A Ranma ½ / story by
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
There were no mana crystals on Earth, at least not any that Ranma or Nabiki knew of. This meant that in the event that they actually needed to replenish their energy, potions or rest would have to be used. Due to the high-energy content of a mana potion, the most storable within a magic users personal subspace was nine vials. Nine vials apiece meant that Ranma and Nabiki were fairly well stocked wherever they went, but once those were gone, that would be all they would have during their stay on Earth. Sure they could fully recharge themselves with an hour of rest, but demons and ghouls didn't typically give their victims the time necessary to vanquish them.
Then again, Nabiki thought, Earth wasn't exactly infested with supernatural creatures. The most they would probably come up against would be a really tough cockroach.
Ranma came into the room, a canvas traveling pack over either shoulder. Each contained clothes of a more Earthly appearance that Nabiki had had secretly made in a small village on the other side of Nox. All the valuable stuff, their weapons and armor, would be stored as they always were, in the subspace.
"You ready?" Ranma asked. He was already wearing a replica of the Chinese clothes he had come to Nox in.
"Yeah, have been for an hour," Nabiki replied, causing Ranma to roll his eyes. In truth she had been saying numerous goodbyes to Char and his large family of nearly full-grown wolves. The Castle would be well defended by the exceptionally intelligent canines. Not to mention the various demons and traps spread throughout the surrounding grounds and lower floors.
Ranma handed Nabiki her pack and moved over to the device that would carry them back to Earth. Ranma reached into the water of Death Wind's cylinder and drew the sword. The process that would carry them to Earth would require that one of the blades be awakened, and he had no intention of using the soul-drinking black blade. Death Wind may not have been pleasantly named or created with an entirely benign purpose, but it was not evil, and that made all the difference to Ranma. Besides, with its ability to turn aside any spell cast at its wielder, Ranma could see the advantage of carrying it around with him on Nox.
"The spell has already been cast on the sword. All we have to do is hold on," Ranma told Nabiki.
"Hold on?" she asked while tightening the straps of her pack.
"Well, it is going to be pulling us through warped space and a dimensional barrier or two, so it probably wouldn't be a good idea to not hold on," Ranma answered wryly, earning him a jab in the ribs from Nabiki.
"Thanks for waiting until the last minute to tell me." Nabiki sighed and incanted a brief spell, causing a coil of thick hemp rope to appear in her hand. “Tie one end around your waist," she ordered, then following her own instructions, Nabiki tied the other end of the rope around her own waist. "Once we get going, spell it for invulnerability, just encase."
Ranma nodded, silently agreeing with Nabiki's practical safety measure. He cast the required spell to make the rope temporarily indestructible, and along with it threw up a forcefield around himself and Nabiki. The nearby mana crystal replenished the spent energy.
Nabiki reached out and took Ranma's hand, giving it a firm squeeze.
Ranma held the massive white broadsword with its glowing silver runes high over his head. He spoke a single word and the laboratory was bathed in a bright flash of silver light. When the light subsided, Death Wind was held at Ranma's side giving off a barely perceptible whine of metallic joy. The silver runes slowly shifted upon the blade, folding over themselves then returning to normal, only to repeat the pattern again and again.
"Ranma, that sword—"
"Is alive. I did some research on it and found out that it's at least semi-sentient." Ranma finished for her.
"How is it possible for a sword to be alive?" Nabiki asked in wonder. When Ranma had told her that the swords were dormant, Nabiki thought that he meant their enchantments.
"No one knows. The wizard who found it doesn't even know for sure what its name is. They only call it Death Wind because you can see it force the souls from its victims. When it kills enough people in close enough conditions, the souls resemble a ghost wind."
Nabiki shivered involuntarily. If Death Wind was that bad and it was supposed to be good, Stormbringer must be horrible with its evil, soul-devouring intelligence. "Ranma, promise me that you'll never use Stormbringer. Imagine what it would do to your soul to eat another person's."
Ranma swore that he would never use Stormbringer, but knew in his heart that if Nabiki's life was ever on the line and the sword was required, he would forsake his oath in a heartbeat. “Now, Death Wind, let's visit Earth!" Ranma cried out, slicing through the air with the murmuring blade.
The space that Death Wind passed through became wavy, then heavily blurred. Blurred became a milky gray, which suddenly went dead black. With a jerk, Death Wind flew towards the hole in reality. Ranma held the hilt tightly in one hand, and Nabiki in the other.
