Author note: Another chapter release, another day.


U.F. chapter:15

Enter the Queen's maiden…

In the afternoon on the south side of Nerima, Tokyo, its businesses were abuzz with life as people frequented the many shops and restaurants, the roads filled with cars, and the sidewalks filled with a steady flow of pedestrians who were going to work, heading home, or stopping by the area's many shops. One shop, in particular, was rather small in size; its windows had designs of various desserts that were being devoured by children and the outer walls were yellow in color, the sign was green with multicolored letters that read: "Kasutanetto." It was currently occupied by a few consumers, one of which was a young, pale foreigner who looked to be around twelve years old.

She dressed in a black tempest-style Victorian dress, her black shoes mostly hidden as the skirt of the outfit was close to ground level. She stood maybe 4'2" in height with a petite build, her eyes a striking purple, and her long white hair draped loosely around her shoulders. She wore a black Edwardian Hat decorated with purple feathers and her ears were each adorned with three small diamond studs. Clutched in her left hand was a white lace umbrella and hanging loosely from her right arm was a small black purse with white lace trimmings.

The store's clerk was a middle-aged man in his forties wearing tan pants and a white button-up shirt covered by an old white apron. After tending to one of his customers, he turned his attention to the young girl. "Can I help you find anything, little one?"

"Perhaps you could help me, kind sir. You wouldn't happen to have any chocolate chip cookies, now would you?" the young girl asked in fluent Japanese as she turned her attention from the shelf of appetizing desserts to the man behind the counter.

The clerk quirked an eyebrow as the foreign child had spoken Japanese flawlessly. Shaking the surprise off, he gave her a warm smile. "I am sorry, they have sold out. But if you'd like, I can make some more just for you."

"That would be wonderful, sir. How long will the wait be?" the girl asked as she glanced around the store, noting some more patrons had entered while a few had left. The breeze from the open door blew her hair ever so slightly.

The clerk went about setting up a tray of cookies to place in the oven, while calling over his shoulder, "Shouldn't be too long, if you don't mind waiting." He paused upon considering the girl's age a moment. "Pardon me for asking, but does your mom know you are here, little lady?"

"Yes, my mother knows I am here. She's in the shop next door, sir. She sent me to get some chocolate chip cookies for dessert to be eaten after dinner," the young girl carefully lied as she sat down on a bench that stood near the door. 'Mortals and their damnable questions,' she complained to herself, the feeling of annoyance creeping over her.

The clerk gave the girl a kind look before turning his attention to the next customer who approached his counter. 'Poor girl…gets left in a pastry shop while her mom is shopping for porn,' he thought sadly.

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Miyamoto Bar and Grill

Bustling with life, the restaurant was packed. The many conversations were a dull roar that drowned out the sounds of the chefs who were hard at work on their craft of preparing savory foods. Also nearly drowned out was the sound of the restaurant's music that was played to create a light mood for its guests. At one of the many elegant tables set up near the eastern wall with a window that gave them a view of the nearby park with blossoming sakura trees were Ranko and Hikaru. Both were currently reading their menus in search of a delicious meal.

Ranma considered the menu's choices. 'Wow, so many choices.' "So, can I pick out anythin', 'Karu-san?" she asked, not so much as lifting her gaze from the menu.

"Yes, Ranma-san, anything you like. Go ahead, my treat," Hikaru hesitantly spoke. Already knowing what he wanted, he set down his menu. Reaching over, he picked up his glass of water and took a sip before setting it back down on the red napkin. He gazed down at the black tablecloth before lifting his gaze to the red-and-blue-haired young woman across from him. 'I wish Nox was here instead. Maybe I couldno, I better not ask. She'll take it all wrong,' he thought with certainty.

Ranma momentarily turned her gaze to Hikaru before glancing back down. 'I wish he would just ask. This is Nox's place, not mine,' she thought with minor annoyance. Taking her glass taking ginger sips from her glass of sweet tea.

A few moments later, a green-haired waitress arrived at their table. She was dressed in a purple uniform that bore a name tag over her left breast and the restaurant's name over the right. She reached into her apron, retrieving a black notebook, and then gave the couple a warm smile. "Hello, my name is Etsuko. I will be your waitress this evening. Have you decided what you want or do you still need more time?" she asked in a sweet tone.

"Actually, I know what I want. Ranma-san, do you have any idea what it is you want?" Hikaru replied with a question to the goddess across from him.

Ranma shook her head ever so slightly. "Not yet, kinda still looking," she replied while continuing to look over the menu's contents.

"Oh, okay. Well, I'll check back on you both in a bit," Etsuko said in kind with a slight bow as she went off to help another group of customers.

Ranma continued trying to decide on a meal while Hikaru sat contemplating as he tapped his right index finger against his glass of water, settling on a conversation starter. "So, Ranma-san, do you have plans to go to college?"

"Actually, 'Karu-san, I'm not sure if I want to. As you know, I wasn't big on school and tended to sleep through class," Ranma replied as she flipped the page in her menu.

Hikaru chuckled a moment at his friend's words. "I personally think you should look into it. I saw one of the report cards that you left behind. I mean, you were getting A's and B's…so college wouldn't be a bad idea for you."

"I'll consider it, 'Karu-san. Now, as for something to eat, I believe I'm finally ready," Ranma said, changing the subject at hand as she closed her menu.

While Ranko and her friend Hikaru both waited for the waitress to return, the song on the intercom changed to a soothing melody. After a few minutes of customers getting up to leave and others coming into the restaurant, the waitress returned. "I'm sorry it took so long. Have you figured out what you would like to order?"

Hikaru looked to the red-and-blue-haired young woman expectantly, preferring for her to order first. Ranko turned her attention to the waitress before speaking. "I would like sashimi with wasabi, please, and for the side dish, soba gome with spinach."

Etsuko wrote down the blue-eyed girl's order and then turned to the brown-haired young men. "And for you, sir?"

"I will have the yakitori with a side of rice, served with tsukemono, please," Hikaru replied in a kind tone before taking a drink of his beverage. Etsuko took their order down on her pad; looking over, she then read it back to the couple. Once both Ranma and Hikaru gave their confirmation, she walked off in the direction of the kitchen to pass the order to the cook.

Listening to the calming music on the restaurant's PA system, Ranma felt at peace. She reached over, picking up her glass and taking a drink of its contents, savoring it. Her gaze centered on Hikaru, who, at the moment, was looking downward at the table as if thinking of something. 'Bet he would rather be here with my little sister…hmm,' she considered. After what seemed like several more minutes passed, she decided to speak her thoughts. "You sure you don't want my sis to eat with you? I can make it happen if, you like," she offered in a somewhat hushed tone as she didn't want the other patrons in the restaurant to look at them oddly.

