Here it comes: the summary of last volume! Sorry for keeping you wait, these weeks were quite busy and I didn't much time on weekends either. But finally I finished it! :) This was volume was so emotional... so sad... so beautiful... so amazing... It's hard to put these emotions into words!
(If in vol. 1 it was May 1991, in this volume it's November 1996.)
MoB vol. 40 (Sen'oku no Yoru wo Koete / Beyond the 100 Billion Nights)
Inside of the main hall of Inner shrine, there is Shinnomihashira, the most sacred part of holy Ise shrine. From here, a light column rose to the Heavens after Nobunaga connected his soul to Shinnomihashira. Naoe carrying Takaya on his arms steps inside. Enormous power makes them difficult to breath and they start to float in the air as if they're in the space. Everything is bright around them. Then they start to see events from the past. First the battle of Kawanakajima. At the time Naoe was still a young warrior and Kagetora wasn't Kenshin son yet. After that they find themselves at Numata castle where 17 years old Kagetora met Kenshin for the first time. Naoe is afraid of if Miroku sent both of them back to past, but it seems that these are some kind of memories. Then they hear someone saying that these aren't memories, but records. The voice tells that Takaya and Naoe have found the records of history that are engraved to Shinnomihashira (it's some kind of column inside of the main hall). The all history of Japan and thoughts of people are engraved there. In ancient times people having spiritual powers started to record everything to this holy column. It has everything. After that, like a movie, they start to see the first records of Japan's history. It's an island, Yonaguni. On that island, people having spiritual powers find the way of move a soul to an another body. This was the time when first kanshoushas were born. But possibly natural disaster destroyed their civilization. The survivors of that civilization sailed across the ocean and found a new world (it was Kyuushuu, Japan). They started to live there and wiped out the nation that were living there before them. Nations like Himuka (Kihachi, Tetsuya's clan) were destroyed since the invaders had great spiritual powers. Yes, these invaders were the descendants of gods, Yamato, the people who started the imperial family of Japan. Then the next event is happening when Emperor Kanmu was reigning (this happened around 1200 years ago). At the time onryous caused many serious problems since they were born so easily due to assassinations and betrayals that were very common in that era. Some close persons to Emperor Kanmu also became onryous. They were Prince Sawara (Kanmu's younger brother, was involved in the murder of high ranking officer of Kanmu. Sawara commited a suicide and came back to haunt Kanmu as an onryou), Princess Ikami (Kanmu's 'stepmother' and ex-saiou (Ise priestess) who got interested in black magic. Died in prison.) and Prince Osabe (Princess Ikami's son). After Prince Sawara killed himself, for mysterious reason Emperor Kanmu's wife and children started die one after one. Everyone said that it's because Prince Sawara, Prince Osabe and Princes Ikami have become onryous and make an alliance between some people who were destroyed by Emperor Kanmu. They also lured six fingered Hiruko to open the pandora box Ooyunohara like Nobunaga did to Kaoru, and start the spelling for replacing the gods by onryous. Then, a warrior named Sakanoue no Tamuramaro has his debut and starts to fight against all those onryous. Takaya and Naoe are watching how Nachi guardians slay Hiruko and with the help of Princess Asahara, who was the Ise priestess at the time, Tamuramaro manages to win the war and bring Amaterasu and the other gods back from the netherworld. After the great battle was over Emperor Kanmu lived the rest of his life being afraid of the revenge of Sawara, Osabe and Ikami. The true hero of that battle was Tamuramaro. But how normal warrior like him can beat onryous? He wasn't a priest or like that... How it's possible? Then Naoe remembers that Kousaka lived his first life around that era. Could it be that... Kousaka was involved into that incident?! And Miroku too?! Takaya understands that thanks to having birth and death, the life stays vibrant. They're essential parts of life. The death creates new life. And in every era there is a person who change the history. In a good and bad way. This spelling happened already once before, and now again. It's possible that third time is coming in the future. Takaya says to Naoe that after all their main enemy isn't Nobunaga, but the darkness that created Nobunaga and all onryous. And the darkness also created Yami Sengoku. Takaya and Naoe decide to find and catch Nobunaga's existence in Shinnomihashira. But then, suddenly, a strong stream of history separates them.
At Hana no Iwaya shrine with the help of Neiha and the White Sharks, Mutou Ushio and Torigoe Takaya manage to drive out Oda's retainers. Princess Asahara comes there. She is the same Ise priestess who helped Tamuramaro to stop Hiruko spelling 1200 years ago. In volume 39 Ushio got contact to her and asked her help. She explains that every shrine, like this shrine, where god Izanami is worshiped, there is an entrance to the netherworld. They have make a net by using human hair, throw it to the ocean and then pull the gods and humans back to real world. Hiruko was drifted away, so they have to 'save the gods', pull them back to the ground. To Hiruko, the ocean is the place of death. Asahara also explains that they need to use alive human hair, 'kami connects kami' (=hair 髪 and god 神 are both pronounced 'kami' in Japanese). Then, a spiritual lion comes there. It's a combination of Shigeno Kaoru and Taira Koremori's soul. Asahara sent them to Isonokami shrine for getting the sword of Totsuka. The sword of Totsuka belonged to Izanagi, husband of Izanami and father of Hiruko, and Izanagi was also killed by that sword. With that sword they can open the path to the netherworld. However, Isonokami shrine is guarded by Oda clan, so Kaoru and Koremori could get only a piece of the sword, but Asahara says it's enough for this ritual.
Toushou-guu shrine in Nikkou is getting attacked by the troops of Ishida Mitsunari (the commander of Western army in Sekigahara, killed by Tokugawa) who has resurrected and decided to be on Nobunaga's side.
Katou Kiyomasa and Kotarou are defending the Inner shrine with their troops. They're getting tired since Oda is extremely strong. Kiyomasa prays in his heart that Takaya and Naoe are fine.
Kada Reijirou, Toyotomi Hideyori, Chousokabe Morichika, Sanada Yukimura, Doumori Inosuke and Toyotomi troops arrive to Hikone castle in Shiga. The castle locates on the shore of lake Biwa, some kilometers away from Saint Azuchi castle. Ayako was kept imprisoned there (between vol. 21-29), but Mt. Hiei's monks saved her. Takigawa and some other monks from Mt. Kouya arrives there and demands to meet Reijirou. The monks want to stop Yami Sengoku, and ask Reijirou and the others to release their host bodies. Reijirou makes a deal with the monks: if Mt. Kouya lends them spiritual powers, Reijirou will give up his host body and stay in Shikoku only in his spiritual form. The monks accept this. Together with the temples in Shikoku, Mt. Kouya starts a great spelling for attacking Saint Azuchi castle with their spelling power.
Meanwhile, Naoe is wandering in history. As being lost for while he finds himself on the beach. It's a sunny day and there is an around 6 years old boy playing with the waves as one teenager boy is looking after his younger brother. They are Kagetora and Ujiteru. This is Kagetora's past from the time he was still Houjou Saburou. "Big brother, please! Teach me how to ride a horse! I want to stand on the same battle field with you!", young Kagetora begged. Naoe feels warmth to see how Kagetora grows up studying and training himself in order to become a warrior like his brothers are. Then, something happens. It's the same beach but it's night now. Red moon in the sky... Someone cries out in fear. Young Kagetora is surrounded by his retainers. They're doing something terrible to him. Naoe tries to stop them, but can't do anything since it's 'history'. He's shocked seeing how Kagetora is getting raped. "I'm gonna fucking kill all of you!! I'll find and make you to face the most terrifying way to die!! I kill all of you!!" Naoe shouts and cries. After finishing the men leave. Kagetora, at the age of too young for coming age ceremony, lays on the sand, broken. The men were some very close to him, persons who should protect him. They broke him. Naoe blames himself for the things he did to Kagetora in the bed, thinking how Kagetora might had felt when they had sex for the first time. And the other times too... Naoe also understands now why Kagetora always hated if someone was behind him, why he got so scared if someone touched him accidentally, why he didn't open his heart to anyone... It was all because of this. Naoe decides to keep going on his way in Kagetora's past and find the present him.
