A flashback appears of the battle between hollow ichigo and Ulquiorra on Las Noches. As the Cuarto Espada soars through the skies of never-ending night, Hollow Ichigo roars and charges, meeting Ulquiorra head on in a clash between claw and sword. Both combatants loop around once more and continue to battle, parrying each other's strikes until Hollow Ichigo abruptly catches Ulquiorra's wrist. Ulquiorra lashes out and kicks the Hollowfied Substitute Shinigami into one of Las Noches' pillars and shoots after him. Hollow Ichigo regains his footing and swings his sword, sending the shockwave of the swing towards Ulquiorra. Ulquiorra flies away, but Hollow Ichigo appears behind him and promptly tears off both his left arm and wing with a single stroke. Ulquiorra falls out of the sky and struggles to rise as Hollow Ichigo lands, managing to regenerate both his lost limbs before quickly forming Lanza del Relampago and throwing the attack headlong into Hollow Ichigo's powerful crimson Cero. A massive explosion rips through the sky, which Ulquiorra flies out of before coming under assault from his enemy and getting hurled into a pillar, leaving him helpless before the Inner Hollow's Cero. As the battle comes to a conclusion a mysterious hooded figure in hell is awakened by the battle and screams as he regains his mortal body which causes an explosion to erupt from the ground.
Meanwhile in karakura town, ichigo picks a fight with three guys who, on purpose, knocked a vase with flowers that was left for the spirit of a young boy. After Ichigo finishes he heads for his home where he's greeted by Isshin by attacking him. Ichigo delivers a blow to the face with his bag which knocks Isshin into a wall. Isshin is joining the Resident Clinic Committee and leaves Ichigo in charge of to take care of Yuzu and Karin while he is gone. Later, when Ichigo goes out to bring flowers the young boy, he is confronted by Rukia and Renji, who were coming back from a impromptu mission. But they didn't come to see him, they were on a mission. Ichigo offers to help, but Rukia said that Byakuya didn't want him to get in their way. So, Rukia and Renji leave, promising to send the young boy's spirit if they find him.
Ichigo goes to school and is greeted by Orhime and Chad. While they are chatting, a rattling is suddenly heard, and with scarcely any warning the entire metal scaffolding outside the school gives way and crumbles. A girl is about to get crushed by one of the falling metal sections, but Chad saves her by blocking it with his own body. While the students discuss the incident, Uryu comes to see Ichigo. They don't say a word, but Uryū makes a sort of sign, which Ichigo understands. Later, the group examines the structure to see what Reiatsu caused it to collapse. Ichigo is unable to detect any reiatsu whatsoever, but Uryū discovers small traces of it, noting how it came from a sort of enemy they have never faced before. Then, another rumbling occurs and Reiatsu explodes inside the school. Rukia and Renji sense it, but Rukia soon detects another one. They split up, with Renji heading to assist Ichigo and Rukia investigating the second source.
Ichigo (in his Shinigami form), Orihime, Chad, and Uryū arrive in the classroom and see Tatsuki and other students wounded from the explosion. Suddenly Ichigo is attacked by A fat masked figure clad in a black cloak, who recognizes Ichigo. Ichigo is somewhat confused as to how he knows who he is, but is soon embroiled in combat. As they are fighting, the masked foe proves more of a match than an ordinary Hollow to Ichigo so he unleashes his Getsuga Tenshō, but to their astonishment the attack hardly even scratches their foe. Ichigo unleashes Bankai and attacks, but suddenly a three pointed glaive flies from an unseen location and forces Ichigo back. Another masked figure catches the glaive and launches a furious attack on Ichigo. Soon a third hulking figure joins the fight and soundly beats Sado. Uryū has similar troubles with their first foe, as the figure is absorbing every arrow he uses and throwing each one back as a storm of purple energy bolts. Uryū is beaten, and just as all seems lost Renji calls out, and a great skeletal serpent crashes down upon the one that defeated Uryū.
