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This article contains information from light novel sources that were not written by Tite Kubo and therefore are not considered canon material by the wiki.

Bleach: Can't Fear Your Own World III is the third edition of a three volume series of Bleach novels by Ryōgo Narita that centers on Shūhei Hisagi.[3]



Hikone Ubuginu recalls the first moment they came into existence, where they woke up and realized that they had no memories at all of a past life or even a childhood. Having been created by fusing thousands of Soul pieces together - fragments of Hollows, Humans, and Shinigami, even Quincy that lived thousands of years ago and fragments of the Soul King - Hikone's existence was an unnatural and paradoxical one, and so their body could not keep itself together, not until Tokinada Tsunayashiro collected a "piece" of the Soul King strong enough to force the others together. It was this specific piece that gave Hikone their first memory, in the form of a dream of being imprisoned.[4]

While Hikone was an individual with their own feelings and desires, the countless and varying Souls that composed Hikone possessed their own as well, causing an unmatched chaos within Hikone's psyche. Some pieces were misanthropes, while yet others were philanthropes, and a certain one yearned for bloodshed and detested all the others. However, thanks to Tokinada's guidance, Hikone was able to maintain dominance of their own existence due to a desire to become a beloved King for Tokinada. Likewise, Tokinada taught Hikone the necessity of bloodshed in order to satisfy their more violent components.[4]

Chapter 19[]

Hundreds of years before the Wandenreich war, Tokinada's wife, Kakyō, had recently discovered his true nature, but remained kind and compassionate as she tried to empathize with him. A frustrated Tokinada recalls how he was forced into marriage by his family, which had an extreme "survival of the fittest" mentality and was adamant on remaining the leader and strongest of the Noble Houses, dedicating itself to culling the weak from their lineage.[5]

Driven by his own urges, Tokinada settled on marriage with a lowly Shinigami originating from the Rukongai, planning on giving her great happiness only to brutally tear it away later on. Yet even as Tokinada revealed his true intentions on the evening of their wedding ceremony, Kakyō did not fall into despair, but remained happy for herself and her best friend, Kaname Tōsen. Unable to comprehend her kindness and empathy, Tokinada only grew more frustrated with her.[5]

As Kakyō was a very promising and talented graduate from the Shin'ō Academy, even catching the attention of Shunsui Kyōraku and Jūshirō Ukitake, Tokinada grew to resent her even more, yet was unable to get rid of her as his family was happy at such a successful "experiment". However, one night a random Shinigami who befriended Kakyō confronted Tokinada about his treatment of his wife. When Tokinada unveiled the full truth to the Shinigami, they became enraged and attacked the noble.[5]

Bleach CFYOW Tokinada deranged

Tokinada upon murdering his wife.

As the two fought, with Tokinada having the advantage, Kakyō discovered them and attempted to stop the fight. Taking advantage of the distraction, Tokinada slaughtered the Shinigami before turning his attention to Kakyō. As Kakyō released her Zanpakutō, Suzumushi, Tokinada relished the fact that he was finally able to break her happiness and proceeded to fatally wound her.[5]

With her final words, Kakyō apologized for not being able to "sweep away the clouds" of Tokinada's unhappiness. Upon hearing her empathetic words full of pity, Tokinada trembled with fury, completely unable to comprehend her kindness, but eventually calmed down and stated that he had hoped to show her the true ugliness of the world before admitting that, in the way he opened up to her, he did love her to some degree.[5]

Afterwards, Tokinada returned to the heads of his family, where he lied about the circumstances of Kakyō's death; by his account, Tokinada could not stand being married to a commoner and when he caught Kakyō commuting adultery with another Shinigami, he had killed them in self-defense. While the Tsunayashiro elders branded Tokinada as incompetent, they tried to cover up the event as they also had their secrets. Were it not for the interference of another noble, Shunsui Kyōraku, who brought the events to light, Tokinada's life might have been very different.[5]

In the present, Shunsui and his allies arrive at the fake Soul King Palace in the Valley of Screams. As Shunsui marvels at Tokinada's ability to construct the replica in secret, Yoruichi Shihōin wonders how he managed to achieve such a feat, particularly since the mechanism that keeps the real Palace afloat is highly confidential. Sensing Tokinada's Reiatsu inside, Shunsui prepares to enter, though he orders Kenpachi Zaraki to stay behind for now; though reluctant to do so, Zaraki understands Shunsui's reasoning and begrudgingly accepts his duties as a captain.[5]

Yoruichi interrupts them and brings up her and Byakuya Kuchiki's meeting with Tokinada earlier, where she admits that she would have killed Tokinada then and there for insulting Hisana Kuchiki if Byakuya had not held her back. Yoruichi does realize, however, that while Byakuya appeared calm, he barely managed to restrain himself and prevent a civil war from happening. Hearing this, Shunsui is grateful he had sent Byakuya and Tōshirō Hitsugaya away to investigate the Human World earlier.[5]

Entering the Palace, Shunsui is quickly confronted by Tokinada. As the two banter about their mutual history, Shunsui draws Katen Kyōkotsu and asks Tokinada about his plans, specifically the purpose of the replica palace. In response, Tokinada mocks Shunsui's rebellious actions and claims that the Captain-Commander is turning against the very history of Soul Society itself because the Tsunayashiro Family is the cornerstone of Soul Society's history, meaning that turning against him is the equivalent of treason.[5]

Shunsui refutes this by pointing out that Tokinada is claiming sovereignty over not just Soul Society, but also the Human World and Hueco Mundo, but in response, Tokinada asserts that such a ruler would deserve respect for allowing the inhabitants of Hueco Mundo to experience daylight for the first time. Bringing up the Quincy Blood War, Tokinada notes that hardly anyone is even aware of Ichigo Kurosaki's efforts to stop the three worlds from collapsing and asks Shunsui if the Substitute Shinigami does not deserve his recognition.[5]

Upon hearing this, Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck interrupts them and asserts that Ichigo does not care about such fame anyway, only for Tokinada to claim it is unfair nonetheless in a manner similar to how Hollows and Arrancar like her are living a cursed existence. Nelliel ignores this and tells Tokinada that he should not use Ichigo to justify his own selfishness. Hearing this, a curious Liltotto Lamperd asks Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez if Nelliel is Ichigo's partner, leading a surprised Grimmjow to deny this and explain that Ichigo already has a Human mate, Orihime Inoue, to which an indifferent Liltotto remarks that Ichigo is a "womanizer".[5]

Ignoring them, Tokinada claims that he greatly admires Ichigo's efforts of saving Soul Society from Yhwach's attempts to "return the worlds to their previous state", but Shunsui interrupts him and asserts that he knows what Tokinada truly wants: a world where all order and common sense is destroyed. Tokinada notes that in the Human World, both religion and science will be uprooted if the truth of their world is revealed, and that the Humans need to see the world for what it is; evil. Shunsui silently acknowledges the untold chaos that will erupt in the Human World if the truth of their existence and afterlives were to come out and tells Tokinada to stop with his pretense, as he knows that Tokinada does not want justice, nor does he want to reform the world; he just wants to watch everything break down into chaos, destruction, and anarchy, which he believes to be the true nature of everything.[5]

Hearing this, everyone present aside from Nanao and Yoruichi are in disbelief that Tokinada's ambitions stretch so far for such a meaningless goal. As Tokinada congratulates Shunsui for understanding him better than his own family ever did, Tier Harribel interrupts him and asks him if he really wants to break down all of existence just for his own pleasure. Amused, Tokinada addresses the "Arrancar Queen" and reminds her of the existence all Hollows live with - an unyielding drive to quench their desires, whether it is hunger, destruction, companionship, or beauty, in an attempt to fill the void in their hearts. Harribel asserts that there is no need to enjoy the sacrifices that the world demands, but Tokinada proclaims that necessities and pleasure are one and the same to him.[5]

With everyone present stunned at the realization of just how insane Tokinada is, Kensei Muguruma breaks the silence by declaring his intention to fight, and Grimmjow, Zaraki, and Candice Catnipp prepare to attack as well. Tokinada, however, is disappointed that nobody seems to understand his reasoning, and abandons all pretenses of trying to explain himself. Shunsui gives Tokinada a chance to turn himself in to be tried, but Tokinada asks him what exactly he will be accused of. In response, Shunsui reveals his knowledge of Hikone's illegal creation, among which is the grave crime of granting Shinigami powers to a being of Human essence.[5]

While Tokinada counters that the Gotei 13 did the same thing to Ichigo after Sōsuke Aizen's defeat, Shunsui says that it was under special circumstances and an action which Captain-Commander Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto gave express permission for. Shortly afterwards, the light behind Tokinada causes his shadow to move beneath Shunsui, who immediately uses Kageoni to attack him.[5]

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Shinji's Bankai.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Valley of Screams, Shinji Hirako stands atop the flower platform generated by his Bankai and thanks Sakanade for its hard work, though he complains about how his Zanpakutō forced him to surround himself with his enemies. Looking at the mountains of Hollow corpses around him, all killed by each other, Shinji notes that Sakashima Yokoshima Happōfusagari does not recognize the difference between friends and foes because it extends that illusion towards everyone, causing enemies to become allies and allies to become enemies, and is nigh-useless in one-on-one fights. Disappointed that Tokinada and Hikone were not present because he could have made them attack each other, Shinji prepares to leave and chastises Sakanade for being a very uncooperative Zanpakutō, as the Shikai is useful against stronger opponents while the Bankai is only useful against weaker ones.[5]

Somewhere else in the Valley of Screams, Aura Michibane is fighting Kūgo Ginjō, Shūkurō Tsukishima, and Giriko Kutsuzawa when she notices the army of Hollows created by Ikomikidomoe have all been killed. As Aura effortlessly turns intangible to avoid her enemies' attacks, Ginjō tries to probe her for information. While Yukio Hans Vorarlberna confirms that he helped Aura isolate Karakura Town, Ginjō wants to know Aura's end goal. In response, Aura asks Ginjō if he still desires to get revenge on the Shinigami, and when Ginjō assumes that Yukio told her about his past, Yukio reveals that it was the opposite - Aura came to him with information. Aura reveals to Ginjō that her father was the Fullbringer Tenshiyo Agata, and as Ginjō recognizes the name, he realizes that Aura is a second generation Fullbringer while Aura sincerely thanks him for giving her father hope.[5]

Disagreeing with this statement because he blames himself for the deaths of the Fullbringers at that time, Ginjō asks Aura why she works alongside a Shinigami like Tokinada. Aura replies that Tokinada wants the Fullbringers on his side to create a new world, a world where they can be "predators" again. Before they can continue, Tsukishima takes advantage of the situation to use Book of the End on Yukio and declares that it while allow him to discover and undo any brainwashing done on his former comrade. However, as Aura continues to smile, Tsukishima suddenly turns on Ginjō and Giriko, apologizing as he strikes them as well.[5]

Chapter 20[]

As Shūhei Hisagi exits the portal, he finds himself in an unidentified room, leading him to wonder if the Dangai disrupted his transfer somehow. Noticing the Seireitei-like architecture around him, Hisagi quickly notices the different density of the surrounding Reishi and realizes he is indeed in the Valley of Screams. Upon sensing a large variety of immense Reiatsu some distance beneath him, one of which he recognizes as Zaraki's Reiatsu, Hisagi concludes that the Gotei 13 must have acted independently on the strange events occurring and Hisagi decides to investigate his surroundings.[6]

Exploring the nearby rooms, Hisagi eventually finds a large chamber with a glass container connected to different devices in the middle and wonders what it is. A familiar voice replies that the container is their future throne. Hisagi turns around and discovers that the voice belongs to Hikone, who also recognizes Hisagi. While Hikone initially wonders why Hisagi is here, they eventually believe Hisagi to be Tokinada's guest. Upon hearing the name, Hisagi demands to know if Tokinada is present as well, which Hikone confirms. Hikone suggests taking Hisagi to meet Tokinada, but the child's immense hybrid Reiatsu intimidates Hisagi.[6]

Realizing that Hikone, despite their power, really is just an innocent child, Hisagi decides to take a different approach. Hisagi asks Hikone if they are aware of what Tokinada's plans are, and while Hikone admits that they do not fully understand them, the goals must be noble as Tokinada is a good person. In response, Hisagi carefully suggests if it is possible that Tokinada may have made a mistake, prompting a distraught Hikone to demand to know where Tokinada's mistake lies so that they can see it with their very own eyes. While Hisagi tries to answer, Hikone asserts that Tokinada will always be right to them even if he made a mistake to other people because they consider him to be "justice".[6]

Upon hearing that word, Hisagi angrily interrupts Hikone, who is startled, but quickly apologizes for his outburst and tries to explain that "justice" is not a word to be used lightly. When Hikone replies that justice is what the Shinigami fight for, Hisagi tries to explain that Tokinada's justice may not be the same as that of the Gotei 13, only for Hikone to reveal that Tokinada already explained that and that Hikone will have to fight the Shinigami. As Hikone apologizes and prepares to leave, Hisagi stops them and demands to know for what reason Hikone will fight the Shinigami. Hikone states that Tokinada explained that the Shinigami are "enemies", but Hisagi ignores this and tries to dissuade Hikone by revealing that the child will most certainly be killed by the raw might of Zaraki.[6]

Slightly saddened, Hikone explains that they will accept dying for Tokinada as their fate if they must. When Hisagi angrily says that one should never throw their life away so trivially, Hikone apologizes for once again making Hisagi angry. Using Bakudō #63. Sajō Sabaku to restrain Hikone, Hisagi admits that he does not consider Hikone to be his enemy even though Tokinada is, but Hikone does not understand the distinction and breaks free of the Kidō before using Senka to incapacitate Hisagi. As Hisagi loses consciousness, Hikone says that the Shinigami cannot win against them, Tokinada, and Aura, as they request that Hisagi to remain here and rest.[6]

Shunsui vs Tokinada CFYOW

Tokinada blocks Shunsui's attack.

