Dancing

Chapter 1

New Note: This has always been one of my favorite works. Just the style of it, and the fact that so many people have no idea who Lovecraft is. I like the ending, it always gives me chills.

I don't own these characters. I am also writing in a style very similar to that of H.P. Lovecraft. A couple of his ideas are used in this work. Credit where credit is due.

Allow me to commence this narrative with this simple beginning: I have always considered martial arts to be more than a method of fighting. Ever since I was old enough to make the distinction between the two, I have considered what I do to be a variety of dance. The rhythm and music of this oft violent ballet is the earth and sky around me. I have danced through trees and sand, sea and mountains, marshes and plains. I have danced with some of the best partners. I have waltzed with gods, demons, men, and women. I can remember a distinct surprise when I first discovered that others considered what I do to be violent and barbaric. To me it has always been a distinctly ephemeral beauty. A sacrament to nature that I was eager to participate in.

In the wild days of my youth I was supplied ample opportunity to practice my ballet, as I was surrounded by skilled participants. And make use of this opportunity I did. I was continuously an eager participants in these grandly choreographed acts. I found very little joy in much else. Some of my partners considered themselves 'fiancés' or 'rivals' but always to me they were cherished members of a beautiful troupe. So eager was I to fight these people, that I neglected all else. It has been some time now since then, and I have finally devoted attention to other things, as my speech, and plebian academics, but I paid them little heed at that time. Until such time as I was forced to I treated all things in life besides my dance as superfluous and unnecessary.

Until an occurrence of such dread terror that even now, so many years later, so many years past, I am loath to speak it, for there are some things that must never be spoken. This event is one such calamity. Instead I place these horrific events down on the paper in front of me, a dread and horribly insufficient confession. An attempt at achieving a privately shriven soul.

In many cases it is best to start at the beginning. In some instances, it is better to start at the end or the middle. In this particular event, it is best to start before any of the latter.

Before the beginning, or perhaps the beginning of the beginning, had occurred when one fine day in spring. On the before mentioned day, I had been participating in my daily trip to the farce of an educational facility, Furinken. From my lofty perch upon a narrow chain-link fence I matched pace with casual ease the steps of my violence-prone fiancé, Akane, and her particularly covetous sister, Nabiki. The latter two chattered back and forth with the mindlessness of the magpies in the trees around us. I paid their conversation little attention, and instead focused upon my path. Akane had already demonstrated upon me her tender ministrations, and I was confident in the out look of the oncoming day.

Such confidence has oft-times been false, and it was so today. With scarce alarm besides that of a gentle chime lost in the noise generated by the morning commute I was beset upon by a lowborn purple haired foreigner. The implantation of the aforementioned Chinese's bicycle caused me to loose my footing, and end in a painful collision between my face and the ground.

"So so sorry, airen," the abysmally stupid girl sputtered, a barely comprehensible string of semi-literate gibberish. Perhaps such a harsh summation of the girls grammar is hypocritical, as I can remember that my own speech patterns in those days was hardly much better. "Great-grandmother need see you. She say is too too important."

Aided in my trip to the dwelling of the Chinese persons by the blunt object that Akane used to pummel me with, I quickly ascertained the purpose of my summons.

"Son-in-law," the abysmally decrepit woman in front of me called Cologne began, using her loathsome and presumptuous title for me, "I have something important to tell you."

I expressed a desire to know what it was she found so urgent, and she continued. "It is time I tell you something of your power. As you grow stronger and stronger, you will gain more sensitivity to that of the world around you. As a martial artist, it has always been important to train your senses to be alert to all that is around you. But now that it is within your power to manipulate your chi, your very life energy, there is the possibility of being too sensitive. According to the legends of our tribe, there are certain rites which must be performed in order to keep such sensitivity from driving a woman mad."

I question her pertaining to the nature of these rights, and her response draws ice into my veins. I listen with growing horror as she begins to describe the simple procedure used to dull the too extensive capabilities of my perception. The rites themselves were simple in Nature, consisting of certain drawn symbols and chanted words. It was not the rites that drew my unease, but where it was that I had before heard these rites.

In retrospect, I can only imagine how my response to the ancient matriarch must have sounded. My questions became direct and sharp as I probed her deeply about where she had learned these techniques. She was made uncertain by my change in demeanor from amiable to interrogative, and she admitted that the origins of these techniques had been lost in the dim recesses of tribal legend. All she truly knew was that once in every generation, a fighter grows scornful of them, and the end result of the aforementioned arrogance was usually an untimely demise, or a terrible madness.

