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Akujiki, the ancient and cursed blade, has consumed the souls of men for centuries. It is said, "He who wields Akujiki, wields absolute power." Many wars were fought to control that power and many lives were lost, until a lone shinobi took it upon himself to end Akujiki's legacy of blood. However, his struggles proved to be only the beginning of yet a new battle.
~ The legend of Akujiki in Nightshade (くのいち).

Akujiki (in Japanese: 妖刀「悪食」 youtou "Akujiki"; the cursed blade "Evil Eater"), also known as the demon blade, is a katana that houses an ancient and demonic parasite. This fiendish weapon was used by Hotsuma in Shinobi (2002) and was sought by the Nakatomi Corporation in Nightshade.

The blade was passed down to the Oboro clan's presiding leader for generations as a symbol of their prestige. The incredibly dangerous Akujiki possesses the terrifying ability to indefinitely enhance its destructive power by consuming Yin, the cosmic essence that resides over the negative emotions of the spirit. If the blade's hunger is left unsatisfied, it will slowly devour its owner's life force. Thus, whosoever uses Akujiki shall forever be cursed with an unfortunate fate; in order to sustain the blade's hunger, those who wield Akujiki must dedicate their entire lives to the slaughter of any and all beings that possess Yin, and then they must be devoured in their last moments.

Despite Akujiki's incredible power, it is possible to seal the demon blade by using the purity of Yang, which is a positive spirit energy that is in direct opposition to Yin. However, because magical seals of this nature are not indestructible, they must be vigilantly guarded, lest the seal become undone and allow Akujiki to run rampant.

History

Origins

The details of Akujiki's origins are unknown, however it is evident that the demon parasite has been forged into a katana. This parasite can lay dormant for centuries but will awaken when it acquires the taste of blood and feeds on Yin. This sword's insatiable appetite caused even the Hellspawn Lords, ancient demons made completely of Yin energy, to be terrified of it. Akujiki has consumed the Yin of human beings and spirits alike since before the Sengoku period (in Japanese: 戦国時代; sengoku jidai, "age of warring states"). Many legends have told that those who wield Akujiki have the power to rule over the souls of men, and for centuries there have been many men who have fought and killed in an attempt to claim the blade for themselves.

The Oboro's Demise

Sixty years ago, Hiruko Ubusuna of Kumano Shrine, a heretical onmyoji, discovered Akujiki. When Hiruko attempted to use the sword to invoke a cursed ritual, the Oboro clan slew him. However, Hiruko's vile soul would not perish, and he was sealed in Kumano Shrine, which was then guarded at all times by the Ubusuna clan. The Oboro clan acquired Akujiki and guarded the sword for decades. The clan elders sought a method that could completely end the demonic blade's carnage, and they eventually devised a ritual that would suppress its demonic essence. The ritual ordained that the eldest heirs of the Oboro must engage in a duel to the death to decide who shall become the clan's leader. The victor would claim Akujiki and use the foul blade to kill his opponent, and the sacrificial offering would provide the sword with his Yang, which would ensure that the demon would remain dormant.

One day during their childhood, Hotsuma, Moritsune, and Ageha went out to play. The children entered the Oboro temple and found a chest with a sword inside. When Ageha held the blade in her hands, it began to glow and drain her life force, and the children realized that the demonic blade from their fairy tales was not only a legend. As Hotsuma ran to find master Kobushi, Moritsune attempted to wrest the blade from Ageha's hands and wounded himself in the process. On this day, Moritsune was cursed by the blade and his fate was sealed. Ten years later, when Hotsuma and Moritsune were subject to the Oboro's wicked ritual, Hotsuma defeated his brother and reluctantly ended his life with the demon blade. Moritsune's pure spirit diminished Akujiki's power and reinforced the blade's seal.

Four years later, Tokyo was shaken by a sudden and powerful earthquake, and a mysterious golden palace rose out of the earth. Shortly after, the demonic Hellspawn invaded the world of the living. After he was mysteriously released from his seal, Hiruko slaughtered the entire Oboro clan, reanimated their corpses, and sent them and his Hellspawn underlings to acquire Akujiki. When he learned that the Oboro were slaughtered, Hotsuma vowed to avenge their deaths. He slew many Hellspawn and many of his former comrades, and Akujiki absorbed their Yin to satisfy its insatiable hunger.

