Cologne was instantly on alert as Ranma came in with a small group of people, three of whom read as extremely strong Mages. The fact that one was Nabiki and another her twin almost made her fall off her staff. Deciding to head off the impending explosion that always occurred when Shampoo greeted Ranma in front of Akane, she quickly pogoed over on her staff. "Welcome to the Cat Café, what would everyone like?"
"Pork ramen and hair," Akane said in English with a sigh as she ran her fingers through the stubble she had left after pissing off Nabiki.
"Dragon's hair ramen," Cologne agreed. "It costs about twenty times the amount of a regular order, but should solve your problem."
The native Nerimans stared at Cologne in shock.
"I'm three hundred years old," she reminded them, "and I don't wear a wig." Cologne's long white hair was at least a foot longer than she as she balanced her three foot tall self on a staff to give herself some height.
"Is that okay?" Akane asked Xander, not wanting to take advantage of his generosity.
"Sure," Xander agreed, as everyone ordered a bowl or two of assorted ramen.
Cologne finished taking everyone's orders and passed it on to Mousse in the kitchen, before bouncing back to the table. "Nabiki, when did you take up magic?"
"Today," Nabiki replied.
"That's impossible!" Cologne blurted out in shock.
"The impossible seems to be their specialty," Akane said. "Kasumi is healed."
This time Cologne did fall off her staff. "How?!"
"Healing magic," Nabiki replied with a smirk.
"What was the cost?" Cologne demanded, afraid that Nabiki has sold her soul for the power needed.
"There wasn't one," Xander replied. "Nabiki asked me to heal her sister and since she's helping me out with getting home I had no problem saying yes."
"What kind of magic do you use?" Cologne asked.
"No formal name and though powerful, the spell list using my type of magery is pretty limited. Elemental damage and healing are pretty straightforward, but item enhancement is where it truly shines."
Cologne took a close look at the three. "Everything you wear is nearly flawless and enhanced," she noted with surprise.
"It removes flaws as part of the enhancement process," he explained.
"Must take you forever to make anything."
"We don't make anything, we enhance preexisting items," Xander told her.
"Please tell me you can be hired to teach others," Cologne asked as Shampoo delivered their orders.
Xander turned to Nabiki. "What do you think?"
"Shampoo is a skilled fighter," Nabiki said. "I'm more worried about what she'd do with those skills if Ranma married someone else."
"That's what magically binding contracts are for," Cologne said cheerfully.
"She'd be a big help," Nabiki said instantly.
"What about me?" Akane demanded.
"Not a chance in hell," Nabiki said just as fast.
"Why not?" Akane demanded.
"For magical reasons that I instinctively know, but can't explain," Nabiki lied. "If you can teach males I'd suggest Mousse as well."
"That'll be up to Yuri," Xander said.
Yuri glanced up from her ramen, sensing her master and her master's master staring at her. "What?"
"Would you mind having Mousse as your apprentice and possibly assistant in tantric rituals?" Xander asked her.
"Where is he?" she asked.
"He's in the kitchen," Cologne directed.
The white robed cleric climbed over the back of the seat and entered the kitchen.
"Whoa! Watch the hands! What are you doing Nabiki? Have you lost it?!" Mousse yelled amidst the clatter of pots and pans.
Yuri popped back out of the kitchen and climbed over the booth to retake her seat. "He's acceptable," she said cheerfully.
"When you get twin and why she molest Mousse?" Shampoo asked amused while Nabiki face palmed.
"Someone needs to teach her English," Yuri said, shaking her head at Shampoo's poor Japanese.
"English, hell," Akane snorted. "Someone needs to teach her Japanese."
"It has to be the person's primary language to transfer," Xander explained. "So me and Yuri could teach English, but Nabiki is required for Japanese."
"I don't know how to transfer languages," Nabiki replied.
"It's pretty much instinctive," Xander assured her. "Concentrate mana into your tongue and think about language."
Nabiki grabbed Xander and frenched him for a minute.
"Nabiki!" Akane yelled, prying her off when it became apparent Nabiki wasn't going to stop anytime soon.
"Do you speak Japanese now?" Ranma asked in Japanese.
"Speak, read and write," Xander agreed with a smile.
"I like to be thorough," Nabiki said smugly, ignoring Akane's complaints about her behavior.
"The two of them are welcome to join us, provided they swear not to use any of the skills and equipment gained to harm either the Tendo or Saotome families," he offered to Cologne.
The Matriarch of the Amazons smiled. "Bringing home a pair of capable mages should keep us from losing face if Ranma chooses someone other than Shampoo, so we accept those terms."
