This is a warning to everyone: This story is very dark, and not likely to become bright and happy any time in the near future. Also, this story is not work safe in any way, shape, or form. Herein is a story of mature subject matter, if you don't think you can handle the idea of sex, violence, rape, and other aspects of pain, put this story aside, go elsewhere, and read happier stories.

Disclaimer: All rights of all the characters herein belong to Rumiko Takahashi and the various syndicates that publish her works. I am but a poor writer that doesn't get paid for her work.

Shadowed Edge writing

Presents

Black Dreams Sidestory #1 - Purple Chase

By Shadow Dancer

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Up on the challenge log, I stand proudly, I fight with pride. I also fight with Rai Sor, one of the best swordswomen of our generation. Her scimitars crash against my bonbori, and I grin as I sense the wavering of her determination. I don't mind, it just means that I will win that much faster. Strike, feint, parry, dodge, strike again. I am the best of my generation of warriors, I WILL be champion.

Rai Sor and I trade strikes for what seems like hours, but is surely only a few minutes, and then I see my opening. Strike once, twice, pushing both of her blades aside, away from her body, and my foot flashes up in the empty area, kicking her in the chest. She flips, trying to regain her footing, only to catch the edge of the log, falling off.

Warriors around cheer as I wait for my next opponent, Ku Ten, with her large blocky frame, and her battle staff. I turn to look around the crowd again, then notice people at the victory table. Eating the first prize. Eating what is to be MY first prize.

I don't recognize the people, two males and one female, so they must be outsiders. Well, I can wait to deal with them until after the tournament. Honour first, of course. I then look at the girl closer, and notice that she looks ill. She has an apple in her hand, and from her movements she seems almost afraid of the fruit. Which is silly. Fruit is good, yes? I watch as she chews and swallows a small piece, and her eyes light up as though she was just given the most wonderful gift in the village.

Anger clouds my vision for a second as I realize, the girl had been starving for food. It is most likely the old man's fault. I turn and yell at the stupid outsider, "Hey old man! Stop eating the prize!" I twitch for a second as I realize that Ku Ten yelled the same as me, at the same time. I glance at the girl, as she stands up, but Great-grandmother is talking to her, so that should be fine. I yell again at the man, "Stop eating the prize, if you value your life! Whoever wins the tournament will take care of you."

I look at Ku Ten, and she grins, accepting the idea. Whichever of us wins will kill the man. I intend to win.

The battle is fast and furious, Ku Ten and I trade blows and parries with abandon. Ku Ten has a slight edge in reach against me, with her battle staff and larger body, and she also has a strength advantage. But her advantages aren't as large as she might think. Her muscles are the large ones that speak of much endurance training; while my muscles are the thin, wiry ones that speak of several years worth of speed training. My body hides the muscles very well, while hers are on display to the world. She probably thinks she has a distinct edge over me.

She's wrong.

Her speed is nothing to sneeze at, but I am much faster. I have always been faster, and my technique takes advantage of that fact. The battle takes longer than she was expecting, but not as long as I feared. My arcing high kick sends her stunned to the ground, and the village around cheers for me. I turn to glare at the outsiders again, and I'm just about to yell, when the outsider girl beats me to it. She is yelling at the man...I can't understand her words, but her tone is unmistakeable.

'Stop being a stupid male' is what she's saying. Or at least what I think she's saying. He responds in a reasonable (!) tone of voice, so something doesn't seem right with this picture.

The other man apparently speaks Mandarin, for he calls to me, "Woman say she challenge you for honour and prize, she say you not as good as her!"

Almost am I pushed to attack the girl out of fury, but then I think back. His tone didn't seem right, almost as though his words were covered in oil or grease.

Grandmother talks to the girl, and her reply is quiet, yet emphatic. Great-grandmother then calls up to me, "She fights not to take your honour, Xian Pu, but to keep her own." I stare at Great-grandmother for a second, startled, and she then turns back to the girl and says something to her. Probably telling her not to hold back or something. The look that she shoots at me before urging the girl onto the log makes me think she doesn't want me to hold back either.

The ease with which the red haired girl jumps to the log suggests that she's not one to take lightly. The girl bows from the waist, and holds the bow for a few seconds. What a strange outsider custom. Maybe it means something more than just a greeting? I think, and then bow as well, the accepting of challenge given in honour.

We stand, watching each other, until Great Grandmother calls out, "Begin!" and I charge to the attack. The girl ducks beneath my first strike, slips to the side from my second, and jumps over my third. Either she is very very good and is showing off, or she doesn't want to attack for some reason. Just to test, I strike for her midsection, just as she is landing...and she catches my bonbori with her bare hands. Such strength! I notice the instant of panic and fear, followed by confusion rippling across her face, before she sets herself again.