"N-no, that isn't necessary, Ranma-san. Say, what all can you do spell wise?" Hikaru hesitantly asked in an equally hushed voice as he lifted his gaze from the table to meet the red-and-blue-haired girl's gaze.

Ranma considered her surroundings a moment, noting a family that was in the process of being seated nearby. "Perhaps we should talk about somethin' else, 'Karu-san. Given the nature of the subject, I don't think we're in the right place for that," she observed while setting her glass back down on the table.

Hikaru gave an understanding nod. "Fair enough. Perhaps we can talk about this later, then," he replied before taking a drink of his own beverage.

A few minutes went by before the waitress returned with their order, placing both Ranma and Hikaru's respective platters in front of them. Both had steam rising off them, as they were nice and fresh; the smell of the delicious food attacked their senses. Once finished placing the dishes, Etsuko gave a slight smile. "Enjoy your meal. If you need anything else, feel free to call me over. Otherwise, I'll check on you in a little while," she said in a honeyed tone before leaving the two to eat their meal.

Hikaru looked up briefly to the red-and-blue-haired girl, watching her in curiosity as she took small bites of her food since usually she practically inhaled it; instead, she was eating at normal speeds. Turning his attention back to his plate, he started in on his side dish. Throughout the meal neither said a word, eating in silence. The only commotion was coming from the surrounding tables, which were occupied by families and couples, along with the music that was playing via the restaurant's public address system.

At the same time, a thunderstorm was slowly rolling in over Nerima, darkening the sky and casting its shadow over the land below. Thunder sounded off faintly in the distance and lightning flashed periodically, the wind picking up gradually. Many of the market vendors had already started closing up shop; the loose leaves on the ground and other pieces of debris were being pushed around by the wind.

Ranma turned her gaze to the window, noting it was getting dark already. "I think it's gonna storm, 'Karu-san," she noted to break the silence.

"Yeah, it's unusual. They said it was going to be sunny skies all week. Guess they lied again. Say, think you could, you know…maybe?" Hikaru hinted, before sipping on his drink.

Ranma shook her head, already knowing what her raven-haired friend was hinting. "No, sorry…ain't gonna happen. The last thing I need is my Mom breathing down my neck," she replied with a light giggle.

"Well, it was worth a try…but you do know this means we'll be thoroughly soaked by the time we get home since I didn't bring an umbrella," Hikaru noted, chuckling as he took another morsel of food off his plate.

The blue-and-red-haired goddess gave her usual smirk before finishing off the last bite of her main dish and starting in on her side order.

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Offer of power

The house of Kuno, a rather large structure of feudal architecture currently looking sinister due to the darkening of the storm currently overhead, contained many bedrooms and multiple dining halls, a library, and numerous other rooms, corridors and wings that catered to its occupant's various needs. The estate sat on a large tract of land with surrounding stone walls with a steel arched gate serving as the property's entrance.

A long paved driveway led up to the house, and along that was a stone sidewalk that allowed for the Kuno family and their many servants a path to walk on or off the property. The back of the estate sported an impressive in-ground pool surrounded by a concrete deck, and across from it stood a large pond. Its occupant was a massive crocodile named Midorigame, which was the current pet of the mistress of the Kuno family, who was once known as the Black Rose of Saint Bacchus High School to her rivals, and Kodachi to those few who were friends with the deluded gymnast. The house's current master was known to his former rivals as the Blue Thunder of Furinkan High School, and to his few friends as Tatewaki. To his wife Kohana and former love interest (now simply a friend), Saotome Ranma, he was known as Tachi.

Rain began to fall over Nerima and lightning streaked the sky above the Kuno estate. In front of the arched gates of the property stood a solitary figure wearing an old weathered cloak that was black with brownish spots that revealed the cloak had once been brown in color. The figure lifted its head, looking to the manor before stepping forward, the gates slowly giving way as if some invisible force were opening them.

Once past the entrance, the figure continued up the driveway, seemingly vanishing momentarily before appearing at the white front door of the estate. The figure reached up, pushing the button that caused the doorbell to ring out to let the occupants know there was someone at the door. A few moments later, the door opened slightly to reveal a young raven-haired Japanese woman in her late twenties who was dressed in a French maid's outfit.

"Can I help you?" the maid asked from the cracked doorway, not opening the door all the way, as the figure sent shivers up and down her spine. The figure looked up to the woman; however, the maid could not make out the figure's features due to the shadow of the cloak it wore.

The figure then spoke to her in a raspy voice. "I have an appointment with your house's mistress. May I come in?" the figure asked, now revealed to be an older man due to its gravelly tone.

The young woman stood there not speaking for a moment, before answering in a rather zombie-like tone. "Yes, you have an appointment with the Mistress. You must not keep her waiting." She then stepped aside as the cloaked man walked past her, heading in a deliberate manner up the stairs and seeming to know precisely where he was going. When he was halfway up the stairs, the maid collapsed to the floor, passed out from whatever force had made her grant the man entry.

The mistress of the house, Kuno Kodachi, was busy in her room planning for revenge against her bitter rival and only lead to finding the one for whom she pined. The unstable young woman was angrily tossing things around the room. She picked up a champagne bottle and tossed it against the wall, shattering it and causing a shower of alcohol and glass to fall to the floor. Meanwhile, the door to her room opened, revealing a cloaked figure unknown to the dark-haired girl as of yet. "I will find my Ranma-sama, you harlot!" she screamed out in frustration, sounding much like an angered banshee.

"Your hatred knows no bounds for the girl, does it not?" the cloaked figure asked, letting off a couple of coughs after speaking.

Startled, Kodachi whirled around upon hearing the newcomer's voice. "Who are you? How did you get into my house?" she demanded.

"Who I am is not important…neither is how *cough* how I got in here. *cough* What is important is that I can help you get your pigtailed lover…" the cloaked figure offered between coughing fits.

Kodachi looked to the man as she tried to figure out if this was a ruse of some kind. "You have my attention. How would you, a lowly peasant, accomplish this?"

"I can give you the power to *cough* beat your rival and, in turn, force her to give up Ranma's location," the man declared, his voice seeming sinister.

Kodachi took two steps back from the man, a skeptical look on her features. "I don't know…I think I will beat her on my own," she said in a nearly whispered voice.

"Come now, you really think you're a match for a sorceress, as you call her? She used a spell that threw you through a wall at least two football fields away. No, you're no match for that kind of power…but with my help, you'll have the power to withstand her magicks and crush her where she stands," the cloaked man promised, stepping forward as Kodachi found herself backed up flat against the wall.

