A Midsummer Night's Beauty, Part I
by rkOujirou

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.

Chapter 13

Ignoring Happosai's persistent pleas to hurry up, Ryoga slowly descended the snowy hill and leaned up against the wall of rock next to the cave's entrance. He had a really bad feeling about this, and the fact that Happosai wouldn't tell him anything more made it that much worse. If anything, he figured there might be someone dangerous living with the girl in this cave. Still, he kept telling himself over and over in his mind that this was all for the sake of defeating Ranma. Being extremely cautious, he leaned over and peeked into the cave's entrance.

"Come on! Hurry up, will ya?!" Happosai yelled from atop the hill.

A startled Ryoga jerked his head back and put a finger to his mouth to signal the old lecher to be quiet. The last thing he needed was Happosai alerting the cave's occupants to his presence.

Once he was convinced that nobody had heard the old man's yelling, Ryoga again peeked inside the entrance. There was a small tunnel that stretched for a couple yards leading into what looked to be an open area. He could also see the flickering of candles inside as he scoped out the dimly lit space.

Trying to make as little noise as possible, Ryoga got down on his hands and knees and began crawling forth into the rocky cavern. When he leaned forward to look into the open space, he saw several lit candles and a number of other items, including a pile of blankets, a sack of rice, a pot on top of some wood, a barrel, and some items of clothing scattered across the ground. Among those clothes on the ground, he could plainly see a white pair of panties. One thing he didn't see, or hear for that matter, was a person.

Maybe this was his lucky day, Ryoga thought to himself. He could simply run in, grab the undergarments, and run back to where Happosai was waiting without any trouble whatsoever.

"Heh, piece of cake," Ryoga said, smiling as he stood up and walked into the cave. Unfortunately for him, his luck proved to be about as good as it always had been. He immediately froze up when he saw what looked like a machete being held at his throat. From his left side, a woman who'd been hiding against the inner wall of the cave stepped before him. She had a deadly glare in her eyes as she pressed the sword against Ryoga's neck.

"Who are you?" she asked in Mandarin.

"Umm...s-sorry, but I don't understand you..." Ryoga said nervously. Happosai could've told him this woman had a machete with her, he thought. Looking her over, he could tell that she wasn't normal. It was frigid inside the cave, yet she was wearing just a black tank top, shorts, and sandals. Her hair was completely white and ran down past her shoulders with bangs covering her forehead. But what Ryoga noticed the most about her were what looked like burn scars on her lower cheek and throat.

"A Japanese man?" she asked, switching to Ryoga's native tongue. "Okay then. Who are you and what do you want?"

Ryoga began laughing nervously as he started to back away from the woman. "Actually, I was just looking for a place to warm up for a while. I didn't know someone was living here though, so I'll just be going now..."

"Liar," the woman said without hesitation, pointing her sword at him. "You looked in and saw the candles, yet you still came in here."

This was one of those times that Ryoga wished he was better at lying. Still, he wanted to get out of this situation without getting physical. He never felt good about fighting girls, and it would be even worse since he was the bad guy in this case.

Folding his hands in front of him, he got down on his knees and began pleading with the woman. "You're right! I'm sorry! The truth is...I need a favor from you, umm...?"

"Meilin," she said, looking increasingly agitated. "This had better be good."

Somehow her name made Ryoga curious about something he'd once heard, but now wasn't the right time to think about it. "Then, I know it's a lot to ask, but...please, let me borrow a pair of your panties!"

Ryoga wasn't sure how Meilin would deal with his honest approach, and it wouldn't have surprised him if she'd attacked him right then and there, but he was surprised to see that she'd instead calmly lowered her sword to her side.

"Is that it?" Meilin asked, taking a deep breath as she walked over to the pile of clothes on the ground. "Sure, it's no problem."

Ryoga blinked a few times, wondering if he'd heard her right. "You...you mean it?"

"Of course," Meilin replied with a smile.

