512. THE STAND ABLAZE
513. The Dark Moon Stroke
514. BORN IN THE DARK
516. THE SQUAD ZERO
517. THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
518. THE Shooting Star Project(ZERO MIX)
THE FIRE is the fifty-eighth volume of the Bleach manga series.
As the Soul Society struggles against the mysterious group of warriors calling themselves the Wandenreich, Captain-Commander Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto joins the battle. With his Bankai finally revealed, Yamamoto takes down the Wandenreich's king. But is the battle really over...?
The Yhwach that Yamamoto defeated is exposed as an impostor.
It is explained that the first people to accidentally switch Loyd Lloyd and his twin brother were the doctor and nurse that delivered them. Because the infants were identical to one another, it was impossible to tell which was younger or older, so what the parents were told was the opposite of the truth. Ultimately, however, not even their parents could tell them apart. At the age of 5, the brothers realized that they looked alike because they had subconsciously mimicked one another before they were even born. After turning 12, they then realized that they could copy the appearances of others as well. The older brother, Loyd, could copy the power and abilities of others in addition to their appearance, while the younger brother, Royd, could copy their memories and personality in addition to appearance.
Hearing Yhwach's apology, Yamamoto wonders who he could possibly be apologizing to, as he was the one who started the war. Coming to a realization, he demands to know just what kind of monster the fallen "Yhwach" is. A massive explosion erupts behind Yamamoto; realizing that it came from the First Division's barracks, he screams out Genshirō Okikiba's name in concern. Catching Yamamoto off guard, Yhwach suddenly appears behind him, revealing the one he defeated to be a fake. Ignoring Yamamoto, Yhwach congratulates the fallen Sternritter "Y", Royd Lloyd, who had been impersonating him all along. Royd is brought to tears by the commendation, but Yhwach immediately finishes him off.
Angered, Yamamoto demands to know what Yhwach had been doing the entire time. He reveals that he had visited Sōsuke Aizen in the underground prison beneath the First Division's barracks. Yhwach goes on to say that he attempted to recruit Aizen as one of his "special war powers," but was turned down. He then asks Yamamoto if he used up all his power fighting Royd. Yamamoto proceeds to activate his Bankai once more, but Yhwach simply steals it, shocking the Captain-Commander. Yhwach explains that it was not that his Bankai could not be stolen, but that he was the only one capable of doing so. He taunts Yamamoto, asking if perhaps he should rouse the corpses of his underlings. Yamamoto moves to attack him, but Yhwach raises his sword, summoning a massive bow in the sky that shoots a new sword to the ground. Picking it up, he bids farewell to Yamamoto, before slashing him.
After Yamamoto is killed, the Wandenreich devastate Seireitei.
As an encounter between Yamamoto and a young Shunsui Kyōraku regarding a picture of a flaming monster is recalled, Yamamoto's severed upper torso falls to the ground. Yhwach tells Jugram Haschwalth that it is time to leave, but Yamamoto grabs his leg. Yhwach severs the Captain-Commander's arm and destroys the remains of Yamamoto's body, while decrying how weak Yamamoto and the Gotei 13 had become, particularly since the extermination of the Quincy. The defeat of Yamamoto is felt throughout the Seireitei, greatly shocking everyone.
Shunsui is struck by multiple shots from his opponent, who then summons the Soldat to complete the destruction of Seireitei. As the Soldat overpower the survivors and wreck Seireitei, Yhwach tells Haschwalth that the Zero Division will soon emerge and that they should withdraw and wait for them. However, an explosion in the air above Yhwach surprises him at that moment.
As Akon comments upon how he had finally managed to open something from his side, he collapses with several blades jutting from his back. Shaz Domino introduces himself and starts to talk about his power, before being struck down by Ichigo Kurosaki, who was on the other side of the opening.
Ichigo then bursts forth form the sky and goes to Captain Byakuya Kuchiki. He tells the captain that Lieutenants Rukia Kuchiki and Renji Abarai are still alive. Byakuya then tells Ichigo he does not have much time left and asks Ichigo to protect Soul Society. As Yhwach and Haschwalth note Ichigo's Reiatsu, Haschwalth asks if he should eliminate Ichigo. Yhwach says no and that they are leaving, but Ichigo arrives at that moment.
Left alone, Byakuya notes that Ichigo did not answer his request before leaving. Reflecting on this, he contemplates that this is typical of Ichigo, and that he already knows, even without an answer. He expresses that he will leave it to Ichigo, before falling unconscious, his Zanpakutō crumbling away.