Renji asks Ichigo if he's alright, while the enemy who he attacked comments that the Shinigami will be a problem. Renji mutters "Those guys..." to himself, causing Ichigo to ask if he knows who they are. The Lieutenant of the 6th divison confirms it, saying things are getting out of hand. He then states that another with reiatsu like theirs has appeared, and it's now at kurosaki clinic, shocking the Substitute Shinigami. Renji says that Rukia went their earlier, but he has doubts about her being alright. Ichigo exclaims that that means Yuzu and Karin are in danger, so Renji gets ready to battle his enemies, and Ichigo races towards the clinic. The masked enemies intend to stop him, but barely move an inch before Uryū cuts them off with a barrage of arrows. The enemy with the glaive attacks, but Renji uses his Bankai to battle him. His target quickly retreats, and another enemy intercepts, catching Hihio Zabimaru
and using his bare hands to pry the jaws open, but only ends up being smashed into a wall. In the midst of all this, Ichigo jumps away. The fat figure exclaims angrily that the Substitute got away.
Much to Renji's surprise, the masked hulk is shown to have fared well against the attack and yanks on the skeletal serpent, pulling Renji towards him and allowing him to strike the Lieutenant with a powerful punch. The one wielding a glave attacks Renji, declaring him finished, when suddenly Uryū blasts arrows at him, and one successfully hits, breaking his mask to pieces. The fat one shouts for him to put his mask back on, but before the now unmasked figure can do so, chains materialize around his body. A gale begins to whip up, and the surroundings are bathed in unearthly green light. Uryū, Chad and Renji can only watch in surprise as the Hell Gate suddenly manifests, opening and pulling the unmasked figure inside it. The blade extends, and the chained one screams in terror just before being hit by the blade and seemingly obliterated. Then his remains drift into the Hell Gate, which promptly closes. The remaining two figures decide to retreat, and disappear just as Uryū fires arrows at them.
Elsewhere, Rukia is having similar problems. Two figures clad similarly to the ones that Uryu, Chad and Renji fought a couple moments ago stand before her, the taller one whipping her with tentacles from his chest. In each tentacle in the place of an arm is one of Ichigo's sisters. Rukia demands that he release them, to which he replies that she cannot order him to do so. HIs compasion tells him that it's time to finish Rukia off. The masked figure with tentacles, who his companion refers to as "Gunjō", declares that they have no time to "play with her" and attacks. Rukia attempts to stop it with Hado 33: Sakatsui
, but the tentacles pierce straight through the blast of fire.
Suddenly, Ichigo arrives and cuts the tentacles quickly. He demands for Gunjō to release Yuzu and Karin, and for them to tell him what he wants with them. Gunjō comments that it appears that "Taikon" and his comrades had failed. But then the other masked figure walks forth, offhandedly saying it'll all end the same way. Then he demands that Ichigo come with them, saying they need the Substitute to accomplish something for them. Ichigo refuses, and repeats his request for Gojo to release his sisters. However, the masked foe replies that he cannot do so. The other one suddenly causes flames to materialize in his hands similar to swords, telling Gunjō to "go back first". He then attacks Ichigo and quickly proves himself to be a powerful fighter, smashing Ichigo out of the sky and onto a building.The flame wielder praises Ichigo for his power and says that they are looking for such power. But then Ichigo sees something else: Gunjō is walking backwards into a rift with flaming edges. Ichigo chases after him, but his foe stops him with another battle. Meanwhile, the rift is closing quickly.
Suddenly, blue light explodes from the rift, and it opens wide. All the ones present express surprise; clearly Gunjō and his companion were not expecting this. Gunjō shouts as one of his arms is cut off, releasing Karin. Then a figure with bandages wrapped around his head grabs Karin. Ichigo and Rukia wonder who he is, while the two masked ones appear to remember him in an ill light. The mysterious figure says that he is tired of watching them do whatever they please, and both of the figures attack him. The newcomer easily handles all of their attacks. The flame wielder shouts for Gunjō to fall back, and the rift appears once again, closing significantly faster than before. Ichigo quickly rushes towards the rift as the newcomer gives Karin to Rukia. Ichigo has a brief scuffle with the flame wielder before going after the rift, but is unable to rescue Yuzu before it closes.
