A Ranma ½ / Wheel of Time crossover story
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. The Wheel of Time and its characters and settings belong to Robert Jordan.
"Finally!" Nabiki exclaimed as Ranma walked into the room. "I thought you'd never get here. Now hurry up and put those wards in place so I can get a few hours of sleep."
Ranma couldn't blame the girl for being a bit peckish. The walls weren't exactly thick, after all. Who knew that Akane was a screamer? Pushing those thoughts from his mind, Ranma took hold of saidin and wove a thin barrier or Air that would keep all sound from penetrating the room. "They can't keep going at it like this every night, you know," Ranma said with false certainty. "Everyone has to sleep eventually." Kuno had looked dead to the world the past few mornings, but he still went about his routine then got busy with Akane most of the night, every night.
"Yeah, well until then, the wards will do just fine." It was Nabiki's turn on the bed, so Ranma pulled off his thick boots and stripped down to his boxers, then climbed into the thick pallet near the door.
"Today, Ranma, we meet the Dragon Reborn for the first time," Logain said to Ranma as he entered the man's small office.
"You mean you haven't even met the guy?" Ranma knew that Logain was Rand al'Thor's biggest supporter within the Black Tower. If it hadn't been for him, Taim's power within the Tower would have been much more consolidated.
Logain shrugged. "Saw him once, when they were parading me down the streets of Caemlyn in a cage. He wasn't the Dragon Reborn then, just a farm boy in the big city. The moment I saw him I knew he'd rock the world down to its very foundation."
"Oh, okay then. So, where are we meeting him?" Ranma was eager to meet the man everyone said was Lews Telamon Therin reincarnated. He'd heard stories from his grandfather about the original and wanted to see how the new version compared to the old.
"Outside the besieged city of Tar Valon. Things are coming to a head and from my correspondence with him, the Dragon Reborn intends to secure his position by bringing the rebel Aes Sedai into the fold." A slight look of concentration passed across Logain's face and a moment later Gabrelle, the pretty Brown stepped softly into the office.
Ranma was almost certain that she and Logain were sleeping together, or else they had very unusual sleeping arrangements not unlike those he shared with Nabiki. And despite the fact that he had bonded the woman against her will, there did seem to be some affection shared between the two channellers. The woman raised a questioning eyebrow at her summons and said, "Did you call me or did I imagine that?"
"I summoned you," Logain said more warmly than Ranma would have expected. "I was hoping to get your opinion on some matters of diplomacy."
Without being bidden, Gabrelle seated herself. She said, "Although I have read extensively in the area, you would be better served to request the aid of a Blue or Gray sister. With no Blue's in the group, a Gray will have to suffice."
Logain shook his head and said, "This has more to do with Aes Sedai relations than those between nations. It'd be helpful if I knew what to expect from your sisters when they learn that we have bonded the Aes Sedai sent to kill us."
Gabrelle pursed her brow and replied, "There isn't a precedent for an Aes Sedai, or even an normal woman having been bonded at all, let alone against their will. Among the sisters, though, bonding a man against his will is looked down upon as rape. It would not be inaccurate to assume other sisters would regard my situation and that of the others here as an even worse atrocity."
"Did you know that an Aes Sedai bonded the Dragon Reborn against his will some months ago?" Logain asked casually. "From information he has given me, there have also been plans and even an attempt by various Aes Sedai to bond his friends, one of them only a few days after he was married."
Gabrelle looked rather poleaxed by this news. Ranma himself was surprised, outraged even. The nature of the bond allowed the initiate to be controlled completely. That meant…"The Aes Sedai who bonded him, can she Compel him?" Ranma asked quickly, as soon as the thought occurred to him.
A feral grin appeared on Logain's wide face, but was smothered an instant later. "Not in the least, he assures me." He chuckled, as if privy to an inside joke. "No, Alanna Sedai bit off more than she could chew when she tied herself to that one."
"Ah, a Green. I should have suspected," Gabrelle said knowingly. "The Greens may be good in a fight, but their preferred battle ground is a bed, if you know what I mean." Ranma wished he hadn't seen the sly little wink she shot at Logain and the sly grin he flashed in return. If they wanted to flirt, they could at least let him leave first.
Ranma cleared his throat loudly and said, "Anyway, getting back to the business at hand. Do you mean that the Aes Sedai don't know about Gabrelle and the others?" he asked.
"As far as I know, the secret has been well kept. Even during the Daughter-Heir's occasional visits. Elaida, may the Light burn her soul to ash, likely assumes the sisters she sent to the Black Tower are captive or dead. Dead, most likely."
