Three Paces Less, Five Captains Less, One King Left
With Ichibei now in pieces, Yhwach reiterates what he said in the beginning of the chapter - that he'd have Ichibei dead in three paces less, and that appears to be exactly what happened. He then waltzes past Ichibei's body parts, and with one movement destroys the "Seal" Ichibei made, comments on how Squad Zero has fallen, cutting back to the defeated members of Squad Zero, and states that the Soul King is next in line.
I know that a lot of people are complaining about how the rest of the Squad Zero was effectively taken out off-screen while we had Yhwach dealing with Ichibei, but I only have this to say upon reflection - what were you expecting? The last time we saw them, Lille Barro had not only put a hole clean through Nimaiya's chest with "The X-Axis", but he shot through the Zanpakuto of two other Squad Zero members as a side-effect. With Lille Barro being powered-up that much, the same would hold true for the other three Elite Guard. With odds like that, it'd make sense for the battle to not get focus while their boss was dealing with Ichibei - the outcome was decided, as Lille said, the moment Yhwach stepped into the Soul King Palace.
Now, I may be looking into the panel too much, but it seems like Yhwach is bearing his teeth in anger in the page where the chapter number is shown. It does not look like his usual smile, so Yhwach definitely has some personal grudge against the Soul King.
Late As Usual
It is only after he's already left for the Soul King that Ichigo and Co finally arrive in the cannon, with a moment of comedy to spare for Ganju collapsing out of the cannon due to not being caught by the Santen Kesshun. Given the current situation, forgive me for saying if I felt that moment was out-of-place.
At any rate, Ichigo and Co exit the cannon, and we have Sado stating the obvious: "It's too quiet...what's going on here? Has the battle already ended?" This is what being late to the party gets you, Sado - a big void of silence. Be thankful you and Inoue were not hear when the battle was still going, because you'd just end up as casualties, given that the Elite Guard dealt with Squad Zero so easily.
Bring Me to Life - Call My Name, And Save Me from the Dark
They see just how late they are by sighting the blown apart corpse of Ichibei (cue horrified Inoue expression), and Ichigo explains to Sado just who that was: the monk who trained him and Rukia. Inoue says that she is going to try to fix Ichibei up, and Ganju pretty much mirrored my thoughts: it's crazy talk because he's in piece and his head is without his body.
Thank God that Ichibei had other plans, as the Monk is able to call to Ichigo despite his predicament, and tell him to call his name. Ichigo does so, and Ichibei promptly revives and restores his body, explaining to the flummoxed Ichigo the mechanics behind how it was possible despite him actually being dead - as "Power" resides in the "Name", having Ichigo call his "Name" allowed him to take some of Ichigo's power and use it to restore his power, with Ichigo acting as audience surrogate based on his reaction.
Just what did the Soul King do to give Ichibei this "Power of Names"? I suppose it explains why speaking his name caused Yhwach to lose his voice - every time he did so meant Ichibei stole some "Power" from him - but essentially self-resurrecting himself just by having Ichigo call his "Name" is definitely not an ability he would have had naturally. It seems that the Soul King did more than just bestow the Squad Zero members with the Ouken - he also gave them "Powers" that correspond to their title, if Ichibei is any indication.
The Monk's Mask, the World of Contradictions
Now that Ichibei explained his revival, he then asks Ichigo to stop Yhwach. With the Squad Zero defeated and Ichibei yet to recover his power, he states that there is no one else who can stop Yhwach. He then says that he isn't telling Ichigo to kill, but just to stop him. Ichibei then echoes what Urahara said about the Soul King at the end of "Deicide", but the wording is distinctly different. While Urahara only talks about Soul Society "becoming divided", and how the Soul King is the "linchpin" that binds them together, Ichibei calls the Soul King "the "linchpin" of the world", and that Hueco Mundo, Soul Society, the Living World, and everything would disappear. He then apologizes to Ichigo for burdening him with such a task, and asks him to protect the Soul King as Ichigo and Co runs towards the Soul King Palace.
I find it odd how this is all coming from the guy who, just a few chapters ago, was revelling in his power over "blackness" and seemed delighted at the prospect of killing Yhwach, even going so far as to try to remove Yhwach from the cycle of reincarnation entirely in the process of killing him - not to mention how he renamed Yhwach into an "ant" and tried to kill him just like he would an ant. Ichibei may have acted like the Monk we knew before this fight, but that seems to be a "mask" to hide the monster that lurks beneath it.
