Note: As of April 9, 2010, I've decided to try updating this project on a weekly basis. As a result, I've split the first two chapters into smaller parts. The third chapter, "Journey to Jusenkyo," begins with FFN chapter 12.

Identity, by Muphrid. A tribe of Chinese sorcerers captures Ranma to purge emotions from the hearts of men. A continuation story, set after the end of the manga.

This story is intended as continuing from the end of the Ranma 1/2 manga. Thus, events for the series, particularly the final volumes, are heavily referenced herein. You may be spoiled if you have no knowledge of these plotlines.


In the Cold Rain

A chapter in five acts

Prelude

In the cold rain he hid in shadow, watching droplets ripple across the pond. He scanned the horizon, but sheets of rain and dense jungle concealed his pursuer from him, and he from her.

He rubbed his hand over his forehead, wiping blood away.

He leaned over the pond, admiring the gash that marred his hairline. He rubbed his fingers together, and the blood washed away.

But he lingered. Murky water clouded and swirled. The water showed his reflection, an image for all to see.

The image of a girl.

It wasn't the way things should've been. He didn't want to be back here so soon.

Over his shoulder, bamboo wavered in the rain. Each pole stood upright, even as spring water lapped at the base.

Should've been easy. He'd come this far, hundreds of miles. He trekked through brush and over mountains to get here. And though the springs were busy—the guide entertained four guests, clad in black, who spoke Chinese he couldn't understand—Ranma stood over the pool, whose water would make him a man again, in hot or cold.

Then it rained. It rained, and Ranma shrank under the showers, but the others did not. The strangers stared at him, whispered to each other.

Ranma ignored them. He squared his feet at the edge, bent his knees …

And a throwing star zipped past his face, cutting a bamboo stalk in two.

They never said why. They never said anything. They blasted energy from their hands, knocked him clear across the training grounds. That's when he made the pragmatic choice—the choice to run and hide. He cursed himself for it; he cursed every time he tucked his head to flee from them and saw a girl's bust in his way. Even if he returned home, he'd come back only half a man. Half a man to the people he left.

To the girl he left.

One of the strangers trudged up the hill, a little lump of dirt that overlooked the pond. The girl's reddish-brown hair, damp with rainwater, clung to her back, but sharp eyes looked out, searching.

Ranma slunk under the rock formation. Some strategy this was—hiding in the dark. A strategy for cowards and rats.

"Maybe you were right, Akane," he muttered. "Maybe a man—"

The stranger locked eyes with him.

A man wouldn't fear losing. A man would stand and fight.


For notes and commentary on this chapter and others, visit my blog at westofarcturus [dot] blogspot [dot] com.