Chapter Six: Divine InterventionEdit
"The dreamers converge, and the warriors face the
dark one. The Ohmikami will soon return." ~ Unknown
"What's with you?" Nabiki whispered to her side as the teacher had begun to call out attendance.
Kuno had walked into the class moments earlier, just before the bell had gone off. He regarded Nabiki with mild interest, but did not answer right away.
"Well?" she asked impatiently. "You gonna leave me here waiting, or are you going to answer me?"
"Nabiki Tendo," he began, "I know not why you bother me in such a fashion, but I wish it to stop."
Nabiki narrowed her eyes and leaned back in her seat. Kuno had had a serious look on his face since he had entered the room, much more serious than Nabiki was used to.
"Tell you what, Kuno-baby," Nabiki replied. "You tell me what's up, and I'll give you a discount on the next batch of pictures."
Tatewaki looked over at her. "Discounts mean nothing to the wealth of the Kuno family. I am insulted, Nabiki Tendo." He looked up. "Further, I do not believe I will have any use for pictures of Akane Tendo or the Pig-Tailed Goddess any longer."
Nabiki's eyes widened. "Excuse me?"
"I've... I've no longer the need for them, Nabiki Tendo. There is a greater force at work, and I find I cannot be distracted by them, as lovely as they may be."
Nabiki couldn't believe her ears. Kuno? Giving up Akane and Ranma?
"Now I know something is up. Tell me, Kuno."
"You need not know, Na--"
"Don't give me that, Kuno," she glared at him. The affectionate tone she usually used with him absent.
Tatewaki sighed. "Very well," he began, "I was subject to a confrontation with Saotome."
There was a loud rapping at the door, and the teacher went to answer.
Nabiki narrowed her eyes. "And?"
"I... learned something of importance from him. He firstly began with the nonsense I've heard from him many times stating that he and the Pig-Tailed Goddess are one and the same."
Nabiki shook her head in disgust. "Go on."
"But I learned--" He was interrupted by the teacher.
"Tatewaki Kuno," he announced, "You are wanted at the door."
Nabiki lowered her brow in annoyance. She looked over to the door where Tatewaki was now approaching.
Then she looked on in confusion. Ranma and her sister? She was pretty sure she could see the telltale white robes of Mousse by the side of the door as well. Something was up.
"Saotome?" Tatewaki asked, looking at the small crowd around the doorway. "What is the mean--"
"Cut it, Kuno. You wanted to talk about Jusenkyo," he started, "well it's time to speak."
"Saotome, I know not why you bother me at this time, school--"
"School can wait. You remember the dreams? You remember there were others?"
Tatewaki narrowed his eyes. "Indeed. Several."
Ranma gestured towards the people around him. "Meet some of them."
"What?" Kuno tilted his head back in suspicion. "What do you mean?"
Ranma shook his head. "What the hell do you think I mean?"
"Look, if he's coming, then get him to come, but if not--" Mousse began.
"The Nekohanten," Ranma replied. "Cologne might know something about all of this."
Tatewaki looked up in thought. "Cologne. Is she not the Amazon Elder?"
"Yeah, that's her."
"And why would she know anything of this?"
Mousse shrugged. "She just does. Are you coming or what?"
Tatewaki looked back into the classroom. Nabiki was staring at them in confusion, and his teacher was watching in annoyance.
"Very well," he said. He turned back to the class and spoke to the teacher.
"An emergency has arisen that requires my presence, honoured teacher," he announced. "I must make my leave, though I will make up for any schoolwork I may have missed."
The teacher sighed. "Very well, Mr. Kuno. But this will be marked on your record."
He turned back to the group. "Let us leave."
What was that about? Nabiki couldn't figure it out for the life of her. But wherever something interesting was happening, there had to be money in it. She stood up.
The teacher regarded her with mild interest. "Yes, Ms. Tendo?"
"I've got to leave, too."
"For what reason?"
Nabiki narrowed her eyes. The teacher wasn't supposed to be questioning her. She smiled and replied. "That was my sister in the group."
