RUNE SOLDIER RANMA
Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2, Rune Soldier Louie and anyone else mentioned in this story belongs to the other animaniacs out there.
< >: Thoughts
Duel of Honor... Yeah Right!
The Laughing Swan...
"Well, that just about does it." Ranma commented as he finished the final touches on his new magic wand. He then twirled the instrument like a baton, then tossed it into the air with a flourish before catching it deftly. The new wand had a thin handle and a thick head, making it resemble a miniature club.
Sitting beside him, Ila nodded as she held Shin in her arms and petted him. The Rune Cat purred contentedly as he nuzzled against the sorceress. It had been two weeks since their hair-raising adventure with the elves. As expected, those three girls took the first opportunity to abandon Ranma as soon as they got back to Ohfun. Of course, they were ungrateful for all that he and his master had done for them. Maybe they should have let them drown in that river.
Shin yawned as he listened to Ila and Ranma.
"You did a really good job, Ranma." Ila commented as she looked over his handiwork. "This wand looks even better than the ones at the Academy. Say, what are these?" She pointed to some strange-looking markings engraved into the side of the wand's head.
"Oh, those are the new protection inscriptions I added. I don't want this wand to break like the other one. Last thing I want to do is to go back to the Enchanted Tree and those stiff-lipped Elf Elders. Man, they were almost as ungrateful as those two Uncute Tomboys and that Know-Nothing-Know-It-All."
"I don't know why you even tolerate them, considering how they treat you."
"Sometimes I ask myself that same question." Ranma admitted. "But I can't shake them off. Aunt Jenny says that wherever I go, Melissa goes. And that means those Uncute Tomboys go with her. Heck, I would have thought that they would APPRECIATE the fact that I cleaned out that temple of all the zombies!"
Ila winced as she remembered back to the events of last week. Ranma had accompanied Melissa with some of the Mylee priestess trainees to some ghoul-infested ruins. The trainees looked up to the Lead Priestess as a role model and had assumed Ranma was her aide. Melissa went to great lengths not to let them know that he was actually her 'Valiant Champion.'
No sooner did they enter the temple, Ranma went into action, blowing through the hordes of undead like Hurricane Akane through the Horde of Hentai. The ensuing battle came to a head as he had used the Hiryu Shoten Ha and swept away all of the zombies... plus Melissa, and her trainees. When it was all over, the temple had been leveled and every last ghoul had been dispatched, much to the dismay of Melissa and her charges.
"Well, Ranma, you should know the reason why they left that area infested with the ghouls. It's to give the trainees experience with battling the forces of darkness."
"Hmpf! If they want zombies, I could lead them to places with zombies up the wazoo. Those girls were just WANNABE Know-Nothing-Know-It-Alls. I can't believe they want to be like Melissa. Heck, she doesn't even know what she's talking about at times."
At that point, Ranma's order came to their table. As always, Ila just couldn't believe that her childhood friend could eat so much in one sitting. Today's meal was no exception. He had ordered an entire rack of ribs, about a dozen giant side dishes and a huge pitcher of wine. And these were just the appetizers.
Just as he was about to dig in, a certain individual came into the tavern, drawing the attention of many of the female patrons. There were numerous sighs and gasps as they beheld the figure that had entered.
Ranma however, was NOT impressed. A pretty package was nothing without true substance. And he could tell that this joker was just wrap and ribbon around an empty box.
The man was dressed in gaudy, white armor with a flowing red cloak draped over his shoulders and trailing down his back. He had long, blonde hair that was obviously well-groomed, and Ranma suspected that he spent most of his time in a hair salon. He had the 'classical' good looks, which reminded the martial artist of a certain Blue Blunder. This in turn made him lose some of his appetite.
The stranger carried himself with a kind of pompous air as he strutted toward them. To Ranma, it was if the stranger was saying with his body, 'Look at Me! I'm God's Gift to Women! Don't hate me because I'm beautiful!' That type ALWAYS gave Ranma a bad case of indigestion, just as Kuno did in his old life. With no appetite, Ranma decided to save his food for later and made the all the dishes disappear with his Hidden Weapons technique. Just then, the newcomer came up to them and spoke.
"By your clothes, I can see that you are a couple of sorcerers."
"Figure all that by yourself? Duh." Ranma said quietly in a none too pleasant voice. "This place is the nearest pub to the Magic Academy, so of COURSE there are going to be lots of sorcerers here."
Something about that guy's poetic voice really disgusted him. It was if someone had taken the most irritating aspects and style of Kuno's speech patterns and combined them with the whining sounds of Mousse.(1)
The stranger took no heed of Ranma's comments, then glanced toward Ila. He gave her a flashy smile and said with unbelievable pomp and arrogance. "Ah, I can see by your expression that you are taken with this handsome knight of Ramliearth, but I must say to you, not to fall in love with this valiant and glorious champion, for my heart belongs to another!" He then gave a casual toss of his blonde locks. "It's all right, I'm used to such!"
Ila looked on in disbelief and confusion. Why would she want this useless peacock, when she could win the heart of someone like Ranma? Her gaze then centered on the elaborately decorated sword, hanging in the scabbard on his hip.
Even though he had not been invited to sit down with them, the stranger did just that and clapped his hands together, signaling for the waiter. "Bring me a light salad and a glass of your best wine! A great hero has arrived!"
Ranma and Ila gazed at each other with identical expressions that said, 'WHO IS THIS DOOFUS?!'
As he waited for his order, the newcomer then asked, "Excuse me, my good people, but can you give me directions to the Temple of Mylee?"
The Temple of Mylee...
"He CAN'T be my Chosen Hero! He just CAN'T be!" Melissa sobbed as she and her friends sat at the temple's garden.
Her friends were both in agreement as they too had come to resent the male member of their group. All that trouble, and they were no richer than they were when they first met him. After being blown up, attacked by goblins, almost executed by elves, and nearly break their necks and drowned, they were ready to give Ranma the boot, after putting him through the most excruciating series of torture first. He must suffer as they had.
However, there were a few problems. First of all was the fact that Melissa was duty-bound to follow her Chosen Hero, wherever he might go. To refuse that obligation was to refuse the will of Mylee himself, and as a devout servant of the war god, the young priestess had to obey the laws of her religion.
The second problem was just as daunting. Ranma was no pushover. Even the stubborn Genie had to admit that he wasn't someone to take lightly. After all, he had the power to kill a dragon. No other sorcerer in the history of Ohfun had ever achieved such a feat. Even after they had told Master Carwess and Jenny of their adventure in the Elf Village, they still did not believe it had happened. It had taken the combined efforts of the master magician and the warrior priestess to kill a dragon during the warring periods of Ohfun.
Genie was still resentful of Ranma's ability to beat her, WITHOUT any weapons or magic. How is that possible? Punches and kicks were for brutes and barroom brawlers. Surely the warrior with the sword would have the advantage, especially against someone who was totally unarmed, right? However, that arrogant, wise-cracking, irritating... MAN, continued to mock her skills and her status as a first-class warrior. He NEVER took her seriously, and he would take every opportunity to show her up. She mentally made a vow to make him pay!