As she slowly turned around, however, the calm look on Meilin's face turned to an angry scowl. Raising her sword in the air, she shot him a look of absolute rage. "As if, you pervert!"

Ryoga's eyes widened as Meilin brought her arm down and the sword began extending out toward him. He barely had time to move his head before one of the sword's segments flew by him, grazing his cheek. When he turned around and saw the blades swinging back toward him, Ryoga quickly ducked. Luckily, the sword only hit the ushanka on his head, knocking it to the ground before folding back up in the hands of Meilin.

"S-sorry about all this!" Ryoga cried, getting to his feet and making a mad dash for the cave's entrance. He'd seen enough of Meilin's serpent sword to know that hanging around here and pressing the issue about her panties was a very bad idea.

"You think I'll let you go?!" Meilin yelled.

While Meilin raised her sword above her head once more, Ryoga jammed his finger into the rock above the entrance. "Bakusai Tenketsu!"

The wall of the rocky cliff crumbled down into the cave's entrance, completely closing Meilin inside while Ryoga escaped up the snowy hill.

Inside the cave, Meilin covered her head to protect herself from any falling rocks, but the damage was limited only to the cave's entrance. Lowering her sword to her side again, she narrowed her eyes as she stared at the pile of rocks blocking her path. "The pervert knows some tricks..."

Taking notice of the hat she'd knocked off of Ryoga's head, Meilin walked over and picked the ushanka up off of the ground. Dusting the hat off, she began to look it over, admiring the quality of the fur-covered item. "This is pretty nice..."

Outside, Happosai was jumping around excitedly while he watched his errand boy run up the hill. "Oh boy, oh boy! Did you get them?! Well?! Did you?!"

Once he reached the top of the hill, Ryoga, panting as he tried to catch his breath, slammed his fist into Happosai's skull and knocked him to the ground. "If you're sending me into a cave with a woman that has a sword like that, tell me beforehand!"

"Oww! Why'd you hit me?!" Happosai said angrily as he hopped to his feet.

"She tried to kill me, Gramps!" Ryoga snarled at him, pointing to the blood trickling from his cheek.

"Of course she did!" Happosai replied. "That's why I haven't gotten her sweet panties yet! Why is she so mean to me?! Why?!"

Ryoga smacked Happosai in the head again, knocking him on his back. "Then forget about it and go look for Ranma! It's just a stupid pair of panties!"

Happosai angrily shot up and smacked Ryoga in the nose with his pipe. "Never! The amount of work put into this will only make it sweeter when I finally get my hands on those little darlings!"

When Ryoga reached his hand up to rub his nose, he realized that something was missing from before. "My hat...no! It got knocked off in the cave! Argh! I really liked that thing too...!"

"Get over it!" Happosai told him, peeking over the hilltop and staring down at Meilin's cave. "We'll have to change plans here. Listen, kid, once she unblocks the entrance, you're gonna go in there as a pig. Got it?"

"As a pig?!" Ryoga asked in disbelief. "What if she feels like eating me?! I'll be completely defenseless!"

"Don't worry about it, I'll have your back!" Happosai assured him. "If anything happens, I'll swoop in there and save you! That is...unless you really don't want to learn my Happo Solar Flare..."

A frustrated Ryoga picked Happosai up by the back of his clothing and stared him in the face. "This is the last try! Understand?!"

Happosai happily nodded at Ryoga's acceptance of the plan. "No worries, it's sure to work this time!"

Ryoga felt uneasy as he set the old man back down on the ground. Going in there as a human was bad enough, but going in as a pig was ludicrous. Happosai's guarantee of assistance didn't exactly make him feel better either. Still, with his speed as a pig, it was possible that he could escape on his own should something go wrong.

"This is...for the sake of defeating Ranma," he told himself again, gritting his teeth together as he stared down at the cave.

By the time Meilin had unblocked the entrance, nightfall had come. After waiting and observing for a couple of hours, Happosai carefully descended the hill toward the cave with Ryoga, now in his black piglet form, perched atop his head.

