When Akane gets the foolish idea that she could defend herself from future kidnappers, Ranma comes up with a cunning plan to show just how dangerous it could be to get abducted by an evil perverted...
"Exactly! That is what I am saying." Ranma congratulated her for getting it right.
The two older Tendo daughters and his mother had him cornered in the Tendo living room. The fathers were at the moment out cold after a less diplomatic attempt to convince Ranma.
"This hardly seems very manly, son." Nodoka reproached him.
"You heard her. She is a martial artist too, and can take care of herself." Ranma defended himself. "She actually forbid me from coming to her rescue. It is an honor thing. Until I hear otherwise from her herself, there is nothing I can do."
Nodoka seemed to consider this. Nabiki was less easily convinced.
"And how is she supposed to tell you that when she is held a prisoner somewhere?" the middle Tendo daughter demanded.
"I am sure that she will manage to get out a message if she changes her mind." Ranma was indeed very sure of this as his entire plan rested upon the fact that Akane would sooner or later do this.
Meanwhile Kasumi tried to calm things down a bit by changing the subject. "Who was it that took her, somebody we know? If it is one of Ranma's friends, maybe we could send a message and explain things them."
"No dice, Sis." Nabiki immediately crushed Kasumi's plan of solving this crisis by peaceful means. "It was not somebody we know. Witnesses describe the kidnapper as wearing an iron mask. He had what has been identified as the crest of Lichtenburg on his cape and was dressed in European-looking armor."
"Lichtenburg?" Kasumi wondered.
"The Duchy of Lichtenburg is a tiny European nation in the Alps." Nabiki promptly replied. "Main exports: cheese, nail clippers and drunken tourists. Main imports... err... sober tourists." She guessed the last part, but was still clearly satisfied with having impressed everyone with her vast knowledge of things she had just looked up.
"Actually," Nodoka corrected her. "Lichtenburg is a principality and they are far more well known for their mercenaries than for their multi-purpose manicure tools."
Ranma was glad to finally have found out where those idiots had been from. He had fashioned a cape from one of their flags as part of his disguise.
"Do you remember making any enemies from there?" Nabiki addressed Ranma wanting to bring this discussion back on track.
Ranma tried to look thoughtful for a minute. He had not had any enemies from there until he stormed their secret headquarter and disrupted their tomboy-napping operation. He probably had some enemies there now.
"Forget it Saotome," Nabiki obviously did not put great stock in his powers of recall. "Just get out there and get back my sister!"
"I am not going" Ranma persisted.
"Do you want to find out just how miserable I can make your life if you don't get out of here right now," Nabiki was getting better at intimidating him.
"Fine then I will go on a training trip until this whole thing blows over." Ranma made for his room where his already packed bag was waiting for him.
"And if you happen to come across Akane's abductor, you can just, you know, challenge him for looking at you funny or something." Nabiki commented with a knowing smirk.
With the well wishes of Kasumi and his mother Ranma left the Tendo home sprouting denials.
Later in his recently conquered castle Ranma was on his way to the dungeon in which Akane was held. But not to rescue his fiancée. Far from it.
Ranma was in his Iron Mask outfit: a metal mask covering his entire face and muffling his voice, a red tunic with a high collar hiding his pigtail from view. He wore black trousers and heavy boots that he had taken from what the previous owners of the castle had left behind. Large metal shoulder pads, a gilt breastplate and a cape completed the ensemble.
Ranma was certain that the shoulder pads made him look broader, and the heavy boots made him appear both taller and disguised his walk. Nobody would recognize him like this.
Confident in his disguise, Ranma opened the cell to tell Akane what would happen next.
A chamber pot shattered on his armor and Ranma reflexively caught Akane's fist in his hand.
Akane really appeared to be serious about this "fighting her own fights" thing. Ranma was just glad the chamber pot had been empty.
After a brief struggle during which Akane tried to hit, kick, scratch, bite and finally knee her captorin the groin, Ranma managed to subdue her and chain her to some convenient shackles on the cell wall.
After another attempted kick below his belt Ranma even remembered to stay out of the reach of her chains.
"Welcome to my castle, my bride to be," Ranma finally boomed over Akane's chain-rattling and cursing in what he hoped would be a suitable pompous voice.
Unless you counted a thrown chamber pot shard and continued demands to be freed as an answer Akane did not respond to this.
"I am Prince Wildpferd Tarpan the First of Lichtenburg," Ranma continued to introduce himself. He had tried to read some of the stuff the Lichtenburgers had left behind to make up a suitable backstory, but could not make much out of the foreign gibberish except for some names.
"You may address me as 'My Lord', 'Master' or simply Wildpferd if you wish. You may also stand and don't have to kneel in my presence," he allowed magnanimously. "I have come to this island in search of a woman worthy to be my bride. Are you Akane Tendou, who proclaimed that she would marry anybody capable of defeating her in battle?"
That made Akane take notice. "I never said that, it was Kunou who made this stupid proclamation and it was only about dating," Akane evaded. "Besides you never beat me in a fair fight. Ambushing me and knocking me out to kidnap me does not count!"
Ranma did not understand this. Many of his fights started with an opponent jumping him without warning, but he was willing to give Akane another chance, if that was what it took to make her admit that she needed Ranma to defend her.
"In that case we will have another match here in the courtyard of my castle. You have two hours to prepare." Ranma declared.
Ranma was about to leave the cell to make preparations himself when Akane complained. "Hey!" she rattled with her chains. "How am I supposed to prepare like this?"
Ranma was tempted to leave her hanging. The tomboy was certainly a lot more manageable this way, but he did not want to give her any way of later claiming that it had not been a fair fight.
"Fine," he acknowledged. "I will let you loose if you promise to behave."
After a moment of weighing her options, Akane finally agreed. "I promise, I will not fight you outside a challenge."
Two hours later prince Wildpferd returned to Akane's cell. She was already regretting having given her word not to fight him, but she could not go back on her promise. She would have to escape by following the prince's rules.
As he wordlessly led her from the dungeon, Akane marveled at her surroundings. Where was she? She could not have been out for more than a few hours, but she appeared to be in a genuine European castle. None of the windows she passed had a view of the outside, so she could not be sure of its actual location. Had she been transported all the way to Europe? Ranma would never find her, she despaired until she reminded herself that she did not actually want to be rescued by Ranma. If Ranma came, she would tell him to stay out of it.
Akane also wondered why there were no servants or guards about. The entire castle being empty felt somehow very spooky.
Coming from the dark dungeon she had to shield her eyes against the glare of the sun overhead when they finally reached the courtyard inside the castle's walls. Not wanting to ruin her vision before the fight she kept herself from looking up at the sky and studied the arena for her upcoming fight instead. There were no spectators here either, maybe the prince was afraid to have witnesses to his defeat?
"Here we are," the masked prince announced, bidding her to take her place opposite him in the improvised arena.
"So, if you lose this fight, you will agree that I have rightfully and fairly beaten you in accordance with your 'dating challenge?" the arrogant noble asked her.
Akane considered repeating again that it wasn't her who had made the challenge, but that would have sounded cowardly.
"I agree!" she simply said. She would win this fight.
Nothing happened for some time until suddenly a voice, that sounded suspiciously like one out of a popular computer game, boomed from hidden speakers: "Let the fight begin!"