A Midsummer Night's Beauty, Part I
Author's note: This story is a continuation on the Ranma 1/2 anime, including the OVA's and movies. Therefore, keep in mind that anything exclusive to the manga hasn't happened in this story.
Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 is not my idea, it was created by a very talented manga artist named Rumiko Takahashi. The only characters I'll claim are my own original characters that I've added into this story. Just so you know.
With blood continuing to trickle from the wound in his chest, Li had a delighted look on his face as he stared over at Ranma. "I'm curious, how did you manage to learn Yousuke's Tiger Claw in such a short amount of time?"
"Who knows, guess I'm just that good," Ranma said in a cocky tone. "I'm surprised you knew I was tryin' to learn it though. You been spyin' on me this whole time?"
Li chuckled to himself and raised his hands in the air to signify his innocence. "Jynn accidentally let me in on it when he said where you'd gone. Try not to be too upset, he couldn't have known."
Ranma shrugged off Li's response as he took up a fighting stance. "I don't really care, man. Hurry up and take that scythe out so we can finish this already."
"So impatient. Don't you have any appreciation for the moment?" Li smiled. As Ranma had requested, the man with the ponytail removed the scythe from his back and held it out in front of him. "Let's see what you can do, Ranma."
With a loud cry, Li swung his scythe and sent a violet crescent of energy flying toward Ranma. Immediately invoking his Tiger Claw, Ranma's eyes changed into their yellow cat form once again. With his increased awareness he could see the crescent much more clearly than he had in his first encounter with Li. Letting his instincts take over, Ranma's fingers tore through the crescent the instant it came into his attack range.
Li's facial expression turned sour as he saw his crescent destroyed with a mere swipe from Ranma's hand. "This brings back unpleasant memories..."
"What's wrong? Don't tell me that's all ya got..." Ranma taunted.
Deciding to test just how far Ranma could take his new skill, Li unleashed two more crescents at him. Just as quickly as Li had sent them, Ranma tore them apart with two swipes of his hand. Li could see that trying to attack him like this was futile.
"Come on, Li, at least make me use both hands," Ranma laughed, motioning for Li to come at him as he let his Tiger Claw effect wear off.
Insults about his looks were one thing, but Li wasn't used to having his fighting ability called into question and he didn't appreciate it. Starting to become irritated, Li charged toward Ranma with his scythe at his side. He took a sharp swing at the pigtailed boy, but Ranma nimbly jumped into the air and avoided it. Li was about to jump at him, but he stopped when he saw a mass of yellow chi growing quickly in Ranma's palms.
"Now I know I can beat you, Li!" Ranma shouted, sending the mass of chi crashing down to Earth. "Moko Takabisha!"
Li gritted his teeth as the chi blast slammed him down onto his back. He had no idea of Ranma's ability to control his chi so well, otherwise he wouldn't have left himself in such a vulnerable position. Looking up into the sky, he could see that he had no time to relax as Ranma had already formed another chi mass in his hands and was rapidly falling toward him. Li jumped back out of harm's way as Ranma's Moko Takabisha exploded into the ground, but he soon realized Ranma was anticipating his move. Using his chi blast to boost himself forward, Ranma thrust his left leg at Li's ribs. Li barely blocked the kick with the steel handle of Yanlou. Showing his exceptional mid-air combat prowess, Ranma quickly contorted himself to smash his right leg into the side of Li's head, sending him flying to the ground as he landed safely a short distance away.
Li rubbed his hand against his cheek and looked up angrily as he got to his knees. "Moko...Takabisha, was it? You just keep surprising me..."
"Like I care! Just imagine how surprised you'll be when I beat you!" Ranma yelled, letting another mass of chi grow in his hands.
"Interesting. Let's see how it holds up against this!" Li yelled back, sending another energy crescent at him.
With his hands occupied by the Moko Takabisha, Ranma couldn't use his Tiger Claw to shred the incoming crescent. Instead, he let the violet energy slam into the mass of chi in his hands. The impact was enough to knock Ranma's arms back, but more importantly the crescent caused his Moko Takabisha to dissipate into nothing.
"Seems that attack is useless, after all!" Li shouted, sending three more of his energy crescents flying from his scythe as he ran toward his target.
