Okay, since this fanfic involves not only good old Ranma, but the creation of a powerful corporation with thousands of bloodthirsty lawyers, I'm going to have to do a semi-serious disclaimer. Ranma 1/2 is copyrighted by the great and all-powerful, though often misguided, Rumiko Takahashi, while Baldur's Gate is owned by the even greater and more powerful people at Bioware and Black Isle. Everyone else is owned either by me or by other people that I've never heard of. Let's get on with it.
Baldur's Gate 2 1/2: Shadows of Nerima
We arrive at a large field, covered in the misty fog that often plagues this part of Faerun in the early morning. A lone farmer goes out to start the day's work, when he sees several shadowy shapes coming through the fog. He pauses for a moment, lifting up his hat to get a better view of the figures. He prepares to flee, but then the travelers breach the cloud of fog, and reveal themselves to be human.
The farmer blinks, and the group stops. Then one of them steps forward.
She's female, and human. She has short black hair, and wear's an adventurer's robe, along with a long skirt.
She stops, then thrusts her fist into the air. "Akane Tendo, Human Female, Dual class Fighter/Mage, level 9!
Chaotic Neutral Alignment! Weapon of choice: Extra-dimensional War Hammer +1!"
The farmer blinked again. Then another came forward. This one was also a female human, and wore some tight-fitting leather armor tailored for a man, as well as a huge metal spatula on her back. She had long chestnut brown hair, and a bright, optomistic look in her eyes.
She stops, then unsheaths her odd weapon. "Ukyou Kuonji, Human Female, Fighter, level 12!
Neutral Good Alignment! Weapon of choice: Battle Axe of Cooking +2!"
The farmer sweatdropped this time. A third figure stepped forward, this one not quite human looking, and female, and wearing a suit of chain mail that somehow managed to perfectly fit her lithe figure. She wore her purple hair long, and wielded twin maces.
The last girl stopped, then shoved one of her maces into the air. "Shampoo, Elf Female, Ranger, Level 14!
Racial Enemy: Anyone trying to kill or marry Ranma!
Lawful Neutral Alignment! Weapons of choice: Bonbori +1s!"
At this point the farmer decided he was in no danger, and decided to sit down on a bale of hay. Another figure rushed forward, this one a man, though his size and fangs gave the impression he wasn't totally human. He wore chain mail, as well as a yellow and gold bandanna and a huge leather backpack. On it was a large yellow umbrella with a metal point on the end. The man had unruly black hair and wore an angry expression on his face.
He stopped, and let his backpack fall to the ground, shaking the Earth when it landed. "Ryoga Hibiki, Male Half-Orc, Barbarian, Level 18.
Chaotic Neutral Alignment. Weapon of choice: Spear of Depleted Uranium +4."
The farmer nodded for them to continue. Another one bounced forward, this one male, and obviously not human. He was about two feet tall, old, and wrinkled. He had on some cheap leather armor and had no hair at all, except a bit of white around his ears.
He stopped, then made a "V" with two fingers and thrust them into the air. "Happousai, Male Gnome, Assassin, Level 30!
Neutral Evil Alignment! Weapon of choice: Corncob Pipe of Gravity Disruption!"
The farmer yawned, then nodded for the last man. This one was fairly tall, with black hair done into a pigtail. He had no armor other than plain clothing, and had a very carefree look about him.
He stopped, then gave a slight wave. "Yo, Ranma Saotome, Human Male, Monk, Level 20.
Chaotic Good Alignment! Weapon of choice: Fists +3!"
Seeing no more figures coming out of the fog, the farmer stood up and tipped his hat to the travelers. "Well, welcome to the Umar Hills, then! Nice ta' meetcha'!" Then he turned around and began his farm work.
Ukyou turned to Ranma. "Was that entirely necessary?"
Ranma shrugged. "What do I look like, the author? At least it's over with."
"Shampoo feel really stupid."
"Well you should, with a INT stat of 8," Akane muttered.
"What you say mallet girl?!"
Before anyone could get killed prior to a battle, Ranma decided to intervene. "Hey, I'll bet there's an evil wizard or ugly creature somewhere around here, why don't we go find it and kill it?"
"About time," Ryoga muttered.
Ukyou smacked Happousai away, who was trying to grope her. "Why don't we find an inn before fatigue sets in and our THAC0s go down the tubes?"
"Uh," Ranma began.
Akane brightened up. "I'm kind of hungry, let's find some food and I'll cook something!" Everybody quickly turned green just from the thought.
"No saving throw defend against that poison." Shampoo said bluntly.
"Er," Ranma began again.
Ryoga didn't want to insult Akane, who was already turning red, but he was also hungry, and Happousai had the only amulet of poison protection. "Why don't we just find an inn with a tavern? It'll be easier."
Happousai had already recovered from being hit and jumped on Ryoga's head. "Make sure the waitresses are cute! There's nothing worse than staying at an inn with ugly tavern wenches!"
