Subject: [PMFFML] [FFML2] The Dragon and The Ghost[Part 17][R.5]
From: Ryoga P Hibiki
Date: 3/22/2001, 8:02 AM
To: ffml2@listbot.com

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    The Dragon and the Ghost

    Part 17

    Reunion.

++++++++++++

    "We're almost there," said Ranma with a light smirk on his face as
he turned towards Akane.

    She had her arms folded across her chest and was glaring at him
distastefully as they walked. "Good, then I can kill you."

    "You can try at any rate," replied the boy with a small chuckle.
"I doubt if you're dumb enough to try, especially with the others
around. If you aren't careful, I'm afraid I'll have to tie you up
again."

    Akane growled and turned her head away.

    "There's a good girl," said Ranma cheerfully as he continued
walking.

    A few moments later they came upon a worn looking cabin deep in
the woods. A column of smoke rose from the rickety looking chimney.
Ranma grinned back at Akane for a moment and walked up to the front
door. He began to bang on it harshly.

    "Open up in the name of the Emperor! Come out now! You'll not
escape!"

    Akane stared at him in shock for a moment as he tried not to
giggle at the noises that started to come from inside the cabin.
Finally, he kicked the door in and waltzed inside confidently.

    "Where is the Kajakan!?"

    Akane blinked as a blast of white light came from inside the
cabin. Ranma sailed back out the door, and landed on his back in the
dirt a few yards away from her. "Dolt."

    Ranma sat up, his body was smoking and he had a dazed look in his
eyes. "Whoa. Kinda forgot about that damn spear."

    "Ranchan? Are you all right?" said Ukyo as she peered out the door
of the cabin cautiously. A moment later, both she and Shampoo rushed
out to his side.

    "Wow, you almost got yourself killed. That was pretty funny
though," said Shampoo cheerfully as she grabbed his arm.

    "You jackass! What the hell were you thinking?" snapped Ukyo as
she belted him over the head with the spear. "I could have killed
you!" She promptly grabbed his other arm.

    "Ouch, my head," muttered Ranma.

    "Hey! What are you doing! Let my Ranchan go!" said Ukyo as she
looked up at the elf girl opposite her.

    "I don't see a brand on him," replied Shampoo curtly as she
cuddled his arm a little harder.

    "Look you hussy!" said Ukyo angrily.

    "Will you two knock it off?" said Ryu lazily as he emerged from
the cabin with a long wrapped bundle over his shoulder.

    Akane snapped to life in an instant. "There it is!"

    "Huh?" muttered Ryu dumbly, everyone else turned and watched the
girl as she charged him angrily.

    "Give that back to me you thief!" roared the girl.

    Ryu merely smirked and spread his feet apart for a moment. "Don't
move!"

    The black knight staggered for a moment in surprise. "Huh?"

    It was all Ryu needed, he jumped forward, slamming into her with
his attack. Akane was thrown across the yard of the home, and came
down rather roughly near a pile of firewood. "What an idiot."

    "I warned her," commented Ranma from beside Ryu.

    Shampoo and Ukyo blinked in surprise as they looked at their empty
hands. Ranma had used the distraction to escape, leaving them sitting
alone dumbly.

    Akane staggered to her feet and glared at the pair bitterly.

    "Do we really need to tie you up again?" said Ranma calmly as he
watched her. "If you try for the Kajakan again before we're done with
it, I will."

    Akane snorted and turned her head away once again, she stood
silently for a long moment before simply sitting down in the dust.

    "We'll head back tomorrow," said Ranma calmly as he walked towards
the cabin. "The two of us have had a hard journey, we need to rest
before we go on."

++++++++++++

    "Kiima," said Saffron as he sat on his throne in the great hall of
the palace. Hundreds of dignitaries sat around him, silently.

    "Yes my lord?" said the woman as she appeared before him and bowed
deeply.

    "How are the plans going?"

    The bird woman smirked at him. "Perfectly."

    "Heh, Lord Herb is unaware?"

    "Of course not," said the woman with a slight bow of her head.

    "Excellent," said Saffron with a slight chuckle. "You may leave me
now."

    Kiima bowed and vanished from in front of him.

+++++++++++++

    In the shadows nearby, a lone figure stood hidden away from view.
The long black cloak hid away all of her features. The bottom of her
face was all that was visible, lit by a nearby torch that hung from
the wall. She smiled lightly, her lips painted with a dark purple
lipstick. "Most interesting," she commented just before she melted
away into the darkness.

