RUNE SOLDIER RANMA
Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 and Rune Soldier Louie belong to their own respective creators.
< >: Thoughts
Easy Come, Easy Go...
The Kingdom of Ohfun, at an inn in the City of Fahn (1)...
Merrill smiled with a look that would have made Nabiki Tendo proud. At long last, the male member of their adventuring team had made her some considerable coin. All the trials, all headaches, all the insults, all the PAIN, had been worth it. Never before had the young brunette seen so much GOLD!
Her winnings in the betting pools during Conrad and Ranma’s duel had amounted to more than 10,000 gold pieces. She had finally paid off the tax collectors and all of her debts, as well as Genie’s and Melissa’s. They were her best friends after all. As for Ranma, well she didn’t see any reason to let him have any of it, especially the Hell he had put the three of them through.
She sighed as she hugged the huge ceramic jar that held all of the money. Then she got an idea and stripped off all of her clothes. She then immersed herself into her winnings and lavished in the container as if she was enjoying a hot spring. It wasn’t every day that she got to enjoy soaking in gold.
Life couldn’t get any better.
However, as she continued to soak in her winnings, she couldn't help but feel somewhat edgy at having so much wealth. There were bandits, thieves and robbers all over Fahn and she would have to protect her ‘Darling Jar.’
The Laughing Swan...
Genie and Melissa both stared in disbelief as they watched Ranma eat. This was their first time at seeing the Anything Goes Eating Techniques in action, and it took all of their willpower not to throw up. Melissa was especially disgusted as she watched him make his food disappear.
He seemed to be utterly ignorant of even the most rudimentary of table manners. A true hero is supposed to know etiquette. At the very least, he should CHEW before swallowing. It looked as if he were inhaling his meal. And how was he eating so fast, by using just a pair of thin, wooden sticks? He hadn’t even touched the knife and fork in front of him, as he had produced those sticks out of thin air and began to wolf down his meal. The fact that he was devouring enough to feed a dozen people made her feel even more revolted. She began to feel so sick of watching him eat, she started to lose her own appetite as she looked down at her dinner and saw... an empty plate?!
The priestess’ eyes widened even further as she wondered just where her food had disappeared. She had ordered some pork cutlets and was certain that she hadn’t taken a bite yet. She then looked over to her companion as Genie also gasped in surprise.
“Hey! Where’s my dinner?!” The redheaded swordswoman demanded. She had ordered a prime cut of beef and a large side of potatoes. It was the first good meal she had bought in a long while, now that she didn’t have any taxes and debts to worry about. She had been ready to dig in, when she was distracted for a moment by Ranma eating his own meal.
Ranma paused between gulps and shrugged. “Yeah, that steak was a bit overdone, and those potatoes could have used some more seasonings. And those pork cutlets really weren‘t worth the price listed on the menu.”
“WHAT?! YOU ATE OUR DINNERS?!” Genie cried out in outrage. It was bad enough that this jerk put them through Hell during their adventures, but he had the gall to steal their food in front of them! And that steak had smelled so good too!
Melissa was also angry that Ranma had eaten their meals, but she was a bit curious as to how Ranma had done it. She could have sworn that she had been watching him all the time. When and how did he manage to eat a large steak and all that other food, while still devouring his own gigantic meal?
The magician and martial artist shrugged again as he continued eating and responded between bites. “Hey... (gulp)... It ain’t my fault... (bite)... that you two... (chomp)... are too slow... (munch)... Like they say... (gobble)... you snooze... (gnaw)... you lose... (crunch).. I would think... (yummy)... that you’d know... (slurp)... how to keep what’s yours. Especially you... (Mmmm)... Ms. I-Can‘t-Fight-Without-A-Weapon... (gulp)... I swear, your reflexes are like a dead slug‘s... (chomp)... awareness is nonexistent... (gobble)... and your defense sucks... (crunch)... It didn‘t take any effort to get at your food...”
“WHY YOU...!” Genie growled as she felt her temper rising again. “You’re going to pay for our dinners!”
Ranma polished off the remainder of the food, then nonchalantly propped his feet up on the table. Beside him, Shin yawned as he finished off his plate of fish and decided to take a catnap.
“And why should I pay for something twice?” Ranma asked innocently.
“What are you talking about?!” Genie demanded. “You didn’t pay for our meals!”
“Oh yes I did.” Ranma pointed out. “You got the money from Merrill, after she paid off all of your debts and taxes, right? And exactly where did SHE get the money? She got it from all of her betting pools from MY duel with Conrad. So as I see it, you two wouldn’t have been able to afford any meals without me. You’d probably still be dodging the tax collector. In fact, you three owe a great deal to me, ever since we met.”
