RUNE SOLDIER RANMA
Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 and Rune Soldier Louie are figments are someone else's imagination, so there!
< >: Thoughts
Here’s Ranma... Again....
"Ranma! Ranma! Where is that boy?" Foltess growled as he walked the corridors of the Academy of Magic. He was one of the elder instructors of the school and he didn't care for the rebellious nature of Orfun's most promising magic student. Many times he wondered just what did Master Carwes see in him. The last six years had been nothing but torment for the mystic teacher. It seemed to him that Ranma's sole purpose was to put Foltess through Hell.
Oh the boy had shown considerable talent. Even Foltess had to admit that. When he had first started out, Ranma easily grasped the basics of spell casting and potion mixing. He was the youngest disciple to ever conjure up a Hellfire Inferno Ring on his first try. Unfortunately, that was the same day, in which Foltess had lost all of his hair and was now wearing a wig. And he had really like those robes, which Ranma had reduced to cinders.
The troubles had not stopped since then. Ranma had a shown a tendency to skip classes and disappear for hours, sometimes for days. He was notoriously lazy when it came to studying for exams, but he always managed to pass the practical application sections, though his skills were rough and needed refinement. He also tended to use too much power when casting spells. Last year, he had caused a flood in the arboretum, when casting a simple water-summoning spell.
The youth's most annoying trait was a mischievous streak that Foltess didn't appreciate. The dark-haired boy liked to have fun, especially at the expense of his teacher and fellow students. While the instructor prided himself as one of the most dignified members of the Magic Guild, Ranma just didn't care for authority. He would take any opportunity to embarrass the elder magic user and show up all those who scoffed at his lack of refinement. Those who teased him of his low-borne origins and his fascination with those strange, unarmed fighting techniques usually weren't laughing much after Ranma got through with them. Incidents such as hanging apprentices in their underwear on flagpoles, causing their spells to misfire or making their rooms explode had been known to happen. Of course, the most frequent occurrence was that Ranma would simply beat the tar out of those who made fun of him. The Academy's Infirmary was often treating students who had dared to cross the apprentice martial arts mage.
Despite all of Foltess' attempts to discipline the boy in the ways, in which an obedient apprentice should behave, Carwess' favored pupil refused to submit. He had been punished, oh yes, many times. Ranma had been forced to clean out the stables, work in the kitchens, and haul out the refuse. Jobs that required many people to finish were all piled upon him. The backbreaking labor without any magical means to assist him, should have humbled him; humiliated him and make him easier to control. Instead it only made him stronger. It was as if Ranma was daring Foltess to give him harder challenges. The instructor had even resorted to magical means to punish the rebellious student, even though it was forbidden by the Academy Council to do so. That Magic-Reduction Manacle SHOULD have worked. But to his astonishment, Ranma had found a way around that. Damn his natural aptitude for magical counter-spells! Whenever something or someone knocked him down or temporarily got the upper hand, Ranma would come back stronger than ever. It was if the boy THRIVED on adversity, (which in his first life he had), and Foltess was nearing his wits' end after six years.
Another thing that annoyed Foltess was the fact that Master Carwess always seemed to turn a blind eye to his ward's antics. Didn't he see the havoc that youth was causing to the prestige of the Magic Guild of Ohfun? The dignity and reputation of the Academy would be in jeopardy if he were allowed to continue. Foltess had complained frequently to the Council about the troublesome apprentice, but since Carwess was the Head of the Magic Guild, Ranma's transgressions were either disregarded or he would receive light punishment.
<Hmph! Things wouldn't be this way if I were Head of the Guild!> The magic teacher grumbled as he continued to search for Ranma. He turned a corner and headed down another hallway.
A minute of so after the sounds of his footsteps faded off into the distance, a quiet sigh was heard from high above. Clinging to the rafters of the ceiling,(using the Saotome 'Cling-To-The-Ceiling-And-Hope-They-Don't-Look-Up Technique), a certain apprentice martial arts mage decided that the coast was clear. Releasing the grip he had with his fingers and toes, the fourteen-year-old dropped to the floor while twisting his body. He landed as quietly as cat jumping down from a short ledge. Standing up, he then took out his boots that had been hanging from his belt, when he had been on the ceiling. As he put them on, he tensed up as he detected the presence of another approaching him from the other side of the corridor, but relaxed as he recognized it.
Ila, age twelve, gasped as she rounded the corner and saw her classmate and best friend about to go out on another one of his excursions. She had grown considerably since he had rescued her from that grizzly and agreed to enroll in the Academy. As she was nearing puberty, her body was starting to show signs of womanhood as it became more curved and taller. Though she had not openly admitted it to Ranma, she had been developing certain feelings for her rough-and-tumble playmate and had been hoping that he would notice the certain changes that her body was undergoing.
Unfortunately, even though he was experiencing puberty for the second time in his life, (and this time it wasn't being restricted as it had been under Genma's influence), Ranma only considered Ila as his best buddy, just as Ukyo had been. She was always there to help him out, whenever he had problems mastering certain spells. She was there to support him and cover for him, whenever he skipped class. She was always on his side and would listen to him, whenever he was sad or needed to express himself. In short, Ila was the friend that Ranma always wished he had grown up with the first time around. And it was that fact, which annoyed Ila to no end. She wanted to get closer to him, but Ranma always seemed to distance himself from her whenever things became more personal.
