Hinako is ecstatic that Kanata is back, and even though Yuoshichi’s wife hates animals, he agrees that the hound can stay, which she says makes three strays Yuoshichi has brought in. He and Koushi then meet with Roroku and Akira, who reports that the Spiders are on the move and can use the old fire.
Akira also requests that a new collection truck be sent to the villages to replace the one destroyed by the dragon. Hibari, spymaster of the Divine Wind Clan, visits Koushi in secret and adds to Akira’s warning: the Spiders will assault the Capital in nine days. He also makes clear he won’t allow anyone to hunt the Flickering Flame, AKA the Millennial Comet.
The next day, Koushi and Yuoshichi meet with other bigwigs and engineers who have made the construction of the Lightning Cannon of yore possible. Koushi had it modified from an anti-aircraft style weapon to one that can effectively deal with forces on the ground. They perform a test outside of city limits, and the destructive result is quite compelling.
Koushi also learns that Yuoshichi has had Roroku bury skyfire charges in and around the Divine Palace, in hopes of accelerating the fight between the gods and Spiders. He then meets with Akira and Roroku and takes them to the archive to see the book, which was last accessed by Akira’s brother of all people.
That night, Akira returns to Shouzou’s house where he’s steadily recovering. She invites Touko up to the roof to look at the stars, and also inform her that a collection truck is being prepared that she should board in order to return to her village.
She adds that the Divine Clans killed her brother for trying to warn everyone about the Flickering Flame too soon for their taste, and she now needs Touko’s muku paper to make a direct appeal to the divine palace. Akira doesn’t care who becomes “lord of the fire hunters”, but Touko wants her to assume that title.
I’m still not convinced the title won’t go to Touko herself, especially if she accompanies Akira like she wants. In any case, even with grave and possibly existential danger descending upon the Capital, Touko isn’t ready to go home quite yet.