“We owe you nothing!” Genie denied.
“Oh? That’s not how I see it. For one thing, if it weren’t for me, Melissa would have become Mrs. Conrad of Ramliearth, right?” He gave the priestess a knowing grin.
Melissa became extremely agitated at that fact, though she couldn’t deny it.
“It weren’t for me, then all three of you would still be in debt up to your eyebrows. I saved the you girls twice, despite the fact that you ignored my advice. Now whom do you think you have to thank for getting you all out of the hole?”
“Your kind of help we DON’T need!” Genie growled.
“The way I see it, this group needs all the help it can get.” Ranma said nonchalantly as he polished off his dinner and got up. Shin woke from his nap and leapt up to his master’s right shoulder.
“Where are you going?” Melissa asked, though she was just as perturbed as her comrade was.
“I’m going to collect on what Merrill owes me. I figure that half the gold she earned from those betting pools belongs to me, since I did all the work.”
“Hah! Good luck!” Genie scoffed. “When it comes to money, Merrill can be really miserly.”
Ranma shrugged. “I’ve got some experience in dealing with those kinds of people. Compared to Nabiki, Merrill’s a penny-ante operator.”
“Who?” Both women asked.
The martial arts mage didn’t bother to answer as he exited the tavern. His reluctant and irritated traveling companions soon followed him.
Merrill sighed contentedly as she continued to sit inside her ‘Darling Jar.’ She was in absolute Heaven and nothing could bring her down.
Then she started smelling smoke and heard someone yell out.
That cry of alarm quickly got her attention as black wisps of smoke began to appear from the seams between the floorboards and from under the door. She let off a scream as she hurriedly put on her undergarments and leapt out of the second-story window. Though nowhere near as agile as Ranma, Merrill’s experiences as a thief allowed her to drop down to a lower rooftop, then bounced off an awning, before landing on the street below. A crowd had gathered to witness the inn as it burned. Standing in a line nearby, the fire brigade was busily passing buckets of water in an attempt to quench the flames.
“Darn!” Merrill griped as she watched the building go up in flames. She began to feel a draft and wished that she had put on her clothes. She also remembered that she had left her lock-picking tools and other equipment in her room, as well as her...
“NOOOOOOO! MY DARLING JAR!!!!!”
Paying no heed of the danger, Merrill grabbed a bucket of water from one of the fire brigade volunteers and doused her with it. She then ran headlong through the front door, much to the shock of everyone watching.
“HEY! WHERE ARE YOU GOING?!”
“ARE YOU CRAZY?!”
“WHO IS THIS DARLING JAR GUY?”
A minute later, Merrill emerged through a window near the roof with a huge bundle on her back. She then made a not-so-graceful landing in a water reservoir and ran off.
“DON’T WORRY MY DARLING JAR! I’LL PROTECT YOU!”
A few minutes later, Ranma and the others arrived at the scene. After hearing the fire alarm, the group decided to check on Merrill as the fire was in the vicinity of the inn that she was staying at. Looking around, they saw no sign of their missing group member and decided to ask the locals.
“Hey there, did you happen to see a girl about so high around here?” Ranma asked as he indicated Merrill’s height with his hand.
One of the fire brigade volunteers nodded as he pointed toward the burning building. “Yeah. For some odd reason, she ran straight back into the inn, shouting about her Darling Jar.”
“Why would she do something like that?” Genie asked as she and Melissa became very concerned.
“Is she all right?” Melissa questioned.
“Oh yeah, she’s fine.” The man then pointed up toward the roof of the adjacent building. “She got out through there, then landed in the water tank before running off.”
The martial arts mage became introspective as he gauged Merrill’s feat. <Hmmm... not bad. She managed to survive a twenty-five-foot drop. Maybe she’s got a LITTLE promise in the martial arts.>
“The funny thing is, she kept on hollering about her Darling Jar.” The man finished as he went back to helping to put out the fires.
The two women and Ranma all gazed upon each other with puzzled expressions, then went off in search of their comrade.
In a little shack under the bridge overlapping the river...
Merrill was more than little paranoid as she clutched at her jar and was ready to skewer anyone with her throwing daggers. So far, she had dodged and stopped all real and imagined attempts to steal her Darling Jar from her. This included falling flower pots, alley cats, and some people, whom she was sure was following her, (all of which were mere coincidences and the fact that it was Merrill’s friends who were trying to find her). She was so certain that someone was out to take her Darling Jar, that she would kill the next person who even so much as come within ten feet of her...