Genie winced a bit as her rear still ached after tumbling through those brambles on their last adventure.
Merrill was unhappy that she had not made a single bit of coin. Having a magician on their team was supposed to have been a good investment, but so far, only Ranma had profited from their excursions. At least he came out with a branch from the Enchanted Tree. All she had to show for it were bruises in places she never knew she had.
For the last two weeks, she had been sniffing about the other ruins near the city, only to later discover that they had already been raided... by him. Whenever she thought she was about to come across some treasure, she would instead find a certain message: RANMA WAS HERE! That annoyed her to no end and she began to suspect that he had already visited every shrine, temple and whatnot within fifty leagues of Ohfun. If that was the case, then hard times were ahead and she would have to find some other means to make money.
Just then, the three saw the person in question approaching them. Beside him were Ila and an individual in armor. It was the stranger which made Melissa turn pale and shiver in absolute terror.
As soon as he saw her, the armored figured immediately rushed toward the priestess and knelt down in front of her, holding out a single rose. "Oh my darling Melissa! It is I! Your beloved Conrad is here! The great and noble knight of Ramliearth has come to claim his one true love!"
The priestess was anything BUT ecstatic at his presence. In fact, the disgusted and uncomfortable expression on her face reminded Ranma of someone else. A smile began to form as he remembered a certain Amazon and her myopic suitor. He also recalled an okonomiyaki chef with a cross-dressing moron, plus an uncute tomboy and a samurai wannabe.
<Hmm, now where have I seen this before? Now Melissa and this dope couldn't be...?>
"Who is this guy?" Merrill asked as she and Genie were in a state of confusion over the newcomer.
Melissa had never been so agitated as she tried to regain her composure. Reluctantly, she introduced him to her friends. "This is... Conrad, and as he had said, he is a knight of Ramliearth and..." She began to falter as she couldn't go on and tell them that Conrad was her...
Conrad laughed while placing a hand on her shoulder, drawing her closer to him, much to her dismay. "Ha ha ha! Your innate shyness is more charming than Toilet Cockroach Flowers, my dear Melissa!"
"Toilet Cockroach Flowers?! What the HELL are those?" Ranma asked.
Conrad snorted as if insulted. "I'll have you know, you low-borne peasant magician, that Toilet Cockroach Flowers happen to be the most beautiful flowers in all of Ramliearth! And Melissa is the most beauteous of all flowers, that waits to be plucked by the most handsomest and poetic of knights. Who better to sniff her wondrous fragrance than I, Conrad of Ramilearth?"
Ranma became even more sick to his stomach. He didn't think ANYONE could match that Shakesphere-spouting moron Kuno, but this Conrad dope came really close.
This particular moron then turned his attention to Melissa. "Now Melissa, why don't you tell them who I really am? FI-AN-CÉ"
"WHAT?! THIS GUY'S YOUR FIANCÉ?!" Merrill gasped.
"THIS WEIRDO?!" Genie exclaimed.
"Wow." Ila remarked.
The 'knight' puffed out his chest while making a grand gesture. "Yes! Melissa and I are engaged to be joined in the bonds of holy wedlock!"
"Is this for real?" Merril asked.
Melissa could only moan and groan as she nodded slightly and very reluctantly.
At this point, Ranma began to snort and snicker at the sheer irony. Then he started to chuckle and chortle. Finally... he just let it all out.
Everyone looked over to where Ranma was now leaning against a stone pillar, while pounding his fist into the marble. He continued to guffaw without restraint. On the ground at his feet, Shin was casually cleaning himself as he waited for his master to stop laughing, which was going to be a while.
"OH MAN! HA HA HA HA HA HA! THIS IS RICH! THIS IS PERFECT! ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! HA HA HA HA HA HA! OH BOY! HA HA HA HA HA HA! MAN, MELISSA, MYLEE MUST HAVE ONE HECK OF A SENSE OF HUMOR! WAH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!"
The priestess became extremely irritated at Ranma as he continued to laugh at her expense. She shouted out to him. "I FAIL TO SEE WHAT IS SO FUNNY ABOUT THIS!"
Ranma paused in his laughter, to face her, though he was still grinning like mad. "Then you don't get the joke! (2)" Then he went right back to his hysterics.
"YOU THINK THIS IS SOME BIG JOKE?!"
"DAMN RIGHT I DO! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! IT'S ABOUT TIME I GOT SOME YANG TO MY YIN! HA HA HA HA HA!"
"What are you talking about?!"
Ranma quieted down a bit to catch his breath, then gave Melissa a smug expression. "Think about it Melissa. You've been whining and moaning about getting your so-called hero. Well here he is! Your handsome, intelligent, knight in shining armor. Well, he's handsome and he's in shining armor. I can't say much about intelligence, but two out of three ain't bad, right? HA HAH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!"
Conrad, not knowing that he had just been insulted, took Ranma's mirth to be a compliment as he drew Melissa even closer. "Come, my dear Melissa, and let us return to Ramliearth. We can be wed in the Blue Chateau, surrounded by trees, meadows, lakes and..."
"No, we won't!"
This took Conrad by surprise as he had expected her to just leap into his arms. "But... why not?!"
Jenny's disciple gave her suitor a stern look and crossed her arms. "I have already refused you before, Conrad. I left my family and therefore, I have no obligation to my father, nor to the man he chose for me to marry!"
"It's not about the arranged marriage, if that's what you're thinking, Melissa my dear! I love you!" Conrad pleaded, making him sound so much like a certain Hidden Weapons Master.
"BUT I DON'T LOVE YOU! I NEVER HAVE!"
Ranma stopped laughing as he turned about and listened in on this drama, which was more humorous than Amateur Night at the Holy Shrine. He snickered every now and then as the two reminded him of Shampoo and Mousse.
"But I think you will come to love me, Melissa my darling!" Conrad insisted. "For I have changed my ways! I have given up being a magician and enlisted as a soldier, so that I may become the Valiant Champion you so desired!"
"Don't make me judge a book by its cover, Conrad!"
Ranma snorted at her statement. <What a hypocrite! She judged ME the moment we met and now she's giving these holier-than-thou lessons to this dope!>
"Besides, I've already found the champion I am supposed to serve." Melissa stated as she began walking toward Ranma.
Those words caught the magician-martial artist's attention. <Hold on! She didn't say what I think she just said, did she?> When he saw her approach him, he swallowed hard, as all thoughts of laughter left him. <Oh no! She doesn't mean... she can't! No! No! No!>
Melissa took Ranma's arm and held him close, as Conrad looked on in total shock.
"This man is my Chosen Hero!" The priestess said with pride, though most people could tell it was to convince her unwanted suitor to leave her alone.
