Subject: A Son's Duty, Chapter Three
From: Hitomi Ichinohei
Date: 8/28/1995, 8:18 PM
To: fanfic@andrew.cais.com

This is the almost completed version of the file.  If anyone has any 
suggestions on how to change it, please reply within the next two days or 
this is how it will be posted.  Please reply, I need to know what I am 
doing wrong.

Ichinohei Hitomi
Hitomi_Ichinohei@MBnet.mb.ca

***

A Son's Duty.

A fan fiction based on Takahashi Rumiko's ongoing Manga series, Ranma 1/2

Saotome Ranma, Saotome Genma, Saotome Nodoka, Tendo Akane, Tendo Soun, 
Tendo Kasumi, Tendo Nabiki, Tendo Ranko, Kuonji Ukyou, Hibiki Ryouga, 
P-chan, Shampoo, Mousse, Kunou Tatewaki, Kunou Kodachi, Kurenai Tsubasa, 
and Hinako Sensei are copyright 1987, 1995 by Takahashi Rumiko.

Publishing rights:

Japan:              Shogakukan Inc. Tokyo
Hong Kong:          Jademan (Holdings) Ltd.
North America: Viz Inc.

Chapter Three:

A nervously smiling Ranma was in a combination of shock, fear, and longing.

The woman before her was her mother.  The one person that she longed to be 
with and get to know, and the one person who she could not tell the 
truth.  To tell her mother who she really was would mean her death.

It was always this way when Saotome Nodoka came to visit the Tendo household.

In order to survive, Ranma had taken on the identity of Tendo Ranko, the 
niece of Tendo Soun.  Everyone in the household went along with this, not 
only to protect Ranma and Genma, but because Nodoka would take her own 
life after that of her husband and child.  Still, Ranma _wanted_ to know 
her mother, to be with her, and to try to understand her past.  What hurt
Ranma the most was the lies she had to tell.

The Tendo's themselves did not feel good about doing this, but given the 
situation, it was the _only_ way for Ranma to know her mother.  Ranma 
would not admit that it broke her heart to be near Nodoka, but never be 
able to acknowledge it.  The other three girls were sensitive to the
circumstances and chose not to say much about it.  Kasumi, Nabiki, and 
Akane missed their mother too much to interfere in Ranma's decision, but 
felt uncomfortable with the lie.

As long as the young girl had known Nodoka, she felt guilty over what her 
father had her doing.  All of the lies drained her emotionally and 
mentally.  It was extremely hard for Ranma; having been torn from her 
mother, and then not able to tell her who she was.  Of all the things Genma
had done to her life, this was the one thing that she hated most.  It was 
only by sheer luck that Ranma had not killed her father when she had the 
chance, and it was only because of Nodoka that she still had not killed him.

How she longed to tell Saotome Nodoka who she was, despite what family 
honour might cause her to do.

*Forget thinking about skewering the old man,* she thought, *I want him to 
suffer before he dies.  If he hadn't made that stupid promise and had me 
sign it when I was too young to know what I was doing, I could be with 
her right now!*

Silently swallowing her disappointment and bitterness, Ranma smiled 
sweetly, "Ranko-chan is doing wonderfully Auntie Saotome!  School is sooo 
much fun!"

Nodoka smiled at that and looked at  Ranko', who was wet and, as usual, 
was dressed very much like a boy.  She sighed silently to herself, 
*Ranko-chan, whatever am I going to do with you?  If only you realized 
how pretty you look, and how many boys would ask you out if you tried to 
look your best.  If only you had someone to watch over you properly.*

If her feelings about Ranko were unusual, so was the situation.

Nodoka realized that something traumatic must have happened in the girls 
past for her to behave in the way she did.  Always acting and dressing 
like a boy, using rough language, and closing herself off from most 
people around her.  Ranko never seemed to want to be the girl she was.

On top of that the Tendo family had bought Ranko a panda, a _very_ 
expensive and exotic pet.  It seemed to be the only thing that mattered 
in her life since she was always playing with it in the water and having 
it sleep in her room instead of the yard.  In addition, Ranko had taught 
her pet to use language, even to the extent of writing signs.  The fact 
that she had enough time to teach her pet to use language told Nodoka 
that Ranko had few, if any, friends.

Nodoka felt a longing, a sense of indescribable loss in that child that 
resonated with her own.  A longing for a mother, someone she could trust 
completely, implicitly.  It was for these reasons that she believed Ranko 
had been orphaned at an early age, with her parents dying in some
unspeakable manner.

