This story is set in a fantasy universe of my own creation and you will undoubtedly notice that it has similarities to other works. If I feel something needs to be expanded upon and I can't fit it into the story I'll include the details in the author notes.
"Man Pop, you really know how to pick em." Ranma shifted to the side and struck a black robed priest in the back of the head, knocking him out. "Fifty of these guys, an actual temple, and some kind of altar? You lied about how much we would get from this didn't you?"
"I did the leg work to get it." Genma answered, having remained out of the fighting.
All of the cloaked acolytes had been pathetically easy for Ranma to defeat. Shifting the small sword at his hip, he looked around to make sure they were all out, the last thing he wanted was some last ditch effort to actually touch him. It was a point of pride for him that he wore such flimsy clothing while most other adventurers wore thick fabrics, leather, or mail. Not him though, he wore absurdly expensive silks or if money was tight then cotton.
Ignoring his old man, he climbed a small flight of steps in the center of the room to a white marble platform raised a four meters in the air. There were eight sides to it with small fire pits setup at the points. Sitting in the center was a reflective obelisk two meters tall. Carved into it vertically were intricate runes that he didn't understand. Having seen enough strange artifacts he thought he had a decent grasp on what certain things meant, and this appeared to be a prison.
"Pop, there aint no treasure here." He commented dryly. The obelisk itself might be worth some money but there was no way he wanted to lug it to the nearest town.
"Stupid boy, don't you get it? They hid it all in this thing." Genma knocked his fist against the obelisk. "What better place?"
"A vault?" Ranma suggested.
"People would suspect a vault." Genma clapped him on the back with a little too much force. "Break it open."
"Whatever." He rolled his eyes and stepped up to the black spire. "But if some demon pops out you get to deal with it." Planting his left palm on the smooth stone, he pulled back his right, and made a fist. With a loud cry, he punched it with as much force as he could muster, the stone shattered like glass. Ranma stumbled forward as the obelisk shattered, apparently being hollow inside, and the walls paper thin. Smelling the stale air that had been contained within, he brushed some fragments from his clothes.
"Where's the treasure?" Genma asked hastily, pushing him to the side, and looking around hungrily.
"There isn't any treasure you stupid old man!" Ranma kicked his father in the stomach and then grabbed him by the front of his shirt. "I told you that wasn't a hiding spot!"
"Freedom." A male voice purred, the air around them reverberating when the same voice breathed outwards, the force of it unsettling the dust on the floor.
"Oh crap." Ranma released Genma, glancing at the remains of the obelisk where tiny flecks of light were forming in the air, rapidly making a light silhouette of a humanoid three meters tall. The light faded, leaving the tall form of a man that looked like he spent his entire life throwing around trolls.
He was wearing bright purple clothing, his pants were tight at the hip and thigh before flaring into enough material from the knee to the ankle to use as a bed sheet. Reptilian leather shoes with a tall platform underneath them adorned his feet. The jacket had wide lapels that were partially hidden by the great bushy beard of orange hair that reached his navel. Completing his facial hair was a gigantic handlebar mustache that from end to end was taller than Ranma. His face was rounded and looked like it should be on a dwarf not some tall mountain of muscle.
Ranma's trepidation vanished and he started to snicker, trying to hold in his mirth. Catching the cross look the giant was giving him, he quickly put his hands over his mouth but was unable to stop himself. Next to him, Genma was already laughing uncontrollably.
"Do I inspire humor?" The giant man asked, narrowing his eyes.
"I'm－ I'm sorry." Ranma paused to give into the urge to laugh. "But you are the stupidest looking whatever you are that I've ever seen!" He couldn't stop himself and he laughed openly, falling against Genma.
"Am I now?" The giant raised a hand with the palm out and waved it over the room. Rainbow colored light passed over everything and Ranma laughed even harder.
"Even your spells look lame!" He got out through guffaws that died a very quick death when bones breaking met his ears. Looking around the room, he watched the forms of all the priests jerking and moving from an unseen force. Their bodies growing and stretching their robes as pained screams started to erupt from the men. Another hand wave from the giant and the robes vanished revealing their transforming bodies. Some were mostly human, others were completing their change into sheep.
"Sheep should be sheep." The giant man commented cruelly before turning his suddenly frightful gaze to them. "Since you seem incapable of using your mouth for anything useful, you won't ever again." The man said to Genma, his eyes shifting to Ranma. "And you－ who speaks without thought, need to learn humility in front of the Gods. This, Cjork Porir Dnorri, decrees." With a snap of his fingers, the God vanished, his body collapsing inwards in a soft puff of smoke.
Two months later
Stretching his arms high over his head, Ranma walked along with his father up the stone path towards a secluded home near the outskirts of the city of Nerima. While it was a large city, it was also primarily a trade and shipping city, with a small lightly defended wall around it. Several other larger cities would be attacked before any sizable force could reach this one so defense was seen as a waste of money.
They were heading towards one of his father's friends, a man named Soun Tendo, who was likely a fairly wealthy owner of some training school. The man had a large plot of land about an acre in size surrounded by a two meter high stone wall. At the gate they followed instructions to knock three times with what must have been an enchanted knocker. The gate then opened, allowing them to enter, and likely alerted the occupants to the arrival.
