Author Note: Okay so I got the flu for a bit it was pretty nasty, but I am all better. I have also been a bit busy streaming on Twitch feel free to drop by sometime if you like the same name can't miss me.
I would like to also point out all the characters thus far are mainly of my own creation, Chapter:5 I will be introducing a character or character's from Overlord cause it will be about time to show you guys of that fan base some love.
I do hope you enjoy this installment Ranma and Nabiki seem to go from one fight to another hopefully they can find some peace in the near future? who knows only time will tell.
With that said on with the show -Zeltronica
House Incarnate Ch:4
"Have you heard there is a couple of mysterious bounty hunters who are said to be undefeated thus far, even Bitter Roses stood no chance." a patron said to his three compatriots who sat in a corner booth.
One of the three nodded his head, "Aye when I heard Bitter Rose was brought to justice I nearly fell out of my chair those blokes have pk'd too many players to count."
"To be fair they were overrated considering they preferred to kill low-level adventurer's over tougher ones more their size." the third of the three commented.
The second chose to speak up, "Well what information do we have what is this duo like?"
"Not much at all everyone that has fought and died to them hasn't figured a way to beat them supposedly the shorter one has an ability to one-shot people that are level one-hundred, that and if they can be damaged at all remains to be seen cause they come out of each fight unscathed." the first explained to his compatriots.
The first of the three perked an eyebrow, "One shot how does one do that outside of hitting low-level players?" he queried with disbelief.
"Depends maybe she has a really high critical strike chance? Or the gear on all those blokes suck." the second offered.
The third ponder on this a moment, "Either that or we got a couple of hackers, However, should point out it would be incredibly hard to get around the anti-cheat system."
A table away sat Samuel who was listening to their conversation whilst messing with his hud console muttered under his breath, "Or a wandering world enemy."
"What was that Mate?" one of the patrons called having heard his muttering.
Samuel looked to the group with a nervous smile, "Sorry was just thinking to myself aloud. Don't let me interrupt your conversation." he then thought to himself,
'So they are already making an impact on the player base and would seem nobody realizes they are a couple of non-player characters due to those cloaks obviously, but eventually even the best of deceptions will eventually be revealed for what they are.'
He then nodded his head as a plan took shape within his mind realizing he needed to double his effort in finding these two wayward NPC's as soon as possible but thus far he wasn't having the best of luck as every time it seemed he would catch up to them they had already moved on.
Elsewhere Ranma and Nabiki had happened upon a natural hot spring in a clearing within a dense forest they had been traveling through, the day was slowly turning to night the sky an orange hue, the canopy of the trees cast a dense shadow upon the undergrowth, that was the ground below which was littered with fallen leaves.
"Amazing a hot spring within a clearing in dense forest I wonder if there is something dangerous here?" Nabiki questioned aloud.
Ranma scanned the tree line, "Maybe, but I don't see anything looks like we got lucky this might be a good place to set up camp and enjoy ourselves."
"Enjoy ourselves huh?" Nabiki trailed dumbly as she looked to the springs before gaining an expression of realization. "Oh we could take a soak in the springs." she sheepishly said.
Ranma gave a simple nod, "Yea and to tell the truth we are long overdue for such a luxury." she offered.
"Well, first we should set up camp, then check to make sure the spring is even safe to bathe in," Nabiki observed, scanning the clearing for a good spot to set up a tent.
Ranma went about gathering sticks to serve and kindling for the small fire pit she had created, while Nabiki went about setting up a tent they had bought from a general vendor.
With camp set up they then proceeded to undress folding the cloaks laying them down on a rock, their illusion spell dispelled before entering the hot spring lowering into the water leaning against the springs embankment closing their eyes both with content expressions to their features.
Nabiki reached up to run her fingers through her hair bumping into the horns that she had nearly forgotten about that were apart of her character's model. 'Ugh I don't think I will ever get used to these things.' she inwardly groaned.
For her part, Ranma was just content feeling her sore muscles being relieved due to the warmth of the water, the cool night air that was setting in nipped at her exposed skin, "You know Nab's this is the first bath we have had since being put in the game."
Nabiki opened her left eye glancing at her fiery-haired companion. "Almost feels special somehow doesn't it?" she inquired.
"Yes, I guess..." Ranma trailed, opening her eyes looking up to the night sky observing a shooting star, Nabiki closing her eye listening to the sounds of critters within the forest singing their night time song.
She then continued, "It is really nice. Calming even almost like a lull before a storm."
"Well, storms never can be helped for they are unpredictable so in times like this we should take solace in the calm whenever possible." Nabiki offered, though it was not lost on her she understood all too well the meaning of her companions' words.
Silence then fell over the spring for a few minutes before she decided to pose a question, "So Ranma-baby I want to ask you something, How did you truly feel about my little sister?"
"I-I well I." Ranma stammered as the question caught her by surprise a storm of emotions washed over her as she tilted her head looking down to the surface of the water.
Nabiki sighed glancing to her companion, "You don't have to answer if the subject bothers you." she offered.
Taking a breath Ranma calmed herself still gazing to the water. "I-Well I..." she trailed a moment more before finally speaking managing to collect herself, "I cared for her if that is what you are asking."
"Did you love her?" Nabiki inquired, turning her gaze skyward.
Ranma gained a wide-eyed expression, "Wha... Why are you asking that Nab's does it really matter?"
"No I suppose it doesn't matter, was curious is all." Nabiki cooly said, still looking skyward.
Ranma let a sigh escape her lips, closing her eyes and calming her thoughts, "Truth is I initially didn't want anything to do with the arranged marriage, but your sister she kinda grew on me ya know and we argued and fought on many occasions." she paused momentarily as she thought of her wayward fiancee.
