whereabouts of the humans on the island and see if they presented as a threat to their master. Gantetsusai rushes in to be the one to defeat the Dōshi instead of Gabimaru, causing the ninja to get distracted and presents an opening for the Dōshi's to attack. However, Gabimaru anticipates the Dōshi's attacks towards him and jumps out of the way, having Gantetsusai cut the Centipede Dōshi in half while redirecting the centipede's, initially directed towards him, to the Butterfly Dōshi, killing them both. Gabimaru goes over what he knows about Tao and thinks that he will be able to defeat Lord Tensen if he were to delves into it more. He then hears complaints coming from Gantetsusai and Fuchi. Fuchi turns to Mei thinking that they make get information from her but Gantetsusai thinks that they should have her return home. Seeing as how Mei came to his side despite the danger and saved his life, Gabimaru says that he is willing to do what she requests of him to repay this debt. Before she could give her answer, Gabimaru nose starts to bleed and falls unconscious.
Meanwhile, Rien gives a lecture about Tao to a Dōshi but are interrupted by the female member of Lord Tensen who presents them the new training area. Another member of Lord Tensen gives their opinion on the Bōchū Jutsu chamber area and says that they found it ridiculous but is told by Rien that copulating with others was necessary in order to draw out new powers from Tao. Ju Fa and another member comes out of the bedchamber soaked in blood after an intense section of Bōchū Jutsu. The female member then gives Ju Fa a cup of Tan made by Mu Dan. After speaking of Mu Dan, Ju Fa asks Rien of his whereabouts. Rien answers that Mu Dan is at the entrance of the gate and plans on toying with the humans. The gate opens and shows that Sagiri, Yuzuriha, Senta, and Hōko have made it to Hōrai. Sagiri, Yuzuriha, and Senta are then shocked to see Hōko's head cut off from his body, which was done by Mu Dan standing at a distance from them.
The Treasure BargeEdit
While at an Inn in the Satsuma Domain, Yamada Asaemon Jikka explains to the shogun's officials about how the bandit, Aza Chōbē, killed his assigned criminal, Hōrubō, and made him return back to Japan. However, he tells them that the currents forced him back to the island, which shocks the men since no one had returned after setting foot on the island. Jikka cuts the story short and tells them that he would rather not be involved with the island since he believes that the place is unnatural and that only fools would want to go to the island. The men yells out Jikka for this comment, thinking that he was referring to the shogun, which he admits to. To cease the conflict, the Yamada Asaemon next to Jikka, Yamada Asaemon Shugen, apologizes for Jikka's behavior. They then move on to talk about the shogun's next plan of action by sending out more Yamada Asaemon to the island.
After the meeting was over, Shugen berates Jikka for stepping out of line with his behavior towards the men. Despite this, Jikka says that he was glad that everything went his way by having Shugen, the top member of the Yamada clan, by his side to work everything out. Shugen becomes angry with Jikka and tells him that he can not stand for his rudeness. Jikka apologizes and wonders if the shogun has any more criminals to dispatch. Shugen says that the second team will consist of shinobi from Iwagakure after another screening was held and tells Jikka that he will also be joining as ordered by their leader, much to his depression. Shugen then becomes worried about the safety of Yamada Asaemon Eizen and his other fellow comrades on the island. A worker comes up to Jikka and asks what they should do with the decapitated sea monster head that he brought back. Seeing as how he lost his chance to convince the officials about how dangerous the island was, Jikka tells them to get rid of it. Shugen comes up to touch the head but is warned by the worker that the monster may still be alive. However, Shugen says that the monster is indeed dead since he does not sense any "waves of life force" coming from it. Shugen and Jikka then approach two shadowy figures and tells them that it was time to make preparations for their departure.
Mu Dan StrikesEdit
After letting Sagiri, Yuzuriha, Senta, and Hōko into Hōrai, Mu Dan approaches them and causes Yuzuriha to sense that he is dangerous. She instinctively flees, but is instantly caught by him. Sagiri understands Yuzuriha's reason for running since she also could tell that Mu Dan is stronger than the other monsters they faced but takes out her sword demanding that he release her and tell them who he is. Hōko, who has survived his decapitation, reveals that Mu Dan is a member of Lord Tensen. Mu Dan says that he figures that Hōko is alive but explains that his Arborification will only speed up in the end. Hōko replies that he has accepted his fate since he believes that his soul will remain in Hōrai, however, after Mu Dan hears about this, he reveals to Hōko that his whole religious beliefs have been fabricated by their master in order to control the previous inhabitants and explains that the island is actuality a huge laboratory meant for experimentations, as well as research humans that have made landfall. This leaves Hōko's speechless at the revelation. He also presents the Kiyōshi, experimental humans that he created and can control to do his bidding, and mentions that humans that are seen as high quality are turned into Tan. He also reveals that Tan, which humans referred to as the Elixir of Life, does not exist, explaining that Tan is only beneficial to him and his comrades and will only turn humans into trees if they choose to consume it. Sagiri becomes shocked to learn this information and worries for Gabimaru since he can not receive the pardon without the elixir. Mu Dan says that he is prepared to capture, however, Yuzuriha escapes from her bindings by replacing herself with an Arborified tree and attacks him. Yuzuriha suggests that they should escape while they can but sees that Mu Dan has regenerated and orders the Kiyōshi to attack Yuzuriha by denotating. Yuzuriha manages to avoid the blast and makes Mu Dan realize that she is able to use Tao. He then decides to give her a lesson since she has come this far but sees that Senta and Sagiri are prepared to interfere.
