"The line of the Green and Silver shall fall into the shadows and darkness; in the time of great horrors... one shall fall to the Dark, the other hidden in both the Sun and in the Dragon."
"The Dark line shall be false to the Green and Silver's Honor. It will rise, to lead those who follow the Snake into darkness. The Line hidden shall be tested worse, and still retain the truth. He will not be taught, yet, she shall be all that the Green and Silver idealizes."
"At the time of the
final war, The Dark shall proclaim his status, but be false. The Hidden one, who is the true, will arrive,
already a master, yet a student. He
shall be unknown, but she shall lead them back to the Light."
ruptured, shall be reborn, the final true heirs of the Lion and the Serpent
shall restore the brotherhood between their founders, broken
on ideals.... for times change and the founders' dreams will be realized."
Final prophecy of Rowena Ravenclaw, 1107 CE
17 years ago, a school in
11 years ago, a different school a half world away, took that name down as well, however, in their lists of future students, the name emblazoned in green and silver.
6 years ago, the first school sent out the letter of attendance to the name, and nothing was heard from the prospective student, and they thought nothing of it, this happened on occasion, after all.
Less than 2 weeks ago, that name reappeared on the rolls for admittance. This surprised the school, but they sent out the letter again.
Half a world away, a teacher called her headmaster to see the name that was emblazoned in green and silver.... and where it was located.
Hikari no Daija
(The Serpent of Light)
A Cabbit Patch Production
by Miriani and Andrew Norris
are the properties of JK Rowling, Rumiko Takahashi, CLAMP, 20th
Author’s Note: For those not familiar with Ranma ½ or the Aging Mushroom Incident (Japanese Manga vol. 33, or the upcoming Viz Translation vol. 31), please read the excerpt from “Fangs of Justice: The History of the True Heir”
Prologue: Revelation in Nerima
Ranma stood over the ruins of the mushrooms, ignoring the mocking, almost deranged laughter behind him. A hand, almost too small to recognize as his own at first, reached for the smashed fungi. Ryouga continued to laugh, before catching a flowerpot in the face. “Damn you, Ryouga…” He snarled in a voice far more high pitched than normal. Ryouga stumbled back, angry for a moment, but too caught up in his ultimate victory over Ranma to stay mad for a moment, as the laughter continued.
“Aww, is widdle Ranma angwy?” Ryouga taunted, smiling maniacally as he looked at the child. Ranma growled almost cutely before jumping for Ryouga’s face to kick him. The now older boy backed off, smirking. Ranma fell to the ground, an outraged scream escaped him. Ryouga laughed mockingly as he sneered at the child. At that scream, a tile off of the roof skittered down, bouncing off the gutter before flipping end over end toward the koi pond.
“I’ve done it!” Ryouga called out to the sky. “I won! I’ve bweee!!!” He said, buried in a pile of clothing. As the clothing dropped… so did a video camera. Ranma ran toward the pig, hands clenching, quite intent on having raw pork for his next meal as he chased the pig into the dojo. Unfortunately fate has never been kind to Ranma, and that moment was no exception as Ryouga dove for Akane’s arms.
Akane scowled as she held her beloved ‘P-Chan’ in her arms. “Ranma, I told you to stop picking on poor P-Chan.” She didn’t even notice the pig’s smug demeanor as he turned toward him in Akane’s arms, gazing at Ranma with piggy amusement. “Shouldn’t you be watching your stupid mushrooms?”
Ranma’s aura flared a bright blue. “That ham hock on the hoof just destroyed them all.”
Akane scoffed as she stroked Ryouga’s back, not even looking at Ranma anymore. “Sure, Ranma, blame P-Chan…”
“Go take a look, damn it!” Ranma yelled out.
Akane sniffed and walked away with P-Chan, who nestled against the girl’s chest, gloating.
Ranma screamed in rage and put his fist against a wall, denting it. That bastard swine had ruined Ranma’s life and he just sat there, mocking him. Honor or no, that pig was bacon.
Akane brought P-Chan into her room, setting him down. “Good little P-Chan,” she cooed as she moved to look at the small pot of mushrooms she had left in her room as a backup, in case Ranma or Ryouga did something foolish. “Well, they’re almost ready,” She remarked to herself before moving toward her desk to work on her homework.
Ryouga looked at the Mushrooms, eyes narrowing. Ranma could still regain his normal age with those. Now that Ryouga had the upper hand, he knew the only way to keep it was to prevent Ranma from ever getting those mushrooms. He was sure Akane would understand, and then that insufferable jerk would never be a problem for his future hap-er, Akane anymore. He looked at Akane who seemed to lose herself in the homework, before moving toward the pot. With cautious glances at Akane, he crept closer to the pot. As Akane bowed her head to look at a word closely, he seized his opportunity, tearing at the mushrooms, rending them asunder. He then leapt away, toward Akane. Victory was his, and it was truly sweet.
Suddenly the door slammed open, revealing an almost incandescent Ranma. Akane looked toward the door, furious. “What are you doing here, Ranma!?” She snapped, but was ignored as Ranma leapt for the pig, hands reaching to throttle the life out of the dishonorable wretch, eyes red in fury. Unfortunately, he was quickly backhanded against a wall, near the pot smashing it. “I told you to stop picking on P-chan! Now look what you’ve done!” She gestures toward the broken pot and the ruined mushrooms. Ryouga paused and tried to hide his loam-covered hooves.
