RUNE SOLDIER RANMA
Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 and Rune Soldier Louie belong to their own creators, so go blame them for this mess.
< >: Thoughts
Are you Sure About This?
“NO!” Merrill cried out.
“Absolutely not!” Genie agreed.
“This is unacceptable.” Melissa concurred.
“WOW! I can’t believe you found a Rune Cat!” Ila exclaimed as Ranma’s familiar came out of his pack and landed lightly on the table. As always, the intellectual side of her personality made her forget everything else.
“Ila, meet Shin. Shin, this is Ila, one of my best buddies.” Ranma said as he introduced the two.
“Meow.” Shin nuzzled against Ila’s extended hand as she petted him. He liked her scent and her mystical presence was nice.
“Oh, he’s so cute!” Ila gushed. “Where did you find him?”
“Actually I didn’t find him, he found me.” Ranma replied. “I was traveling around the Kytorian Mountain Range three months ago. One morning, I found him in my pack and...”
“HEY! ARE YOU LISTENING TO US?!” Merrill said irritably as she and the other members of her group found themselves being ignored.
The two magicians and the Rune Cat looked back toward the trio, who were more than irritated. The looks on Merrill and Genie were especially sour as they glared at Ila’s childhood companion.
Ranma however, was used to such expressions, as he recognized the thief and female warrior. Knowing that they’d probably try to bash his brains in, regardless of what he would do or say, (some things never changed), he gave them a friendly smile anyway. “Hey there! I didn’t expect to see you two again...”
“Pervert!” Merrill gritted as she fingered her throwing knives.
“Jerk!” Genie agreed as she moved her right hand toward her broadsword.
Ila of course, was confused at their sudden hostility at her friend. Certainly Ranma was sometimes crude and rubbed people the wrong way, but his base honesty was one trait, which defined his unique personality. It was a characteristic that she liked.
“Uh, Ranma? Have you met these people already?”
“Please forgive us.” Ila apologized. “We did not mean to forget about you. Now about Ranma joining your group...”
“We don’t need a man!” Merrill said adamantly.
“That’s right! There’s nothing more useless than a stupid male!” Genie agreed.
Melissa nodded, though she tried to keep civil. “I’m sorry, but I‘m afraid that we cannot accept your friend Ranma...”
“Because I’m a guy?” Ranma said simply with a sarcastic tone. “Oh, that’s a really GOOD reason. Hmpf!”
“Please!” Ila said as she tried to keep things friendly. “I’m sure that Ranma would be an excellent addition to your group and...”
“Ah, forget it, Ila-chan.” Ranma said with a shrug as he propped his feet up on the table. Shin bounded into his lap and snuggled close while he began stroking the cat’s back. “If these three wannabe-adventurers don’t want my help, then let them go.”
“How dare you?!” Genie growled as she was one heartbeat away from drawing her sword and running him through. “We’ve had MORE adventures, than you! You‘re a novice compared to us!”
“Hold it, please!” Ila held up her hands again to try and diffuse the situation. She then gave her friend a disapproving look. “Ranma! I’m surprised at you! I thought you had better manners than this!”
The warrior-mage shrugged again. “I only reserve my manners for those who give me the same. Besides, if they‘re gonna keep on insulting me, just because I‘m a guy, then I don‘t any see any reason why I shouldn‘t be allowed to voice my own opinions.” He gestured with his thumb at the girls, particularly to the swordswoman. “I’ve received better courtesy from a ravenous pack of jackals than from them.”
The trio had just about enough of Ranma’s snide remarks and got up to leave.
“Fine then! We don’t need you!” Merrill spat out. “You probably couldn’t open a sealed door anyway!”
This caught Ranma’s interest as he asked Ila. “Sealed door?”
Ila nodded. “Yes. You see, these three want to get into some ruins and they can’t get past a mystical seal at the entrance.”
“Ruins? You mean like the one sealing the Myronil Ruins about ten leagues north of Ohfun? Those kinds of seals I can handle, no problem.”