"Ranma! What are you doing? You're not going to skip Fluentes' class again, are you?"
The boy shrugged as he prepared to leave. "Aw c'mon Ila-chan, you should know me by now. It's not like that fuddy-duddy Foltess has anything useful to teach me. He's so boring and those long-winded lectures of his always puts me to sleep. I think he just goes on and on because he likes the sound of his voice." <Like a certain Blue Blunder I used to know.> Ranma mentally added.
"But Ranma! If you miss one more of his classes, he's going to put you on garbage detail again!" Ila protested.
"So I'll haul some more trash, big deal! It's good strength training and the dump is one of the few places that I can get some privacy to practice."
At that moment, a new voice was heard.
"Hmpf! The refuse dump is perfect for the likes of you. No, on second thought, you'd INSULT the garbage with your presence, Ranma."
Both turned to see a trio of people standing nearby. Ranma growled as he faced off against his headache in the Academy, Kyle. Standing behind him were his two cronies Argot and Sinlon.
The pony-tailed apprentice snorted as he replied. "I'd rather be with garbage than you, Kyle. So would just about anyone else in the world."
Kyle scowled at him. At age fourteen, he was a slender, devious-minded individual with short, blond hair. He was considered to be the most proficient apprentice at the magic school, with the exception of Ila and Ranma. And that was the fact that irritated him the most. Ranma, a virtual nobody that Carwess had picked up off the street had risen through the ranks of the school, and attained a level of magic potency that rivaled even the senior apprentices and a few instructors.
Kyle had come from a very prestigious family of magic users and had been expected to make top honors when he graduated. He had enrolled seven years ago, and had at least a year of seniority over Ranma and Ila. Before they had arrived, he had been one of the most popular students. Everyone in his class wanted to be associated with him. He had been the talk of the campus. People feared him. People respected him.
Then Ranma and Ila came to the school.
Ila had astounded her instructors with her vast knowledge of magical incantations, items, and potion mixing. She was especially proficient with ancient languages and codes, and could decipher complex manuscripts. Despite her young age, her mental storehouse of information rivaled the Academy's best librarians and alchemists. And when Ranma appeared on the scene, with his amazing talent to learn powerful spells within short periods of time, and his martial arts prowess, Kyle's fame and reputation dwindled and he had found himself in a position that he disliked... third place. Everyone was always talking about Ila's brilliance or Ranma's antics. He was getting sick of hearing Ila this or Ranma that.
As a result, it had been his personal goal to outdo the both of them and reclaim his title as the number one apprentice of Ohfun's Magic Guild. The problem lay in how to go about doing it. He had tried intimidation, but Ranma didn't scare easily and such tactics usually resulted in quick and painful retaliation. With Ila at first, he had an easier time. Being younger, she was easier to scare, but once Ranma arrived and began constantly defending her against bullies, Kyle found himself back in the same situation. With every one of Ranma's triumphs, every victory, every challenge met and overcome, Kyle felt a little more of his own reputation eroding away. Things were getting personal.
"Going out again on one of your mindless training excursions again?" Kyle taunted while his cronies chuckled behind him. "At this rate, you'll be an old man before you graduate from second-class apprenticeship."
"Hmpf!" The martial artist snorted. "As I recall, it was because of these 'mindless training excursions,' that allowed me to kick your sorry ass three weeks ago."
Kyle snarled as he remembered back to when Ranma had been wearing that Magic-Reduction Manacle. He should have been able to beat him...
The main courtyard of the Academy, where a crowd of people were gathered to watch two combatants...
"What now, Ranma?" Kyle taunted as his battered and bruised opponent got up from the ground. "That Manacle on your arm has caused the potency of your spell-casting ability to be cut in half. You can't possibly cast any counter-spells strong enough to withstand my attacks."
The dark-haired boy growled as he reared back with his right arm, mumbled an incantation and thrust forward with palm spread. In his other hand was his magic wand. A red, fiery orb appeared in his right hand and shot out toward his rival. However, the metal bracelet on his right wrist glowed, causing the fireball he had created to be reduced in size. Kyle laughed as he held up his own wand and summoned forth a protective barrier. The projectile simply bounced off the shield and dissipated into wisps of smoke.
"Ooh, I'm impressed." Kyle remarked with scorn. "You actually mastered the Dragon's Fire Tongue Attack. It's a good thing I learned the Holy Armor of Light Spell from Master Foltess. It's a pity you skipped that class, or you would have known about it too."
High above the courtyard and watching from a balcony, Foltess smiled in triumph. He knew that the Magic-Reduction Manacle was just the thing to bring that arrogant disciple to his knees. After he was trounced, perhaps he'll finally learn not to cross his elders. And who better to teach him humility than his favorite pupil Kyle?
Ranma snarled as he let loose with five more fireballs, all of which Kyle deflected. Then he tried a different tactic by leaping high in the air and firing down toward his rival's head. Kyle simply raised his wand up higher and the barrier appeared to turn away the projectile.
<Hmmm, so that's it.> Ranma thought as he came back down. <His barrier may be good protection, but it's got to be directed like a regular shield. It doesn't surround him. If he can't see my attack coming, then he won't be able to turn the barrier against it.> He then made a check on himself and smiled as he discovered that his ki stores were unaffected by the Manacle.