She then continued going on to admit, "Well both of us were stubborn me especially so, but I eventually did grow to love her."
"I see." Nabiki simply stated her curiosity sated.
Ranma then spoke once more, "Though none of it really matters now given the time that has passed, my only real regret is blowing her off when she asked if I would go shopping with her instead I went to the arcade with Dai' and Hiro' and well you know the rest."
"What do you think about me?" Nabiki questioned her gaze still skyward.
Ranma shot her brown-haired companion a glance, stammering, "Wha- what abou' yo" swallowing hard feeling flustered.
Gaining a slim smile to her lips as she turned to look to her flustered companion, "What about me do you like me?" she queried.
Still feeling flustered Ranma's mouth opened and closed, she then closed her eyes attempting to clear all the thoughts running through her mind, "I-eh... Well, I don't dislike you if that is what you are asking?" she offered.
Gaining a mirthful expression to her features Nabiki probed once again, "Are you attracted to me?"
Ranma gulped once more, stammering, "Na-bs, I." she stopped as she felt Nabiki move closer until they were both touching, "Nab's wha-what are you do-doing?" she questioned.
"You know you are cute when you are flustered Ranma-baby, but the question still stands are you attracted to me yes or no?" Nabiki inquired teasingly, looking to her fiery-haired companion waiting for an answer.
Reaching out of the water with both hands Ranma touched her index fingers together, "I...am maybe" she stammered.
Feeling satisfied Nabiki moved over, turning her attention skyward. "So there is a chance then," she said her thought aloud.
"A chance Nab's?" Ranma inquired a curious brow raised.
Nabiki realizing she had spoken aloud, answered, "A chance that maybe you would be interested in being my lover?" she offered
"I..." Ranma trailed blinking, turning to gaze to her brown-haired companion, "Did you just ask me to be your-Uh boyfriend?" she choked.
Nabiki not bothering to return the redhead's gaze, "Well technically it would-be girlfriend in current form but yes I guess I did."
Ranma seemed to go silent for a few moments before finally deciding on a response, "I am not sure I am quite ready for that ain't a man an' more so not sure how it would work."
"In truth, I've always liked both, but it is what's inside that matters," Nabiki stated, reaching over lightly tapping Ranma's forehead with her left index finger.
Ranma considered this information finding a side to her companion she had never known before, "I see well still I need time to think about it before giving an answer." she relayed then waved her hands in warding,
"Not that I am outright rejecting you 'er nothin' I-" she then found herself shushed as Nabiki placed a finger upon her lips.
She then with a smile saying, "I know take all the time you need." as she retracted her hand placing it back in the water.
Later that night after both girls retired to their tent, Nabiki slept soundly on her side while Ranma laying upon her bedding looking to the ceiling of the tent watching it ruffle as a breeze blew over, she then briefly glanced to Nabiki's sleeping form then back up to the ceiling.
'So she doesn't seem to mind that I am not a man anymore, yet for some reason, it feels wrong because of this body I am in be it game or the real world it's that of a girl which was the total opposite of the gender I was born with.' she thought to herself feeling conflicted.
She then continued staring up to the ceiling the thoughts of the events that had taken place so far since their imprisonment in the game as realization dawned on her that until now she hadn't had the time to reflect on the current state of her curse being its non-existence within the game world nor had she taken time to morn her lost manhood.
She had been so busy trying to adapt to this new reality she hadn't even considered her own plight with the exception of fleeting moments, and now it was finally hitting home like a ton of bricks.
Time wore on the flapping of the tent lessened as the wind became calm, her thoughts filled with a storm of emotions that eventually gave way to a troubled sleep.
The following morning the sun was just rising with a slightly chilly breeze the sky partly cloudy and the sounds of critters off in the distance could be heard, and birds singing their nature morning time song.
In the tent, Ranma still slept soundly, whilst outside sitting by the campfire was Nabiki who currently wore a green kimono with yellow and red flower print, her black wings flapped slightly, her hair waved ever so slightly with the breeze whilst the sound of eggs being fried came from the pan.
"Oh dammit..." she muttered proceeding to flip the eggs that had started to darken. Hearing the rustling of the tent she spared a glance over her shoulder, "Morning Ranma-baby did you rest well?" she inquired.
Letting a yawn escape her lips Ranma slowly exited the tent on her person she wore a similar Kimono to the one Nabiki wore though hers was red, her hair was loose about her shoulders, she sniffed the air briefly while stretching, her wings going wide as they stretched as well.
"Good morning U'm smells like somethin' is Burnin' Nab's." she returned.
Nabiki let a nervous chuckle escape her lips, proceeding to take the pan off the fire placing the contents in a wooden bowl, speaking "Yea as it turns out I have never been one to cook outside of using a microwave... Though I would hope this even though doesn't look that great will be reasonable taste-wise."
She then held out the bowl with a pair of chopsticks to Ranma who looked to the contents with hazy eyes, reaching up she took the proffered chopsticks in hand taking a morsel of the bowl's contents proceeding to bring it to her lips hesitantly before taking it into her mouth.
She chewed her features one of disgust, 'Ugh this is not to bad, but not good either it's burnt.' she inwardly thought but gave her brown-haired companion a slim smile, "No offense Nab's but we should work on your cooking skills its a bit burnt."
"Yea I already knew that captain obvious. Did it at least taste like eggs?" she questioned, looking to the contents of the bowl.
Ranma with a nervous chuckle, "Well yes kinda if you get past the bitter taste of charcoal." she replied.
"Well, you should also know that we should work on your delivery." Nabiki returned, proceeding to taste the eggs she had cooked for herself her features becoming one of disgust yet with a mixture of contentment as she realized that she could at least taste egg through the taste of charcoal that was overpowering it.