This remark caught the girls’ attention as they stopped in their tracks and turned around. They had just been to those ruins seven days ago. As far as they could tell, no one had been able to get past that seal. The combined strength of all three of them couldn’t even budge it. They had been forced to give up trying to get into it. Afterwards, they had come across their current endeavor with no better luck. If he could get by such barriers...
“You... really know how to open those kinds of seals?” Melissa asked slowly with slight interest.
Ranma gave her an off-handed wave and nodded. “Oh yeah. Most ruins are sealed with an elemental-bonding spell. The entrance door becomes closely linked with the surrounding rock, metal or whatnot. The harder you chip at it, the stronger the bond becomes. You need to bypass the enchantment and dispel it, in order to pry the door loose. Not exactly something for a first-year apprentice. I’ve had my share of getting past those kinds of defenses and some variations, so I should know what I’m talking about.”
Ila smiled proudly at them. “See? I told you he knew.”
The three females then moved off to one side and huddled.
“He... seems to know how...” Melissa said slowly.
“You’re not REALLY thinking of letting him come with us, are you?” Genie asked angrily. Ranma’s cocky attitude and lack of respect toward her skills had already gotten her temper near boiling range.
“Well, it’s not like we have much of a choice. We’ve been turned down everywhere else. He... may be our best chance...”
At that point, their youngest member started to reconsider. “Melissa’s got a point. If what he says is true... then we need someone with more experience. Of course, he’s nowhere as good at getting into places as I am, but...”
“I can’t believe the two of you are actually thinking of letting him come with us!” Genie almost shouted. “We don’t need a man in our group!”
“Well, why don’t we test him?” Merrill suggested. “If he can actually get it open like he says, then we’ll give him a LITTLE bit of the treasure. If he can’t, then we can just drop him.”
“But Merrill!” Genie was adamant against letting Ranma join their team.
“Genie, just how much do you owe the tax collector now?” Merril asked simply.
The swordswoman was taken aback by her companion’s point. With the lack of bounties and the city at peace, the female warrior had been out of work for some time. There were no wars for her to fight as a mercenary soldier, and raiding ruins so far had not been very profitable.
Merrill nodded at her friend’s silence. “You, me and Melissa are in deep right now. We owe a lot of people for all those supplies, and we’re behind in our tax payments. We need to score really big this time.”
At that moment, they heard Ranma’s voice call out to them and turned to him.
“Hey! Me and Ila-chan have been talking about it, and maybe I was a little rude. So how about this? I’ll give you a freebie. First sealed door I open, I won’t ask for anything. Whatever treasure you find... it’s all yours. How about it?”
“Okay, now get this straight.” Genie growled as she, Melissa, Merrill and Ranma walked through the markets in search of supplies. “We’re only letting you tag along with us because we need to get past that seal. Don’t think that we’re going to let you become a member of our group!”
Ranma casually waved her words off. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. I already promised that you three can have whatever is in those ruins. I just want to show you that I can undo that seal. So which ruins are we going to?”
“Well, they‘re located about two-and-a-half leagues south of Ohfun.” Melissa said.
Ranma stopped suddenly, then gave the priestess a funny look. “You want to get into THOSE ruins?”
“Yes, is something wrong?”
“Well, yes and no. There are a couple of things you should know about those ruins...”
“Like what? Those goblin monsters?” Merrill asked.
Genie snorted with disdain. “Hmpf! We already know about those things and we can handle them.”
Ranma shrugged. “Well, yeah, there’s the goblins, but...”
“But what?” Melissa inquired.
“Well, I really think you should try another place. Like the Tetralel Ruins in Atlans.”
“Atlans?! That’s over a hundred and fifty leagues away!” Merrill exclaimed. “We don’t have the time to go that far! We need to score some treasure soon!”
“Yes, and I think we got us a liar and a weakling!” Genie said as she glared at the martial artist and mage. This was an opportunity to get rid of this jerk.
Ranma took offense to Genie’s accusation and faced her down. “And what do you mean by that?”