As Ranma landed on the ground, his adversary continued to taunt him. "You can cast as many of those fireballs as you like, Ranma. It won't make any difference. My Holy Armor of Light will deflect any oncoming attack and your magic is only working at half-strength. You're just wasting energy and my time. Why don't you surrender? I might just show you mercy."
Kyle's opponent let off a small chuckle as he casually turned to the crowd and addressed Ila. "Hey Ila-chan! Can you hold onto this until after I beat the snot out of this loser?" He held up his wand and tossed it to his friend.
Ila caught the wand and looked back her friend. "Are you sure about this?"
Ranma gave her a wink as he faced off against his rival.
Fluentes' pet student laughed as he prepared to finish off his opponent. "So, are you giving up?" He sneered.
Ranma gave Kyle a smirk as he held up his index finger. "Nope, I'm just getting started!"
Kyle laughed even harder. He had heard about this spell. "So you think that you can beat me with that lame Earth Spell of yours? You can only make the ground around you explode and you're nowhere near enough to affect me! And even if you were, the Holy Armor of Light will protect me from all attacks!"
"Yeah, well let's see if you can stop this! BREAKING POINT TECHNIQUE REVISED!" Ranma jammed his finger into the pavement. On cue, Kyle raised his wand in front of him and brought up his mystical shield. However, an instant later, the ground below him suddenly erupted.
Everyone gasped in shock, as Kyle was sent skyward in a huge explosion of rock and dirt. Numerous rock fragments pelted his body, causing him to lose focus on his shield. At that point, Ranma leapt high and gave everyone a demonstration on the mid-air combat techniques of the Saotome School of the Anything Goes.
Kyle didn't know what hit him as he was pummeled in all directions. By the time he hit the ground, his body was littered with various bruises and was sore in places that he didn't even know he had. He let off a pathetic moan and became unconscious, as Ranma landed in triumph amid a cheering crowd.
Up in the balcony, Foltess fumed.
"Damn it! That Magic-Reduction Manacle should have made all of his magical powers ineffective! I can't believe he won!"
"What's this I hear about a Magic-Reduction Manacle?"
Foltess gulped as he turned around to a very grim-looking Carwess and Jenny.
"Isn't the use of magical items against the students forbidden by the Guild Council?" Jenny said while keeping a hard gaze upon Foltess.
"Yes Foltess. Why don't you explain yourself?" Carwess said as he tapped his foot.
Foltess gulped as a cold sweat formed on his brow.
End of flashback...
"Your so-called Holy Armor didn't mean squat against my Traveling Breaking Point. And it was all thanks to what you called as my mindless training excursions." Ranma added with a smirk.
"Grrr! Don't think that I haven't forgotten how you cheated!" Kyle spat back.
"What do you mean cheated?" Ila cut in, thereby turning Kyle and Ranma's attention to her. "You're the one who challenged Ranma to the duel, and he had to fight with a handicap! Despite that Magic-Reduction Manacle, he still kicked your sorry butt!"
Ila's friend became a bit surprised to hear her speak that way, and wondered if she had been hanging around him too much.
"Stay out of this Ila!" Kyle snapped back while his cronies nodded in agreement. Even though he knew that he was losing this battle, he still wanted to get some measure. His sneer returned as he signaled for his cohorts that they were leaving. "I'm going to class. Foltess is going to take roll call soon and I'm sure that he'll be happy to know that Ranma's not going to be there again. And I'm CERTAIN that he'll want to know who was responsible for what happened to Elder Kirless last Wednesday."
Ranma's eyes narrowed. He wasn't certain as to how Kyle knew about that incident, but such a report would most definitely cause him and his friends trouble. Ila's friend Miki had been accused of cheating on an exam, and was about to get expelled, when Ranma had secretly tied up and blindfolded the accusing instructor to prevent him from arriving at the inquiry. With no accuser and Ranma later finding the real culprit, Miki was cleared of all charges. However, if it were known that he had resorted to such tactics then...
"You do that." Ila said as she smiled sweetly at Kyle. "And I'm sure Master Carwess would like to hear all about YOUR involvement about that ugly incident last Monday."
Kyle's face and that of his cronies suddenly paled at Ila's veiled threat. The blond boy found it difficult to find his voice for a few minutes before finally saying, "W-W-What?! How... how do you know about...?"
The bespectacled girl's smiled became more pronounced. "Oh, I have my ways. Now then, do you want to go first, or shall I?"
Kyle turned about in a huff and stalked away. Argot and Sinlon each gave Ranma and Ila a glare before following their leader. Once the trio was out of sight, Ila let loose with a sigh of relief.
"So what exactly did Kyle do last Monday?" Ranma asked.
The little sorceress-in-training shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. Knowing Kyle I just took a shot. I bluffed, and he folded."
Ranma stood in utter disbelief as Ila's words sunk in, then burst into peals of laughter, in which she readily joined in.
<Sometimes I think Ila is becoming another Nabiki.> Ranma thought as he remarked, "Ila-chan, you'd make one HELL of a poker player."
"Damn him!" Kyle growled as he, Argot and Sinlon sat in the classroom, waiting for Foltess to arrive. "I'll get Ranma yet!"
"I don't know, Kyle. Maybe it's best that you leave him alone." Argot suggested. "I mean, you've already challenged him several times..."