Mu Dan first attacks Sagiri with Tao and causes her to feel immense pain. Mu Dan looks towards Yuzuriha to see if she took note of his attack but becomes distracted and has his hands and right leg cut off by Senta. Yuzuriha sees an opening to attack with her ninjutsu and destroys Mu Dan's body but sees that it has no effect on his regeneration. Senta comes up with the plan to blind Mu Dan by cutting off the top part of his head in order to gain the advantage. Mu Dan regenerates his head but not his eyes and shows that he is wrong to assume this as he dodges their attacks using the sensation of Tao. He then states that they do not stand a chance against him with his ability to use Tao.
Sagiri stand back on her feet and desperately asks Hōko if Lord Tensen has any weaknesses. Hōko responds that Lord Tensen is unstoppable since they have powers of a god and adds that he accepts the divine punishment he has been given, however, he is told by Sagiri that unless they stop him he will not be able to see Mei again. After noticing Yuzuriha's Ninpō: Body Replacement, Mu Dan realized that the technique was another use of Tao that came close to hōjutsu and how he could tell that she possesses the same attribute as him. Yuzuriha then becomes confused by what he was talking about. Sagiri sneaks behind Mu Dan to attack but misses after he noticed it coming. Senta warns Sagiri that Mu Dan is able to sense her intent. Knowing this, Sagiri throws her sword, sense it does not have any intent, and stabs Mu Dan's navel. Sagiri listens to Hōko's instructions on how she must cut throw Mu Dan's tanden, which is the source of his Tao, in order to kill him. Despite this, Mu Dan's wound heals and explains that her cut has little effect since there was no Tao applied and also adds that none of them has the right Tao to kill him. However, after getting up close to him to confirm her suspension, Sagiri manages to release an aura of Tao and leaves a cut Mu Dan's face as he jumps out of the way. Mu Dan sees that Sagiri is able to use Tao as well and that there is more to it than this. Just then, Senta and Yuzuriha notice that Mu Dan's cut is not healing.
Sagiri tells Yuzuriha and Senta that after getting up close to Mu Dan she was able to sense a peculiar energy coming from him, which she says was similar to the energy she felt coming from Rokurōta, and believes that she knows how to cut him down. Yuzuriha figures that they need to fight using Tao in order to defeat Mu Dan but wonders what caused him from healing. Mu Dan becomes excited knowing that Sagiri has Tao that can kill him but questions who would be the one to win. He then vanishes and suddenly appears in front of Sagiri to attack. Yuzuriha restrains him with her mucus strings and gives Sagiri a chance to try and cut him. Mu Dan sees the attack coming and sends out a burst of Tao from his mouth to have her fall back and kicks her away. He then orders the Kiyōshi to attack Yuzuriha but is protected by Senta. Mu Dan bites off his hand to release himself and sends out a Tao projectile to attack her but ends up hitting Senta instead after Yuzuriha jumps out of the way. Yuzuriha and Senta slashes away at Mu Dan's body to have Sagiri come in to attack him, however, Mu Dan levitates above them and sends down a barrage of large Tao projectiles. The three then duck for cover. Yuzuriha sees that Sagiri is almost at her limit but tells her that she may be the key to defeat Mu Dan, speculating that Sagiri has the type of Tao to kill him and tries to pin Mu Dan down with her mucus strings. However, Mu Dan attacks her with his Tao projectiles and grievously injuries her. Yuzuriha remains conscious while holding on to one of her strings and throws Mu Dan down. Senta stabs Mu Dan from behind to hold him, giving Sagiri the chance to cut through his tanden and ends the battle. Yuzuriha sees that she was right in that not only an amount of Tao is required but also the type to defeat him. She then rejoices in her and Sagiri's victory, leading Senta to remind her that he also helped.