The stream of memories pushes Takaya deeper... He finds himself somewhere in the bottom of Shinnomihashira. He calls Naoe's name, but can't get any answer. Then, he feels a familiar aura.
(T: 'I know this... It can't be.')
Takaya gets up on his feet and runs towards the bright light. He's shocked as he finds Kenshin sitting on the horse.
T: <<"Fa... Father.... Lord Kenshin!">>
K: <<"Finally we meet, Kagetora. I was waiting for you.">>
*Takaya rushes to Kenshin and kneels down*
T: <<"You didn't disappear. You survived, father.">>
*Kenshin gets off the back of horse and falls on his knees in front of Takaya*
K: <<"My soul... doesn't exist anymore. But somehow my thoughts keep existing in the middle of these columns.">>
*Takaya bursts into tears*
T: <<"I really wanted to meet you, father.">>
K: <<"I knew you would come here someday... You would arrive after over passing me.">>
*Kenshin looks at Takaya with gentle eyes*
K: <<"I'm so proud of you, Kagetora.">>
Takaya feels extremely happy even this's only Kenshin's phantom. He doesn't care. This is enough. He's so happy feeling Kenshin's heart once more.
K: <<"You must hold a grudge against me. I caused you terrible memories.">>
T: <<"No... No, father. I...">>
*Takaya shakes his head*
T: <<"Your silence leaded me here. I think, Lord Kenshin, that I have finally found the answer I have looked for as a human.">>
Kenshin tells that everything is there. Also the underworld army of Usugi.
K: <<"I need to tell you something about the underworld army of Uesugi. Listen carefully, Kagetora. The one who destroyed the army was Nobunaga.">>
T: <<"It can't be... Nobunaga?">>
Kenshin explains that from the very beginning Nobunaga's main target was Kenshin himself. But the army didn't allow Nobunaga to get Kenshin, so they let Bishamonten to take Kenshin away, and protected him with all lives. Nobunaga used the power of heavenly treasures on them, but made it look like it was because of Shadow Shikoku. Irobe and the others stepped into Nobunaga's trap thinking that they disappeared into the seam of time.
T: <<"What... What did happen to everyone? Can't they ever come back?">>
K: <<"They didn't fall into the seam of time. It was just a trap Nobunaga made.">>
Kenshin tells that Nobunaga's spelling needs a huge source of energy for keeping the spelling on. In the Outer shrine of Ise he made 'a giant internal-combustion engine' for making energy. However, such an engine needs enormous amount of fuel... Nobunaga captured the souls of underworld army and used them as a fuel. Takaya loses his words. In other words Nobunaga burnt soldiers souls one by one in his engine? As a sacrifice?! As a fuel?! That's why Ayako saw the shadow of underworld army in Outer shrine (in vol. 34). Takaya hits the ground with his knuckles. He's so angry that he can't even express it with words.
T: <<"Uuuggh.... Uuugghh....!!!">>
K: <<"It's still too early to lose hope.">>
*Takaya shakes his head*
K: <<"Rise up your head, Kagetora.">>
T: <<"I... I'm going to kill that man with my own hands!">>
K: <<"Revenging won't solve this. History would just repeat itself.">>
*Takaya feels a bit shocked*
K: <<"Hurting someone after being hurt by this person won't solve anything. As long as the cycle of revenge and hatred continues, we can never stop Yami Sengoku.">>
T: <<"But... But father...!! I can't forgive him!">>
Takaya with broken voice tells that Nobunaga is the one who started this. He needs to taste his own medicine. If not, the people he hurt will never feel peace in their souls.
T: <<"Please! Let me revenge! I want him to feel the same pain he made the others feel!">>
K: <<"One should make up for one's sins. However, if the person can't understand the seriousness of what he has done, it's difficult to make him to apology.">>
T: <<"That's why an equal revenge is the only way to make him recognize it!">>
K: <<"But can the wrong-doer understand that it hurts as much as it hurt the person who suffered in the first place?">>
Kenshin explains that in living humans' opinion, all kanshoushas, even Yashashuu, are making sin as they keep living. Exorcism was made for purifying souls of onryous, but even if onryou is exorcised, onryou's thoughts are still here. Hatred won't disappear so easily. It's time to find the answer how this vicious cycle of revenging and hating will stop.
K: <<"Even if I, Uesugi Kenshin, became the God of Warriors, I don't know if I managed to be a good father to you... I'm sure my own mental problems deeply hurt you. I wish you could forgive me. I hurt you so much... Even if I should had been the person who protects you the most.">>
This is so cute, starting from p.120:
Takaya shoke is head.
You released me from my burden and also saved my soul from dying. Above all, this second life as a kanshousha you granted to me, made me forget my hatred towards to this world.
I'm not holding any grudge against you, Kagetora told.
T: <<"It was my own will to walk through to this point.">>
Kenshin kept looking at Kagetora, eyes full of various emotions.
K: <<"My spirit will stay here, but to you-">>
I shall give the key.
He gave it to Takaya. As the key touched Takaya's skin, he felt warmness. The key Kenshin gave to Takaya was the seal that the soldier of the underworld army of Uesugi protected with all their lives.
K: <<"I want you to have it, it's my legacy.">>
Takaya earnestly looked at Kenshin's eyes.
K: <<"I entrust it to you, my beloved son...">>
Kenshin opened his arms, and for the very first time, he hugged Kagetora. Kenshin who had always showed his parental love only by looking with gentle eyes, embraced his son tightly. It was the first time for Kagetora feeling father's warmness against his own body.
It was their very first and last embrace.
T: ('So warm...')
As holding back the tears Takaya leaned on Kenshin.
K: <<"You're doing great.">>
Kenshin whispered so earnestly in Takaya's ear.
K: <<"The path you have chosen is what I hoped you to choose.">>
Takaya rose his head. "Okay", Kenshin started and pointed to up.
K: <<"The person who will seek the answers together with you has come for you.">>
Takaya can see Naoe floating in the air. It seems that Naoe finally reached to catch the present Kagetora. Kenshin gently pushes Kagetora up to air, making him to float onto Naoe's arms.
K: <<"Everyone is waiting for you.">>
*Kenshin's illusion starts to vanish*
K: <<"My heart is always with you.">>
K: <<"Thank you... My son...">>
Eventually Kenshin disappears eternally. Takaya bursts into tears and whispers gratefully: "Thank you... for these 400 years..." Naoe embraces Takaya tightly after understanding the meaning of those tears.
