The plot of the game is collected here in a single, comprehensive overview.
The pages herein detail various people and groups mentioned in the game, but not directly encountered:
The Sengoku Era was a century-long period in Japanese history that was known for its military conflict among social and political upheaval. Warlords ruled, and of the country's leaders fought each other in a never-ending battle to claim both power and land. This was also the era known as the Middle Ages, and the more medieval setting allowed for the impression that various ancient and mystical elements still exist in the world.
In the closing years of the Sengoku Era (late 1500s), Japan was consumed by perpetual conflict. The fires of war raged on, spreading deep into the mountains, to the land of Ashina. Master swordsman, Isshin Ashina, staged a bloody coup and wrested control of the land. In single combat, he defeated General Tamura, and it seemed like the war might finally be over.
In the aftermath of the deciding battle, master shinobi Owl came across a small child. When the child calmly grabs his blade after Owl draws it across his face, Owl is impressed by his fortitude and takes him in as his own son, naming him "Wolf." Training the child over twenty years in the ways of shinobi, Owl assigns him the duty of protecting his new master: Kuro, a child and descendant of an ancient and mystical bloodline. As Owl departs he reminds him of the shinobi iron code: his father's rule is absolute; his master's rule is a close second; and, in the event of his master being kidnapped or placed under threat, he must protect and return him at any cost.
Some twenty years after Isshin's coup, and over three years after Wolf began protecting Kuro, the Ashina clan is on the brink of collapse. With multiple impending threats putting the Ashina Castle at risk, the Ashina clan kidnaps Kuro the Divine Heir. Aware that Kuro's oath can grant immortality, the Ashina clan is keen to exploit said powers in the hope it will secure their hold on both the region.
On the edge of the castle grounds, a mysterious lady drops an ornamental letter at the feet of Wolf's body, disposed of in a pit. Waking from death, Wolf reads the letter and learns Kuro is being held in the Moon-View Tower. Maneuvering his way along a cliff to enter the tower from a hole on the edge, the two arrange an escape through a secret tunnel in the castle reservoir.
The duo exits the tunnel to a field, where they find Genichiro Ashina, Lord Isshin's grandson, waiting for them. Wolf enters battle with the samurai, but is ultimately defeated when Genichiro severs his left arm; even if the player is skilled enough to win the encounter, he is ambushed by a Nightjar Shinobi, which allows Genichiro to maim Wolf in the same way. Succumbing to his injuries, Wolf collapses as Genichiro carries Kuro back towards Ashina Castle.
Wolf wakes shortly afterwards, finding himself in a Dilapidated Temple with a prosthetic limb attached to what remains of his left arm. Greeted by a Sculptor Monk, Wolf hears that he was dragged to the temple by him a short time ago, and that Kuro still lives but must be saved before his bloodline can be exploited. The Sculptor also explains that the prosthesis was previously his, though he doesn't need it to carve the Buddha, and offers to perform modifications to it if provided appropriate materials.
Wolf heads towards Ashina Castle to rescue Kuro, and soon discovers he can readily resurrect himself upon death thanks to his oath to Kuro, though there are some limitations. Upon dying and failing to resurrect, Wolf finds himself back at the Dilapidated Temple, inexplicably recovered again; the Sculptor soon begins to develop a cough from Dragonrot, which continues to spread to people close to him unless Wolf seeks a cure. Over time new denizens will appear at the temple, including a doctor named Emma with a mutual interest in rescuing Kuro for an unnamed master, and Hanbei the Undying, a sparring partner who cannot be killed.
Proceeding onwards, Wolf fights through numerous Ashina forces, including significant battles against Gyoubu Masataka Oniwa and the Blazing Bull. Along the way he encounters The Tengu of Ashina, who dubs him Sekiro ("one-armed wolf").
Hirata Estate - Flashback
While navigating Ashina Outskirts, Wolf comes across an old Timid Maid who, mistaking Wolf for her son Inosuke, gives him a Young Lord's Bell Charm and asks him to donate it to the Buddha. Taking it to the Dilapidated Temple, the Sculptor suggests Wolf place it at the one refined Buddha statue and meditate.