The path changed direction to going down towards where a small building complex was located in the far center of the property. On the left was a big flat platform made from a gray stone and next to it was a dojo structure with large doors that could open the side fully towards the platform. A long two story home was set off to the right along with an area off behind blocked by trees. Most of the property was covered by grass with several trees placed here and there.
This was certainly a nice place and if they could stay a while it would be good change of pace from the endless traveling they had been doing. It was strange that there weren't any students using the facilities. It was a big place that could easily deal with dozens of students, except there wasn't a single one.
As they were reaching the main home, the front door opened up revealing a taller man around the same age as Genma with long black hair and a mustache rushing out. Following him were two girls close to his age, one with her brown hair in a bob was wearing a nice dress while the other with long hair blue hair was wearing practical clothing like he did, slacks with a simple tunic.
"Saotome!" The mustached man cried happily and met Ranma's father for a friendly hug.
"Tendo!" Genma answered back.
"You've lost a lot of hair." Soun joked and Ranma smirked, remembering that hair was a touchy subject with his father. Genma just grimaced in response.
"Are these your daughters?" Genma moved on.
"Two of them, Kasumi is still inside－ she was preparing dinner and couldn't leave the kitchen." The other father answered. "Nabiki, who is seventeen." He indicated the one in teh dress. "And Akane, she's sixteen."
"Say hello boy." Genma barked at him.
"Hi, I'm Ranma." He nodded to them.
"Come in, come in." Soun quickly grabbed him by the shoulders and dragged him in the home. There was an area for depositing shoes and looking at the nice wood floors he popped off his worn slippers and traveling pack before stepping up a small step to the main hall. He had seen this style of house before, furniture was kept to a minimum, lots of open space, and large sliding doors that could open the whole house up.
He slowed briefly passing by what must have been the kitchen, the pleasant aroma of a home cooked meal making his stomach growl. In a room with a low table meant to be sat next to on the floor, he was placed on one side of the table, Genma took a seat next to him, Soun off to the left, and the two sisters across from him. Nabiki was sizing him up like a piece of meat while her sister Akane looked annoyed by the whole thing. He had seen the type of look by Nabiki before and Akane's was making him think that there was more here than he knew.
Glancing at Soun, he tried to measure up the man as a fighter. He seemed fit and with as much energy as his father ever had. But considering the general look of the place with bright colors and lots of whites, he had half expected him to incorporate some kind of divine portion into their style, but he wasn't picking up the normal feeling of general peace those places usually had.
"Am I missing something?" He finally asked. His father clearly knew something that he had kept a secret. Soun had a grin on his face that screamed he was excited about something.
"Well Son." Soun was the one to start talking. "Before any of you were born, your father and I made a solemn pact that our children would be wed." Ranma slowly turned to his father with a level gaze. "So pick whichever one you want."
Grinding his teeth, Ranma realized that this was just another in a long string of his father's foolishness that was coming to haunt him. They had finally found a cure and one of the first things his father does is try to engage him. There was probably some other motive mixed in here that he didn't yet know about but eventually it would show up.
"Uh－ daddy, don't you think you're rushing things a bit." Nabiki interrupted before he could show his displeasure at this arrangement.
"This is just the stupidest thing ever." Akane added.
Genma noticed that he was somewhat less than happy about what was going on and decided to say something. "Maybe it could wait a while? You know, let the kids get to know each other?"
"That sounds like a great idea!" Soun responded happily. "Well, get to know each other." He finished as if they should just be able to do so right this instant.
"You don't happen to have some place to bathe do you?" Ranma tried to be diplomatic.
"I'll show you." Nabiki volunteered. She showed him back towards the entrance where he grabbed his pack so he would have a change of clothing. Going out a doorway in the back, Ranma found himself out in the thickly treed in area, a large clear pond was setup big enough to house a large group of people. A wooden platform lead from the house to the side of the pond before transitioning to the large flat stones that surrounded it. "There's a laundry basket over there you can throw anything you want washed in."
"Oh－ thanks." He dropped his pack off.
"The water has a warm and cleaning enchantment. Linens are over there." The girl pointed to a shelf protected by an overhang that had a rack filled with white towels.
"I'm sort of used to streams."
"Ah, well there's a small spring if you head around to the left that feeds into the bath." The girl explained like she had dealt with the type who preferred cold over hot baths. "Listen, I'm not overly adverse to this whole engagement thing but my Daddy is definitely serious about it, so you'll probably be able to hang around all you want. Well－ I'll let you get to it, but don't take too long, dinner should be ready in a little bit."
"Ah－ thanks." Ranma watched the girl leave, wondering about this whole thing. He did want to spend some time among civilization and in one place. For almost two months straight he and his father had been going non-stop. But he didn't want to get married as the price of that.
Shrugging, he stripped out of his clothing, and dropped them into the basket. He would have to ask about cleaning the rest himself. Glancing at the warm bath, he looked over in the direction of the cold spring. 'Screw it, can't pass up a warm bath.' Sliding into the water, he felt his body shift, his mind drifting back to when everything had gone wrong.
"Pop." Ranma's eyes glanced side to side, currently embracing his father in blind terror, the older Saotome doing the same to him.
"Yea boy?" Genma answered after a moment.