Some time passes. Takaya and Naoe are still in Shinnomihashira. They decide to dive into Nobunaga's past and catch his existence after finding their way back to the present. Next, there is a story about Nobunaga's original life that Takaya and Naoe saw: Nobunaga was born to Oda family that was ruling a small land named 'Owari'. Since he was born, his mother never took him on her arms. She hated him. Servants wondered if she cheated their lord (Nobunaga's father) with another man and got pregnant to him. As growing up without mother's love, Nobunaga tried to pay her attention by doing bad things. He loved seeing his mother was afraid of him when he showed his cold gaze to her. However, Nobunaga admired his father, Oda Nobuhide. But when Nobunaga was young his father was always on the battlefield. Instead of his father a man called Hirate Masahide was the only person who truly scolded and parented Nobunaga. Nobunaga called him 'Jii', in English it would be 'grandpa'. When Nobunaga was 17 his dad died of plague. His dream was to fight along his father's side on the battlefield, but now his father has died... Too early... The land of Owari was very small and surrounded by many strong enemy clans. Oda clan was split into two sides. Nobunaga was afraid of everyone... suspiscion of others was growing stronger and stronger everyday... He started to treat his retainers in a very brutal way. As 'a parent' Masahide didn't accept this and for Nobunaga's great shock he committed a seppuku. After stabbing the knife in his stomach Masahide didn't die right away, he was alive as Nobunaga hold him on his arms, shedding tears. Masahide told to him: "You're not alone. There will be so many people who will choose and protect you with all their lives. Please, trust them. Overcome your fears of being betrayed and find the strength of trusting to other people. Kippoushi-sama (Nobunaga's childhood name), it's easy to doubt people. And because it's easy, you're building a wall between you and the others. It requires much more courage to see and face the others without wearing any mask. Please, be brave. You aren't alone. I'll prove with all my life that there is sincere people who will follow you till the very end." Life was disappearing from Masahide's eyes... Nobunaga was confused of Masahide's words and asked how he can do it. How can he see if people are honest or not? How can he trust to anyone else than Masahide? "Don't leave me alone, Jii. Please, I beg you. You're the only one I can trust. If you die, I'll be left alone. I'll be all alone!" Nobunaga cried desperately from the bottom of his heart as Masahide passed away. The day of Masahide's funeral came. Nobunaga's sister Ichi, was there with him. Her warm and gentle smile was the only thing that could comfort Nobunaga's heart. Nobunaga promised to her that he will unify Oda clan again and become the lord of Owari. Nobunaga did so, and much more. Lots of men started to follow and be his retainer. He gained power and conquered many parts of Japan. Nobunaga saw lots of effort to find a good husband for Ichi. A man who would never betray Nobunaga. And this man was Azai Nagamasa. The night before wedding Nobunaga asked Ichi to come his room. "I hope you become happy", he said. Ichi started to cry and said with a smile on her face that she would prefer to stay with her big bother's side forever. Nobunaga also wanted Ichi to stay with him, but he also wanted her to find happiness. That's why he chose Nagamasa to be his bother-in-law. But after some years Nagamasa made an alliance between Asakura clan and betrayed Nobunaga. This made Nobunaga to totally loose his mind with anger. He sweared to kill Nagamasa in the most painful way, because by betraying Oda clan Nagamasa has also broken Ichi's heart. Nobunaga can't stand if someone hurts his little sister, so he brought Ichi back to Oda clan and executed Nagamasa. Nobunaga got Nagamasa's skull and drank sake from it. This made one of Nobunaga's retainer to open his mouth by saying that it's wicked to use someone's skull as a sake cup. This man was Akechi Mitsuhide. He was a very good and trustworthy general, but also the person Nobunaga couldn't stand at all. There was always fight if they were in the same room. Once Nobunaga was punishing him in front of everyone. Laying down on the ground Mitsuhide cried: "My Lord, you have forgotten that we others have heart, emotions...!" Nobunaga kept looking down at him with cold eyes and shouts that everyone they have executed deserved that: Nagamasa, Arashi Murashige, Ikkou-shuu, Mt. Hiei's monks... Nobunaga told angrily that they were traitors, corrupted, person who keep hanging in old tradition, leading this country to wrong way. It didn't matter how they may felt since it was their own fault. Mitsuhide shed more tears and cried: "You're devil. You can't understand you're hurting people." After that there were some Nobunaga's thoughts about their country: he wanted to develop their country so that they could compete with great European nations like Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom... Japan needed to speed it's development! Nobunaga vowed to create new, great Japan and that he would wipe away everyone who would try to come on his way. Next scene is famous historical moment called ''Honnou-ji Incident'. Mitsuhide was ordered to go to help Hideyoshi for fighting against Mouri clan in Aki province. But instead of that he headed for Kyoto and surrounded Honnou-ji temple where Nobunaga was lodging. Kyoto was in the central of the area Nobunaga ruled at the time, so Nobunaga felt very safe even if he didn't have his big army with him. At Honnou-ji he had only several servants including Ranmaru with him. Honnou-ji was set to fire and surrounded by Mitsuhide's forces so escaping was impossible. Nobunaga shut himself and Ranmaru into the most deepest inner parlor of the temple. Ranmaru shed tears because he knew this was their end. Nobunaga accepted his fate. It was his own fault because he drove Mitsuhide to do this by treating him so humiliating. Nobunaga smiled gently at Ranmaru and said that this is fine. No need for seppuku. This is a good place to die. As they were both burning to death, Nobunaga had following last thoughts on p.137:
I see. Human life is surprisingly short. It was only this. Only this short period of time was my life as a human. I didn't recognize it while I was alive. I seriously missed it. The fact that the life was a quite beautiful thing!
The anguish of scorching Hell is fading away.
I don't believe in the existence of soul or gods or even the mercy of Buddha.
But if there is still consciousness left after death, it means that I still keep living.
It's not the end of life.
I'm still alive.
I'm.... still... alive...
Yazaki Tooru arrives to Miyako TV studio in Kyoto with the tapes he got from Nagayo Takashi who interviewed Takaya earlier. When they're about to show the tapes on TV, Shiba Eiji's live interview starts on Shintoukai broadcast company. He's talking about how Ougi Takaya and the Red Whales are planning to take over humans and steal their bodies so that death souls can keep living. Then, for everyone's great surprise, Takaya appears to that studio where Shiba is. It's Takaya's illusion, and Shiba's form too, is actually an illusion, but it looks real through the screen. Nobunaga stays calm and asks why Takaya came there. Takaya explains that they reached to catch the present Nobunaga in Shinnomihashira. Next Nobunaga asks how Takaya will explain his existence to everyone. This is live broadcast. Almost everyone in Japan are watching this. Takaya says back that Shiba Eiji is also a dead person. Someone who lived 400 years ago in Sengoku era. When Takaya is about to say Shiba Eiji's true identity, Nobunaga stops him and admits that is true that this isn't his first life. Everyone is shocked. Shiba admitted being a dead person?! Next Nobunaga says that he's on living people's side and that the Red Whales tried to shut up him by kidnapping him. Takaya gets mad and says that stop lying. They haven't done anything to Shiba. Then, Takaya reveals that Shiba Eiji's real name is Nobunaga. The whole studio becomes silent. It's sure that there is only Nobunaga who was especially famous in Sengoku era... Oda Nobunaga.
No: "You and the Red Whales changed Shikoku to be the country of death. It's YOU, Ougi Takaya, who is claiming to be 'Present Kuukai' and gathering death souls to Shikoku. What're you planning to do? It's time to tell to everyone who you really are. Your real name is... Uesugi Saburou Kagetora. A deceased person who died 400 years ago."
Yazaki (he's actually Takaya's former classmate from Matsumoto), Takaya's family and everyone are more than shocked. Especially Miya and Sawako, hearing Shiba Eiji claiming that Takaya is someone who actually died already a long time ago... Next Nobunaga blames Takaya stealing bodies for performing kanshou and living forever, he's an enemy for every modern people. Nobunaga knows how to hurt Kagetora, he knows him feeling guilty about this. However, Takaya stays strong and says: "We and the others (Yashashuu) kept living these 400 years for exorcising souls that can't move to afterlife by themselves. My father gave us this mission to exorcise every onryou that keeps existing in this world. We lived these years for protecting living humans from onryous!"
No: "If it so, then why you're on onryous' side? Are trying to make sure that onryous won't disappear so that you guys can keep living forever? You're just a traitor."
T: "No! I'm not a trai-"
T: "Onryous are born if people can't accept their death. I wanted to make a place where these people can face their death and eventually accept it. There are chained to this world because they didn't manage to carry out their mission while they were alive! 'Yami Sengoku' is a war were onryous compete who has the right to live. It won't allow existing side by side with modern people. Stronger ones destroying weaker ones... That's the real nature of Yami Sengoku you started!"
To this Nobunaga explains that it's an essential part of being alive. It happens everywhere in nature. They keep arguing. Then Takaya asks why did Nobunaga become an onryou. Didn't he think at Honnou-ji that his life was a quite beautiful thing? Nobunaga widens his eyes a bit, wondering how Kagetora knows about his last moments.
