As midday arrives onto the Hakusan Shrine, the rambunctious and delinquent Cho Sawagejo of the Juppongatana has kidnapped a young toddler and holds him hostage in order to obtain that last of the prodigious swordsmith Arai Seikuu's masterpieces! But risking all life and limb upon the dreadful news, even without a sword, Kenshin Himura stands in the outlaw's way and demands his hostage's life to be spared! At high noon, a harrowing battle will be fought with blades of all sorts, both metaphorical and material! But without a blade that cannot kill with ease, Kenshin does not stand a chance! How will he survive this attempt on his life?
Confronting Sawagejō Chō of the Juppongatana, Himura stands in his way to the center of the Hakusan Shrine and Arai Shakkū's final masterpiece. Eager and surprised a bit to be confronted by Hitokiri Battosai, Cho hears of Himura's parley to have Arai Iori in exchange for Shakku's last work. Though the deal is sound, Cho launches Iori to hang off of a tree, being motivated to fight against Kenshin as the possibility of earning Shishio Makoto's fatal ire, through having confronted the enemy and not even taking action, is not something to look forward to, and forces Kenshin into a "fair duel".
Seeing through his snide humor as Cho knows of Kenshin's broken Sakabatō and having a hostage, while preying upon his enemy, all while calling this fair, Cho draws out his Bizen and thrust attacks, aggressively telling Kenshin to lighten up. With his shinsoku managing to evade the attack easily, Kenshin slams his scabbard into Cho's back, and tells him off to use a thrusting attack that surpasses Saito's Gatotsu.
Making his way to Iori, Cho is not through yet. Pulling out and sequencing Renbatō Arai into use, Cho swings- Only to be stopped by an unimpressed Kenshin, having jammed his sword into the blade's space inbetween, shatters it with a mere twist, and slams his makeshift sword downwards to proceed with a fierce upwards blow to Cho's upper body.
As Cho is sent flying with a loud boom, Kenshin is stopped again from saving Iori as his aggressor is barely fazed. Realizing that his opponent is not to be taken seriously and insulted that Kenshin treats his as just another mere thug, he threatens to kill Iori if he does not face him again, but upon mention of such a thing, Kenshin turns around, serious and ferociously eying his assailant.
As Misao, Okina, Seikuu Arai and Arai Azusa make their way to the shrine, Cho pulls out the threatening Hakujin no Tachi. Having seen his father's works be wielded by his son's kidnapper, Seikuu falls into despair, knowing of its deadliness and in shame that his father's works be wielded by such a bloodthirsty killer.
As Kenshin is pitted against the haphazard fluidity, reach, and mobility of the Hakujin no Tachi, literally near grazed upon meeting its razor's edge with every encounter, Seikuu further gives into his despair, taking the option to use the battle to save Iori, and give Cho his father's last masterpiece, all at the expense of Himura's life. Appalled at such a choice, Misao explains to him that what he is doing is madness, and that Himura was the one who came before even any of them to save Iori. Defeated, Seikuu blatantly dismisses Himura's valiant effort to save his son as his own choice and continues. Further pressed into frustration over his callousness in such a cowardly and pathetic manner, Misao nearly draws a fist, but is halted before even budging a muscle by Okina, who further explains to Seikuu that Himura is not just fighting for his son's life, but also for the sake of his future and the entire nation of Japan.
Giving the Himura the chance to give up for his life, and muddled at why Himura would want to risk his life for an infant, Kenshin explains himself that Iori is not just simply another child- After the chaos that was the Bakumatsu, Iori is the one of the many children who will grow up in times of peace and become the new generation, the children that Kenshin would give his life for to protect and keep safe at all odds. Thickheaded at his reasons and dismissing it as just an excuse made by another Imperialist, Cho tells off Kenshin to die in peace, that the world will be in the hands of Shishio and shaped by his Hakujin no Tachi, but Kenshin retorts, that it is not the swords or tools or weapons that make eras, but through the people that wield them.
Coming to an epiphany, Seikuu comes to a long gained realization and gains the courage to run through the battlefield ravaged by a vicious wielded Hakujin no Tachi. Before Cho can come to harm the intervening Seikuu, Kenshin directs his broken Sakabato into a Hiryusen at the last moment to counteract the blade's attack. Telling Seikuu to use the opportunity to save Iori, Seikuu instead tells his son to hold on a little longer- He has an important job to do.
Realizing now what his father's motives and philosophies were, "the swords that I make will create a new era", in that people come to shape the times, and that they come to uphold and protect their times they live in, Seikuu dashes into the Hakusan Shrine's inner keep. Trusting Himura with the mysterious sword that lies within, Seikuu tosses it to him to use in his one sided duel.