"And lost every time." Sinlon added. Both boys cringed when Kyle growled and gave each of them a dangerous glare. Sinlon gulped, then said "I mean, with all those strange spells and fighting moves, I can't see how you can beat him."
"I'll beat him, just you wait!" The snobbish teen sorcerer promised. "Nobody makes a fool out of me! Nobody! It's just a matter of time before I learn his secrets." He gave his two companions another glare. "Although you two haven't been much help! I thought I told you to follow him and find out how he's able to do all those things!"
"We tried! Really!" Argot whined. "But we can't keep up with him!"
"What are you talking about? I thought the both of you knew levitation and camouflage spells. Those alone should be enough for you to tail him whenever he goes off on those training trips of his!"
"It's not that easy." Sinlon countered. "It takes time for us to speak the incantation and focus our energies to rise a few feet, let alone get over the main gate. Ranma just jumps over the wall, and by the time we get on the other side, he's already long gone."
"Jumps OVER the wall?!" Kyle said in shock. "That's got to be at least forty feet high!"
"And if we are lucky to spot him as he's heading into the woods, he always manages to lose us." Argot added. "I swear that he knows when he's being followed, even though our camouflage spell is hiding us from sight. Then he starts hopping over treetops, and within a minute or so, he just disappears."
"Is he using some sort of teleportation spell?"
Sinlon shook his head. "Not that we can figure. And for some reason, our scrying spells can't track him either. All we get are erratic spiritual energy trails and that's it."
"You two are useless!" Kyle growled as he and the rest of the class turned their attention to Foltess as he entered the class. The instructor seemed quite perturbed and one could guess that he displeased to see that Ranma had once again decided to skip the class.
<I find out your secrets someday, Ranma!> Kyle thought. <And when I do, you and I are going to have our FINAL RECKONING!>
Deep in the forest...
Ranma took several cleansing breaths as he stood in a small clearing amid the tall tress. He felt a bit of nostalgia as he gazed about his surroundings. He hadn't been back to this particular spot, since he had re-mastered the Hiryu Shoten Ha. Looking down at the ground, he smiled as he saw the faint outline of the spiral he had etched into the hardened clay over six years ago. It certainly brought back memories.
Clearing his mind of all distracting thoughts, using several mediation and breathing techniques he had learned from his first training journey, he let his entire body begin to build its inner power. A faint blue aura of light appeared around this body as his ki levels gradually rose. Soon, it became a bright corona of power as it began synchronizing with the life forces of his natural surroundings. After a full minute, his aura reached a state of balance and Ranma's consciousness attained its peak.
Ranma smiled. It had taken him years of dedicated training and many hardships, to reach this level of control. Working with the handicap of reliving his early childhood, and armed with the knowledge of his former life, he felt that his skill levels had now exceeded that of his past life. And though he hated to admit it, the six years at the Magic Academy had resulted in some bonuses. Their meditation techniques were easily incorporated into his already impressive repertoire of mental disciplines and energy manipulation went well with ki projection.
With his mind and body focused, Ranma began going through a series of katas from various styles. He first began with basic Karate and Kung Fu forms, then slowly began picking up speed. He switched over to Kempo and then flowed toward Jujitsu. Wu Shu and Jeet Kune Do quickly followed as he took advantage of their acrobatic moves. Before long, he began using Hapkido and some aspects of Muay Thay. As the session increased in intensity, he worked out his legs in a series of moves from Tae Kwon Do and Capoeira. He then added some evasion maneuvers from Pa Kua, speeding up even faster. Finally, he finished off the exercises with several power blows from his fists and feet, utilizing an array of Hsing, Uechi Ryu, and Choy Li Fut. He finished off in a simple, neutral stance with hands clasped out in front of his chest and elbows bent.
As he stood in silence, he smiled as his detected the presence of another nearby. He recognized the essence as the same one who had watched him when he had been younger. At that time, he had been unable to pinpoint his audience, but now his senses were sharper and he knew exactly where the person was. As he sensed no danger from the individual, he turned about and said out loud...
"I know you're here. Come on out."
There was only silence.
"There's no point in hiding. I know you're right there." He pointed up towards a tree. "You're about twenty feet above the ground and standing on that branch. You've been watching me for the last half-hour right? You were the same person who watched me when I was younger. So why don't you drop whatever spell you're using to hide from me and show yourself? I won't bite."
There was a long, tense moment of silence as Ranma waited for a response. Then the spot that he had pointed out suddenly shimmered as his audience revealed herself, giving Ranma his first look at the elf named Celecia. Ranma let off a low whistle as he beheld the pointy-eared beauty.
"Cool! A real elf!"
The elf looked to be in her mid to late teens, though she was actually older in reality. Though not immortal, her people aged far more slowly than humans and at eighty-four, Celecia was still considered to be young by elf standards. She had long blonde hair and large amber eyes. Her figure was lithe and slender. Her skin was fair and contrasted with the simple, green, short dress she was wearing. Her legs were bare and on her feet were soft, leather boots.
As she looked down at the mage-in-training, she noted how much he had changed in the last half-dozen years. Humans grow up so fast. He was taller and his form was more defined. His face had lost much of the innocence it had in the past. He looked harder and emitted a kind of confidence. However, what interested her most about this youth was the fact that he was emitting some kind of power that she did not recognize.