Haschwalth steps towards Ichigo, but Yhwach stops him and tries to reason with the Shinigami. He praises him for breaking out of Quilge Opie's jail, but points out that he is heavily injured, asking if he really intends to fight him in such a state. Paying Yhwach no heed, Ichigo asks him if he is the enemy leader. Yhwach answers that he is, but at the same time he is not. Agitated, Ichigo shouts at him, demanding to know if he is the one who made a mess out of Soul Society. Yhwach confirms that he is.
In response, Ichigo flares his Reiatsu. Yhwach tells Haschwalth that there is no choice but to destroy the Shinigami. Ichigo attacks him with a Getsuga Tenshō, but the attack proves ineffective. Yhwach effortlessly pins him down and stabs him through the neck with his sword. Remarking that Ichigo is still breathing, he tells Haschwalth to take him back to their castle so that they can resuscitate him and recruit him into their army. As he turns away, however, he realizes that Ichigo is still conscious, and that his sword has been halted by Blut Vene. Ichigo then swings his sword at him, tearing up the ground around them with his Reiatsu.
As Ichigo fights Yhwach, the Wandenreich's leader makes some startling claims about Ichigo's lineage.
While Yhwach is engulfed within the mass of Reiatsu being emitted by Ichigo, Haschwalth is left to cry out in concern for his leader. Emerging with his left arm severely burned, Yhwach comments that it was a mistake. Ichigo interprets this as referring to his survival of the Quincy's initial attack, to which the enemy responds by attacking Ichigo once again. Coming down low, Yhwach overpowers Ichigo's block and attempts to cut the Shinigami's forearm, only to be met with the same resistance as his neck.
Confirming his suspicions, Yhwach then clarifies that he meant it was a mistake to let a pure Quincy combat Ichigo, as the confrontation had awakened the memories within the boy's Reiatsu. Explaining that by using the full force of his power to try and escape Quilge's jail, the feedback from his attack had awakened something at the very root of his soul. Due to this he was able to escape, as the jail was intended to hold enemies, and not Quincy. Confused, Ichigo can only ask what he meant by it all, to which Yhwach then reprimands him for knowing nothing about himself, nor his own mother.
While commenting that he had intended to take Ichigo back with them and "re-educate" him, Ichigo thinks back to his mother's death and becomes enraged, demanding once again to know what the Wandenreich leader meant. Saying he would reveal everything once they returned to the base, the Quincy once again moves to attack Ichigo, knocking back his sword arm and grabbing the boy's head with his other hand. Promising that the next blow couldn't be blocked with Blut Vene, Yhwach's arm is suddenly blocked by a mass of black Reiatsu. Recognizing what it was, Haschwalth comments that it was time to return as the Wandenreich leader could no longer remain outside of the safe area, the Schatten Bereich.
Wondering how the time could have come so soon, Yhwach realizes that Aizen must have done something to alter his perception of time during their conversation. Asking why Haschwalth hadn't said anything beforehand if he knew, the latter merely replies he couldn't have stopped him even if he had wanted to. Moving to leave, Ichigo screams for them to not leave, promising to chase them down. Moving to intercept the duo, the Shinigami quickly finds his Bankai's blade broken by Haschwalth, and can only watch as the two are taken by the shadows. Just before disappearing, Yhwach promises to return one day and reclaim him, claiming Ichigo to be his son, "born in darkness".
In the wake of the Wandenreich's retreat, the Gotei 13 struggles to recover.
The 4th Division is struggling to find all the injured and take them to be treated. Lieutenant Isane Kotetsu notes that during the battle, no one was taken in, and wonders if they should have went into battle themselves. Captain Retsu Unohana chides her gently for letting her feelings get ahead of her, but asks her not to cry and reminds her that Yamamoto's final order was for them to remain in the building.
Ichigo, meanwhile, is told that a message from Kisuke Urahara came in from Hueco Mundo stating that he, Yasutora Sado, and Orihime Inoue were safe at the time it was sent. The person who told him this promises to tell Ichigo if they can establish vocal contact, which Ichigo thanks him for. Meanwhile, 3rd Seat Ikkaku Madarame is screaming to be released, clearly concerned about his captain and if he has died. Hanatarō Yamada offers to heal Ichigo, but he states that he already got treatment, to which Hanatarō argues that it is quite obvious he still needs to be healed. Then Captain Shinji Hirako walks up to the Substitute and states that Renji and Rukia have received treatment.
