It has been a long road, and finally I have completed this work. I'm pretty happy with it, but I realize that there is a lot here that a reader might miss. I will take a little time to attempt to remedy this, starting with an explanation of Ranma. But before that, there are a few things for me to say.
First and foremost, I would like to thank those of you who have stuck with me all the way, especially Farmer Kyle, who was helping to keep me going before he even got a profile on this site. I would like to mention in a subtle, non-coercive manner, that anyone who enjoyed this alterverse may want to look in Farmer Kyle's direction at some point in the future, as he has plans (which will hopefully result in publishing) to play in my sandbox, so to speak.
Second, I have a REALLY long unwritten backstory here. You want to write some of it? Please do. For the love of whatever higher powers you may or may not worship, don't hold back. I am never going to write all of it. I am never even going to try. For all I know, this story may well be the entirety of my contribution to this continuum. You have an idea of what happened during my several millennia long unwritten past? Write the story. Think you know what happens next? Go for it. All I ask is that you send me a message so that I know who is writing so that I can read your work.
Now, a not-so-quick analysis of Ranma.
Ranma has a great deal of psychological issues that are never really shown properly in canon. He is insecure, and covers it with a veneer (albeit a thick one) of arrogance. He is skilled in combat but incapable of normal social interaction. He has deep mental scars from his training and many repressed memories. Ranma is not your healthy, happy-go-lucky hero, he's a young man who clings to his sanity and his self-image by a thread. Some of these issues are resolved with time, as he gains a greater understanding of himself. Others linger, and over the course of the years he was subjected to new sorts of pressures and problems. I've tried to show Ranma as someone who still has deep-seated issues, but is not crushed by them. There is a bit of healing throughout the story, but one of the prominent themes that I've focused on is the fact that he has to work through these issues himself. Others can help, but there is no magical solution, and even at the end of the story he isn't fully recovered.
Some authors choose to view Ranma as some sort of hero of justice. Not so here. My Ranma started out as canon Ranma, and therefore began as an insufferable jerk. In the beginning, Ranma is petty, childish, greedy, prideful, ignorant, and generally annoying. Not really the nicest person to be around. He really only had one thing going for him, and that is that his heart was in the right place. Given a simple choice between good and evil, Ranma chooses to do the right thing. Even in cases where he is tempted to do the immoral, he generally comes around to the more moral path in the end. But he isn't really a hero. He doesn't go out and beat up bad guys in the defense of random people, he doesn't go on crusades against evil, he just reacts. He cares about bystanders, he protects the weak, he puts his life and pride on the line for many reasons, but he is reactive, not proactive. If he is a hero, he's the firefighter that runs into a burning building to save a child, not the hero of light standing alone against the darkness. The difference is subtle, but what it comes down to is that Ranma defends. He protects. Although he can crush boulders and throw blasts of energy, he is simply a dependable guy in a storm. You want him on your side, but he is NOT your chosen hero.
But that's alright. They don't rely on heroes any more than they rely on good or evil on Weyard. Heroes exist for the sake of normal humans, not for the people this story is truly focused on.
An observant reader may have noticed that Ranma never used his last name. In fact, for a couple chapters I avoided saying his name at all. This was partly me being sneaky, but mostly it was to show how Ranma had set aside his old identity. He was no longer a Saotome, not because he was thrown out of the clan, but because there was no more clan and, furthermore, he feels as if he does not belong in one. Family is big in Japan, and being just 'Ranma' is an important statement about his lack of identity. Calling himself 'Ranma' instead of 'Saotome Ranma' says that he is absolutely alone in every way that counts in the eyes of the society he grew up in. He is essentially saying that he no longer has a place in the land of his birth, and in many ways this is true, not least because of how Japan ceased to exist in its former state after the battle.
Ranma puts on masks instead, tells people to call him (or sometimes her) various names, and generally confuses the issue of his identity for various functional regions as well. Some of Ranma's attributes and abilities are more than slightly eye-catching, and this has caused him some annoyance in the past, and probably will continue to do so in the future. There are a variety of functional reasons as well. Immortals are interesting, especially to scientists, alchemists, and researchers, and it would be counterproductive to get too much attention when he is trying to stay on the sidelines. He doesn't want to be a mystery, mysteries get attention, and wars have been started over lesser things than the secret to eternal life.