"That's what you think!" Ranma snarled, invoking his Tiger Claw again and ripping through the crescents with his fingers. As he readied to use his Moko Takabisha again, Ranma noticed that the energy in his hands was growing at a much quicker rate than before. "H-huh?!"
Li skidded to a halt as he watched the mass of chi in Ranma's hands rapidly expand to three times the size it had been. "W-what is this...?"
"My Moko Takabisha...did my Tiger Claw make it like this?" Ranma wondered, grinning confidently at the perplexed Li. "Alright! Let's see how ya like this!"
Li swiped his scythe again, sending another crescent hurtling forward, but it was too little to have any effect now. The mass of chi swallowed the crescent up as if it were nothing. With a loud yell, Ranma sent the gigantic Moko Takabisha flying at Li. Mud, dead grass, and small bones scattered into the air as the chi blast tore up everything in its path. Holding his scythe out in front of him, Li cried out as he tried to stop the ferocious attack, but the energy rammed into him and drove him backward with unrelenting force until slamming him into a gigantic boulder that shattered upon impact, burying the dark-haired man in a pile of rocks.
Ranma, who had been knocked off his feet from the sheer force of releasing the super-sized Moko Takabisha, stood up and stared in amazement at the path of torn up ground leading to the mass of rubble where Li was buried. He wouldn't remain standing long, however, as his body began to feel very heavy and caused him to collapse to his knees.
"Guess that was...overdoin' it a little..." Ranma said to himself, breathing heavily. It was only natural that putting so much energy into one blast would wear him out, he figured. He knew it was something he couldn't do too often, otherwise he'd end up passing out in the middle of the battle.
There was a thunderous sound as the pile of rocks exploded outward with Li standing in the center, his arms outstretched and blood streaming down from a cut on his forehead. He was glaring furiously at Ranma, who felt somewhat confused about something he thought he'd just seen. The fact that Li was still in fighting shape wasn't a surprise to him, but he could've sworn that his scythe was colored black for a moment. Taking a closer look, Ranma could see that Yanlou was silver, just as it always had been. Shaking his head, he began to wonder if his eyes were playing tricks on him.
Li stormed out from the rubble and began speeding forward angrily with Yanlou in hand. "Ranma!"
Still reeling from the energy that his last attack had cost him, Ranma quickly got to his feet and stood waiting for Li. Using his Moko Takabisha in this state would do more harm than good, he figured. He would just have to fight Li directly.
Ranma bobbed his head back as Li swung Yanlou at his throat, narrowly missing with the large blade. Li took another swing, but Ranma ducked underneath the scythe and managed to avoid any contact. Invoking his Tiger Claw again, Ranma swiped his fist against Yanlou's handle in an attempt to break the weapon. Sparks shot outward from the collision of his fingers and the scythe's shaft, but Ranma quickly realized the truth of what Yousuke had told him. Not only did Yanlou not break, it wasn't even scratched.
"I can't even break the handle?!" Ranma said, sounding uncharacteristically frustrated. As much energy as he felt running through his hands, he couldn't believe that a mere piece of metal could take a hit from him and still not be damaged. Like both Kirin and Yousuke had eluded to, this scythe wasn't normal by any stretch of the imagination.
Li smirked as he swung his scythe downward, trying to cleave Ranma's body in half. As Ranma tried to jump back, the blade skimmed his cheek and drew it's first taste of blood in the fight. After moving a safe distance from his opponent, Ranma brought his arm against his face and wiped the blood away.
Ranma was about to move in to attack but, to his surprise, Li vanished right before his eyes. Unsure of what was happening, Ranma looked around to his left and right, but there was no sign of Li anywhere. It was only after he spotted a small glimmer out of the corner of his eye that he turned his head and saw Li bearing down on him from behind. With a wicked smile across his face, Li swung his scythe downward. Ranma frantically rolled forward to avoid the blade, but not before it put a small gash in the side of his neck. Spinning around immediately once he got his footing, Ranma groaned from the pain and held his hand against his neck.
Li began laughing as he looked over at his surprised opponent while holding two of his fingers slightly apart in front of him to demonstrate how narrowly Ranma had escaped. "You were this close to losing your head, Ranma..."
Ranma's eyes were open wide after the brush with death. Li had somehow gotten behind him without his noticing, and he had no idea how he'd pulled it off. "There's no way someone could move that fast..."
