Author note: Super-duper-super long delay but I had run into a wall briefly, but with that knocked down and well still working on my other works here is another chapter at long last!
Jusenkyo at last...
The group arrived at the springs of which shimmered in the sunlight, the guide was sitting on the porch upon an old rocking chair, pipe in hand a puff of smoke leaving his lips as he exhaled, seeming oblivious to the group who walked towards him.
Genma, Ryoga, Mousse, looked to the springs longingly each gaining a cheesy expression on their face, as thoughts of being cured came to mind. Both Akane and Tatawaki seemed rather bored as they looked about the area.
"Hello," Akane called to the guide, of whom turned his attention to her.
The guide looked to Akane rather concerned. "Oh, Miss your fiance is young sir who fell in Nyanniichuan no?"
"Yes.. is something wrong?" Akane questioned just as shouts of joy erupted from behind her as all three cursed martial artists started racing towards the springs.
The guide paid the cursed trio no mind, continuing his conversation with the young girl. "You should not be here young miss.. it is very dangerous time these days.. the three tribes are becoming restless and Beijing is vying for full control of the entire region which may boil over into a full-scale civil war you no want to be here if that happens."
"I didn't realize things had gotten so bad if we had known we would have postponed our trip. U'm have you seen Ranma."
The guide shook his head. "Oh no I have not seen young sir since Jusendo.. perhaps he on his way.. which gives me time to get the signs set up... I have been very slow at fixing things up since the troubles and all."
"Oh, you don't have them marked properly currently?" Akane questioned, her gaze now centered on the trio who was nearing their destination somehow missing the fact Ryoga was in front leading the pack.
The guide shook his head at the teenager. "No sorry like I said I have been slowly fixing things up perhaps you and your friends come back later and I have everything properly marked.. as sits right now if they try to cure their curses they may end up locked or worse."
"What do you mean by locked?" Akane questioned with concern.
The guide looked thoughtfully to the blue haired girl. "Well if say young sir was to use Nyanniichuan again he would permanently forfeit his birth gender and stay young girl so long as he lives. Or if he was to accidentally fall into spring of drowned sloth, for instance, his curse would be traded out for that or the most extreme case the curses may mix though this is rarely the case."
"Okay so let us say my fiancee dunks himself into spring of drowned man would that cure him?" Akane asked in order to further her knowledge.
The guide shrugged at the girl's words. "It's a gamble.. it could cure the curse.. or mix causing young sir to be both at the same time... I believe in some cultures the word would be she-male. Doubt young sir would want that."
"So basically a fifty to sixty percent chance you could end up a freak of nature," Akane observed bluntly, the toe of her shoe kicking the ground.
The guide gave a casual nod of his head. "Oh dear who are those three people running towards the springs?" he questioned as he squinted to try and get a better look at the trio.
"Oh no I gotta warn them." a concerned Akane stated, as she started running as fast as she could towards the trio in hope of warning them.
"Mr. Saotome... Mousse don't jump in yet the springs aren't properly marked!" she shouted though it as in vain as the group continued to run towards their destination, Tatawaki also right behind her running towards the trio as well.
'Why is Ryoga running with them?' she inwardly wondered to herself.
As for the raven-haired kendoist, he himself was shaking his head as he didn't believe in curses and the like, yet he had heard what the guide had said.
'So Saotome's fowl magics even permeate the grounds in a separate location on another continent no less... has his evil no end?' he inwardly wondered to himself.
Inside the Musk village proper, towards it's center a small wooden hut stood which served as a blacksmith's home and business, the gentleman who owned and operated it was a short and stocky individual, his hair brown, eye's seemed cat-like, two fangs seemed to press against his bottom lip, dressed in red commoner tunic, and a pair of leather trousers.
The clanging of his hammer rang out as he worked his trade hammering on a piece of metal, nearby Orange watched him work.
"Your hard at work as always Crouton," Orange called, as he shifted his gaze to a display of various swords and other blades.
The gentleman stopped working, reaching up he wiped the sweat from his brow with his sleeve, a chuckle escaped his lips. "My name ain't crouton my Lord."
"Well, I got you to chuckle my friend now didn't I Jianjun?" Orange questioned while picking up a blade to inspect it.
The Smith revealed to be Jianjun looked to his friend and superior, before walking over to a stand that stood at the west wall that held a single katana that was bundled in purple silk. "That you did my Lord. I assume your visit is for that weapon you asked me to craft; it is ready... Though I must say I am not sure why you need this.. the royal guard can protect you well enough without you needing to carry one."
