Subject: [FFML2] The Dragon and The Ghost[Part 14][R.5]
From: Ryoga P Hibiki
Date: 2/3/2001, 11:29 AM


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 The Dragon and The Ghost

 Part 14

 Escape from Wizard's Cavern


 Ranma walked along the tunnel lazily, with Akane trailing just behind
him. Neither had spoken in a long time, they merely strolled along
through the darkness, searching for an exit to the maze.

 Finally, Akane spoke up. "I thought you said this exit would be near to
that place."

 "It is, but we don't know where it is, so it might take us a bit longer
to find it than someone who probably knew the way by heart," replied the
pigtailed boy calmly. "We're probably pretty close, if you haven't
noticed, we've been moving in circles for a while now. The cave doesn't
go any further."

 "What?" said the black knight in shock.

 "I didn't figure you for the type who pays attention much," commented
the boy calmly as he continued to walk.

 "This is..."

 "Bad? Yes I know. Those friends of yours must be getting close," said
the boy lazily.

 "How can you be so calm? If they find us now, we'll die!" snarled the
girl as she forcefully turned him to face her.

 "Calm down. Getting all excited won't help us. Besides, I've gotten out
of worse scrapes than this one," said the boy with a small shrug. The
ball of light floating just above his head flickered for a moment as
Akane released him and stepped back. 


 "Good girl, come on now, we've got to find the way out now," said the
boy in a patronizing tone as he started forward again.

 After a short time, Akane piped up again. "What the hell are we looking
for anyway?"

 "Some kind of mark, small and unnatural looking. It could be a chalk
drawing, or some rocks set up in a slightly unusual manner, even
something as small as a scratch in the wall. You don't make a secret door
without marking it somehow; otherwise, you might not find it yourself."
He paused and glanced back at her again. "It'll probably be above our
field of vision, or close to the ground."

 "Oh," said the girl with a small frown. "Something like that?" she
pointed at a small white circle, long worn with time, near the ground on
the wall.

 Ranma blinked and looked at it for a moment. "Uh, yeah."

 "I noticed it about two hours ago, the last time we passed by here,"
said the girl with a small growl.

 "You should have said something," replied the boy with a small shrug.

 "Why you..."

 "Okay, now we have to figure out how he opened it," muttered the boy as
he forcefully pulled her hand away from the wall. She had approached it
and tried to feel the stone with her hand. "Don't touch that wall."

 "What? Are you saying I can't open a stupid door?" snapped the girl in

 "You probably could, but not on that wall. The door is over here,"
replied the boy with a small smirk. He jerked his thumb over to the
opposite wall.

 "What?" said the girl dumbly.

 "You never mark the real spot where you put a secret door. That mark is
a trap," said Ranma cheerfully.

 The boy walked over to the opposite wall and looked it up and down for a
moment. "Hmmm..."

 "What are you waiting for?" snarled the knight.

 "Jeez you're impatient. Didn't anyone ever tell you? Never touch
anything when dealing with a wizard. Most magical traps are activated by
touch. It helps prevent them from going off in your face because you
forgot to turn off your light spell, or happen to sneeze at the wrong
time," replied the boy calmly. "Things that wouldn't normally be
dangerous are especially bad. Like walls and doors."

 "They didn't teach thievery when I was a squire," snapped Akane curtly.

 "Too bad, it's useful," said Ranma with another shrug.

 "You seem to be taking this death trap rather casually," said the girl
as she turned away from him and crossed her arms over her chest.

 "I like my work," said Ranma cheerfully. He opened his palm and extended
his arm towards the wall, holding it a few inches above the stone
surface. "I wish we had some water, this is a lot easier as an elf."

 Akane bit back her reply and simply watched him for a moment as he
concentrated on a particular portion of wall. 

 "Here," said the boy as he pointed at a small area with his finger.
"Let's see now..." He casually picked up a loose stone from the ground
and tossed it into the wall. It passed right through.

 Akane gasped as she watched in awe. The sound of the stone clattering
across the ground filled the cavern for a moment. "What?"

 "It's just an illusion," said Ranma calmly. They both paused as the
sound of something large and metal crashing down echoed against the
walls. "Whoa, that's not good," commented the pigtailed boy with a small

 "What was that?" said Akane with a slight worry in her voice.

