A Midsummer Night's Beauty
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.


Interlude 1

Five thousand years ago, a very special little girl was born to a couple in a small farming community in rural China. From an early age she showed signs of a genius-level intellect and began leaving adults dumbfounded with her radical theories about things that weren't yet known about Earth. Early scholars that were close with the territory's leadership would travel to the farms and be amazed that the little girl could participate in such complex discussions with them. Before they left they would always ask for her name, and she would reply, "Jusenkyo."

By all accounts, the young girl seemed destined for great things. But, at the age of nine, she began to display something that frightened everyone around her. She could materialize a flame in the palm of her hand without any catalyst. It was the start of the awakening of her latent talent for magic. Being young and curious, she began experimenting with her powers on objects, and then on animals. As more of her ability awakened, she became increasingly short-tempered and closed off from other people. Then, fearing what might become of them if her behavior continued, the people in her community cast her out of the village permanently.

On her own, she learned to hunt game and did what it took to survive. Eventually, she began running into bandits who tried subduing her for their own pleasure. Before they could succeed in doing that, however, they would find themselves engulfed in flames and quickly burn to their deaths. Jusenkyo felt nothing about killing the men, and that led her to go even further. She began killing innocent people for food and money, either by using her dark magic or slicing them apart with her black-handled scythe, and several times destroyed even entire communities. As word of her heinous activity spread, soldiers were sent by the territory's rulers to kill her. Sadly, they would never be heard from again.

One day when she was in her 20's, Jusenkyo determined that she'd become bored with her current lifestyle and relocated to the unpopulated Bayankala mountain range, where she built a home for herself and conducted endless research on her own powers and the planet. Over the years, the grounds surrounding her home became filled with deep holes from her experiments, and those holes would then fill with the water that flowed underground as it ran down from nearby Jusendo Mountain.

Through her work, Jusenkyo managed to create two servants of considerable power to aid her. Her array of spells also increased as she learned more about the environment and how to control it, and the strength of her magic increased greatly as well. Yet, despite all of this, Jusenkyo felt deep down that it was all meaningless since she knew she would one day die like everyone else. Thus, it became her goal in life to make herself immortal.

The sorceress spent decades trying to find the key to immortality, but every attempt ended in failure. Then, gray-haired and wrinkled as time took its toll on her mortal body, she finally had a breakthrough. Using what she had learned over the years, she would use a substantial amount of magic to create a pale green stone with the immense power to increase its user's magical ability tenfold and sustain their body over the course of time. She would deem this stone the "Jewel of Eternity." Her body was frail though, and she didn't want to experience immortality with the figure of an old woman. Torn between her options, her vanity got the best of her and she eventually decided to place a bet on the future.

In order to ensure her resurrection, Jusenkyo ventured to the closest community of people and found a despondent man with little will to live. She poured hope into his heart and won him over with talk of a perfect world ruled by her, convincing him to pass down the orders she gave to future generations until the time was right for her revival. Once that was taken care of, she returned home and transformed the souls of her two servants into a crystallized form before sealing them up in small, wooden cubes with powerful spells that only she could undo.

Concerned for her key to immortality, Jusenkyo then sealed up the Jewel of Eternity and hid it in a place that only she could reach, but the amount of magic she used would prove to be lethal to her withered body. In her last act, she crawled out to one of the springs near her home and cast a spell on it, after which she fell into the spring and drowned. But what she hadn't planned on was that the water of the spring would seep through the ground over time and eventually place a similar curse on every other spring in the area.

Years later, Jusenkyo's residence would be discovered by explorers sent out by the land's rulers. Inside her worn down home, they found records of her research and were astonished by what she had achieved. They found the sealed cubes containing her servants, and soon found Jusenkyo's skeletal remains still in the spring where she had died. But then, as they were removing her from the water with a bamboo shaft, one of the men accidentally fell into an adjacent spring and shockingly emerged as a crane. The men were fearful of the springs from that point on, and decided to leave Jusenkyo's body where it was. They eventually discovered the fact that warm water would change their comrade back to his human form, while cold water changed him into a crane again.

When word of this got back to their superiors, it was decided that a special group should keep watch over the grounds. Thus, a protection society was formed for the area, which made sure to block off the spring containing Jusenkyo's remains as their first act. The rest of the springs, on the other hand, were kept open and were often used as punishment for criminals. The society would continue to keep watch over the springs for many years, over which the memories of the sorceress Jusenkyo would gradually fade and be forgotten. The area would eventually become a training ground for martial artists to hone their skills. If one of them would fall into a spring and become cursed, the protection society would monitor their actions to ensure that their powers weren't being abused for immoral deeds.

And, of course, the springs would become known...as the Cursed Springs of Jusenkyo.


Present day China, Qinghai Province...

From the small building he called his home, the Jusenkyo guide looked up at the overcast sky through the bamboo bars of his window and shook his head.

"The weather's been gloomy for days now. I wouldn't mind a nice, sunny day every now and then," he grumbled to himself in his native Mandarin language. "Oh well, that's how it goes..."

Shrugging off the cloudy scene outdoors, he went to grab his wok and placed it on the wooden table in front of him.

"What should I eat today?" he wondered aloud while setting out cooking utensils for use. "I still have some pork left over, or maybe...hmm?"

