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Although both martial artists/mages were exhausted, they were not so exhausted to not notice their surroundings as they made their way to the Amazon village.
Ranko had initially had some regrets about killing the witch, however all those doubts were erased as she noted the devastation caused by this one person.
"Ranko……your getting that look again…".
"It’s just that I…..I never wanted to kill her".
"Look, think of all the lives you’ve saved….".
"Yo….you just don’t get it do you?". She cried, pulling away from him and hugging herself.
"….What do you mean?".
She turned facing him, looking deep into his deep blue eyes.
"I…I killed someone".
"Worse yet, I did it out of anger, do you know what that feels like?".
Noting the distress in her voice, he almost spoke of his battle with the phoenix god, but remembered that that battle had yet to occur in this timeline.
"Well…..for all you know she might still be alive, just badly hurt". Although both prayed that this was not the case.
"Maybe, but I couldn’t sense any life signs….besides I not too keen on a rematch". She replied having already explored this area.
"…..We might as well hurry back to the Amazon village and see how we can help out". Ranma said changing the subject.
"Yes…yes your right". The red head said in a more energetic tone.
Several hours later.
"Are you sure we’ll be all right there?". Ranma asked again, the nervousness in his voice apparent.
"Stop worrying about the little things and worry about yourself more". To emphasise her point she quickly poked him in the ribs.
Doubling over Ranma grunted.
"You didn’t have to do that you know!".
"Just trying to say that you’ve got more important things to worry about". She said helping him up.
"Alright…alright it’s just that the thought of being in a village full of Amazons….". Ranma shuddered slightly at the thought of facing off against twenty versions of Cologne, after all in his first life he never imagined returning to the female dominated village, much less in his second.
"Don’t worry about it, remember their people are still in my debt!". *But most of all they’ll probably need our help!*.
"Well….I suppose she did leave us alone in Japan….", *Wait a minute, Japan….I wonder what Akane’s doing?*. he thought briefly as they continued on their journey.
Japan, Nerima ( present time).
Akane remained sitting on her bed, knees curled up to her chest. She was silent busy thinking about the day’s rather unique events in particular about a particular person.
Nabiki searched through another address book for contacts over-seas, having had no luck in gaining information so far.
Genma and Soun played what was possibly their first honest game of Shogo in complete silence, each move slow yet co-ordinated and carefully planned.
There was a knocking on the door which Kasumi naturally answered.
"Hi!!". Ukyo said cheerily.
"Oh…Hello Ukyo, is there something I can help you with?". Kasumi asked in her usual kind tone.
"Nah.. I was just popping over to see Ranchan and see if he wanted a snack". The chef indicated to the take-away box in her hand.
"Oh my you haven’t heard than?".
"Heard what?", Ukyo asked in a slightly more serious tone.
"I think you’d better come in". A voice from behind Kasumi said.
The chef nodded to the middle Tendo sister and entered, a sense of dread in the back of her mind.
Taro was annoyed, not only had he been defeated by a mere girl but he had been forced to play cat and mouse all over Japan and then in China, where he had witnessed what amazed even him.
Rethinking how he could approach the pair, as the direct route was now definitely out of the question.
Slowly he made his way towards where he had seen his prey leave, ignoring the tingling in the back of his head as due to frustration and exhaustion.
*Saotome you Will pay!!!*.
Somewhere else in China!
Sarah berated herself on her under estimating her opponents, after all this time she had yet to correct that problem in her character, *I knew I should have just destroyed that village from the start….but that could have run the risk of damaging the seal…*.
"All I need is a little time…".
She decided to rest and concentrate on regaining her strength as her sensei had always taught her.
After resting for an hour in deep meditation having used a stealth spell to hide her from attackers, she decided it was time to move again, having drained considerable energy from her surroundings, all life around her in a circle was dead or decaying.
*Ahh…much better….now perhaps I shouldn’t have wasted so much power on those resurrection spells…perhaps a more subtle approach would yield better results*.