Traveling into a memory, Wolf appears three years prior to current events, at the Hirata Estate during the year of the Dragonspring pilgrimage. Led by Juzou the Drunkard, a group of thieves are sacking the area and killing everyone they find. Among the burning ruins of the estate, Wolf finds Owl in the throes of death, who gives him the key to the Hidden Temple and instructs him to remember the iron code.
After proceeding to the main estate, Wolf defeats Juzou alongside samurai Nogami Gensai. Proceeding inside, Sekiro finds the Timid Maid and Inosuke gravely wounded, who direct him into the Hidden Temple. Finding Kuro inside the burning basement, Wolf frees him from an illusion and directs him outside, only to be approached by the hostile Lady Butterfly, who engages him in combat.
Wolf apologetically cuts down Lady Butterfly, who compliments his improvement as she dies. In the brief silence of victory, Wolf is stabbed through the back by an unseen assailant, and is left to die in the collapsing ruins of the temple. Waking under rubble, Wolf is greeted by Kuro, who explains that he has granted him immortality, accepting him under his oath out of admiration for his unwaivering loyalty.
Waking in the Delapidated Temple, Wolf attempts to discuss his vision with the Sculptor, who explains that it is his vision alone and that he cannot provide him with answers.
Sekiro makes his way through the castle grounds, navigating the rooftops and battling through Ashina Castle's samurai and shinobi in the process. Reaching the peak of the castle, Wolf overhears Emma telling Genichiro that Lord Isshin does not have long to live. With Isshin's reputation being a significant protection for Ashina, Genichiro pleads with Kuro to take him under his oath, hoping to use the immortality it grants to protect the clan; since the Divine Heir cannot be maimed with conventional weapons and he won't accept him under his oath, Genichiro is stuck at an impasse.
Appearing and challenging Genichiro, this time Wolf is victorious. Injured but still standing, Genichiro proclaims that he will do anything to save Ashina, stripping away his armor to reveal a severely scarred body. Channelling lightning into his weapons, Genichiro ultimately loses when fatally wounded by Wolf, his dying words being "Ashina..."
Turning to the entrance where Kuro headed, Wolf finds Emma, who attempts to explain the situation. Before she can, however, Genichiro rises from the dead, with Emma commenting that it must the power of the Rejuvenating Waters. Lightning strikes before Wolf can act, allowing an injured Genichiro to flee.
Meeting with Emma, Wolf learns that they are currently under the protection of Isshin Ashina, who is Emma's master; Isshin opposes his grandson's intention of exploiting Kuro's power, and orchestrated the attempted escape through Ashina Reservoir.
Speaking with Kuro, Wolf learns that he wishes to find a way to sever his immortality, believing that people will always pursue him as long as he holds The Dragon's Heritage. Refusing to break the iron code but remaining loyal, Wolf agrees to help Kuro explore different options. Researching old documents in the tower, Kuro discovers a possible lead in the diaries of a previous Divine Heir that also pursued Immortal Severance.
The document claims that imbibing the Divine Dragon's Tears will allow for this, which requires traveling beyond the Fountainhead Palace to recover them from the Divine Dragon. Another document explains that, in order to reach the Fountainhead Palace, they must first gather different rare items for divine incense: Lotus of the Palace, found in the Sunken Valley; a Shelter Stone, found in Mibu Village; Dried Everblossom Wood, of which only a single branch is rumored to remain in an unknown location; and a sample of the Divine Heir's blood.
Traveling to a neighboring tower, Wolf also speaks with Lord Isshin, who points him towards the Mortal Blade, a mythical sword capable of severing immortality, and rumored to be held somewhere in a buddhist temple on Mt. Kongo.
While searching for ingredients Wolf has to travel to three different locations: a buddhist temple in the mountains, a valley filled with primates, and the hidden depths underneath Ashina.
