The Beast Within

Disclaimer: Ranma ½, Darkstalkers, Hellsing and any other series I decide to use in this story all belong to their own creators. I think that covers everything.

< >: Thoughts

[ ]: Mandarin

{ }: English

Chapter 8


“I really don’t think this is a good idea.” Nabiki said as she stood facing the purple-haired Amazon on the Challenge Log.

“Is okay.” Shampoo assured her as she got into a fighting stance. “Is no serious challenge. Is only practice.”

Nabiki’s eyes narrowed as she assessed her opponent. Though she had only begun basic training in Kung Fu and the Talbain Wolf Fist, she had some experience in gauging overall strength and skills in a person, in terms of martial arts. She had watched her father train, (when he had still been teaching and had not become the whining baby he was now), and had seen Akane during her beat-the Horde of Hentai every morning. Though she hated to admit it, Akane was the martial artist in the family, though Matthew assured Nabiki that she would soon surpass her. However, that would take time, and she was now facing off against an opponent who could probably kick her posterior fifty times over, werewolf abilities or not.

Nabiki took a deep breath as she saw the determination in Shampoo’s eyes. There was no swaying her, so the Tendo girl got into a stance and hoped she would put up a decent showing.

Shampoo nodded as she started out with a few simple punches, followed by a quick leg strike toward her opponent’s midsection. She was a bit surprised when Nabiki blocked the attacks and countered with a few rough punches. The Amazon noted as she dodged, that the Japanese girl was moving with focused, though somewhat unsteady motions, indicating that she had little experience in fighting against real people. That made sense considering that she was supposed to be a beginner. However, as she began to pick up speed and throw more complex combinations, she became more intrigued as Nabiki continued to keep pace with her.

For Akane’s sister, it was taking a good deal of her concentration to keep herself from getting tagged by the Amazon. However, as they continued to trade blows, she started to notice that her reaction time was much faster than she remembered and that the blows that she was blocking didn’t seem to be very painful. In fact, she was barely feeling them. She was also anticipating Shampoo’s attacks almost instinctively now. As the pace started to increase, she began to wonder if her new werewolf abilities were allowing her to sense what was being thrown at her.

As the session continued, Shampoo became amazed at how well the Tendo girl was countering her attacks and how easily she moved on the Challenge Log. With so little space to maneuver, most novices would have fallen off at this point. And she could sense that Nabiki was holding back. Whenever Shampoo blocked a punch or kick, the Amazon could feel the raw power coming from the blows and they were substantial. She began putting more effort in blocking them, or evading them when she could. That became even harder as Nabiki’s speed also increased. At this point, Shampoo wondered what was going on. A novice could not improve so much during the course of one sparring match. Before either of them knew it, Shampoo began moving at near top speed and hitting with enough force to seriously hurt a normal person. And still Nabiki managed to fend off her attacks and throw back a few of her own.

Finally, her Amazon pride came to the fore and demanded that she win this match. She let off a shrill war cry as her arms became a blur.


Nabiki was taken completely by surprise as Shampoo launched the Chestnuts Roasting Over an Open Fire technique. In an instant, the warrior teen was firing off punches like a machine gun and all Kasumi’s sister could do was retreat and block the blows with her arms. As she was forced backward, her left foot slipped off the edge of the log and she went tumbling down. She landed hard on her backside with a thump and winced slightly at the impact.

Shampoo immediately came to her side as she realized that she had gone too far. She knelt down beside her sparring partner while apologizing profusely.

“Aiyah! So sorry! Shampoo not mean to do that! Is okay?”

“It’s okay. I‘m fine, really! I just got the wind knocked out of me, that‘s all.” Nabiki waved her off as she got to her feet. Already the pain from the attack and falling off the log was fading as her werewolf healing abilities started working. She didn’t want Shampoo to examine her too closely, or she would see…

“Aiyah! Arm is cut!”

The middle Tendo daughter winced as she turned about to keep Shampoo from seeing the small cut on her arm. When she had fallen off the log, her right arm briefly brushed against the side of the timber. The rough bark was jagged in some areas and had managed to break her skin. However, the bleeding stopped immediately after she hit the ground and now the skin was closing itself up. The blood that had seeped out through the wound dried up and fell away in an instant.

Nabiki continued to turn away from Shampoo, who naturally followed her to see the injury.

“Why you no let Shampoo see?”

“No, it’s okay! It’s not cut!”

“Why you keep turning away?”

“I’m not!”

“Let Shampoo see!”

Nabiki continued to turn about for a few more moments until the cut was completely gone. Then the Amazon grabbed hold of Nabiki’s right shoulder and spun her about. She looked down and her eyes widened in surprise as she saw not a bloody cut, but unbroken skin.

“Aiyah! Shampoo thought she saw cut!”

The short-haired girl shrugged and gave the Amazon a sheepish smile. “I told you that it wasn’t anything.”

Cologne’s great-granddaughter was more than a little suspicious at this point. She was certain that she had seen blood, and the gash had been more than five inches long. However, as she gazed upon Nabiki’s arm, she could see no trace of a cut nor blood. There was no way an injury like that could have healed up in just a few seconds. Unless…

It was at that moment that Nabiki changed the subject.

“Hey, Shampoo. What was that attack you used? That was really cool!”

The purple-haired girl’s thoughts were snapped back to the present as she responded with a bit of pride. “Is special Amazon move called Chestnuts Roasting on Open Fire. Not mean to use. Shampoo sorry, but surprised Nabiki is very good for beginner.”

“Well, Matthew and his father say that I have a talent for it. Say, I’ve been wondering. How did the Talbains meet up with your people anyway?”