*those Amazons will suffer long and painfully once I have regained my full strength*.
With that last thought in mind, the witch slowly headed towards the Musk citadel.
It was night when the pigtailed pair arrived at what was left of the Amazon village.
All around the outer most walls were literally piles of burning corpses no doubt having been the un-dead creatures, it was obvious that the Amazons had been overwhelmed by sheer numbers.
A feeling of dread passed between them momentarily as they cautiously stepped through what remained of a section of wall.
‘Di…did we arrive too late?’, Ranma questioned fearing the answer.
Ranko was surveying the surrounding area which had been all but destroyed, something seemed familiar about all this. ‘such power, such destruction..’.
"<HOLD who goes there?>". A female voice shouted.
Suddenly the pair found themselves surrounded by ten female warriors who although looked exhausted appeared quite ready to pounce on them.
"Well so much for the safe haven". Ranma muttered under his breath to Ranko, already tensing for battle.
"Hey! I didn’t know that old hag was lying".
"Surely you haven’t forgotten my name so soon honoured one?". A familiar voice said.
The pair turned around to see Cologne stepping out from seemingly nowhere, immediately the pair noted the tired look in the ancient one’s eyes. Nodding to the guards, the surrounding Amazons all immediately sheathed their weapons and dispersed leaving the trio.
"So you came…".
"Well we couldn’t just leave you, I mean you have helped us in the past".
Ranma mentally slapped himself as he remembered that in this timeline Cologne had not taught him all the techniques.
"It was the right thing to do!". Ranko added.
"Hmm…it seems as if history has a habit of repeating itself, you have yet again saved our village". Cologne said not noticing Ranma’s strange choice of words.
"heh…it wasn’t easy, but we finished it". She replied.
"What do you mean?".
"Well lets just say that I got a little carried away and blew that witch into the next century".
Ranko added in a mildly sad tone.
"Are you sure?". Cologne asked in a neutral tone.
"Yeah of course we are, why?". Ranma replied.
"I’m afraid that I have some bad news than".
"What?". Both queried at the same time.
"The witch that attacked out village or someone looking exactly like her was spotted making her way towards the Musk citadel".
"But that’s impossible!!". The redhead said in a surprised and slightly more relieved tone.
"I’m afraid it is, not soon after she was spotted, we have had reports that the Musk have taken up arms, fighting has been reported in the area, the enemy unknown at this time".
"Well it doesn’t mean that it’s the same person….".
"True, however I have sensed the same dark energies near the Musk stronghold as those emanated by the witch during her attack".
"So your basically saying that it could be her or someone else with similar strength?". Ranko queried.
"Yes but in this case I hope it is the witch Sarah otherwise if there are two such mages than there is likely to be many more….".
"I suppose but are you sure, I mean after we defeated her we couldn’t sense any life signs…". Ranma said in a curious tone. *there was no ki, no nothing*.
"If this is indeed the same person than not only is she not dead, but considering that she is attacking the Musk she must have regenerated her strength!".
"Bu…but that’s impossible!!! No one could take that kind of a beating and be ready for more in less than a day!". Ranko questioned in a shocked tone.
"I’m afraid we must assume the worse, unless our foe is foolish enough to take Herb for granted, which would be even more disturbing!".
"We have learned not to underestimate this woman, I suggest you two should do the same, now follow me we must tend to your injuries".
Ranma could only nod slightly as to the truth behind this, he had crossed path with Herb before and knew first hand he was not one to be underestimated.
The pigtailed pair followed the ancient Amazon through what remained of the village, trying to ignore the numerous bodies which lay scattered everywhere.
Musk fortress (moments ago).
Sarah sensed that one of the three seals was located at this place as well, she also noted how well guarded this place was.
She had yet to regain her strength, however the numerous guards may prove to her advantage.
Forty minutes later….
"Ahhh……I feel mush better". The white hair woman said with exhilaration as she dumped the carcass of another soldier into the growing pile.