For a long while, the two simply gazed upon one another without uttering a single word. Finally, Celecia broke the silence.
"How did you know that I was here?"
Ranma shrugged as he replied nonchalantly. "It was easy. Your ki stands out."
The elf of course, misunderstood. "Key? What are you talking about? I don't have any keys."
The pony-tailed youth shook his head. "No, not that kind of ki. I mean..." He paused as he tried to explain it to her. "I mean, the ki in your body."
"Key in my body? I don't understand. Are you saying that I swallowed a key?"
Ranma was at a bit of a loss. Martial arts were mostly unknown in this world and it was hard enough explaining the basics, let alone the advanced concepts of ki. He decided to demonstrate instead. Tensing up his leg muscles, he suddenly leapt up toward the tree branch that Celecia was standing on and landed on all fours. This of course, started the forest nymph, causing her to almost fall backwards.
“Whoa!” Celecia gasped as she struggled to steady herself. When she got her balance back, she gazed upon the youth with renewed interest. “How did you do that?” She looked down at the ground then back at Ranma. “It has to be at least twenty feet up here.”
“Well, I was using a bit of this.” He held out a hand with the palm facing up and let some of his ki appear in a small ball.
The elf looked upon the energy with vivid interest. It wasn’t like any kind of elemental magic that she was familiar with. In a way, it resembled a shamanistic spell, but she couldn’t discern what source he was drawing from. She hadn’t heard any incantations, nor was he using any magic wands, talismans or any other kind of magic item.
Ranma shrugged as he explained and dispersed the energy. “This what I call ki. It’s... sort of the life energy which is made by all living things. And it has two sides, which is called Yin and Yang.”
“Yin and Yang?”
“You know... dark and light, good and evil, that sort of stuff. You’ve got it too, you know. It’s just that you’re more focused on using outside forces like elemental magic. I know that stuff too, but it’s a lot more tiring than using my ki. Magic takes a while to build up and can leave you really drained afterwards. I only use magic when I need to. I’ve been studying martial arts for so long, using my ki is almost second nature to me.”
“Hmmm...” Celecia became even more intrigued to hear about a power that no one had ever heard about before. Before she could ask more about it, she heard the sound of approaching footsteps and decided to disappear from sight.
“Ranma! Ranma! Are you there?” Ila called out as she looked about for her friend.
“I’m up here!” Ranma replied as he looked about for Celecia. Though he could have used his enhanced ki senses to find her, he decided to let her go as he leapt down to the ground to meet up with his classmate.
As the two magic students left the forest, Celecia watched Ranma from her hiding place. He was certainly a very fascinating boy and she hoped she’d see him again.
A year later...
“What? You’re leaving?” Ila gasped as Ranma finished with packing his belongings into a backpack. She was also fascinated as he stowed away more possessions than what the pack seemed capable of holding. Objects that seemed bulky and ungainly, seemed to disappear within the confines of the canvas carrier, without taking up any space at all.
“Yep.” The fifteen-year-old said as he hefted the heavy pack onto his back. Though he didn’t care for that near-sighted idiot, Mousse’s techniques were excellent for keeping one’s luggage.
“But why?” Ila tried her best to hold back her disappointment and tears. She and Ranma had grown up together and had gotten close. To have him suddenly up and leave, was a total shock to her.
Ranma gave his friend a small smile and replied. “Hey, you knew from the start that I wasn’t going to be here forever, right? This is the longest I’ve ever stayed in one place, though I’ve learned a lot.”
“So why don't you stay here and finish your magic studies?”
“What for? I didn’t plan to becoming a sorcerer in the first place.”
“Nope. Now don’t get me wrong. Learning the magic stuff was great, but I don’t wanna depend on it for everything. I’m a martial artist, first and foremost. Besides, I feel the need to get out and see the world. I’m betting I can learn more stuff out there.”
“Hey don’t worry. I’ll be back someday, and I’ll keep in touch between visits. You’ve been a great friend Ila-chan, and I’ll never forget you.”
“So... you’re going.” The young sorceress could see the determination in her friend’s eyes. Ranma had already decided and there was no changing his mind.
Ranma could see the sadness in her eyes and took one of her hands in his own. Their eyes met and he gave her a whimsical expression, which made her brighten up a bit. It was then that he put an object in her hands.
“What’s this?” Ila asked as she held up a strange-pendant. It was a broken half circle with an image of the Yin symbol.
Ila’s friend then held up another pendant and, which depicted the Yang. He brought it together to join with Ila’s pendant to complete the whole Yin/Yang symbol. He then put it around his neck.
“I made these to always remind us how much we’ve shared and that we’ll always be friends.”
Ila smiled as she accepted the gift and put it around her own neck.
“So there’s nothing that I can say to make you change your mind?” Carwess asked as he and Ranma stood at the gates to the magic academy.
“You said that I could leave any time I wanted to, Pops.” Ranma had taken to calling the master sorcerer as ‘Pops’ as he had come to be like a father-figure to him. He was certainly a better role model than Genma ever was.
“You have great potential Ranma. You could be one of the most powerful sorcerers in the world.”