She thought once again of how much pain Ranko must have in her life.  The 
girl tried to hide her true emotions from her, but she knew that 
underneath lay a deep sorrow.  Nodoka longed to take the child into her 
arms and comfort her as much as possible, to eliminate, for a time at 
least, what troubled Ranko.

She had come to love Ranko, and treated her as her daughter.

*If only your mother had lived, or your aunt,* she pondered silently to 
herself, *perhaps you would have grown up normally and have been 
satisfied being yourself.  We've never talked about it, but you must miss 
your mother very much.  At least, that is what I have seen in your eyes, 
and in how you dress and act.  It is almost as though you do not want 
anyone to come near you, or know you.  How hard of a life have you had 
Ranko?*

Nodoka thought, *I know that you will not openly accept anyone as a 
replacement, but I hope that I can at least come close, for your sake...*

Nodoka kept her face happy and bright, as she always tried to do with 
Ranko, "That's wonderful Ranko, but where is your school uniform?  Was it 
damaged in some manner?"

Ranko's face flushed and some beads of perspiration started to appear on 
her forehead as she wondered what to say...

***

At that moment, Akane and Ukyou had just turned into the road that led to 
the Tendo home.  They walked slowly, an almost palpable air of depression 
about them.  Ukyou's face had an uncomfortable and resigned look while 
Akane's expression was concerned.

The reason for their mood was that they had been discussing, 
unsuccessfully, what to do about Ukyou's father.  So far, every idea they 
had come up with had been rejected as either too simple, too complicated, 
or too dangerous to work.  If there was a way for Ukyou to be herself, they
weren't able to figure it out on the walk home.

Of course, the panda didn't care about that.

The only concern that Genma had was making sure that Nodoka never found 
out the truth about her son.  If she did...the panda shivered visibly at 
the thought of his wife's Katana, and more, the extreme sense of honour 
that she had.  At the first possible chance, she would come after him and
perform the role of Kaishaku.

A role that required the person to be a master of Kenjutsu.

He had no doubt that she had practised with the blade and would carry out 
the role to perfection.  Although she stated that she was clumsy, 
Nodoka's speed, the perfection and economy of her movements, and her 
accuracy indicated otherwise.  He was scared of a lot of things, but his 
wife's ready Katana was a fear going beyond the ordinary. 

The panda's fears were justified considering his past indiscretions.  He 
had realized long before that if Nodoka found out about some of the 
things that he had done, he would be forced to take his life, or at least 
pay reparations to many, many people.  Nodoka was extremely serious about
every point of honour, every tradition, that made up the feudal past of 
Japan.

He had stolen and cheated his way through the long years of training, and 
his wife definitely would not approve of any of his methods.  She might 
forgive some of his actions, she might force him to repay people, but the 
one thing she would never forgive is what happened to her son.  Nodoka 
would demand his life for what had happened to Ranma.

Unbidden, his mind went back to that unfortunate day months ago.  He had 
taken Ranma on a training trip to China, going to many historical places 
important to the boy taking over as the sole master of the school of 
indiscriminate grappling.  The trip had gone extremely well to that point,
with Ranma enjoying the sights and anxious to learn all he could.

Then came the disastrous trip to Jusenkyou.  He had taken Ranma there, 
assuming that since it was one of the lengendary training grounds, the 
boy would face a true challenge.  Unfortunately, he could not read Chinese.  

Upon thier arrival, they had engaged the local guide, an old man who 
supposedly knew the legends of the past.  Genma had thought the two of 
them would be able to absorb the wisdom in the stories this person would 
tell.  A way of making it harder for Ranma to concentrate.

When they had arrived, the guide had indicated that each of the pools had 
it's own tragic legend, it's own tale of misery and despair and as such 
was too dangerous for anyone to train there.  Unfortunately they had 
chosen not to listen since all they saw were bamboo poles ending 
approximately ten feet high above the water.  A small height to traverse 
considering the vast amount of time he had concentrated on developing the 
boys inner resources.

Both had stood on the poles in a relaxed stance.  They were ready to move, 
ready to adjust their attacks.  Below them, the guide was trying to get 
them down, trying to stop them from doing what they were doing.  
Determined and ready, they attacked each other.  The style of movement 
had to vary, from hard, to soft.  General strikes to test each others 
preparedness.

Ranma had managed to knock him into a pool first.

He was angry at that, that his son should show him up in such a short 
time at a new training ground.  That Genma, a master, should be shown up 
by the pupil.  He leapt out of the pool and landed on one of the poles, 
again facing Ranma, not understanding the boy's startlement, or caring 
about what the guide was saying.  He struck his off-guard son into a pool, 
a short distance away.