Once Akane and Ranma had gotten a signed magical contract and been sent off, Cologne flipped the sign to closed and the three Amazons had their own lunch.
"My magic is quick and dirty in some ways and I mean that literally," Xander joked. "I'm good at practical, not so much on theory so let me explain. I have a connection to an underlying layer of reality that allows me to manipulate it in certain basic ways that bypass a lot of the complications of this level of reality. What we are going to do is forge their own connections to that layer of reality. We do this by repeated trips to that level and a whole lot of fighting and spellcasting."
"I'm a bit too old for tantric rituals," Cologne admitted, "but is there anything I can learn outside that?"
"Of course," Xander agreed. "I'll apprentice you directly and have you learn basic spells and what little I know of theory."
"What will I be learning?" Mousse asked curiously.
"Being apprenticed to Yuri your focus will be on healing and personal enhancement spells," Xander explained. "You'll learn some offensive spells that slow, confuse, and blind opponents."
"Can I cast it on more than one opponent at a time?" Mousse asked.
Xander nodded. "The more you cast it, the farther you can cast it, and the more people you can hit at once."
"How complicated is the tantric ritual to transport us there?" Cologne asked.
"Once everyone has finished lunch and is geared up for battle, Yuri will demonstrate with Mousse's help," Xander replied.
"And here we are," Xander said as he waved one arm to the colorful vista surrounding them, ignoring Mousse who passed out and Shampoo who was still staring at Yuri wide eyed.
"Mint?" Nabiki offered Yuri.Half an hour later…
"Got any threes?" Cologne asked.
"Go fish," the other four replied.
"Ok, I'm good," Mousse called out, having finally finished sorting the enormous amount of weapons and assorted items he carried with him and sent the majority of it to his warehouse.
"Great," Xander said putting the cards away. "Looks like it gave you a pretty large boost in the HP department. You had nearly a quarter of your life force tied up in carrying all of that."
"I can't believe he stuck a compact car in his warehouse," Nabiki said impressed.
"If you can carry it on you, you can stick it in your warehouse," Xander told her. "And apparently knowing hidden weapons techniques adds a whole new dimension to what you can carry."
"We stand on fragments of order, floating in a chaotic sea, about to do battle with bits of entropy," Cologne said with a bit of excitement.
"The underlying reality of my bra," Nabiki pointed out, gesturing to the statue of a bra in the middle of the island.
"Why a bra?" Shampoo asked, having been magically taught English by Yuri so there wouldn't be any communications problems.
"Nabiki complained that it pinched, we needed a low level object to introduce you three to, and finally since we were bringing in so many newbies I needed something sensual to boost the connection," Xander explained.
"Why do a third of the monsters look like Nabiki?" Shampoo asked.
"It was her bra," Xander replied.
"That's where Yuri came from!" Cologne said suddenly.
"I don't know about the theory, but the practical result is that I can sometimes take a bit of entropy and turn it into a real person," Xander explained. "Now everyone stand shoulder to shoulder with your master and cast Esuna until you have it at level one. If you run low on mana, let me know and I'll pass you a refill. Esuna removes status conditions like poisoned, blinded, slowed or cursed. IT won't remove a Jusenkyo curse, but it will restore you to human form and you don't need hands to cast it."
"Where do I stand?" Shampoo asked seeing how the line went Cologne, Xander, Nabiki, Yuri and Mousse.
"Stand behind Nabiki with a hand on her shoulder," Xander ordered. "Once we get Esuna and the lowest level heal spell down, we will start on offensive magic. Begin!"Several hours later…
"Mousse, you okay?" Yuri asked, having hit him with a Giga heal to demonstrate how powerful a heal spell could become and seeing him take off his glasses and rub his eyes.
"I can see!" Mousse shouted.
"We probably should have done that first," Nabiki said as Mousse showed Yuri how much he appreciated what she'd done.
The roar of approaching monsters wasn't nearly as loud as the pair on the ground.
"Nah," Xander waved it off. "Now we can begin the combat portion of the evening."
"Now that sounds like fun," Cologne agreed. "What do you think Shampoo?"
"Shampoo think she not know Mousse that flexible," Shampoo said distractedly, falling back into broken Japanese.
"Want me to whack her with my cane?" Cologne asked Xander.
"Nah," Xander said, passing Shampoo a tub of popcorn. "The three of us can handle this mob."
Nabiki shook her head and cast haste on the couple. Shampoo showed her objection by casting slow to counter.
"At least they're practicing," Cologne offered as the two kept casting and countering each other's spells.
"Okay, we two can handle the mob," Xander said. "How do you feel about learning to handle firearms?"Typing by: The Last Primarch!