"Nothing happened." He didn't bring up that there was now a heard of angry looking sheep trying to communicate with each other around them. Apparently whatever the giant man had done hadn't taken away who they were. Ranma wasn't sure if that was a good or bad thing for the transformed men.
"We should go." His father suggested and Ranma nodded rapidly.
Exiting the temple built into the side of a cliff face, they grabbed their traveling packs andtook off down the slight incline down the mountain towards the small town in the valley below as fast as their feet could carry them. They didn't make it there before it was too dark to really travel through the woods so they made camp and started a nice little fire going.
Sitting across the fire from his father, Ranma hadn't stopped glaring at the elder Saotome since they stopped running. As usual, his father had caused trouble for him, big trouble this time, and while he hoped that the self-proclaimed God had somehow missed them with a spell, he was half expecting to turn into a sheep any moment now.
"I just want to tell you Pop." Ranma grabbed a small stick and poked at the embers of the fire. "If you turn into a farm animal－ I'll make sure you don't end up dinner."
"Oh shut up." Genma answered irritably.
"Shut up? Because of you and your stupid smash and grab ideas I just ended up freeing some God who casually turned a bunch of guys into sheep." He explained, hysterical from what he just witnessed. Ranma had seen a lot of scary things in his travels with his father but that had been a first. A first that was making him shiver.
"It's alright boy, see? We got away without a scratch." Genma was trying to sound casual but Ranma could see his father didn't really think that.
Ranma let the matter drop even though shortly after he wanted to keep talking, waiting for something that may or may not happen was worse than something actually happening. Waiting in silence with nothing but the crackling of the fire was wearing on his nerves. Opening his mouth to try and start some small talk, his throat seized up painfully, and all that came out was a soft croak.
Trying again, he doubled over when it felt like someone had kicked him in the gut. His entire body felt like it was being compressed, squeezed, and twisted. Ranma's world spun at a shocking pace and he dropped lifelessly to the ground, his muscles suddenly spasming in unison. As quickly as it came, it ended, leaving Ranma lying face down and panting with his sweat plastered face in the dirt.
Groaning as he got up into a sitting position, he thought his voice sounded funny. His vision was blurry and he rubbed at his eyes briefly before shaking his head. His entire body felt off, not like something was wrong, but it wasn't relaying the right sensations. Looking down, he gulped when he found that his silk tunic that had a plunged to the neckline which normally showed off his muscular chest was showing off something far different. Bring up his trembling and undeniably feminine hands; he pulled the fabric away from his body to see the tops of two bountiful swellings of flesh that shouldn't exist on a male.
"Wha－ what?" He asked intelligently, hearing his altered voice for the first time, and quickly putting a hand down his pants to find something was missing and it had been replaced by a far different piece of anatomy. Confused over what he did find, he rapidly pulled his hand out.
Across the fire she saw that something had happened to her father. The large black and white form shifted, brushing off torn pieces of clothing in the process. Genma was now some type of bear and like the men who had become sheep, seemed to still have his intelligence.
"That you Pop?" She asked just to be sure. The bear across from her growfed in response, realized that he couldn't speak before nodding.
"I'm－ I'm a girl." Ranma gulped and looked down at herself again and wishing that there was a mirror around, her bangs were now a bright shade of red. Bringing her ponytail forward, she found that the rest was also now red..
Hissing in pain, she quickly pulled off her boots and socks exposing dainty new feet. Her toes cramped painfully, the nails on her big toe and the next over growing and melding together, with the other three doing the same. Rapidly they reshaped themselves so that she now had small cloven hooves about twice the size that her toes had been. The remaining bits of her toes melted away into her foot that reshaped slightly to be more cylindrical, her ankle also went through a change that completely removed the heel.
"My feet!" She cried hysterically, hearing Genma try to tell her something. "What?" She snapped angrily. The bear growfed once but couldn't add anything.
Pushing with her hands against the ground to shoot up into a standing position, she windmilled her arms to try and balance herself. "Woah!" It felt like trying to stand up on the tips of her toes. "Okay－ okay. I'm a girl－." She whimpered lightly. "And I have－ hooves." That was worrying. From someone else's vantage it must look like she was wearing some ridiculously high heeled shoes.
"This is all your fault!" Ranma jumped over the fire to land awkwardly in front of Genma who was sitting on his backside, grabbing handfuls of fur on his chest. "Why do you have to be such an idiot?" She shook him. "And why do I have to be the bigger idiot to listen to you?" She dropped her eyes, wanting to take back that comment because she was unwilling to take any responsibility.
Genma growfed sadly and hung his head.
"Don't play that game with me!" She snarled, believing his sorrow real but she had seen that exact same posture and look before. Her eyes widening and her back arched inward severely as something expanded out from the base of her spine like a shot. Gasping as new nerve endings suddenly lit up, she released Genma to bring both hands behind her back to feel her new tail as it squirmed agitatedly inside of her left pant leg.
Moaning in pain, she sank to her knees clutching her head when a migraine suddenly appeared. Some of her teeth tingled slightly but that was forgotten when she felt the flesh move underneath her hands above her temples. Expanding out were two large horns that pointed backwards along the side of her head in a graceful curve that reversed upwards at the tips that reached out just behind her head.