"I begin to see the point. The Dragon Reborn intends to declare his allegiance to the rebel faction of sisters and wishes to know whether our captivity will effect his bid." Gabrelle sounded sure of herself, very Aes Sedai-like, from what Ranma had seen of the other bonded women at the Tower.
Logain obviously had trouble not laughing in the woman's face. After a few moments of tense silence, he said, "Hardly. He intends to make it clear that any Aes Sedai who doesn't swear fealty and join his cause will be wiped from the face of the Earth. He has a device, a sa'angreal I believe he said, named the Choedan Kal. I understand that it is the most powerful of its kind ever." That was more than enough explanation as to how the Dragon Reborn intended to bully the Aes Sedai into submission.
Ranma's gasp coincided with Gabrelle's, but they had totally different reasons for the display. Before Gabrelle could speak, Ranma said, "My grandfather told me of the Choedan Kal." Arin had told Ranma nearly everything he knew, in hopes of passing on his legacy after he was gone. "They were completed only a few weeks before Lews Therin and the Companions sealed the Bore. They're powerful enough to destroy the planet." With his sa'angreal, Ranma could have razed Japan and sunk it into the ocean, he was sure, it was powerful, but the enormous sa'angreal Arin had told him of made his look like a children's toy.
Quickly, before anyone else could speak, Gabrelle said," This is madness! No Aes Sedai will swear allegiance. We don't do it for our own Amyrlin and we certainly won't do it for the Dragon Reborn." She was probably trying to forget what had been said about the monstrously powerful sa'angreal.
Almost gently, Logain replied, "Some already have, my dear Gabrelle, as will you and all your sisters."
To Ranma and Logain's complete astonishment, Gabrelle burst into tears and fled from the room sobbing.
"I don't get it," Ranma said, to which only Logain could shrug, just as bewildered.
"Please be careful, Tatewaki," Akane pleaded, pressing herself against his body and attempting to mold herself to him.
Behind her, Ranma was looking at Nabiki and mock vomiting. "Maybe she hit her head and forgot that she's an evil bitch who hates men?" he suggested in a whisper.
"It's possible. It'd explain a few things, at least." Nabiki, if anything, looked more disgusted than Ranma. "She's still a bitch, though. Hey, you don't think Kuno did something to her mind with the Power, do you?" she asked suspiciously.
"The head trauma theory is way more likely. Kuno has less aptitude for Compulsion than me, and I barely have any at all. Besides, I never taught him how and it seems to be a lost Talent nowadays." To himself, he said, "Still can't believe they had forgotten how to Travel. Pathetic." Focusing back on reality, Ranma shouted, "Damn it, you two, don't do that in public! Put your pants back on, Kuno." Ranma pinched the bridge of his nose and muttered about learning balefire one day.
"Why is he going?" Nabiki asked, trying to take her mind from what she'd just seen her sister try to do in front of Logain's home. The girl's opinion of Kuno had never been high. Now he was dirt.
"Intimidation factor. I'm pretty good with a sword, but he'll be giving all those warders we're bound to see the shakes, Logain tells me, and that'll be transmitted to their Aes Sedai through the bond. Anything to throw them off balance and aid the Dragon Reborn's own ta'veren abilities." If the Aes Sedai knew what the Choedan Kal was, they wouldn't need to be intimidated. They would need to be found, since everyone last one of them would probably try to find a hole to hide in.
"Just because you can't get any, Nabiki, doesn't mean you have to ruin my fun," Akane snapped as the two sisters walked back to their own home. Nabiki waved to a few of the women she had come to know winked at a young Asha'man every so often, laughing when they grew flustered.
"There's nothing wrong with 'getting some'," Nabiki snarled back. "Doing it so loudly that Ranma has to use the Power to mute you two so we can sleep at night is even understandable, sorta. Doing the same damned thing practically in the middle of the street is not!"
"Whatever. I'm going to go beat up some of those boys trying to learn how to swing a sword properly." Akane broke away from her sister and headed towards the exercise field.
When he got back, Nabiki was going to make Ranma check Akane out, just to make sure that Kuno hadn't done something to her brain. Right now, she would rather have had her man-hating superbitch sister around instead of the Kuno-loving superbitch that she had become.
Moments before Logain made the gateway that would take them to their destination, Ranma grabbed hold of saidin. He ignored the torrent of Power that swept through him, using it to unravel the inverted weaves that concealed his sa'angreal. He knew that he could draw the Source through it without any difficulties when it was concealed, but he had no idea whether or not its secondary defense functions would work with the Illusion in place.
