Volume 24

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Ouka explains to Recca about the source of Kurei's flame. The Phoenix transforms into the first soul that is taken into the flame. This is why Kurenai has wings and Jishou does not. Kurenai is actually the form of the Phoenix inside of Kurei. Ouka goes on to ask Recca to end the cursed fate of Hokage. Recca accepts the challenge saying there are enemies to fight, friends to fight with, and of course, there is Hime to protect. At this point, Ouka tells Recca that he had met Yanagi when he was still human. This severely confuses Recca considering Yanagi's just 16, but Ouka goes on to tell his story about the "turning point" of 400 years ago...

Takasugi, the leader of a large clan, has set his eyes upon the princess of a tiny clan. He demands to be wed to Sakura-Hime or else he will declare war, which the smaller clan has no hope in winning. The leader of the small clan, Yakata, has yet to decide if he will let the vulgar man take their precious Sakura-Hime. In the garden of the fort, Sakura-Hime is playing with some birds when Koheita comes to meet her. She asks him if they are still speaking of her marriage to Takasugi. Koheita replies the affirmative. She begs him not to let her go to that man since the one she truly loves is Koheita. Later, Yakata meets with Koheita. He asks Koheita to tell him if he loves Sakura-Hime. Koheita first denies his feelings since he merely a vassal to the royal family. Yakata admits he heard the two in the garden earlier and asks for Koheita to speak truthfully. Koheita says that he would never want Sakura-Hime to end up in Takasugi's hands. Yakata agrees, but he also has to think about the war that would ensue if he refused Takasugi. Koheita says there may be another option that involves his connections to the Hokage ninja.

Koheita goes to the Hokage village to speak to their leader, Ouka. While Ouka appears clumsy with his falling into a pond and tripping on nothing, Koheita knows Ouka to be a fierce warrior. Koheita asks Ouka if he would assassinate Takasugi. Ouka goes to Yakata to get more of the details. Ouka refuses to accept the mission until he has met the person he was to serve. Once again, Sakura-Hime is in the garden. Ouka, whatever plan he may have originally had, ended up falling out of a tree. He cut his hand in the fall, and Sakura-Hime heals the wound without hesitation. Ouka tells her that he has a special ability too, and he shows her his flame. Highly amused, Sakura-Hime wants to make a flame as well, so Ouka lends her a madougu to create the flame. When she tries to use it, the madougu breaks apart. Ouka assumes it has something to do with her healing powers. Ouka then asks Sakura-Hime which would she choose: her to be saved from Takasugi and cause her people to die in a war or for her to go to Takasugi as a sacrifice thus saving her people. She replies that there is no decision to be made: she will go to Takasugi herself and kill him. It is then Ouka decides he really likes the girl, thus he accepts the mission.

Sakura-Hime is delivered to Takasugi. She is stripped in bed, and Takasugi looms over her, threatening her life, telling her to cry and scream. Sakura-Hime replies she doesn't take orders from him, and throws needle-type weapons into his face and throat. The wig falls off revealing Kagerou using the Kami (hair) madougu. Before she gets the chance to kill Takasugi, his bodyguard Takamine of the Kouga ninja clan attacks her. Kagerou barely gets away to inform Ouka of the failed mission. And thus the two clans go to war.

Since he acted for his own reasons and failed, Ouka is to fight in the war without the help of the rest of the Hokage clan. Kagerou and Reina decide to join Ouka despite this fact. The three join the other warriors in the battle. Ouka is singled out by Takamine, who traps Ouka with the use of illusions. Koheita, thinking of only Sakura-Hime, charges into battle. Back at the fort, Sakura-Hime is healing the warriors who are brought in from the battle. She feels guilty that she cannot fight herself, so she will do what she must. A man comes running in with the severely injured Koheita. Sakura-Hime runs to him and tries to heal her love, but her power is too weak and the man dies in her arms. Ouka is still trapped by Takamine. As Takamine strikes with a knife, Ouka dodges such that it cuts his right eye (where his scar currently is) and not his neck. In the same moment, he severs Takamine's arm.

Ouka, seeing the battle turning for the worst, runs back to the fort to find out that Yakata and Koheita are dead. He then searches for Sakura-Hime. He finds her dressed for a suicide ceremony. She asks Ouka to fulfill her last request: to burn the fort down with her inside so that Takasugi may never touch her. Ouka, although wishing he could do anything else, assures her that no one will even get a hair of hers. As Takasugi's army moves towards the fort, only Ouka stands in their way. Seeing the battle rather hopeless anyway, Ouka takes off his Tekkou releasing the source of his flame, the seven dragons. The army and the fort are destroyed by the dragons, with Setsuna being used to kill Takasugi. Kokuu, the leader of the flame dragons at the time, tells Ouka that since he failed to protect those he was sworn to, Ouka would become the eighth flame dragon. Later, Ouka sees a vision of Sakura-Hime giving him thanks for saving her body from Takasugi, and saying farewell.

With his story finished, Ouka shows his great need to save Sakura-Hime, now Yanagi, this time around. He couldn't bear to fail her again. Recca tells him that he didn't need to ask Recca to save Hime. Of course he would save her no matter. Kokuu then tells Recca that he better get moving since the three days are up. Before he steps through the mirror, Recca tells Ouka that he is certainly his son.

At the Hokage fort, everyone is waiting for Recca, Fuuko being the really impatient one. Recca drops in and lands on Fuuko. Seeing everyone there, Recca is certain they are all crazy.

Kurei visits his "mother", Tsukino. He tells her of the dreams he has been having lately about his past. There is one of his father, Ouka asking for forgiveness. The other is of his mother telling Kurei that Ouka is a good man and would make sure to have Recca love Kurei as well. Tsukino asks Kurei what he feels for his real father. Kurei says he respects the man who lived and died for Hokage. As Kurei gets up to leave, Tsukino hugs him saying even if they aren't related through blood, he'll always be her son.

Aoi visits Yanagi again and hears about her picture books. Yanagi asks what Aoi plans for the future, and Aoi replies that Mori determines her fate. Yanagi doesn't like that idea. Aoi says that there are important and unimportant lives on this world. Yanagi strongly disagrees saying that if someone were to die, others would surely mourn the lost, and that is why she sacrificed herself. Aoi points out that if Yanagi were to die, her friends would surely mourn. Yanagi agrees that leave her in a bit of a contradictory position. Aoi leaves feeling guilty for all she has done Yanagi. With Aoi's use of mind control, she wiped Yanagi's memories of Recca, thus taking away much of Yanagi's strength.

Kirito and Kadotsu are in a laboratory with many "monsters" created by Mori.

Aoi goes to Yanagi's room to find she's been taken. Hiruko explains that Yanagi had been prepared and Mori was in a cocoon state, thus the fusion had begun. Aoi admits to him that she's having weird feelings about the whole thing. Just then, an intruder alert goes off.

Recca and the others have made their way to Sodom. Recca sets off a firecracker to the distress of Domon and Fuuko. They proceed easily taking care of some guards. Kagerou mentions how strong everyone has gotten. As they move forward, Hokage meets up with the slightly dead Yagami who leads a force of monsters. At this moment, the members Ku appear. Kagerou had sent them a message about the mission, and they came as fast as they could. With their help, Hokage moves forward more until antoher monster division stops them. Here the members of Uruha Maboroshi appear to help Hokage get to the fortress.

 

Volume 25 Summary

Recca Translations