Once they reached the wall of rock, Happosai peeked into the entrance to make sure Meilin wasn't aware of their presence before he began whispering to the piglet. "It's clear, now run in there and grab those panties!"

Mustering up his courage, Ryoga hopped down from the old man's head and cautiously moved in far enough that he could view the entire cave. Peeking his head inside, he saw that Meilin was wrapped up in the pile of blankets on the ground and had her head facing away from the entrance.

This was perfect, Ryoga thought to himself. Meilin was asleep, and that pair of panties was still with the pile of clothes he'd seen earlier. Still, he didn't want to risk waking her up, so he couldn't rush this. Ever so slowly, the black piglet began tiptoeing it's way to the clothing pile. He didn't take his eyes off of the sleeping woman once while he quietly moved closer to the target.

By the time he'd reached the panties, Ryoga had beads of sweat rolling down from his face. This was nerve wracking for him, but it was almost over. All he had to do was grab the undergarments and get out of that cave as quickly as possible. But when he bent his head down to grab the waistband of his objective between his teeth, Ryoga was terrified as the tip of Meilin's snake sword breezed past his snout and embedded itself into the wall next to him.

Ryoga let out a loud squeal as the white-haired woman jumped out from her makeshift bed. "The pervert again?!"

Outside the cave, Happosai shuddered when he heard Ryoga's squeal. Folding his hands in front of himself, he closed his eyes and said a silent prayer for the boy before running back toward his hut. "Your sacrifice won't be forgotten, Ryoga! I swear, I'll get those little darlings in your memory!"

Inside the cave, Meilin was staring at the terrified swine with a somewhat confused look on her face. "A piglet?"

Finally coming to his senses, Ryoga turned and began dashing for the entrance, but Meilin swooped in like a hawk and picked him up by the bandana around his neck.

"Hmm...you'd probably make a nice meal," Meilin said as she studied him over.

Ryoga began squirming frantically at the mention of being eaten, trying to free himself from Meilin's grasp. He knew he couldn't count on Happosai to back him up. If he managed to survive this, he thought, he was going to kill the old lecher.

To his surprise though, a smile crossed Meilin's face and she began giggling to herself. "Relax, I'm not going to eat you. If I were normal I might, but I can't eat anything but rice and pickled vegetables."

Ryoga blinked a few times as he began to calm down. Was he actually safe, he wondered?

"You were probably just trying to get warm, weren't you?" she said, nuzzling her nose against the piglet's snout. "Wait, why am I talking to a pig? I must really be losing it..."

An embarrassed Ryoga blushed when Meilin squeezed him against her chest and laid back down in her bed, wrapping the two of them in blankets.

"How's that? Nice and comfy?" she asked, running her finger across the piglet's forehead.

Ryoga made a snorting noise in response, which Meilin took as a yes. The directionally challenged boy didn't know what to make of this situation. This woman wanted to kill him as a human, but she was actually being kind to him as a pig.

"Sorry if this is a little too much, piggy, but I've been a bit lonely lately. I didn't always used to be by myself..." Meilin said, staring blankly at the cavern wall while she played with the piglet's ear. "I used to travel with a guy wherever I went. It was never anything romantic, we'd just known each other for most of our lives."

The piglet in Meilin's hands made a slight squealing noise when he saw a tear run down her cheek and fall to the ground.

"Then...he was killed," she said, wiping her face. "I...I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised about it. That was the kind of life we led. He just never thought he'd run into anyone better than he was..."

Meilin looked down at the piglet as she brought her hands to the burn scar on her cheek. "This happened on the same day he died. I got burned badly and couldn't get it treated right away, so the burns got infected. That's why I'll have these scars for the rest of my life. They probably make me look hideous, don't they?"

Ryoga emphatically shook his head, trying to comfort her. This woman really did have a gentle side, he thought to himself. Seeing her like this had almost made him forget about what happened earlier.

Meilin giggled as she held the piglet up in the air above her. "What's this? It's almost like you understand what I'm saying."