"You got yours, Kuno?" Ranma had decided to act like nothing had happened between Kuno and Akane. It was the only way he could treat the older boy with any respect. There were plenty of girls who would probably have thrown themselves at Kuno, no matter how stupid he was, so why did he have to go after Akane? She just didn't have anything going for her.
Kuno nodded and drew from within his black coat a small amulet. It was round and had an engraved smiley face on the front. It was also a moderately powerful angreal. With it, Kuno was more than a match for most channellers.
"What are those?" Logain asked curiously. Before they could answer, Logain channeled a gateway into being. The other side of the portal held a snow covered expanse of hills, looking much like the Black Tower would have if there had been no buildings and no channellers to clear the area of snow.
"Sa'angreal and angreal. Like the Dragon Reborn's Choedan Kal, but weaker, a lot weaker," Ranma answered.
"I should probably get one of those," Logain said as he stepped through from his living room and into the blindingly white expanse of snow.
Ranma and Kuno followed. The gateway closed behind them and they were left alone, three men in the middle of nowhere.
"I think we're a little early," Ranma said, glancing down at his wristwatch.
"This is where he is supposed to meet us, give or take a few hundred feet," Logain assured him.
Fifteen minutes passed. The cold didn't bother any of them, but boredom did. Five minutes of standing around with nothing to do was as much as Ranma could take. He channeled a small area free of snow, removed the moisture from that patch of ground and formed it into a halfway comfortable chair. Then, trying to see how many flows he could handle at once, Ranma created a small army of miniature snowmen, each no higher than his knee. For nearly ten minutes dozens of the little creations did battle with one another, some throwing miniature fireballs at their enemies while others used swords of ice to rend their foes.
The mock battle was still going on when another gateway opened in the middle of a particularly nasty fight between two small squads of snow-midgets. Ranma's unfortunate army was trampled into mush by the arrival of several dozen spear- and bow-wielding men and women. Ranma shrugged and climbed to his feet.
"That'll be five Tar Valon marks you owe me," Logain said to Kuno.
"I don't see how you came to that conclusion, my good man. Though my side was clearly losing the battle, the untimely arrival of our guests has thrown the eventual victor into contention," Kuno replied, sounding for all the world as if he'd been taking lessons from Nabiki.
Ranma hadn't even realized that they'd been betting on his amusements. He could have made a killing if he had. He shrugged, turning his attention to the Aiel he'd heard more than a few tales of. What his grandfather had told him conflicted greatly with the Aiel of the present. A lot can change in three thousand years, he supposed.
Once the Aiel contingent had poured through and secured the area, which included training several arrows on each of the three men who had arrived earlier, another man stepped through the gateway. He was flanked by a tall redheaded woman and a gray-haired matron who had the overly smooth features of someone who had used a binder; an Aes Sedai, no doubt. The Dragon Reborn was a tall man, taller even than Logain or Taim, which meant he was a hell of a lot taller than Ranma. He wore an embroidered red coat in the same style worn by the Asha'man, with a sword buckled at his left hip. In one hand was a short tasseled scepter that looked kinda stupid, in Ranma's opinion.
The Aiel parted for him and the two women, as he made his way over to where they stood. "Greetings, your Lordship," Logain said, bowing low to the man. Kuno repeated the gesture. Ranma nodded to the taller man. He might have bowed to God, or the Creator, or whatever they called it in this time, but he would bow to no man.
The Dragon Reborn grimaced and said in a deep voice, "Please, no formalities, call me Rand." Ranma's respect for him grew a bit after that comment.
Ranma noticed the old woman studying him intently and returned the favor. She had aged well and must have been stunningly beautiful in her youth. Now, though, she was handsome, with an air of authority around her. She reminded Ranma of the old troll from the Amazon village, only a lot less shriveled.
"You!" she suddenly exclaimed. Ranma's skin began to tingle, most incessantly that on the back of his arms.
Ranma didn't know what she had against him, he had never seen her before in his life. To be safe, he drew on saidin, not only to show that he was not to be toyed with, but because he tended to act more wisely when in the Oneness. "Me?" Ranma asked flatly.
Rand sighed and muttered, "I knew I should have told her before now." He placed a placating hand on the old woman's shoulder and said, "He can be trusted, Cadsuanne. I know who he is."
Cadsuanne shrugged the hand away and began, "Boy, he is one of those we saw at Shadar Logoth while you were still unconscious from cleansing the Taint." She didn't glare at him or show any other signs of aggression or distaste. She just looked at him. He'd seen the same 'look' back in the Amazon village when the troll woman had used the chi attack that had pealed away his supposedly impenetrable shields and nearly killed him.
