A Ranma ½ story by
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
Soun looked poleaxed as he stared at his youngest daughter. She had seemed like such a nice innocent girl: respectful to her elders, intelligent, and even the heir to the school of Tendo Anything Goes… but when had she become a pervert? He looked to his friend Genma for support, but the other man was busy looking at the TV as various dishes of French food were displayed. Kasumi wasn't doing much more than staring at her sister in shock. The sound of laughter filtered through into his troubled mind. Upon investigation, Soun found Nabiki and Ranma sitting side by side on cushions off to the side of the room. Both of them were laughing so hard that they looked to be having trouble sitting up. "Wahhhhh!" he wailed after finally deciding that he would get no sympathy from his friend or family.
"Hey, Nabiki, how many people from school do you think saw that?" Ranma asked after he had recovered.
Wiping tears of laughter from her eyes with the back of her hand, Nabiki answered, "I'm not sure, but you better believe that anyone who didn't see it will have heard about it by tomorrow. Akane's reputation is screwed."
Horrified at her sister's prediction, Kasumi started to cry softly. Where had she gone wrong? She had raised her sisters and father as best as she could, but it looked like her efforts hadn't been sufficient.
Akane chose this time to wake up. Her head jerked from side to side and she surveyed the room with wild eyes, seeing Kasumi and her father crying and Nabiki and Ranma laughing, the reality of her situation crashed down around her. They didn't understand! She wasn't a pervert! She had had to stop by that dirty place to get the stuff needed to setup Ranma. Oh, no… What if someone from school saw?
Soun saw that Akane was awake and practically flew across the room to her side. The hug he gave her was bone-crushing. "Oh, Akane, I'm not mad! We'll help you get through this tough time!" He once again collapsed into tears.
"It's not what it looks like, Daddy!" insisted Akane.
"Of course not, Dear," he sobbed.
Akane just sighed hopelessly and looked around for some support, but knowing it wouldn't come. This was all Ranma's fault! He must have used magic to make that cameraman stumble like that so everyone would see her! That bastard! Detaching herself from Soun took a few minutes, but eventually she managed it, then she ran upstairs. She would get back at him if it were the last thing she did!
The next morning Ranma finally got his answer as to whether or not Nabiki could learn magic. He came downstairs early, so as not to disturb Tendo and hopefully to avoid Akane. To his surprise, Nabiki was already sitting at the table, reading the newspaper and nibbling on a piece of toast. And, low and behold, she was surrounded by the numerous dots of floating light that signaled an untrained magical talent. Ranma was so surprised that he missed the last step and fell flat on his face. He couldn't believe that she actually had the gift. The chances were just so slim that he had even made her think that there were all kinds of rules to follow so that she wouldn't feel as upset or jealous as she might have when he told her that she couldn't use magic. But now, well it looked like he was going to have his first student.
"Ranma, are you all right?" Nabiki asked from his side. She sounded concerned.
He heard Kasumi giggling softly to his left. "Sure, just lost my balance," he answered as he climbed to his feet.
Kasumi, a basket of wet clothes held before her, smiled and said, "You really must be more careful, Ranma." Then she was out the door and on her way to hang up some clothes.
Ranma held out his hand to Nabiki and she looked at it quizzically for a few seconds before finally deciding to shake it. Her confusion was only increased when Ranma grinned and said, "Welcome to the club."
"Huh?" she asked, but then before Ranma could answer, she caught Ranma's meaning and asked, "Magic?"
Ranma nodded and said, "It looks like I've got my first student."
In a completely uncharacteristic display of emotion, Nabiki threw her arms around Ranma and hugged him. When she drew back, she saw Ranma blushing slightly. "Oops, sorry about that. I just got carried away."
Ranma scratched the back of his head nervously. "Heh, no problem."
Nabiki's face took on a business-like expression and she took hold of Ranma's shoulder. "Come on." Then she started pulling him back up the stairs, ignoring his protests that he hadn't eaten breakfast yet. They didn't stop until they were in Nabiki's room.
"You're acting weird, Nabiki. Are you feeling okay?"
"I feel fine. Now, have a seat and start teaching me magic." Nabiki sat on her bed and pointed to the other end of it.
Ranma joined her and said, "This takes a while, you know?"
Nabiki waved his objection off and said, "Well, since school is cancelled today, we can at least get a start."
"School's cancelled? Why?"
"The Principal's son is getting out of the hospital today, so he declared today a holiday."
"How'd you find out?" Ranma wasn't going to complain about a free day.
"The secretary called me. That's why I was up so early this morning."
"Ahh. I bet that Akane will be glad to hear it." They shared a minute of laughter over her predicament.
"Oh, she was. Okay, back to magic."
Ranma looked sheepish for a moment, but finally said. "To begin with, I guess that I should tell you there aren't a lot of rules to it like I led you to believe. I didn't really believe that you would be able to learn, so I was just trying to make you not feel bad if you couldn't learn."
Nabiki agreed with Ranma's reasoning, but couldn't help but think how funny it was that Ranma had actually believed that some rules would really make her feel better about not being able to do magic.
