Kenshin, Saito, and Sanosuke now make their way to the hidden base of Shishio Makoto, hiding deep in the range of Mount Hiei and the Shrine of the Six Torii. Ready for the series of arranged duels, the first battle will one taken by Sano. Standing tall against his former master of the Futae no Kiwami, resolves shall now clash and be pitted amongst those that wield the power to reduce all to nothingness!
In the morning, Sadojima Hōji reports of Kenshin, Saito, and Sanosuke's departure for the Shrine of the Six Torii. As a delighted Shishio orders to gather the Juppongatana to his quarters for the duel ahead, Hoji divulges and makes a course of recommended modification to their plans they have set in motion, that while the current course will see their adversaries utterly slain, their opponents at large are the best of the best- And that the duel in the Shrine should see the best of the Juppongatana be pitted against Himura's company, while the rest should target the Aoiya in the sake of ridding the Oniwabanshu, as they have been the greatest support to help stop their auxiliary plans, making it known of the Kyoto Grand Fire Project's failure upon their interference.
While Seta agrees, and Yumi shows disinterest upon his treachery, Hoji backs up his recommendation, stating that deception is only practical in the act of achieving Shishio's ultimate victory of taking over Japan. Shishio, curious at start, now is mildly unamused, seeing Hoji's recommendations more as an act of order by a lesser subordinate, and rises into anger, shouting to him that the conditions of the duel are final, that his recommendations dare to stain his honor as a swordsman, a fair duel between him and Kenshin, and reprimands his subordinate to do as he is told.
In the face of all of this, Hoji explains himself, that after the anointment of hellfire and acceptance into the religion of chaos between him and Shishio, he had made an oath unknown to all up to this point, that he would put his heart and soul into all things, and follow through with unwavering courage and confidence for the sake of his lord's ultimate victory into the future- And makes his will known, that they will conquer, and that history is always written by the winners. Hoji further backs himself up, that after the disaster that was underestimating the Kenshingumi and losing the Purgatory, a humiliating price to pay in defeat, the Juppongatana are all they have left, and that the current plan is a waste of man power. Further making it known, that no matter how low, how vicious, how despicable, and how vile their plans may be, Hoji finalizes that he does not care if he is looked upon with disdain and dishonor, all in the sake of his lord's victory.
Shishio, now fervent with Hoji's disobedience and outspoken conduct, states that this will be the first- and last- time, any of his subordinates will speak out against him. To Sojiro, he orders him to summon the Juppongatana for a briefing.
As the Juppongatana stand before their master, Shishio makes it known of the Purgatory, a subject left unknown and even in inquiry to the majority of the Juppongatana. As Usui and Saizuchi demand answers, concluding that they were all pawns for a distraction, Shishio apologizes and states on the spot, that while the original plan was to sail with all onboard to Tokyo for victory, it was Hoji that planned to have them all be diversions while Shishio and his closest subordinates sailed away separately. Now branded as a treacherous plotmaster, Hoji can only accept, and take the blame for the failed Kyoto Fire project's diversionary tactics. While the rest of Juppongatana are relieved, Usui walks up to Hoji and demands to know the truth. In cold sweat and in the face of a killer, Hoji trembles and states to him, that he does not know what he is talking about, but in response, Usui takes Hoji's left index finger, and immediately twists it in ease, dislocating and breaking it, hoping to get an answer out of him. Without delay and in sharp pain, kneeling on the floor in fear, Hoji immediately pulls out a knife and yells, in reprimand of what treachery he has done to the Juppongatana, and whatever ill will had been targeted towards Shishio, that he offers them repatriations for his actions, immediately driving the knife into his left hand.
After the grisly spectacle, Shishio now gives the Juppongatana new orders. Anji, Usui, and Sojiro will fight the Battosai, while the rest shall make way to the Aoiya, and proceed to take the lives of everyone there. Shishio, staring at Hoji, now confides in him fully, allowing him witness to his victory by his side.
As the Juppongatana are dismissed to their posts, Yumi questions Shishio's decision to allow Anji to face the Kenshingumi, knowing of Anji's merciful nature, benevolence even to his enemies, and that he is the one who taught Sanosuke the Futae no Kiwami, but Shishio reassures her, that though Anji holds those traits deeply, all that stand in his path to salvation are only witness to his wrath that supersedes even his mercy.