++++++++++

    Late the next day, the party finally stood overlooking the forest.

    "It's over," said Ranma with a heavy sigh as he looked out over
the treetops.

    Akane frowned and looked down at the forest for a moment. She said
nothing, but her thoughts were much darker. "No, it has only begun."

    "Come on, let's get this over with," said Ryu as he started
forward.

    Ryoga grunted dwarfishly in agreement and started to follow after
the group, or so he thought. "Eh! Where'd ya go?"

    Ranma pulled on his hear as he dumped a flask of water over his
head, changing instantly. She then shook off the water and forced the
dwarf in the right direction.

    Ukyo frowned as she looked over at Akane for a moment. "What are
you planning Ranchan?" she muttered under her breath. The boy had made
no attempt to hide where they were going. He had practically led the
Emperor to the elven village personally if she was allowed to live
now.

    Suddenly Ranma stopped cold and looked at the forest silently for
a long moment. Ryu moved up beside him with a scowl on his face.

    "What is it?" asked Shampoo in confusion. She looked over at the
forest in confusion. A huge flock of birds soared into the sky above
from the treetops. "Wow," said the elf girl in wonder as she watched
them sail over her head, many passed almost close enough for her to
touch.

    "Ryu..." said Ranma quietly.

    "You too, huh?" muttered the boy in answer.

    "Yeah. I've got a bad feeling about this," said the redhead
quietly as she glanced back at the group.

    "Let go o' me ear!" snapped Ryoga from beside Ranma, completely
ruining the serious moment.

    "Oops, I forgot," said Ranma cheerfully.

    "Let's get going," said Ryu to the whole group.

+++++++++++

    The village was silent, it was early evening, and the sun was
slowly sinking below the horizon. The group walked through the empty
streets and wandered towards the palace.

    "Is it always this quiet?" muttered Akane to herself as she eyed
the area cautiously.

    "It's dinner time," said Shampoo with a shrug.

    "Let's just get this over with," said Ranma coolly as she stepped
towards the palace. "I'd like to get paid and forget about this job."

    "Long overdue," agreed Ryu with a small nod.

    The group walked into the great tree that served as the palace.
Shampoo moved into the lead position as they walked up to the throne
room. Ryu handed her the Kajakan and nodded grimly.

    "See you guys later," muttered Ranma as she vanished into thin
air.

    "What?" stammered Ryoga. "Come back coward!"

    "Shut up," said Ryu as he smacked the dwarf on the back of his
head. The group opened the great doors that would lead them to
Cologne's throne and walked into the room slowly.

    "Welcome," said the cold sounding voice.

    "What?" stammered Akane in shock as she stepped forward.

    Herb was sitting in the throne, lounging rather lazily as he
watched them enter the room. "I believe you are bringing something to
me?" He put out his hand and opened his palm as he stared at Shampoo
calmly.

    "What? Who are you? What are you doing here?" said the elf girl in
shock.

    "You must be the princess Shampoo, my, but you'll fetch a fine
price," said Herb as he leaned forward and stared her dead in the
eyes.

    "What have you done with the elves?" she snarled angrily.

    "Captured, dead, or run away. It doesn't really matter does it?"
said Herb with a small chuckle. "Come now. You've been beaten. Give
the Kajakan to the Ghost, and have him bring it to me."

    "The Ghost?" said Ryoga as he turned to look back at the doors.

    "Yes, I am the Spirit of the Dragon. I will take the sacred staff
from the Ghost, and destroy the Emperor," said Herb with a mad looking
grin forming on his face. "I will have my revenge at last, and the
evil child will be destroyed at last. I will become emperor, and we'll
all live better lives. Isn't that nice?"

    "Humph, traitor," Akane stepped forward with a dark look in her
eyes. "I'll have your head for this."

    "You won't be leaving here alive I'm afraid. Take them," Herb
waved his hand and several armor-clad figures walked out from behind
the great wooden pillars that lined the room on both sides. The heavy
wooden doors closed them into the room. "Thus the trap is shut. Now,
lady Akane, you and your friends will die." Herb turned towards the
black knights and smirked. "Kill them, but leave the human male. I
need him alive." Herb paused, none of the men were moving. He turned
slowly and saw a strange white glow surrounding the elf girl.

