Shulato #23

"A Storm at Tenkuuden"

synopsis by Arcadia

Shulato, Hyuga, Reiga and Lakshu fly through the gate fortress on their Valudas. The unconsciuos bodies of the guards are strewn through the hall. Everyone is amazed, and wonders what kind of power could have incapacitated so many people at once. Finally, they reach the gate.

The gate is open, and they hear the sound of a bell coming from the other side. They burst through, ready for a fight. To their surprise, there's no fight to be had. The courtyard on the other side holds hundreds of soldiers, but they're all unconscious.

Lakshu looks farther out and screams. Mayuri is standing there, holding his bell- impaled by dozens of arrows and spears. They run to him. Barely able to still stand, he asks Shulato if Sallas is okay. Shulato doesn't know what to say. Hyuga lies and tells her she's alright, and is coming soon after them. Mayuri smiles, but doesn't say whether he believes it or not. He collapses into Shulato arms and dies.

Indrah watches their arrival. He was expecting them, and starts chanting...

They arrive at the bridge to Tenkuuden itself. Shulato wants Lakshu to stay behind, but she demands to go. She may not be able to do much, but she wants to help save Vishnu, and she won't be talked out of it. She throws her arms around Shulato and begs him to let her go with them. Shulato knocks her out and leaves her under one of the trees. It's too dangerous for her from now on, and he doesn't want to lose anyone else.

The remaining three fly across the bridge. Three people are waiting for them in the middle. To their complete shock, it's none other than Renge, Dan and Kuuya! They were supposed to be dead!

Renge, Dan and Kuuya attack, and the others scramble to get out of the way. Reiga pulls out what he thinks is his Veda to block one of Kuuya's attacks, then suddenly breaks off his attack. What he had was *Kuuya's* Veda, not his own. He'd kept it with him since they fought at Suzakuden. If he has Kuuya's Veda, there's no way the Kuuya they see can be using his Shakti. Those three must be imposters!

The three imposters cast spells (Dappa Suikorin, Nahra Musouka and Hiba Gekishinha) at once. Even though they're imposters, they can still use the techniques of the real ones. Hyuga, Reiga and Shulato managed to shield themselves.

Gai isn't sure that their imposters can win, even though they have all the power of the originals. Indrah explains that they don't need to kill all three. They only need to kill one of them.

The ground shakes, and Shulato is distracted, causing their shield to fall. Reiga gets up and tells Shulato and Hyuga that he'll take care of the imposters, and they should go ahead. They don't want to go at first, but eventually they agree and head toward Tenkuuden.

The imposters now have Reiga where they want him- they were waiting to get one of them alone. The fake Renge casts a Nahra Musouka. The blast almost knocks Reiga off the bridge, but he catches the edge just in time. The fake Kuuya casts a Dappa Suikorin, which apparently misses. The spell hits the lake below and turn back at Reiga. Reiga jumps behind the fake Kuuya and it hits him instead.

Indrah watches the battle and remembers a time when he and Reiga were sparring. Reiga casts a Karula Yokushiran. Indrah dodges and gets behind Reiga, making the spell hit him instead. He tells Reiga that in order to win, he must turn his enemy's power against him.

Gai gets tired of waiting and goes to fight himself.

Shulato and Hyuga arrive at Tenkuuden and quickly find Indrah's chamber. At first it looks empty, but Indrah is levitating above them. Hyuga remembers when Indrah used his body to sheild a little butterfly from attack, but he shakes the memory from his head. That Indrah is gone, and the person before him is not the Indrah he knew! Indrah says no, he is the same person he always was. He simply remembered the duty he was to perform for 10,000 years. It was this duty that made him betray Vishnu. He gathers his Sohma around him, ready to fight. To Shulato and Hyuga's surprise, his Sohma is black.

Indrah breaks out the stained-glass window behind him and uses the pieces as projectiles. He pins Shulato and Hyuga against the wall.

Indrah goes on to explain that without Vishnu, there is no one who can stand against the Asura gods. The Idoukyuu is coming, and the Asura gods with it. This was the duty he was to perform. Hyuga and Shulato are enraged that he would force them to kill their friends just for some duty. Indrah says he had to get rid of the Hachibushu, and that was the best way to do it. Hyuga and Shulato vow to kill Indrah for the sake of their friends who believed in him.

Reiga is still fighting the imposters. While the fake Renge is distracted by a lighting strike, he gets behind her. Before he can finish his attack, the fake Renge begs for mercy, using the real Renge's voice. The ruse makes Reiga hesitate and the fake Renga takes advantage of it.

The fact that the imposter would dare to pretend to be the real thing makes Reiga even madder. He casts a Karula Kayokujin, engulfing the three imposters in flames, then creates a giant firebird and flies right at them.

When the flames clear, all that's left of the imposters are three glass balls inscribed with runes. Muttering a curse to Indrah, Reiga crushes them. He starts to go to Tenkuuden, but he's too exhausted to go any further. He'll have to leave the rest to Shulato and Hyuga.

Shulato and Hyuga put on their Shaktis and prepare to fight Indrah.

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