Once the battle was over, Sagiri comes to Hōko and is glad to see that he is still conscious but worries about his Arborification, though she is told by him that he will have to endure until then. She then hears Senta become overwhelm at the thought of six more monsters having similar powers to Mu Dan and takes the time to review what she knows so far about Tao: the fact that it requires a spiritual balance and that there are different attributes that can give someone the advantage over another in battle. Sagiri also becomes concerned with their situation of the Elixir of Life not existing and wonders what they should do going forward. Yuzuriha replies that they will have to think of another plan and turns her attention towards the giant golden head statues, thinking that their superiors will instead accept one of them instead of the elixir. Senta suggests that they should rest for the time being.
After she hears Senta make a comment about Yuzuriha's indomitable attitude, Sagiri asks him if he had any feelings towards her. Senta says no and explains that he is more envious of her ability of having the freedom to be true to herself while lying to others, connecting this to his past childhood dream of wanting to become an artist but never got to fulfill because of his families tradition of affiliating with the Yamada clan. He then tells Sagiri that he found it odd how an Asaemon like him became inspired by a criminal, to which Sagiri replies that she understood where he was coming from after remembering Gabimaru. Just when Sagiri suggests to Senta that they should find a way to have everyone that came to the island work together to complete the mission, Yuzuriha warns them that Mu Dan's corpse is blooming. A plant stinger then sprouts from the body and aims towards Yuzuriha, however, Senta moves in to push her out of the way and is stung in the chest. He then starts to hallucinate about happily drawing Yuzuriha while sprouting flowers from his head. On the other hand, Sagiri and Yuzuriha watch in horror as Mu Dan starts to transform into his Kishikai monster form.
A terrified Sagiri asks Yuzuriha what they should do but sees that she is also horrified at the thought of fighting Mu Dan once again. The two become unable to move as plant stingers aim towards them. However, they are saved by the timely arrival of Yamada Asaemon Shion who cuts the stingers. Shion then orders Nurugai to remove the flowers from Senta, thinking that there may be a chance to save him, and orders everyone to flee while he takes on the task of fighting the monstrous Mu Dan.
Nurugai manages to remove the flowers from Senta's head. Sagiri asks Hōko for help but is told that even he does not know what to do to help Senta. Yuzuriha then steps in to apply medicine to at least stop the bleeding. Sagiri looks towards Shion and wonders if he will be enough to take on the monster, to which Nurugai responds saying that she is confident in his strength and that neither of them is ready to die since they came "looking for someone" along the way. Shion senses that the monster is the same being as the one he and Nurugai encountered before and puts his practice of using Tao to the test. Shion fights it and manages to hold his own but suddenly sprouts flowers from his body from the scratches left by the stingers. However, he cuts them off his body and starts to lose blood in the process but states that he will not hesitate in moving forward if it leads to his death. Seeing as how Shion is in danger, Sagiri and Nurugai decide to go help him but is told by Yuzuriha that she will rest due to not having enough energy. Nurugai then hugs Yuzuriha and Sagiri, thinking that it will help replenish their strength according to her memory of what Shion stated about Tao interacting similarly to the Five Elements. This leads to Sagiri to briefly ponder if beneficial interactions also relate to the harmful interactions of Tao attributes but quickly focuses her mind back on helping Shion. Sagiri and Nurugai readies themselves into battle while Yuzuriha sits back on the sidelines.
Shion senses Sagiri and Nurugai coming to assist him while wrapped in bandages and coated with Yuzuriha's ninjutsu fluid to help protect them from being scratched from the monster's stingers. Sagiri explains that she and Nurugai will distract the monster while Shion comes at it from behind to strike the it's tandens. Nurugai suddenly sees the monster coming towards her first and manages to avoid the vines while being protected by Sagiri from further attacks. Shion tries to get behind the monster, fights off its attacks, and brings it down by cutting off it's legs. Yuzuriha becomes impressed with their effort and notices that the monster is taking longer to heal. Having remembered his regrettable decision to abandon Tensa, Shion makes a enduringly makes a fierce assault towards the monster and cuts every one of its vines while Sagiri stabs one of its hand to keep it immobile. Shion manages to stand on top of the monster from behind and focuses his Tao directly to his sword as he brings it down to slay it.
Shion prepares to cut the monster's tandens, however, he stops his blade after sensing no signs of strong Tao coming those spots. Knowing that he has no time to think things over, Shion prepares to strike the tandens but is warned by Senta that the monster's weakness is its ovule located at the center of the petals since its body is plant based. Shion listens to Senta and brings his blade down to the ovule and dodges the monsters stingers at the same time. The ovule opens to reveal multiple faces of Mu Dan, one which becomes astonished with Shion's state of hovering between the extremes of life and death and says that he wishes that he could have shared this experience with Rien. After Shion delivers the final strike to the monster, Mu Dan thanks Shion for killing him after waiting 1,000 years for this fate. The area is then blanketed with flowers.