"Magic is based on the four basic elements; fire, earth, air, and water. Each mage has a single element that they are most attuned to. Before we start anything, I've got to find out which you are most attuned to."
"How do you do that?" Nabiki asked. Now they were getting somewhere. She hoped that fire was her element. It had always fascinated her as a child, but adherence to rules such as not burning stuff had dampened the fascination. The chance to really play with fire would be great.
"I just did." Ranma grinned again.
"What did you do?" Nabiki hadn't seen Ranma do anything she could associate with magic.
"Nothing really. I just repeated the same thing that my sensei told me about the elements. It's some kind of catalyst, she said. We always think about something related to our element, and it shows in the sparks."
"When we aren't trained yet, we have a bunch of little floating lights around us that a Mage can see. Yours turned red, which means that your element is fire."
"But I've seen you do magic with fire and air. You said that we always had a single element."
"There is always an element that we are most attuned to. That's the one that we have the potential to use without speaking or making gestures. You can still use magic based on other elements, but never as strongly as your prime element, and never without the incantations and finger wiggling." Nabiki had heard Ranma speak some kind of incantation when he had made the fireball that frightened her father into giving up on the engagements, so she knew that his must be another element. "What's your element?"
"Is it going to be harder to teach me because we don't have the same elements?" Nabiki asked.
"No, my sensei was an Earth Mage and she didn't have any problems teaching me."
Impatience began to gnaw at Nabiki, and she said, "Now that that's taken care of, we can get down to the learning."
Damn, Nabiki certainly was eager. "Some of the flashier stuff is going to be a problem, but we'll deal with that when we get to it. Hold out your hand."
Nabiki did so, a bit confused, but trusting in Ranma. Ranma turned her hand palm up and splayed her fingers, then laid his own larger hand over it. Ranma glowed a reddish orange for a second, then the light flowed across his body towards his hand. When it had all gathered, Ranma's hand was obscured within a solid blob of dark red-orange light.
"This is going to feel weird, but I think you'll like it." Then, in a rush, the blob shot downward into Nabiki's hand.
Instead of feeling the intense heat in her hand that Nabiki was expecting, her whole body grew warm and a general sense of euphoria spread with the warmth.
Nabiki awoke an indeterminate time later. After a couple seconds, Ranma's head filled her field of vision as he leaned down over her.
"That didn't take long."
"How long was I out?" Nabiki felt slightly embarrassed. She had fainted before Ranma had even had a chance to teach her anything.
"Just a few minutes." Ranma helped her sit up. "That was really great. You must be very highly attuned to fire if you absorbed the energy that fast."
"Huh?" Nabiki grunted in confusion.
"I just crammed the most basic fire spell into your head, along with enough raw fire magic to allow you to cast it a few times. Hold out your hand and think about light. It's easy."
"You mean that's all there is to it, learning magic I mean?" Learning to count had been more difficult than that.
Ranma shook his head. "No, getting the spell is the easy part. I can transfer them to you when I infuse you with magic energy. Teaching you to gather and store the energy is the hard part. Until you get that far into it, you'll only be able to cast spells with my energy."
That wasn't a bad deal at all. "Okay, so what can I do now?"
"It's just a light spell. I guess you could use it as a projectile, but it would only be about as strong as a snowball."
Nabiki followed Ranma's earlier instructions. She held out her right hand and thought about light. At first nothing happened, but then, when she had begun to glare at her hand, a small spark of light formed. It continued to grow until Nabiki held a semisolid ball of light, about as strong as a 100-watt light bulb.
"See? Easy, wasn't it?" Ranma grinned.
Nabiki instinctively clenched her fist, causing the ball of light to disperse into hundreds of motes of light which all faded away slow as they float around the room. "How many more times can I do that before I run out of energy?" It felt great to be defying so many laws of physics. Hell, it felt great just being able to do something that almost no one else could.
"Depends on how strongly you are attuned to fire, but judging by how fast you recovered, I'd say five or six."
"Okay, I'm ready for more." Nabiki held her hand out to Ranma so that he could give her another spell.
"Nope, can't do it. You have to use all the energy that I gave so that the spell takes hold in your mind. Besides, it's really dangerous to try to teach you another on your first day. Tomorrow I can teach you two, and I'll begin teaching you the mental exercises that help you to absorb mana."
Nabiki almost pouted, but Ranma said that trying to learn another could be dangerous, and he was the expert, after all, so she gave in and busied herself with making another magic light bulb.
Akane didn't come out of her room the entire day, so Kasumi had to carry her meals up to her. Later in the evening, after dinner, Nabiki was once again commandeered Ranma, dragging him to her room
"What now?" Ranma asked half-heartedly.
"You said that you can't teach me any more magic today, but I'm sure there is all kinds of stuff you could still tell me, am I right?" Nabiki couldn't help herself, magic just made her feel more alive. It gave her another name too, at least in her mind it did. There was the Ice Queen, evil mercenary by day, and Fire Mistress, kick-ass sorceress-in-training by night. She reminded herself to never mention that to anybody else. It just sounded to corny.