The teacher sighed. "Sit down, Ms. Tendo. If that's all it is, then--"
"Teacher, need I remind you of--"
The teacher stood up. "Ms. Tendo, I said--" he paused. He seemed deep in thought for a moment, and then looked towards Nabiki. "Very well, but this too will be marked on your record."
Nabiki scoffed. As if it would. Not if the teacher knew what was good for him.
Nabiki made it her business to know people in high places. Even though her teachers weren't considered people in high places, it was still good to be able to know them.
And this teacher, she knew the best out of all of them. She often used teachers to modify students grades, and this one was no exception. However, in order for them to do that, she had to either pay them, or have some inside information on them.
As it was, she knew that this teacher had a fetish for schoolgirls. And the teacher knew that she knew. Things could get very ugly for him if it were to be released.
So Nabiki grabbed her bag, and walked out the door.
"What is it, old one?" Kima asked. "I don't have the time. The breeze grows stronger inside the mountain. Soon we may have to place wind barriers."
The old man sighed. "There is something... wrong with Saffron."
Kima narrowed her eyes. "What?"
"Nothing serious, Lady Kima. Not life threatening in any way, I assure you."
"What is wrong with him?"
"He... He grows."
"Of course he grows. How else will he reach the age of his next transformation."
"No. He grows quickly," the old man continued, "He grows... like the prophecy."
Kima widened her eyes. "The prophecy?"
"Yes, Lady Kima."
"What age is he?"
"He walks now, and speaks, Lady Kima."
"This morning, I woke to find him standing. He knows few words, as any infant at his stage does."
Kima paused. "The wind," she said. "Then the time is near?"
The old man nodded. "Yes."
"What does Saffron say?"
The old man sighed. "Few words. Among them are Fei Liang, and..." He looked up at her. "...The Darker."
Kima took a deep breath. "Take me to him."
"Father?" he asked.
The grown man turned around to regard his son. "Herb," he began, "do you know why I've summoned you?"
Herb sheepishly shook his head. "No, father."
"I summon you here because I must." He looked at his son in disgust. "If not for this reason, then I would have left you to rot with the... females."
Herb winced. He was very sensitive of his banishment. "Yes, father."
"But a time of great importance is approaching, Herb. My son." He smiled.
Herb looked up. This was the first time his father had called him 'son' since he had found out of his curse. "Father?"
"I was rash to have treated you so. I had forgotten our old ways."
Herb shook his head in confusion. "Old ways?"
"My trusted advisor brought something to my attention, Herb." He looked at him. "From the days of the wars with the Phoenix."
"The Phoenix? What do they have to do with this?"
"Once they were our enemies, Herb. We have long since made the truce. But you do not yet know the details."
Herb shook his head. He was confused beyond all belief.
Originally, he had gone to japan to retrieve the Open-water Kettle, and return it to his father and cure his locked form in the process. He had cured his locked form, but not the curse itself.
His father was overjoyed to hear of the return of the Open-water Kettle, but was enraged to find of his sons curse. He banished him to the woman's encampment, which was forever to be separate from the warriors.
Herb was among the animals. The animals turned human by the power of the Nyannichuan. The animals, and the daughters of the Musk.
Women. Weak, weak women.
But then he had received word from his father, bidding his return.
And now he stood, listening to the story his father told.
"Herb, fifteen hundred years ago... The beginning of the Musk. The day of our independence from the Joketsuzoku..."
"I've heard the stories. We were freed from our slavery and then released to the wild. We had to turn to the animals for our help and salvation."
"Yes. Soon after, the Joketsuzoku stopped their slavery, but still did not treat men as equals. That is why we banish women from our camps, to live on their own."
"I've heard the story many times, father. What of the Phoenix war?"
"It started as a disagreement. They wished the waters of Jusendo, which feeds Jusenkyo to be used for their purposes, to allow their king to reach adulthood."
"A selfish cause."
"The Musk were sure of that then. But soon after, we realized why it had to be done."
"Herb, what is kept from most is the true outcome of that war."
"I know what the outcome was, father. We beat the Phoenix, and they retreated to their mountain and begged for a truce."
"No. We did not win the war, Herb."