Shampoo nodded as she started to lead Nabiki back to her house. As they walked, she started to explain the events which lead to the present alliance between the warrior women and the Talbain werewolves.

“It very long story. Great-grandmother say it happen over 600 year ago…”


At the Amazon Quarry, two members of the family in question were at the entrance to the cave in which the Kuang Shi Hsien Ko and Mei Lin had been sealed away. At that point, the younger lycanthrope posed a question to his father.


Jon Talban looked over his shoulder to his offspring. “Yes?”

“I’ve been kind of wondering about these ghosts that been giving the Amazons trouble. From what they tell me, these spirits could have been Amazons too, especially if they fight in the same way as that dope Mousse does. I mean, isn’t the Hidden Weapons Techniques one of the Joketsuzoku’s fighting styles?”

The elder werewolf nodded as he turned to face his son. He gestured for him to sit down on a rock beside him as he replied to Matthew‘s inquiry. “That thought had occurred to me as well, when Cologne told me about them. Judging by the dates indicated on those inscriptions from that broken seal, those specters had been locked away for about six hundred years. That’s a little after the time when Lo Shien started developing the ability to fold ki and hide weapons. At least that’s what I remember from reading some of the Amazon’s archives.”

“Six hundred years ago? Isn’t that about the time when Jacob Talbain met the Amazons?”

“That’s right Matthew. Jacob Talbain, who happened to be your 20th great-grandfather, came across the Joketsuzoku around the year 1402. I’ve never really told you the entire story about how our family became involved with the Amazons, have I?” When his son shook his head, Jon smiled as he began to relate the tale. He kept his keen, supernatural senses on alert, in case the two ghosts were to make an appearance.

“It all began over six centuries ago when Jacob Talbain decided to make a pilgrimage to China in order to study Kung Fu at a Shaolin temple. However, due to a certain event, he never got to that temple…”


Flashback to China, 1402 AD, somewhere near Mount Kensei…

A young man in his mid-twenties was scratching his head with his right hand while staring at a map of the region in his left. He was currently standing on a ledge that overlooked a small valley. He was a tall fellow with short, dark brown hair that was tousled in stylish disarray. His body was lean, but finely muscled and he wore a functional ensemble of dark pants, hiking boots and short-sleeved shirt. On his back was a large traveling pack. He shook his head in disgust as he realized that he had lost his bearings. He sighed again as he reread the instructions on the map.

<Damn! I can’t believe it! I followed the directions exactly! That Shaolin temple should be around here somewhere! The map says to head a hundred kilometers north of the mountain’s base and…> Jacob then winced as he realized that he had mistranslated the Chinese directions. <Oh good grief! That guide’s handwriting is terrible! I should have gone south, not north! I’m off by two hundred kilometers!> He looked up at the sky and frowned as he noted that it was getting dark as the sun was close to the horizon.

It would be too late for him to go back the way he came, even though as a werewolf, he could navigate through the night without any difficulty. The real problem was that it was going to be a full moon, and he didn’t want to go scaring any of the local villagers in the area in his lupine or hybrid form. Jacob let off a sigh of disgust as he began his trek back toward the forest near the foot of the mountain. He had passed by a clearing earlier and decided that was where he could set up camp.

In less than an hour, Jacob set up a small tent and had a campfire going. As he started to cook his dinner, he could already feel the power of the full moon flow through him as night began. As the silvery orb began to rise, Jon and Matthew’s ancestor began transforming into his alternate form. His body increased in size and muscle-mass as it was covered in light-brown fur. His face elongated and took on a wolf-like appearance as his canines enlarged. His shirt burst apart and a tail sprouted out from the small of his back. Fortunately, his pants were loose enough to allow it to sway.

<Note to self, take off shirt before transforming.>

Jacob sighed as his stood up. In his hybrid form, he was a formidable 6’10” and had enough power to uproot massive trees and shatter solid granite. After eating his dinner, and seeing that had nothing else to do, he decided to get in some training. Using his acute senses of smell and hearing, he scanned the area for any signs of people. Finding none, he sprang forward and raced through the throngs of trees. His agility allowed him to speed around the trees and dodge overhanging branches and bushes with unbelievable ease. A particularly thick branch came up in front of him, but he didn’t even slow down as he flexed the claws of his left hand. With one quick slash, the branch fell away as it was made of parchment. In less than a minute, he was deep within the forest near the foot of the mountain.

At that point, he stopped in his night run as his sense of smell picked up an exotic aroma. He recognized it as a rare Chinese herbal extract. Like the first of the Talbain werewolves, Jacob was well-versed in chemistry and botany. His family line had kept detailed records of their founder’s works, especially the Luna Thorn potion. He decided to investigate as he used the stealth that his werewolf heritage afforded and disappeared into the foliage. He made nary a sound as he crept up toward the source of the smell. It was then that he saw them…


Back to the present at the Amazon Village…

“So your people met up with Matthew’s ancestor in the 15th century?” Nabiki asked as she walked beside Shampoo.

The purple-haired girl nodded. “That time, he meet with Shampoo’s ancestor, Gel. She was on training trip with friends. Was deep in forest at time near mountain. Did not know that great warrior was nearby…”


Flashback to the past…

Gel nodded to her friends as they sat near the campfire. At eighteen, she was a striking beauty with a lithe figure, long green hair and lively brown eyes. Sitting opposite to her were her friends, Rinse and Lather. The girls were twins with only a difference of hair color. Rinse had brown hair while Lather’s was dark red. The three of them were out in the wilderness as part of their survival training and to gather herbs. They were dressed in simple, but functional short-sleeved blouses and matching silk pants and sandals. Gel’s outfit was colored a modest purple, while Rinse and Lather were blue and red respectively.