The female thief turned about and took a ready stance, then beheld Melissa, Genie and Ranma standing at the front door of her home. The martial arts magician was a bit perturbed as he had her dagger clenched between his teeth. With uncanny skill and speed, he had caught the blade a heartbeat before it found its mark. Spitting out the knife, he then glared at the girl, then noticed that she looked like Hell. She was in disheveled state and it seemed as if she hadn’t slept for days.
<Hmmm... maybe it’s not a good time to collect on the money she owes me...>
Meanwhile, back on Ranma’s world...
Nabiki sighed as she counted her earnings from her daily blackmail and betting pools. Profits had been declining steadily since Ranma’s disappearance and it wouldn't be long before the Tendo finances would be dire straits. As for her father and his friend, Soun and Genma were constantly moaning and groaning about the schools never being joined. That was the least of their problems as far as the middle Tendo daughter was concerned. If Ranma soon didn’t return, then more troubles were just ahead.
On the upside, Nabiki didn’t have to concern herself with constant repairs to the dojo or their house. No Ranma meant no fiancées and no rivals coming and causing damage. On the downside, Akane had gotten angrier, since the old Beat-Her-So-You-can-Date-Her routine was now back in full swing with Kuno at the head of the Horde of Hentai. The difference was that since Ranma was no longer protecting her, she had to make up for the lack of practice in her martial arts skills. She had been getting more hits and even the wannabe samurai had come close to defeating her.
Naturally of course, she blamed Ranma for her predicament, but it was more of a moot point, since he was not present. Luckily for her, the rest of the Fiancée Brigade had stopped attacking her. At first, Ukyo, Shampoo and Kodachi all blamed the youngest Tendo daughter for driving Ranma away, but eventually, each had decided that fighting over someone who wasn’t there was pointless, and the three had all gone off in different directions in order to find him.
With that thought, Nabiki began to think about the Amazons. She had a hunch that Cologne knew more than what she was letting on. She had seen the Elder poking about on the roof of the Tendo home, near the spot where Ranma usually brooded when he was upset or depressed. And the last time anyone had seen the heir to the Anything Goes, he had been in quite a mood.
After investigating the scene, Nabiki had found several fragments of what looked like a broken pendant. Knowing the Amazons’ penchant for magical artifacts and such, (the Naban Mirror, the Love Pills, etc), she correctly guessed that Ranma’s sudden disappearance had something to do with magic and that the warrior women were involved. Furthermore, Shampoo wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as usual in finding her Airen. That meant that something was up, and that the Cologne’s great-granddaughter was in the know.
With that in mind, Nabiki decided to investigate further on the Amazon factor.
Cologne nodded as she added a few more key ingredients to the cauldron. Hanging above the bubbling brew, was a fragment of the Magical Pendant that she had taken from the roof of the Tendo home. She hoped that the scrying spell would allow her to find her missing Son-in-Law. Standing nearby and in great anticipation was Shampoo. Tied up and gagged in a cage was Mousse in his cursed form.
“This will find Airen, Great-Grandmother?”
Cologne was cautiously optimistic as she replied. “Perhaps. According to what Mousse had told us, he lost the pendant before he could make his wish. From what I found on the Tendo’s roof, this fragment should have some traces of its mystical energies. Since I sensed some of Ranma’s ki intermingled with the fragments, I would surmise that the pendant had granted whatever wish he made before it shattered. This scrying spell should be able to track Ranma, even if he’s in another dimension. I also got this from Happosai.”
The Elder then produced the Naban Mirror, which had a cracked surface with pieces of tape holding the glass together.
“Aiyah. Shampoo thought mirror destroyed.”
“Well, once Happy gets something important, even if it is broken, he tends to keep it. It took a bit of doing for me to... ah, confiscate it from him, but I think it is still functional.”
“So we use mirror to bring back Airen, when we find him?”
“That is my hope, though we are dealing with two damaged artifacts, and I cannot predict the effects with one hundred percent certainty. However, we have no other options...”
With those words, Cologne added the final ingredient and began chanting. The smoke from the cauldron enveloped the fragment and started to glow. Slowly, the mists began to take shape, forming a kind of circle in midair. Within the circle, images of the past began to appear. At first they were blurry and indistinct, but gradually became clearer. Finally, the image of Ranma was depicted as he sat on the Tendo roof and brooded.
“Airen!” Shampoo cried out happily as she beheld her future husband.
“Not quite.” Cologne reminded her. “These are simply images of the past, just before the pendant was broken. Now be silent. I want to hear the wish Ranma made.”
