Subject: [PMFFML] [FFML-R] [repost][Ranma][Fanfic] Three Souls, One Heart chapter 15
From: "David A. Tatum" <desaix@sysnet.net>
Date: 2/6/2001, 6:11 PM
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Chapter 15 is being posted seperately because it's the last repost.  Next
chapter (coming in a matter of moments) is new.
Chapter 15

Akane sat at the breakfast table, waiting for her husband and mother-in-law
to arrive.  Ranma was still getting dressed, and Nodoka hadn't quite
finished fixing all of the food.  She was bored, and decided to spend a few
minutes in idle conversation with Iria.

'Hello, Iria.'

Iria laughed.  'I wondered when you would start paying attention to me
again.  It seems that now Ranma's showing his love for you, I'm not needed
any more.'

Akane was abashed.  'I'm sorry, Iria- I don't mean to be ignoring you. 
It's just that... well... it's all so new, and-'

'I understand- it's that honeymoon period still- I went through one myself,
a long time ago.  I wasn't expecting you to pay any attention to me at all-
in fact, I'm surprised you're talking to me right now.'

Akane flushed faintly and tried to turn the subject off of her.  'That's
right- you were put into that cursed doll because you fell in love with
someone.  What was he like?'

Iria hesitated.  'I'm not entirely sure I want to talk about it...
especially not right now.  Ranma will be here soon, and Nodoka could be out
any second.  Ask me again when you have more time to listen... it's a long
story, and, well, I don't like talking about it.  Please... ask me later.'

Akane heard the discomfort in Iria's voice, and acquiesced.  'Okay, Iria. 
I'll wait until you're ready to tell it... but I think you probably should
tell me about it at some point- it certainly helped me to have someone to
talk to during these last few months.  I'd like to return the favor.'

'I will, Akane... but not right now.'

"Akane?" Ranma asked.  Akane had not even realized he'd come in.

"Ranma!  Um, hi..."

"Talking with Iria again?"

Akane nodded, almost guiltily.  "Yeah."

Ranma quirked an eyebrow at her.  "She's been giving you some interesting
ideas.  Care to tell me what you were talking about, or am I gonna find out
later?"

Akane flushed.  "We weren't talking about THAT, pervert!" she exclaimed. 
"Believe it or not, we DO talk about other things- some of them not
involving you at all.  And some of them are between us only."

Nodoka walked in at the end of Akane's tirade, and looked at her son. 
Ranma looked suitably chastised, and so she didn't worry about
interrupting.  "Breakfast is ready, you two."

Ranma smiled at his mother.  "Thanks, mom!  Come on, Akane, let's eat...
school's in a couple hours, after all.  Don't wanna go there hungry."

*	*	*	*	*

Ukyou stormed in through the doors of the Nekohanten.  She was, by no
means, a happy okonomiyaki chef.  In fact, she was downright angry.  After
Ryouga had refused to help her despite her pleas, she had spent the entire
night out searching for the Oni on her own.  Well, searching wouldn't
really be the right word- it would imply that she actually was looking for
the Oni in places where she might expect to find it.  It might be better
described as wandering aimlessly as she worked out some things.

She still hadn't worked any of those things out, she hadn't found any sign
of the Oni, and she'd lost a night of sleep for her troubles.

Cologne watched her as she came in.  "Ah, good," the elderly Amazon said. 
"I was wondering where you were.  Was Ryouga unavailable?"

Ukyou grumbled something unintelligible.

Cologne smirked.  "I'll take that as a yes.  You don't look so good, girl-
are you feeling well?"

"Didn't get any sleep last night."

"Ah... well, you can get some sleep now.  Shampoo, take Ukyou to the guest
room and let her sleep there for a couple of hours.  I'm heading over to
the Tendou dojo to ask some more questions."

Ukyou's eyes flashed.  "I don't need sleep.  I'd rather go with you to the
Tendou's- I'd like to talk to Ranma for a bit."

Cologne sighed.  "You get a couple of hours sleep.  I'll call to make sure
you're up in time for school, and I'll make certain that Ranma and Akane
BOTH go as well, today.  You can have whatever discussion you want with
them later, but right now you need your rest."  She nodded slightly, and
Shampoo snuck up behind Ukyou and pressed a small point on the back of her
neck.  The okonomiyaki chef collapsed.  "Sweet dreams," Cologne chuckled as
Shampoo carried her off.