"WHAT?! BUT HE'S A MAGICIAN! NOT A TRUE CHAMPION!" Conrad's world began to crumble about him.
"He is the one in which my God Mylee have chosen for me, so you will have to just go back to Ramliearth and..."
"NO! He cannot be!" Conrad protested. "He can't possibly compare to MY good looks, my longer legs and my ability to compose beautiful poetry! He's... he's... just a commoner!"
Ranma was just getting over the shock of this sudden reversal, then looked at Melissa with a glare. He said to her in a very hard whisper, "Don't get me involved in this!"
"Quiet! You're not much better, so just play along!" Melissa hissed.
"Oh, so that's how it is. Well MAYBE I should just dig out my best clothes for when I'm invited to your WEDDING... to him." Ranma stressed.
The priestess blanched as she realized that Ranma was her only escape from a fate worse than death. She then forced out a smile and nodded. She then spoke through her teeth. "Can't you just... help me out... please?"
"Well... since you asked so NICELY." Ranma said sarcastically, then turned his attention to Conrad. "Well, I'm afraid that Melissa here can't abandon her duty to her Chosen Hero. Sorry."
"No, no, no! This cannot be true! How can YOU be her Valiant Champion?!" Conrad cried out, sounding more and more like Mousse. That made Ranma even more disgusted.
<Man! He's even more pathetic than Duck Boy!> "Hey, I didn't want the job." Ranma shrugged. "But like Aunt Jenny says, I'm her Chosen Hero, and that's that. So I guess you should just say goodbye and..."
"NO! THIS CANNOT BE! I CHALLENGE YOU!"
This declaration caught everyone by surprise.
"I challenge you to a duel of honor and of love... for my darling Melissa!" Conrad stated.
"Huh?" Ranma was really confused at this point, and irritated that this was an all-too familiar scene. "Now why would I want to fight somebody like you? I really don't like to pick on the weak and..."
"Ranma will accept your challenge!"
"Huh?" Ranma looked back at Melissa after her sudden acceptance to Conrad's challenge.
"And if you win, then I shall leave the Temple of Mylee and return to Ramliearth with you. But if he wins, then you will never again bother me! Agreed?"
"Now wait just a minute!" Ranma couldn't believe this was happening. Here he was, minding his own business, then all of a sudden, he was being roped into a duel as Melissa and Conrad started pulling this chivalry crap. It had been bad enough, when he had to accept all challenges at the Tendo Dojo, no matter how moronic the challenger was. And why was HE always the one who had to cover everyone else's sorry butts? Didn't he have ANY say in this?
Conrad snorted at Melissa's terms, since he was certain that he would be the victor, (especially with his secret weapon). "Fine! Does your Chosen Hero agree? Or does he intend to hide behind his magic wand instead of facing me like a man?"
Conrad's last barb got Ranma's hackles rising. Though he wasn't as headstrong or as reckless as he was in his first life, he still didn't like to be called a coward. When he looked back at the girl holding his arm, he got another insult to his courage.
"You WILL accept, won't you? You'll fight for my honor?" The priestess asked with some expectancy.
"All depends on whether a Know-Nothing-Know-It-All's honor is worth fighting for." Ranma growled.
"Are you a coward?! Are you even a man?!" Melissa asked in a none too gentle tone.
Genma's son let off a tired sigh as he bowed his head, while pinching the bridge of his nose with his free hand. She just HAD to pull this chivalry nonsense. "Kami-sama, I SHOULD have seen this one coming." He muttered, then looked back up at his would-be opponent. He paused for a long moment before nodding. "Fine. I accept. I could use another good laugh."
"Then it is settled!" The Ramliearth knight stated as he took out his sword and pointed its blade at his soon-to-be adversary. "In one week, we shall duel and I shall take my bride back to Ramliearth!" He then re-sheathed his sword and began to strut toward the front gate of the temple. However, those who were watching him leave noticed that he was breathing hard and his steps began to falter.
Ranma snorted as his earlier assessment of Conrad had proven to be correct. That wimp was seriously out of shape and all that pretty armor was just for show. It looked like that suit of metal was seriously weighing him down. When Conrad saw that people were watching him, he tried to make it look like he wasn't struggling, but he wasn't fooling anyone, least of all his opponent.
The magic-using martial artist sighed as Conrad left. He REALLY didn't want to fight him. It wasn't out of cowardice, but out of disgust. He gave the Mylee priestess a harsh glare, which made Melissa cringe a bit. How dare she involve him in a problem that she was afraid to solve herself? Then his expression softened a bit as he remembered a scene in his past, in which he had done the very same thing with Akane, when Kodachi Kuno had taken a fancy to him. He supposed that when dealing with idiots who couldn't take no for an answer, it seemed that only PHYSICAL means would be required to convince them. So be it.
With another sigh, he shrugged off Melissa's grip on his arm and began walking toward the gates. Shin followed closely behind him, with Ila tagging behind the Rune Cat.
"Ranma?" Melissa called out to him. She was feeling a LITTLE guilty over the entire affair.
The martial arts sorcerer did not look back to her as he simply said, "I'll see you later."
As Ila and Ranma strolled through the streets of Ohfun, the young sorceress became a little worried. There was no doubt in her mind that Ranma could defeat that pompous jackass Conrad in a fair fight, but she had a feeling that Melissa's unwanted suitor wouldn't play by the rules, especially with what she had noticed at the Laughing Swan. Like Ranma, she wasn't convinced of the Ramilearth knight's claim to being a noble warrior.
"Ranma? Are you all right?"
"Yeah, it's no big deal, Ila-chan. I mean, it's not the first time I got roped into a fight that wasn't any of my business." He let off another sigh as he stopped to pick up his cat. Shin meowed as he perched on his master's right shoulder.
"That was so unfair! Melissa had no right whatsoever to get you involved! You don't have to do this!"
"Yeah, I know I don't HAVE to do it, but I'm going to do it anyway."
He took on a introspective look as he replied. "Well, as much as me and the Know-Nothing-Know-it-All argue and stuff, I CAN understand her situation with Conrad. Conrad's the type that lives in his own fantasy world and anything that doesn't fit by his rules, is usually ignored. Either that or he rationalizes the truths so they become lies to fit his way of thinking. I've had a LOT of experience with those kinds of people." <Boy have I had a lot of experience!> "Simple logic won't work, so the only other option is to POUND the truth into them."
"But that might not be enough." Ila pointed out.
"Yeah, well... it's still a lot of fun trying to pound some sense into them. I need to work off the stress." Ranma smirked. "In any case, I've got a week and I need to find out something."
"Did you notice...?"
"Oh yeah. It was kind of hard for me not to see it after he issued that challenge in my face." At that moment, his stomach rumbled, reminding him that he hadn't eaten yet. "Come on Ila-chan, let's go get some dinner."
"But what about all food you made disappear?"
"Eh. I'll save that for a snack."
Later, at Genie's cabin...