With Li's confidence growing, he ran forward and began slashing again. Ranma ducked and weaved out of the way of the first two attacks and then used his foot to kick off of the scythe and propel himself into the air when Li slashed a third time. Turning in the air, Ranma swung his foot at Li's head with full force but missed as Li turned his head to avoid the kick. With Ranma hanging in the air, Li swung his foot around and kicked him in the shoulder, knocking him to the ground. Seeing Li's scythe coming down at him from above, Ranma nimbly pushed himself off the ground and out of its range. As the blade of Yanlou struck the Earth, Ranma invoked his Tiger Claw again and quickly took the opportunity to swing forward at Li's unprotected face. Feeling confident that he'd caught Li this time, Ranma was shocked as he once again vanished before he could strike him.
"Again?!" Ranma yelled out, thrown off balance by his missed attack. He then cried out in pain as he suddenly felt something sharp dig into his back. Rolling forward and spinning around to see what had hit him, Ranma found Li smiling down at him again.
"You're lucky that was just one of my crescents, Ranma," Li said with a cold chuckle. "If that were Yanlou digging into your back, the damage would have been much worse. Actually, the next time I catch you, it might just be."
For Ranma, this fight was beginning to become downright dangerous. Li had just gotten behind him again, and he still had no idea how he'd done it. It was clear he wasn't going to get many more chances in this fight. If Li caught him one more time, that could be it. What he needed right now was some kind of plan. Unfortunately for him, Li didn't plan on giving him the time to think of one.
Closing in on Ranma, Li began swinging his scythe at him repeatedly, causing Ranma to jump back again and again as he evaded the deadly weapon. Ranma wasn't sure if it was because of Li or because of his own body beginning to wear down, but Li's slashes seemed to be getting quicker. He needed to think of a new way to attack, and fast. As Li continued his onslaught, Ranma quickly took several leaps back and got into an awkward crouching position. Li cautiously stopped himself from giving chase when Ranma began laughing confidently.
"What are you laughing about?" Li asked him.
"I didn't want to have to use this, but I guess I ain't got no choice," Ranma smiled, crossing his arms in front of him to further confuse his opponent. "Saotome School of Anything-Goes Martial Arts Special Technique...Fast Break!"
Li, who had been expecting Ranma to attack, was left standing with a puzzled look on his face when the pigtailed boy suddenly turned around and began running toward the muddy river in the distance. His confusion quickly turning to anger, Li began to give chase to the nimble Ranma. "Where do you think you're going?!"
Ranma turned around and stuck his tongue out to further entice Li to chase after him as he continued to run toward the river. There was a sound coming from that direction that had caught Ranma's interest earlier. If he'd heard what he thought he'd heard and he made his move just right, he could use it to his advantage, he thought to himself.
His aggravation with Ranma's attempt to escape growing, Li began swinging Yanlou and sending more energy crescents flying at his fleeing opponent. "You can't get away from me, Ranma! You're only wasting your energy!"
Ranma repeatedly ducked and jumped out of harm's way as Li's crescents caught up to him. Keeping a close eye on the violet bursts of energy as he ran, Ranma could see that he was fast approaching the river. But more importantly, Ranma could now tell that the sound of what appeared to be a waterfall was to his right. As he reached the riverbank, he hopped out of the way as one of Li's energy attacks crashed into the ground at his feet. As soon as he touched ground again, Ranma took a sharp right and began running as fast as he could alongside the river. As he expected, Li followed suit and continued his pursuit of him.
Ranma could tell that the waterfall wasn't very far away. Li, still following close behind, was now becoming aware of where Ranma might be headed. What he couldn't figure out was what exactly his motive was. Nonetheless, Li continued to unleash his energy crescents at Ranma as he ran.
As he continued to successfully avoid the crescents, Ranma was now able to see his target in front of him. A short distance away was a noticeable cliff where the flow of water stopped. Ranma wasn't sure just how high the waterfall was, but he could tell that it was probably very large judging by how distant the sound of the crashing water seemed. Once he reached the cliff next to the river, Ranma immediately stopped and spun around to confront Li.
"Nowhere else to run!" Li yelled as he ran over to where Ranma was standing. Reaching back as he neared, Li took a powerful swing with his scythe.