Her back suddenly drew her attention, and she leaned forward while trying to wrap her hands around to touch her shoulders. The bottom of her too large tunic was pushed up as two wings pushed their way out of her back from between her shoulder blades and flopped down to drape over her body. Staying in position, she waited for anything else to happen, but all she felt was the weird feelings being relayed by her altered body.
Twitching new muscles, she moved the two batlike wings experimentally. There was a pivot point about a half meter from her back, with a full meter to the tip. They certainly didn't seem big enough to be functional but were too big to be some weird cosmetic feature, which meant they were just in the way. Finding the position incredibly uncomfortable with the tail in her pants, she pulled it out, finding that it was a darker shade of her skin tone with a slight spade to the end.
'I'm some kind of tiefling!' She thought in horror. "I'm going to kill you for this old man." She growled, her head snapping to the where Genma had been, only to find that he was already vanishing into the trees.
Opening her eyes, Ranma sighed, staring across the bath to the trees on the other side. She had forgotten how nice hot water felt and how unnatural this form felt. Even after a month and a half spent in it, she was barely coming to terms with the change of gender, and wasn't even close with everything else.
Her real body was not good with magic, in this one she could almost use it but lacked any training. The only thing she had ever done externally with it was blast her father with a magical explosion. Physically she could use it to morph her body slightly altering the size of her wings from a medium size, a large size capable of flying, and a small nearly unnoticeable size that made them look like hands sticking out from her back. Currently they were the small size for lounging purposes. Magic was also used for flying, making the wings nothing more than annoying decorations.
Spinning the tip of her tail under the surface of the water, she made little whirlpools, and sighed again. Exploring magic would be infinitely interesting except she would have to do it like this. A form that was distrusted and often outright hated wherever she went. Half the reason it had taken so long for them to find out about Jusenkyo was that no one wanted to talk to some strange black and white bear who communicated with signs or the tiefling.
She had thought their next mission would be to find a way to make Jusenkyo permanent but her father had this idea, which for the life of her she couldn't figure out. Nabiki and Akane were attractive but this was so sudden and she really needed to get to know them, and for them to get to know her. Of course this body would cause a lot of problems.
"Excuse me." A soft feminine voice that she didn't recognize called from the entryway. Ranma looked around worriedly, the bath wasn't built for privacy, and the nearest cold water would expose her if the girl walked in. "Hello?" Seeing someone start to peak around the corner into the bath area, she hastily ducked underneath the water.
Fumbling with her hands to find a hand hold to keep her body underneath the water, she finally found one, and looked up through the surface to try and see if anyone was approaching the edge. Some dark figure did appear at the edge. Ranma's ears picked up something being said but she was unable to make out what. Realizing that the water was almost perfectly clear due to the cleaning enchantment, she also realized that the person could easily see that she was here.
Pushing herself away from the edge with the person on it, she broke the surface, and took a quick gasp of air. About to try and pacify the girl who had interrupted her bath, she stopped, and blinked several times. "You're a－." She started to say but figured it'd be stupid to spell it out.
The other tiefling bowed her head for a moment. She was wearing a simple and conservative green dress with a white apron tied around her waist. She was nearly as tall as Soun, with golden hair and matching golden orbs for eyes, and a pleasant smile on her face. On her forehead were four horns placed halfway up from her eyes to her hairline. The inner two were smaller, only about the size of an index finger and were pointed upwards with a slight angle outwards. The outer two horns were larger and had a more extreme curve with the points around to her temples. Wrapped halfway around her feet was a red reptilian tail with a small frill on the top near the tip.
"Uh－ hi." Ranma greeted lamely. "I can－ um, explain." She nervously scratched at the back of her head.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, but I felt your presence, and came as soon as I could. You didn't happen to see a boy in here did you?" The girl looked side to side. "My sister said that a boy named Ranma was here taking a bath but only you're here."
"Heh heh." Ranma laughed nervously, briefly considering trying to keep the curse a secret. "I'm Ranma." She admitted, swimming over to the edge. "It's a curse, hot water turns me into this. So does that mean you're Kasumi?" The girl nodded and smoothly knelt down to kneel on the wooden platform next to the stone surrounding the pool.
"You－ sensed me?" Ranma asked.
"It was hard not to." Kasumi giggled for a moment.
"What do you mean?"
"You're very strong magically."
"I don't know much about magic." Ranma admitted. 'If I did, I wouldn't have this curse. Or if I wasn't stupid enough to listen to my old man' She thought darkly and hopped up to sit on one of the stones surrounding the pool.
"You're um－." Kasumi stuttered, a light blush adorning her cheeks.
"What?" Ranma cocked her head to one side.
"Not very modest." The Tendo girl finally got out.
"Guess not." Ranma wouldn't be running around completely naked as a guy in front of girls but she didn't think there was any problem with a girl seeing her naked. Guys tended to stare and be a general pain in the ass though.
"We－ should go back to the dining room, dinner will be getting cold." Kasumi hastily stood up. "There's plenty of time to talk later."
"Right." Ranma nodded and watched Kasumi head towards the entryway. Her eyes trailed down to Kasumi's hips that had a little extra sway to them due to the heavy tail.