"How about being blasted with a magic missile?" Akane said.
"Hey..." Ranma was starting to get tired of being ignored.
"We don't have time to search for girls, you little perv! We've gotta get some rest first, then find a quest to complete!" Ukyou got out her battle spatula, in case the little thief decided to resist.
Shampoo brightened. "Shampoo call room with Ranma!"
"Now wait just a-" Ranma was quickly cut off again when Akane and Ukyou rounded on Shampoo.
"OH NO YOU DON'T!!!" "There's no way I'm letting you and that pervert stay in the same room!" "If anyone's going to be sleeping with Ranchan, it's me!"
Happousai immediately jumped on Shampoo's shoulder. "Don't fight, I'll take Shampoo's spot in your room!" Shampoo slapped him onto the ground again and continued to argue with Ukyou.
"Man, I hate having a low charisma stat. Being the leader sucks." Ranma muttered. Then he took a deep breath. "QUIET!!!!"
Everyone immediately stopped talking (except Ryoga, who hadn't gotten involved and was just watching and sweatdropping) and stared at Ranma.
Ranma cleared his throat. "We'll go to the nearest tavern and stay there. I think I have enough money for a merchant room. We'll split the rooms between the guys and the girls as usual. We'll have a nice meal, and in the morning we can look for evil to vanquish. Any questions?" Ranma regarded all of them with a level stare.
Happousai raised his hand. "Can I go rob people tonight?"
"Is there any chance of me stopping you?" Ranma queried.
Happousai shook his head no happily.
"All right then, let's go!" Ranma headed off into the town.
"Well, I'm inspired," Akane muttered as she followed him.
The others shrugged and walked into town.
"OOOOOOOH........ ONE HUNDRED BOTTLES OF BEER ON THE WALL, ONE HUNDRED BOTTLES OF BEER, YOU TAKE ONE DOWN AND PASS IT AROUND, NINETY-NINE BOTTLES OF BEER ON THE WALL!!" The unnofficial drunken choir showed no sign of stopping as the large crowd of men took another swig of mead, then took a deep breath in preparation of the next verse.
Ryoga and Happousai had already joined the crowd, having taken Ranma's extra money and spent it on some cheap Elminster's beer. Ranma was left at a small table with Shampoo and Ukyou, who were trying to get him to drink everything that the various men in the tavern kept buying them.
"Hmph. I don't see why I have to be a monk." Ranma complained, downing some mead.
"Well, they only class that fight with hands!" Shampoo explained.
Ukyou thought about it for a moment. "Plus they have the whole set of 'ki' abilities, so if you were a fighter then you'd have to be a fighter/mage in order to explain your ki abilities, and you don't have the intelligence stats for that."
Shampoo giggled. "Spatula girl just call you dumb."
Ukyou turned red. "I did not! It just takes a high stat to be a mage! Ranchan, would you like some Dry Sands wine?"
"No, you drink evermead!" Shampoo insisted.
"*Sigh* It's gonna be a long night......"
Two hours later.........
"I... wonder... why Aka, Aka, Akane deeeecided... to turn in sa' early.....?" Ranma's slurred speech was coupled with his head swaying back and forth, and Ukyou was starting to have doubts.
"Hey, sugar, I don't know about this. We may have overdone it a little." Ukyou looked on worriedly as Shampoo tried to empty another glass of wine into Ranma's mouth.
"He just need more! Then he take Shampoo to bed!" Her task was difficult indeed, as Ranma didn't realize that he was drinking at the time and kept trying to talk.
Ukyou glared at her. "We agreed we'd let him decide. Though I don't think it's working."
Shampoo turned to her. "What you talking? We doing good."
Ranma turned toward them groggily. "Who're you two again?"
Ukyou sweatdropped. "You sure?"
Ranma slowly tilted to one side, then fell onto the ground unconscious.
Shampoo joined Ukyou in her sweatdrop. "Well, maybe we go little overboard..."
Ukyou sighed and stood up. Upon seeing Ryoga unconscious himself, and lying on top of a pile of looted bodies (some were dead, she was sure, though she couldn't tell which ones), she picked him up and and headed for the stairs. "Happy's gone, he's probably gone out thieving again. Pick up Ranma and let's turn in."
Grumbling curses under her breath, Shampoo hefted Ranma's body and carried it upstairs.
The group of adventurers bravely descended the stairway from their rooms, putting on the full overdramatic front that just begged for an evil man or monster to show up and smite them. It didn't work, of course, as it was morning and the tavern hid no evil in its walls. In any case, Ranma, Ryoga, Ukyou, Shampoo, and Akane left the huge wet wreck that remained of the bar and dining room and left the inn, to stand in the street outside.
"Well, here we are...... what now?" queried Ryoga.
Ranma coughed and then posed dramatically. "We must find evil to vanquish, of course! Preferably rich evil with an obvious weak point that'll yield plenty of XP points!"
"So why we just stand here?" Shampoo asked, tilting her head.
Ranma gave a slight shrug. "Well, the old freak's not back yet, so I figured we shouldn't go looking for a quest until he's back. Besides, usually you don't have to go far before something important happens."
As if in response to his statement, at that moment a big gray horse ran throught the street, the people in its path gasping and running out of the way. On the creature's back was an armored man, hunched over to the point of resting his forehead on the horse's neck.
The moment the horse reached Ranma, it reared up onto its hind legs, and managed to dump its cargo right into Ranma's arms.
Ranma blinked, then shrugged. Looking down at the man, who was obviously bleeding to death, Ranma noticed a tattered piece of yellow paper in his shaking hands.
The helmet of the man looked up, and Ranma could see the dim light of sorrowful eyes through the little slits in the metal. The man weakly lifted his arm and showed him the crumpled piece of paper more closely.
"Here... the wizard... Saffron... you must *cough*... stop him..."
Ranma shook him. "All you all right, man? What happened? Don't worry, we'll get you to a healer!"
He shook his head weakly. "Too... late... for me... go... find Saffron... k-kill him... or o-others w-will... suffer..."
At that point his head fell back, and he stopped breathing.
Before Ranma could say "Well, let's get him resurrected," sand started pouring out of the cracks of the armor, and eventually the entire suit clattered to the ground, minus occupant.
"He turned into sand." Ryoga felt it was necessary to state the obvious so that everybody understood.
"No duh, jackass. So what now?" Ukyou looked toward Ranma.
Ranma held a grim expression on his face. "We've been given a task. We shall carry it out. Now all we have to do is wait for the freak to show up to loot this guy's clothes."
Everybody looked down at that point, and sure enough, they saw Happousai rummaging through the armor looking for pouches and loose coinage.
Ranma kicked him off the mound of steel, then flipped him up into the air before grabbing him by his hood.
"All right, listen up, since you missed it. We're going to use this map here to find a powerful wizard named Saffron and kill him. Got that?" Happousai nodded.
Just then, there was a deep rumbling sound, and the ground shook slightly.
Ranma sighed. "Akane, if you would?"
Akane growled and then moved her arms around in the air while muttering some unpronouncable incantation. "Invisibility, 10' Radius!" The adventurers all disappeared from sight, just in time to be missed by a huge stampede of women wielding brooms, mops, spears, maces, and anything else that happened to be lying around.
Happousai cackled evilly as he observed a particularly soft pair of panties, rubbing the soft material against his face lovingly.
The others felt somewhat sick watching him (especially the women), so they simply kept their eyes on the road they were traveling.
"Why do we stick our necks out for him, anyway? Why do we even keep him around?" Ukyou was grinding her teeth together at all the disgusting sounds the old gnome was making as he fondled the underwear.
"Shampoo say we beat, then disentigrate so no can bring back." Shampoo took out her twin maces, on the off chance that Ranma would say yes.
Ranma sighed. "I hate him as much as you do, but let's face it, he's the only thief character we've got! If he's gone, who's going to detect and disarm traps? Or take the hit because they failed to detect the trap? Who's going to unlock doors?"
Akane raised her hand. "I can use 'knock'."
Ranma gave her a flat stare. "No you can't. You fumbled the roll and failed to copy it into your mage book. That damn spell cost me an arm and a leg, too."
Akane glared at him, but said nothing.
"Hey look! Someone's up ahead!" Ryoga shouted out, and pointed further down the road.
They came across a group of three people, all obviously mages. The smallest one, and also the one in front, wore a simple blue robe with black fingerless gloves. The odd thing was that he also wore a red baseball cap, which weren't available in this era. The second one was taller, wore a gray robe and had spiky dark brown hair, and seemed to be blushing strongly as he stared at the females in their group. The last one was female, with orange-red hair done into a ponytail. She had a blue robe on.
The leader with the hat stopped his group, and addressed Ranma.
"Hello traveller! We are the group of summoners known as the Poke`men! I'm known as Ash! Be you friend or foe?" the leader finished while posing dramatically.
Ranma turned to Ryoga. "All right, you be foe." Ranma took a coin out of his pocket and flipped it into the air as everyone else watched. "Call it."
Ranma grabbed the coin out of the air, then slapped it onto his wrist. "It's tails. We're foe." The Poke`men all sweatdropped as the adventurers readied their weapons. "Uh, excuse me..." Ash started.
Shampoo wiped a bit of blood off her mace in preparation to put them away. "Shampoo hate fighting wizard. They either too too strong or too too weak."
Akane held one of the spheres she had found on the leader in her hand. "Identify! Hmmm... orb of electric mouse summoning? What the heck?"
Ranma munched on a rice ball he had found in the tall one's pack. "Hey, shouldn't we have a name for our group? You know, in case we actually end up as 'friend' and have to introduce ourselves?"
"How about 'the martial artists'?" Ukyou asked.
"Too too stupid. We more than martial artists. We warriors!" Shampoo brought up a fist to illustrate her point.
"What about Akane? She's just a wizard, and just barely a martial artist." Ranma took no heed of the glowing behind him, and soon found himself hit by a flaming magical arrow.
"Well, Akane just have to leave then!" Shampoo happily came to her own conclusion, and looked about for agreement.
"If Akane leaves, so do I!" Ryoga snarled, but Shampoo brushed his protests aside.
Ranma put out the fires on his clothes, then shot a glare at Akane. "Forget it. Let's go. We have a quest to complete here."
"Who exactly is this wizard? What do we know about him?" Ukyou asked.
"We have absolutely no idea." Ranma answered calmly.
"None whatsoever. Although we do know he's supposed to be pretty powerful."
Ukyou seemed somewhat disturbed by this. "So... why are we tracking him down? How do we know he's even evil?"
Ranma stopped, then frowned as he thought to himself.
"Spatula girl stupid. Warrior can have no doubt in mind!" Shampoo stared down at Ukyou triumphantly.
"That's easy when you don't have a mind..." Akane muttered behind Shampoo's back.
Shampoo whirled around on her. "If mallet girl have something to say, say it for all to hear!"
Everybody blinked at the unfamiliar voice, then turned around to see a man in white Chinese robes with long black hair and thick, round glasses.
"What Mousse doing here?" Shampoo inquired, gripping the handle of her bonbori.
Mousse bristled and turned toward who he thought was Shampoo. It was actually Ukyou, but nobody bothered to correct him. "I am not Mousse! I am the Dungeon Master!!" He posed dramatically, raising his fist into the air.
Nobody was impressed. Ryoga turned toward Akane. "I didn't know there was a Dungeon Master."
"There isn't supposed to be a Dungeon Master!"
Ranma pulled out a thick paper book with "Baldur's Gate II" on the front. Thumbing through it quickly, he closed it up and tossed it back into hammerspace.
"There's no 'Dungeon Master' in BGII, and there sure 'aint one in Ranma 1/2. What are you doing here?"
Mousse... er, the Dungeon Master shrugged. "Call it creative license. Anyway, I'm here to tell you about the evil wizard Saffron, so that you may be prepared when you eventually face him...... plus the author really didn't feel like coming up with a big scenario to relay all this to the readers."
There were a number of growls from the band of adventurers. The Dungeon Master cleared his throat. "First off, Saffron is an demi-god of incredible power. He became a demi-god when he tried to drain the divine energies from the tree of life back from where he used to live. It transformed him from a fairly-powerful elf into an immortal phoenix. Plus you're the son of Baal, blah blah blah, and he wants to tear out your soul and use it for his own evil ends."
Ranma started tapping his foot on the ground. “All right, all right. Are you finished?”
The Dungeon Master glared at him. “No. Also, even now, Saffron is conducting a terrible experiment, the likes of which have never been done since the ancient times!”
Ukyou scratched her head. “What does that have to do with us?”
The Dungeon Master chuckled lightly and raised a finger into the air. “Well you see, the experiment is to cause the entire continent of Faerun to sink to the bottom of the Great Sea!”
There was a gasp throughout the crowd, followed by hushed whispering and fearful predictions.
"Oh yeah, and your band of adventurers are to be named the Wrecking Crew. Bye." With that a white light appeared behind the Dungeon Master and drew a glowing white circumscribed star. Then he disappeared.
"The 'Wrecking Crew'? What the hell?" Ukyou wasn't too fond of the name.
"Well, this sucks." Ranma rubbed his head and sighed.
"Why we always fight strong wizard who want destroy world? Why not small-time evil man who want take over Athkatla?" Shampoo whined.
"Enough of this! We're wasting time! Let's get a move on!" Ryoga started to leave back where they came from, before Ranma tripped him.
"The half-orc's right! We have to stop him! We have not a moment to waste!"
Happousai, who had been mostly forgotten by then, jumped onto Ranma's head. "To treasures of gold and panties beyond our wildest dreams! TO THE UNDERDARK!!!"
Akane turned towards Ranma. "He lives in the Underdark?"
Ranma quickly checked his map. "Uh huh."
"My thoughts exactly."
"Well, let's get going..."
"Not that way, stupid lost boy!"
"Halt! Someone approaches!" The others stopped as Ranma's voice rang out, and they held a horizontal formation with Akane and Happousai in the back (much to her annoyance).
The figure came down the road, and eventually pierced the mists that clouded the forest path. He was a human, and he wore a loose blue shirt with black cloth pants. A wooden sword rested on his shoulder.
Ranma's eyes narrowed. "Who are you?"
The stranger looked up at the group, then smiled. "My name is Tatewaki Kuno, Human Male, Kensai, Level 11!
Neutral Evil Alignment. Weapon of choice: Bokken +2."
Shampoo nudged Ukyou. "What is bokken?"
"It's basically a really well-made club."
Ranma looked confused about something. "Uh, what's your intelligence? You didn't mention that."
Kuno grumbled quietly and his left eye started to twitch. "Intelligence: ......... 1," he said reluctantly.
Everyone stared at him for a moment. Then they broke out laughing.
"1?! What a joke! No wonder you're too stupid to use a real sword!"
"He probably end up cutting own head off! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!"
"Is the 1 with or without the Ring of Genius on your finger? Hee hee hee!"
"Enough of this!" Kuno shouted, and the others reluctantly stopped laughing. “I have found you, Ranma Saotome, and now I must complete the task to which the Gods themselves have given to me!”
Ranma raised an eyebrow. “Which would be………?”
“To rescue the fair maiden Akane Tendo from your evil grasp!” He declared dramatically, kneeling to the sky and holding a fist over his heart.
Akane blinked. “What? Whaddya mean ‘rescue’?”
Ranma glared at Kuno. “And whaddya mean ‘evil grasp’?”
Kuno stood up and pointed his bokken at Ranma. “Know this, foul sorcerer! I will rescue the lovely Tendo from your black spell, so that she may love me freely and openly!”
Ranma was confused. “But… I’m a monk, not a sorcerer. What are you talking about? Akane’s not under a spell.”
Akane emitted a low growl. “Why would I ever love an idiot like-HEY!!” Akane found herself being lifted off her feet and unceremoniously tossed into Kuno’s arms.
Shampoo waved goodbye to Akane as Kuno nearly stumbled from the added weight. “Bai bai Akane! Shampoo see you again in afterlife, yes?”
Ukyou joined Shampoo in waving goodbye. “Well, we’ve broken the spell and given her to you! Take her away and be sure not to come back!”
Ranma didn’t really know what was going on. “……………………………… Um-“
Kuno really didn’t either, but he did know that he had gotten what he had come for. “Very well, I’ll take my leave now. Be glad that you did not have to face me, for you have been spared my wrath!” With that Kuno turned and ran, with a loudly protesting Akane in his arms.
Shampoo and Ukyou continued waving goodbye. Ranma turned towards them. “Why did you just give away our only wizard?”
Shampoo shrugged. “Shampoo have to get rid of some how. Ranma no let kill, so Shampoo give away as gift!”
Ukyou took Ranma by the arm and started leading him further down the path. “Besides, who cares if Akane leaves?”
At that very moment Ryoga realized what was going on and took off after Kuno. “KUNO!!! How dare you kidnap Akane like that! When I get my hands on you, I’ll kill you until you’re dead!!” It was a dangerous threat indeed, and one that he was fully (sorta) able to carry out...
Had he not taken off in the opposite direction Kuno had gone.
Ranma stared off after him. "I don't believe this......"
Shampoo smiled and glomped onto him. "No worries! We no need their help to kill wizard!"
Ukyou glared at her and tightened her hold on Ranma's arm. "Of course we don't. I'm sure Ranchan can take care of it himself!"
Ranma was already annoyed, and now he was progressing to anger. Happousai hopping onto his head didn't help things one bit.
"Hey! If we're having a group hug, why didn't ya invite me?!" Ranma immediately stepped away so that the girls could maul the little assassin without hurting him.
"So this is the Underdark. Nice place, eh?" Ranma, Shampoo and Ukyou were all tired, scratched, burned, and bleeding, with a long trail of dead Mind Flayers behind them.
Happousai bounded along behind them, totally unscathed.
Ukyou threw a hate-filled glare towards Shampoo. "Why the hell did you suggest we take that detour?! Here's a clue: big, ornate buildings and statues carved from weird, alien metals are bad!!"
Shampoo winced, then returned Ukyou's glare. "How Shampoo know it Illithid city? Spatula girl not know either!"
Ranma winced and rubbed his head. The migraine might have been from fighting off the pyschic energies of dozens of domination and confusion commands, but somehow he thought it had more to do with Ukyou and Shampoo being at each other's throats a hundredfold ever since Akane left.
Ukyou turned toward Happousai. "And where the hell were you when we were fighting off that huge brain?!"
Happousai just smiled at her. "I was sacking the city! Someone has to get the loot while the rest are busy fighting for their lives!" Satisfied with his answer, he attached himself to the female fighter's chest.
Shampoo grinned as Ukyou screamed and tried to pry him off her chest, then turned her head to notice several figures appearing from the dusty caves in the distance.
Ranma looked up from where he was sitting and quickly healed himself with a blast of ki energy. "Damn Lay Hands... what's the use of only healing 2 HP per level?! I hope these people aren't more Drow elves......"
The group got into a ready position, and the approaching group stepped through the black cloud that seemed to permeate everywhere in the Underdark.
Ranma blinked. Nine girls in really short, multicolored skirts.
One of the shorter ones, with blond hair tied up into two long ponytails, and wearing a blue skirt, walked up in front and then struck a pose.
"I am the pretty soldier Sailor Moon, champion of love and justice and leader of the Sailor Sorcerers!! Be you friend or foe?!"
Happousai shot forward like a rocket. "SWEETO!!!" *Clang!* Ukyou cursed as yet another Happousai-shaped dent adorned her battle spatula.
Ranma turned toward Shampoo. "You be foe. Call it." Taking out a coin, he flipped it into the air.
Ranma grabbed the coin, then slapped it against his wrist. "... Tails. Well I'll be..."
He turned back toward the group. "We be friend. I am Ranma Saotome, leader of the Wrecking Crew!"
Sailor Moon nodded. "Well met, Ranma. Tell me, why are you here?"
Ranma shrugged. "Eh, hunting down an evil wizard, toppling entire cities of the minions of evil, same old, same old. You?"
Before she could answer, Ukyou walked up and tried to drag Ranma away by the arm. "We're wasting time! Let's go already! Saffron could destroy Faerun at any moment!" She really wanted to stop and rest, but wasn't liking the looks that some of the girls were throwing Ranma, especially the other blond with the orange skirt.
"And you think you could stop me?"
At once everybody started looking at each other before they realized that the voice came from someone new. Turning around, they beheld a ghostly figure with long hair and wings.
"I am Saffron, the man that you seek. But you are far too late. I will not be stopped!"
Before Ranma could respond, the Sailor Sorcerers stepped up and all took poses. "You will not achieve your evil goals, wizard! I am Sailor Moon, and in the name of the moon, I-"
"Oh, will you shut up? Your part's done already! Go home! Scram!"
Sailor Moon blinked, then looked confused. "But I thought... I mean-"
Saffron irratably threw his hand to the side, gesturing them away. "I said leave! Now! Your cameo's over! Make like a Hibiki and get lost!!"
The Wrecking Crew all sweatdropped when Sailor Moon's tough, charismatic leader facade crumbled, and she fell to the ground crying. "WAAAAAAH!!!! He's mean!!"
With that the Sailor Sorcerers left, trying to placate their leader as she bawled uncontrollably.
Saffron turned back to the Wrecking Crew. "Well, now that that's out of the way-hey! I told you to leave!"
Sailor Venus blushed, then quickly handed Ranma a folded note. "Call me." She quickly skittered off, waving goodbye to the evil mage.
Saffron sighed. "All right, let's start over. You are far too late! I will not be stopped!"
Ranma gave him a confident smirk. "We'll see about that! Don't underestimate us!"
Saffron laughed. "Oh please... I doubt you could even find my lair."
Ranma's smirk turned into a low growl. "Was that a challenge?"
It was Saffron's turn to smirk. "Very well. But to make things interesting...... Whyzio calla domero polca!! Be cursed! HA HA HA HA HA!!!"
At that point, black tendrils of magic shot out of Saffron's hand and wrapped around the Wrecking crew, save Ukyou.
"HA HA HA!!! For you, ranger, I curse you with the form of a cat!" There was a bright yellow flash, and Shampoo was replaced by a small white and purple kitten.
"And you, fighter, I... I... wait, why haven't you been cursed?"
Ukyou just shrugged. "Save vs. spells. What can I say?"
Saffron rolled his eyes and moved on to Happousai, who had just regained consciousness. "For you, Gnome, I curse you with unbridled lechery!"
Ukyou sweatdropped. "Uh huh, sure... you really don't have a clue, do you?"
Saffron's left eye twitched. "Shut up! Or we'll find out if your vaunted saving throw can protect you from Imprisonment!"
Saffron's demeanor changed instantly as he looked at Ranma. "And for you, son of Baal, I give you two curses! One, to be cursed with the body of a female!"
Ranma's expression turned to one of terror as his strong, tall body shrunk as mass was lost and displaced.
He, now a she, looked down at herself and screamed. "AAAAAHHH!!! What does this do to my strength modifiers?!"
"-2 Strength, +2 Dexterity." Saffron smirked, then waved his hand again. "And for the second curse, since I'm trying to satisfy two plot lines, an unreasonable fear of cats!"
"Huh?" Ranma didn't have time to say more than that before Shampoo meowed below him.
"AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! Cat!!!" Ranma ran around screaming, knocking down stalagmites and rock walls in his path.
Happousai had, at this time, recovered, and walked up to Saffron's ghostly visage as the figure laughed menacingly. "Excuse me."
Saffron stopped laughing and looked down. "Yes, what do you want?"
Happousai crossed his arms over his chest and spoke in a mocking tone of voice. "Just what do you think you're doing, anyway? Destroying Faerun, turning lovely Shampoo into a kitten, and then making Ranma female. Not that I mind the last one, of course. Don't you have anything better to do?"
Saffron blinked and thought about. "Well, not really. I had a spare Diom Jewel lying around, so I just thought, 'why not try one of those mass destruction spells I've been meaning to complete?'"
Happousai scratched his chin. "Ah, Diom Jewel eh? You have any of those left?"
Saffron snorted. "As if I'd let you in on anything that valuable. I've heard of you, thief."
Happousai shrugged. "Eh, can't blame a guy for trying. Really though, what would drowning Faerun accomplish?"
Saffron scratched his chin. "Well, since I'm immortal and stuff, I figured I could just take everybody's valuables once they're all dead. I have a really tall mountain where I'm planning to live after everything else sinks. Maybe you could stop by later, we could have tea?"
Happousai looked thoughtful. "Are there any pretty girls?"
Saffron shrugged. "Well, my sister Kima is single. She doesn't date much, because she's a vampire and all......"
"Shampoo! Let go of him!"
"GET IT OFF!!! GET IT OFF!!!"
Happousai looked behind him as Ranma rocketed past again. "Do you think you could reverse Shampoo's curse? It's such a waste of pristine beauty to turn her into a cat forever."
Saffron sighed. "I suppose. Hot water will reverse the curses until they get hit with cold water again. If you survive our eventual encounter, and don't get dragged to the depths of the Great Sea, drop by my place." with that Saffron generated a bucket of steaming water, then disappeared.
Happousai grabbed the bucket and doused Ranma and Shampoo as they passed by on their third lap around the massive cavern.
Ranma blinked as the sudden shock of changing forms seemed to jar him to his senses. Said senses then detected something large, warm, and smooth clinging to his back, much unlike the soft fur of a cat.
"Sweeto!" The gnomish assasin leapt at him, or at the very least whatever was on him, and he reflexively slapped him out of the air and into a nearby wall.
Then he looked at his back to see a naked Shampoo snuggling against his back, slowly wrapping her arms and legs around him...
A haze of red lit the cavern.
Ranma looked up to see Ukyou standing there, her battle aura flaring and her battle spatula (+2) at the ready.
Saffron whistled a tune to himself as he caressed the azure crystal sphere before him. It was a simple, cheerful tune, the type that he usually despised (being evil and all), but he had recently blasted a Duerger that had gotten too close and was whistling it, and now he couldn't get the stupid tune out of his head.
"Ah yes, soon the spell will be complete." His mind wandered to the group of adventurers he had encountered earlier. "I wonder if they'll reach me. Feh. I doubt it. The contractor assured me the traps were impregnable." Feeling more confident, Saffron went back to feeding energy into the orb.
That was when a door opened and slammed shut behind him.
"Owwwww...... you didn't have to hit me so hard......"
Ukyou blushed as Ranma continued to rub his head in pain. "I-I'm sorry! I was aiming for the bimbo! I swear!"
Shampoo, again fully clothed, snorted. "Shampoo not know how spatula girl live this long with such bad aim!"
Ukyou's grip on her spatula... uh... oh, right, battle axe (+2) tightened. "You wanna say that to my face, you elven bit-"
"Excuse me." Everyone there, including Happousai who had followed the others, stopped and turned to Saffron. The demi-god was currently trying to look calm, but his left eye had developed a nervous twitch. He pointed to the stone doorway on the other side of the room. "You're supposed to enter from that side."
Ranma shrugged. "We tried, but couldn't figure out how to get past the first barrier, so we used the back door instead."
A vein popped out on his head. "And who told you there was a back door?!"
Ukyou smirked. "Oh please. There's always a back door. You think that those evil wizards go through all their traps and gauntlets of monsters every time they want to leave or enter their lairs?"
Happousai looked thoughtful. "Yes, I've always wondered about that..."
Saffron was shaking with rage. Then, in one deep breath, he gave them a calm smile. "Well then, what say we dispense with the pleasantries and begin?"
Everyone except Happousai charged. Saffron smiled. "Imroved Mantle!"
Ranma, Ukyou, and Shampoo all bigsweated as their weapons and fists hit a magical barrier just centimeters away from Saffron's body.
Ranma quickly turned around. "Akane! Use breach! Now! Qui... ckly......" Ranma slowly turned to Shampoo and Ukyou, who both gulped. "This is all your guys' fault, you know."
Saffron laughed evilly, then threw his hands out around him. "Sunfire!" An explosion of fire engulfed him, then poured outward, throwing back his attackers and burning them.
Ranma grunted and glared at Saffron as the flames subsided, leaving only him unscathed.
Everyone was quite surprised when Happousai jumped ahead, then attacked with his pipe.
"For the sake of pretty ladies and bras all over Faerun, you will not succeed!!" His pipe hit home.
There was a blast of magical energy, and Happousai was sent reeling back into a wall. "Idiot. I have +2 save vs. wands. Flesh to Stone!" A bolt of energy struck Happousai, and his body was instantly transformed into granite.
Saffron gave a last evil smirk. "I guess tea's off. Sucks to be you. Melf's Acid Arrow!" The green bolt shot across the room, permanently shattering Happousai to sand, which quickly dissolved from the acid.
There was a moment of stunned silence.
"YES!!! All right!! You good shot, wing man!!" Saffron facefaulted as the remainder of the Wrecking Crew started cheering and dancing, waving victory fans in the air.
"Enough of this! I've dealt with the gnome, now I'll deal with you!" Immediately the adventurers sobered up, then got into defensive stances.
Ranma attacked again, his hand glowing with energy as he struck at the barrier, to no avail. Saffron laughed and smacked him across the shoulder, sending him reeling back into the others.
Saffron coughed into his hand, then calmed down. "Seeing how my Improved Mantle will only last a few more seconds, I've decided to get rid of you quickly. Rift!"
More black energy swirled forth from Saffron's fingers, and a large, rotating gate started to engulf them.
"Hold it!!" Everything stopped.
Ranma angrily walked out of the frozen blackness, and stalked over to Saffron, who looked at him curiously.
"Is something amiss?"
Ranma glared at him. "Rift? RIFT?! There is no 'rift' spell! You have to use real spells!!"
Saffron blinked. "Not really. I mean, I've already casted it."
Ranma groaned. "But how can you cast a spell that doesn't exist?!"
The Dungeon Master suddenly winked into existence. "Creative license." He disappeared with a flash.
Saffron shrugged. "Well, that settles that. Can we get back to the destruction of Faerun now?"
"Yeah, yeah..." Ranma trudged back into the tendrils of evil power, which slowly unfroze and formed a portal under the adventurers.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" Ranma, Shampoo, and Ukyou could only scream as they fell into the portal, which proceeded to close around them, sealing them away.
Saffron finished laughing, then looked around.
"What, is that all there is?" Seeing nobody else around to oppose him, he grumbled irratably and returned to rubbing the diom jewel. The glow of the crystal reached its apex, and the entire Earth seemed to shake.
"Hmph. I must say, accomplishing my evil plans is far less satisfying then I thought it would be. Oh well...."
Ukyou sighed as she used her oddly-shaped battle axe to flip another okinomiaki. It had been a week so far, and she hadn't been able to find Ranma or Shampoo.
*Splat* Ukyou grumbled as the okinomiaki hit her in the face, thanks to the tilting of the ship in the wind and waves.
The nearby sailors would have fallen over themselves with laughter, but had learned long ago that it was really best to just leave her alone when she was angry. Many of them were still sporting cuts and bruises from her spatula-shaped axe. They had thought it a very good thing when an attractive young woman suddenly appeared out of nowhere onto their ship, but now they weren't so sure......
"Are you okay Shampoo?" Arie looked over at their newest companion worriedly. Shampoo had proven to be quite strong for an elf, but she tended to get in over her head from time to time.
"Ugh... Shampoo hurt many places... you heal, please?" Arie nodded and kneeled down, and began casting her priest spells.
Jehaira shook her head scornfully. "Hmph. The child cannot even speak proper common. I honestly think Minsc is smarter than her." With that she turned back towards where the rest of the group were checking over the skeleton warriors' bodies for anything of value.
Shampoo groaned as her bones quickly mended and her cuts healed. She had no idea how she had come to join another SOB (Son Of Baal), but she had, and now she was on the trail of yet another evil wizard.
Life sucked. She hoped Ranma was doing at least marginally better than she was.
Ranma sighed and lounged back in his hammock, allowing the petite girl next to him to drop grapes into his mouth. He would've preferred to eat them himself (so he could eat them faster), but for some reason all these girls absolutely insisted on pampering him all the time.
"*Munch* *Munch* *Gulp* So anyway, after he toasted the old freak, then I charged him. Didn't even scratch the jerk."
"Oh, wow! You're so brave!" Kiku, one of the bustier women, and the psuedo-leader of the village, gushed as she ran a hand along his arm tenderly.
Ranma shrugged. "Uh, yeah, I guess. Anyway, then he casted some weird spell which transported all of us to different places. I ended up here." Ranma looked up from where he was laying down, and looked among all of the girls surrounding the trees suspending the hammock, all wearing small bikinis of exotic animal fur.
"Say, aren't there any guys here?" The girls all adopted pained, somber looks, and Ranma wondered if he had said something wrong.
Kiku sighed and kneeled in front of Ranma. "The last man we ever saw was a wizard who had come here about a year ago to build his lab here on the island...... Unfortunately he was very old and quickly passed away from exhaustion..."
Ranma blinked. "Exhaustion? You mean like from all the construction work, right?"
Kiku giggled slightly. "Construction... yes, something like that." she slowly slid an arm over his chest, and held Ranma's cheek with her hand. "Of course, he wasn't nearly as handsome or strong as you........."
Just as Ranma's brain was about to adopt a state of stuttering panic, another girl ran into the clearing from the jungle path. "Hey everyone! The hot spring is ready!"
They all cheered, and Ranma found himself being hoisted up from the hammock and carried off into the steam.
And that is that.