Meanwhile Irobe and Chiaki are struggling in Ise. All Ise shrine amulets that people are keeping at their homes, started to cause fire all over the city of Ise. As being the main deity of Ise shrine now, Nobunaga can control all amulets and Shinto altars that were originally made for Amaterasu. Chiaki and Irobe try to extinguish the fire, but it's spreading too fast. Moreover, Taira Masakado and Kusunoki Masashige's strong armies are still left. They have a fight with Masakado, but Irobe gets hurt quite seriously. Chiaki tries to exorcise Masakado by the bow of Bishamonten, but it's not strong enough. He can hear Nobunaga's voice in the flames, forcing Yashashuu to stop fighting or Nobunaga will burn all people in Ise alive. But suddenly, the flames are getting weaker and Chiaki can hear Naoe's voice. He explains he has tracked Nobunaga via the seed of Demon King and can disturb him. He says Chiaki should keep fighting against Masakado because Naoe will take care of the fire so that it won't kill anyone. Irobe gets back his consciousnesses and together with Chiaki they managed to weaken Masakado enough for exorcising him. When Irobe is about to finish the mantra of exorcism, a bright lightning strikes Masakado. It's Tenjin (kinds of Shinto God).
Back to the TV studio in Nagoya. Takaya and Nobunaga are glaring at each other. Viewers, studio staff and other TV companies are in the middle of confusion. What's happening there?! Who Ougi Takaya and Shiba Eiji really are?! Takaya keeps his eyes on Nobunaga. This world hurt both of them, they both lived their lives distrusting other people. In that way they're similar, but how did they end to completely different sides? Kagetora was born in a family that loved him sincerely, but Nobunaga needed to grown up without his mother's love. The person who should have loved him the most, detested him the most. Nobunaga needed to fight all his life in order to survive. That's why he can't feel save if he isn't the strongest.
T: "I'm going to stop this. This cycle of revenge has to stop now. Naoe has already taken control of the amulets, so you can't control everything anymore. I'll find your soul inside of Shinnomihashira and end this."
No: "You can't do that."
T: "Just wait and see."
Then Takaya and Shiba start to vanish in the air. Everyone is shocked how it's possible to disappear like that.
Due to Oda clan's hyouireis that have possessed some very high ranking politician, Self-Defense Forces of Japan attack on Hana no Iwaya shrine where Ushio and the others are preparing for the ritual. Ushio gets a very severe injure while sheltering living humans who were helping them: getting many bullet shots on his shoulder, his arm almost tears off. After the strike self-defense forces withdraw. Torigoe cries as he holds Ushio on his arms, begging him to not die. Ushio smiles faintly and says that he can't die before they have saved everyone. The continue their ritual: Priestess Asahara is sent to the ocean by a small boat and then sank to the depths like in Hiruko drifting. But in this ritual there is a rope that will pull the boat back to shore after it goes to the netherworld. Everyone starts to pull.
Meanwhile in Shiga prefecture Doumori, Takigawa and 5 other monks manage to take over the temple that supports spiritual barrier around Saint Azuchi castle. With spiritual powers they broke the barrier and now Mt. Kouya and temples in Shikoku can start to open the gates and let Shadow Shikoku's negative energy wave to flow to Saint Azuchi castle. Meanwhile, Reijirou, Morichika and Yukimura's divisions are approaching the castle.
At Outer shrine Kiyomasa gets bad news from Nikkou: it seems that Mitsunari defeated Ieyasu. In other words Nobunaga can recover now and maybe use also heavenly treasures. He gets in panic since Reijirou and the others are in great danger if they get too close to Saint Azuchi castle! And also Takaya and Naoe are inside of the Miroku's nest. Kousaka is standing next to the nest and decides that he has to do something before it's too late. Bodhisattva's mark appears on his hand as he starts to chant Miroku's mantra. The vines are making him space so that Kousaka can enter to the nest! He arrives to the center where he finds Yuzuru sitting on the ground eyes closed. Kousaka finds the sword of Tamamaki laying next unconscious Miike Tetsuya, and picks it up. He can hear how Yuzuru's telepathic wave asks why did Kousaka come there. Only persons who have made an oath with Buddha can step into Miroku's nest. Haruie's soul has move into Tetsuya's body and she can hear the following conversation Kousaka and Yuzuru/Miroku have.
K: "We have to kill Nobunaga or the view I saw will come true. You can't stop me, Miroku. Even if you were the one you let me see that view, I won't let you come on my way."
Y: <<"The sword of Tamamaki...">>
*Yuzuru opens his eyes*
Y: <<"It was you who killed me with that... At that time.">>
K: <<"This is the same place where it happened. I still remember it as if it happened yesterday. My mission was to seal the soul of Prince Sawara and calm down all onryous who held a grudge against Emperor Kanmu.">>
*Haruie is shocked*
K: <<"However, Prince Sawara's soul was too strong to seal. No matter what kind of ritual was held, it didn't work. Eventually he caused Emperor Kanmu's death. My and your task was to eliminate Sawara and his onryou army. In that era, onryous were unbelievably strong. After Emperor Kanmu passed away, his successor, Emperor Saga, let me lend the power of the sword of Futsu. You and I, we headed for Kumano together, but the fierce battle against onryous woke up your Miroku side. You ate Prince Sawara and his army's souls, stole the sword of Futsu and tried to take over the Grand shrine of Ise. As a member of Imperial family, I couldn't let you do that.">>
K: <<"Sakanoue-no-Tamuramaro. It was your name 1200 years ago, Narita Yuzuru.">>
Haruie knows that name. The great hero who slayed many onryous at the time. (It's the same guy who was introduced earlier in this volume when Takaya and Naoe were watching the history of Japan. Being Miroku explains why such a normal human could beat all those onryous alone.)
Y: <<"In order to stop 'the madness' inside of me, you stabbed my heart with that sword.">>
Haruie can't stand being quiet and forces Tetsuya's body to wake up.
H: "What does... this mean... Kousaka... Being a member of Imperial family... Who are you?"
Kousaka has a very serious expression on his face as he looks down at Haruie.
K: "My name is Ioe."
K: "My real name is Prince Ioe. Emperor Kounin is my grandfather and Emperor Kanmu my uncle. My mission was to seal Prince Sawara's soul."
H: "So in other words..."
K: " 'Kousaka Masanobu' is the name I got after performing kanshou for 800 years."
Next, there is a story how Emperor Kanmu gave to Prince Ioe, his sister's son, a special mission to calm down Prince Sawara's soul. They built a shrine were Sawara was worshiped so that he would forgive Kanmu and rest in piece. Ioe became a priest of that shrine, but before that he needed to give up his title as a prince. He got a new name, Haruhara Ioe. However, Sawara's soul wasn't satisfied to this and he gathered together many onryous that hated Emperor Kanmu, and make an onryou army. The army led by Sawara, attacked to Kumano. Ioe got a partner with who he would go to slay these onryous, and that man was Tamuramaro. There Miroku inside of Tamuramaro woke up and with the powers of Bodhisattva he destroyed the onryou army. After that Miroku's target was to eat Amaterasu, so Tamuramaro stole the sword of Futsu and attacked to Ise shrine. There Ioe killed him with the sword of Tamamaki. Just before Tamuramaro's body died, Miroku sent Ioe to space-time. Ioe's consciousness stayed there for decades, wandering alone in 'the future'. At the time Koubou Daishi, Kuukai, had just returned to Japan from China and visited Kumano area after hearing problems in Nachi (in vol. 30 there was mention that once Hiruko came back with many natural disaster, and actually this Hiruko was the same one who joined together with Prince Sawara and Ooyunohara onryous, but later he was killed by Nachi guardians. After that people in Nachi asked Kuukai's help and since that Shigeno family has carried the curse of Hiruko). On the same trip Kuukai visited Ise and saved Ioe from Miroku's space-time.
K: "I needed to change the future I saw in space-time. That's why I kept living all these years."
H: "So... That's your reason for performing kanshou... What did you see there? What was so terrible that you wanted to change it?!"
K: "...Something what Koubou Daishi would never want to see."
H: "What do you mean with that?"
K: "It was something that you would prefer committing a suicide rather living in such a world. If Koubou Daishi hasn't saved me, I would still wander somewhere in that future. I own to him. So I promised to change the future."
Haruie is quite shocked. So this is why Kousaka has helped them to fight against Nobunaga... For changing the future. Then they feel that Nobunaga is recovering quite fast since the energy in the area is getting stronger than before...