Kodachi considered the man's words as a vision sprang to mind of Nodoka using an ice spell that sent her hurtling through buildings and into Ucchan's Okonomiyaki. That was, of course, followed by the memory of her recent encounter with the red-and-blue-haired girl who called out "windburn," which sent a gust of heated air her way that threw her into the school. 'Maybe he is right…maybe I am no match for that, that tramp! But why do I feel a sense of foreboding from this man? Why do I…fear him?' She contemplated this for a moment, looking up to the man. She noted that his eyes were orange-yellow with a catlike appearance to the pupil. "If I accept your offer, what is the catch?" she questioned.

"Nothing much…how bout a tidy sum of money and I'll grant you this power?" the man answered, his eyes seeming to bore into the deluded gymnast's mind. 'Nothing much…just your soul,' he thought wickedly.

Kodachi considered the offer some more, shaking her head. "You offer me such power for mere money? Surely there is something more to your agenda. Do tell. If I am to accept your offer, I want to know what it is you stand to gain from this deal," she stated firmly.

"You are a smart girl. I do not desire money. To be honest, I just wish to see my nemesis's hopes crushed. The mother of the very girl you are after is whom I hope to ruin. You will kill the girl after getting your information and then I will go and crush her mother. It's a win-win situation for both of us. What do you say?" the cloaked man offered, his yellow eyes seeming to glow brighter and turning as red as embers in a fire.

He closed the distance between himself and Kodachi, placing his hands on her cheeks. His fingertips were fleshless bone with three-inch black talons for nails, and from the deluded girl's view, his face was skeletal with two long, rust-colored fangs protruding from his top jaw.

Kodachi could feel a winter cold biting at her cheeks, and the power in the man's eyes enthralled her. "I accept the offer. May we send those harpies to the grave!" she said with hysterical laughter that soon gave way to a slight squeal of pain as the unearthly men sank his fangs into the side of her neck.

The man smiled inwardly to himself as skin started to form on his body. 'Your days are at an end, Ranma-chan. And once you and your mother are gone, I will get rid of that slut you put in my master's place!' he vowed inwardly. Meanwhile, outside the house, sitting atop of the Kuno estate's stone wall was Jaing. He was looking intently into a golden orb as a smile formed on his lips. He then gazed upward towards the house of Kuno, feeling power thrum from the place as the birth of something ominous was taking place.

"So, have you figured out what he is up to yet?" came the feminine whisper of a rather short cloaked figure leaning against the wall below Jaing.

Jaing looked down at his partner. "Nope…but whatever it is, it's not a good thing," he lied, standing up and hopping down from the wall before continuing to speak. "C'mon, let's go before he figures out we're following him."

"Agreed. Shall we alert the council?" the cloaked figure asked as she followed Jaing down the street.

Jaing shook his head at his counterpart. "No. For now, let's wait until we know more about what the endgame is. If we move now, we could risk far worse things happening than what we were trying to prevent."

"Should we at least warn the Jusenkyo Goddess someone is out for her blood?" the young woman asked as they picked up their pace.

Jaing shook his head. "No, she's the bait," he explained before vanishing into smoke. Likewise, his partner vanished into water, which splashed all over the sidewalk.

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Ice Queen

In the dining room of the Tendo home sat Nabiki, who was currently jotting down a grocery list at the table. She reached for her can of soda, bringing it to her lips for a sip before setting the can back down. 'Okay, what else is needed? Oh!' she thought with a smile as she did a little last-minute jotting. Looking up, she noted her elder sister entering the room from the kitchen. "Hey, Sis, when is Ranko coming back?"

"I don't know, Nabiki. She went out to eat with Hikaru, so maybe in a little while," Kasumi answered, taking a seat as she watched Nabiki place a note in an envelope.

Nabiki chuckled, setting the envelope down on the table while noting her brother-in-law and little sister entering the room. "Hey, you two."

"Hey yourself, Nabiki," Akane called, sitting down at the table. She paused, turning her head slightly as she felt as if someone or something had just walked over her grave. 'What the heck was that?' she asked herself as what sounded to her like whispers from somewhere sent chills down her neck.

Ryoga gave Nabiki a smile, noting his wife was looking spacey. "Dear, are you okay?" he questioned the blue-haired demoness. When she didn't answer, he gave her a slight nudge. "You okay, Akane?"

"Y-yeah…it's nothing," Akane replied, turning her gaze forward. A sense of foreboding crept over her, shivers continuing to run up and down her spine.

Elsewhere in the Tendo house, standing by the east window, Nodoka looked out into the distance. She could feel the power in the air. 'What is this feeling? I haven't felt this much power since the great purge,' she noted to herself as visions of an ancient battle played in her mind. The screams of many mortals and the roars of frost dragons that had fought to the death echoed all around and the rattling of skeletal armies marching to the songs of their wretched war drums and bagpipes carried on the wind.

Her vision continued on she found herself as a young child running away in human form, fear etched on her face, five vampire minions trailing behind her with malicious intent. She continued running, terror welling up as a figure stepped out in front of her: another child dressed in an old black cloak with rubies sewn into its collar. The girl ran past the frightened, young Nodoka; wielding a two-pronged spear, she instantly pierced the heart of the first vampire and then went about dealing with the other three with seeming ease. Nodoka fell to the ground, scooting backward, as the other little girl finished decimating Nodoka's pursuers and closed the distance between them.

"Come with me if you wish to live, young dragon, or perish here. Your choice," the young girl offered, holding her hand out, the spear in her other hand dripping with blood from the fallen vampires.

Nodoka took the girl's hand while noting fangs that just barely showed past the girl's upper lip. They both fled from the battlefield, dashing through the snow that crunched underfoot. The frost goddess awoke from her daydream, hearing the sound of a bicycle bell ringing out. Shampoo had arrived, waving to Nodoka before getting off her bicycle and retrieving the delivery box that sat at the back of her bike.

Nodoka walked to the front door opening, to greet the young Chinese girl. "Hello, Xian Pu."

"Hello, Ranma's Mother. I bring you too, too delicious ramen with sweet and sour sauce, just as you requested," Shampoo stated as she opened the box, holding it out for the older woman. Nodoka took the bowl in one hand while handing her the payment with the other, along with a tip.

Nodoka gave the young woman a smile, taking in the savory scent of her food. "Would you like to come in and sit for a while?" she asked the young woman.

"I would love to, but Great-grandmother needs me back at Café for another delivery. Maybe another time," Shampoo explained before getting back on her delivery bike and starting off, giving the auburn-haired woman a brief wave before riding away.

Nodoka waved back to them quickly retreating Amazon as she stepped back into the house, closing the door. She walked to the dining room and sat down to eat her meal, greeting the Tendo sisters and her daughter's friend Ryoga, who was also one of her charges. Meanwhile upstairs, Jinan and Iris looked off into the distance through a window in the hallway.