Meanwhile, in the Palace courtyard below, Tokinada barely manages to draw his own Zanpakutō to block Shunsui's Kageoni attack. Noticing this, Zaraki complains that Shunsui finally initiated the fight without telling him, as he was bored from the conversation, and Ikkaku Madarame and Yumichika Ayasegawa ask Shunsui to let the three of them to fight first. Before anyone can react, however, Tokinada yells Hikone's name, which immediately causes an immense Reiatsu to be sensed by everyone present.[6]

In response, all the fighters present step forward and prepare for battle, and within seconds Hikone appears before them. While Candice is nervous, Grimmjow instantly notices that, despite appearances, Hikone has undergone significant growth since their last fight. As Hikone awaits Tokinada's orders, the Noble introduces Hikone to everyone present as the Soul King of the new era, and while those present take in this revelation, Shunsui tells Tokinada that such disrespect is unbecoming of a Noble of Soul Society, only for Tokinada to counters that it is the exact opposite considering the state of the current Soul King.[6]

As Harribel studies Hikone, she simply voices her disgust at Tokinada's plan to sacrifice an innocent child to such a fate. Addressing Hikone, Tokinada introduces the fighters present and tells Hikone they will be their future subjects. An excited Hikone introduces themself and mentions the fun they had fighting some of them before as Tokinada notes that Hikone should not dislike them. As Hikone acknowledges this fact, Tokinada casually orders Hikone to slaughter them all, which a still-smiling Hikone agrees to.[6]

While Nanao is terrified of the unusual child and their immense power, Hikone simply thanks everyone for being there to fight. Wasting no time, Hikone releases their Zanpakutō: "Hatch out and be ruined - Ikomikidomoe". As an immense torrent of Reiatsu pours from Ikomikidomoe, it transforms from a sword into a large, humanoid Hollow, smaller than the sword's previous release but with far more compressed Reiatsu. Hikone once again thanks everyone for being there before immediately generating a Heilig Bogen and firing a combined Heilig Pfeil and Cero at the group. While Liltotto is shocked that Hikone could combine such incompatible techniques, the Arrancar step forward to fight Ikomikidomoe directly.[6]

Espada CFYOW

The Espada release their Resurrección.

Grimmjow notes that even though Ikomikidomoe resembles an Adjuchas, its power is greater than that of most Vasto Lorde. Harribel, however, recognizes Ikomikidomoe as an ancient and powerful Hollow from Baraggan Louisenbairn's time as ruler, leading her to wonder how that Hollow wound up as a Zanpakutō in Soul Society. Grimmjow enters his Resurrección, Pantera, while Harribel and Nelliel follow up with their own Resurrección.[6]

Watching this, Zaraki expresses a desire to fight Grimmjow, but is reminded by Ikkaku and Yumichika that the Arrancar are their allies for now, so he wonders who is strongest between Hikone, Tokinada, and Ikomikidomoe. While initially intimidated by Ikomikidomoe, Ikkaku and Yumichika join Zaraki in attacking the Hollow Zanpakutō regardless. In response, Ikomikidomoe releases a massive blast of Reiatsu that wrecks most of the courtyard and greatly injures the Arrancar, even though Harribel used a shield of water to block most of the blast.[6]

Shunsui, meanwhile, used Kageoni to hide himself from Ikomikidomoe's attack inside Tokinada's shadow. As Tokinada laments that the courtyard has been wrecked, he tells himself to have Aura repair it later, leading Shunsui to express his sympathies for whoever Tokinada else managed to ensnare. However, Shunsui becomes serious upon studying Ikomikidomoe, and notes that as rare as "living" Zanpakutō are, Hollow-like Zanpakutō are unheard of, and since Hikone is the one wielding Ikomikidomoe, the sword's immense Hollow Reiatsu is being poured directly into the child, a process that normal Shinigami would be unable to survive. As Shunsui starts to understand Hikone's nature, he expresses sympathy for the child while Tokinada gloats over how it makes Hikone a perfect Soul King candidate like Ichigo or Ginjō.[6]

Suspecting that Tokinada is lying to him, Shunsui proceeds to bring up an earlier conversation and asks Tokinada if he was truly not responsible for the death of Nanao's mother. Tokinada confirms that, sadly, he had nothing to do with it, which Shunsui considers unfortunate. Momentarily confused, Tokinada quickly realizes that Shunsui has activated his Yubikiri technique, a game that forces those playing it to tell the truth and inflicts severe pain upon them if they lie.[6]

Tokinada wonders why Shunsui did not use that power earlier and decides to ask Shunsui about Nanao's Zanpakutō, Shinken Hakkyōken. With Shunsui shocked by his knowledge of it, Tokinada reveals that the House of Tsunayashiro had always suspected that Shunsui had illegally hidden the Ise clan's sacred Zanpakutō away, but Ginrei Kuchiki had already spoken out in Shunsui's favor. Deciding to make a move, Shunsui casually asks Tokinada what his Zanpakutō is called again. When Tokinada attempts to avoid answering, Shunsui immediately realizes that Kuten-kyōkoku is not the Zanpakutō's true name, to Tokinada's shock.[6]

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Tokinada releases Enrakyōten.

Shunsui reveals he suspected this because Kuten-kyōkoku is written with kanji similar to that of Katen Kyōkotsu, therefore it is likely Tokinada uses a fake name to avoid drawing out his Zanpakutō's full power. Tokinada confirms this is true and deliberately chose that name to mock Shunsui, upon which he decides to call out his Zanpakutō's true name. As Tokinada proceeds to chant the release command, "Sip from the four seas, the heavenly shores entwine. Equally duplicate ten thousands, and sharpen-", Shunsui attempts to stop him and stabs Tokinada, only to realize too late that Tokinada's injury is a required component for the full release of Enrakyōten.[6]

While Shunsui attempts to stop Tokinada, Enrakyōten proceeds to glow with a brilliant, silver light that temporarily blinds Shunsui, allowing Tokinada to free himself. As Shunsui quickly recovers, he notices that all the dirt and damage on the sword has disappeared, and Tokinada gloats that he will now show them the Zanpakutō of the House of Tsunayashiro, one of the oldest Zanpakutō in existence, Enrakyōten.[6]

At the same time, in the space generated by Yukio's Fullbring, Aura senses that both Ikomikidomoe and Tokinada have gotten serious and unleashed their full power. While Yukio mutters that Aura's powers are a "cheat code", Aura starts mentioning Urahara's presence before sensing that Hisagi has awakened in the throne room. Intrigued by his presence, Aura decides to confront Hisagi first.[6]

Meanwhile, in the palace courtyard, Grimmjow is furiously fighting against Ikomikidomoe while Hikone fends off attacks from the Quincy. As Grimmjow notes that Hikone has gotten stronger since their last fight, Hikone thanks him for the compliment and admits that this is due to Ikomikidomoe. When Hikone claims that they will become "King", Grimmjow notes that he shares this goal, only for Ikomikidomoe to laugh at the idea of someone as young as Grimmjow ruling over Hueco Mundo.[6]

Hearing this, Grimmjow reminisces on his time with his former Fracción and his promise to kill and devour anyone that tries to rule over him. While Grimmjow realizes that Ikomikidomoe is a dangerous opponent, his predatory instincts compel him to fight anyway. Harribel, who is present, realizes his as well and mentally notes that this is why she never addresses herself as ruler in Grimmjow's presence. As Grimmjow reminds himself he is the King, he bears his fangs and prepares to pounce.[6]

Chapter 21[]

After Hisagi was incapacitated by Hikone, the Shinigami awoke inside his Inner World, which takes the appearance of a idyllic plain with large trees and a red, rusty windmill that rotates perpetually. While Hisagi regains his bearings, he hears Kazeshini greeting him while taking on the appearance of a black wind. In response, Hisagi reprimands Kazeshini and asserts that he still refuses to satiate Kazeshini's bloodlust. Hearing this, Kazeshini changes its appearance to that of a humanoid shadow.[7]

Kazeshini explains that it is merely a shadow of Hisagi and constantly switches forms, speech pattern, and other traits depending on how the light strikes. Exasperated, Hisagi asks if that means that all his attempts to understand Kazeshini before were meaningless, but Kazeshini clarifies that Hisagi only learned to understand a part of him, just enough to achieve Shikai. As Kazeshini says this is the reason it has invited Hisagi back, it turns into a black wind again and passes through him, waking him up while reminding Hisagi to dedicate his blood and life to it.[7]

In the throne room, Hisagi is angry that Kazeshini still demands bloodshed and killing, causing him to verbally refuse to kill Hikone. As Hisagi tries to find a way out, he is confronted by Aura, who tells him there is no way for Hisagi to escape by himself. While Hisagi realizes he cannot win against Aura or Hikone, he still draws his Zanpakutō and demands to know where Urahara is. Though Aura assures him that Urahara is completely unharmed, Hisagi instead demands to be let out.[7]

Aura explains that only her, Hikone, and Tokinada can freely exit or enter the throne room, leading Hisagi to ask if she still plans to use the Hōgyoku to make Hikone the Soul King. While Aura only confirms that this is Tokinada's wish, Hisagi compares them to Aizen's attempt to overthrow the Soul King with the Hōgyoku. While Aura is confused for a moment, she quickly realizes that Hisagi has no idea what the Soul King truly is. Hisagi asserts that he knows enough, that Mimihagi saved the worlds after Yhwach killed the Soul King, but admits that he does doubt that truth and asks Aura if there is more he should know.[7]

Aura only responds that Hikone would keep the worlds more stable than they were before, leading Hisagi to declare that he will stop Hikone even if they want to become the Soul King. Pointing out how Hikone is still ignorant of everything and only knows was what Tokinada taught them, Hisagi asserts that he would not say anything more and would be prepared to fight Hikone if they still wished to continue after experiencing the totality of the world. Thinking back to his relationship with Tōsen, Hisagi decides that he must meet Tokinada himself, both as a journalist and as a Shinigami.[7]

Hearing this, Aura retorts that knowing the whole world will not guarantee happiness and that some people would prefer living isolated from the outside world, but Hisagi notes that while he initially thought Hikone was like that, he knows now that the child does have their own will. In response, Aura smiles and walks towards a confused Hisagi before whispering something in his ear. As Hisagi struggles to understand what she meant, Aura vanishes and leaves an open doorway for Hisagi to leave through.[7]

Meanwhile, in the sky above the courtyard, while Ikomikidomoe is occupied by the Arrancar, Hikone continues to fight off the Quincy. As Liltotto and Candice barrage Hikone with a rain of Heilig Pfeil, Liltotto admires Hikone's strength even though it is still inferior to Ichigo's. Meninas moves in and punches Hikone, but the force breaks her hand, and Bambietta Basterbine directly touches Hikone, who explodes but is saved by their High-Speed Regeneration. While Liltotto saves Giselle from a subsequent Cero, she notes that her fellow Quincy are starting to get fatigued. In response, Hikone simply says that they have now memorized all the Quincy's attacks.[7]

Before Liltotto can react, Hikone quickly counterattacks and prepares to vaporize Liltotto with a Cero. However, they are suddenly interrupted when they sense a monstrous Reiatsu pouring down on them, and Zaraki appears next to them. As Zaraki declares Hikone to be the strongest opponent present, Hikone responds by firing a Cero at the Shinigami, only for Zaraki to effortlessly dissipate it with his sword.[7]

While the Quincy are impressed and intimidated by Zaraki's might, Liltotto feels conflicted as Zaraki was the one who defeated Gremmy Thoumeaux during the war. Ikkaku and Yumichika appear behind them, with Ikkaku noting the irony of Zaraki saving them while Yumichika reluctantly assures the Quincy that they will not betray them now. As both Shinigami explain, they will never forgive the Quincy for what they did to their fellow Shinigami, especially Giselle, but they will abide by Shunsui's orders. While Liltotto tries to keep Giselle from angering them even more, Ikkaku simply advises them to stay out of Zaraki's way no matter what.[7]

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Zaraki enters the fight.