[“It’s been a good days work.”] Gel commented. [“So how are you doing Rinse?”]

The girl in question shook her head as she continued to scratch her left arm. [“This itching is driving me crazy!”]

Her sister shook her head. [“I told you not to go into that hedge to pick up those mushrooms. That was poison ivy!”]

[“I didn’t see it until I reached into that bush! Either of you got any of that soothing salve?”]

Gel nodded as she reached into her camping pack. [“I’ve got some. This should keep you from scratching too much until we get back to the village. I’m pretty sure Splint the Healer can get you something to get rid of that awful rash. It’s making your skin all red and gross!”]

Rinse gratefully took the small container and began smearing the white paste on her arm. She immediately let off a sigh of relief as the cream worked into her skin and the burning sensation subsided.


From his hiding spot, Jacob Talbain nodded as he took a whiff of the odor coming from the salve. His sensitive nose immediately disassembled the smell into its component chemicals and he immediately recognized several of the ingredients that made up the medication. He was impressed. The salve the girls were using could be the exact same recipe found in the Talbain Herbal and Chemical Archives. Then his nose picked up a different scent, and his sensitive ears heard the approach of something dangerous. He then withdrew from the campsite to deal with it.


Back at the campfire…

[“So Gel…”] Rinse asked as she finished applying the lotion. [“Have you decided to accept Aftershave’s proposal?”]

Gel shook her head. [“No. He’s nice but I really don’t see him as anything more than as a friend. He’s not really that strong and I want more in a husband.”]

[“What more do you want in a husband?”] Lather asked. [“As long as he’s not bad-looking, can keep house, is a decent fighter, and can give you children, then that should be enough.”]

[“If that was all that I wanted, then I would have married a long time ago.”] Gel sighed as she gazed up at the moonlit sky. [“I want a husband that get me really… well, you know.”] She blushed slightly as she let her friends figure out the implied meaning.

The twins nodded in understanding, as Lather replied. [“If you want that kind of man, there’s always the Outsider Law.”]

[“Good luck with that.”] Rinse said with a bit of sarcasm in her voice. [“The last time an Amazon married a strong outsider was more than seventy-five years ago. The nearby villages don’t have much and…”]


All three girls immediately went into battle stances when they heard the sudden roar and the sounds of fierce combat. They started running toward the source of the commotion. Just as they reached the scene, a dark, shadowy being bounded upward and darted past them, disappearing into the foliage. The Amazons looked about and saw the carnage.

A large tiger lay on the ground, its body badly mauled and its head turned about at an odd angle, indicating that its neck had been snapped. Its side had several bloody gashes, and the surrounding area indicated that the predator had put up quite a bit of resistance before it was killed.

Now the question was, who or what had killed it?


The quarry near Jusenkyo, present time…

“So Jacob Talbain killed the tiger that was about to attack the Amazons?”

Jon nodded to his son as he took out his nunchakus. “He sensed the approach of the big cat and it was about to pounce on them. Of course, this caused a bit of a stir when Gel told the Village Elders about the incident, and they went to investigate.” The older lycanthrope then took out a small vial of green liquid and a writing instrument. He started inscribing some magical runes on the wooden halves and instructed his son to do the same on his weapons.

“So what happened then?” Matthew asked as he and his father began enchanting their tools for the coming battle against Hsien Ko and her sister.


Flashback to 15th century China…

Elder Rouge nodded as she studied the carcass of the tiger. At ninety-four years of age, she was still a respectable 5’9” and hadn’t begun shrinking in height as all Amazons did after living for more than a century. She had long, silver hair tied up in a loose ponytail, and wore the robes of a Matriarch. In one hand she had a cane made of gnarled wood. She gestured to the torn sides of the dead animal with a wizened finger as her great-granddaughter Gel looked on with interest.

[“You see this, child? These gashes were done by claws, not a blade. However, the neck was snapped expertly and I would assume by something possessing great strength. Whatever killed this tiger was not a normal predator.”]

[“How do you know this, Great Grandmother?”] Gel asked.

[“If it were just a regular animal, then it would have either begun eating the carcass or at least drag it away to consume it later. A true predator would not simply kill its prey and just leave it. And breaking the neck at such an angle is far too efficient for me. Look at the indentations near the neck. It looks as if the tiger’s killer used a chokehold and applied enough force to break the neck. That’s no simple task and that’s not a natural way to kill for an animal.”]

Gel nodded as she gazed upon the dead body.

Rouge then added, [“And I sense residual ki… and something else. The power is focused and organized, yet still retains a feral quality. If I were to make a guess, I would say that this tiger had been killed by someone from the Musk Dynasty, or something else entirely.”]

[“The Musk Dynasty?”]

[“Yes. As you know, our sworn enemies use the power of Jusenkyo in order to gain great physical strength and animal abilities. However, I do not think this was done by the Musk, since I sense nothing of Jusenkyo’s magic here. There is some magic involved, but it is not from the cursed training grounds.”]

[“So what do you think did this?”]

[“Not what, but rather WHO did this.”] Rouge corrected. [“I sense that this is the handiwork of someone with… great skill and a power than one can scarcely imagine. I have a feeling that this will not be the last time we see something like this.”]


A few days later…

Gel and her friend Calamine were busy patrolling the outer west perimeter of the forest near the village. Due to the more frequent sightings of Musk Dynasty warriors in the area, the Amazons had sent out several scouting parties to keep track of them while preparing for any attacks. For Rouge’s great-granddaughter, this would be her first face-to-face encounter with the legendary fighters of Jusenkyo.