"So, think we should tell Nox?" Iris asked as she turned her attention to her current female brother.

Jinan shrugged her shoulders. "Nah. 'Sides, what's it matter? We don't plan to use that form around her anyways."

"But if she is, as you call her, our current guardian, she should know what we turn into," Iris said while looking down the hall to make sure no one was listening to them.

Jinan shook her head while letting an uneasy breath escape from her lungs. "Look, I think we're fine like this. Why you so interested in telling her now, of all times?"

"'Cause I just feel it would be right for us to be fully honest with her since she did save us," Iris reasoned while letting a small yawn escape her lips, feeling sleepy.

Jinan shook her head at her sibling once more. "Look, I agree with you that it's something we should tell her…eventually. But for now, let's wait and see how things go. I mean, we are the last two of our kind, you know," she replied, noting the last uneasily.

"I suppose you're right, dear brother. I'm going to sleep…you should get some hot water," Iris called as she retreated towards the guest room.

Meanwhile, halfway home, Ranma and Hikaru trudged through the now pouring rain. Water ran down the side of the road and into the nearby sewer drains. The brown-haired boy sighed to himself at his soaked clothes, while Ranko continued to walk along with her hair and clothes dry as if invulnerable to the weather—which she was currently.

"That is so unfair, Ranma-san," Hikaru mused from behind the young goddess and sister to the girl he loved.

Ranma chuckled some at her old acquaintance's musings. "I s'ppose it is cheating a bit," she called, letting her spell drop. The rain now soaked into her clothes and hair, she still continued onward, a smile on her lips as the raindrops graced her with every step she took.

"Why are you letting yourself get wet now?" Hikaru queried once he had hurried ahead and was now walking beside the red-and-blue-haired young woman.

"'Cause I like the rain. It feels good to me. You would have to be me to understand it…but nature sings to me through the rain," Ranma answered while looking both ways before she and Hikaru crossed the street. A few minutes later, they finally arrived at the Tendos'. Entering through the gate, they then walked up to the door. Hikaru opened it, allowing her to pass, at which point she vanished into a frosty vapor. Reappearing in front of the furo door, she then slid it open and closed it again once she was inside. Hikaru shook his head, shutting the front door and walking towards his room to warm up and change into dry clothes.

Meanwhile, Akane gave her husband a slight smirk and a suggestive motion of her eyes. Ryoga looked at her oddly for a moment before it dawned on him what his wife had in mind. He then got up from his spot at the table, helping Akane to her feet. They both retreated up the stairs, Nabiki and Nodoka watching intently as the part-time goddess and the demoness was acting strangely.

"Don't make a lot of racket now, you two," Nabiki called after them while giving her sister a knowing look, causing Akane to flip her older sister the bird.

Nodoka turned her attention to her meal, picking up her chopsticks to begin eating as the aroma attacked her senses. 'Love…how wonderful it can be. Where are you, Genma? I miss you,' she thought sadly, missing her foolish husband.

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Meanwhile, in the furo…

After soaping herself up, Ranma reached out and turned on the cold water. Filling up a bucket, she proceeded to turn off the tap and then picked up the bucket. She then upturned it over her head to rinse off. "I-ich…S-so cold," she noted, shivering somewhat; even though she wielded frost magic, she sometimes was caught by surprise. Setting the pail down, she then stood up and walked over to the bath. She stepped into the tub and sat down in the water, its warmth enveloping her as her muscles began to relax.

The familiar snow globe appeared on the edge of the tub, Ranma's gaze settling upon it. "What's up, Sis?" she asked nonchalantly.

"Oh…nothing, really. I was just curious how your date with Hikaru went," Nox eagerly explained, taking a seat atop the snow globe as she was a mere three-inch transparent figure.

Ranma looked to the familiar ceiling of the furo. "It wasn't a date. He just offered lunch and we mended our friendship. That's all."

"Oh, okay. Well, what was it like? You know…to dine out?" Nox asked in curiosity as she had yet to eat anywhere except for the Tendo dining room.

Ranma thought on her little sister's words. 'Keep forgetting that she hasn't been able to partake in some of the simple things we take for granted every day,' she noted, giving a kind smile. "Well, it's like this, Sis…you go to a restaurant, which may be a sit-down style place where you order platters of food. Or it might be a buffet where you can make your own dishes and refill your plate until you're full."

"Ooooh, that sounds nice!" Nox cooed, her mouth-watering from just thinking of all the possible foods she could eat.

Ranma watched the emotions playing over her twin's features. 'She is such a naive kid,' she thought fondly as a flash of white light erupted. Focusing she quickly, found herself looking down at her sister who was in the bath. "Hey! That isn't cool, Sis!" she exclaimed from her spot sitting atop the snow globe.

"Whatever. It's my turn to go eat," Nox stated, giving her older sister a mischievous grin. She stuck her tongue out at Ranma and quickly vanished from the bath in a frosty vapor, steam from the clash of extreme cold in the warm water erupting from the bath.

Ranma shook her head. 'Why did I know she was going to do that?' she wondered. Lifting her left hand up, she snapped her fingers, causing Nox to reappear with a splashback into the bath. "Hey, goofball. You can't eat for free, so go ask either Mom or Hikaru for some money," she explained in a calm and collected tone.

"Oh…you need money to go to those places?" Nox asked, feeling slightly sheepish as she gave her sister a sideways glance and prepared to teleport once again.

Ranma nodded. "That's right. You need money for almost everything in this world. And Sis, before you go, please put some clothes on…and while you're at it, could you move our snow globe back to the bedroom?"

"Thanks for the advice and sure thing!" Nox said as she vanished once again. At the same time, Ranma and the snow globe appeared on the bookcase in Hikaru's room.

Ranma blinked a couple of times, realizing she was in perpetual darkness since the light in Hikaru's room was turned off. "Dammit! Hikaru? Anyone? Someone turn the light on, please?" she called out to no avail. Not getting any relief, she produced a red LED lantern. Switching it on, she then brought out and proceeded to read a manga titled Black Cat. 'Now, where was I? Oh yeah…I hope Saiya doesn't die. She's a very cool bounty hunter.'

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A change of plans—We're going home…

Nox, now dressed in a green sleeveless blouse with a butterfly design, red capris, and black kung fu slippers with her hair done in a ponytail, appeared before her mother, who was still savoring the ramen Xian Pu had delivered earlier.

"My dear, you look nice! Are you going somewhere, Nox-chan?" Nodoka asked before finishing off her ramen.