"Such a pity that you were all so weak and pathetic", speaking to the still steaming remains of the guards.
*I’m almost back to normal strength….*.
With that last thought she proceeded through the gates into the fortress, all the nearby guards having already been drained.
Somewhere else in China.
Ryouga finally stopped running for a moment to catch his breath, he had not seen an monster for several hours now.
*Man I feel shattered……*, he thought as he placed his umbrella and backpack on the floor.
Before he could relax however, he heard a sound from behind him.
Spinning around he almost froze at the sight, before him towered a bull like creature with what appeared to be an octopus on it’s back.
"What the hell….???".
Reacting on instinct, Ryouga attacked flinging a few bandannas for cover while snatching up his umbrella.
Taro of course reacted instinctively slapping the bandannas with his tentacles, following up with a punch.
Ryouga dodged the huge fist which left a hole in ground.
*Guess this things serious*.
Taro wasn’t accustomed to being attacked in his cursed form by strangers, usually they would run away. So when this particular stranger attacked he was caught off guard, but now he was prepared exhausted as he was, to pound this guy into pulp.
Ryouga was starting to get annoyed, he had already scored a number of hits on the monster, but the creature merely grunted and counterattacked, it seems that in terms of physical strength he had finally met his match and than some!
Taro grunted in frustration, though his opponent’s hits barely hurt him it was the fact that his attacks would just miss. He had considered changing to his human form, however there was no hot water in sight.
The fight continued, both warriors giving it all that they had left.
Nerima, (several hours ago).
"So Saotome are you sure this plan will work?".
"Of course it will Tendo, war sometimes makes people come together!".
"Of course…". Soun said imagining Ranma saving Akane from a perilous situation, the two falling deeply in love and marrying almost on the spot.
"The schools will finally be united!", *and to make sure the master is finally gone!*.
"And for a small fee I can arrange to get you there as soon as possible". Nabiki said entering with a gleam in her eyes.
"Hu….Nabiki….how long have you been listening?".
"Does it really matter?".
"What does matter is that I can get you there quicker than it would take you to say swim there".
"And what technique would this be, your no martial artist". Genma said in a mocking tone.
*This will cost you extra*, Nabiki silently thought not liking the tone of the Saotome elder’s voice.
"It’s quite simple, use public transport like everyone else does!".
The two men stared at her dumb folded, that idea had never occurred to them, however
"That’s a pretty good idea, however how can we afford this?". Soun queried.
"Well I sure mister Saotome could afford it!".
"Huh why whatever do you mean?". Genma said nervously, small droplets of sweat forming on his head.
"there’s no point denying it Uncle, I know about your small supply of trinkets, although where you got them I can only guess".
"SAOTOME is this true!?, you’ve been holding out on me?".
"Urr…". Thinking fast which was one of the things that Genma was good at, he came up with the only reply that his old friend would find acceptable.
"I…..I left it for Ranma and Akane’s honeymoon….!!".
Soun noticeably calmed down,
"Well in that case….OH Saotome your such a good friend". The man said as he crushed his old friend in a hug.
Nabiki didn’t believe it for a second but let it pass, as that little fortune would get them to China, bring Ranma back and still have some left over for more personal uses.
"You can count me in!". Ukyo said entering from the kitchen, Kasumi just behind her.
All three looked up in surprise.
"Well Ranma is still at the very least my friend and fiancée!!".
At the mention of fiancée Soun and Nabiki glared at Genma, while Kasumi merely smiled and returned to the kitchen.
"What is this Saotome, is this true?".
Nabiki didn’t say anything, having already assessed the type of person Ranma’s father was she already knew this was the kind of thing that he would pull.
"Of…of course it’s not!!!".
Ukyo had pulled out her giant spatula and promptly bashed Genma over the head.
"Oh yes it is the truth and you took my father’s yattai as a dowry".