As the scythe's blade came at him, Ranma jumped up into the air, barely avoiding it. Li followed up by sending two energy crescents flying at the airborne Ranma, who ripped them both apart with his Tiger Claw attack. As Ranma began to fall back down to Earth, Li looked up at him with a dark smile across his face.
"It's over, Ranma!" Li yelled out, reaching his scythe back with the intent to slice Ranma in half once he got within reach.
Li swung Yanlou at Ranma's body with incredible force, but Ranma was prepared for it. Twisting his body so that he wouldn't be hit, Ranma avoided the scythe completely and landed directly in front of his opponent. Grabbing hold of Li's forearm as he landed, Ranma heaved him up off of the ground and flung him over the cliff. Li was so surprised at Ranma's ability to avoid his strike that he was caught completely off guard by the surprising move, but as he was falling he flung a thin, metal wire in Ranma's direction. Not expecting Li to have any kind of counter ready, Ranma didn't move his arm in time to keep the wire from wrapping around his wrist. Li smiled joyously as he yanked on the wire with all his might, causing Ranma to lose his balance and fall over the cliff along with him.
"Oh, crap!" Ranma yelled out. It felt like his heart skipped a beat as he and Li began hurtling toward the crashing water below. He didn't get a good look earlier, but he could now see that the cliff was somewhere in the area of 100 feet high. Unable to do anything as he watched a splash shoot up where Li fell into the river, Ranma braced for impact and slammed into the water.
Dazed from hitting at such a high speed, it took Ranma a moment to regain his senses before he began swimming to the surface to get some air. He took a large gasp as his head burst out from the slow-moving river that he now found himself floating down.
"Great, that totally backfired on me..." Ranma said, feeling annoyed as he continued gasping for air. If there was one positive thing, he figured, it was that he didn't have to worry about changing into a girl in this kind of situation anymore.
After taking a few more breaths and calming down a bit, Ranma began swimming to shore so he could figure out what happened to Li. Unfortunately, he didn't make it very far. After swimming for only a couple of seconds, he felt himself being pulled down into the river again. Now completely submerged, he quickly looked down and saw that Li had his hand grasped tightly around his ankle while the other one held onto Yanlou.
With a strong tug, Li pulled Ranma down even further and let go of his ankle. With his arm free, Li wrapped it around Ranma's neck and locked him in a choke from behind in an attempt to drown him. Ranma tried to pry Li's arm off of him, but his grip was too strong to budge. He then tried elbowing him in the chest to get him off of his back, but the blows weren't doing enough damage to hurt him since the water was keeping Ranma from hitting at full force. Beginning to run out of both ideas and oxygen, Ranma again invoked his Tiger Claw. He gave Li another powerful elbow to his abdomen, this one hitting hard enough that Li loosened his hold on him slightly. Managing to spin around with Li's grip loosened, Ranma ferociously swiped his right hand across the length of Li's chest. Bubbles of air escaped from Li's mouth as he cried out in pain from the skin on his chest being torn apart from Ranma's attack. With blood beginning to seep from his wound and mix with the water, he and Ranma both started swimming toward the surface.
Ranma reached the surface first and began gasping for air as Li's head then popped out from the water. About 15 feet away from each other, Ranma and Li both began swimming to the riverbank without so much as a glance toward one another. Once the two of them made it to shore, Ranma could see how much damage his underwater attack had caused.
Still on his knees as he tried to deal with the horrible pain, Li had four deep gashes running from his shoulder all the way down to his waist. His breathing was erratic as he ripped off what was left of his torn up shirt and flung it aside, his chest continuing to bleed profusely.
While Ranma watched Li agonize in pain, he unbuttoned his wet shirt and tossed it aside as well. Fighting shirtless was a lot more comfortable for him than fighting with the soaked shirt on. "Ain't this enough, Li? You can't keep fightin' with a wound that bad. That has to hurt like hell..."
To Ranma's surprise, Li slowly began to make his way to his feet. Raising his head, he scowled at Ranma while his scythe shook uncontrollably in his hand. "You...you think this is bad?! This pain is nothing! You have no idea what pain is!"
