Packaged with the movie’s Blu-ray/DVD and set during season 1. CD download.
Nobody wants to talk to a guy sitting by himself with a drink, huh. Ha, I’m not the type for that, and this isn’t that kind of place anyways. Well, having a drink by myself won’t be bad for a change. Hey, boss! Get me something for a drinking snack. Hey, boss! Hey!
[clothes rustling and chairs being moved]
Uh, what’s going on? Huh? Wait, what?
Hagh, I knew it was you, Mushou.
May I join you?
I don’t mind, but it looks like the other customers do. Everyone’s left. And the owner won’t come out. You could’ve at least waited until my snack came out.
There are plenty of other snacks here.
Hey, those are the other customers’.
Why not? It makes little difference. They won’t be returning. Not while the Screaming Phoenix Killer is here.
So you do know you’re bothering people.
So? What’s your aim here?
You don’t look like the kind of guy who drinks with people without some kind of goal.
You misunderstand what kind of person I am. I have no dislike of drinking with others. It is merely that no one has the nerve to drink with me.
If it takes nerve just to drink with you, isn’t that your problem?
That may be so. Well, if you need a reason, I do have one. I was amused that despite his meticulous plans, that man would make a mistake. I was in the mood for drink. When I came here, I found you. That is all.
That man? You mean Kichou?
That man. He told us to meet at the docks, but the shipowner had vanished, rendering us unable to leave. Hehehe. An uncharacteristic mistake.
That Phantom Sect have their base in the Demon Spine Mountains, right? If someone heard about sailing over there, of course they’d run away. Well, we found someone else’s boat right after, so it’s fine, right?
But our departure has been delayed. We can do nothing but wait until tomorrow morning.
So what? Now we have time to get a drink.
Exactly. But this may be yet a layer of his plans. There may be a meaning to this delay in our departure.
You’re pretty suspicious, huh?
When it comes to that man, there’s no such thing as being too suspicious. It makes me suspect that even these suspicions are part of his plot.
Really? What kinda guy is Kichou?
Heheh, hehehe. Ah, so that’s how they look.
What’s that supposed to mean?
So this is what it’s like to see someone being played by that man. I would point a finger and laugh, but I cannot bring myself to do so.
No c’mon, you laughed just now.
That was a laugh of scorn, towards myself from a year ago. I can no longer laugh when I think that I looked as you do now. If I could return to the past, to one year ago, before slaying that man, I would slay my past self, who was foolish enough to trust him.
I can tell that he’s a real trickster. I’m not going to let my guard down or let him pull one over me.
I wonder at that. You might lower your guard unconsciously. It may be a form of mercy to kill you before that happens.
Your kind of mercy is way too conservative.
Conservative? How careless of you. You sit at the same table as the Screaming Phoenix Killer.
So your title means people are afraid to sit at the same table as you? Maybe you’re proud of it, but I’d hate to have a title like that.
I hold no pride in it. In fact, I loathe it. Yet I still have some fondness for it. It was a title given to me by a friend.
That’s a real shock. I didn’t know that you had friends.
No, he was a man who I had thought to be a friend. He is someone I must kill. As a friend.
I don’t get you. Can’t you have friends without getting killing in the picture?
I cannot. When I encounter a person, I think of how to kill them. I find myself drawn to killing them. When I realize that I can kill them, I cannot help but kill them.
I get it now. I can tell that you’re seriously bad at getting along with people.
But it’s been a quite some time since I’ve met someone who I can’t read how many moves I can kill them in. It’s you. It irks me that I cannot read you, and yet it piques my curiosity. I’ll confess: that is why I came here.
I figured it’d be something like that. So? How’d you read it?
I still cannot. No matter how many times I read it, my conjecture is no more than a conjecture. A conjecture only becomes reality upon being verified. In the end, I see no other way to verify it than exchanging blows with you.
[sword being drawn]
C’mon, I thought you said you wouldn’t fight until after we got past the Labyrinth of Darkness.
