Okay, disclaimer time. Ranma 1/2 does NOT belong to me. It belongs
to Rumiko Takahashi and Viz Entertainment. Characters in the story not originally
in Ranma 1/2 DO belong to me. You can't use them! Though if you're nice and ask
me I might let you use them. Maybe.

There, that's good enough. On with the fic!

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Wolf In The Snow
A Ranma 1/2 fanfic
Written by Nathan Huss
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

"Last curry bread of the day!"

"It's mine!" Ryoga shouted, and reached up over the mob of students.
He was just about to grab it when another boy jumped onto his head and
vaulted off of it to snatch the bread from the air. The boy landed, and
took a bite out of his catch.

"You... who are you?!" Ryoga demanded.

The boy smirked. "Ranma Saotome." He took another bite.

"Ranma Saotome..." Ryoga said, "... I shall never forget this offense
of the curry bread!"

"That's very nice, you know," said a muffled voice, and the two boys
blinked in confusion. Suddenly, Ranma wobbled. He caught his balance,
and then he and Ryoga looked down.

"But will you GET OFFA ME!" another student yelled. He was lying
facedown on the floor, weighed down by Ranma, who was standing on his back.

"Whoops," Ranma said, and hopped off. "Sorry 'bout that... umm,
what's your name?"

The boy got up and dusted himself off as best he could. He had short
black hair, fairly neatly kept. He was about Ranma's height, but a bit more
muscular.

"Kage Tsuyosa," the boy said.



After that incident, the next few days at lunch took on an almost
predictable pattern.

CAFETERIA WORKER: "Last (fill in bread-type here) of the day!"

RYOGA: "Mine!"

RANMA: Jump, vault, grab, land, eat.

RYOGA: "Ranma!"

KAGE: "GET OFF!"

That was, with variations, pretty much what happened.

Finally, one day Ryoga and Kage got totally fed up with it.

After school, Ryoga and Kage stomped over to Ranma.

"What's up, guys?" he asked.

"Ranma," the two of them said simultaneously, "I challenge you to a
fight!" They blinked, and then glared at each other. "Hold on, I'm
challenging him! You can fight him after I beat him!" they stated to
each other at the same time. "Wait a sec..." They paused and blinked
again. Both of them were thinking, /What are the chances that he'll say
the same thing as I do again?/

Ranma clapped and grinned. "That was neat," he said. "What's the
rest of your act?"

Kage glared at Ranma, then turned to Ryoga.

"You're gonna fight him, too?"

Ryoga nodded. "Yeah, but we can't fight him both at once."

"Who's gonna go first then?" Kage asked.

"I know how we can decide," Ryoga said, drawing back his fist. Kage
nodded, and brought back his own. Then they both brought them forward
together.

"JANKEN POW!"

"Damn!" Kage muttered, kicking the ground. "Lost!"

"Okay Ranma," Ryoga said. "Tomorrow, noon, in the vacant lot near
my house. Be there."

"Fine with me, Ryoga," Ranma said. "What about the fight with you,
Kage?"

Kage thought about it briefly. "Aaah, same place and time, I guess,
day after."

"I'll be there for both fights. See you, guys."



Ranma stood in the empty lot, waiting.

An hour later, Ranma stood in the lot, waiting.

An hour after that, Ranma stood, waiting.

An hour after _that_... I think you know what I'm getting at.

"How can he get lost?" Ranma mumbled. "He's the one who picked the
spot."

Ranma continued to wait, all the way through the night and into the
next morning. Eventually, he started doing some katas to relieve the
boredom.

After a couple of hours, Ranma heard someone approach him.

"About time you showed up, Ryoga!" Ranma said angrily. "I've been
waiting-"

"Do I look anything at all like Ryoga?" Kage asked.

"Oh... Kage. Er..."

"Don't tell me you forgot?"

Ranma shook his head. "No, no. I remember. It's just Ryoga never
showed up."

"Ha!" Kage snickered. "No offence to him, but when the time comes I
bet he'll get lost going to his own funeral."

"I can believe it," said Ranma. "Anyway, we gonna fight then?"

"Yep. I'll try to leave something for Ryoga," Kage said, jokingly.

"Yeah, well," Ranma started, "You can certainly _try_."



Kage took in deep breaths as he lay on the ground. "Dammit," he gasped.

Ranma, who was still standing, was also breathing heavily. "Whoa, that
was a tougher fight than I thought it would be."

Kage just silently stared up at the sky.

"Hey Kage, you okay there?" Ranma asked, looking over at Kage.

Kage pulled himself up to a sitting position and nodded. "Yeah, yeah,
I'm fine. It's just... you know." He grinned lightly.