Ranma also has abilities to help with this obfuscation, and knew a few basic memory techniques even as far back as canon events (usually involving the Amazons). Moreover, Ranma is fast. Really, really fast, faster than the normal human, or even a normal adept, could hope to see. Add in the Umi-sen-ken and he is able to achieve transportation capabilities approximately equivalent to the Justice League's Flash. Also, he is not using his real body. I only mentioned it briefly, but the 'Ranma' that people are talking to on Weyard is a mental projection made of solidified energy. Weyard is his inner world, so to speak, and his projection is capable of anything he has the energy to make it do, which is pretty much anything that a human-sized entity could possibly do. Power-wise, his real body is less combat capable (but even more unkillable) as it has very little energy compared to what was expended on Weyard. But, again, his true body is literally unable to die, and that means that if he ever did fight anyone, he is guaranteed at least a stalemate. And after the last chapter, that issue ceases.
Ranma being immortal was pretty much a given, but when I started I had forgotten one of the 'rules' of immortality, that there is always a back-story. I at first tried to just make it easy and talk about ancient martial arts skills or something, but, as you saw in the chapter with Ku Lon, I could only get an extended life span out of that. I couldn't bring myself to be so unrealistic to Ranma as to just go BANG! You're immortal! So, what could I use to make Ranma not merely long-lived, but actually undying?
The answer, of course, was magic. But I needed a good reason, a very good one. Ranma does not trust magic. In canon he seeks it, he chases it, he runs from it, but he never trusts it except when he needs it. I did not know it at the time, but I have since discovered that the plot device that I used is referred to as 'the Godzilla threshold' on TV tropes. Basically, I gave Ranma a situation so bad, that he would push himself beyond all limits, that he would accept and seek all allies, that he would be willing to give up anything he had, because no matter what he lost winning, losing would have been infinitely worse. What did he do to himself? That's a secret. He gave up some things, and in return the universe leaned in his favor. Even now I still do not fully understand the full extent of what was sacrificed, and I'm not sure I want to. The mechanics of the application of the curse involves Jusenkyo, but not a curse from the pools, and that's all I'm going to say about it.
Ranma's skills and abilities are the products of his life and his personality. He is, without a doubt, brokenly powerful, but is severely limited by past events. The different jobs he has had in the past (hinted at in various times throughout the story) are all products of Ranma's basic personality. Doctors, scientists, historians, teachers, warriors, all of these are respected professions, ones that his ego would not be troubled in the slightest by his acceptance of them. These are jobs that leave people looking up to him and relying on his skill, but not leaning on him too much. The one job he never had was that of a leader. Weyard was not something anyone planned for, and they all had to adapt as best they could.
His 'girl side' is something that I threw in about as often as his male form. After such a long period of time, I could not imagine him caring about such things in the slightest anymore, less because he has accepted it and more because of the sheer apathy that comes from being like that for so long, so Ranma's behavior reflects that. Ranma intentionally remains a bystander and does not allow himself to get involved romantically with people, possibly because it could only end with him watching his loved ones wither and possibly because he might have given that up at Jusendo. In many ways, Ranma learned how to deal with outliving people at the Ku Lon Academy of Meddling, and it shows here and there.
One question that some of you may have in the back of your minds, is why did I make Ranma god? In truth, there was no other way this story could go. Ranma cannot get a happy ending. That would require being able to actually end, through the greatest of all human blessings, death. He can't, no matter how much he wants to, because Ranma, whatever else you might say about him, is never going to just step back and let everyone die. He can't. If there is one thing that can be said about Genma, it is that he raised a better man than himself. The only sort of conclusion that I could provide was either one where something horrific happened and everyone died (not what I was going for) or one where Ranma won out over Kami and Hild in a permanent fashion.
