Chapter Three: The Infant DreamsEdit
"The infant God will dream as the unholy one stalks
the land of the isles. His servants are awaiting,
soon to become one with him. The calm and the lost
will soon met with the circle, as the searcher meets
with his old student." ~ Unknown
"How long does it take?" he asked.
Ryouga blinked in confusion. "How long does what take?"
"The trip," he said. "I have never been out of Ryugenzawa before, so I wouldn't know."
Ryouga thought for a moment. "I'm not sure," he answered.
"You're not sure?"
"Don't you live in Nerima?"
Ryouga nodded. "Yeah, but I'm rarely ever home. I was
there once last month, before China."
"Yeah." He leaned forward, "We actually only got back yesterday."
"Why were you not there yesterday, rather than wandering around near Ryugenzawa?"
"Actually, I was looking for my girlfriend."
Shinnosuke blinked. "Girlfriend?"
"Yeah," Ryouga sighed, "She's great. She's the only girl around that doesn't mind my curse."
Shinnosuke blinked. "Curse?"
Ryouga gasped. "Uh, nothing. Wouldn't interest you," he stammered for a moment, trying to change the subject.
"If it troubles you, I will speak no more of it," he waved his hand.
Ryouga smiled. "So, what do you plan to do once we get there? Do you have a place to stay yet?"
Shinnosuke shrugged. "I have at times slept in the forest. I'll just find a tall tree somewhere to keep me from the animals."
Ryouga blinked. "Animals?" he shook his head. "You're serious, aren't you?"
"What do you mean?"
"Have you ever been in a city?"
Shinnosuke shook his head.
Ryouga laughed under his breath. "Then there's something I've got to tell you about animals in the city."
"Miss Ukyou!" Konatsu greeted. Seeing Ranma and Akane behind him, he smiled in greeting.
"Looks to me like he managed okay," Ranma said, appraising the restaurant.
"Of course!" he gloated, "While you guys were in China, Miss Ukyou trained me how to cook okonomiyaki properly!"
"You did make sure he wasn't putting cash into the food, didn't you?" Akane asked from the corner of her mouth.
Ukyou laughed and nodded. "Trust me, I got him out of that habit."
"Well, you seem a lot better now, Ukyou," Ranma smiled.
Ukyou nodded. "Yeah. I... I feel a lot better too." She smirked. "You know, it's funny. Yesterday at this time, I could have sworn I was doing you a favour." She looked up, "but now I see what I did."
Akane shook her head. "Don't worry about it, Ukyou. It's all in the past."
"What happened?" Konatsu asked.
Ukyou shook her head. "Nothing, Konatsu. I just... realized something."
Konatsu continued to stare in confusion as smoke started to rise from the grill.
"Konatsu?" Akane asked.
"Yes, Miss Akane?"
"The... uh.. okonomiyaki is burning."
Konatsu blinked. A moment later, he was behind the grill, frantically trying to salvage what was left of the okonomiyaki.
Akari sighed. She slowly played with her food as she watched the television.
"You know what Katsunishiki?" She asked.
The giant mass next to her perked up for a moment. It grunted a response.
"I'm not hungry right now," she brought her plate to the floor. "Eat up."
It didn't take a rocket scientist to know Akari was upset. However, what she was upset about, was another matter. Akari wasn't even sure she knew what it was about.
It could have been any number of things. The dream that had been plaguing her recently, the lost contact of the fishing boats in the sea of Japan, or the fact that she hadn't seen Ryouga in nearly a month.
The last time she'd seen him was during the picnic they'd shared with the Tendo family. The day had been great. They had spoken, and agreed to meet again soon. Ryouga had said he would stop by as soon as he could.
But he never did. It was a month ago. An entire month.
She knew of his directional problems, but he had an address, and a map. He knew to ask directions if he's lost. He surely would have found the place by now... Wouldn't he?
Akari buried her chin into her crossed arms on the table. She knew how he had come to meet Ryouga. On the day of her Grandfather's final death.
She had accepted the fact that he would die long before his death, so she found she wasn't as distraught by his death as she was when she learned of his dying.
But even as he died, she fought against everything she knew to keep the tears inside.