Getting her wandering eyes under control, she walked over to her pack and got out her flask to gather some of the warm water. Finding the spring that supplied water, she reverted back to male, and got dressed in some clothing that would be able to handle the change well when he explained things. A tunic that was missing the arms and had enough opening in the back that his wings at full size would be able to expand out of without issue, and a pair of pants that he had modified specifically for the tail shorty after being changed the first time.
Everyone was waiting for him before they began dinner. Genma had a look on his face that showed he was just as surprised as Ranma that the eldest Tendo was a tiefling, which meant that the rest of the family was also planetouched but it did not manifest. It certainly helped explain why there were no students here. He didn't miss the hopeful look on Kasumi's face that died when she saw him. 'Guess she thought I'd be like that as a guy too.'
Eating with the Tendo's, Ranma ended up making small talk about where they had been, what they had done. Eventually this lead to what they had been doing recently which made bringing up the subject of their curses easy. Genma volunteered to say how it happened and Ranma didn't stop him from weaving a simple if wholly inaccurate reason for them going to Jusenkyo. By the end of it, Ranma was not convinced by his father's story, and the family who had heard it appeared to have the same opinion.
'After all the years he's spent lying, you'd think he'd be good at it.' Ranma put his face in his hand. Genma's explanation about the events at Jusenkyo were halting, he contradicted himself, and the whole story simply fell apart.
"What he's talking about is this." Ranma grabbed the flask and doused his father with some of the heat enchanted water. There was a brief moment where nothing happened and then sitting at the table was a black and white bear.
"Daddy there's a bear at the table." Nabiki commented dryly.
"Hrmm, the legendary training grounds of Jusenkyo－ it's true horror has been shrouded in mystery." Soun said sagely.
"So what do you change into?" Akane asked, changing the attention of everyone in the room to him. Upending the flask over his head, she rolled her shoulders, expanding out her wings to their medium size.
"This." She answered, reaching behind to clip the small button in the back of her pants to hold her tail in place through her hole in the top. Due to her changed feet she didn't lose much height, but this body was definitely small and slimmer overall, and even though her hips were close to the same width, her pants had a nasty habit of slipping down without something to hold them up.
"Your big plan to hide Kasumi until he made a choice doesn't really seem worth it." Nabiki told her father sarcastically.
"Well your problem doesn't seem too bad." Soun appeared at her side and patted her on the back. "So are you ready to pick?"
"Oh he wants Kasumi." Akane spoke up before he could answer.
"Definitely." Nabiki added.
"But." Kasumi protested weakly.
"Wait a second." Ranma tried to complain as well.
"Isn't it great Tendo? Our children to be wed?" Genma exclaimed.
"Fantastic Saotome!" Soun answered.
"Hold it!" Ranma hopped up to her feet with a soft clack on the wooden floor. "I can't marry her!"
"Why not? Is there something wrong with my daughter?" Soun asked seriously.
"Yes! She's a tiefling!" Ranma answered without thinking and the conversation stopped abruptly. Her eyes darted to Kasumi who had her mouth open in shock before shutting it and bowing her head.
"Ex－ excuse me." Kasumi quickly gathered up several nearby dishes and utensils, and hastily left the room.
"But－." Ranma looked to her father briefly for support and found none. The other two Tendo sisters were looking at her like she was lower than dirt along with Soun as well. "He was trying to hide her." Ranma pointed towards Soun, remembering Nabiki's earlier comment. Finding that this didn't change anything, she trotted off after Kasumi to go apologize.
Assuming that the eldest Tendo sister had gone to the kitchen, she went to where she remembered it being, and was rewarded with finding the tiefling standing over a wash basin with her back to Ranma while her hands worked to clean something. Bumping her wings on the doorway as she walked in, Ranma shrunk them down, and stopped a respectable distance away from the girl.
"I didn't mean it like that." Ranma started.
Kasumi grabbed a nearby towel and dried her hands off before turning to her. "There's no reason to apologize. I am what I am." The tiefling smiled vacantly. "I'm sorry if it makes you uncomfortable."
"Stop being so nice." Ranma snorted angrily. "You look more human than I do like this. I shouldn't be saying stuff like that."
"It's alright, really." Kasumi turned and started to use a small hand pump to put more water in the basin.
The small wings on Ranma's back twitched agitatedly at being rebuked while trying to apologize for being an ass. "I'm sorry." She said simply and didn't wait for an answer before leaving the kitchen, immediately bumping into Genma.
"Boy." Genma started to say something but stopped at her look.
"Just shut up old man." She growled.
"I－ was going to show you where our room is." Her father said quickly.
"Alright." Her head bobbed forward several times.
Out in the yard, Akane had setup a practice dummy on a post, and was trying to hit it with just enough force to almost break it. She had dragged her elder sister Nabiki outside, intent on venting her feelings on her meddlesome sister. Honestly she wondered what sort of joke it was that Kasumi, the sweet and innocent sister had to be born a tiefling while Nabiki, the one who clearly should have been wasn't.
"I'm horrible－ we're horrible." Akane struck a practice dummy squarely in it's false face. "How could we do that to Kasumi?"
"Pretty easily." Nabiki answered casually. "Unless you want a fiancée with a bigger bust than you."
Akane sputtered. "What does that have to do with it?"
"Just a joke."
"Do you think this is a joke to Kasumi?"
