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Of Curses and Dragons
By Coutuva


*Author's note - this episode follows "Almost a Miracle, Part 3."
All *Real* Ranma 1/2 Characters copyright Rumiko Takahashi, and
are used without permission, hopefully to entertain.

Of Curses and Dragons

Ranma lay quietly on the roof of the house, absently
watching the sun going down on yet another day. As the heat waned,
he stretched his tired and still sore muscles, and thought about
returning to the rest of the family.
Standing up, he did a few more stretches, then leapt off the
roof into the back yard. As he landed, he heard the voice that made
his heart beat just a little faster.
"You better be careful, Ranma... you're still not completely
back in shape yet," Akane cautioned from her seat on the walking
"I know... I'm taking it easy," he responded, walking over
and kissing her forehead as he sat beside her. "How long have you
been out here?"
"A few minutes... I knew you'd be coming down soon," she
stated, nestling into his side. "How are you feeling now... is the
headache still there?"
"Yeah... it comes and goes. Nothin' I can't handle, though.
Besides, I have to see Tofu tomorrow, don't I?"
"Yes, you do. I already asked Dad to take the beginners
class in the morning so we can make the appointment."
"I hope he lets me get back to the advanced classes... this
beginner stuff is okay, but I'm getting soft," he grumbled,
"You better not be... In fact, let's go make sure of that
right now," Akane admonished, looking up at her husband with a
lecherous grin.
"Hai... I gotta exercise to stay in shape," he responded,
returning Akane's look. Akane responded by taking Ranma's hand
and walking him straight up the stairs.

The next morning, Ranma patiently sat through the
examination, then waited for Tofu to announce his results. He
exchanged nervous glances with Akane, still anxious about
restarting more intense training. It had been well over six
months since his last serious workout, and he was very worried about
keeping his edge.
"Well, Ranma... it seems as though most of your physical
injuries have healed perfectly," Tofu indicated, rising to his feet.
"But..." Ranma added, sensing the impending second shoe.
"But, your neck sustained a great deal of soft tissue damage,
and that makes it still extremely weak... and it's not all that
easily defensible. I still want you to avoid sparring or
full-contact for a while yet. As to your headaches, that will ease
off after your neck heals better."
"So I'm still only teaching beginners level, ne? Okay,
Doc... if I have to, I have to," he sighed, resignedly. Akane
looked sympathetically at him, her eyes conveying the disappointment
she felt for him.
"I'm sorry, Ranma... but it's for your own good. You don't
want to end up in a wheelchair for life, do you?" Tofu asked,
giving Ranma a look that meant business.
"Okay... I get the point already. I'll behave," Ranma
shot back, grumbling.
`"Doctor Tofu..." Akane piped up, quietly hoping to change
the subject.
"Yes, Akane?"
"Something's been on my mind ever since you mentioned it a
few months ago... If onna-Ranma would have had the baby... would
the curse have moved into it instead of staying with Ranma?" she
asked, looking the doctor directly in the eyes.
"Akane? Where did that come from?" Ranma asked, after
recovering from his double-take.
"Ranma... I'm cursed now too, and I want to know if I'll
be able to have more children without passing the curse on to one
of them," Akane replied, looking at the floor.
"You never said anything to me... "
"I didn't want to bring it up with you because of what
you've been through... but, I just couldn't stand it any longer.
I had to ask before it drove me nuts."
Tofu, meantime, adjusted his glasses and cleared his
throat. "Akane... you have nothing to be concerned over. Your
male side can't conceive... in Ranma's case, it was his altered
body that was pregnant, which directly involved the curse and it's
original life force. And I still have no information about what
effect that would have had on either Ranma or the baby," he
explained, shrugging.
Akane was visibly relieved. She looked up at Ranma who
regarded her sadly.
"Ranma... what's wrong?" she asked, worriedly.
"Akane... I just want you to know that no matter what
I'm feeling, going through or putting up with, anything that
concerns you like this is more important. I want you to be able
to tell me about anything... no matter what it is," he
explained, regarding her tenderly. "Your worries are more important
to me than my own."
"Ranma... I'm sorry. I just didn't want to burden you with
any more problems... you've been through enough," Akane explained,
walking over to Ranma and taking his outstretched hand. "I love
you, you big dummy... I wasn't hiding anything," she continued,
kissing his forehead.