As Zaraki effortlessly fights off Hikone's attacks, he responds by slashing through Hikone's Hierro, though Hikone uses Blut Vene to stop the bleeding. Zaraki recognizes the technique from his fight with Ichigo, and Hikone is elated to be compared to such a hero. Referring to Zaraki by name, Hikone says they heard about the Shinigami captain from Hisagi, alarming Ikkaku and Yumichika, and explains that Hisagi is unconscious in the throne room at the moment. As the two Shinigami try to leave to rescue their ally, Hikone intercepts them, but prevented from killing them by Zaraki.[7]

Zaraki reminds Hikone that the fight is between the two of them and orders Ikkaku and Yumichika to leave. In response, Hikone combines Shunpo, Sonído, Hirenkyaku, and the Fullbringers' high-speed movement technique to appear instantly in front of Zaraki before using Hierro and Blut Arterie to strike several powerful blows. However, Zaraki merely slashes through Hikone's defenses again and notes that he has figured out Hikone's strength. Removing his eyepatch, Zaraki declares that Hikone is entertaining.[7]

At the same time, in the Hōōden, Ōetsu Nimaiya stares into the distance as he is joined by Ichibē Hyōsube. As the two share some banter, Ichibē asks Nimaiya if Ikomikidomoe is indeed in the Valley of Screams. Nimaiya replies that Ichibē already has seen it all, and Ichibē muses on the strangeness that a monster among Menos has now reached a different evolutionary path. While Nimaiya tries to mention Tokinada and Aura's unsanctioned entrance into the palace, Ichibē interrupts him and says that their purpose is simply to maintain the status quo, for it does not matter who rules over the world as long as the world itself stays the same.[7]

While Nimaiya disagrees, Ichibē merely replies that he will not interfere in the matters of Soul Society because Shunsui is doing an admirable job and there is no reason for them to favor one descendant of the Noble Houses over another. Sitting, Ichibē notes that regardless of the Linchpin's free will, or lack thereof, as long as it maintains the worlds, the "ordinary peace" will remain. A laughing Ichibē turns his gaze towards the greater palace and wonders what the Soul King, Yhwach, has as their opinion.[7]

A very long time ago, in the primeval days of Soul Society, before all Shinigami had access to Zanpakutō, the Menos prospered in Hueco Mundo and managed to reach the level of Adjuchas. One of these Adjuchas was particularly powerful one, and it came into conflict with one of the first Vasto Lorde to exist, Baraggan Louisenbairn. This Adjuchas even left Hueco Mundo and attacked both the Human World and Soul Society in order to consume everything it saw and keep evolving without limit.[7]

While similar to Aaroniero Arruruerie's Glotonería abilities, this Adjuchas did not assimilate the unique powers of any he consumed, but rather the full Reiatsu potential of his victims. Growing exponentially stronger, this Hollow was eventually recognized by Baraggan as a "walking disaster with infinite evolution", and the two Hollows made a pact never to interfere with each other.[7]

Eventually, the powerful Adjuchas attacked Soul Society, defeating even a young Yamamoto, and tried to devour the Soul King itself. However, the Hollow was defeated by Ichibē, who used Ichimonji to erase the Hollow's name. Since the Hollow contained too many consumed Souls to purify at once, Nimaiya sealed the Hollow inside a Zanpakutō, and Ichibē used Shirafude Ichimonji to rename the Hollow as Ikomikidomoe. Until a Shinigami would be able to wield it, Nimaiya sealed the Zanpakutō deep inside the Hōōden, where it remained until it was claimed by a child who could become the Soul King and was destined to be devoured by the blade itself.[7]

Back in the courtyard in the Valley of Screams, Grimmjow, Nelliel, Harribel, and the other Arrancar are slowly exhausting themselves in their fight with Ikomikidomoe. They note that Ikomikidomoe is an aberration that possesses the advantages of the three classes of Menos while still possessing immense levels of Reiatsu; despite Ikomikidomoe's bulk, his Sonído is proficient enough that he can strike targets with incredible speed and precision, and should Ikomikidomoe be injured, he can absorb the dense Reishi from Valley of Screams to perform High-Speed Regeneration.[7]

Due to this, Dordoni Alessandro Del Socaccio notes that they will tire themselves out long before they can take out Ikomikidomoe. While Harribel agrees, Nelliel states that it is not a reason to give up. Hearing this, a bemused Dordoni acknowledges the interesting fate of him fighting alongside his successor as "Tres Espada". Nelliel agrees, but states that they can put aside their differences concerning his fight with Ichigo for the time being. A shocked Dordoni now realizes that the childlike Arrancar that accompanied Ichigo into Las Noches and his fellow Tres Espada were one and the same.[7]

Putting aside the revelation, Dordoni releases Giralda and uses its cyclones in combination with Harribel's water to ensnare Ikomikidomoe. In response, Ikomikidomoe fires a Cero from his eye to blow away the water, but Cirucci Sanderwicci releases Golondrina and launches its blades into Ikomikidomoe's eye. Taking advantage of Ikomikidomoe's blindness, Nelliel launches her Lanzador Verde at his eye, where the lance buries itself deep enough to prevent easy regeneration. Following on this, Charlotte Chuhlhourne also enters his Resurrección, Reina de Rosas, and uses his Rosa Blanca to deprive Ikomikidomoe from more Reishi.[7]

As Ikomikidomoe tries to escape from the thorns by spawning more Hollows, Meninas punches him into submission while Liltotto devours his new creations and Candice and Bambietta unleash their full firepower on Ikomikidomoe. Finally, Grimmjow and Luppi declare they will be the one to destroy Ikomikidomoe as they start charging Reiatsu. While Ikomikidomoe tries to shield himself, he finds himself paralyzed by NaNaNa Najahkoop's The Underbelly. Before Ikomikidomoe can react anymore, it is hit by a full power Gran Rey Cero and Desgarrón combination.[7]

Meanwhile, during Zaraki and Hikone's battle, Hikone senses that Ikomikidomoe is in trouble. Dodging Zaraki's attacks, Hikone apologizes and asks for some time. When Hikone explains that they will soon gain the power to kill Zaraki, an intrigued Zaraki asks Hikone if they are referring to their Bankai, but Hikone notes that it is probably more accurate to refer to it as a Resurrección as they immediately head towards Ikomikidomoe's location below.[7]

In the courtyard, a severely injured Ikomikidomoe curses the Arrancar and declares that he will regain his true name. Just as Grimmjow prepares to finish off Ikomikidomoe, Hikone arrives and tells the Hollow that he already has a name as their Zanpakutō. Trembling, Ikomikidomoe tries to beg to Hikone, who ignores the Hollow and proceeds to thank everyone present. Hikone proceeds to call out Ikomikidomoe's full name: Ikomikidomoe Hō'ōraku Hakkei. Immediately, Ikomikidomoe's physical form disintegrates as a white wind surrounds Hikone. As Ikomikidomoe's physical form returns into a pure white sword, Hikone's Shihakushō turns black as their appearance changes to resemble that of a Hollow. Everyone present is shocked as Hikone's Reiatsu skyrockets, their full potential unleashed, and feeling similar to the Reiatsu of Sōsuke Aizen after fusing with the Hōgyoku.[7]

Hikone proceeds to bid the Arrancar goodbye as they return to fight and defeat Zaraki, the mightiest Shinigami. Meanwhile, in the Palace itself, Hisagi senses Hikone's rising Reiatsu and wonders what is happening.[7]

Several moments earlier, while the Arrancar continue fighting Ikomikidomoe, Nanao trembles at the sinister Reiatsu that pours from Enrakyōten and notes that she cannot actually perceive the Zanpakutō's blade. As Nanao realizes that Tokinada's injuries have disappeared, Shunsui asks Tokinada what the powers of Enrakyōten are, prompting Tokinada to claim that Shunsui will soon understand them at the cost of his life. After the two vitriolically banter about Soul Society's nobility, during which Shunsui voices his disgust at the nobility's privileges, Tokinada barely manages to dodge a kick from Yoruichi, who says that the conversation was testing her patience.[7]

Before Tokinada can recover, Kensei Muguruma activates his Bankai, Tekken Tachikaze and punches him with his full might, gravely injuring Tokinada. However, as Yoruichi approaches Tokinada, he slashes her legs with his Zanpakutō, and though the injuries are minor, Yoruichi suddenly finds her legs becoming heavier. Standing up with his injuries fully healed, Tokinada proclaims that he will not die easily and turns his Zanpakutō, leading Shunsui to barely manage to pull Nanao away as a vicious, spherical beast emerges from the ground.[7]

With great disbelief, Shunsui recognizes the beast as belonging to the Zanpakutō Gagaku Kairō, which was owned by the 7th Kenpachi, Kenpachi Kuruyashiki. Acting quickly, Shunsui drags the beast inside a shadow with Kageoni before attempting to attack Tokinada. While Tokinada dodges Shunsui's strike, Yoruichi attempts to attack him again, but suddenly finds a storm of blade petals stopping her. This is enough for Shunsui to realize what the true power of Enrakyōten is: mimicking the powers of other Zanpakutō.[7]

Tokinada strikes the earth with his Zanpakutō, causing spikes to emerge from it and head towards his opponents, but Kensei stops the attack with a blow from his Bankai and realizes the true power of Enrakyōten. While realization dawns upon Kensei as well, Shunsui lists the Zanpakutō powers they have seen Enrakyōten mimic so far: Wabisuke, Hisagomaru, Senbonzakura, and Tsuchinamazu. While Tokinada is impressed that Shunsui recognized all of them immediately, especially Tsuchinamazu, Shunsui is confused at Hisagomaru managing to heal such critical injuries, prompting Tokinada to explain that because his Reiatsu is far greater than that of Hanatarō Yamada, the powers of Hisagomaru are far more potent when used by him.[7]

As Nanao wonders if there are any limits to the powers of Enrakyōten, Tokinada summons an ash storm with the power of Haineko while spawning more creatures with the power of Gagaku Kairo. Shunsui tries to rescue Nanao, but Tokinada uses Hadō #58. Tenran to corner him further, only for Harribel to intervene by sweeping away the ash and creatures with Cascada, saving them. While Harribel expresses her confusion at Tokinada using Rangiku Matsumoto's Zanpakutō powers, she is joined by the other Arrancar and Quincy as well as Shinji.[7]

Shunsui wastes no time and quickly details how Tokinada's Zanpakutō can mimic other Zanpakutō powers before asking Shinji if he can use his Sakanade to counter any attempts by Tokinada to use Sakanade himself. Stating that he can try, Shinji admits that they are guaranteed to lose if Tokinada can mimic his Bankai. When Harribel fires more water blasts at Tokinada, he activates Ryūjin Jakka to evaporate the water, but Shunsui actually expresses relief upon noticing the flames are not nearly as intense as those of the original Ryūjin Jakka and notes to himself that while Tokinada's Reiatsu is still comparable to that of Yoruichi or Byakuya, but it is fortunately nowhere near the level of Yamamoto or Aizen.[7]

However, upon recalling the power of Aizen, Shunsui's worst fears surface as he realizes an important fact he unconsciously chose to ignore. Sensing his fear, Tokinada uses Bakudō #21. Sekienton to create a smokescreen across the courtyard. Terrified of what is about to happen, Shunsui closes his one eye, but before he can warn the others to do the same, he hears Tokinada using Daruma-san ga Koronda on Nanao. As Shunsui realizes that he has to open his eye to win this game, he reluctantly does so, only to find Kinshara attacking Nanao instead of Katen Kyōkotsu, leading him to realize that he fell for Tokinada's bluff.[7]

Unable to close his eye again in time, Shunsui desperately yells out for everyone to close their eyes, but he is too late. Even as Shinji comes to the same conclusion as Shunsui, his battle reflexes prevent him from looking away in time during combat. Before those present even realizes it, they have already fallen under the spell of Kyōka Suigetsu.[7]

Meanwhile, Hisagi is frantically navigating the rooms and corridors of the palace looking for an exit. After noticing Hikone's Reiatsu clashing with that of Zaraki, Hisagi fears he is too late and there will be casualties before sensing the Reiatsu of Shunsui, Yoruichi, and Kensei further below him as well. Initially relieved, Hisagi quickly becomes confused upon sensing Arrancar and Quincy present as well, and starts getting more anxious when he senses Shunsui's Reiatsu is weakening; because Hikone is fighting Zaraki, Hisagi realizes that this can only mean that Shunsui is being pressured by Tokinada.[7]

Finally, Hisagi finds a window leading outside and, upon looking out of it, sees the Arrancar, Quincy, and Shinigami fighting against a single, hostile Shinigami far below him. Wasting no time, Hisagi immediately jumps out of the window to assist his allies, unaware that this battle will uncover the darkness of Soul Society to him.[7]

Chapter 22[]