A few moments later, after seeing him rant about his problems with the Fiancée Brigade and his rivals, they both heard Ranma’s fateful words, just as the pendant appeared before him.
“Man, I wish there was a way for me to start over!”
Those who were present were blinded by a flash of light as the Magic Pendant granted Ranma’s wish, causing him to disappear. Then the smoke dispersed as the power within the fragment faded away.
The Amazon matriarch nodded as she took in all the information and theorized what had occurred that fateful night.
“Great-grandmother, what happen to Ranma?”
“Well, as far as I can surmise, Ranma’s wish to ‘start over’ was taken seriously and literally by the pendant. I believe he was transported to some place, perhaps another dimension, so that he could start a new life, I suppose. Now I’m not certain as to the exact details of the wish, but wherever he is now, he most certainly doesn’t have any of the problems in this world.”
“But we can still bring Airen back, yes?”
“Well... I can find him. Bringing him back is another matter. The pendant was an ancient and very powerful artifact, and if it was able to transport Ranma into another reality, then it may be beyond my ability to retrieve him.”
“Aiyah! Is no hope?”
“I didn’t say that Shampoo. We do have the Naban Mirror, and we can use it to go to him, once I find which reality he’s in. However, there is a catch. There’s not much magical energy left in the mirror and in its damaged state, it may be the last time it can be used. If anyone were to use the mirror to travel to where Ranma is, then he or she would not be able to return. It will be a one-way trip.”
“Shampoo will go to Airen!”
“Hmmm, I can see that you are determined, child. If you are willing to sacrifice all, then I will help you in this, in order to satisfy our three-thousand years of Amazon history. We must prepare the proper rituals in order to activate the mirror.”
“Shampoo thought only need to cry to make mirror work.”
“Not in this case. The mirror is broken and will need a boost in order to get it working. I know of a few spells which can help, but we must act quickly.”
The purple-haired Amazon nodded as she and her relative left to prepare.
In his cage, Mousse struggled to free himself. He had to stop them from finding Ranma. If Shampoo were to go to him now, then the myopic Hidden Weapons Master would lose her forever.
Nabiki became intrigued after she had found Happosai in a battered and beaten state. After learning that it had been Cologne who had attacked him and took the broken Naban Mirror, she began to wonder what the Elder’s plans were. She also began to consider the profits to be made from selling such information.
Back to Ranma...
“I don’t why I let you talk me into this.” Ranma grumbled as he continued to dig the hole. He couldn’t use the Breaking Point, since the ground was mostly composed of loose dirt, mud and very little sedimentary rock. The Amazon technique would have simply caused the debris to scatter, instead of create the crater that he’d have wanted. He could have used an Earth Spell, but had decided to save power. The labor was nothing compared to his daily martial arts training regimens anyway. Sitting near the hole and offering moral support in the form of meows, was Shin.
Sitting nearby, still clutching at her ‘Darling Jar,’ was Merrill as she kept watch. Behind her were Genie and Melissa. The swordswoman smiled as she watched the source of all her troubles toil away. It was about time that Ranma did some heavy work. Though she couldn’t help but wonder how he managed to lug that impossibly heavy backpack around so easily all the time. Heck, he wasn’t even sweating yet.
As for Melissa, she was curious as to why her Chosen Hero had not decided to take the easy way and use his magic. Why was he taking the long way and using those well-developed biceps, pectorals and back muscles to...
The priestess shook her head and banished such thoughts from her mind. Ranma was more trouble than he was worth and she should not think of him as such! So what if he had very defined abdominal muscles, flat stomach, and well-toned limbs? So what if he was fair to look upon without his shirt and flexing those muscles? That didn’t mean that she should get all hot and bothered, right? That didn’t mean anything at all!
Gee, it was getting warm all of a sudden.
A few minutes later, Ranma set aside the shovel and looked over his handiwork. He nodded and jumped out of the fifteen-foot deep hole and faced Merrill.
“Okay, Ms. Moneybags. I dug your stupid hole. So let’s get this over with.” He reached out to take the jar, but Merrill suddenly hissed at him like an angry cat. Her grip on the container tightened and threatened to crush the ceramic.
Ranma sighed as he saw the obvious look of greed in her eyes. He had seen it often enough with Nabiki, whenever she exploited him. He then addressed the thief in a tired tone. “Merrill, I can’t bury your ‘Darling Jar’ unless I can touch it.”
Merrill loosened up somewhat at his simple logic then, after a long moment of silence, she nodded ever so reluctantly.
