Disclaimer: Rumiko Takahashi is the greatest, but then again so is <whoever did SM>. All Ranma ½ and Sailor Moon characters… and the occasional Devil Hunter, as well as any other character that belongs to someone else belong to someone else, not me. I ain’t that good. Jiejie and Tian Huan are my own creations, as are Inago, Kaji, Sansai, and Fusei.

C&C: C&C is both welcome and desired greatly at dancingimp@yahoo.com. This is my first fanfiction work to make it past Chapter Half. Also, though I have certain things set in mind, I am willing to modify the story as it continues if it becomes necessary. If this story is located elsewhere, the original can be found at http://www.geocities.com/dancingimp. Thankies!

Big Thanks: To my prereaders/editors/mallet-wielders, James Thomas <who has written one of the best Dragonball Z/Ranma Half crossovers, http://www.provalue.net/users/heed452/fanfic>, and Greg Beauchamp. Thanks for the mallets to the head and red ink to the paper.

What Went Before: Ranma, Akane, and Ukyo were at college in Juuban. Happosai found a scroll that he used to try summoning a demon. The sacrifice for the ritual was supposed to be Ranma, but Akane interfered and vanished. Now the ‘demon’ appears to be a fifteen hundred year old Amazon with a mild attitude problem.  With Cologne’s help, Ranma is trying to find some way of getting back Akane. They ran afoul of a wizard or demon, which sent his minions to attack them, and now the Sailor Senshi appear to be rather miffed, believing Jiejie to be a demon and Ranma and company her servants. Jiejie has also managed to upset Ryoko, who is still sealed in the cave. The group has been informed about magical gems that may have the power to solve their problem. However, the first gem is in Egypt. Thank heaven for Kuno… They managed to acquire the gem after dealing with the guardians of the tomb, but a prison break by a demon/wizard put a damper on the situation.  The group managed to return to the Masaki shrine and have located the next gem. However, Ryoga got lost and Kuno has been kidnapped. Ryoko is a little too supportive of Jiejie now. Togenkoyo is the location of the next gem, but it doesn’t show up when it’s supposed to. While Shampoo goes to get help from the Masakis, Ranma and Jiejie have a little discussion that ends up with Akane reawakening. Akane also ends up asking a rather loaded question.

Special Note for this Chapter: Since almost the entire chapter will be set in China, so I will not be using <> to represent Chinese.

 

 

Chapter 7

“Past Encounters”

 

 

 

Cursed Springs of Jusenkyo, about 1500 years ago

 

            A small, child-like woman with solid black hair and gray eyes stood in a combat stance, facing off against a slightly taller redheaded girl. A male child with strangely colored hair was tied with glowing metal bands nearby. “So, you came to claim my prize, little girl,” the redhead smirked.

 

            The smaller girl nodded but remained silent. Her hair blew around a little in the hot wind that was rolling through the area. She slowly drew a curved sword and made ready. “Let’s see what you’re made of, then, little girl…” The redhead reached out a hand, and a sword of liquid flame burst into existence.



Joketsuzoku village, several years earlier

 

            The tournament was progressing well for Milu Ka. She was well on her way to becoming village champion, a title she had been seeking for some time. Her last opponent was climbing up on the fighting log. Milu Ka smirked. She had fought Chu Mi before, and she knew she was going to win. Her opponent slowly advanced, holding a spear in a guard position. Milu Ka twirled her tonfa skillfully, keeping Chu Mi wary. Milu Ka waited until the moment was right, and then threw one of her tonfa at Chu Mi. The Amazon blocked the weapon easily, but had dropped part of her guard, just as Milu Ka had anticipated. A quick jab saw the L-shaped club grab Chu Mi’s ankle and yank hard, sending her off balance and in perfect position for a follow-up strike. Moments later, Chu Mi lay on the ground dazed. Milu Ka smiled down at her, twirling her remaining tonfa idly as realization slowly crept in on her. She had won.

 

            Cheers roared up all around, praising her skills. Standing on the log, Milu Ka let her gaze travel over her fellow Amazons as the intoxicating effect of her victory flooded through her. There were a few strange faces in the crowd, visitors who had come to watch the competition, but one in particular caught her eye. He looked to be about eighteen years old, her own age. His fine robes were of a design that was unfamiliar to her. He was carrying a long staff with strange markings and topped with a large hoop that held several metal rings. He held the staff and himself with a confidence she could recognize easily, but without the apparent arrogance that she had grown so used to seeing in male warriors. Standing beside him was a small girl with black hair. She was dressed in equally fine robes, but she held no weapons. She looked to be quite a bit younger than her companion, but she did not hold herself with anywhere near the confidence. Milu Ka assumed that they were brother and sister, or that he was her bodyguard.

 

            As she ordered her prize, an enormous collection of food, returned to the village for a huge feast, Milu Ka found herself unable to take her eyes off of the young man. The more she ate and drank, the more she became fascinated with him. There were plenty of men in the village who were decent enough, but Milu Ka had never really found any of them interesting. They were either completely spineless or overbearingly arrogant. The young man who had caught her attention seemed to have the skills of a warrior with just the right amount of humility. Milu Ka was beginning to think it was time for her to pick a husband.

 

            As the party raged around her, she worked her way over to him. Her courage was bolstered by her earlier victory as well as a small amount of drink. When she was finally close enough to hear him speaking, Milu Ka found that he was holding a conversation with one of the Elders, Chun Ki. Milu Ka couldn’t follow most of it, but their discussion seemed to be focusing on matters of the spirit and mysticism. Milu Ka’s opinion of the male jumped. ‘He’s smart too, if he’s actually holding an Elder’s attention,’ she thought to herself.

 

            The Elder’s attention was definitely captured by the young man. ‘His knowledge of the high magics is incredible for one so young, and his grasp of other concepts is quite exceptional. He holds himself with confidence, but not arrogance. If he is as good a fighter as he seems to be a scholar, he would make an excellent addition to our village.’ Chun Ki noticed Milu Ka’s approach and recognized the look in her eye. ‘Ahhhh, and here comes an opportunity to test his skills.’ She motioned to the approaching Amazon as she spoke, “Ah, here comes our new village champion. This is Milu Ka. Milu Ka, these are our guests, the traveling mystic, Tian Huan, and his companion, Jiejie Fenfen.”

 

            Milu Ka nodded to Tian before taking a seat near him. She noticed, much to her annoyance, that Jiejie moved a bit closer to the young man as she did. She smiled as Tian spoke to her. “That was quite a display of skill today, noble champion. I am impressed by the strength of the warriors in your village.”

 

            “The women of our village take pride in our strength. I noticed that you carry yourself with a certain skill as well. Are you a warrior where you come from?” Milu Ka hoped he would answer yes.

 

            Tian shook his head. “No. Among my people, I am only a mediocre fighter. I prefer more spiritual pursuits, though knowledge of one’s own body is very important in order to gain understanding of one’s soul.”

 

            Milu Ka’s face fell, as did the Elder’s. In order to marry an outsider, he must be able to either provide a unique skill or defeat an Amazon woman in a challenge fight. The Elder still saw a few opportunities, but the best one had just taken flight. “Who are your people?” She asked.

 

            “I am from Nekonlon, noble Elder. I am one of the mystics who serve the Seven Lucky Gods,” Tian responded matter-of-factly.

 

            Though Milu Ka’s mood didn’t change, the Elder’s hopes soared beyond measure. ‘The Seven Lucky Gods?! This is too good to be true. Rarely have any who live there been seen outside of Nekonlon. And he is in the direct service of some of the greatest martial artists that exist! His skills may be mediocre in comparison to theirs, but they may still be enough to pass the test.’

 

            “Would you be so kind as to demonstrate some of your martial skills for us? Our village is always interested in learning new techniques.”

 

            Tian nodded. “It would be my pleasure.”

 

            The Elder called for an open area to be cleared for a demonstration of skill. While most of the Amazons continued to party, some of them gathered in a circle to watch. Tian began a slow kata, swinging his staff in graceful arcs while the rings on the hoop made melodic sounds. As the kata continued, his movements became faster and sharper, but the grace of the staff’s movements never ceased. As the kata came near to ending, Tian allowed his ki to flow openly. His aura became visible and his movements left entrancing patterns in the air. When the kata ended and Tian bowed, the gathered Amazons applauded his display. A small blush came to Tian’s cheeks as he bowed to them and returned to his seat by the Elder and Milu Ka.

 

            Milu Ka’s heart was thumping madly. The ability to tap into his ki and make it visible put Tian’s skill far beyond most of the Amazons. She was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she failed to notice Jiejie glaring in her direction. Milu Ka looked at the Elder. The Elder nodded and smiled back at her in a special way.

 

            “That was a remarkable display. Would you be willing to challenge our champion to a contest of skills?” The Elder asked.

 

            Tian’s brow furrowed a bit. “I do not like to fight unless it is necessary.”

 

            Milu Ka stood up. “I would like to challenge you to a contest of skills. It would be rude not to accept.”

 

            Tian frowned a little and Milu Ka thought she might have said the wrong thing. “What would the conditions be?” The young man asked. Milu Ka’s heart jumped for joy. Before she could say anything, the Elder cut her off. ‘The last thing we need is for you to tell him the real purpose of this, child,’ Chun Ki thought. “Use all the skills at your command, but no death or permanent injury. Otherwise, anything goes.”

 

            Tian agreed, and this time all the Amazons gathered to watch as the two duelists moved to the challenge log. Anticipation was written over most of their faces, which was making Jiejie exceptionally worried.

 

            The fight was a long one, with Tian starting out mostly on the defensive. Milu Ka could scarcely believe how quickly he could move his staff to block her strikes, and she was quickly forced to use the Kachuu Tenshin Amaguri Ken in order to get past his guard. Tian let out a whuff as a solid strike caught him in the stomach. He was impressed with the Amazon’s skill and chose to take the fight up a notch. Milu Ka parried a staff strike and launched a counterattack aimed at Tian’s chest, but the end of the tonfa passed right through him like a ghost. Milu Ka realized that he had used his ki to leave an after image. Suddenly, she felt the butt of his staff connect with her wrist, numbing it and sending one of her tonfa flying. She started to fall back, but her wrist was trapped in the hoop of his staff. She tried to use the staff as leverage, but Tian skillfully blocked her attempt and forced her off the log, disengaging the hoop at the same time.

 

            Tian hopped down lightly and offered his hand to help her up. To his surprise, she leapt at him and gave him a kiss full on the mouth. Tian blinked in shock while the collected Amazons roared and cheered, some offering their congratulations. Jiejie looked thoroughly displeased. Milu Ka finally broke off the kiss and whispered, “I love you.”

 

            Tian blinked and looked around in confusion, then realization dawned on him. He remembered learning about how the Amazon tribe increased their numbers through finding strong warriors outside the village, but he never thought he would be considered as worthy of such a position. His mind kicked into overdrive, trying to find a way out of the situation without insulting anyone. He wouldn’t mind being married, but he knew the Amazons would want him to stay, which would end his journey of enlightenment. His eyes fell on a scowling Jiejie and an idea came to him. ‘Forgive me for abusing you,’ he apologized to her silently. “I am dreadfully sorry, but I already have someone.”

 

            All around, the Amazons fell deathly silent. The dejected look that came over Milu Ka’s face hurt Tian terribly, but he forced himself to continue. He held his hand out and Jiejie came to his side.

 

            “You would chose that little girl over me?” Milu Ka could scarcely believe it. Chun Ki scowled. She had inferred from her conversation with Tian that Jiejie was only a companion, not a love interest. ‘It is possible that he is trying to avoid the marriage by claiming his companion as a mate… we shall see.’

 

            The Elder stepped forward and banged her staff into the ground to get everyone’s attention. “It is by our laws that if an outsider male defeats an Amazon female in a challenge, that they shall be married. If the outsider male is already taken, then the two wives must either agree to share him, or must fight for him.” The Elder looked sternly at Jiejie. “Which is it to be, child?”

 

            The Elder was completely unprepared for the rage that entered the little girl’s eyes at being called a child. She watched as the Jiejie looked up at Tian, who, after a moment, nodded sadly. “I will challenge Milu Ka.”

 

            The Amazon sneered at her small challenger, then walked to the challenge log once again. ‘This will be too easy,’ she thought as Jiejie climbed her way up the log. She was correct. No sooner had the fight begun then Milu Ka found herself paralyzed and facedown on the log. She hadn’t even seen Jiejie move. All she had been able to see what looked like a shadow moving across the log. A wave of loss struck her as the shadow touched hers and she had been rendered helpless. The paralysis wore off as tears came to Milu Ka’s eyes and the gathered Amazons whispered amongst themselves. Chun Ki’s eyes narrowed dangerously. ‘Where would such a little girl learn the Kaishi Jin’ei?’ Milu Ka stood up slowly, walking towards a wary Jiejie. She knelt before the little girl and kissed her on the cheek.

 

            “Your companion has been given the Kiss of Death,” the Elder informed Tian. “Milu Ka will now hunt her down to unto the ends of the earth in order to kill her and regain her honor.”

 

            Tian was horrified. “Is there any way to stop it?”

 

            Chun Ki smiled to herself as she watched the young man jump right into her trap. “She must challenge me, or she must kill Milu Ka.”

 

            Tian knew that Jiejie was capable of killing the Milu Ka. Though she tried to hide them, he had seen the tattoos on her back that marked her as a member of a cult of assassins in Japan. He would not, however, permit Jiejie to kill without necessity, and he had no wish for anyone to die that day. Jiejie knew this and spared him the pain of having to order her to challenge the Elder. “I will challenge you.”

 

            Once again, the challenge log was mounted. Jiejie wasn’t stupid. She wouldn’t try the same technique twice. She also wanted to keep her distance from the old woman and end the fight as soon as possible. “Bakusai Atsuryokuha,” she whispered as she struck the log at an angle with her palm. The bark between Jiejie and the Elder suddenly bulged and splintered, sending slivers of wood hurling towards Chun Ki. The Elder twirled her staff, creating a wind barrier that blocked the shards. Chun Ki’s eyes narrowed again. This girl was extremely dangerous.

 

            “Reppuu Ha!” The Elder yelled out as she swung her staff in Jiejie’s direction. Several wide blades of air rushed towards the girl. She cursed to herself as she was forced to up the ante on the fight faster than she had planned. “Kisei Toku.” A sphere of magical energy formed in front of her hand, growing in size and deflecting the incoming wind blades. Her breathing became a bit ragged as she dispelled the magical effect. She could perform ki projection techniques relatively easily, but they took time. Spells were far more difficult, but she could execute them instantly. She was also fighting with one hand figuratively tied behind her back. Half of her special attacks were of the lethal variety, and she had no wish to create even more enemies for Tian by killing a village Elder.

 

            Chun Ki kept her on the defensive, launching another Reppuu Ha at her. Now aware of the technique, Jiejie had enough time to dodge it instead of deflecting. She could also hear the whispers starting among the Amazons. Ki techniques, though rare, were not unheard of among the warriors. But most could recognize that Jiejie’s last move had not been ki-based, but something else. The proverbial cat out of the bag, Jiejie pulled out another trump. She brought her hands down to the tree and pressed her forehead against it. “Kareki Tama,” she whispered. In response, the log shook as Jiejie stood back up. Slowly, part of the bark formed itself into a woman with a bokken.

 

            More whispers and mutterings passed among the Amazons. The wooden woman advanced on the Elder, who held her staff up cautiously. The magical creature suddenly attacked with a flurry of blows that created such an enormous amount of air pressure that the house behind the log began to crack. The Elder managed to dodge all of the attacks, finally landing a strike against the creature’s chest. The wooden woman proved hollow as her chest shattered and she melted back into the log. The delay, though, had been long enough and Jiejie launched the attack she had been building up. “Hiden Hanjou Daija Batsu!” She cried as she threw both of her arms forward.

 

            The Elder just had time to dodge as what appeared to be a snake made of blue ki came straight for her. A second serpent-like beam came arcing in from the side and clipped the Chun Ki’s jaw, spinning her around. She rolled out of the way as the first serpent curved around and attacked again. This time, she caught it with her staff and it erupted, blasting her into the log and almost shattering it. The second serpent had dissipated after its glancing blow. Jiejie’s breathing was extremely rough now. The control necessary to maintain and redirect ki projections was unbelievable and she was paying the price. Her jaw nearly hit the log when she saw Chun Ki actually stand up, although she was missing her staff. Jiejie was unable to do anything but throw up her arms in a feeble block as the Elder fired off her own ki-charged blast. Jiejie flew from the log and landed heavily on the ground, barely able to move.

 

            Tian ran over to her as she struggled to a kneeling position. “I… lost… I accept my fate.” Jiejie gritted her teeth. She would no longer be able to fulfill her duty to protect Tian. She would be dead, but at least he would live.

 

            “You don’t have to act like it’s the end of the world, small one,” Chun Ki said with some amusement. Both Tian and Jiejie looked at her in confusion. Chun Ki turned to the gathered Amazons. “Are there any doubters among you?” The warriors shook their heads in unison. “So be it. By virtue of combat, I declare that Jiejie Fenfen, and through her Tian Huan, are now members of the Amazon tribe.” Chun Ki finally let the smile she had been hiding come out. It had not happened in the exact way she had planned, but the young man was now an Amazon, just as she had wanted from the beginning.

 

            Tian now understood the old woman’s plan. When he had tried to avoid the marriage, she had tricked Jiejie into accepting a challenge, which she knew would force Jiejie into another challenge. If his companion had failed, Jiejie would be dead and Amazon law would have married Tian married to Milu Ka. If, as she did, Jiejie passed, Jiejie would be an Amazon, and he would be one through his ‘marriage’ to her. He wasn’t happy with it, but he realized that the situation could have been far worse. He sighed and accepted it. Jiejie refused to look at him as she stood up shakily, ignoring the cheering and congratulations of the villagers. Tian had traveled with her for years now, and he knew that she felt she had failed him. Putting his hand on her shoulder, he felt her flinch beneath it, but she didn’t dare pull away. They stayed that way, standing side by side, until the party died down and they were shown to a place where they could stay for a while.

 

            Tian put his travels on hold for a while, staying with the Amazons and learning of their ways. He found himself amazed at how much a warrior society such as theirs also praised intelligence. Some of the Elders had a rudimentary understanding of magic, though very few practitioners. They also had an understanding of the elements that proved to be very beneficial to Jiejie. The Elders learned why the little girl had seemed to be so skilled. She was no little girl. She had a unique genetic makeup that caused her to appear that age, but in reality she was in her mid-twenties. They also came to understand that she had been trained in a variety of ‘dark’ techniques, abilities that were primarily useful in assassinations.

 

            As it turned out, Jiejie learned more from the Amazons than Tian did. She finally found a sense of self that went beyond her duty as Tian’s bodyguard, though her duty was still the most important thing in her life. She became friends with Milu Ka, who helped her to understand some of the more obscure Amazon traditions. Though some of the other Amazons tried, only Milu Ka could ever get close enough to the relatively cold-hearted girl with strange, gray eyes. The other villagers never disrespected her, though, especially after she became the Enforcer for the Elders. Jiejie became one of the most feared and respected members of the village, and even the Musk became wary when word came to them that she was on patrol.

 

            A few years went by and people began to notice a change in Jiejie. She was becoming more sullen and prone to fits of anger. Even Milu Ka, who had finally found a good husband, found it difficult to get close to her friend. The Council finally decided something had to be done when Jiejie shattered the gates of the village when the door wouldn’t open fast enough for her.

 

            The Elder chosen to speak with her was a strange one. Like Jiejie, she had not been born to the village and had become a member through trial of combat and great wisdom. Also like Jiejie, she seemed to be Japanese by birth. Her name among the Amazons was Xi Na. She was tall for a Japanese, standing five feet, six inches, and her hair was long and black. Her purple eyes were striking, and even the most obstinate wills had crumbled under their scrutiny. The Council felt that she would be perfect for speaking with the fearsome Enforcer.

 

            Xi Na approached Jiejie during one of her morning practices. Today, it was Bakusai Tenketsu training. Jiejie was one of the few Amazons that had mastered the technique to the point of being able to perform it with any part of her body and with any weapon. She had even come up with a variation of the technique, which she was practicing as Xi Na walked up to her. The small Amazon concentrated hard while holding six needles in her hand. With a flick of the wrist and a whispered, “Bakusai Tenketsu Makiageru!”, she sent the metal slivers towards a boulder that was swinging towards her. When the needles struck the boulder, it started to shatter. As it broke up, the smaller pieces also shattered. Before Xi Na’s impressed eyes, the entire boulder was reduced to harmless dust.

 

            Xi Na clapped appreciatively, earning a scowl from the smaller girl. The Elder smirked a bit as she approached. “I wish to talk to you, Enforcer.”

 

            Jiejie shrugged her shoulders. “I’m not stopping you.”

 

            “The Council has become concerned. Is there something bothering you?”

 

            Jiejie glared at the woman. “It is no concern of yours or the Council’s.”

 

            “You are the village Enforcer. Your concerns are ours.”

 

            Jiejie made a chopping motion with her hand. “I didn’t ask to become the Enforcer of your village. I didn’t even ask to become part of your village.”

 

            Xi Na took a seat on a rock, laying the metal fighting staff she carried across her lap. “But that is not what’s bothering you, is it?” She asked with an insight that annoyed Jiejie greatly.

 

            “No.”

 

            “Then what is it?”

 

            “None of your business, as I said.” Gray eyes met purple in a contest of wills. After a few minutes Jiejie began to become very disturbed by the Elder’s gaze. Finally, she felt her resolve cave in. “I’m afraid.”

 

            The revelation seemed to surprise the Elder. “Of what? Surely no creature on this planet can make you afraid, Enforcer.”

 

            Jiejie shook her head. When she stopped, Xi Na could see tears forming in her eyes. “I’m afraid I won’t… be able to… stay with Tian much longer.”

 

            Xi Na looked confused. “Why not? Is he planning on leaving you?”

 

            The look of anger that filled Jiejie’s eyes startled the Elder. “No! Tian would never leave me. And I would never leave him of my own free will. But… I am starting to feel my age catching up to me. You see… there’s something that neither Tian nor I have informed the Council of yet…”

 

            “Tian’s immortal.” There was no question in Xi Na’s words. It was a statement of fact. At Jiejie’s startled response, Xi Na laughed. “I am not blind, small one. I have seen these years go by with no change in his youthful appearance. He will never age, though since you protect him so fiercely, I assume he can still be killed.” When Jiejie nodded slowly, Xi Na took her hand and pulled her to a sitting position on the rock next to her. “The rest of the Council does not yet know. Just as they do not know that you two are not married by any land’s law.”

 

            Jiejie flinched hard. “Small one, I know the laws of Nekonlon. You are an outsider of common birth who was sold into slavery. Though you have hidden them well, the tattoos I have seen on your body show that you have been trained by a cult of assassins with which I am familiar, the Kuroi Kiri. They also show that you have been sold. Nobility of Nekonlon, such as your Tian Huan, are not permitted to marry slaves under any circumstances.” Jiejie nodded numbly. “And to make matters worse, you really love him, don’t you?” Jiejie felt anger rise in her heart. How can this woman see what she thought she hidden so well. Even Milu Ka thought that it was merely a strong sense of duty and honor that held her to Tian.

 

            “I can not help you with that, Jiejie. But perhaps I know of a way to help you with your other problem.”

 

            Jiejie looked up at her in confusion. “What do you mean?”

 

            “When I left Japan, I took with me a treasure that not even the Council knows of. It is a mystic sword called the Mournblade. It has the power to take the life force of anything it kills and transfer it to the sword’s bearer. It has been used in the past to help people live far longer than normal. If you can prove to me that you can master the blade and yourself, I will let you use it.”

 

            Jiejie was torn apart by doubt. The offer was too good to be true, but the chance to continue being with Tian was far too much for her to resist. “What must I do?”

 

            Xi Na smiled. “First, you must learn to control your anger a bit better… it takes time to replace broken gates, you know.”

 

            For the next year, Xi Na spent many hours a day in a secret location, teaching Jiejie to use and control the Mournblade, as well as herself. Jiejie used to think she had perfect control over herself, but Xi Na revealed to her how little she actually knew. The Council was pleased with the progress Jiejie was making, but, more importantly to her, Tian also seemed pleased with her. She even began to let Xi Na and Milu Ka call her Mejiro, Silver-eyes. Anyone else in the village, however, got hurt if they tried. Finally, Xi Na told Jiejie that she was ready.

 

            “Mejiro, you have a decision you must make. You can extend your life by killing one human every year with that sword or you can gain immortality by killing an immortal with it.” Xi Na paused. “Obviously, killing the immortal would be the harder way to go, but once it is done, you will have no need for the Mournblade. However, if you choose to take the easier path, killing every year, understand that there are those who seek the Mournblade, and you and those with you will become targets. That path will also place Tian at risk.”

 

            Jiejie didn’t even hesitate. “Tell me where I can find an immortal.”

 

            Xi Na nodded, pleased. “The nearest one is at Phoenix Mountain. It will be easy for you to find him, since he is not permitted to leave. His name is Saffron. He is prince of his people and a child of the Phoenix. Be very careful, for his power is great and his element is fire. He will also have the army of Phoenix Mountain guarding him, especially now since he has been reborn recently, and his control over his power is diminished.” The Elder gave Jiejie directions to Phoenix Mountain, and sent her off. Once Jiejie was out of sight, Xi Na sighed to herself. “I’m sorry, Saffron, for using you in this way.” Quietly, she turned back to the village and headed home.

 

 

Phoenix Mountain

 

            Jiejie almost felt like laughing for it was far too easy for her to slip past the guards. Their defenses were designed more for dealing with an army than with a single intruder. Using her shinobu skills, she made her way to the prince’s bedroom and waited in the shadows. For two days she waited, with no sign of her victim, but patience had been drilled into her since she was five. She would wait. Finally the doors opened and an elderly, winged man in gaudy clothes entered the room before flinging himself onto the bed.

 

            “I’m sorry I failed you, Prince Saffron!” he wailed. Jiejie watched closely as another winged human entered the room. This one Jiejie recognized as the captain of the guard.

 

            “We all failed him, Councilor. There was nothing any of us could do to stop that demon from taking our lord from us. We can only hope that it will give him back when we send the ransom it demanded to Jusenkyo.”

 

            Jiejie cursed to herself, but listened closely as the conversation continued. “But the treasure… we have been ordered to guard the Coldfire since ancient times. How can we forsake our sacred duty, even for our Lord Saffron?”

 

            “What do you think the Council has been debating for three days, whelp?”

 

            “Have they reached a decision yet, old man?”

 

            “Yes… the Coldfire must be kept safe at all costs… even our Lord Saffron.”

 

            Jiejie cursed again. If they didn’t pay the ransom, this demon would almost certainly kill Saffron, which would force Jiejie to find another immortal. ‘I’ll just have to go to Jusenkyo myself. Maybe I can kill Saffron before the demon knows I’m there. Then I can be with Tian forever.’ She slipped quietly away.

 

 

Cursed Springs of Jusenkyo

 

            Jiejie had failed to sneak up on the demon or Saffron. The child had cried out to her when he spotted her through the mists surrounding the pools. The Enforcer was forced to engage the creature directly. She was a bit surprised to find that it had taken the appearance of a redheaded young girl, but Jiejie had not been fooled at all. “So, you came to claim my prize, little girl,” the demoness smirked.

 

            Jiejie nodded, but remained silent. Her hair blew around a little in the hot wind that was rolling through the area. She slowly drew a curved sword and made ready. “Let’s see what your made of, then, little girl…” The redhead reached out a hand and a sword of liquid flame burst into existence. “I am Gui Huo, and you will feel my power.”

 

            Jiejie cursed as the demoness swiped the sword through the air, sending a wave of flames towards the Amazon. It was far too early for her to use magic on her opponent; the risk was too high. She rolled under the flames and charged towards the demoness, swinging her sword in a fast upward arc. Gui Huo smirked and simply hovered out of the way, her flame-sword parrying the strike easily. Jiejie dropped back in a guard position only to notice that her sword had been melted in half. She tossed the hilt away in anger.

 

            Gui Huo continued her half-hearted attacks at Jiejie, toying with the Amazon to try and make it interesting. Whenever Jiejie got close, an aura of flames would burst into existence around the demon, driving her back. Once the demon sent a searing wall of flames that Jiejie could only dodge by diving into a nearby pool. As she stood, a frown crossed the demon’s face. Jiejie glanced down at herself, but didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Standing in the cool water, she finally came up with an idea. It would be difficult because of the limited space, but Jiejie felt it to be her best opportunity.

 

            She started it slowly, antagonizing the demon as best she could, working it into an ever-shrinking spiral. Cool serenity passed through her, thanks to Xi Na’s training, and at last the spiral closed. With an upward punch, Jiejie finished the Hiryuu Shoten Ha. The look of surprise that filled the demoness’ face made Jiejie almost want to laugh. The Gui Huo rocketed into the sky, the ferocious winds tearing at her clothes, shredding them and dispersing the flame aura she had erected. When the winds finally abated, the naked demoness crashed to the earth, landing in the same pool that Jiejie had used for cover earlier.

 

            Jiejie approached carefully as the demoness’ body floated unmoving and facedown to the top of the pool. The Amazon reached out with her senses, but could detect no signs of life from the demon. She stepped slowly into the pool with her and was just about to roll the demoness over when Gui Huo’s hand rocketed out of the water and grabbed her wrists, binding them together. The angry redhead stood up, lifting Jiejie into the air with a growl.

 

            “Nice trick. Forget something, you dwarf? I’m a demon, not a human. It’ll take a lot more than that to kill me.”

 

            Jiejie lifted both of her feet up, calling upon her Kisei Toku. The magical ball formed between her feet and the demon’s chest, the force of the energy pushing hard against Gui Huo. Jiejie strained herself, pushing the force of the spell up as she kicked out with her feet. The energy crackled as it slammed into the demon’s chest and Gui Huo gave an inhuman roar of anger. Her grip slackened on Jiejie’s wrists, and she tore herself free. The demoness reacted quickly, though, her hand darting out and catching Jiejie’s ankle. Jiejie tried to snap the demon’s wrist with her other foot, but her kick had no effect as once again she was lifted into the air.

 

            “You like magic, do you, you little bitch?” Gui Huo grabbed Jiejie’s hair with her other hand, yanking her head painfully up to hers. “Let me show you a little trick of mine. You see, I get my power from anger, but fear has it’s own uses. And you will know fear.” The demoness’ eyes became solid black as the spell began. Jiejie couldn’t tear her eyes away, despite the pain of dangling from one leg and her hair. As the magic took effect, Gui Huo’s face became the sum of everything Jiejie feared. Her hands shook as the demon’s terrifying face filled her world. Without even realizing what she was doing, Jiejie reached inside of her clothes and pulled the sword she had hidden there. Fear giving her strength, she drove the Mournblade through the demon’s chest.

 

            Even the look of surprise that came over the demoness’ features was terrifying to Jiejie as she fell away from Gui Huo. Her numb fingers slipped from the sword’s hilt. The demon dropped to her knees, her body sinking beneath the water as her red blood colored the pool. Jiejie quickly backed away from the water, cowering on the shore as the blood diffused through the pool. She curled up into a ball and shivered despite the hot wind still flowing through Jusenkyo. She stayed that way, Gui Huo’s face burned into her mind, for several hours before she finally gained control over herself.

 

            She looked up as she heard a shuffling sound, and saw the boy, who she guessed to be Saffron, trying to wiggle his way over to her. She looked at him, then back at the pool that held the demon’s body and the Mournblade, and then she looked into his eyes. She suddenly realized that even if she still had the Mournblade, she would not be able to kill this child. She could not deprive a kingdom of its lord, or this child of its life, just to satisfy her desire to protect Tian forever. When she was dead, Tian would find someone else to protect him, and that would be as it should. Crying, Jiejie tore apart the metal bands holding the child. The boy sat up, rubbing his arms.

 

            “Thank you, young lady. You have saved my life by killing that demon. If there is anything my people or I can do, you have but to name it. Might I ask your name?” He spoke with a regal politeness.

 

            “Jiejie Fenfen. I am the Enforcer for the Amazon village of Joketsuzoku. I… have no wish.” She stood to leave, tears streaming down her face. Saffron tried to stop her, but she walked away slowly, never noticing that her hair had now become tinted an odd shade of red.

 

 

Joketsuzoku village

 

            Xi Na sat quietly meditating in the dark of her home when she felt a disturbance around her. Opening her eyes, she saw the hanging material that served as her door waving gently. A voice suddenly spoke up in the darkness. “I failed.”

 

            Xi Na’s face remained set in stone. “Explain.”

 

            “Saffron had been kidnapped by a demon before I could reach Phoenix Mountain. I tracked them to Jusenkyo. I was forced to kill the demon, but I could not bring myself to harm the child, Saffron.” Though her eyes were dry now, Xi Na could tell that Jiejie had been crying.

 

            “Where is the Mournblade?”

 

            “I… could not retrieve it from the demon’s body. Gui Huo, the demon, she… she did something to my mind… I couldn’t get close enough to her body to take back the sword. I’m sorry.  I failed twice. It is unforgivable.”

 

            “You killed the demon with the Mournblade?”

 

            Jiejie nodded slowly, her eyes rooted on the ground at the Elder’s knees. “The demon and the sword are in one of the pools at Jusenkyo.”

 

            Xi Na’s stone features finally broke as a smile cracked her face. “Then you did not fail, even once, Mejiro. The Mournblade will be safe in the pool, for no one in their right mind would willingly enter one of the Cursed Springs of Jusenkyo. And since you killed the demon with the sword, you have gained the immortality you sought, though not in the way we originally planned.”

 

            Jiejie’s eyes shot up, staring unbelievingly at Xi Na. “But you said I had to kill an immortal.”

 

            Xi Na laughed lightly. “Do demons age, Mejiro? The only thing you have to worry about now is containing the creature’s urges and bending them to your will. Tell me, what kind of demon was it?” Jiejie described her victim, and the Elder nodded. “A demon of rage and fire. An excellent choice, as demons go. We will continue your training, Jiejie. You will learn to conquer the rage of the demon you have absorbed and then you will truly be Jiejie Fenfen, Restrained Fury.” Xi Na watched as more tears came to Jiejie’s eyes, but these were tears of unadulterated joy. Xi Na opened her arms and the small Amazon flung herself into the hug. A motherly smile came to the Elder as she held the small girl close. “You must make me a promise, Mejiro. Don’t tell anyone the truth about your battle; no one, not even another Elder. At least not for oh… fifteen hundred years, and maybe a week or two.”

 

            A week later, Xi Na called a special Council meeting. “It is time for me to step down, sisters.” This announcement was met with shock from most of the other Elders. “Tian Huan was on a great journey when he came to us, and he must return to that journey. Jiejie is his companion, and she must go as well. But, if they are to represent our village in the outside world, one of our number should go with them. There is much I must teach Jiejie, and there is much for me to learn. I ask that you allow me this task, sisters.” It would take many hours of debating before the Council was finally convinced, but in the end, Xi Na received her wish and left a few days later with Tian and Jiejie.

 

            The going away party was enormous, and it was also the reason why it took a few days for the trio to recover enough to be able to leave. Milu Ka tried to convince the Elders to let her go as well, but she was too vital to the village’s welfare, since she had become the new martial arts teacher of the younger generations. Milu Ka and Jiejie spent most of the few days before their parting in each other’s company. They had become like sisters to each other, and it hurt Jiejie more than she thought possible for her to leave.

 

            The trio began to travel the world, starting with the distant parts of China before moving on to the Middle-East and Africa. It was shortly after a memorable trip through a forgotten city in the heart of Africa that Xi Na vanished. Her hair had become a solid gray as the years passed. Tian comforted a distraught Jiejie as best he could, for Xi Na had become a surrogate mother to her. Now the small warrior had lost both of her mothers. She knew that Xi Na would not want her to watch her die, and that she must have felt her death coming close. So, in the middle of the night, the aging former Elder had crept off into the dark jungle to die alone. Another being dully echoed Jiejie’s sorrowful cries.

 

            Akane felt the sorrow in her soul. Though she lacked a body with which to cry right now, she could still remember the way the tears had felt when her own mother had died, wasting away in a hospital. As her vision became blurry and the past faded away, Akane felt Jiejie’s presence coming near her.

 

            ‘Be careful what you ask for, Akane… you might get it,’ the soft voice of the Amazon came to her.

 

            *I’m sorry, Atsui… I lost my mother too, but you lost her twice. I don’t know if I could have handled that.*

 

            Jiejie was silent for a little while. ‘At least I have Tian.’

 

            *You really do love him, don’t you? If only Ranma felt that way for me.*

 

            ‘Akane, don’t be stupid. Ranma is risking his life, his sanity, and his soul for you. He loves you just as much as I love Tian.’

 

            Akane was stunned by Jiejie’s words. *Why doesn’t he tell me, then?*

 

            Jiejie growled, ‘Because his stupid father has taught him his whole life that showing his feelings is a weakness. It took me eight years and two wonderful people to finally get me to admit my feelings even to myself.’ Akane could hear the sadness in Jiejie’s voice as she whispered, ‘Milu Ka, Xi Na…’

 

            *It’s my fault, isn’t it?*

 

            Jiejie didn’t believe in holding back. ‘Yes. It is partly your fault. You keep wanting Ranma to change without trying to understand where he is coming from, and Ranma fights you because of it. Help him, don’t preach to him.’

 

            Akane fell silent for a while, absorbing what she had heard. Something occurred to her. *If we’re looking at your memories, why was I able to tell what some of the others were thinking?*

 

            ‘Because I wasn’t showing you my memories. It was a spell I had learned long ago for viewing the past. The caster or the victim of the spell had to have been there at the time, but the spell would allow for the victim to see more than the one who had been there. It is difficult, though. Most mortal mages would not be capable of it. Only the fact that I have a demon inside of me allows me to do this for you.’

 

            *You could have just told me, you know.*

 

            ‘Would you have truly understood?’

 

            *No.*

 

            ‘Then you see why. It was also easier than trying to explain it to you. But the reason I chose this method instead of showing you my own memory is… if I had shown it to you from my viewpoint, you would never again have been able to look at Ranma with love, knowing he could turn into your worst nightmare. Now we have a problem to deal with. I can’t stand to look at Ranma in his girl form, and currently that’s all I can see. If he gets too much closer to me, I might react as I did with Gui Huo.’

 

            *How do I take over?*

 

            ‘You have to will it, and I have to let you.’

 

            *On three, then?*

 

            ‘Yes.’

 

            *One.*

 

            ‘Two.’

 

            “Three.”

 

 

 

 

 

Ending Notes:

Tonfa – An L-shaped wooden club. It was this weapon that the police nightstick is based off of.

 

Kaishi Jin’ei – Mysterious Death of the Soul – An assassination technique used to paralyze an enemy just before the killing blow. Requires the shadows of the killer and their victim to be visible.

 

Bakusai Atsuryokuha – Blasting Pressure Wave – The martial artist channels their ki into an object, causing the object to explode in a specific direction.

 

Reppuu Ha – Violent Wind Sword-Edge – The marital artist uses their ki to create blades of air.

 

Kisei Toku – Vigorous Spirit Shield – A reflective barrier spell that can be increased in size and ferocity by the caster’s will. It can potentially be used to attack as well.

 

Kareki Tama – Dead Tree Spirit – A variation of a standard spirit summoning spell, Jiejie used this to create a wooden warrior powered by the battle energies of the countless duels fought on the log.

 

Hiden Hanjou Daija Batsu – Secret Hissing Serpent Strike – The second level of the Hissing Serpent Strike. This ki attack can be used by any emotion, though it works best with anger or pride. At this level, the energy appears to become living snakes and can be guided towards their target, even going so far as to turn corners or even reverse their direction.

 

Bakusai Tenketsu Makiageru – Breaking Point Blown to Dust – A variation of the breaking point that causes even the rubble of the broken material to shatter, reducing it to dust.