“I mean that I think you don’t really know how to open a sealed door and you’re just trying to make an excuse not to go to these ruins! Why else would you suggest another place that‘s too far away?” Genie said with scorn.
Ranma’s temper began to boil as he recognized this kind of scenario all too well. Just what was it with Uncute Tomboys and their tendency to jump to conclusions without listening to him first? And again, once the Uncute Tomboy had made an accusation, other females in the vicinity would naturally agree and...
“You big fake!” Merrill chimed in as she pointed an accusing finger at him.
“How dishonorable!” Melissa stated as her ‘holier-than-thou’ upbringing came to the fore. “What kind of man are you? A true gentleman would NEVER consider such deceit!”
“Admit it! You're all talk!” Genie accused. “You probably wouldn’t know how to open a normal door if you had the key, let alone a magic seal! Just what I‘d expect from a man!”
“What?!” Ranma’s temper started towards its peak. Here he was, trying to be civil and make an alternative suggestion, but these girls wouldn’t even give him a chance. (This sound familiar?)He had a good mind to abandon them right then and there, but decided that they should be taught a lesson on judging a person by his gender. Keeping his anger in check, but just barely, he growled at them. “Fine then! You want to get into those ruins? I’ll open it up easily and like I said before, you can everything that’s in it!”
“Hah! I’d like to see that!” Genie snorted as their group continued through the market.
“You expect me to carry all this crap? For all three of you?” Ranma said as he stood before a sizeable pile of weapons, herbs, foodstuffs and other supplies, some of which were not even useful by his standards, (like Melissa’s fine porcelain tea set). Spending ten years of training with Genma had taught him the value of traveling with just the essentials.
“What’s the matter?” Genie taunted. “Is the great magician afraid to do a little manual labor? Don‘t want to exert yourself?”
“Yeah. Since you’re new, you’re going to have to start at the bottom.” Merrill nodded.
“Working with one’s hands is one of the great lessons of life, which builds character.” Melissa stated.
“Whatever.” Ranma said as he laid down his backpack and opened up the top flap.
Genie’s smirk became even more pronounced. It would be sheer pleasure to watch this arrogant struggle under the weight of all this equipment. If he was going to store it in his pack, then it would be even more humorous. However, that was when Ranma surprised them all as he took each and every item and made them seemingly disappear into his pack with a sudden blurring of his arm. When the last of the supplies were stowed away, the warrior-mage hefted the pack over one shoulder as easily as one would carry an empty gunny sack. The fact that its outer shape remained unchanged was not lost to them. In fact, Shin poked his head out from under the top flap and yawned. By all rights, the cat should have been crushed by the sheer weight of the things Ranma had packed away.
“H-H-How did you do that?” Melissa asked.
Genie snorted again and turned her head up and away from Ranma. “Hmpf! He just cheated and used some kind of magic spell. Maybe that pack of his is magic or that magic cat had something to do with it.”
“Wrong.” The pony-tailed martial artist stated. “I only use spells when I need to and what I did wasn’t magic. Shin had nothing to do with what I just did.”
“Yeah right.” Genie said as she continued to look down on him.
Ranma snorted again as he motioned for Shin to perch on his right shoulder. He then held out the pack in his left hand and faced Genie. “So you don’t believe that I could have gotten all that stuff in this pack without magic, eh? So why don’t you carry it?” He then tossed the pack toward the red-haired warrior.
Genie, not expecting the pack to be very heavy, casually held out her arms. However...
“GENIE!” Both Melissa and Merrill cried out.
Genia was flat on her back and struggling to get the crushing weight of the pack off her chest. She felt as if she was under a ton of rocks. Both her companions went to her aid and tried to move the backpack, but it wouldn’t budge. As she gasped and strained to free herself, she looked up and saw Ranma grinning above her.
“What’s the matter, you Uncute Tomboy? Surely you can lift a pack? Or is it because you don’t want to exert yourself?” Ranma mimicked.(1)
Genie snarled in absolute rage. He was going to pay for this!