“Merrill, if you’re not out of that hole in five seconds, then I’m going to bury YOU along with that stupid jar!”
“SHUT UP!” Merrill cried back as she went back to saying her farewells to her precious. “Don’t worry, my Darling Jar. I’ll back for you, I promise!”
Up above, Ranma pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head. And he thought Nabiki was money-hungry.
After coaxing the youngest member of their group out of the jar’s resting place, Ranma quickly filled in the hole. He then turned to the thief as he brought out a certain item from his backpack. The object looked like a cone-shaped piece of bone.
“Now Merrill, this is your last chance. Are you SURE you want me to do this? Money can be put better use than burying it in the ground.”
“Like what?” Merrill scoffed.
“Well, for spending of course. That’s what money’s for. You can buy good food, clothes, or better yet, supplies for more adventures.”
“If I did that, then I wouldn’t have any money left!”
“Hey, it’ll do you much better above ground than below it. What’s the point of digging up gold and making it into coins for spending, only to put it back into the earth?”
“Obviously, you haven’t heard of the concept of saving!”
“So you’re not going to spend it at all?”
“No! I’m going to save it!”
“Okay, so you’re going to save it for later, right?”
“NO! I’M GOING TO SAVE IT! I’M NEVER GOING TO SPEND IT!”
Melissa took this opportunity to give him one of her moral lessons. “I agree with Merrill. Like they say, a gold coin saved is a gold coin earned. A true hero should know the value of saving one’s money.”
Ranma became very irritated at the priestess’ attempt to nag him. “Oh shut up, Ms. Know-Nothing-Know-It-All. I wasn’t asking you! Besides, saving one’s money to spend later is one thing, but burying it in a hole, never to spend it makes about as much sense as buying a huge meal, but never taking one bite of it. That gold’s not going to collect any interest in that hole. It would be the same as burying a rock. And now she wants me to create a guard for something that she‘ll never use?”
“Just shut up and do it!” Merrill demanded as she took on a very irritated expression. “You said you’d help, so make with magic!”
“Well, I really think...”
“You promised to do this for Merrill, so keep your word!” Melissa said.
“Unless you were all talk and no action.” Genie taunted.
Ranma sighed as he saw Genie and Melissa seemingly take sides with Merrill and nodded. <Typical! No matter how stupid the idea is, girls always seem to stick together against the man!> “Oh all right, all right! But just remember what I told you before. This kind of magic ain’t exactly my specialty.”
Taking the magical item in hand, he stuck its point into the ground and took a few steps back. Taking out his wand, he began chanting.
“Jihn Minh Ja A Ku Do Kei Ru.... Jihn Minh Ja A Ku Do Kei Ru.... Jihn Minh Ja A Ku Do Kei Ru....”
Green wisps of light appeared around the item, causing it to glow with an eerie light. The surrounding dirt and mud began to move about the item, enveloping it in a small mound. The mound began to enlarge itself as more materials were drawn into its mass. Then it began to take shape.
The three women looked in awe as Ranma worked his magic. They rarely got to see him use his sorcery, and they began to reconsider his position as their group’s magic user. After all, he did know of a spell that could kill a dragon. Perhaps, it wasn’t so bad to have such a powerful sorcerer.
However, when the spell was finished and the end result stood before them, they all developed huge sweatdrops as they gazed upon... it.
Ranma sighed again as he put down his wand and shook his head.
“I told you this kind of magic wasn’t my cup of tea.”
Ranma’s original world...
“Bear in mind, Shampoo.” Cologne warned as she prepared the spell. “This is something that no one in our entire tribe has ever attempted.”
“Shampoo no care! Shampoo will find Ranma!”
“Very well then, child. Though I cannot, in good conscience, let you go by yourself. Therefore, I shall accompany you. Now then, in order to find Ranma, we shall use this fragment of the pendant to trace his spiritual essence. Once we have located him, we shall use the Naban Mirror to transport us to him. However, in order for the spell to take full effect, we shall have to wait until the full moon tonight.”
“Shampoo cannot wait until she is with Airen!”
As the two Amazons prepared to reunite with the missing heir to the Anything Goes, they did not know that a certain someone had finally gotten free of his cage.
Mousse took off for the sky in his duck form, heading toward the only place he could think of to thwart their plans... the Tendo Dojo.
Back to Ranma...
“THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE MY DARLING JAR’S GUARDIAN?!” Merrill exclaimed.
“YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!” Genie said incredulously.
“IT’S HIDEOUS!” Melissa declared.