Wolf travels through through the Abandoned Dungeon under Ashina Castle, where unethical experiments are being conducted using Rejuvenating Waters, to reach Senpou Temple on Mt. Kongo. Wolf discovers a sect of corrupt Buddhist monks, now completely divorced from their original faith and exploring death and immortality. Not far into the mountains, Wolf begins finding undead skeletal monks that have been mummified alive, their bodies undying due to giant immortal centipedes being allowed to use them as parasitic hosts.
Reaching the apex of the temple, Wolf rings the Illusive Hall Bell and is transported to a battle of wits against the Folding Screen Monkeys. Upon dispatching the monkeys Wolf is transported to the Inner Sanctum, where he meets the Divine Child of Rejuvenation. The Divine Child offers the Mortal Blade to Wolf, warning that unsheathing it will certainly kill him; Wolf does so, resurrecting immediately afterwards to her surprise.
Learning he is Kuro's shinobi, the Divine Child agrees that, while it may be questionable to sever immortality, it will always undeniably corrupt men; the Divine Child explains that she was created by the monks in a man-made attempt at recreating the Dragon's Blood that Kuro carries, and that she is the only surviving subject of the attempts. She offers her help to Wolf in his search, and also grants him healing Rice.
Upon retrieving the Mortal Blade, Wolf can speak to Hanbei the Undying, who will request that Wolf kill him using the Mortal Blade. After leaving to get his affairs in order, Hanbei returns and Wolf can choose to execute him, destroying the centipede inside him and putting him to rest.
Traveling behind Ashina Castle into the Sunken Valley, Wolf navigates the Snake Eyes Gun-Fort, evades a Great Serpent that destroys a bridge as he crosses it, and reaches the Bodhisattva Valley. In the valley he finds hostile monkeys wielding human weapons and the Lotus of the Palace ingredient, protected by the giant Guardian Ape tending it to attract a mate. After wounding the ape enough, Wolf pulls at a large sword embedded in the Ape's neck, successfully decapitating it. Surprisingly, the Ape's corpse then rises again and begins wielding the large sword, the body being puppeteered by an immortal centipede. After successfully killing the Ape a second time Wolf retrieves the Lotus.
Traveling through Ashina Reservoir, Wolf plunges into the Ashina Depths under the castle. Provided he already has the Lotus of the Palace, Wolf is forced to again fight the Headless Ape, which soon summons its new mate to the battle. After successfully dispatching both apes Wolf can use the Mortal Blade to sever the immortality of the centipede inside the Guardian Ape, finally putting it to rest.
Proceeding through a foggy forest filled with hostile apparitions of soldiers, Wolf follows flute music and kills a Mist Noble maintaining the illusion, clearing the path to Mibu Village. Finding the villagers all emaciated and hostile, caused by drinking diluted Rejuvenating Waters provided by the village Head Priest, Wolf is forced to cut his way through the area to a Wedding Cave. Approaching the cave, Wolf is attacked by an apparition of a Corrupted Monk, which he battles and successfully dispels.
Entering the Wedding Cave, Wolf recovers the Shelter Stone and returns to Kuro.
Ashina Castle Revisited
Unable to travel to the Sculptor's Idols around Ashina Castle, Wolf approaches Ashina Castle to find it under siege from the Interior Ministry. Fighting through their elite Shinobi as they slaughter Ashina soldiers, Wolf reaches Kuro's tower to find Owl still alive.
Working with the ministry, Owl unsuccessfully attempts to convince Kuro to come with him; Kuro is aware that Owl too has been seduced by the appeal of immortality, and asks him to leave. Approaching his father, Wolf is given an ultimatum: Owl demands he obey the first rule of the iron code, to obey his father's will and assist in abducting Kuro.
Ending 1: Shura
Wolf decides to obey his adoptive father and keep the Iron Code instead of protecting Kuro. Emma then appears and challenges Wolf in combat, hoping to protect the Divine Heir; Wolf is ultimately victorious. Isshin, cradling Emma's body, explains that he does not hate Wolf, but claims he must cut down Wolf before he falls to Shura.