The temperature in the room suddenly dropped a few more degrees, Genma frantically looked around for an escape root. Seeing only the pond he made a jump for it but was stopped short by Soun who had by now manifested the demon head attack.
Nabiki decided to leave the ensuing Genma bashing, although she would have like to stay and watch she had other matters to attend to.
"Idiots…", Nabiki muttered under her breath as she went upstairs.
Akane was sitting by her table staring at the now darkening skies when her door opened.
"What do you want?"..
"Moi…I just thought I come and give my sister the good news".
"Go away Nabiki, I can’t afford it". Akane replied in a dejected tone still staring at the skies.
"Oh you can this one’s for free!".
"Well go on than….".
"We’re all going to China!".
"What???". Akane spun round in a flash, grabbing Nabiki by both arms.
"What did you say?".
"I said that we’re going to China to help Ranma and bring him back!".
Nabiki noted the distrust in her sister’s eyes, so quickly decided on another approach.
"That is of course unless you want to stay here and look after Shampoo, I’m sure Ukyo will be more than enough help to us".
Akane bolted up right in an instance.
"Ukyo!! What does she have to do with this?".
"Well she came round a moment ago, Kasumi told her what had happened and she volunteered to go to China to help her fiancée". Nabiki emphasised the last part.
"Fiancée??? Who’s that?". Akane asked bewildered.
Nabiki sighed, her sister had it bad but than who could blame her.
"Why Ukyo of course, I just found out that uncle Saotome engaged them some time ago".
Akane was furious, just when Ranma and her were starting to get somewhere out popped a new fiancée! *AS if having that Chinese Bimbo here was not bad enough….*.
"Well in case you change your mind, we’ll be leaving the day after tomorrow!".
Nabiki said leaving Akane to fume.
*I suppose I should tell Mrs. Saotome what’s happening, at the very least she should help to cut some cost at my end*, with that the middle Tendo sister picked up the phone and began to dial.
Mint, loyal warrior to his liege Lord Herb grunted in pain as he was again thrown into the wall. Even though he was fast he could not get past his attackers shield.
"Now you’re an interesting one, but your only slightly better than those trash". The stranger said indicating to the burning carcasses of his comrades.
Although normally Mint would have been distracted by the stunning woman in front of him, his loyalty to his lord came above everything.
"Y..you shall go no further woman, leave now before our great Lord Herb decides to deal with you himself". Mint spoke trying to hide the fear in his voice, this woman was stronger than anything he had ever done battle with before. *how can this be, aren’t all women suppose to be weak?*.
He gestured to the remaining guards to surround her.
"Oh please….you think that you even stand a chance??".
With a gesture of her hand columns of fire engulfed all the remaining men except Mint himself.
Sarah sighed in ecstasy as she absorbed their life energies.
Mint was scared, but anger soon over came him. This woman had just wiped out his personal squad, now she would pay.
Mustering all the strength he had left he charged.
The white hair woman had a bemused look on her face as she casually deflected his charge into the ground.
"Now this is getting boring". She said as she grinded his face into the ground with the heel of her boot.
Sarah looked up in time to see large man wearing tiger skin coming at her from above, quickly raising her palm she cast a spell.
A pillar of flame poured fourth from her palm engulfing the man and throwing him back.
"Li….". Mint managed to speak before the darkness overcame him.
"Oh so our games finished, well might as well play with your friend over there!". Sarah said walking towards the scorched groaning figured.
"Hm…still alive I see, I am impressed".
"Wh…what did you do to hi..m??". Lime managed to gasp, trying to ignore the pain all over his body.
"Oh don’t worry I’ll let him live just so he can see the downfall of this pathetic little empire, but first I’m just need to take something of yours…..".
Lime’s eyes widened in fear preparing for the end, however before she could continue a green beam of energy struck her in the side, throwing her into the ground nearby while forming a small crater at the same time.
"No more Musk will die today woman!".
Lime immediately got down on his knees,
"My lord Herb, I…I apologise for n…".
