Subject: [FFML] [Fic][Ranma][Drama] The Last Time Around (Prologue)
From: Growly
Date: 1/28/2006, 4:13 AM
To: ffml@anifics.com

Well, what can I say... hmm... I originally started
this fic in 2000-2001 and, being the internet-unsavvy
bumpkin I was at the time, I didn't post it here or at
raac.  I didn't even know how to join them until very
recently - which turned out to be something of a
blessing in disguise, as learning about them inspired
me to write once again. This story was put aside and
pretty much forgotten about ever since late 2003, and
now, just over two years later, I've dragged it out of
the dust and started working on it again.

If anyone here had the opportunity to read it on my
webpage originally, they'll find that this isn't quite
the story that it used to be.  I put it through a
rewrite in order to keep the differences between my
new writing style and my old to a minimum.  As a
result, it's longer and hopefully better.

So, now that I have babbled on annoyingly for far too
long, I'd like to go ahead and present "The Last Time
Around".  Hopefully the formatting will not be too
badly messed up - but just in case it is, you can
always email me directly at sesshou_maru@yahoo.com and
I will be glad to provide a properly formatted copy.

*

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-- Attached file included as plaintext by Ecartis --
-- File: The Last Time Around - prologue1.txt
-- Desc: 315963492-The Last Time Around - prologue1.txt

Life is like a circle... unending.  For every life lost another is 
born.   And all things come around from the end to the beginning.  
Such was the philosophy of life that all enlightened creatures 
subscribed to.  All of them knew as well, that something better 
awaited at the end of their many long cycles of living and dying.  
It is a state many creatures long to reach, but sometimes... there 
have been those who would deny that paradise.

And some bonds are stronger even than those of fate...

 

                                * ~ * ~ *

                            Growly presents
               A Ranma � story about life, death and love...

 

                         The Last Time Around
 


Prologue: 

"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."
                  *Prologue - Star Wars
 

It was a well-known fact that the large mountain felines were often
 both aloof and elusive. Difficult to find, and even more so to 
capture or kill, the beasts were renowned for their grace and their 
spirit - to defeat one of their number was indeed a rare honor for 
any warrior, and a greater one for a mere hunter.  Taryn had been 
hunting this particular cat for a long time, as far back as he 
could remember, and never once had he caught more than the 
slightest glimpse of her.  Today, however, he had the feeling that 
something was different.  Perhaps it was nothing... but he had 
learned to trust his feelings.

Sure enough... he had only been out for a short while when he 
caught a glimpse of a sleek white coat against the gray stone.  It 
was her.  Rumor had it that she had been wandering these hills long 
before his father had come to hunt her.  They called her Bakehime, 
"the ghost princess", because of her pale coat and proud air.  No 
man had ever managed to catch her and claim that glorious white 
pelt for his own, but there was not a man in the tribe who would 
not have wished to wear that badge of honor.  His father had been 
driven to near madness in his quest for her - it was a siren's call 
in his blood that Taryn could not have ignored.

And now, it seemed that he would succeed where so many others had 
failed.  Could it truly be so simple? His heart beat quickened as 
he fitted his arrow to his bow and crept through the brush, moving 
closer to where the graceful feline lay sprawled in a sunbeam.  For
a moment he could only stare in a delighted wonderment that was 
almost awe.  No matter how often he'd been told the stories - the 
true beauty of the cat was something thathad to be seen to be truly 
understood.  

Ordinary mountain cats had an admittedly graceful build - a grace 
that was tempered with a definite sense of power.  They were 
hunters - almost kindred spirits to his own people in their way - 
and thus it was considered an honor to defeat one in combat.  No 
other creature merited the treatment of a warrior upon their 
death, a fact of which Taryn was well aware.  The bakehime was 
slim and long, with a surprisingly delicate frame that nonetheless 
seemed to radiate power and speed.  The white coat which had 
captured the envy of so many of his tribe was whiter than fresh 
fallen snow - almost beyond white.  If light had a form, it would 
have been this creature that was resting placidly on the 
sun-warmed stone.

It was almost a shame...  He felt a slight twinge inside, knowing 
that he would have no more moments like this.  But it was not an 
opportunity to be wasted - surely the Mother had presented it to 
him for a reason.  Thus resolved, he carefully dropped to a crouch 
to get a better view through the twisted brush.  It was a clear 
shot - there would be no better opportunity.  Yet, as he drew back 
the string, he saw the cat�s ear twitch.

"I know you�re there."

The arrow fell from Taryn�s numb fingers as the soft, impeccably 
calm voice reached his ears.  It had been almost gentle - but no 
less frightening for all that.  It was a voice like the wind on 
the mountain crags - quiet and assured.  It frightened him badly. 
  Yes, there had always been rumors that the mountain cats were 
more than mere beasts - they were called the spears of the Mother, 
her servants in mortal affairs - but he had never been the sort to 
put any stock in old tales.  He tried to back away silently, only 
to be stopped by that silky voice once again.

"Don�t be foolish boy.  Come out."

Unable to speak, and quivering with superstitious fear, the young 
man emerged from the brush and approached the white cat.  She 
looked him over, her golden brown eyes raking over his form.  He 
couldn�t help but think she was sizing him up, although for what, 
he had no clue.  His mind was more than willing to provide a few 
notions that were particularly unpleasant, and it was all he could 
do to keep from cringing beneath her gaze.  It was not behavior 
that befitted a hunter.  She was silent for a long while, but at 
last she sat up - a slow and languid motion - grooming her already 
spotless white coat in a slightly off-handed manner.

"You have come to hunt me."  He could easily tell that there was 
no need for him to attempt to answer, it had been a statement and 
not a mere question.  Yet despite this knowledge, the she-cat 
seemed neither frightened nor angry as she continued, "Or perhaps, 
you are curious?"

Taryn could certainly not deny he was that as well.  Swallowing 
hard, he managed a slight nod, trying to still his shivering.  
What if she was an incarnation of the Mother?  The thought sent a 
thrill through his body that was both terror and excitement.  This 
was so much like something out of one of the old stories that it 
could almost make him believe in it all.  The All-Mother, the Two 
Cats, the Wolf People and the cunning Fox... all those tales that 
had belonged to his people since the time before time.

His legs seemed to be unwilling to bear him any longer, and he 
sank to the ground, his bow falling across his lap and the arrow 
forgotten, at least for the moment.  She was speaking to him 
again, and her voice was oddly captivating.  

"Would you like to hear a story then, boy?  I have nothing else to 
do, and the days are long... so very long..."  For a moment there 
was a hint of wistful longing in the cat�s voice.

Again Taryn nodded, unable - or perhaps merely unwilling - to 
trust his lips to form the words he sought.  It was undeniable 
that he still wanted the glorious white coat - Needed it really, 
for reasons too myriad to list - but he could get it just as 
easily later on... perhaps when the cat was tired from her 
tale-telling.  That would only make it so much the easier.

"Well then..." The cat settled down in her patch of sunlight, paw 
crossed over paw, her eyes fixed on some point beyond Taryn�s 
form.  Her voice took on the same tone he'd heard the village 
storyteller use - that odd, distant and yet somehow very immediate 
speech that was entrancing in its strangeness.  "This is a story 
set long ago, before the tribe of humans settled in this valley.

"It is the story of a cat named Anya... and how she set off from 
her home in the Guir on a quest..."

 


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