The group was gathered together to discuss the upcoming duel between Ranma and Conrad. With the exception of Merrill, everyone was present.
Currently, the martial artist was leaning against a wall with his arms crossed. As far as Ranma was concerned, the fight was already decided with him as the victor. Surprisingly, Melissa was in complete agreement.
"So you don't think this Conrad person isn't someone to be worried about?" Genie asked as she and the other girls sat on a bed.
Melissa let off a confident sound and smiled. "I may not have seen him for a long time, but I am VERY certain about his skills. Ranma shouldn't have any problem in defeating HIM in a duel."
"Nothing like a fixed fight with a sure winner, eh?" Ranma commented sarcastically.
At that moment, Merrill came bursting into the cabin. She was out of breath and very agitated, as she tried to tell her friends as to what she had seen.
"You're kidding! Conrad can actually fight?!" Genie exclaimed in surprise. Though she hated to admit it, she and Ranma were of the same mind that Melissa's suitor was no threat.
"I saw it with my own eyes! He took out five men all by himself! I've never seen anyone swing a sword like that!" Merrill stated. "I hate to say this, but I think that he's just about as good as you are, Genie! He's a master swordsman!" She then looked over to where Ranma was standing and expected to see him cringing in fear. That would be worth seeing after all the Hell he put them through.
However, Ranma chuckled at her and shrugged his shoulders. "Well if he's only as good as Ms. I-Can't-Fight-Without-A-Weapon, then I DEFINITELY don't have anything to worry about."
"WHAT?! WHY YOU...!" Genie got up and grabbed for her sword, but Melissa stopped her before things got violent. She then gave her Chosen Hero a disapproving glare.
"How could you be so uncaring? Didn't you hear what Merrill just told us?"
"Yeah, so what?" Ranma shrugged again. "I've beaten Ms. Sword-Swinger without even working up a sweat. Mr. I-Think-I'm-A-Knight won't be much different."
"But this isn't just a fight! It's a duel, meaning that you have to use swords! You can't use any of your magic!"
"So what's your point?"
"Do you even know how to USE a sword?!"
"Well, I haven't used a sword in a while, so I may be a bit rusty."
Melissa began to panic as she saw an image of herself, walking down the aisle... with Conrad waiting at the altar! No! She couldn't marry him! Ranma must win! He HAD to win! She began to regret ever setting those terms to the duel.
"Hey, it's no big deal. I'll admit that I'm not Miyomoto Musashi, but I think I can get by."
"Who?" Ila asked.
"Forget it. In any case, I've got to go check something out, so I'll see you guys in a week. Coming Ila-chan?"
His childhood friend nodded as she and Ranma exited the cabin, leaving Melissa in a very agitated state.
Though she wanted to be supportive of her friend, Genie smirked at Ranma's confession. So there WAS something that Ranma wasn't an expert on.
The streets of Ohfun...
"So this is where Merrill saw Conrad fight?" Ranma asked as they stood near a pub.
"Yes." Ila replied. "According to her, some ruffians were trying to take advantage of the waitress and that's when Conrad showed up and fought them off."
"Okay." He reached into his tunic and pulled out a Spell Scroll. He nodded to Shin and began chanting.
"Jihn Men, Ja A Khu, Do Kei Rhu... Jihn Men, Ja A Khu, Do Kei Rhu... Jihn Men, Ja A Khu, Do Kei Rhu..."
Ila watched in fascination as the Spell Scroll unrolled itself and floated before them. Ranma had told her in his letters that he had been developing a new kind of spell-casting. She did not recognize the markings on the slip of parchment, but she did notice that he wasn't using his new wand as a medium. She looked down and saw Shin's eyes glowing brightly as the Rune Cat channeled his energy into the parchment.
Then her eyes widened as she beheld ghostly images appear before them, as if history had decided to repeat itself. She immediately recognized the image of Conrad as he faced off against five unruly brutes. Cowering nearby was a frightened young girl, dressed in the tattered clothes of a barmaid.
Ranma stopped chanting as the scene began to play out.
"What is this, Ranma?"
The martial arts mage nodded as he explained. "People and some objects tend to leave spiritual impressions to their surroundings. They're sort of like permanent records of past events. Usually, they're too faint to detect by regular scrying devices, but my Spell Scroll amplifies those leftover energies and makes them visible. Shin is using his powers to fine-tune the images. In a way, it's like a magical VCR and I'm just pressing the Playback button."
"What's a VCR?"
"Never mind. In short, I'm just opening up a window to the recent past. Let's see just how good Mr. Conrad REALLY is."
The two magic-users watched as the scene displayed the pompous Conrad facing off against his five attackers. They all pulled out swords and were about to converge on him, but Melissa's suitor laughed as he held out his sword and said...
"It's time we danced together!"
In a flash, Conrad's sword weaved in and out with masterful strokes as he dispatched his enemies in a blur. In less than two heartbeats, his opponents were sprawled on the ground with only the Ramliearth Knight standing victorious. Then the scene faded away into nothingness.
Ranma nodded as he had gotten all the information he needed. "I thought so. That Conrad is nothing but a big faker." <As much as I hate to admit it, at least Kuno WORKED for his skills.>
"So you saw it too?" Ila asked.
"Yep. And I've come across something like it before in my travels, so I know how to deal with it. It's got a couple of fatal flaws and I doubt that moron even knows about them."
"Are you sure you don't want me to...?"
"No. It's okay. You don't have to waste your time looking for it. I can handle it."
"Are you sure? I mean, it's not something to take lightly. It can really hurt you. Exactly how GOOD are your sword skills?"
"... is a SECRET!"(3) Ranma had always loved the Slayers anime, especially that Xellos character.
"I really hate it when you do that!" Ila pouted.
"Sorry, I couldn't resist. In any case, tell NO ONE of what we've learned tonight. Especially Melissa or her friends."
"What are you planning?"
Ranma took on a wicked smirk. "I think it's high time for Ms. Know-Nothing-Know-It-All to sweat it out a bit."
Five days before the duel...
Melissa was wringing her hands as she watched Ranma laze about in the branches of a nearby tree.
Why wasn't he training for the duel? Didn't he hear about Conrad's great sword skills? He had taken out five armed men in an instant! Everyone in Ohfun was talking about that event. If Ranma didn't start practicing and soon, then he'll lose his life, and she would be condemned to a life with Conrad!
The priestess became very sick at the thought, and though she didn't want to admit it, she was getting a bit worried for Ranma's safety. He was crude, boorish and had no manners to speak of, but even he didn't deserve to die because of her pride.
Ranma appeared to be blissfully unaware of the girl's frustration and concern for him, as he casually munched on an apple.
Four days before the duel...
The Mylee Priestess was getting more agitated as Ranma lay peacefully on a hillside and watched the clouds above him. Every now and then he'd point up to one of the puffy shapes and address his cat.
"Hey Shin, that one looks like a big fish, doesn't it?"
