Volume 14 is the fourteenth volume of Shigurui that includes chapters 72-77.
One year before the imperial tournament, Date Masamune, an old veteran of the warring states era, has a secret meeting with Tadanaga. In the present, Fujiki falls into a coma, but is assisted by an unlikely visitor.
In the days of his youth, Fujiki and his fellow students were given instructions on the deportment of a warrior during peacetime. Most notable was not severely injuring an opponent at a duel, for it would surely displease ones Lord. Since Kogan was constrained by social hierarchy, it was therefore proof one could not ignore social conventions. In the present, Fujiki and Iraku are separately informed the tournament would be conducted using real swords. While Mie pours water over herself, her thoughts are filled with controlling the “demon”. It was Mie who decides the cursed sword should be used and hands it to Fujiki, requesting him to "kill him". Fujiki envisioned decapitates head of Iraku and an unidentified woman. Throwing up, Fujiki falls into a coma.
Fujiki dreams of fighting a man who looks like Iraku, though his face was replaced with that of a skull and his chest were breasts. A doctor at the Sasahara estate informs Mie that Fujiki could not be expected to live long, given the decapitation of his arm. Mie nurses Fujiki during his coma, still requiring him to "please kill him" and thinks of how much she hates Iraku. Regardless, her breasts became visibly erect. Mie walks outside to investigate a noise and discovers Iraku. Suddenly, her father’s enemy appeared before her eyes, a man she hated for committing adultery with her father’s mistress while betrothed to her. Soaking in the rain and curled into a ball, Iraku was completely defenceless, but because he was defenceless Mie could not stop stab him, but only tremble. Later in a separate room, Iraku presents Mie with the head of the ape he had killed. He explains he was aware Fujiki had fallen ill and that the head would work as medicine. From ancient times, the charred remains of primates were highly treasured as a cure to any ailment. It was believed the head concealed an even greater power which Kogan once carefully informed Mie of the mysterious effects it contained during the warring states period. Although wanting to save Fujiki from his coma, Mie tells Iraku she could not accept pity from an enemy. Iraku states being referred to as an enemy pains him. Iraku swears he did not commit adultery with Iku and blames himself, stating his own lack of virtue led Kogan into thinking so, which also pained him. Mie retorts if this was true Iraku would not continue to bed Iku, to which Iraku asserts was not true, but rather he was caring for her, given she was his masters mistress. Iraku proceeds to eat from the charred head to prove to Mie it was not poison. After bowing, Iraku heads prepares to leave but stops short of walking outside. While Iraku stares into the distance, Mie prepares to dig her blade into Iraku. Iraku states he mourned the loss of seeing a rainbow. On hearing this, Mie rests her blade. Observing Iraku now walking away, she sees a rainbow in the shape of a dragon, and ponders whether it was Iraku’s avatar, or an illusion.
At night, Mie discovers Fujiki had awoken from his coma and is busy devouring the charred head.
In Kakegawa, a malnourished beggar child walks along the streets of Kakegawa, shunned by every person who crosses her path. Drawn to the castle, the child sits down in exhaustion against the walls of Sunpu Castle. Iraku and his two escorts happen upon her. He takes the child to Iku’s house, and Iraku bathes her by hand, to the disgust of his escorts. He then proceeds to take her to his courtyard to watch butterflies. Later, sitting in his inner chamber, the child is given a plate of food her station in life would not recognise. Iraku happily explains it was a sweet called Kusa Mochi, a sticky dumpling made with rice and flour and mugwort. As the child greedily eats, Iraku recalls the day he killed his destitute mother while she greedily ate Mochi. One of the escorts call the child disgusting, while the other compares to the child eating to that of a cow. Overhearing, Iraku turns to them and smiles. Besotted, the escorts return the gaze.
Later, outside his estate, Iraku requests Iku to take the child to the Toudouza and to provide them with his name, for they would look after her. He also notes that the stench of death hanging under the hut below at the bridge in Tsushima were likely her parents, and out of charity, they should pay for a burial. Iku nods and while guiding the child towards the Toudouza estate, the child glances back at Iraku, and smiles.
Later that night during threesome with his escorts, Iraku murders them both with a single strike. Iraku considers he was born a Samurai, and since he was a child had set his sights on attaining the rank of Samurai. However, the contradiction was that those were also the people he hated the most in the depths of his heart. Iraku is not rebuked for killing the two ninjas dispatched for his protection by the Surusa domain, and Iraku ponders whether it was the divine protection of Ichunogi.
