Episode 24: “Last Hope”
Summary: Continuing from the last episode, Chagum, who is intermittently being taken over by the water spirit’s egg’s power, has run off towards the forest as the La Lunga gives chase. Balsa, Tanda and the elite warriors go after Chagum. Shuga and the imperial army as well as Torogai-shi stay put in Blue Lake since they believe Chagum will return there at dawn if it is indeed the place of celebration.
Shuga and Torogai-shi discuss things in greater detail. Shuga relays what they found out in deciphering the stone tablets. Similar to what Torogai-shi previously told them, they learn that the Guardian of the Sacred Spirit is fated to be torn apart by the La Lunga. On the positive side, they learned that the La Lunga can be repelled by fire. Shuga further explains that it was written that 200 years ago the Holy Founding Father used fire to save a Yakue child named Sigul; however, it was also written that the water spirit’s egg lay not within the child’s body but trapped between Nayug and Sagu. Apparently, the egg was unable to hatch on its own unless a La Lunga eats it. With the aid of a Yakue shaman they tried to extract the egg but at the moment when the spell seemed to have worked, the La Lunga returned from Nayug and tore the child apart (o_O). After the La Lunga had done its deed, a shining orb of blue light was observed being expelled from its mouth at which time a being called “Nahjil” (briefly mentioned in episode 19 in the Yakue rice planting song) then carried it away. Torogai-shi sighs, saying that she was hoping Shuga would find out something from the stone tablets that would solve their problem. Shuga asks Torigai-shi knows of any spell that may be of help. She replies that she won’t have an idea what to do until she sees what actually happens, adding that even if they do manage to get the egg out, thery still aren’t sure if the Nahji will actually come flying to them. Over to Balsa and company traversing the forest, Balsa informs Tanda that she can’t even find a single footprint left by Chagum. Since they saw Chagum walk on water earlier, Tanda suggests that maybe Chagum went through the trees up above since the egg’s intent is to act as bait for the La Lunga while also protecting itself until dawn. Tanda believes that it’s also probably the reason why Chagum ate a sig salua blossom since the blossom’s scent attracts the denizens of Nayug. Their discussion is cut short when the elite warriors appear. They inform Balsa that they lost track of Chagum and the La Lunga. Jin confirms Tanda’s suspicion and informs them that Chagum indeed leapt through the trees and ran away, moving so quickly that even they were not able to keep up with him. One of the warriors ask Tanda where he thinks Chagum might be headed. Tanda says he isn’t really sure but thinks that if Blue Lake is indeed the place of celebration, then Chagum may return there by dawn. They all agree that the egg is controlling Chagum at this time and they don’t really know what it’s planning. Balsa and Mon (the warrior’s leader) agree that there seems to be something odd about the La Lunga’s early appearance than initially predicted. According to Mon, there must have been a misinterpretation in the deciphering of the stones since Shuga’s findings indicated that it wasn’t supposed to appear until dawn. They all agree that in light of this concern, they have to split up and keep on trying to find Chagum. Meanwhile, Chagum is on one of the treetops and is now able to communicate with the water spirit’s egg. He learns that the egg made him run away since it needs to travel farther up the river. He then jumps down and jumps down the ground and continues on his way to the destination, keeping in mind that the La Lunga will try to attack again.
Mon and Jin are talking amongst themselves, after which they approach Balsa, saying that they have been wanting to ask her something ever since their previous encounter (this encounter was in episode 3). The warriors are now surrounding Balsa and Tanda, ready to use their weapons against her. Mon points out that when they fought her the first time, four of them failed to kill her but she didn’t kill them even if she had the chance. He asks her why. Balsa tells them that she didn’t have a special reason why, she just thought that saving another’s life becomes meaningless if she had to take others’ lives to do it. The warriors let down their guard and sheathe their weapons. Mon concedes defeat, telling Balsa that they would’ve been compelled to uphold their honor if she had been looking down on them. He informs her that they will follow her without hesitation should there be any fierce combat. Back in Blue Lake, Torogai-shi informs Shuga that she is able to see the egg within Chagum but hasn’t been able to touch it. She thinks that if there was a way to forge a different compromise with Nayug, there might be a way. Just then, the messenger from the palace arrives and passes along the message from Gakai that they made a mistake in the translation and that Sahnan (which is in another location) is the the place of celebration and not Blue Lake as they initially thought. Shuga then immediately goes to decipher the stone tablets the messenger brought. He finds out that what happened earlier with Chagum was written in the tablets. It is written that 200 years ago, the child who ate flowers disappeared into the forest, taking the La Lunga with him, and that in Nayug, this place is the La Lunga’s lair (note: I’m not sure if with “this place” meant Blue Lake or the forest, but I’m leaning towards Blue Lake) so the child lured the La Lunga to him by eating the flower. Based on the tablets, Sahnan is 20 nans away from Blue Lake. Before they leave to proceed to Sahnan, Torogai-shi sends a message to Tanda via the water people so that Balsa and company would be able to proceed to Sahnan. Torogai-shi and Shuga go on horseback ahead of the imperial army since they need to be in Sahnan in time for the hatching of the egg.