The magic-using martial artist casually looked up at the very perplexed priestess. "Yeah?"
"JUST WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"
"What's it look like? I'm relaxing." Ranma replied casually.
"RELAXING?! AT A TIME LIKE THIS?!"
"Why not? It's such a beautiful day. You really ought to lighten up and enjoy it."
Melissa became exasperated at Ranma's lack of concern. "How can you be so calm about this? Do you realize what's at stake?!"
"Uh, remind me again as to what I'm fighting for this Saturday? It's not like it's anything really important."
"NOT IMPORTANT?! We're talking about my future! If Conrad wins, then I'll have to... MARRY him! How can that NOT be important?!"
The favorite pupil of Carwess shrugged. "Hey, it's not like I'M the one making that trip down the aisle. And when you think about it, if Conrad wins, then we BOTH win."
"What are you talking about?"
"Well, if he wins, then you leave the Order of Mylee, right? That means that you won't have to follow the decree of the War God. Therefore, I won't be your Chosen Hero any more and you'll never see me again. We both didn't want this 'hero' business, so this could be the easiest way out of that nonsense. Everybody wins if I throw the fight."
"BUT I'LL BE STUCK MARRIED TO CONRAD!"
"Okay, so Conrad and I win. Two out of three ain't bad. But considering how you and your Uncute Tomboy friends have treated me so far, I'm VERY tempted to throw the fight and let Conrad take you back to Ramliearth."
This made Melissa begin to panic. "You... you wouldn't!"
"Well I didn't SAY that I would... yet."
Ranma gathered up his Rune Cat and left Melissa to think about a few things. Just before he was out of sight, he called back to her. "Remember Ms. Know-Nothing-Know-It-All. You could have avoided this mess if you had simply said no to Conrad, instead of pulling this chivalry crap."
As he headed back to the Magic Academy, he nodded to his cat, as his thoughts and the feline's mingled due to their psychic link.
"Well of course I'm NOT going to throw the duel. I just wanted Melissa to think about how she should be more appreciative, when someone does her a BIG favor, especially when she had no right to drag me into her problems. If she had just ASKED me, then I might have considered it."
"Yeah, well it's the story of my life. Nobody ever bothers to give me that simple courtesy."
"Why have I decided not to throw the fight? For three reasons. Number one, I DO know how Melissa feels, probably a lot more than what she has with Conrad. Number two, losing to a wimp like him, even on purpose, would leave a REALLY bad taste in my mouth. I happen to like winning. And number three, the LAST time I tried to throw a fight, it almost got me killed."
"Oh, it was some dope who couldn't see a mountain at ten paces. My Uncute Fiancée had this bright idea of losing to him so I could get rid of another fiancée. Talk about lame."
Three days before the duel...
Melissa couldn't believe what she was seeing as she watched from behind some trees. At first she had thought that Ranma was getting serious about the duel and was in training, but what she beheld made her hopes plummet.
Ranma couldn't fight with a sword.
He was in a clearing in the forest and was swinging with a wooden practice sword at a training post. However, he was moving with all the skill and grace of a drunken ape and was hitting with very weak strikes. Even a novice swordsman could beat him! Conrad was going to slice him to ribbons on Saturday.
The priestess shook her head as images of Ranma's bloody body entered her mind. She couldn't be worried about his well-being, could she? She shook her head again and convinced herself that she was merely concerned with his safety, as a loyal Mylee priestess would be to her Chosen Hero. It was strictly her duty, that was all.
With that in mind, she went off to find Genie. It would take some doing, but she was certain that the paladin could give Ranma the lessons he needed to win, or at least to survive.
As Melissa quietly left, Ranma smiled and stopped randomly hitting the training post. He had long since sensed her presence, thanks to his enhanced awareness. When he was certain that she was gone, he then got down to serious business. Focusing his ki into the wooden blade, he swung it in a quick and nearly invisible arc at his target.
A moment later, three criss-crossing lines appeared on the post, causing it to fall apart in neatly sliced sections. He smiled down at his handiwork. Through the years, he had been working on improving his sword techniques. He had long since exceeded Kuno's kendo skills and with the extra training from Jenny and the other blade masters he had met during his adventuring trips, he was quite the accomplished swordsman. Though he still preferred to fight unarmed, he did see the advantages of extended reach, and there were some things that one didn't want to touch with one's hands.
<Hmm, maybe I'll get the chance to use that new technique I made up last month.>
Two days before the duel...
"I really don't think this training is necessary." Ranma remarked as he and Genie faced each other with wooden practice swords. Currently, he was standing casually with his weapon slung across the back of his neck.
The red-haired warrior-woman growled a bit as she took a ready stance. "That's not what I hear. And from what I see so far, I'm going to have my work cut out for me." She assessed his stance and assumed that Ranma didn't know the first thing about proper swordsmanship. "And just so you know, I'm only doing this as a favor to Melissa."
"Really? I didn't think she was THAT desperate." The magician and martial artist remarked.
"WHAT THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?!"
"Having an Uncute Tomboy like you for a tutor is pretty pathetic, considering that you happen to be uncoordinated, have GAPING holes in your defense and have all the tact of a raging bull. You ain't got nuthin' to teach me."
"WHY YOU!" In an instant Genie charged at him. Ranma always knew which buttons to push to get her going with a full head of steam.
And of course, once she starts, Ranma always finished it. He deftly ducked under Genie's swing, then used a leg sweep to knock her off her feet. Genie landed hard on her rear and back, as her opponent easily disarmed her with a simple rap to her wrist, causing her hand to reflexively open. Before she could recover, Ranma pointed the tip of his sword at her throat.
"YOU BASTARD! YOU CHEATED!"
"Really? And how did I cheat?"
"You're supposed to use your sword in a duel! You just used those stupid unarmed moves again!"
"Oh? And if they were so stupid, then how come you're on your back? Besides, I don't remember anyone saying that you can't use your legs in battle."
"That's not how it's done!" She angrily brushed aside his sword and got up. "A duel is supposed to between two people and their sword skills! Using your legs is... wrong!"
"Really? I didn't think there was a handbook on proper dueling. Maybe I should borrow your book on the subject?" He then gave her another of his irritating smirks.
"Argh! I don't know why I even bothered, if you're NOT going to follow the rules!"
With those words, the short-tempered female stomped away. When she was long gone, Ranma looked down at his Rune Cat, who happened to be sitting nearby and had seen the entire affair.
"Well sure, I know the proper etiquette to sword dueling. I did learn from Aunt Jenny and those other masters. I just don't think following those rules will do any good and as I recall, Conrad didn't state any rules to our duel, so I'm free to use whatever techniques I want. After all, he's going to cheat anyway, right?"
"Rowr!" Shin answered in complete agreement.
The night before the duel...
At the Temple of Mylee, Melissa was at her wits' end. She was kneeling before the altar and praying desperately for Mylee to send her a miracle. Ranma had done nothing but laze about and now it was too late. It looked like he did not even care, and his threat to throw the match had her on edge.