Reaching up scratching the back of her neck Ranma smiled as she remembered the past with Akane and her cooking which was disastrous to one's health, saying "Okay let me wake up a bit more and I'll help teach you how to prepare something edible Okay Nab's."
"Sounds good to me Ranma-baby. I am all for any pointers you can give me." Nabiki returned, proceeding to stand up taking the contents of the bowl away from the camp to dump its contents.
Eventually, she returned proceeding to gather the ingredients, Ranma went about doing her hair in a ponytail before joining Nabiki beside the fire as they both went about cooking breakfast in the distance the barking and howling of canines could be heard seeming to get closer by the minute.
"Ranma-baby that barking is getting closer," Nabiki commented, as she continued at the task at hand, to which Ranma listened whilst nodding her head.
She then spoke up, "Its probably nothing Nab's just wild animals."
The duo continued with cooking, though now both seemed to be able to hear the sound of incoherent shouting among the barking and howling from somewhere within the surrounding forest.
"You sure?" Nabiki inquired, to which Ranma took a moment before speaking her mind, "Yeah maybe..." she trailed both placing an illusion spell transforming themselves into Elf versions of themselves, equipping their cloaks with the hoods down as a precautionary measure.
However as the barking and shouting got closer Ranma and Nabiki continued about cooking breakfast over the fire,
"Flip it now Nab's" she said to which the larger girl did so as per instructed the egg sizzled steam wafting up, then two figures came running into the clearing one looking to be a human skeleton wielding a battered sword and shield, the other looked to be a raven-haired insect-like humanoid female with six red glowing eyes, two antennae atop her head, pink skin, wearing combat leathers like that of a ranger.
"I think they went that way!" came a shout from an unknown male.
Both figures looked to the two elves who were paying them no mind as they went about cooking something then to the tent rushing over and in, just as six big black dogs ran out of the clearing barking and howling.
The dogs continued to bark and growl as well as howl however they ceased their forward momentum upon nearing the two elves instead started to back away.
Eventually several human's came out of the trees and into the clearing looking around, the lead figure a raven-haired man dressed in black leather armor, two daggers in hand, his features pockmarked his gaze directed to the two elven females who seemed dead set in ignoring him and his people crafting a meal.
"Excuse me, ladies, I don't suppose you have seen a couple of Heteromorphs run through here?" he inquired in a gruff voice that sounded like he had swallowed a few shards of glass.
Ranma spared the man a glance, "No haven't seen anyone today but you." she lied.
Meanwhile, the dogs continued barking, a woman with silver-hair wearing similar leathers to the lead man a bow in hand walked out into the clearing. "You sure you haven't seen them the dogs are going crazy?" she inquired.
"It is possible we missed them on the account of our crafting food items," Nabiki said, proceeding to pour the finished product out of the pan and onto a plate.
The lead man walked closer, his subordinates maintaining their ground. "These dogs are adept at sniffing out Heteromorphs so are you absolutely sure they are not here maybe in your Tent?" he questioned.
Ranma looked to the tent then back to the man who spoke, "I doubt they are in there after all if they came through why hide in there when they could keep running past into the trees?" she inquired.
"Do you mind if we search your tent just to be sure?" he questioned,
Shaking her head negatively, "I rather you, not my unmentionables are in there." Nabiki replied, proceeding to take a bite of the concoction she had just prepared finding the taste to be satisfactory.
"It is just a game sweetheart." he relayed, proceeding to step closer to the tent.
Ranma pondered a moment going on to say, "What did they do to warrant such attention from what twenty of you and several dogs?" she questioned.
"They are heteromorphs do we really need a reason?" the girl inquired of the two elves.
The man walked even further until he was a foot from the Tent, Ranma standing up taking a few steps until she was three feet from him, she then spoke up through a snicker, "Your quarry has already fled that way you best hurry before they get away."
The man grimaced at her words muttering "Insufferable elves" proceeding to bring a dog whistle to his lips to blow yet the dogs refused to move forward barking their heads off at both Ranma and Nabiki maintaining their distance even whimpering in between.
The raven-haired woman looked to the dogs with a confused expression, the other members of their group all also seemed to be looking on with confusion.
The pockmarked adventurer looked to the two elves with confusion as well, "Something is up you both are Heteromorphs aren't you?" he questioned.
"Nah I am a wood Elf." Ranma casually lied, Nabiki nodded her head going along with the lie, "yep just a couple of wood Elves trying to craft a meal that you rudely interrupted."
The raven-haired man gazed over the two with a scrutinizing gaze, before backing away realizing the duo may be more trouble than they are worth, "Let's go those two haven't gone far I am sure."
With that he and his group left the area, the Dogs taking a wide birth around the two teens their barking ceased the farther they got.
A few minutes past before Ranma looked to the tent calling out, "Alright they are gone you can come out of there."
The Skeleton and raven-haired insect girl stepped out of the tent cautiously, "Thank you for not snitching on us."
"Was no trouble, but next time we will be charging you." Nabiki half jested, offering the plate of eggs to Ranma who took a morsel off of it placing it in her mouth chewing a satisfied expression to her features.
Looking to the duo's plates Ranma frowned, "So what are a couple of copper plates doing here of all places?" she inquired.
"We are with a group of higher ranking adventurers they said they would power level us. Well, they lead six of us to that group of hunters and ditched us saying that if we survive they may give us fifteen thousand gold well only us two survived so far." the skeleton explained.
Shaking her head negatively, "See Nab's I told you were in the wrong business." Ranma jested with sarcasm.
"Maybe you are right we should go into the protection racket, but then your conscience might get to you Ranma-baby." she offhandedly said with equal sarcasm. She then spoke once more, "Even though you survived given the amount offered they don't expect you to survive and more than likely do not have the funds to pay up."