Rolling her eyes, she did a spin and planted a kick in the dummy's stomach. "And can you believe Dad making us do that? Like Kasumi was some－ some－ ugly servant or something?" That wasn't really how she wanted to describe it but she couldn't take it back. "When he was selling us off like a piece of meat he didn't even mention her."
"Seriously Akane, unless you want to volunteer for the engagement, and remember that you were the one who threw Kasumi to the wolves so to speak, get over it."
"I panicked!" She protested, spinning to glare at her sister.
"And that makes it better?" The brunette smirked. "That your first instinct was to sell out Kasumi?"
Simmering, she had no way to counter that verbally, and beating up her sister was out. Behind Nabiki, she caught sight of one of their new houseguests walking out of the home. The cursed teen had not changed back and Akane wondered why. From his outburst earlier he clearly had a low opinion of tieflings. The red head noticed them, paused, and then headed off away from them towards the main gate.
"What's he doing?" She asked herself.
"Hmm?" Nabiki twisted her neck around to see Ranma before shrugging. "I'm going back inside."
Not paying attention to her sister, Akane finished off her training dummy with a blind back kick that knocked it off it's perch to go skittering across the stone platform. Taking a deep breath, she stormed across the grounds to where Ranma had stopped to go through a combat form. The cursed boy was moving slowly and deliberately, in a way that showed she was well used to the body, and had not simply been changed two weeks prior. Akane paused briefly, remembering how Ranma hadn't seemed to care that much about being cursed. Upset over being a tiefling yes, but from what Genma had said, Ranma had been beyond reason with rage. Watching Ranma slip on the grass and fall on her backside, she couldn't stop herself from laughing.
"What's so funny?" The red head asked angrily, pouting cutely.
"You really hurt Kasumi with what you said." She chose to ignore the angry exclamation.
"Yea well, from what I've seen you people aren't that great to her either." Ranma stood up, standing taller than Akane by a few centimeters. Glancing downwards, Akane noted the way the red head had to stand, and figured that she would be shorter than her without the inhuman feet.
"You haven't even been here a half day and you think you can make a judgment like that?" Akane bristled at the tiefling's comment.
"Whatever, I'll be gone as soon as I can figure out where I might find something that'll lock the curse." Ranma bounced on her feet momentarily before moving into another form.
Standing in an uncomfortable silence, Akane considering challenging Ranma to a spar, but having seen the Saotome boy slip on the grass she figured that his cursed form was too clumsy to be a threat. Tomorrow when he was back in his real body she would do it. Without having anything more to say and Ranma appearing to be the same, she nonchalantly walked away from the red head to go take a bath before going to bed.
Ranma took two quick steps before opening her wings and shooting off into the night sky. Leveling off from her steep climb, she stopped focusing magic to simply glide out over the city. Nerima had a lighting system setup that kept a soft glow over the streets, and then there was the light coming from homes but that would soon go out, leaving just the street light to illuminate her flight. Finding herself a bit too low, she flapped her large wings, and gained more height.
Flying and the possibility to learn magic were the only two good points about this form. Being in the air, untethered to the ground, she found it impossible to care about any troubles in her life, everything simply fell away. The heavy feeling she got in her chest being around normal people or even thinking about it vanished. The worry she sometimes felt that her life would be interrupted again by that crazy God, left her. Even the fear that she would find Jusenkyo no longer working was pushed to the back of her mind.
The first attempts she and Genma had made to find a cure was transformation magic. Simple spells that could disguise someone as something else all failed. More powerful ones that literally changed the body to something else didn't work either. The magic that had been cast on them was powerful and it seemed that the God didn't want anyone playing with his work. Jusenkyo was the only thing that worked and the first time it had been a halting and jerking change that repeatedly threatened to simply go backwards. Now it worked smoothly in both directions, though she had noticed that it was always faster with hot water.
Forgetting about that, she swung away from some clouds that were coming in from the East. There were some worries she couldn't just ignore. Getting wet flying through clouds would activate the curse magic and lead to a long fall down. Having learned her lesson once, she kept well away from any clouds.
Passing over a largish estate on her way back, a bright flash of light caught her eye from down below. Ranma had a moment to twist out of the way so the sharp beam of yellowish white light only struck her right wing. White hot pain raced through her body, the magic that kept her in the air cutting out, and she dropped like a stone. Landing painfully on a wall, she was twisted awkwardly before hitting a stone road, hard.
"Damn it." She clutched at the side that had hit the wall, glad that no bones were broken. Shrinking her wings, she got up to her feet, and fell backwards to lean against the wall.
"Hold vile fiend!" A male voice called out, accompanied by rapid footsteps down the road towards her.
"I'm not a vile fiend." She protested and pushed away from the wall to face her attacker. He was taller than her by nearly a head and had short hair. Dressed in white, the only part of his clothing notable was the gold embroidered tunic that reached his knees, and was bound at his waist with a belt. Clutched in his right hand was a wooden sword while his left hand was held across his chest horizontally.
"I, Tatewaki of the house Kuno shall send you back to your vile plane of existence!" he announced and pointed his left hand at her. "Bolt of light that cleaves the dark of night, reside in my hand and devour my unholy enemy, Holy beam!"