"I love you, Akane... and that means that if it bothers
you, it bothers me. I can't help with it if I don't know about
it," Ranma admonished gently. Akane smiled in response, knowing
she'd never win this one.
"Well, I guess you can go, Ranma.. unless you have any
questions...?" Dr. Tofu inserted, wanting to leave the two of them
"Actually, yeah... I have a question, now that it's been
brought up. Do you have any other information about the curses?
I'd like to know what gives with it... especially now."
"Hmm... No, I don't. But I might be able to find out
more... You two go home now, and I'll look into it. I actually
should have done this long ago, considering that there are so
many in this one Ward," Tofu replied, thoughtfully.
Ranma and Akane looked at each other for a moment, and
both turned to Tofu simultaneously.
"You'll call us right away?" they both insisted at once.
"As soon as I find anything. Go home now," he urged,

For the next few days, Ranma and Akane both jumped every
time the phone rang, expecting it to be Dr. Tofu with the
information. So far, it hadn't been, and they were getting
disappointed. Over dinner on the third day, Ranma sighed heavily,
and voiced the thoughts that he and Akane shared at that moment.
"I guess he couldn't find anything... not that I'm
surprised, though... Nobody knows much about the curses... not even
that old Guide knew more than the names and dates."
"Well, Ranma... I guess that just makes us all that much
more unique," Akane quipped, hoping to lighten the mood.
In the background, the phone began to ring, and the two
simply looked at each other for a second, waiting for Miyabi to
answer it. When the little girl trotted back out to the dining
room to say it was Dr. Tofu for Papa, Ranma was over the table and
gone before she finished the sentence.
Akane listened intently to the muffled conversation, but
was unable to make any sense of it. She then waited anxiously for
Ranma to return, and when he finally did, was taken aback by the
strange look on his face.
"He said he couldn't find anything, but he did find a way
for me to look into it... firsthand," he began, his face
indicating how perplexing the conversation was.
"What does that mean?" Akane asked, not sure she
understood the statement at all.
"He wants us to come to the clinic tonight after dark, and
to bring the clothes I wore the day it happened."
"Ranma... I don't know if I like this," Akane stated,
touching his arm.
"It sounds kinda spooky to me, too..." he indicated, looking
into Akane's concerned face. Then he turned away and looked
skyward, skritching his head. "Do I even still have that gi?" he
asked aloud, looking at Akane again.

Later, Ranma and Akane stood outside the clinic, Ranma
dressed in the gi he had worn the day he fell in the pool. He felt
odd wearing it, since he had put it away immediately after arriving
in Japan, never wanting to see it again.
Akane too felt odd, only it wasn't the gi that had her on
edge. She had that nagging feeling deep in her intuition that
something was not right about the upcoming events, no matter what
they would turn out to be.
Ranma sensed her misgivings and tightened his grip on her
hand, then turned to her and looked into her eyes. Reaching out to
her, he pulled her into a reassuring hug, and kissed her lovingly
under the dim light of the streetlamp.
"Hoo... what was that for?" she asked breathlessly once
they parted.
"You looked like you needed it," he smiled, winking.
"I always need it," she agreed, hugging him again.
Just at that moment, Kasumi poked her head out the door
and called them in. With a quick glance and a sigh each, they
headed into the clinic.
Inside, Tofu sat in a darkened room surrounded by candles,
incense and an old dusty book. "Ah! Come on in, you two... We
have a lot to do tonight," Tofu beckoned, indicating the futon
before him for Ranma, and the chair nearby for Akane.
"Doc, you look like something from a bad Ninja movie,"
Ranma commented, smirking.
"You like it? Kasumi thought it would add atmosphere,"
he smiled, happily.
"It does..." Akane stated, the waver in her voice
surprising even her.
"Ranma, you stretch out here, and Akane, you sit beside
him, so you're ready if we need you. And make sure you don't
touch him unless I tell you to, no matter what he does," Tofu
instructed, the smile leaving his face.
"What are you planning to do to me, Doc? I don't need
any more grief," Ranma asked, laying on the futon as indicated.
