Shulato #7

"Break the Trap of Moonlight Cavern"

Synopsis by Arcadia

It's nighttime in Tenkuukai, and Shulato and the rest of the group are in a cave, discussing shortcuts to Tenkuuden. They could cut several days off their journey by using going through Moonlight Cavern, the Deva army's old fortress. In the innermost room of the fortress, there's a magical tunnel leading farther into Tenkuukai.

Shulato demands to know why they haven't used it before, raising his voice so loud that he almost wakes Lakshu. The others explain that Moonlight Cavern is riddled with traps. The traps are activated by the use of Sohma, so they wouldn't be able to use their Shaktis or any of their techniques. Shulato says that wouldn't matter, since their opponents wouldn't be able to use theirs either. But that's only true if Kuuya wasn't with them- Through years of rigorous training, Kuuya has learned to hide his Sohma, and therefore avoid the traps. Kuuya would still be able to use his Shakti inside Moonlight Cave. They decided to take the risk anyway, and go to Moonlight Cavern.

After climbing a high cliff, they finally arrived at their destination. It looks like a giant statue of a reclining figure. Shulato isn't impressed, saying he'll never understand the aesthetic sense of Tenkuukai. The entrance to the fortress is in the statue's feet. They enter, determined to find the tunnel as soon as possible.

However, Kuuya and Dan are waiting for them inside the fortress. Dan is beginning to grow impatient, but Kuuya just continues meditating.

The halls of the fortress are large and high-ceilinged, with statues and carvings on every wall. Shulato says it looks more like a ruin than a fortress, and Hyuga explains that it hasn't been used since the last Deva-Asura war, 10,000 years ago. Shulato gets tired of the darkness and tries to use his Veda to get some light. Ryouma tries to stop him, but it's too late. He's already activated a trap. The hall starts shaking and part of the ceiling falls on them. Everyone's okay, but Shulato still gets a lecture from Lakshu.

Kuuya finally announces that their targets have arrived. It didn't come soon enough for Dan. Kuuya starts chanting and Dan's Shakti starts glowing, eventually turning completely white. Now Dan's Sohma is hidden, too, and he can fight without setting off any traps. Dan walks off to find Shulato.

Shulato and the others find a group of long-dead people frozen in ice. They were victims of one of Moonlight Cavern's traps. Ryouma runs back to them, saying that the tunnel is a dead end. They're lost.

They hear something from another tunnel. They dodge just before Dan's shockwave hits the wall behind them, making a large dent in it. Dan punches the floor, making another shockwave. They jump out of the way. Shulato asks why Dan is able to use his Shakti. Reiga suggest he ask Dan himself.

Dan charges at them, screaming that he will take revenge for Vishnu. He throws his axe at Shulato, barely missing, then starts punching the floor and walls, creating explosions all over the hall. They barely escape through a crawlspace.

However, Kuuya was watching them, and follows them.

They come to a large, round chamber with stone pillars in the center and several halls leading out of it. While they're deciding which one to take, a stream of water shoots at them, nearly cutting Shulato's face. Kuuya appears, standing on one of the pillars. Dan come out of one of the other halls soon after. Dan punches the floor, causing a shockwave so strong that brings the ceiling down around them.

Dan rejoices, thinking he got them, but Kuuya sees them through the smoke, flying away on their Valudas. He is amazed that they'd risk setting off the traps by using their Shaktis like that.

At a crossroads some distance away, Shulato and the others regroup. Hyuga's leg is bleeding, but he insists it's nothing. Shulato suggests that they split up, thinking that they'll have a better chance of avoiding Kuuya and Dan if they do. Everyone agrees, and they go off. Ryouma and Hyuga go in one direction, Reiga and Lakshu go another, and Shulato goes down the third passage alone.

Ryouma and Hyuga fly through a passage on Ryouma's Valuda. They set off another trap- a strange slime starts to fill the passage, eventually blocking it off completely. Ryouma throws his spear at the slime wall, making a hole just big enough for them to fly through.

Reiga and Lakshu find Dan blocking their way.

Kuuya is gaining on Shulato. He throws his chakram and Shulato, but misses. Shulato is so caught up in avoiding Kuuya that he doesn't see a rockfall ahead of him. By the time he does, it's too late to stop, and he narrowly manages to detour into another passage.

Hiding behind some fallen debris, Ryouma tries to heal the wound on Hyuga's leg. Hyuga mentions that the color of Dan's Shakti was wrong. Ryouma says that it must be because Kuuya sealed his Sohma.

Statues, similar to the ones on Easter Island, sprout from the floor, knocking Reiga and Lakshu to the ground. Reiga tells Lakshu to go on ahead while he stalls Dan there. Reluctantly, Lakshu agrees. Dan is glad that Reiga's decided to fight- it's more interesting when the opponent resists. Reiga throws his rings at Dan's Valuda, trying to knock him off, but that activates the statues. The shoot streams of slime, one of which catches Reiga's foot. Dan throws his axe, breaking the slime and sending Reiga to the ground. When Reiga doesn't move, Dan assumes he's dead and moves on. Once Dan is gone, Reiga drags himself to his feet, saying that beautiful things never die.

Shulato finds a giant, multi-armed statue in a room and wonders if it's the room he's looking for. Kuuya appears in the shadow of the statue and challenges Shulato. Shulato agrees, and transforms. However, the transformation activated the statue, the greatest trap in the fortress. The statue was the reason Kuuya had chosen that room to fight.

The statue's eyes glow and it begins to move. It tries to squash Shulato under its fist, but he dodges. He casts a Shura Mahaken, but the statue just absorbs it, unharmed. Shulato is too shocked to move, and the statue takes advantage of it. It punches Shulato, knocking him into a wall. Kuuya says it's too bad that Shulato should fail when he's so close to his goal. The tunnel was just on the other side of the wall.

Shulato realizes that even if his technique didn't work on the statue, it would still work on the wall. He casts a Shura Mahaken at the wall and flees through the hole it makes. The others are already waiting there.

The statue breaks through the wall. Kuuya and Dan are riding on its shoulders. It grabs Lakshu, and Ryouma casts a RyuOh Kaengeki to try to save her. The fireball makes it drop Lakshu, but does little else. Hyuga suggests that they all concentrate their power on Shulato, thinking that with all of them combined, Shulato's Mahaken would have enough power to destroy the statue.

The blast slams into the statue, knocking Dan and Kuuya off and making the statue explode. However, it's about the take the whole fortress with it. Lakshu calls them to the tunnel and they go through just in time.

They end up near the giant Vishnu statue, where Shulato first came to Tenkuukai. However, it's barely recognizable. The trees are all dead, the green foliage has been replaced by barren rocks, and the rivers no longer flow. Tenkuukai is being destroyed, and they're running out of time.

Back on the Mahava, Gai says that their taking the shortcut will be a big problem. Both Dan and Kuuya survived, but they're wounded. Kuuya tries to blame himself for the failure, saying he underestimated them. Gai realizes they're heading for Tenkuuden and must be after Indrah, and cautions that he will not tolerate any more failure.

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