Ranma shrugged. "I suppose. You're pretty good, by the way. Have a
lotta strength behind those punches of yours. Just don't have the skill."

Kage's grin darkened slightly. "What d'you mean?"

Ranma didn't notice the tone of Kage's voice. "I've been training in
martial arts every day since I was about five or six. You're good, but I
kinda doubt you've been going the same thing. I was able to hit you about
twice as many times as you did me, so that pretty much cancels out your
strength."

"I've been training since I was about six, too," Kage said, his grin
totally gone and replaced with a growing frown.

"Yeah," Ranma continued, "but have you been doing it _every_ day? Also,
I spar with my pop, so I get a lot more real fighting experience. Like I
said, you're good, but just haven't worked at it as much, while I have.
I'm just better."

Ranma extended a hand to help Kage up. Kage ignored it, and stood up.
"We'll see about that." He walked away.

Ranma watched him go, a bit confused. He shrugged, and then waved.
"See ya later, Kage." He started waiting for Ryoga again.

^^^^^^^^^^

Jusenkyo...

Ryoga trudged along the stone ridge, cursing.

"Damn you for running out on our fight, Ranma!"

As Ryoga climbed over another boulder, he saw another figure,
approaching from the opposite direction.

"Who's there?" Ryoga called, cautious.

The other person looked up and spotted Ryoga. He jogged over, and as
he got nearer Ryoga felt he looked familiar.

"I get the feeling I know you," Ryoga said.

The other hiker noticed Ryoga's fangs. "Ryoga? Is that you? What
are you doing here?"

Ryoga finally recognized who the other boy was. "Kage? What are _you_
doing here in Okayama?"

"We're not in-" Kage began.

Suddenly, they both heard a loud crashing sound to the side, coming
towards them. As they turned to face it, they saw a large panda charge out
of a bamboo grove straight at them.

"What the...!" Kage shouted.

Before the panda crashed into them, Ryoga and Kage jumped into the air.
As they hung in the air (courtesy of Martial Artist Hang Time), they heard
a feminine voice shout.

"Come back here, Pop!"

A red-haired girl leapt out of the grove, chasing the panda. She
jumped from rock to rock, and ended up knocking into Kage and Ryoga, though
she apparently didn't notice it.

"Aaaaaah!!"

As the two martial artists fell, they missed the ledge and dropped
toward a large expanse of pools with numerous bamboo poles scattered around.

Trying to avoid falling into them, Ryoga grabbed Kage, planted his
feet, and vaulted off of Kage upward. This just pushed Kage down faster,
though it also changed his direction.

"Why you-!" Kage shouted, but was cut off as he fell into a pool. Ryoga
didn't see this, as his jump ended up short. Slamming into the cliff wall
face-first. He peeled away from the wall, stunned, and fell into another pool.
Soon afterward, a small black piglet wearing a bandana splashed over to the
rim of the pool. The rest, as they say, is history. As to what happened
to Kage, however...

*Splash!*

Kage pulled himself out of the pool and onto the ground. He lay on
the ground for several seconds, gasping for air.

/If I ever get my hands on Ryoga, I'll.../ he muttered, or at least
tried to.

"Grrrrrr..."

Kage froze. He had heard nearby what sounded like a large wolf, and
it didn't sound happy. He looked around quickly, but couldn't see it.

"[Aiyaa!]"

Kage turned back, and saw a small man in a Chinese uniform, looking
very worried. "[Oh, dear, dear, dear. This is very bad.]"

"Rrrr?"

Kage spun around again, confused why he couldn't see what was making
the sound.

"[Please calm down sir, and please follow,]" the man said, and picked
up Kage's pack, which had fallen to the side of the pool, and had spilled
some objects. Then, to himself, "[Oh, I haven't had trouble like this in a
long time.]"

The man jogged away, and Kage followed. As he did, Kage noticed that
he seemed to be moving faster than he meant to. Then he noticed that he
had paws instead of feet.

"Rrraaaw!"

"[Hold on, sir. We're almost there.]"

'There' was a small hut, with a sign reading 'Jusenkyo Information and
Guide Office.' The man, who Kage realized was a guide, hurried in. Kage
waited outside, and happened to glance into a nearby pool. In it, he saw a
large wolf looking back at him.

"[Here we are, sir. Please hold still for a moment.]"

The Guide had brought a kettle out of the hut, and poured the contents
over Kage. Still looking into the pool, Kage saw the wolf-image melt, and
reform into himself.

"What?" Kage said. Then he noticed something. "My clothes!"