“Yeah, I could be.” Ranma admitted. “But I think that I could learn more out there in the real world, instead of being cooped up in the academy all my life. Besides, I’m pretty sure that old fart Foltess would be happy if I weren’t around to give him Hell.” He said that last sentence with a chuckle.
Carwess couldn’t help but laugh with his pupil, then patted the teen on the shoulder. “I can see the wanderlust in your eyes. They are the same as they were seven years ago. Perhaps keeping you confined is holding you back from attaining your true potential. And I did say that you could leave when you wished. I will miss you Ranma.”
“Same here. And I promise that I’ll keep in touch and visit when I can.”
“I shall look forward to seeing you again.”
“Hey Auntie Jenny!”
The head of the Church of Mylee nodded as Ranma entered the shrine. “Ranma, it’s good to see you one last time before you left.”
“I guess Pops told you that I’m leaving, right?”
“Indeed. I’ll miss our late-night training sessions.”
The former son of Genma nodded. During the last seven years, she had been secretly giving him lessons in swordplay and archery. In return, Ranma had taught Jenny the principals of shiatsu points, which he had learned from Dr. Tofu during his first life.
“Yeah, it was really fun and I learned a lot.” Ranma nodded.
It was then that Jenny brought out something for her favorite trainee. She had planned to give it to him later, but had decided that he could have it now.
“Here. If you intend to take up the life of an adventurer, then I believe this will come in handy.”
Ranma smiled as he took the gift in his hand and drew it from its scabbard. The short broadsword was finely forged and was well-balanced. He gave it a few practice swings and admired its polished edge before returning it back to its scabbard. With a deft twist of the hand, he made it seemingly vanish from sight.
Jenny smiled as she leaned forward and gave Ranma a gentle kiss on the forehead, then brought him close for an embrace.
A while later, Ranma trudged up the hill path which headed east, away from the city of Ohfun.
And so, his journeys had started anew.
Four years later, in the forests outside of Ohfun...
A young, brown-haired girl gritted her teeth as she worked in vain to open up the entrance to a ruin. However, the stone slab proved to be extremely stubborn and she nearly broke the blade of her dagger. She had spent a good amount of time, chipping away the stone, but it eventually became obvious to even a non-magic user that the entrance had been mystically sealed.
“Darn! I’m sure that this place has some treasure!” Merrill stated as she got up and faced her two companions, Melissa and Genie. “But I’m also pretty sure that this thing’s magically sealed!”
Melissa nodded as she confirmed her friend’s assessment. She was a very young and pretty priestess of the Church of Mylee. “Yes, I can sense the signs of some very strong sealing magic.”
“Well, can’t you open it up?”
The priestess shook her head. “I’m afraid that I don’t know any spells than can undo locking enchantments.”
Merrill looked over to her other partner, who happened to be a tall, muscular, darkly tanned, red-haired woman, with a huge longsword strapped to her back. Genie shook her head.
“Don’t look at me. I don’t know anything about magic and this thing’s too strong for even me to pry open.”
“You know... I think this would go a lot quicker if we had a magician.” Merrill suggested.
Just then, the trio were put on their guard as horde of goblin monsters suddenly appeared from the surrounding forest. The three decided to retreat and rethink their strategy.
A couple of days later...
A lone figure walked in the streets of Ohfun and breathed in the city air. He was a tall indiviual, with a lean, but muscled form. His steps were light and sure and he seemed to emit a subtle aura of confidence surrounding him. He was dressed simply in a red, short-sleeved tunic, with dark loose leggings, bracers on his wrists, form-fitting leather boots, and a black flowing, hooded cloak draped over his shoulders. Tucked in his belt was a small wooden wand. Slung over one shoulder, he had a simple staff and hanging from it was a heavy backpack. His long raven hair was loosely tied in a single ponytail.
Ranma, age nineteen (chronologically thirty) was back.
The sorcerer and martial artist smiled a bit, when his familiar popped his head out from under the flap of his backpack. On its forehead was a strange, line pattern of white fur, which contrasted with the rest of its reddish-brown pelt. (1) Little Shin gave off a small yawn and looked about, taking in the sights of the city. The kitten then looked down at his master with its violet colored-eyes and twitched its left ear.
Ranma nodded back at his mystical companion and nodded in understanding. “Yep. This is Ohfun.” He looked about to get his bearings. “Hmmm... it’s been a while since I’ve been here. Let’s see... if I remember right, then the Laughing Swan Tavern should be... that way.” He gestured toward a direction and headed toward the center of the city.
“Trust me, you’ll like Ila. And I’m sure she’s gonna really like you, Shin.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. Rune Cat and all, but she’s not like those other people.”
“Mew.” The cat said with a hidden implied meaning to it.
“Hey! You can’t blame that one on me!”
“That wasn’t my fault either! That jerk was asking for it!”
“Now you don’t think I did THAT and... WHOOPS!”
While arguing with his Rune Cat, Ranma wasn’t paying attention to where he was going and tripped over a loose cobblestone. His pack made him top-heavy and he couldn’t stop his forward motion. He instinctively grabbed for anything to stop him from falling. Unfortunately, what he caught hold of was a young girl’s skirt, specifically a young thief by the name of Merrill, who was currently calculating her net assets. This act exposed her panties and the results were predictable.
“YOU PERVERT!” Merril screamed.
“Hey, now wait just a minute!” Ranma said as he desperately tried to get a hold of the situation before the inevitable...