Unknown to her, it would also be her first face-to-face encounter with a Talbain werewolf.

As the two adolescent female warriors silently moved through the woods, they kept their senses on alert for any signs of their enemies or anything out of the ordinary. However, they were unable to detect a most extraordinary individual who was a mere fifty feet away.

Jacob Talbain nodded as he quietly followed the pair from above by leaping from tree to tree. Though he was in human form, his abilities still far outstripped those of normal people. He moved with grace and unbelievable agility and managed leaps of thirty feet or better with almost no effort at all.

Ever since that encounter with the tiger, he had been noticing several bands of armed women appearing around the area. He had kept out of sight, while stealthily observing them to find out what or who they were searching for. He immediately recognized Gel from that first night, though he did not know who was with her. The new girl was about the same age with light reddish-brown hair, tied up in two buns. Like her companion, she wore a functional blouse with silk pants and sandals. She was armed with a pair of tonfa while Gel carried spear. And judging by the way they moved, Jacob could tell that they had some training in the martial arts. His interest was piqued as he continued to follow them. Then, as they reached the center of the forest, the Talbain werewolf stiffened as he sensed a very focused and dangerous amount of ki and some volatile supernatural energies nearby. He hid himself deeper within the foliage as he prepared for combat.

Hanging from a harness on his back were two plain black scabbards which held a pair of double-edged short broadswords.


The present…

“Oh yes, I forgot to tell you something about our family’s school of martial arts.”

“What is it Dad? Matthew asked.

“Even though it is based on our werewolf heritage and makes use of our strength, speed, agility and our inner ki and supernatural energies, it also branched off into several styles of armed combat, not just the nunchakus that we use.”

“So we’re not just limited to these?” The younger werewolf held up the chained clubs.

Jon nodded. “That’s right. We also engaged in using the staff, the tonfa, shurikens and stuff like that. One of our ancestors was even a ninja for a brief time.”


“That’s right. It’s another family story that I’ll tell you about someday. And of course, being from Europe, we were also familiar with using the sword and lance. In any case, Jacob Talbain was well versed in the unarmed methods that our school taught, but he was also quite good in using the two-sword techniques known as the Fang and Claw style.”


Back in the past…

Gel and her friend became tense as they felt as if they were being watched. However, they were still unable to discern as to where or who was observing them. They could feel a pair of not-quite human eyes trained on them, but whoever they belonged to was doing a top-notch job of keeping hidden. Gel couldn’t tell whether it was from the Musk, or from someone else. Then she heard a twig snap and that was when all Hell broke loose.

Crashing out from the woods, three Musk Dynasty warriors appeared and charged the two Amazons. Two were huge, hulking individuals with armored breastplates and bracers, one with red hair, the other had brown. Both were armed with double-bladed axes and leering expressions on their faces. The third individual was slimmer and was armed with a longsword. He also wore the same expression on his face as he and his companions looked upon the two females.

Calamine and Gel both knew what thoughts were going on in their minds. Though the Musk normally mated with animals dunked in the Spring of Drowned Girl to gain their powers, they wouldn’t hesitate to capture Amazons and rape them in order to continue their bloodlines. Once a captured Amazon gave birth to a Musk child, she would be killed immediately. The Outsider Marriage Laws did not apply to an Amazon who was defeated by a Musk warrior. The women would rather commit suicide, then become the mothers of the next generation of their enemies.

With a shrill war cry, both Amazons threw themselves into the battle, though their chances of surviving this day were nil. But they would go out fighting in combat. Other than dying of old age in bed surrounded by grandchildren, there was no better way for an Amazon to meet her end. Gel took on the two giants while Calamine took on the swordsman.


High up in the trees, Jacob nodded as he watched the two teens take on three opponents that had the numerical and strength advantage. He could also sense that they possessed some mystical characteristics that clearly gave them an edge over the female pair. Though they were fighting valiantly, they had no chance of defeating them. When he saw the green-haired girl fall backward after being shoved down by one of the giants, he decided that he couldn’t let such a spirited beauty and her friend be captured or worse. He let off a feral growl and prepared to spring into action.


The red-haired giant smirked as his intended slave went down. He was going to enjoy breaking her as she would give him a child to carry on his family’s bloodline. However, Gel was not going to give him a chance to take her virginity. With a desperate lunge, she brought her spear up and aimed directly for his crotch. The spearhead managed to pierce the armored skirt and plunged deep into his groin. The Musk warrior howled in pain and shock as his privates were skewered. He staggered backward, dropping his axe and clutching at his family jewels as he sank to his knees. His brother became enraged at seeing his sibling castrated, and decided that the Amazon girl was going to pay for what she had done. She would not live to even give birth to a Musk child as he raised his axe to cleave her in twain.

Gel closed her eyes and waited for the end as the axe came down.


Her eyes opened when she heard the sound of metal striking metal. However, when she looked up, she found herself looking at the solid back of a strange man with a lighter skin tone than hers and had a slim, but well-muscled frame. To her amazement, he was holding off the huge giant and his massive axe with just one arm and a short broadsword.

The Musk Dynasty warrior couldn’t believe that this stranger was holding him off, despite the fact that he was exerting full strength on him. He and his brother had the brute force of the bear, due to Jusenkyo, but this interloper was pushing back almost casually with just one hand! He looked into Jacob Talbain’s eyes and saw the lupine expression in their blue depths. Then, he began to feel fear as the werewolf let off a low growl.

With a quick movement, Jacob used a disarming technique to knock the axe out of the Musk warrior’s hands, then reached out with his free left hand and grabbed hold of his opponent’s right wrist and applied a crushing force.