Ranma's eyes widened as something inexplicable began to take place before him. The blade of Yanlou was suddenly swallowed up by darkness and changed color from silver to pitch black. It was exactly the same as he thought he'd seen earlier, but it went further this time. The darkness ran down the handle of the scythe, turning the entire weapon black, and then began to move across Li's body. Li's expression was one of intense anger as a strange, black crystal armor began to form on his limbs. The black crystal covered his arms, legs, and torso while still leaving the joints exposed so that Li could move freely.
As the crystal began to envelop his throat, cheeks, and forehead, Li smiled crazily over at Ranma. "You want to know what pain is, Ranma?! I'll show you what pain is!"
Back at the crossroads where Ranma and Shampoo had split up earlier, Ringo was pacing back and forth nervously as she waited for her comrades to return. "Ohh, I'm so worried about them. I wish I knew what was going on..."
"Your worrying isn't going to change anything, so just settle down and wait patiently," Jynn said to her, somewhat annoyed with her inability to sit still.
"I know, but still, they're taking an awfully long time.." Ringo replied.
Although not as nervous as Ringo, Jynn was also curious as to what was going on. He and Ringo had both seen the tornado coming from Shampoo and Meilin's battle site and heard the loud noises coming from where Ranma and Li were fighting, but they had no way of knowing what was going on.
"Someone will show up eventually. We just have to be calm and wait," Jynn said. Much to his irritation, Ringo ignored him and continued pacing back and forth impatiently.
Not far from where they were and unable to run due to the combination of pain from her injuries and her exhaustion, Shampoo was moving as quickly as she could manage down the path that Ranma had taken earlier. Once she reached the top of the hill near the end of the path, she looked down at the clearing with the rock in the middle that Ranma had found Li sitting on earlier. As she surveyed the area, Shampoo saw no sign of either Li or Ranma.
"Where they go?" Shampoo asked herself as she continued looking around, walking along the path until she reached the large rock. As she leaned up against it to take a short rest, she began to notice the torn up earth all along the area between herself and the river off in the distance. Seeing that the battle had likely moved in that direction, she pushed herself away from the rock and began moving toward the river in search of Ranma's fight.
Ranma was speechless as he continued to stare in awe at Li's transformation. With almost his entire body covered in black crystal and a psychotic expression on his face, he looked more like a demon than a human.
Li began to laugh maniacally as he reached behind his head and tore off the band that held his ponytail together, letting his long, dark hair flow freely down past his shoulders. "This feels wonderful! I can't remember the last time I felt so good!"
The calm, collected Li that Ranma was used to seeing was not the same person standing before him. This was surely what Kirin meant by Yanlou awakening, he thought to himself. If that was truly the case, he knew he needed to be extremely careful from this point forward.
Without warning, Li sped forward and slugged Ranma in the face with his right fist. The blow dazed Ranma, who couldn't believe that Li was still able to move so well after the damage he'd just inflicted on him. The crazed Li began swinging his scythe relentlessly, forcing Ranma to duck and weave to avoid being cut into pieces. When Ranma ducked his last swing, Li swung his foot up and kicked him in the chin, knocking him back and to the ground. Getting up as quickly as he could, Ranma shot up and swiped Li's chest with his Tiger Claw again. Small fragments of crystal fell to the ground as Ranma's swipe managed to put four gashes in the armor, but surprisingly he wasn't able to break through it.
"Too bad!" Li screamed, thrusting his scythe downward with a fury.
Ranma screamed in pain as the scythe sliced into his chest. He collapsed to the bone-covered ground writhing in agony as he held his hands against his badly bleeding chest.
Li laughed joyously as he held Yanlou over his head again. "How's that for a wound, Ranma?! Huh?! How's that for pain?!"
In a move of desperation, Ranma shot his hand up from the ground and dug it into Li's unprotected knee. Li's eyes widened as his knee buckled and he fell to a kneeling position, his knee cap shattered by the force of Ranma's Tiger Claw.
"What's this?! Huh?! You think this will stop me?!" Li yelled, still smiling sadistically as he looked down at Ranma. There was no doubt in Ranma's mind anymore about how Li was able to move. For him to not even flinch when his kneecap was shattered had to mean that Yanlou was keeping him from feeling pain.
Ranma grimaced as he slowly made his way to his feet, still trying to overcome the pain in his chest while glaring at Li. "Wake up, will ya?! You're lettin' that thing control you, Li!"
"I know, isn't it great?!" Li replied, laughing. "With Yanlou's power inside me, I'm invincible!"