Nox gave her mother a nod. "Hai. Could you please give me some money so I can go eat at a place they call a restaurant?"

"I'll give you some money later, honey. For now, we must really be heading home," Nodoka informed her as she stood, picking up the empty bowl. She walked into the kitchen, rinsing it out before placing it into the sink.

Nox's stomach growled. "But, Mom, I'm hungry..." she whined, causing her mother to give a thoughtful gaze.

"Dear, your sister just returned from eating out. How can you possibly be hungry?" Nodoka questioned, as she found it hard to believe since she knew her daughter was known to eat well over what a girl her size normally should.

Nox looked to her mother. "Well, she obviously didn't eat enough, since my stomach is growling. Can we please get something on the way, at least?"

"Sure, dear. Now go get your things. The faster we get going, the faster you can fill your gullet," Nodoka called with a chuckle, as her daughter vanished into vapor.

Nox soon appeared in a flash, snow globe firmly held in hand, and a dusty travel pack on her back. "Ready!" she exclaimed as she considered the fact that they were heading home. "Mom, are we coming back here?"

"Not tonight, dearest. However, I am sure the Tendos and your boyfriend wouldn't mind if you visited tomorrow," Nodoka assured as she led her child out the door, where they promptly headed in the direction of home and vanished into a frosty vapor. They soon arrived on a heavily populated street made of gold. Pedestrians, consisting of all types of divine individuals, traveled the sidewalks.

Thousands of crystal buildings towered in the sky and a serene medieval-style castle stood in the distance. The air smelled clean without a trace of pollutants and there was not a single cloud in the sky. Birds of many varieties chirped their serene songs and the wind flowed calmly, almost sounding as if a song in itself.

Nox followed closely behind her mother, looking over her surroundings with a puzzled expression. 'No contraptions they call cars?' "Momma…um, what is this place?" she asked, as she had never seen anything so beautiful in her entire existence on Earth.

"This, dearest, is Asgard, the capital city of the Norse gods and the location of our true home away from the mortal realm," Nodoka coolly explained, maintaining a forward momentum with her daughter at her heels.

Nox pondered on her mother's words, keeping a steady pace behind her mother. "Is this the birthplace of my sister?"

"Oh, heavens, no. Ranma was born on Midgard in Japan on the outskirts of Nerima, the town where I met your father," Nodoka explained, a slight giggle escaping her lips at the memory of the first time she saw her husband, who was young then with a full head of hair. 'I wonder where you are, Husband…should I use my power to travel to you?'

She then let out a sad sigh, as she knew in her heart it was for the best to give Genma his space since the events surrounding their eldest child's ascension into godhood and ascension into womanhood. "He will come back to us, I am sure. Just have to give it some time," she said in a mere whisper that was faintly heard by her daughter. Following the road, Nox and her mother were greeted by many passersby. Finally, after fifteen minutes of walking, they arrived at a small estate with a small two-bedroom cottage. It was set up amongst six sakura trees in full bloom, their petals flowing in the wind.

"I hope this place will be to your liking, dearest," Nodoka said as she opened the small gate, allowing Nox and herself entry. They then made their way up the gravel walkway to the cottage's door, where both women entered.

Nox looked around the small cottage once inside, noting how different it looked from the Tendo household. "Where is the living room?" she asked, noting that half the room had counters with cookware on them—indicating to her that it was a kitchen. A small stove stood off towards the far eastern wall that most likely served for cooking and keeping warm, while the western part of the room had a small table with four chairs set around it. A few fur rugs also served as decoration and possible seating within the room.

"You're standing in it, dearest. When my father built this cottage, it wasn't designed as modern houses are," Nodoka explained as she shut the cottage door, sensing an aura coming from down the hall leading to her room. "Make yourself at home, honey. I will be right back," she called as she made her way down the hall. Finding the door to her room disturbed, her guard started to go up as she pushed it open. She noted a somewhat tall, slender figure with flowing white hair standing by the room's only viewing window.

"Ah, No-chan. It has been a very long time," the older woman called as she continued to gaze out the window.

Nodoka let her guard down as she continued to gaze upon the older goddess. "Ye-yes, I suppose it has. What brings you to my home, Loki-sama?"

"I felt your arrival back in Asgard and thought I would pay my daughter's closest and only friend a visit," Loki replied, turning from the window. Her eyes were a dark, piercing blue, appearing as if time had not been kind to her. Her clothes were a pristine purple robe with golden designs, and she held a sturdy, gnarled staff with a glowing orb at its top firmly in her right hand.

Nodoka contemplated the old woman's words. "I see. What is it you need from me, Loki-sama?" she queried as she watched the room's other occupant, who had begun to chuckle.

"Where is my daughter, No-chan?" Loki asked, stepping closer, her staff thumping on the floor as she walked.

Nodoka shrugged her shoulders slightly. "I know not where she may be. I haven't seen Sleipnir in ages, since the death of her daughter Jalia."

"I see…that is a shame. And here I thought you would have some inkling. Guess I was mistaken," Loki replied, gaze not drifting once from the younger goddess.

Both goddesses stood looking to one another as Nodoka's daughter Nox walked into the room, at which point Loki gazed upon her figure. A slim smile formed on the goddess's lips. "So, No-chan, you truly did have a daughter, yet you never told the council…nor myself."

"Momma, who is this?" Nox asked, her midnight eyes settling on the woman's face before quickly diverting to the floor.

Nodoka regarded her daughter, placing her left hand on the young goddess's left shoulder. "This would be the God or sometimes goddess Loki, depending on the form taken."

"All depends on my mood and whims, No-chan," Loki said, shifting into a much younger version of herself that looked quite like Nox. Her gaze stayed on the younger woman, studying her aura. 'So, this is my granddaughter,' she mused. "Must be painful to share that body with another, no, Nox-chan?" she inquired of the younger woman.

Nox gave a slight nod. "Kinda…but it's getting manageable. Um, how do you know my name? Do I know you, ol' lady?"

"No, I don't suppose you do, Nox-chan," Loki simply said as she closed the distance between herself and Nox, the younger woman stepping back slightly against her mother. However, the older goddess reached out with her left hand, touching her index finger on the young goddess's forehead. A thrum of energy emerged momentarily before Loki stepped back, a look of mirth on her features.

Nodoka caught the use of magic, looking to Loki in a mix of worry and curiosity. "What did you just do to my child, Loki-sama?"

"I simply just gave both of your daughters a gift, 'daughter-n-law, '" Loki explained, saying the last in a mere whisper before vanishing instantly into a puff of smoke and leaving a confused Nodoka and Chaos to ponder on what had just transpired.