I left that abode that day in a cold sweat. The ritual she had described had struck a resident chord deep within me, one that I wish never to have been plucked again. I have before read of it in my travels across the world with my father. While the foolish old man had accomplished little for himself on that abominable journey across the darkest regions of this planet besides accumulating innumerable enemies, fiancés, and ill-gotten food for himself, I had much to show in the arena of ancient knowledge. I had visited deathless chinamen across the tumultuous sea, and spoken to them long on ancient secrets that would have me shivering in the inky darkness afterwards. I spied on dark gatherings of degenerate cults while my father laid under the spell of the grapes. I had elderly priests teach me old tongues: Arabic, Greek, an ancient Mesopotamian tongue, and more. It was with these languages that I had read books of such ancient monstrosity, and terrible madness, that I dare not repeat much of what they had spoken of. The rite which Cologne had practiced and attempted to pass on to me was found in one such manuscript: the Necronomicon. This terrible work by the mad Arab had been one of many such daemonic scripts that I had absorbed in the days of my youth. Others such titles have joined this one in the library of my mind, the Pnakotic script, the ancient prophetic cycles of antiquities older than man himself. The Amazonian technique that the withered crone had described had been mentioned in correlation with other rites so terrible and depraved, that the very thought of such performance sickened me to the root of my soul. During the beginning of my travels, I had searched for them eagerly despite my youth. It was only later that my growing maturity began to connect the terrible things described in those abominable creations with reality, and I had wept and vomited openly for days after that dread connection occurred.

The true beginning of the horrific event, which I only now, so many years later, dare mention, began some weeks later. The terror unwittingly forced upon me by the old Amazon had begun to fade, and I had sat through my class with the return of my inevitable boredom. I had earlier called such classes plebian, and with good cause. In English, a sordid language lacking in grace, I could barely comprehend the gibberish my juvenile teacher attempted to spout out, and inevitably I could only degenerate into a comparison of the phonetically nuances between English and some of my more graceful dialects, such as Arabic. And in math. I found such a quaint thing as Euclidian-geometry to fall unutterably short when compared to the cosmic angles and shapes described in some worm-ridden texts I had had the good luck to study. Such angles are exhibit in certain aspects of the universe, and unwittingly called upon by such techniques as Hiryu Shoten Ha and the Bakusai Tenketsu. I spent most of such classes trying to wrap my mind around and comprehend certain aspects of the aforementioned system of cosmic angles, and in doing so ignored the lessons attempted by my instructors.

It had been after such a day that I was graced with the opportunity to dance with one of my partners, a specimen of exceptional skill.

"Ranma, because of you I've seen hell!" Ryoga had shouted. "Prepare to die!" I had always found his introduction challenge to be rather trite, as he had no true conceptualization of real hell. While he had traveled in an infinitely more varied way than I, I had made far greater use of the journey, coming out educated in all manner of eldritch secrets, whereas my quaint rival had received little more than the brunt of the weather.

We proceeded to join together in a spectacular ballet, a glorious exchange of steps and blows. Our exchange ranged across and over the scenery. We danced amongst the roofs, the courtyard, and streets. We danced for what seemed like hours, but in all probability was only a few minutes. Finally, my directionless antagonist and I separated. By now our fight had drawn a varied crowd of students and teachers, rivals and fiancés.

"Ranma, prepare to die! I have developed the ultimate technique," he declared. "Now I will finally be able to defeat you." He finished his arrogant announcement, and settled himself into a properly theatrical ominous stance.

At the beginning, I must admit to some anticipation to his proclaimed technique, as I only saw it as a possibility to enliven the fight, but than he began his technique.

It would seem like very little to the naked and untrained eye, and much of the crowd merely raised their eyebrows at my foes apparent inaction. Several of the more properly attuned members of the audience might have sensed a shifting perhaps from him. I, on the other hand, was treated to the full brunt of the horror of what he had commenced.

I never got a chance to see what the end result of his preparation might have brought. Perhaps another ephemeral projection like the Shi Shi Houkodan. It was the horror of his preparation that drew forth my reaction. He had begun to admit a variety of resonance, a terrible stirring in his self and his surroundings, not unlike the motions in water that a struck tuning fork produces when submerged. A resonance I had observed before, and the horrific results that are destined to follow.

I began to shriek and gibber in terror, backing away from what he was emitting, begging and pleading with him to stop. The audience turned to regard me in frank astonishment. What could possibly scare the unflappable Ranma? The invincible fighter that had crossed fists with Pantyhose Tarou and Saffron without flinching? What could possibly create such a reaction? Ryoga saw my reaction, and I could tell he was startled by it as well. For a moment he began to hesitate, and then I sensed it. Like I had sensed it before. They had taken notice, and were stirring themselves.