That was in regards to taking that man’s head. I’ve made no such agreements with any others. I understand that Keigai and the Sharp-eyed Impaler may be needed to reach the Labyrinth of Darkness. But what reason have you to live?
There’s no reason for me to die, either.
There is. Letting you live would be a part of that man’s plans.
If you think so, then hurry up and put your sword away.
Heheheh. No, it is for that reason that I choose not to sheathe my sword. It brings me great pleasure to think of how your death will frustrate his plans.
It’d be a real joke for me to get killed just to make you happy.
You should be able to understand that you have no option of escape.
Hold on a minute, what do you think you people doing?
Oh? What a conveniently timed entrance.
I couldn’t find either of you. I had a hunch you’d be here, and here you are. Mushou, I thought you used to have some restraint.
All amount of restraint vanished when I was faced with a man who might flee.
Do you mean me? Then you had better rethink that. It’s easier for me to escape from someone without self-control.
I’ll remember that. For when the time comes.
So how did you two end up drawing your swords? Well, I can guess. I suppose Mushou was probing the enigmatic Shou Fukan.
Were you eavesdropping?
Even without eavesdropping, I can put together enough of a conjecture. Now sheathe your swords and have a seat. I’ll join the discussion.
[sword being sheathed, clothes rustling, pouring alcohol]
Hm, so to sum it up, you wanted to see whether you or Fukan is stronger. Is that right, Mushou?
What a vulgar way to phrase it.
It is rather unrefined to cause a commotion at a tavern. We have chairs and drink here, so let’s leave deciding the strongest to drunken talk.
We reached this impasse because it couldn’t be resolved through talk.
Your conversation lacked a referee. That’s why when you couldn’t resolve your differences, it came to an altercation.
That’s definitely not what happened here.
Now that you have me to act as a referee, why don’t we talk about what we each think strength is? If it gets too complex to handle, I’ll be an impartial judge.
Talk about strength? What would we gain from that?
If you hear someone’s image of strength, won’t that give you an idea of their ability?
Well, it’s better than a fight, at least.
Alright, then it’s decided!
Wait. I haven’t agreed.
Don’t be so serious. Just think of it as a way to entertain ourselves while drinking.
To begin with, I have no interest in strength or weakness.
Oh? Those don’t sound like the words of a manslayer.
I no longer strive to become stronger. Those who compete to be the strongest are yet second-rate.
Then why do you train yourself?
As a study in inevitability. Two people face each other, each wielding a sword. One falls, and the other remains standing. It is a conclusion borne from fate. The result is not decided in the sheath, but when the two met—no, earlier. When they began studying the sword, and even earlier, when they came into the world, there are those who will wield a sword and those who will not. We can continue looking back until the beginning of the universe.
Ah, so the principle of cause and effect.
By the same logic, the future has been determined. When you will slay your enemies, and when you yourself will be cut down. All of it is fate. To study the sword is to read fate.
Like a diviner, then.
But a reading is only a reading. Some fools would claim that a true master will have no need to draw their sword. But that is merely a failure to verify their readings. That is nothing but cowardice.
So that’s why you wanted to fight.
That is the sole way to demonstrate that fate to be the truth.
So what if you’ve read fate to end in your death? Are you still going to verify that fate?
A foolish question. My own life is only a facet of fate.
If that’s really what you think, then you’re nuts.
I had never thought myself to be sane. To dedicate oneself to a single path is to abandon sanity.
Dedicating yourself to a path is pretty out there, too.
Come now, Fukan, what about you?
What about me?
I’m saying that it’s your turn. Mushou has told you so much. Why don’t you talk about strength?
If you’d like to object to Mushou’s definition, you’re free to do so.
I don’t have any objections. He’s free to think what he wants. I’m not gonna say there’s one right answer. But hm, strength. I guess I’d say that it’s a kind of possession.
A possession. Oh?