And then there was Ryouga. Dear, sweet Ryouga. At first, she had wanted him because of his prowess in defeating Katsunishiki, a purely sexual attraction. But later, it had... evolved. She found that she truly loved him.
And she felt as if he had loved her, but she could have been wrong. Akari needed confirmation.
She blinked. All she needed was confirmation. A month of fear, tears and uncontrollable fits of crying, and she realized one of the easiest ways to find out.
She picked up the phone.
"Kasumi, can you get that, please?" Soun called from the tea room.
Kasumi wiped her hands on her apron and walked towards the outer hallway. She picked up the phone.
"Hello?" She answered.
There was a pause on the other end. "Hello... Is this the Tendo residence?" it asked.
Kasumi smiled. "Yes, this is Kasumi Tendo. Can I help you?"
The voice sighed. "Yes, actually. Kasumi, this is Akari. If you'll remember, we met at the picnic on the plateau last month?"
Kasumi smiled. "Yes, Akari. Of course I remember you."
She voice sighed. "Listen Kasumi, I'm sorry to trouble you, but I really need some help. I'm not sure if you're one who can help, but I've got to try."
"I'll help in any way I can, Akari."
"Thank you, Kasumi," she paused. "I... I don't know where Ryouga is. Has he been there recently?"
"Oh my, yes." She put a hand to her cheek. "He was here yesterday as a matter of fact."
"Yesterday?" Akari asked, almost shocked. "Did he say where he was going?"
"Yes, actually. After the wedding, he said he was going to your house."
An audible sigh was heard from the other end of the phone. Then a moment of silence. "Wedding?"
"Yes. Ranma and Akane nearly got married yesterday."
"If it wasn't for those bombs." She shook her head.
"Bombs?" Akari asked. A moment later, she resumed. "Look, Kasumi. Can you do me a favour?"
"If Ryouga comes back there again, get him to call me right away?"
"Can you guide him directly to the phone?"
"I could do that as well."
"Great. Get a pen, I'll tell you my number!"
Akari sighed as she put down the phone. She was feeling ecstatic. That was the only word she could think of to describe it.
Ryouga was looking for her. He had just had trouble finding her house. That was it. She half-hoped he would find her house, but another part of her hoped he would show up at the Tendos' first.
Akari smiled. Either way, things would turn out perfect.
"This... is Tokyo?" Shinnosuke stared at the giant gray monoliths around him. "Amazing." He turned to Ryouga, "You say people BUILT these?"
Ryouga blinked in confusion. "Didn't your Grandfather even tell you of life outside of the forest?"
Shinnosuke shook his head. "Very little. He was mostly rambling about things that he hated about the outside world. Often times I didn't listen. Other
times... I can't remember." He looked up at Ryouga. "So, the man I asked for directions back at the Ryugenzawa Youth Hostel said there is another train to board, and that will take us to Nerima." He looked around. "Which one is it?"
Ryouga laughed nervously. "I... uhh... I'm not sure."
Shinnosuke turned around to look at the crowd. "Nor would I be, if faced with a place such as this." He smiled. "Come, let's ask for directions."
He didn't know what he was looking for, or even if he was ever going to find it, but he had to look.
What had happened to him that morning was beyond explanation. A part of him hoped that it was his magic, finally beginning to take effect. Another part of him feared it.
But as it was, he studied.
His uncle owned a mystics store in northern Tokyo, so he found it quite easy to borrow books with the intent to return. His family had always been into the mystic part of reality.
His uncle more so than others. People called him eccentric, but there were some things he saw his uncle do that defied imagination. He thought of the time he had walked into the shop, and had realized he couldn't see the walls. They were invisible. His uncle had stopped his spell as he noticed Hikaru had entered.
And so, Hikaru Gosunkugi joined his family. Hikaru was more so involved in the mystics than his closer relatives. His father, who worked as an accountant for a firm with no reputation, and his mother, who was, for the most part, a housewife.
But Hikaru refused to take that route. He had to become a powerful magician, even if it killed him.
But after what had happened to him earlier that day, he considered things. Part of him was ecstatic that something had happened that managed to scare the bullies away, while another part of him was fearful.
Then again, who wouldn't be fearful if their body started to glow a dull brownish colour?