The Wolf prevails and the castle is ablaze all around him. Owl returns and congratulates his son, who then stabs him, prompting both Owl and Kuro to also call Wolf "Shura." Wolf does not acknowledge Kuro, but grimly draws the Mortal Blade again. The story then closes:
"Soldiers and townfolk alike died by the thousands. Very few survived. Ashina became the setting for the most tragic massacre of the Sengoku era. And for a long time after, it was said a demon lurked the land..."
Break the Iron Code
Wolf remains loyal to Kuro, much to Owl's disappointment; when Wolf turns to leave Owl attempts to assassinate him, forcing Wolf to fight back. The legendary shinobi proves challenging, but Wolf is ultimately successful, with Owl proclaiming his pride in him as he dies. Searching Owl's body yields the missing Aromatic Branch, allowing the incense to be completed.
The following questlines can be completed at any time prior to defeating the Divine Dragon, at which point the final stage of the game begins and certain conversations and interactions cannot be completed. While they can be completed earlier, their difficulty suggests they are meant to be completed around this time in the story.
Eavesdropping on Kuro in his chambers, Wolf will soon learn that Kuro is determined to sacrifice himself for the greater good, despite it not necessarily being the only option. Heading upstairs, Wolf can speak with Emma on this, and both agree that they must explore options that protect Kuro. Suggesting that she will visit the previous Divine Heir's grave for ideas, Wolf later meets her there and they further discuss ideas; despite claiming to be clueless, Emma seems to be hiding an idea, and heads back to the Dilapidated Temple to speak with the Sculptor.
Eavesdropping through a hole in the Dilapidated Temple, Wolf overhears Emma speaking to the Sculptor, upset that the only means to sever Kuro's immortality without killing him requires all of his immortal subjects to die; in short, Wolf will be required to sacrifice himself, which she knows he will do unquestionably. Approaching Emma and discussing the idea, she provides him with the clue she withheld: a bell charm she found on Owl's body. Giving the bell to the Buddha, Wolf returns to the Hirata Estate three years ago, albeit with altered events.
Finding an Interior Ministry shinobi where Wolf watched Owl fake his death, Wolf discovers that the bandit attack was a cover to hide that it was an Interior Ministry attack; the Interior Ministry reluctantly co-operated with Owl, who betrayed the Hirata clan to try and kidnap Kuro. Again killing Juzou the Drunkard, Wolf returns to the Hidden Temple and instead finds Owl waiting for him. Overcoming his father, Wolf returns from the memory with the Aromatic Flower.
After giving the Holy Chapter: Infested text to the Divine Child, Wolf must accept Rice from her until she becomes sick, and then give her either a Persimmon or Taro Persimmon to cure her. As thanks she will gift Wolf Rice for Kuro, which Kuro will then make into Sweet Rice Balls. After exhausting all dialogue with both Kuro and The Divine Child, the latter will discuss a rumor that the Dragon can instead be dispelled by returning it to the west from whence it came. Retrieving the Holy Chapter: Dragon's Return text gives her the information she needs: by consuming two "serpentine fruits" she can act as a cradle to return the Dragon's power to its home.
In order to satisfy this condition Wolf needs to acquire organs from two Great Serpents. Returning to the Gun Fort through Mt. Kongo, Wolf drops on the Great Serpent that previously attacked him, piercing its skull and harvesting the Fresh Serpent Viscera from its body. Exploring the Bodhisattva Valley, Wolf can also find a shrine guarded by a second Great Serpent; evading the snake, Wolf can find a shrine to it that contains the Dried Serpent Viscera. Returning to the Divine Child, Wolf gifts the viscera to her, which she consumes in private. Now an acceptable vessel for the Dragon's Return, she grants Wolf her Frozen Tears, and now also provides Fine Snow (an upgraded version of the Rice).