Mousse frowned.  "We aren't looking for the Oni?"

"No, it isn't in the area right now, I don't think.  There are a few other
things we can look for, but not until I've had a chance to look into a few
things.  In the meantime, we should go about as if nothing unusual had just
happened- when Shampoo gets back, start readying this place for business. 
And make sure Ukyou is awake by seven, all right?"

Mousse nodded.  "Yes, honored elder."

Cologne made her way to the door, smiling slightly.  Apparently, that
little bit of advice she'd given him had really affected him- he was even
addressing her as 'honored elder' instead of as 'dried up monkey.'  Quite
an improvement.  Maybe she'd actually toss another word or two of advice
his way- he wouldn't necessarily be a bad husband for Shampoo, after all. 
If he could control himself until the girl was over Ranma, that is.

*	*	*	*	*

"...transfer over to my younger cousin, Komatsu's, school.  I mean, I've
heard that that one of his classmates is just as much of a ladies' man as
Ranma is, but that this guy has these really cute sisters.  He's also got
information on every girl in his school... most of whom are probably as
cute as Yuka and Sayuri are.  It would be a shame to have to start over
with some new girls, though.  Are you sure you want to get out of Furinkan,
Daisuke?  Um... Daisuke?  Dai-su-ke!  Hey, Daisuke, are you listening to a
word I'm saying?" Hiroshi asked his friend.

"Um, you wouldn't happen to know why there might be a two story tall pig
with a cute looking girl riding it this way, would you?" the other teenager
asked.

Hiroshi blinked, and looked over his shoulder.  Slowly, he nodded and
turned his head back to Daisuke.  "I believe that's Ryouga's girlfriend-
she's supposed to be into pigs, from what I've heard.  So, anyway, as I was
saying, how quickly do you think we can leave Furinkan anyway?"

*	*	*	*	*

Cologne arrived at the Tendou dojo while breakfast was underway. 
Cautiously, she approached the three unaware residents.

"Well, boy, seems like you made a choice," Cologne crooned.  Ranma, Akane,
and Nodoka all turned their heads in surprise at hearing her.  "I think we
need to talk about a few things, though."

Ranma eyed the elder warily.  There weren't many people who he didn't feel
comfortable using his trademark bravado with, but Cologne was one of those
few.  Cologne was sly, powerful, intelligent, focused, and maybe even a
better fighter than he was- maybe.  If she was mad about his choice of
Akane, he would have a difficult time dealing with her.

"Yes, Mother told me you talked to her yesterday.  Are you here for some
sort of revenge?" he asked, getting ready to grab Akane and get her the
hell out of there if Cologne tried anything.

Cologne laughed humorlessly.  "Boy, if I wanted to hurt you or your girl,
you'd both be in the hospital by now.  Or worse.  No, I'm here to talk
about other matters- matters which aren't nearly so trivial."  She paused. 
"However, while we are on such an unimportant topic, I'll give you a fair
warning- Shampoo realizes that Akane will be your first wife.  She,
however, is still planning to pursue you- perhaps to become your SECOND
wife in the Amazon tradition... which is vaguely similar to a formally
recognized position of concubine here in Japan.  However, she will not be
targeting you, Ranma- she'll be targeting Akane.  Akane must give her
consent for Shampoo to court you as her second wife."

Ranma's eyes widened, while Akane clenched her face up in growing anger. 
Nodoka, on the other hand, took it in stride- she would certainly not force
anything on her son that he didn't want, but he most likely was manly
enough to satisfy more than one woman, if he so desired.  Akane's own
screams testified to that.

"You'd better not even be THINKING about considering any such offer,
Ranma," the girl growled through clenched teeth.

Ranma could have chosen tact (he was getting better at it, recently-
perhaps it had something to do with him getting older, or perhaps it had
something to do with having been beaten over the head so often that he was
starting to learn when not to say certain things, or perhaps there was
another reason altogether- he wasn't sure), but decided against it.  Things
were too tense- he needed a release.  Even if it resulted in serious pain.

"Why would I have to think about it?  You're the one she'll probably start
glompin', now."  

That thought made Akane feel ill.  She made a half-hearted attempt to smack
Ranma, and he let her connect.  It wasn't very hard, though, and he glanced
at her with concern.  Obviously, his wife feared that what he suggested
would really happen.  Oh, well... he tried.  Maybe he should find a way to
teach her how to take a joke.