"Ranma, you're going to take a little trip.. well, at
least your Chi is. I found a spell in the back of this book that
allows the cursed to travel back through time to understand their
enjoined Spirit. Your body will stay here, but your Chi will
travel time to China, about 490 A.D. There, hopefully, you'll get
your answers."
"This ain't gonna do anything to me, is it?"
"No... But I have to have Akane here beside you just in
"Just in case?" Akane asked, eyes widening.
"Just in case something happens to him, and he can't
make it back home. You'll have to go after him, Akane," Tofu
explained, matter-of-factly.
Akane and Ranma looked at each other, then at the Doctor.
Ranma was the first to break the silence.
"Okay, Doc... I trust you. If this is the only way to
get to the bottom of this, then let's do it."
"Ranma... Be careful. You don't want to end up stuck back
there... and I can't stand the thought of something going wrong,"
Akane implored, her eyes staring to tear.
"It'll be okay, Akane... Dr. Tofu has it all under control,"
Ranma assured her, touching her shoulder for emphasis.
"Well, let's get started... Akane, sit there and remember...
don't touch Ranma till I say so."
"O-Okay, Doctor..." Akane responded, nervously.
"Ranma, close your eyes, and I'll administer some pressure
points to put you out... You should experience nothing but black
until the spell starts to work, then you'll feel like you're on a
big, bright slide. After that, you're on your own. Use your time
wisely, since you don't have very long... your Chi will only sustain
itself for a short time outside your body," Tofu instructed, moving
close to the prostrate Ranma.
"Okay Doc. Akane, kiss me for luck," he asked, looking
toward his nervous wife. She leaned down and gave him a surprisingly
deep kiss.
"You come back to me, Saotome... no matter what happens,"
she whispered, insistently.
Ranma smiled, and winked at her happily. Then he turned to
face the ceiling and closed his eyes. Tofu immediately put him out
with a few quick touches, then sat back and began the incantations.
Akane watched warily as Tofu rhymed off the words of the
spell, and felt her heart skip a beat as Ranma's body twitched beside
her. She didn't know how long she'd be able to keep her hands to
herself if that kept up.
Finally, Tofu raised his arms, called out a few weird words,
and brought his hands down over Ranma's chest. Ranma twitched
violently for a few seconds, then lay eerily still.
"That's it... He's away. Now all we can do is wait," Tofu
advised, breathlessly. Akane folded her hands together and brought
them up under her chin, too worried to respond.

Ranma at first saw nothing but blackness, just as Tofu had
explained. Then, within a few seconds, a bright light formed off
in the distance, and began to enlarge rapidly. It grew until it
encompassed all around it, and Ranma suddenly began to feel like he
was indeed on a massive slide, racing at breakneck speed to a
destination he couldn't see. This continued for what felt like
forever, until finally a bright wall appeared in his path. He blew
right through it, landing surprisingly hard on damp, swampy ground.
Shaking his head, he looked carefully about himself, sizing
up the area and looking intently for landmarks. He knew he was near
Jusenkyo, but the surroundings looked totally different.
As he sat somewhat bewildered by his experience, he abruptly
heard gruff voices in the distance, punctuated every so often by
short, muffled female squeals.
Thinking it best he not be seen, he looked around for cover.
Above him was a thick treetop, and it was within easy leaping
He immediately leapt for the nearest branch, and got the
shock of his life. He went right through it and up into he empty
sky above, as if it was only an illusion. When he regained his
senses, it occurred to him that HE was the 'illusion', not the tree.
"That's right... Tofu said only my Chi would travel... not
my body. Neat... I'm a ghost!" he thought to himself, grinning
like a fool. His delight was soon interrupted, however, as the
voices he had heard became very close. Swooping down to just below
the treetops, he waited for them to come into view.
Within a few moments, a group of ancient looking soldiers
appeared through the brush, dragging with them a girl. Ranma's
heart nearly stopped when he saw who she was.
Dangling helplessly between two big, surly soldiers was
the red-haired Chinese girl that he knew as his other self. The
only difference between the two was the absence of the pigtail.
She was dressed in now-tattered silks and still had on pieces of
jewelry, telling Ranma that she was obviously Royalty, or at
least extremely rich.
Ranma followed the group back to what appeared to be an
advance camp of some kind, since there were only three tents.