As Hisagi lands in the courtyard, the Shinigami, Arrancar, and Quincy present are shocked to see him and wonder if he is one of the illusions generated by Tokinada's mimicry of Kyōka Suigetsu. Hisagi asks Shunsui what is happening, but Shunsui points Katen Kyōkotsu towards him and tells him to keep his distance because they cannot be sure he is the real Hisagi. However, Tokinada interrupts them and demands to know who Hisagi is and how he arrived there, prompting Hisagi to ask him if he is addressing Tokinada Tsunayashiro. Recognizing Hisagi from his battle with Aura in Karakura Town, Tokinada politely introduces himself and ask Hisagi to publish a story about how Shunsui committed treason against the nobility.[8]

As he studies Tokinada, Hisagi quickly realizes that the noble is pure evil and mentally notes that Tōsen taught him that the concepts of "justice" and "evil" are a matter of perspective, he knows that even compared to even Aizen and Yhwach, Tokinada's very nature oozes pure malice. Hisagi declines to fulfill Tokinada's request and asserts that his readers would much more prefer a story where Tokinada is deposed. While Hisagi is aware that Tokinada is his enemy as a Shinigami, he decides to bring up the issue of Hikone, leading Tokinada to remember Hikone praising a kind Shinigami they met in the Pharmaceutical Institute.[8]

When Hisagi asks him what he has to gain by making Hikone the Soul King, Tokinada claims that it is necessary for the Shinigami to reign supreme over the worlds and that this is the sole reason Hikone was created. Angered, Hisagi counters that Hikone is not a tool to be used, but Tokinada states that he had Hikone created to serve as a mere vessel for his plans and scoffs at the idea that Hikone has feelings or even free will.[8]

Enraged, Hisagi realizes just how much Hikone is being used by Tokinada and declares that his desire to kill the despicable noble is only increasing. Tokinada admits that he fails to understand how Hisagi can be attached to a being he met only once before, leading Hisagi to retort that he would care even if he never met Hikone. Tokinada asserts that all Hikone has ever known is serving him because it is Hikone's very reason for being and what makes the child happy before claiming and depriving them of that servitude would only deprive Hikone of their happiness.[8]

Having heard enough, Hisagi releases Kazeshini and prepares to attack, only to be quickly grabbed by Shunsui and dragged alongside Nanao into one of the shadows with Kageoni. There, Shunsui fills Hisagi in on the power of Enrakyōten and how it has put everyone present under the influence of Kyōka Suigetsu, though Shunsui speculates that putting so much concentration on mimicking Kyōka Suigetsu has weakened the other powers of Enrakyōten. Relieved that Hikone is currently occupied by Zaraki, Shunsui and Hisagi try to formulate a plan to overcome Tokinada.[8]

Shunsui believes that Enrakyōten can only mimic Zanpakutō powers its owner has actually seen before, though both he and Hisagi admit this means little due to Tokinada's surveillance of everyone in Soul Society, and is convinced that Kyōka Suigetsu must be much weaker in Tokinada's hands than it would be in Aizen's. Regardless, Shunsui apologizes to Hisagi for dragging him into these problems due to asking him to write a praising article about Tokinada, but Hisagi ignores this and instead resolves to kill Tokinada. Struck by inspiration, Shunsui asks Hisagi how much of his "fighting in the dark" training he still remembers from his days at the Shin'ō Academy.[8]

Back in the courtyard, Tokinada grows impatient at Shunsui's disappearance and decides to quell his boredom by using Suzumebachi to mark Yoruichi with a Hōmonka before declaring that he plans on killing her with Nigeki Kessatsu in front of Suì-Fēng. Suddenly, Shunsui, Nanao, and Hisagi emerge from the shadows again, and Tokinada notes that Hisagi is keeping his eyes closed. Believing that Shunsui's plan is merely for Hisagi to call out his location to his allies, Tokinada laughs at this plan and claims that he can still mimic Hisagi's voice to confuse them, but mentally notes that he does not know Hisagi well enough to perfectly mimic his voice and mannerisms with Kyōka Suigetsu, which means Shunsui will most certainly notice any mistakes.[8]

Meanwhile, Hisagi recalls his training and notes his anxiety at fighting an opponent as strong as Tokinada while blind, especially once he senses that Tokinada has activated Senbonzakura, but calms himself once he realizes that Tōsen always fought blind. This causes Hisagi to remember Tōsen's last moments, as well as the first tears he ever saw his mentor display. Overcome with emotion, Hisagi asks Tokinada if he was watching them during Tōsen's death, which Tokinada confirms before gleefully claiming that he only regrets not being there in person as he openly relishes his earlier attempts at crushing Tōsen.[8]

Furious, Hisagi attack Tokinada, who avoids Kazeshini as he openly thanks Hisagi for killing Tōsen for him. Ignoring him, Hisagi shifts the conversation towards Hikone and calls Tokinada a coward for keeping Hikone ignorant about the truth of the world and utterly dependent on him. In response, Tokinada asserts that it is arrogant of a Shinigami to believe they are in the right when talking about the truth of the world. When Hisagi expresses his confusion at this, Tokinada realizes Hisagi himself is ignorant and loudly declares that their entire world is build upon a great sin.[8]

Hearing this, Shunsui tries to silence him by treating this assertion as an old myth, but Tokinada counters that he is fully aware of it from the Tsunayashiro family archives and refuses to believe Shunsui himself is ignorant. Shunsui tries to attack Tokinada, but finds himself stopped by Aura and her Fullbring powers. As she apologizes to Shunsui for interrupting him, Aura turns to Hisagi and politely asks that he hears Tokinada's story to the end because someone of Hisagi's profession deserves to hear the truth. Distracted by this, Hisagi finds himself impaled through the shoulder by Shinsō while Tokinada asks him if he ever wondered if Tōsen and Aizen may have been in the right, pointing out how aside from a blatant desire for revenge, Tōsen deeply believed in justice and Aizen despised the existence of the Soul King.[8]

Moving on, Tokinada asks Hisagi why Urahara even made the Hōgyoku in the first place since there were no enemies or conflicts at that time. As Hisagi recalls the cryptic conversation between Urahara and Aura concerning the Hōgyoku, Tokinada proceeds to ask Hisagi why Mimihagi even lived inside the late Ukitake's body rather than be collected by the Royal Guard, leading Hisagi to remember that the Right Arm, Mimihagi, governs "Stillness" while the Left Arm governs "Progress" and wonder if this means the Soul King was a being that existed between Stagnation and Evolution. Hisagi also recalls Aizen specifically addressed Ukitake when he asserted "No one stands on the top of the world. Not you, not me, not even gods" and realizes that Aizen must have known about Mimihagi's presence.[8]

As he begins to put the pieces together, Hisagi remembers the second part of Aizen's speech about "The unbearable vacancy of the throne" and asks Tokinada if the Soul King was dead from the beginning. Smiling, Tokinada specifies that the Soul King was never either dead or alive, and while using Gegetsuburi to block another attack from Hisagi, he notes that the Soul King was just a "sacrificial lamb". Tokinada reveals that the world did not always exist in its current state and that the old world was a chaotic place where life and death were the same.[8]

Laughing, Tokinada explains that the being knows as the Soul King, the progenitor of the Quincy, Shinigami, and Fullbringers, existed as a guardian between Hollows and Humans. Finally revealing the truth, Tokinada declares that the three worlds that currently exist were created by sacrificing a being who was "both a devil and a savior", a sacrifice performed by the ancestors of the Five Noble Houses; the Five Traitors.[8]

At the same time, in the Soul King Palace, Ichibē stands in front of the sealed remains of Yhwach and addresses a crowd composed of the rest of the Royal Guard and the "Divine Soldiers", the latter of which are noted to be mostly new recruits after the former ones were slaughtered by the Schutzstaffel. Due to the events occurring in the Valley of Screams, as well as the earlier attack on the Hōōden, Ichibē has assembled everyone to teach them about their true history.[8]

As Ichibē explains, before Soul Society existed there was only a single, primordial world where everything was in chaos; there was neither life nor deathh, and this stagnant chaos never progressed nor regressed, a state of being that this world remained in for a hundred million years. Eventually, Hollows emerged in this world and started feasting on the human inhabitants, disrupting the circulation of Souls and giving birth to the first Menos. Due to this disruption, the world began to destabilize again until, as if in response, a new being emerged from it, the Soul King, who destroyed the Menos, reducing it to sand. While Ichibē admits that other special beings, such as himself, emerged as well, none of them were as exceptional as the Soul King, being who truly approached omnipotence and omniscience.[8]

While the Soul King continued to annihilate the Hollows to protect the world, it caused the world to stagnate. In response, five powerful beings from that time decided to work together to change the status quo to create what they believed was a better world; these were the ancestors of the Five Noble Families. However, Ichibē notes that while their methods and goals aligned, their motives did not: Tsunayashiro wanted to control the Soul King's divine power, a different ancestor wanted to create a "lid" to cover up the "pit" that would become known as Hell, Kuchiki wanted to create order, Shihōin wanted to advance this stagnant world, and finally Shiba wanted to create a world were Hollows could live on their own in peace.[8]

Eventually, the five realized that in order to accomplish their goals, they had to split the current world into three new ones and needed the power of a transcendent being to do so. While Shiba initially tried to convince the others to find another way, they nonetheless bound the Soul King and sealed him inside a crystal. As Ichibē himself witnessed, using the Soul King's Almighty powers as a keystone, the world was split, life and death were separated, and the cycle of Souls began.[8]

While Ichibē admits he has no idea why the Soul King never resisted his bindings, only speculating that the Soul King saw something in the distant future that made him agree with the ancestors, he states that what followed next likely was without his consent. Tsunayashiro was unconvinced of the Soul King's cooperation and feared his immense power, and proceeded to tear off the Right Arm of Stillness and the Left Arm of Progress.[8]

With everyone present aghast at these events, Ichibē continues to nonchalantly describe the Soul King's degrading mutilation; the other ancestors joined Tsunayashiro and tore out the Soul King's Heart and organs before dismembering his legs as well in order to create a puppet king for their convenience. With a tone bordering on insubordination, Senjumaru Shutara notes how convenient it was for the ancestors that the Soul King carried the entire world without having any say in its proceedings.[8]

Ichibē, however, disagrees and voices his belief that the Soul King did still have a will of his own, even guiding Ichigo towards his fate at the palace, as he asserts that he can feel the Soul King's will inside his Ōken. Tenjirō Kirinji notes the interesting events that led to Ichigo, a descendant of Shiba, almost becoming the new Soul King, leading Ichibē to reveal that Shiba originally wanted to rebel against Tsunayashiro's plan, even offering himself up as a sacrifice, and comments on the irony of the Shiba bloodline only existing because Tsunayashiro disagreed with him.[8]

While Kirio Hikifune recalls how Kaien Shiba had a similar attitude to his ancestor, Ichibē states that this is why the Tsunayashiro family had disgraced the Shiba family. Lost in thought, Ichibē mutters that when Ichigo appeared, he genuinely believed history was repeating itself and wonders if the world needs someone like Ichigo. As their subordinates struggle to process this shocking revelation, the Royal Guard understands Ichibē's hidden meaning; the history of the world is built on crimes far worse than murder.[8]

Back in the Valley of Screams, Tokinada finishes recounting the same tale and states that if Yhwach was the progenitor of the Quincy as a species, the Soul King was the source of their very powers. Trying to agitate Hisagi, Tokinada continues and admits that he does not know if Yhwach was truly the Soul King's physical son or simply a personification of the Soul King's powers before noting his amusement at the fact that the Soul King was damned by the same beings he tried to save, and by trying to protect him from Yhwach, the Shinigami stopped a son from attempting to save his father from a million year-long torment that did not even allow him the comfort of being alive or dead.[8]

Continuing to dodge attacks from Hisagi, Liltotto, and the Arrancar, Tokinada points out the irony of how Yhwach's attempt to restore the worlds and save his father condemned him to that very same fate. When Tokinada asks him for his opinion, Shunsui deflects the issue and says that he is in no position to confirm the story before pointing out how, even if it is true, it has nothing to do with their current situation.[8]

Tokinada retorts that he does not believe that a person like Shunsui would be unaware of all this when the likes of Urahara and Aizen have been gathering that same knowledge for centuries, but Shunsui only replies that it none of it matters compared to how Tokinada's actions will throw all three worlds into chaos. Laughing, Tokinada continues to provoke everyone present by claiming that he is merely acting in accordance to his own ancestor's deeds and asserting that the concept of justice is meaningless to the point that only fools like Tōsen believed in it.[8]

Activating the powers of both Tenken and Hyōrinmaru, Tokinada bombards his opponents with a barrage of icicles, though Nanao summons Kidō barriers to block the attack. As he expresses concern for Nanao's increasing fatigue, Shunsui wonders if there are really no weaknesses in Enrakyōten to exploit and sharpens his senses. Upon detecting that Tokinada's Reiatsu is gradually degrading and declining, Shunsui realizes that Enrakyōten must be draining Tokinada's very life and voices this revelation.[8]

As he hears this, Tokinada congratulates Shunsui and notes that this is why the former heads of his family never wanted to wield Enrakyōten, since the life which the Zanpakutō drains can never be returned, similar to the curse of Shinken Hakkyōken. Shunsui does not understand why Tokinada would be willing to shorten his own life just for his pleasure, but Tokinada claims that there is no point in living if he cannot gamble his life in exchange for pleasure.[8]

Tokinada reminisces on how his family was always tempted to use the immense power of Enrakyōten, but their fear of dying continually trumped their other desires and led them to lock the Zanpakutō away, never to be used until he appeared; as a man whose desires to crush the hopes of others trumped his own fear of death, Tokinada did not hesitate to use Enrakyōten, which is what truly makes him dangerous. Snapping out of his remembrance, Tokinada notices that Hisagi has remained calm and silent during this time and realizes that the latter is slowly adapting to his attacks and evading with greater ease.[8]

Trying to provoke Hisagi, Tokinada asks him if he has trouble processing the revelations and notes that Tōsen had screamed out in despair upon hearing it himself. However, unbeknownst to Tokinada, it is this very revelation combined with the self-imposed blindness that makes Hisagi remember his training with Tōsen.[8]

CFYOWTosen trains Hisagi

Tōsen trains Hisagi.

