Chapter 21 is titled "Shining White Blade".
As the battle royale officially starts, Ryu, Hachimaru, and Daruma enter the fray. As the number of contenders dwindles, a misstep by Hachimaru puts Ann in danger, but she is rescued by another contender and his Princess. The mysterious but honorable opponent then challenges Hachimaru to a duel to test his heart and his bond with Ann. Facing a more experienced Samurai/Princess duo, Ann and Hachimaru are forced to push their powers and their bond to a new level to compete.
As Daruma cuts down the last Samurai ambushing the group, he praises Hachimaru for his success as the enemies bemoan their injuries. As the number on the monitor screen drops again, Ryu thinks about Hachimaru, acknowledging that the rookie Samurai's instincts are better than his as Hachimaru notices everyone's monitor numbers dropping. One of the enemy Samurai vows revenge, until he sees his monitor disappears. A voice then comes from the screens warning that the disappearance of the monitor means elimination from the competition. Kotsuga assumes the voice belongs to the fight's host as they continue explaining the rules of the battle royale.
The first rule is that when a Samurai's Key is damaged, they are eliminated, even after regeneration. The rogue Samurai complains that they should have been notified, but Kotsuga counters that they attacked before the rules were announced. The host continues, stating that contenders are to fight until the number on the monitor reaches one. The last fighter will win the yen if they win against him. Finally, he states that self-inflicted key damage or a announcement of yielding will also mean elimination.
Ann becomes worried, and Kotsuga flirtatiously tries to comfort her. Daruma entrusts Ann's safety to Hachimaru, who resolves to beat the host and recruit him. Kotsuga also voices his intent to beat the host and make off with the money. Ann reminds him that he can't participate, and he counters that he has Ryu to do the heavy lifting. His willingness to let others fight his battles makes Ann loses respect for the bushi, but she cheers up when Hachimaru asks her to pray for him. Kotsuga suggests they hide and let the herd thin, which makes Daruma and even one of the enemy Samurai lose respect for him. Refocusing on the fight ahead, Daruma shapes part of his horse Holder into a sniper rifle and has Kotsuga spot targets for him.
The battle royale then enters full swing, and the numbers begin to dwindle. As the number of Samurai left nears 100, Hachimaru and company are stopped by a boisterous Samurai shouting out of a megaphone. The team is annoyed by him, and Daruma prepares to cut him down, but Hachimaru charges in and takes him down first. Daruma notices his student's speed, but also catches that he let his focus waver, which made an opening for another Samurai to take Ann hostage. The enemy threatens to kill Ann unless Hachimaru eliminates himself. Daruma prepares to use a Kongo-Yasha Style attack, but he is beat to the punch by another contender, who saves Ann and allows her to return to Hachimaru's side.
Hachimaru thanks the stranger for his help. He senses that Hachimaru has promise, then scolds him for forgetting about his Princess in the heat of battle. Kotsuga is skeptical about the newcomer, but he counters that saving Ann proves his honor. Hachimaru sees that the stranger is right about him, and wonders what he can say after failing to keep his promise to protect Ann. The stranger points out that a Samurai does not become strong by learning to sever: true power comes from honing his bond with his Princess. He states his belief that both the heroism within a Samurai and the prayers of a Princess stem from the will to protect something of value. He then calls for Hachimaru to prove his bond with Ann through action.
kotsuga, aware of the stranger's strength, is wary, while Ryu is confused by his words. The stranger challenges Hachimaru to a fight to see whose heroic heart is greater, and asks Daruma to stay out of it, and formally thanks him when he agrees. Daruma, knowing that Hachimaru will learn from the fight regardless of the outcome, wonders what he will gain from it all. The Samurai then tells Ann to pray as they prepare to start. While she prepares herself, she begins thinking about the lack of faith everyone back home had and the comparisons to her older brother. Before she can waver, Hachimaru apologizes for not protecting her, and admits his own imperfection. Reinvigorated by his words, she replies that she understands his weakness and that she is there to support him. The Samurai senses a strong heroism emerge from the two as Hachimaru rushes in to attack. As his Samurai's Soul meets his opponent's, the stranger sees Hachimaru's blade begin to glow brightly and change from its normal color to white, shocking him. Daruma - whose spiritual insight let him see the change as well - senses that Hachimaru's awakening has begun.
Fights and Events
Characters in Order of Appearance