"So, you Japanese," the Guide said. "No worry, sir. Have spares in
office for just such emergency." He went back into the hut and came out
carrying a large pile of clothes. "Many time this happen, because of some
spring of large animal or such."

"Where did... was that wolf me?" Kage asked as he started rummaging
through the pile and trying some on.

"Yes, sir. This is Jusenkyo, cursed training ground," the Guide
explained "You fall in Spring of Drowned Giant Wolf. Very tragic story of
giant wolf what fall in spring and drown 5000 year ago. Now what fall in
spring take form of giant wolf."

"Wow. How'd you turn me back?" Kage tried on several shirts, and
finally picked a white Chinese shirt, remarkably similar to Ranma's.

"Hot water make person change back to original form, but cold back
to cursed form."

Kage pulled on a pair of boots and stood. "These fit pretty well.
Is there any way to get rid of the curse?"

The Guide shook his head. "None I know of. At least, have not seen
any that work."

"Hmmm... Oh well."

"Sir?"

Kage shrugged. "Just thinking. At least it isn't that bad a form to
turn into."

The Guide smiled. "Indeed, sir. Many, many worse springs. Have you
all you need?"

Kage nodded. "Yeah, these clothes fit well enough. Thanks."

The Guide bowed. "You are welcome, sir. Have a question, though. Did
you always have fangs like that?"

Kage frowned. "What d'you mean, 'fangs'?"

"Sir has them now."

Kage felt his teeth, and discovered that he did indeed have fangs now.
"Um, a side effect, I suppose?"

"Must be. Have good trip, sir."

"Thanks again," Kage replied, and headed off. Behind him a large panda
carrying a small, struggling black pig went into the office.

^^^^^^^^^^

A few days later...

Kage had been wandering around for a while now. He was currently
plodding through snow on a mountainside.

"Damn it's cold. I just _had_ to lose my map and compass back in
Jusenkyo." Kage briefly considered switching to his cursed form, but did
not relish the idea of purposely pouring cold water on himself here.

"[Say there, young man,]" Kage heard someone call. "[Could you give me
a hand over here?]"

Kage turned, and saw an old man a dozen feet away, pinned under a large,
fallen tree.

"[Sorry to bother you 'bout this,]" the old man said, "[but it ain't
really comfy here, ya know what I mean?]" He laughed for a bit.

Kage nodded and walked over. "[Sure thing. How'd you get under there?]"
He examined the tree as he decided how to get the old man out.

"[By not bein' careful enough, that's how. You'd think I'd know better
havin' lived around here near 30 years.]"

Kage nodded absently. "[Well, this shouldn't be too hard.]" He walked
over to the middle of the tree, got his hands underneath it, and lifted the
whole thing up.

The man stood up and dusted himself off. "[Mighty impressive work, kid.]"
The man was about five and a half feet tall, but had a stout build, had gray
hair, and looked about 70 years old.

Kage turned to the side, and easily tossed the tree away.

*Crash!*

The old man watched this, then circled around Kage slowly, examining him.
"[Strong, ain't ya, kid?]"

Kage shrugged. "[It was nothing much.]"

"[Bwa-ha-ha-ha!]" the man cackled, which echoed across the mountainside.
"[Nothin' much? That thing must have weighed about half a ton!]"

*rumble*

"[Shoot,]" the man said.

"[What's the matter?]"

"[Near forgot we're in an avalanche zone,]" the old man said. "[Between
my hootin' 'n you droppin' that big old tree, we just set one off. We better
start runnin'.]"

"[Ah.]"

"[C'mon kid! Don't just stand there!]" The old man was already about
a dozen yards off, having followed his own advice more immediately. Kage
blinked, then sprinted after him.

*RUMBLE!*

As the two of them ran, Kage glanced behind and saw a huge wave of
snow coming towards them. He picked up his pace, catching up to the old
man, and then matched his speed.

"[What're you doin', ya damn idiot?]" the man screeched. "[Don't worry
'bout me! Just run faster!]"

Instead, Kage shifted his pack, grabbed the old man, threw him onto
his shoulder, and _then_ sped up.

"[Interestin' solution, kid,]" the old man said from Kage's shoulder.
"[In case we get out of this alive, what's your name?]"

"[Kage Tsuyosa. Yours?]"

"[Most folk 'round here just call me Grandfather Bear. It'll do.]"

Kage ran down the mountainside, dodging and jumping over any obstacles.
Behind him he could hear the sound of the tidal wave of snow approaching
rapidly.

"[Wow, I thought it woulda buried us by now,]" Bear said, looking
behind them. "[Good runnin' there, kid.]"

"[You mean I've outrun it?]" Kage asked between breaths.