XXXX

XXXX

The Maiden has arrived…

"It's so big!" a lone figure spoke aloud as she gazed upon the Tendo estate. The house now seemed to have an orange backdrop behind it since the sun was going down. The gated fence stood peacefully out front with flowers growing in front of it, giving it a serene appearance. The rest of the town had quieted down, though the surrounding city was still buzzing with life and the cars driving its streets could be heard faintly in the distance.

The figure's white hair was blown ever so slightly due to the moderate wind. She took four steps closer, noting that the dojo gave off the all too familiar spiritual feeling of a divine aura surrounding the place. The figure walked further down the sidewalk and, using her umbrella, she pressed the challenge bell two times and waited patiently.

Meanwhile, inside the Tendo home, Kasumi stood at the kitchen counter, preparing ingredients for her family's next meal. 'Who could that be? Maybe Auntie and Ranma?' She then stopped what she was doing, placing her knife down on the cutting board next to the fish she was preparing. She quickly made her way out of the kitchen, taking note of Nabiki sitting on the floor in front of the TV. The middle Tendo was eating popcorn and watching the latest stock numbers.

"Oh, Kasumi, I think someone is at the challenge entrance. Could you see who it is and tell them I will be with them shortly?" Soun kindly asked as he hurried to his room to get changed.

Kasumi gave a curt smile. "I will, Father," came her reply as she walked down the hall to the adjoining dojo. As she made her way to the gate, the buzzer rang two more times.

Outside, the figure was currently tapping her right foot, her umbrella moving up to ring the bell once more when the door opened to reveal a young, brown-haired woman dressed in a pink house dress with a frilly white apron. "Hello there. Are you here to challenge my father's school?" she asked in a sweet tone of voice.

"Actually, I am here to challenge one Hibiki Akane. Is she in?" came the figure's question, which to Kasumi was the sound of a foreign little girl's voice.

Kasumi smiled at the young girl. "Oh, my. Come on in. I will go get her for you," she replied before heading back into the house. The young foreigner then stepped into the dojo, the door shutting behind her on its own due to an unseen force.

'She seemed so kind…but her blood is so divine! How revolting. But I suppose I can look past that for her sake,' the young girl thought, thumping the tip of her umbrella against the floor of the dojo. She watched the eldest Tendo sister vanish down the hall before she turned her attention to her surroundings, noting that the floor was made of wood. Its walls were white and three windows were on the dojo's far eastern wall. A rather large door sat on the southern wall leading to the backyard of the estate, which gave a view of the koi pond and the surrounding wall of the estate.

Meanwhile up in Akane's old room, sitting at the desk by the window, Ryoga sighed to himself; boredom was evident in his features. "Akane, want to go get somethin' to eat, maybe?"

"Can't you wait? Sis will have dinner ready soon," Akane noted from her reclining position on the bed, the covers pulled halfway up while she read a book.

Ryoga turned to his wife. "Sorry, I'm just so bored. I suppose I can wait a little longer," he offered, just as a knock at the door was heard.

"Akane, you have a challenger in the dojo," came Kasumi's voice from the other side of the door.

The blue-haired demoness closed her book, getting out of bed. "Thank you, Kasumi. Tell them I'll be down shortly," she called as she went to her closet to find something appropriate to wear.

Ryoga stood up from his spot, walking over to the door. Opening it, he then made his way out into the hall and started heading towards the dojo. 'This has got to be better than watching her read that damn book all night,' he thought with a fond, fang-toothed smile.

A few minutes went by as the maiden waited somewhat impatiently, pacing back and forth. Turning her attention to the doorway, she noted a raven-haired young man dressed in a yellow sweater with a pair of green cargo pants with yellow ties tied around the legs near his feet. He wore brown kung fu slippers and a faded black and yellow bandana atop his head. Stepping out into the dojo with her, he looked to her a moment before walking over and leaning against the wall.

'A girl. My wife's challenger is a girl…she can't be much more than ten years old. Is this a joke?' he wondered, trying to fight the urge to laugh.

"What's so funny?" came the young girl's reply as she noted the young man's expression; all the while she kept a cool gaze upon him.

"N-nothin'. Just…I didn't expect a child to challenge a grown woman is all," Ryoga said as he waved his hands in a warding gesture, a snicker escaping his lips despite him trying to hold it in. His wife soon joined them in the dojo, dressed in her classic yellow gi. As her gaze settled on the young girl, her features clearly showed her confusion. 'Is that my challenger?' Akane questioned internally.

Akane stepped further into the dojo. "Hello there, I am Hibiki Akane and I am here to accept your challenge. But I have to say…are you sure you wish to fight me? I mean, you are just a little girl."

"I am very sure I wish to fight you, Hibiki-san. I am Lila Williams, and I must say you greatly underestimate me," the girl replied, her white lace umbrella still in hand as if it were a cane and her face kept in shadow by her hat.

Akane pondered the girl's appearance. "Well, okay…but you certainly aren't going to fight in such a nice dress, right? Surely it's expensive and you wouldn't want it damaged. Your mother might scold you."

"No need to worry over such things. My parents have been dead for a very long time. Shall we fight or continue talking?" Lila asked as she lifted her umbrella, pointing it towards the blue-haired demoness as if it were a sword.

Akane gave a nod, noting how the tip of the girl's umbrella gleamed in the dojo lighting. 'What is with this girl? Dressed in Victorian clothes and using that umbrella as a sword…' she wondered to herself as thoughts surface of the last young girl who challenged her, Temari. That was a very humiliating experience for her since she was humbled by a simple child's plaything… though she did win that fight on the rematch. The blue-haired demoness then fell into a defensive stance she had learned from her ex-fiancé shortly after the fall of Saffron.

The seemingly young girl kept her gaze on the younger woman, her purple eyes briefly turning crimson—which was somehow missed by her challenger. However, the raven-haired boy nearby was looking right at her.

'Her eyes…' Ryoga realized, an uneasy feeling falling over him. He crossed his arms to watch the inevitable duel between his wife and the mysterious foreign girl.

Akane waited patiently for the girl to make the first move; however, it never came. "Come on, attack me!" she called out, but the girl didn't budge. The blue-haired demoness finally charged towards the young girl, throwing a strike that the girl dodged easily before whirling around in a flash. She then slammed her umbrella into Akane's back, causing her to yelp as she went past.

"Come on, you shouldn't toy with me or you are going to get hurt," Lila advised as she leaped over to the spot where Akane had started, raising her umbrella once more. With her free hand, she smoothed out her dress and then produced a chocolate chip cookie from somewhere, taking a nibble from it.

'What is with that umbrella? It felt like steel!' Akane thought in shock as she looked over her shoulder, a pained expression on her face. Her left hand rubbed her back where the umbrella had struck. Turning to face her opponent, she fell into her fighting stance once again; noting what the girl was doing, she grimaced. "How do you expect me to take you seriously when you're eating during our match, huh?"