"This is my plane of existence!" Ranma answered him, hard pressed to avoid the condensed beam of yellow light that nearly struck her in the chest. Instead of remaining far away, her attacker closed the distance, and started to attack her with the wooden sword. Almost slipping on the stone, she avoided the strange weapon, to put some distance between them.
"Will you listen to me? I'm cursed to be this way." She tried to explain.
"A likely story!" The boy sliced at her with the sword from a distance. Confused over why he would do that, she was struck by something sharp from her left shoulder to her right hip. Falling backwards, she slid a meter on the stone before coming to a stop.
"What the?" She looked down at her destroyed tunic, the front hanging open exposing her left breast, a thin red line of blood marked where whatever it was had cut her.
"You must be strong to withstand my blade fiend." Tatewaki announced, waving his hands in a complicated seal.
"If you would just listen, I'm a tiefling." Getting to her feet, she froze, and looked down at a circle of light that appeared on the ground under her feet.
"Obey me Mistress of fire! Grant to me your flame of purification and flow out your fire and sulfur, turn all sinners into dust! Vulcanis Animus!" The boy announced dramatically and pointed his right hand towards her feet.
Ranma's entire world became one unending moment of pain and bright light. Coming out the other side, she coughed out a small puff of smoke, her entire body covered by black marks and a small fire burning at the tip of her tail.
"You're still alive?" Kuno asked incredulously.
"Tiefling－ not an actual－ demon." She wavered on her hooves before toppling over unconscious.
Waking up, Ranma briefly ran her hands along the soft linens that she was wrapped up in. Opening up her eyes and sitting up, the covers fell off of her body revealing a sheer white negligee with small golden patterns in several places. Grimacing at how feminine of a garment it was and how much it showed off her bust, she threw off the rest of the covers and hopped out of the bed. Blinking, she wondered who had brought her to what appeared to be a noble's home, and why it had to be such an obviously feminine room.
A large and complex vanity dominated one side of the room, a doorway and closets another and a large window on the other with white satin curtains blocking the view outside. Everything was primarily white, then gold, and some of the furniture had a natural wood color to it. Looking around for her clothes she couldn't find them, and glancing down at the almost healed cut that ran down her body she realized that the tunic would have been a lost cause. Anything capable of cutting her skin must have cut through the cloth as well.
'Wait a minute, who changed my clothes, and cleaned me up?' She stopped, a vision of her attacker doing that made her shiver. 'Alright, first order of business is to get some clothes and then get out of here.' Digging through the closet, she found them empty. About to head out the door, she took a step away from it and prepared to defend herself when the handle turned. Opening the door was indeed Kuno who was holding a tray with a plate of food and some orange juice.
"I was just coming to wake you." Tatewaki noted like she was some kind of close friend.
"First you attack me and now you're bringing me breakfast?" Ranma asked incredulously.
"It is merely my attempt at an apology." He answered. "I am prone to acting without thinking and with how powerful you are I thought it would be best not to ask too many questions."
"I guess it's alright." Sitting down on the edge of the bed, she took a closer look at the food since she was hungry. Being randomly attacked had always been a part of her life. Thankfully it seemed this guy had just made a mistake and now wanted to make up for it. The comment about being powerful made her think of Kasumi being able to find her in the bath. Maybe she had to learn more about magic and suppress whatever passive presence she had to avoid more trouble like last night.
"I should properly introduce myself, I am Tatewaki Kuno, cleric of the Goddess Mico." He greeted dramatically.
"Uh－ Ranma Saotome." She introduced herself. "You don't happen to have what's left of my clothes do you?"
"Your blouse was beyond repair and will be replaced while the rest is being laundered."
"Uh－ thanks." It didn't take her long to finish off the food. While she was eating though she kept an eye on the other teen. First he knocks her out of the sky, hits her with some very painful holy spell, and now she was being waited on? That was a really suspicious change of heart. She didn't miss that he was examining her as well.
"You said you were cursed to be this way. Did you mean by your birth or some other means?"
"Other." She answered. "If you get my clothes and a glass of cold water I'll show you." Getting out of this girlish dress and back in her real body would be nice. Kuno nodded and gathered up the tray of food before leaving the room. She didn't hold out much hope that he would know how to do anything about the curse but he might be a contact, someone who might know someone.
Opening up the curtains to look outside and try to figure out where she was, Ranma recognized the estate from flying last night by the large pond on the property. The Kuno's were certainly well off, unlike the Tendo's who were closer to the city limits, the Kuno's lived near the center in a rich district on a plot of land the same size. Unable to really see anything other than the surrounding wall and the buildings past that, she briefly considered simply flying away before shutting the curtain.
"So who cleaned me up?" She asked when Kuno returned.
"My sister." He answered quickly, placing her pants, and a new tunic on the bed. "The water you wanted." Kuno handed her a cup.
"Thanks." Setting the cup off to the side, she pulled on the pants, and was about to pull off the negligee when she noticed that Kuno was staring. "Ya mind?" Ranma asked. Having little to no modesty, that didn't mean she was going to give someone a free show. She would have to be an idiot to not notice that if she removed the inhuman features she would be fighting off suitors.
"Sorry." Kuno hastily turned around.
