“Killing is a truth. A sword is a piece of art. And killing an enemy with a sword is the truest art.
But every time you walk away the victor, your sword should feel heavier with the weight of a lost soul. This is the burden of the sharpest steel.”
- Silver Samurai
In his search for the swordsmith Muramasa, Wolverine has reached a yomi temple that celebrates the underworld. But it’s become something more than a place of prayer. It’s become a marriage of two worlds. A gateway to hell. He had spent the last 24 hours talking to every last friend and enemy in Japan. He didn’t believe what they’d told him - not until he saw it himself.
As he stands above the corpse in a pentagram, he realizes it is true. He had always known Muramasa as a madman of honor. What made him serve the dark? How has he become the swordsmith and servant and sacrifice of… the Hand!
Wolverine smells something and unsheathes his claws. As if on cue, Hand ninjas surround him. Wolverine attacks them. When he tears down one mask, he sees a demonic corpse-like visage beneath and again he wonders what Muramasa got himself mixed up in. Wolverine fights his way down to hell and falls after them.
Muramasa notes Logan is disappointed in him. But the Hand threatened to destroy his ancestral village if he didn’t help them build their arsenal. He helped them for the same reason Logan fights for Krakoa. To protect the home they love. He didn’t know that, once he’d finished their armory above, they would require his services below…
The Hand once worshipped the Beast from the distance of a shrine and a prayer. Now they are one. Forged into a new kind of weapon. Did he know that tamashagane is the metal used by Japanese swordsmiths?
Wolverine lands in a lava pit. Muramasa stands in front of it working his forge. Wolverine, reduced to a skeleton, drags himself ashore.
Muramasa continues explaining how he produces his swords and that the process requires unbearable heat. There is no better forge than hell, because there is no greater blast furnace than hell.
Demons attack Wolverine.
Muramasa finishes hammering the blade and muses that he can at least take comfort in the knowledge there will never be a better blade. He has long been considered the greatest swordsmith in the world, but now he is the greats swordsmith in all the worlds. He takes up the still glowing blade. He must make haste, it is almost time for the ceremony.
Wolverine is thrown into a cell. Left to himself he slowly begins to heal. There is someone else in the cell though. He is certainly glad they found each other, Solem observes, even if the accommodations are somewhat substandard. He is curious about him, especially his ability to regenerate. Is he unkillable then? The two of them were clearly meant for each other… as best friends or worst enemies…
Solem offers that, while Wolverine heals, he will tell him how he got here. Like everything about him it is fascinating…
His quest began on the Blind Island off the coast of Arakko. He was charged with seeking out the Muramasa Blade, a name that meant nothing to him, so he traveled to the Oracle of Arakko. The blind old woman warned him there would be a cost. He replied that she was banished thanks to her sister Morta zang. He presented a head and asked if her head would suffice as payment.
The old seer cackled displaying a tongue with an eye in it. Finally, she answered that Muramasa was dead but there was still a way to find him. She pointed to his blade, the Hellblade. Anyone bit by it would go straight to hell. There he would find Muramasa.
Solem mused his ego was far too big to consider suicide. She told him the sword is a key to hell. He put the sword into the wall and a doorway appeared. The Oracle warned him that there he would find a mutant made of metal who would serve as his guide to Muramasa.
So here they are, Solem finishes his story. So take him to his sword, little man.
Wolverine gasps, finally healed. Solem asks what he has to say, now that he has his tongue. He’d say “go to hell,” is the pithy reply, but they are already there. Logan gets up, unsheathes his claws and replies Solem ain’t the only one hunting for a Muramasa blade. Mockingly, Solem asks if the unkillable champion of Krakoa will face the unbeatable champion of Arakko. He loves the idea, even if he dislikes the terms of engagement.
Logan tries to slice through the bars, to no avail. Forged with hellfire, Solem explains. Logan suggests he just kill Solem now. He slices him… to no avail. Adamatium enforced, Solem smirks. His skin? How is that possible? Wolverine wonders. Think of it like a microfibrous version of chainmail. He can touch it if he likes.
To make matters worse, Solem actually managed to pilfer the cell key. Shall they be on their way then? Muramasa is waiting.
They leave the cell and make their way to the hellforge. Wolverine senses Muramasa isn’t far. Solem summarizes that the Hand has enslaved Muramasa. Logan explains the Hand have always worshipped the Beast. But they have leveled up. He ripped the mask off one ninja. He looked less like a man and more like a skull with two candles inside. Possessed. The lines are dissolving everywhere then, Solem muses. Krakoa is Arakko and Arakko is Krakoa. The Hand is the Beast and the Beast is the Hand. Marriage is in the air…
They look down where, indeed, flanked by a demonic crowd, a couple stands in front of the throne of the Beast. It is the union of the Beast’s red left hand and right hand.
The Beast orders the presentation of the swords and Muramasa brings two blades. He offers them to the couple, telling them he put his very soul into them.
Wolverine realizes that, with two Muramasa swords, he and Solem don’t have to kill each other for the blade. Way ahead of him, Solem has already taken out two guards, so that he and Wolverine can wear their uniforms as disguise.
As the Beast talks about the happy union of his daughter and the groom, Solem announces he has something for the happy couple. He throws his sword into the groom’s face and then takes his blade. The bride / widow attacks and actually manages to cut the surprised Solem. Wolverine holds her back and explains that Muramasa blades can cut through Adamantium.
The Beast grabs Wolverine, while Solem cuts down the bride and takes the second blade. He muses that he could leave Wolverine to his fate but he is feeling generous, seeing as how Wolverine helped him get so far. And so, he does.
Why would he help him? Wolverine demands. He’s a good, fair, generous person, is the cheerful reply. So, wanna buy a blade? What does he want for it? Wolverine asks through clenched teeth.
Sometime later, Wolverine returns to Krakoa with his Muramasa sword. He joins Magik in the Corvuls glade, waiting for the rest of the sword fighters and ruminating that this sword came with a price. Only time will tell if it was worth it…