Ranma ignored Akane as he leapt toward the pig, who dodged toward the door. The swine would have escaped, except for a hand which hooked the bandana about his neck. That hand belonged to a very irate Nabiki, who glared at the pig. Ranma prepared to pounce once more, before being blasted out the window by Akane, hurling him into the distance.
Surprisingly, however, the glare turned to Akane as Nabiki spoke, “10,000 yen.”
Akane blinked a bit. “For what?” she said, confused and still furious.
Nabiki held up a video tape. “You will want to see this.” The pig in her other hand felt an ominous shiver, though he couldn’t figure out why. After all, he had done nothing wrong. All of his deeds were to protect Akane. Must be Ranma flirting with one of his harlots. Akane held a hand out with a pair of 5000 yen notes, frowning as she reached for the tape. “Downstairs,” Nabiki replied, not handing the tape over. She also refused to hand the pig over as the trio moved down toward the living room.
Ranma dragged himself back to semi-consciousness, having crashed into a small gate in front of a house. His head swam as he tried to pull himself to his feet. A blurry shape came into view and in a voice distorted and hollow, asked, “Myyyy gooooodnnnesss….. aarree yoooou alllriiighhht?” Ranma continued to struggle through the pain and distortion as he sat up. “Whaaaat haaappeeeneed tooooo yoooou?” the odd sounding voice called.
Ranma took a minute to try to interpret the speech, before replying with an almost croaking voice, “Fell…” Yeah, Ranma thought, despite the pain it triggered. Fell a couple miles horizontally.
Suddenly he was lifted up. The shape continued to speak, but he couldn’t even try to understand it as the pain surged through him with the movement. He almost blacked out, but succeeded, barely, in keeping conscious. He realized what was wrong after an eternal moment of thought. Concussion. Fairly bad one at that, Ranma surmised. With that diagnosis, he decided the most important thing was to stay conscious. It was a lot harder than he thought before his mental processes announced why. He didn’t have six years worth of body mass, strength and endurance. He was still tougher than your average ten year old, but it was not quite up to the task of just getting up from an impact such as Ranma had taken. He was carried somewhere, evidently into a building, as the light dimmed, then changed color.
He was placed on a soft … something, a bed or a couch or the like, as the voice continued to speak. Some of the words were almost clear enough to comprehend. “… concoction… grandmother made… … taste nasty but… always helped…” Suddenly a foul smelling fluid was poured carefully down his lips. The taste was revolting, but not as bad as some of Akane’s attempts at cooking. He barely choked the thing down, and then laid back. Despite a taste and feel that resembled that of unwashed gym socks filling his mouth, his vision began to clear, and the voice, now recognizable as female, came in clearer.
“My grandmother always seemed to have one concoction or another to fix things up. I’ve never figured out how she did it, but at least she left the recipes,” the voice said. Ranma looked toward the woman, getting a funny feeling. He couldn’t quite see her and the voice was still somewhat distorted, but he knew there was something familiar about this woman. She sat down next to Ranma, looking at him. “You know, you remind me a lot of my son before he left me.”
The funny feeling was even stronger as Ranma mumbled, “W-whatshish name?”
The woman looked toward him and said, “My child’s name is Ranma. Saotome Ranma.”
Ranma blinked as the funny feeling
turned a weight upon his heart. Of all the places in
Akane’s eye twitched as a blazing red aura filled the room. She hadn’t moved once as the tape ran. Neither had Nabiki, one arm outstretched to hold the pig up. This became a more and more difficult prospect as the pig thrashed in terror as he watched his doom. Nabiki shook her head. “You’re lunchmeat, Ryouga, you know that, right?”
Ryouga squealed in terror as he tried and failed to get away from Nabiki as he watched his destruction of the mushrooms, his transformation on the tape. Akane’s face was utterly blank, save for that twitching eye. She then got up and knelt in front of Ryouga. “If I /ever/ see you again, I will have you neutered, just before I send you to the slaughter house.”
Nabiki seemed to nod in a sardonic approval as Akane took the pig from her arms. Akane then proceeded to pummel the swine within an inch of its life, before opening the window and hurling him over the high fence, straight into a lamp post. Akane turned toward Nabiki and growled, “How long did you know?”
Nabiki looked at the tape. “Fourteen minutes, thirty four seconds,” she admitted, a bit steamed as well. “It should have been so obvious. I’m slipping. Makes a lot of sense though.”
Akane ranted, “How could he do something so… sick!? And why didn’t Ranma tell me?” Her hands clenched, as if strangling someone.
Nabiki thought for a moment then sighed. “He has. Repeatedly. How many times has he called P-chan Ryouga or vise versa? Why do you think he was so pissed about Ryouga and those mushrooms?” Nabiki went cold as she noticed a bit of dirt on Akane’s blouse. “Oh no… Akane, where are the mushrooms?”
Akane glared. “Why should I care?”
Nabiki looked at the pot, then at Akane’s blouse. “Because I think that bastard just screwed Ranma over… No wonder he was so pissed.”
Akane snarled, “What are you talking about?”