It wasn't until Ranma came up out of the pool that he noticed, and decided 
to listen.

To his horror, and his everlasting embarrassment, Genma learned that he 
was cursed to become a giant panda every time cold water hit him, and his 
son was destined to become his daughter.  He could never allow himself to 
contact his wife again.

Nodoka would _never_ forgive him.

He ran up to both girls, oblivious of their mood, and waving his sign, 
trying to get their attention.

Akane looked up, "What is it Uncle Saotome?"

Genma just held his sign for Akane to read.

Ukyou looked at the sign, "Who is Nodoka?"

"She's Ranma's mother, Ukyou."  Akane answered, "Except she doesn't know 
who Ranma is and thinks that she's my cousin Ranko."

Ukyou turned around to face Akane, "Wait a second, why wouldn't she know 
who Ran-chan is?"

Akane looked at the panda in front of her, her eyes narrowing a bit, and 
she grabbed hold of one of its checks.  "Oh, I'm sure Uncle Saotome would 
be able to explain, especially about a promise he made to his wife...."

"Another promise?"  Ukyou looked at the panda who was now trying to get 
away.  His obvious anger was more that enough to make the panda gulp with 
fear.  Ukyou took the heavy spatula off of his back, twirling it around 
like the weapon it really was, "ANOTHER...DAMN...PROMISE..."

A cloud of dust was raised as Genma suddenly found himself being made 
into panda pancake. 

***

After a while, both of them continued on to Akane's house.  Despite 
the pleasant diversion, (They had left Genma in a panda sized pothole), 
both were still unable to come up with a way for Ukyou to face his 
father.  It was a difficult problem without any easy solution.

Akane was thinking of all the times that they had successfully pulled off 
lies and deceptions.  It was not something that she was proud of, indeed, 
all of them were privately shamed when it had to occur.  If there was 
some way to rescue the situation, she wasn't sure what it was, and with
Auntie Saotome visiting, things would become more complicated.

Something poked at her memory.  A trick that had been carried out before, 
one that might be able to help...Akane remembered in a sudden flash of 
inspiration what it was.

"Ukyou, remember Tsubasa?"

Ukyou winced at that, "Yes, what about him?"

"Remember what you did when you thought that Tsubasa was a girl?  The 
picture you sent of Ranma saying that she was your fiancee?"

"Yes, so what about...", Ukyou went silent as he realized what Akane 
was talking about.  If he could claim that he had a relationship with a 
_female_ Ranma, then there would not be a problem in facing his father.  
In fact, his father might approve of the relationship.

Akane grabbed Ukyou's hand and started running to the business district, 
"Come on, we have some shopping to do!"

Ukyou, who's face had taken on a look of comprehension a few seconds 
before, now took on one of consternation.  "Akane...Akane-chan, Where are 
we going?"

"To buy about two dozen flowers and some cakes."

Ukyou was in a bit of a panic.  Akane's hand was firm and he couldn't 
shake loose.  Moreover, Akane had some sort of idea that she was not 
informing him about.  "What are you doing?!?"

"Preparing you to become a romantic young man...."

GLOSSARY

KATANA

It has been said by many that there is magic in a Japanese blade.  No 
matter how far away in the world, the reputation of the Japanese blades 
have sparked envy, fear, and deep longing in those that wish a good 
weapon.  They are known over the world for four major factors:

1) The cutting ability

2) The flexibility

3) The respect shown to them

4) The workmanship.

So, how are these weapons made?

According to the experts who write a lot of books, there are many methods 
used.  Some of these methods described are accurate, some are not.  
Others are from the imagination of the writer who "knows" how to do it 
without having ever set foot into the room of a creator.

Here is the method that I saw used to make my own sword.

The sword maker need three physical objects before he begins to make the 
sword:

1) A source of pure carbon

2) A source of iron

3) A source of cold water.

The sword maker needs to have at least one assistant, and the maker must 
perform the rituals of purification before considering touching the 
physical material.

After the purification ritual, the sword maker takes the carbon and 
creates a very fine powder with it.  The powder is then placed into 
specially blessed containers and placed carefully aside at a small 
shrine.  This is left there for the priest or priestess to come and bless.

The iron bearing rocks are then placed inside a small blast furnace.  The 
process of removing the iron from the rocks takes between four to six 
days and the metal is removed from the bottom at that time.  This metal 
is cut up, and then the cut pieces are placed into a fine ceramic clay and
baked for several days until the metal is liquid again.  The ceramic is 
then left to cool naturally for about six to eight days.  The ceramic 
coating is removed, and the metal cleaned.  It is then placed inside the 
shrine as well for a priest or priestess to bless.  It is one of five 
bars made at this time.