Seemingly in higher spirits now, Meilin held Ryoga to her chest and closed her eyes. "Thank you. It's nice to have company for a change, even if it is just a pig."

Ryoga hadn't completely forgotten what he'd come here for, but it wasn't at the forefront of his mind at the moment. This sort of comfort was something that only Akane had ever given him, and he hadn't experienced it since he left Japan five months ago.

Wrapped in the warmth of Meilin's embrace, Ryoga eventually closed his eyes and fell into a deep slumber.

The next morning, Ryoga's eyes fluttered open to find that the cave was now brightened by daylight. As he became more aware of his surroundings, he found himself still loosely in the grip of the sleeping white-haired woman. He'd never intended to fall asleep next to her, but somehow things just turned out that way.

Wriggling free of Meilin's grasp, Ryoga took a moment to look at her peacefully sleeping face. In a way, she was a lot like him, he thought. She acted tough and was quick to get violent with anyone that intruded on her, but she was also human. She got lonely. As much as he understood her situation, Ryoga also knew how dangerous it could be for him if she found out the truth about the piglet she'd let stay with her. He knew he had to go before she awakened.

Silently apologizing to her, Ryoga trotted over to the pile of clothing on the ground, grabbed the waistband of the white pair of panties between his teeth, and took off running from the cave.

Meanwhile, Happosai, who'd gotten a very peaceful night's sleep considering what he thought had happened to Ryoga, had just hopped in a tub of water he'd heated up and was taking a bath.

"That's really too bad about Ryoga," Happosai murmured while he scrubbed his head. "Oh well, no use thinking about it. He should be glad he got to die at the hands of a pretty lady like that..."

Happosai let out a startled cry when a familiar black piglet burst through the side of his hut and came to a halt next to his tub. "R-Ryoga! You're alive! I-I mean, right, I knew you'd be fine..."

Dropping the object he'd been carrying to the floor, Ryoga hopped into the tub and shot out from the water in his human form. Seething with anger, he grabbed Happosai by the neck and began strangling him. "You didn't back me up at all, damn you!"

Happosai took a deep breath as Ryoga reluctantly let go of him. "You...you didn't need my help anyway...! Just think of it as training..."

"Training, my ass!" Ryoga snapped, slamming his fist into Happosai's cranium before picking the white panties up off the floor. "Here, this is what you wanted, right?"

The old pervert's eyes glimmered with joy as he looked at the undergarments in Ryoga's hand. "Are...are those...hers?"

"That's right," Ryoga replied.

"Oh, happy day!" Happosai exclaimed gleefully, swiping the panties and grasping them against his chest. "You're the greatest disciple I've ever had, Ryoga! I knew you could do it!"

"I'm not your disciple, Gramps!" Ryoga snarled. "Now you're going to teach me that solar technique, right?"

Happosai seemed confused for a moment before shooting Ryoga a defiant look. "Forget it! That's way too dangerous in the hands of an amateur like you!"

Aggravated by the response, Ryoga tried to swipe at the old man, but he jumped back and out of reach. "Do you have any idea what I had to go through to get those?! You'd better not back out on our deal now!"

"Hah, I've already got what I want! I don't have to teach you anything!" Happosai replied, sticking his tongue out at him. "Now leave me be, I've got some business to attend to!"

After all the effort he'd put into stealing Meilin's panties, Ryoga had hoped that this would go smoother, but he wasn't exactly shocked to see Happosai back out of their agreement. Thankfully, he knew a thing or two about motivating the old lecher. "You know, Gramps, I saw another pair of panties in that cave..."

Happosai, who'd slipped back into his clothes and was about ready to leave, stopped in his tracks after hearing the claim.

Ryoga smirked and continued on, knowing he'd caught the old man's attention. "They were a lot more detailed than that pair I just brought you. The design, the frills...honestly, I've never seen anything like them."

Taking a loud gulp, Happosai turned his head and stared into Ryoga's eyes. "What...what color were they...?"