Strength is something to be used at the right time. That’s why it’s like a possession. If you live in the underworld, there are times when you gotta use it. You can’t survive without strength, and it’s something that gives you confidence, too. But a sword’s strength is the kind that kills and maims people. If you lose a fight you die, and if you win you’ll earn a grudge. So it’s best not to use it. The safest thing is to keep it stowed it away for your whole life.
Hmph! Wielding a sword to avoid death? That makes it no different from the fangs of beasts.
It’s not just for avoiding death. You can use it to do what you need to. If I think I should use my sword, then I won’t hesitate to use it.
You won’t hesitate? Deciding whether or not to wield your sword is itself a form of hesitation. Do you not draw your sword while swept along by the course of events? Such a sword has no will to it.
That’s not it. I use my sword when I decide to. Aren’t you the one without your own will? You’re just leaving your life and your enemy’s life to fate or whatever. Instead of abandoning inquiry, you’re abandoning responsibility for your choices.
What’s that, Fukan? You said that you wouldn’t have any objections, but here you are objecting.
Mm? Hmph. Well, I couldn’t take that lying down. That should be enough for me. What about you?
Yeah. It’s not fair if all you’re doing is listening, Kichou.
I too am interested in what it is that you call strength.
Unlike you two, I have no interest in the sword, so it would be difficult for me to talk about strength.
But you’re not living on the straight and narrow either, are you? You’ve gotta have something to say about it.
Hm, it seems like further protests would spoil the mood. I’ll have to speak from a slightly different perspective from warriors such as yourselves, so please excuse me for that.
Your preface is too long.
Pardon me. To me, strength is… hm, well if I had to say, it lies in people.
Mm. Let me give an analogy. Let’s say that there’s a tyrant who could lay ruin to an entire country. His subjects will fear him or hail him as a powerful ruler. But that tyrant need not be a master of the sword. He might only have powerful retainers and mighty soldiers.
Oh? Are you a tyrant then?
It’s only an analogy. All I mean to say is that I have no need for physical strength. If I’m facing a threat, I can just hire someone who can overcome it. I only need connections and the skill to manage them.
So that’s strength to you?
That’s right. If there’s something I ‘need to do’, I can find someone else to do it. Mushou, I too can read fate. And I have been doing so. To bring down the Phantom Sect, I’ve brought together people like Shuu and Keigai to do what I cannot. And so I verify fate.
Just as you made use of me a year ago?
And as I’m doing now.
And with such ease.
Now that we’ve gotten to a good point, how about call it a night? We have an early departure tomorrow.
What is it? We’ve finished our discussion, so I thought it would be a good time to leave.
This drivel has been of no use in judging this man. A single sword will lead to the truth more easily than a thousand words.
Oh c’mon, are you still going on about that?
You won’t stop me anymore, will you, Kichou?
No, I’ll have to stop you. I can’t have us losing a party member over such a trivial reason. If you didn’t learn anything from our discussion, then I have a proposal. You can wait to exchange blows until after you hear it, can’t you?
[crickets chirping, leaves rustling]
Hey, Kichou. What’re we doing in this forest?
I’ve prepared a place for your contest. But it will be a peaceful contest, one without bloodshed.
What do you mean?
Just keep walking and you’ll see. Look, you can see it now.
What’s that? Is that a tree?
It’s called the Twin Dragon Tree and is worshiped as a sacred tree in these parts. You can see how it earned its name, can’t you? Its two trunks look just like two dragons flying to the heavens.
That’s really something. Do trees get this big? I bet ten people holding hands wouldn’t be able to wrap around the trunk.
According to legend, it’s stood here for all of eternity. I can’t say if that’s true, but it’s at least three thousand years old.
And? What would you have us do?
Oh, I was just thinking of having you two cut this tree. Conveniently enough, it has two trunks. Each of you can cut one of the trunks and compare your skill with the sword.