After the battle finally came to an end, Sagiri comes to Senta in his critical condition. Sagiri asks that Yuzuriha apply more of her medicine to help him recover, however, she refuses, seeing as how Senta is close to death and that the medicine would be put to good use with Shion. Despite her refusal, Yuzuriha comes to his side and tries to relieve Senta of his pain by telling him that he does not have to worry about his duties as an Asaemon or the mission and is free to think about anything he wants as she holds him. With his last dying memory, Senta pictures him embraced next to Yuzuriha and smiles, passing away peacefully. The group then buries his body and takes the time to rest.
After finishing mourning Senta's death, Sagiri thanks Yuzuriha and Nurugai for being by her side through the difficult situations that she was in and says that at this point she can no longer see each other as playing the roles of criminals or executioners. Having remembered her past suggestion to Senta, Sagiri suggests that they should cooperate to find a way to return home and declares that she will make it her goal to have everyone on the mission escape the island together. At the same time, Gantetsusai, Fuchi, and Mei climb up the valley with Gabimaru still unconscious.
During the night, Gabimaru wakes up and instinctively creates some distance from him and Gantetsusai, Fuchi, and Mei. Fuchi explains to Gabimaru that they climbed up the valley, while Gantetsusai carried him, and decided to take out in a cave. With Gabimaru finally awake, Fuchi says that they should take the time to go over what they know so far. Meanwhile, Sagiri, Yuzuriha, Shion, and Nurugai enter the palace and take shelter in one of the buildings. While Yuzuriha and Nurugai spend their time changing into different outfits, Shion reviews what they know about Tao. Knowing that Tao is their life force, Shion speculates that grave consequences can be made if they are not careful, such as lose of memories or death. He also says that they should spend their time in learning how to control it to counter against Lord Tensen. Sagiri asks Yuzuriha about her Ninpō: Body Replacement, to which she explains that she suppressed her Tao to lower her presence from being detected and switches herself with another object, but says that the one Mu Dan used was much stronger. Shion believes that they will not be able to surpass Lord Tensen with the short time that they have, however, after learning that each person's Tao has attributes corresponding to one of the Five Elements, which gives off restorative and hindering reactions with accordance to the right element through physical contact, Shion says that they may stand a chance if they use the hindering reactions to stop Lord Tensen from healing after experiencing their fight with Mu Dan.
Nurugai reminds them that they can't return home without the Elixir of Life. Yuzuriha tells them that, from what Mu Dan stated, the elixir Lord Tensen created will be useless to them. Although this was the case, Sagiri adds that she learned from Gabimaru that his village leader obtained immortality through the Elixir of Life and that it gives proof that the elixir must exist. Having thought it over, Yuzuriha speculates that the Iwagakure chief must have used genjutsu to fool his people into thinking that he was immortal. At the same time, Fuchi reviews the Tao attributes after interpreting Mei's words. Gabimaru is asked by Gantetsusai if he wanted to give his opinion on the matter and tells him that he is only listening, however, he tells himself that he is unable to recall anything. Yuzuriha also begins to find it odd that Gabimaru has a wife, since shinobi are only viewed as pawns, and speculates that something must have been done to control Gabimaru rather than through fear and threats, leading Yuzuriha to tell Sagiri that she theorizes that Gabimaru's wife may be an illusion. Sagiri becomes shocked to hear this and begs Yuzuriha to stop as she begins to question her existence. Meanwhile, Gabimaru still finds himself unable to remember anything.
Gabimaru starts to question where and why he is here, who are the people he is with, and what is the Elixir of Life. He then comes to the conclusion that he, "Gabimaru the Hollow", is on a mission but is suffering from amnesia as a result and decides to play along with the situation he is in until he knows whether or not Gantetsusai, Fuchi, and Mei are allies he can trust. After Fuchi ends the review, Gabimaru keeps watch for the night and is asked by Mei if he was feeling okay. Gabimaru answers yes, however, Mei senses that a part of Gabimaru's Tao is missing.
Sagiri keeps watch outside and is approached by Shion. She tells Shion that she can not stop thinking about the deaths of the Asaemon that came to the island and worries about Gabimaru's safety. Having heard the second part, Shion prepares to ask Sagiri if she had feelings for him but is automatically stopped by her, saying that he had a bad habit of assuming romantic intent. Despite this, Shion could tell that Sagiri cared for him enough to forget her place. Sagiri explains that she feels a sense of pity for Gabimaru, given how he was raised, and says that it would make her feel depressed even more if it turns out Yuzuriha's theory about Gabimaru's wife came true. Shion assures Sagiri that if she saw women in Iwagakure then Yuzuriha's prediction may just be merely a guess and that there is hope. Sagiri says that she would like to believe this and apologizes that she did forget her place, though Shion added that he also does not know what he can do for Nurugai. Shion then says that he will "overlook" this matter since he is in no position to criticize, causing Sagiri to laugh at his pun.