The enemy of the Amazons let off a cry of pain as bone, cartilage, and tendons snapped under the pressure. Then he was yanked forward by the captured arm, only to receive a hard knee strike to the chin as the lycanthrope hopped up and brought his right leg up. Then Jacob let go of the wrist and followed up with one of the signature moves of the Talbain Wolf Fist style, at full force.


Gel had seen ki techniques being used in her village before, but the stranger’s technique was something else entirely! The raw power that was focused in that attack was a combination of ki and some kind of energy she had never encountered before. She had just started learning about ki and how to utilize it, but this was something on a level far beyond even the most proficient of her tribe’s fighters and some of the Elders!

The last thing the Musk warrior saw was Jacob’s glowing foot as it came up. The force of the kick shattered his skull, killing him instantly.

With both giants out of action, the remaining Musk fighter saw that he couldn’t stand against the newcomer and two Amazons. He immediately disengaged from Calamine and started to run while calling out. Jacob was not about to let him go and warn any others of his kind. With a speed that was practically inhuman, he caught up to the swordsman while drawing out the second blade from his back. He twirled them about for a moment before getting into a battle stance.

The Musk warrior knew he had no choice but to fight as he readied his own longsword. He didn’t recognize his opponent’s sword style but after seeing Talbain decimate one of the bear twins, he wasn’t very confident he could beat him. There was just something about this stranger that made even the power of the Musk seem trifling. He was hoping he could hold out long enough for his comrades to arrive.

Talbain wasted no time as he attacked aggressively, slashing with his twin blades with precision and uncanny speed. The Musk warrior managed to deflect the first few maneuvers, but several quick swipes got through his defenses and cut into his arms. Then Jacob demonstrated the true power of the Fang and Claw sword-style as his right blade parried his opponent’s, then slashed with the left. The fighter from the Musk Dynasty howled as his right hand was cut into. In the blink of an eye, Jacob reversed attacking with the left sword and then made a stabbing motion with his right. This was followed by a slicing move by the left which took the longsword out of his adversary’s hands. Then the two swords were thrust simultaneously into the Musk warrior’s chest.

The Musk warrior could only let off a pitiful gasp as he was skewered, then slumped forward dead. At that moment, Jacob heard a scream and whirled about with swords ready. He then saw Gel as she plunged her spear into the chest of the first giant she had fought and gelded. She had decided to finish off her opponent while she had the chance. Though he wouldn’t have been able to have any children, Gel still considered him as a danger to her people and the Amazon Laws clearly stated that all Musk were to be killed.

At that point, he saw a glint of metal from some trees and saw it flashing toward her. He immediately ran toward her and brought his right sword up to deflect the incoming projectile. However, he was a fraction of a second too slow as the arrow glanced off the edge of his sword and grazed his shoulder. He let off a hiss as a blazing sensation ripped though his flesh. As the arrow streaked by, Jacob recognized the glint of silver. He felt the pain of the metal as it started to work its way into him. However, he pivoted about and threw the sword in his right hand toward the hidden archer. The blade flashed like lightning as it sped into the tree, and impacted hard against its target.

A scream was heard as a Musk Dynasty archer was pierced through his chest. The force of the blade was so great, that he was propelled out of the tree and sent flying backward twenty feet. However, as his lifeless body hit the ground, more Musk warriors appeared and began to surround the two Amazons and their lycanthrope rescuer.

The wolf was wounded and cornered. It was a very dangerous situation… for the Musk Dynasty.


Back in the present….

“So what happened next?” Matthew asked with interest.

Jon shrugged as he replied. “Well, that’s where it gets a bit fuzzy. Jacob Talbain’s journals doesn’t go into much detail about what happened. All he wrote down was that the fight became so intense that he fell into a kind of berserker rage and later fainted from his wounds and exhaustion. When he came to, he was in Elder Rouge’s hut…”


In the village of the Amazons, 15th century…

[“Good day to you stranger. Welcome back to the land of the living.”]

Jacob Talbain shook his head as he sat up from the bed he was on. He looked about at his surroundings then looked down at himself. He was a bit surprised that he had been stripped down to his underwear and that several parts of his body had been expertly bandaged. He then looked toward the source of the voice and gazed upon the aged face of Gel’s great-grandmother.

[“Who you? Where here? How?”]

At this point Jacob’s Mandarin was far from perfect, though Rouge did comprehend his questions. She gave him an assessing gaze and guessed at his origins. She then changed dialects and replied. {“I am Rouge. You are in my village and my great-granddaughter brought you here to be treated for your wounds.”}

The lycanthrope brightened up as he recognized the language. {“You speak English?”}

Rouge nodded. {“Yes. I guessed by your skin tone, your clothes, and very bad accent that you are from the West. I learned how to speak and read English from some European missionaries. So would you mind telling me your name?”}

{“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m Jacob Talbain. You can call me Jake if you like.”}

{“Very well then, Jake it is.”}

{“So where exactly is this village of yours?”}

{“This is the village of the Joketsuzoku and you are near what you would refer to as the Bayankala Mountain regions in the Quing Hai Province.”}

{“Uhhh… okay.”} Jake took in the information, then asked, {“So what’s the Joketsuzoku?”}

Rouge gave him another introspective expression before answering. {“Joketsuzoku is the name of our tribe of Chinese Amazons, or warrior women in your language.”}

{“Really? I always thought that the Amazons were a myth. No offense mind you.”}

{“None taken. I’m not surprised you don’t know about us. We don’t usually venture much outside the mountain range and we keep to ourselves. Though things have been getting harder for us since the Musk Dynasty have been increasing their attacks against us.”}

{“Excuse me? Musk Dynasty? Who are they? Are they the ones I fought against?”}

{“Indeed. And according to what my great-granddaughter Gel told me, you had single-handedly DECIMATED an entire war party! But that’s not the most amazing thing about you. What is most amazing are these.”} She gestured with her cane at the bandages and used the wooden end to undo the knot that tied the one on his right arm. The strip of linen fell away, leaving totally healed skin.