Fortunately, Tanda hears one of the water people calling him via the stream along their way. Tanda is able to get Torogai-shi’s message and passes along this new information to Balsa and the warriors. Time is running out. There is only less than 3 bells until dawn. They then go on their way towards Sahnan. When they reached the clearing, Jin calls Balsa’s attention and shows her the footprint he found. Balsa looks at it closely and conclude that it’s indeed left by Chagum and the trail is still fresh. Before they can continue following Chagum’s tracks, the La Lunga appears, and there were 2 of them, the same couple that they saw earlier at Blue Lake but seemed to be more visible now. Apparently, it has also been keeping track of Chagum/the egg. The warriors ready their fire weapons and attack with fire. They are all puzzled since it seems they can only see it but are not able to touch or hit it. Tanda points out that their attacks against the La Lunga won’t work unless they are trying to affect Sagu.
Tanda, who has brought with him several sig salua blossoms from Blue Lake, does what Chagum did earlier and eats a part of the flower. He then proceeds to attack the La Lunga with all his might with the bayonet-like fire weapon he had with him (go, Tanda!). Suprising everybody else, even himself, Tanda was able to stab the La Lunga but it gives a pretty good fight against Tanda and manages to flail him around as he hangs on tight to dear life, firmly grasping the weapon he used which is still stabbed in the monster. Seeing this struggle, Balsa moves forward to attack the La Lunga and this time manages to stab it on the underside. With the La Lunga reacting to the pain, at this time, Tanda loses grip and falls down on the ground. Balsa runs towards him while the warriors move forward to the La Lunga attacking it with fire. Mom manages to jump on the monster and sticks the fire weapon inside its mouth and pulls the trigger. This proves to be the final blow (one La Lunga down, one more to go).
Getting over the commotion, Balsa asks Tanda what he did. Tanda explains his observations: When La Lunga appeared in Blue Lake, they were only affecting the sig salua, that’s why he brought several of the blossoms along on a hunch, and it turned out that his hunch was correct. He point out tells them that if they eat it like Chagum did, they will be able to touch the La Lunga but in exchange, they risk the danger of getting killed by them as well. Tanda winces in pain. Apparently, he got hurt by the La Lunga when he was thrown off. He brushes this off, telling Balsa that the sig salua blossoms are their last hope and asks Balsa if she can save Chagum with it. Balsa determinedly says she can.
~ end of episode
My Impression: Ohoho! Another fight scene! It’s not as epic as the previous fights in episode 3 (Balsa against the elite warriors) or episodes 21 and 22 (Jiguro against the Spears) but the movements are as fluid and as detailed as the usual standard of this series. You could definitely feel the intensity as the day of reckoning draws near. I thought it was very professional of Mon to concede defeat when he learned the reason why Balsa didn’t kill them back in episode 3 when she had the chance.
Tanda was very impressive on this episode. I admit, I have a soft spot for him and I admire him for being good in what he does as a medicine man/shaman. He went along and followed his instincts and it turns out that he was the one who discovered the key to actually give them a fair ground on defeating the La Lunga. There was an episode previously (episode 11) where Tanda did something similar with a sig salua blossom to crossover between Sagu and Nayug when Saya’s spirit left her body. Every story that was built up on the previous episodes are coming together nicely as the series nears its end.
Next episode: Two more episodes to go before the series finale. They reach their destination: Sahnan, the actual place of celebration. The fight to save Chagum and the egg, and the fight against La Lunga continue.
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