"Stop, you fool," I shriek. "Stop what you're doing before you kill us all! Stop for the love of your soul!" My impassioned plea struck something within Ryoga, and he ceased his ghastly resonance. By now all were staring at me, alternately sparing glances at Ryoga as though their scrutiny might reveal the source of my terror. I ignore them, and concentrate on the terrible stirrings instead. They were still distant, and with the quitting of that which had roused them, they slowly stopped their terrifying movement.

Upon the ceasment of their movement, I collapsed on to the ground, a horrific cold sweat drenching my shirt. It was all I could do to stop myself from vomiting. It had been so close. Finally a nameless voice from the audience roused me from my relieved stupor. "Are you alright, Ranma?" one of them asked.

The voice broke the fragile silence that had surrounded the assembly. They all began speaking at once, money changing hands as the sister of my fiancé began to move about. Ryoga began to boast of his besting of me. Hearing his arrogant proclamation of his superiority enflamed me. The blind stupid fool had no idea what he had almost done, what he had almost brought upon himself.

I am up and crossing the distance between the two of us with blurring swiftness. Before, I had been dancing. For what this incompetent had almost done, I was punishing. My blow sends the young man an impossible distance backwards, shattering spectacularly the innocent buildings behind him.

"You useless mite!" I bellow, the adrenaline of my fright still coursing through my body. "Can you even begin to comprehend what you almost did? Can you even begin to realize what you almost did?" Across from me, the bandanna-clad child stood from his crater. The voices around us are once again silent.

"Ranma! For that insult you will die!" he bellowed, and as his rage over came him he charged. While covering the distance between us he become confused and befuddled, and wandered off muttering some pointless gibberish about Okinawa.

When the audience began to question me, I ignored them. I refused their pleading and threatening, and would not elaborate on my reaction to Ryoga's new technique, may its forsaken dreadfulness never be used again. I refused to elaborate, and simple stated that there are some things which must never be elaborated upon.

After noting the unusual stillness in my manner, and whiteness of my features, many gave up on gaining information from me. Two did not. Akane, and her sister Nabiki continued to attempt to force an answer to their questions from me. Both resorted to threats and violence, one upon my body, and the other upon my reputation. When I continued to refuse, Akane finally abandoned her attempts on my person. Nabiki only became more dogged, following me like a hound follows a rabbit in flight, and circling my life like a hound circling a rabbit's hole after it has gone to ground in mortal terror.

The end of these events occurred one week later. I forget the precise nature of my errand, but Nabiki had insisted upon joining me in my trip, so as to continue her ceaseless ministrations. It was in the park, on a path that passed perilously close to a algae infested drainage pond, that Ryoga once more challenged me.

Shouting once more, "Ranma, prepare to die," he commenced his assault. Rather than joining me in a healthy and ultimately safe dance, he instead began once more that eldritch resonance.

I could tell from his mulishly set expressions, the maniacal gleam present in his eyes and denying all sanity, I knew that this time there would be no relief from his damnable foolishness.

Once more I felt a terrible stirring on the edges of my perception. The training I had received in the control of my energies, my chi, has heightened my sensitivity to such things, until it was almost comparable to a second set of sight, one beyond the normal spectrum that humanity can perceive. Where once the stirring had been slow, as though startled by what had roused them, the now moved swiftly and eagerly, as though in dread anticipation of that which had once surprised them. They are upon us in an instant.

Nabiki had abandoned my side, seeking safety from the anticipated battle at the fringes of the silent park. I can only guess at what she could have sensed, with her normal senses. I think that Ryoga sensed them too at the last, though how clearly I wish not to hazard.

I myself could feel them with terrifying vividness.

As I have explained earlier, there are things beyond that which is normally excepted as acceptable reality. Angles which have curious properties that result in creation of fearsome whirlwinds, or have non-Euclidian property. I have seen the depictions of angles which while acute, behave in an obtuse fashion, and curves that warp reality around them, so that it appears as though they are straight, while the world is warped. Also, in times past I have sensed with my superior senses benign creatures that drift through out world and beyond with placid gentleness.

That which descended upon the pitiable fool in front of me were not such creatures. They were things of unfathomable power and malignancy, to say they were horrifying would be as though saying the sun was bright. If they could be compared to anything, they could be described with passing accuracy as amoebic monstrosities embodying glowing nebulas of terrible stars. The stars within them were as part of the horror. I could see them whirling and dancing, aligning themselves in such gruesome shapes of un-cosmic complexity as to almost invite blindness, if I were truly seeing them with my eyes. As they congregated on Ryoga, I could see his eyes widen. I truly hope that he had not been able to sense them fully, for the very sight of the proceeding was enough to twist my gut nauseously. Desperately I tried to focus my attention away from them, anywhere but here, a deeper chill spreading through me.