The skeleton reached up as if the scratch the back of his neck nervously, "That is what I expect to be honest we just want to get back to leveling up but this area is too dangerous for our current levels."
"Yea lesson learned to never trust just anyone." the girl offered.
Nabiki nodded her head speaking, "My name is Tendo Nabiki, and my esteemed colleague here is Saotome Ranma."
"My name is Keuro I am a warrior tank in training, and she is Shini eight-eyes she is an insectmancer." The skeleton introduced himself, and his insect companion.
Shini bowed her head, speaking cheerfully. "Pleased to meet your acquaintance Saotome Ranma, and Tendo Nabiki."
"Oh cool a bug user I heard of them type in games before," Ranma commented feeling thankful she wasn't a species of the furry banes of her existence.
The skeleton referring to himself as Keuro then piped up, "I hope this isn't to forward but could I and my companion impose on you to help us get back to the nearest safe zone, please? I mean we can try to get back by ourselves but we will probably just die along the way."
"I dunno where that would be, to be honest for Heteromorphs, but I suppose we are not doing anything better are we Nab's?" she inquired.
Shrugging her shoulders, "I can't say we have anywhere pressing to be I guess it wouldn't hurt if we escorted you back."
Both heteromorphs seemed quite pleased with this, Keuro speaking up, "Uh Thank you that would be a big help... also about what that guy said are you both also Heteromorphs by chance?" he inquired.
Ranma and Nabiki looked to one another briefly, the former tilting her head, "Well looks can be deceiving when illusion magics are in use, but yes we are."
"You both must be very strong considering those dogs didn't come charging at you they usually rush any and all heteromorphic players relentlessly," Shini observed, looking between the two.
Nabiki gave a casual nod of her head stating, "You could say that, though to be honest Ranma-baby here does all the heavy lifting I am just along for the ride."
"Well, I wouldn't say that Nab's you are far too modest why with a little practice you could become very dangerous." Ranma offered, proceeding to take another morsel of food from the plate Nabiki was holding popping it into her mouth chewing then swallowing. "Oh Nab's this is good." she complimented to which the larger girl beamed.
Keuro looked between the two, "You both like to role play don't you?" he questioned.
Both Ranma and Nabiki looked to one another then returned the skeleton's gaze, "Kinda." they both returned in unison.
Eventually, Ranma and Nabiki had packed up their camp with the help of their new traveling companions, taking a trail off the main root heading for the nearest safe zone so the duo could head back to safer lands, clouds rolled in darkening the sky, the sun beaming through every so often.
Nabiki walked beside both Keuro, and Shini, whilst Ranma walked upfront in silence deep in thought with her head tilted down seeming to look to the grassy trail her sapphire gaze was dull her features a blank mask.
Birds chirped their naturist song, the rustling of leaves in the breeze could be heard the air was crisp as it had gotten a little colder.
"So is you, companion, always this quiet?" Keuro inquired of the mercenary girl who looked to the back of her red-haired companion.
She spoke up, "Sometimes she like to think when we are traveling, but if there is trouble trust in the fact she will let us know long before we notice it."
"Ah, so one of them gamer's with a sixth sense." Shini offhandedly commented, looking to the surrounding woods on either side of the trail.
Nabiki nodded her head, "Yes something like that." she returned.
"I've never been like that myself but I have a friend that is like that in some of the first-person shooters that he plays," Keuro stated, continuing his forward momentum.
He then went on to pose another question, "What do you and Ranma do outside of the game?"
Nabiki pondered on just what to say letting a soft sigh escape her lips, "I well I..." she paused biting her lip as she struggled to think of what to say exactly, but then her red-haired companion spoke up.
"We are students or we were now we are just disembodied spirits stuck within this game's Engine for all eternity for the last one-hundred and thirty years," Ranma explained truthfully.
Nabiki blinked owlishly at her companion's words, continuing her forward momentum, both Keuro and Shini started to laugh as if Ranma had told some kind of morbid joke.
"That is pretty funny, morbid but funny the game hasn't even been out quite that long," Shini called as she stifled a laugh.
Ranma didn't respond instead she kept moving forward in silence, Nabiki following after her gaze directed to her back with a look of concern. ~Ranma are you okay?~ she telepathically inquired.
Sparing a glance over her shoulder briefly, Ranma responded ~I- well kinda... Just I hadn't realized since I was trying my best to adapt to this reality well I may never be a man again... When my body was murdered did the curse cease to be? And assuming that DNA exists like he said and assuming we get our bodies back will I be male? Or Female?~
Nabiki pondered on her companion's words briefly, ~All honesty Ranma-baby I couldn't answer that I assume you would come back as whatever they took the DNA from which sadly most likely was your cursed half.~
Nodding her head slightly, ~That was my thoughts Nab's course this is assuming such technology exists anyways, and assuming said DNA was ever saved, to begin with. You know if there is such a thing as Karma I hope it bit them in the ass big time.~
~I concur with you there. But do refrain from dropping any more truth bombs on random strangers we just met? Okay Ranma-baby?~ Nabiki responded.
Ranma let a tired sigh escape her lips, ~Yea sorry guess this whole thing is finally getting to me, I mean we can eat and enjoy the food here, We can enjoy a hot bath here... but this isn't our world and these are not our bodies and I am not a full-time girl at least I wasn't until now.~
She then went on to say, ~ I envy these two at the end of the day we will get them to their safe zone and they will log out and take a real bath, eat real food and talk to their loved ones...and sleep in their very real beds safe and sound without fear of being put to the sword, but for us Nab's we are living it no matter how strong our avatars were created this is no longer a game for us it is life and death now.~
It was Nabiki's turn to sigh as she realized everything Ranma had said was very much true especially when death in the game was still a mystery to either of them as it was in the real world.