The next day, Gabimaru, Gantetsusai, Fuchi, and Mei continue to walk up the valley to reach the large gate to Hōrai. From what he learned from the others, Gabimaru wonders why he would take on such an extreme mission, questioning if he was just following orders or if it was for another reason. As they reach the top of the cliff, the group are suddenly met by Aza Chōbē, Aza Tōma, and the Dōshi they defeated and took hostage. Gabimaru is then attacked by the bandit. Gantetsusai sees that conflict has arise while Fuchi notices that Tōma can no longer be seen as his ally. Gabimaru gets on top of Chōbē and breaks his neck, however, Mei warns him that Chōbē's Tao is "very huge". He then becomes shocked to see that Chōbē has survived and is thrown crashing to the ground with Chōbē stating that he was not interested in having them as allies.
The Treasure Barge — DepartureEdit
As the second team departs to the island, Aoki thinks back to the shogun's orders of forming another landing party with four Asaemons and four elite Iwagakure shinobi, along with fifty ninja, thinking that he is a fool for not comprehending how futile this plan is. He is then approached by Shugen who asks if he was feeling uncomfortable with the shinobi present on the ship and is assured that he and the Asaemon are ready to take action. Aoki asks if they will be able to lead the ninjas since two of the Asaemons are unranked. Shugen assures him that Yamada Asaemon Isuzu and Yamada Asaemon Kiyomaru are very qualified and that they shall take on the task of assisting their Asaemon comrades at the vanguard. After hearing Aoki's doubts about him, Kiyomaru rudely proposes to demonstrate his skills to him. Isuzu attempts to calm Kiyomaru down but sees him continuing to boost about his strength by cutting the mask off one of the ninja, resulting in Isuzu drawing her sword on Kiyomaru for his bad behavior and tells him to sheathe his sword, to which Kiyomaru responds that she should not test him. The ninja squad leader tells them that they should not give their concern to shinobi since they are willing to follow their orders no matter what they request of them. Kiyomaru holds the ninja to this statement and orders him to kill himself. Before going through with this order, the ninja relinquishes his position to the shinobi whose mask was cut off by Kiyomaru and stabs himself through the neck while giving a chant. The new shinobi leader reassures them that the ninja are only meant to be used as tools and asks that they place their faith in them. Aoki comes in to break up their confrontation and tells them to go back to their places. At the same time, one of the Iwa ninja smiles after remembering their secret task of eliminating Gabimaru while on the mission as ordered by the Iwagakure chief. Shugen is asked by Kiyomaru if they should trust the ninja, to which he answers that it should not matter since he thinks of them no better than criminals and tells them that once they arrive on the island they will execute every criminal on the first team so that the Asaemons return home. After Kiyomaru asked the possibility of them being killed, Shugen becomes angry and causes Kiyomaru to be frighten or his aura. Shugen then hopes that Eizen and the other Asaemons are safe. Meanwhile, Jikka questions Aoki if bringing more reinforcements was going to make the mission more difficult. Aoki answers that they have no choice since the shogun wanted the mission to come to a swift conclusion and thinks that the vanguard would be appreciated of having reinforcements on their side. Jikka doesn't believe in this and gives his perspective, explaining that the vanguard will die by the hands of everyone on the ship and that no one is making it back alive. Having said this, Jikka tries to persuade a shocked Aoki to turn the ship around.
Having seen how Chōbē survived his attack, Gabimaru assumes that he is one of the immortal monsters Fuchi and the others were talking about last night and decided that he needed to restrain him in order to gather information. However, after noticing how strong Chōbē is, Gabimaru starts to get serious. He fights Chōbē by first robbing him of his senses and aiming for his vitals using his teeth but sees that he can not harm him due to his regeneration. Chōbē says that Gabimaru is weak compared to how he was on the mainland and then stomps on the ground to have Gabimaru lose his footing, attack him with a Tao-enhanced punch, and counters against his punch, after sensing his Tao, but has two of his fingers bitten off by the ninja. Gantetsusai could tell that Gabimaru was fighting differently compared to how strong he was during his battle with the Dōshi and asked Mei if she knew anything that was wrong with him. Mei says that Gabimaru's Tao was acting strange, trying to explain that he has lost the thing that made him weak in order to become strong. At the same time, Gabimaru feels as though he has lost something which starts to make him feel unease.