A little while later...
“Hmpf!” Ranma snorted as he continued on toward his destination. He had a slight, red imprint of a hand on his right cheek, which was almost faded away. In his backpack, Shin let off a happy little noise that seemed to say ‘now THAT was funny!’
“Oh be quiet!” The young mage said in irritation. “It was an accident! She didn’t have to get so mad. Jeez! Why is it that every time something happens, it’s always blame it on Ranma? I got enough of that during my first life!”
“Now don’t you start!”
At that moment, he heard a commotion in a nearby alleyway. He decided to investigate as he wasn’t scheduled to meet up with Ila until the next day. When he came to the spot, he saw that a trio of thugs were accosting a tall and very muscular, red-haired woman. One was armed with a short sword, while the other two had daggers.
As a martial artist, he immediately began assessing the female.
<Hmmm... lots of strength, and some considerable sword skills, judging by that sword. She’s slower than me and doesn’t move much like a martial artist, so I’d say that she’s like Kuno. Separate her from her weapon and she’d be at a disadvantage. She could probably take on those three losers though.>
“Why should I get involved? It’s not like she needs help against those idiots.”
“Meow, meow, mew.”
“Now don’t you start with that ‘martial artist’s duty to protect the weak’ thing. That got me in a lot of trouble back then and besides, she don’t look weak, at least not much. Unskilled and undisciplined, yeah. Has a temper to match, probably. Fights like a drunken gorilla, maybe. Wouldn’t know what to do without a sword, most likely. But even Uncute Tomboys like her, should be able handle three brain-dead dopes with just brute force alone.”
“WHAT DID YOU SAY?!”
Ranma winced as he realized that Genie and her attackers had heard him. He sighed and shook his head while pinching the bridge of his nose. <Damn! After all this time, I should have learned to keep my mouth shut by now! Oh well, no help for it.>
Genie looked at the stranger who had been arguing with his cat, and inadvertently thrown insults concerning her fighting skills. She had taken offense at his disregard for her battle prowess. She was a battle-hardened, first-class soldier. How dare this peon regard her as an... Uncute Tomboy? Though she was unfamiliar with that term, it got her blood boiling nonetheless.
As for her attackers, they weren’t exactly pleased to be referred to as idiots and brain-dead dopes. They had initially intended to rob Genie, but this newcomer seemed to have more things for them to take. Surely he must have a few valuables in that backpack. So they decided to attack him instead.
Ila’s friend shrugged as his body tensed up. Shin also tensed up as his prepared to spring out of the pack to aid his master. But that was when Ranma tossed his pack high into the air.
Ranma then dropped his staff and easily ducked under the first thug’s attempt to slash at his head. Grabbing the extended arm, he twisted the wrist, causing his foe to scream out in pain and releasing his grip on the sword. Ranma then turned inwards and flipped the thug over his shoulder, slamming him into the pavement. A quick kick to the face knocked him out.
The second attacker tried to blindside him, by rushing toward Ranma’s back, but the martial artist simply brought his right elbow back and jabbed it into his assailant’s gut. This caused him to double over, but a follow-up backfist to the face caused him to snap up straight, then topple backward into unconsciousness.
The third robber eeped after seeing his two companions taken out so easily. He looked down at his weapon, then back at Ranma. Though his target was unarmed, he wasn’t certain if he could take on the martial arts mage. He became even more nervous as Ranma gestured to him with his hands, daring him to approach.
“Come on... impress me.”
Summoning up all the desperate courage he had, the last robber let off a suicidal cry and lunged at Ranma, aiming for his abdomen. However, Ranma evaded the attack by simply pivoting on his left foot while raising his right foot high. He then brought the leg down and laid his final opponent low with a heel drop to the back of his neck.
After dusting himself off, he casually picked up his staff and held it out. He then counted down...
“Three... two... one... zero!”
At that moment, his pack came back down and was easily caught at the end of his staff before it hit the ground.
Genie could only stare in total disbelief at what she had just witnessed.
Shin popped his head out from the pack and started to angrily chide his companion.
“MEOW! MEOW! ROWR! ROWR! MEOW!”
Ranma couldn‘t help but smirk at his friend’s indignation. “Oh come on, Shin. I would think you’d be used to that by now.”
Shin became even more irritable at his friend’s attempt at humor at his expense. Suddenly, his violet eyes started to glow with an eerie light.
“Uh oh. Now hold on a minute, Shin...”
Genie didn’t even have time to finish her scream as she and Ranma were engulfed in a sudden explosion.
Some more time later...
“Hey. Wake up. You still alive?”
Genie groaned as she opened her eyes and saw a blurry image of someone kneeling over her. As her eyesight cleared, she felt her whole body throb with pain. Her temper immediately returned as she beheld Ranma and his Rune Cat. Shin was currently perched on his right shoulder.
“Why you... ARRRGGGH!” Genie tried to get up, but her body wouldn’t cooperate with all the bruises and aching muscles. Ranma had no trouble in deflecting her feeble attempts to hit him.
It was then that she noticed that the alleyway was now a devastated ruin and there was a huge crater with the three thugs sprawled near the center. She and Ranma were currently outside of the alley.
“You’re lucky I managed to cast a protective barrier to deflect most of the blast away from us and our attackers.” Ranma said as he assessed her injuries, then gave Shin a look of disapproval. “Shin tends to overreact during his temper tantrums.”