Now, Mushou, don’t just dismiss this as a simple tree. It may only be a plant, but having lived such a long time it possesses ki. It’s much sturdier than stone or metal. There’s even a story to demonstrate that. Towards the end of the War of Fading Dusk, there was a major battle here. Everything else was burnt to the ground, but this tree remained standing. It’s a tree that withstood even the power of demons. A not unworthy opponent.
What knowledge will I gain having cut what will not dodge or counter?
We can at least tell that whoever cannot cut it is weaker.
What if neither of us can cut it?
We can judge by swordsmanship and ki intensity. It should be a better way to judge each other’s ability than through conversation.
Do you have a question, Mushou?
Not for you, but for you, Shou Fukan. What did you say?
You said ‘if neither of us can cut it’, did you not? Did you think that I would fail to cut a shriveled old tree?
I was just asking how we would decide it in that case.
Then you should ask what to do if we both cut the tree. You have already determined that you cannot cut this tree. Am I wrong? You know your limits.
Really? If you say so. If I know my limits, then there’s no point in cutting it, is there? Alright, we’re done here, let’s go back.
No, I will cut it.
What? That’s not what you said before.
I’ve changed my mind. My pride as a swordsman will not allow for this insult.
Uh, I wasn’t insulting you or anything.
You must not have any pride as a swordsman.
Alright, Mushou, I’m glad to see that you’re interested. Why don’t you cut the trunk on the right?
I wouldn’t mind cutting both at once.
Why are you being so stubborn?
This man Shou Fukan irritates me. He drives me to return to competition after having abandoned it.
Has it been a year now?
You too irritate me.
Just watch. Nothing under the sky, not even an ancient tree, can escape from the fate of this world. I shall demonstrate it.
[sword cutting, tree falling, sword sheathed]
Whoa, the trunk you cut withered and all the leaves fell off.
That must be because of how terribly skillful Mushou is. How fearsome the Screaming Phoenix Killer is.
It’s your turn, Shou Fukan.
Are you unable to cut it? If so, you may withdraw. A sword without pride is not worthy of judgment.
Hagh. No, I’ll do it.
I changed my mind, too. It gets on my nerves how you keep saying I have no pride. It looks like this is something I need to do.
What powerful ki… It’s extraordinary.
I’ve decided to cut it, so I won’t hesitate. I’ll do what I need to.
Ahh, it still wasn’t enough. That’s a really tough tree. I did my best, but I just couldn’t cut it.
Do you mean to mock me?
Nope. I couldn’t win against your sword. It’s my loss.
Tch. My mood has been spoiled. I’ll be leaving.
Alright, I’ll head back too. We need to be up early tomorrow, right? Later.
Fukan… Even with that much ki, he still couldn’t cut it?
Oh, what’s this…?
You’ve overslept, Fukan. Everyone else is at the docks.
Oh shut it. You’re the one that dragged us into that forest in the middle of the night.
What are you talking about? Mushou was the first to wake and leave.
Even though he’s so pale, he’s such an early bird.
Well, it’s fine. There’s still time until our departure. I’m going to have a short rest before I leave. By the way, Fukan. That was quite the trick you pulled yesterday.
Huh? What are you talking about?
The Twin Dragon Tree. I took a look at it after you left.
You did cut it. Your sword had passed through, but without toppling the tree. No doubt the trunk will reattach and recover. Why would you do that?
Ah, that. If I’d cut down the tree, Mushou wouldn’t have backed down, would he?
Mushou seemed to have noticed.
Ha, it looked like it. But he did back down, so that’s fine. And besides, that tree’s been there for thousands of years. I’d feel sorry for it if I cut it down for no good reason.
I see. But I still don’t understand. If you felt pity for the tree, then why did you cut it? If you were worried about Mushou, then you could have simply pretended that you couldn’t cut it.
Hmm, that. Ah, I guess…
What is it?
That’s my pride as a swordsman.
I’m headed out.
Hm, Setsu Mushou withered a tree in a single blow, while Shou Fukan cut the tree without killing it. I wonder, just whose skills are superior?