Continuing forward Ranma glanced to her right observing movement through the trees, squinting she made out the faint silhouette of several individuals at least a hundred meters away attempting to be stealthy about it which meant that they were attempting to stay hidden from herself and her group.
'Those pker's again it would seem.' she inwardly observed in disgust.
The Bell Tolls...
Ranma and company continued forward all the while being stalked by the player killer group who were off in the forest trying to be stealthy unbeknownst to Nabiki and their two traveling companions who continued to converse among themselves.
Storm clouds rolled in darkening the skies, the wind starting to rustle the leaves of the trees, the sounds of wildlife could be heard, some of which went silent as a deadly calm washed over the forest, the player killer group picked up their pace moving to cut them off.
Observing figures rushing forward eventually stepping into the road Ranma slowed to a stop and so too did her companions, the pockmarked man from earlier stood there giving her a menacing glare, a sword held high in one hand, at his side the raven-haired woman standing at his side a bow in her hand.
"That's far enough you crimson-haired Elf wench, and why am I not surprised to find you in the company of those two heteromorphs we were after?" he stated with a question.
Ranma regarded the man with an impartial gaze shrugging her shoulders, "We had just packed up our camp and they came out of the forest asking if we would escort them to the nearest safe zone, Not my fault you ran past them." she casually lied.
"Don't lie Elven scum! They were in your tent all along weren't they?" the raven-haired woman shouted, proceeding to take aim with her bow, the rest of the player killer group all started brandishing weapons.
Ranma shook her head, lifting her hand's palm up slightly as she dipped her shoulders, "I guess you caught me lady." she stated, before addressing her brown-haired companion, "Nab's please escort our charges to safety I will stay behind and deal with this rabble."
"Ranma-baby are you sure there is like twenty of them?" Nabiki questioned, looking to her companion with concern.
Ranma glanced over her potential enemies, "Yes Nab's I am sure I will be right behind please do hurry there is a larger group coming soon and you won't be able to leave without a fight if you don't go now."
"Are you out of your Mind we can't just let you stay behind and fight by yourself you will be killed!" Keuro exclaimed looking to the red-head with concern.
Ranma with confidence gave a slim smile, "It is just a game now get going Keuro time is quite short after all." all the while Nabiki held her with a look of concern.
Nabiki with a sigh started moving forward, Shini following suit as Keuro was hesitant but moved forward when his sister grabbed his arm pulling him along.
The pockmarked adventurer moved to head them off, "Not so fas-" he started to say but in a split second found the red-head in his face forcing him backward in fright as he hadn't expected the speed of which she had moved.
"Your opponent is me, if you want those two so badly you have to kill me first," Ranma said coolly, giving him a cold stare, as her companions continued on ahead leaving them all behind.
"Sir your orders?" the raven-haired woman questioned as she continued to watch Nabiki, Shini, and Keuro continue their forward momentum getting further and further away.
The pockmarked adventurer glared at the red-head seeming to consider a moment, "Fine we will play your game and after we kill you we are going to take our time killing that lovely companion of yours, then we will kill those cowards who took sanctuary with you." he coldly stated.
"Silence and listen do you hear it?" Ranma questioned, as she said this the forest became deadly silent the pockmarked adventurer looked to her in confusion.
The raven-haired woman, along with the rest of her comrades all also held looks of bewilderment seeming to listen to their surroundings, "I don't hear anything... Devlin what is she talking about?" she inquired.
"Just listen past the forest, and the faint rumbling in the distance surely you can hear it?" Ranma inquired once more.
One of the pker's then stated as he heard the faint sound of something ringing off in the distance, "I hear the tolling of a bell and whispering." he called, as his comrades all spoke up speaking much the same.
The pockmarked adventurer listened carefully as he too could hear a faint whispering on the wind in the distance feeling the hairs on the back of his neck in real life stand up as a shiver ran down his spine.
"So what is that whispering?" he inquired of the red-head who gave him a smirk that rivaled the devil.
She then quipped an answer, "That is the sound of your deaths passing through the forest now."
"You must be craz' to think you can take on all of us..." The raven-haired woman called in a voice that sounded far away as it trailed off, as the red-head appeared in front of her in an instant punching into her chest with her left fist which punched through and out her back.
Ranma felt the raven-haired woman slump against her, her sapphire gaze locked on the pockmarked adventurer who clearly looked shaken observing how fast his companion had just died, while also observing clutched in the redhead's fist was the still-beating heart of his now-deceased companion.
The pocked marked adventurer referred to as Devlin took a couple of steps back, "There is no way that is cheating no way you an elf player would have the pure strength to one hit someone like that!" he exclaimed as he watched the red-haired elf retract her hand as his companion's body slumped to the ground in a heap.
"No way you say? Whatever I am just a higher level than she is." Ranma questioned with mock laughter, tossing the heart to the ground where it landed with a plop, she then with a flip of her wrist sent blood spattering the ground.
Devlin gave her a scrutinizing gaze observing her level was hidden which left him taken aback, "What level are you?" he inquired.
"I am level one-hundred, your poor companion there well she is only level sixty she hardly would survive anything I can do to her. To be brutally honest even if matching my level she would have needed exceptional gear to survive even one blow from me." she dully explained.
Devlin glared at her, "But even that being the case a level one-hundred elf doesn't possess the raw strength to punch into someone bare-handed so you have to be cheating." he pointedly stated.
"An Elf? Do you assume cause you see an elf that I really am an Elf? Why you poor fool I am no mere elf silly I am just hiding my true form behind an illusion. So let us end this farce and let this be a lesson that looks can be deceiving." she coolly stated.
Devlin furrowing his brow, "Then what are you if not an elf?" he inquired.