"What color were they?" Ryoga asked, drawing out the answer to further entice him. "Let's see...oh, that's right. They were red."

With an image of Meilin wearing the said panties fresh in his mind, Happosai had reached his breaking point. He immediately clasped onto Ryoga's arm and began weeping. "Ryoga! You have to get them for me! Please, I'll do anything!"

"It's real simple, Gramps," Ryoga said, pulling Happosai off of him and dropping him to the ground. "Teach me that technique, then I get you those panties. Deal?"

"Fine! Deal! Get dressed and get outside, now!" Happosai said emphatically.

Considering how much resistance the old man had put up about teaching him his technique, Ryoga couldn't believe how willing he became at the very mention of the red panties. Of course, there really wasn't such a thing, but Happosai didn't need to know that. An eye for an eye, and a lie for a lie, he figured.

After getting dressed, Ryoga followed Happosai outside and to the back of his hut.

"Now listen to me," Happosai said after instructing Ryoga to sit down, "the Happo Solar Flare is not a toy! If you shoot it directly at somebody, you could kill them! It's that destructive! Also, it only works when the sun's out! Got it?!"

Ryoga recalled how Happosai had shot the ball of energy at the ground the first time he'd seen him use it, rather than shooting it directly at the mob that had been chasing him. "Fine, I get it. How's it work?"

Happosai raised his finger into the sky and pointed toward the sun. "Using that! Get a good look at it!"

Ryoga stared at the sun for a few seconds before he had to close his eyes, unable to bear the brightness anymore.

"You got it? Then close your eyes and hold your hand out, palm facing upward," Happosai told him. "After that, you need to picture that fiery ball in your mind!"

Doing as instructed, Ryoga took a deep breath and closed his eyes before picturing the sun in his eyes. "What now?"

"You feel that heat coming down from there? It's a lot easier to notice when it's cold out here like it is now. That's solar energy, kid, and that's what you're gonna use," Happosai told him. "It's a good thing you learned that Shishi Hokodan, because you need good control of your chi energy for this. The first thing you want to do is focus a small amount of chi in that open palm of yours. Do it."

Happosai could see Ryoga's facial muscles tightening up as he tried to focus his energy. "You're too tense! Relax!"

"I know! I'm just...not used to this," Ryoga replied impatiently. It took him a little time, but eventually a small sphere of chi energy grew in his palm.

"Good, now comes the hard part. You need to use your chi to draw in that energy coming from the sun," Happosai said to him. "It needs to be a perfect balance of your own energy and the sun's energy though, otherwise it won't work. So while you draw in that solar energy, you need to keep pumping an equal amount of your own into that sphere in your hand. Go ahead, give it a try."

The concept was simple enough, but Ryoga quickly realized that the practice was anything but simple. Only a second after he began focusing on the solar energy, the sphere in his hand became unstable and popped. "H-hey...why didn't it work?"

Happosai smacked him on the head with his pipe. "Because you weren't adding enough of your own chi energy, numbskull! Now try again."

Ryoga slowly went through the process in his mind again, but the result wasn't any different. Again the energy sphere in his palm dissipated after only a second.

"Not so easy, is it?" the old man asked him. "This isn't something you'll learn right away, Ryoga. You need to practice it a lot."

"Yeah, you're not kidding," Ryoga said, staring intently at his palm. "I'm going to master it though! If I just do that...I can beat Ranma!"

"Good! Glad to see you're optimistic!" Happosai replied. "So, since I taught you how to to do the Happo Solar Flare, you're gonna go get me those precious red undies now, right?"

Ryoga was so enveloped in thinking about the technique that he'd forgotten what he promised the old man. "Oh, right, those. I'll get them for you once I master this."

Happosai's demeanor quickly changed to one of sadness and disappointment at the response. "What?! But...but...that could take forever! That's just cruel!"

"Deal with it, Gramps!" Ryoga snapped at him. He really hoped that it wouldn't take him forever to get the Happo Solar Flare down, but he had a feeling that getting this technique to work could be more complex than he thought.

