The early morning mist rolled down the mountain side,
the dew on the green patches of grass shimmering from the first rays of the sun. The air was
crisp and cool, sharp with the just hint of a bite. The golden sun hovered over the crags of the
mountain, seeming to set it afire, as it began its ascent into the sky.
Two ragged figures staggered up the narrow and winding mountain trail, a travel worn pack on each of their backs. The first paused to wipe a sheen of sweat that had begun to form on his brow then adjusted the white bandanna he wore to hide his lack of hair. His white gi, tattered and sweat soaked, covered a frame that had once been hardened muscle and sinew, but had given way to the years and rolls of fat. He turned to glare at his companion. "Hurry up boy, don't tell me you can't handle a small morning hike."
A young man glared back at him, a look of annoyance on his face. "What the heck are we doing anyway pop? What'd we have to come all the way out here for?" He too was dressed in a white gi that looked to have seen better days. His raven black hair was tied in a simple ponytail revealing piercing deep blue eyes. His body while not extraordinarily built was hardened from years of life on the road and he moved with the grace given to him by a decade of martial arts.
His father extended a thick, meaty arm and cuffed him roughly across the side of his head. "Be quiet Ranma," he growled, peering at his son through his wireframe glasses with black, beady eyes. "You sound like a girl, how do you expect to become my heir if you can't handle a few days without food? It'll only toughen you up, I've been too soft to you over the years." Tears began to flow down his weathered face, brown from many years on the road. "What did I do to deserve such a weakling for a son?"
Ranma's eyes narrowed as his father spoke and booted him in the back of his head. "Shut up, it's your fault we ran out of food, you ate it all a week ago!" His father pulled his face off the ground and spat the dust of the road out of his mouth. "A true martial artist doesn't always know when their next meal will be. If fortune smiles upon you give thanks to the kami and eat."
Ranma rolled his eyes has he listened to his father talk. Stupid old man, steal food and stuff your face is what he means. "Yeah whatever Pop, so where are we going?" Who knows where they were going with that Chinese guide book Pops been looking at for the past few weeks, he probably didn't even understand a word of it. He'd better not have gotten them lost again...
Genma narrowed his eyes at Ranma's attitude, but let the matter pass. That ingrate son of his, here he was training him to be the greatest martial artist of his generation and this is how he was repaid. After all the effort he spent raising him, why this was nothing compared to the...training he had received under the master. Genma shuddered as he though about it and forced it from his mind.
"We are going to the valley on the other side of these mountains. By this time tomorrow we'll be at the legendary training grounds of Jyusenkyo."
Dark Sorcery part 1
By Darkness and Light(firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer:Ranma Nibunnoichi and Slayers its characters, story and associated trademarks are properties of their respective owners. I in no way claim these characters as mine nor have I made money from it.
"You what!" Genma cowered before Soun Tendo's infamous Demon Head attack. The Demon Head vanished as tears began to well in Soun's eyes. "Now the two schools of Anything Goes Martial Arts will never be joined." Genma carefully ignored his friend's wailing. He shifted uneasily, disturbed by his old friends reaction. True, Soun had always been highstrung, but he didn't think news of Ranma's disappearance would set him into hysterics.
"Honestly, you can be so embarrasing sometimes Dad. And how could you just engage one of us to some guy we don't even know?" Soun began to bawl louder then before. "My youngest daughter hates meee!" he wailed.
"Oh, father..." Kasumi sighed as she put a comforting arm on Soun's shoulder. Genma's eyes followed her with a speculative gleam in his eye. A mature young woman like her would make Ranma a fine wife, he mused. He glanced at Nabiki who was glaring at her father fiercely. He shuddered, no question who would wear the pants in that engagement. Still, she had spirit, might be just what the boy needed to calm him down.
Soun gazed at his friend through eyes that were filled with tears. "Tell me something Saotome. How could you lose your son?" Sweat began to form on Genma's brow as Nabiki's glare shifted to him. Then again... "Yeah how did you manage to pull that off? What kind of training were you putting him through?"
A loud rapping sound rose up over the drum of the rain on the roof. "Oh my, there is someone at the door." As Kasumi rose to answer the door, Genma hung his head as he parted his lips to speak. "I took Ranma on that trip to get him away from his mother. Female influence would have made him soft and weak. I constantly instructed him in the most rigorous training I could find." Tears began to bead at the corners of his eyes. "As a finishing touch I took him to the legendary training grounds of Jyusenkyo."
Uhh, yeah is this the Tendou Dojo?"
He returned her smile with a wide grin "Hey, is this the Tendo Dojo of Anything Goes Martial Arts?" Kasumi made a small nod as she replied. "Yes it is. Do you wish to speak with my Father about classes?" Kasumi's comment seemed to amuse the young man. "Kasumi's eyes widened as she stepped aside. "Oh, you know Uncle Saotome? He is with my Father and sisters right now in the main room. Please, come inside."