Several years ago, in a forest in the Rukongai in Soul Society, Hisagi is training in a dark void and tries to remain calm and focused, but the sheer sensory deprivation he experiences eventually causes him to frantically swing his sword around before collapsing and screaming. Immediately, Tōsen deactivates his Bankai, Suzumushi Tsuishiki: Enma Kōrogi, and all of Hisagi's senses return at once. As Hisagi recuperates from both his terror and his lost senses, Tōsen calms him by admitting that he underestimated how dangerous his Bankai would be for Hisagi. Hisagi tries to apologize for failing, but Tōsen assures him that his terror was nothing to be ashamed of as even he, in his blindness, would be paralyzed with fear should his hearing suddenly disappear.[8]

While Hisagi still feels ashamed, especially when Tōsen reveals that he lasted only half an hour, he also realizes that he is one of the first people to experience Tōsen's recently unveiled Bankai, which Tōsen wanted to use to help Hisagi experience and confront his fears. However, Tōsen notes that while Hisagi certainly has fear in him, he cannot properly wield that fear, which Hisagi feels ashamed of. Tōsen muses on the nature of fear and how it is natural to fear the unknown world around oneself before asserting that to be truly fearless makes one neither a Shinigami, Human, or Hollow, but rather an inhuman demon.[8]

Tōsen tells Hisagi that denying one's fear and trying to cast it away will only turn those who do so into demons, and while Hisagi believes that Tōsen will never become like that in any circumstances, Tōsen muses that he does not even know what the light and colors that constitute the world actually are before claiming that if this were to happen and he were to lose his fear and start feeling only hope and happiness, he will no longer be a warrior.[8]

While Hisagi is confused, Tōsen merely teaches him that if he wants to embrace his pride as a Shinigami and protect the world, he must never cast away his fears, even when he eventually finds himself doubting everything he knows.[8]

Back in the present day, in the courtyard, Hisagi finally understands Tōsen's motivations and what Tōsen always tried to teach him; why Tōsen hated the Shinigami as a whole and why he believed in his own justice. Noticing this, Tokinada is initially happy, believing that he finally managed to crush Hisagi's determination, and taunts Hisagi about his regrets. However, Hisagi angrily counters that he would have still opposed his former mentor even if he had known everything from the beginning, leading Tokinada to mimic Suzumushi Nishiki: Benihikō. However, as Tokinada tries to taunt Hisagi concerning his opposition of Tōsen's unyielding beliefs, Hisagi simply uses the chain of Kazeshini to effortlessly block all of the blades generated by Tokinada's attack.[8]

With Tokinada speechless at his skill, Hisagi furiously reprimands Tokinada's mocking of Tōsen's justice and declares that he will make Tokinada regret antagonizing them.[8]

Chapter 23[]

While Hisagi continues his attack with increased ferocity, Tokinada is initially amused, but quickly becomes more and more worried as Hisagi's strikes become faster and more accurate with each blow. Quickly finding himself backed into a corner, Tokinada tries to use Wabisuke to increase the weight of Kazeshini, but finds himself unable to land a hit on the agile scythes. Growing desperate, Tokinada attempts to use Ryūjin Jakka to create a wall of flames, but realizes that, due to his power being vastly inferior to the late Yamamoto's, he cannot make the flames hot enough to even slow down Kazeshini without sacrificing the complete hypnosis.[9]

As Tokinada tries to come up with a plan, he realizes that, with Hikone occupied by Zaraki, he can only rely on Aura to help him. With the Arrancar, Quincy, and other Shinigami joining Hisagi in his assault, Tokinada decides that he has to stop toying with his victims and kill them already if he wants to have any hope of winning. When Hisagi's attacks become even faster, Tokinada tries to use Senbonzakura to block Kazeshini, only for the scythes to effortlessly deflect all petals and cut off Tokinada's sword arm.[9]

While Aura is distressed at this, Candice and Grimmjow react instantly and blast Tokinada with a Galvano Javelin and Cero, respectively, as the Shinigami surround Aura. Though Hisagi is exhausted from pushing himself so hard, he notices Tokinada's Reiatsu disappearing and believes they have won, though he is saddened that he allowed himself to fall to hatred and vengeance. Suddenly, Hisagi hears Kensei yelling out to him that Aura is attacking him, and because he cannot sense Aura's Reiatsu, Hisagi instinctively opens his eyes, only for a still-living Tokinada to activate Kyōka Suigetsu again. At the same time, Tokinada relaxes the illusions on the others, causing them to realize that he and Aura had switched places while Tokinada had put on a Reiatsu-Concealing Cloak.[9]

Seeing this, Yoruichi instantly realizes what truly happened; the very moment Tokinada had activated Senbonzakura, he had switched places with Aura while using Tsuchinamazu to create a statue to be attacked and "wounded" in his place. Then, by pretending to have Aura attack Hisagi, Tokinada had tricked Kensei into warning him, allowing Hisagi to open his eyes. With Hisagi stunned by this event, Aura reveals herself to be unharmed and Tokinada uses Ryūjin Jakka to restrain the others. Laughing at their foolishness, Tokinada notes that nothing can stop him anymore if Hikone defeats Zaraki and asks Aura to kill everyone other than Hisagi.[9]

However, Tokinada recalls the other Fullbringers and asks Aura what she did to them, since he only knows that they turned on each other. Aura explains that it was Yukio's doing, with her only amplifying his powers. As Yukio himself appears, he reveals that he used his own Fullbring to insert a "virus" into his past, which was passed on to Book of the End once Tsukishima tried to use it on him, and afterwards passed on to the others when Tsukishima turned onto them.[9]

While Tokinada is impressed, a seemingly mindless Ginjō appears next to them, and Tokinada is ecstatic at seeing another linchpin candidate before deciding to use Kyōka Suigetsu on Ginjō. However, Tokinada finds himself unable to activate Kyōka Suigetsu, and during his moment of confusion, Ginjō instantly activates his Cross of Scaffold and attacks Tokinada. Instinctively, Tokinada tries to use Zangetsu, but Enrakyōten is unable to mimic its powers, and Tokinada is grievously injured by Ginjō.[9]

As Ginjō admits that he is impressed by Tokinada surviving his attack, Tokinada uses Hisagomaru to heal himself while observing that Enrakyōten could mimic the appearance of Zangetsu but not its powers. While Ginjō smirks at him, Tokinada attempts to use Kyōka Suigetsu on him a second time, but fails once more. With Tokinada confused by this, a smiling Aura reminds him of how Kyōka Suigetsu can be disabled as she uses her Fullbring powers to keep hold of the sword.[9]

To his shock, Tokinada remembers that, while very powerful, Kyōka Suigetsu can be stopped from activating if the blade is touched beforehand; in the hands of someone as powerful as Aizen, this was little issue because Aizen could keep the initial hypnosis of Kyōka Suigetsu activated almost indefinitely, while someone weaker, like Tokinada, would need to reactivate it each time. Before Tokinada can react further, Aura has already used her Fullbring to restrain him. While Nanao is confused at these events, Shunsui believes that it might be yet another illusion, though he hopes that it is not.[9]

Aura flashes back to her past, where she notes she had no attachments nor motivations; to herself, she was simply another gear turning in the machine until the day she died. All that changed, however, once Tokinada ordered her to create new life. While Aura initially performed the difficult task without much care, once the new being actually started to truly live on its own, Aura began to feel joy and affection for the first time in her life, leading to the start of her tearing down the metaphorical glass walls surrounding her and entering the rest of the world.[9]

While Aura knew what the new lifeform's ultimate fate was according to Tokinada's desires, she initially did not care much about that. However, one day this being known as Hikone approached her and revealed that Tokinada told them to see Aura as their mother. While Hikone admitted they did not fully comprehend what a "mother" was, they still sincerely thanked Aura for giving them life. Seeing her own younger self in Hikone, Aura finally started to understand how her father felt towards her and what it means to want to protect someone. While Aura remained apathetic toward herself, she could not accept Hikone befalling a similar or even worse fate.[9]

Due to this, Aura decided to work against Tokinada solely to save Hikone, even if that meant that Hikone would resent her. Wanting to avoid the mistakes of her father, Aura instead wanted Hikone to experience the full world and decide their own fate. Even if Hikone were to still choose to follow Tokinada, at least the child would do so having known all their options.[9]

Back in the present, a struggling Tokinada reveals that he always knew Aura would eventually betray him before admitting that he did not expect her to do so at this very moment. Before Aura can react further, she falls to her knees, exhausted and barely able to breathe, and Ginjō wonders what is happening. Tokinada taunts her by pointing out how Soul Society has a large variety of Zanpakutō and it was foolish of her to keep holding onto Enrakyōten. Turning his gaze towards Yumichika, Tokinada mentions that there is one specific Zanpakutō that would be almost lethal to someone of Aura's power set, which is why he learned to use it, and Yumichika realizes that Tokinada is using Ruri'iro Kujaku to drain Aura's Reiatsu.[9]

Tokinada further taunts Aura by declaring that she should have betrayed him before he activated Kyōka Suigetsu, since they would at least have had a chance in such a scenario, and reveals that he knew of Aura's maternal love for Hikone before mockingly mentioning that he feels a similar interest in Hikone's growth. As Ginjō moves in to attack him again, Tokinada tries to activate Kyōka Suigetsu once more, but is unable to as Aura refuses to loosen her hold on Enrakyōten, causing him to get hit by Ginjō's attack regardless. While Tokinada is unable to understand why she is willing to sacrifice herself in a meaningless way, Aura smiles at the fact that, despite hundreds of thousands of cultists worshiping her, she herself is only staying alive for the sake of one child.[9]

With Aura losing consciousness, Tokinada has a diabolical idea and decides to order Hikone to kill Aura. However, a furious Ginjō activates his Bankai and is joined by Giriko and Tsukishima, with all three declaring that they will stop Tokinada. Congratulating Ginjō on mastering his Hollow powers, Tokinada mentions him being a Soul King candidate, which confuses the Fullbringer. Tokinada explains that Fullbringers exist because they are born with a fragment of the Soul King in their very being, and Ginjō admits that while he knows about this, he does not care about being the Soul King because he wants to change the world in his own way. Revealing that he knows Tokinada's family is responsible for the slaughter of his companions, Ginjō expresses regret that he never managed to hear the truth from Ukitake himself.[9]

Laughing, Tokinada tries to makes Ginjō question Aura's truthfulness towards him, only for Ginjō to reveal that Yukio and Tsukishima had already extracted the full truth from Aura's past; when Aura contacted Yukio for the first time, she used her powers to place a code on her business card that could be read by Yukio's Fullbring, which asked him to cooperate with her in exchange for information on the true culprits behind the Fullbringer massacre, and when Tsukishima used Book of the End on Yukio, he uncovered the truth and passed it onto Ginjō.[9]

As Ginjō continues to attack Tokinada, the noble taunts him by revealing that he was the one who placed the surveillance on the Substitute Shinigami Badge and deceived the Fullbringers into blaming Ukitake. Tokinada explains that Ukitake was opposed to the surveillance and left in the dark about the truth of the massacre; due to this, Ukitake believed that Ginjō was distraught about the surveillance only, and due to Tokinada's lies, he believed that Ginjō had killed his own comrades and the Shinigami sent to calm him down in a fit of rage. Taunting Ginjō by claiming that Ukitake always believed him, Tokinada asserts that he wished to go even further by threatening Ukitake's younger siblings for further cooperation, but stopped himself because he did not want to incur the wrath of Mimihagi.[9]

Taking all this information in, Ginjō calmly declares that he regrets not killing Tokinada earlier before unleashing a powerful Getsuga Tenshō at him. However, Tokinada uses the offensive power of Hisagomaru to counter it before using Senbonzakura and Tsuchinamazu to restrain Ginjō. Deciding to finish it, Tokinada prepares to call out to Hikone to kill everyone present, but finds himself unable to as his sword arm is suddenly and instantly sliced off by Kazeshini and pulled away in its chains.[9]