Shinji and Ichigo are told that the two lieutenants are currently in stable conditions in the Intense Care Unit. Then Rukia wakes up and after pointing out that "stable" does not necessarily mean "alright," she thanks Ichigo for coming to protect Soul Society, to which Ichigo replies that he couldn't do anything. Shinji objects, stating Ichigo chased away the enemy leader and he should be more proud of himself. At this point, a messenger arrives to tell Ichigo that Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi wants to see him about his Zanpakutō. As Ichigo heads out, Shinji sighs that Ichigo's always thinking about others and never bothered to fully heal. Rukia suddenly asks why Ichigo seemed so sad, and the captain replies Ichigo wasn't able to save anyone, instead having Tensa Zangetsu broken in half, so obviously he feels tired. Even so, Rukia disagrees, believing Ichigo is hiding a much more serious matter.
Inside the 1st Division barracks, the remaining captains (barring Unohana, Byakuya, Kenpachi, Kyōraku, and Kurotsuchi) are gathered before the remains of Ryūjin Jakka. Ukitake states that the body must have been destroyed by the enemy, to which all the captains express their sadness at. A messenger arrives and reports that Byakuya and Kenpachi have survived, but they may never be able to return to being captains again and possibly even wake up. Captain Suì-Fēng suddenly loses control of her emotions and screams at him, asking what they have to hear next after the Captain-Commander died. The other captains watch dejectedly as she screams at Captain Kensei Muguruma for being so calm because he hated Yamamoto. Kensei begins to get angered as well by this, but Captain Sajin Komamura loses his cool as well and roars at her, asking if she thinks she is the only one who wants to scream. While Suì-Fēng is dumbfounded by his words, Kyōraku enters and asks for the fighting to end, noting that if Yamamoto was still here, they all "would've gotten a knuckle" from him. He continues that Yamamoto would call it shameful if he found them crying in front of relics, and when Suì-Fēng tries to interrupt, Kyōraku reminds them that the Gotei 13 were not created for the purpose of mourning the dead or a destroyed Soul Society. Instead, they were formed to protect it. All the captains are moved as he asks that they look forward as they are the Gotei 13.
Ichigo discusses the damage to Tensa Zangetsu with Captain Kurotsuchi before accompanying the captain to welcome the Royal Guard.
Several captains gather outside to await the arrival of the Royal Guard.
Meanwhile at the SRDI, Ichigo argues with Mayuri over the impossibility of repairing Tensa Zangetsu. Mayuri explains to him that while a Zanpakutō in its Shikai form can be repaired, any damage inflicted on its Bankai form is permanent. He notes that while Komamura's Bankai is an exception to the rule, both Ikkaku and Renji Abarai's are still damaged from the previous battles.
Their discussion is interrupted when a large, muscular Kon abruptly collides with Ichigo, with other members of the SRDI in pursuit. Much to Kon's dismay, Ichigo does not initially recognize him. As Kon flaunts his new body, however, Mayuri presses a button on a remote, returning him to his original form. Suddenly, Mayuri receives a message through his earpiece. He informs Ichigo that the Zero Division has arrived, and that they should go out to meet them.
Ichigo meets the other captains of the Gotei 13 outside the walls of Seireitei. Shunsui explains to him that the Zero Division usually resides in the Soul King's palace. When Ichigo asks if the palace is in Seireitei, Shunsui reminds him that the wall around the city had fallen from the sky the first time Ichigo arrived in Soul Society. He raises the point that the wall usually protects something else, before pointing to the sky, saying that they are coming.
A large pillar falls from the sky and slams into the ground before them, which Shunsui calls the Tenchūren, the Zero Division's preferred means of transportation. When Ichigo expresses his surprise over the entire division being in such a cramped space, Shunsui explains that it only consists of five members, all of whom are former captains. As the Zero Division emerges from the pillar, Shunsui remarks that their combined strength surpasses that of the entire Gotei 13 put together.
After briefly greeting the Shinigami, the Royal Guard move to take Ichigo and the injured Byakuya, Rukia, and Renji to the Royal Palace.
The Royal Guard makes their grand entrance, with one of their members enthusiastically greeting the Gotei 13, as well as asking them if they have been doing well. Shinji states that the Royal Guard is much more different than what he had expected. Suddenly, he is struck on the head by Kirio Hikifune. He fails to recognize her until Kirio tells him who she is, getting a shocked reaction from Shinji.
Tenjirō Kirinji asks Unohana if she has been using the healing skills he had taught her correctly. Though Unohana confirms that she has, the Royal Guard member yells at her, saying that a great amount of people have died. Before he can continue, Ichibē Hyōsube interrupts, and Shunsui asks the Royal Guard why they have decided to come. Hyōsube says that they have come at the Soul King's will to rebuild the Gotei 13, but they are escorting Ichigo to the Royal Palace first.