Kousaka's confession made me wonder if he knew Yuzuru's true identity all this time, did he also know that Kagekatsu was Miroku/Tamuramaro? If so, did he choose to be Takeda clan's retainer on purpose or was it just a coincidence? Shingen and Kenshin were rivals, could it be possible that through Kousaka Shingen knew that Kenshin's nephew is actually Miroku who has descended from the heaven to earth? Hmm... There is no mention what happened during Sengoku era, but this really made speculate different options.
Back to the story! Chiaki and Irobe continue exorcising powerful onryous. For mysterious reason their exorcism powers are overflowing and thanks to that it's easy fight. Date clan tries to get into Miroku's nest. Masamune and his wife, Lady Mego, are in the forms of dragons, and Katakura Kojuurou has taken a form of a giant centipede. Mori Ranmaru and Shibata Katsuie lost their bodies earlier in volume 39, but they could keep living in their spiritual forms and they both rushed to protect Nobunaga. Masamune tears Katsuie's throat open, killing him permanently this time. As Masamune tries to get into the nest, Ranmaru, more powerful and fierce than ever before, blocks the entrance and says that he won't let anyone to touch his lord.
Meanwhile Takaya and Naoe are looking for Nobunaga's soul inside of Amanohashira. It's like a storm, Nobunaga is fighting back furiously. Takaya can see quick glimpses of original Nobunaga: a middle-aged man wearing white night kimono, like on that night he died at Honnou-ji. Takaya and Naoe try to endure and also fight back with Bishamonten's powers. Takaya understands Nobunaga's heart. He has also felt the same fear of other people. The fear of abandoning and betrayal. He feels sad that Nobunaga is doing all this just for trying to protect his own weakness. Some Takaya's thoughts from p. 233:
This won't unleash your pain.
It just makes the situation worse.
The thing that will release you is love.
I know you would never guess it's the thing you need, but it is.
It will release your pain.
Like Naoe's love saved me.
Takaya opens his arms with all his powers tries to embrace Nobunaga's soul. Naoe helps him. As Bishamonten and Nobunaga's powers crush, Amanohashira collapses as the whole Ise shrine area flashes brightly.
Around one hour after that the darkness has wrapped the city of Ise under it. Chiaki and Irobe managed to exorcise Masashige, and now they have finally arrived to Ise shrine. When Amanohashira collapsed, it caused a huge explosion that broke Miroku's nest too. Shock wave also killed most of onryous that were fighting close to the shrine. Chiaki feels extremely worry about Kagetora and Naoe. When they arrive to the True shrine where Takaya and Yuzuru fought against Nobunaga, they find Tetsuya. There is also Yuzuru sitting on the stone wall eyes closed. Chiaki tries to pay his attention, but Yuzuru doesn't react to his calls. On the place where the main hall was, there is now a big spring. It's very foggy, but Chiaki can see someone on the another side of the spring. When he's about to call out Kagetora and Naoe, he recognizes Kousaka is behind him. Kousaka tells that Nobunaga isn't there anymore. When Amanohashira collapsed, Nobunaga returned to Rei's body, took the sword of Futsu and the mirror of Yata, and escaped with the help of Ranmaru who managed to protect the shrine from Masamune. They decide to take Tetsuya to save place and after that head for Isonokami shrine since Nobunaga is probably going there next. Chiaki doesn't want leave yet, he can't go anywhere before knowing what happened to Naoe and Kagetora.
On the another side of the spring Naoe is holding Takaya's powerless body on his arms. After Amanohashira broke, they were able to return to their physical bodies. Takaya was unconscious, but now he woke up and opened his dark brown eyes. He apologizes being not able to exorcise Nobunaga, but Naoe just says with a calm voice that everything is fine and that Takaya can use his telepathic waves for communicating. Naoe feels Takaya's pulse getting weaker minute after minute... Soon his blood won't flow to his heart anymore. Due to low blood pressure, Takaya is feeling dizzy, but he gets entranced after seeing how amazingly the dark night sky with billions of bright stars look like above of them. Naoe knows Takaya has used all his powers, he would die soon. It's too late for exorcising him either... He wouldn't survive from the flames of purification.
A small translation from p. 251:
Naoe kept looking at Takaya.
He was looking at Ougi Takaya...
He had strong eyebrows, double-lined eyelids, almond shaped eyes, under another eye there was a black mole... Five years has passed since they met first time in these bodies. On the bridge of his nose, there was a small scar, his left canine tooth was a bit twisted, his lower lip was soft and full... If Naoe closed he eyes, he could imagine Takaya's appearance in his mind till very small details.
Slightly high cheekbones, suntanned skin... At that white mountain cottage and deserted house in Shikoku, without getting any bored Naoe had kept looking at him.
T: <<"I'm sorry Naoe... It seems that... I can't fulfill my promise.">>
*Naoe slowly shakes his head*
N: "To me, every place with you is 'our home in that cape'."
Takaya looks a bit relieved after hearing Naoe's words. He starts to remember the memories of his life, Yashashuu and Naoe...
N: "The one who got saved is me..."
*Naoe's eyes are full of tears and he has a smile on his face*
N: "It was you who saved me. Even at this very moment I feel saved."
*they both get emotional*
N: "Your love saved me..."
*Naoe can't hold back his tears anymore*
N: "If you don't have any regrets either, this is enough for me too. I have lived long enough."
More translation from p. 254:
Instead of telepathic wave, Takaya used his own voice. No matter how difficult it was, it seems that he really wanted to call out Naoe's name by using his own voice. With sorrowful eyes Naoe kept looking at Takaya who tried with all his last powers to force his lungs to work a just bit longer.
N: "I love you, Kagetora-sama."
With a trembling finger Takaya scoops up Naoe's tear. The tear flows down on Takaya's finger to his wrist and falls then onto the ground. Naoe won't stop smiling. Now he doesn't have any regrets in his heart anymore. Like this spring, his heart is released from all regrets and fears, it's pure.
N: "I love you so much."
As hearing those words, tears begin to overflow from Takaya's eyes.
T: "I'm so... sorry for... leaving you... all alone..."
T: "It's the only thing... that I regret..."
N: "You don't leave me alone."
You don't leave me and I won't be left alone.
N: "We're always together. Even if I cry, these aren't the tears of sadness. I'm not going to grief you because after your last breath, your soul will forever be with me."
Naoe lovingly embraced Takaya who was dumbfounded by his words.
I love you...
As burying his head on the Naoe's chest Takaya finally felt relieved and closed his eyes.
T: <<"In that case... I don't have.. any regrets either...">>
As leaning against the older man's chest Takaya asks if Naoe can still trace Nobunaga. They need to purify Nobunaga's soul and if possible save Rei's body. Takaya asks Naoe to put his soul into his body after he has passed away. Naoe promises to do so. Then Naoe separates them a bit so that their faces are close to each other. He wants to see Takaya's eyes one more time.
And here is the rest of this sad scene p. 256-258:
Takaya smiled restfully.
His words were so faint that Naoe barely heard him.
Takaya didn't have many breaths left, only few more. And those breaths Takaya used for telling to him: "I love you... Thank you..."
Sucking up his last breath Naoe pressed his own lips onto Takaya's. Younger man's chest faintly expanded and Naoe picked up his last breath.
It was the very last.
The spring vibrated when a drop fell on the surface.
Naoe didn't separate their lips.
The strength started to fall out from Takaya's muscles and didn't return anymore. This all happened on Naoe's arms. Takaya looked as if he has fallen asleep. Naoe hold Takaya's lifeless body tightly, as if trying to not let him go.
- Ougi Takaya.
Chiaki on the another side of the spring also sensed Takaya's passing. His shoulders were faintly trembling.
Yuruzu was sitting on the stone wall of main hall. One tear fell on his cheek, too.
Trying to not let left warmth to escape, Naoe embraced Takaya.
They both were covered by the rainbow-colored light that reflected from the spring.
Takaya, whose life has just ended at the age of 22, had a peaceful smile on his face.