However, even after having rendered Cho's Tachi helpless by aptly sheathing its point and getting in close enough to slam his elbow into his forehead, this would be the last opportune strike that he would be able to get in. Unknown of what blade lies within, Himura is frozen in hesitance, and even the enthusiastic Cho is also at a standstill. As Okina explains to Misao that Himura is Kyoto's infamous Hikokiri Battosai, and that taking another life will renounce his promise to be a pacifist wanderer as his reason why Kenshin cannot make another move, Cho goes ahead with a more vile action- To target Iori and finally proceed with the opportunity of testing a sword on a child.
Driven to a verge of outrage and pressed to his patience's limits, Kenshin screams out in fury and snaps forward in an extremely fast charge. Mentioning that his vile bluff worked, Cho is estatic to get payback on Kenshin for making a fool out of him, but in such rage, even the Hakujin no Tachi's quick pullback at a flick of the wrist is evaded. Now at the mercy of an enraged Kenshin, flying towards him like a demon, Kenshin unleashes the sealing blow: Ryukansen Tsumuji.
As the duel ends and tensions fade, the outcome is uncertain.... Until Seikuu eyes the detail of Himura's blade and tells him to see it. As Cho awakens defeated, grievously injured, but alive, Shakku's last masterpiece is revealed: a Sakabatou. As the impact of the Tsumuji resonates, in aftermath, the handle of the sacred sword shatters, and the tang of the sword reveals none other than Shakku's final will: "Slaying myself, for many nights and winters, I have forged blades. Even if my child despises me, it is for my grandchild's generation...."
To everyone's discovery, the enigma of the prodigal swordsmith Arai Shakku was now resolved. Realizing now that though Shakku produced and forged many swords, each process and blade made pained him so and ate away at his heart in knowing of the carnage and violence they would be used, and that even should his own reputation be stained, to even if his own son would spite him, his did so in the sake of his grandson's future and prosperity. With many regrets and a little glimmer of hope at the end of his life, the shinuchi of the Sakabatou, made as an offering by a holy sword, was made as the ultimate conclusion and testament of Shakku's final days and epiphany in that men create the times, not their tools, and his end of creating weapons for violence and death.
Excited and pleased to know that another sakabatou exists as the true forge, Seikuu gives Himura the last of his father's masterpieces, knowing that it will now be in good hands and even if his father was still alive, he would have been happy to have given his old friend this blade of his. Lost in thought and without a single word to say in the conversation and discovery, Kenshin reflects ten long years ago, when Shakku confronted him at his early days of pacifism and issued him the challenge of upholding his new philosophy with the kageuchi of the Sakabatou. Remembering his old friend's weathered heart and weariness at the wars of the Bakumatsu, he has now come to peace with his late friend, having fulfilled his promise. As Kenshin gladly accepts the sakabatou, he shakes hands one last time with Iori, before they part on their separate ways.
The following morning, having now fulfilled his first task at hand of obtaining a new sakabatou, Kenshin departs for the domain of Hiko Seijūrō XIII, after an exhaustive search done by the Aoiya Oniwabanshu. Though he leaves the Aoiya, wishing the best for Misao and sorry that he cannot speak of Aoshi's current fate, Okina reminds him that he will always be an open ally to the rurouni, before he departs with gratitude. Misao, surprised at his departure even before breakfast, demands to know why he wants to distance himself to ensure the safety of his allies and people around him. Saying that she does not even care if he was Hitokiri Battosai, Kenshin responds in bittersweet reminiscence and fondness, that she too reminds him of who he left behind in Tokyo. Leaving without further word, Misao is about to chase him in unrequited frustration, though Okina tells her to not intervene in Himura's dangerous and tumultuous life with fickle emotions or half baked devotions, or else suffer dire consequences, and that the way things are should be as they are. Unwilling to accept such things, Misao runs off to stop Himura to get him to realize how much they do care about him.
In another part of Kyoto of that following morning, Kaoru and Yahiko have searched far and wide in the city of Kyoto. Though Kaoru show signs of doubt, Yahiko reminds her to keep her spirits up by attacking her with his shinai, which she parries in surprise and upset. At that moment, Aoshi Shinamori has arrived in Kyoto. Catching a glimpse of him and now giving chase, knowing that Aoshi could possibly lead them to Kenshin, Yahiko runs off while Kaoru attempts to catch up.
As both give chase to men of importance, neither Kenshin or Aoshi meet eye to eye crossing the dense crowds of Kyoto's streets. As fate comes to intervene, both the chase of Misao, Yahiko and Kaoru come to an end. Apologizing for abruptly running into Misao and for Yahiko's imprudent and rude behavior, Kaoru comes to awe when Misao screams for Kenshin's attention. Knowing that there is only one Himura Kenshin in the world, she fills with tears of joy and asks in hope of knowing where he has gone. Realizing now that she is the one Kenshin left behind in Tokyo, Misao is left struck in surprise, and without words to say....