"Why don't you fight me with your own strength, you coward?!" Ranma snarled back at him.
Li continued laughing hysterically at his wounded opponent. "My own strength?! You've mistaken me for someone with pride! I don't fight and kill for respect, Ranma! I fight and kill...because it's fun!"
Ranma watched as Li stretched one arm out in front of himself and turned the palm of his hand upward. In his palm, a cluster of five spheres of light formed and began to rise into the air. With a quick flick of his wrist, the spheres rose up above him, moved over to the area above Ranma, and then shot apart into five different directions and fell to the ground, leaving small holes where each of them entered the earth. It didn't seem to be an attack, Ranma thought, but he couldn't figure out what other purpose the spheres would serve.
"You look a bit worried, Ranma," Li said with a grin. "Trying to figure out what I just did? I won't keep you waiting then..."
Right before Ranma's eyes, Li vanished once again. "W-what the..?"
Ranma cried out as he again felt an incredibly sharp pain in his back. Still shaking from the rush of pain, he managed to turn around to see what had happened. There, right above where one of the light spheres had fallen, stood Li with that same crazy smile on his face. He'd made another direct hit with one of his energy crescents right into Ranma's upper back.
Before Ranma had time to make a move, Li disappeared once again. Ranma wasn't sure how Li was doing it, but he was starting to catch on. Immediately after Li disappeared again, Ranma began looking around him to see if another attack was coming. Sure enough, as Ranma looked to his right another energy crescent was closing in on him fast. Quickly invoking his Tiger Claw again, Ranma tore through the crescent just before it hit. He barely had time to notice that Li wasn't in the direction that the last crescent had come from when he felt another one slicing into him. Ranma screamed as he felt the crescent hit his lower back this time. Li had sent one at Ranma from one direction, disappeared, and then unleashed another from the opposite direction somehow. Ranma turned around and leered at him again, starting to have some difficulty standing up because of the severe pain in both his chest and back.
"H-how in the hell did you do that?!" Ranma snarled.
"What's wrong?! Did you forget about my Shift technique already, Ranma?!" Li grinned wildly.
"Shift technique?!" Ranma asked in confusion. "But that took so much time to use..."
"Idiot!" Li laughed. "How much time it takes is relative to the distance I need to travel. Here, I've placed transfer points in the ground all around you and I don't have very far to go, so my movement is almost instantaneous."
Ranma was beginning to understand everything now. Those spheres of light were the transfer points he was talking about. When Li was disappearing earlier in their battle, he'd probably placed those spheres in the ground when Ranma wasn't looking.
"My Shift technique can be very useful in battle at times such as these. You should feel honored that you get to see such an invincible form of attack," Li said with a smirk.
"Well, I don't!" Ranma snapped. "Just watch, I'll find a way around your so-called invincible attack!"
Without a word, Li let another five spheres form in his hand and scattered them around Ranma before vanishing again. He began quickly shifting to each point in turn around the pigtailed boy, sending an energy crescent his way at each one. Trying to ignore the pain in his body, Ranma immediately resumed the use of his Tiger Claw and began slicing away at each of the crescents as they reached him. Ranma was turning around in a clockwise motion as he destroyed each of the attacks that was sent his way, but after one revolution Li sent another five spheres out and changed tactics, beginning to shift to the points in a random order. Caught off guard because of his decreasing awareness from the blood loss, Ranma's right thigh was struck directly with one of the crescents. Making an extraordinary effort to keep his focus despite the pain, Ranma reacted swiftly and was able to destroy the rest of the crescents that came after it.
"Not bad, but how long can you keep up?!" Li yelled as he watched Ranma fall to a knee and grab his leg. "All that blood loss can't be good for you! It's only a matter of time before a crescent catches your throat!"
Ranma didn't answer as he stared down Li, his determination evident in his eyes. He'd allowed Li to get in some attacks that slowed him down and put him at a disadvantage, but from seeing him use his attack three times now, he'd picked up on something. Li sent out five spheres every time he used his attack and he only moved to each point once. The number really didn't mean anything, but if he could only use each point once then Ranma could predict where he would appear last, he thought. In other words, once he'd appeared four times, there would only be one place left that he could appear at.
"A-again..." Ranma muttered.
"Excuse me?" Li asked him.