"Well, if you feel that way, then fight me with all you have and maybe I won't have time to eat," Lila replied smugly while taking another bite from her dessert, her gaze settling on the tapestry that bore the dojo's motto.

Akane turned to face the girl, her teeth gritting as she prepared a plan of attack. 'She's just a child! I mean, I can't truly strike with all I've got. She may end up seriously injured,' the demoness noted, her senses screaming at her to raise her guard during the fight. However, she chose to ignore her internal alarm bells, charging forth and throwing three-light punches that the young girl parried with her umbrella.

The strange child finished off her treat, vanishing briefly before appearing behind the older girl. Swinging her umbrella with precision, she struck the young demoness once on her right knee, another strike to her left elbow, and a third across the face that sent Akane up into the air before slamming to the floor in a skid that stopped at the feet of her husband.

Akane felt pain erupting all along her nerves, the laughter from the young girl cutting through her as if a knife to her heart. 'What the hell? She's laughing…she's beating me…no! I won't lose again. I refuse to lose another fight!' she exclaimed to herself.

"Jeez, and here I thought you would be tough. If this is your true potential, we have a long way to go in preparing you for the trials to come," Lila said with disappointment plainly evident in her features as she readied her umbrella for another attack.

Getting to her feet and brushing herself off, Akane looked to the young girl in confusion. "What are you talking about? What trials?" she questioned, giving the girl a classic confused look.

"There is a coming darkness upon this world. Can't you feel it? You should; it is your nature, after all. You are the Queen of the Damned, the Goddess of Death itself. Now, shed that ridiculous form so we can find your threshold," Lila commanded, running at her opponent and throwing a strike the blue-haired young woman barely dodged. Ryoga leaped to the side as the umbrella splintered one of the dojo's wooden support beams.

"Fine, then. Let's do this!" Akane growled, letting her guise fall. Her wings outstretched as she went on the attack, seemingly sending the white-haired girl backpedaling on the defensive. Her crimson eyes seemed to flare with her repeated strikes, though every punch was deflected by a young girl's white lace umbrella. Akane's knuckles screamed from the pain of so many hits against the steel-like object. The white-haired girl backed up a few more steps before sliding sideways, allowing Akane to move past her. She brought her umbrella down hard on the back of the blue-haired demoness's shoulder blades, causing a squeal of pain to erupt from Akane's lips.

Lila then retrieved yet another chocolate chip cookie, nibbling on it with a bored expression as she observed the demoness now facing her. 'She still thinks this is a game. Guess it's time to show her this is life or death. How can this pitiful young demoness be the queen destined to rule our kind and quell the coming darkness?' she wondered.

'The nerve! Eating during a match she challenged me to. How disrespectful!' Akane thought, scowling at the white-haired young girl. Charging in for another go at the young girl, the demoness threw more light strikes that were being quickly parried.

Ryoga watched the fight from his position, keeping a trained eye on the young girl. 'I am positive there is something not right about this girl.' "Akane, give her all you got!"

"What, are you serious? But she's just a little girl!" Akane countered while keeping on the attack, again seeming to send Lila on the retreat.

Ryoga shook his head, knowing how stubborn his wife could be. 'Dammit, this won't end well if Akane keeps underestimating that girl,' he concluded while looking on as his wife was once more fended off and was forced to retreat under a relentless barrage of umbrella strikes.

"This is pathetically easy. Quit playing with me and get serious!" Lila commanded once again. Moving in quickly, she brought her umbrella forward in an upward strike that caught the blue-haired demoness in the stomach and sent her up and over. Akane crashed into her husband, the old wooden wall behind them giving way and sending them both into the yard behind the dojo.

Akane's bones ached as she eventually sat up, flexing her leathery wings while looking through the new hole in the wall. Her white-haired opponent watched her, casually eating yet another cookie. Akane slowly stood, making her way back into the dojo. Akane scanned the young girl with a scrutinizing gaze. 'What power from that little frame. Ranma beat me as well when I first met her. She also had a small frame, and I was so sure she would be easy to beat! Guess maybe I should get serious, after all. But still, I don't want to hurt her! What would people think of me? Would they consider me a monster?' she asked herself.

A vision of her loved ones cursing her for hitting such a young girl sending a shiver down her spine. Falling into a more defensive stance, she continued to study the girl. Akane noted that, once again, the girl was eating yet another sugary delight. Meanwhile, Ryoga slowly got back to his feet and stepped back in through the hole in the wall, his feet making a light padding sound on the dojo floor.

Lila kept a cool gaze upon her opponent as she snacked on her treat, consciously aware of the fang-toothed young man's movement nearby. 'That man's smell is all over her…a mere mortal! Of what importance could he possibly be to my mistress?' she asked herself in disgust. Noting that the blue-haired demoness was on the move once more, she dodged a palm strike; however, the cookie in her hand was now crumbled and strewn across the floor. Lila's eyes briefly flashed a crimson red as Akane rolled and then leaped away, turning towards the white-haired girl with a confident smirk on her lips.

"Oh, I'm sorry! Did I make you drop your treat? Believe me, I am so sorry," Akane apologized in a clearly sarcastic tone, preparing yet another attack. 'She was elsewhere on that attack, but she'll be ready for me this time. Be on your guard, girl!' she instructed herself.

Lila gritted her teeth, giving the demoness a death glare. 'Insolent brat! How dare she waste such delicacies!' she fumed, readying her umbrella for another strike as she took out another cookie from her purse. "It's okay, I brought more," she called in a falsely cheerful tone. Charging forth, she brought her umbrella to bear. The blue-haired demoness deflected it with her left forearm, swinging with her right, only for the white-haired girl to dodge once again. Lila then quickly slammed her umbrella into Akane's butt, causing her to yelp.

"Owie! What the hell was that!" Akane shouted furiously, spinning on her left heel. Then, with a wave of her right hand, she sent a barrage of unholy energy straight for the child. 'Oh no!' she screamed in her mind, closing her eyes. "Watch out!" Akane cried, raising her hands up to her chest.

The white-haired girl quickly opened her umbrella, absorbing the energy as it struck, the white lace glowing a dark green before dissipating back to snow white. "So, you have some bite after all. Now draw your weapon and let us see where your true potential lye!" Lila commanded with a smug expression.

"Huh?" Akane muttered, opening her eyes. Lowering her hands, she noted the young girl was still intact. She held her umbrella with her right hand while resting it on the palm of her left hand as she chewed her last mouthful of cookie. 'She somehow either deflected my attack or absorbed it…maybe there really is more to her than I first thought.' "You seem to know a lot about me since you knew I had a different form and that I have powers. Now you wish me to bring my weapon to bear. How about you come clean with me and I'll consider honoring your request?"