Herb blinked. "What?"
"Neither did they, really. A higher force descended upon the battlefield."
"A higher force?"
Herb narrowed his eyes. "A whirlwind in the battle?"
"It was of godly origin, my son. Fei Liang, to be specific."
"Fei Liang took interest in the battle?"
"He stopped it. He forced the truce. But he told us something of great importance."
"With him was a man. A man from the center of the Chinese world. A prophet of sorts."
"Who was he?"
"The name escapes me now, my son. But the prophecy remains in my mind. Fresh."
"What was it?"
"A dragon prince who is a princess, both of and not of the Musk; shall travel across the sea in search of a resolution. The pot shall be returned to the home, and that is the sign of his coming."
"That is you, my son. A prince of the Musk, and a princess not of the Musk."
"But, the sign of whose coming?"
"The prophecy says that you shall be joined by others fighting for your cause. Warriors of long ago, reborn to the new world. They shall fight by your side."
"Against a dark force, my son." He sighed. "There is another part of the prophecy."
"What is it?"
The King of the Musk sighed, and then began to tell his son of the second part of the prophecy.
Kima smiled at the toddler as it walked towards her, its wings stretching happily.
"Kii-ma!" the toddler exclaimed.
"How does... How does he know me?" Kima asked.
"The prophecy, Lady Kima. If I am understanding it correctly, Saffron shall soon retain the memories of all his previous existences."
"All of them?"
Kima looked down at her king, who was now flapping his wings experimentally.
"Then, of the Musk?"
"We shall soon find out."
Kima sighed. "We shall."
"The breeze grows stronger, Kima." the old man said. "Soon Saffron will be able to rule once again."
Kima nodded. "Yes, he will."
Saffron smiled and looked up at his captain of the guards. "Kii-ma good!"
Kima smiled. She had never received this much praise during her kings last existence.
"Hold, Rogi," a voice called from the east.
"You will go no further," another voice warned, this time from the north.
"You should not have been allowed to progress this far," a third voice announced, from a western direction.
"You will leave now, before we destroy you," the last voice said from the south.
Rogi smirked. "Now who could this be besides the honourable Shi Tenno," he said, "come to witness my servants and the coming of your new master?"
"You will not intimidate us, Rogi," the east said.
The south continued. "If you do not leave our lands, we will have no choice but to destroy you."
"As if you could," he said, staring into the distance, at the city before him. "Such strange advancements mankind has made. Have you guided them in my absence?"
"The advancements made by man are theirs alone, Rogi," west answered.
"You will not destroy what they have accomplished," north continued.
"Ahh, I may not, but that who I serve may."
"You serve no one but yourself, Rogi," east said.
"You would be surprised, minor gods."
"We are not so minor that we cannot defeat you."
Rogi turned to face the east. "And your pathetic queen was? If it had not been for the intervention of Fei Liang, I would have consumed her."
"Maybe so, Rogi. But you stand upon our land now, our source of power."
Rogi laughed. "You think it would matter? Pathetic protectors of the land. I could smite you easily, and then continue to the city of gray towers."
"You will not, Rogi. We will not allow it."
"And if I defeat you, Shi Tenno? If I defeat all four of you?"
"There will be others."
"I shall smite them as easily as you."
"We shall see, Rogi. A mere demon does not have the strength of a god."
"Is that what you think I am? A mere demon? Amaterasu thought that as well. The form I wear now is human. The form I once wore was demonic. My true form you have yet to see."
North, south, east and west clenched their weapons.
"We destroy you now, Rogi," they said in unison, as if they were a single organism.
Rogi stretched his arms out, black electricity crackling between his outstretched fingers.
"You can try," he said.
And then they advanced.
The Shi Tenno were known as fierce warriors, willing to protect the lands of Japan at any cost; even though the cost may be their lives.
North started with a frontal attack with his polearm, striking Rogi squarely in the chest, and followed it by hooking his leg.
South took him from behind, a sai in each hand. He plunged the first deep into Rogi's back, and he used the second to push his leg forward, dropping him to the ground.
