Volume 7 is the seventh volume of Shigurui that includes chapters 32-37.
In this volume the remaining members of the Kogan dojo plot revenge in the aftermath of Kogan’s death at the hands of Iraku.
Fujiki rushes to the Iwamoto estate and discovers it is riddled with corpses. He checks Mie is alive, and then notices his master lying on the floor. Madly, Mie welcomes Fujiki home, while Fujiki hastily attempts to suck out the blood from Kogan’s windpipe. At that moment an official arrives, and later testifies that Kogan had taken leave of his senses, and that Iraku and Iku defended themselves. Sometime later this man had opened a large dojo of his own in Edo, though it was not clear where he had procured the required funds. That same month at Sunpu Castle in the Castle grounds, Iraku sits prostrated before Tokugawa Tadanaga, with Kengyou sitting beside him. As the man who had slain the renowned tiger, Tadanaga requests Iraku to demonstrate his skills against a captured man in bonds. The man had only been married to his wife for only 19 days until Tadanaga commanded her to attend his chambers. Knowing full well the fate of his wife if he accepted, he refused and was captured while attempting to flee the Castle. He was freed from his bonds, armed and ordered to duel with Iraku. Assuming Iraku is victim to a similar injustice, the man reluctantly attacks, but is quickly killed. Iraku walks to his terrified wife and proceeds to cut her neck. Impressed, Tadanaga asks what school Iraku was from, Iraku replies, “Mumyou Sakanagare”.
Gonzaemon, who survived the poisoning, made his return to the Iwamato Kogan Estate’s dojo after seven days. The dojo was bereft of students and only few servants remained. Upon discovering the gates were sealed, he realises everything. The resulting sobs that escape from Gonzaemon were more like the lows of a bull than the cries of a man. Though still beautiful, Mie remained aloof, while Fujiki imprisoned himself in a cell as punishment for losing his warriors composure in the face of his Lord’s death. Fujiki cries for the first time since the death of his master upon hearing Gonzaemon’s cries.
Over ten years ago, in the village of Awamoto in Kakegawa, a local bully named Fujiki Gennosuke was feared most by local children. His Samurai father had once been a high ranking noble. Although he had enjoyed an easy life, he was stripped of his lands and position on the grounds of negligence and disloyalty. This bully, loathed and disdained by other Samurai, let loose his frustration and rage amongst ignorant peasant children. In the same village lived another child who also shared the name of Gennosuke. As the son of a farmer, he had no family name, was nearly always silent, and was not known to make overt displays of emotion. He was seen as a dumb child by his parents, and provided with worse food than his brothers. He was the ideal target for the bully. Though considered stupid by many, Gennosuke knew enough to bow his head to a Samurai. However, unlike other village children, his expression displayed no hint of adulation, which infuriated the bully, who then proceeded to force feed Gennosuke with horse droppings, and used judo to strangle him over twenty times. Sometime later, when the Gennosuke became unable to move, the bully thought him dead and quickly ran away, leaving the boy where he lay. When Gennosuke came to his senses, a vision of a tiger tempted him to stray from his path to another destination. The next day, the bully was discovered dead; his head having collided with a stone wall. On that day, a student saw Gennosuke swinging the bully through the air. Gennosuke’s mother was horrified to discover Gennosuke brought back a child’s scalp. When Gennosuke did not respond to questions, his father hung him upside down to a tree. This was solely an attempt to appease the wrath of a Samurai who would inevitably visit the one who had taken his son’s topknot and prevent that anger from spreading to the culprit’s family. His parents left him to die, until a Samurai, Kogan, appeared from the castle and cut him down. The swordsmanship instructor of Kakegawa, Iwamato Kogan, decreed that the bully's death had been an accident, and gave money to the now heirless Fujiki clan, making them adopt a new successor, which would be no other than the silent child, Gennosuke. Afterwards, this son of a poor farner, now provided with the bully’s name Fujiki, was taken into the Kogan estate and reborn as the Samurai Fujiki Gennosuke.