 "Trap," said the boy with yet another shrug. "Ready? We're going in."

 "What?" said the girl in shock as he grabbed her by the arm. "Are you

 "No, normally I'd be a lot more careful, but that..." In answer to his
unfinished sentence, the familiar screech of metal against metal sounded
off in the distance of the cavern. "...that is our time running out."

 Akane paled as he jerked her forward, and jumped into the illusionary


 Ryu frowned as he hid behind a large group of boulders, just above the
main road. "Great."

 "Now what?" said Shampoo calmly as she glanced down at the seemingly
endless rows of soldiers marching towards Joketsuko just below them.

 Ukyo growled slightly as she forced herself not to watch the invaders
march into her country. Ryoga appeared to be taking a nap next to her,
resting his back against the rocks.

 Ryu shifted the long bundle across his back in agitation and sighed.
"Hell. We've got no choice, we're stuck here until they go by."

 "We could just say we're merchants, or even just travelers," offered
Shampoo lazily.

 "Are you nuts? We haven't got any goods! They'll search anyone they come
across. I'm sure every soldier in the imperial army knows the Kajakan is
gone," snapped Ukyo.

 "She's right. We can't take that chance," agreed Ryu. "Once we get
across the border, we should be relatively safe though."

 "How far is that?" said Ukyo impatiently.

 "About three more days walk," said Ryu calmly.

 "It didn't take us that long to get where we are now on the way here,"
pointed out Shampoo.

 "We weren't worried about being seen, and could use the roads then,"
said Ryu. "Three days, at least."

 "Great," muttered Ukyo sourly. "I never thought I'd be wishing to be out
of my own country so badly."

 "Wake up that fool will you?" snapped Ryu as he glanced at the dwarf.
The little man was starting to snore.

 Ukyo hit him on the head with the back of her gauntlet and he snapped

 "Eh? Wha?" He glared at her for a moment and frowned. "Wha'd ya do that
fer? You crazy cross dressing tin can!"

 "Shut the hell up jackass! You were making too much noise!" retorted the
girl angrily.

 "Both of you calm down! Before you get us all killed!" snapped Ryu. He
turned back towards the road again and frowned. Something had caught his
eye suddenly. "Well, what have we here?"

 "What's up?" said Shampoo as she glanced over his shoulder.

 "Somebody important," said the boy casually. "Oh horseback, riding as if
the ranks weren't there. It would take somebody pretty important for the
soldiers to ignore that."

 "Three of them," commented Ukyo as she glanced from behind her own

 "Hey! I know that guy!" whispered Ryoga angrily. "He's the jerk who
tried to double cross me an' Ranma! Dirty bastard!"

 Shampoo's eyes were on the pair riding just behind the lead man. "Quiet!
Nobody make a sound!" she snapped angrily.

 "Huh?" said Ukyo in surprise. "What's up?"

 "Beastmen," said Ryu with a slight growl. 


 "I don't like this," commented Mint as he glanced around the area
nervously. "It feels like we're being watched."

 "Well, we're surrounded by soldiers," said Lime lazily. He didn't look
particularly worried at the moment, and merely followed behind the
proudly strutting Kuno. 

 The noble was riding through the ranks of solders dressed in a dark
purple outfit made of velvet. A long red cape draped across his shoulders
with the Kuno family crest on it, showed who he was to all around him. On
top of his head was what appeared to be an oversized hat with a huge
feather sticking out of it on the top.  He turned to look at his
companions for a moment.

 "Surely you are catching a gaze that was meant for me. Some nameless
peasant hidden away in the rocks, as to bask in my untold glory."

 "Now you're reaching," said Mint with a small frown. "This isn't a nice
feeling though."

 "Maybe Nabiki is checking up on things?" offered Lime. 

 "It could be. I don't think she likes us much..." agreed Mint.

 "Don't worry about it," said Lime with a small shrug.

 "I suppose you're right," muttered Mint as he glanced up at an alcove of
rocks just above the road for a moment. He turned away and followed his
companions through the center of the ranks.


 Ranma rushed forward into the wall and stopped cold as soon as they
passed through it. "I've got a bad feeling about this," commented the boy
under his breath as he slowly moved forward.