Overcome by agonizing pain, Tokinada does not understand how Hisagi was able to attack him despite being supposedly still under the hypnosis of Kyōka Suigetsu, but finds Hisagi looking directly at him with furious eyes. Seeing that Hisagi had wrapped Kazeshini into the Reiatsu-Concealing Cloak so he could catch Tokinada by surprise only confuses him more, as Tokinada was certain that he used Kyōka Suigetsu to hide the cloak. However, Shinji simply grins at him and reveals that he used a technique he had planned out in case Aizen tried to hypnotize Ichigo. When Shunsui congratulates Hisagi for catching on so quickly, Shinji explains to a confused Tokinada that he used Sakanade to switch Hisagi's perspective, preventing him from actually seeing the release despite it happening in front of him.[9]

As Shunsui grabs Enrakyōten and has Kyōkotsu hide it from them, Ginjō turns back towards the crippled Tokinada and launches another full-power Getsuga Tenshō at him.[9]

Chapter 24[]

Gravely injured by Ginjō's attack, Tokinada starts laughing and proceeds to try and heal himself using Kaidō. Annoyed, Ginjō tries to finish him off, but Tokinada uses Sentan Hakuja to begin teleporting away. When Shunsui criticizes his cowardice, Tokinada proclaims that he would rather die than spend the rest of his life bored and confined in prison as he vanishes before Ginjō can stop him.[10]

Appearing in the Palace's control room, Tokinada tries to finish off the alliance with a copy of the Kidō Cannon he installed in the palace, but finds himself unable to activate it. While Tokinada initially believes Aura sabotaged it, he is contacted by Urahara over the Palace's intercom, who mockingly reveals the sabotage was his doing. Meanwhile, in the courtyard, Hisagi is initially confused to hear Urahara's voice, as he believed the shopkeeper was kidnapped and imprisoned. However, Yukio reveals that in actuality he had secretly asked Urahara to follow him. Since Yukio was unsure if Tokinada could listen in, he had used static signals generated by his Fullbring to communicate with Urahara in a combination of binary and Morse code.[10]

Back in the control room, Tokinada confronts Urahara over the latter foiling his plans to replace the Soul King with a willing sacrifice. Urahara responds that it is unethical to sacrifice any being with their own will to such a fate and even admits that Yhwach's corpse does not deserve this either. In response, Tokinada accuses Urahara of hypocrisy, as the shopkeeper created the Hōgyoku for that exact purpose. Urahara interrupts him and, while noting that Tokinada spied on him more than he thought, asserts that at least he does not pretend to be a decent being. Telling Tokinada that he is defeated regardless of who is in the right and that there is no guarantee Hikone can actually defeat Zaraki, brings up the palace itself, but Tokinada interjects and activates a failsafe, claiming it should keep Urahara busy.[10]

In the courtyard, everyone present is shaken by several explosions occurring at the lower parts of the palace. As Candice wonders what is happening, Urahara explains that Tokinada destroyed the mechanism keeping the palace afloat. While Shunsui believes this act is futile because they can always escape using Shunpo, Ginjō interrupts him because he can sense the surrounding Reishi changing and wonders if the Tenkai Kecchu has been activated. Tokinada congratulates Ginjō on his observations over the intercom as Shunsui realizes that the descending palace has been moved to the sky above Karakura Town.[10]

Though Liltotto is apathetic to the fate of the town, Shunsui tries to come up with a solution. While the Arrancar and Quincy are largely uninterested in saving the humans, Zaraki's Nozarashi could completely destroy the palace before it reached the ground, but the powerful Shinigami is currently occupied with Hikone. He is interrupted when Kensei observes that the palace is breaking apart from the strain, endangering all of them too, but Aura quickly uses her Fullbring powers on the very air around them, causing the palace's descent to halt.[10]

However, Hisagi realizes that the strain of using that much of her powers, combined with her earlier fight, will be fatal to Aura. While Aura is amused that Hisagi voices concern for an enemy of his, Tokinada interrupts them and mockingly thanks Aura for providing him with one last amusement before loudly ordering Hikone to kill her immediately. Before anyone can react, Hikone instantly appears before them to carry out Tokinada's orders, but Hisagi quickly places himself between Hikone and Aura. Hikone politely asks Hisagi to step aside and reveals that they indeed intend to kill Aura because it was Tokinada's command.[10]

While Hisagi attempts to reason with Hikone, mentioning that Aura defied Tokinada while trying to protect the child's life, Aura interrupts them and tries to dissuade Hikone herself by reminding them that physical attacks cannot hurt her. However, Hikone calls her bluff by asking her why she does not use her Fullbring to turn to fog and disappear right now. In response, Hisagi tightens his grip on Kazeshini, and Aura asks him why he would go that far for her. Hisagi explains that he has to deal with it because of both personal reasons and his belief that Aura is a decent person worth protecting.[10]

Saddened that Hisagi directly interferes with Tokinada's commands, Hikone raises Ikomikidomoe and prepares to strike just as Yoruichi and Kensei try to intervene. However, Zaraki suddenly appears between them and angrily demands to know why Hikone left their fight. Hikone apologizes for the interruption and proceeds to flare up their Reiatsu while admitting that they have never felt such an exhilaration in battle before. Hikone attacks Zaraki again, who proceeds to block the attacks with his sealed Zanpakutō. Hikone asks Zaraki to release his Shikai, but the latter refuses because he wants to enjoy their battle as much as possible.[10]

Observing their fight, Candice expresses her disbelief at how the two combatants are actually laughing and enjoying themselves before recalling how Gremmy enjoyed his fight with Zaraki too. Liltotto coldly replies that she has no idea herself and turns to NaNaNa, who is intently observing the combatants and their Reiatsu. As Liltotto hopes that they will not get caught up in the titanic battle, Zaraki and Hikone both declare their strong desire to kill their opponent. Hikone proceeds to exert their Reiatsu even more, though the process begins to destabilize the delicate balance inside of them.[10]

As Hikone tries to remain in control of themselves, Hisagi suddenly appears between Zaraki and Hikone. As Hikone is confused, especially since Hisagi is facing Zaraki with rather than them, Zaraki stops laughing and demands that Hisagi move away. Alarmed, Ikkaku and Yumichika warn Hisagi to leave immediately, as Zaraki considers unwanted help to be an insult. However, to everyone's surprise and shock, Hisagi instead asks Zaraki to leave Hikone to him. Now panicking, Ikkaku and Yumichika once again try to warn Hisagi, as denying Zaraki a worthy fight is the equivalent of a death sentence.[10]

Barely restraining his anger, Zaraki demands that Hisagi explain himself, to which a terrified Hisagi barely manages to explain that Hikone is in fact a weak opponent. As Zaraki thinks about this statement, he initially wonders if Hisagi is calling him weak as well, but Hisagi clarifies that Hikone is weaker than Zaraki, probably weaker than anyone present. Therefore Hisagi says that it is unworthy for the Kenpachi to fight such a weak opponent, and instead proposes to fight Hikone for him.[10]

As Zaraki contemplates this information, he addresses the late Yachiru and the title of Kenpachi she bestowed upon him, and realizes that as much as he as Zaraki wants to fight Hikone, it would be a disgrace to the title of Kenpachi to do so. To the surprise of everyone present, Zaraki yields to Hisagi's request and walks away, stating that he expects Hisagi to prove his worth in battle or he will personally kill the lieutenant. While those present are in shock at this turn of events, they wonder how Hisagi can possibly win, as there are only a few beings, such as Ichigo or Aizen who are on Zaraki and Hikone's level. While some present believe Hisagi has some strategy planned, Kensei silently begs Hisagi not to be reckless as the lieutenant still has not achieved Bankai.[10]

As Kensei flashes back to Hisagi's training with him and Mashiro, Kensei feels both frustrated and responsible that no matter their efforts, he was unable to help Hisagi achieve Bankai. Even his fights against the Quincy and being sniped by Lille Barro did not proved the necessary catalyst. This causes realization to dawn upon Kensei, as he realizes that Hisagi has always managed to survive near-death situations no matter the odds and wonders that is somehow related to his Zanpakutō.[10]

Meanwhile, Hikone is still confused about Hisagi's actions, to which Hisagi mentions that he earlier warned Hikone that Kenpachi Zaraki would have certainly killed them, while Hisagi is only interested in stopping them. While Hikone states that Hisagi does not have the power to do so, Hisagi says that he was wrong in his earlier assessment of Hikone; Hikone is not strong, they are weak. Hikone retorts that Tokinada acknowledged their strength, but Hisagi replies in their current state, Hikone can never achieve their goals. As Hikone boasts that by killing Hisagi they will have proven their strength, Hisagi merely says that Hikone was far stronger when they first met. As Hisagi proceeds to bind Hikone in the chains of Kazeshini, Hikone effortlessly breaks free of them and instantly bifurcates Hisagi's body.[10]

Immediatly, Hisagi awakens inside his Inner World, where he is once again greeted by the spirit of Kazeshini. As Kazeshini admonishes Hisagi for his recklessness, Hisagi replies that he did not expect to win, all he wanted was to avoid Hikone dying instead. While Kazeshini mocks Hisagi's attempts to be a hero to Hikone like Tōsen was to him, Hisagi refutes this, saying that while he did not recognize himself in Hikone, he did feel great empathy for the child. Hisagi then asks how he can even talk to Kazeshini after being fatally bisected, Kazeshini laughs and merely says that Hisagi has always tried to emulate what he thought the ideal Shinigami should be like, but the result was something far different.[10]

As Kazeshini's mocking laughter is replaced by a prideful smile, he acknowledges that Hisagi has finally managed to make him yield. When Hisagi is confused, Kazeshini brings up his fellow Zanpakutō, White and Nozarashi, and says that the three of them are rather unique. Explaining himself, Kazeshini reveals that the reason he was a scythe was because Hisagi disliked that aspect of Shinigami. As Kazeshini mentions, he is a mere shadow of Hisagi, and now that Hisagi has yielded to him, Kazeshini himself has also surrendered.[10]

Finally understanding Kazeshini, Hisagi apologizes for not doing so sooner and proclaims he will dedicated his life and blood to his blade. Hisagi asks Kazeshini to lend him his strength and now understands that to dedicate his life means not to die or kill, but rather to not let others die. As Kazeshini vanishes, the Zanpakutō merely says that to freely manipulate who lives and dies is the very definition of a "god of death". Grasping the full meaning behind Kazeshini's words, Hisagi unlocks the true potential of his Zanpakutō.[10]

Meanwhile, Ikkaku and Yumichika are in despair as they believe Hisagi has died, chastising their comrade for not allowing Zaraki to deal with Hikone. While most present are in shock at Hisagi's apparent death, Zaraki and Shunsui sense that there is more going on. As Hikone, devoid of emotion, challenges Zaraki to continue their fight, Zaraki merely tells the child not to jump to conclusions. Before Hikone can react, the chains of Kazeshini once again wrap around them and pull them back.[10]

To Hikone's shock, they find Hisagi standing before them completely unharmed. As Hisagi tries to explain, Hikone bisects him again, but upon turning around is once again wrapped by Kazeshini and finds Hisagi is once again unharmed. As most present are aghast as the events, NaNaNa scans Hisagi's Reiatsu and find himself utterly baffled by what he senses. Trying different tactics, Hikone proceeds to cut off Hisagi's arms, only for them to return to his body unharmed. Growing desperate, Hikone blasts a Cero through Hisagi's chest, but the wound instantly vanishes as well. Not understanding what is happening, Hikone panics upon realizing Tokinada cannot give them orders and they have to think for themselves for the very first time.[10]

Hikone proceeds to mutilate Hisagi in various ways until they notice that Hisagi's wounds are in fact being healed by black chains rapidly pulling his body back together. While Candice wonders if Hisagi was Zombified, Giselle denies this and Grimmjow notes that he is not using High-Speed Regeneration either. However, Harribel notices that not only Hisagi has changed, but the surrounding Reiatsu has as well.[10]

As Hikone is left dumbstruck by the events happening in front of them, Hisagi thinks back to what Aura whispered to him in the throne room; to allow Hikone to have a future. Declaring he will teach Hikone one single thing, Hisagi throws the scythes of Kazeshini into the air. As the chains intertwine and form a whirlpool above him, Hisagi activates his Bankai, Fushi no Kōjyō, and a black wind of Reiatsu bursts from him.[10]

Hisagi's Bankai CFYOW

Hisagi's Bankai, Fushi no Kōjyō.

