Recca with Saiha and Kurei with Kurenai move forward to attack the four monsters created from Mori. Fuuko remains in the background, holding the deceased Hisui. Renge defends the head of Mori from Kurei. Kurei, seeing Renge for the first time, is stunned by her resemblance to Kurenai. A vision of Kurenai begging for her life invades Kurei's mind. Raiha throws his sword towards a wall, revealing but not injuring Aoi. He identifies Aoi as the one interfering with Kurei's mind. Aoi calls to Mori that the time to leave is now. Mori, agreeing, blasts an exit into the cave wall. Recca and Kurei attempt to stop Mori, Renge, and Aoi from leaving, but the cave-in protects their escape.
Meanwhile Mikagami, Kaoru, and Domon, the latter carrying Yanagi, attempt to leave the sealed earth. The entrance they used earlier was covered by falling rock from the cave-in. The zombies sealed in ice by Mikagami show the four-some another exit to the ground above. They show their thanks to the damned creatures, and make for the exit.
Back at the cavern, there remains one final monster. As it starts to declare its superiority, Fuuko throws Hisui's sword into its mouth. Recca finishes off the beast using Setsuna. Kurei, Joker, and Raiha leave the chamber first, and then Recca and Fuuko follow behind.
Domon crashes through a final layer of earth to get his group into the open air. Mikagami lays Yanagi on the ground as the four begin to wait for their friends. Just as Domon was about to go back for Recca and Fuuko, Kurei comes out with Joker and Raiha. The opening caves-in behind the group with no sign of Recca and Fuuko. Meanwhile, Yanagi dreams of a ninja and his princess (same dream as Recca's). She wakes up calling out "Recca-kun". Suddenly, a blast bursts forth from the ground below. Recca and a complaining Fuuko emerge from the opening to meet the overly happy Kaoru and Domon. Then Yanagi runs up, crying and giving Recca a hug. Recca then turns his focus to Kurei, wanting to know why he still wore a mask. Kurei shows the Hokage symbol on the mask, explaining that he was not joining Recca, but would instead take over the name once Recca failed. Kurei leaves just as sunlight shows itself in the forest.
Back home, Recca wakes up before his alarm clock. He dodges an attack by Kaoru just to be blind-sided by his father. Kagerou gets them all with her frying pan, announcing dinner. At school, a female student offers Mikagami her notes to use. Expecting rejection by a snobbish Mikagami, she is surprised and heart-struck by his simple thanks. Fuuko barges into his classroom to show, aka batter, Mikagami with a harisen (paper fan). Apparently she couldn't find Recca or Domon, so Mikagami was the next choice to his dismay. The missing Domon was trapped by Yanagi, who shows a rather frightening side as she forces Domon to help her with the picture books (she had a razor blade, people!). Elsewhere in the school, Recca and his classmates are introduced to Kagura Aoi, a transfer student. Recca thinks he may recognize the girl, but his memories evade him. Aoi turns out to be a good student and an excellent athlete. Later, Mikagami walks down the halls, passing Aoi. He suddenly feels an unnamed fear and drops to his knees. Aoi continues down the hall without looking back.
The next day, Yanagi gets up for school, saying good morning to a picture of Recca. She gets a lecture from Harada, her guardian while Yanagi's parent are away. When Harada begins to suggest that Yanagi should get rid of her current friends, an angry Yanagi tells her to not say a bad thing about her friends. Outside, she chats with the family gardener. He tells Yanagi that she has really gotten stronger. At school, Yanagi's classmates countdown to Recca's prompt entrance. At the same time in another place, Aoi looks at the schoolyard, wondering what it would be like to be normal. Mikagami finds her. He was ready to strike at the girl with Ensui, but could not remember why she would be threatening.
After school, Yanagi and Recca walk through the park, talking about the day's events. Recca gets a glance at Yanagi and is stunned. He comments her on the length of her hair. She does the 'girly panic' thing, and asks if she should cut it again. She tells Recca to touch her hair to show him how it is really thin. Recca, in the heat of the moment, hugs Yanagi. He instantly lets go and falls to his knees, begging for forgiveness. Yanagi tells Recca it is okay. When he stands up, Yanagi kisses Recca. She explains how she likes Recca the most, and then she runs away. Recca is left behind, frozen solid. He tips over unable to speak or move.
The next day at school, Yanagi's classmates do their countdown, but Recca fails to show. They ask Yanagi if they fought, but Yanagi, thinking only of the kiss, overheats before she tries to explain. The classmates, knowing Aoi is in the same class as Recca, beg Aoi for information. Aoi tells them about how Recca was basically unconscious. Domon tried to wake him with a good punch, which got Recca moving for a few seconds until he returned to unconsciousness. At that point, Domon and Fuuko declared the situation as serious. Yanagi blushes at the story, but still doesn't give any information. Aoi then asks Yanagi for a favor.
On Sunday, Yanagi and Aoi meet so Aoi could be shown around the town. The first stop is the park where Recca 'saved' Yanagi from the pretty boy. Aoi tells Yanagi that she's curious to here more of the stories about Recca and Yanagi. Meanwhile, Recca is in bed, still in a trance state. Kaoru is finally able to wake him up just as Mikagami enters the house. Mikagami tells Recca that an enemy may be in there midst. He demonstrates how Aoi's phone number and home address are fakes. Mikagami theorizes that Aoi may have a madougu that can erase a person's memories, thus making it possible for the enemy to walk the school halls without their knowledge. Recca realizes at that very moment Yanagi could be in danger.
Back to Yanagi and Aoi, they have made their way to the warehouse where Recca and Yanagi first met Kagerou. Aoi then fires a gun, aiming to the side of Yanagi. Aoi explains to Yanagi that she works for Mori. Yanagi refuses to believe that Aoi, her friend, could be an enemy. Aoi tells Yanagi of her origin. She is a colon, like Renge, except formed of Mori's and Genjurou's genes. But Aoi is viewed as a failure since she cannot produce a flame.
Recca, Mikagami, and Kaoru are searching for Yanagi when Recca 'hears' the girl's yell for help. He leads the other two toward the warehouse. Protecting Aoi, Hiruko fights the three-some using his ability to produce blood that cuts. Inside the warehouse, Aoi shows Yanagi a vision of the death of Hokage. She tells Yanagi that the vision will come true if Yanagi does not go with her. Outside, Recca gives Hiruko a final punch and runs inside the warehouse. All that is left is Yanagi's backpack.
At Mori's mansion, a maid delivers lunch to find out that she is after all Mori Kouran's meal.
Everyone of Hokage meets at the Hokage mansion. Kagerou tells them that she has found Mori's location. Recca jumps up to leave, but he is blocked by Kokuu. Kokuu, understanding Recca's thoughts, blasts Recca to the floor. Kokuu tells them that they have time to prepare since Mori/Kaima will need time to merge with Yanagi. He knows this since he was the man who made the "good" madougu (such as Fuujin, Ensui, Kougonanki, and Saturn's Ring). Recca is relieved to hear that Yanagi is still safe. Kokuu then tells Recca that before the final battle, Resshin wishes to meet with Recca.
Volume 23 Summary