Then the remaining one attacks him from behind, but is blocked by a chain dangling from the bandaged newcomer's wrist. The masked figure pauses briefly when he sees the chain before the newcomer slashes him. Rukia gasps, realizing what the chains mean. The newcomer pulls the bandages off his nose and mouth, asking if the flame wielder wants to continue the battle, to which his adversary curses him, placing a hand over his cracked mask. Ichigo shouts that he return Yuzu, but is forced to dodge a flame bolt. Unfortunately, said flame bolt is rushing towards Rukia and Karin. A sudden appearance by Chad saves them, but he is horribly burned in the process. Renji and Uryū appear afterwards and voice concern about Chad.
The flame wielder suddenly calls Ichigo's name, referring to him and his comrades as Togabito from Hell. He then says if Ichigo wants to rescue Yuzu, he must help them break free from Hell, because he requires Ichigo's power to achieve this. However, Ichigo spots him and attacks. The Togabito blocks Ichigo's sword swing and declares that Ichigo must destroy Hell's Gate if he wants Yuzu back before disappearing into flame. Ichigo immediately presses the man in bandages for answers, demanding who the masked figure was, where they took Yuzu, and what was going on with the Hell Gate. The bandaged man tells him to calm down and slow down with asking the questions. But Ichigo immediately shouts for him to answer now
. Rukia tells him to calm down and that they must tend to their injuries at this point.
That night, Orihime begins to heal Chad, and Rukia questions the bandaged man about who he is. When asked if the chain he has is Hell's Chain, he confirms this and introduces himself as Kokutō, also adding that he is a Togabito as well. Rukia asks why he helped them against the masked Togabito from earlier, if he's from where they are from. Kokutō replies that he's not helping them, and he merely dislikes those Togabito. Ichigo immediately demands that Kokutō take him to Hell, saying "Yuzu might..." Kokutō finishes with "...die, right?" He explains that Hell's air cannot be breathed safely by Humans, so Yuzu will die if she stays in Hell. After a brief description of Hell, Kokutō asks if Ichigo still wants to go. Ichigo maintains that he has to go to save Yuzu. Kokutō agrees to go with them to teach the Togabito from earlier a lesson. Renji asks why he fought the Togabito, to which Kokutō responds to by repeating that he dislikes them, and in Hell, disliking one creates enemies. After a question from Rukia, he says that he deserves to be in Hell for things he's done in his life, and then sadly adds that some people fall to darkness for people they love.
Quickly changing the topic, Kokutō says that they should get going to Hell. Renji asks Ichigo if he really trusts Kokutō, to which Ichigo says he'll trust him if it means getting Yuzu back. Renji continues by saying that entering Hell would allow the Togabito to toy with him, but Ichigo still maintains that he must go. Rukia then states that they will go as well. Kokutō tells them to hurry up; he's opening Hell's Gate. Rukia quietly talks to Renji, and trusts him to use "that" to get everyone out of Hell if it goes wrong.
In Hell, Yuzu is locked in a cage. A Togabito talks to someone called "Shuren", saying that it appears that Ichigo and his friends entered Hell. Shuren asks if "Murakumo" is back, but apparently, he is not as he is taken by Kushanda and has sinked th the depth of Hell. In order to revive him, they will need a tremendous amount of time; therefore, the Togabito is instructed to intercept the intruders along with "Taikon" and "Garogai".
Ichigo, Renji, Rukia, Uryū, and Kokutō enter a section of Hell which resembles a city, except the buildings are little more than blocks, and blue roads hover over a void. Renji comments that he never thought that Hell would look this way. Uryu asks if it's Renji's first time here, because he thinks Hell is under jurisdiction of the Shinigami. Rukia replies that it is only under their surveillance. Renji comments that it feels nauseating in Hell, and anyone with low Spirtual pressure would have fainted by now. Kokutō reveals that the Togabitos' base is at the lowest level of Hell, and they descend to the road. As they begin to run, Ichigo notices that people are staring at them. Kokutō says that they are Togabito as well, and they gave up fighting. He begins to talk about how Togabito keep their abilities in Hell so they can fight Hell's guards; however, this is merely to make them despair, for the guards are practically unbeatable. All this causes them to be "brain dead" and makes them want to die. But some people resist anyway, fueled by their resentments and memories, keeping them the way they are.