Oh if only she had just said no to Conrad!
"It's against my will! It's against my will! It's against my will!"
In another part of the temple, The Head Priestess, Ranma, Ila and Carwess were quietly having tea. In the master magician's lap was Shin. Like Ila, he was very interested in his pupil's familiar. He made a note to ask Ranma is he could borrow the Rune Cat for a few days.
"So Ranma, are you ready for your match tomorrow? The entire town is talking about it." Jenny commented as she took a sip of her tea.
"No problem." Ranma replied as he munched on a cookie.
"You seem quite calm for someone who hasn't trained for what may end in your death." Jenny said with a bit of concern.
"Who says I haven't been training?"
"Melissa has been telling me that you haven't been taking this upcoming duel very seriously."
"Oh, Ms. Know-Nothing-Know-It-All told you?"
"Yes, well the thing is, we've all known you for a long time, Ranma. And you have always taken your training and challenges very seriously."
Ila smiled as she answered for her friend. "Yeah, well this time, Ranma doesn't have to train hard to beat Conrad."
"Ya got that right!"
Both young magic-users laughed a bit, arousing the curiosity of the priestess and the master magician.
"It seems that you youngsters know something that we don't." Carwess commented.
"Yes, would you mind letting us in on the secret?" Jenny asked.
Ranma and Ila looked at each other, then shrugged as they both agreed that it would not matter. After they told them, both adults became shocked.
"What?! If that's the case, then the duel automatically goes to you, Ranma!" Jenny said.
"Indeed! There should not even be a duel, considering that Conrad would cheat like that!" Carwess agreed. "And he claimed to be an honorable knight!"
"I shall put a stop to this..."
Ranma held up a hand and said, "Aunt Jenny, Pops... could you keep this to yourselves? I don't want the duel to be canceled because of a technicality."
"Please, Aunt Jenny. I WANT to face Conrad, even if he is going to cheat with that thing."
"Why?" Carwess asked.
"Because, I want to teach a few people some object lessons. First, Aunt Jenny wanted me to give Melissa a couple of lessons in humility. Letting her sweat it out for a week is my way of showing her that she shouldn't pull that chivalry garbage, and dump her problems on someone else, just because she didn't want to face them herself. Second, I'm going to show Conrad that he can't fake his way into someone's heart. Besides, hypocrites like him really annoy me. Third, I'm going to show a certain Uncute Tomboy that she shouldn't scoff at what she doesn't understand."
"I see." Jenny became deep in thought as she considered Ranma's request. Finally she nodded. "Very well, Ranma. The duel shall proceed. However, you will be bound by the rules. Since it will be a contest of skills with the blade, you will not be allowed to use your magic, even though your opponent will be cheating."
"A pity." The head of the Magic Academy sighed. "I would have liked to see how much you had improved since you left the Academy."
"Hey don't worry about it, Pops. I got it covered."
The day of the duel...
The stadium in which all official duels and contests took place was crowded to full capacity. The inhabitants of Ohfun had come to watch the great 'knight' of Ramliearth take on a barely-known sorcerer in a duel of honor. Many believed that it would be a one-sided fight or rather slaughter. The legend of Conrad's great skills with the blade had spread far and wide, making him the favorite to win. The fact that he was dueling to claim his beloved was a romantic notion and had captured the imagination of many of the female spectators. In fact, three particular girls were anxious to see Ranma get skewered. They were the three apprentice priestesses that had accompanied him and Melissa during that debacle at that zombie-infested temple. They did not like the way Ranma treated their role model and were hoping that this would be his last day.
When Jenny and Melissa took their places at the main podium, the crowds quieted down as they waited for the combatants to arrive. A few minutes later, the pompous knight of Ramliearth appeared and strutted confidently into the arena, dressed in his armor with his trusty sword at his side. There was a huge roar from the throngs of people as Conrad raked in his fame for all it was worth, waving to the crowds. He had planned to make his victory the most spectacular sight ever, a display most worthy of a great hero such as he! It would be most fitting after he had dispatched his opponent and claim his beloved Melissa!
In the podium, Melissa winced as she beheld the person who just might become her husband. Her anxiety became more intense as she heard her disciples cheering for Conrad.
"Yeah! Kill that rotten sorcerer!"
"Rip him apart!"
"Show him what a TRUE hero is like!"
Jenny noticed that her top pupil was none too pleased at this ovation over her suitor. She nodded as she remembered back to her discussion with Ranma, during that fateful ceremony which bound him to Melissa.
<Hmm, perhaps Melissa is beginning to understand that her idea of what a true hero should be is unrealistic. I knew from the day I first met Ranma, that he was a champion. I wonder how long it will be before Melissa realizes this.>
Just then, the crowds' cheers became a series of boos and hissing as another person entered the arena. Dressed simply in a red, short-sleeved tunic, dark pants and leather boots, Ranma strolled toward where his opponent awaited him. Slung over his shoulder was the short broadsword that Jenny had given to him, and under his right arm was a long, fabric-wrapped bundle. He ignored the hostility coming from the majority of the people. As far as he was concerned, fame did nothing but give one a swelled head. He had learned that hard lesson in his first life. The cheers that came from the ones that counted were all that mattered to him.
"You go, Ranma!"
Ila and Shin were sitting near the podium where Jenny and Melissa were. Sitting behind them were Genie and Merrill. The young thief was counting on her abacus. She had set up some betting pools on the fight and stood to make a very tidy profit.
The Head Priestess waved to her favorite pupil, then signaled for the crowds to become quiet. At the same time, Master Carwess came into the arena and approached the two combatants. In his hands was a satin pillow with two decorative bracelets on it. Ranma recognized the bands as Magic Restrictors. Unlike the Magic Reduction Manacle he had worn at the Academy, these would not permit the wearer to cast ANY spell, either through incantations, or channeling his power through a medium. Any attempt to do so would result in a very painful shock to the wearer. They could only be opened with a special key.
Carwess nodded to the both of them, then began to address the crowds. “This will be a duel of honor, which will pit the physical skills of these two in swordsmanship, strength, and endurance. Since both are knowledgeable in the ways of magic, each will be required to wear a Magic Restrictor, to ensure a fair fight. Refusal to wear the Restrictor will mean an automatic forfeit. Ranma, do you accept the Restrictor?”
Melissa felt her heart stop as her Chosen Hero did not answer right away. That could only mean one thing.
<No! He isn’t thinking of forfeiting... is he?> Ranma’s earlier words came back to her, and he would have good enough reason to give up right here and now. She and her friends had NOT treated him with the least amount of courtesy.
In the arena, Ranma looked out of the corner of one eye at the podium and saw the apprehension on Melissa’s face. Finally, he held out his right arm.
His mentor nodded as he snapped the bracelet on Ranma’s forearm, then turned to Conrad.
