Shulato #38

"Be Forever, ShuraOh"

synopsis by Arcadia

Back in Ryouma's village, Kuuya sits outside meditating, Reiga plays tag with some of the neighborhood kids, and Hyuga, Dan and Renge have lunch at Ryouma's house. Ryouma and his wife look very happy. Hyuga and Dan look very unconfomortable. Matsuri asks if there's something wrong with the drink. Hyuga looks at her and turns beet-red. It occurs to Renge that they've been acting like this ever since they met Matsuri. Seeing the two of them so recently after they got married has them embarassed! (Yes, Hyuga, Ryouma did the nasty. Good luck getting that mental picture out of your head.)

Ryouma laughs it off, and jokingly asks when Hyuga and Renge are going to get married. The two of them nearly spit wine through their noses. Both of them swear up and down that isn't even a remote possibility, all the while blushing even redder than before.

Shulato lies in a nearby field, thinking about the encounter with the Charm-water. He's positive he saw black Sohma inside it, but where could it have come from? Shiva had said that black Sohma was it everything. Could she have been right?

Reiga and the kids sneak up on him and break his concentration. Reiga jokes that Shulato's skull is too thick for ideas to get through, no matter how hard he thinks. Shulato is too distracted to react much. Still trying to get a reaction, Reiga starts bugging Shulato about marrying Lakshu. Still nothing.

A wind starts blowing. Shulato sees the same black cloud he saw at the lake coming straight for them. The cloud blows past him, and all of a sudden, the scene around him changes. The village is burning! Hyuga and Ryouma are still inside! He runs to try to help, but looks back to see if Reiga and Kuuya are following. They aren't. They're just standing there, wondering what all the excitement is for. Shulato looks back at the village, and everything is normal! No fire, no nothing!

Lakshu looks into her crystal ball, but is horrified by what she sees.

Shulato walks through the forest on his way back to Tenkuuden. A low moan starts to echo all around him. It's not coming from any one point, but seems to be coming from all around him. From the trees, the mountains, even the ground itself. It's like the land itself is trying to tell him something. The black cloud blows past again. Now Shulato is positive the cloud is black Sohma, and he runs after it.

When he reaches the edge of the forest, he finds everything frozen solid. Everything from the forest to Tenkuuden and beyond is covered in solid ice. But before he can comprehend what he's seeing, the ice disappears, and the land is as it was before. Was he hallucinating?

The rest of the Hachibushu start heading back to Tenkuuden. Renge wonders where Shulato is. Reiga says that he's already heading back. Apparently he ate too much and wasn't feeling well. Something very strange must have happened for Shulato's seemingly-unstoppable appetite to be affected.

Shulato starts hearing the moaning sound again. This time he's figured out where it's coming from. The land itself is crying. But what could be causing such sadness?

Shulato finds Lakshu in Tenkuuden. She also looks worried about something. Shulato tells her that he saw black Sohma, and she isn't surprised. She'd been looking at Earth in her crystal ball, but it was exactly the same as before. It was still filled with hatred and death. Since Earth and Tenkuukai are linked, Earth should have become peaceful, too. The black Sohma Shulato saw must be causing it. As long as there is black Sohma in Tenkuukai, Earth can't have peace. However, Lakshu doesn't think this Sohma was left by the Asura. It's too large for that. It's all over Tenkuukai.

Shulato hears the moaning again and runs to the balcony to see where it's coming from. Lakshu apparently can't hear it. Tenkuukai itself is trying to tell him something, but only Shulato can hear! Shulato races off to try to find out what it is.

Shulato finds a clearing in the forest and tries to listen to what the land and trees around him are saying. The moaning noise starts again, and everything around him starts to glow blue. The glow is black Sohma! The Sohma Shulato saw wasn't left by the Asura gods, it has already been there! The black Sohma came from Tenkuukai itself! A tidal wave comes out of nowhere and sweeps Shulato away.

The rest of the Hachibushu (minus Ryouma) arrive and Tenkuuden and find Shulato missing. Lakshu is worried about him, so they all go to find him.

Lakshu rides with Reiga. While checking a cliff pass, they find a huge cloud of black Sohma. In the middle of it stands Shulato, wearing his Shakti. However, he doesn't seem quite himself. He seems to recognize the two of them, but he doesn't react, and his eyes are empty.

Without any warning, Shulato attacks. Lakshu and Reiga run for cover. But he doesn't seem to be attacking them specifically. The black Sohma around him in running wild and destroying anything in touches. Reiga starts to fight back. If that Sohma isn't stopped, it could destroy Tenkuukai! He starts to cast a Karula Hanefubuki, but he can't go through with it. He can't attack his friend.

Shulato takes advantage of his hesitation and knocks him into a wall. As he closes in for the kill, Lakshu intervenes. Shulato grabs her and tries to strangle her, and she doesn't resist. For a timeless moment, neither of them move. Then, Lakshu's white Sohma (and she has a truckload of it, being a Harmony Goddess) disrupts the black Sohma around Shulato. It leaves his body and disperses back to where it came from. He releases Lakshu and they both collapse.

Shulato dreams. In his dream, he and Gai are sitting together on a rock by a shining lake (naked, no less. Probably the only nude scene in the whole series). Together, they figure out what happened. Shiva was right- there really is black Sohma hidden in everything and everyone. This leads to a conflict between the white Sohma and the black Sohma. Even nature itself isn't immune to this. The land wanted to be free of the conflict within it, so it tried to get Shulato, as the new Brahma, to help. The visions that Shulato saw was the land's cry for help. Shulato tried to do what it wanted, but that large amount of Sohma was too much for him to handle, and he got caught up in it. Someday, when they truly become the next Brahma, they'll be able to stop the conflict, but that day hasn't come.

Shulato wakes up and finds Lakshu and Reiga waiting for him. Together, the three of them watch the sun rise. It's very beautiful, almost like a dream. Shulato remembers what Shiva said about black Sohma being in everything, but he knows that won't always be true. Someday, he'll end the conflict, he's sure.


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