Cologne chuckled, mentally applauding Ranma for his small wisecrack.  She
knew he was still on his highest guard, but he was still able to appear
relaxed.  Her bit of news apparently put him a bit more at ease, too,
because he lowered that guard a notch a moment later.

"All right, so you haven't come here to talk about me and Akane," Ranma
noted.  "So what ARE you here for?"

"That foolish deal you made with the Oni," Cologne stated.  "I need to know
the details, and I mean all of them.  You should never have made that deal,
but since you did I need to know everything I could possibly use to destroy
the creature."

Nodoka's eyes flashed.  "What, precisely, do you have against the Oni?  I
found it to be an honorable and highly intelligent conversationalist."

Cologne paused, examining the Saotome matriarch closely.  "Indeed.  Did it
happen to suggest any activities it wanted you to participate in?"

"It encouraged me to murder my husband- something which he might even
deserve, as it turns out, but of course I will not do such a thing.  I did
not say that it was innocent, I merely asked what you felt was so horrible
about it that it deserved to be destroyed."

Cologne coldly stared Nodoka straight in the eye.  "It was born.  That is
reason enough to destroy one of its kind."

Akane was shocked.  "Just because it's an oni?  But... isn't there a way to
change Oni?  I've heard of other types of demons being tamed or
reformed...."

Cologne nodded.  "Yes, any kind of demon can be reformed.  However, the Oni
have done something unforgivable to the Amazons, something which can only
be rectified through their complete destruction."

"What was their crime?" Nodoka asked.  "I do not believe we should help you
until we are convinced that your cause is just."

Cologne looked at each of the three present and sighed.  She could tell
that they would not stop pressing for an answer until she gave them
something specific.  "I can only say if all of you swear on your word of
honor to not reveal this to any entity outside of those of us gathered
here."

The three looked at each other and nodded at each other.  Nodoka turned to
Cologne and raised her right hand.  "On behalf of those of us here present,
I so swear it."

"Very well," Cologne said, nodding.  "If it gets me the answers I need, I
will tell you."  Taking a deep breath, she said, "It starts with something
that may surprise you- Mousse is almost certainly the most powerful male
Amazon-by-birth in the past four thousand years.  There is a curse upon the
Amazons, levied by the Oni four thousand years ago, that makes all Amazon
women bear cripples.  It was the origin of many of our marriage laws, as we
were driven by necessity to both find a way to defend ourselves and to
bring new males into the fold.  We don't just take those who defeat our
women in battle- Shampoo's father, for example, was a fighter from Tibet
who we saved during the initial Chinese occupation- but all of our fighting
men are Outsiders.  All except for Mousse, who learned to fight despite his
blindness in order to win the love of his Shampoo."  Cologne smirked.  "I
used to think he was rather foolish to try and defy the curse, but his
recent actions have given me cause to reconsider my initial feelings."

Ranma nodded.  "Yeah, Mousse is a helluva fighter- not in my league, but a
helluva fighter... well, when he's attacking the right target, that is."

Nodoka frowned.  "And what, pray tell, did the Amazons do to receive this
special curse from the Oni?  Surely even demons do not make so direct an
assault without at least claiming some sort of provocation on your part."

"That is true," Cologne admitted.  "We did offend the Oni, but we were
merely protecting a visitor to our village.  A rebel demoness, as a matter
of fact, though this was a western demoness that was hoping to find refuge
with us as she was protecting her human lover."

Something clicked in Akane's head.  "Um... did this demoness have a name?"

Cologne looked at her oddly.  "Yes, she did.  I believe, if I recall the
legend correctly, that the demoness called herself Iria."

Akane nodded.  There was a buzzing in her head, letting her know that Iria
was trying to say something, but she didn't want to give away the
ex-succubus' position until she knew how Cologne would react to knowing
that Iria was right there.  "What happened?" she asked, clapping a hand
over Ranma's mouth to keep him from saying anything stupid.

"Iria stayed with us for a few months, and taught us many things.  We had
some defenses against attacking demons set up, though nothing that would
keep them out permanently- we were not equipped at the time for that, as
Iria's very entry into the village showed.  She helped us to strengthen
them, and began to give us the rudiments of things like chi manipulation-
though nothing as powerful as the techniques which I, or even you, Ranma,
have mastered now.  The development of those techniques took several
millennia.