Rouge continued. {“You had some serious gashes and bruises on your body when you were brought in yesterday. This wound alone was quite deep and was bleeding profusely. This morning I changed the bandage and found it to be little more than a minor scrape. Now I see that it is totally healed. The other injuries you had sustained were healing far too fast to be normal. I’ll admit that the wound on your shoulder took a bit longer, but the fact is that you are now fully recuperated from what should have taken you days, if not weeks to recover from, leads me to believe that there is something about you that isn’t natural. Furthermore, you defeated a Musk raiding party. A normal person would find it next to impossible in defeating one warrior, but you took on no less than thirty of their best fighters. According to what Gel told me, you fought with a strength and speed that was far beyond anything that martial arts could ever hope to attain. So tell me, Jacob Talbain… just what exactly ARE you?”}

Jake laughed nervously as he scratched the back of his head.


A little while later, after being given a set of clothes to wear, Rouge led Jacob on a tour of her home. He was dressed in a simple white sleeveless shirt, loose black kung fu pants and sandals. The young werewolf took in all the sights, sounds and smells of the rustic village. His enhanced senses were perked at the exotic scents and he was especially impressed with the number of people who possessed good ki control and a mastery in the martial arts. Several villagers were openly practicing katas in both unarmed and armed maneuvers. There were small groups practicing in strength-building exercises such as carrying heavy jugs of water and moving about with rocks tied to their limbs. Others were engaged in endurance and stamina training, as well as sparring sessions with practice wooden swords and spears. There was even an archery range where students practiced their marksmanship with the bow. The trainees ranged in age from 5 years, to late teens. One very important thing Jacob noted was that the majority of trainees were female.

As they walked by the throngs of trainees, the Talbain fighter began to attract the attention of several females, especially those who were sixteen and older. For many of them, this was the first time they had ever laid eyes on an outsider male. His lighter skin tone and lupine eyes made him seem exotic. Many of them took exceptional notice of his well-muscled frame and the way he walked with grace. They had all heard about the stranger who had come to Gel and Calamine’s aid and who had defeated an entire Musk Dynasty war party. He had already garnered their interest when the incredible encounter had been related. Now that they were seeing him close up, they could almost believe that this single man had defeated thirty of their enemies. His presence seem to emit a kind of animalistic aura that was overpowering. And the fact that he was a very attractive-looking male helped.

At this point, Jacob considered his options. He had originally planned to visit a Shaolin temple in order to fine-tune his kung fu skills, but training with the Joketsuzoku would be just as good, perhaps even better. These people knew a lot about fighting and there could be some techniques that could be added to the Talbain Wolf Fist style. It was then that he saw a familiar green-haired girl approaching them.

[“Ah! Hello great-granddaughter!”]

Gel nodded to her relative as her gaze fell on Jake. [“Good day to you, great-grandmother. I wanted to see how our guest is doing.”] She gave him a slight once-over and asked. [“Do you think he should be up and about this soon?”]

[“Not to worry, Gel. This fine warrior has remarkable powers of recuperation.”] Rouge then addressed Jacob. {“Jake, this is my great-granddaughter Gel”} She then referred back to her. [“Gel, please speak English with him. His name is Jacob, but you may call him Jake. He’s not very fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese.”]

Gel nodded again as she addressed him. {“Hello. My name Gel. Thank you yesterday for help.”}

{“Ah yes, you’re quite welcome.”} Jacob replied while giving her a friendly smile. He had to admit, Gel was quite the beauty close up. Unlike the Renaissance Era women in London, who covered themselves up in petticoats and long dresses, the Amazon’s figure was well-accentuated by the short hem of the blue silk dress she was wearing, leaving her long legs bare. The top barely held her generous bosom in check. Today she was wearing her hair in a kind of topknot ponytail.

Rouge smiled at his awkwardness, then told her great-granddaughter to show their guest around and make him feel welcome. The green-haired girl blushed slightly, and nodded as she gestured for him to follow. As they walked together, several of the female villagers looked upon the two with a bit of the green-eyed monster in their expressions. Whenever there was an eligible man present, (and a very handsome foreigner to boot), he was considered fair game for all unattached females of marriageable age. The others considered Gel having an unfair advantage in being instructed by an Elder to show the newcomer about.

{“Where you come from?”} Gel asked as she and Jake began conversing as they walked together.

{“I’m from England.”}

{“England? Gel not know that place. Is very far?”}

{“You could say that.”}

{“How many days walk?”}

{“Uhhh… well, it would quite a while for you to get there if you walked. About one to two years’ worth if you didn’t stop to eat or sleep.”}

{“Aiyah! Is so far! How you get here?”}

{“Well, let’s just say I know a few shortcuts and leave it at that.”} Jacob couldn’t even begin to explain how he was able to traverse the world in far shorter times than what was possible by horse or ships of that era.


The present…

“So he used the pathways through the Makai Realm, right?” Matthew asked.

“That’s right, son. As you know, there are some one-way dimensional portals between the worlds that open up at certain times. These allowed a person to travel great distances in a short amount of time. Unfortunately for me, there wasn’t one available when I was courting your mother. I was forced to take a plane and… well, you know what happened afterwards.”