The Rune Cat gave off an apologetic noise as he decided to retreat back into Ranma’s pack.
Just then, the local constables began approaching the scene. Knowing that they’d never let him explain the circumstances, Ranma decided to leave the scene. After casting a quick recovery spell for Genie, he leapt high and used a nearby wall to bound upwards toward a rooftop. In a heartbeat he was gone.
<How did he do that?> Genie wondered momentarily, then saw that she too needed to vacate the premises. As the pain in her body suddenly lessened, she immediately picked herself up and ran, just as the local law enforcement officers arrived at the scene of the carnage.
“You’re late.” Merrill said as she and Melissa sat at a table at an inn. They both noticed that their swordswoman companion was in a haggard state as she sat down.
“Sorry. Something... happened on the way here.” Genie explained as she asked the bartender for a mug of ale. “So did you find a magician?”
Both girls shook their heads.
“Just about all the magic users in Ohfun are nerds.” Merrill sighed. “All they want to do is study. There isn’t anyone who wants to go adventuring.”
Melissa nodded. “Master Carwess is quite strict at the Magic Academy and I do not believe he would allow any of his students to be taken away from their studies.”
“Isn’t the Order of Mylee strict as well?” Genie pointed out as she took a slug of ale.
Melissa shook her head. “No, battle is one of the duties of our Order and Master Jenny won’t stop any of her disciples from adventuring.”
It was then that the youngest member of their group got an inspiration. “Hey, I know! There’s a pub that’s nearby where most of the magic-users go to. I think it’s called the Laughing Swan. Maybe we can get a sorceress there!”
“All right, it’s agreed.” Genie said as she finished off her ale. Melissa also decided on Merrill’s suggestion.
The next day...
<Hmmmm, I wonder where Ranma is? He’s over a day late.> Ila thought as she waited in the tavern. She was anxious to see her childhood friend after all this time. He had been keeping in touch with letters and the occasional visit, and Ila always looked forward to whenever he decided to drop by. Master Carwess and Jenny were equally looking forward to seeing their favorite pupil.
“You’re a sorceress, aren’t you?”
Ila dispelled thoughts of Ranma as she was brought back to reality by Merrill’s question. She looked up at the thief and her two companions.
“Yes, I am. And who are you?”
“Hi, I’m Merrill. This is Genie and Melissa. We’re adventurers.”
“Adventurers? Oh, that must be so exciting! My friend Ranma is an adventurer too! You three must find lots of treasure!”
“Uh... well, not really.” Merrill admitted. Lately, the pickings had been very slim and with all the adventuring groups out there, it was a challenge to just break even, let alone make any profit. Currently, they were deep in the red.
“If you find any treasure or magical items, I’ll gladly buy them from you.” Ila offered. In the past, Ranma had given her several mystical objects and such from his escapades and she was eager to acquire more. In his last letter, he had told her that he had come across a Rune Cat and she was anxious to study that rare and valuable animal.
Ila’s offer caught the three adventurers off-guard as they were hoping to enlist her services.
“No, that’s not what we wanted to discuss with you.” Melissa said.
“Yeah, we were kind of hoping that you could... come along with us?” Merrill asked. “You see, we’ve come across a ruin that just might have some treasure, but it’s sealed with magic and...”
“Come with you?” Ila shook her head, causing the three girl’s faces to show expressions of disappointment. “I’m sorry, but I can’t abandon my studies. The only person I know who could help you, is my friend Ranma.”
“Is Ranma a good magician?” Merrill asked hopefully.
Ila nodded. “Oh yes, very good. Ranma happens to be one of the top apprentices, despite being away from the Magic Academy for more than four years. One of my friend’s specialties is casting and undoing locking spells. Unsealing a magic door shouldn’t much of a problem. Ranma also has a talent for battle magic so adventuring isn’t a problem either. In fact, Ranma’s been doing it for more than four years now.”
“Sounds promising.” Genie admitted.
“Yes, a godsend from Mylee!” Melissa nodded.
“Great! Sounds like your friend Ranma is just the sorceress we need! So when can we meet her?” Merrill inquired excitedly.
Ila was taken aback by the three’s assumption that Ranma was female. Just then, a certain someone came in through the Laughing Swan’s front door...
“Ranma!” Ila called back.
“RANMA?!” The adventurers cried out as they beheld... HIM.
To be continued...
I never thought this story would have such a huge response, but I decided to finish off this chapter anyway. I’ve already seen the entire Rune Soldier Louie series and it was enjoyable. My attempt on Rune Soldier Ranma will take a more serious turn from time to time, like Record of Lodoss, but there will be a few chuckles and such along the way.
The next chapter, if I ever get back to writing this thing again, will deal with Ranma’s initial confrontations with the group. Naturally, they won’t take a male into their group and Ranma will take offense to their discrimination in his own way. We’ll also take a look back at what had happened in Nerima after Ranma disappears.
(1) Ranma’s pet and familiar is a rare Rune Cat, sort of like the pet that Cleo has in Sorcerer Stabber Orphen. Since he doesn’t have the Neko Ken anymore, it’s kind of ironic that he would have a feline to help harness his magical ability. Shin is powerful but he has a tendency for mischief and is easily irritable.