Ranma put a few things together in his mind and came to the simplest conclusion. "Is that what that big hole in the ground was called?"
"He's dangerous," Cadsuanne insisted.
To Rand, Ranma said, "Don't you hate it when old people tell you what to do all the time? Or when they call you 'boy' or 'lad'?" Standing around in the snow all day wasn't going to get anything done besides leave a lot of people with frostbite.
Rand looked like he had found a brother or long lost friend. He nodded with a smirk and said, "Truer words were never spoken." Cadsuanne's cheeks were a bit pink now, and Ranma doubted that had anything to do with the cold.
"Rand al'Thor, speaking ill of Wise Ones incurs much ji," the very pretty redhead said angrily. Her tone lost some of its bite when Ranma saw that the girl had to fight hard not to smile.
"Yes, well, why don't we get a move on," Rand said, avoiding the issue.
Ranma eyed Cadsuanne. Cadsuanne eyed Ranma. The Aiel eyed everyone. And Logain and Kuno went back to arguing over who's army of snowmen would have won.
As the group made its way through the encampment of the army surrounding the surprisingly large city of Tar Valon, Ranma and Rand talked. "My grandfather helped to create the male Choedan Kal… the keys for it anyway," Ranma said.
"It's a shame that he didn't come through the doorway with you and your friends. He sounds like he may have been able to help repair the female key." Rand didn't fully trust the boy, not yet, but he didn't have any reasons not to. Ranma had taught Logain a weave capable of discerning truth from lies, which had been confirmed to work as claimed. The same weave had proven Ranma's story as accurate; amazingly hard to believe, but accurate all the same.
The army parted before them, more because of the Aiel than Rand's presence. No one but Rand's friend, Egwene, the leader of the rebel Aes Sedai, knew of their arrival beforehand. Word would travel slowly in such a huge press of men and equipment. As Rand had explained, this was a much smaller entourage than normally accompanied him.
"I doubt it. I never had the Talent for creation, but grandfather still told me a lot about the process. Most ter'angreal can be created by a man or a woman and used by a man or a woman. Angreal and sa'angreal must be created by whichever side of the Source it will magnify, or there is some sort of buffer effect that can burn you out or do strange things to your mind." Ranma had never really thought about it before. Making things had never been his interest, but the situation Ranma found himself in now would have been so much simpler and more secure if he could have made a few simple angreal. With the Dark One once again likely to escape his prison, anything would help. And the largely inept channellers of this Age needed all the help they could get.
"You should talk to Elayne, my fiancée. She's already made some simple ter'angreal. Any information you could give her may help immensely."
Ranma glanced at Aviendha, the fierce redhead who strode by Rand's side. He would have sworn the two of them were as much of an item as Kuno and Akane. Aviendha noticed the stare and confused expression on Ranma's face.
"My first-sister Elayne Trakand, as roof mistress of her palace, will be Rand al'Thor's first wife. When I complete my apprenticeship with the Wise Ones, I will become Rand al'Thor's second wife, and Elayne Trakand's sister-wife." She sounded perfectly happy with the arrangement. Back and to her left, Cadsuanne was scowling mightily at the pretty Aiel.
Ranma took in the words, thought about them for about half a second, then clapped Rand on the back. "Congratulations, man! You're about the luckiest bastard I've ever met in my entire life!"
Rand's face had gone nearly as red as his hair, and that was really saying something. "It's an Aiel custom," he muttered in his defense. Aviendha began to growl something and Rand quickly interjected, "But I really want to do that, really. I love them all, Aviendha, Elayne, and Min."
"Men?" Ranma queried, disturbed.
Rand shook his head vigorously. "No, no, Min, short for Elmindreda."
"You're my hero," Ranma said with real feeling. Three women. It made Ranma's head hurt thinking of all the things they could do, the positions… and going down that line of thought would only frustrate him. Instead, Ranma asked, "Do you have any tips? I mean, on how to do that for myself." Ranma had always considered himself a smooth operator, and had proved it on several occasions, but THREE?!
Ranma ignored Cadsuanne's not so quiet, "You are a foul-minded little boy."
Rand, if anything, had gone even redder in the face. "I have a feeling that you and Mat will get along well."
To be continued.
Author's notes: I know I originally said that Ranma and Rand wouldn't get along well, and I don't think they would have before Rand cleansed the Taint, but I'm working under the assumption that Rand really isn't psycho and that LTT was really in his head. No Taint and LTT isn't bothering him anymore. Add to that the relief from not having to worry about going mad before the last battle and Rand should be a lot like his old self. Akane and Kuno will be explained.
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