At first there was nothing but a black void, but a minute after their arrival, colors began to appear. Red streamers of energy were chased by green spheres of pulsing light, blue clouds collided with white leaving behind angry purple clouds. Nabiki and Ranma stared in wonder at the unusual events occurring around them.
Soon there was nothing but chaotic masses of writhing, bubbling, and bursting energy. As Death Wind pulled them through a crack in existence, its magic protected the couple from the raging forces of primal, untamed havoc. Ranma's force field never once came in contact with their surroundings, something that Ranma was immensely grateful for, since he suspected that his flimsy attempt at defense wouldn't have held up for very long.
A minute passed, or it could have been an eternity, neither Nabiki nor Ranma could tell for certain with time having little meaning in a place where it didn't exist. Then they were in the black void once again. Time chose to exert itself here, and the pair could easily perceive the seconds, little more than a minute, before they were back in a universe, complete with its own form.
"Ranma, where in hell are we?" Nabiki asked grumpily. They were slogging through ankle-deep mud and being jostled by sharp gusts of wind. At least a minor water elemental was keeping the water off of them.
Ranma surveyed the mountains around them and shook his head slowly. “I have no clue."
"Ranma, this had better be Earth, or I'm gonna find the biggest, meanest demon in hell and turn him loose on you," Nabiki growled only half playfully.
"Unless one of us isn't from Earth originally, we're at the right place. I guess the sword didn't know where to go on Earth. We're lucky it didn't bring us through to the bottom of an ocean somewhere."
Nabiki felt the mental rush that signaled a telepathic communication from her newly summoned elemental. There was a settlement of some kind up ahead. She expressed her gratitude by feeding the elemental a bit more mana than it required, raising its status and power slightly. She decided that she would keep the elemental. It adapted well and accepted instructions as readily as Char. With a little nurturing and some mana infusions, it would also be a worthy ally in a fight. "Ranma, there's a city not too far from here."
Ranma smiled cockily and asked, “Next time you'll trust me, eh?"
Nabiki poked Ranma in the ribs. “Don’t even try to pretend like you had this planned."
He shrugged. “I can't help it; I'm just good, even when I don't try."
That earned him a pinch. “Whatever. Ranma, let's just go find a nice dry place to spend the night."
Ranma didn't complain, and they were soon in sight of a large log palisade, presumably containing within it a little piece of civilization.
"Where on Earth could we be? How many places are there with mountains like this that has places walled in like that? It's like we've traveled back in time." Nabiki thought that it looked vaguely like some of the far northern towns of Nox.
"Nah, there are still places like this. Pop took me to some of them in the mountains of Japan when I was a kid. We went to China once, but I was too young to remember much. I do remember a small village with a wall, though."
"You're the expert. Until we got stuck on Nox, my idea of roughing it was sleeping outside with Akane when we were kids."
They continued on their course through the soggy grass and intermittent mud puddles, until the large iron bound log gates stood looming above them.
"Should we knock?" Ranma asked.
"In this weather, I doubt that they have anybody manning the gate, but it's worth a try. Maybe a shout would be better than a knock, though," Nabiki suggested.
Ranma cupped his hands around his mouth and was about to announce their presence, when, with a shout, dozens of shrouded forms rose up from the mud. Ranma and Nabiki were surrounded by an inverted wall of pikes and swords. How they had remained hidden from both Ranma's and Nabiki's supernatural senses, no one knew.
"Oh, this is just great," Nabiki sighed.
"Do you want to fight our way out or see what they have to say?" Ranma asked Nabiki. If it had been him alone, he would have fought his way to freedom, but with Nabiki also in danger, he hesitated, not willing to risk her life.
"Set a teleport marker as far from here as you can, and if things go sour, we can just slip out quietly."
Ranma invoked the spell that would set a beacon for him to follow in the event that they had to make a quick escape, heedless of the numerous razor sharp blades threatening him as he spoke the proper words and made the proper hand motions to shape the spell. “Okay, it's set."
"Well then, I guess we should surrender now." Nabiki held her hands over her head, followed by Ranma a moment later. From the angry muttering of their 'captors', it was obvious that they were indeed in China, but the weapons were primitive by modern standards. It was like they had found a little piece of Nox on Earth.