 "I can't see a thing," muttered Akane angrily as she forcefully removed
her arm from his grip and started to walk ahead of him. She was stopped
as Ranma barred his arm across her chest and glared at her for a moment.

 "What is it now?" she snapped quietly.

 "Are you dense? You don't just wander off into the darkness!" he chided
and pushed her against the wall. With a small wave of his hand, several
torches lit along a long brick hallway in front of them. It looked
relatively new and extended for quite a ways into the distance. Several
large, flat, and square metal plates made up the ceiling along the length

 "We have to hurry, those Niku will figure out what happened to us rather
quickly," snapped Akane.

 "Right," muttered Ranma as he slowly walked forward, extending his hand
behind him to keep Akane back.

 "I don't like this," he muttered as he glanced around cautiously. He
felt something crunch under his foot as he lightly stepped forward. He
gently moved back and looked down on the ground. There, lying in the
middle of the floor, were the remains of the rock. It was nothing but a
few shattered pieces resting in a fine white powder. "Oh shit."

 "What is it?" said Akane with an annoyed glare as she walked up beside

 "Get back!" he cried as he grabbed her and rolled onto the ground, he
kept rolling as several large metal sections of the ceiling slammed down
behind him, one after another. Finally, they stopped just in front of the
entrance. He stood up shakily and dusted off his pants as he glared at
the hallway angrily as the trap slowly reset itself by sliding back up
into the ceiling. "I can't believe I fell for that," he muttered under
his breath.

 "What the hell was that!?" cried Akane in panic.

 "I told you there'd be traps," snorted Ranma in irritation as he glanced
around. "There should be some sort of switch to turn it off around

 Akane snorted in disgust and reached up to one of the torches along the
wall. "It's obviously one of these torches..."

 "No! Don't!" cried the boy a little too late.

 "What is it?" snapped the knight as she walked towards him.

 He grabbed her arm and pulled her forward as the section of ceiling just
in front of the entrance came down. "Run for it!" snapped the pigtailed
boy as he began to move, pulling her arm as he went.

 Akane managed to barely keep up just in front of him and stopped cold as
he stopped moving suddenly and grabbed Akane's arm jolting her back. One
of the walls slammed down in front of her face, barely missing her nose
by a hair's width. She simply stood in silent horror, gasping desperately
for breath, as they found themselves enclosed on both sides by the thick
walls of metal. They hadn't even made it halfway down the long hallway
from what Ranma had seen before their view was blocked suddenly.

 "Why did you stop?" muttered Akane with a slight fear in her voice.

 "The ceiling here is made of stone, look," said the boy as he pointed
upwards. One of the torches still burned on the wall beside them, the
metal pillars left just enough room for them on either side, but nowhere
near enough room for them to get out.

 "Oh," muttered the girl nervously as she glanced around.

 "I thought I told you never to touch the obvious," muttered Ranma as he
glanced around at their situation.

 "Fine, I'll just stand there next time," snapped the girl in irritation.

 "Good." He paused and frowned suddenly. "The trap isn't resetting

 "You mean we're stuck here?" said the knight with a slightly frightened
look in her eyes.

 "I didn't say that, it reset before. We must have triggered something,"
said the boy as he fell to his hands and knees and inspected the floor
carefully. After a moment he stood up and sighed. "Great, a pressure
sensitive floor."

 "What can we do?" grumbled Akane angrily.

 "Turn around," said the boy with a smirk on his face.

 "Pardon?" said Akane with a slight edge in her voice.

 "Just do it. Trust me," replied the pigtailed boy with a sigh.


 "So, is it safe to move yet?" said Ukyo as she glanced over to Ryu from
behind the rocks.

 "No, but it's clear of soldiers," replied the boy as he stood up. 

 "I wonder who that man was?" commented Shampoo as she glanced in the
direction the soldiers had traveled. "He didn't seem to be moving with
the soldiers."

 "Eh? That ass Kuno? He's just some minor noble in the kings court," said
Ryoga with a small wave of his hand. "Nothing to worry about really."

 "A single man doesn't worry me, I just don't like the idea of tangling
with two beastmen," commented Ukyo.

 "Those two were definitely dangerous," agreed Shampoo. 