Sets herself, and drops below my bonbori, striking at my legs. A quick hop overcomes that little attack, thankfully. I look down at her stomach, and then back up at her, and a shrug from her tells me that she doesn't know why she blocked it, rather than dodge. I have a suspicion though.

She starts striking out now, not in desperation, but calm and calculating. I stop each of her three strikes with my bonbori, and she winces momentarily with each block. She jumps up and back, again showing healthy amounts of skill as she doesn't even look at her feet, but lands clean on the curved surface of the log.

I grin at her, and then she rushes forward, striking once, twice. I block with my bonbori, but the blocks push my arms out wide for a split second. No matter...

Wait.

I blink in surprise as I feel her foot against my chest for a second. Not hard, but more than strong enough to send me up into the air. I flip over, set my feet underneath me...only to gape in surprise as I land a full body length past the end of the log...on the ground.

Fury and humiliation clouds my vision as the girl jumps off of the log, and So Pu rushes forward to raise the girl's hand in victory. Then the girl motions me forward. I approach, wondering what else she has planned...until she grabs my arm, and raises it as well, declaring not her victory, but a draw.

She could have taken the victory, and my honour.

But she didn't.

I look down at this girl who, while faint with fatigue, still managed to beat me. And yet even in beating me, she decides that she didn't. I look up, and watch Great-grandmother, and I smile as she recognizes the signs as well.

A hush descends as the village waits to see what I will do. Well then, I shall not disappoint them.

Much.

I lean forward to the now grinning girl, and kiss her firmly on the lips, holding the kiss for a second, maybe two.

Her lips are sweet, like nectar.

I pull back, and watch the surprise bloom in her face, as she touches her lips with her fingers.

Only to be dragged away by the second man, who is shouting something incomprehensible? The first man starts running as well, and then, slowly, the girl gets her feet underneath her as she starts to run. Fear and loss show on her face, as she dashes into the forest.

I stride over to Great-grandmother, asking quietly, "What did he say?"

Great-grandmother looks up at me, and replies, "He says you gave her the kiss of death. Did you?"

I smile softly, dropping to my knees to look Great-grandmother in the eye, "No, I gave her the kiss of life. It is not right to kill one who only protects her child."

Great-grandmother chuckles, "So you noticed it as well, Xian Pu?"

I frown, commenting, "I also noticed that she doesn't know. Who were the men?" I query, making sure I know for certain.

"The large fat man is her father, and the one who speaks Mandarin is the guide of Jusenkyou." Great-grandmother looks at me in curiosity, wondering what is going through my mind.

I decide to enlighten her. It isn't good to keep secrets from family after all, "If the other was the Jusenkyou guide, then she might not be female in truth. I wonder if her father changes at all? I also wonder what her real challenge was." It is a hint that I hope she replies to.

Great-grandmother taps me on the head with her staff, "You need to learn Japanese child, to better communicate with your chosen wife. And her challenge was to her father, not to you. She just wanted to leave in peace, and wanted her father to stop being an idiot. Her father is the one that wanted her to challenge you. What the guide said was false."

I smile grimly, "I thought as much, Great-grandmother. I will take a couple of our Japanese language books when I leave, is that acceptable?" at her nod I continue, "Please have someone watch the guide, I feel he has not finished meddling, and is trying to use us to cover for something he did."

"Very good, Xian Pu. We will look into it, now go watch over your wife." Great grandmother grins, "It seems that fruit helps calm her stomach."

I smile happily at her suggestion, and then run to my house to pack. It will be a long journey.

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I follow my new wife throughout the day, and watch as she and her father leave the one who Great Grandmother believes to be the guide of Jusenkyou at the valley of sorrow itself. The two continue until almost dark, and stop just outside a town. My wife yells something at her father, and the man snaps at her. I watch as she snarls something else, and then starts setting up a tent for herself. My wife's father stands straighter and looks around, as though searching for pursuers. I slip back farther into the brush, and he then starts setting up his own tent, a few yards away from hers.

I wait until the deep breathing tells me both of them are asleep, and then slip into the camp. I place a peeled orange just inside my wife's tent, and then glide silently out again. I place my bedroll in a tree not far away, and fall asleep high up off the ground.

The next morning, I wake just in time to see my wife asking something of her father, with half the orange in her hand. I am ready to go kill the male when he starts trying to take the orange from her. This happens often, apparently, because she manages to keep a fair amount of what is left of the fruit from her gluttonous father.