A gesture from his liege silenced him.
"Depart from here and take Mint with you quickly!".
Lime only nodded, getting up slowly he went to pick up his fallen comrade leaving the area with as much speed as he could muster. *Lord Herb should be able to handle this woman!*.
"Now that was not very nice, I mean attacking someone when they are not prepared". The white hair woman said as she casually brushed off the bits of rock.
Herb was slightly surprised, he had expected his opponent to be moaning in pain at the very least.
"You seem to be a powerful woman, why not join me instead of fighting me?".
Sarah could not control herself as she laughed out loud.
Herb’s aura manifested itself, his anger evident.
"So you think that your good enough for me???!!". The white hair woman spoke after managing to control her laugher.
This only enraged the dragon lord even more as his aura burned a dark green lighting up the surrounding area from the night, his eyes glowing.
"Hmm….you seem like a powerful one…..certainly more powerful than these scum". She gestured to the remains of the Musk warriors.
Herb could no longer control himself, for his people this woman would die, but a long and slow death.
A thin beam of ki energy shot towards the witch.
Sarah easily dodged out of the way.
"If that’s your best tha…".
Her words were stopped short when the beam suddenly became a whip and wrapped round her wrist, halting her motion.
" For all the Musk you have murdered you will die a slow and painful death woman!". Herb said with an evil smile.
"Not today dragon prince, your kind couldn’t defeat me several millennia ago and nether shall you!".
Herb was again slightly surprised, his ki whip should be causing agonising pain now, but the woman in front of him didn’t seem to be effected.
"You speak nonsense woman, clearly you are insane!".
Herb used his other hand to send a beam of purple ki towards the woman.
Sarah smiled, easily deflecting the beam back towards the prince who was thrown back by it.
"Your going to have to do better than that! Those Amazons gave me a better workout!".
Herb’s eyes widened in realisation, ‘so this is the witch that nearly destroyed those amazons’.
The Amazons had been around for thousands of years, for them to be nearly wiped out by this one person spoke highly of her power.
Releasing her, he leapt back to give him some time to think.
Sarah decided to take the offensive, closing the distance between them going in for close combat.
Herb was barely holding his own in hand to hand combat, although none of the woman’s hits actually connected every time he blocked, pain would erupt in those places. Even with his ki which flowed around him like a second skin offered little protection.
After several minutes Herb could take no more, slowing down enough that numerous hits connected sending him flying back into the mountain wall.
"I’ll get straight to the point, I want the imperial seal". She said standing over him.
Herb froze, only people in his family knew of the existence of the seal which was one of the most secret treasures in the history of the Musk.
"Ah I see you know of what I speak". Sarah said having noticed the look of surprise in his eyes.
Herb did not even bother to reply, he was too busy trying to regain his bearings.
"Stubborn huh?? Well this will be interesting…". She stepped towards him raising a hand surrounded by dark flames.
Herb could not even muster the strength to scream
Amazon village (following morning).
Both Ranma and Ranko were awoken by the noise of heavy activity outside the hut which had been lent to them for the night.
"Hey Ranko, what do you thinks going on?".
The redhead gave a long yawn before answering.
"Well I not sure but things have been pretty hectic since we arrived!".
Ranma could only nod in agreement as he remembered the destruction that had happened upon the village.
"I guess we’d better go out and see what we can do to help". Ranko said slowly as she got up.
"Yeah..no point hanging round here". He said while trying to get up.
"Actually Ranma perhaps you should rest for a bit longer, you don’t look so well!".
At this implication the martial artist leapt to his feet, trying to ignore the pain.
"NO WAY! I’m feeling fine!".
"BAKA, this is no time for that macho attitude of yours!".
However Ranko noted the look of determination within his eyes, knowing that it was useless to argue.
"All right….but at least let me help you".
"I…okay". Ranma resided to the compromise.
Putting his arm around her shoulder, they slowly walked out the hut.