I was influenced a good deal by Oh My Goddess here, as one of the biggest ideas is that nothing is absolute, that even the Ultimate Force has bugs in it. There may be a bigger plan, but if there is it doesn't change the fact that from where we stand, we have to fix things ourselves. To put it succinctly, I in no way used the God of Christianity. These were not all-powerful entities that Ranma was up against; these were nearly all-powerful system administrators playing a game of chess with souls. And, as another author once wrote, the problem with chess masters is that they make one fatal assumption: that you are playing the same game as them. Ranma had entirely different goals, played by entirely different rules, and used his opponent's assumptions against them. He wasn't playing chess, he was playing Parcheesi. And that created a deadlock, since he had basically stole all the game pieces and hid them, probably with just a little help from Yggdrasil.
To me, Yggdrasil was the grandpa who went out to some convention for a month, and left his kids and grandkids to take care of his house for him, only to find, upon his return, that they were engaging in a paint war, with half the family trying to paint everything red and the other half smearing everything with blue. He wants it fixed, but they are his family, so he gives them some time to stop and get to cleaning everything up. Only they don't, so he has to go call for some outside assistance. It's a rough analogy, but serves well enough. Ranma was never an ideal choice, he was chosen because he was available and he despised everything that his predecessors had been doing. The goal wasn't to get some sort of perfect entity to take the job, the goal was to get someone sufficiently different that their screw-ups would at least be different from the last ones.
Ranma was the choice because nobody else was right for it. Nobody wanted the job, not after all they'd been through. Ranma was the only one who needed the closure badly enough to accept. He needed to win, to remove his opponents from their threatening positions, waiting for him to slip up. They were his Sword of Damocles, and he needed to be rid of them. So he said yes, because he needed to. Just a tidbit of information, Weyard is no longer a pocket universe at this point. Ranma's made it a lot more stable and real now. Not that anyone on Weyard ever noticed.
Some perceptive readers may detect some issues here that also occurred in Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series. Yes. Yes there are similarities. And when I sat down to read that series as a bit of relaxation after finishing my draft of the last chapter in a way that I liked, I was more than a little irked to find that I would have gotten so many solutions to my problems had I read the books a couple weeks earlier. It is a good series though, and I did enjoy my belated enlightenment.
As for other assorted associates of Ranma, I had to largely extrapolate about them from their jobs and try to make them real. Daedelus was both a call out to the summon from the game and a combination of ideas that I drew from Oh My Goddess and Fate/Stay Night, which led me to ascend a particularly notable engineer to a higher level of existence.
The faerie king and queen, Oberon and Titania, are not actually the same ones from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. I felt that the names were more descriptive than specific, and that the queen inherits the name Titania, while her consort becomes Oberon. This doesn't affect the story at all, but I feel it worth mentioning. The faeries in my story are western European fae primarily, although there are some other types that were around.
There are two types or courts of faeries under the control of Oberon and Titania, the seelie (the 'nicer' ones that probably, but not definitely, won't kill you on sight) and the unseelie (you meet one, you're probably doomed to death or worse). The seelie like children, and they steal them from homes (they give them back to families occasionally if the family is nice, but if not the changeling left in the child's place is going to stay) and generally follow the rules they make themselves. The unseelie don't much care for any of that. The thing to remember about both of them is that their jokes are ONLY funny to THEM. You won't be laughing.
To illustrate my point, these are the guys that invented the Elven Dinner Gambit, as some people call it. It is something that a person well-versed in lore has to deal with when invited to dinner with the faeries. Basically, the faeries will always try to play a trick on you. ALWAYS. But they like to pretend to be fair, or at least some do, so they only play the trick if you put a foot wrong, unless they feel like it. The choice for our hapless mortal is whether or not to eat the food. If the food is the trick, then they are safe if they politely decline to eat. But if the food is safe, then the fairies get… offended if you refuse, and they get creative. You can never tell which course of action is best beforehand. The point I am trying to make is that doing anything with the faeries is a gamble, and sometimes the coin is weighted. These are not your cuddly friends, however nice a thought that might be.
The spell that they used at Jusendo is a form of a contract binding that is applied when a mortal is foolish enough to willingly dance nine times around a fairy ring widdershins (counterclockwise). It is present in old faerie tales. And yes, they really did cheat when they used it. That was sort of the point.
I have, up to this point, failed to focus on several more entities that stand out from the crowd.