“Sir Conrad, do you accept the Restrictor?”
The pompous jerk let off a laugh as he proudly held out his right arm. “But of course! I have long since given up the ways of magic, and will fight with all the gallantry and skill of Melissa’s TRUE champion!”
Ranma’s eyebrows furrowed a bit as he watched Carwess place the bracelet on Conrad’s forearm. <Oh SURE! You WOULD accept the Restrictor, since you won’t NEED to cast your own spells. Not while you have that SECRET weapon of yours. Well, we’ll see who’s the champion... and who’s the chump!> (4) The two stepped back a few yards and waited for the referee.
Carwess then stepped back and gave the signal for the fighters to begin. Conrad made a grand show of drawing his sword and pointed it at Ranma. “Now then, let us begin our dance!”
Ranma frowned as he noted that the gem that was set in the hilt of Conrad’s sword glowed slightly. He then held out the bundle in his arms and unwrapped it, revealing two wooden bokkens. Taking one in his right hand, he gave it a twirl, then tossed the other weapon at Conrad’s feet. The wooden blade landed in front of his opponent.
“Hmmm? What is this?” He asked in complete puzzlement.
“Your weapon.” Ranma replied simply as he took a stance. (5)
“What’s he doing?” Merrill wondered. “Why hasn’t he drawn his sword?”
Genie shook her head. Se didn’t know what he was planning, but she became very intrigued at the strange stance he had taken. She didn’t recognize the style, but she had an ominous feeling about it.
“I didn’t come here to play with sticks! I came to duel!” Conrad said with indignation. “Draw your weapon and quit stalling!”
“I’ve already drawn my weapon.” Ranma stated. “You have yet to pick up yours.”
“What?! Are you a coward? Can you not fight me with a MAN’S weapon?!”
The son of Genma smirked. “Hmpf! A sword does not make anyone a man. It is the MAN that makes the sword. And you most definitely do NOT qualify as a man. As far as I’m concerned, you have to EARN the right to face the blade Aunt Jenny gave to me.”
“Rubbish! Nonsense! I will not stand for these insults!”
“Fine then. You can fight me with that piece of junk... if you even know how.”
That last quip got to Conrad as he charged in with impossible speed. “Die Ranma!”
Melissa gasped as she saw the front of Ranma’s shirt ripped open. She hadn’t been able to see the sword thrust. Conrad had executed the maneuver flawlessly and she began to wonder how he had become so skilled. It had to have been by sheer luck that Ranma had twisted at the last second to avoid getting cut. No one was THAT fast, right?
Conrad chuckled as he backed off a bit and taunted his adversary. “Now do you see the folly of facing me without a REAL man’s weapon?”
Ranma glanced down at the gash in his shirt and shrugged. The sword had not cut into his skin, so the damage was of no consequence. He had gauged the speed in which his foe moved, so now he was ready to give this snobbish jerk a lesson he would not forget.
“Enjoy your little victory, Conrad. It’s the only freebie you’re going to get!”
“Have at thee!”
Conrad then began delivering strokes, slashes and thrusts at an incredible rate. The grace and power behind the attacks would have cut down even a master swordsman. To those who were watching, Conrad was like an unstoppable force of nature and his blade flashed like lightning.
However, as fast as Conrad was, Ranma was faster.
The martial artist made no countermoves as he weaved in and out of Conrad’s attacks, taking note of each movement. His bokken remained at his side in a relaxed position and seemed to serve no purpose other than to occupy his right hand. As he continued to dodge as if he was facing the Blue Blunder again, he began to recognize the sword-style Conrad was using.
<Hmmm... heavy power slashes, emphasis on delivering killing blows... very weak defensive moves... yep, that’s Northern Ramliearth Capital all right.>
“Why isn’t he fighting back? He’ll be slaughtered!” Merrill cried out. Though she was a LITTLE concerned for his safety, she was more concerned over the loss of profits she would suffer, should he lose this duel.
Genie said nothing as she continued to watch with some interest. She had no idea that Conrad was so skilled, but even more impressive was Ranma being able to dodge his attacks. In all of their past encounters, she had never taken the time to consider his speed and agility. She had always been too angry. However, now she could see him in action and she started to develop a grudging respect for his abilities... but just a little.
Ila nodded as she saw her childhood friend continue to bait his opponent. She knew from experience that Ranma tended to test out his opponent and gauge his abilities... before kicking the snot out of him. And judging from Ranma’s slight smile, she assumed that he had figured out all of Conrad’s tricks and was about to...
“Damn you! HOLD STILL!”
Conrad’s swing would have cut Ranma in half, but the martial artist simply jumped over it, then landed lightly on the flat of the blade, near the point. To everyone’s amazement, he balanced easily and seemed to have become weightless as his opponent looked up in disbelief. Then Ranma attacked.
Conrad staggered backward after his foe had delivered a quick strike between the eyes, then jumped off the sword. The Ramliearth Knight glared at his opponent with rage.
“HOW DARE YOU MAR MY PERFECT FACE?!”
Ranma twirled his bokken while casually responding. “If this had been STEEL instead of wood, then you wouldn’t HAVE a face to complain about.”
“Hey! He cheated with magic!” One of Melissa’s admirers shouted out.
However, Ila shook her head. “No. If that had been magic, then the Restrictor would have shocked him.”
“Then how did he do that?” Merrill wondered.
“As he would say it, that is a secret.”
“You! I shall not stand for this mockery any longer!” Conrad declared.
“Then why don’t you lie down?” Ranma suggested as his foe charged in again.
Ducking another slash, he slammed his bokken into the backs of Conrad’s knees, causing them to buckle. The knight fell forward and received a face full of dirt. He quickly got back up again and tried to skewer his opponent, but Ranma easily parried the sword with the flat of his wooden weapon, and locked it to one side. He then reached out with his free hand and using his middle finger and thumb, he flicked at the so-called True Hero’s nose, angering him even more.
“You’re really pathetic Conrad. You don’t have a CLUE as to what you’re doing. And I think it’s time I expose you for the phony that you are!”
“What do you mean by that?” He demanded as he tried to free his sword, but Ranma’s bokken kept it down and away.
“If you TRULY were trained in the style of Northern Ramliearth Capital, then you would know of its weaknesses, such as a tendency to swing in wide arcs, and very poor recovery time. Very easy to evade, and to take advantage of. Of course, since you let your sword do all the work, you wouldn’t know ANY of that.”
“What are you talking about?” Conrad raged as he finally broke away and was about to attack again.
“Oh yeah, and it’s also very weak against stabbing motions... like this!”
To everyone’s astonishment Ranma then gave them a demonstration of Kuno’s best technique. He let loose with a series of staccato thrusts that were nearly too fast to perceive. Conrad found himself being forced backward under the onslaught. His sword couldn’t deflect all of the blows and several ripped into his armor as if it were made of tinfoil. Behind him, the arena wall began to crumble.