“Hey, I told you that this kind of magic wasn’t my specialty.” Ranma reminded them as he stood before the magically-constructed figure. “I’m not at my best when it comes to making Golems. I hate to admit it, but that jerk Kyle was better than me, when it came to bringing motion to the motionless.”
“But this thing is...” Merrill couldn’t describe the horror she was witnessing now.
Ranma’s Golem resembled the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man. It was yellow, and was chubby, with thick limbs. It had a dopey expression on its face and did not appear to be as dangerous as Merrill had hoped.
“Is this best that you can do?!”
Ranma sighed as he replied, while stepping aside. “Hey, I did the best I could do with what I had. Now if we were in a quarry, then the golem would have had solid rock to form its body. But since this forest ground is mostly made of loose soil, mud and some clay and maybe some dead branches, so this is what you get. And this was YOUR idea, Merrill, so take it or leave it.”
The youngest member of their group let off a sigh of resignation and nodded sadly. “Okay, I’ll take him. So what do I do first?”
“Just give him a command. He’ll follow it to the letter. That’s what golems do.”
Merrill nodded as she stepped up to the walking blob and said firmly while pointing to the spot where her jar was buried. “Don’t let anyone touch my Darling Jar, you got that?”
For a long moment, the golem did not give any indication of understanding her order, or even heard it. The three women looked at Ranma with disapproving glares, thinking that he had created a dud.
“You really ARE useless!” Merrill stated with disgust. “You can’t even make a golem that can follow orders!”
Ranma said nothing as he pointed to the golem. “Really?”
The golem then let off a monstrous roar as it turned to face the spot where Merrill’s jar was buried. Then, to everyone’s surprise, the magic-made figure reached down with one massive arm, and extracted the jar from its burial spot, fifteen feet below. Merrill cried out in shock as the golem then began to walk off with it.
“HEY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! THAT’S MY DARLING JAR! PUT IT BACK!”
Melissa and Genie then turned to Ranma with puzzled looks. “Why did it do that?” The priestess asked.
“And why won’t it listen to Merrill?” Genie added.
Ranma shrugged. “Well, it’s kind of obvious. I would think that even you two could have figured it out.”
“What do mean? What’s going on?” Genie demanded.
Ranma smiled slightly as he responded. “Don’t you remember what I told you about golems? They’ll follow orders to the letter. When Merrill ordered it to not let anyone touch her jar, the golem took it literally. Not letting anyone touch the jar, means not even letting the owner touch it. This was another reason why I didn‘t like this plan. Golems can be really dangerous, especially when you don‘t make your orders specific and clear enough.”
“So what am I going to do?” At this point Merrill was very pale and was close to having a stroke as she saw her money walk away.
Ranma shrugged. “Well, the first option would be the best. I could try reversing the spell and reduce the golem back into its component elements.”
“Then do it!” Melissa insisted.
“Why not?” Genie demanded.
“I don’t know the counter-spells to unmake golems. I can make ‘em, but I can’t undo them after they’ve been created. That was the third reason why I was against this plan. I told you that this kind of magic wasn’t my specialty.”
“You jerk! Why didn’t you tell us all this before!?” Merrill cried out.
The magic-using martial artist shrugged his shoulders once more. “Hey, I TOLD you three that I didn’t like this plan and I TRIED to get you to change your minds. You three didn’t bother to ask WHY I didn’t favor this idea and you all insisted that I do it. Don’t blame me for your being so pig-headed.”
“So what now?” Merrill asked.
Ranma gave off yet another tired sigh. “Well, I guess we’re going to have to go with option number two. We’ll have to destroy it physically. I created a low-level golem with very little regenerating ability, so if it takes enough damage, then it should break apart. And we’d better do it quick, before that golem decides, that the best way to keep anyone from touching the jar, is to destroy it. It‘s been known to happen.”
“WHAT?!” Merrill shrieked as she began running after the monster.
Melissa and Genie both gave Ranma disgusted looks, then ran after their friend.
Ranma picked up Shin and began to calmly follow them.
“Give me back my Darling Jar!” Merrill shouted as she threw out her daggers.
However, her weapons impacted into the golem’s body and were absorbed into it. Genie hefted her longsword and took one mighty swing at its midsection. Comically, the golem was cut in two, but the torso then landed on its lower half and became whole again. Melissa swung with her war-hammer, but the instrument became stuck. She desperately pulled hard to get it out before it was sucked into the golem’s body. She landed hard on her rear as she managed to free her weapon. The golem kept on marching on with Merrill’s jar.