"I am a world enemy that dislikes the actions of players such as yourself," Ranma stated truthfully which was quickly met by laughter from all the pker's even Devlin was laughing as if she told a joke.
Shaking his head negatively at her, Devlin then spoke his mind, "You must think highly of yourself if you expect us to believe you are a world enemy rare is it that any player has ever gained the ability to be a world enemy and they rarely last long, but there is no way in Hell you are a world enemy no I clearly think you are a plain cheater using a third party program to give yourself godly stats."
"Am I now?" Ranma questioned whilst snickering. "Well think as you like it changes nothing I promise you death has come it is the least I can do for the suffering you have caused, I only regret this will only effect you in-game allowing you to try again should you wish to continue spreading your ilk like cancer," she stated in disgust.
Devlin gave her a smirk, "Going to be hard to keep those words if I quick teleport away huh?" he queried as he activated his teleport sequence.
Ranma just watched as his teleport bar appeared, crossing her arms over her chest, the smirk never wavered from her lips as she waited, eventually much to Devlin's surprise his teleport once the bar reached its end gave a system message claiming he couldn't leave during combat.
She whistled as the rest of the pker's also attempted to leave only three of them were able to teleport away being that they were spell casters. "Well three got away, that leaves you eighteen versus me." she dispassionately stated.
The smirk on Devlin's face disappeared, as the screams of his comrades had started to fill the air as he watched them all quickly get cut down by the red-head who moved as if a blur eventually heading directly for him to which he held his sword halfheartedly squinting his eyes shut as fear embraced him as tight as a closed fist realizing this was the end.
He then heard the clanging of a fist hitting metal, as he also felt as if someone was pushed back against him also hearing a gruff voice of whoever had been pushed back against him, "Damn what power you got there Lass to think if I was the average player I would have just died right then." the newcomer called.
Devlin opened his eyes observing a large white armored figure of a man who was between him and the red-head, he wore a blue-n-gold sleeveless tabard over his armor, a full graying head of hair.
Ranma retracted her hand, proceeding to leap back taking in the newcomer recognizing him as the merchant she and Nabiki had traveled with briefly, "Mister White what brings you out here?" she questioned.
The man revealed to be Samuel gave a nervous chuckle, observing his shield was dented in going on to answer her quarry, "Well that is a long story but the short of it is I am here for you and your traveling companion."
Devlin backed away observing the person in front of him, "What the hell is going on who are you?" he inquired.
Ranma glared to the man who spoke, proceeding to step forward, only for Samuel to block her path with his arm he then called over his shoulder, "That doesn't matter now get out of here before I let her finish what you got started."
Devlin didn't have to be told twice as he high tailed it out of there rather quickly as his legs would carry him, Whilst Ranma watched him with her sapphire gaze, Samuel, however, was looking to her with a scrutinizing but stern gaze.
Eventually, once Samuel was sure nobody was nearby he spoke up, "So you took the appearance of an elf now?" he queried.
Shrugging her shoulder's, replying. "It was Nab's idea I mean we could take on the appearance of any humanoid creature if we are being completely honest."
"Very true such is the way of illusion magic, Now I have a question for you." Samuel stated coolly, to which Ranma gave him a questioning gaze to which he continued, "Are you a player controlling this avatar?"
Ranma gave pause as she thought over how to answer, "I- wait who are you?" she questioned.
"I am a system administrator I used to work on the developer team and well I have been reinstated in response to figuring out how to deal with you and your companion you both have been causing quite the stir to suffice it to say," Samuel explained, putting his weapon and shield away.
Ranma gained a hopeful expression, "Administrator like a game master or somethin'? She inquired of the graying man.
"Yes something to that effect, now please answer my question are you a player?" Samuel questioned once more, his expression one of interest.
Ranma with a confused and depressed expression shrugged her shoulders, "On one hand I want to say yes I am a player, on the other I don't know what I am anymore."
"What do you mean by not knowing what you are? You are controlling this avatar via external means correct?" Samuel questioned.
Shaking her head negatively, "Honestly I don't know if I am truly real or am I an artificial intelligent code that is a copy of someone long dead to the real world bouncing around in this game? I've honestly been asking myself that very question a lot lately."
"Long dead what do you mean by that?" Samuel inquired, his curiosity peaked though he was also feeling as if someone walked over his grave.
Ranma crossed her arms just under her ample chest explaining "I and my companion Nab's we were apart of an experimental test for a revolutionary game system some one-hundred and thirty years ago. This guy named Kajime he said he uploaded our spirits into this world and assuming all this isn't some huge horrible hoax and a joke murdered us and showed us an image of our decomposing corpses on the shore of some murky body of water."
Samuel having listened to her story looked on with disbelief, 'But they don't have that kind of technology even now...' he thought to himself going on to speak, "That can't be true they don't have the technology to even do that as of yet much less to even have done it a hundred something years ago, so try again where are you controlling this avatar from?" he questioned once again.
"I just told you the truth, assuming all this is not some elaborate hoax that I am a corpse 'er maybe even just dust and ash due to cremation in the real world my name is Saotome Ranma of Nerima, Japan assuming they have archives maybe you can find my obituary." Ranma dispassionately grumbled.
Samuel observed no deceit in the redhead's eyes, though in a game a character features were hard to match to an actual person in the real world.
Within the real world, he was busy looking over the details of Ranma's avatar as it clearly was reading as a non-player character, though it wasn't using the typical programming of the game instead it was written in alpha code which was far more vast than the typical nonplayer character was written and was connected to the core engine rather than the game itself.
'There is just no way... the core engine is housing that much code but how?' Samuel internally questioned with much confusion, his mind running overdrive as he tried to fathom it, especially when he considered there was also Nabiki who's code was probably just as large as Ranma's code.