"Its more for my sister than it is for me." Orange simply replied, while sitting the blade he was looking at down, turning to his friend who was now presenting a bundle to him, which he took it in hand.
Jianjun considered this new information. "I see this is for Princ-" he paused as he was given a glare by Orange. "Er' that is to say for Princess Herb... Though I might remind you your bro- 'er sister doesn't use weapons and is more than capable of fending off attacks without one."
"I agree with you my friend.. at the same time it is a precaution she isn't at full strength and may need it should things arise," Orange explained, though he wasn't going to admit it it was somewhat a gag gift at his little brother turned sisters expense.
Jianjun gave a nod of understanding, at which he then proceeded in explaining the process of the weapon's creation, while Orange unwrapped it and inspected its pristine blade which gleamed in the light, it's white marble hilt, inscribed silver inlay with the words:Tiánměi de xuánlǜ. (Sweet Melody).
"You did very well my friend," Orange stated, as he wrapped the blade in its silk covering while reaching into his robe taking out a small pouch and handing it over, at which the smith took the pouch in hand it's contents jingled.
Jianjun smiled at the praise, but then looked to his younger friend with concern. "My lord I shouldn't get involved... But there are things stirring in the weeds if you get my meaning."
"I am aware you need not say anymore. Thank you for your concern." Orange said as he turned to leave the shop stepping past the threshold then disappearing behind the door that was slid closed.
Jianjun watched the boy who had befriended him as a small child left his shop for what might be the very last time. "May Kami-Sama walk with you my friend," he said in a mere whisper.
Bathing with perverts...
The sun rose higher in the sky it's light causing the water of the hot springs that were close to Jusenkyo to shimmer. The weather was rather calm with an only slight wind and clear skies. Herb who was standing on the shore found herself a decent spot she felt she could bath at, stripping off her clothes, she folded them neatly stacking them nearby on a flat rock, she then took slow deliberate steps into the hot contents of the pool, lowering herself into the water until she was seated on a rock formation that seemed as if a lounge chair of some type since she could not only sit but put her back to the wall and relax.
"Oh, that feels so good." Herb cooed aloud, as she relaxed, muscles being soothed by the warmth of the water, her emerald gaze settled on the clear sky above.
Not too far away the nearby bush rustled, from which two sets of eye's watched Herb who was in the process of taking her bath, the eye's belonging to Lime and Mint.
"Oh did you see Mistress's boobs they are so beautiful," Mint whispered to his friend, as he watched wishing his mistress would stand up.
Lime grinned at his friend's words, while he gazed. "Yes, and her bum is so soft looking and round."
Herb closed her eyes, the sound of the water seemed to soothe her troubled mind lolling her too an unexpected rest which was partly caused by lack of sleep.
Both Lime and Mint watched her for some time observing she seemed to be sleeping, before they finally left their hiding place, and cautiously approached their sleeping mistress.
Mint, as he stepped closer, could see the top of Herb's chest in the water, his eyes seeming to glimmer, Lime also stepped closer.
"Hmm?" came Herbs soft whispered voice, as she slowly opened her left eye and observed her retainers taking slow steps towards her. 'They don't give up do they?' she questioned to herself, a plan taking shape, she continued to lay there closing her eye as she waited.
After a minute more Mint and Lime were both standing on a set of rocks to Herb's right, crouching down to get a closer look at her.
"She looks so angelic when she is sleeping," Mint whispered to his friend, as he marveled at his mistress's sleeping form.
Lime nodded in agreement, however, he felt a sense of foreboding as he gazed upon Herb realizing something was a little off about his mistress's breathing which told him there was a chance she was awake. Voicing his concern in a whisper to his partner "Mint perhaps we should go."
Mint ignored his friend's words, as he reached down into the water caressing Herb's right breast. 'So soft and tender.' he thought innocently to himself while also feeling rather excited until his face took on an expression of surprise and mute horror as a delicate but powerful hand clutched his throat squeezing it shut.
"You done feeling me up?" Herb questioned her tone full of angst, her eye's now open seeming to glow florescent boring into the hybrid wolf. Lime started to flee when Herb grabbed him with her other hand, standing up in the water rather quickly causing quite a few ripples to wave across the pool, the droplets from the water that cascaded down her form and back into the pool below shined in the light, proceeding forward she started walking to the shore.
"Mistress we are sorry please forgive us!" Lime begged to fear the worst, as Herb started walking away from the hot springs she was bathing in keeping a firm grip on her retainer's as they struggled to get away not at all caring she was still in the buck.