Which brings me to the differences between Ichibei's words and Urahara's words. While Ichibei states that the existence of all the worlds hinges on the Soul King's life, Urahara's words were more about the Soul Society becoming "divided" because the Soul King is the "linchpin" that binds everyone together in the Soul Society, and that "without such a bond, we crumble easily". So here is the question: if the Soul King is vital to maintaining the existence of the world, why are there two different men (Aizen and Yhwach) who seek his destruction?
In Aizen's case, he was incensed at Urahara for following "that thing" and not taking action, like he did. Something Aizen learnt when he saw the Soul King drove him to the lengths he did to try to kill the Soul King. While Shutara (and the UNMASKED databook) claims he sought to become God and take the Soul King's place, there is likely something really wrong with the Soul King to make Aizen go to such extremes.
As for Yhwach...
Blood War's Origin
He has seemingly succeeded in killing the Soul King, as the next page shows the Soul King run through by Yhwach's blade. As the chapter ends, Yhwach bids the Soul King farewell and makes the entire origin of the war clear with one line of dialogue: "For I have seen the future, MY FATHER."
Before we get into the wham line delivered at the end of this chapter, let us look at the Soul King himself. He is...not what I expected. The idea he has eyes similar to Yhwach may have been disproven (they even have a different shape from before yet still echo Aizen's eyes in his third Hogyoku evolution), but what was unexpected is how inhuman he actually looks. For starters, he has no arms or legs. He's literally just a head and torso with no discernible lower half to speak of. I can see where Aizen gets the perception that the Soul King is a "thing", and why Urahara could not disagree with him - "it" cannot be called a Human through any means.
Another thing is how "powerless" the Soul King seems to be. "It" made no attempts to resist Yhwach as "it" was stabbed, and that barrier around "it" did nothing to protect "it" from Yhwach. It could explain the reason why the Soul King needs Squad Zero to protect it at all - perhaps many people were right in claiming that the Soul King cannot protect "itself". Pity this may also disprove the notion of a Royal Family...Almost.
Yet we know this "thing" has taken an interest in Ichigo, and we know "it" is what bestowed the Ouken onto the Squad Zero, so we know it is intelligent and alive. "It" just does not seem like the thing that could have been born to any Human, and I'm starting to get the impression I may have to revisit an age-old theory I once made, and tweak it a bit to take our knowledge of what the Soul King is into account.
Either way, a lot of questions raised about the Soul King - what is "it", how/when did it come to be, it is truly the creator of the world, was Ichibei telling the truth when he said all of reality would collapse/disappear with "it's" death? These are just the tip of the iceberg, but the immediate revelation takes precedence:
The Soul King is the father of Yhwach. Now we know for certain what "The Thousand Year Blood War" is all about, and we can see that the history between Quincy and Shinigami goes far deeper than what the original feud was. This is not a war between Shinigami and Quincy - it is a war between father and son, between the Soul King and Yhwach.
This in itself raises new questions - none of the Shinigami, not even Ichibei, seem aware that Yhwach is the son of the Soul King, so for what reason did the Soul King never inform anyone of this? Haschwalth certainly seemed aware of it, given that he gave Yhwach his condolences upon their arrival in the Soul King Palace, so why are the Shinigami all in the dark?
How did the feud come about in the first place? Since the Shinigami-Quincy War of 1000 years indicates that the Quincy existed for a considerable amount of time before that war occurred, so Yhwach and the Soul King may not have always been at odds with one another. There needed to be an event in the past that sparked the conflict.
What future did Yhwach see? Since Yhwach can see the future, he should know better than anyone that the Soul King's death would result in the end of all the worlds...That is, if Ichibei was telling the truth. Perhaps Yhwach's ability to see the world's future after the Soul King's death is possible proof that the Soul King is not the "linchpin" to all of reality's existence as Ichibei claims. It is also entirely possible that Yhwach is taking his father's power, and therefore taking his place as the world's "linchpin", but we cannot be entirely certain until the next chapter clarifies things.
Either way, this revelation definitely explains exactly where Yhwach's power comes from. Imparting pieces of his soul unto others; 'creating' the Quincy; the Auswahlen; being able to restore power lost back to himself; "The Almighty" - all of these powers come from his being the Soul King's son, effectively making him a Demi-God, if not a full-blown God, by right of his parentage.
Which makes me wonder what the Soul King is, and how the concept of Transcendent Beings fit into the world of Bleach. My theory that Yhwach is a Transcendent Being definitely feels like reality now that his being the son of the Soul King has been revealed, but there is also the question of what the Soul King is. Because of an old theory I made a long time ago (you can find it in my blog under the November month), I'm starting to think that the Soul King may be similar to the Kikoo and Koutotsu - not as a "soul" like a Shinigami or others, but as a "Being of Reason".