Shulato #16

"A Desperate Cry! Come back, Lakshu!"

synopsis by Arcadia

Lakshu runs through the forest, trying to get to the Spring of Sohma. Shulato staggers after her, barely able to keep up.

With Shulato chasing after Lakshu, and Hyuga and Ryouma still unconscious, Reiga tries to fight Kundalini's giant serpents alone. He doesn't have much luck. One of the serpents knocks him into a lake. When it dives after him, the water cools the snake so much that its lava soldifies and it's unable to move. Seeing his chance, Reiga smashes the the waterfall leading into the lake. The resulting flood incapacitates the serpents, but it also sweeps Reiga, Hyuga and Ryouma away with it. Shulato also gets caught in it.

When Shulato wakes up, there's no sign of Lakshu and no clue where she went. He has no idea where the Spring of Sohma is, except that it's in the center of Hourai. Still, he's determined to find it, as he doesn't want to lose Lakshu.

Lakshu trips over a thorn, tearing her clothes and cutting her leg. She ignores it and keeps running.

Reiga wakes up and finds Hyuga and Ryouma still unconscious. He wakes them up, but they're still weak. Reiga decides to try to get to the Spring of Sohma, and the others decide to come with him. They don't want to lose any more comrades, either. After all, what good is saving Tenkuukai if you can't even save your closest friends?

However, before they can leave, Kundalini reappears in a shower of lava. Since they destroyed his serpents, he's going to take care of them himself. To make matters worse, their Vedas still won't work.

As Kundalini prepares his spell, Ryouma realizes that he's seen Sohma like this before- in Gai.

Kundalini calls more serpents, and they have no trouble getting trough the heroes' defenses. Kundalini taunts them, saying that peace has made their Sohma too weak to compete with the black Sohma. None of them have ever heard of black Sohma.

Shulato comes to a fork in the road. On one, he sees a piece of Lakshu's clothing stuck in a thorn bush, and follows that path.

Reiga, Hyuga and Ryouma and still being beaten by the serpents, and are beginning to realize that they don't have a chance. At Kundalini's command, the serpents merge into and giant pool of lava and engulf them. Kundalini goes to find Shulato and Lakshu.

Lakshu finally reaches the Spring of Sohma. She gazes into the water, steeling herself for what she has to do. Mii tries to stop her, but she doesn't listen. As she steps into the water, it occurs to her that sending all her Sohma into the spring would turn her into an old woman. The thought of losing her looks frightens her so much that she almost runs away, but she decides that saving her friends is more important. For Shulato, she can do anything.

Although he doesn't know it, Shulato is only a few minutes behind her.

Lakshu steps into the spring, remembering the good times she had with her friends. When she reaches the center, her Sohma enters the spring and the entire pool glows gold. At that moment, Shulato reaches her. He tries to enter the spring, but is pushed back.

When the glow fades, Lakshu is gone. Four balls of light emerge from the water. One goes to Shulato. The other three fly away to Hyuga, Reiga and Ryouma. Shulato screams Lakshu's name in desperation, but gets no answer.

As Shulato mourns Lakshu's loss, Kundalini emerges from the ground behind him. Seeing the one who cost him his friend, Shulato fires a Sohma bolt in anger. To Kundalini's surprise, it actually hits him. His Veda repaired by the energy from the spring, Shulato transforms.

Shulato starts to cast a Mahaken. Kundalini isn't impressed, thinking it won't work this time, either. He starts his own spell. Shulato's Mahaken blasts right through, shocking both of them.

At that moment, Reiga, Hyuga and Ryouma arrive. Their Vedas have been repaired as well, and they are able to transform. Now that all four of them are together, they decide to try the Beast-king Mandala again.

Kundalini thinks he can block it again, and tries to cast a Gundari Shakunetsuha to protect himself, but it's unsuccessful. Thanks to Lakshu and the spring, their spell is powerful enough to break through his shield.

After all four of them have cast their part of the spell, Kundalini creates a extra-giant serpent as a last-ditch effort to win the battle. Shulato, Reiga, Ryouma and Hyuga cast the final part of the Mandala- a combination of all their spells- which disintegrates it. As a final blow, Shulato casts his newly-powered-up Diamond Fist of Destruction.

Just before Kundalini dies, he warns them that there are still two more members of the Juuga Sanninshu. They are even more powerful than him, and they will surely avenge him.

Shulato punches the ground in frustration. If it took sacrificing Lakshu to defeat Kundalini, how many of them will have to die to defeat the other two?

A cry from Mii leads them all to the spring. Lakshu's body hovers over the water. It floats to the edge, where Shulato catches her. She's still alive! Shulato is overjoyed and hug Lakshu. None of them know why the spring didn't drain all of Lakshu's Sohma. Reiga thinks she just got lucky. But it doesn't matter. She's alive, and as far as Shulato is concerned, that's all that counts.

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