Lila studied the demoness in a contemplative manner. She then hung her umbrella on her left forearm by its handle while retrieving yet another cookie from her purse and taking a small bite. 'Guess the cat is out of the bag. But she still must be trained.' "It is true, I know much about you. However, I do not deem you fit enough to know about me, Tendo-san. If it is your wish to learn, then truly do battle with me. Show me you're worth the information and the time I would have to spend in explaining it to you."

'She managed to absorb my demonic energy blast…maybe I should go all out. But the dojo…Ranma went to the trouble of fixing it up. It could end up-leveled again, and she went back home with her mother. What will Father do if that happens?' Akane asked herself as her scythe appeared in her right hand, brimming with demonic power. Lila licked her lips in anticipation.

Ryoga looked to his wife, noting her gaze was turned to him; her eyes seemed worried about what he would think. He simply gave a nod of his head in approval. 'That definitely isn't an ordinary girl. She's testing Akane…but to what end, I wonder?'

Akane watched her husband give his assent. She then switched her gaze back to the white-haired girl, taking hold of her scythe in both hands. "Fine. You wanted it your way, you're going to get it!" she shouted in a sinister tone of voice, her wings spreading wide. Her tail swished back and forth as her eyes flashed a fluorescent purple.

"Finally," Lila half-whispered, her eyes glowing purple as well. 'So, my Queen, you're finally ready to show me what you have to offer!' she thought to herself while bringing her umbrella up in a ready stance. Both combatants immediately charged one another at lightning speed, attacking back and forth in just a blink of the eye. Ryoga watched on, his features showing his intrigue with the battle at hand. The two girls soon came to a stop, facing one another as they prepared to lash out once more.

Akane panted for breath, falling into a more offense-focused stance, while Lila prepared a more defensive posture. Both were poised to strike again at any moment.

Taking a cookie from her purse once again, Lila began to nibble. 'She lacks the stamina to continue this battle. Guess I will end this soon,' she noted to herself just as her cookie was ripped from her hand amidst an eerie green light. Looking up, she saw her treat impaled on the demoness's scythe.

"Sorry, no more sweets for you, little girl. After all, isn't it close to your bedtime?" Akane asked casually with a wicked smile, bringing her scythe up into a ready position.

Lila growled, charging towards the blue-haired demoness, who brought her scythe to bear—only to witness the girl vanish into thin air. Ryoga's eyes widened in shock, noting the white-haired girl was nowhere to be found by his eyes either.

'Where did she go?" Akane wondered, looking around wildly as she tried to determine the infuriating girl's whereabouts.

"You will pay for defiling my favorite cookie! Let me show you a power handed down to me by Rin, an inu-daiyōkai!" Lila yelled out, causing Akane's head to whip around. However, she was struck in the side, sending the blue-haired demoness rolling to the ground.

Her scythe flew from her grasp, coming to rest at Ryoga's feet. Akane groaned, trying to gather the strength to make it up onto her haunches while Lila reappeared behind her, the girl's umbrella again hanging from her left forearm. Bringing her right hand up in front of her, Lila's middle and index fingers began to glow a bright yellow. She then lashed out at Akane with a whip-like power, lashing the poor demoness's back. Akane's clothes were ripped away, each smack causing her to screech in pain.

Ryoga started to move forward in defense of his spouse; however, he stopped upon hearing her voice. "Stay back. This is my fight!" Akane shouted even as she took more lashes. 'All this over a cookie…what is with this girl?' she inwardly wondered.

Akane gritted her teeth, forcing herself to endure. 'I can't move…it hurts! C'mon, do something, girl. Don't just let this kid wail on you!' she berated herself. Holding her right hand out towards her scythe, the weapon lifted off the ground and spun at lightning speed. It hurtled towards the white-haired girl, who immediately dodged it by jumping into the air, allowing the demoness a chance to get to her feet. Akane's weapon came back around and was caught in her right hand. Twirling it momentarily, she quickly took a firm hold of it with both hands.

"I'm impressed. You found a way to escape my spell. Bravo," Lila complimented while clapping her hands together. Soon taking her umbrella back into her right hand, she brought it to bear once again as if it were a samurai sword. "Now, advance! Don't ever allow your opponents time to attack."

Akane charged forth, clashing her weapon against the foreign girl's, seeming to push her back. 'Who is she to lecture me on combat?' she questioned no one in particular.

"Surely you jest! You can fight harder than that. Come at me with all you have or I'll destroy you!" Lila commanded in a demonic voice, fangs appearing, her eyes once more turning a fluorescent purple, and her ears gaining pointed tips. Her umbrella vanished and reformed into a sword of demonic energy, its hilt engraved with skulls, leathery wings sprouted from her back outstretched.

"Huh?" Akane questioned, pausing in shock at the transformation of the girl before her. She brought her scythe up to block an incoming strike, yet it was knocked from her hands for a second time. The white-haired girl then moved her left hand forward, palm open, and a great force thrust Akane backward into the wall, where she blew straight through it and into the koi pond.

Lila stepped up to the new hole in the wall, looking to the blue-haired demoness, who currently was floating on the surface of the pond. 'A pity. She is definitely the queen I searched for…however, she is hardly worthy of her title. I guess this training session will have to be postponed I will whip her into shape. But I never fail in my pursuits. She will either rise to power or fall by my hand as per the Daimakaicho's will,' she concluded with a nod of her head. Lila then turned her attention to the brown-haired young man.

"You there! Don't just stand by gawking. Prepare me a room," she commanded, switching back to child form as her sword returned to its guise as a lace umbrella.

"Just who are you to order me around?" Ryoga questioned, giving the young girl an unwelcoming glare.

Lila shook her head calling out, "How disrespectful you people can be. Grr…I am the queen's maiden, and you are her consort, are you not?"

"Consort?" Ryoga repeated, feeling quite confused.

"Husband of the Queen of the Vampires, the Goddess of the Night…or in other words, your darling wife, Akane-sama! You truly are undeserving of such a great demoness. Why she would love a mortal is beyond me. Now, do as I say. Find me a room!" Lila commanded once more. Using her right hand, she again caused a whip-like light to crack, this time at the brown-haired boy's feet. Ryoga jumped, startled, and headed towards the main house with Lila following right behind him.

Meanwhile, Akane slowly pulled herself from the koi pond, returning to her human form. She lay on the lawn, groaning in pain. Rolling over, she looked to the moon. 'I'll get her next time, dammit…so tired,' she thought as she drifted off into unconsciousness.