A young girl, with limp, rain soaked purple hair, shouted something towards the wall, and with surprising speed, the gate swung inward. The couple allowed themselves to be herded into the village. The place was spacious and had a homey air to it, even though it appeared just as drenched as the outside world. The laughter of children could be heard in the distance as they played in the rain.
"They sure are aggressive," Ranma commented, “but the place doesn't seem all that warlike. That wall wouldn't really hold up against a determined attack, and that's going by Nox standards. Modern weapons would smash this place in a minute."
"I'm surprised that the Chinese government would allow them even that much freedom," Nabiki said. “But with the mountains closing the whole valley in, they probably don't feel that it would be worth the trouble."
"The wall must be for defense against whoever else lives in the valley."
They continued walking down the streets, led by their armed escort until Nabiki shouted, "Ow!" and rubbed at the back of her leg where the same purple-haired girl had jabbed her with the point of her spear. Through Nabiki's pant's leg a bright blossom of blood bloomed and began to slowly spread.
Ranma growled and made a move towards the sneering girl, but instantly he was surrounded by a dozen laughing women, all threatening him and Nabiki with their weapons.
"Fuck this!" Ranma shouted, calling the Staff of Oblivion to his hand. It's wicked blade crackled visibly with electricity. It had happened so quickly and was in of itself such a surprising demonstration that none of the women reacted in time to stop Ranma from sweeping the staff in a vicious arc that disarmed the six women between him and Nabiki. All the women collapsed to the ground convulsing as the electrical energy coursed through their bodies.
"Ranma, maybe you're overreacting," Nabiki said, even as her black force bow appeared in her hand. “She might have slipped in the mud."
Wary of their companions' plight, the other women drew up in a loose circle around Ranma and Nabiki.
"Oh, please!" Ranma scoffed. “You saw her face. The little bitch did it on purpose, and now I'm gonna make her regret it. But first…" Ranma cupped the wound on Nabiki's leg with his hand and cast a minor healing spell on it. “There, now let's show them why no one that messes with us lives to regret it."
Grateful that the pain from her wound was gone, and slightly angry at herself for not healing the wound on her own, Nabiki raised her bow and pulled back on the glowing strand of energy that appeared. The bolt of energy that she fired took one of the women in the chest, knocking her to the ground with a bloody hole above her breast. With one hand still holding the bow, she called forth a half dozen pixies that flew out in a swarm, joining in with a like number of magic missiles sent forth by Ranma.
A dozen women died screaming as the sorcerous pixies and homing missiles struck true. Many of them died on contact, but a few of the tougher ones fell to the Earth shrieking in pain as they burned alive, heedless of the rain falling around them. Now less than ten remained.
Ranma cleaved through the sword of one brave woman as she sought to take him from behind. The Staff of Oblivion sunk into her flesh easily, and passed cleanly from her shoulder to her hip. Two pieces of ruined gore remained, though no blood was spilt thanks to the cauterizing effect of the electricity generated by the staff. The clawed butt of the staff crushed an unfortunate throat, turning its owner into a gurgling wretch, choking on her own blood.
Swept up in the carnage, Nabiki raised an ember demon just for the hell of it and signaled to Ranma with a whistle to stop his attack. The demon hurled two fiery balls of magma, each one exploding against a different target, killing them instantly. With a sound like the furnaces of hell, the demon cackled with glee as it advanced on the frightened girl who had instigated the assault in the first place. Even as steam partially enshrouded its form from the water that fell over its superheated surface, claws of jagged obsidian could be seen extending from its rough fingers.
Less than three feet from its cringing target, the demon screeched in triumph, but a blast of blazing blue energy, not unlike a magic missile, but of some energy other than fire, since fire had no effect on ember demons, struck it in the head. The demon's head, only a chunk of half melted rock, but containing within it the life force of the demon, exploded into a fine powder. Instantly all heat left it's small form and to the ground fell a loose correction of sooty black rocks.
Other people were approaching now, drawn by the screams of the dying. All were armed. A squat, glowing form, the obvious slayer of the demon, hopped into view upon a gnarled wooden staff. If Ranma hadn't known better, he would have thought they were dealing with one of those little urchin shamans that Nabiki used to hunt rats in the Castle's cellar.
"Not that I'm worried about our chances, Ranma, but now might be a good time to scoot," Nabiki said. Ranma would probably want to stay for a while now that he knew their attackers to be of little danger to them.