Herb gritted her teeth as she continued walking maintaining firm grips on their necks allowing for them to breath. "Forgive you hmph... This isn't the first time you watched me in the bath and I am getting rather tired of it.. and don't think for a minute I forgot about yesterday.. grabbing my butt like that in front of the workers," she growled out as she walked, towards Jusenkyo which wasn't very far since it was practically in her kingdom's backyard.
After a few minutes of walking while maintaining her grip on her struggling retainer's Herb finally arrived at the springs, then after a few more minutes of walking, she finally arrived at her destination observing a familiar rock and a tree she had cracked the day she gained her curse.
Herb finally dropped Lime, keeping her grip on Mint. "You two perverts like breasts so much fine I am gonna give them to you," she stated in Mandarin, as she tossed Mint into the spring of Nyanniichuan, before stomping off back in the direction of the hot springs.
Lime watched as his mistress retreated feeling thankful he hadn't been beaten within an inch of his life, his gaze settling on her butt as it swayed while she walked, meanwhile a green haired female slowly pulled herself out of the water coughing and expelling water from her lungs.
As Herb walked towards the hot springs she turned to the sound of a feminine moan that was accompanied by the words: "Stop it!"
"Those two are getting acquainted," she muttered to herself, turning forward she continued on her way while walking she looked to the sky above observing a serenity about it that seemed to calm her nerves.
After a time of walking, she was once again back in her place in the soothing contents the hot springs taking her bath. Even with the calmness of her bath, and the nice weather she couldn't help but feel a sense of apprehension that something just wasn't right that she couldn't quite put her finger on.
the Kyushu Region...
After many days Ranma had finally found himself in yet another wooded area, the smell of salt could be tasted on the air which meant he was nearing a large body of water. Stopping his forward momentum, he retrieved a map, and his compass in order to ascertain his location.
Ranma knelt down on his right knee, laying the map over his left, giving the area a quick glance over, before settling his gaze on the map. 'Okay well judging by the days I have been walking and direction...' he concentrated trailing in thought for a moment. "That puts me near Fukuoka," he noted aloud feeling somewhat excited since he was in need to gain some supplies to help him along his travels.
After folding his map, he put it away along with the compass before standing up and continuing on his way towards the city the closer he got the more noise could be heard from traffic driving down its many roads ending the peacefulness that had accompanied him along the way.
Eventually, Ranma found himself walking down a lonely side street which would lead him further into town, he watched a few cars passed by and a few pedestrians that passed him going the other direction, the wind picking up signaling a storm was possibly on its way.
After another thirty minutes of walking he finally arrived at a medium-sized store which served as both a grocery store and retail store, it was a building with red mortar walls, the roof was crowned by blue sheet metal, two glass doors served as both entry and exit, the sign for the store reading: wally-world.
The parking lot for the store was full of vehicles ranging from cars to vans and a few trucks, Ranma made his way across the parking lot and into to the store, grabbing a cart along the way observing many patrons were in the store, the floor was covered in white vinyl tile, near the entrance was twelve registers though for whatever reason only four of which were manned and operated, the lines at the register were rather long backing into some of the isles.
'Uhg I hope the lines will be clear by the time I get what I need.' he hoped observing the length of the lines, as he made his way further into the store and towards the camping section where he would surely find the supplies he needed most, some of which could only be found in the feminine Hygiene part of the store.
Once in the camping section he found a pack of C batteries he could use to power a small radio along with various other items he tossed in the cart, Ranma continued shopping in this section stopping to pick up a magazine which depicted some individuals fishing from a small motorized boat.
He chuckled to himself as he read through the magazine, lifting his gaze up when he heard the giggles of a child who was holding a fishing pole, the father of said kid was down on one knee a balding gentleman with a well-shaven face dressed in a white overhauls, was smiling as he seemed pleased at his child's interest in said fishing pole.
'I probably should get some bait while I am at it.' he mentally noted, closing the magazine before placing it back on the shelf taking care to put it exactly where he had picked it up from, once done he began pushing the small cart he was using on towards the bait section of the store.
As time went on Ranma had finally gathered and purchased his items, once exiting the store, looking up observing the darkened sky overhead, the smell of rain attacking his senses. He quickly packed the items he had bought into his pack, he was about to walk away when he stopped a moment seeming to be deep in thought as a look of realization came over his features.
"Dammit.." he lightly cursed in realization he had forgotten something that was very important to his female half and would mean he would have to stand in line once more, he begrudgingly went back into the store heading towards the feminine Hygiene section to get a box of pads and some medicine, and a supply of sanitary wipes, which tended to help when the unwanted monthly visitor encroached upon him which would leave him temporarily locked in that form for an extended period of time.