In Nissaka, Kuchinawa Heishirou worked as security for the Kuki clan. An extremely skilled swordsman who was considered so cold blooded that even other warriors spoke of him in hushed whispers. Whenever he took part in an attack on a rival clan, he would casually strike down the children who attempted to protect their leader. He had met Fujiki many years earlier one April in a duel. Fujiki was not even three years a student of Kogan-ryuu, but was ordered to duel with Kuchinawa; who was a disciple of Ipparyuu and wished to demonstrate his prowess. Already skilful, Fujiki cut off two of Kuchinawa’s fingers, cut his nose and cut out one of his eyes. The Kogan-ryuu observed with pride at Fujiki’s actions. Together with two others who had suffered similarly at the hands of Kogan-ryuu, Kuchinawa hatched a plan for revenge. In the same year, Kuchinawa and the two others ambush Fujiki outside the dojo on a stormy night using bamboo spears. They taunt Fujiki to raise his steel sword despite the lightening. To their surprise, Fujiki’s instantly does so, but instead of being electrocuted, lightening burns the two opponents accompanying Kuchinawa to a crisp. A frightened Kuchinawa observes a demon Fujiki standing in front of a dragon, with a sword raised over him. In the present day, the old servant Mosuke (the servant who noted Mie’s smile as they waited by the steps of Mt. Akiba during Iraku’s initiation) is making his way back from a market. He is blocked by a man who appeared to be Ronin, but was no other than a man called Haramitshi Bizennokami, who was blind in one eye. He informs the old man to deliver a message to Fujiki. That he will be protected by the dragon of Youkouin, and not to be nervous, for the day will come when he will avenge his fallen master. Meanwhile, sitting with Mie, Fujiki writes an official letter, a “request for vengeance”.
Late summer, the House of Iwamoto Mie’s gates are unsealed. Mosuke advises Mie she could not leave her father’s robes in her room, believing it to be her father’s lament, embodied. It was a set of bones, dyed nearly black with solidified blood. The letter read:
“my departed father Kogan was of a clear mind until his very last moment. He drew his blade in response to the taunting of Iraku Seigen, a manservant of the Shizuhata estate, and events proceeded as you already know. I am sending this letter in order to receive permission to kill Iraku Seigen, the man who murdered my father. I beg you, please, grant me this wish, Iwamato Mie.”
Upon receiving this petition for vengeance, the man charged with inspecting Kakegawa, Yanagisawa Tanomo, immediately summoned Fujiki. Amongst other officials, Yanagisawa explains to Fujiki that a petition for vengeance could only be submitted if the patriarch and the immediate heir were dead, and a document received from Kogan long ago informed him that the heir to the clan of Iwamoto would be no other than Fujiki Gennosuke. Fujiki had no idea, and it was probable that Mie, too, had not known that Fujiki was chosen. This knowledge made his heart swell. Smiling behind them, Sat Ikuno Jinnai, the man who was already scheduled to become the next martial arts master of Kakegawa. All officials in attendance berate Fujiki for Kogan’s death, given he was not present when he died, had floundered helplessly and lost control of himself when confronted with his corpse. Yanagisawa was at pains to remind Fujiki he would still be hanging from a tree in Awamoto if Kogan had not saved him. The scorn and insults these men heap upon the low ranking warrior went beyond the bounds of decency. Fujiki did not utter a word protest, believing these insults to be true, until he heard Sat Ikuno Jinnai query whether or not the Kogan was a good swordsman at all, given he lost to a blind man. At this moment, Haramitshi, the Karou of Kakegawa, enters, and suggests the blade of Kogan-Ryuu had yet to rust. Meanwhile, having reflected favourably in the eyes of Tadanaga, Iraku had been gifted with an estate belonging to the swordsmanship instructor of the Castle Okakura Bokusat. Iraku was enjoying a luxurious life. However, despite defeating his master, and considered superior to him by all, Fujiki continued to haunt his conscience. While Iraku recalls a memory of Fujiki clasping a seashell on a beach, in rage, Iraku cut in half a female servant and Okakura’s wife, who was bathing him. Iraku vows he must strike down Fujiki. Sometime later, Iraku learns that the officials Kakegawa had granted permission to the Iwamoto clan’s request for revenge.