As he watched helplessly from a short distance away, the soldiers
tied the girl to a stake in the largest tent, and proceeded to
strip her of all her silks and remaining jewels. Her screams of
protest only earned her a backhand from one of the men, and a
chorus of laughter from the rest.
Finally, the men moved off, headed toward the fire side
and their supper. Ranma floated over to the tent entrance, and
as he peered inside at the girl, his heart sank. Suddenly, how
he felt about her no longer mattered as he looked at her dirty,
defeated, sobbing form tied out like an unwanted dog. Her face
was covered with scratches and bruises, and her legs and arms
bore similar signs of abuse. His heart broke for her, as he
desperately tried to think of some way to help her.
As he floated about the entry to the tent, the girl
abruptly stopped her crying, and painfully dragged herself to
a sitting position. Looking around her, she suddenly spoke,
actually startling Ranma.
"Who's there?" she asked, fearfully. "I know someone
watches... speak!" she commanded, despite her situation.
Not entirely sure what to do, Ranma tried to speak out
loud in his best Chinese to answer her. His attempts resulted
only in frustration, however, as his mouth made no sound.
"Kuso!" he thought to himself, angrily.
"What say you?" the girl abruptly asked, looking about
for the source of the word she had heard.
Ranma's face dropped in shock. "She heard me?" he
thought, stunned.
"Yes... I heard you... only I heard you not with my
ears..." the girl responded, a confused yet slightly apprehensive
look on her face.
"That's it! You heard me in your mind!" he thought again,
directing it toward her as if he was actually talking with her.
"In my mind..." she echoed, her eyes widening with the
gradual realization. "Who... are you that you can speak to my
"A friend," he responded, watching her intently for a
reaction. Much to his surprise, she turned to face directly toward
"You say 'A friend'... yet you remain hidden. If you are a
true friend, show yourself," she replied, looking around for him.
"You can't see me... I'm sort of like... a Spirit."
The girl's eyes widened again as she drew a deep breath.
It occurred to Ranma at that point that during the fourth century,
the peoples of both Japan and China were highly superstitious... he
hoped he hadn't just made a huge mistake.
"A... Spirit? Mother told me these woods were an evil
place. What do you want of me, Spirit? I have nothing to offer
you," she blurted, momentarily losing her composure.
"No, No.. you got it all wrong... I'm on your side. I would
like to help you, if I could only figure out a way," Ranma assured,
hoping she wouldn't panic on him.
"Help... me? Why would a Spirit help me? I have made no
pact... broken no curse... I don't understand."
"Don't worry about it. I saw you were in trouble, so I
came to see if I could help you. Okay. Let's start over... What's
your name?"
"I am Mu Lin. Daughter of the Emperor Mu of the Eastern
Wei Dynasty, and my mother is Mu Lan," she replied, hesitantly,
still glancing about for signs of her visitor.
"Mu Lan... Why does that name sound so familiar? I know
I've heard of it before."
"Perhaps you know of my mother going in her father's
stead to fight the Khan's war... The tribes still talk of it,
though it was many years ago..." the girl suggested, leaning
further toward Ranma's location.
"Hmm... can't be sure. Well, it doesn't matter right
now. Why are they holding you prisoner, anyway?"
"I have been taken from my castle by the forces of the
Western Wei Dynasty... they seek to overthrow my father, and are
using me to bring him out," she explained, sadly. "I know they
will kill me even if he does come... and I hope he does not.
He has another great battle to fight."
"Damn... I wish I could touch things... I could cut you
loose, and you could escape."
"My destiny is sealed, Spirit... there is nothing you
can do to prevent me meeting my fate," Mu Lin stated, lowering
her head. "I too, must accept it. Even if I were to escape, I
would only be captured again, or even killed," she continued,
"No! If I could get you free, you could return to your
people and prevent your father coming after you. Don't give up,
Mu Lin! There has to be a way!" Ranma retorted angrily, feeling
his Chi start to flare.
Mu Lin noticed it as well, her eyes widening again, only
this time to better see the faint blue aura generated by Ranma's
"Spirit... I see your image!" she exclaimed, rising
painfully to her knees. As she moved, her tattered underclothes
slipped off her chest, revealing the same breasts that Ranma bore
in his female form. He was now even more convinced that she was
in fact the one that drowned in the Pool at Jusenkyo, which meant
only one thing. Either this timeline is wrong, or it happens
after this event... some time in the future.