By mid-afternoon, Ranma and the group arrived at the entrance to the ruins. There were no goblins in sight at the time, which gave the magic martial artist time to prepare his unlocking spell. He took out a small vial of liquid from his pack and uncorked it. He then made a small quill appear and dipped its tip into the liquid. Kneeling down, he began drawing symbols into the mystically-enchanted slab, which was the door to the ruins.
“Jihn Men, Ja A Ku, Do Kei Ru... Jihn Men, Ja A Ku, Do Kei Ru... Jihn Men, Ja A Ku, Do Kei Ru...” Ranma began chanting as he continued to draw mystic inscriptions. (2)
Melissa looked in confusion at the symbols that Ranma was drawing into the stone. They looked like nothing of the ancient runes she had seen in the old texts. She had some training in spell-casting, but these... chicken scratches Ranma was drawing made no sense whatsoever.
What she didn’t know that Ranma had been working on his own brand of magic during his four-year adventuring journey. He had reasoned that if he could use something else, besides than his magic wand as a medium, then he could cast spells to further enhance his ki abilities and vice-versa. To that end, he remembered back to the ancient Japanese legends of the Oni and the stories he had learned during his travels through China. He and Genma had raided, er... visited a lot of temples, and he had perused a few ancient scrolls. Through a lot of trial and error, during his travels through this medieval world, he had finally begun to create effective spirit wards and magic scrolls for specific purposes. All in Japanese Kanji of course.
After several minutes of chanting and drawing, the girls began to get impatient.
“How much longer is this going to take?” Merrill complained.
“Yes, when will this door be opened?” Melissa asked with some indignation.
“Hmpf! If he can actually get this thing opened, then it’ll be a miracle.” Genie scoffed.
Ranma stopped in his spell-casting to give the girls a harsh glare, then he sarcastically said to no one in particular. “Those of us who have been trained in magical incantations and spellbinding, raise your hand.” He raised his hand briefly. “Those of us who have opened magical doors before, raise your hand.” He raised it again. “Does anyone here have any idea how to unlock this binding spell?” Up went his hand again. “Any questions? No?”
There a bit of a silence as Ranma’s subtle insults sank in, causing the three girls’ tempers to rise several degrees. Ignoring their irritation, he finished off drawing the kanji and continued infusing them with mystical energy and ki. A few moments later, the writing let off a bright flare of light and wisps of green mist emerged from the edges of the slab. When the spell was completed, the kanji vanished from sight.
“Okay, that’s it. The locking spell has been undone. Not a bad piece of work if I do say so myself.” Ranma got up and dusted himself off. He then walked over to a small boulder and sat down on it. Shin appeared from his pack and lightly jumped down to sit in his master’s lap. Ranam started stroking his back.
“That’s it?” Merrill asked in surprise. “You just drew a few symbols on that rock and said some strange words. The slab is still there!”
Ranma shrugged. “The locking spell that held that door in place is gone. The only thing that’s left is that piece of granite and I’m SURE that three expert adventurers like you shouldn’t have any problems with a hundred pounds of rock. I did my part and like I told you, everything that‘s in this place is all yours.”
The paladin of the group snarled at Ranma’s taunts. He was just asking for a pounding and she made a note to do just that after she and her companions had obtained the treasure. Hefting her longsword, Genie wedged the point into one side and began prying open the door. Sure enough, the heavy block of stone slowly began moving and daylight streamed down a flight of rocky steps. With some effort, she upended the massive chunk of granite, which crashed down with a loud thud. The entrance to the ruins was now open to the three girls.
Merrill took the lead with a magical torch that the Priestess had provided her with. Her innate greed came to the fore as she eagerly began taking the first steps. She couldn’t wait to get her hands on the untold wealth of gold and jewels she imagined they would find. Melissa and Genie were also eager to see their luck change as they began descending down the stairs.
“Oh, one thing I think you should know...” Ranma called after them.
“If you think you’re going to get a share of the treasure, forget it!” Merrill shouted back.