Then to take in the fact they seemed to be able to think in real-time much like a living breathing person which told him assuming they were elaborately written nonplayer characters their creator must be quite the programmer with skills far superior to his own.
That and the system the game and its engine was running on must be insane, he had never even taken the time to look at the specifics but he did know quite a bit of it was kept secret even from himself and many of his co-developers.
"Okay answer this question since it appears you can think in real-time," Samuel said taking a moment to ponder before rattling off a highly complicated math problem to which the red-head furrowed her brow giving him a look of frustration.
"Look Mister White just cause I can think in real-time doesn't make meh a rocket scientist nor am I in any way a calculator." Ranma dully stated, giving him a half-lidded expression.
Samuel let a chuckle escape his lips, giving a nod, "Yes I guess you are neither of those things, but you are clearly a very intelligent program I've never seen artificial intelligence on this level before so forgive me for my curiosity." he replied.
"I am not a program 'er at least I wasn't before all this I was a human being flesh and blood just like you Mister White." Ranma dully stated, annoyance clearly written on her features.
Samuel considered her words, "Look I will humor you and look into your claims, for now, let us go collect your companion so I can figure out where we go from here okay Ranma?" he questioned.
"Fine okay let us go find Nab's," she said dryly.
The spot on the map that was a neutral territory with a portal leading from this world to the next wasn't much further up the trail Nabiki lead her trio on ahead away from the screams in the background Ranma had already gotten started on the pursuing group she imagined.
Shini, and her brother Keuro kept close on her heels as the picked up their pace, as they went the made note of several riders not far behind in the distance not riding at full speed, nor a galop seemingly following them well into the portal zone.
"You think that is the large group Ranma was referring to?" Shini inquired of her group, sparing a glance over her shoulder.
Nabiki spared a glance giving a nod, "Yes that's probably them but doesn't look like they are in a hurry to pursue lets get you guys inside, then I gotta go back for Ranma."
"Just come with us you can't take that entire group by yourself they are raid geared," Keuro warned, a look of concern to his features for the brown-haired woman's well being.
'He's right... but I am not leaving him back there alone.' she inwardly told herself, shaking her head negatively going on to say, "Sorry our little adventure as short as it has been has come to an end, if we don't meet again in this life or the next know I am glad to have met a couple friendly faces."
A few more paces both Shini and her brother Keuro stepped past the line, the brown-haired mercenary girl spun on the ball of her left foot slowly walking in the direction of the raiders that were still riding her way, leaning the two-handed sword she was holding over her shoulder allowing it to rest there.
The ground beneath her feet shook with the weight of the horses approach, Both Shini and Keuro were now standing behind safety observing the going on and the potential end of a very fresh, but short friendship as the brown-haired woman came to a stop as the horses encircled her to ensure she couldn't leave and blocked their view of the goings-on.
The leader of the riders was a rather tall man, who climbed down from his horse clad in red-armor from the neck down, his helmet held under his right arm, a claymore with a divine glow to it strapped across his back.
His features fair say for the scar across his right eye which both were emerald green, his hair bright blond buzz cut short.
"Good afternoon my good Elf," he called, as he sized the brown-haired girl up observing the striking features of an elf, the long ears poking through woman's brown hair, the large sword that looked to have seen many a past battle but was quite worn and hardly worthy of fighting, and her clothes which were a little dusty from travel.
Nabiki gained a ghost of a smile, "Good evening good sir, what business does a group of riders such as yourself have with little ol' me?" she questioned.
"My group and I observed you traveling with a couple of heteromorphs, we came to rescue you of course but it would seem the damsel in distress was merely traveling with them so what business does an elf have with heteromorphs which is the sworn enemy of mankind?" he inquired with a question of his own.
Nodding her head, she then brought the sword down and to the side, "Human's aren't much for demi-humans either, but such is the way of things alliance are merely forged for convenience, Now I have no interest in crossing blades with you good sir if you don't mind I'll be on my way."
"Just a minute good woman I may oblige and allow you to pass once you drop that powerful illusion spell of yours, show us what you are really hiding under that guise." He called, his scarred eye glowing brighter than the other.
'That eye of his can he see through illusion... bother.' Nabiki let a sigh escape her lips, proceeding to drop her illusion spell, her wings visible, her horns to, she shrugged her shoulders as she proceeded to spike the two-handed sword she was holding into the ground.
"Are you satisfied with what you see good sir? Does my form surprise you?" she inquired which elicited some chuckles from the various riders who had yet to dismount.
All watched as her clothing changed before their very eyes, as she now wore an armored dress, that was black-n-white in color which was decked in chains, and metal cards like those from a card deck throughout its skirt.
"Nice armor is it magical by origin my good woman?" the gentleman called, as he placed his helmet in his inventory.
Nodding her head, as she proceeded to retrieve her naginata, "Yes its actually apart of my weapon, its a heavy armor ability for when I need to tank a blow or two, though combat isn't my specialty that is my companions realm of expertise, but sadly he isn't here currently."
"Oh you are apart of a duo I can respect that, then I'll allow for a handicap I will fight you alone, my men will watch and make sure you don't flap those wings and fly away, we will fight a duel if you win you can go run as fast as those legs will carry you to your friend wherever he may be what do you say?" the gentleman inquired of the brown-haired girl.
Nabiki thought on his words a moment, "And if I should refuse? Or what if I lose?" she questioned.
"If you lose you forfeit that weapon of yours if you refuse me and my men will kill you and take it from you after all it just wouldn't do for someone of your vile ilk to be wielding such a fearsome weapon in the name of evil."
Tilting her head Nabiki only deliberated a moment, "Sounds like you really want his weapon, but I could give it to you and you probably would end up killing yourself with it Mister?" she inquired.