On a boat along the waters of Enshuu in Fukuroi, the Kogan-ryuu warriors went swimming. This was some time before the wounds Kogan had inflicted on Gonzaemon jaw had fully healed. Wearing a suit of barbarian armour is Fujiki, who dives into the waters. Encased in a hard shell, he begins to sink quickly. This was a training session which involved the student removing heavy armour by hand in a crushing, suffocating situation. It was actually one of the safer exercises the disciples performed on a regular basis. Fujiki struggles to untie the knots holding the armour together, having been tied by what seemed like the hands of a monster. Yamazaki and Maruko dive in to save Fujiki, but though trained in quick submerging, they could only dive 100 feet. Iraku dives in and continues dart deeper ahead and sees Fujiki lying on the sea floor. This was his opportunity to kill Fujiki and become heir to Kogan-ryuu. Although Yamazaki and Maruko rise up to the sea floor informing Gonzaemon they could not reach him, Iraku immediately appears to the surface carrying Fujiki. Later in a hut on the beach, Fujiki apologises for his failure, while Gonzaemon commends Iraku for saving Fujiki. Though any one of them could have used their terrifying powers to bind the knots, Fujiki was not a man to whom suspicions came easy. On the beach later at night, the disciples observe a turtle laying its eggs from afar. Gonzaemon states he is glad they are gathered together, fellow students training in the ways of the sword as one. On hearing this, Iraku comes to a new found respect for the disciples of Kogan-ryuu. Iraku always learned to live for himself, but the Kogan-ryuu were different than those he had known to consider themselves superior because of their birth, recalling a drunk man he had witnessed once in childhood who was butchered for brushing the shoulder of a Samurai. Yamazaki and Maruko were Ashigaru, foot soldiers and the lowest class of Samurai. Okitsu and Gonzaemon were Goushi, Samurai who tilled their own land, another low rank. Neither would ever live luxurious lives. Iraku observes Fujiki examining a sea shell on the beach, and notes Fujiki never once mentioned his past, just like him. Iraku notes to Fujiki, that even the great Shogun Ieyasu, lauded as a god now even by other Samurai, was born the son of a poor woman and a wandering monk. He stated together, they could both work their way up with their martial arts. It was the first time the words “we” had passed Iraku’s lips. Fujiki informs Iraku that he was born Samurai. A Samurai was like the shell he held, the only road for a man born to the house of Samurai was protecting that house. Fujiki had spoken thinking only of Kogan’s mercy in adopting the third son of a poor farmer and making him Samurai. To Iraku, a man who was born of the lowest class, these words did not inspire him. Later that night, in rage, Iraku stabs the turtle eggs.
In the present day, officials had chosen a field in Kakegawa as the duelling ground. A bamboo fence was being erected around the perimeter while peasants cut away plants over the course of three days. Iku carefully removes rocks embedded within the grounds one by one. Iraku’s peculiar technique of stabbing his blade into the ground would be hindered by rocks even as small as a woman’s first, and could at worst case lead to his death.
At the duelling ground, Fujiki’s face is sliced off by Iraku. In revenge, Mie thrusts her dagger towards Iraku, but her fingers are cut off. Iraku begins to molest her and then proceeds to rip open her chest with his hands. Mie suddenly awakes from her nightmare in a sweat, her breasts noticeably erect. Early the following morning, Mie pours icy water over her skin as though to wash away the nightmare, but makes no attempt to hide her exposed skin to Fujiki, the man her father chose to be her husband. Later that night, pretending to sleep, her heart begins to pound as Fujiki enters her room, but rather than touch so much as her hair, he leaves only a sea shell. On another day, Mie informs Fujiki at the Haramitshi estate, that Haramitshi said when Ikuno Jinnai besmirched Kogan’s honour, Fujiki immediately avenged that insult in the most admirable display of loyalty, displaying an outstanding display of strength and dexterity and surely would have vengeance for Kogan, and be the rock supporting Mie and the Iwamato clan. He foresaw someday, she and Fujiki would be known as the greatest husband and wife of Kakegawa. As the words husband and wife left Mie’s lips, his eyes flashed brightly with emotion. It was already ascertained that Iraku’s attack which killed Kogan came from below. At the dojo, Gonzaemon hangs upside down a log to re-enact that strike while Fujiki practices defensive manoeuvres to defend and counter it.