As the wind stops and the scythes return to Hisagi's hands, Hisagi is now entangled by his own chain and Hikone is puzzled, as they cannot sense any Reiatsu around them anymore even knowing it is clearly there. Hikone once again tries to repeatedly attack Hisagi, only to find the black chains once again healing him. As Hikone notices they are also entangled by black chains, the child turns their vision towards the other end of the chains and finds both them and Hisagi connected by the chains to a jet-black orb made of chains that is hovering above them, casting shadows as if they were beams of light. In response, Hisagi raises one of the blades of Fushi no Kōjyō, which causes the chains binding them to constrict around their necks, connecting the two of them.[10]

As Urahara is hard at work in the control room of the palace, he notices the black orb created by Fushi no Kōjyō. Recognizing it as Hisagi's Bankai, Urahara gravely notes how it intimidates him.[10]

Meanwhile, Nanao is also shocked by the appearance of Fushi no Kōjyō, but Shunsui merely observes it and notes that a certain aspect of Kazeshini is finally making sense. As Shunsui notes, dual Zanpakutō do not exist in normal circumstances; Katen Kyōkotsu is that way only because it split itself to hide Shinken Hakkyōken, while Sōgyo no Kotowari existed in that state because of Mimihagi's presence. Nanao realizes what Shunsui is saying, and he confirms it by stating that Kazeshini was never two scythes connected by a chain; rather, the chain itself was the true Zanpakutō all along.[10]

Though intimidated by the unknown Bankai in front of them, Hikone decides that their only option is to continue attacking. Firing a powerful Cero at Hisagi, Hikone is shocked to find the Shinigami is once again completely unharmed, and tries to attack the black orb of Fushi no Kōjyō directly with another Cero. Separated for a brief moment, the chains quickly rejoin themselves as well. While Hikone wonders if Fushi no Kōjyō is a Bankai that grants immortality, they quickly dismiss the thought as Tokinada explained that such a Zanpakutō simply does not exist, primarily because each Bankai has its own weakness; Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, for example, has its safe zone, while Nozarashi's Bankai takes an abnormal toll on the user's body, and Katen Kyōkotsu: Karamatsu Shinjū holds the risk of getting allies involved in the double suicide.[10]

As Hikone tries to figure out the weakness of Fushi no Kōjyō, they try to put distance between them and Hisagi, but the chains simply pull them back. Frustrated, Hikone demands to know why Hisagi does not simply kill him with his powerful Bankai, but Hisagi replies that it is outright not possible for him to do so. To demonstrate, Hisagi uses the chains of Fushi no Kōjyō to rip off Hikone's arm, but before the child can even fully process the pain, their arm is already restored.[10]

As Hisagi explains, while he envies powerful and flashy Bankai such as Tensa Zangetsu or Daiguren Hyōrinmaru, his fears of dying and killing others manifested itself as the powers of Fushi no Kōjyō. With the Shikai of Kazeshini representing reaping and circulating the flow of lives in the world, the Bankai involves a chain of seals that halts the flow of life and stagnates the world; its black orb even stagnates the very Reishi flowing in the atmosphere. As Hisagi notes, Fushi no Kōjyō prevents a circulation of life and death; a state of neither regression nor evolution, resembling the very form of the world that apparently existed before the creation of Soul Society.[10]

Shocked, Hikone wonders if it means that neither they nor Hisagi can die anymore, but Hisagi explains that he will certainly die if Hikone keeps attacking him relentlessly, but so will Hikone in the process. As Hikone realizes that their Reiatsu has been declining ever since Hisagi initiated Bankai, they decide to test out their theory by first ripping off their own arm and blasting Hisagi with another Cero, leading them to discover that each injury that is healed by Fushi no Kōjyō drains both their Reiatsu.[10]

Hikone realizes that even though neither they nor Hisagi can kill each other until they are completely exhausted, it does not matter because the likes of Shunsui or Zaraki could easily kill them instead the moment Hisagi deactivates his Bankai. Likewise, it means that Fushi no Kōjyō is a Bankai that is dangerous to its wielder unless they have nearby allies they can trust without question. Eventually, Hikone simply asks Hisagi to deactivate his Bankai, noting that both of them still feel the immense pain of their injuries despite the healing, but Hisagi refuses. After contemplating causing Hisagi enough pain to force him to end his Bankai, Hikone quickly understands that nothing they can do can surpass the pain of dying that they already inflicted on Hisagi.[10]

Unable to improvise for the first time in their life, Hikone decides to just keep attacking and dismembering Hisagi, repeatedly apologizing while Hisagi offers no resistance at all. Eventually, Hisagi asks Hikone why they continue attacking him if they regret it, and when Hikone replies that it is for Tokinada's sake, Hisagi counters by inquiring if Hikone is merely shifting the responsibility of their own misdeeds onto Tokinada. As Hikone stops, utterly stunned to hear this, Hisagi continues and claims that it is wrong to attack someone who does not resist and Hikone is fully aware of this before asserting that all Hikone does is push their sins onto Tokinada to make themselves feel blameless.[10]

Completely breaking down upon being confronted with this fact, Hikone begs Hisagi or Tokinada to tell them what they should do instead, but Hisagi sternly tells the child that they finally have to think for themselves. As he explains that Hikone is not a puppet nor an inherently bad person, Hisagi decides to pass the time by teaching Hikone about Tōsen's swordsmanship lessons, taking advantage of his current immortality. Not wanting to listen, Hikone attacks Hisagi again, but the Shinigami merely points out the flaws in Hikone's techniques. Continuing to break down, Hikone tries to defend themselves by saying they grew stronger for Tokinada's sake, but Hisagi points out that Hikone could not grow stronger because they always lacked the necessary fear.[10]

As he keeps enduring the pain of Hikone's attacks, Hisagi continues to calmly teach the child about their mistakes as a weakening Aura looks at him with satisfaction. Aura notes that, even though Hisagi is not famous like Ichigo, powerful like Zaraki, a genius like Urahara, charismatic like Shunsui, nor having any other remarkable traits, the Shinigami will always stick to his resolve and convictions no matter what. Eventually the Reiatsu of both Hisagi and Hikone is almost completely drained and they collapse from fatigue, but Hisagi gently tells Hikone that exactly because they live in an unkind world, it is important they be as kind as possible to each other.[10]

Turning towards Shunsui, Hisagi reveals that he is going to deactivate his Bankai and asks them not to hurt Hikone afterwards, which Shunsui agrees to honor. Hisagi deactivates Fushi no Kōjyō, intending to incapacitate Hikone with Hakufuku, but before anyone can react, the blade of Ikomikidomoe suddenly turns into its Hollow form and lunges with bared fangs towards Hikone. However, Aura barely manages to jump between them and has a large part of her stomach ripped out. While Hisagi rushes towards Aura, Ikomikidomoe fully materializes and declares that it will devour the remaining Soul King fragment inside Hikone, though it notes that the small fragments it absorbed from the child earlier suffice for now.[10]

Sensing that the curse which Ichimonji placed upon its name has weakened, Ikomikidomoe swears vengeance against the Royal Guard. Just as the Hollow is about to declare its original name, it is interrupted by an annoyed Zaraki, who effortlessly destroys it with one swing of his Shikai. Calling the Hollow a mere "whimp", Zaraki looks with disappointment at the now dulled and powerless sword that used to contain Ikomikidomoe.[10]

Aura Vanishes CFYOW

Aura dies in front of Hikone.

While Nanao tries to use Kaidō to heal Aura, the Fullbringer refuses treatment and instead requests that Hikone be healed first. As Nanao proceeds to do so, Urahara contacts the group again and reveals that he managed to open a large Garganta to send the falling palace into Hueco Mundo instead. Aura reveals this was Yukio's idea and proceeds to use her remaining strength to direct the palace into the Garganta, an act which Hisagi notes will certainly kill her. Claiming she will die satisfied, having been able to save Hikone, Aura turns into mist as a tearful Hikone begs her to stay.[10]

After Aura and most of the debris of the palace have disappeared into the Garganta, Hikone laments the choices they have made, having failed at their only purpose in life and trying to kill the woman who helped create them. Hikone asks Hisagi why Aura went to all the trouble of saving them, but Hisagi only states that she simple chose to. As Hisagi notes that Hikone's Reiatsu has plummeted after the Soul King fragments inside them were devoured by Ikomikidomoe, a regretful Hikone asks Hisagi if they are still qualified to call Aura their mother after what happened, and Hisagi replies that he will teach Hikone all they wish to know and will take the child under his wing.[10]

Meanwhile, in the Seireitei, Tokinada has retreated to the Tsunayashiro mansion, laughing at his foresight to install miniature Tenkai Kecchu in the replica palace in case he needed an escape route. While grievously injured, Tokinada believes that if he goes in hiding for a while he will have the time to heal. However, just as he enters the throne room of the mansion, he senses the chilling presence of another person inside. Tokinada initially wonders if either Suì-Fēng or Byakuya has penetrated the defenses, and is amused at these turn of events.[10]

As Tokinada calls out to the intruder to identify themselves, he is greeted by the voice of Mayuri, who apologizes for breaking into what he claims he believed to be an abandoned house. After explaining how he left the transfer process to the Valley of Screams to his duplicate, Mayuri reveals that he sought out the plans for Tokinada's numerous experiments, such as Hikone. Mayuri mocks Tokinada for leaving his plans out in the open for him to find and mentions that he plans would have been far more successful if the noble had just employed him instead.[10]

However, Tokinada retorts that the means Mayuri would use would not in fact complete his goals, as they would have been far less amusing, and details how he does not believe in any "great cause", as such a concept would be counter to his nihilistic beliefs, before asserting that his desire for pleasure is not that different from Mayuri or Urahara's desire for knowledge and experimentation. Changing the subject, Tokinada asks Mayuri what he came her to do and wonders if the latter intends to kill him, capture him, or experiment upon him. In response, Mayuri simply says that he wanted to observe the end results of Tokinada's actions and prepares to leave, only to ominously warn Tokinada that the noble should have locked the doors behind him. Suddenly, Tokinada is impaled from behind by a sword.[10]

Tokinada dead CFYOW

Tokinada's final moments.

Overcome by shock, Tokinada notices that the sword that pierced him is a mere Asauchi and that Mayuri is turned away from him. Upon turning around, Tokinada find his attacker to be a young girl wearing the uniform of the Onmitsukidō asks her who ordered the assassination, but with a trembling voice, the girl denies anyone hiring her and claims that Tokinada is an enemy of her family. Confused, Tokinada notices the girl is too inexperienced to be a proper assassin and inquires why she stabbed him over such a trivial thing. This turns the girl's anxiety to anger, and she proceeds to stab Tokinada several times with her sword while Mayuri continues to ignore them. Eventually, the girl calms down and Tokinada, realizing he is dying, decides to use his final strength to laugh maniacally, happy that his karmic death did not come from Tōsen or Shunsui's vengeful hands.[10]

Spitting out his final words, Tokinada proceeds to mock everyone who he ever wronged in some way, laughing that retribution will forever stay out of reach for the likes of Tōsen, Shunsui, Aura, Hikone, Ginjō, Hisagi, and Ukitake. After Tokinada's death, Mayuri calmly notes the surprising turn of events and decides to leave the noble's corpse undisturbed before leaving the area.[10]

Meanwhile in the depths of Muken, Aizen senses the death of Tokinada and enigmatically notes that Tōsen can finally be at peace. Isolated and alone, Aizen reminisces of a certain conversation he had with his most trusted confidant. At an unidentified time in the past, Aizen told Tōsen he would fulfill any wish the latter had in order to show his gratitude to his most loyal follower. As Tōsen admits there is something he desires, Aizen is intrigued when the blind Shinigami asks for Aizen to kill him should the need arise. Tōsen explains that, should he ever find peace and forgive the Shinigami, he wants Aizen to erase him and his memory from the very world.[10]

While a curious Aizen assures Tōsen that the Shinigami might forgive him in turn if Tōsen decides to repent and turn away from Aizen's plans, Tōsen replies that should the time come he were to accept the world of the Shinigami, his "justice" will cease to be justice and become mere murder, and because he already betrayed Kakyō once by turning against her beliefs for peace, he cannot bear the thought of doing that for naught. Continuing, Tōsen asks that should he ever lose himself in the nonexistent goodness of the world, he wants Aizen to show him mercy and kill him.[10]

Respecting Tōsen's wishes, Aizen asks him what would happen should Aizen succeed in remaking the world instead, leading Tōsen to answer that a vengeful being such as himself does not deserve to exist in such a world, therefore he would kill himself should this come to pass. As Aizen notes that, regardless of what happens, he will lose his most trusted confidant, Tōsen attempts to apologize. However, Aizen interrupts him and reveals that he knows Tōsen's words came from the depths of his heart. Asserting that knowing one's weaknesses is necessary to ascend, Aizen contemplates his actions while staring at the Hōgyoku and mutters that fear is also necessary to ascend. Aizen turns back to Tōsen and vows to kill him should he ever find forgiveness in his enemies.[10]

In the present, Aizen talks to the memory of Tōsen and notes the interesting progress Hisagi has made in following Tōsen's path, even if Hisagi is doomed to fail and die at Aizen's hands.[10]

Final Chapter[]