Closing the cover of one book and moving onto the next, Hikaru sighed. He wasn't sure he'd ever find what he was looking for in these books. But he hoped so.
o/~And you don't seem to understand...o/~
"Nabiki?" Akane called.
o/~A shame you seemed an honest man...o/~
Nabiki looked up from the television long enough to nod at her sister. "What's up?"
o/~And all the fears you hold so dear...o/~
Akane sat down. "Did you hear what happened?"
o/~Will turn to whisper in your ear...o/~
Nabiki nodded, "Moving in with Ranma... You animal." She smirked.
o/~And you know what they say might hurt you...o/~
"It's not like that, Nabiki." She sighed... "I... I don't know if I made the right choice."
o/~And you know that it means so much...o/~
Nabiki shook her head. "What other choice is there to make?"
o/~And you don't even feel a thing...o/~
"What do you mean?"
o/~I am falling...o/~
"I mean what I say, Akane. Think about it. Since you got back from China, how many fights have you two gotten into?"
o/~I am fading...o/~
Akane thought about it for a second. Besides the argument about the marriage the day before, which couldn't really be considered a fight, none.
"None," she answered.
o/~I have lost it all...o/~
Nabiki put her finger to her nose. "Bingo."
"But, moving in with him... That's... That's a big step, isn't it?"
Nabiki shrugged. "It's not like you're sleeping with him, Akane."
Akane blushed a deep red. "No, but--"
"That'll take a good week."
"Nabiki!" She blushed even deeper. Desperately trying to change the subject, she asked, "what are you watching anyways?"
"I dunno. It's some anime... There's nothing better on, so I thought I'd check it out.
o/~I am falling...o/~
o/~I am fading...o/~
"No. Usually there'd be something good on channel eight, but they're having some live news thing."
o/~I am drowning, help me to breathe...o/~
"Isn't that your specialty?"
o/~I am hurting...o/~
Nabiki jumped. "Oh, you wound me, sister." She shook her head. "It was something about four fishing boats washing ashore about an hour ago. There were supposed to be twelve fishermen on board, but they found nobody."
o/~I have lost it all...o/~
Akane looked at the television for a few more moments. "Thanks, Nabiki," she said as she got up and walked back into the adjoining room.
Nabiki turned her attention back to the television.
o/~I am losing, help me to breathe...o/~
"Kasumi?" Ranma asked.
Kasumi turned towards him. "Ranma?" she asked. "Shouldn't you be packing?"
Ranma shrugged. "I don't really have a lot of stuff that I can call my own," he sighed, "besides, I... I just need someone to talk to."
Kasumi narrowed her eyes for a moment. "Is there something wrong?"
He shook his head. "No. Everything is great. I... I just find it kind of hard to explain."
"I think I know exactly what you mean, Ranma."
Ranma blinked. "What?"
"You feel good about the fact that Akane is moving with you, but you're fearful of what may happen." She smiled. "Right?"
Ranma gawked. "Uhh... yeah, I guess."
She patted him on the shoulder. "That's very honourable of you, Ranma. But don't worry, Akane knows better than to have sex at her age."
"Yeah... WHAT?!" He stammered, "K.. Kasumi, I didn't mean it like that! I'm not scared of that happening, I'm... I'm..."
Kasumi couldn't help herself. She broke out into a fit of giggling. "Ranma, I'm joking."
Ranma shook his head. "Don't DO that. You scared the hell out of me."
"I'm sorry." She looked at him. "It was wrong of me to play a joke on you like that."
Ranma sighed in relief. "It's all right. I just... I need to know what's happening to me... To both of us."
"Ranma, do you mind if I ask you a question?"
"Yeah, sure. Go ahead."
"Do you love Akane?" she asked bluntly.
Ranma was prepared for many questions, but nothing could have prepared him for that one. It hit him like a sack of bricks.
"Uhh... I... I..." He stammered. "I..." he paused for a moment, and then took a deep breath. "Yes." He admitted, looking at the floor. "I do."
Kasumi smiled. "Then tell her."
Ranma looked up. "What? No, I can't tell her... it's... I... she's gonna--"
"Ranma, she won't hurt you. I've known my sister her whole life, and I know how she feels about things."
Ranma blinked. "Does... does she love me?"
Kasumi smiled. "Ranma, that's a question that would better be answered by her."
Ranma looked toward the floor. "Thanks, Kasumi," he said.
The darkness of the sky started to drop on Feng Bo. He had been in Nerima since much earlier in the day, but now it was getting dark.
For the most part, he had wandered the streets. He knew they were in Nerima. Most of them, anyways. And if they weren't, they'd gather before the week was through. Destiny worked that way.
Destiny was not a foreign idea to Feng Bo. Throughout his life, he'd seen it work its wonders many times, from people in high power, to the transients on the streets.
Either way, it served towards a greater power.
And, apparently, it had served Feng Bo right to the doorstep of the building in front of which he stood, and had also led him to reach out and knock.
And then it was answered. The young man stood there for a moment, oblivious as to who it was that stood before him. And then he gawked.
"F... Feng Bo?" He asked.
Feng Bo smiled. "Hello, Tofu. It's been a long time."
Tofu continued to gawk. After a moment of uncomfortable silence, Feng Bo spoke. "So, are you going to invite your old master in for some tea and lodgings, or are you going to gawk?"
Tofu smiled. "I thought I'd gawk for another minute or two, and then invite you in." He laughed, and then embraced his master in a friendly hug.
Feng Bo laughed as he patted his former student on the back. "It's been a while, hasn't it, Tofu?"
Tofu laughed. "Ten years."
Feng Bo pulled away. "Ahh, but you were still my best student!"
"I was your only student."
"Touche." He smirked.
Inviting him in, he asked, "What brings you to Japan, Feng Bo?"
"I've come here on business, actually." He smiled. "It involves you in some respect, as well."
Tofu gave him a look of confusion. "What do you mean?"
Feng Bo put one finger in the air. "All in due time, Tofu. All in due time. For now, how about that tea?"
Tofu laughed and got up to fetch some tea.
As Tofu left the room, Feng Bo sighed and stretched back.
"Tomorrow, Tofu." He closed his eyes. "Tomorrow you shall learn..."
"This is Nerima?" Shinnosuke asked, taking in a deep breath.
Ryouga double-checked the sign at the train station, and then nodded his approval. "Yeah, this is the place."
"Great. It's getting dark now. Where is the dojo? Perhaps we can ask to spend the night."
Ryouga frowned. "Actually, I... uh... I don't know. You see, it's dark and all. Kinda hard to remember in the dark."
Shinnosuke nodded. "Understandable. Even in the dark, I have troubles finding my way through the forest."
Ryouga nodded. "Yeah."
"Shall we wander then, and hope to come across it? Perhaps we will get lucky?"
Ryouga shrugged. Then paused. "Actually, I've got a better idea."
Not wanting to embarrass himself further, Ryouga walked swiftly over to a small pay phone.
"Hello?" Kasumi asked.
"Oh, hello, Ryouga! Akari called earlier looking for you!"
"She did? Really?" A pause came. "Actually, I think I'll need a favour. Could you send Ranma to the train station? I need him to lead me and... a friend back there."
Kasumi smiled. "Of course, I'll go fetch him right now."
"Ranma?" she called from the hallway.
"Yeah?" she heard faintly from upstairs.
"Ryouga needs you to meet him at the train station!"
A short thump and a few footsteps later, produced one very wet, female Ranma.
"Ryouga needs you to meet him and a friend at the train station." She blinked. "What happened?"
"I was in the bathroom," she shook her head. "Don't ask."
"Well, Ryouga says he needs you to meet him. Will you go?"
Ranma sighed. "Yeah, I guess." she smiled, "Probably lost with Akari or something."
"I don't think it's Akari. She called earlier looking for Ryouga."
Ranma shrugged. "Oh well. Tell him I'll be over as soon as I change back."
"There's not much point in that, Ranma." Kasumi said.
"It looks like rain tonight."
"Miss Ukyou?" Konatsu asked, stepping silently into the doorway of Ukyou's bedroom.
Ukyou immediately turned away from him. "What?" She managed to choke out.
Konatsu stepped forward compassionately. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing, Konatsu," she replied, "I... I just need to be alone for a little while."
Konatsu blinked. "Are you sure? You look--"
"I'm fine, Konatsu." She sighed. "Look, just give me a few minutes. Why don't you go downstairs and close the restaurant?"
"I did about two minutes ago." He cast his gaze towards the floor. "I... I'm sorry, Ukyou."
Ukyou looked up at him. He could clearly see the thin stream down her face. "Sorry for what?"
Konatsu shook his head. "For what happened."
Ukyou shook her head. "No, Konatsu, it's not your fault... I just... I went about things the wrong way. Yesterday was a mistake."
Konatsu sighed. "I knew what you were doing yesterday. I... I should have stopped you."
Ukyou looked up at him. "Konatsu. Don't blame yourself. It was my fault."
Konatsu sighed. "I... I don't like to see you like this, Miss Ukyou."
Ukyou scoffed. "Konatsu, you don't have to keep calling me that, you know?"
"Calling you what?" He blinked in confusion.
"'Miss Ukyou'. You're my friend. Ukyou is just fine."
Konatsu sighed. "Yes... Ukyou."
Ukyou laughed. "Well, let's get some sleep," she said, standing up for a moment. "I don't know why, but I've got a feeling tomorrow is going to be a big day."
Konatsu smiled. "Yes. We should sleep." He turned to leave the room.
"Yes?" He turned around.
"How did you know what I was doing yesterday?"
Konatsu laughed. "Well, the fact that you were putting blasting powder into the okonomiyaki, and the fact that I KNOW that's not a normal ingredient kind of gave it away."
Ukyou chuckled under her breath. "Observant, aren't you?"
"I've always been like that."
Ukyou sighed. "I'll tell you what, Konatsu... Tomorrow, after school, let's you and me go shopping."
"Shopping?" he asked.
Konatsu smiled. "I've never been shopping before."
"Well, then you should have even more fun!"
"Ryouga?" Ranma asked. "What are you doing back here?"
Ryouga turned to face his former rival. Thankfully, Ryouga had thought to put his umbrella up before the rain hit. Ranma, he noticed, was not so fortunate.
Shinnosuke was standing nearby and turned to face Ranma. He let his jaw drop.
Ranma noticed as well, and consequently let her jaw drop. "You?" She asked.
Shinnosuke recovered his jaw and blinked in confusion. "Do I know you, Miss?"
"Uhh, Shinnosuke?" Ryouga asked.
"This is Ranma."
He blinked again. "No it isn't."
"Yes I am, now what are you doing here?"
Shinnosuke shook his head. "Ranma is a man," he said, and then it dawned on him. "But the resemblance is there. Are you the sister of Ranma?"
Ryouga shook his head. "No, this is Ranma. The Ranma you met in the forest."
"Ryouga?" Ranma asked.
"You wanna explain to me what's going on here?"
Shinnosuke nodded. "Indeed. I feel left out of something here as well."
Ryouga sighed. He hated being the middle man.
"A curse?" Shinnosuke asked.
"Yeah, about a year ago, I fell into a spring at a place called Jusenkyo. They've got a bunch of cursed springs, that causes whoever to fall into them, to take the form of the last creature or person to drown in them." Ranma replied.
"Then, you fell into a spring in which a woman drowned?"
Ranma nodded. "That's the story. Now, whenever I get splashed with cold water, I turn into a girl. With hot water, I turn back into a man."
Shinnosuke shook his head. "Hence the rain," he thought for a moment. "How is it that you never changed into a woman at Ryugenzawa?"
"I did. You were out of it at the time though. I don't think you even realized I was still around," Ranma said, as the three of them continued to walk. "Now, what about you?"
Shinnosuke sighed. "I've left the forest on a whim, more or less. I've always wanted to see the outside, but I've also been sent out to find a bride."
Ranma blinked. "A bride?"
"Yes," he answered, then upon seeing Ranma's expression, he continued, "don't worry, I have no designs on Akane. It was visible how you felt about her at Ryugenzawa."
Ranma could only blush. "So, how did you find Ryouga?"
"We found each other, actually. He walked by the train station I was waiting at, I then asked him to accompany me to Nerima, as I've never been here before."
Ranma smirked. "I thought you were going to Akari's place."
"I was. I got lost."
"And this is news?"
"It doesn't matter. Kasumi told me Akari called earlier, so I'll call her as soon as I get there."
Ranma nodded. "That probably would be the best idea," she looked up at Shinnosuke, "You wouldn't have a place to stay, would you?"
Shinnosuke shook his head. "Actually, I was hoping you would have a place to put me up for the night. At least until I can find an alternate place to sleep."
Ranma looked up. "Well, I suppose I could talk the Tendos into letting you stay..." she began. "But tomorrow, we'd have to set you up in a hotel or something.
Shinnosuke nodded. "That would be fine."
The infant slept.
"How long has he slept?"
The old man sighed, "Only for twenty minutes now. He has not slept all day."
"Then the problem is over, then?"
"I do not know. The nurses could not calm him down for all they could do. Only just now has he been able to rest. I believe his exhaustion caught up with him."
She nodded. "That could be it."
"In his last resurrection, Lord Saffron did not act like this."
Kima looked up for a moment. "I know. I may have been young, but I recall his actions clearly."
"I am worried, Kima."
Kima shook her head. "Soon he shall reach full growth again and then he shall be able to rule as our king once more."
"Let the child dream."
The old man closed his eyes and bowed his head. "Very well."
Saffron regarded his servant carefully. "What is it, Xioav?"
"There is a... person at our gates. He holds with him one of the wingless."
"He claims his name is Fei Liang."
Saffron's eyes widened. "Fei Liang?!" He narrowed his eyes. "Are you to tell me you denied entry to the God of Winds?!"
"I apologize, my Lord. Since the wingless hordes have been around as of late, we've had to take precautions."
Saffron calmed. "Allow him entry. I will speak with him."
"And of his companion?"
Saffron sighed. "Allow him entry as well, but keep a watchful eye upon him."
"Yes, Lord." He backed away and turned to the doorway. "Bring them in," he called to the guards.
Two beings walked into the hall. One was obviously wounded, and had propped himself up against the other, as he staggered along with him.
"Fei Liang, my old friend," Saffron smiled. "What brings the God of Winds to my kingdom this day?"
Fei Liang sighed. "A grave matter indeed, Saffron." He helped the human next to him sit on the floor.
Saffron narrowed his eyes. "What has happened?"
"Yesterday, you were faced with a small scouting party of humans, were you not?"
Saffron nodded. "We were."
"And they had requested the help of Mount Phoenix, did they not?"
"They did," he laughed, "But they are mere humans. The winged have no obligation to help the wingless."
"Those 'mere humans' you speak of now lie dead, Saffron."
"That is none of our concern, my friend. It was their silly war that caused them to bring it upon themselves."
"Saffron, they do not fight amongst themselves over disagreement. Not over land or a woman," Fei Liang narrowed his eyes. "They fight for life."
Saffron narrowed his eyes. "What is this you speak of?"
"Did they not explain?" He asked, he motioned towards the man sitting by his side. "Did he not explain why they requested your help?"
Saffron narrowed his eyes to catch a good view of the human. "Indeed, he is the one. And he did explain, but to believe a human on his word alone is--"
"There is no excuse, Saffron."
Saffron sighed. "No, I suppose not." He looked up towards the God. "What do you wish me to do, friend?"
"Saffron, as a fellow God, I respect you. As a friend, I respect you, if not for your hatred of the human race."
"I have hated the human race for years, Fei Liang."
"Indeed. And I understand why, but you cannot ignore your roots."
"I can, and will."
"Saffron, I ask of you two favours."
Saffron sighed and sat at his throne. "What is it you wish, my friend?"
"The first is to have your nurses attend to this man. Return him to valid health, and then transport him back to his land of origin."
Saffron sighed. "Very well, but he will be allowed no freedom while here."
"I ask you treat him as a peer, not as a prisoner."
"He will not be harmed. He will be allowed to recover, he will be fed, and then he will be returned to his home," he said. "And of the second favour?"
"Five thousand years, Saffron."
Saffron narrowed his eyes.
"Five thousand years and men will once again request your help in defeating the same foe they faced this day."
Saffron blinked. "You wish the citizens of Phoenix Mountain to assist them?"
"I wish you to accept the proposal."
Saffron thought for a moment. "Very well. But I ask a favour in return of you, Fei Liang."
Fei Liang nodded. "I had expected that. Nearby, in the field of the battle, I have created sacred springs. There is an underground water source that feeds them. I offer you free use of them."
Saffron smiled. "That will make us even, friend."
Fei Liang nodded. "Indeed it will."