Nabiki’s face went cold as she grabbed Akane’s blouse. “Look, damn it!” She gestured to the smashed mushrooms, and then gestured to the dirty shirt. “Think for a second? How do you think this dirt got there?” Disgusted and infuriated, she stormed out of the room, rushing down the stairs. “Damn her! You think she actually cared about that pig over Ranma. I don’t care, Kasumi was wrong about her. She doesn’t give a damn about him.”
Nabiki rushed past Kasumi on the way out, ignoring Kasumi’s inquiry into what was wrong as she began to try to follow the path Ranma had taken in his involuntary flight out Akane’s window and asking any passer-bys. As she stormed her way down the street, her expression changed from fury to concern. Sure, Ranma was tough, but now Ranma was a child, and who knows what Akane might have done. She didn’t know why, but she felt something was very wrong with the whole situation. She wondered why Akane had not seen it before. Embarrassed, she wondered why she herself hadn’t seen it. That oinker and Ryouga always seemed to be close but never together. That stupid bandana. She was utterly infuriated by her own ignorance.
But what really bugged her was that this was hitting her harder than she expected. It’s not like she really cared for Ranma, was it? Oh, who did she think she was fooling? Of course she did, Nabiki realized. She had cared for Ranma for quite a while, even if she wouldn’t admit it to herself. After all, who was it that pulled her family’s fat out of the fire, time and time again? Sure, sometimes it was his fault for actually putting it in the fire to begin with, but she knew several times where he’d saved them from their own stupidity.
Nabiki’s pace quickened as she continued to follow the path of witnesses, who seemed more confused than anything. There was more to it, though. She had to admit, he was definitely easy on the eyes in either form. She was no lesbian, but she definitely appreciated the aesthetics of the female figure, and Ranma was quite a specimen as a woman. As a man, he was drop-dead gorgeous. Nabiki had been kicking herself since about a week and a half after Ranma arrived. She had him in the palm of her hand, (literally, she remembered with a bit of embarrassed pleasure) and gave him up to Akane. And for a time, it almost seemed like they might be doing alright together.
“It all came down to the pig,” Nabiki muttered to herself. She thought back and swore under her breath. So many things came down to the swine. Ryouga had screwed up so many things between Ranma and Akane. If it wasn’t for her violent reaction to the revelation of Ryouga’s deception, Nabiki would have wondered if Akane actually felt for the bastard over Ranma. She paused as she began to recognize the area, a cold fist wrapping around her heart. She had followed Ranma this way when he had disappeared shortly after Nodoka had departed the Dojo. He would follow her to Saotome-ke and just stare at the door. She never got a look at his face, but she could guess what was on his mind. She then stopped as she noticed a policeman walking down the street. “Sir,” she called out, “Have you seen a little boy or a little girl with red hair? About ten or so, wearing a pair of overalls?”
The policeman blinked. “You know the kid? He took a serious fall into a fence, nearly knocked the thing down. Some woman took him to her house, was going to help him out.”
Nabiki froze as she asked for directions. She then thanked the officer and ran toward Saotome-ke. The fist tightened around her heart as she approached the house, noticing the dented fence a few houses away. “Oh no…” Nabiki whispered hoarsely to herself as she rushed to the door.
Nodoka left with the cup, returning with a bowl and cloth. “So, what is your name, dear?” She asked as she placed the bowl on the arm of the couch, before placing the cloth in the water.
Ranma’s eyes widened a bit as he tried to think of a name. Unfortunately, at that point, it was redundant as Nodoka tipped the bowl over, pouring over Ranma’s head. Suddenly Ranma’s brain seemed to be both too big for his skull and shrunken in size to rattle around in his head. The pain screamed through his head and Ranma did the only thing he could do at that point. His eyes promptly rolled back into his head as he passed out.
Nodoka gasped sharply as she watched the child’s hair turn from a dark black to a brilliant red. The face took a slightly feminine cast, and the body shrank before her eyes. With a terrified gasp, she stumbled backwards, her vision dimming. She fell backwards into a pair of hands, her last view being that of a mirror. Her last thought before slipping into the darkness of unconsciousness was how much that new face looked so very much like her own… and like the face of a lonely young girl…
Nabiki rushed into the house quickly, not even bothering with knocking as she slipped in. As she entered, she heard a gasp. Quickly, she ran toward the gasp and saw Ranma, female and unconscious on the couch, but more importantly for the moment, she saw Nodoka falling backwards, her head on a collision course with the coffee table. She dashed over and caught the falling woman carefully, laying her down next to the couch. “This is not good,” Nabiki muttered, swearing softly under her breath.
She stood and paced, before looking at a piece of paper on the mantle. She paused and moved toward it, her usual curiosity drawing her over. She began to read it, and then shook her head, disgusted. Nabiki sighed. “I can’t believe she’d follow through with this. It doesn’t even say what this ‘man among men’ is supposed to be.” She turned toward Ranma and sighed. “Hardly a man among men right… now…” She paused, eyes closing as she considered the situation.
Kasumi watched as Nabiki stormed out of the house, trying to get her attention but failing. She shook her head and turned back toward the dishes from Akane’s attempt at breakfast this morning. She was going to reach in to her pocket for something when she heard the doorbell ring. With a sigh, she turned toward the door, and opened it to the last person she expected. “Tofu-sensei! Come on in!” She said, surprised. “It has been far too long.”