The younger lycanthrope nodded. “So what about the Musk Dynasty? I’m guessing they didn’t take things sitting down, after having an entire war party destroyed by one man.”

“That would be the understatement of the century. Word traveled fast, even in that remote area, and when news of the massacre reached the leader of the Musk… he reacted.”


Back to the past, Musk Dynasty kingdom…

[“All gone?! The entire war party is gone?!”]

[“Yes my liege. We found nothing but the dead bodies, including those of Growl and Snarl, the Bear Twins. Growl’s head was split open, while Snarl was found castrated with a spear in his chest. The others were mauled and torn apart as if some wild beast had attacked them. The spear had Joketsuzoku markings on it.”]

[“So those accursed Amazons were behind this, eh? They will PAY for this!”]

[“Yes, my Lord. We did pick up the scent of Amazons. However…”]

[“What is it?”]

[“My Lord… we find it strange that we were only able to pick up the scent of TWO Amazons. Against a party of thirty Musk warriors, the likelihood that only a pair would be able to defeat them is almost impossible! However, we did detect something else. There was another. This person wasn’t an Amazon, our trackers are certain of it. However, this stranger possessed a power that was supernatural in nature. It was somewhat similar to what we gained from Jusenkyo, but far more potent. We believe that he or she may be the one who annihilated our brethren.”]

[“So this stranger dares to kill warriors of the Musk Dynasty? Then he or she will suffer the same fate as the Joketsuzoku. Begin gathering our strongest warriors. We shall attack them in a few days time and I myself will BREAK this interloper in half!”]

[“Yes, Lord Fire Wind.”]


At the Amazon village, Gel led her rescuer to the forge, where the blacksmith was busy hammering away on a partially heated sword on top of an iron anvil. Gel gestured to the large man to get his attention. The large man nodded to her as he paused in his work and turned to her.

[“Gel! Good morning.”]

[“Good morning to you, Edge. Are they ready?”]

The man nodded as he walked toward his work table and brought forth two items. Jacob immediately recognized them.

{“My swords!”}

Gel smiled as she explained. {“After I bring you to great-grandmother, I go back for your swords. Asked Edge to sharpen and clean for you.”}

Edge nodded as he also knew English. {“These are very well made. They have good balance and are strong. I don’t recognize the metal. It is harder than my finest tempered steel. I thought I could sharpen these for you, but they do not need it. All I could do was to polish and oil them for you. These swords can cut through stone! Where did you get such wondrous blades?”}

{“Uh… well, you could say that I know a very good sword smith.”}

{“I’d like to meet him.”} Edge then handed him his twin blades, plus their harness and scabbards.

{“Well, I doubt you ever will. He’s really hard to find.”} Jacob commented as he checked the blades, then fitted the harness over his back.

In actuality, the swords had been forged in the Makai Realm, and were composed of the rare metal called Orichalcum. The metal, once forged and tempered, was virtually indestructible by normal means, and had an immunity to magic. This meant that Jacob could deflect magical attacks, slice through barriers, or even cancel out curses. Due to the rarity of the metal, it was unlikely that there were many such swords or weapons in existence. Legend has it that one such weapon found its way to the human world and became the famous sword known as Excalibur. Only a very small number of individuals knew of the secrets of how to shape and manipulate Orichalcum. Jacob’s swords and many of the weapons used by the Talbains had been created by a tribe of flame gargoyles that had a contract with the family.

As the two continued their tour of the village, they conversed more about Talban’s life.

{“What fighting style Jake use? Gel never see before.”}

{“Oh, it’s my family martial art. It’s called the Talbain Wolf Fist. I also use the two sword techniques called the Fang and Claw.”}

{“Is very powerful! You defeat Musk so easy! Must make wife very happy to have strong husband.”}

{“I’m not married.”}

{“Oh? Maybe not find right girl yet?”} Gel remarked with a mischievous smile.

When he saw the hungry look in her eyes, Jake became very uneasy. Gel was pretty but he wasn’t looking for a wife at the moment. He wasn’t certain if she could handle his lycanthrope heritage. It had been in his experience, that rural folk tended to be extremely jumpy when they encountered things of a supernatural nature. He also felt as if he was being watched by several other pairs of eyes.

At this point, several of the village’s warrior maidens had decided to make their moves toward snaring the handsome foreigner before Gel got her hooks into him. One such girl, named Comb, was especially determined to take Jacob away from her. She was considered among the most beautiful and strongest of the Amazon women, with her glorious, long aqua hair, silver eyes and her bouncy figure. She was also Gel’s staunchest rival. When she first laid eyes on Jake, she did consider him as a very handsome and strong fighter. Marrying him would bring great prestige and bloodlines to her family. And she’ll be dammed if Gel got to him first!

Soon, battle lines would be drawn, with the Musk Dynasty and matters of the heart... with Jacob Talbain caught in the middle!


The next day…

Jacob wiped his forehead as he continued to add straw and pitch. Wanting to feel useful while he stayed at the village, he had offered to help in repairing the hole in the roof of Perfume’s hut. As he worked, several Amazon girls watched him with admiration and several naughty thoughts in their heads. He was currently shirtless, and they liked the way the sun gleamed off his hard-muscled torso. He had begun to develop a tan, but that only added to his handsome appearance.

Once he finished fixing the roof, he came down to the ground to take a breather and wipe himself with a towel. A girl with short, reddish-brown hair, came up to him with a small pitcher and a glass.

[You must be very thirsty, yes?”]