A lightning strikes the horizon. Ushio sits on the shore and is the only one who saw it. Then, tears start to overflow from his eyes. He's confused why he can't stop crying. He prays Takaya being fine. Everyone is pulling the rope that leads to the netherworld. Suddenly the horizon is getting bright as if the morning sun has started to rise. People from the netherworld are really coming back!
In Sendai Date Masamune and the others has returned to their mausoleum. People are relieved that the souls of Date clan are finally home and hopefully resting peacefully from now on. Miya sits on the veranda of Kokuryou's temple wondering who her brother was after all. To her, Takaya is her only brother, no matter if he was once Uesugi Kagetora. It won't change anything. 'Brother... I don't care who you really are. To me, you're always my brother. I love you...'.
In Ise shrine Naoe keeps holding Takaya's corpse. It was difficult to let him go since Takaya's body was still warm. Naoe hopes Takaya would still say something. The memories how they met for the first time in these bodies comes on Naoe's mind. He had left Yuzuru's house and met Takaya on the street. The first words Naoe heard from Kagetora's mouth as Ougi Takaya. He can't hear Takaya's voice anymore. Nor see his eyes. As the night was getting colder, Naoe just kept holding him on his arms. After staying there for a while more, Naoe could feel someone's aura. It's Yuzuru who was looking at them with sad eyes.
Y: "Place his body into this spring."
As feeling Takaya's corpse getting colder, Naoe agrees. He caresses Takaya's hair a bit more and places their last kiss on Takaya's blue lips. After that he carefully places body into water. Yuzuru sheds tears as looking together with Naoe how Takaya's body sinks in the bottom. Takaya looks like he's just sleeping in the water.
Y: "You seem feeling comfortable there, Takaya."
Yuzuru says he will stand guard over Takaya's remains, so Naoe can go after Nobunaga. They have to stop Nobunaga before it's too late. Naoe sorrowfully agrees and is about to leave when Yuzuru stops him.
Y: "Naoe-san... Take good care of Takaya."
Naoe places his hand on his chest, feeling Kagetora's soul inside of him. It's like a small flame that keeps living in his body. At Uji bridge Irobe, Chiaki and Kousaka are waiting for Naoe. It seems that they all sensed Kagetora's death and that the rest of his soul is now inside of Naoe's body. Naoe asks where Haruie is and for everyone surprise they hear Haruie's voice inside of Kousaka's body. Kousaka tells that he lets Haruie to share body with him. Together they all decide to go to Isonokami shrine in Nara.
In Shiga, Shadow Shikoku's negative power current destroys the main tower of Azuchi castle. The Red Whales and Toyotomi's troops have fight against Oda's skeleton warriors. Reijirou, Doumori and Someji sneak their way to castle yard. The jewel of Yasakani is inside of the castle, so they have go in. They are stopped by Hideyori who decided to come along them. He tells that he got a message from Lady Ichi. Everyone who goes inside will be instantly killed. Reijirou says that they don't have enough time to make another shock wave so they have to act right now before Nobunaga recovers. Hideyori shows two crystal pearls. He says that Lady Ichi and Hirate Masahide's souls are inside of these pearls. They both told Hideyori to throw them inside of the castle so that they could explode themselves and destroy the jewel of Yasakani at the same time. In other words, Lady Ichi and Masahide want to make a suicide in order to stop Nobunaga. Their souls couldn't move to afterlife since they both were too worry about Nobunaga. Hideyori wants to be the one who takes the pearls into castle, but Reijirou says it's too dangerous and orders Someji to do that. They wait behind the stone walls, watching with binoculars how Someji gets closer to the castle. But then Motomiya Rei possessed by Nobunaga appears there and strangles Someji. Nobunaga has come back to his castle! Ranmaru has taken a form of spiritual snake that has twisted itself protectively around Nobunaga's shoulders and body. Nobunaga picks up the pearls from the ground. He totally gets pisses off as he understands that Reijirou and the others tried to use Ichi and Masahide's souls for destroying the jewel of Yasakani. Reijirou orders everyone to start shooting. Ranmaru shelters Nobunaga. When Nobunaga is about to use the sword of Futsu, a huge spiritual animal attacks him. It's Kaoru and Koremori! The pearls fall down from Nobunaga's hands and at that moment Hideyori rushes there for picking them. But then Nobunaga shows the mirror of Yata and reflects Hideyori with that. The mirror of Yata kills everyone who is reflected, but just on time Reijirou rushes there too, takes the pearl where Masahide's soul is in and throws it into castle. This steals Nobunaga's attention. Nobunaga shouts "Jii!" and tries to go to save him, but before he reaches it, Masahide exploded his soul and a giant explosion happens. Just when explosion happened Kaoru forced Nobunaga's soul out of Rei's body. Now Rei/Kaoru, Reijirou, Hideyori and the others are laying unconsciously on the ground. Only Nobunaga gets up. Now he's without physical body. He melts the mirror of Yata and the jewel of Yasakani into his spiritual form. He's amused what happened and is ready for leaving to Isonokami shrine.
I translated this part, starting on p. 291:
N: <<"Let's go, Ran.">>
There was no answer.
Ranmaru's spiritual form had returned to the appearance he had on his original life. He was laying next to the remains of tower. Overcame with surprise, for a short while Nobunaga couldn't do anything else than look down at him. Ranmaru was faintly smiling at him, and being happy since he managed to save Nobunaga's life.
N: <<"...I see...">>
Nobunaga knelt down beside him and caressed his injuries as if trying to heal Ranmaru's pain.
- I (=Ranmaru) will follow you, My Lord, where ever you go.
I understand it now, Jii.
Those words that you said on your last moments.
N: <<"Look after me from the Heaven, Ranmaru.">>
Nobunaga's spiritual form transformed into a bright fire ball and flew up the sky.
The mysterious light Azuchi castle was emitting disappeared and the ancient remains of castle vanished into the darkness.
Naoe, Chiaki, Irobe and Kousaka have arrived to Isonokami shrine. They just finished exorcising all Oda's onryous that were guarding the shrine. They're waiting for Nobunaga coming there. It's possible that he's planning to resurrect all his soldiers that lost lives by the sword of Totsuka that is there. Earlier Nobunaga used the sword of Totsuka for resurrecting Koremori's body. They guessed correct: Nobunaga comes there! He has taken a form of big black fire ball. All of them are shocked how strong Nobunaga is. They start to fight! Irobe and Chiaki sealed some very strong Imperial onryous earlier and now they release them to attack on Nobunaga. Nobunaga struggles with onryous, but eventually kills all of them. Kousaka hears Nobunaga chanting very familiar mantra.
K: "Shit, he's summoning the sword of Kusanagi!"
C: "What the heck, isn't it at Atsuta shrine?!"
K: "There is an auxiliary shrine of the Grand Shrine of Izumo in Isonokami shrine! The sword of Kusanagi is worshiped in Izumo too!"
They feel something, like an arrow, speeding towards them. Naoe shouts they can't let the sword becoming a part of Nobunaga's body. Kousaka comes on it's way and uses the sword of Tamamaki for stopping it. Kousaka is hit against the tree by the shock wave.
Kousaka smiles since it seems that the sword of Tamamaki remembers Prince Ioe's soul even if his body belongs to a man named Arai Kimihiko.
K: "Kakizaki, let's change!"
Kousaka's soul comes out of the body and moves to the sword of Tamamaki, and Haruie performs kanshou on Kousaka's body. After that Haruie attacks furiously on Nobunaga.
H: ('Kagetora, we all are coming to you soon. I'll finish this.')
Haruie using Kousaka's body, stabs Nobunaga with the sword of Tamamaki. Nobunaga groans in pain and can hear Kousaka's voice saying "I lived all these 1200 years for killing you fucking bastard. Finally I can die..." Naoe and the others use the moment by saying "Bai" and trying to exorcise Nobunaga. However, Nobunaga's eyes take a sharp contact with Irobe's. Blood bursts out from Irobe's body killing him instantly. Everyone is shocked.
Nobunaga used the mirror of Yata. It's like Takaya's evil eye: it kills instantly and also damages the soul too.
Na: "Don't look at Nobunaga's eyes! Haruie, Chiaki! Let's capture him!"