Dr. Ono nodded as he stepped into the house, a hint unsteady but with no trace of the madness he usually seemed to show around Kasumi. “I was on a search for a friend, unfortunately, and it took me far longer than I wanted. Kasumi, I received a message today concerning Ranma. Is he here right now?”
Kasumi shook her head, sighing. “I’m afraid I haven’t seen him in a few hours. I’m not sure where he could be. If it isn’t confidential, what is this message about?”
“It is not quite confidential, but it is not something I can speak of with most people. You are perhaps the only one I can speak with of this for now.”
Kasumi blinked softly. “Whatever do you m…” She paused. “I see… So Ranma is-“
softly. “Yes, he is. And this worries me greatly. The message came from
“I don’t know. He was not very specific, and I think he was worried about the message being intercepted. Whatever this is about, it is quite serious.” Tofu explained. “Of course, nothing about Ranma ever seems to be half measures. I am glad to hear he has the chance, but he is rather old for it, isn’t he?”
Kasumi flinched and looked down into her lap. “That’s… one of the problems. Recently Ryouga showed up with some odd mushrooms, and one of them has affected Ranma. He’s been turned into a child.”
Tofu blinked. “I see… Disturbing, but perhaps it’s for the best. Everyone with the potential should have a chance to use it.” He said the last a bit sharply, causing Kasumi to flinch once more. “It was not your fault, Kasumi. Your father… well, in his lack of wisdom, decided that they were not to go. I strenuously disagree, but it was his choice, not yours. Even though it should have been theirs.”
Kasumi nodded and sighed. “I know. And I still feel guilty that I was able to go and they weren’t.”
Tofu nodded. “But it is good that you went. And Golden Sora still thinks you were among the best to grace their halls in ages. Even if your time was brief.”
Kasumi nodded softly. “Even if I did make a few mistakes.” She blushed furiously as she looked down at her hands.
Tofu shook her head. “You were young. It was a simple enough mistake.”
“I shouldn’t have been doing that anyway. I am glad you’re finally over it, though,” Kasumi said, ashamed.
“I am too. I believe Ranma is going to need all of our help,” Tofu sighed quietly.
Nodoka and Ranma awoke at roughly the same time, Ranma groaning a little as she reached for her head. “Stop the world, I want to get off,” she complained weakly.
Nodoka sat up. “What happ…” She paused as she looked at Ranma, going pale. “Are… Are you my child? Are you Ranma?” Nodoka asked with both hope and terror.
Ranma turned her head weakly, looking toward Nodoka. “I… yes, I am,” she whispered softly. “Pops wanted to hide me. He was afraid and he made me hide every time you came,” she whispered, resignation in her voice.
“How can you be Ranma?!” Nodoka asked, near hysterical.
Ranma closed her eyes. “I was cursed… Pop knocked me into a magic spring which turned me into this. Every time I’m touched by cold water, I turn into a girl. As for the age… Someone used this mushroom on me… it turned me into a kid.”
Nodoka tried to deny it, but watching the child before her change from a boy to a girl in front of her eyes prevented her from disbelieving. “No…” she whispered hoarsely. “D… do you know what you agreed to as a child?”
A slight cough was heard, as both Saotomes turned toward Nabiki, who was holding the paper she found earlier in her hands. “That’s what I’d like to talk about, Oba-san.”
Nodoka blinked. “What are you doing here, Nabiki-chan?” she asked, surprised.
Nabiki sighed softly. “I came to find out what happened to Ranma after Akane sent him here.”
Nodoka paused. “Sent him here? But he…” She paused and frowned. “I gather it was not consensual?”
Nabiki nodded. “She has a bit of problem with her temper,” she said dryly. “But that’s not the point. I came just as you fainted, and I need to talk to you. To both of you.” She held up the paper. “I looked at this, and it made me think. What are you looking for in this ‘man among men’ garbage?”
Nodoka frowned at the remark, but explained, “Well, Ranma was to be a good man, kind, noble…”
Nabiki nodded. “Well, I can say three out of four is good… as for man, well…” She took a deep breath. Here we go, Nabiki thought to herself. “Well, he can’t be a man, considering he’s only 10 right now, can he?”
Nodoka replied, “Eleven. His birthday was a week and a half ago.” Nabiki blinked, a bit of concern leaking onto her face, concern Nodoka kept in mind as she continued. “No, I suppose he would not be. So he could never fulfi-“ Ranma flinched at Nodoka’s words, remaining mute, almost resigned to death. However, Nodoka could not finish that thought as Nabiki interrupted.
“Wrong. It means he can’t fulfill it right now. Before he can become a man, he has to be a child. This child,” she said, gesturing to Ranma. “Here’s what I’m proposing. With all of that training, he’s never had the chance to be a child. You can help him be that child. And then a man, or a woman, or whatever you and he decide is necessary. Please, don’t let a moldy piece of paper with… handprints?” Nabiki looked disgusted. She still could not believe Genma’s utter lunacy. “ruin lives.”
Nodoka paused. “Lives?”
Nabiki nodded quietly. “Lives. I like the kid. He’s been almost like a friend to me. Something I don’t have many of.”