Suddenly, Kokutō says that "they" discovered the group. From out of the void, a massive creature with an elongated skull mask and samurai armor on his right shoulder rises, eyes focused on them. It raises a hand towards them as Kokutō introduces them as the kushanda, Hell's Guardians. The Kushanada eats several Togabito (though according to Kokutō, they reincarnate afterwards) and proceeds to plow through everything to attack the intruders. The group attempts to flee from it, only to run into another Kushanada, and even though they jump over it, more and more Kushanada pour in from the walls to pursue them. Rukia, Renji, and Uryū attack one Kushanada, but it fails. Ichigo activates Bankai and tries to use Getsuga Tenshō
to defeat the Kushanada, but his Hollow mask suddenly materializes on his face. Ichigo falters for a bit before using his attack to destroy all the Kushanada.
Rukia berates Ichigo for using his Hollow mask without warning them. Uryu agrees and states that they almost got caught up in the attack as well. Ichigo apologizes and stares bewilderdly at his hand. Rukia notices this and asks what the matter is. Ichigo explains that he did not call for the mask, and it donned itself upon his face without him calling for it. Rukia is shocked by this. Kokutō inquires if that was Hollow power. Ichigo confirms it. Kokutō then asserts that Hell's miasma must be affecting Ichigo strangely. The air in Hell could possibly bring out Ichigo's dormant Hollow power, and could even cause that power to run out of control. After a moment of silence, Kokutō moves on, and soon after Ichigo follows him. Uryū, Rukia, and Renji stay behind for a moment, the latter two questioning Uryū on what was wrong. Uryū recounts that he had seen Ichigo's Hollow power run out of control before, and comments that if Hell is exactly how Kokutō claimed it is, then Ichigo is in much graver danger than they originally imagined.
The group runs around several corners before coming to a road leading into empty space. Ichigo comments on this, but Kokutō informs them to ignore that and just jump. They all jump into the vast smoky chasm below and plunge through the clouds into Hell's next level: an endless expanse of sea with many small stone islands circling the equator. The group lands on one shaped like a flower. Uryū wonders what this place is; Renji stares up at a large skeletal statue in the likeness of a Kushanada, and wonders if this is a grave. Ichigo asks Kokutō if this is where Yuzu is, but before the Togabito can respond somebody informs them that there is nobody there. They whirl around to see the tall Togabito with whip-like tentacles from earlier, and also the hulking one with large fists. Ichigo demands that they give Yuzu back, but then a voice from above that he can have her and the overweight Togabito from earlier crashes down upon the skull of the statue, which Ichigo was previously standing upon. The overweight Togabito then tells Ichigo the catch to the deal: the Substitute Shinigami would have to help them out first.
Renji scoffs at the idea while the figure jubilantly exclaims that he can finally take off his uncomfortable cloak. He whips it off and introduces himself as Taikon. The tentacled Togabito slips out of his cloak and introduces himself as Gunjō, and their third member takes off his cloak, revealing his name to be Garogai. Gunjō states that this is a precarious environment, and asks the uninvited to leave. Ichigo once again demands for them to give back Yuzu as he unleashes a Getsuga Tenshō upon Taikon. Suddenly, Garogai drops down from above and attempts to crush Ichigo, who jumps back. However, he barely has finished moving when Gunjō rushes him, only to be intercepted by Renji and Zabimaru. The Lieutenant unleashes a counterstrike, only for Gunjō to evade it. He and Garogai then dodge Rukia's Hado 4: Byakura
. Taikon then lands behind Ichigo and attempts a strike of his own but is immediately shot down by Uryu's Ginrei Kojaku. However, lips suddenly appear on Taikon's skin and they swallow up the lingering energy from the arrows. The Togabito thanks the Quincy for the treat. Rukia lashes out with Sokatsui
, only for Taikon to swallow that up too. With a motion similar to blowing a kiss, Taikon sends the energy flying back at them, forcing them to dodge and creating a heart-shaped crater in the ground behind Uryū. Garogai then lands in the crater, forcing him to jump out of the flower and land on the edge. Kokutō lands beside him and warns him that here, unhindered by their cloaks, they are much stronger than they were in the World of the Living. Uryū asks why, but before the Togabito can answer, Garogai attacks again, forcing them to jump away.