"Ultimately," she continued, "We believe that Iria was intending to use us
as a fortified refuge against her pursuers, but they arrived much too
quickly for her preparations to be completed.  The Western demons struck,
and with our new skills and wards, combined with her powers, we were able
to drive them off... but at a terrible cost to herself.  She wasn't strong
enough to go on.  Her lover took her and departed our village, hoping to
spare us from a second attack."  Cologne paused.  "Unfortunately, the
Western demons returned- this time with a huge number of Eastern demons in
reserve.  Finding Iria gone, they proceeded to strike out against us in
revenge....  We were defeated soundly, but the demons were too rushed to
utterly destroy us as they wanted.  Instead, they just cursed us.  We have
done as much research as we possibly can, and the only way we have found to
lift the curse is to destroy the demons powering it... which were the Oni,
as most of the Western demons had been eliminated in the first assault, and
the other Eastern demons lacked the power to place such a curse on us."

Akane paused, still holding her hand over Ranma's mouth.  "Cologne... can
Ranma and I discuss a few things in private before we decide if we want to
tell you what happened or not?"

Again, the Amazon matriarch looked at Akane oddly.  "You may, but don't
take too long."

Akane nodded, grabbing Ranma by the pigtail and dragging him upstairs to
her room in a run as Cologne watched her go.  She turned to Nodoka with an
expressionless face.

"Let me guess... Akane and your son have run into Iria before?"

*	*	*	*	*

It wasn't until they reached Akane's room that the hands came off of
Ranma's mouth and pigtail.  He looked at her darkly, rather annoyed at the
rough treatment.

"What's goin' on?" he grumbled.  "Ya damn near suffocated me, there!"

"Sorry," Akane apologized breathlessly.  "I couldn't let you tell Cologne
about Iria until I had a chance to talk to her myself."

Ranma sighed.  "Gimme a little credit, Akane- I know better than that."

"Sorry," Akane said again.  "I just had to be sure."

"Right... so, anyway, whadya wanna talk about?"

Akane flushed guiltily.  "Well, I just wanted time to talk to Iria in
private, and I also wanted to keep you from saying anything stupid-"

"Hey!"

"-so I just used you as an excuse to get out of there."

Ranma looked at Akane sternly for a moment, but then gave up and sighed. 
"Yeah, okay.  So get to chattin' with Iria, already.  We haven't got too
long before we have to leave for school."

Akane cocked an eyebrow.  "Ranma?  You sure YOU aren't the one possessed? 
It sounds like you're worried about your education!"

"Bah- I ain't worried about MY education, I'm worried about YOUR education,
tomboy!  There ain't no way my wife ain't gonna live up to her potential. 
Now, get to spirit talking so we can get outta here."

Akane smiled slightly at his concern before closing her eyes and looking
inward for Iria.

'Good- you're finally listening,' the ex-succubus said.  'You needn't have
worried- once I realized that Joketsuzoku was THAT village, I knew that
Cologne would bear me no ill will.  It was under a different name when I
passed through it, but no member of the tribe of people who lived there
will harm me.  They all made an oath to protect me and to instruct their
descendants to protect me, so Cologne cannot harm me.  You will be safe
telling her about me.'

'That's good, but how much of what she said is true?  Could it be that she
might blame your leaving the village for the curse placed on it?'

'I doubt it.  At any rate, she wouldn't risk harming me, regardless- many
of the defenses I set up are STILL protecting her village to this day, I
believe.  It is why they and the few other states in that region have been
able to maintain their autonomy for so long, even with the several thousand
years of Empire followed by the several decades of Communist Dictatorship. 
Destroying me would destroy those wards, and mean the doom of her people.'

Akane relaxed.  'Good.  Then I can tell her about everything without
worry.'

'Yes, but...'  Iria hesitated.  'Try not to give away anything that would
lead to the Oni's immediate destruction.  I think your mother-in-law was
right- it IS an honorable Oni.  It treated you and your family a LOT nicer
than any normal demon would.  I think maybe it's long captivity may have
dulled the inherent evil in it, or something... but considering what it
could have done- and SHOULD have done, being an Oni- I think it deserves
some mercy for how it treated you.'