"Not yet. I want to see how proficient a spell caster that woman is." At least Ranma assumed it was a woman. All the other people they had seen were warriors.
The purple-haired girl ran over to the glowing woman and spoke to her rapidly in Chinese. There were now no less than a hundred of the women warriors surrounding them, but a much greater distance than the corpses that littered the ground.
The little woman on the stick hopped closer, narrowing the distance between herself and the battle ready pair to fifty feet. “Why have you committed this crime against my people?" she shouted angrily.
Nabiki assumed that their appearance was enough cause for the woman to assume they were Japanese, despite Ranma's choice of apparel.
Ranma let his grip on the Staff of Oblivion loosen. The staff fell from his hand and disappeared into subspace. To Nabiki is was a signal that Ranma was ready to do some serious spell casting. She readied herself to summon another pixie swarm and maybe a demon lord. “We just wanted someplace warm to stay for the night," Ranma stated loudly, “but the little girl with purple hair injured my wife without cause. That wasn't very smart of her, especially since she did it to my wife! It's her fault that your people lay dead at our feet!"
"Be that as it may, you and your wife have taken the lives of many amazons. For that you must be punished!" From the woman's withered hand, another radiant blast of blue energy exploded towards Ranma and Nabiki.
With a whispered word and a wave of his hand, Ranma stopped the spell's forward momentum completely and sent it hurtling back at its source.
The woman barely escaped the explosive blast that threw clods of water logged Earth into the air. Still the amazons held their positions around Ranma and Nabiki.
Oh, well, at least the day wasn't turning out to be a complete bore. Nabiki brought her enchanted armor from subspace, instantly feeling the revitalizing effects of the regeneration spells placed on each piece of leather and steel. She opted for a different weapon than her bow and sent it back to subspace. She didn't have Ranma's hand-to-hand abilities— that she knew all too well— but she didn't really need them all that much. With a thought, her new water elemental took a solid form, rising up from the ground beside her. Its form was crystal clear even though the water around it was muddy brown. The old woman wouldn't be destroying this creature, not unless she could cut it off from any sources off water, something rather hard to accomplish when its raining.
The debris settled to the ground, and the old women could be seen standing on the edge of the crater created by her own spell. She tore her puzzled eyes from the hole and glared at Ranma. "Your power is great, young sorcerer, but so is mine!" With that statement came a crackling sound and the woman was surrounded by an aura of energy. Now standing on the ground, her staff made for a more useful tool as a focus for her power.
The scything beam of energy that came at them tore the ground into an earthen trench as it passed, but Ranma was ready. A plane of shimmering silver air appeared in front of him a split second before the beam struck. The force was incredible, driving Ranma back across the mud several feet, prompting Nabiki and her elemental to take a couple of quick steps back. Ranma's shield held up against the beam, though, and with effort, Ranma shifted it slightly to the side. Like a mirror reflecting a beam of light, the shield turned the woman's attack back, destroying several houses and incinerating several unprepared warriors.
"That's it, you old hag!" Ranma shouted to the woman. He shouted the invocation of a powerful earth spell and ordered forces with phenomenal speed. A great grinding sound issued forth from the ground and all around Ranma the soil began to quake, undulating in water-like waves. Most of the amazons were unable to keep their footing on the saturated soil and fell to the ground, killing or injuring themselves or others with their weapons as they went down. The primitive bamboo huts that made up the majority of the buildings within the village could not stand against the onslaught and were shaken to pieces.
Even as the shouts and cries of the wounded filled the air, Ranma stared at the woman who had just attacked him and in the process endangered Nabiki. From either hand he shot a ball of liquid flame. The last he saw before teleporting Nabiki, her elemental, and himself to safety was the woman holding her staff in front of herself like a shield.
Nabiki finished the summoning of an aero demon just as she was whisked away by Ranma. The demon would most likely rampage unchecked through the village now, and Nabiki couldn't stop or banish it since she had had no time to establish mental contact.
Ranma's marker was a little over a mile from the village. “That was a bust," he said, somewhat embarrassed.
"Yeah," Nabiki agreed. “We should probably get as far away as we possibly can."
To be continued.
Author's Notes: Can you tell that I don't like the amazons? Hehehe, the dynamic duo now have their first set of powerful enemies upon Earth. I wonder who the next ones will be. Maybe I'll put them in the next chapter. Hope you enjoyed the return to Earth. C&C me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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