East slashed Rogi's arm with a golden katana, causing him to scream in pain.
West stood his distance. He shot several arrows into Rogi's chest.
Rogi laughed. He laughed as he was struck in the chest. He laughed as he was stabbed through the back. He left as he was cut in the arm, and he laughed as the arrows penetrated him.
And then he laughed as each of the Shi Tenno were sent flying through the black energy the Rogi released upon them.
"Insects." He smiled. "You bother me no more than mere insects."
North got up, and stood his ground. "Any insect has the ability to drive a man to insanity, Rogi."
Rogi smiled. "But I am not a man, Shi Tenno."
And then they attacked again. But this time, Rogi didn't wait for the attack. He struck first.
North was blasted back against a tree near the side of the field in which they fought, leaving a distinct impression upon it.
South was pummeled into the ground by the force of gravity which emanated from Rogi.
East's katana was ripped from his hands and used against, as if by some unseen warrior. He was slashed to ribbons.
West stood his ground.
Rogi smirked. "Will you not attack me, Shi Tenno? Will you not protect that which you were born to protect?"
"There is protection, Rogi, and then there is foolery. To attack you now at loss of my life would mean the end of Japan."
"Ahh, a smart one, aren't you."
"Rogi!" North groaned, trying to stand up after being forced into the tree. "You will not destroy our land."
"I have no intention of that. Yet."
"Very well, Rogi. To fight you now, after our power being diminished for so long was foolish. We would prefer to remain alive to protect our land."
"Smart, aren't you?"
"Here it is, Rogi," West said. "You will go. You will fetch your servants, and then you will leave. Any more and we will be forced to attack you again."
Rogi laughed. "As if you could! But very well, Shi Tenno. If you would prefer that, then that is what I shall do. I shall fetch my servants, and then head to the west."
"That is what we wish, Rogi," East said, bleeding from every limb.
"Then allow me on my way, Shi Tenno."
East stood aside, and allowed Rogi to pass. He laughed as he continued onward.
"Have we made a mistake? Allowing him into the city?" East asked.
North shook his head. "We had no choice. He would have smitten us."
"What will we do now?" South asked.
West sighed. "Only one thing. We must try again."
"To awaken the Ohmikami?" East looked to West.
"That is our intention."
"We tried the first time. We had no success," North informed them
"The heat arose from her. She was close," West replied.
"But another could kill her," South brought up.
"And if Rogi regains his servants, all mankind and god alike will die."
"Very well. Then we shall."
"All right, Cologne. What's happening?"
"Son-in-law," Cologne greeted. A moment later, she spotted the others. She looked towards Mousse. "I asked you to bring the dreamer, not the whole city."
Mousse shrugged. "I know, but we found something out."
"We have found, honoured elder, that we each have been experiencing these dreams. We are under the assumption that you would know of their origin," Tatewaki interrupted.
Cologne sighed. "So that's it. The thought had crossed my mind, however I had never really accepted it as a viable outcome."
"So what's going on, old ghoul?" Ranma asked.
Cologne walked over to him, staff in hand. "First things first. Which of you dreamt?"
"That would be me," Ukyou said.
Shampoo spent the entire time sitting at the table, listening to what was happening. Every bone in her body wanted her to jump towards Ranma and hold him in a loving embrace, but after the talk her Great-Grandmother had given her, she knew better.
She was too busy lost in her own thought to notice that her Great-Grandmother had paused. She looked around suspiciously, batting her eyes from left to right.
"What wrong, Great-Grandmother?"
Cologne looked towards Shampoo. "We are not alone, child."
"The old one. She senses us," North mentioned.
"It matters not, we are not here for her," West replied.
"Is she not one of the reborn?" East asked, his wounds almost fully healed.
"Indeed. I can feel the presence of one within her," South answered.
West shook his head. "We must try again. And we must be stronger this time."
"Very well," North said, and then stood to the north of the subject.
"All our power, then," East said, and then stood to the east of the subject.
"We must awaken her," South said, and then stood to the south of the subject.
"We start now," West said, and then stood to the west of the subject.
"What do you mean, we're not alone?" Ranma asked.
"I mean just that, son-in-law. I can feel the presence of others."
Everyone in the Nekohanten looked around in confusion.
"There be none other than ourselves," Tatewaki informed her.
"Listen to me, boy. When you live to be as old as me, you get a sense for this type of thing. We are not alone."
Ukyou blinked. "I... I think I feel it too," she said.
Everyone looked towards her.
She could barely feel it at first. A little twinge in her gut. But moments later, it had evolved into full fledged pain.
Ukyou could do nothing but scream. She doubled over, clenching her stomach, still screaming. She was aware of the presence of the others, but it didn't matter. All she could feel was the pain.
And then none. She fell unconscious.
Which was strange in itself, because usually when one fell unconscious, they were just that. Unconscious.
Ukyou, however, was fully aware of what was happening outside of her body, as well as what was happening inside. The only difference was, instead of the searing pain, there was a light.
A light brighter than she had ever seen. A light that made her want to enter it, if such a thing was possible.
A moment later, the pain started again, and she screamed.
"Ukyou?!" Ranma called. "Ukyou, what's wrong?!"
"Move aside, boy," Cologne said, closely examining the screaming form on the floor.
"What's wrong with her? Dammit, tell me!" Ranma called.
"I'll know in a minute if you stop screaming in my ear!"
Cologne placed her hands upon Ukyou's heart, and then moved to her forehead. She took her hand away with a jerk.
"What's the matter?" Ranma asked.
"A fever?" Akane broke in.
"Nay child. This is too hot for a mere fever. It burned my hand." Cologne showed her withered hand to Akane, and the large red mark that was covering two fingers.
"She... burned you?"
"Yes. There's not much I can do here, I've not the supplies." She turned to Ranma. "We'll have to take her to a Doctor."
"Doctor Tofu, he's only a block from here!" Akane yelled, frantically.
"Then we shall take her there."
Ranma scooped her up in his arms and was out the door in a flash. He was soon followed by several of the people inside the Nekohanten.
"Have we done it?" North asked.
"I believe we may have," West replied.
"We may still have a chance, then?" South asked.
"Let us hope so."
"She will be brought to the old man," East mentioned.
"Let us hope he can continue what we had started."
"Let us rest, brothers. We must do so in order to do battle."
"So, then there's no problem now, Mr. Satohara?"
"No Doctor, thank you," Takao Satohara said with a smile as he tested his hand out.
"Well, come back in about a week if the arthritis acts up again, I'll--" Tofu began. He was interrupted by a feral cry from the doorway.
Tofu nearly lost his balance, he turned to exit the patients room and went to the front door.
Ranma, Akane and Cologne stood there, with Ukyou in Ranma's arms.
"I don't know. She just started screaming, and then she started burning up!" Ranma said, as quickly as he could.
"Quickly, get her on the table," he said as he motioned towards the table at the side of the waiting room.
Ranma did so as quickly as he could, he pulled away and groaned in pain.
Tofu couldn't believe it. Ranma had burns all over his arms.
"What happened to you?"
"I told you, she was burning up!"
Tofu shook his head. "Look, clear some space. I'll take care of Ukyou first, and then I'll take a look at those burns."
All of them backed away. Tofu quickly grabbed his medical kit and pulled out several tools. He reached towards her forehead and--
"I wouldn't advise that, Doctor," Cologne warned. "When we say she is burning, we mean it. Her skin is no cooler than flame."
Tofu blinked. No cooler than flame?
He pulled out an electric thermometer and stuck the temperature gauge in Ukyou's ear. As he pulled it away to check the temperature, he gasped.
The digital display had melted into itself. Even the part Tofu was holding was getting too warm for comfort.
"What is going on?"
"We told you, doctor."
Tofu shook his head. He reached into his medical kit and pulled out a cloth. He had to do something.
"Wet this for me, Akane," he said as he handed it to her. She did just that.
Returning with a wet cloth, she handed it to Tofu, who placed it on her forehead. He pulled it off a moment later and frowned.
The part that had been touching her forehead was charred.
"This isn't possible," he said.
"Doctor, she is burning through her clothes. Something must be done!"