    "Shampoo, now," whispered Ukyo from behind the elf.

    The purple haired elf stepped aside, and Herb's eyes went wide as
he found himself staring down the knight's spear, and the ball of
white energy that was collecting on its tip.

    "You talk too much," said Ukyo as she finally released the power
on him.

    "No!" whispered the man as he stepped back. The energy slammed
into him, creating a blinding flash of light. The throne was vaporized
in an instant, along with any portion of the wall and floor that the
blast had touched. A huge pile of ash was all that remained when the
light faded away.

    Akane was in motion before the blast struck home. She rushed
towards the nearest knight, slamming into him with a side kick that
dented his armor inward as she grabbed at the sword that hung from his
side. In an instant she was standing at the ready with her blade.
"Now, which among you wishes to challenge my authority as Lady of the
Black Knights?"

    The men stepped back away from her, giving her a wide area of
clearance. She slowly turned and smiled grimly at the small party.
"Well? We'd best leave before he wakes up."

    "What?" said Ryoga in surprise.

    "These cowards are not my knights," said Akane as she looked at
the armor clad men, who were still standing around in shock. "They
would turn on me in an instant. I'm smart enough to realize my
position is still unfavorable at the moment."

    "What do you mean wakes up? I vaporized that bastard!" snarled
Ukyo.

    At that moment, the smoking pile of ash began to rise from the
floor slowly as something began to grow from within it. Two glowing
red eyes appeared as a head became clearly visible, rows of small
horns began to push out from around the face, as the ash began to pour
away from the thing. It was clearly inhuman and very pissed off. It
grew larger and larger with each passing moment, until it was easily
thirty meter's long.

    "No way!" said Ukyo as she stepped back.

    "Shit," muttered Ryu.

    "He was a beast-man," said Ryoga as he began to back away as well.

    "No..." said Shampoo in horror.

    The dragon roared, rearing its head back to reveal the golden
scales under its belly. It's roar was cut short as a figure appeared
out of nowhere and slammed into the thing's head, sending it crashing
into the floor.

    "Took you long enough damn it!" snapped Ryu as he started running
towards the doors after Ranma. The elf girl had landed in a sprint,
and was already charging towards the dumbstruck knights who were in
front of them.

    "You looked like you were handling it!" snapped the redhead in
retort as she took out the two men who were directly in their path.

    Ryu simply charged forward, slamming the doors open easily despite
their size and weight.

    "Now what?" cried Ukyo as she stopped just behind them as they
paused for a moment in the hall.

    "We run," said Ranma as she looked back and saw the dragon was
slowly regaining its senses.

    Shampoo rushed up to them, dragging Ryoga at her side. "Follow
me!" she said as she turned down the hall.

    "That's not the way out!" snarled Akane as she backed out of the
throne room. Herb was looking directly at her now, and she had her
sword held at the ready.

    "We can't go the way we came. He'd have hidden guards in every
elven home, just in case we escaped," said Ranma as she started after
Shampoo.

    The entire group moved after Shampoo as she led them up the
stairs.

    "Where are we going?" snapped Akane as an angry roar sounded a
short distance behind them.

    "Secret passage," said Shampoo as she tugged Ryoga's arm
violently. The dwarf was running too hard too speak at the moment, in
order to prevent Shampoo from lifting him off the ground and pulling
him through the air.

    "Great," muttered Ryu as he followed. "What if they found it all
ready?"

    "We're screwed," said the elf calmly as she turned up a stairwell.

    "Where is this passage?" said Ranma with a strange calmness on her
face.

    "At the top of the palace," said Shampoo.

    "Um, guys?" cried Ukyo as she ran.

    "That's about fifteen floors from here," said Ranma with a small
nod.

    "Faster guys," said Ukyo as she pushed herself a little harder.

    "Right," agreed Shampoo.

    "Move it!" screamed Ukyo.

    The wall below them seemed to explode as the dragon rushed up the
stairs at an insane rate of speed. It roared angrily as it charged,
carving up sections of wall as its bulky form scraped against the
narrow passageway. Tables and tapestries that dotted the stairway on
each floor were shattered as it barreled after them, slowing it
slightly.

    "Shit!" snorted Ranma as she rushed forward, leading the group at
a much faster pace.