"Oh how silly of me I forgot to introduce myself, the name is Duke Yorkshire, and you are madam even a demon must have a name yes?"
She couldn't help herself as she chucked at his name, though if he was angered it was hard to tell, she then spoke up through chuckles, "My name is Tendo Nabiki, I have no titles I am a ghost in the machine if you will."
"Not sure why you are laughing, but you said that weapon would end up killing me how?" he inquired out of pure curiosity.
Nabiki gave the weapon a slight flourish, "The problem with this weapon is it can raise the ancient dead, and unless you can control them they will tear you apart."
"So a weapon only fit for a demon to wield, shall we dance madam the day grows shorter by the minute?" he questioned, proceeding to retrieve his sword from his back preparing for the fight.
Raising her left-hand pink hearts emanated, she let a sigh escape her lips observing only five of the riders were affected by her charm spell, 'Damn only five, but can he cut his own men down I wonder?'
She shook her head letting the charm spell fade realizing it was a futile and wasted effort that would only invite the full might of a raid down upon her.
She then found she had to bring her weapon up in defense, as the Duke was on her rather fast with an upward arcing swing that upon striking her weapon send her back against the rider behind her who kicked her back into the center towards the duke who attempted a downward strike this time that she once again blocked.
Both Nabiki and the Duke's weapons clashed several times in rapid succession most of the mercenary girls' strikes were too clumsy to connect, meanwhile, he managed to strike a blow on her right leg, but due to the armored skirt card plates prevented any cutting.
Several more minutes passed as the Duke spent one move after another attempting to put a fatal blow on the brown-haired girl only for her to dodge or parry it, but she couldn't effectively return any of his attacks in the form of a blow cause she didn't have any real training in her weapon from what he could see.
"You mean to tell me, madam you wield such a fierce weapon yet lack the skills to use it, this is an utter joke... prepare yourself for this joke ends now as well does your life!" he exclaimed.
Nabiki took a few steps back as she watched as the Duke had started to channel divine energy into his sword, the clouds above swirled turning golden, she shook her head in dismay bringing her naginata up preparing to hurl it as if a javelin, a black hex appeared on his chest.
She then proceeded to hurl her weapon which it seemed to teleport from her hands in the form of a bolt of light, the man proceeding to in a split second brings his weapon up in defense just as the naginata struck causing his sword to snap in two, deflecting the projectile's path taking a chunk out of his right shoulder as it passed through.
Nabiki brought her left hand up as a shackle appeared, with a chain the naginata springing back to her waiting hands, the duke with his broken weapon clutched at his shoulder, his eyes were those of fright the clouds above he had been charging slowly dissipating.
"So the demon has fangs after all?" the duke muttered to himself, as he tossed his broken blade to the ground.
Shrugging her shoulder's, "Yea its a bit lame I admit a one-trick pony but its effective, I haven't really had time to learn how to fight so tit for tat can I go now did I win our duel?" she inquired, though she doubted he would let her go after that display.
"Yes my dear you won the duel, but I am sorry you will die now, everyone get down from your horses and dispatch this Demon to oblivion where she belongs." The duke commanded, proceeding to retrieve yet another sword from his inventory but this one but a one-handed broadsword and a shield that was ornate with the face of a lion etched into it.
Nabiki let a sigh escape her lips, "Very well 'Fly'" with those words she shot into the air her wings flapping ever so slightly, she then brought both hands together in a clapping motion proceeding to spread them apart as she proceeded to channel a spell which a deck of cards appeared as she proceeded to deal cards as if on an invisible table where they landed face down.
As this took place the ground beneath the raiders feet transformed into a giant roulette table the Horses went crazy throwing their riders off as they bolted from the scene, storm clouds appeared overhead as lightning started to crisscross the sky.
"What the Hell is this?" cried one of the raiders as he looked up to the airborne demon who looked to be a dealer at a casino.
"Place your bets place your bets come one and all!" she called in a thunderous voice, as the very ground started to spin as a black and silver ball fell upon the table bouncing from one red-n-black checkered space killing any it landed upon in one blow.
The duke glared at the demon, "Get down here Madam and fight me!" he exclaimed as he dodged one of the balls of death that nearly claimed him.
She peered down from on high looking to the duke, as she watched his men one by one become splotches of blood on her ornate table of death, "Never buck the tiger for the House will always win!"
It was at that moment the Duke paused in his dodging observing the demon as she worked, 'Regular players don't have boss mechanics...she's a raid boss and we foolishly played right into her game we didn't have enough players nor the right classes involved. Nor did we know the mechanics involved oh how devilish she truly is.'
He didn't have long to ponder his situation as he observed she seemed to swan dive with her weapon, he tried to bring his weapon in for a block only to find himself impaled by her, Nabiki stood there triumphant peering into his fading eyes.
"Checkmate Good sir, let us play again sometime when you are up to it." she lightly called, as he was fading away.
The duke held a ghost of a smile, "I shall look forward to it madam jolly good show." he called as he faded away to the nearest respawn.
In the distance both Keuro, and Shini looked on in disbelief observing the brown-haired woman wasn't at all an elf and as said was a heteromorph like themselves, but her nameplate wasn't that of a typical player it was the plate of a nonplayer character.
"She was an NPC all this time brother?" Shini questioned.
Staring blankly at the woman who was now walking away from the carnage she had created, "I guess but she spoke like a player... I thought she was a player wow I didn't know they made Artificial intelligence like that in this game."
Notes: Well this ending I felt was decent, but I think I could have taken it a step further, but I felt it would add to the absurdity that is Ranma1/2, that and well the Overlord series has lots of Absurd rediculous powerful spell moments
Until Next time see you in chapter:5, If you wish to leave reviews feel free I do read them and answer them, but if not no worries I just hope you enjoyed this edition of the story.