"[Nah,]" Bear said dejectedly. "[You're just givin' it a good chase.
I figure it'll hit us in 'bout half a minute. Sorry to be the bringer of
bad news, kid. Nice knowin' you.]"

"[Same here.]"

About a minute later, the avalanche was over. Here and there a single
tree would poke out of the snow. Otherwise, all was white powder.

Kage dug out of the snow and shook himself. While he had been trapped,
some of the snow around him had melted, activating his curse. He padded
around, looking for a sign of Grandfather Bear. He saw nothing, but his
wolf ears heard something large beneath him. He leapt back.

"Graaawr!"

A large bear burst out of the snow. It stood about 8 feet tall, covered
in brown fur, though the color of it was more of a gray.

The two looked at each other, tilting their heads. Then, the bear sat
down in the snow.

"Hrrr, hrrr, hrrr..."

Kage listened to the sound, and realized what the bear was doing.

It was laughing.



After the bear had stopped laughing, it motioned for Kage to follow it,
and then started loping off. Kage followed it, amused. They traveled for
about two miles or so, until they reached a cave opening. The bear went
right in, so Kage entered as well.

Beyond the opening was a small cavern. After going in, the bear pulled
a large sheet of heavy cloth across the entrance. In the center of the
cavern was a large fire pit, with a bonfire already burning. Scattered
around were crates of various sizes, some open, some still sealed. Near
the fire pit was a small cot, covered with blankets.

The bear lumbered over to the bonfire, and tossed a few small logs in.
Then it retrieved a kettle that had been near the edge of the flames, and
poured the contents over itself.

"[Aah, that's better.]"

Grandfather Bear walked over to Kage and poured the rest of the hot
water over him. "[Well, kid, welcome to my home. Grab a blanket if you want.]"

Kage nodded. "[Thanks. I had thought you would have been killed.]"

Bear shook his head. "[Who, me? Ha-ha! It'll take more than that to
finish me off! Same with you, by the looks of it. When'd you get yours?]"

"[Two days ago,]" answered Kage. "[Drowned Giant Wolf.]" He sat down
near the fire and pulled the blanket he had picket up around himself.

"[Drowned Bear. Got mine 40, 45 years back.]" Bear examined a crate,
and then ripped the top off. "[Let's see what we've got for stew... Hope
you've got a big appetite, kid.]"

Grandfather Bear picked up a large iron pot and set it over the fire.
He started pouring several nearby buckets of water and then cans of food
in.

"[Never woulda figured you had been to Jusenkyo. The teeth should have
tipped me off.]"

He got a large ladle, and stirred the stew a bit. "[Wouldn't have
happened to get that strength a' yours from the curse?]"

"[No,]" said Kage, shaking his head. "[Just the fangs. Why?]"

"[Happened to me with mine. Was fairly strong before, but somehow
getting' my curse boosted it for me. 'Strongest fighter in the world.']"

"[Really?]" Kage asked with interest.

"[Probably not, but it gives you a hell of a reputation. I just never
happened to come across anyone stronger, 'cept maybe you.]" Bear tasted
the stew, nodded, and filled up two bowls. "[Anyhow, I eventually came up
here to do the old 'Wizened Master of the Art' gig. Well, that and
getting' away from the up-and-comin' brats that kept challengin' me.]"
He handed Kage one of the bowls.

"[Are you?]" Kage asked as he accepted the bowl.

"[Eh? Am I what?]"

"[A 'Wizened Master of the Art.']"

"[Oh, that bit. Yeah, I suppose. Why, you want to train under me or
somethin'?]" Bear asked, laughing slightly.

Kage wolfed (no pun intended) down his food, and nodded. "[Pretty
much.]"

Bear frowned in thought and refilled Kage's bowl, and then ate his own
in silence. After they had finished off the contents of the pot, he had
decided.

"[Okay, kid. I'll do it. Least I can do to repay you for savin' me
back there. We'll start tomorrow.]"

^^^^^^^^^^

Kage had set up camp in a forest, about a hundred yards from a village.
He had wandered into the area four days ago, after finishing his training
with Grandfather Bear.

The village was populated almost exclusively by women, as for as he
could see. All of them seemed to be martial artists. Virtually every day
there were various training and sparring matches. Kage observed many of
these matches, hidden in wolf form.

What really caught his attention were a number of the techniques used
by combatants, as well as some used out of battle. One that particularly
interested him was called the 'Hiryu Shoten Ha,' which as far as he could
hear from instructions was based off of cold somehow. Kage felt that it
would be complimentary to the style Bear had taught him, Anything Goes
Winter-elemental Martial Arts. He went about searching the area, looking
for a chance to see someone in the process of learning it.

Kage managed eventually to find the spot where the training took place.
It was a large clearing, with only a big spiral marked in the ground. He
learned what it was for a bit later, as he witnessed a session of the
training the next day.

That night, he returned to the spot, in human form. The training for
the Hiryu Shoten Ha consisted of leading an attacker into the spiral, and
keeping to it yourself. Since he didn't have anyone to attack him, Kage did
his best by blindfolding himself and imagining opponents. Within a short
time he was able to stay on the spiral, but could not fully learn the
technique, since it required a real opponent. Sighing, he returned back to
his camp.

^^^^^^^^^^

Perfume, an Amazon warrior, looked at the young man the patrol group
had surrounded. They had found him just a few minutes before, sitting down
to eat lunch. Now he was standing, and turning around slowly but constantly,
anticipating an attack.

He looked about 16, the same age as her. He was a bit taller than her,
with short, black hair, and was dressed in loose Chinese clothing, though he
looked like he was from somewhere like Japan.

"[What should we do with him?]" one of the other warriors asked the
patrol leader, Lotion.

"[We take him to the elders, they will decide what to do with this
stranger.]" She advanced and prodded him in the back with her spear. He
spun around and grabbed Lotion's weapon.

"[What?]" Lotion exclaimed in surprise, and tried to pull the spear back.

The young man braced himself, and heaved. Warrior and weapon were tossed
into the air easily. Lotion managed to twist in the air, and land on her
feet. "[Why you...!]"

The rest of the group advanced.

"[I'm not going anywhere,]" said the boy. "[Especially not at spear
point.]" As he spoke, Perfume thought she saw two fangs in his mouth.

"[That's what you think,]" Perfume replied, and leveled her trident
at him. He went to grab it like had Lotion's spear, but Perfume pulled it
back before he could get a hold.

The scouting party pulled back and formed a ring around the two.

Perfume lanced out several times with the trident. The young man
dodged most of them, but didn't manage to avoid the last two. Two gashes
in his shirt and side appeared.

"Damn!" he said, slapping a hand to the cuts, and jumped back. Then
he lunged forward, fists swinging.

Perfume blocked his attacks with her trident, but was soon being shoved
back by the increasing strength of the blows. He was enraged now, and his
fangs were showing fully. A sudden kick aimed at her midsection forced
Perfume to jump back, and found her back against a large tree.

The boy's punches were still increasing in strength, and she was soon
having trouble withstanding them. Suddenly, he swung his arm back. Perfume
hesitated, confused at this action. Then he swung it forward and shouted, "Okii
Kuma-Tsume!" Ki formed around the arm, shaping the arm and claw of a bear.
Perfume hastily brought her trident to block.

She was knocked to the side several yards, and struggled to her feet.
Then, she noticed the shaft of the trident had been shattered, as well as
the trunk of the tree that had been behind her. The huge tree toppled over,
causing everyone to scramble to avoid it.

"[What-?]" Perfume gasped. "[But it didn't even touch the tree!]"

"[What's going on here?]" said an old voice. A village elder, Comb,
walked calmly over the fallen tree. "[You all should have reported back
from patrol already!]"

Lotion rushed forward to explain, as the rest of the group tried
simultaneously to surround the boy again and move away from him. "[We
found this... man here and were going to capture him. He resisted, and I
was about to-]"

"[Let another fighter, who has not had as much training, go against
him?]" the Elder interjected.

"[Perfume believed that she would easily be-]"

"[And she was wrong on it being easy. Simple as that. It was still your
responsibility.]" Comb turned to face the young man. "You're Japanese,
correct? What is your name?"

"Kage Tsuyosa," he answered warily.

The Elder walked over to the base of the shattered trunk. "An interesting
attack. 'Great Bear Claw,' I believe you said?"

Kage nodded.

"Hmm... I assume you are the one who has been trying to learn the Hiryu
Shoten Ha on your own?"

Kage nodded again.

"[He must be punished then!]" said Lotion. "[For trying to steal
Amazon secrets!]"

Comb shook her head. "[I have a different idea in mind.]"



Kage sat down in the combat area after being brought into the village.
He watched a number of the amazons huddled in a group, whispering to each
other. Supposedly, they were deciding who was going to fight him in an
official challenge of some sort. He was able to partially hear what they
were saying.

"[... says he's from Japan. Isn't that where...]" "[... fairly strong
looking, but...]" "[... cute fangs.]" "[... what he did to the...]"

Kage thought back to what the Elder had said. Apparently, if he defeated
one of the tribe's warriors, they would properly teach him the Hiryu Shoten
Ha, and help him get back to Japan. However, from what he was hearing there
was something he hadn't been told about the deal. Unfortunately, he had
agreed already, and couldn't back out now.

Finally, a decision was reached in the group, and his opponent stepped
forward. Though he knew he should be focusing on the fight, he had to admit
that she was cute. She was a bit shorter than him, with black hair, cut at
medium length. She was wearing the style of clothes in the village, in red
and brown colors. Her body was well built, most likely the result of years
of exercise and training. In fact, she was...

"You!?"

Perfume nodded. "[I won't be easily beaten. You just caught me off
guard before.]"

Both of them jumped onto the suspended log that was used for official
fights. Perfume had a new trident tossed up to her, while Kage pulled a pair
of gloves out of his pack and put them on. He then dropped the pack to the
side of the log.

The two faced each other from opposite ends and waited.

"[Begin!]"

Kage and Perfume rushed forward at each other. They met at the center
of the log, and started exchanging attacks.

At the start the fight was fairly even: Perfume could avoid a fair of
Kage's attacks, while he could shrug off most of hers. Each of them collected
a few wounds, though none of them were serious.

Eventually it started to become bad for Kage, as Perfume was able to
keep him from getting into close quarters with her trident. He was finding
it more and more difficult to avoid her weapon while remaining on the log.

Kage started backing away, and Perfume advanced, grinning. Kage
cautiously moved back, continuing to stay out of the reach of the trident.
Right before he reached the very end, Kage dashed forward while knocking
the trident to the side. Perfume wobbled as she tried to retain her grip
and footing. Kage lashed forward with a punch, connected, and knocked
Perfume down, causing her to lose her hold of her weapon. She managed to
stay on the log, and quickly rolled backward.

Kage had jumped into the air, and descended with his fist ready for
another punch. Perfume had moved while he was coming down, so his punch
landed where she had been instead of on her.

*CRACK!*

A long split opened in the log. Perfume rolled up to her feet, and
sprinted forward, releasing a flurry of punches. Kage took them, and
grabbed her arm before she could pull back. Turning, he hauled her over
his shoulder, and slammed her onto the log.

Perfume jumped back up as quickly as she could. She tried to back
away slightly, but couldn't. Glancing down, she saw her foot had gotten
wedged into the split in the log. Perfume tried to pull it out, but Kage
was already dashing towards her. Running forward, he shoulder-charged the
trapped Amazon.

*WHAM!*

Perfume looked up. For a second she wondered why she was on her back,
and why there were a number of faces looking down at her. Then she remembered
Kage ramming into her and knocking her off the log.

"[I... lost?]" she asked a face. It nodded.

Perfume stood up and looked around. As she stood she felt a twinge of
pain from her ankle. The sting helped her mind focus, and the faces became
familiar.

"[You were out for a short while from the force of the fall,]" one of
the amazons said. "[You hit your head landing, and your ankle is twisted.]"

Perfume nodded. They weren't serious injuries, and would heal easily.
"[Where is he?]"

The amazons around her moved to the side. Kage was leaning against one
of the posts that the log was suspended from. He was looking over in their
direction, and smiled slightly when he saw that Perfume was okay.

Perfume walked over to him, ignoring her ankle.

"[I'm glad you're all right,]" he said as she approached. "[I wasn't
sure if-]"

He was cut off as Perfume threw her arms around his neck and kissed him
on the mouth.

"[Wo da Airen!]" she said happily as she finished the kiss.

"Wha?"



"[Please sit.]"

Kage sat down across from Elder Comb. Perfume sat down beside him,
and leaned on him affectionately. They had been brought to Comb's home,
after having Perfume's ankle bandaged.

"[I would imagine,]" the Elder began, "[that you are a bit confused.]"

Kage frowned. "[To put it lightly.]"

Comb chuckled. "[You are now Perfume's husband, having defeated her
in combat.]"

"[I'm guessing that wasn't a joke.]"

The Elder nodded. "[Correct.]"

Kage looked at Perfume. She smiled and hung onto his arm.

"[A bit of a purposeful omission on my part. Technically, back in
the forest, Lotion was correct. You _should_ have been captured and punished
severely for trying to learn an Amazon technique.]"

"[What would the punishment have been?]" asked Kage.

"[You don't want to know,]" Perfume supplied.

Kage nodded slightly. "[I'll... take your word on that, but how does
my being your husband change things?]"

"[By you marrying me, you are now part of the tribe,]" Perfume said.
"[That way, it is acceptable for you to learn the Hiryu Shoten Ha.]"

Kage thought about this. "[Okay, I can understand how that works, but
why did this happen instead?]"

Comb grinned. "[Good, I would have been very disappointed if you
didn't think of that.

"[There are actually several reasons. One, you are a strong fighter,
which is part of the reason for such combats. Two, you know at least one,
and most likely more, techniques from outside our tribe.]"

"[And if I'm part of the tribe,]" Kage said, "[I can teach any techniques
I know and make them part of the tribe's.]"

"[Smart boy. Finally, Perfume has expressed desires to travel.]"

"[Come again?]"

The Elder sighed. "[Perfume, you should actually be the one to explain
this.]"

Perfume sat up straight and faced Kage. "[A while ago, another warrior
from our tribe, Shampoo, went off after a foreigner. Usually people stay
here in the village and don't get to see other places. I... was a bit
envious.]"

"[You spent a full week moping is more like it,]" Comb said.

Perfume stuck out her tongue. "[Great-grandmother!]" She turned back
to Kage. "[An Amazon has to have a good reason to travel from the village.
Since you were came along, and were going to continue traveling, well...]"

Kage frowned and closed his eyes. "[I get the picture. If I'm your
husband, you would be allowed to travel with me. So that's the reason why
this happened? So you could go play explorer?]"

Perfume smiled. "[Not really. You _are_ pretty handsome, and a good
fighter.]" She latched onto his arm again.

"[It could be worse,]" Comb said. "[After all, isn't Perfume attractive?
And she does like you.]"

Kage tried to remain indignant about the situation, but was unable with
Perfume affectionately hanging on him. "[Yeah.]" Perfume snuggled closer
at this.

"[There is one problem I see with the plan though,]" Kage said.

"[And what would that be?]" asked Comb.

"[It would only have worked the way you wanted it to if Perfume was
the one I fought. It was pretty lucky for her to... why does this not
seem quite right to me somehow?]" He looked questioningly at Perfume,
who smiled nervously.

Comb laughed a bit. "[You refer to how it _was_ her that was chosen
to fight against you, instead of someone else. Perfume is my descendant, so
I have a bit of a habit of favoring her. I was able to validate her claim to
be the one by that Lotion had allowed her to fight you in the forest, which
got rid of Lotion's claim. Then, since I had interrupted the original fight
between you two, I was able to convince the others that she had first claim,
since that fight was never completed.]"

"[So you were pretty much playing favorites, and made sure she was
the one.]"

"[It happens,]" the Elder stated. "[Do you think that my peers do not
do the same for their own families? This is all moot, however. You are now
one of the tribe, will be taught the Hiryu Shoten Ha, and then will travel
with your wife. Despite the methods, I do think this is all a favorable
situation for all parties concerned. There's just one more matter about
your pet.]"

"[Pet?]"

"[Yes, we found tracks around and in your camping area. I assume it
is a pet of yours that made them.]"

Kage shifted uneasily. "[Not really. Um... well, do you have a glass
of water or something?]"

^^^^^^^^^^

"Kinzoku, will you just leave me alone!"

The speaker of the previous statement walked quickly down the road.
She was a young girl, about mid-teens. She was wearing a bright summer
dress, had long black hair, bright eyes, and a large frown, despite which
her beauty shone through.

"Otome, come back!" came a voice from farther back. This one came from
a young man in fairly expensive clothes, short, dark hair, was carrying a
small bouquet of flowers, and was chasing after the girl.

"Otome, why do you deny this?" he said. "We will be married."

She spun around and grimaced. "My father has not agreed to it yet,
and may not ever."

Kinzoku smiled. "He will, if you ask him to. Then we-"

"Whoever said I wanted to marry you!" She stormed away again.

He ran after her. "But we make the perfect match! You are the most
beautiful girl in the town, and I am the richest, and most handsome, boy.
We were made for each other!"

"That's what you and every other boy in town says!"

He took her arm, and tried to pull her back. She immediately wrenched
her arm away and started running.

"Otome!"

As Otome ran, she saw farther down the road a young man walking from
the other direction. He was wearing a white shirt and black pants, boots,
and was carrying a fairly large pack.

When she reached the stranger, she grabbed him and hid behind him.

Startled, he looked back at her. "What are you doing?"

"Otome!" called Kinzoku.

"Doesn't he ever give up?" Otome muttered to herself. Then, she put
on her most winsome look and looked into the stranger's eyes. "Please, will
you keep him away from me? He won't leave me alone."

He looked at her, and then at Kinzoku. Shrugging, he put down his
pack and crossed his arms, waiting for Kinzoku.

When he caught up, Kinzoku tried to circle around the young man. "Listen,
whoever you are, stay out of this. Otome, come here."

Otome kept the stranger between them, and made a face at him.

"It looks like she doesn't want to," said the young man. "Why don't
you just leave her alone, and we can all just get on with the day."

Kinzoku smirked. "You should listen to your own advice. As I said,
this does not concern you. Now leave before I'm forced to hurt you."

The stranger just stood there.

"Very well. Defend yourself!" He charged.

*Punch!*

"Ite!" Kinzoku shouted as he stumbled back. "Why did you do that?"

"You said to defend myself. I did."

Kinzoku glared at him. He circled a bit, then charged again.

*Punch!*

This time Kinzoku fell down from the punch. He quickly scrambled back
up. "So, you know a bit about fighting, eh?"

"A lot more than you, apparently," Otome said triumphantly.

Kinzoku reached into his jacket, and paused. "Just to know, what is
your name?"

"Kage Tsuyosa," the stranger answered.

"Kage Tsuyosa," Kinzoku repeated. "Very well. Now I know what to put
on your grave!" He pulled a remote control out of his jacket. As he pushed
a button on it, he crowed, "Prepare to meet your doom!"

There was a loud crash from the woods at the side of the road. Suddenly
a large shape burst out and parked beside Kinzoku.

It was a machine, about ten feet tall, and formed vaguely shaped like
a human. It had arms, wheels, armor, and a video camera system where a
head would be.

"You're using a mecha!?" Otome yelled.

"To be precise, the Ravager model, type 3G55, produced by Tomi
Enterprises, my family's business," Kinzoku beamed. "More than enough to
take care of you, Tsuyosa! It stands 9.2 meters tall, weighs 2.3 metric
tons, and has a lifting power of 1.6 metric tons!"

"I've seen better looking mecha in comics," Kage said.

"Kinzoku! What do you think you're doing?" Otome shouted.

"Why, removing that which is blocking me from you, of course." He input
a command. "Go, my Ravager!"

The mecha rolled back a few feet, raised its arms, and then rushed at
Kage. Kage pushed Otome to the side, then leapt forward. A bright aura
formed around him.

"Nadare Tobikakaru!"

*Smash!*

The mecha creaked to a stop. Kage landed on the other side and spun
around.

Kinzoku's mouth was hanging open. "You... it... what... how?"

In the center of the Ravager was a Kage-sized hole. Its arms drooped
down, and it's lights and motor died down. Kage walked over to it, braced
himself, and lifted it above his head.

"Aaaaah..." Kinzoku stuttered. "Um... I'll just go home now." He ran
off, leaving a trail of dust.

Kage stained for a few moments, and then heaved the broken mecha into
the air towards the woods. Then he dusted himself off and pick up his pack.

*Crash!*

"That was amazing," Otome said, walking up to him. "Let me introduce
myself properly. I am Otome Kanari. How can I ever thank you? Perhaps you
can come to my home for dinner?" She fluttered her eyes dramatically. /If
he stays, all the boys will leave me alone! I won't be bothered anymore!
This is perfect!/ She took his arm. /There's no way he can say no, and I'll
be able to manage him./

Kage took hold of her arm, and gently removed it from his own. "Sorry,
but I'm just passing through here, and have to meet someone further on."

"What?!" Otome regained her composure. Pouting, she said, "Will you
at least come back after meeting the person? I just want to thank you
for saving me from Kinzoku. Won't you stay for a bit, as a favor?"

"You've got to be kidding!" Kage said. "I'm heading to..." He pulled
out a map. "... Nerima. Got some things to do there. I don't have time
to fend off someone's fan club."

He folded up the map and packed it away. He walked down the road, while
Otome just stood there in disbelief.

/He... he... he just ignored me!/

As Kage walked, another person jumped from the woods to walk next to
him. ["Kage! What took you so long? You said you were going to catch up
farther up the road,]" Perfume said as she latched herself onto his arm.

"[Sorry, I got delayed a bit.]"

"[Hmph! Okay, but next time I won't wait up for you,]" she said
playfully.

"[Sure, right.]" Kage lightly tapped her on the head.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Some quick notes:

Several names I used I got directly from a Japanese/English dictionary,
so the words are literal translations. In other words, I don't know if I
wrote or used them right, and if they're even useable as names. So don't bug
me about it.

Here are literal translations of some of the names:

Okii Kuma-Tsume - "Great Bear Claw"
Nadare Tobikakaru - "Avalanche Rush"
Kinzoku Tomi - "Metal Riches"
Otome Kanari - "Maiden Pretty"

Okay, that's it for the first part of 'Wolf In The Snow'. Send any
comments, criticism, questions, suggestions, etc. to Wakoid2@aol.com.