T: <<"Don't do that, Naoe. It won't work on Nobunaga.">>
Naoe stops. It's Takaya's voice! Takaya inside of him can still speak!
T: <<"We can't beat Nobunaga with power. We have to calm down his heart.">>
Na: "It's impossible! His mental wounds are too deep. There is no way we can do that since the most closest persons to Nobunaga couldn't do that either. The only way to force him to move to the afterlife is exorcism!"
T: <<"Remove his weapons. If he is without his armor, you calm down him. If someone can do it, it's you.">>
Na: "How can I do that? I can't accept him in the same way as you accept me or I accept you."
T: <<"Do you remember how did Nobunaga feel at that time...?">>
*Naoe gets serious*
C: "Hey, Naoe! What are you doing?! Na-"
Suddenly Chiaki, Haruie and also Irobe's soul feel that their exorcism powers are overflowing again like earlier when Chiaki and Irobe were fighting against Taira Masakado. Naoe sees that Kenshin's sign, the key Kenshin gave to Kagetora, has appeared on his hand. Naoe gets an idea and he asks everyone to support him. Naoe starts to summon Uesugi's underworld army. Irobe and the others are confused since didn't their army become devastated by Shadow Shikoku?! Naoe remembers that for a very short while Nobunaga felt comfort when Takaya embraced his soul. Naoe is planning to do so again, making Nobunaga to remember that he was loved in his original life. As Naoe finishes mantra, the ground cracks and opens a hole to the underworld where the souls of soldiers Nobunaga used as a sacrifice are. Like a magma the souls of Uesugi soldiers are rising up to surface and attacking on Nobunaga. Chiaki and Haruie start chanting Bishamonten's mantra. However, Nobunaga won't give up easily and summons all Ooyunohara onryous/gods from every Shinto shrine in Japan to come help him. While Yashashuu and underworld army of Uesugi are struggling with powerful Ooyunohara onryou's, Nobunaga takes the sword of Futsu and prepares for the next step.
No: <<"The holy treasures of Isonokami, please accept my gift to you.">>
Naoe and the others get confused what Nobunaga is planning to do. They don't know that Nobunaga is about to sacrifice all those gods and people who where spirited away to the netherworld by the golden rain.
T: <<"I'm not going to let you do that!">>
Takaya's illusion appears in front of Nobunaga and grabs his hand that is holding the sword of Futsu.
T: <<"There is no one in netherworld anymore.">>
Nobunaga realizes that his own spiritual form is vanishing in the air! It seems that Ushio and the others managed to bring everyone back to the real world. Also Shinto gods, like Amaterasu, have come back! Amaterasu's light takes away Imperial regalia and the sword of Futsu from Nobunaga's hand. Now he's without weapons, but for some reason Nobunaga starts to laugh and says that this isn't the end yet, this is just the beginning! Nobunaga as an onryou is still extremely powerful and he makes the world falling into darkness. Suddenly, a bright light surrounds Nobunaga. Naoe sees Yuzuru standing in front of Nobunaga. It seems that Naoe it's the only one who can see or hear him. The end of the battle, starting from p. 307:
Y: <<"If you want, I can reset everything and remove the future of being without Takaya.">>
Can you destroy this world...? Like I hoped earlier. Can you really remove the world where he doesn't exist...?
Y: <<"I give my enlightenment for you.">>
As melting little by little into the bright light, Naoe could hear Yuzuru's voice.
Y: <<"Because you made Takaya to smile.">>
Naoe extended his hand. But his hand passed Miroku and instead of that it reached out for Nobunaga's soul.
- Why do you think death means defeat?
A warm smile on his face Naoe caught Nobunaga's soul.
Na: ('If you managed to smile while you were alive, it's not defeat...')
Right after he got a grab of Nobunaga's soul, a beautiful arc of rainbow was born.
Nobunaga's soul started to melt into Naoe's embrace.
In the beginning his soul was burning hot, but it was getting cooler, like the ice would melt in the spring sunshine, and eventually vanishing in the air.
It was a completely new way to exorcise someone's soul.
Instead of Naoe, vanishing Nobunaga knew he was actually hugged by his sister, Lady Ichi.
Nobunaga closed his eyes and leaned against to that warmness.
Isonokami shrine was filled with rainbow-colored light.
The light was weakening all those strong powers there.
'This is paradise', Nobunaga thought so on his last moments.
No matter how deeply he would fall in this warmness, it was like a paradise on earth.
- It would be nice if this feeling would continue forever...
Like snow, souls started to fall from the sky.
Rainbow-colored snow kept falling and piling down...
At Hana-no-Iwaya shrine everyone is celebrating. The ritual worked and all those people who were spirited away have returned! As Ushio, Torigoe, Neiha and her crew, priests and some modern people pulled the rope, suddenly people started to rise up from the ocean and walk to the beach. Isomura Teru is also there and immediately Torigoe runs to hug her. He wants to introduce her to Ushio and hurries back to his side. But he founds Ushio laying on the sand surrounded by Neiha and the others. Ushio has died, but he has a happy smile on his face...
Atou Shinobu arrives to Ise shrine. After hearing the news of Shiba Eiji's death, Shinobu headed for Ise. He feels guilty what happened to Nobunaga, so he definitely needed to come to see the site by his own eyes. In front of Uji bridge he finds a man in his 30's sitting on the ground and caressing the asphalt as whispering desperately Nobunaga's name. At first Shinobu thinks maybe the man is their religion's believer, but it seems that he isn't...
S: "Um... Excuse me. Are you... his retainer?"
*Sobbing Mitsuhide looks up to Shinobu*
M: "Lord Nobunaga died at Honnou-ji temple. But we never find any remains of him..."
S: "Honnou-ji? What are you saying? Maybe so but... it happened already 400 years ago..."
M: "Yes, it did. But you know, once he was very fond of the present I gave him. It was a glass that I got from the barbarians (Mitsuhide means Europian Jesuits). He said 'Mitsuhide, this is beautiful. You really found something very precious' and smiled at me in the same way as he used smile at Hideyoshi and the others. I will never forget that. Yes, it was exactly that same smile he had on his face when we watched together how the flames beautifully danced in the glass when we lighted up a candle in it. I don't know why, but under this ground Lord Nobunaga showed to me that same smile..."
*Shinobu understands this man to be Akechi Mitsuhide*
M: "Telling the truth, I really loved his smiling face..."
*Mitsuhide bursts into tears*
Naoe visits the Inner shrine. The spring where he buried Takaya's remains has disappeared, only his clothes are left. Now on that same place, there is a young cherry blossom tree. It wasn't there yesterday. Naoe recognizes there is also a human shaped rock under the tree. It's Yuzuru. Tears start to flow from Naoe's eyes as he looks up the tree that is 'an incarnation' of Takaya's physical body.
Reijirou's host body wakes up at the hospital he was taken by Takigawa and the other Mt. Kouya monks. As Reijirou promised, he and the others (at least Doumori and Someji) gave up their host bodies. Reijirou possessed that body more than 10 years, so the real owner of that body was on 'offline mode' quite long time. The host body tells that he saw a long dream. In the dream he was called 'Kada Reijirou' and he had many friends with who he had many amazing adventures. Takigawa smiles at him and promises to tell everything what happened to him later. Rei's body possessed by Kaoru was also taken to that same hospital. But when Kaoru in Rei's body woke up, he left the hospital right away. Now Kaoru heading for Hana-no-Iwaya shrine, since he saw from the news that people from the netherworld came back. At Kumano station he meets Torigoe who is on his way to Kyoto for having an TV interview. He promised to Takaya that after everything is over, he would tell the truth to everyone. Kaoru tells that he's going to give Rei's body back to Rei. He heard from Asahara that Rei's soul in lodging in Hana-no-Iwa shrine. After meeting her daughter one more time Kaoru is planning to move to the afterlife like Koremori already did. He says his farewells to Torigoe and hopes that he would keep being Rei's friend in the future too.