Tofu frowned. There was nothing he could do. He just had to check one more thing, though.
He gritted his teeth and pulled her eyelids up barehanded. The pain surged through him, but as he looked into her eyes, he pulled away.
Tofu had been blinded.
"Her eyes," he began, covering up his face with his good hand, "They're bright! It's like looking into the sun!"
"Step aside, Tofu," another voice came from nearby.
Cologne looked over to the source and dropped her jaw. "You..." she muttered.
The newcomer looked over towards the old woman and smiled. "Hello Cologne, it's been a while."
"How can you be here, Feng Bo?" She asked. "It's been thirty years!"
"Let's not worry about that right now, Cologne. I've got to care for this child."
He reached towards her.
"No, you can't," Tofu said, "She's burning."
"And she will continue to burn unless I do something about it, Tofu. She is nearly hot enough to combust, and I don't think you would wish that of your clinic."
"Don't give me buts, Tofu. It must be done."
Feng Bo placed his hands upon Ukyou's forehead. He didn't flinch, nor did he feel the pain from the heat.
He felt the heat, but no pain. It was rather pleasing, actually.
He moved another hand down to her chest, and then closed his eyes.
Cool. Yes, he could feel it. She was cooling. His touch had caused it.
Slowly, bit by bit, she was cooling.
"You may touch her now, she has cooled to a bearable level."
"Hey..." Ranma began, "How'd... how'd you do that?"
"It doesn't matter, it's over for now."
"For now? You mean it will happen again?"
Feng Bo nodded. "It may. Then it may not, it depends on her."
"Is that her name now?"
"What do you mean 'now'?"
"Feng Bo, when will she awaken?"
"Soon. I think it would be best that she be with friends when she awakens. I cannot even imagine what she must be going through inside."
"What do you mean? Is she in pain?"
Feng Bo closed his eyes. "I believe so."
"Well, can't we wake her up now, then?"
"Ranma--" Cologne held on to the boy's side. "Trust what Feng Bo says. He has no desire to hurt Ukyou."
"But, if she's in pain--"
"If we were to wake her up," Feng Bo began, "She would never see again."
"I may have fixed it so she may be touched, but her eyes still possess the fire. Soon, that will dim as well, but she does not possess the power to protect herself from that yet."
"What do you mean?"
Feng Bo sighed. "You will find out in due time. All of you." He looked towards Cologne. "All of you."
She heard every word of it. Every painful word, every spine chilling word.
It wasn't the words that were painful, nor the way they were spoken. But the words were spoken while Ukyou was in deep pain.
But most of the pain seems to have died, it was now at a dull echo of what it was only moments earlier. Something was happening to Ukyou Kuonji, and she was scared.
Not scared of death. Not scared of the pain, but scared of the unknown. Why it was happening to her.
It meant something.
Moments later, the pain died, and Ukyou found herself standing in a dark room, as vast as her imagination could carry.
She turned around, searching for a wall, a ceiling, a floor. Anything.
But found none. She was in the dark, alone.
Or was she?
"Hello?" she called out into the blackness.
There was no answer.
"Is there anyone there?" she called again.
Still no answer.
But there was something... something else she couldn't place. Something hidden in the blackness.
And then something happened. A dim light, it seemed to be miles away, but it shed enough light around her for her to see herself.
She was wearing her school uniform, but it seemed to be tattered and torn. No... burned.
"Hello?" she called towards the light.
"Hello," it answered dimly.
Ukyou sighed. There was someone else there, a female voice. She wasn't alone.
"Who is you?"
"I am me."
Ukyou blinked. Not the answer she was expecting.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean what I say."
"But who are you?"
"I have had many names."
"Give me one," Ukyou asked.
"Sol? I've never heard of you."
"And who are you?"
"Ukyou. Ukyou Kuonji."
"I am pleased to meet you, Ukyou Kuonji. Are you of the reborn?"
"No, I suppose you wouldn't know." The light grew.
"Who are you, exactly?"
"I am Amaterasu. I am honoured to meet you, Ukyou Kuonji Ohmikami."