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Synopsis:
Once upon a time, the stars shining in the night sky were essential guideposts for travelers. And it was believed they were immortal entities that would shine forever. That is why meteors and comets that fell from the night sky were thought to be sinister omens and feared. Something terrible would befall those who saw such a light. So it was believed. So it should have been.

Then came the Edo era and the scholar Shibukawa Shunkai was appointed first astronomer of the shogunate. Even then people did not yet know the world was round.

A shooting star streaks across the setting sky. Fuu sees the star and makes a wish. She prays to find the samurai who smells like sunflowers, to have a safe journey to Nagasaki,...and to have some food.

The trio are making their way though a dense forest. Mugen stops to realize that he almost stepped on a mushroom. But, it's not any old mushroom. It's a matsutake, an expensive autumn mushroom. Fuu explains that they are mountain jewels, and they could make a lot of money selling them. But Mugen pops it in his mouth. Fuu quickly harasses him, and says that the mushrooms could be cooked. Jin knows that mushrooms spread by spores. He finds another patch (as does Mugen), and they feast on the fungi.

Mugen and Jin get their fill of mushrooms and leave none for Fuu. She paces around in search of more. Then, she remembers a horoscope, which said to be careful of mushrooms. Mugen doesn't want to hear about it after he's just eaten them.

Suddenly, the earth shakes and the ground caves under Fuu's feet. They all fall down a deep sinkhole. They sky darkens and an eerie mist covers the ground.

They hit the floor and find themselves in a dimly lit cave. Fuu feels around for Mugen and Jin and finds two cold hands. She looks up to see two strangers glaring back at her. Fuu screams in horror, and the two do the same. Mugen and Jin are alerted of their company, and Mugen chops off the one's arm, which falls dead on the floor. The cowardly strangers run to the exit. This leaves the trio baffled, and they head out.

Outside is a quarry with tons of workers. They are all tired looking and are excavating something. The trio takes a glance around in their new surroundings. Mugen spots the two strangers. He apologizes to the one and tosses the arm back to the stranger. The man sighs and says he will be careful next time.

Just then, a chord is struck, and the trio wheel around. The leader of the excavation is carrying a lute, which resembles a guitar, and sings to them, "Horses on men, men on horses, one upon another, one upon another...Truly enough to fill a valley...with more than seventy thousand of the Heike's soldiers, Even the rocks and the water bleed, making a mountain of corpses. The Tale of the Heike, Chapter Seven, "The Fall of Kurikara. The End."

He leaps from the cliff to greet his guests. Fuu interups to ask what's going on here? The master points to his lute. He says the two holes on it represent the sun and moon. When stuck correctly, the tones play the sounds of the stars. It can even call down the stars from the night sky, and he points up.

Tiredly, Mugen asks "Who are you?" The leader apologizes for his rudeness, but he points out that they were here first. It is he who should be asking who they are? Nevertheless, introduction are old fashion. He introduces himself as Shige.

Shige is a descendant of the Heike, a clan which once ruled Japan. His goal is to excavate the buried treasure of the Heike family. Fuu questions his motive and the location. Shige responds that he can only say it exists, here in Kyushu. He points out that they may not take his word, so he shows them a tree of his lineage. A worker approaches with a candle and highlights the scroll. The heat shows a map to the location of the treasure and where they're digging.

Fuu still doubts the man. Shige points out that any link to communication cant begin with suspicion. Her youth is sign of her immaturity. She is about to leave, but he says that this only proves his point. To learn to walk, we must first crawl.

Shige has been searching for 5 years. Mugen, Jin, and Fuu appear just before they reach the treasure. They're arrival must be a sign of fate, and he offers them a reward for their help, 10 percent upon discovery of the treasure. Jin ponders the sum. Agitated, Fuu says they should hurry to Nagasaki, if they have that much time. Shige points out that to reach Nagasaki, they cant make it on an empty stomach. Jin agrees to the offer. Shige tells the two strangers, Sabini and Upa, to help them out.

Fuu stomps off with Mugen and Jin. As they leave, a dark cloud rolls in. Shige mumbles, "Don't be in such a hurry. Take your time here. There's no escaping, after all."

The trio has been given their own hut. Fuu questions Shige's suspiciousness. Jin says they cant pass up food and lodging. Mugen says they should take the treasure. He hollers to Sabini and Upa for some food. The two men are mending the one's arm. He brings a bowl of vegetables, and Mugen grabs a handful. Fuu is about to dig in when she realizes that it's...wasabi.