As I succeeded in driving away my perception, I had a fleeting glimpse of one of them turn its dreadful attention upon me. Even as its brethren performed their ghastly work upon the man in front of me, I felt its nebulous stars arrange into a pattern. An invitation. I knew suddenly that if I were to but shift my perception, to stretch my chi in just the right fashion, it would be possible to bend my existence in such a fashion as to join them.

I desperately sought anything to focus myself upon, and turned my attention outwards, in a desperate attempt to stretch my focus to the limits of my range, to form a dome with all my senses extended beyond the proceedings before me. And there I felt a THING even worse.

It's impossible to describe how it felt to brush that cataclysmic monstrosity. In that terrific instant I knew that while it had no physical shape, it truly existed. It was a prodigious thing, beyond the frail description that even the most carefully chosen words could begin to brush upon. And I knew suddenly that it was dancing. I could almost feel it's movement, and it eerily reminded me of the very same fashion in which I myself danced. Some would consider my dance

destructive and terrible, as some would consider the dance of this tyrannous behemoth to be. But I could feel its freedom and joy as it tumbled amongst distances unimaginable, and frolicked in the empty places between stars…

My consciousness was returned to my physical form by a shock of icy water. I sputter as the brackish liquid struck me, invading my mouth and nostrils for a second. As I brushed the green be-speckled liquid from my eyes I see a terrified Nabiki.

"What the hell happened?" she whispers, her terror mirroring my own.

I can only sputter for a bit, the true enormity of what I had just felt racing through my body belatedly. Finally, all I can coherently produce is, "I warned him…"

As I trailed off Nabiki became enraged by my silence, assuming accurately that I knew more than she did. "What happened? Tell me or I'll tell all that everyone that you killed him," she threatened.

Her threats fall upon my ears like lead, and after a second I respond. "Don't bother," I tell her.

My answer only enrages her more, and she storms off, away from the dojo. Probably to her contacts and friends. I welcome the crystalline silence that her departure brings, and can only sit in a posture blasphemously similar to that I would assume to meditate on more peaceful matters.

Finally, I rouse myself from my imposed contemplation. Above me the stars twinkle in a night sky that I hadn't notice approach, and for a hateful moment I remember what had happened, and I flee to the dojo.

Upon arriving, I am accosted by Nabiki. Where she had left me enraged, she now approached me quivering with repressed fear. Saying not a word, she pulls me close and whispers, "Ranma, what happened? Please?" I answer her with silence. "I met with my contacts, and when I talked to them…" she swallowed, unable to finish what she had been about to say. Kasumi enters the living room across the hallway from where Nabiki and I stand huddled together for confidentiality.

"And when you talked to them?" I prompt in a dead voice, devoid of emotion.

Nabiki hesitates for a moment before straightening and calling out to Kasumi, "Kasumi, are you sure you don't know where Ryoga is?"

The placid housekeeper straightens and smiles vacuously. "I've already told you, little sister," she says, cocking her head to the side in a puzzled fashion. "I've never heard of this Ryoga. Are you sure that's the right name?"

Nabiki turns back to me. "It's as though he never existed," she says worriedly. I show no reaction, my face an expressionless mask, uninterruptible. She looks at me, and I can see the horror grow on her face. "You're not acting surprised. Ranma, has this happened before?"

As I have said earlier: There are some things that must never be spoken. But I am sure that my cryptic silence answered Nabiki's terrified question with more eloquence that I can even now use.

--------

And as I wrote earlier, it has been many years since than, and only now have I gathered together sufficient courage to give an accurate account of these occurrences. But there is more. More I almost dare not write, for I fear the act of putting it into words might be more than I can bare.

At the last moment of the occurrence, after I had desperately rerouted my attention to escape that dreadful and unspeakable invitation, when I brushed up against that cosmically powerful THING I felt it.

I felt the pull that creature had exerted upon my psyche. I had felt It's invitation as well.

Since that day my perception and my Chi have only increased. I can feel those benign placid things almost constantly. I can feel those nebulous amoebic creatures skittering about the fringe of my consciousness, and I know that I dwarf them now. Without trying to extend my perception I can feel that CREATURE, that cosmic force of unimaginable horror pulling at me, and I can remember that instant when the it became clear to me how to abandon my corporeal form.

I still love my dancing. My dancing amongst the rocks, the plants, the cities, and the sands. I still crave the beautiful ballet that I have tumbled through with so many partners: Herb, Saffron, Happosai, Cologne, and even forgotten Ryoga.

And I can only wonder, if I will be able to resist the ultimate temptation.

To dance among the stars.

Author's note.

I had just completed a compilation of Lovecraft's work when this idea struck me.

If you have never read Lovecraft, he is an old horror writer of extreme skill.

If you were to go read some of his work, you might notice the similarities I tried to put in my work to his.