Iris is a minor goddess associated with rainbows and messages, especially those passed between gods and mortals. She is somewhat lacking in personality in the Greek mythology, so I had the current Iris be a bit more real. Rainbows are powerful, if only because everyone believes in them. If you wish to know more about her, I suggest rereading Chapter 14, where I spoke about her in a good bit of detail. Further questions, on any topic, should be sent to me directly by PM or review.
Megaera is an angel who has become something more. Neither powerful, nor wily, Megaera gets by with a finely tuned sense of right and wrong that is not blinded by classifications such as 'good' or 'evil', 'light' or 'dark', 'chaos' or 'order'. I had several reasons for including Megaera. First, Megaera is there in Golden Sun as a summon, so I wanted to explain that. Second, I didn't want to give the impression that everyone associated with Kami and Hild were irrevocably evil or anything. One of the themes of this story is rising above such things as 'good' and 'evil' for the sake of everyone. Megaera was my way of showing that not all angels are blinded by light. Megaera feels a strong personal connection to Ranma, more than most of the others. Ranma is not associated with any factions, and acts as a mediator, but if there were a 'Ranma faction' then Megaera would be Ranma's right hand angel. Ranma is not really comfortable about this, but is pretty much resigned to it at this point.
Boreas, Catastrophe, Thor, Coatlique, the Dullahan, and Neptune are all fleshed out using a combination of mythology, popular analysis, my personal ideas, and the animations for their summons or boss battle scenes from Golden Sun. There is not a lot to say about them that a careful reader could not pick up for themselves. I suggest reading up legends if you want to know more. Neptune is, almost by default, mellower and more, well, whale-like, than his namesake. Dullahans, or headless horsemen, are messengers, but this one I elevated to a higher status and made into an unfailingly polite (even if you can't hear him) right arm of the faerie king and queen. For Coatlique, Catastrophe, and Boreas, I did little to work on character and instead focused on how I thought they would function in a battle scenario for their brief appearances during Chapter 12.
Thor is based on modern views of his personality, past events from mythology, and some pondering on my part. He likes to mess with people a little, he drinks a lot, and he is prone to occasional bouts of testosterone-fueled stupidity, but he's a pretty nice guy. To anyone who wonders, no, he is not pursuing Ranma in a romantic way. He does occasionally flirt, but mostly just to try to get a rise out of Ranma. He really respects Ranma a great deal, not only for what Ranma has done but also for the fact that Ranma is capable of throwing him hard enough to leave a thunder god shaped imprint in rock. Not that that would actually damage Thor overly, but for such warriors I think that skill and strength count more than broken bones.
Daedelus was the guy from Greek Mythology that built the wings that Icarus used. That might not sound particularly impressive, but for those who know the whole story it really is. In summary, Daedelus was pretty much the world's best craftsman. A greedy king wanted him to make rings, jewelry, and so on for him for free, and Daedelus said no. So the king started up some blackmail and kidnapping, and, long story short, Daedelus and his son Icarus found themselves trapped in a tower making the king whatever he wanted. Daedelus used scraps of metal left over from his work and wax as a binding agent to make wings to use to fly to freedom. The wings worked, and they escaped, but Icarus got carried away and tried to fly to high and the sun melted the wax and he fell into the ocean and died, leaving his mourning father to finish the flight to safety without him.
In Golden Sun, Daedelus is responsible for the giant golem summon that launches missiles at the opponents. I decided that, since Daedelus was so awesome, he becomes a spirit of technology, engineering, etc. upon his death. This was partly influenced by the heroic spirits of Fate/Stay Night, as the premise is much the same, with a person becoming more than mortal upon their deaths due to their great deeds in life. Or at least the explanation was, I didn't really get into Fate/Stay Night until after I did Chapter 12. I think that originally I used more of the premise for such an event from Oh My Goddess, and evolved from there.
Ulysses was a bit different from the others, as he was the person closest to Ranma in his existence. I used the Golden Sun summons description and went from there, and ended up with an immortal human wandering mage. Unlike the various nonhuman and ascended entities, he actually understands many of Ranma's problems, though not all of them. As a result, he is probably the person that Ranma can talk about his difficulties with easiest, resulting in them having an almost doctor-patient relationship at times. Ulysses will periodically corner Ranma and try to work with him and make sure that Ranma isn't going off the deep end, as shown in Chapter 10. They are more than acquaintances, but seeing each other brings up a little too much in the way of their own issues to be close friends.