In recent years, it has been suggested that life began on earth as a result of life forms carried by meteorites. No one can deny the possibility of unknown viruses and life forms hidden on meteorites traveling from the outer reaches of space.

Shige summons Penta, a worker who has psychic powers. He uses his powers to lead them to the treasure. When a bolder blocks the path, they dynamite it. Shige yells, "I can only say it exists!"

The trio is now doing hard labor, and Fuu is complaining. Sabini and Upa say it wont be much longer, because they found a response behind the bedrock. Fuu checks out his arm and mysteriously it's reattached! But maybe, she's imagining things. The recent explosion sends boulders tumbling on a few of the workers, but no one makes a deal of it.

Time passes, Shige searches, and the trio is worn out. Fuu asks how long it's been? Jin says it's feels like a few days or a few months. Sabini and Upa take a break. They say the work makes them forget about the passage of time. The 5 years wont matter when they get the treasure. Then, the Genji's rule over the country will end. ?!?!?!

Jin and Fuu are puzzled over this. The Genji rule pre-dated the Tokugawa era. It is suspicious that they should say this. Jin says wasabi has disinfectant and preservative properties.

An ominous meteorite approaches the earth.

Fuu watches a group of workers who were crushed by the boulders. One of their arms falls off. Fuu hypothesizes that they eat wasabi so their bodies wont rot. Suddenly, Shige taps her on the shoulder. "Isn't this the perfect place to forget the transience of the world?" He asks. But Fuu is determined. She asks what are you? Shige says that's a philosophical question that he himself was wondering. A worker interrupts their conversation and says they are shorthanded. Shige says he'll call for help.

Mugen and Jin cringe in the shadows of a shack. Jin complains of heartburn. Fuu approaches them and remembers the matutake. Maybe it was mushrooms that are causing their sickness. Suspicious. She runs off. Jin tells Mugen that the Heike lineage has been bothering him. Mugen points out that the scroll is in the shack.

Fuu runs to a dismal war beaten battlefield, where Shige and his men are gathered.

Mugen and Jin gaze over the Heike scroll. Mugen spots some more wasabi and a chance to eat.

Shige glares down, and a hand erupts from the ground! Fuu screams at the site of zombies. Shige turns his attention to Fuu, and the zombies grab at her feet. She runs in terror, finds Sabini and Upa, and runs off again. Finally, she reaches the shack and slams the door. She spots the Mugen and Jin chomping down on wasabi and runs outside. However, a mob of zombies have blocked her in. Shige says, "we'll need you to die as well."

Mugen exits the shack, and says we should have done this sooner. He hacks the zombie mob up, and asks for more. So,...they make an encore. They get back up and pile on him. Shige says "they're already dead. It's impossible to kill them." Mugen lunges at Shige and slices off his head. However, he snaps it back on.

Shige focuses on Fuu, now. He says they'll surprise the Genji together. She pleads that it's the Edo period, and Shige has been digging for 500 years, not 5. She also asks if he knows he is dead. Shige is confused. Just then, Jin emerges with the scroll.

He tells Shige to look carefully. He draws Shige's lineage and it doesn't connect. He isn't the heir to the Heike treasure.

Shige cant believe it. All the work, the years have been futile!...but he stops to reason with the mob. He asks, "whether I'm a descendant or not has nothing to do with it." They have no blood in their veins anyways. The excavation will continue. But, the mob disagrees.

As a last resort, Shige cries, "It was nothing!" and strums the lute. The meteorite bellows through the atmosphere and strikes the land in a cataclysmic explosion. The smoke rises in the air to form a dark mushroom.

Miles away, a boy and man watch the cloud.


Notes:
There's been much speculation about the reasoning of this episode and how it fits into the series. Orininally, the episode was to first air in Japan around Halloween. However, due to the schedule change it aired around Valentines Day. The episode could be a stand alone episode, similarly to how the "Toys in the Attic" stands out in Cowboy Bebop.

The story could be a halucination due to the mushrooms. However, we never see Fuu eat one, and she goes through the same ordeal. It could also be just a bad omen because she spotted the shooting star in the beginning.

The episode doesn't feature any regular music from the soundtracks. Instead an ominous moaning and tone plays through the episode.

Shige, the zombie master, holds and plays his biwa lute like a guitar.

The Gempei War ended with the triumph of the Minamoto clan over the Heike supremacy. "The Tale of the Heike" is the story of the fall of the Taira clan during the Gempei War." - Anime Forever

During the end credits, the song "Shiki na Uta" dies down and goes back to a grimsome tone. The headstone of Shige appears, as he awakes from the dead.