While fighting Gabimaru, Chōbē orders Tōma to fight the others. Fuchi is then shocked to hear Tōma call Chōbē his brother after agreeing to cooperate. Tōma first tries attacking Gantetsusai but has his sword halted after Gantetsusai grabbed the blade with his right hand. Gantetsusai becomes angry, seeing as how Tōma thought he would be the easiest one to take down because of his handicap and effortlessly fights back against him while explaining how he is wasting his potential on his skills due to relying too much on his brother to fight his battles. He then tells Tōma that he and his brother would have been better off teaming up with his group. Tōma says that he despises alliances after remembering how his father died and that he only needs to cooperate with his brother. He then orders the Dōshi to attack Fuchi and Mei. Fuchi brings out his swords and tells Mei to step back behind him as he prepares to ward off the Dōshi.
Gabimaru sees that he is overpowered by Chōbē's Tao ability and decides to enter into his "Hollow" state and uses Ninpō: Fire Monk. Gabimaru first sets Chōbē on fire with Ninpō: Fire Bridge, immobilizes him Ninpō: Thunder Stones, and gets on top to incinerate his body. Chōbē is surprise that Gabimaru is willing to sacrifice his life in order to defeat him. Gabimaru explains that as a shinobi he has nothing to hold on to in life but sees that he does and tells him that those kinds of people can never succeed. After hearing this statement, Chōbē says that he is grateful that Gabimaru made him realize his resolve to protect his brother and unleashes a transformation.
Gabimaru is unable to fight back against a rampaging Chōbē and receives major damage done to his body. He sees that he is in trouble and that another use of Ninpō: Fire Monk will result in his death but reminds himself that his life was a small price to pay as a shinobi. Gabimaru then receives a brief vision of his wife but shrugs it off to fight Chōbē. Tōma rushes in to try to stop his brother from losing himself and ends up getting attack by him. Chōbē comes to his senses and hears Tōma's apologize to him for not being strong enough to fight alongside him. Gabimaru then sees an opening to attack both the brothers and prepares to use Ninpō: Fire Monk. Mei rushes in to try to stop Gabimaru from killing himself after sensing his crippled Tao by unleashing her Tao to create a massive crater. As a last attempt, Gabimaru throws a few rocks at the brothers, only to hit Chōbē after he moves Tōma out of the way and says to wait for him. After the fight comes to an end, Gantetsusai and Fuchi are shocked to see Mei fully grown.
Meanwhile in the Hōrai Palace, seeing as how it is dangerous to stay for long, Sagiri insists that her group move outside the gate and search for Gabimaru and the others. Yuzuriha instead suggests that they find a way off the island since the elixir does not exist. Sagiri sees through Yuzuriha's plan of using her and Shion's roles as Asaemons to have them as alibi's to safely secure herself home and tries to convince Yuzuriha that her goal is to help not only her but the others to escape the island alive. Having said this, Yuzuriha agrees to cooperate to go look for Gabimaru. As they go outside to the gate, Hōko remembers what Mu Dan said about the island being a laboratory and the humans as test subjects, stating to himself that he knew something was afoot on Kotaku but never suspected that their would be humans capable of killing Lord Tensen and wonders if he will remain conscious to see them change the island. After returning to the gate, the group encounters Fuchi, Gantetsusai, Mei, Gabimaru unconscious, Tōma, and the Dōshi the Aza brothers captured. Hōko sees that Mei has grown due to using her power and states that he is grateful that the others kept her safe. He is then shocked to hear from Gantetsusai and Fuchi that they escaped from the Sōshin Nest and defeated the Dōshi. This causes Hōko to become impressed with the current group of humans and wonders if Lord Tensen incidentally lured in humans that went beyond than what they could have imagined.
After learning about the death of his comrades, Fuchi breaks out into tears while standing near Senta's grave. Shion sees that only eight managed to survive the mission and expresses his sorrow of the lives that were taken. Gantetsusai responds saying that his grief was pointless to the criminals since they came to the island with the goal of killing each other to gain the pardon and sees that Shion was hoping that the Asaemons would be the ones to survive. He then points to Tōma, questioning if he still felt close to him after he is revealed to be traitor and offers to get rid of him since he will slow them down. Gantetsusai is stopped by Sagiri since she explains that he does not pose as a threat. Yuzuriha interrupts to bring their attention to Gabimaru who is in critical condition after the battles he has fought. Gabimaru awakens and sees that he does not recognize anyone in front of him. Sagiri says that they need to examine his wounds but is told that he is doing fine. Shion tells him that his wounds will not heal on their own easily and that unless they treat him he will die. Gabimaru says that he was willing to accept this fate, causing Sagiri to realize that Gabimaru is not the same as he was before and asks him who he is. After Gabimaru answers that he is "Gabimaru the Hollow", Sagiri sees that she was right. Gabimaru then tries to attack Sagiri but is quickly blocked by Shion and Fuchi. Sagiri tells them that Gabimaru's Tao has been disrupted and has resulted in memory lose. Sagiri tries to convince Gabimaru that she is his friend and believes that a restorative Tao interaction will help but is constantly pushed away by him. With no other choice, Sagiri uses force to get Gabimaru on the ground and restrains him. She then explains that they are in need of his strength in order to have everyone return home safely and that there is someone important that he must reunite with. As Sagiri holds him down, Gabimaru's Tao is slowly restored and manages to regain his memories.