Ranma sighed and grabbed a chair. "Yeah, I guess."
"Okay, how about starting at the beginning?"
Sigh, again. "Of what?"
Did she have to spell it out for him? "What you know about magic," she said with forced cheerfulness.
Ranma abandoned his chair in favor of a more comfortable seat on the end of Nabiki's bed. This was going to be a long night. "I guess I should tell you about elemental strength based on your affinity." Nabiki nodded. "Okay, since your main element is fire, it's your strongest form of magic. Your next strongest element will only be 3/4 the strength of your fire magic. The next strongest is only ½, and the last is 1/4. My second element is fire, my third is earth, and my fourth is water. If my main element had been water and my second air, I would be able to break my curse."
"How do I know what order the other elements come in relation to my own?"
"We won't be able to find out until you know all the fire spells."
"Well, go on."
Jeez, she certainly was eager. "Depending on your first two elements, you can sometimes gain control of a sub-element with a whole other set of spells. My air and fire combine to give me lightning. If your second element is air, you'll get that power as well. If it's water you'll get a kind of general control over the weather on a local scale. And earth will give you control of certain geothermal processes. That one only works in some places where the earth's crust is really thin."
Ranma continued talking for almost two hours, informing Nabiki of various power combinations, the limitations of each element, and what telling her what she could expect in the comings days of her education.
Finally, "After this, we call it quits for the night?" Reluctantly Nabiki nodded. Ranma stood up and said, "Cover your eyes, this is going to be bright."
Nabiki reached into the drawer of her bedside table and pulled a pair of sunglasses out. "I'm ready."
Ranma gritted his teach and tenses all his muscles, then, with blinding speed, he punched his arm into the air. There was indeed a bright flash of light, though it was blue. Nabiki gasped as almost the whole arm disappeared. Ranma drew it back slowly. From somewhere, he had acquired a black gauntlet that reached to his elbow. It appeared to be made of pure blackness. There were no visible seems, and the short, forward facing spikes that lined its back blended in perfectly with the base of the unusual garment. With a slight gesture, Ranma had a four-foot blade of the same blackness in his hand.
"Cool, heh?" Ranma asked with a cocky little smirk.
Nabiki pulled her shades off and said, "Yeah, but what is it?"
"When a mage has learned all the spells and has achieved their full power limitations, we make a kind of focus out of pure magic. It can be anything from a hairclip to a shoe, but once it's made it only works for its creator, and is totally indestructible. They only help focus our power a little bit, but they can have other uses too. I don't like to fight with weapons because losing a weapon that you have become accustomed to can be a serious disadvantage, but my gauntlet can imitate any type of martial weapon and it can't be taken away from me without chopping my arm off, and that's a little hard to do when someone's blasting you to hell and back."
Nabiki reached out and touched Ranma's enshrouded arm. The black substance was incredibly smooth and flexed with Ranma's arm without trouble, but it also appeared to be as hard as steel.
"I'm not a fighter. How would something like that help me?"
Ranma shrugged and the gauntlet disappeared, taking the black sword with it. "Like I said, it can be anything you want; but it's a one time deal, so it's best to make something that you'll always find useful."
The next morning, Ranma awoke to someone poking him in the side. At first he thought that his pop was trying to get himself a beating, but through blurred vision and a cloudy mind, Ranma picked out Nabiki's voice.
"Wake up, Ranma, hurry!" Nabiki whispered excitedly.
"What do you want, Nabiki?" Ranma half groaned, half growled.
"We've got to get ready and go to school early. Kuno is going to be back today, and we can't miss the show. I'm sure someone has told him about Akane and the sex shop if he didn't see it himself."
"So?" Ranma sounded a bit more coherent.
"You don't know Kuno like I do. This could be the funniest thing we'll ever see!" She punctuated the exclamation by shaking Ranma.
"All right, all right. I'm getting up." Ranma sat up, wiping the sleep from his eyes.
"Kasumi is making us breakfast, so don't take long in the furo. We've got to get good seats, and I need to set the camera equipment up."
Muttering obscenities to himself, Ranma gathered up his bath things, a fresh change of clothes, and a towel from the linen closet in the hallway. After a short bath, he hurried to the kitchen in order to placate Nabiki's uncharacteristic excitement. She was already eating. Kasumi had gone western this morning, fixing sausage, eggs, and toast. Ranma ate much more slowly than he would have without his father around, catching up with Nabiki just as she finished.
"Come on, Ranma, we have to hurry."
Wordlessly Ranma followed Nabiki out the door. My God, the sun hadn't even risen yet! It was only a five-minute walk to school; what could Nabiki possibly need to get to school two hours early for?
To be continued.
Author's Notes: I figured I would finish the next chapter of one of my regular fics since I'd been dredging up so many old ones. I know this chapter probably seems like a lecture on the new magic system that I'm creating from bits and pieces of all those from all the books I've read, but it allowed me to get a clear idea of how things should work magic wise from now on, so it helped. Next chapter is gonna be one of those funny ones that make you laugh till you cry. Hopefully it will be. Send me some C&C at email@example.com
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