'Really?'  Akane sounded dubious.  'I mean, it never told us that Ranma and
I had to both be females, and it placed those weird marks on our bodies,
and-'

'Yeah, I know.  But those are little things- a really nasty demon would
have found a way of cheating the two of you and remaining inside your
body... and possibly would have attacked me, since I'm now not just a
fallen succubus, but a REBEL fallen succubus now that I've left the cursed
doll.  And a weak one, at that.  It should have just torn me apart when you
weren't looking for the sheer spite of it, but it didn't.'

'And you never warned me about this before BECAUSE?'

'Um... well, I figured he wouldn't strike until he didn't need you any
more, and you wouldn't have been able to help even if I had.  I figured you
didn't need to worry about it while you were worrying about your, ahem,
'first time' with Ranma.'

'That shouldn't have mattered!  You're a friend of mine- I don't want you
to keep things like that a secret from me!  If I can ever help you in any
way, LET ME KNOW.'  Akane paused.  'We'll talk more about this later.  I
need to go down and deal with Cologne right now.'

'Okay, Akane... we'll talk later, okay?'

'Right- we'll talk later,' Akane replied hurriedly.  She didn't want to be
walked in on by Cologne in the middle of this talk.  'Bye.'

Blinking, Akane turned back towards Ranma.  "Okay... Iria trusts Cologne
with her secret.  Let's go downstairs and tell her... but we need to be
careful.  Iria doesn't want us leading Cologne to destroy the Oni...
something about how your mother was right about it being honorable."

Ranma raised an eyebrow.  "Well... I don't really think there's anything we
could say that would help Cologne, anyway, so I guess there's no problem
with that.  Now, let's get this over with so we can get ya to school on
time today, okay?"

Akane nodded.  Leaning over, she gave him a kiss on the lips- a sweet one.

"What was that for?" Ranma said.  They were more intimate, but that really
didn't seem like the sort of time for a kiss to him.

"For worrying about me and my education.  I'd do more to thank you, but I
don't want to make you worry more...."

*	*	*	*	*

Genma glanced around the room he'd been staying in, making sure he hadn't
forgotten to pack up anything.  They were finally going home the next
morning, and he was anxious to get going.  Finally, Ranma and Akane
wouldn't be able to claim that they didn't want to marry each other-
finally, the lines would be joined.  Finally, he could retire.

Soun walked in, looking very nervous.  Genma blinked- it wasn't often that
Soun just barged in.  In fact, once Genma thought about it, he realized
Soun rarely did anything but sit in the living room and cry about things...
unless he was dragged out by friends or forced out by circumstances (such
as his youngest daughter and her fiancee kicking them out).  His rushing in
seemed rather... strange.

"Saotome, my friend," Soun said in a mildly panicked voice.  "Have you seen
Kasumi?  She isn't in her room, she isn't in the kitchen, and she isn't in
the living room.  Where is my little girl?"

Genma frowned.  Soun was always overprotective of his daughters.  How were
they going to get strong if their father kept coddling them?  Soun should
do something to build them up a bit, like strapping weights to their legs
and making them run marathons, or something that would help them build up
their strength.  Anything but panicking about them twenty-four hours a day.
 Still, Kasumi WAS the only cook of the family- perhaps she did deserve a
little extra looking after.

"Sorry, Tendou- haven't seen her since last night.  Why?"

"I thought she was cooking breakfast when I woke up this morning, but she
hasn't been here all day.  She didn't tell me she was going out....  Oh,
no- my darling girl's been KIDNAPPED!"

Genma blinked.  It was a bit of a stretch to come to that conclusion, but
considering recent history (like Toma's Island) it wasn't THAT much of a
stretch.  "There, there, Tendou... we'll find her.  Maybe she just found
that she needed to get something from the market before fixing our
breakfast, and that something kept her longer than she was expecting."

Soun sniffed.  "Are you sure?"

Genma shrugged.  "It isn't very likely- I mean, we certainly didn't hear
anything.  What kind of kidnapping is so quiet that two master martial
artists like ourselves don't hear anything?"

Soun perked up at that.  "That's true... but then, where is she?"

Genma looked around.  "Um...."

*	*	*	*	*

Kasumi stared hard at the piece of paper in her hand.  She knew that the
place they were staying at seemed familiar, but now she knew why.  Now if
she could just find the address that she had gotten out of the phone book,
maybe she'd have a chance to fix things and have one last chance....


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