13 days since awakening from his coma, a radiated Fujiki returns to health as if resurrected, to the happiness of Mie and Inomata, the young man whose fingers Fujiki cut off with a wooden sword. It appears during his coma Inomata continued to visit Fujiki and help Mie. On the last day of April, on the estate of Lord Hyuuga Hanbee Masahisa, the martial arts instructor of Suruga domain, inspects Fujuki's body. Hyuuga requests Fujiki to demonstrate his prowess by fighting three Samurai with bamboo swords. Rather than attack together, one Samurai commences his attack against Fujiki, but is brutally killed with a single strike. Hopelessly outmatched, the remaining two opponents look towards Hyuuga for mercy. Hyuuga apologises for the affront of testing Fujiki’s swordsmanship, and treats him to a feast. He notes Iraku’s sword was a demon sword, whereas his was the righteous sword, fitting for the divine Tokugawa clan. As Mie and Fujiki return home, Fujiki tells Mie although he was defeated by vengeance and failed to protect her father and the reputation of the Kogan-ryuu, he vows he would at least protect her. As the reticent Fujiki utters this vow, his cheeks flush red in his burning love for Mie. The words were such that any young person might offer them without a trace of sincerity, but to Mie, she realises this was the most sacred moment of her life. On that day for the first time, they walk slowly side by side for the first time. Mie imagines Fujiki’s missing hand touching her fingers, and she gently held it in her own.
At night at the Okakura Estate, Iraku ponders that if he triumphed, he will be employed by the Suruga domain with wealth. Iraku used his blindness and his crippled foot to the utmost to promote himself. For that reason the genius swordsman intentionally exaggerated his limp, even dragging his foot as he walked. However, if his swordsmanship had reached divine status when the light was stolen from him, there was also a swordsman whose left arm had been stolen. Iraku did not yet know that the tiger Fujiki was not the tiger of the past. Outside their residence Sasahara Estate, a cottage which was smaller than a closet, Mie & Fujiki burn the cloak of Kogan.
"One Eyed Dragon"Edit
The one eyed dragon, Date Masamune, was an old veteran of the warring states era. He was Sendai Chuunagon (middle counsellor, a step below Dainagon ‘great counsellor’). On one occasion, at his estate in Edo, Masamune receives an invitation to Hidetada’s palace. The day before the audience, Hidetada’s most trusted advisor informs him the Shogun desired a famous sword he had in his possession, the Shinogitou Shirou Yoshimistu. Insulted, Date states it was he who decided what gift to offer to the Shogun, and the fact that the Shogun demanded it like a child was beneath the dignity of the Tokogawa clan. The attendees who were present sit shocked. One year before the imperial tournament fought with real blades, the semi-retired Date Masamune visits Sunpu on his way to the capital, for he had an audience with Tokugawa Tadanaga and had a secret meeting with him. In a chamber, Tadanaga explains that Sunpu was swarming with Ronin. Date, who was a man of the world, feigned ignorance at this statement to guard against careless utterance. For after the Gen’na era, in order to secure the Tokugawa Shogunate, 17 daimyou families were abolished or discontinued. As a result, the number of Ronin reached 220,000. To make reference to them was tantamount to inciting treason against the Shogunate. Tadanaga explains he will ascertain the martial skills of the Ronin and employ those who proved their might. Using an imperial tournament, Tadanaga also explains real swords would be used. Date’s eyes widen at this statement. Tadanaga informs Date he would invite all members of the mighty Date clan to enter the competition as a model for others. Date’s heart begins pounding, not only was he sitting face to face with one of such high rank as Suruga Dainagon, but this was not mere small talk about an imperial tournament. Date deduced “a suitable day” must have meant the anniversary of Hidetada’s death, and that a tournament with real swords indicated that Sunpu will lead an uprising against Shogun Iemitsu. Date deduces that Tadanaga was indirectly asking if Date would pledge the army of Sendai to him. Date imagines killing Tadanaga as he sits, but unsheathed a wooden dagger instead, a symbolic rejection of Tadanaga's offer. Later that night, in rage, Tadanaga executes three female attendants. In the same month, replies come from the Shimazu and Kuroda clan that they would not participate in the tournament with real swords. In this state, his advisors thought, even if he did not ferment an uprising, the Lord was in danger. They call upon members of the clan who already had long standing grudges between them, as well as those who were suspected of secretly attempting to carry out vengeance killings. The eventual shortlist of twenty swordsmen who entered the imperial tournament would be sacrificed to calm the violent passions of the demon king.
In September of that year, as Mie helps Fujiki adorn ceremonial robes for an audience with Tadanaga, Mie and Fujiki share a tender moment. At the steps of Sunpu Castle, Fujiki crosses paths with Iraku, and as they silently cross one another, Fujiki decides the next time he saw him, he would kill him. Later that night, the meeting with Tadanaga is not held indoors, but in the rain outside in the garden of the Castle. As the twenty two sitting swordsman waited almost an hour and begin to feel the cold, Tadanaga appears among them. They prostrate before him, and as Tadanaga passes them by, he stops and steps into the garden. Until ordered to lift their heads, they had to continue bowing. At this point, Tadanaga casually stabs one man. Smelling blood, they sensed someone must have been killed.