Shortly after the Ryoka arrive in Seireitei, Aizen is found dead and suspicion is initially thrown on Gin Ichimaru. However, upon reading a letter left by Aizen, his lieutenant, Momo Hinamori, begins to believe that it was Tōshirō Hitsugaya who killed Aizen. This causes her to turn against him and attempt to battle him. On the day of execution of Rukia Kuchiki it is revealed that Aizen is alive and that it was he who had manipulated events to arrange the execution of Rukia and attempted to get Hinamori killed by her childhood friend Hitsugaya through manipulation. Aizen attacks numerous Shingiami, including Hinamori and reveals the true power of his Zanpakutō, Kyōka Suigetsu. Upon acquiring his true goal, the Hōgyoku, Aizen abandons Soul Society for Hueco Mundo along with his accomplices Ichimaru and Kaname Tōsen and consolidates his Arrancar army.
Aizen then leads a war to defeat the Gotei 13, splitting their forces in two, before traveling to the real Karakura Town in order to gain access to the Soul King Palace. However, Ichigo chases after him and engages the former captain in a final duel.
Main article: Sōsuke Aizen
"Are you gonna sit there and cry about not being able to protect people again!? Think carefully about what Aizen heading to Karakura Town in Soul Society means. It means that all the people in Karakura Town, both the ones you want to protect and all the others, are gonna fall into Aizen's hands and die." - Isshin Kurosaki to Ichigo Kurosaki in Chapter 407.
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