Ranma shook his head he watched his comrades’ antics. <Idiots! You can’t use blades and hammers against a walking pile of mud.>
Merrill then jumped onto the golem’s back to get at her jar. However, she was absorbed into its body. A second later, a huge bulge formed out of the monster’s rear end and was released like a pile of...
“EEEEEEEWWWWWWWWW!” Merrill emerged from the blob, all covered in mud, grime and various other things. (What, you thought that mud and dirt were the only things in the ground?)
She then looked up and saw Ranma standing before her with a grin on his face.
“I bet you’re feeling really... POOPED right now.” (2)
“This isn’t funny!” Merrill glared at him. “And I don’t see you doing anything to help!”
“Well, if you want me to, I CAN stop that thing.”
“Yeah, right! You said you didn't know how to reverse the spell!”
“Yeah, I said I didn’t know the counter-spell, but I DO know how to destroy golems. I had a lot of practice breaking up Kyle‘s golems at the Academy.”
With those words, he ran up to where Melissa and Genie were. Both were sprawled on the ground and were covered in muck. After making certain that they were unhurt, he then used Shin’s power to teleport himself in front of the golem. He found himself with his back to a very steep cliff. Apparently, Ranma’s suspicion about the golem’s intentions was correct. It had planned to keep anyone from touching the jar by throwing it off a cliff. However, Ranma raised a hand and focused his power through his wand.
“Flames of the Inferno, I call thee forth!”
A huge gout of flames exploded forth like the breath of a dragon. They enveloped the mud monster, causing its body to harden. In less than a second, the golem became stiff as it was baked like a clay pot in a kiln. When the fires died down, the golem had been reduced to a blackened, hardened figure. However, it still tried to move toward the edge of a cliff, and that’s when Ranma put away his wand and held out his right index finger. He then jabbed forth...
The monster had been made of soft mud and clay before, but now that it was as hard as rock, the Breaking Point caused it to explode into a thousand pieces. He set up a barrier to protect Shin from the hot, flying fragments.
The girls looked on in shock as Ranma effortlessly destroyed the golem with just his finger!
“He... he did it!” Genie gasped.
“What kind of spell was that?” Melissa wondered.
Merrill let off a whoop of joy as ran toward her Darling Jar, which had fallen to the ground when the golem was destroyed. It was near the cliff edge, but she didn’t care as she was about to embrace her precious.
“Merrill! Don’t touch it!” Ranma cried out. The flames he had conjured up to cook the golem had also heated the jar, making it extremely...
“YEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!” The brunette screamed as she hugged her jar, then let go as the heated pot burned her skin. Unfortunately, the container tumbled over the edge of the cliff, causing her to leap after it.
“NOOOOOO! MY DARLING JAR!”
Ranma reached out and managed to grab onto Merrill’s arm, and pull her back before she plummeted to her doom. She could only watch helplessly as her jar smashed against the side of the cliff, causing its contents to spill out and scatter down toward the ground.
“NOOOOOOO! MY GOLD! MY JAR! NOOOOOOOOOOO!” She struggled to get out of Ranma’s grip and go after her money, but the son of Genma wouldn’t let her.
“Let it go, Merrill! Let it go! No amount of gold is worth losing your life over!”
A little later, at the bottom of the cliff...
“No! Where are they? Where are my gold coins?!”
Merrill was frantically splashing about in the river at the bottom of the cliff, trying to find her lost fortune. Once the group had gotten to the place where they believed the gold had fallen, they had begun searching for it. However, it seemed that it was no use.
“Merrill, I think you’d better stop. It looks like your gold was washed away by the current.” Ranma said as he used Shin’s sensory powers to locate the coins. The Rune Cat let off a meow, telling his master of the results of his probing. “Shin can’t detect your gold anywhere. It could be buried in the riverbed somewhere, and I don’t think we’ll be able to find it again.”
“NO! NO! NO! My gold has to be here! It has to be!” Merrill insisted as she continued to look about in the cold waters.
However, by this time, even Genie and Melissa had to agree with Ranma, that any further search would be futile. With some effort, they managed to pull her out of the river before she caught a cold.
That night at the Laughing Swan...
“I’m really sorry that you lost all that money, Merrill.” Melissa said as the group sat at a table.
However, Merrill was not in a talkative mood as she mumbled over and over about the loss of her Darling Jar.
“My Darling Jar... my Darling Jar...”
Ranma sighed as he couldn’t help but feel pity for her. Then he decided, what the heck, and nodded to Shin.
The cat meowed in confusion at his master’s mental request.
“Yes Shin. Go ahead. You know where it is, right?”