Suì-Fēng loses her temper at the Royal Guard, complaining about how they did not intervene while Seireitei was attacked and now talk of rebuilding. To her surprise, Tenjirō appears behind her and grabs her arm, proceeding to criticize Suì-Fēng for not knowing her place, and how shameful it is for the Gotei 13 to be in such a crisis. Hyōsube hits his fellow member on the head, letting Suì-Fēng pull her arm free, and tells them that they will save the arguing for later.
Senjumaru Shutara arrives with large orbs containing Byakuya, Renji, Rukia, and Ichigo's broken Tensa Zangetsu, then claims that the broken Zanpakutō's owner is the only one left. Unohana tells her that they are in no condition to leave Seireitei. Tenjirō says that is precisely why they are taking them, as Byakuya would die if he remains in Seireitei.
Upon seeing Tensa Zangetsu, Mayuri asks Senjumaru if she broke into his lab to retrieve it. Senjumaru declares that she simply placed her hand on the door and pushed it open. Ichigo asks why he needs to come along, saying that his injuries are not nearly as major and that he has other things to take care of as well. Hyōsube tells him that the reason they are taking him is different. Suddenly, a loud voice booms, saying that it is lucky that everyone is together.
After talking with Urahara, Ichigo goes with the Royal Guard to the Royal Palace.
While Mayuri tries to study the communication system in Kon, Ichigo talks with Urahara, Orihime, and Sado. They are interrupted by a voice that Ichigo recognizes, but Urahara has Sado and Orihime keep the person out of view. He reassures the concerned Ichigo that he has made an arrangement to ensure that the person will not bother them. He tells Ichigo not to worry about them and do what is best for himself.
Ichigo asks Ichibē Hyōsube if he can repair Tensa Zangetsu in the Soul King Palace, but he replies that this cannot be done. However, he states that there is a powerful reijutsu that can only be found there, which will allow him to reforge it into something like the original. They bring the Tenchūren to Kūkaku Shiba's home, where Hyōsube explains that they need to use her cannon to return to the Soul King Palace as the Tenchūren does not have the means to return on its own.
After Ichigo and the Royal Guard are sent on their way to the Palace, Ganju asks if it is alright to allow him to go. Kūkaku tells them that they must or Soul Society may not survive the next battle. She then tells him to help with the training of Shūkurō Tsukishima, Giriko Kutsuzawa, and Kūgo Ginjō, noting that she saved them from Rukongai.
Ichigo and the Royal Guard arrive at the Soul King Palace.
Ichigo arrives at the Royal palace and is taken to a healing spring.
While Ichigo marvels at the Soul King Palace, he recalls that Aizen was trying to make the Ōken to access this very place. He asks Hyōsube when they used it and Hyōsube explains that the Ōken is a part of them. He states that Aizen was effectively trying to create one of them to access the Palace. Senjumaru comments that Aizen was trying to create life, defeat the Soul King and become a god himself. But while she regards Aizen as evil, she states that the Quincy Ichigo faced are far more wicked.
After Kirio explains the layout of the Soul King Palace to Ichigo, he is brought to Tenjirō's domain. While there, he is healed in the hot springs, along with Byakuya, Rukia, and Renji as Tenjirō explains his healing methods.
An individual approaches the Soul King, asking if the King has awoken.
While Ichigo's healing is completed, Shunsui is appointed Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13.
Lieutenant Nanao Ise enters Shunsui's room, where the captain is reading a letter, which informs him that he is to become the new captain of the First Division and Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13. He tells Nanao it may be the last time they are together.
In Kirinden, Ichigo is held underwater in the hot springs repeatedly by Kirinji's underlings, Kazuo and Kazuhiro. After Ichigo continuously tries to fight them off, Kirinji punches Ichigo, who unconsciously counters the sudden assault. Kirinji, noting this means he has fully recovered, states he will send him to the next palace. When Renji insists he will accompany Ichigo, Kirinji punches the lieutenant. Surprised when Renji does not go flying, he agrees to allow Renji to go, as he has healed enough. After they leave, Kirinji talks with his underlings, who are impressed by both Ichigo and Renji. Kirinji notes Ichigo exceeded his expectations and managed to hurt him.
In the Central 46 Compound, Shunsui successfully convinces the reluctant Central 46 he be allowed to appoint Nanao and Genshirō Okikiba as his co-lieutenants. He proposes to train Captain Kenpachi in Zanjutsu, which elicits a strong negative reaction from the members of Central 46, who fear they would not be able to stop him if he revolted, stating Yamamoto stopped training him after just one day. Shunsui, convincing them to allow it, assigns Yachiru Unohana, the first Kenpachi, to the task of training him.