When Hotsuma learned that the shrine maiden, Kagari Ubusuna, was being pursued by the Hellspawn so that Hiruko could sacrifice her upon Yatsurao's altar, he tried to prevent her from being kidnapped but ultimately failed. He followed Kagari's captors into the Nakatomi factory where Yatsurao was held. Although Hotsuma defeated Yatsurao, the mechanical giant's immense supply of Yin was released, and Hiruko absorbed it and transformed. Hotsuma attempted to attack Hiruko, but Moritsune's reanimated corpse blocked his path and they escaped to Kan'ei Shrine.

As Hotsuma passed through the shrine, he was stopped and attacked by Ageha, who revealed herself to be the traitor that resurrected Hiruko. After Hotsuma's and Ageha's confrontation drew to a close, Ageha ran to the shrine. There, she met Hiruko and Moritsune, and was relieved when she heard that her lover was resurrected. However, Moritsune, who was controlled by the Hellspawn Lord Aomizuchi, murdered her. Hotsuma fought the heartless demon and freed the souls of his brother and childhood friend.

Hotsuma confronted Hiruko in the Golden Palace. Hiruko wanted to absorb the Yin inside Akujiki and rule the Earth, but Hotsuma cut him down. To seal Akujiki, Hotsuma deliberately stayed inside the collapsing Golden Palace and sacrificed his life in order free himself of Akujiki's influence.

Akujiki's Rebirth

A year after Hotsuma defeated the wicked sorcerer Hiruko, the Japanese government retrieved Akujiki and ordered Kagari Ubusuna to seal the demon blade. Kagari broke Akujiki into nine shards and placed them all across Tokyo. Then, she invoked a magic ritual and erected the Ariake Seal (in Japanese: 有明結界 Ariake Kekkai; Ariake Barrier), which is a barrier composed of Yang energy that repels Hellspawn. Thirteen days after the Seal's formation, the Nakatomi Conglomerate hired several expert mercenary shinobi to acquire the shards of Akujiki. Among them were:

  • Jimushi: A former Oboro clan elder and the master Shinobi of Earth.
  • Hisui: A young prodigy kunoichi and Jimushi's newest pupil, the Shinobi of Water.
  • Onibi: A sadomasochistic and womanizing shinobi that specializes in explosives and the Shinobi of Fire.
  • Kazaguruma: The elderly Shinobi of Wind who awaits his 1,000th opponent.
  • Kurohagane: Nakatomi's prototype cyborg ninja that was sent to retrieve the shards of Akujiki.

In response, the Japanese government sent the young and talented Hibana to stop Nakatomi from stealing the shards. Hibana traveled though a ruined Tokyo to acquire the shards, where she fought numerous Nakatomi ninja and Hellspawn. One by one, she dispatched the Hellspawn Lords and Jimushi's elite mercenaries. When Hibana defeated Jimushi, he entrusted Akujiki's fate to her and explained that, because she was the last member of the Oboro, it was her responsibility to ensure that the demon blade does not fall into the wrong hands. Hibana pursued Kurohagane into the ruins of the Golden Palace. She climbed the the tower and challenged Kurohagane for the last time. The cyborg absorbed the last shard of Akujiki and was possessed by the demonic blade. After an intense battle, Hibana prevailed against her cybernetic and demon-possessed foe.

After the battle, Hibana met with her government contacts, but was hesitant to relinquish Akujiki. Instead, she handed over her replica and kept the true Akujiki for herself, the blade completely under her control. Since that day, Hibana disappeared and took Akujiki with her into the shadows, and her whereabouts a mystery. 

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Trivia

  • Akujiki's name can also be translated as "Meat Eater" which alludes to those that break the Buddhist vows and eat meat. Akujiki devours the physical essence of those who die by its edge.
  • Although it appears as a sword, Akujiki is actually an ancient vampire parasite.
  • In Japanese spirituality, it is believed that people's souls are composed of Haku (魄 spiritual Yin energy) and Kon (魂 spiritual Yang energy). Haku is the corporeal essence that is left behind by the dead. in other words, the departed soul's dead vessel.
  • Akujiki bears similarities to the titular Soul Edge from Soul Calibur, as they are both demonic soul-sucking weapons that are possessed by a malevolent spirit. In Nightshade, Akujiki is shattered into pieces, which prompts a hunt for the shards, and this scenario is similar to when Soul Edge was shattered, which lead the entire world to search for its scattered pieces.
  • It is heavily implied that, even if he won the duel, Moritsune would not be able to control Akujiki because it tasted his blood and may have killed him quicker.