Chōbē awakens down at the Sōshin Nest and sees that he was taken over by his own power but tells himself that he will be unstoppable once he has proper control of it. He then spots a group of Sōshin and decides to test his Tao abilities on them. Meanwhile, the survivors relocates to a cave outside the Hōrai Palace. Gantetsusai hears Shion talk about how they should still be cautious of Lord Tensen since they can detect Tao and replies that he was feeling afraid of them, much to Yuzuriha's and Nurugai's annoyance. Yuzuriha tells Gantetsusai that they should be afraid of them after their difficult battle with Mu Dan. At the same time, Rien comes outside the palace to find Mu Dan's corpse and makes his way outside. Shion then asked Gabimaru about his encounter with one if them. Gabimaru says that he did and assures everyone that his memories have returned. With everyone knowing how terrifying Lord Tensen is, Yuzuriha makes a suggestion to find a way off the island and try reasoning with the shogun but is told by Gabimaru that he can not return home without the full protection of the pardon to be with his wife. This leads to Yuzuriha explaining her theory to Gabimaru about his wife being an illusion. Though he becomes shocked to hear this, Gabimaru says that he still has his mind set on retrieving the elixir whether she is right or not, however, he is told by Yuzuriha that his goal is pointless if he is relying on his feelings to determine if she exists. Gabimaru understands that there is no logical way of knowing but says that he is positive that she is real based on the time he spent with her and reveals her name, Yui. With that said, Gabimaru tells them that the only way he can be sure that she is real is if he makes it back home, much to Sagiri's agreement. Yuzuriha finds it odd that a shinobi like Gabimaru would talk about such weaknesses but is told by Shion that as he described Yui he could sense that his Tao began to enlarged, giving some indication that his wife may not be an illusion to bring out such feelings.
At the Sōshin Nest, Chōbē kills the Sōshin and is approached by Rien who asks if he was the one who killed Mu Dan.
The Secrets of KotakuEdit
After allowing the Dōshi he brought along to roam free, Fuchi returns to the cave and sees that Mei is sick. Yuzuriha wonders why Mei is no longer a little girl, to which Fuchi explains that she is a similar being to Lord Tensen. Fuchi agrees to create some medicine for Mei's fever but demands that she tells him everything about Lord Tensen. While elsewhere, Gabimaru spars with Gantetsusai, Shion, Tōma, and Nurugai to learn more about how to use his Tao to defeat Lord Tensen. After interpreting Mei's words, Fuchi relays the information to Sagiri and Yuzuriha and tells them that according to her, Lord Tensen and the island was created by a Hōshi to uncover the secrets of immortality by incorporating Taoism. Fuchi explains that Lord Tensen have mainly been focusing on using the Inner Way of Tan to achieve immortality by developing an elixir from the Tao of humans to increase their life spans. Knowing that they can not survive without the Tan elixir, Fuchi believes that it is possible for Lord Tensen to die if they are depleted of their Tao. Yuzuriha then questions why Lord Tensen would go so far with the elixir. Mei answers that it is possibly because they are following the will of their created, Xu Fu — the Hōshi who once served the Emperor of the Qin Dynasty on researching immortality but disappeared 1,000 years ago after he entered Japan. Despite the stories that were told, Fuchi speculates that he may still be alive on the island continuing his research.
As Fuchi, Yuzuriha, and Sagiri discuss about Xu Fu, Mei's fever gets worse and reveals that her left arm has been turned into a branch. Mei explains her past where she attempted to stop Rien after he sacrificed many lives for the Inner Way of Tan and was punished by having her tanden broken, resulting in her having little Tao circulating through her body and will turn into a tree if she uses her Tao. Hōko offers his Tao for Mei to extract and tells her that he hopes that she can forgive him for ignoring her past desire to leave the island since he saw her to be similar to his late daughter. Mei accepts Hōko's request and tells him that she also saw each other as a family. After absorbing Hōko, Mei reverts back to her child body and says goodbye to her father.
Elsewhere, after their sparring match with Gabimaru was over, Tōma begs Gantetsusai to help train him but sees that the swordsman doesn't believe that he can trust him. He then cuts off his hair to show his resolve and once again asks to make him stronger. Having seen this, Gantetsusai agrees to train Tōma and have him follow him to another location.
