Hearts of Ice by Krista Perry Fisk is a Ranma ½ fanfiction, generally considered an early classic by the fandom. It was also legendary for the ten-years-long hiatus between the second-to-last and the final chapter.
Akane has been exiled to the realm of myths and legends by Cologne's magic, and now she must fight to survive as the sole mortal in a land of deadly supernatural creatures. To make matters worse, time runs faster there than on Earth, and her very existence is being "written out" of the human world.
Her quest to return to the mortal world before she's grown far too old for Ranma is paralleled by Ranma himself holding desperately onto his memories of her even as the world around him erases her existence, while Cologne schemes to thwart both of them.
Fanart, as well as more links, can be found here.
Tropes found in this fanfiction:
- All for Nothing: Cologne goes to extreme lengths to ensure that Shampoo gets married to Ranma: blood magic, manipulation, brain-washing, attempted murders... until Ranma gets killed as a result of her schemes. Whereupon, Cologne decides her efforts have been worthless, and she just wants to go back home.
- All Myths Are True: Ranma and Akane run into all kind of Eastern deities and mythological creatures. Shampoo meets up with an old Chinese divine dragon. Akane gets stranded in the Kami Plane, works as a bodyguard by Yuki-Onna, is trained by a Tengu and meets Susano-O. Ranma meets Emma-O and makes a deal with a Phoenix
- Back from the Dead: Ranma gets killed by Kuei (A kind of Chinese ghosts) while fighting his way to the Ancient One's den. Nonetheless, he is taken to the Phoenix's mountainlocated in the realm of the souls' beastsby one friend, and the bird lets him use its nest to go back to the mortal plane.
- Batman Gambit: Nabiki walks into the Cat Cafe with a recorder bulging in her pocket visibly. Later, Cologne is telling Shampoo about Nabiki's pathetically obvious attempt to get her confess their ploy, right like Nabiki -who had gotten their house bugged- was expecting.
- Big Bad: Cologne. Spurred by her village's ultimatum, she will do anything to ensure that Ranma ends up married to Shampoo and dragged to Joketsuzoku. Her using blood magic to exile Akane to another dimension is only the beginning.
- Blackmail: After recording a conversation where Cologne and Shampoo admit they exiled Akane to the Kami Plane, Nabiki threatens Cologne with giving Ranma the tape if they do not bring her sister back.
- Blood Magic: Using blood of an ancient dragon, Shampoo and Cologne cast a spell to banish Akane from the mortal plane.Kintaro: "I'm sorry, Ranma, but all the signs point to this being a blood spell of some kind, and spells cast with blood are not only nefarious and unscrupulous in the extreme, but very hard to break."
Ranma: "A blood spell? What the heck is that?"
Kintaro: "Just what it sounds like. A spell cast with the blood of a living creature. The more powerful the creature, the more powerful the spell. From what I can see in your aura, I would guess that the blood used was at least human, or possibly even that of a magical animal or spirit beast."
- Combat Pragmatist: If Cologne cannot beat an enemy physically, she will use drugs.
- Couldn't Find a Pen: The Amazon Council send Cologne their ultimatum written with blood to show they are deadly serious.Her face went ashen.
She reached for the envelope with a trembling hand, taking quick note of the Chinese postmark, and tore it open before she could think twice about it.
The letter was brief of necessity — written, she knew from personal experience, with the author's own blood. Her eyes took in the kanji; the meticulously painted characters, once bright, gleaming red as the brush swept across the pale parchment, now rust brown.
- Cross-Popping Veins: As watching an argument between Emma-O and Hoso-No-Kami, Ranma notices a vein starting to bulge on the former's forehead.
- Dark Fic: This story involves darker themes than the original work, including character deaths and definitely not funny demons.
- Deader Than Dead: Ranma kills the Shadowcat in the Mortal Plane, ensuring the demon will remain dead forever because he will be unable to put itself back together.
- Doorstopper: 279,662 words spread over 26 chapters.
- Dragons Are Divine: The Ancient One is a very old and very powerful god dragon.
- Equivalent Exchange: Emma-O is miffed about Ranma escaping his realm, so he decides to retrieve his soul personally. However, Yuki-Onna asks him to take her immortal life in exchange for his defiance of death.
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: After helping Akane, Susano-O is punished to stay in Hell for a while. Swiftly he switches bodies with Hoso-No-Kami (the God of Smallpox) to keep himself free while he helps Akane.
- Get Out!: Akane was immediately kicked out -and told to not go back- when she wandered into the realm of Kojin, the God of the Kitchens.