When this was completed the sword maker contacted the one for whom the 
sword was to be made and a Shinto priest or priestess, usually dedicated 
to a god of war, although, depending on the swords use, other gods or 
goddesses could be invoked.  The person for whom the sword was being made 
went through a purification ritual, and the blessed bar and powder was 
brought out.  The iron bar was heated until it was white hot, and an even 
layer of carbon powder was poured over the top of the bar.  The bar 
stayed this way for about three to five minutes and the excess dumped 
into the fire.  The person for whom the sword was being made makes a cut 
and let their blood fall along the length of the bar.  The bar was then 
folded over and blessed by the priest or priestess as it was sealed by 
pounding.

The bar is folded about two hundred times, using the methods detailed 
above, and with the owner coming in at certain times to place more blood 
within the blade.  In the final fold, the owners blood is placed once 
more and sealed with a special blessing being placed upon the bar.  Thus 
the bar now belongs to the blood line and the saying, "The sword is the 
soul of the warrior" takes on a very special meaning.

The whole bar is then shaped carefully and primary grinding and sharpening 
is done.  The bar, which is now a rude blade, is covered in a thick layer 
of clay, and the cutting edge has the clay removed in a careful 
triangular pattern.  The blade is then heated to the desired temperature 
and cooled quickly in the blessed water, thus forming a sharp, flexible 
edge.

Final grinding and sharpening is now done and polishing is completed.

Any defect in the blade are covered by designs along the blade.  The blade 
is then signed with the mark of the maker, and it is considered complete.  
However, this was not always the case.  Some blades came out  so well 
that no designs were placed on them.  In fact, the best blades do not even
have the seal of the maker, as to make a seemingly perfect blade is, in 
itself, recognition enough.  An unsigned, unadorned sword is the pinnacle 
of the sword makers art.

The other bars are formed in the same way to form a set of blade of the 
usual following lengths:

Jin Tachi      38 inches
Katana         30 inches
Chisa Katana   24 inches
Wakizushi      20 inches
Tanto          14 inches

Such properly made, properly blessed blades are treasures of a family line.

KAISHAKU

The righter of wrongs.

This particular role is considered to be one of high honour among those 
who still practice the ancient ways.  The role being talked about in this 
case is that of a second (I can think of no other term in English that is 
equivalent.  This comes of my lack of knowledge of the English language
and it's usages.) in the process of one committing seppuku.  For this role, 
the person must be of high personal honour, and of known purity.

Usually, the Kaishaku goes through a ritual of purification before the 
morning of the ceremony.  The person then stands, or sits on the right 
side of the one about to commit themselves to the Kami and is at an angle 
that will allow a clean strike to the neck.  The Kaishaku knows that the
blow must be struck once, and that it must be as clean as possible.  To 
this end, the Kaishaku is usually a practitioner of the war art of the 
sword known as Kenjutsu.

After the third cut in the case of a man, or a female warrior, or the 
second cut of a woman, the Kaishaku strikes hard, and immediately upon 
the exposed back of the neck.  The Kaishaku then makes the appropriate 
offerings and arrangements for the bodies.  The Kaishaku then goes to the
lord or to the person to whom the dishonour was done and informs them that 
the honourable end to the person who needed to atone has been done.

This role is usually asked of a family member or a very close friend as 
the role is one of the greatest trust.

KENJUTSU

Kenjutsu is the war art of using the sword.

To begin, Kenjutsu differs greatly from Kendo in some significant manners:

1)   Kendo uses a Shinai for practising.  This is a four piece practice 
     sword that is quite flexible and does not hurt as much as the Bokken 
     which is a solid piece of wood used in Kenjutsu practice.

2)   Kendo concentrates on the development of the mind and on use of the 
     sword in a manner conductive to sports while Kenjutsu practices the
     development of skills towards the use in an actual battle.

3)   Kendoist practice with protective armour when facing each other while 
     Kenjutsu practitioners do not use armour when using the bokken.

Currently, there are less that 100 publicly known schools of Kenjutsu in 
existence although it is known that there are many schools that are still 
unofficially thought.  At one time, the number of publicly known schools 
surpassed 1400 different schools.  Although not used today, there are still
some practitioners of this full art who do it out of duty to the art itself.

True Kenjutsu schools are few and far between.  It is better for those 
interested to find a kendo school and try this before becoming involved 
in this art of war.