Later, at the Sōshin Nest, Rien becomes impressed with how Chōbē managed to achieve hybridization with the Tao of the Waitanhua flower and wishes to observe more of his abilities. Seeing as how he has no chance at victory fighting against Rien, Chōbē enters into his transformation. He manages to inflict damage to Rien and successfully destroys his body, however, Chōbē is shocked to see Rien appear behind him with multiple clones of himself. After becoming delighted to see that Chōbē has managed to retain control of himself while wielding the power of the Waitanhua flower, Rien knocks him out unconscious and decides to take him back to the palace.
After returning back to the palace, Chōbē awakens tied up to a bed. Rien, while in their female body, tells Chōbē that he has become invaluable to her since he believes that his blend of Tao may be the key to completing her research. She then undresses and prepares to engage in Bōchū Jutsu with Chōbē to understand his Tao better. Chōbē releases himself from his bindings and tells Rien that before he can cooperate he demands that she tells him everything about the island. Rien explains that the island is a giant experimental laboratory meant to observe immortal life and tells him about Lord Tensen's plan of turning every human on the mainland into Tan after processing the perfected elixir, which she needs Chōbē for and offers him a position within their inner circle. Knowing that he must return to Tōma, Chōbē agrees to cooperate and engages in Bōchū Jutsu with Rien.
The Arrival of The Treasure Barge & The United FrontEdit
After everyone had gathered, Shion prepares to explain the groups next course of action that he discussed with Gabimaru. However, Mei interrupts to warn them that she senses strong Tao from the shores that is either coming from one person or from a group. Shion believes that it is Shugen and reinforcements sent by Eizen, along with other criminals. Sagiri and Shion vouches for his strength, believing that he will be a great asset to them, however, Yuzuriha remembers that he is known for a terrible story. Sagiri explains the story, telling them how Shugen executed the captured members of the Silver Serpent yakuza group until their leader confessed in giving out the other remaining members locations. Despite the story, Sagiri believes that he will provide them with support. However, Shion denies this by explaining the full story behind the execution, telling the group that not only did Shugen executed the Silver Serpent group but also their families, reasoning being that he has a deep hatred for criminals and anyone who is involved with them. Knowing this, Shion says that it is less likely that he will help them.
While at the shore, Shugen encounters the Sōshin and fights them barehanded using his Tao abilities. After he was finished defeating, Shugen spots the corpse of Yamada Asaemon Eizen. Shugen breaks down into tears at the sight of Eizen's destroyed body and holds a proper burial. Meanwhile, the shinobi leader observes the behavior of the Asaemons and remembers their mission to kill Gabimaru, deciding that they and the Iwa shinobi should wait for the right opportunity to complete the task. Suddenly, a giant net captures a portion of the Iwa shinobi group and is revealed to have been done by the Mōnshin commanded by a Dōshi who was ordered by Lord Tensen to capture the party. While still grieving over his loss, Isuzu and Kiyomaru protect Shugen from the Mōnshin and are assisted by the Iwa shinobi. After finishing his prayer, Shugen cuts down a Mōnshin behind him and uses its staff to chip away at his blade. He then angrily declares that he will claim vengeance on every living thing on the island. The Dōshi decides to face Shugen one-on-one but is quickly defeated. Shugen interrogates the Dōshi to have him reveal who he works for. Jikka walks up to Shugen and tries to convince him to return back to Japan but is furiously told by the Asaemon that he will not allow that to happen, leading Isuzu to try to calm him down. Shugen apologizes for his rudeness and is met by the shinobi leader, insisting that the Iwa shinobi handle interrogating the Dōshi since that is what they specialize.
In Hōrai, Shion explains that they should split into two groups where one locates the Tan elixir and the other finds a way off the island. He also presents their strategy of using their Tao attributes to defeat the right members of Lord Tensen. Although the plan is set up, Yuzuriha believes that it is risky to continue on with the mission and that they should rather find a way off the island and go into hiding. Shion sees that Yuzuriha has made a fair point and gives everyone the option to decide whether they want to continue on forward with the mission by following him into the cave or act independently. After entering the cave, Shion senses that everyone has agreed to continue forward. Shion tells them that he is relieved that everyone chose the same path, seeing as how they are each others last chance of survival as their situation grows dire.
|17 • 18 • 19 • 20 • 21 • 22 • 23 • 24 • 25 • 26 • 27 • 28 • 29 • 30 • 31 • 32 • 33 • 34 • 35 • 36 • 37 • 38 • 39 • 40 • 41 • 42 • 43 • 44 • 45 • 46 • 47 • 48 • 49 • 50 • 51 • 52 • 53 • 54 • 55 • 56 • 57 • 58 • 59|