Ichigo leaps out of the flower as well and runs along the rim, with Gunjō in hot pursuit. Before they can go too far, bright blue Kidō blasts rain down between them and force Gunjō to stop for a moment. Rukia and Renji close in, but Taikon then reveals that he absorbed all the reishi from Rukia's attack and returns fire, destroying a large amount of the flower structure. Ichigo, Rukia, and Renji land on the crumbling rock face, and wisely decide to retreat as the rocks around them crash into the water. Garogai suddenly rises out of the water, hefting a giant circular stone slab, and throws his improvised weapon into the water to create a huge tidal wave that crashes down towards the group. Rukia stops running and turns to face the wave, plunging her sword into the ground four times to activate Tsugi no Mai: Hakuren
and freezing the wave and the surface of the water solid.
Undaunted, Taikon and Gunjō blast through the ice and the latter smashes into Ichigo, sending both combatants into another stone flower, where they fight a tremendous battle. Uryū lands and is about to help, but before he can do anything he is forced to jump away as Taikon blasts him again. Rukia looks up and calls Ichigo's name in concern, but is distracted when Garogai approaches, shooting his fist towards her. Rukia dodges, and Garogai retracts his fist as he closes in. Before he can attack her, however, Rukia shoots a Kido bolt of her shoulder and into the Togabito, sending him crashing through a number of rocks until he actually breaks into the stone flower Ichigo and Gunjō are fighting in. Ichigo growls and prepares Getsuga Tenshō
, but once again his Hollow Mask manifests without him calling for it, and after a split second's hesitation blasts his foe with the extra power granted by his mask. Ichigo then flies out of the resulting explosion, landing on the rim of the flower as Kokutō lands beside him, informing the Substitute Shinigami that his sister is further away. Hearing this, Renji tells Ichigo to go on and leave the Togabito to them. Rukia agrees and tells Ichigo that the two of them and Kokutō would run ahead. Ichigo reluctantly agrees, and the group rushes ahead. The three jump off the edge and Kokutō plunges into the water, but suddenly Gunjō runs up, stating that he would not let them escape, and Rukia stays behind to hold the Togabito back as Ichigo plunges in after Kokutō. Elsewhere, Uryū stands across from Taikon, who asks if the Quincy honestly intends on fighting him, and that if so, he must be tired of living. Uryū disagrees and is willing to bet his honor as a Quincy that he won't lose to the same person. As they begin their fight, Renji stands across from Garogai and releases his Bankai, suggesting that the two finish the fight they started in the World of the Living.
Ichigo and Kokutō plunge through the bottom of the sea and descend upon a large wasteland with many pools of yellow liquid all about. Kokutō states that once they pass through this area, they will be at their base. Also, Kokutō adds, since Shuren's cronies are currently battling Ichigo's friends, their base's defenses will be at their weakest, making it perfect for them to attack. As they descend, however, a giant fist bursts out of a yellow pool and a Kushanada reaches for them. Kokutō pushes Ichigo out of the way and tries to attack the Kushanada, but is hurled painfully to the ground. Kokutō glances at his arm, which is burning from where some of the liquid got on it, and grimaces. The Kushanada punches its fist into the ground and then seemingly grasps chains out of thin air. The chains then shed their invisibility and reveal their linkage to Kokutō, who cries out in fear. Before the Kushanada can do anything more, however, a Hollowfied Ichigo cuts through its arm and then cuts the entire guardian in half with a Getsuga Tenshō. Ichigo then flash-steps over to where Kokutō is lying, spirits off his mask, and then flash-steps away with Kokutō in tow just before the yellow liquid cascades over the spot they just occupied.
Ichigo asks Kokutō if he's alright. The Togabito replies that he is, and asks if Ichigo's okay using his mask. Ichigo says he's fine just before Kokutō grunts in pain from his wound. He tells Ichigo to leave him there, as such pain is not unusual in Hell, and he should just think about saving Yuzu. Ichigo bends down and asks why he was helping him; after all, Kokutō's heart fell to darkness for the person he loved. Kokutō reveals he had a sister once, but "her stupid brother let her die", so he'd throw himself through any kind of danger for her. Kokutō tells Ichigo not to let Yuzu suffer like his own sister did, and save her. As Ichigo looks at him in surprise, the Togabito begins to struggle up, saying it must not be very convincing, coming from a heartless Togabito banished to Hell like him. Ichigo stares at him again before Kokutō tells Ichigo that they should hurry, or else he'd be letting his friends down. That being said, the two prepare to dive down to the next level.
High above, the water-like sky bursts as Hihio Zabimaru
thunders down from the level above, reeling through the air before tossing Garogai away. Renji attacks again with the skeletal serpent, but Garogai grabs the jaws and pulls them apart, bringing Renji's attack to a forceful stop and telling him it will not work before swinging Hihio Zabimaru
around and tossing it down towards the yellow liquid below. But Renji regains his balance and fires Hikotsu Taiho
at the hulking Togabito, knocking him into the water. Garogai emerges, badly injured, prompting Renji to wonder if it was the yellow liquid that was affecting him. He attempts to fire Hikotsu Taiho
again, but Garogai punches the accumulating energy before Renji can fire, causing a massive explosion that sends all of Hihio Zabimaru'
s segments flying. Renji stares in shock before Garogai sends him flying upwards with a bone shattering punch, then follows up with stomping on Renji right after he lands. The hulk attempts one more punch, saying it's the end for the Lieutenant, but Renji shouts that it's the end for Garogai
, not him. As if on cue, all of Hihio Zabimaru'
s segments glow red and float upwards before Renji uses Higa Zekko
to bring down all the segments of Hihio Zabimaru
down on Garogai, crushing him. Renji gets up and says not to underestimate Zabimaru.
Elsewhere, millions upon millions of arrows shower upon Taikon, but the fat Togabito calls it all useless and proceeds to eat all of them. Uryu growls as Taikon comments about how good it tasted before blasting rapid fire attacks at Uryu, who uses Hirienkyaku
to appear behind Taikon and slash him with a Seele Schneider, but Taikon absorbs that, too. Taikon finds the taste rather funny, but says that doesn't really matter. The two combatants land, and Taikon tells Uryu that he should just stop struggling and let the Togabito kill him before firing another blast at Uryu. Uryu sidesteps and tells him to follow his own advice before charging at Taikon and slashing him with another Seele Schneider, which Taikon absorbs and calls useless. Uryu says he isn't finished and slashes him again, to which Taikon says he had better stop before it's too late.
The Quincy lands, whirls, and fires the same Seele Schnieder at the Togabito, but Taikon just deflects it to the side and asks if it was supposed to be Uryu's killer shot, saying he never imagined Uryu to be so stupid. Uryu tells him to say so after his final shot, drawing one last Seele Schneider and firing it at his fat enemy. Taikon repeats for the umpteenth time that it's useless and prepares to absorb it, but the blade suddenly flickers out of existance, the hilt floating in midair in front of Taikon's open mouth. Taikon wonders what it is before suddenly, two squares meeting at right angles materialze around him, their vertex marked by the Seele Schneider, followed by a blue box. Uryu calls this Geto Schneider
, surrounding an opponent with high density reishi, and it's similar to Sprenger. Taikon says he should have absorbed all of Uryu's reishi, to which Uryu replies that the box is created by Taikon's
reishi, not his own. As if on cue, cuts begin to appear on Taikon's body which reishi escapes out of. Uryu explains that Geto Schneider
took the reishi it needed from Taikon where the Seele Schneider cut him. He tells Taikon that the Togabito is not the only one who uses an opponents reishi as a weapon. The Quincy pulls out a Ginto and tosses it, saying Quincys are much better at it. The Ginto strikes the Seele Schneider and breaks open, and Uryu turns away as the box contracts and explodes, destroying the Togabito inside.
Far away, the explosion is seen by Gunjo, who realizes Taikon's fate. Rukia immediately attacks while he isn't looking, but her intentions happen in reverse; Gunjo dangles her upside down with his tentacles. The Togabito notes that his comrades had failed, but this doesn't affect their plan too much. Rukia begins to attempt to slice the tentacles, but only ends up breaking Sode no Shirayuki
. As Rukia stares at the blade in shock, Gunjo decides it is time for her to die. The tentacles begin to constrict, tightening and causing Rukia to scream. Gunjo says it is such a lovely sound, then lowers a motionless Rukia, thinking she is dead. He prepares to move on to another one of Ichigo's companions, but suddenly notices it's snowing. Then the Shinigami he's holding in his tentacles suddenly raises her blade, and uses San no Mai: Shirafune
. A blade of ice forms, freezing Gunjo over and causing him to break, freeing the Shinigami.