"Mu Lin! I know you escape from this... Your fate is
not decided here!" he yelled in his thoughts, again flaring his
Chi. Mu Lin again saw it, only this time, she made out his face
in the dancing flares.
"You are a young man... " she stated, quietly. "Yet you
are not of this land. Where do you come from, Spirit?" she
continued, staring toward him still.
"I come from a land called Japan... it's an island not
too far from your Eastern Coasts," he replied, wondering if she
had ever heard of it.
"I know this island of which you speak, but only savages
live there..." she replied, perplexed.
"Don't worry about it. Anyway, Mu Lin... your fate is not
decided here... take it from a Spirit; you survive this. So let's
try to get you out of here."
"How..." she began, but Ranma cut her off.
"Are there any weapons in here?"
"Only with my captors," she replied, shaking her red-maned
At that moment. Ranma could hear the men coming back to the
tent, noisily yelling and cursing in Chinese. A second later, they
burst through the flaps, and he could tell that they were all
stinking drunk on something that smelled like paint thinner. One
of them noticed Mu Lin's exposed chest, and immediately pointed it
out to his fellows. They all turned and stared, slobbering over the
sight like a pack of ravenous wolves.
Mu Lin flopped on her side in response, rolling onto her
stomach to cover herself. It was too little too late, though, as
the first of the soldiers dove at her, crushing her delicate form
under his immense weight. Two others moved in as well, each
grabbing a body part to try to restrain the now squealing,
struggling girl.
As Ranma watched in horror, they flipped her on her back
and held her legs apart, then one of them brutishly ripped off
whatever garments stood between him and his objective. Mu Lin
began to cry, begging them to stop. The soldier that had
positioned himself between her knees only laughed, and delivered
a jaw-snapping backhand to her small face.
Ranma could stand no more. Instinct took him over
completely, his Chi erupting into a full battle aura that
illuminated the entire tent. The soldiers froze in their places,
staring at the now fully-visible and extremely angry Ranma. Before
any of them could move, he delivered a basketball-sized Chi-Blast
to the head of the slap-happy soldier, exploding it like a dropped
melon. The others moved to attack, but were no match for Ranma's
blind rage. He spun in place and drove his fingers right through
the upper body of one enemy, then followed with a skull-crushing
chestnut-fist to the face of another. A third came at him with
a huge sword, which he instinctively avoided, then redirected back
through it's wielder's belly.
When it was over, Ranma stood breathing heavily atop a pile
of bodies, still in full view of the stunned Mu Lin.
"Spirit... Thank... you for... saving me," she stammered,
staring agape at Ranma's bluish, shimmering form.
Ranma, meantime, had regained his faculties and was a bit
shocked by his sudden tangibility. As he thought about it, he
assumed that it was the summoning of his battle aura that did it,
and with that assumption came the realization that it was a
short-lived blessing.
"No time for that now, Mu Lin. We have to get you out of
here. C'mon!" Ranma responded, using the sword from the fight to
cut her rope bonds. Mu Lin slowly stood up, but her legs were
cramped and badly bruised from the attack she had just endured.
Ranma, worried that others may have heard the battle, helped her
get out of the camp as quickly as they could go.
A small, dusty path Ranma spotted led them out of the
encampment and off into a thick overgrowth of trees and brush. It
was difficult for Mu Lin, but she managed to put quite a bit of
distance on before she had to rest.
As she sat gingerly on a convenient log, Ranma suddenly
felt weak and slightly dizzy. Looking at his hand, he noticed that
it was more opaque than it had been a few moments earlier.
"Mu Lin... I'm starting to fade out again. I'm still here,
though. Are you okay?" he asked as he finally faded from sight.
"I am, Spirit. I must thank you for my rescue. When I can
again walk, I want to get back and warn my people... as you
foretold," she replied, her eyes showing happiness for the first
Ranma had to smile as well, pleased that he had managed to
save her. As he looked at her, barely clothed and sorely abused, he
could still see the person she was under it all. He liked her
manner, her charm, and even her appearance, despite the rough shape
she was in at the moment. He wondered how he could have hated her
so much. Smiling, he made a mental note to thank Tofu for the
opportunity to meet her.