Nodoka looked at her. “Did you know he was to marry one of you three?”
Nabiki sat back, hoping she did well enough to convince Nodoka to leave Ranma alive. “Yes, father and Genma mentioned some agreement to join the schools.”
Nodoka nodded. “That’s not quite true, but it’s as much as he knows.”
Nabiki blinked, her curiosity going into overload once more. “What do you mean?”
Nodoka sighed. “The deal was not between your father and my husband. It was originally between your mother and I. We were hoping for something very specific, and if Ranma was not the one we were hoping for, we hoped that it would be the child of Ranma and whoever of you three married him.”
Both Ranma and Nabiki were startled at this. “What were you looking for?”
Nodoka sighed as she looked toward Ranma, still trying to figure out what happened. “We wanted to restore something that my family lost several generations ago. You should know what it is, right?”
Nabiki shook her head. “Not a clue. This is the first I’ve heard of it.”
Nodoka looked stunned. “I’m sure Kasumi would have told you?” At the mute negation in Nabiki’s eyes, Nodoka became practically exasperated. “I’m sure you wondered what the letters were for?”
Nabiki frowned. “What letters?” she asked, eyes narrowing a bit.
“What letters?! You didn’t receive your admission letters to Golden Sora?”
Nabiki shook her head, and then frowned. “Why does that name sound familiar?”
eyes widened, her expression outraged. “When you were eleven, you should have
received your admission letters to
Nabiki paused as the time and name clicked. “Wait… I remember a letter… but father tore it up. He said it wasn’t any of our business…” Before she could continue that thought, Nodoka stood, furious.
“What was he thinking? That fool! That blasted… deadsoul!” she swore as she paced.
“He muttered something about blasted birds and burnt the letter…” Nabiki reminisced, but then Ranma spoke up in a weak, almost fragile voice.
“I… think I remember something about a bird… Pops swore something about eating that bird… A letter going into the fire…” With every word, Nodoka looked more and more furious, a red aura forming around the woman.
“That insufferable bastard!!!” Nodoka howled. “That damn, deadsouled, bastard! Three generations and that bastard ruins it all!”
Both Ranma and Nabiki were on the verge of abject terror at the infuriated woman, but Ranma barely had the courage to ask, “Aunt Saotome? What’s wrong?”
Nodoka whirled on Ranma, and her outrage dwindled as she said, “Ranma… please don’t call me that.” The outrage turned to a pleading. “I… please call me mother?”
Ranma struggled to her feet and stumbled toward Nodoka, who quickly scooped her up, hugging her fiercely. “Th… thank you, ‘kaa-san,” Ranma said, bursting into tears. Nabiki nodded in approval and wistfulness, wiping away her own tears as she watched the two.
“No, Ranma, this is not your fault at all. It’s mine…” Nodoka whispered, crying softly as she held her child. Murderous rage could wait. This was far, far more important. Nabiki sat back on the couch Ranma abandoned, sighing in relief. There’s no way the woman she looked at now could call upon Ranma to kill himself. On the other hand, a hint of worry entered her heart for the woman’s husband and her own father.
Nodoka sat down, holding Ranma in her lap as she looked up. “So… you really don’t know, do you?” Nodoka asked, resigned.
Ranma shook their heads, as Nodoka began to explain. “You were both to receive
your invitations to
Nabiki blinked. “Us?”
Nodoka nodded. “Receiving those letters would have confirmed both your mother’s and my deepest wish. That you two would become magi.”
“Magi?” Ranma asked, confused, and Nabiki, skeptical.
Nodoka nodded quietly. “Yes. Like your mother and my great grandparents… That’s why we were hoping for you two. My family were once great magi, but the last few generations produced nobody with magical capabilities. That’s what the marriage plan was for. Hoping that if you were not magi, that one of your children could be.”
“I don’t know, that sounds a bit fishy,” Nabiki claimed. “I’ve never seen a ‘magi’.”
Ranma looked at her. “I change forms with water and you say you don’t believe in magic?”
“I said magi, not magic, Ranma,” she replied.
Nodoka sighed. “No, I suppose you wouldn’t. Especially since those fools seem to have done everything in their power to make sure you never would know.” She held Ranma, who sniffed a bit as she clung to Nodoka. “Magi are all over the place. And you two were evidently meant to go to Golden Sora for your training… but those fools have ruined everything.”
A rustle of feathers was heard from the door Nabiki left open, as a small falcon drifted into the room. It landed softly on the arm of the couch, a golden envelope dangling from a tie around its right leg. Nodoka blinked as she took up the envelope, and froze as she noticed the seal upon it. “Ranma…. It’s for you,” she whispered, giving her the envelope with a look of intense hope on her face. The falcon leapt off, heading out the door as Ranma began to open the envelope, when a second bird drifted in, a snowy owl.
Ranma took an envelope from the owl, staring at the two. Both envelopes were made of yellowish parchment, with identical addresses, one in kana and kanji, the other in romanji. Both said,
The Living Room
Ranma paused, before opening the first, which was sealed with azure wax, bearing a phoenix that seemed to shine from the seal.
Headmistress: Yamori Fujiko
(Order of the Silver Sun, 1st Class, Secretary, International Confederation of Wizards)
Dear Saotome Ranma-san
pleased to inform you that you have been selected for the upcoming class at
Nodoka almost squealed with excitement as she read the invitation over Ranma’s shoulder. Ranma looked stunned as she opened the second letter, one with a purple wax seal. He read it at a slower pace as he translated it from the English it was written in.
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, 1st Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. Of Wizards)
Dear Ms. Saotome,
pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwart’s
Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.
Nodoka looked stunned as she read the second letter. “My goodness…” she whispered in astonishment. “Two schools!” She clung tightly to Ranma, almost passing out once more.
Nabiki looked to Nodoka. “I guess this is a good thing?” she said a bit dryly.
Nodoka nodded, wiping a tear away. “A very very good thing.” She paused, and then looked terrified. “Oh no… I’ve just gotten you back and already I’ll be losing you…” she whispered.
Ranma shook her head. “No. If it means I’m losing you, then I’m not going.”
Nodoka looked horrified. “No, Ranma. Please. You have to do this. I beg of you…”
But before Ranma could protest, a
second owl arrived, with another pair of letters, again, both still bearing the
hyper-accurate address, but including Nodoka’s name as well. Ranma paused,
before reaching for the letters, opening the one from
Headmistress: Yamori Fujiko
(Order of the Silver Sun, 1st Class, Secretary, International Confederation of Wizards)
Dear Saotome Ranma-san and Saotome Nodoka-san;
to an extensive conversation with headmaster Dumbledore of Hogwart’s
Once again, our apologies
Nodoka looked stunned, looking into Ranma’s eyes, before Ranma opened the second letter, very curious now.
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, 1st Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. Of Wizards)
Dear Mrs. and Ms. Saotome,
apologize for the urgent changes. We ask that both of you come to Hogwart’s on
August 1st after your meeting with Headmistress Yamori so that we
may sort out this difficulty and make arrangements for the both of you.
Enclosed is a map to
With our sincerest apologies
Nabiki looked at the two. “So… what’s going on here?”
Ranma spoke up after finishing his
translation of the accompanying information in the second Hogwart’s letter.
“Evidently Golden Sora and this Hogwart’s place had their wires crossed. I’m
supposed to go to
Nabiki froze, her expression worried. “How long are you going to be?”
Ranma shook her head. “I don’t know,” she said, curling up in Nodoka’s lap a bit more without realizing it. Nodoka did not mind at all, however, as she stroked Ranma’s pigtail gently.
Nabiki looked at the pair, and worried. This might just mean she’d never see Ranma again. And for some reason, that hurt. Hurt a lot more than she ever expected it to. She looked the two and nodded. “I see.”
Nodoka paused, and looked at Nabiki, noticing the disconsolate expression. She put a few ideas together, and then looked to Ranma. “Dear… why don’t you go ahead and take a look around, I’d like to talk to Nabiki alone, please?” Ranma nodded very hesitantly but wandered off, to search for what might be her own room. She then looked to Nodoka. “Nabiki, dear… what do you think of my son?”
Nabiki blinked, and sighed quietly. “I care a lot about him. He’s… a good person.”
Nodoka looked at her. “Would you be willing to spend the rest of your life with him?”
Nabiki paused. A loaded question, but one she could probably answer. However, she asked, “Well, the problem is, I’m now about six or seven years older than he is now.”
Nodoka nodded. “That might be a problem. But, and this is merely a conjecture, what if you used these mushrooms to become as old as Ranma is? Even if you didn’t want to be in a… relationship with him, it could give you another chance. If these schools wanted Ranma, even after these mushrooms, they could want you?”
Nabiki sighed and nodded. “I understand. And it’s /very/ tempting. Unfortunately, we don’t know where these mushrooms are from, and some… well, asshole, destroyed the only ones we had. Pardon my language.”
Nodoka nodded. “No need for forgiveness. This is quite a disturbing situation.”
Nabiki paused, then said, “I…” she blushed furiously, “I’d be willing to search for them…”
Nodoka smiled gently. “You care for my son, don’t you? Even though he has this curse you spoke of?”
Nabiki nodded quietly. “The curse doesn’t matter. I do care for him. Even if I don’t marry him, he is… he is a friend. And I don’t think I’d want him to be alone through this.”
Nodoka nodded and moved to pat Nabiki’s hand. “I understand. And if you can find these mushrooms, I would very much appreciate if you could be with him. At least he would know someone cares…” She whispered softly as Nabiki took her hand, squeezing gently.
Ranma leaned against the wall, as she listened to the conversation behind it. She was stunned to hear Nabiki’s words. Never in her wildest dreams did she realize that Nabiki would care about her. At least someone seemed to. She jumped suddenly, as a hand rested on her shoulder. She looked up to see it was Nabiki. “I… I heard you come down the stairs, Ranma,” Nabiki said softly, as Nodoka looked at the two. “And I wanted to say, I do care. And I’m sorry I was so… well, cold to you.” She sighed quietly. “You deserved better.”
Ranma went from stunned to utterly flabbergasted. Nabiki continued, however. “I’m going to try to find those mushrooms, Ranma.”
The child shook her head. “No, you can’t do that. You don’t want to be a kid again just for me.”
“It’s not just for you. You heard what your mother said. I was supposed to be a magus. Like you’re going to be. And I want that too. I know my mother would have wanted me to be one too. So even if you don’t want me around, it’ll still be worth it.”
Ranma looked at her, before throwing her arms around Nabiki’s waist. “I… I never believed you’d say that, that I’d say this, but… please hurry. I… don’t want to be alone there.” Nabiki was stunned at just how vulnerable Ranma looked. For that, he’s going to be in a world of hurt, Nabiki thought. Ryouga ruined things for Ranma. Ranma deserves better.
Nabiki nodded softly. “I’m going to hurry. You know me; I’ll have it as soon as I can. But I want you to promise me. I know how you are in school here. I want you to do better there.”
Ranma blushed in embarrassment. “Well, I’ll try.”
Nabiki looked at her and grinned. “You’d better. I don’t want to waste my time just because you want to screw around. Besides, maybe some day, you can cure that curse of yours or something.”
Ranma blinked, and then straightened up, the fire in her eyes all too familiar to Nabiki. Good, she thought to herself. Looks like it was the right button to press. Nabiki grinned. “I suppose I’d better let you two do that mom and child bonding sort of thing. I’ve got some ‘shrooms to find.”
Ranma nodded and hugged her tightly. “Good luck, Nabiki. And hurry, please?”
Nabiki nodded and smiled gently. “I’ll talk to you two later.”
Nodoka nodded. “I wish you luck in your search, Nabiki-chan.”
Nabiki nodded and gave Nodoka a hug. “Thanks, Aunty.” She then headed for the door to go back home, determination showing on her face.
Kasumi offered Tofu some tea as she sat down. “So, why Hogwart’s? Golden Sora is easily its equal, as you well know.”
Tofu sighed as he took the cup.
“All I know is that Headmaster Dumbledore came all the way from
Kasumi sighed. “But it’s so far away.”
Tofu nodded. “I know you care for the boy, Kasumi, but he does need to learn. And Hogwart’s may have their reasons for it. For his sake, I’d far rather be safe than sorry.” He took a sip of the tea, sighing. “To be honest, I have to admit I admire the kid. He’s got a lot of guts, and one of the fastest minds I’ve seen,” he replies.
Kasumi nodded gently. “He’s a kind, and admirable person.”
Tofu sat back. “You realize… if you tell Nabiki where to find those mushrooms, she’ll probably take them. I can see her wanting to take the chance to learn.”
Kasumi looked at her, raising an eyebrow. “You’re forgetting something. Nabiki and Ranma.”
Tofu looks at her. “Don’t you mean Akane and Ranma?”
Kasumi shrugged. “Akane… I don’t know if she understands. But I know Nabiki. Even if she wouldn’t admit it, she does care about Ranma. She may go to follow him too.”
Tofu looked surprised. “He does have a way of getting under one’s skin,” he admitted.
Kasumi nodded softly. “That he does. To me, he’s almost like the little brother I wish I had.” She took a sip of her own tea, sitting back. “I almost wish I could be there for him too.”
Tofu gazed at Kasumi for a long moment. “Maybe you’ll get your wish.” He murmured quietly to himself, before the door opened, as Nabiki walked in the door.
“Dr. Tofu. It’s been a while,” Nabiki said, her face bearing an all-too-rare smile as she walked toward the two. “Where have you been?”
Tofu nodded. “Greetings, Nabiki. It has been a while,” he admitted. “I was on a… sabbatical,” he said, shrugging. “And you?”
“I just came from Saotome-ke.” This got both Tofu and Kasumi’s attention. “I had a very interesting conversation there.” She paused and then looks at the two. “Do the words Golden Sora, or Hogwart’s mean anything?” Both people jumped almost as if slapped. “I guess so. Evidently Ranma has just gotten letters from both places.” Tofu nodded, sighing.
“Yes, I had heard.” Nabiki looked toward the doctor, who replied, “I used to teach there. And Kasumi was one of my students.” This surprised Nabiki, though a part of her mind told her it shouldn’t have. She was eleven before their mother died, so it made sense.
“I see. Well, evidently there was a
little contradiction, but Ranma’s going to be going to
“Nabiki,” Kasumi said gently, “What… would you say about using those mushrooms yourself?”
Nabiki almost jumped as if shot. “You /know/ where they are?”
Tofu sighed a bit. “We don’t. Usually you’d only be able to find them if they were truly needed. The forest would know.”
“Then how could that pig have found them?” Nabiki asked.
“Perhaps the forest used him to bring them to Ranma,” Tofu suggested, sending a shiver through Nabiki. “Magic is a powerful and sometimes capricious thing, Nabiki. If you want to do this, we do have to warn you, it can be very dangerous. But it’s worth it.”
“Magic is never to be taken lightly. Things can go very wrong at times,” Kasumi said with a bit of pained embarrassment. Tofu sighed and placed a hand on Kasumi’s shoulder in reassurance. This surprised Nabiki, but then the picture became clearer, and her eyes widened.
The next day, Nodoka dressed in her most formal as she waited for Ranma to come down the stairs. As he arrived, a look of concern crossed Nodoka’s face. “Dear, perhaps we should go shopping. We can do that as well as some errands we have to perform.”