Readying themselves in the lobby before their arrival, Sojiro is bemused when he sees Usui's bizarre ritual of drinking the distilled blood of a mumushi pit viper for stamina, who plays with the corpse of the viper like a puppet to the young boy. Asking his comrade in arms if he will be interested in keeping another half of Shishio's kingdom after his assassination, Anji rejects Usui's offer with disdain, claiming it as a waste of his time. Usui remarks that it is the monk's loss, and downs his drink. As Anji makes his way to the room of his duel, he faces the elaborate statue of Buddha before him, and immediately pulverizes it into dust.
Setting foot in range of the six torii that mark the enemy stronghold, Kenshin, Saito and Sanosuke brace themselves, with the latter knowing that they will not be bored in the time to come. As the group gets closer, to their surprise, Yumi awaits at its front, explaining to them that she will be their escort through their headquarters. As Sanosuke warns them that her assistance will be nothing but a ruse, Saito and Kenshin leave Sanosuke in the dust, knowing that Shishio would not be as despicable as to stoop to such means.
Making it through the hazardous trap filled labyrinthine caverns and to the base's grand entrance, Yumi immediately makes it known to the group of the rules and conditions of the duels ahead: The fights are to be one on one, and are arranged in such a way that the combatants await in rooms of according order. For Kenshin and the group, they are to choose one of their own, and the decision made is final; no one is allowed to intervene when that duel has begun. Making it known for objections, Kenshin does not mind, but under the condition that all fighters spare the other opponent's life. Yumi reluctantly agrees in allusive agreement.
Walking forward to the first room of duels, the doors open to a dimly lit, and airy atmosphere. Facing the balcony before him, Sanosuke's doubts have come to life: Anji stands at the floor beneath them, and exchanges stares at Sanosuke. Yumi introduces to them all, the first duelist to face them: Anji the Myoo, the mentor of Sanosuke and master of the Futae no Kiwami!
As the doors close behind them, Sanosuke walks down to face Anji, with questions of his own. Expressing how meeting Anji in such a place was beyond his own expectations, Anji also exchanges disbelief, thinking that Sanosuke was merely a liar upon his words at Shimotsua, and expresses his disappointment at the person whom he honored as an impressive man. In outburst, Sanosuke returns words, and desires to know what happened to that so called "salvation" he profusely preached, as he now stands on the side of Shishio and his plans to rule Japan through force and violence.
Anji, now fierce in standing, tells him that the destruction ahead is in fact, the first step to his own plans of salvation for the world. At Sanosuke's bewilderment, he further goes on, that while salvation entails the act of saving every living thing, and that he prayed dearly from the bottom of his heart with pious faith of this path, the reality which this lofty goal faced was far from anything it was ready for. Seeing a world filled with men of such vice and atrocious acts of evil, far from the right of being saved with enlightenment, where all they do, is to act as if the world owes them anything in voracious greed, going as far as preying on and murdering those that are pure of heart, are deserved of being saved, concludes that they must be punished for their crimes. In the light of this realization, Anji makes it known that he shall be the one to enact this divine punishment, akin to the wrathful gods of the Myoo, consumed in ferocity and anger that drive the evils of the world to their graves and support the pure and humane, and will be done in the act of reducing the impure world to nothingness, before resurrecting it into a place where pure hearts come to exist.
Expressing that he does not know much of religion or philosophy, Sanosuke either way, is not impressed with Anji's words of salvation, and slams his fist onto a nearby support, crushing a crater into it with the Futae no Kiwami. Hoping to drive back Anji with the threat of the technique he had mastered from him, and in the sake of his esteemed mentor's safety, Anji looks on unimpressed and shouts ferociously to not be full of himself. To the support near him, Anji slams his foot down and charges into it with his shoulder, pulverizing a larger crater with the Futae no Kiwami. As Sanosuke looks in awe, Kenshin screams, getting him out of the way as Anji backhands and performs another Futae no Kiwami in follow up. Looking at his master, and realizing now, the differences of mastery between him and his mentor, that he could perform the Futae no Kiwami in more ways than he can, even into degrees such as a headbutt, Anji stands menacingly at his former pupil, and states, that this is what it means to be a master- And that though he does not care for those that disregard his words of salvation, anyone shall be annihilated if they dare to stand against him!