"Mu Lin... How far is it from here to your people?" he
asked, trying to maintain the upbeat conversation.
"It is a day's ride East. The soldiers have horses beyond
the rise yonder a half-league," she indicated, pointing in the
direction they came from. "We could be among them by the light
of morning."
"Good. Are you sure you feel like riding, Mu Lin?
You're in pretty rough shape."
"Worry not for me. I will not hinder our travels," she
replied with a confident smile.
"Let's rest here for a while, and then we'll get you a
horse and take you home. We should find something for you to wear,
though... it won't do to have you running around like that,"
Ranma commented, flatly.
"I see..." Mu Lin replied, her face flushing as she
realized how undressed she really was. As she subtly tried to
cover herself, Ranma flew quickly back the camp and found a cape
and large shirt for her to wear, so that she could at least travel.
"Here," he said, as he floated the clothing over to her.
Her eyes widened again as he handed the articles to her, since they
appeared to be simply hanging in the air. Just as she reached for
them, they dropped to the ground, falling right through his hands.
"Oop! Sorry, Mu Lin... I must be losing the last of my
solidness... I can't hold things anymore," Ranma observed,
"No matter. I can dress myself," Mu Lin responded, not
realizing what effect that statement had on Ranma. He had not paid
much attention until she said that, but he finally noticed that
she *did* have an attractive body. The idea of dressing her
actually gave him some less than honourable thoughts. Shaking his
head, he chided himself for thinking such things, especially when
he realized he was thinking them about a body he actually possessed.
"Spirit... Thank you again for your kindnesses... I owe you
more than I could ever recompense," Mu Lin stated quietly, looking
around for some sign of Ranma.
"Don't worry about it. Just trying to help, that's all,"
he replied cheerily, not wanting to give her the wrong idea about
his 'Spirit' role.
"But I must. I owe you my life, Spirit... had you not
come, I surely would be dead by this time. In gratitude, I can
offer you but one thing... I command the 'Fire of the Dragon'; I
could show you it's use, and perhaps you could one day instruct
another unfortunate."
"Fire of the Dragon? Is that a spell or an attack?"
Ranma queried, his curiosity piqued.
"It is of both. It is a spell that obliterates one's
enemies that are caught in it's path. It is for this reason that
the soldiers bound my hands... I could easily have killed the
number of them, had I been able to invoke the Fire," she
continued, looking down at her open hands.
"Okay... Show me this attack... I could stand to learn a
few new tricks, anyway."
Nodding, Mu Lin rose slowly and stood looking toward a
stand of old trees. Closing her eyes, she began series of deep
breaths, finally setting herself in a power stance. Raising her
arms, she traced the outline of a dragon's head before herself,
a thin red wisp of energy marking out the image. Opening her
eyes, she encircled the wispy image with her hands, then yelled
"Dragon Fire!" in Chinese.
Within a heartbeat, a solid blast of Mystic Flame exploded
from her hands, destroying the stand of trees completely and
carving a furrow through the hillside behind them. So much power
was expended in the blast that Mu Lin actually had to brace against
a strong recoil effect. As the Flame dissipated, Mu Lin moaned
softly and fell to her knees.
Ranma, upon recovering from the sight he just witnessed,
swooped over to Mu Lin to see what had happened to her.
"Mu Lin...!" he called out, anxiously.
"I am fine... I had forgotten how much of the invoker's Chi
is required to call the Fire. I need but to rest for a few
moments," she assured, barely able to talk above a whisper.
"Okay... as long as you're not injured or nothing. So,
do you feel up to telling me how that Fire thing works?"
Slowly, and with several stops to catch her breath, Mu Lin
explained the technique to Ranma in great detail. Regrettably,
he could not try it out in his current condition, but vowed
privately to do so when he returned home.
After explaining all to Ranma, Mu Lin eventually fell
asleep, simply exhausted from her torturous day. Ranma sighed as
he watched her sleep, thinking that he could finally understand why
he had so much trouble with men when he was in her form. She was
attractive, intelligent and cultured, three things that, when
combined, spelled 'irresistible' for most Japanese men. And on top
of that, he noticed that she seemed to be able to charm rational
men without even trying... a trait which explained several things.