Outside his window, the guide happened to notice what looked like a layer of fog forming close to the ground. It wasn't entirely uncommon, so it didn't initially concern him. But when that layer of fog suddenly turned into a virtual geyser of steam shooting out from each one of the cursed springs, he nearly fell over from shock.

"Wh-what is this?!" he cried out.

Frantic, he quickly burst out of the door to his home and sprinted through the mist over to the nearest springs to see what was happening. Once the pillars of steam started to recede, the guide anxiously leaned forward and peered down into one of the cursed pools.

It had completely evaporated, leaving nothing but an empty pit sitting in the ground.

"G-g-gone! The spring is gone!" the panicked guide shouted.

In utter disbelief of what was going on, he began running around to the other springs hoping to see them still filled with water. As he feared, each and every one of them had completely evaporated.

"This is impossible! What on earth happened here?!" he yelled loudly. The Jusenkyo guide then took a few deep breaths, trying to calm down so he could analyze the situation properly. "The temperature here is perfectly normal...it can't be environmental. For all of the springs to destruct...something must have power over all of them, but...what? There's no such thing in exi-"

The guide's eyes widened and his throat went dry as he recalled something that he thought was merely a folktale. When he'd first trained for the job of taking care of the springs, his predecessor had shown him an enormous boulder sitting before the pools of water. He'd briefly mentioned the legends that said there was a forbidden spring underneath it and gave a short summary of the legend of Jusenkyo, but for the most part he'd brushed it off and made his pupil focus on learning the history of the accessible springs. Nobody truly believed that a sorceress who died five thousand years ago could come back to life.

In any case, the Jusenkyo guide needed to assure himself that the spring was still closed off for the sake of his own peace of mind. Making sure not to fall into any of the empty pits, he dashed through the wall of steam without slowing down at all.

"It's not her. It can't be..." he told himself. "But...why do I feel so nervous about this...?"

Coming upon the area with the blocked off spring, he felt a great deal of relief when he spotted the giant boulder that sat atop the spring still in one piece.

"Thank goodness!" he said, trying to catch his breath as he slowed down and began walking closer to the boulder. "Really, I don't know why I was so-"

The guide suddenly came to a stop and let out a gasp. The boulder, he noticed, was not where it used to be. Rather than sitting on top of the spring, it was now sitting next to it with what used to be the forbidden pool completely exposed.

Then, from next to the boulder, a shadowy figure began to emerge from the mist.

Beads of sweat ran down from the guide's face as he stared at the person. He was so stricken with fear that he couldn't move his legs. It wasn't clear whether it was a man or a woman walking toward him. All he noticed as they came closer was the water dripping from the hair hanging down in front of their face.

"Y-...y-...y-you...who...?" his voice trembled.

As they came to a standstill, the figure raised their right hand up and held it out in front of them. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an orange light formed in their palm and began swirling around their forearm.

The guide swallowed hard and began breathing heavily, shaking as he kept his eyes on the person. "Are...are y-you...J-..J-..Jusenkyo...?!"

"Begone..." the figure hissed.

From out of the steam cloud, the light swirling around the person's arm exploded into an inferno of fire.

"N-no! Stop, please! I've done nothing wrong! Spare me!" the guide pleaded. Unfortunately, the cold-hearted figure had no intention of showing mercy.

Trying to save his life, the guide made an attempt to turn and run, but he'd barely left his feet before he was engulfed in a blaze of scorching flames.

"KYAHHHHHHH!"


Inside the Cat Café restaurant, customers were beginning to filter in for lunch on this warm, Sunday afternoon. It was mid-May now, and Ukyo, Ringo, and Ranma had all begun their final year at Furinkan High School. And while Ranma spent a fair amount of time helping out at the restaurant, there were days like today where his morning training sessions with his father ran long, leaving Shampoo and Ringo to handle things until he got back.

"Ringo, you is finished cleaning yet?" Shampoo called out to her waitress from the kitchen.

Diligent as ever, the girl with the red ponytail quickly scrubbed off one last tabletop and tossed her washcloth down into her cleaning bucket. "All done!"

Motioning for Ringo to come over to her, Shampoo filled two glasses with cold water and set them out on the counter.

"Bring water to boy and girl over there, and take orders too," Shampoo instructed her, pointing over to a table where a young couple was sitting.

"Okay," Ringo smiled.

The perky waitress grabbed the water and headed toward the table, a task as simple as anything she did on the job. But before she could make it to the table, a paralyzing chill ran through her body, drawing a loud cry of surprise from her mouth as the water glasses fell from her hands and shattered on the floor.

"Ringo?!" Shampoo yelled, hurrying over to see what happened after hearing the crash. Once she noticed that her waitress had collapsed to her knees, the Amazon girl vaulted over the kitchen counter and wrapped an arm around her as she knelt down beside her. "Ringo! You is okay?! What happen?!"

Receiving some concerned glances from the customers, the young redhead held herself tightly, looking frightened as she tried to calm down. The chill had gone as quickly as it came, but Ringo still couldn't stop shaking.

"Wh-what...was that...?"


End of Interlude 1

Coming up next: Chapter 1 of "A Midsummer Night's Beauty, Part II: Queen of Extreme".