    Herb snarled angrily as it slammed into another table behind them,
he stumbled for a moment and shook his head before charging forward
again. Ash still dirtied his sliver and gold skin, and his eyes seemed
to burn brighter with his anger as he slithered down the passageway
after them. His huge wings tore through the wall as if it was paper as
he flexed them angrily.

    "He's slowing down!" said Shampoo.

    "Then run faster!" cried Ukyo as she shoved at the girl's back,
forcing her to move a little more.

    "What?" said Shampoo. Her protest were quickly silenced as a
golden light tore through the stairwell and through it, blasting a
hole through the building and into the air outside.

    Herb closed his mouth and glared up at the still retreating party.
He snorted in disgust and continued to move up the stairs after them.

    "There's the top floor!" cried Ranma as he pushed himself through
the last door at the top of the stairs. "Get your ass up here
Shampoo!"

    "Coming!" snapped the elf as she rushed by, followed by the rest
of the group.

    Herb's head appeared behind them, snapping angrily and barely
missing them. The beast's head pulled back out of the room for a
moment as Ranma ducked into the next room with the others.

    "Here!" said Shampoo as she opened the floor in the middle of the
room.

    "This isn't a passage! It's a hole!" snapped Ukyo as she peered
into the endless void that stared back at her.

    "Jump or die! It's your choice!" snapped the elf as she vanished
into the darkness below.

    "Go!" snapped Ranma as she appeared in the room.

    Akane was the next to jump, she scowled at them for a moment
before Ryu shoved her in all the way, and followed after her.

    "I'm gettin to old for this," muttered Ryoga as he looked at the
pair for a moment. He then vanished as well.

    "Go!" snapped Ranma.

    "But..." said Ukyo with terror in her eyes.

    "Do it!" snapped Ranma.

    "Oh shit!" gasped Ukyo as she glanced behind the redhead.

    Walking up to them with a slowly quickening pace, was the ugliest
creature she had ever seen. It was a scaled man, with the head of a
dragon. A small crown of horns lined his face and he glared at them,
drool dripped from his chin as he worked his jaws open and closed. His
claws worked as he stared at them angrily, and his body began to glow.
"Die!" it cried as it stopped in the doorway and raised its claws into
the sky.

    "No!" screamed Ukyo as she found herself shoved into the hole.
Then, there was a flash of light. She screamed as the golden energy
threatened to overtake her, even as she fell. Finally, there was only
blackness.

+++++++++++

    Nabiki Tendo frowned as she looked into the mirror. "What is he
doing?" she muttered.

    The image shifted, and the top of the largest tree in the forest
suddenly became nothing more than a golden flash of light. It vanished
slowly, revealing nothing but a single figure floating in the air
where the center of the blast had originated.

    "That idiot killed them," snorted the girl irritably. She waved
her hand for a moment over the surface of the mirror and seemed to
relax slightly. "No, he failed. At least a few of them are still
alive."

She watched the beast-man change back into the dragon once again as it
began to circle the area in frustration. "Well, it seems you've lost
them again darling." She smirked and watched him search for a moment.
"Too bad, I never expected that...heh."

+++++++++++++

    "Where am I?"

    Ukyo Kuonji slowly opened her eyes and sat up. There was a thin
sheet covering her body and every part of her seemed to ache. She was
lying on some kind of wooden bed, and was alone in the darkness.
"Ouch. What happened to us? Ranchan?" She glanced around, searching
for her beloved for a moment.

    "You're awake," said a voice to her gently.

    Ukyo turned and saw the most shriveled looking creature she had
ever seen staring back at her.

    "Gah! A troll!" she cried as she pulled the sheet up to cover
herself. Somewhere along the line, her armor had been removed, along
with her clothes. Cologne, the elder of the elves, promptly hit her
over the head with her staff.

    "I told you you'd scare her," said a familiar voice in the
darkness. Shampoo walked up and sat down next to the table. "Relax
Kuonji, we're all ladies here."

    "Huh? Wha? Where am I? What's going on?" said the knight in
confusion.

    "This is the secret escape route of our tribe," said Shampoo with
a small shrug. "It was an old dwarven mine, but we drove the creatures
off many centuries ago, and saved our forest from them. We now use the
caverns as a shelter in time of need."

    Ukyo nodded and hung her head. "Ranchan? Where is he?"

    "You mean that Kumon boy?" said Cologne with a small chuckle.

    "Ryu?" said Ukyo with a look of disgust on her face.

    "Surely you don't mean that disgusting little dwarf?" said Cologne
in shock.

    Ukyo went completely pale. "No!"

    Shampoo shook her head and put her finger to her lips with a scowl
on her face for a moment from behind the old woman's back.

    "Never mind," muttered Ukyo as she gave Shampoo a distrusting
frown.

    "Very well, I shall leave you to rest now," said Cologne as she
noticed the silent battle of wills between the two girls. She hopped
away, leaving the pair in silence.

    "Where is Ranma?"

    "Right over there," said Shampoo as she raised her hand. A ball of
light formed and rose into the air, giving the room a soft glow. The
red-haired elf was lying on a table a few yards away, still sleeping.

    Ukyo stood up to go to her, throwing the sheet aside despite her
nudity. She paused as a hand fell on her shoulder.

    "There is time for that later, he needs rest first," Shampoo
smiled at her and nodded gently.

    Both girls froze as a new figure entered the room, taking Shampoo
into his arms. "Shampoo! You have returned to me at last!"

    Ukyo froze, staring at the newcomer in shocked horror.

    "Oh my darling Shampoo! I heard about your return, and had to come
see you at once! At last we can be together!"

    "Mousse, what the hell are you doing here?" said Shampoo in shock.

    "Visiting you, of course!" replied the boy cheerfully. He turned
and adjusted his glasses as he noticed Ukyo standing there beside him.
"Oh, hello. Who are you?"

    Ukyo screamed, punching him dead in the face and grabbing the
sheet to cover herself at the same time.

    Mousse sailed through the air, coming down hard just outside the
doorway.

    Shampoo smirked and looked at Ukyo for a moment. "Nice distance."

    "Pervert!" screeched Ukyo as she continued to glare at the
confused looking boy who was lying on his back just outside the room.

    Shampoo walked over to the door and frowned at him. "Stay out you
idiot. This room is girls only, you pervert."

    Mousse blinked as she slammed the door in his face. He glanced
around, and found himself alone in the hallway again. He stood up and
dusted himself off. He removed his glasses and tucked them inside his
sleeve, as he calmly walked away with a strange smirk on his face.

++++++++++++

    "So, now what?" said Ryu as he sat across from Ryoga calmly. The
pair was waiting in a small room with a fireplace. The room itself was
rather well furnished, books lined the walls, and there was a small
table in the corner. The both of them were sitting in the lounge
chairs, with drinks in their hands just in front of the fireplace.

    "We still haven't been paid," snorted the dwarf impatiently.

    "That will come in time," said an unfamiliar voice. The pair
turned and found an old woman balancing precariously on the end of her
staff. "Once your partner wakes up, we have business to discuss."

    "Right," agreed Ryu with a small frown.

    "Well, here's to a job well done," said Ryoga with a chuckle.

    "Indeed," said Cologne with a small frown.

    "Not as well as I would have liked, but we've completed the terms
of the contract," said Ryu with a small frown. "We'll take the money
and leave, the Kajakan, and all it's problems are yours now old
woman."

    "Indeed," agreed Cologne as she watched him for a moment
cautiously. "It makes one wonder how they found out though?"

    "Shampoo, Ranma, and myself were the only ones who knew our final
destination," said Ryu calmly. "Not even the knights knew."

    "Interesting, how did they find out?" said Cologne as she hopped
up and poked at the fire for a moment.

    "A witch most likely," said Ryu with a shrug of his shoulders.

    "I had heard you were immune to such power," said the old woman as
she glanced over at him.

    "We are, but you're not," said Ryu with a small chuckle. "In any
case, it's no longer our problem." He sipped at his drink lazily and
smirked at her.

    "Indeed," said Cologne with a small frown as she hopped away.
"I'll leave you for now. Have Shampoo summon me once your partner
wakes up."

+++++++++++

    Akane Tendo sat quietly, staring at the bars in front of her
coldly. Two guards stood on either side of her cell, watching her
silently. She eyed them for a moment, causing them to shift
uncomfortably as they watched her. She chuckled and shook her head for
a moment, turning towards the wall again.

+++++++++

    TBC...

    Next time: The Wrath of Herb!

C&C to Carrotglace@juno.com

Previous parts can be found at Http://www.fanfiction.net and R&C Books
International Fanfic Company at Http://www.rcbooks.org

Ja!


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