The cat’s forehead symbol glowed briefly, causing the three females to turn their attention toward it. In a flash of light, something appeared on the table. The object was a small, plain looking vase that was covered in some dust and grime. It had a few cracks on its sides.
“What’s that?” Melissa asked.
Ranma smiled as he answered. “Well, I couldn’t help but feel a LITTLE responsible for all this, so I decided to make it up to Merrill. This is her new Darling Jar.”
Merrill came out of her funk to glare angrily at him. “You think you can replace my Darling Jar with this piece of junk?!”
“That’s pretty cheap.” Genie said in agreement.
“Really Ranma. Sometimes, you can be so insensitive!” Melissa added.
Ranma shrugged as he got up and picked up Shin. “Well, if I were you, I wouldn't look a gift jar in the mouth. I’m pretty sure that this new jar is going to make Merrill even happier than the old one did. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
After the warrior mage left, the three females looked upon his gift with disdain.
“What, is he kidding?” Genie snorted as she appraised the container and noted some strange patterns on its side. The dirty jar did not seem to be anything special and was made of ceramic. “This thing isn’t worth 10,000 gold coins!”
“I can’t believe that he would think this would make up for all the trouble he caused!” Melissa said haughtily.
“Well, at least I can get something out of all this.” Merrill said as she considered what to do with Ranma’s gift. “I know of a good junk dealer who’ll give me a fair price for it.”
Ranma was smiling as he met with the three girls at the Temple of Mylee the next morning.
“Hey there, Merrill! And how are you feeling today? I’ll bet that new jar really made you happy, right?”
Merrill scowled at him and snorted. “What? Are you kidding? That piece of crap wasn’t worth more than 10 copper coins when I sold it to Corban the Junk Dealer!”
The magic-using martial artist became puzzled. “Ten copper coins? Is that ALL you got for it?”
“Yeah, what about it?”
“That’s funny. I could have sworn that it was worth a lot more than ten copper...”
The group all turned to see Ila running toward them. In her hands was a very ornamental vase. She stopped before them and proudly held it out to them. She was very excited.
“Ranma! You wouldn’t believe the luck my father had today!”
“What do you mean, Ila-chan?” Ranma asked, though he had a feeling that he already knew.
Ila smiled as she explained. “This morning, Corban the Junk Dealer came to our shop with this! Can you believe it? It’s an actual ritual vase from the Ardenyle Kingdom!”
“Ardenyle Kingdom?” Melissa said, then remembered reading about it in the ancient texts. “Wasn’t that the mythical kingdom of the legendary warrior-king Mylan, the supposed descendant of the God Mylee?”
“That’s right!” Ila said happily. “Do you know how RARE a relic from Ardenyle is?! When Corban wiped off the grime and dirt from the surface of this vase, my father almost had a heart-attack! A relic like this is priceless!”
“P-P-Priceless?!” Merrill stuttered as she began to realize her mistake.
“Yes! My father had to pay out fifteen thousand gold coins for it!”
“F-F-F-Fifteen thousand?!” Merrill was now sounding like a malfunctioning outboard motor.
“It was actually a steal. A relic like this is worth five times as much! Especially since it has ancient magical qualities. I can‘t wait to study it!”
“F-F-F-Five times?! Magical?!”
“Well, I’ll see you later Ranma! I’ve got to show Master Carwess! Bye!”
At that point, Merrill turned totally white as she watched her second fortune run off toward the Academy. Then... she snapped.
“COME BACK WITH MY DARLING JAR!”
Grenie, Melissa and Ranma developed sweatdrops as they watched her run off after Ila. Then the male member shook his head while shrugging. Then he started to walk off.
“Ranma!” Melissa called after him, causing him to stop and look back.
“How did YOU get a relic from Ardenyle?”
He smiled as he answered with a smirk.
“THAT... is a secret!”
Then he left to go find some breakfast.
The city of Fahn continued ring with the shouts of a sneak thief...
“GIVE ME BACK MY DARLING JAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
To be continued...
Well, that takes care of this chapter. As time goes along, Ranma will show a more sensitive side, as he did here by giving Merrill a priceless artifact, (though it wasn’t his fault that Merrill sold it without knowing its true value). Eventually, Ranma and the girls will begin to understand each other, but I’m not to going to make things easy for them and Ranma still has a few things to teach to Melissa, Genie and Merrill.
In the next chapter, Melissa will have to own up to her greatest rival, that Ranma is her Chosen Hero as the Festival of Mylee comes around. We’re also going to see the results of the Amazons’ attempt to find him. See you then!
(1) Thanks to my readers for clearing up that little detail.
(2) Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun!