Sailor Moon Fan Fiction / Ranma 1/2 Fan Fiction ❯ Happi's Redemption ❯ Working It Out with the Amazons ( Chapter 15 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
A Ranma 1/2 Fan Fiction
By Michael A. Ivins
Ranma along with all of his friends, enemies and acquaintances are the property of Takahashi Rumiko. I'm just borrowing them for my own amusement and hopefully that of my readers. Sailor Moon and the Senshi aren't mine either. Please don't sue me.
This story takes place after the end of the manga.
Working it Out With the Amazons
When the duo arrived at the neighborhood where the Nekohanten was located they stopped on a roof across the street to size up the situation. It was nearing the end of the lunch rush but there were still a few new customers entering as well as others leaving. They wanted to wait until the stream of new customers going in slowed down to a trickle or stopped. They settled down to wait.
Inside the restaurant Cologne's ki senses were a little muddled by the large number of customers, but not enough that she couldn't sense the arrival of two powerful ki signatures on the roof across the street. She hopped over to look out a window. She couldn't see the two people. Her ki senses told her they were behind an air conditioning unit, probably sitting down.
Even if she couldn't see them with her eyes, she could tell a lot from her ki senses. One of the signatures had to be Son-in-Law. From what she could tell he had grown stronger since the last time she had sensed him. Was that a trace of magic in his aura? At first she dismissed that as the curse, but quickly changed her opinion. It was something more than just a Jusenkyo curse. Was it possible that the boy had magic talent that he'd never shown before?
The other ki signature was harder to identify. The strength was easily equal to that of the old thief, but this one seemed completely female. Still if the old man was a girl now, that could be what her ki signature would look like. The fact that she was with the boy was really all she had to use as confirmation of who she suspected her to be.
If they were sitting and leaning against an air conditioning unit it seemed unlikely they were spying. It was more probable they were just waiting until the lunch rush was over. “So considerate.” She went back to work.
It was about a half hour later when the traffic of people entering the front door of the restaurant stopped. Ranma and Noriko hid their belongings on the roof where they were. They found what looked like a small equipment shed. It wasn't locked and none of the stuff inside it looked like they would be worth stealing.
The two travelers leapt down to the sidewalk and walked the rest of the way to the door of the Nekohanten. Ranma waited outside while Noriko went in.
She was greeted by the sound of thumping as Cologne pogoed up on her cane. She studied the woman standing there. When Soap had said Happosai's new girl form was pretty, she was understating things. This girl was beautiful. In addition she already seemed to have mastered the art of a feminine stance and movement, although that was overlaid by the power and grace of a trained martial artist.
Deciding to play things straight, the Elder said, “Welcome to the Nekohanten. We have tables available. How many are there in your party?”
Noriko smirked and said, “Hello Kho Lon. I'm pretty sure you've already guessed who I am. There will be a total of two in my party. However we came to talk, not for food.”
The old woman looked the girl up and down in a more obvious manner. “So this is what you wanted the cursed water for. I must confess, in all the time I've known you, I would never expected you to do this. It just seems so… out of character.”
The blonde girl nodded with a grin. “It does, doesn't it? I assume you've heard either directly from Lo Shen or indirectly from your village after Lo Shen called them. I now go by the name Tendo Noriko. I didn't think Happosai really fit the new me.”
The Amazon Elder gave an amused snort. “That much is certainly true. Why is Son-in-Law waiting outside?”
Noriko glanced at the door and said, “We want to keep this cordial but not overly demonstrative. Ranma would appreciate it if you would ask Shan Pu to refrain from her usual, shall I say… enthusiastic displays of affection. He's afraid that if he just walked in he'd have to peel her off and then have to deal with Mousse throwing assorted pieces of sharp metal.”
The elder chuckled as she said, “Such spoilsport you are. The children always put on such an entertaining display. I guess I can forgo my usual fun for this once.”
She turned and called out, “Shan Pu, Mou Tsu, come here.”
The two named individuals came forward. Cologne told them, “This woman is Tendo Noriko.”
Shampoo frowned. “Tendo? Related to violent pervert girl?”
Noriko shook her head. “Not really. It was a name I chose for myself.”
The purpled haired girl looked confused. “Does Shampoo know blonde girl?”
The blonde laughed at that. “Yes, you know me. With your way of attaching descriptive nicknames to people, I suppose you'd call me `old pervert.'”
The purple haired girl's eyes looked like they were trying to bulge out of her face. The nearly blind master of Hidden Weapons dropped his glasses in front of his eyes. He might not see very well but that voice definitely didn't sound like it came from a 300+ year old man.
“Aiyah! You is Hap… Happosai?” Shampoo wasn't quite able to deal with this yet.
The blonde nodded. “I guess your great grandmother hasn't told you about me yet. It would be more correct to say I was Happosai. I don't want to use that name any more.”
Shaking her head to clear it, Shampoo finally was able to summon enough brainpower to ask, “This what you want curse water for?”
Noriko grinned. “Yes. I rather like the results.”
Still boggled, the Amazon girl said, “Old man now pretty girl?”
The blonde bowed her head and said, “Why thank you, Shan Pu.” She let out a girlish giggle. Shan Pu's eyes looked close to popping out of her head.
Then Noriko's manner sobered. “I was dying and this was the only way to save my life. If you're interested I can give you the whole story later. It's a rather long one and we have other business to conduct today. Ranma wants to take part in this conversation…”
Before Noriko could say more, Shampoo exclaimed, “Airen back! Where he at? When can Shampoo see him?” She was nearly jumping up and down in her excitement.
Cologne shouted, “Shan Pu be still!” Most of the few remaining patrons turned from their meals to look at the disturbance.
“But great Grandmother…”
Whatever Shampoo might have been planning to say was cut off by a rap to her head by the Elder's cane.
The girl rubbed her scalp and gave a reproachful look to the old woman. “What great Grandmother do that for?”
“Calm down,” the Matriarch instructed. “Miss Noriko has told me that Ranma wants to talk, but only if you stay calm and don't jump on him and grab him.”
The normally bubbly girl protested, “But Shampoo only want show how much she love Airen.”
The elder rolled her eyes. “I'm sure you do, but Son-in-Law seems to find it distracting. He and this woman want to have a quiet conversation about serious subjects. Don't glomp him.”
Looking chastened, “Yes, great Grandmother. Shampoo won't glomp.”
The tiny woman delivered a rap to Mousse's head. “As for you Mr. Part-Time, while Son-in-Law is here you will not attack him. Is that understood?”
He glared at her but answered, “Understood.” Under his breath he muttered, “Old mummy.”
That earned him another rap on the head, while Cologne said, “I heard that.”
He muttered some more but now too quiet for the old woman to hear. She nodded in evident satisfaction and hopped to the window next to the door. Pulling the curtain aside she turned the “Open” sign so the “Closed” side was showing. She rapped on the window to get the attention of Ranma who was standing there. When she saw him looking at her, she gestured for him to come inside.
Ranma pushed open the door and tentatively poked his head in. He looked around and said, “Hello Old… I mean Elder Kho Lon, Shan Pu, Mou Tsu.”
The Amazons were all feeling a little bit of shock at being addressed by their correct names. Cologne said, “Son-in-Law.” Mousse said, “Saotome.” Shampoo was fidgeting but stayed in place. She said, “Nihao, Airen.”
When no glomps appeared forthcoming and Mousse was throwing no chains, Ranma came in the door fully. Cologne turned the lock on the door and said, “Let's go sit in one of the booths. Mousse, you tend to the remaining customers and let them out when they're ready to leave.”
They moved to the booth and sat with Shampoo and Cologne on one side, Ranma and Noriko on the other. When they were settled Cologne, “Why did you want this meeting?”
Ranma and Noriko exchanged a glance. The blonde then turned to the Amazons and said, “As you have no doubt heard, we were recently in China near to your charming village. We spent some time enjoying the hospitality of your sister tribe while staying at the home of Elder Lo Shen.”
Cologne resisted the urge to scowl. She couldn't completely keep the edge out of her voice as she said, “Yes, I've been informed of that.”
Ranma spoke up next. “I found Lo Shen to be a really nice lady and so was her granddaughter, Po Shen. We had fun while we were there. I learned some cool martial arts techniques.”
The elder couldn't hide her anger now. “They taught you secret Amazon techniques?”
Ranma shrugged. “I honestly don't know. The lady who trains their police officers, a woman who calls herself the Brick, didn't say if the techniques were secret or not.”
He paused for a moment. “Anyway, while we were there I figured that the time had come to get the whole business between me and your tribe straightened out. Noriko is along because she speaks better than me and she pointed out that sometimes I don't say what needs to be said because I don't want to hurt people's feelings.”
Noriko bowed her head a moment in acknowledgement. “First I want to establish some facts that I don't think any of you will want to argue with. Primary among those facts is that Ranma is a world-class martial artist. There are likely older masters who are better, but this boy would definitely qualify as one of the best. Are we agreed so far?”
Everybody nodded. The blonde girl said, “Now about Ranma's character. He can be naïve, occasionally arrogant and has been guilty of talking without thinking. This is sometimes called `foot in mouth.' He also has a bit of a temper but it takes a lot to get him angry. Still with me?”
Ranma wasn't exactly comfortable with this but Noriko had warned him she was going to be saying those things so he just nodded.
“On the positive side,” continued the blonde. “Ranma is brave, loyal to his friends and honorable to a fault. He is kind hearted. Does anyone wish to dispute this?”
The two Amazons at the table shook their heads.
“Good,” said Noriko. “It is always good to have at least some points on which all parties can agree before we get to the things there are likely to be an argument about. Also not in dispute is the fact that you,” she pointed to the women on the other side of the table, “have been trying to get Ranma to go back to your village as Shan Pu's husband.”
Cologne and Shampoo looked at each other. The way the girl had worded it, they had to agree. They both nodded.
The girl said, “Also true is the fact that Ranma doesn't want to go.”
Shampoo protested, “But Airen love Shampoo.”
Noriko held up her hand to cut off the threatened torrent of words. “Does he? That hasn't been established yet. And that's not what I was talking about. I just said that Ranma doesn't want to go to your village. I didn't say anything about his reasons.”
Shampoo looked like she wanted to argue the point but Cologne put her hand on the girl's arm and said, “She's right. The boy has made it clear enough he doesn't want to go. After all of this time I don't think he's just playing hard-to-get.”
The purple haired girl looked sullen but even she couldn't deny the facts. Still she held hope that she might win her husband over and change his mind. She said, “Shampoo agree.”
The former man nodded. “Now to points in dispute. Kho Lon and Shan Pu say that they have a valid claim, based on Amazon law, that Ranma is Shan Pu's husband. Ranma disagrees and says the claim is not valid.”
Again Shampoo looked like she wanted to argue, but Cologne put her hand on the girl's arm. All that Noriko had stated just outlined the positions of the parties involved without making any conclusions.
“Now to Shan Pu's claim,” said the blonde. “While in female form Ranma defeated Shan Pu in battle during a once-yearly tournament. Possibly Shan Pu might have made a better showing if she hadn't been tired from fighting several battles in the course of that tournament, I'm not going to argue that point. The established fact is that Ranma won.”
She waited for a moment and there was no argument. “The next point is that the defeated warrior gave the winner the Kiss of Death as is supposed to happen when an Amazon warrior is defeated by an Outsider girl. Or at least that is what your laws say.”
Next she said, “I know your laws. I know what is says to do if the winner is actually a Jusenkyo cursed man who is in cursed form. Your laws state that the defeated warrior is supposed to give the Kiss of Marriage. Shan Pu gave the wrong Kiss. I suppose she might be forgiven that because she didn't know Ranma was a cursed male.”
She frowned. “There is a point that I'm unsure of myself. This was not just a random challenge. This happened at a tournament and the fight was specifically stated to be over the food on the Champion's table. I'm not as knowledgeable about this as the book of laws. I seem to remember seeing the tournament rules state that Outsiders may fight in the tournament by invitation. Those invited Outsiders are exempt from Kisses of Death or Marriage. Kho Lon, do you remember that rule?”
The Elder sat back with her eyes wide (or at least wider than usual.) “I haven't looked at the tournament rules in a long time. Those are the kind of thing that nobody ever looks at unless there is a dispute. I didn't bring a copy of those rules with me. I didn't expect to need them. I'll have to call back to the village and ask them to read them to me. In this I'm like you, I have a vague memory that it may have said such a thing, but I'm not sure.”
Noriko nodded. “Even if there is such a rule there could still be some argument as to whether or not the challenge over the food counts as an invitation. I just bring it up to show that Shan Pu's Kiss of Death has a shaky legality and even a Kiss of Marriage could be disputed on that basis.”
She continued, “The next event in this came when Shampoo confronted Ranma in his male form at the Tendo home. I was still sealed in a cave at the time so I wasn't there to witness the events, but they have been described to me. As I understand the issue Shan Pu claims that by breaking off the ball on her bonborri so that it flew up in the air and knocked her out that Ranma defeated her, earning him a Kiss of Marriage.”
Shampoo nodded vigorously.
“Ranma insists that it was an accident,” The blonde went on. “He wasn't attacking the intruder in his home, he was simply trying to disarm her so she couldn't harm the other people in the home.”
“So far I have just stated the opposing views without arguing in favor of either,” stated Noriko. “Now we come to something that I believe is relevant. Your book of law states that if an Outsider male defeats one of your warriors she must give him the Kiss of Marriage and marry him. Indeed Shan Pu has been speaking about it as if the Kiss itself was enough to qualify as a marriage ceremony. As I remember the law, there has to be a formal ceremony before they can be called husband and wife.”
She continued, “Now we come to what I think is a valid point but I'm sure there would need to be some debate in your Council. Shan Pu is using the term Outsider to mean `anyone outside the Joketsuzoku tribe.' I honestly believe that Ranma was in his own home, in his own city and country and Shan Pu was the Outsider in this situation. If we accept that as true then the Kiss of Marriage is not valid by your own laws. I'm not stating that as an absolute, just to point out that the Kiss of Marriage is also of shaky legality.”
“Great Grandmother can't listen to this. Ranma defeated Shampoo. He is Airen.”
The old woman just gave the girl a look that silenced her. After a moment she said, “I agreed to listen. She does have a right to be heard.”
Noriko nodded. “Those are not offered as arguments. However if you accept my later arguments those may be a way for Shan Pu to return to your village with her honor intact.”
Cologne raised an eyebrow enquiringly. “Explain that.”
The blonde woman complied. “Shan Pu received her Jusenkyo curse as punishment for returning to the village without her husband, correct?” At the Elder's nod, she went on, “If she were to return now I'm guessing she would face an even harsher punishment, such as having her curse locked.”
The elder nodded again. Noriko said, “Those two facts might allow you to argue with the council that Shan Pu only made a mistake. She didn't fail to bring back her husband because he was never hers to bring.”
The Matriarch said, “I will keep that in mind.”
“Very well,” said Noriko. “Let's consider the options if you keep on the way you have been going. What might happen if you were to use violence to get Ranma back to the village such as knocking him out, or using drugs or magic. When Ranma recovered he would be upset, likely angry. I've heard him referred to as the God Killer. Do you really want an angry god killer in your village?”
Kho Lon frowned at the question but didn't speak. It was a question she had asked herself before and one that had been debated in the Council.
“Another possibility would be erasing his memory then taking him back to the village,” Noriko said. “Now we know that the memory erasure is not always 100% effective. I wasn't there to see it, but I heard that Ranma was able to restore Akane's memory of him just by talking to her. If Ranma were to regain his memories after such an attempt you are again faced with an angry God Killer.”
Cologne nodded. She had already considered these possibilities and discussed them with the Council. “You have more?”
The blonde girl nodded. “Ranma wouldn't respond well to having his friends or family threatened, you know that. I would also point out something else. If you did something that caused Ranma to go into such a rage that he did destroy your village and killed all of the people in it, how do you think he would react when he calmed down?”
There was silence in contemplation of that. “I'll tell you,” said Noriko. “Because he an honorable man and kind hearted, I believe that if Ranma found that, in a fit of rage, he killed that many people, he would soon after take his own life.”
Ranma said, “It's true, I would.”
Cologne just nodded grimly. She believed it.
Noriko sighed deeply. “Such an outcome would be the worst kind of tragedy. Your people would be dead and so would Ranma. Nobody would gain from those deaths. It wouldn't even be in defense of anyone.”
“Then we come to the idea that Ranma might willingly marry Shan Pu.” Noriko looked at the boy in the seat beside her. “What is your feeling about that?”
For a few moments Ranma looked down at the tabletop as if studying the grain of the wood. Finally he firmed his resolve and looked Shampoo in the eye. “Shan Pu, I don't love you. To be honest you scare me.”
The purple haired girl reeled back as if struck. Ranma wasn't going to back down this time. “For three weeks you chased me and tried to kill me. If I weren't as good a martial artist as I am, you would have succeeded and I'd be dead now. After the business with the broken bonborri you said you loved me. Yet, when I got splashed, you were trying to kill me again. Even if you didn't know that `boy type' Ranma and `girl type' were the same person, I can't love someone who can go from `I love you' to `I'll kill you' with just a splash of water.”
He sighed deeply. “Then there is the fact that you don't treat me like a person. You say you love me, but what kind of love? Is it the love of a woman for her husband? The way you treat me it is more like it is the same kind of love for your favorite bonborri. You treat me like a thing, a prize to be won. You may respect my martial arts skills, but you don't respect the person using them. I can't live like that.”
Now being relentless, he continued, “Now you could try to change. If you said you were going to start treating me better there is the issue of trust. You have used all kinds of dirty tricks to try and get me to go to your village. How can I trust you after that? I've heard that a marriage can't survive without trust. I don't know how I could ever trust you. I don't think I could believe you if you said you were changed. I don't want to marry you.”
The Amazon warrior looked like she was ready to cry.
Noriko took it up again. “For a moment let us ignore what Ranma just said and ask what would happen if Ranma did marry Shan Pu and moved to the village. There are two possible way things could go - Ranma gets treated the same as all the other men in the village or he gets treated better because of who he is and what his skills are.”
She shook her head. “If he were treated the same he would become dissatisfied and want to leave. If he were treated better he would feel guilty about being treated differently than the men around him. In both situations that honor and kind hearted nature of his would play a part. He might feel tempted to improve the lot of the men in the village. Guess how that would turn out.”
The blonde continued on, “You might ask what would happen if they married and lived in Japan? That's where we come to all of the objections that Ranma stated. I doubt if such a marriage would last.”
Noriko glanced over at Ranma then back to the women on the other side of the table. “I know this is something you would think of, Cologne. You might ask that Ranma be the father of a child with Shan Pu and maybe some other Amazon girls so that you would at least still get the benefit of his genetics to strengthen your people.”
She turned again to the boy beside her. “What do you think of that idea, Ranma?”
He scowled. “I would never agree to it. You would be asking me to abandon my children by letting your women raise them. My honor wouldn't allow me to do that.”
The blonde made an expressive gesture with her hands as if to say, “There you go.” She now said, “There is one other thing. I know the people of your tribe hold healers in high regard.” She patted Ranma on the shoulder and instructed, “Tell her.”
Ranma began, “When we were stopped by one of your patrols, I told warrior Ei Linah about how I was keeping Happosai alive by giving him my ki. She called me `honored healer.' I understand why she would think that from what I said, but I liked it.”
He continued, “Later, when we asked what we could do to repay Elder Lo Shen's hospitality, she had me work in the village medical clinic. I guess she saw something in my eyes when I was telling her about what Ei Linah called me. I liked helping people that way and I learned a lot. Now I've decided that I want to be a doctor. I'll keep martial arts as a hobby, but I'm going to start studying to be a doctor as soon as I can.”
Noriko now asked, “What do you say to that, Kho Lon?”
The elder's shoulders slumped a bit and she sighed. “I wanted to hear all of your arguments, and I admit you have given some strong ones. As far as taking the boy by violence, drugs or magic, the Council has already discussed it. They have agreed that such tactics are not to be used. They make some of the very same arguments against taking the God Killer by force.”
She glanced over at Shampoo. “It was the decision of the council to let Shan Pu try to use the techniques of persuasion, seduction and romance. In truth I didn't hold much hope of success from these techniques.”
“Great Grandmother? What you say?” Shampoo was confused and frightened. She felt the happy life she envisioned with her Airen slipping away from her.
The old woman sighed. “I confess that when I first came to Japan to help Shan Pu pursue her prospective husband that we (both Shan Pu and I) rather badly mishandled things. Son-in… Ranma possesses a stubborn streak and resists being pushed. The harder the push, the more firmly he digs in his heels.”
The Matriarch looked at Ranma and shook her head. “Perhaps if Shan Pu had approached openly in an honest attempt to win his heart instead of using the tactics she did, there may have been a chance. As it stands now, the young man distrusts us and deservedly so.”
The white haired woman looked over at Noriko and said, “You present strong arguments, but in truth you have said little that has not already occurred to myself or other members of the Council. Tonight, after you leave I will call to mention those `face saving' suggestions of yours and to get them started on debating them.”
Looking over at Ranma, the Elder said, “Your desire to be a doctor is something of a surprise. I thought you loved the Art.”
Ranma frowned. “Think about it,” he suggested. “I was taken from my home at the age of five and made to train by a man who was more sensei than father. He never showed any affection. The Art was all I knew, but nobody ever asked me if it was what I wanted. It's been such a big part of my life that I can't imagine giving it up completely. But that doesn't mean it has to be the only thing in my life now.”
For the first time since the meeting began, Cologne smiled. “It would seem that you are growing up, Ranma.”
“Great Grandmother, Shampoo love Ranma. Don't do this!” Shampoo begged.
The old woman shook her head. “In the battle for Ranma's heart, you have lost. Accept it and move on. You will find someone else.”
“Not want someone else!” The girl insisted. “In battle for heart, who Shampoo loose to? Ranma want marry Violent Girl or Spatula Girl?”
Ranma looked slightly angry. “Even if it's no longer your concern, I'll tell you this, Ukyo is just a friend. She's never been more than a friend. As for Akane, she is a violent girl. Like I don't trust you, she doesn't trust me. I did love her but don't anymore. And before you ask, I don't want to marry Kodachi either. Right now I don't want to marry anyone.”
“No, Ranma is Airen. Must marry Shampoo!”
The boy shook his head. “You heard the arguments. Besides that I don't love you. I repeat I don't... love... you. Because you tried to kill me and tried to do stuff that would basically make me your slave, you scare me.”
Now angry, the purple haired girl cried out, “Ranma will marry Shampoo! You is Airen! We supposed to be together.” The girl looked like she was going to climb from her seat to dive across the table.
Before she could get up, she suddenly slumped. Cologne shook her head sadly. “Shiatsu sleep spot,” She explained. “I was expecting an outburst like that.”
She turned and looked around the dining room of the restaurant. While they had been conversing the last of the customers had left. Mousse was sitting in the next booth, listening in. The elder commanded, “Mousse, carry Shan Pu up to her room and put her on her bed. Don't worry that you might miss something important, we're almost finished here.”
The long haired boy adjusted his glasses to look at his beloved. He hoped she would get over this, especially now that Saotome was removing himself from the game. He picked her up and carried her toward the stairs.
Cologne turned back to the two visitors and said, “Tenacity can be an admirable trait if not carried to extremes. I fear that Shan Pu lacks restraint. I hope I don't have to take her back to the village in a pet carrier.”
“I hope so too,” Ranma said. “I may not want to marry her but that doesn't mean I want anything bad to happen to her.”
“I understand,” the Elder responded. “There's that kind heart again,” she thought
The elder frowned as she met Noriko's eyes. “What I don't understand is what your interest is in this. In the past you have not exactly been well known for your generosity. What are you getting out of this?”
Noriko's looked over at Ranma with a smile. When she turned back to look at Cologne her manner was serious. “I'm not doing it out of generosity. I owe Ranma an enormous debt. I don't know if I can ever fully repay that debt.”
Nodding sagely, the Elder said, “Of course… he saved your life.”
“He did more than that!” The blonde woman said.
She looked down for a moment before saying, “When I was Happosai, I wasn't a nice person. I was depressed a lot because of my problem and to fight that depression I felt that I had to make everything a game. That included the way I got the female ki I needed to stay alive.”
She looked sad. “I had convinced myself that I was just having harmless fun. After all, I wasn't hitting all of those women; I was just touching them. I didn't think stealing their undergarments would hurt them either. Ranma showed me the truth. He (well… she at the time) told me how much she hated being groped, how it made her feel. She told me what other girls felt about it.”
She glanced over at Ranma and the smile was rueful this time. “I owe an apology to all of the women I groped, but most of them I never learned their names and many of them are dead long ago. Ranma's girl form was the one I groped more than any other.”
The blonde woman pursed her lips for a moment then went on. “I resolved to change my ways and be a better person. Because of the debt I owe Ranma, his happiness has become very important to me. To further that happiness, I will do everything I can to help him resolve his fiancé problems. I also intend to help him get through school and into medical school later.”
Cologne looked back and forth between Noriko and Ranma. “What is this?” She thought. “The looks, the smiles and now `his happiness has become very important to me.' By the Goddess, she's in love with him! She's in love with him and she hasn't told him. How could someone like Happosai fall in love with this boy?”
The Elder couldn't help it, she leaned back and started laughing. “When this Noriko was listing the boy's character traits she didn't mention that he is a magnet for beautiful women. Even a woman who used to be a man is attracted to him. It would appear that the Saotome charm had struck again.”
Ranma looked confused. What Noriko had said about helping him get to medical school wasn't funny, was it?. “Uh… Elder Kho Lon? What's so funny?”
The elder controlled herself with an effort. It was just too delicious. She said, “Sorry child. It's just that what Noriko said reminded me of something amusing. I'm afraid it's something of a private joke.”
The boy still looked confused but shrugged. “If you say so.”
The elder finally contained her hilarity and said, “Very well! This is something that has been coming for a while. You have just provided the necessary push to end the matter. It may take a week or two to finish wrapping up our affairs here.”
She looked Ranma in the eyes. “Child, for some time I thought you were going to become part of my family. I confess that I have become fond of you. I'd like very much if you would stay in touch to let me know how your schooling in the medical arts and sciences progresses.”