A few minutes later Ranma was once more exciting the store, observing it was now raining he retrieved his red umbrella from within his pack, then proceeded to open it holding it over his head as he began walking across the parking lot and onward away from the store.
Continuing his walk he observed the rain was turning into a downpour, at which he observed a bus stop with roof across the street, at which he looked both ways before making a brisk walk over to it where he took a seat on the bench which was made of steel.
'Not the most comfortable place I ever been.. but not the worst.' he thought to himself, as he eased himself against the backrest of the bench while closing his umbrella shaking off the rainwater.
He inwardly prayed Kami-sama wouldn't deem it fit to change the direction of the wind since the roof and rear of the bus stop were the only thing keeping him dry, the front being open with no doors.
Reaching into his pocket he retrieved a bag of peppered beef jerky proceeding in opening it, he then grabbed a small piece and started the process of eating it.
Trouble on the bridge...
The sun was lowering complete nightfall would soon overtake the greater Jusenkyo valley, the roads of the outskirts Musk village were rather sparsely traveled around this time especially on up towards the palace, walking the lonely road was Orange who carried his purchased bundle that was a gift for his sibling.
As he walked he scanned the road along with his surroundings for potential perils that could befall him, though thus far his trip seemed rather uneventful for the time being.
Eventually he came to a crossroads, huts lined the root though it would appear to any observer that the homes that were occupied the occupants most likely had closed the windows and doors, nobody at all was out in about which caused the hair on Orange's neck to stand on end, along stone bridge was not far ahead that crossed over a small river that passed through.
A few moments later saw him standing right before the bridge where he paused in his step giving his surroundings quick once over before taking another step forward once he was sure his surroundings were clear he continued his forward momentum in the direction of where his sibling's hut was.
The sound of whistling caught his ear as he looked up in time to observe several elongated objects arcing down from the darkening sky heading right for him, he quickly leaped into a roll barely avoiding getting impaled by the barrage of arrows, he quickly rebounded back to his feet breaking into a run observing several individual's had started to run onto the bridge blocking his current route all brandishing various weapons ranging from swords-axes, poleaxes and other odds and ends.
He paused in his step placing the bundle he was carrying inside the sling pack he had on his back to free up his hands, hearing footfalls from behind he observed more figures who were determined to block both exit points.
'Well thought out Brother you move fast and bold, yet...' Orange thought to himself trailing in thought proceeding to drop into a defensive combat stance whilst retrieving a couple of daggers from his belt clutching them in both hands, one blade aimed down which was long almost like a short sword, the shorter of the two he held it blade down as well flat against his forearm.
More men followed the initial individual's onto the bridge, another barrage of arrows were lobbed towards their suspected target who with brilliant ease managed to use his blades block and deflect the barrage in a rather elaborate flourish that was rather quick to the untrained eye.
Orange counted the men in front of him now which he sighed to himself realizing there was at least a half dozen in front, and behind he was looking at another forty men all dressed in typical trappings of Musk assassination units.
'Our birthrates are low yet that imbecile brother of mine has no problem throwing away lives" he thought as he gave his weapons a flourish calling out.
"At the very least you better die well or it will be a great shame on our tribes honor!" he exclaimed seeming to vanish into a blur reappearing at the center of the men ahead of him then proceeded in cutting them down, whilst they attempted to kill him, blood slicking the stone walkway of the bridge as the bodies of the men he was fighting fell one by one by his blades.
Time wore on as the attackers from the rear joined the fray, Orange dodging and weaving various attacks, whilst returning with his own, he then when he heard a dull whistling in the sky above he quickly stabbed his left blade into one of his attackers quickly lifting the poor sap into the air using him as a shield against the incoming barrage, whilst blocking attacks with his free weapon.
Once all the arrows had finished spiking into the corpse on his dagger with several thunks and squishing sounds he lowered the body kicking it into the crowd, proceeding in continuing his defense feeling something sharp as a stabbing pain erupted in his back causing him to shriek.
Though he quickly squashed the pain, proceeding to whirl around with a roundhouse kick to the individual that had managed to pierce his defense sending him flying back into four of his attackers bowling them over.
Though the pain was fierce he was determined not to let it get the better of him, Orange proceeded in finishing the last of the men in front of him, proceeding to take five backward flips away from his rear attackers, observing more men pouring onto the bridge though these were not Musk in origin or anyone he had seen before.
They wore a uniform of the modern world. 'Who in the heck are they?' he wondered to himself observing they had some weird type of weapons on them. Gritting his teeth as he remembered exactly what he was looking at.
"How dishonorable you are Brother!" he exclaimed though he didn't know if the said brother was around to hear it, just as he finished off two more of his attackers.
-Too be continued