Three days into his attempts to master Happosai's technique, Ryoga was beginning to feel exhausted. A warm front had come through and melted most of the snow on the ground, but the change in weather hadn't helped Ryoga's training any. Trying to balance the amounts of solar energy and his chi energy that he put into the technique was proving to be as much of a challenge as he'd feared, and despite his best efforts, which were enough to leave minor burns on his palm, he hadn't improved much from when he began training.

"Ryoga! Have you mastered it yet?!" Happosai asked him impatiently from his perch atop the hut.

Ryoga watched as another sphere of energy popped in his palm due to the interruption. "No, I haven't, and you're not helping!"

"Augh! How long are you gonna make me wait?!" Happosai complained. "Fine! I'm going on a supply run!"

While Happosai headed off to the nearby village, no doubt to loot from the food stands, Ryoga continued to focus on the energy in his hand. He was determined to get this technique down as soon as possible. The quicker he mastered it, the quicker he could get back to looking for Ranma.

"Here piggy, piggy, piggy!"

Ryoga's eyes opened wide as another attempt at the Happo Solar Flare dissipated in his hand. He tried to ignore the yelling in the distance and focus on the task at hand, but it persisted.

"Piggy! Where are you?!"

Aggravated by the calls, Ryoga spun his head and looked toward the direction of the source. "I'm not a pig...!"

When he walked to the top of the hill and peeked his head over it, he looked down and saw Meilin standing outside the entrance to her cave.

"Her again?" Ryoga said to himself, grabbing his head. "Please, just forget about the pig..."

Apparently convinced that the little black piglet wasn't coming, Meilin turned around and walked back into the cave. Ryoga could tell that she missed the little piglet, but he didn't want her to get too attached to it. Once he mastered the Happo Solar Flare, he'd be leaving in search of Ranma again.

After he sat back down and continued with his training, however, he found it difficult to concentrate. Minutes passed by, and then eventually an hour passed, and he simply couldn't focus. He knew what it felt like to be lonely, and knowing that the girl in that cave was feeling that way right now made him feel badly for her.

"Maybe...just a few hours would be fine," Ryoga finally decided. He wasn't having much luck with his technique at the moment anyway.

After changing to his pig form, he quickly trotted down the hill and into the cave to see the white-haired woman. Making a snorting noise to announce his arrival, Ryoga immediately noticed that there was a barrel with a fire lit underneath it and steam rising out.

"Ah! You came back!" Meilin said happily, sticking her head out from behind the barrel. "Wait just a minute, I'll be right there."

Sitting down while he waited for her to finish whatever she was doing, Ryoga stared over at the barrel. Was she cooking dinner, he wondered?

"Okay, all set!" Meilin said as she walked out from behind it.

The piglet immediately turned red and froze up with embarrassment when he saw her. Much to his shock, she was completely nude from head to toe.

"You're lucky, I was just about to take a nice, hot bath. Now you can join me," Meilin smiled, picking the piglet up and squeezing it between her breasts.

Unable to bear the situation, a stream of blood shot out from the pig's nostrils, drawing a perplexed look from the woman holding it.

"Is...that a nosebleed?" Meilin asked, laughing as she looked down at the piglet. "Since when do pigs get embarrassed about seeing human girls naked? You're such an odd thing."

It was only after Meilin had hopped in the barrel that Ryoga began to realize the horrific danger of his situation. She was about to dip him in hot water. Trying to put his embarrassment in the back of his mind, he let out a loud squeal and frantically tried to squirm free of her grasp.

"Hey, now, it's not that hot," Meilin joked. "Don't worry I won't let you drown. In you go, you naughty piggy."

Ryoga nearly had a heart attack when he felt his body being enveloped by the hot water. He could only look forward in horror as he changed back to his human form and shot out from the water, finding himself staring directly into the eyes of the white-haired woman.