"Do your stupid attack again, jerk!" Ranma yelled at him.
More than willing to inflict further pain on Ranma, Li tossed five more spheres around him and vanished once again. Swinging around as Li appeared at his back as he'd predicted, Ranma destroyed the first crescent and watched Li vanish. He again spun around as Li appeared to his back and right this time and destroyed the second crescent. On the third shift, Li appeared to his left. Again, Ranma successfully slashed through the crescent and turned around. As Li appeared again and sent a fourth crescent flying, Ranma ignored it and rushed toward the only hole in the ground where Li hadn't appeared yet.
With Li's fourth crescent tearing into his left leg, Ranma reached his arm back and slashed at him as he appeared exactly where he'd predicted. "Eat this!"
Unfortunately, Li had caught onto Ranma's attack and was about to counter with his scythe, but something in the distance caught his attention. With a frantic look on his face, Li sent an energy crescent flying to Ranma's right and froze up as he took Ranma's Tiger Claw full force to his shoulder. Li slammed into the wall of the cliff next to the waterfall with a thud as his shoulder bled profusely, leaving a perplexed Ranma wondering what exactly had just happened. It was obvious to him that Li had seen through his attack, so why had he missed him so badly?
"Not this time!" Li yelled, laughing maniacally again as he stared to Ranma's side.
As he turned around to see what Li was looking at, Ranma witnessed a sight that would be burned into his memory forever. There, unmoving and with blood splattered all over her chest, was Shampoo. Ranma's eyes grew wide with disbelief as he realized that Li's stray energy crescent had torn into the area right beneath her throat. With an almost inaudible cry, Shampoo collapsed to the ground as Ranma continued to look on in horror.
"Interesting thing I found out about that Shadow Bind, if she catches someone in it then she can't move for a certain amount of time either!" Li laughed. "I let that crescent go and once she caught me there was nothing she could do! She just stood there and waited for it to slash her! Hahahah!"
Ranma was completely silent as he fell to his knees, staring at Shampoo's bloodied body in shock.
Ringo let out a gasp and stopped pacing as she suddenly felt a sharp pain in her heart.
"What's wrong?" Jynn asked her.
"Ran...ma..." Ringo stammered. "Ranma...he's...in pain..."
"In pain? How would you know?" Jynn asked curiously.
"I-I need to go to him..." Ringo said frantically. She then took off running with all her might toward the base of the waterfall.
"H-hey! Wait a minute! Where do you think you're going?!" Jynn yelled out. "What is with this girl?"
Spurred on by his curiosity, Jynn ran after Ringo to see just what it was that had her so flustered.
"Come on, Ranma, you look so pathetic!" Li said as he continued laughing. "Where's all that fire that you had in you earlier?!"
Ranma didn't say a word, nor did he move an inch.
"That's your problem, Ranma. You're weak because you allow yourself to become attached to people like her," Li said to him. "If you'd have ditched that Amazon girl and focused on training yourself, you wouldn't be in so much pain right now!"
Slowly, Ranma finally began to stand up, still facing away from Li.
"Oh, ready to continue the fight now, are we?!" Li yelled at him. But Li couldn't help feeling a slight pang of fear as Ranma turned around, his eyes glowing yellow and his Tiger Claw in full effect. Ranma's hands were pressed close to each other down near his waist, and Li watched with surprise as an enormous mass of energy began to gather in them.
The energy in Ranma's hands grew so large that it couldn't be contained any longer as Ranma kept Li dead in his sights. "You...you're gonna wish you'd never done that! Shishi Hokodan!"
Out of nowhere, Ranma unleashed a torrential blast of energy at Li, who wasn't prepared at all for such a high level attack. Li cried out as the blast of energy swept him off his feet and smashed him into the wall of rock. Not wasting any time, Ranma charged at blinding speed toward Li, who couldn't break free from his rock imprisonment despite his efforts. As Ranma neared the wall, he reached both of his arms back and began unleashing a flurry of attacks.
"Kachu Tenshin Amaguriken!" Ranma yelled out, striking Li with an endless series of blows all over his body. This wasn't his usual series of punches though. He was using it in combination with his Tiger Claw to dig into Li's chest armor like a pick axe to ice. With shards of Li's armor flying everywhere, Ranma continued punching as if he were possessed, now in a state of blind rage after witnessing what Li had done to Shampoo. Ranma landed nearly five hundred strikes before stopping and jumping back several meters.