The pigtailed martial artist thought to himself, “You sure have a strange way of showing that fondness.” Out loud he said, “Sure, I can write you letters. Just let me know your address. I'd tell you to send mail to me at the Tendo dojo, but I'm not sure how much longer that's gonna be my address.”
“Oh?” The Elder raised an eyebrow.
He shrugged. “After I break up with Akane, they probably won't want me to live there anymore.”
“Ah, good point,” the Elder acknowledged. “Has your mother's house been repaired yet?”
With a sour expression he said, “Not enough to move into.”
“Where will you go if the Tendos throw you out?”
Ranma shrugged again. “We have a hotel room rented through tonight if we need it. If I have to, I guess I could look for an apartment.” As he said that he had a thought. He'd have to wait to ask Noriko about it after they left the restaurant.
The old woman got a sympathetic expression on her face. She said, “I would offer you the use of the spare room upstairs, but I doubt you would trust me enough to put yourself at my mercy.”
“Don't worry about it,” advised Ranma. “Like I said, we have it covered for tonight and I'm sure we can figure out something for tomorrow.”
Cologne nodded. “Well, I think we're finished here for now. If there is anything I can do for you, feel free to contact me.”
Noriko pulled something from stuff space and placed it on the table. She said, “This is the Nanban Mirror. Of the magical items I stole, this is the only one I kept. I'm sure you will notice that it is broken and held together with tape. The dangerous thing about it is that it still works but unreliably. It might take you to the past or to another world, but most likely not the one you wished for. If it did take you to the correct world you could end up on the other side of the planet from where you wanted to be.”
The Elder picked up the Mirror and looked at it. “There are some in our tribe who may know of a magical means to repair this. What did you do with the other items you took from our treasure chamber?”
Noriko explained, “You must understand that the magical item I stole were things I had hoped would help me with my problem. I wanted things that could cure the curse that turned me into that gnome and hopefully return me to my birth gender. I traded off the items that didn't work for others that might.”
Cologne shook her head sadly. “If you were looking for a way to change into a woman, you should have asked us. We would have helped.”
The blonde challenged, “And would the price for that help have been becoming a member of the tribe? Would you have demanded that I become the mother of warriors to strengthen your people?”
The elder looked thoughtful. “You do have a point and the question is valid. We might have required that of you. Then again, I can't say for sure.”
Noriko bowed her head forward and pulled a leather thong from around her neck. She pulled out the amulet that had been concealed under her blouse. She handed this to Cologne and said, “This is called the Amulet of Ortiz. It is designed as a magical defense and it was what suppressed my curse so that Nyaniichuan water would work on me without killing me.”
The Amazon Matriarch frowned. “Why are you giving this to me now?”
The young woman answered, “I honestly don't know where the items are that I traded off. However this is one of items I received in trade. I've gotten my use out of it and hoped that you would accept it as partial repayment for the things that I took.”
The old woman looked at the amulet. After studying it for a while she said, “This isn't enough to settle the debt you owe us, but it is a good first step. Perhaps at some point in the future we can discuss what else you can do to help repay the debt.”
The former man smiled a bit. “I haven't had time to go looking for them, but I have magical items stashed in locations all over the world. Now that my quest is complete and I'm back to being female, I can recover those and give them to your tribe. They aren't the same artifacts, but since you weren't using them anyway, maybe you'd be willing to accept substitutes.”
Cologne nodded. “As I said, we can discuss that at some other time.”
The young man stood and tugged on Noriko's sleeve. “We should get going. I don't know how long it will take to settle with the Tendos and my parents. If things don't work out, we want to be able to get back the hotel at a reasonable time.”
The Elder got on her cane and hopped over to the door to unlock it. The two travelers bowed to her before stepping outside. Shortly they were on the roof of the building across the street where they recovered their belongings.
Author's Note: That should settle matters with the Amazons. Next up, Ranma and Noriko try to hash things out with the Tendos and Ranma's parents.