Saffron was someone that I tried to push to the side for a while, but as an immortal phoenix person, it was inevitable that he would show up in the story at some point. I didn't really need him, so I didn't want to add fluff to the story by adding him but he was there and he has a strong connection to Ranma's past, so he wormed his way in eventually. The two don't really interact much when Saffron is awakened, Ranma not particularly wanting to relive the past and Saffron recognizing this. Saffron is pretty much the same as in canon, but less unstable due to better upbringing.
Cybelle was something that just happened. I didn't really write it, it just sort of appeared on paper. The metaphysical mother of all life on Earth, her personality and her relationship with Ranma just came to me. Many people forget that nature is a slaughterhouse of violence and death, and Cybelle is therefore more than a goddess of life. Cybelle is a caring mother in her own way, but she can only do so much, and scarce resources produce conflict. This conflict is as necessary to life as the providing of initial resources, and Cybelle is the embodiment of both the more creative and the more destructive sides of nature. Ranma is at the pinnacle of personal evolution, pushing himself beyond limits and adapting to all challenges, and this combined with his understanding and acceptance of nature's duality makes him (or her in that scene) a sort of favored child. There is sadness there as well, as Ranma's sacrifice of his death means that he can never rejoin the cycle of life that Cybelle embodies. Cybelle is not a normal mother, but she loves Ranma in her own way, and Ranma reciprocates in his, and for them that is enough. They are not a normal family, but they are family nevertheless, and who can say otherwise?
I used a great deal of Norse mythology in my work, mainly because of the nature of the fables. The gods there aren't perfect, and they get outthought and outfought all the time by giants. They give things up in order to increase their powers, they love deeply, they take their oaths seriously, and they all eventually face death at Ragnarok, after which humanity is left alone to fend for itself. The connotations fit well with my work, and it also let me draw on more of the Oh My Goddess cast, and more importantly, the Oh My Goddess universe.
The dragons and beasts and other entities are almost invariably summons, characters, or bosses from the Golden Sun games. They are usually lacking in character development, save for a few notable exceptions, such as Tret and Laurel, so I had to make up their personalities as I went along.
There were, of course, some creatures that were present at the battle that don't show up in Golden Sun. These were mostly minor mentions, groups that were there but not really focused on in the story. For the most part, I brought them in because this wasn't just about faeries or dragons or people or gods or spirits, this was about everyone. So if you stop and think, 'Were there Ifrits there?' or 'Did any totem spirits show up?' the answer is yes. They were there. They were fighting. And while I may not have mentioned them all by name or even thought to write of them, they were the ones that made the difference, all the supporters that threw their hopes, their dreams and their magics into the fray without ever being lauded for it.
It's like that in real life too.
I have had a question about what happened to Kami and Hild. The answer? Nothing special. They existed for a specific purpose, and they failed in it and got replaced. They are essentially returned to the dust from whence they came, so to speak. They are nothing more than regular souls drifting in whatever ether exists on the other side of death. They could never show up again, or they could reincarnate with no memory of their previous existence, but they aren't coming back unless there is a specific need for them, and I can't see that happening. If Ranma wants, I suppose that he could see to it that they become regular humans with their memories intact as penance, but Ranma doesn't seem like the sort to do that. Dwelling on the past would be counterproductive, so most likely they won't be getting any special treatment or punishment beyond what they have coming to them in the afterlife.
Some of you may wonder what happens next. Well, nothing really changes with regards to Ranma. He's not going to talk about his ascension, and nobody else will either, as it is a more than slightly touchy topic. It doesn't change who Ranma is, and that is what really matters. Ranma is not healed fully from his past, and he probably never will be. But perhaps he can find happiness. Maybe he will find love again, or maybe he will content himself with watching the world and its stories. Who knows?
The fairy tale ended a long time ago. So, in the worlds of Neil Gaiman:
"And then go home. Or make a home.
Or perhaps a new story is ready to begin.