[“I thirsty. Yes. Thank you”]

Jake took the offered drink and raised it to his lips. However, before he took a sip, his sensitive nose caught a whiff of something strange in the glass. He looked down and saw something at the bottom. It was almost too small for anyone to see it, but it made his innate animal danger senses go off. As he stared at the mysterious particle, he began to suspect that the girl had put something in the glass, and he had just caught it, as it was almost finished dissolving in the water. A moment later, it disappeared.

[“Something wrong?”] The girl asked while putting on an innocent look.

Jake didn’t know how to respond without sounding suspicious. He was a guest after all, and it wouldn’t do to offend his hosts. Luckily, he didn’t have to, as another girl approached him, this time carrying a tray of food.

[“Talbain is not thirsty. He is hungry!”] This female had long, black hair and brown eyes. [“You haven’t had lunch, yes?”]

[“Eat not yet.”] Jacob admitted, and his sensitive nose then caught the scent of something strange in the bowl of rice, vegetables and seasoned meat.

The two girls began to argue with one another, momentarily forgetting him. This played to the advantage of a third girl who came up behind him and took hold of his right arm. Before the werewolf could protest, Comb pulled him away from the bickering females and out of sight. He just managed to grab his shirt as he was dragged off. By the time the two stopped to ask him for his opinion, he was gone.


Some distance away…

[“Not good to leave no say. Not nice.”] Jacob said as he walked alongside the aqua-haired girl. He now had his shirt on, though the garment did nothing to hide his well-muscled torso and arms. Comb found it very difficult to keep her eyes from roaming.

{“Is okay.”} Comb replied in English. {“Salt and Pepper argue all time. You lucky that Comb take you away before you eat or drink.”}

{“Lucky?”} The ancestor of Jon and Matthew cocked his head in thought. {“You mean there really WAS something in that bowl and glass? I wondered what those smells were.”}

That particular statement caught Comb’s interest. {“You smell?”}

Jake shrugged his shoulders. {“Let’s just say I’ve got a really sensitive nose.”}

{“Very good nose.”} The Amazon agreed. {“Salt and Pepper very sneaky. Like to hide things in food and drink. Very good at use poison.”}

{“Poison?! They were trying to poison me?!”}

Comb waved her hands, trying to defuse the situation. It wouldn’t be good to scare off such a prime example of husband material. {“No! No! Salt and Pepper no kill Talbain! Is stupid! They just want to…”}

At that point, a certain ancestor of Shampoo came onto the scene. Comb’s eyes narrowed at her rival as Rouge’s great-granddaughter waved to them as she approached. The aqua-haired girl smothered her animosity with a smile and waved back.

{“Jake! Looking all over for you!}

{“Really? Why?”}

{“Great-grandmother want to show you something. Come!”} Gel pulled at Jacob’s right arm, while her rival Comb looked on with an irritated glare. She decided to go with them as she had no intention of giving up her aim to snare the handsome foreigner.


{“You wanted to see me?”} Jake asked as he and the girls stood behind Rouge’s hut.

The Amazon Elder nodded as she gestured to a small campfire she had made. {“Yes. I wanted to thank you for saving my great-granddaughter and defeating our enemies. Therefore, I decided that since you are training in the martial arts, you could learn some of our Amazon Wu Shu techniques.”}

{“What kind of techniques?”} He asked with interest.

Rouge gave the young man a knowing smile as she made a small bag of chestnuts appear, then tossed the contents into the fire. Just as the nuts started to crackle and split, the old woman reached out with her hands, which became faint blurs as she plucked each chestnut out of the fire. In less than a second, her hands were filled with roasted chestnuts, but the skin did not even have the slightest of burns.

The werewolf stared in amazement as the Elder causally munched on the nuts.


The present…

“That was the Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire Technique, right?”

Jon nodded to his offspring. “That’s right, Matthew. It took Jacob Talbain five days to master it, and just so you know, it formed the basis for our own speed techniques, such as the Million Flicker.”

“So that’s where we got it.”

“Yes, and it proved to be very useful, especially when the Lord of the Musk came after our ancestor a week later…”


Back to the 15th Century…

Gel and Comb watched in awe as Jacob Talbain’s swords flashed like lightning. Rouge’s great-granddaughter had thought he was inhumanly fast before, but now he was reaching near-light speeds. The blades glowed with an eerie blue light as the lycanthrope martial artist demonstrated his regular training regimen in the Fang and Claw Sword Style.

Rouge walked up to the pair and joined them in watching Talbain train. She smiled as she observed his movements and commented on his fighting style.

[“Most impressive. I don’t recognize his style. Apparently his fighting techniques focus on powerful, but quick strikes. His defense is excellent and he possesses more than adequate control over his ki.”]

[“Ki?”] Comb asked.

[“Yes. Look at those blade closely.”] She pointed with a wizened index finger. [“That’s not sunlight glinting off them. He’s focusing his ki into the blades, which is causing those flashes. It’s almost like a million flickers of light.”]

Jacob stopped in his movements, as his sensitive hearing had caught Rouge’s comment. He smiled as he took a neutral stance, then sheathed his swords. He walked up to the females and smiled.

[“Million Flicker, eh? Not bad for name.”]

The younger girls blushed slightly as Rouge switched to English. {“I am impressed that you mastered the Chestnut technique so quickly, and that you have now adapted it to your fighting style.”}

{“I thank you for the lessons, Sensei.”}

It was then that another Amazon came running up toward them.

[“They’re here! The Musk has come!”]

To be continued…

Author’s Notes

This chapter was started to get long, so I decided to stop here and work on the fight between Jacob and the Musk in the next installment. Afterwards, we’ll get back to the present with Matthew and Jon against Hsien Ko. See you then.