“Yes. You said that you did not want any. A TRUE gentleman should ALWAYS keep his word. You’ve already proven that you’re no gentleman!” Melissa said with a snobbish air.
“I only wanted to...” Ranma tried again but was cut off by Genie.
“We don’t need you anymore, so just shut up! We’re the experts, and you’re the rookie! So STAY OUT OF THIS!”
The magic warrior sighed and nodded. “Okay. I won’t say another word. Good luck.”
Genie smiled smugly as she followed her friends down into the ruins.
“Meow.” Shin stretched out on Ranma’s lap and sat up, while gazing upon his master.
“Yeah, I know.” Ila’s friend nodded as he stroked behind Shin’s left ear. “But what could I do? She told me to shut up, so I did. Sheesh, it’s just like back in Nerima. No girl ever wanted to listen to I wanted to say, especially certain Uncute Tomboys. Even when I had something really important to say.”
“Meow, meow, meow, rowr.”
“Hey, I TRIED to tell them that I had raided these ruins three years ago. Heck, I was the one who set up that locking spell in the first place. This is the first time I had to undo my own magic.”
“Well, there wasn’t much in there. I found about six pounds of gold coins, two pounds of silver and three or four handfuls of gems. Not very good quality either. Considering the trouble I went through to get them, it wasn’t much.”
“What kind of troubles? Well, let me think. Oh yeah! First off, I almost broke my neck going down those steps. There are some brittle steps halfway down that will break apart under the slightest pressure...”
WHUMP! CRASH! BANG! THUMP!
“OW!” Merrill groaned as she painfully sat up at the bottom of the stairs. She had fallen end over end after she had inadvertently stepped on a crumbling step.
“Merrill, are you all right?” Genie called down as she took a tentative step forward. However, her foot came down on another loose step, causing her to fall forward. In desperation, she grabbed for something for support. In this case, it was Melissa.
“EEEEEKKKK!” The priestess cried out as the muscled warrior-woman grabbed hold of her skirts. This put her off-balance and the two began tumbling down toward their diminutive companion.
Merrill was just recovering from her trip down the stairs, when she looked up and saw her partners coming down toward her.
Ranma smirked as he caught the sounds of certain people’s antics. He used a magical technique to enhance his hearing.
“Good thing I learned how to fall safely and avoid injury.”
“Any other dangers? Well, the stairs lead down toward a cavernous maze. Hope they don’t make too much noise or those stalagmites are going to come crashing down on top of them.”
“Oh, they’re called stalactites, not stalagmites? I always get those two mixed up.”
“LOOK OUT!” Genie cried out as she used her sword to bat away the falling spikes of limestone. However, her very shout caused more to come down on top of them.
After a mad dash through the maze, the three were bruised and battered and their clothes were disheveled and tattered. They thought the worse was over as they came into a very wide space, but...
“And then there were those giant slime devils to worry about.”
“Yeah, you know the kind that can dissolve metal in seconds? I almost ruined the sword Aunt Jenny gave to me.”
“They’re eating my daggers!” Merrill cried out as her weapons were dissolved by the gelatinous blobs.
Melissa gritted her teeth as she swung her war-hammer. Though it was constructed of enchanted steel, it too was beginning to weaken and corrode from the caustic fluids of the slime devils.
Genie found that her best sword techniques were next to useless against these foes as they easily withstood her slashes and thrusts. Her blade began melting away and she shuddered to think what their fluids would do to human flesh.
“I hope they don’t do something stupid like use fire or anything hot against those things.”
“Meow.” Shin agreed wholeheartedly.
“Yeah. Those things are like ticking time bombs. Only an idiot would light their fuses.”
“Let’s see how they like this!” Genie cried out as she swept up the torch and drove it into a slime devil. This caused it to explode... in her face.
This in turn caused a chain-reaction with the others.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
Ranma noted the rocks on the ground were shaking from a sudden series of slight tremors. He shrugged and went back to petting his Rune Cat.