- The Ghost: Kodachi and Happosai are every so often mentioned but never seen.
- God in Human Form: The Ancient One has two forms: a massive dragon and an old, grey-haired, bearded man.
- God Is Flawed: Yuki-Onna may be nice when her pettiness and vindictiveness are not clouding her judgment.
- The Greatest Story Never Told: Yuki-Onna gives her life in exchange for Emma-O forgiving Ranma's defiance of death. Nonetheless, Ranma and Akane never find out about it.
- The Grim Reaper: On two separate occasions, Cologne faces Yin Wu Ch'ang, the female Ghost who escorts the souls of the elderly to the afterlife, and who seems endlessly amused by her repeated attempts to cheat death. She also mentions Yang Wu Ch'ang, the male Ghost who deals with the souls of the young, but she does not meet him unlike Ranma."Yin Wu Ch'ang Kuei," she breathed.
The Ghost of Impermanence was taller than Cologne remembered. Then again, it had been over half a century since their last encounter, and Cologne wasn't as tall as she used to be.
The Ghost's face was the same, though. Cold and dead, the woman might once have been beautiful. Her skin was both the color and texture of old rice paper, and her face, framed by tangled, matted locks of heavy black hair, was spider-webbed with a thin network of splotchy, broken blood veins bulging just under the surface of the skin. Milky, sightless eyes gazed at the ancient Amazon with unnerving accuracy. The Ghost smiled, revealing a mouth black with mold.
"It has been a long time, old one," she said in a thick, gurgling voice, as if her lungs were half full of murky water. "Yet once again, your encroaching death summons me to collect your soul. I am curious to see, will you escape my grasp this time?"
- Heroes Prefer Swords: Akane is trained in swordsmanship by a Tengu.
- Hypocritical Humor: As arguing with Hoso-No-Kami, Emma-O shouts HIS ATTEMPTS TO ANNOY HIM HAVE FAILED! Ranma, who is watching the argument, wonders what Emma -O would be like if he was actually annoyed.Emma-O: "ENOUGH! You WILL be silent, trickster! If you think you can get out of Yomi by annoying me, you are wrong. Do not think I have forgotten your last sojourn to the seventh hell. You thought I would let you go if you read your abysmal haiku constantly for the space of many years, but you failed! Your foolish attempts at deception WILL NOT ANNOY ME!"
- Lethal Chef: Akane's reputation as a terrible cook extends beyond the mortal realm. She is thrown out and evicted forever by Kojin, the God of Kitchens as soon as she steps into his domain. Akane became rather miffed after that incident, a feeling furthered by Kojin mumbling "Why couldn't Kasumi get sucked into the Kami Plane?" while he was stomping away.
- The Lifestream: After dying, Ranma's soul finds himself drifting upwards. Then he is suddenly swimming in a mile wide river, surrounded by countless souls floating in the pale blue water. He could also see that the river downstream forked three ways: the right fork leads to lush green fields where the deceased can become reunited with their ancestors, the middle fork leads to the realm of the beasts, where dead animal souls await reincarnation, and the left one leads to the Hell. Also, souls who are meant to be reincarnated end up washed up onto the river's banks.Ranma didn't like the sound of that. He wasn't sure where he was supposed to be, but he knew where he wanted to be. He had to find Emma-o, the Lord of the Hells. He twisted in the water, trying to see where the river was pushing him.
His eyes widened as he got a good look at the river for the first time. He hadn't realized that it was so... huge.
And that he was not alone in its waters.
The river looked to be nearly a mile wide. And it was full of people. Hundreds, maybe thousands of people. The more he looked, the more he gradually became aware of them, their forms slowly appearing before his eyes. Old people, middle-aged, teenagers, children... even a few infants floated gently on the surface of the water. Ranma stared at them all in amazement. And yet, he noticed that only a few were looking around at the others, like he was. Most seemed completely unaware that they were not alone in the vast river, just like he had been moments before, even as they were being pulled along by the same swift current that he was caught in.
As he watched, feeling the current drag him down river, several more people broke through the surface of the water, looking a bit dazed, and perhaps even a bit frightened as they looked around at their new surroundings... and yet their eyes passed blindly over their fellow deceased.
- The Lost Woods: The mountain of the Ancient One is surrounded by an old, vast and impenetrable woodland. Nabiki remarks how creepy it is: they are three days away from the nearest human settlement, and she can feel the tall, thick, dark trees glaring down on her and whispering that humans are not welcome in their forest.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: Ranma is fighting a legion of kuei (a sort of Chinese ghost) in the mountain of the Ancient One when he is suddenly back in Nerima, surrounded by Akane, his family and friends, and with no memory of the Mountain, its inhabitants and the blood spell. Ranma nearly falls for the illusion until he notices Dr. Tofu's uncharacterically serene in the presence of Kasumi. He quickly fires a ki blast at his "friends", frightening the kuei and dispelling their mirage.The multitude of dead watched him from a safe distance in their shroud of mist.
A trickle of cold sweat ran down the side of his cheek. Damn. That had been close. They nearly had him. They had surrounded him with the people he loved and trusted the most so that he would be content to remain in the wraith-trance until he wasted away.
- Magic Mirror: Yuki-Onna uses a magic mirror to watch the Human Plane.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Shampoo is able to speak fluent Japanese, but she keeps speaking broken Japanese because it makes people believe she is dumb.However... she found that people, including her great-grandmother, tended to unconsciously underestimate her when she played dumb, and Shampoo had a policy of exploiting every advantage she could get.
- Official Couple: Ranma and Akane are the story's main couple.
- Oh, Crap!: Ryoga freaks out when he sees Akane about to fight Cologne.Oh crap, thought Ryoga as Cologne disappeared in a blur of speed, and as he looked frantically at Akane, squealing a warning, he thought he saw a strange, small smile on her face...
- Our Dragons Are Different: the Ancient One is a very old, very powerful Eastern black dragon.
- Panacea: Cologne keeps a couple of Shards of the Apple, preserved pieces of fruit of the first apple tree which have incredible healing properties. Unfortunately they are so incredibly old than they have lost most of their potency.The Shards were, of course, immeasurably old, remarkably preserved pieces of fruit from the very first apple tree in the world. Legend had it that the tree grew far to the north-east of Qinghai province, in the Heilongjiang region, in ancient times. Known to have fantastic healing properties, the fruit from that tree cured the worst diseases and injuries, from blindness, to strange and deadly wasting illnesses, to lost limbs...
- The Phoenix: It is portrayed like a giant scarlet bird whose burning nest is located on the top of a mountain in the realm of the souls of beasts.Masakazu: "No other animal is crazy enough to want to return to the life they just departed. They are perfectly content to wait for reincarnation, and perhaps a better lot in the next life, but not the phoenix. Constantly burning herself up, being reborn, and burning herself up again. Just for fun. Absolutely bonkers, that bird."
- Properly Paranoid: When Ranma notices neither Shampoo nor Cologne have been seen in weeks, he knows they are up to something nefarious.
- Snipe Hunt: Cologne does this to herself. After being blackmailed by Nabiki into getting her sister back, Cologne states she is going back to China to get an Amazon relic known as the Eye of Kami which will allow to overcome the blood spell. However, there is no such a relic. It was a ruse to buy time while the Kami Plane erased all memory of Akane Tendo.
- Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Yuki-Onna can use her magic mirror to watch the anywhere in the Mortal Plane.
- Tengu: Akane's mentor Masakazu is a tengu. He looks like a red-feathered birdman, and he is both a great warrior and a mischievous trickster.
- There Can Be Only One: When Ranma claims the power of the Neko-Ken, Shadowcat decides to fight him to death because, as far as he is concerned, there cannot be two Neko-Ken masters.
- Took a Level in Badass: Akane spends seven years honing her martial skills and fighting demons in the Kami Plane, to the point she can easily beat Cologne when she returns.
- Trapped in Another World: Akane spends several years trapped in the Kami Plane.
- Underestimating Badassery: It happens repeatedly. When Nabiki finds something to blackmail Cologne with, Cologne cannot believe she has been outmaneuvered by a "stripling". Later, Cologne believes that Akane's new training isn't a match for her decades-long experience, and is proved utterly wrong one second later. Similarly, Akane gets cocky after defeating Cologne, forgetting how tricky the old Amazon can be.
- Virtue Is Weakness: Cologne chides Shampoo for not killing Akane right after giving her the Kiss of Death, and even Shampoo regards herself as weak for showing compassion and unwillingness to kill.Shampoo had never killed anyone before. She knew she had it in her to do it, but deep inside her soul, in a place she didn't like to admit existed, she didn't want to. For an Amazon, these pangs of... mercy?... were an unforgivable weakness.
- Year Inside, Hour Outside: Akane gets exiled to the Kami Plane and spends nearly seven years fighting demons. When she finally returns to the human world, only weeks have passed since she got trapped.
- "You!" Exclamation: Emma-O lets out a loud, demanding "You! Come here!" when he notices the presence of one soul who doesn't belong in Hell.