As Ranma entertained these musings, he thought he could hear
a horse whinny in the distance. Listening carefully, he heard it
again, accompanied immediately by another. Propelling himself up
high into the air, he looked around the area to pin down the source.
Ranma's face darkened as he realized the horses were coming
from an entirely different direction than the one in which Mu Lin
had indicated the soldiers had tied theirs. He knew he had to get
her out of the area, but he was intangible again, and she was
sound asleep.
Power-diving down to the slumbering girl, he stopped right
beside her face and mentally yelled her name. Much to his chagrin,
she didn't respond, prompting him to try again. Finally, more out
of desperation than inspiration, he tried to mentally 'nudge' her
awake. Much to his surprise, it actually worked.
"MMMmmm... Spirit? Do you call?" she mumbled, sleepily.
"Mu Lin! There's riders coming this way! We have to get
out of here! C'mon!" he urged, excitedly.
"What? Riders? They must form the rest of the advance
party... I heard one of the soldiers mention something about them,"
she replied, pulling herself slowly to her feet. "From where do
they come?"
"Off to the north... looks like they're trying to stay under
cover till they get here."
"You are right... we must go. This way!" Mu Lin indicated,
starting off toward the brush.
They had only managed to get a few hundred feet away when
the first rider appeared, passing them by and heading for the
Within moments, the rider returned at a full gallop,
screaming about his fallen comrades, and alerting those that
followed him to the assault. Ranma watched them meet up very near
the area where he and Mu Lin had just been, and immediately
dismount to start inspecting the vicinity for the identity of the
It didn't take them long to discover the blast crater from
the Fire of the Dragon Mu Lin had unleashed, which served only to
enrage the leader of the group. In response, he ordered his men to
fan out and locate the girl.
Ranma turned to check on Mu Lin, and discovered her
halfway up a rocky hillside, cautiously picking her way through the
rough terrain. Flying over to her, he immediately got angry at her
choice of direction.
"Why are you going up here? They're sure to see you, and
they can move a lot faster that you can, Mu Lin... what the hell are
you thinking?"
"I want... to get above... all of them... so I can call...
upon the Fire," she replied, breathlessly. "Only way... to get them
all," she continued, stopping for a moment after grimacing in pain.
"What?" Ranma blurted, noticing her holding her side.
"One of the soldiers... kicked me..." she began, turning back
to the cliff face and reaching for her next hand-hold. As she
reached, the large shirt she wore billowed up in the slight breeze,
and he could plainly see a large bruise over the side and to the
back of her rib cage. He knew immediately that she probably had
a few broken ribs.
"Hey... why didn't you say anything sooner? We could have
wrapped those ribs..." Ranma chided, angrily.
"I do not >ERRH!< complain... It is not... befitting... a
lady of the Court," she responded, continuing her climb. Ranma
could only shake his head in sad disbelief.
Several tense minutes later, Mu Lin crested the lip of a
small plateau, and agonizingly pulled herself up onto it. Ranma
circled above her, wishing he could solidify again... even for
a few moments. As he watched her work herself unsteadily to her
feet, he speculated that she may have suffered more than just
broken ribs.
When she finally rose to her feet, Mu Lin cautiously peered
over the edge of the plateau to locate the enemy. When she could
not see all of them, she stepped a bit closer, a move which proved
disastrous. One of the soldiers milling about below them spotted
her, and called out to the others where she was. All in a wave,
they rushed the hillside and began to climb it, each wanting for
himself the honor of catching the killer of their brethren.
Mu Lin gasped, then stepped back and set herself. Breathing
deeply, she again traced out the head of the dragon, and moved her
arms into position to deliver the Fire. Instantly, Ranma knew it
wasn't working properly. The Chi energy barely showed the head of
the Dragon, and when she yelled the casting phrase, she only got a
small, narrow blast that took out two of the advancing soldiers.
She then realized, much to her horror, that she did not have enough
energy left to create even another small Fire. The soldiers seemed
to know it too, as a yell went up among them.
As Ranma watched helplessly, Mu Lin panicked, and began to
back away from the angry mob now pouring over the lip of the plateau.
When her foot slipped at the edge of the flat, she turned quickly to
see that she was inches away from falling.
Suddenly, she became as calm as a quiet summer day. Looking
skyward, she smiled.