For the first time, Li was beginning to sense that he was in serious trouble. Even with Yanlou restricting his pain, he could tell that his body wasn't right after Ranma's torrent of punches. The thick crystal armor on his chest had been reduced to an extremely thin layer compared to what it was before, and Li had a frightened look on his face as he looked up and saw that Ranma once again had a mass of energy forming between his hands.
"Shishi Hokodan!" Ranma screamed out once more as he sent another enormous blast of energy at his enemy. Li yelled loudly as the vicious attack struck him and shattered the wall of rock, driving him even deeper into it. After a couple of seconds, Ranma's energy blast dissipated, leaving Li at the center of a massive crater in the wall.
Li's consciousness was fading, but he was aware enough to see that Ranma was once again rushing toward him to continue his assault. With what strength he had left, he tried desperately to break free of his rock imprisonment.
"I'll never allow myself to be defeated by the likes of you, Ranma! You hear me?!" Li yelled out with all his might. He tried to raise Yanlou up to attack, but his arm simply fell back down to his side. Li looked at Yanlou in disbelief as the crystal armor on his body crumbled to the ground and the scythe's blade changed back to its silver color. "Why, Yanlou?! Why?!"
Li looked forward and watched in terror as Ranma reached back for another attack. His eyes filled with rage and lit with that yellow glow that Li had come to fear, Ranma drove his fist into Li's chest and directly through his heart.
With one strike, all the pain that Li had endured in his life came to an end. For once, he felt like he was free from everything. As his vision faded to black and he thought back on his life, there was one bright memory that stood out in his mind. Of course, he'd made comrades in Meilin and Jynn that he'd traveled with for so long, but he'd also made a true friend at one point. It was a shame things turned out like this, he thought. He would've liked to have seen him just one more time. "Ki...rin..."
As Li's heart beat for the last time, Ranma began to snap out of his rage and realize what he'd done. He began trembling as he looked down at his arm, the front half now sticking out from Li's back. As he removed it, Li's lifeless body remained in the wall of rock, his scythe falling from his hand to the ground. Ranma fell to his knees and slowly raised his blood-covered hand to his face, shaking uncontrollably as he stared at it.
"Wh-what...what've I done?" Ranma said in shock.
There wasn't any time to worry about what he'd just done though. He needed to get to Shampoo, and fast. But as Ranma turned toward where she was and began to stand, he accidentally placed his hand on Yanlou. Feeling something start to enter his body, he immediately grabbed his head and began screaming. Closing his eyes, he picked the scythe up and began swinging it around blindly, sending energy crescents flying everywhere.
"Get...out...of...my...head!" Ranma screamed. As his energy attacks began slicing into the ground and rocks around him, Ranma let out one last cry and vanished into thin air.
"Over here! I know I just heard him!" Ringo yelled out.
As Ringo and Jynn came upon the area that Ranma had just disappeared from, Ringo was horrified at what she saw. She let out a scream as she saw a bloodied Shampoo sprawled out on the ground and ran over to her. "No! Shampoo, say something!"
"What is Shampoo doing over here?" Jynn asked as he surveyed the area some more. Beneath his mask, Jynn's face went pale as he saw Li's body embedded in the cliff next to the waterfall. As he ran over to him, Jynn saw the large amount of blood scattered about and the hole in Li's chest from Ranma's last attack. He dropped to his knees in disbelief as he looked up at his associate's body.
"This can't be real..." Jynn said softly to himself. "Li...how could this have happened...?"
"Jynn, come over here! She's still alive! We need to get her help, now!" Ringo cried out, tears streaming down her face.
Jynn was snapped out of his shock by the familiar voice crying out to him. He was feeling a great deal of grief right now, but he knew there was nothing he could do for Li. "I'll come back and give you a proper burial, I promise!"
Reluctantly leaving Li's body behind, Jynn ran over to where Ringo and Shampoo were and used his Shift technique to take them elsewhere. Once the three of them had vanished, all that remained of the battle were the torn up ground, shattered rocks, blood stains, and the body of the exiled member of the Seven Lucky Gods Martial Artists, the warrior known as Li.
End of Chapter 11