“Ah, don’t worry. They survived. They may be a little on the crispy side, but they’re still alive.”
“How do I know? Easy. Just listen.”
The Rune Cat used his own extraordinary senses. Sure enough he heard...
“I never thought a priestess of Mylee would know such language.”
Now smoking a bit, the three girls made their way to what appeared to be a hidden temple. Their spirits picked up as they believed that they had found the place where all the treasure lay. When Merrill caught sight of a huge chest with a padlock, she immediately ran toward it and began working on opening it with her lock-picking tools.
Genie and Melissa gave off a sigh of relief. After all they had endured, they were finally going to be rewarded.
That was when they heard something coming toward them from the shadows.
“Oh yes, I almost forgot the main reason why I sealed away those ruins in the first place.”
“Yep. There’s one HUGE nest of goblin monsters down in that old temple. The ones those girls saw were just the tip of the iceberg. The majority was sealed away after I got all the treasure.”
Genie, Melissa and Merrill found themselves surrounded on all sides as the goblin monsters advanced on them en masse. There seemed to be no way out as the hordes closed in on them. They were already exhausted from their trials and their weapons were next to useless against the dozens of goblins that were about to tear them apart.
Merrill gulped as she saw the murderous monsters about to attack. She had so CLOSE to making a big score! Then she decided that if she was going to die, then she would at least see just how rich they would have been. In less than a heartbeat, she managed to work out the last tumbler of the padlock, causing it to snap open. Then she looked into the chest and her face became drained of all color.
Genie and Melissa also looked back to the chest and they too became shocked as they saw not treasure, but three words written on the inside of the lid of the empty container.
RANMA WAS HERE!
The three felt an intense anger building within them. It first started as intense spark, which then started to expand. Soon their entire beings were filled with rage until they were unable to contain it. Then they all screamed simultaneously the same familiar phrase...
“RANMA YOU JERK!!!” (3)
“Oh well, here I go again, saving Uncute Tomboys from their own stubbornness.” Ranma sighed as he dropped his pack to the ground, stood up and held his staff out.
“Meow?” Shin landed lightly on his feet and faced his master.
“Well of course I’m going down after them. You didn’t really think I was going to let them die, did you?”
“Yeah... I guess I just have a soft spot... in the head. Damn! Why doesn‘t anyone ever listen to me, when I have something important to say?” Ranma sighed again, then nodded to his familiar. “Okay Shin. Do your thing!”
The Rune Cat nodded as its forehead symbol glowed, followed by its eyes. Magician and Rune Cat disappered in a bright, violet flash of light.
The three adventurers were preparing to say their last prayers as they were about to be overrun, when they were suddenly blinded by a sudden flare of light. The goblins were also stopped in their tracks as they were unused to sudden luminescence.
Ranma and Shin appeared between the girls and their foes. The martial artist and magic-user took a ready stance with his staff held high. Beside him, his Rune Cat tensed up and hissed at the goblins.
It was time to show the girls what Ranma the Rune Soldier was capable of.
To be continued...?
Well, it seems that I’m on a roll with this story, though I’m also working on the next chapter of Ranma, Master of the Cards. I’m really getting into this story and there’s a chance this may become one of my regular projects, (like I don’t have enough as is!). In any case, I will promise to give my readers the conclusion to this battle and the aftermath. Also in part 2, we’ll see what happened in Nerima after Ranma’s disappearance, since I didn’t have a chance to show it this time around.
(1) For those of you who are wondering, yes, Ranma does seem a lot like his old self. He may have had a second chance to grow up without Genma’s influence, but remember that old habits die hard. He still has a lot of that ego left, but he is a little more cautious and perceptive, due to his mystical training and upbringing. One main difference is that he won’t let anyone push him around, male or female. (yes, he WILL hit a girl). If Melissa is expecting chivalry, then she’d better look somewhere else! ^_^
(2) Heh. Got this one from Jackie Chan Adventures. Spelling may be off, but you get the idea.
(3) Ha ha ha!