Removing the negligee, she pulled on the replacement tunic, her wings tenting the material in the back but that would no longer be an issue after she used the water. "Alright." Getting the cup of water, she made sure she had his complete attention. "This is my cursed form, cold water changes me back." She explained and he looked to be struggling with that.
"Just watch." Upending the cup of water over her head, her body was changed back into a human male. "See? This is the real me." Or as close to the real him as he could get since there was a tiny bit of difference. Either by forgetting after all the time spent in the tiefling body or actual ones.
"The real you?" Kuno asked, shocked by the transformation.
"Yea, that other body is a curse." Ranma was about to ask if Kuno might know anybody who knew about curses when he interrupted him.
"So you have been possessed!" Kuno declared.
"No, I'm not possessed." He tried to explain.
"I see it so clearly now. A fiend has placed you under her terrible sway and now clouds your mind with her vile temptations." Tatewaki grabbed him by the shoulders and stared deeply into Ranma's eyes. "Do not worry Ranma Saotome, I swear to Mico that I shall free you from that red haired abomination."
Ranma blinked several times, on one hand that was what he wanted, on the other, Kuno did not seem to be paying attention to him. "I think I'll be going." Ranma tried to get away.
"Do not worry Saotome, fight the temptation of her charms."
"Well while I'm fighting that temptation, I'm going to do it far away from you." Finally able to brush the demented cleric's hands off of him, he used the window to make a quick exit.
On the way back to the Tendo estate, Ranma ended up having to deal with the traffic in a series of streets that focused on selling food. Compared to flying over it last night, he was feeling slightly claustrophobic. His time spent in larger cities was small, spending most of his life in the wilderness or small villages.
Thinking about using Kuno as a way to find information about the curse, lead him to consider the problems with that. Curses were something that were cured but he needed it to be altered to be permanent. Would he be able to find such a thing among the holy? The God's own change to his body hadn't shown up as a curse but a protection against changes, which is what had lead them to look for a powerful curse. He was probably lucky that the loony cleric hadn't made an attempt to remove Jusenkyo.
Maneuvering through the crowd, he was surprised to bump into someone since he was being careful. There was a soft feminine oof and the woman he had bumped into fell to the road; spilling the bundle that she was carrying.
"I'm sorry." He assumed that he had accidently hit the woman with far too much force. As he held out his hand to help her up, he immediately noticed her long bright red hair, some of which had fallen over her face. She slowly used a hand to brush it off to the side, before taking his hand. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine." She answered in a breathy voice and took his hand to be helped to her feet. The woman was pale, had bright blue eyes, was the same height as him, and was wearing a form hugging black dress with a daring neckline that showed off a very attractive body.
"Lemme pick these up for you." He offered, quickly shoving the items into a burlap sack she had been carrying them in. "Here." He handed it to her. "Sorry again."
"Thank you." She slung the bag over her shoulder before staring into his eyes. "You look－ familiar, what is your name young man?"
Ranma couldn't remember doing anything that would come back to haunt him with a woman like this. "Ranma."
"Saotome?" She asked hopefully.
"How'd you know that?" He asked, his concern rising.
"Can it really be you?" She asked in wonder, eyes sparkling as she held back tears.
"Sorry I've never met you before."
"Is your father Genma?"
"Yea." He drawled.
"My son!" She cried happily and hugged him.
Since it is so ridiculously vague, the Goddess Mico, or latin for "shine" is actually a very long distance reference to the author Sunshine Temple, the owner of Fukufics. Who I was talking to while writing up that scene about some of the things I thought off about "The Return" in this instance what I thought was a bit of an unfair treatment towards Kuno. So I thought it would be a little bit of cosmic irony for Kuno to worship Ranma-chan while at the same time wanting to actually cure Ranma of Ranma-chan.
Genma is a panda, but no one has any clue what a panda is.
x X x
Most races are xenophobic and end up separate from the others. This is not a universal rule and varies depending on location.
Tiefling - generic term given to individuals who have a demonic parent or have a demon in their lineage. It can skip generations and the odds of a tiefling appearing after successive generations without an influx of demon blood drops significantly. Usually they have demonic features regardless of distance from the source, sometimes looking even less human than their demonic parent. While not always being aligned with evil, their magic always is, and use of holy spells is all but impossible.
Telling tieflings apart from demons can be difficult based on looks alone, but since demons tend to remain on their plane of existence unless summoned for some purpose, if they are on the Earth plane, they would not appear out of place or would likely be doing something noticeably evil. This requirement to wait and see means that most people are wary of any tiefling but even more so of ones that hide what they are. Some nations even require them to notify authorities in order to keep tabs on their numbers.
Magic is broken into three categories, Demonic, Neutral, and Holy. Neutral spells can be cast by anyone while the other two can require specific alignments set by who their parents are. Demonic and Holy spells at their base draw power from deities on either sides. Lower level spells draw on the entire pantheon, while higher ones are attuned for one specific deity. Calling on the power of a deity for a spell does not require worship or making a pact but it does alert the deity to the usage and they can cancel access at any time. Normally they do not restrict access, being uncaring of what happens on the mortal planes. Sometimes they may take interest and grant the caster more powerful spells inaccessible to others. Neutral spells draw on ambient magical energies and are limited in their power by how much is available and the range that a caster can draw from. They also exhaust the area of magic, stopping further magic from being used while it is regenerated.