In the Valley of Screams, Urahara is busy opening a way back to Soul Society while Nanao finishes healing an unconscious Hikone. When Shunsui compliments Hisagi's Bankai, a flustered Hisagi reveals he only achieved it just now. Confused, Shunsui wonders when Hisagi had materialized and subjugated his Zanpakutō, but Hisagi notes that he had done that without even realizing it and that the real problem was that he never understood Kazeshini. Regardless, Shunsui thanks Hisagi for stopping Zaraki from killing Hikone because it was what allowed Aura to save Karakura Town.[11]

Contemplating what he saw of Fushi no Kōjyō, Shunsui believes that it is a rather extreme "Bakudō-type" Zanpakutō and congratulates Hisagi for managing to use such a difficult Bankai, a statement that Shinji is in agreement with. Moving on, Shunsui mentions that Hisagi is now eligible for promotion to captain, but Hisagi refuses, preferring to remain as the editor-in-chief of the Seireitei communications and to help spread knowledge among the world. Catching his meaning, Shunsui ominously warns Hisagi it may be best for some knowledge to remain buried, but Hisagi remains steadfast and tells Shunsui that if the Captain-Commander believes that the world is better off not knowing the truth, he should kill Hisagi then and there.[11]

As Hisagi explains, even if takes him decades to uncover the truth, his duties as a journalist compel him to do so rather than swallow Tokinada's lies. Smiling, Shunsui merely warns Hisagi to be careful and tells him to make as many allies as possible, such as Ichigo and himself. While Shunsui and Hisagi discuss the future, Urahara lifts the barrier surrounding the area and Shunsui is immediately contacted by Genshirō Okikiba, who informs him that Tokinada has been killed by an unknown person.[11]

Sometime later, the Arrancar and Quincy have left for their own destinations while the Fullbringers have returned to the Shiba Residence. As they banter, Yukio informs them of happenings in the Human World before he prepares to leave as well, revealing that Aura left him the entire XCUTION cult to govern. They are interrupted by the arrival of Shunsui, who claims that he is very busy but still has words to exchange with them. Shunsui starts off by revealing to Kūkaku and Ganju that they are now allowed to enter and exit the Seireitei as they please, alongside the Fullbringers. Likewise, Shunsui gifts Ginjō a copy of a novel written by the late Ukitake, "Sōgyō's Refusal!", only for Tsukishima to mention he already read it.[11]

Turning serious, Shunsui asks Ginjō if he still harbors ill feelings towards Ukitake, and Ginjō replies that his stance towards the Shinigami has not changed. Shunsui reveals that Ukitake had always requested Shunsui and Yamamoto to forgive Ginjō's mistakes; while Ginjō tries to retort, Shunsui interrupts him and elaborates that Ukitake was willing to not defend himself against Ginjō's anger, but was forced to do so to protect his subordinates. While Shunsui admits that Ukitake allowed himself to be lied to by the Tsunayashiro family, the decision to brand Ginjō a criminal had always haunted the late captain. As Shunsui prepares to leave, Ginjō muses that he might visit the Seireitei after all and asks Shunsui where Ukitake's grave is located.[11]

Sometime later, after everyone else has left, Kūkaku muses on the changes that are happening in Soul Society and toasts to her late brother Kaien, believing he would be happy with this knowledge.[11]

In the Central Pharmaceutical Institution, Seinosuke Yamada has just finished operating on Hikone and assures Hisagi that the child will survive before proceeding to admonish Hisagi for his reckless use of his Bankai. As Seinosuke claims he will make an exception to his duties of only helping nobles, he proceeds to heal Hisagi as well while Hisagi brings up the deceased Tokinada. Seinosuke reveals that Tokinada's corpse was confiscated by the nobles before he could do anything with it and states that due to his reckless use of Enrakyōten, Tokinada could not be revived even by Mayuri's zombification techniques.[11]

When Seinosuke warns him to break the news to Hikone carefully because the child's mental health is in very bad shape, Hisagi assures him that he will give Hikone reasons to truly live. In response, Seinosuke muses that people often call him "heartless" for his lack of sentimentality before asserting that his brother Hanatarō is kind enough to make up for it. Laughing, Seinosuke observes that if Hisagi's Zanpakutō allows him to control life, then giving meaning to life should be easy for him.[11]

In the Shinigami Research and Development Institute, Mayuri complains to his Corpse Unit that they were unable to secure Hikone before the child was moved out of his reach, only for Cirucci to retort that Mayuri designed it so that they cannot operate independently without receiving painful shocks. Regardless, Mayuri is pleased enough by the events to grant his Corpse Unit extra free time per day. Luppi mentions that even though Grimmjow made Shunsui swear never to intervene in his fights against Ichigo, said promise does not apply to him and he will gladly kill them both. While Dordoni takes offense to this because he still desires a rematch against Ichigo as well, Charlotte expresses bemusement at their rivalries and explains that while Harribel and Nelliel greatly outclass him in power, he balances it out by being more beautiful than them.[11]

Listening to them, NaNaNa is depressed due to being the only Quincy still captured by Mayuri, who explains that his Corpse Unit will have to work extra hard to compensate for being short two people, to their great dismay.[11]

Meanwhile, in a coffee shop in the Human World, the remaining female Sternritter are hanging around while an energetic Bambietta exclaims her frustration at how the others fared without her leadership. While Candice is confused at how lively the zombified Quincy is, Giselle explains that the large amounts of blood shed by Tokinada was surprisingly useful for her to heal Bambietta further.[11]

As Liltotto wonders how they can deactivate the tracking bacteria Mayuri left on them, Bambietta catches up on everything that happened since her initial zombification and declares herself the new queen of the Sternritter now that Yhwach is dead. Bambietta proclaims she will blow up and conquer a few countries, to the frustration of the others, leading Giselle to restore Bambietta to her earlier, lethargic and confused state. Eating a cake, Liltotto wonders what to do now, and when Giselle proposes returning to Hueco Mundo, Liltotto refuses due to both the existing hostility between the Quincy and Hollows and the lack of decent food in Hueco Mundo.[11]

In Hueco Mundo, Aura wakes up to find herself looking at the ruined remains of the replica palace and realizes she does not remember anything since she vanished into the Garganta. As Aura assumed she would have floated in the void until her death, she wonders how she survived the passage. Initially content that Hikone could have lived, Aura resigns herself to bleeding to death in the sands until she realizes she feels no pain. As she tries to stand up, she finds a female Arrancar treating her wounds and is approached by Nelliel, who congratulates Roka Paramia for her excellent medical work.[11]

As Nelliel properly introduces herself and Harribel, Aura finds the latter standing near the ruins looking towards a group of childlike Arrancar playing in the rubble. Nelliel claims Harribel is more shy than she appears, though she is very good with children who adore her in turn. To a confused Aura, Nelliel introduces the children as the Pícaro, a group of Arrancar collectively designated Arrancar #102. After contemplating this, Aura asks Nelliel how she ended up in Hueco Mundo, prompting the former Espada to explain that she recovered Aura from the Garganta before revealing that Aura's human body did die back then and only her greatly weakened Soul could be recovered.[11]

With Aura shocked at such kindness coming from an Arrancar, Nelliel calls upon Pesche Guatiche and Dondochakka Birstanne to prepare food for her. After Harribel and Roka join, Aura is served a dish made from the plant life that exists in Hueco Mundo. Trying the food, Aura is overcome with emotions due to the exquisite taste. Nelliel asks her what she plans to do, and when Aura explains that she has nowhere to go, Nelliel invites her to stay in Hueco Mundo under their protection, leading her and Nelliel start to bond over their mutual love of food and cooking while Aura looks forward to the day she can meet Hikone again.[11]

Meanwhile, Grimmjow approaches them, but is disappointed that there is not a fight happening. As he sulks off, Grimmjow refuses Harribel's request to join them, instead feeling a greater desire to fight Ichigo and Luppi again.[11]

The following day, in Soul Society, Shinji is avoiding Momo Hinamori's questions about what happened the previous day when he is interrupted by Hiyori Sarugaki and the two start arguing. While Momo tries to calm them both down, Zaraki is annoyed by the noise they make and asks Ikkaku and Yumichika where Hisagi is. When they reveal Hisagi went to the Human World to talk to Urahara, Zaraki expresses disappointment because he wishes to fight against Hisagi's Bankai himself. Knowing Hisagi's life has just become much more difficult, Ikkaku and Yumichika start praying for their comrade's sake.[11]

Meanwhile, in the Urahara Shop, Hisagi has just finished his interview with Urahara and prepares to leave. After Urahara inquires about Hisagi's health, the conversation shifts back towards Tokinada, and this causes Hisagi's thoughts to wander towards Urahara's true motivations for creating the Hōgyoku. Eventually, Hisagi chooses to believe that Urahara merely tried to save the Soul King without disrupting the balance and vocally expresses his admiration for the shopkeeper. While Urahara seems confused at the sudden compliment, they are interrupted by Ryūnosuke Yuki and Shino, who congratulate Hisagi on his actions.[11]

Shortly after Hisagi has left through a Senkaimon, Urahara is approached by Yoruichi in her cat form. Yoruichi bluntly questions if it is wise to let Hisagi, a journalist, keep the knowledge he has gained, and when a surprised Urahara wonders if she means silencing him, Yoruichi denies this before clarifying that they could simply alter Hisagi's memories without murdering him as opposed to Tokinada. Growing gravely serious, Urahara refuses and observes that he knows Hisagi believes he created the Hōgyoku to save the Soul King, which could not be further from the truth.[11]

As Urahara explains, he created the Hōgyoku merely for his own selfish curiosities and simply used the Soul King's state to excuse his actions. To this, Urahara notes that he is not that different from Mayuri and that Hiyori was one of the few people who managed to see through him to some degree. Regardless, Urahara is impressed by Hisagi's convictions and claims that should his sins ever catch up to him, he would prefer it to be the likes of Hisagi, Ichigo, or Rukia who would be responsible for taking him in.[11]

Returning to his usual light-hearted self, Urahara banters with Yoruichi for a bit before Urahara declares that he plans to leave Karakura Town for a few days to help Ichigo with his problem in western Japan, which he claims will give him an excuse to open up a second Urahara shop there.[11]


Ten years later, as Rukia Kuchiki is about to be inaugurated as Captain of the 13th Division, the topic of Hisagi's Bankai comes up during Tōshirō Hitsugaya and Rangiku Matsumoto's conversation about Tetsuzaemon Iba's diligence. When Hisagi states that he has mastered his Bankai, Rangiku and Hitsugaya claim that they have never seen his Bankai before. While Kensei does remember the events and silently chastises Zaraki for spreading the rumor about Hisagi's Bankai, he decides to remain silent about it because the events in the Valley of Screams were a highly classified secret.[12]

While Hisagi tearfully tries to defend himself, stating he hasn't had the chance to use it for a while, Hitsugaya mentally notes that Hisagi has certainly changed ten years ago and breaks the tension by remarking how the lack of action is a good thing, as it means nothing has happened during that time to break the peace they all enjoy. Hearing this, Hisagi thinks back to a talk he had with Hikone one year prior.[12]

One year previously, Hisagi travels to the Sabitsura district of the Rukongai, which had laid abandoned ever since the Wandenreich war. Though Hisagi notes that he had hoped Hikone could enter the Academy, the secrets surrounding Hikone's origins and the hostility from the remaining nobility made it difficult for Hikone to even enter the Seireitei. Likewise, due to their own choice, Hikone was allowed to live in this isolated part of the Rukongai by themselves. As Hikone stated, even though they now know how evil Tokinada was, Hikone simply cannot hate the very person who gave them reasons for living. Therefore, Hikone chose to live alone, despite how fearful they were of it, because Hisagi taught them how necessary fear is for life.[12]

Greeting Hikone, Hisagi asks them if they now know how to continue their life, leading Hikone to assert that they would like to grow stronger because their power has been reduced to only slightly above the average Shinigami and the broken Ikomikidomoe had already been returned to Nimaiya. However, Hikone is resolved to gain the strength necessary to find Aura, their mother, again. Respecting Hikone's wishes, Hisagi promises to help them however he can and declares that he will always follow "the path with the least amount of bloodshed".[12]

Bleach CFYOW Hisagi ending

Hisagi smiles at the peace.

Back in the present, Hisagi is interrupted by Rangiku, who mentions that Hisagi has been travelling to the Rukongai a lot lately. Choosing not to mention his connection to Hikone and his investigations into the forbidden history of the nobility, Hisagi merely replies that he has been expanding his contacts as a journalist. Kensei mentions that he does not care much for journalism and vaguely brings up his first encounter with Hisagi that involved Kensei saving him from a Hollow. While Kensei and Hisagi banter, Rangiku misinterprets their comments and assumes Hisagi has a secret child of his own, and when she and an amused Kensei proceed to tease Hisagi over it, Hisagi outwardly complains while inwardly, he knows that it is only possible because of the peace they worked so hard to achieve.[12]

The End.


Bleach: Can't Fear Your Own World III features a number of existing characters, as well as original characters created for this series of novels. They include: