Ryoga's eyes opened to blackness. A dull, clotted sensation hung over his eyelids. He scanned the darkness.
"Maybe I'm dead." He said. "Those cliffs mighta bested me."
A glow rose into his vision.
Orange and red spiraled before him and he strained to lift his head, wincing from the tightness in his muscles. He soothed his dry lips with saliva, but his stomach remained unsatisfied.
Ryoga stared at the glow. He angled forward from the ground and then finally made out what it was.
Ryoga leaned towards the flames to let the heat work through his pallid cheeks and thoughts. His eyes lowered with the thick warmth.
Then something shifted in the shadows.
This was no ordinary approach. The figure walked forward with its aura obscured. Ryoga knew it was hard to close in on a martial artist unless you had fellow practice in the arts. His shoulders cracked as he straightened his body from a crouch.
Ryoga made out the lines of a waist and the curve of hips, though the features were shaded by the dark. His gaze flickered up as the figure merged into the light.
"Violet," he said. It slipped out like a lost thought that had found its way to the front of his mind. If all the events of his long days of travel and deprivation were lost, the fluorescent eyes were not forgotten.
'She's weird.' He thought. "Really weird."
"Awake, are we?" Violet smiled. She took in his pale face then stepped towards the fire.
As she passed, he caught a scent on her.
He smelled death.
Violet stooped near the flames, then jabbed a stick into a fire.
She worked the branch so far into the blaze that the heat smoldered ro her face, painting her forehead with a sheen of sweat.
Ryoga, with the prick of pain and some curses, stood.
He glanced at the fire.
Thick pieces of wood stuck inside it. A dark liquid ran down the sides of the planks.
'Dojo signs.' Ryoga thought.
He figured those challenges were of use after all, even if they didn't help him beat Ranma. He peeked sideways at his things shoved against a boulder. Ryoga grabbed his umbrella.
"You're going to set yourself on fire that way." He said, walking towards the girl.
"I'm making it bigger," she explained, struggling with the branch.
Ryoga took the point of his umbrella and stabbed it through the flames. He gracefully kindled the wood. Violet watched.
Even if he was eternally lost, surviving just about everything gave him skills to help make up for his injured sense of travel.
Finally, with more kindling, the fire sparked and flames reached towards the sky.
"That's the way." Ryoga said.
Violet's eyes brightened at the high flames. Ryoga had no time to be smug when his eyes caught on the blaze trailing up the end of her stick.
"Let that- " he started, just as a lick of heat touched her hand. She tripped backwards and flung the stick from her hand.
After the shock subsided, she turned to Ryoga.
"Ow." She said.
Ryoga eyed the charred skin on her palm. He waited for her tears.
There were none.
Instead, she smiled.
Not only smiled, but Violet doubled over in laughter. Her gulping chuckles went on and on.
Slowly, Ryoga grinned. He didn't know why she found this funny, but her strange, hiccupping laugh made him smirk.
When she finally could speak without gurgling, her eyes flashed to him. The bright, bright color shocked him all over again.
"Fire doesn't like me," she explained. "Nor does earth, water, wood, or metal." She counted off the enmities on her fingers.
She got to her feet and stood before Ryoga.
Her gaze flickered to the ground for a beat, then with a new resolve back onto his face.
She spoke low.
"You're probably dying to know just what I am."
Her eyes were light and open. Void of challenge, but exceptionally alert. Ryoga could only think that they were very clear.
"Not exactly dying, but go on." He scratched his head, his smile curling up nervously.
'Perhaps she really is some alien.' He suggested.
Violet held out her hands and then enfolded them backwards into the surrounding darkness. When she swept them forward, a strong wind gusted from her fingers, tossling Ryoga's hair and clothes.
He stepped back when a large object rose to view.
Ryoga gasped at the beast floating in the air by no means of touch. It had a tan fur and a long, deep slash in its side. The wind roughened, and Ryoga fended his face with his arms.
Violet's eyes shined as she shifted the direction of the gusts with a turn of her fingers.
She closed her eyes as she raised the beast high above the fire, then drew up her hands.
She worked in rapid movements. Her arms were a blur, moving quick yet smooth, like the grace of a conductor. Then she stopped her movements. Her arms dropped to her sides.
Ryoga watched as the animal dropped to the fire. The whole of it was chopped into pieces.
Small heaves rose at Violet's chest.
"Mountain lion is tough meat," she explained.
The wild aroma of the roasting meat hit Ryoga's nostrils. He had no other sense but hunger.
He salivated for the animal; his stomach tightened for the meat that coiled with the flames of the fire.
After a few minutes of Ryoga's drooling, Violet said the magic words.
She tossed him a branch.
She raised her hands over the fire and lifted the steaming meat into the air.
When she'd plucked a thick chunk onto Ryoga's end of the stick, he dug in without hesitating.
His teeth clobbered at the meat. His teeth had grinded through rougher things than this. It was nothing for him.
Violet eyes danced over the sight.
"Don't lie if you hate it." She laughed, then ripped into her own serving.
"It's good, thanks." Ryoga mumbled between bites. He was already on his second helping.
"And if you're thirsty, we're in luck." She paused, glancing up.