"Spirit! I am glad to have known you... Thank you for at
least the chance to have returned to my home," she called out,
happily. "But now, I know what I must do. Goodbye, my Spirit.
Grant me good fortune in your world!"
With that said, she turned and leapt off the plateau.
"NOOOOO!" Ranma screamed, diving toward her plummeting
body with all the speed he could muster. As he got closer, he
could see that she was still smiling happily. Then, just as he
was getting close enough to try grabbing at her, she hit the water
of the Pool with a thunderous impact.

Ranma sat bolt upright on the Futon, scaring the life out
of Akane and Tofu. His eyes were wild, and he was breathing so
rapidly that Tofu thought he'd hyperventilate.
"Ranma! What is it? What happened to you?" Akane
blurted, dropping to her husband's side. Ranma only stared straight
ahead gasping for a few long seconds, then, his eyes closed and a
single tear slowly rolled down his cheek. He turned and looked
into his wife's eyes for a brief moment, then broke down crying.
Akane comforted him as best she could, rubbing his back
gently as he cried into her chest. She shot a worried look at Tofu,
who could only shrug in response. At that moment, Kasumi walked
quietly up behind Tofu, and using hand signals, suggested they leave
Akane and Ranma alone.

The next day, Ranma lay on the roof of the house, still
trying to sort out all that had happened on his little 'voyage'.
He still had not spoken to Akane about it, filled as he was with
regret and remorse for the outcome. Mu Lin's last words rang in
his ears over and over, and just hearing them brought a lump to
his throat.
"Grant me good fortune in your world!" she had said,
little knowing the sad but powerful irony of the statement.
Ranma was so engrossed in his thoughts that he didn't
hear Akane land on the roof a few feet away. Noticing that, she
quietly walked over to him, and stepped into his field of view.
"Hey... remember me?" she quipped, grinning.
"Wha..? Oh, Akane... Kuso, you scared me!" he stammered,
shaking his head.
"I see that... you must have had a rough time... You've
been on another planet since you got back," she continued,
sitting beside him.
"You don't know the half of it," he replied, grimly.
"I've been thinking about it ever since last night. Akane...
I... I'm actually responsible for cursing *myself*... 1500 years
ago," he continued, turning to look directly at her.
"What? How did you do that?" she blurted, stunned.
"I saved Mu Lin - you know, my 'female side' - from being
raped and killed, only to have her dive into the Pool at Jusenkyo
to avoid being recaptured. If I hadn't rescued her in the first
place..." his voice trailed off as he pondered the possibility.
"Ranma... are you sure?" Akane asked, still wide-eyed.
"Hai... no doubt about it. Feh. Ironic, ne? I go back
to learn about her, and end up being the cause of my own curse.
Just my damn luck, isn't it?" he spat, suddenly feeling angry
about the whole affair.
"Ranma... You know you couldn't just stand by and watch
someone get killed, no matter who it was. You'd rush in to save
them without a second thought," Akane remarked, her tone soothing.
Ranma looked back at her, a retort on his lips, but when
he saw her soft face framed by the glow of the late morning sun,
he bit it back quickly.
"You're right, Akane..." he sighed, resignedly. "I'm just
a sucker for a pretty face," he continued, smiling wryly.
"Oh, she was pretty, was she?" Akane responded, her
voice rising.
"Hai... you know *exactly* what she looks like. About
five foot, cute, red hair, chest out to..." he began, but was
cut off by having to avoid Akane's half-hearted attempt to slap
"Oh, shut up Ranma! I guess I was worried for nothing.
I can tell you're still a hentai at heart!" she chided, glaring
at him while she tried to conceal her grin.
Ranma only smiled wickedly at his wife, then sat up
quickly and leaned into her face. "How would you like to find
out just how hentai I really am?" he intoned, grinning
Akane, not expecting that kind of reaction, swallowed
audibly. Ranma took advantage of the moment and kissed her
deeply. When they parted, he held her face gently in his hands,
regarding her lovingly.
"Akane... no matter how hard I try, I just can't stay
depressed when you're around. How do you do that?" he asked
"I just love you," she replied, kissing him passionately.

End - Of Curses and Dragons A Ranama1/2 Fanfic by Coutuva.

Comments Welcome, Flames Extinguished!


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