 "I'm still not talking to you," groused Ukyo as she turned away from the

 "Let's hope that lasts a while," commented Ryu as he started walking
towards the path.

 "Aye," snorted Ryoga as he wandered off in a random direction. Ukyo
belted him over the head with the staff of her spear again.

 "Wench! Stop that!" snarled the dwarf as he whirled around.

 "This way midget!" said the girl with a frown.

 "I ain't a midget! I'm a dwarf damn you!"

 "Same difference," said Ukyo with a small shrug as she followed after

 Ryoga glared at her and clenched his fists. "Damn you! Ranma! This is
all your fault!"

 Shampoo blinked as she walked up next to him. "How did you come to that,
interesting, conclusion?"

 "Eh? She's his girlfriend after all," replied the dwarf as if she should
have known that already.

 "She isn't," snapped the elf as she turned away and followed after the
other two travelers.

 "Eh? Women are so damned confusing? What the hell is going on here? I'll
bet it's that damn Ranma's fault. I'll give him a good beating when we
find him again! Yup, that's exactly what he deserves." The dwarf nodded
to himself as he kept in step with the others.


 Ranma and Akane had their backs pressed together, they slowly walked up
opposite walls inside the small enclosure.

 "How much longer?" gasped Akane with strain clearly on her face.

 "Until the floor resets, and the trap is reset," gasped the boy as he
simply stared at the torch between his legs.

 As if in answer to him, the sound of a pulley system of some kind kicked
in, and the metal slowly rose back into its place on the ceiling. Ranma
felt Akane starting to relax and frowned. "Hold it, not until the trap is
completely reset!"

 "I can't go much longer," she gasped.

 "Almost!" replied the boy through his own gasps.

 The knight grunted as she strained, slowly feeling her legs weaken under
the strain.

 "Now!" said Ranma as he pushed off the wall. Akane just let her entire
body relax, and they both landed on the hard ground roughly, piled in a
small heap. Each was gasping for breath and fumbling over each other as
they attempted to push apart. Finally, they untangled their bodies and
sat across from each other, panting.

 "So... now what?" said the knight with a small glare at him.

 "Hey!... Why are you mad?... It's your fault we're in this mess,"
replied the boy.

 "How...the hell is fault?"

 "You fell down the hole..." replied Ranma. 

 That was when something caught both their attentions. A familiar sound,
that they desperately wanted to forget.

 "Oh, man," muttered Ranma with a pained look on his face as he staggered
to his feet and pulled Akane up with him. 

 Standing at the other end of the hall, were the two remaining Niku.

 "No! I can't run!" lamented Akane as she turned and started to move

 "Better hurry," said Ranma as he grabbed her arm and forced her to move
faster. She glanced at him for a moment and her eyes went wide as she saw
what was in his hand. 

 "You didn't," she managed to gasp.

 "Less talking, more running," said Ranma as he threw the torch he had
pulled off of the wall to the ground. The hallway filled with the
familiar sound of metal slamming into the ground behind them.

 Akane screamed as the shrieking of the Niku grew louder as they ran,
along with the slamming of the metal into the stone floor. She dared a
look back and saw that both of the tiny assassins were just ahead of the
crushing metal, bouncing along the walls as they charged fearlessly
forward, gaining at an alarming rate.

 She turned and faced forward, the hallway ended just ahead. A small
doorway was open just in front of them. She glanced back again and
screamed as she felt Ranma jerk her arm forward again, just in time to
save her face from the snapping jaws of one of the Niku. 

 Ranma forced himself to pull ahead as the Niku nipped at their heels in
a most literal sense. He frowned as Akane screamed again from beside him,
apparently she had seen the door in front of them slowly closing shut
from above. He put everything he had into sprinting all out and dove
pushing the girl just ahead of him just as the door closed behind them.
Then, there was darkness and the sound of the last metal crusher slamming
into the floor behind the thick stone door. At that point, Akane finally
stopped screaming, apparently not even aware that she was until that

 Ranma sat up and sighed. "I should have kept the torch."

 "Do you really want to go back and get it?" snapped Akane angrily.

 "Boy, you sure are loud for a knight," commented the pigtailed boy as he
scratched the inside of his ear with his pinky.

 "Shut up!" replied the girl curtly.