Reijirou and the other men of Red Whales who survived have returned to Shikoku in their spiritual forms. Everyone is grieving after hearing from Ichizou that Takaya has passed away. The Red Whales lost many members... Takaya, Ushio, Kiyomasa, Hayato, Nakagawa, Satta, Eikichi, Narasaki... All they lost their lives in Ise. Reijirou will continue protecting Shikoku and it's sacred pilgrimage. The Red Whales also got two new members: Yukimura and Morichika joined after their Lord Hideyori moved to the afterlife.
The last part of this final volume is an epilogue that has the same name as the title too: Beyond the 100 billions nights:
Naoe and Chiaki meets at the ruins of Kasugayama castle. It's still night, but soon dawn will break. They both look down to the ocean from the hill they're standing.
C: "Tottsan... I wish he could have seen this scenery too."
Irobe lost his life during the battle. He probably moved to after life after seeing Nobunaga's soul getting exorcised. His job here is done, no need for kanshou anymore. Kousaka, too. His soul disappeared after the battle.
N: "Haruie... She is at hospital. She said that she will stop performing kanshou and move to after life after Kimihiko's body dies."
C: "Really, she said so?"
Naoe remembers how he visited Haruie. She just smiled tiredly, but also happily. Her soul is has got too damage, she wants to rest from now on. Even if she stops performing kanshou she's sure that some day in the distant future she will meet Shintarou again. Nagahide sighs. He will never forget Haruie. Next, Naoe's tells that they have still lots of things to do. Ooyunohara's onryous are still here. There will be many battles between gods and onryous. Ujiyasu and Kotarou promised to help Naoe. He says that Nagahide doesn't need to help him, he can do whatever he wants from now on. There isn't Yashashuu or the underworld army of Uesugi anymore.
C: "What are you going to do, Naoe?"
N: "I'll keep performing kanshou."
N: "I'll keep doing so until my soul gets old and eventually dies."
*they both look at the ocean for a while without saying anything*
C: "Dummy you. I'm coming with you. At least till the end of this human life I'm going to keep accompany to you."
N: "I see."
*Naoe smiles a bit*
Then Naoe remembers what Kousaka told him when they were on the way to Isonokami shrine from Ise. It was about the future he saw in Miroku's space-time. In that future, people could make new bodies by gene technology. Rich people were able to change their bodies when host body got sick or too old. This society where everyone can buy, change and dispose bodies like clothes... He probably saw what kind of Nobunaga's revolution would have been. After remembering Kousaka's story, Naoe start to walk down the hill.
C: "Where are you going?"
N: "I want to see the ocean. I go to the beach."
Chiaki senses that Naoe wants to be alone for a while so he lets him go.
I translated almost all the rest of this epilogue! Here we go, starting from p. 339:
This was the same beach where they met with Kagetora after they performed kanshou for the first time.
- Aren't you afraid of me?
It was the first thing Kagetora, who had lost his life at the Siege of Ootate, asked from Naoe. Can you call a man, who hated you much that he even become an onryou, as your master?
Takaya's soul was inside of Naoe's body.
They couldn't even communicate with telepathy anymore.
Not long anymore before Kagetora's soul will shatter into small pieces. Naoe wanted Kagetora to be inside of his body, if and when that moment comes.
Naoe could feel Takaya's emotions nesting inside of him, it was their only way to communicate from now on.
Even after his soul dies, Takaya will keep looking after Naoe where ever he goes.
- Please, let me confront you... Naoe.
- So that I could find our 'our ideal way to be together'.
N: ('You confronted me enough.')
Takaya's picture that he saw on the TV screen has burnt into Naoe's memories permanently. Those same eyes Takaya faced directly to all spectators. And as he heard Takaya's words on that interview, Naoe remembered those words Takaya said to him earlier.
The deserted house wasn't our paradise we're looking for, we found it from this real world while we were confronting each other.
You laid down your tired body inside of mine... I want you to wrap yourself in the feeling of safety. I'm so happy that I can give to you a place where you can rest in peace.
- I'll give you so much happiness that it'll cover your eternal loneliness...
N: ('You gave me more happiness than I could never hope for.')
We saw and walked together through this path of human life. We cried, we shouted, we even fought against each other. But every time I fall down on the ground, you were there and rose me up with your hand.
N: ('Now it's my turn to lend my hand to you.'')
- I'm going to keep living and see it with my own eyes. I'll keep performing kanshou till all life disappears from this planet. Till I'm the last person who exists here, I'm going to make sure that your feelings for me are real!
The waves were splashing Naoe's shoes on the beach. He closed his eyes and remembered Kagetora's words in his mind.
This proves that you really trusted me.
You decided to rest peacefully inside of my body because you trusted I'll keep loving you forever.
No one has trusted me so much as you, and that's why I want to spend the rest of my life living up to your expectations.
N: ('I'll keep living...')
And performing kanshou.
Till that day when all living beings extinct from this planet.
Till I'm the last person here.
I'll keep performing kashou as carrying the name of 'Naoe Nobutsuna'.
Living life after life, till the end of this star we exist.
Beyond the distant time, when I'm the only living person in this world, till the very last day when all life dies,
I'll prove to you.
That my love was eternal.
The wind is blowing.
It's the same wind that also blew on that day when I met Kagetora for the first time. The sound of waves never changes. Probably I can hear it till all oceans dry up. The waves were whispering Kagetora's name, the name that was engraved into Naoe's heart eternally. It was as if the ocean heard what Naoe pledged to do.
Naoe opened his eyes and kept walking on the shoreline.
The heavy clouds in the horizon started to soak into warm colors of sunrise.
Some birds were flying in the high sky.
The footprints on sandy beach were washed away by the waves.
Please, tell me I'm not the only crybaby here!
About Naoe and Kagetora: I'm still too emotional to comment anything proper about their relationship since even now it's difficult to hold back tears while reading Kagetora's death scene. To me it's not just the saddest scene of MoB, but also the saddest of all death scenes I know. However, I felt relieved how beautifully Sensei wrote it. It was definitely the best place for Kagetora to face his end on Naoe's arms. I loooove how their relationship developed till this point. In this scene I also loved how Yuzuru and Nagahide shed tears after feeling Kagetora's passing. I love the epilogue. It's absolutely beautiful and full of emotions. It's heartbreaking to think that Naoe will keep living till the end of this world... Beyond the 100 billions nights... But the fragments of Kagetora's soul are there so in that way Naoe and Kagetora are always together, never separated again...
About Yashashuu: I was happy that Nagahide survived, but I felt sorry for Haruie. Losing Kagetora was too much for her. And poor Irobe. :( His host body was killed in quite brutal ways: explosion, the mirror of Yata... Hopefully they can rest in peace now.
About Kenshin: Ujiyasu was an amazing father, but telling the truth, Kenshin's feelings for Kagetora melted my heart. That hug scene was absolutely... amazing. ;;__;;
About Nobunaga/Ranmaru: I was moved to see Nobunaga being gentle to Ranmaru. Volume 39 made me feel a bit sorry for Ranmaru, since it seems that Nobunaga doesn't love him as deeply as Ranmaru loves him. But this last volume made me relived as seeing that Ranmaru could die peacefully, knowing that he really had his own place in Nobunaga's heart. Even if I love this pairing, I was very happy that Ichi was the one who purified Nobunaga's soul after all. Great that Sensei gave her this heroine role! :)
About the Red Whales: Nooo, why Ushio needed to die?! And Kiyomasa too?!
I have a question to other fans: What do you think about Kousaka/Prince Ioe now after knowing his true identity and motives? :)
Overall, Sensei did amazing work with MoB! I just love this story so much that I can't even express it with words... Thank you Sensei!!! Thank you!! You're the best!! *w*
Announcement: Some Shouwa summaries coming soon! During January to March I'll post summaries of vol. 7-10 (volume 10 is the last volume of Shouwa prequels). After Shouwa there will be also some Kaikou prequels! But before Shouwa, I'll post the summary of vol. 25 from this main story. It tells what happened after Naoe was arrested in the end of vol. 24 and how he joined the Red Whales.
Okay, now it's your turn! Tell your opinion! Tell how do you feel! Let's discuss! :)