Meilin could only stare ahead blankly, completely in shock about what she'd just witnessed. She'd just dipped her little piglet in the hot water, and now Ryoga's naked body was pressed up against her own in the small barrel.

Panicking, Ryoga covered his eyes with one hand and used his other hand to stop the blood running from his nose. "I-I'm sorry! I can explain this...!"

Slowly, Meilin's initial shock turned to anger and embarrassment as she glared forward at him. "So...that's how it is. I was wondering why my underwear went missing after the pig disappeared. That whole time...the little piglet...was you!"

One powerful strike from Meilin's fist sent Ryoga flying out of the barrel and into a wall. Not at all interested in seeing what she would do next, he immediately ran out of the cave and began dashing naked up the hill toward Happosai's hut. Luckily for him, most of the snow had melted over the past few days. Otherwise, it would've been obvious to Meilin which way he'd run.

Seething with rage, Meilin hopped out of the barrel and began getting dressed. "This...this is unforgivable! I'll kill him!"

Once Ryoga reached the hut, he immediately got dressed and began slamming his fists through the floor. "That...was...so...stupid! Stupid, stupid, stupid! I can't believe how stupid I am!"

Upon seeing the door to the hut suddenly swing open, he initially froze up with terror, thinking that Meilin had already found him. However, that turned out to not be the case.

"Woohoo! What a haul! What a haul!" Happosai exclaimed, bounding into the hut with a sack tied behind his back as he shut the door behind him. He immediately noticed the holes that Ryoga had just put in his floor. "Hey! What gives with tearing up my house?!"

Finally able to exhale, Ryoga let out a sigh of relief. He was safe, at least for now. Still, he thought, Meilin would be on the prowl for him now, and Happosai had already taught him how to do the Happo Solar Flare. With things as they were, it might be best if he left and trained elsewhere.

At the nearby village, Meilin ran through the streets with a blanket tied around her like a cloak to conceal her face. She knew Ryoga had to be somewhere nearby, and this was as good a place as any to look for the pervert. "When I find him...he's dead!"

She was about to turn a corner and begin looking in another direction when something on the village's bulletin board caught her eye. Upon closer inspection, she saw that one of the notices on the board had a familiar likeness on it. "Kirin...?"

After skimming over the notice, Meilin tore it off of the board and began reading it more thoroughly. "This is..."

"Hey, we found those thieves!"

"That old man and the kid with the bandana?!"

"Yeah! Get everyone together! Hurry!"

When she heard the villagers talking nearby, Meilin took her eyes off of the paper in her hands and looked back at them. "A kid with a bandana, huh..."

Back at Happosai's hut, Ryoga was gathering all of his belongings and stuffing them into his backpack.

"What're you up to?" Happosai said, stuffing a large piece of meat into his mouth.

"I can't concentrate here. I need to go," Ryoga replied.

Happosai nearly spat his food all over the floor at the response. "What?! Hey, you still have to get me those red panties!"

"There never were any red panties, Gramps! That was a lie!" Ryoga said to him.

"Are you kidding me?! How dare you lie to me like that!" Happosai said angrily. "If you think you're leaving, you-"

Happosai and Ryoga both stopped when they heard a ruckus outside. They turned and looked at each other as the sound of numerous voices grew louder.

"Looks like they finally found me," Happosai gulped. "Come on, kid, we've gotta take care of them!"

"Why do I have to help?! You're the one that's been stealing from them!" Ryoga yelled.

"You lied to me about those panties! You're obligated to help with this!" Happosai told him. "Now come on!"

Grumbling under his breath, Ryoga slipped on his backpack and followed Happosai outside where around thirty men with various weapons were waiting. Most of them had farming tools, but some had swords with them. Normally, this was a situation that Happosai could handle, but that was only when he was willing.

Patting Ryoga on the back, Happosai hopped onto the roof of the hut and began running away from the commotion. "I'll leave this to you, kid!"

"What?! You little coward, get back here!" Ryoga yelled, but he quickly had to draw his umbrella from his back to block one of the villagers from hitting him with a garden hoe. "Damn...!"