 "Whatever, at least those things are finally dead," said Ranma with a
small shrug. A wasted gesture in the pitch-blackness.

 A faint light suddenly filled the room. Ranma paused and looked up to
see Akane holding a light enchanted dagger.

 "Hey, where did you get that?" he muttered dumbly.

 "The only place you didn't search," replied the girl curtly.

 Ranma made a sick looking face and simply turned to look at the room. It
was a large stone room, about a hundred yards long, and twenty yards
wide. It was also completely empty, with a single door on the opposite

 "Didn't work when you tried to cut those ropes with it?" said the
pigtailed boy with a cheerful look on his face again.

 "Shut up."

 "Hey, just askin."

 "Let's get out of here," commented Akane as she started to walk forward.

 "Damn it tomboy! How many times am I going to say the same thing!"
snapped the boy as he grabbed the back of her shirt and pulled her
forcibly back.

 She was simply staring forward with a look of shock on her face. "I..."

 "You'd better start listening to me. That's twice you've almost gotten
yourself killed doing something stupid," said Ranma firmly. 

 Akane merely nodded and touched her face. There was a long gash on her
right cheek, and another one across her throat, both were bleeding quite
freely. "What happened?"

 "You ran into this," said Ranma as he picked her knife up off the floor
where she had dropped it. He reached out carefully with the blade
extended, and seemed to tap at nothing in the air.

 Akane gasped as a single, shining, line of metal started to vibrate in
the light that the blade emitted, exactly where he had struck.

 Ranma simply stared forward into the room and sighed. "There are
probably thousands of these, all across the room. We're going to be here
a while. Just follow me, and do exactly as I do."

 Akane found herself merely nodding as she stood back on her feet.


 "When is it Akane Tendo is supposed to pass by this place?" Tatewaki
Kuno stood in the middle of a small field, just outside the forest that
Nabiki had told him about.

 "Another day or so," said Mint lazily.

 "This does not bode well. The Blue Thunder must have a bed under his
mighty back, to ensure that his prowess does not decrease in the night,
due to improper maintenance of his mighty form!"

 "Huh?" muttered Lime as he glanced back at the man in confusion.

 "I want you two to fetch me a proper bed," said the boy as he rolled his
eyes at them.

 "He's kidding right?" said Mint as he looked towards his companion.

 "I sure hope so," commented Lime. "There's no way we could find a bed,
especially out here in the middle of nowhere."

 "What is this? Surely such a simple task is too much for such feeble
minds to comprehend!" roared the boy.

 "If it's so simple, you find one," replied Mint.

 Kuno stared at him and sputtered. "You think the Mighty Blue Thunder
would soil his hands with such common work?"

 "If you find a bed, we'll carry it for you, where ever you want to put
it," said Mint lazily.

 "Right," agreed Lime.

 Kuno glared at them for a moment. "Very well, perhaps this could be a
character building experience, such as the honored Lord Kuno has said
before." He looked over to them again, "I shall be merciful, and allow
you to bring me dinner instead."

 The two beastmen looked at one another and then back at him again.

 "You know... no one would ever know..." commented Lime.

 "Do you really think she'd let us get away with it?" pointed out Mint.

 "Right. Darn witch," muttered Lime in irritation. "We might as well do
as he says then."


 Ranma and Akane were almost to the door. It had taken them a half-hour
to reach the point they were at, and about twenty yards separated them
from the next chamber. There was no way to see what they would find
there, only pitch-blackness could be seen inside.

 Akane was covered in small cuts, and even Ranma had a few on him.
Neither looked particularly happy at the moment as they slowly made their
way towards the exit.

 "Almost," grumbled Ranma as he stepped over one of the wires carefully.
He slowly lowered his leg and watched as it touched the floor before
breathing a sigh of relief. "One step closer."

 "How comforting," deadpanned Akane as she performed the same maneuver
immediately after him, while he searched the next area for the invisible
wires with the knife cautiously.

 They both turned as a slow rumbling came from behind them. An orange
light slowly seemed to fill the room, shining on the wires behind them
giving a surreal spider web like effect. The ones in front of them could
still not be seen. However, that did nothing to alleviate their worry, as
a small figure stepped into the room, brandishing a spear with a crescent
shaped blade on the tip. It worked its jaws slowly, filling the room with
a high pitched shriek.