Ila let off a low whistle as she saw the effects of Ranma‘s attack.
“Wow, just from the air pressure alone.” (6)
By this time, Genie was speechless.
Conrad was now cowering against the ruined wall as Ranma pointed out the final flaw of the sword-style he was using. With a simple block, then a special twist, he forced Conrad’s sword out of his hands and sent it flying upward.
“Novices of this style tend to grip the sword too hard, thereby making it easier for them to be disarmed.”
At that moment, Ranma heard a voice.
“Ranma, look out!”
He twisted about to block Conrad’s blade as it came down by itself, then began to swing and thrust on its own. However, he easily countered every move and continued to speak.
“Like I said Conrad, you wouldn’t know any of these weaknesses, since you let your MAGIC DANCING SWORD do all the work!”
Conrad eeped at that point. The jig was up.
“So that’s it. A magic sword. No wonder he was so good.” Genie stated.
Ila nodded with pride as she watched Ranma take control of the duel. Now that Conrad was stripped of his only edge, he was no longer a threat.
Ranma smirked as he anticipated each of the sword’s movements. As its name implied, a Dancing Sword moved in a specific pattern and rhythm. It was like a dance and did not change. Since this particular sword was created in Ramliearth, it was imbued with all the moves of that sword-style. There was no variation and it was easy for him to dodge and counter each attack. A few moments later, he caught the sword in a bind and sent it flying toward the arena wall. The blade impacted hard and buried itself into the stone. Then he delivered the final blow. With a single swipe of his ki-enhanced blade, he shattered the gem in the hilt, dispelling the magic that empowered the weapon. The sword fell to the ground as a lifeless length of steel.
Conrad cried out in despair. “NO! MY FATHER’S DANCING SWORD!”
Ranma snorted in disgust as he faced off against the phony. “Too bad.” He then walked over to where the second bokken lay and kicked it toward Conrad’s feet. “Now, as I said before, it’s time for you to pick up your weapon.”
Conrad at this point, had no desire to face his foe. His one advantage was gone and there was only one other option he could try.
“W-W-Wait! We’re both magicians, right? Why don't we make this into a duel of magic?”
“I thought you said you GAVE UP magic, Conrad. I really hate it when people don’t follow the rules they set up for themselves!”
“Besides, we can’t use magic with these Restrictors on, remember? The only reason that Dancing Sword worked was because it had its own Power Gem. It didn’t need any help from its wielder, other than the secret password to activate it. So now... as you said before, let’s dance!”
“NO! WITHOUT THAT SWORD, I’M JUST A GOOD-LOOKING GUY WITH LONG LEGS AND...”
“With or without that sword, you’re nothing, Conrad! You say you’re this great warrior? You don’t know the first thing about being a warrior, so I’m going to give you a taste of what a real warrior can do!”
At that point, Ranma took a different stance and held out his bokken before him. Conrad, fearing for his life, picked up the other bokken and looked about for a way out.
Ranma smirked as his foe was frozen with fear. Then he decided to use one of his newer techniques. He had been working on this particular movement for a long time. Unknowingly, he had rediscovered one of Genma’s forbidden techniques. He then remembered an anime he had seen called Samurai Deeper Kyo and decided to use it, just as he did with the Dragon Slave.
Holding up his free hand, he made a bit of his ki appear on his index and middle fingers. He then began running the tips of his fingers across the blade of the wooden sword, causing it to glow with light.
“He's cheating with magic this time!” Another of Melissa’s admirers declared.
“Oh? And Conrad’s Dancing Sword was fair then?” Ila pointed out. “Besides, the Restrictor Ranma’s wearing is still active, so that can’t be magic.”
<Then what is it?> Genie wondered.
Ranma smirked as his fingers reached the tip of the bokken. He began to softly speak the first line.
“Mumyou Jinpu Style... Satsujin Ken”
Conrad was now petrified and couldn't move as Ranma raised his sword above his head, then brought the sword down in a graceful arc.
A huge wind had been swept up and blew toward Conrad. The false knight screamed like a little girl as he was enveloped in the gale force. Then, as suddenly as it appeared, it died down, leaving the ‘knight’ seemingly unharmed. Conrad began to laugh at Ranma’s failure, but then he heard an ominous cracking sound. Afterwards, his bokken fell apart, followed by his armor. Metal plates clattered to the ground, leaving a stunned Conrad exposed to everyone.
Ranma smiled evilly after he had shelled his opponent like a lobster. "You heard it too... didn't you? The voice... of the wind!"
“Wow! You are SO awesome, Ranma!” Ila cried out.
Genie was in a state of total disbelief. It couldn’t be possible. Ranma couldn't be better than her!
As for Melissa’s fans, they became revolted when they saw Conrad in only his boxer shorts. Their image of a handsome knight disappeared in an instant.
“What is that?!”
“He’s so... skinny!”
Ranma opted to finish off this prancing nobody and charged at him.
“ANYTHING GOES... FINAL ATTACK!”
“MOMMY!” Conrad cried out as he closed his eyes and cringed.
Everyone stared in shock at what Ranma had done to his opponent. Then Ila started to laugh. Followed by Merrill, Genie, and all the rest. Soon the entire stadium was rocking with mirth. Even Jenny and Melissa couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight. Who wouldn’t after seeing Ranma pull Conrad’s boxer shorts over his head?
Anything Goes Final Attack... THE WEDGIE!
Melissa’s suitor had been humiliated and defeated. Not wanting to endure any further shame, Conrad ran for the exit with his shorts up his head and his cheeks protruding. All the respect he had gained from his false skills was gone and the crowds now cheered for his rival.
The martial arts mage smiled as he waved to the crowds and gave the people in the podium a bow. As Carwess declared him as the winner of the duel, Ila and Shin came down from the stands to give their friend a victory hug.
High up in the podium, Jenny applauded and glanced over to Melissa, who was in a mixed state of emotions.
<You may say that having Ranma as your hero is against your will, Melissa. However, even you have to admit, that he IS a hero. Not the kind of hero you want, but a hero nonetheless.>
To be continued...
Wow, and I thought the last chapter was long! In any case, the duel between Ranma and Conrad is now over, though like Kuno, Mousse and Ryoga, you can bet tat fake knight will be back. At this Melissa and the girls will START to realize that having Ranma around isn’t so bad, though it’s still going to be an uphill battle.
Next chapter, we’ll see Merrill and Ranma interact as the girl thief comes into a LOT of money after Ranma’s Duel. More hijinks ensue ad Ranma tries to teach her the downfalls of greed.
(1) Think of the most IRRITATING AND ANNOYING voice you have ever heard in your life and imagine that person talking nonstop. That would make anyone sick to the stomach.
(2) But WE all get the joke, right?
(3) Hee, hee!
(4) Famous quote Mike Tyson gave to Michael Spinks, before devastating him in the first round.
(5) This was one of my favorite episodes of Samurai Jack.
(6) Nabiki’s quote.