Of Wind and Darkness

Chapter 20 – Hard Ice Facts

"Oh no! What do I do? What can I do?! He's dead! It was an accident but he's now dead! One of our allies is now dead! I can't just leave him here! But I need to get the others and maybe they'll know what to do! But this is bad! Really really BAD!"

"Ranma!" Happosai shouted at the frantic teen. The pig-tailed girl was frantic, running around the fallen Yuta, not sure just what to do or really how it happened.

"But Gramps! I just-! How do-!?"

"Just breathe for a moment, son," Happosai replied calmly. It was strange to see the elder act so calm that Ranma couldn't help but take a moment to look at him. "I'm sure everything will be fine ok? Maris might even be generous enough to put the bullet between your eyes so there's no need to panic."

"That's every reason to panic!"

"Now, now. I'm sure the others would understand it was an accident," Happosai replied calmly, taking his pipe out and placing it between his lips. The elder martial artist leaned over Yuta's body, inspecting the wound that the ice spear had made. Yuta laid on his back, the ice shrapnel having already been removed by Ranma and Happosai, the water user looked as if he were asleep instead of dead.

Ranma felt shame wash over her as she looked at the now dead element user, wishing that she just had better control over the wind stone then such an accident wouldn't have happened. She felt she had owed Yuta so much already, him having saved her from the burning sun and then offering to help teach her on how to wield the wind stone. It made Ranma's stomach churn.

Happosai had said been saying something, "I'm sorry, I wasn't listening," Ranma mumbled.

"I said," snipped Happosai, "He's quite a lucky bastard."

"What?" queered Ranma. "What do you mean-?" With a gasp of air, Yuta suddenly sat up straight. He coughed loudly as if to clear his lungs, pounding his chest. Ranma jumped back in surprise, a very high pitched 'eep' escaping her wide opened mouth. "But! You! You're not dead!?"

"Yeah, well," Yuta wheezed. "I was for a moment there. That was a little too close for comfort." The former dead man inspected his chest, seeing the large bloody patch in the center of his shirt. "Good thing it didn't hit me in the head or anything, then there would some real mourning to do."

Ranma could only gape at Yuta as the other element user lifted his ruined shirt to reveal his intact chest, not a single mark marring his skin. Relief flooded the teen's senses as she let out a large sigh of exhaustion. "How are you not injured from that? Not that I wish it or anything, I'm just really curious."

"Vampires aren't the only immortal beings that walk this earth," Yuta chuckled lightly. "I'm a special case though; you won't see many of my kind walking around."

"Your kind?" Ranma titled his head in question, not really sure how to take this new information about her fellow elementalist. "You're not human? Well, obviously not any normal human."

"I figured you were a little different," Happosai stated, pointing his pipe in Yuta's direction. "But I couldn't put my finger on it. Let me guess, you drank some potion or something to make you invincible!"

Yuta laughed lightly, "No, not really a potion. And I wouldn't call me invincible, just kinda hard to kill. Ever heard of the old sea farrier's tale of mermaids?"

"Half naked beauties of the sea!" Happosai cheered in. "I've always wanted to see one for myself! You can come be a part of my world, baby!" The old man laughed loudly to himself at his own joke. He jested boisterously about catching one and putting her in a gold fish tank, having her only change her top into different colored lace bras.

Ranma couldn't help but notice that Yuta didn't appreciate the old letch's humor. While Happosai giggled and guffawed away the water user had become very serious, a dark look settling in his brown eyes.

"I don't think you'd still think such if you were ever really able meet one," Yuta replied seriously. "They are little more than sea monsters that let instinct drive them. And they don't have any natural feminine beauty."

"So the myth about eating their flesh must be true, seeing that you are before us now, right Yuta?" the elder queered, a smirked across his face. The elder still let small giggles escape his lips as he glared hard at Yuta.

"Eating their flesh?" Ranma questioned, looking a Yuta curiously.

"In a sense, yes, the myth is true" Yuta responded coolly, not taking his eyes of the smug elder. "However, it's also very rare that survival of the poisonous flesh would result in immortality."

Happosai's smile drops from his face, "Poisonous?"

"Only one out of a hundred or so can actually survive consuming mermaid's flesh," Yuta replied evenly. "Then the chances for the survivors to not turn into some monster or demon are also one out of a hundred. So you see it's a rather calculated risk."

"Why on earth would you have taken such a risk?" Ranma queered, appalled at the idea of eating another being's flesh just to gain immortality.

"I was young and stupid," Yuta laughed back, throwing his head back in a loud laugh. "I was also kind of like a dare. A fisherman's' village was very boring in the 1400s."

"1400s?!" Happosai cried.

"That's five hundred years ago!" Ranma squeaked. The teen couldn't even fathom the length of time. Yuta was like a walking history book! Although Ranma couldn't help but notice that for all of Yuta's current mirth, there seemed to be a great sadness in the other man's eyes. "Hasn't it been lonely?" Ranma blurted out before really even thinking.

"*Sigh* More than you can understand," Yuta replied to the unintended question. "Or at least you don't understand yet. Vampires can live several hundred years too you know."

The red head knew that Yuta's final comment was a jab at Ranma's un-thoughtful question. The teen understood the fact that vampires are immortal themselves, being of the undead and all. However, Ranma never gave it much thought about the long existence that was stretched before her if a cure was to never be found.

"And you've been the water stone's user all that time?" Happosai interject, looking intently at the blue stone that hung by Yuta's belt. "Cause if so, you need some practice too."

"No, but I have had it longer than most," Yuta responded laughingly. "I picked it up about hundred or so years ago, so I had plenty of practice but I'm no master."

"Then who taught you how to use it?" Ranma wondered.

"The elements are too wild to fully master," the water user stated. "The best advice I can give is to act according to instinct. But one still must have the sense about them to not create a uncontrollable force either."

"Right, sorry. I'll try better next time," the girl replied sheepishly, sticking her tongue out jokingly.

"Well then boys!" Happosai chimed in, holding fresh bombs over his head. "Shall we continue?"

"Yes, Ranma and I will continue," Yuta said evenly. "You can mind your manners over there, firebug."

So the remaining of the afternoon, Yuta and Ranma worked on controlling the wind stone's energy. While poor Happosai sat dejectedly on the stairs by the park, all the while whining about Yuta being a sore sport.

888888888

"I didn't know you brought your blue dress," Maris remarked as Angela entered the living room, coming from the bath in a fresh nun's clothes.

"I loved the white ones but there were stains and rips everywhere, so I figured that a fresh set of clothes is just what I needed." The nun smiled sweetly at her teammate. She still hadn't replaced her veil back on her head; her short brown hair was still damn from her bath. "Since I'm all refreshed now, can I take a closer look at that arm of yours?"

Maris looked glumly at her broken arm. "You should save your energies for the fools that live here. I'll be fine."

"I was asking to be polite," Angela said sternly as she proceeded to sit next to Maris. "Give it here."

"You are so insistent," the red head grumbled as she undid the sling on her arm.

"This is one of the few things I can do to provide for the team, let me do my work Maris," Angela replied to the sullen woman. She pulled out her rosary from around her neck, holding it to the injured arm.

"Don't even start thinking that you're useless. I'm the dead weight right now," Maris chided, trying to make the sister sense her own worth. "So you can't fight big deal. Let's see one of the guys do what you can do."

"I appreciate the encouragement, Maris," Angela smiled back. "But I wasn't talking down about myself. I was just being serious about letting me do my job."

"Oh," was Maris's only response as the nun began to recite a prayer softly.

A soft light was being emitted from the rosary, flowing into Maris's injury. The hunter never felt anything as she watching in fascination as Angela's prayer healed the arm. She had seen this miracle many times, but it always kept her marveled at the power of the nun's prayer. The red head didn't know if it proved the existence of any god or higher being, or if it was just something simple as a magical power that the nun alone possessed.

When the prayer ended, Angela collapsed, her face pale. "I'm alright," she said quietly when Maris called out in surprise. "It just took more out of me then I expected that's all."

"You shouldn't have over exhausting yourself like that," complained Maris, hating to see the kind Sister in pain. She lifted her arm to get a closer inspection. The break was now mended, allowing Maris to move the arm freely but it was still sore. Yet, the red head couldn't ask for more out of the nun. "Ryu said that you wouldn't have enough strength to mend the arm."

"It's a wondrous thing," Angela sighed out. "A bath is definitely a gift from the heavens."

"That was incredible!" All three of the Tendo girls were standing in the door leading into the living room, each with wide eyes marveling Angela's power of healing.

"How did you do that?" Kasumi gasped, marveling Maris's now healed arm. "Not even the good doctor Tofu could heal an injury that quickly."

"Would you like me to show you?" the tired Sister offered.

"You mean it's not like it's some sort of well-kept secret?" Nabiki queered. "It's nothing religious or anything right? I don't have to join a nunnery or anything?"

"Of course not!" Angela laughed. "The Order wishes that more people could obtain this skill. The more healers the world has, think of the good it could do? Come, sit by me and I can show you."

As the Tendo sisters made themselves comfortable around the table, Maris stood as if she were to leave. "I'm going to leave you girlies for this one. I've already sat through this once before. It's got too much prayer and god-stuff for me."

"I'm sorry. I do rather make it out like a sermon don't I?" Angela responded thoughtfully. The Sister looked thoughtfully at the Tendo girls, who all eagerly waiting for Angela to begin her lesson. "The easiest way for me to convey how I gather the necessary energy for a healing spell, or even something simple like a barrier, I can't help but talk about the Lord and his heavens."

"Oh the red head was right," groaned Nabiki. "This is gonna be really religious isn't it?"

"Nabiki!" Kasumi scolded her sister.

"I do apologize," Angela smiled back fondly. "You see I was raised within the confines of the Church and Abby. So I know how I may perceive the world may be different from others. But this was the way I was taught, and so this is the only way I know how to set the example. I will try to not make it sound like you're at church, Nabiki."

"Please just teach us the best way you know," Akane suddenly said. "I feel that if we can even help with just a thing as this it would be a big help to the others."

Angela studied Akane hard, finding the girl's honesty touching. The nun had sensed that the sisters had the potential to learn, each having a kind heart. Well the second eldest may be the exception, Angela corrected herself. She couldn't help but get the feeling that the girl was in it more for a material gain then to help her family. But the Sister was not one to want to judge people by mere speculation, deciding it wouldn't harm anything to still let the girl try.

"In each person," she began softly, holding her one hand over her chest, where her rosary hung. "There is a little of the great spark that resides within one's soul. At the Church, we are taught to believe that this spark is a gift from God, and that it only takes a simple soul search to find it. But to many others, this spark is merely an untapped energy waiting to be accessed."

"Are you talking about chi?" Akane questioned. Though the youngest Tendo was better at martial arts then her sisters, she wasn't as proficient with chi manipulation as the other martial artists that currently resided in the dojo.

"Chi is the energy that exists around us that one's body could harness as their own. The energy I'm talking about comes directly from ones' spirit. This is why not everyone can master this type of magic, because one must have a strong spirit in order to do so." Angela held her hands out, palms upwards as if she were about to receive something. A steady white ball of light formed in her open hands, its soft glow radiated a calming warmth to the room. "In lame man's terms it's like white magic. With this you can heal wounds or create barriers."

"How do you bring it forth?" Kasumi questioned, in awe of the small light.

"I usually have a set of prayers that help me concentrate my energy in a way that is needed. The best example is bring forth the most calming, happy memory and to try to mentally bring it forth. As if you could lay it upon the table."

The three Tendo girls each looked at the palm of her hands, setting them on the table in a similar manner as the nun. Akane searched her memories, what happy memory should she think about? A fond childhood memory came to the surface; her mother's smiling face, a warm hand on her small child hand. The warmth of the memory spread through her to her arms, and she had her own glowing orb of her own.

Pride swelled as she marveled how quickly she was able to summon the orb. Akane looked up from her success and was about to tell her sisters. Yet the other two had little spheres of their own, Nabiki's being smaller then Akane's but Kasumi's was almost as large as Angela's.

"Very good!" Angela cheered. "You've all done so well and so quickly. Now, you must remember though. Whatever memory you used to help summon this energy, you need to keep it to yourself. The best way to cancel out this energy is if the memory should become corrupted or altered. And there are spells that can do that."

Akane had hoped that she could hear what memories her sisters used, but she smiled sweetly at her own glowing orb. The times with her mother were always really happy, she missed her more than anything. A great sadness welled up inside Akane's heart as she recalled the time of her mother's passing.

The small globe of light seemed to have shuddered in Akane's open hands. In a sudden flash, the orb burst into smoke. "What happened?" Coughing from the smoke that had back lashed into her face.

"That's our Akane for you," Kasumi sighed out.

"Is there anything you can make without having it blow up in your face?" Nabiki droned.

"I didn't do anything!"

"You must also remember," Angela interjected, "that you need to maintain that memory and happy feeling while trying to control this energy. One shift in thoughts can make it go array." The nun merely smiled at the younger girl, placing a hand on Akane's shoulder. "Don't worry. With some practice I'm sure you'll get the hang of it."

Before Akane could thank the kind Sister there was a yell from outside. The four women turn to look out into the garden where all the commotion was. "What is it now?" groaned Nabiki as she let the ball of energy go, it dissipating into the air like steam.

"Oh Yuzuru!" Angela called as she watched her fellow hunter enter the garden. Yuzuru paid her little attention as he seemed to be directing Ryoga with something. The young boy had a bundle of some kind and placed it in the center of the garden. "What is going on?"

Without warning Yuzuru called up a stone cage around the mysterious bundle. "That's should hold him," Yuzuru stated, wiping the sweat from his brow. "We'll question him as soon as we wakes."

"What is the meaning of this?" Soun demanded as he entered the garden from the backside of the house. Genma and Nodoka followed behind Tendo, both just as surprised as their old friend. "Are we taking people hostage now?"

"People?" queered Angela, looking at the others in confusion. At closer inspection the nun could see that the bundle was actually an old man in a heavy robe. "Yuzuru? Who is he?"

"He attacked us while we were out looking for the portal," Ukyo spoke up. She handed the Sister the man's staff, the red tip was glowing a soft red. "Somehow he was creating balls of fire with this."

The nun just looked at the staff in awe, surprised to see the red glowing stone at its tip. "That's not what I think it is!" she exclaimed looking back at Yuzuru.

"I don't want to believe it either," the earth user replied, not looking at the Sister. "But once this guy wakes up we can hopefully get some answers."

"Shampoo don't think so," the purple haired Amazon replied. "Man very crazy-like. Might not know what is doing."

A sudden girlish yelp echoed across the Tendo home, it was then followed by the cackle of Happosai. "You little pervert!" Maris's scream could be heard from the entrance of the house.

"Ah! That's just my way of saying hello missy!"

"If I had my gun-!"

The two's banter continued as Yuta and Ranma walked into the living room. "What's everyone staring at?" Ranma queered, noticing everyone in the garden.

"Ranma! Shampoo caught bad guy for you!" the purple haired amazon cheerfully cried out as she bounded her way to the pig-tailed girl. "Is almost dinner time. Want Shampoo to make super special good good ramen for you?"

"Uh," the other girl replied, trying to squeeze out of Shampoo's hard grip. "Well that's why we came back cause we were getting hungry."

"Oh it is time to get some supper ready," Kasumi cheerfully interjected. The elder Tendo daughter exited the living room to the kitchen. She had gotten so preoccupied with the excitement that she had almost forgotten about needing to finish cutting the vegetables.

Akane glowered across the room as she watched Shampoo continue to hug on the pig-tailed teen. "Well if you're gonna make dinner then get going, or are you going to continue to cling to her like that?"

"Shampoo can stay with Ranma all Shampoo want," the purple haired girl responded smugly. "Airin no want boy-girl like you any way. Can't even make dinner right."

"You!"

"Now, now," Ranma tried to plead, still trying to free herself from the amazon's grip. "Do we really have to get into this right now?"

"Ranma's right," Ukyo joined in. "There's no need to argue. I'll go and make dinner, since I'm the best choice to be making any meals here."

"Who say?" Shampoo snapped back. With an arm still around Ranma's neck, she turned to the Okonomiyaki chef. Ranma's head was locked in Shampoo's arm, being pressed right against the other girl's bosom.

"Saotome! How dare you get so friendly with my Shampoo!" shouted Mousse as he suddenly descended from the roof.

"Yeah! Get your face out of her chest will ya!" Akane joined in storming over to the two.

"Its not my fault! She wont let my head go!" Ranma cried as she continued to pry herself from Shampoo.

The purple haired amazon then turned, pushing Ranma's face directly into the center of her chest. "Ranma is Shampoo's airin! Why not have such closeness?" Shampoo bounded further out into the garden, dragging the dismayed Ranma with her. "Yous bother to Ranma! Shampoo take care of airin all by Shampoo's self!"

"Wait! Wait!"

"You better drop him, tart!" Ukyo shouted back at the Amazon, pulling out her spatula she readied the large utensil as if she were to bat at a flying ball.

"Girls, girls! We don't need this kind of behavior right now," Angela reasoned as she stepped between the three girls. "And you!" she nun continued, pointing the gem tipped staff at Shampoo. "You should be ashamed at this indecent manner."

"You no importance to Shampoo! Why Shampoo listen to weak woman in old lady dress?"

"Old lady's dress!?" scoffed Angela, never had she received insult towards her nun's habit. At her sudden frustration, the staff in Angela's hand began to glow a bright red, the soul stone sending out a flare of fire. The sudden ball of fire launched itself to the amazon and her captive.

"Aiya!" Shampoo cried, bending backwards to miss the fireball. However with the added weight of her captured Ranma, she lost her footing and fell into the koi pond with a resounding splash.

"Oh no!" Angela cried, tossing the staff aside. "I didn't mean for that to happen! Truly!"

A soaked Ranma reemerged from the koi pond, splashing frantically back towards dry land. "Get it off of me!" she cried as she rushed around the garden. Shampoo's tiny cat claws clung to Ranma's red shirt, letting out annoyed 'mews' as the pig-tail girl flailed about. The amazon's shirt was still caught around the now tiny feline's body, causing the now empty sleeves to whip around as Ranma hopped around the yard.

"She's got the Jusenkyo curse too?!" Yuta exclaimed. "How many are living here that have fallen into the springs?"

Ryoga, afraid of Ranma falling into his 'cat fist' state, tried to help catch Shampoo and remove her from Ranma's back. "Hold still moron! I can grab her if you just stop hopping around!"

Ranma continued to wail and swing her arms about, trying to reach the tiny pink cat. Ryoga had unsuccessful attempts at trying to swipe the feline from the teen's back but kept missing.

"What is this racket about?" Taro complained as he entered out into the garden, holding a fresh steaming tea pot. "Are you seriously that pathetic Saotome that a tiny kitten is such a bother?"

"You leave him alone Pantyhose!" Akane snapped back. "He can't help his Ailurophobia!"

"Here, this should fix this," Taro said gruffly throwing the tea kettle.

The pot hit Ranma in the head with a soundly clunk as the contents splashed over the pig-tailed girl and the mewling cat. The heat from the water created a plume of steam that enveloped the pair. Shampoo jumped out of the steam quickly, her soaked top recovering most of her now human body. "Hot! Too too hot!"

"Oh no! Ranma!" Akane called. The now male teen was on his knees, an arm wrapped around his stomach and a hand over his mouth as if he were about to be sick. Akane was taken aback at how quickly his skin paled, the natural human body warmth leaving him as the vampiric form took over.

888888888

Helen's Notes –

Well this is the longest chapter I've done in a while. Most deserving I guess, for those that are still sticking around in hopes I can actually finish this one. I do plan on completing this story. Hopefully it won't take another almost-4 year hiatus to do so.

It's just spitting out certain parts keeps me spinning in my work chair more so then others. But now that Ranma's back to being a vampire, I should be able to get through the next chapter rather quickly.

I've also had a degree of distraction from my roommate's own vampire fanfiction. I've been giving her constant input on her own story that putting any into my own has become second.

You should check her out (Lady Karo on ), she can at least spit out a chapter a lot fast then I can. Maybe if you ask nicely she can help me write mine faster.

Though you should thank her, without her going on about her own fic I was able to actually have the taste to write again.