Shortly after the food battle, my wife and her father are packed up, and running again. I don't think they are panicking, though, because as I follow I only need to fall into an easy lope. Slow enough that it doesn't take much effort to follow, but fast enough that I can't, quite, find the concentration to read the language scrolls as well.

My new wife is apparently accustomed to being chased, as both she and her father chew on trail rations on the run. And even then, her father attempts to steal the food from her mouth. If that MALE does anything to harm her, he's going to be very sorry.

Night falls, and unlike the night before, my wife's father makes no move towards the nearby village, instead setting up his tent without complaint.

Well, at least no complaint as far as I can understand.

Thankfully, tonight they stopped soon enough that I have some light to read the scrolls by. I immediately start my learning with some of the more disgusting words, so that I know what to listen for in their conversations. I stay close enough that I can hear them talk, and the male says two words fairly often. I decide to look for these words tomorrow; maybe one of them is the name of my wife.

For two weeks I follow at a pace that would leave many who aren't warriors behind. I learn that my wife's name is Wild Horse, pronounced 'Ranma'. I also learn that Ranma's father has no consideration for her. I am certain, now, that neither of them know that she is pregnant; or at least, I hope that her father doesn't know. He aims his attacks at her stomach far too often for someone who does know, and cares for the well being of his child.

Then one morning, the beginning of the third week, pops says something that makes my blood boil.

"Ranma, today we are going to deal with that fear you have." He states in an authoritive manner.

"What are you talking about, Pops? I'm not afraid of nothin'" My wife's language is still very coarse. I think my offhand comment to my great grandmother two weeks ago was closer to the mark than I was thinking at the time. Ranma sounds like a boy, and an uneducated one at that. We will have to fix that, and soon.

"Why, your fear of what happened at the brothel, of course. You will go back, and overcome this fear of yours!" Pops declares this, as though it is the most obvious thing in the world.

Wait.

He said...brothel.

Red tints my vision as I realize why my wife is pregnant, and why she doesn't know.

He has been selling her to sex shops, after her change. And she's only been a girl for a short time, so she doesn't know what having sex like that means.

Fury clouds my vision, and I draw my swords. I leap, screaming, upon the male, intent on tearing his heart out and offering it to my wife; offering it to her, to apologize for not saving her from THAT.

I shouldn't have screamed, as he heard me, and now dodges my furious attack as if I were a rank amateur. Fear is in his eyes, though, so he IS afraid, of my swords, if nothing else. I press forward, trying to catch him with my blades... I notice my wife running from the clearing, with her pack hiked up high on her back. That moment of inattention lets Pops grab HIS pack, and he runs away from my furious assault, easily reaching the forest edge before I can reach him.

I growl and swipe at the tree that Pops just dodged around, shearing it in half.

He is gone, with no trace of his leaving, not even a scuffed blade of grass.

I scream my anger to the heavens, being denied my righteous revenge on Ranma's father for his actions. I then set about shredding the offending tree that obscured my vision for that fatal fraction of a second, tearing it to little tiny chunks.

My fury spent, I collapse to my knees, crying. Crying not for myself, but for the pain my wife is going through, and that she doesn't yet understand.

I don't know how long it has taken me to come to my senses from my crying and screaming over my wife's plight. One hour, two...too many, I know THAT much at least. And even after that, it takes me far longer to think of following my wife's tracks than it should. I follow her tracks, and maybe a kilometre away from the clearing; I find HIS tracks paralleling hers again.

For two days, I follow the tracks of my wife at my best speed. For two days, I don't know if I am catching up, or falling behind.

For two days, my wife has not had any of the fruits I pick for her, and tears fall down my cheeks during my run, as I fear for her safety.

During the third day, I finally catch up with them. She isn't looking good, her skin looks pale, and her cheeks have the green tint of nausea. I was right to worry for her, and even the sight of HIM doesn't get past my concern.

I watch them fight over the meal, and though I don't see Ranma eating any of the food she grabs, she is doing her best to defend her food from the gluttonous male. I watch, and then realize, she may not be eating, but she is treating this as training. I watch closer, and marvel slightly at the speed her hands fly in protecting her food. Speed training, and accuracy, I decide, watching her fail to defend piece after piece, but even at this distance I can tell that the failures on her part are intentional.

Pops sits back as the last of the food disappears into his mouth, and he belches contentedly. How disgusting. "You're getting soft, boy! You need to practice more, to defend your food. Ha ha ha." How very rude, my wife may once have been born male, but she is that no longer. To shove that in her face when she most likely can't turn back is utterly cruel. My resolve to turn him into a wall hanging is strengthened, but I know that if I strike now, my wife will only run away again, and possibly fear me.

I will wait. Patience is the strength of the hunter, and the downfall of the prey.