Rukia pants on the ground, and Uryu runs over, calling to her. Rukia tells him she is alright, but they suddenly hear Gunjo laughing and saying they are better than he initially thought. The Togabito says, as he continues to freeze, that he initially wanted to drag them down with him if he was defeated. He chuckles and tells them to forget it, because it is inevitable for them to die there. Uryu asks what he means, but Gunjo says he cannont tell them, and then finally shatters in a peal of manaical laughter. Rukia wonders with dread what Gunjo is.
A stairway shrouded in mist takes Ichigo and Kokutō through a number of tiny houses with one wall missing, and a flame flickering inside. Ichigo gazes at them in wonder, but messes up with his footing, crashing to the ground, but fortunately not falling too far. Kokutō walks up to him and asks if he's alright, offering him his hand. Ichigo grabs Kokutō's hand and pulls himself up, apologizing for the hold up. Kokutō tells Ichigo to be careful before turning to continue their descent.
The stairs take them out of a rock splitting a waterfall of the yellow liquid in two, into the deepest level of Hell. Yellow clouds hover above them, and spherical rocks are arranged in a grid fashion in black sand. Ichigo looks at the sand and notices that he can sense reiatsu in them. Kokutō replies that they are no ordinary sands; they are filled with the reiatsu from Togabitos' bones, surprising the Substitute Shinigami. Kokutō explains that after being constantly bombarded by the Kushanada, the Togabito lose heart. Eventually, their bodies rot on the ground, and Hell's fire consumes the bones. He says it is the resting place of those Togabito. No matter where you are, freedom is nonexistant. Ichigo questions this, since they came to Karakura Town. Kokutō replies that the Kushanada's watchful eyes extend there, too, remembering what happened to Murakumo. Regardless of what you do, there is no escape, no telling how long you will suffer, and in the end, you will be broken. He turns to Ichigo and asks for a favor after he's saved Yuzu: release him from Hell. Ichigo is surprised by this, as Kokutō states that he wants to be reborn, to see his sister again, to apologize to her. Ichigo agrees to do it if he can, and Kokutō apologizes for asking to do this. Then he turns and tells Ichigo they must hurry; it's just beyond a hill. Ichigo gets ready to save Yuzu and starts running, with Kokutō following.
Reaching the top of the hill, Ichigo looks into the distance and is shocked by what he sees: Yuzu is unconscious in a small cage, dangling from a large skeleton with rods impaled in it above a pool of lava, surrounded by a stonehedge that has finger-like rocks in front of the open end. Ichigo charges down the hill, screaming Yuzu's name, he slips on the sand before leaping onto a rock and flying towards the skeleton. But then, there is an orange gleam from on top of the skull, and a bolt of fire flies at the Substitute. Slashing the blast with Tensa Zangetsu, Ichigo sees another one coming, which he jumps over, bounding onto one of the fingers. On top of the skull, the flame wielder, who is in a green cloak and with a Togabito mask on his chest suspended by chains, thanks him for coming. Ichigo raises his blade, shoting for him to give Yuzu back. The flame wielder identifies himself as "Shuren" and says that if Ichigo wants to save Yuzu, he must listen, prompting the Substitute to lower his blade slightly. Kokutō catches up and shouts to Shuren if he plans on taking on both of them by himself. Shuren says he will not, and while Ichigo and Kokutō wonder what he means, the flame wielder says that Togabito do not die in Hell, and Kokutō should know this best. Kokutō realizes what Shuren means and says "You did not..." Shuren poses with his arms, shouting "Taikon! Gunjo! Garogai!"
Three streams of lava burst from the pool below Yuzu's cage, taking on the form of the three Togabito who they encountered earlier. Ichigo and Kokutō stare as the Togabito groan and growl as they reincarnate. Shuren explains that they fought earlier to seperate Renji, Uryu and Rukia from them, then died so they could revive there. Kokutō claims that this is impossible; you cannot be revived so fast. But then Gunjo, who has finally taken solid form, declares that what Kokutō thinks he may know may not always be that way.