Luckily for Happosai, the villagers seemed content with taking out their frustrations on the boy with the bandana. While he ran from the scene, however, he suddenly came to a halt as something in the air caught his attention. "Wait! This scent..."

"This is for everything you've stolen from us!" one villager yelled in Mandarin at Ryoga.

All at once, everyone charged toward him. If Ryoga wanted to survive this, he needed to do some mob control. Reaching his arm back, he leaned forward and jammed his finger into the ground in front of him. "Bakusai Tenketsu!"

While the villagers shielded themselves from the storm of rocks and dirt that flew into the air, Ryoga began knocking them out one at a time. He took five of them out with punches, kicks, and umbrella strikes before everyone began throwing weapons at him.

Opening up his umbrella, Ryoga jumped back and held it out in front of him to protect himself from the projectiles. "I don't have a reason to fight you people, but I've got something I need to do! If you keep coming at me, you're going to get hurt!"

Ryoga's eyes widened with surprise when he saw several of the villagers at the back of the mob begin flying into the air.

"Hey, who are you?!"

"Wh-who is this?! She's some kind of monster!"

As the remaining conscious members of the mob ran for their lives, one woman remained standing before Ryoga. Stepping forward, she raised her sword in the air and brought it down toward his head.

Closing his umbrella again, Ryoga raised it up and blocked the sword strike. It wasn't any mystery to him who this was. Even the cloth over her head couldn't hide the fact that it was Meilin he was fighting. Much like the punch Ryoga had received earlier, the force of Meilin's sword strike seemed incredible to him considering what a slender build the woman had.

"Looks like you can fight, after all," Meilin said, pulling back the cloth to reveal her face.

"I don't want to fight you, Meilin," Ryoga told her.

"You should've thought about that before you showed up in my cave under the guise of a pig and stole my panties!" Meilin snapped back, swinging her folded up snake sword at him again.

Again, Ryoga blocked the strike with his umbrella. "Look, I didn't want to do that!"

"Then why did you?!" Meilin yelled.

She was about to strike at Ryoga again, but a small old man leaping at her from the side caught her attention.

"Pretty lady!" Happosai said gleefully, trying to latch onto Meilin's chest. Unfortunately, all he got was an elbow to the head.

After driving him to the ground, Meilin stomped on the old lecher's head and looked down at him with disgust. "This pervert again..."

"Sure, now you come back, Gramps!" Ryoga snarled at him, then turning his attention back to Meilin. "I only took your panties to get this pervert to teach me a new technique! Otherwise I'd never have done it!"

Meilin narrowed her eyes at she stared at him. "To get him to teach you a technique?"

"That's it! Actually, wait here a sec," Ryoga said, hurrying into Happosai's hut and rummaging through his trunk. When he returned, he held up the white panties that he'd taken from the cave several days ago. "Here, these are yours, right?"

After looking at the panties for a moment, Meilin blushed and swiped them from Ryoga's hand before stuffing them into her shorts. "Don't think I'll forgive you just for giving these back. There's still the issue of you pretending to be a pig to take advantage of me..."

Ryoga's nose began to bleed again as he thought about seeing her naked earlier. "I-I didn't mean to do that, really! I had no idea you were bathing! I just...you seemed lonely, so I thought seeing the pig again might make you feel better..."

"Lonely? I don't need your pity, understand?!" Meilin snarled at him. Ryoga was half expecting her to continue her assault, but she simply let out a sigh and let her sword fall to her side. "Forget it. It won't matter soon anyway."

Raising her arm in the air again, Meilin pointed her sword at Ryoga's face. "You, you're coming with me."

Ryoga was perplexed by the sudden demand, to say the least, as well as the fact that she'd just let him off the hook so easily for what happened earlier. "Coming with you where?"

Meilin pulled out the piece of paper that she'd taken from the bulletin board earlier and held it up in front of him. "To Nekonron."

End of Chapter 13