“Errands?” Ranma asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Yes… I’ve decided that I can no longer have your father as my husband,” Nodoka said softly, sighing. “I planned on speaking with a lawyer about the process to divorce him.” Ranma was surprised, but didn’t protest.
“I see,” Ranma replied, shaking his head. “Alright. I can understand that.”
Nodoka looked toward Ranma. “But first, I think we should get you some better clothing.” Ranma was surprised. “It’s best if we are properly dressed when we speak with the lawyer.” As Ranma nodded, the two walked onward, spending the next several hours looking for clothing. By the time the shopping trip was finished, Ranma was dressed in what amounted to a child’s business suit, and both were hungry.
Ranma looked at a clock and asked, “Mother… could we go to a restaurant I know? I’m hungry, and we have some things to talk over with the woman who runs it.”
Nodoka blinked in surprise. “Oh? Well, I suppose it would be fine. Lead on, Ranma-chan.” Ranma nodded as he led her mother toward the Neko-hanten, bracing himself.
As the pair entered the Neko-hanten, it was surprisingly quiet. Only a few
As the two sat down,
The next half hour consisted of
telling one another about the last few days.
“Ranma, I am afraid this changes a
lot of things between us.” Ranma froze, concerned that this meant a fight
between the two, until
“However, this does not mean I have to cut ties with you. You are a very remarkable person, Ranma, and I would be honored to assist you in any way possible. And speaking one magus to another, I’m glad to welcome another member.”
Ranma’s eyes widened, then he chuckled. “Of course. I should have figured. It’s sort of obvious looking at it now. Knowing so much about magic and stuff.”
“I see. Well, that would help, I suppose.” Ranma sat back and sighed. “I hope Shampoo will be ok. I… I never wanted to marry her, but I’ve always been happy to have her as a friend… well, that is, once she got over trying to kill me every time I turned around.”
All of a sudden a figure hurtled through the open doorway, crashing near the table the trio were sitting at. Said figure was diminutive, clad in a dark brown gi, and seemed to have a sizeable mallet-print on its keister. The figure stood up, groaning before noticing where it was. “Swee…” The figure never finished, however, as he looked at Ranma, eyes wide. “What happened to you?”
Ranma sighed. “Long story, old letch,” he replied, not wanting to deal with Happosai at the moment.
However, instead of becoming angry at the insult, or attacking Ranma, he sat down. “I’ve got time. I need to know what happened.” Ranma was stunned, but began to explain the last couple of days. Happosai became more and more furious.
“I can’t believe this! And it couldn’t have come at a worse time!” Happosai ranted as he paced.
Ranma paused. “What do you mean?”
sighed as he sat down. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you, Ranma. Preferably
alone, but now that I consider it, your mother and
Ranma blinked at the blunt critique of, who he presumed was Genma, Soun and Akane, but Happosai pressed on. “As much as I’ve hated you at times, I do have to admit, I’ve been very impressed, not only in how skilled you are, but how much you’ve improved over the months I’ve seen you at work. You’re the only one I think can fit all the criteria of being a master of the school.”
Ranma was stunned. “You’re kidding right? This has to be some kind of joke.”
Happosai shook his head. “Not at all. Genma’s ruled by his greed. Soun ruled by his emotions, and Akane ruled by her pride. Akane might have a chance to improve, but the other two will never do so. And Akane will take far too long to break her pride and finish her education. You’re proud, but you don’t let it rule you. You know when you are at risk so adapt. I’ve never seen /anyone/ as adaptable as you are. I’m not sure how well you teach, but I’ve a lot of confidence in you, Ranma.”
Ranma went beyond stunned. “Hap… Um,… Sensei… I…” He could do nothing but stammer as he stared at the suddenly serious martial artist.
Happosai sighed as he sat back. “And I would wish I could take up your training personally, but I do not know if I have as much time as I’d like. However, you more than qualify to be a Master, and thus, I am giving you these.” He said, pulling a group of scrolls from his sleeve. “These are the techniques of the Greater School of the Musabetsu Kakuto Ryuu. To this date, you have become a master of the Lesser School. But maybe five people in the last five hundred years have ever fully mastered both Greater and Lesser Schools. To be honest, I think you will make it six before the end of the summer.” He sounded a hint exasperated at the last sentence.
Ranma nearly collapsed but took the scrolls carefully. “You /are/ serious,” Ranma whispered.
nodded. “As a heart attack. You are perhaps the only
hope for the school, and if I’m right, it is truly in good hands. I would like
you to work with me to complete your training. And if you can complete it, then
you will be the school’s second living Grandmaster.” He looked at Ranma,
chuckling. “At age eleven, no less.” He said, looking to
The hag’s face went from astonished to infuriated, to just plain vexed as she listened to Happosai, but to the last, she chuckled ruefully. “I’d love to see that myself. Though you have little time, Ranma. This truly will be a valid test. How fast can you learn?”
Ranma shook himself out of his stupor, then said firmly in his child voice, “I swear I will be a Grandmaster by the time I arrive at Hogwart’s.” Happosai did not recognize the name, but he felt a warmth in his shriveled little heart at the determination his student showed. Nodoka looked at her son in amazement, an intense pride upon her face. None of this mattered to Ranma, however as he said, “When do we begin, hentai-sensei?”
Happosai burst into gales of laughter. “Tomorrow.”