He bowed his head as he stepped inside, a tight smile gracing his features. "Thank you. In the main room you said?" Kasumi watched as he crossed the room. He didn't walk so much as glide. Kasumi hadn't practiced the Art since her Mother had died but she still retained some skill from over the years. His stride was confident and purposeful and his movements were graceful and flowed like water.
Kasumi entered the main room in time to see him take a position behind Uncle Saotome, who was sobbing and bemoaning the fate of his son. "When we got to Jyusenkyo," he said, "The boy jumped up onto one of the poles. I shouted for him to stop but he wouldn't listen and he attacked me."
The young man's entrance did not go unnoticed by others present in the room. Akane gave him a wary appraising glance before appearing to dismiss him as a threat, Nabiki shot an inquiring glance at Kasumi. Uncle Saotome continued to speak, oblivious to the fact that he was no longer the center of attention. "As a lesson I threw him into one of the pools of water and he vanished. The boy must have run away." He made an exceptionally loud sob and burried his face in his arm. "Oh why was my only son such a weakling and a coward!"
"A weakling, huh." Kasumi watched with interest as the young man lashed out his foot and with one smooth movement sent Uncle Saotome hurtling out into the koi pond. The heavy set man emerged from the pond sputtering and coughing, churning the water as he struggled to stand up.
Akane was furious, no one attacked a guest in her house and got away with it, especially some BOY! With a fierce cry she launched a punch at him. Without appearing to move at all, the cloaked man sidestepped Akane's rush. He jabbed Akane in the back of the neck as he swept past her and uttered a single word, "Sleep." Akane's eyes closed as she crumpled to the floor in an unceremonious heap.
Astonishment and confusion was written all over Soun's face and he nervously licked his lips. One one hand this stranger had entered his house and assulted a guest and his daughter, but on the other hand, he appeared to be quite skilled in the arts. One thing training with...the master had taught him was how dangerous it was to upset him. "And who might you be stranger?"
The young man shook his dark hair from the concealing hood. He gave Mr. Tendo an arrogant smirk. "I'm Ranma Saotome. Sorry about all this."
"Oh happy day!" Mr. Tendo burst into tears and wrapped himself around Ranma. "We are so glad you are here son." Ranma shifted uneasily as he struggled to free himself of this strange man who had grabbed on to him. Kasumi sighed, and shook her head. "Oh father, there is no need to get so emotional." At that moment Genma burst into the room. Nabiki struggled to hold back a smirk, he looked absolutely rediculous without his white hakama covering his bald head.
"Ranma, how dare you strike your own father like that!" His face was a deep crimson red as it twisted with anger. "Only a coward would strike would strike his opponent from behind." He started forward, but Soun released Ranma and placed a hand on his friends shoulder to calm him.
"Now, now Saotome, calm down. It is a good day that you have been reunited with your son. Now we can proceed." His conciliatory tone seemed to calm Genma and he knelt on the floor, his face impassive.
Kasumi rose and walked to Akane's side as she began to stir. She raised Akane's head and Akane began to groan. "Itai! What happened?" Kasumi sighed and shook her head. "Akane, you really have to learn to control your temper." Akane blinked, bewildered, before her features hardened and her temper began to flare. "There is no way I could have lost, he can't be that good!" Kasumi winced inwardly and quickly moved to deflected her younger sisters fury. "I wonder why Ranma was so upset at his father?"
"Ranma? His father...?" Akane trailed off as the implications of Kasumi's words began to penetrate. "You mean one of us is suppose to marry that jerk?" Akane said increduously. Then her mind returned to its previous thoughts. "Hmmp. So he knows a few tricks, big deal." Kasumi sighed wearily. Well, she had tried.
"Huh?" Ranma blinked and glanced at his father. "Proceed with what?" Soun merely grinned and slapped Ranma across the back. "Here are my three daughters. My youngest daughter Akane, shes 16, my middle daughter Nabiki, shes 18, and my eldest daughter Kasumi, shes 19. Pick which one you want as your wife." Ranma looked at each of the girls in turn, confusion upon his face. "Excuse me?" Soun laughed harder and pounded Ranma even harder on his back, nearly knocking him over. "Pick one and she will become your new fiance. Together you will join the Saotome and Tendo Schools of Anything Goes Martial Arts."
Ranma dodged to the side to avoid another blow. "So whats the dowry?" Mr. Tendo staggered back, eyes wide and mouth open with shock. "What?" Ranma grinned at him roguishly, a strange glint in his eyes. "Come on, come on. You can't expect me to tie myself down for nothing you know."
"Hey!" Akane roughly pushed herself to her feet filled with indignant fury, the anger lurking just below the surface surging up. "What makes you think I'd want to marry some jerk like you? And I'm a martial artist too you know, I'm the best in Nerima." Ranma arched an eyebrow and examined her from head to toe. "So? Is that suppose to mean anything to me?" Akane glowered at him, her eyes laced with menace. Obliviously Ranma turned away from her and made a shooing motion with his hand. "Go away before I have to get serious."
Soun and Genma edged away as a blue corena blazed into existance around Akane, frightened by the anger and hatred being emitted. Akane's face hardened into a mask of determination.
A sphere of light the color of blood, formed within Ranma's hands, unnoticed by Akane who still bore down on him with the force of a speeding truck. Nabiki recoiled in horror as Ranma's eyes narrowed and he pivoted and extended a hand, still burning with that fearful light, towards her younger sister.
The occupants of the room flinched back as a blinding flash illuminated the room, a booming roar shaking the foundation of the building. Nabiki blinked to force away the afterimage that blocked her vision and saw Akane lying on the shattered wooden floor. Wisp of black smoke rose from her unmoving body as her soot covered gi smoldered. Akane's body sprawled out over broken boards, her jaw was slack, parted in obvious agony.
"Akane!" Kasumi screamed, her normally calm countenance twisted in horror. Nabiki watched, her normally quick mind numb with shock, as Kasumi knelt besides her sister. Idly she noticed Mr. Saotome curled up in the corner of the dojo, his normally beady eyes wide with shock, as her father wailed and cried that his youngest daughter had been killed. With some effort Nabiki forced herself to move and rushed to her Akane's side and shook her by her shoulders. She felt herself gently moved to the side as Ranma fell to one knee besides Akane.
"Huh. I though she could handle it. I guess she was only talk." Nabiki slapped him hard across the cheek. Ranma clutched his quickly reddening face and glared at Nabiki.
"Hey! What'd you do that for?" A low growl erupted from Nabiki's throat and she aimed a slap at Ranma's other cheek that he easily intercepted. "Bastard, what did you do to my sister?" Shock had shaken her normal self-control and was being reflected in her speech patterns. She felt a slight wave of heat across her face as he held her hands with his, but dismissed it and pushed it from her mind.
Ranma rolled his eyes and snorted, irritation crossing his face. "Would you stop doing that? That was magic."
Nabiki yanked her hands from Ranma's, ignoring the brief twinge, her eyes becoming narrow slits. Nobody harmed her family and got away with it!
"What you don't believe me? I'll prove it." Ranma replied, his eyes closing. He placed his hands in the air over Akane's chest as he began to softly chant.
"Oh, blessed and humble hand of God, life and breath of Mother Earth, come before me and show your great compassion and deliver us. Recover!"
A purple light gathered in his hands and spread over Akane's battered body. To Nabiki's amazement, scrapes and bruises grew fainter then faded away, and blackened skin turned pink and healthy again. Akane's eyelids fluttered for a moment before sliding open. She looked around for a moment confused before her eyes focused.
With savage speed, her left fist shot out and caught Ranma on the point of his chin, snapping his head back and spinning him around to the floor hard. "Itte! What'd you do that for you uncute tomboy?" he growled as he rubbed the base of his jaw, his speech turning rough.
Memory seemed to flow back into Akane as she pushed Nabiki aside and got to her feet. "How did you do that," she snarled, her face a mask of anger. Ranma appeared to be unaffected by her emotion, and glanced at Nabiki who was picking herself off the ground, her expression unreadable.
Then Akane paused as she seemed to notice herself for the first time and examined her undamaged skin. Ranma snorted as he met her questioning look with his own steady gaze. "I already told Nabiki. It was magic."
Akane snorted and snapped a broken board with her hands. "Stop playing around and tell me how you did that already! Magic isn't real!"
Ranma puffed his cheeks in exasperation before answering. "Then I just beat you with an attack that doesn't exist!" he said heatedly.
Akane's face set in a hard line. "Fine then, be stubborn and don't tell me. It was still cheating though." she snarled.
Disbelief crossed Ranma's face before it deepened into a scowl. "Akane, what martial art style do you study?" Akane's glared at Ranma suspiciously before answering. "I am the heir to the Tendo School of Anything Goes Martial Arts."
Ranma grinned as he smacked his right hand into the palm of his other hand. "See? Think about it Akane. Anything Goes. Any thing goes. There are no rules 'cause everything is allowed. It's impossible to cheat."
Akane shook her head violently. "It's still not FAIR!" Ranma sighed as he began to massage his temples as if he had a headache. "So what, why should it be fair. Life isn't fair and if you weren't a spoiled brat you might understand that."
Akane's face began to turn purple from anger and boards of wood began to crack between her hands. However at this moment, Mr. Tendo wrapped himself around his daughter, still weeping, but now for joy that her youngest daughter was safe. Amidst Akane's ensuing protest that she was fine and that daddy was being embarrising, Nabiki noticed Ranma slip away, silently, to the house.
(End part 1)