What they saw surprised them to say the least, gone were the bodies that had littered the ground the night before, reinforced was the inner barricade and reconstruction of the village’s outer wall looked almost complete. *Wow I didn’t know the Amazons could work so fast*. The other surrounding amazons paid them no heed, too busy with their own activities at the moment.
Walking a bit more the pair noted that there appeared to be a gathering at what appeared to be the village centre, curious they walked towards the meeting.
"What do you thinks going on?". Ranma whispered. *hmm…I wonder where Mousse is*.
"Well, it looks like the village council is holding a meeting, probably to discuss battle plans". The red hair girl said indicating to the circle of small ancient looking women in a circle.
The pair approached slowly curious to know exactly what was being said, they immediately noticed two familiar figures of Cologne and Happosai.
<So the news is confirmed?>. One of the oldest looking figures said.
<I am afraid so Soap, I have already sent several scouts to make sure…>, Cologne said in a emotionless tone.
<Are you sure we’re not jumping to conclusions yet ladies, I mean we are talking about the Musk here!>. Happosai said while smoking his pipe, although he looked the worse for wear, his attitude was not effected.
<Our scouts confirm that there to be almost no activity in the Musk stronghold, the surrounding area was littered corpses>.
<In such a situation we must presume the worse>. Soap said.
<And that is?>. another elder questioned.
<That the witch has control of one of the seals!>.
<So the ancient text confirm that this is the one who shall bring darkness upon this earth?>. another elder asked.
<The text are cryptic at best but after such a display of power….>, Cologne allowed the statement to hang.
<What happens when she gets a seal?>, Ranma asked not wanting to be left out of the loop.
All elders turned towards them, making the pair feel uncomfortable being the centre of attention.
"Firstly allow us to thank you for your help". Soap finally said after a moment of silence towards the pair.
"Um…sure no problem…".
"It was our duty". Ranko added tactfully.
"Oh I almost forgot, I am Soap current chief of the council of elders for the amazons of Joketsuzoku".
"…I’m Ranma Saotome and this is Ranko". Ranma said after a moment, not bothering with history as he already knew that Cologne had likely told them everything about them already.
"Now that we have that sorted, allow me to answer your question". Cologne said stepping forward.
"The seals we refer to have been past down from generation to generation for thousands of years, their exact purpose is still unclear".
"What we do know is that the seals are sealing away something as to what that is, we don’t know".
"So why’s that Witch want them so badly than?". Ranma asked curiously.
"We do not know for sure but it cannot be good". Soap said interrupting.
"However it appears that one of the seals has already been taken by the witch, that being held by the Musk".
Ranma eyes widened slightly in shock, this implied that Herb had been defeated by the same person they thought they had killed the day before.
"Yes Ranma m’boy this witch must have taken on and defeated the Musk only hours after you pair nearly killed her!". Happosai said in a calm tone.
Ranko had conflicting emotions at the moment, one part of her was glad that the witch was not dead however another part was not as in a way she was indirectly responsible for the fall of the ancient Musk empire.
"B..but even if we didn’t manage to kill her, where could she find the strength to take on the entire Musk empire?". The red head questioned.
"That I can only guess, but according to Comb the witch seems quite capable of draining energy from life itself!". Cologne said remembering back to the grizzly details described by Comb.
"Than that means that not only is she recovered, she could even be stronger!".
"Not only that Ranma, but this witch is likely to switch tactics now conserving her strength and now wasting energy on resurrection spells". Ranko said stating what she thought.
Almost immediately all the elders began to confer with each other.
<The girl is right, this time the witch will be much stronger…>.
<do we have the resources…?>.
<A new battle plan must be…>.
Ranma and Ranko decided to approach Happosai as he was the only one not involved in the conversations.
"So old man what’s the plan?".
The master turned towards them slowly.
"For once Ranma, Ranko I have no idea, may the Kami help us all….".
(To be continued…..).
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