Confronting the Dragon
Wolf delivers the incense ingredients to Kuro, adding the final ingredient of his blood by cutting him with the Mortal Blade. Allowing the smell of divine incense cover him, Wolf returns to the Wedding Cave. Grabbed by a Giant Straw Doll, Wolf is transported atop an unclimbable mountain to the outskirts of the Fountainhead Palace. Approaching over a bridge covering a chasm, Wolf is attacked again by the Corrupted Monk, this time in person. Successfully wounding her, Wolf exposes the parasitic centipede inside her and severs her immortality using the Mortal Blade.
Entering the palace, now in severe disrepair and completely flooded, Wolf finds it occupied by hostile Palace Nobles and Okami Warriors, no longer human from imbibing so much Rejuvenating Water. Proceeding through the mountaintop, Wolf finally reaches the peak and meditates, allowing him to battle the Divine Dragon. Defeating the Divine Dragon, Wolf cuts the Divine Dragon's Tears from his eyes, allowing Kuro to finally sever his immortality.
Ashina Castle Invasion
Wolf returns to Kuro's chambers to find the Divine Heir missing, and Emma kneeling over Lord Isshin's body. With Isshin dead Ashina Castle is finally under full assault from the Interior Ministry's Central Forces; Ashina suffering a violent takeover and Genichiro has fled with the Divine Heir. Emma explains that Isshin ordered his shinobi to leave an incense path to Kuro's location, and again directs him to the Secret Passage in Ashina Reservoir.
Flames of Hatred
If Wolf explores Ashina Outskirts an optional boss encounter can be found at Ashina Castle Gate. Upon reaching the battlefield a huge beast, Demon of Hatred, can be found attacking soldiers. When preparing to deliver the final blow, the beast can be heard begging for death, at which point he will thank him for his mercy. Should Wolf visit the Delapidated Temple again they will find the Sculptor has disappeared, implying that he was finally consumed by his anger and became a Shura.
White Grass Field
Reaching the fields past Ashina Reservoir, Wolf finds Kuro seriously injured by Genichiro, who has drawn his blood using a second, black Mortal Blade. Battling Genichiro, Wolf swiftly dispatches him; reduced to a final option, Genichiro slices his own neck with the second Mortal Blade, opening the gates to the underworld using his body as a means. Isshin Ashina, again his youthful self, claws his way out of the Underworld through his grandson's dying body; recognizing Genichiro's sacrifices for Ashina, Isshin promises to uphold his grandson's dying wish to defeat Wolf and protect Ashina.
Wolf engages Isshin, now dubbed "Sword Saint", who first attacks using the second Mortal Blade, then by dual wielding with a spear, and then finally incorporating lightning strikes into his attacks. Despite this Wolf is victorious, and honorably executes Isshin. Approaching Kuro, the player then selects from a list of eligible endings.
Ending 2: Immortal Severance
Wolf approaches a seriously injured Kuro, and feeds him the Dragon Tears. To then fulfil his request, Wolf stabs Kuro with the Mortal Blade, killing him. In the aftermath Wolf returns to the Dilapidated Temple as the Sculptor's replacement, having similarly relinquished his prosthetic to carve Buddha statues. Wolf is then approached by Emma, who gifts him the old prosthesis and suggests he hold the arm for the next Shinobi seeking strength.
Ending 3: Purification
Wolf approaches a wounded Kuro, and gives him both the Tears and the Aromatic Flower, before committing seppuku over the child's resting body. By healing Kuro and severing the immortal link between them, Wolf unshackles Kuro from the Dragon's Heritage.
Emma and Kuro later pay their respects to Sekiro in the Silvergrass Field where he perished. The young lord says, "I, too, will live for every moment-- and then I will pass on, just as my shinobi did for me..."
Ending 4: Return
Giving Kuro the Dragon Tears and the Divine Child's Frozen Tears, Wolf picks him up and faces west, proclaiming, "We must leave this place, my lord." Taking Kuro to the Divine Child, Wolf watches as she performs a ceremony; wishing him to be at rest and offering to "hold [him] in [her] heart", she absorbs the Dragon's power and peacefully ends his life.
Shortly thereafter the Divine Child says her farewells to the spirits of her siblings, before greeting Wolf and announcing "Let us depart west... To the birthplace of the Divine Dragon..."
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