 "Damn," muttered Ranma as he turned and continued to search for wires
with a little more speed than before.

 "One of them survived?" gasped Akane as she moved up and grabbed at his

 "I know," said the boy in a strained voice as he worked desperately.

 "Hurry up!" muttered the girl in alarm.

 "Don't worry, the wires will slow him down," said the pigtailed boy as
he stepped forward slowly.

 A new sound filled the room, a plinking noise, followed by a high
pitched whine that lasted only a second or so. Akane turned, and frowned
as she saw the tiny creature jumping through the web, pulling wires along
with it as it charged forward fearlessly.

 "Hurry!" she repeated in alarm.

 "I'm goin!" he snapped as he worked faster, earning another cut on his
arm for his impatience. He glanced back and saw the thing moving towards
them fast, there was no way they could make it. "Shit!"

 "Do something!" screamed the girl in his hear.

 "Quit yellin!" retorted the boy as the thing stopped just behind them
and snarled angrily. "Get down!"

 The Niku jumped, the sound of wires breaking filled the air around them,
the pair could feel the deadly thin strips of metal passing over them at
high speed, cutting into the stone floor around them and whipping about
viciously. Finally, the noise stopped.

 Ranma and Akane stood up and glanced down at the thing for a moment as
it stood between them and the doorway, grinning evilly. Hundreds of the
little wires were covering its body, small flecks of metal were missing
all over the thing's body. It giggled once, and fell cleanly in half
along its waist.

 "That's four," commented Ranma with a smirk as he stepped over it and
paused in front of the door, he reached in with the knife and looked
around. The walls were natural again, and it appeared to be a tunnel of
some sort, a tunnel with a light at the end.

 He turned back towards Akane and smiled as he handed the knife back to
her, holding it between his thumb and forefingers. "Here, you can put
this back now."

 The knight blushed suddenly and glared at him. "You'd like that wouldn't

 "Come on, let's get out of here," muttered the pigtailed boy lazily as
he started walking into the cavern.

 They started towards the light, but stopped as an insane giggling filled
the air from behind them.

 "No way," said Ranma as he slowly turned and saw the Niku's top half
smiling at them.

 "Run!" screamed Akane as she passed by him.

 The boy easily rushed by her, rushing towards the light, and the strange
roar that suddenly filled the air from somewhere. "Now what?" muttered
the boy as he glanced around for the source of the noise.

 Behind them, the Niku was snapping its jaws and running along the floor
with the remains of its hands. Somehow, it was even faster than before as
it relentlessly pursued them down the long tunnel. 

 Just as he passed Akane, the world became very bright. He reached out as
he realized what was happening and grabbed her arm, feeling his body
shift suddenly. He felt his shoulder jerk violently as he grabbed the
wall of rock and hung with the girl in his grasp. 

 Slowly, his vision cleared and he saw that he was inside a large shadow,
the air was soaking wet with a thick mist, and a deafening roar seemed to
pound at his ears from the giant waterfall that was falling into a rocky
alcove below, just over their heads.

 Ranma looked up and saw the Niku sail out of the tunnel like a bullet,
snapping its jaws at two target's that weren't there any longer. It
vanished into the waters and plummeted down onto the rocks below to its

 "Got 'em," commented Ranma, who was now in his cursed form and hanging
off of the tunnel opening by one hand, with Akane gripping her arm
desperately. Slowly, she pulled herself up and managed to drag Akane up
to the wall, where she could get her own grip on the wall. After a moment
of simply clinging and trying to catch their breath, the pair started to
climb the slippery surface. Ranma nodded towards the right of the cavern
opening. Three feet from the hole, was the beginning of a path that would
lead them to the ground.

 Akane looked at him, and nodded her head slowly. Ranma didn't fail to
notice the flash of anger there.

 "So, it's time we settled this is it?" thought the elf girl to herself
as she climbed.



 Evil. Yes I know. Oh well, till next time. Then we'll have Ranma and
Akane in a heart to heart discussion about the evils of stealing. Yeah,
right. Plus, Ryu and the others try and dodge the military, while trying
to escape the country.

C&C to

Previous parts can be found at Http:// and R&C Books
International Fanfic Company at Http://


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