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  1. #1
    Always the Bridesmaid... bulmabriefs144's Avatar
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    Default FMA: Journey of the Brothers

    (This fanfic begins after FullMetal Alchemist Brotherhood ends, with the brothers taking a journey east and west, and vowing to meet again)

    Chapter One

    Edward punched Father straight through the torso.

    "Release the souls of the people of Xerxes," he said, staring at the gaping hole he had left with his Alchemy. "And go back where you came from, Homunculus."

    Earlier, the young prince of Xing had lost his own homunculus. The power intended to strengthen Father, the one called Greed, had turned on its master and converted itself instead to the softest carbon. Earlier still, one of the sacrifices had, well, sacrificed itself in order to give Edward back his original hand. All these incidents were rushing through his memory as a fist filled with power and with Alchemy, slammed through him, finishing the job.

    "Release the souls of the people of Xerxes," Edward had said. "And go back where you came from, Homunculus."

    As he was saying this, Father looked down at the damage. He expected to to be able to heal, as was normal with those blessed by the Philosopher's Stone. What he didn't expect we the creatures from beyond the Gate grasping and tearing at his body from within. Writhing black tendrils tipped with vaguely human fingers grasped his head, his shoulders, his arms, his legs. As soldiers who had once unknowingly worked for him watched he began to be pulled inside himself in a neat, tight ball.

    A ball stood before a Gate, a black mass with a single eye, pitched against a sea of white. "Why?" it asked. "Why did you not become mine? God?!?"

    A voice came from the emptiness. "Because you did not believe in me." Turning around, the ball saw the mirror image of himself. Only this ball was like a shadow of white to contrast its blackness. This other ball proceeded to mock the first. "You wanted to make God's power your own? Don't make me laugh. You think stealing something powerful makes you a great man? You're nothing but a cunning thief. You should have stayed in the flask where you belong. You may have used other's strength to grab hold of God, but you yourself have not grown."

    The ball pleaded. "I... wanted to be perfect! I wanted perfect understanding of God! I wanted to know everything in this world!" The pleading had a peculiar arrogant streak, that of a bratty child who had assumed everything would go its way, and was enraged when finding out the world did not work that way. "Why are you interfering with me?!? Who are you?!?"

    The empty ball replied. "I am what you call 'The World.' Or perhaps 'The Universe.' Or perhaps 'God.' Or perhaps 'Truth.' Or perhaps 'Everything.' Or perhaps 'One.' And I am 'You.' You said, 'It is truth that gives you the proper despair, so that you do not become conceited.'" The empty ball grinned, its teeth bared. "So as you just said, I will give you despair."

    The Gate creaked open. The first ball's eye opened wide with fear. "Stop... I don't want to go back. No... I don't want to be trapped there... Sto..." The Gate ripped open wide hands grasping out to lead the creature back to oblivion.

    "Despair for the conceited. This is the end you wished for."

    Outside the Gate, another was to be tested by it this day. The buildings were shattered by the might of the Homunculus, but now all was peaceful. Too peaceful. Edward's brother, Alphonse lay on the ground a lifeless suit of armor now. He had given his soul to his true body beyond the Gate. One by one, friends offered to be the price for a Human Transmutation, but Edward refused. Roy Mustang, Ling Yao, even his own father. All claimed to have a toll that could be used for Equivalent Exchange. But Ed knew what the others didn't, that Human Transmutation operated on certain laws of matter, and any body created by that would not be his real brother, just a collection of parts randomly gathered. His mother when this had been done years ago, had had hair from someone with black hair when hers was light brown, and the tailbone had actually been from a male. For that matter, Al wouldn't want to live with a sacrifice from another person. Instead, he did the unthinkable.

    Drawing a Human Transmutation circle around himself and Alphonse, he said, "I'll be back soon. This is my last act of Alchemy as the Fullmetal Alchemist." He clapped his hands.

    The boy stood before the Gate. Or rather, between two Gates. The first was his, an etching of The Tree of Life. The second was his brother's, The Marrow of Alchemy. Because of the way he had initially saved his brother's life, their bodies and souls had been intertwined, which was in a bit of dark humor also what was keeping him short, since extra food went instead to nourish his brother.

    A shadow appeared in front of him. "Have you come for your brother? But how will you pull a whole person out? What is your payment? Will you offer up your own body?"

    Instead, Edward Elric ignored him, and advanced to his own Gate, his source of Truth. Alchemy was a manifestation of human knowledge, and it was believed to be a power that could give or take life, that could fix objects or shatter them. This Gate allowed him to use Alchemy without drawing a circle, but on a deeper level it was the core or "personality" of his Alchemy. Only he could use Alchemy the way he used it, because each person had a different Gate. "Here is the payment," he said, staring at the Gate, "this huge thing."

    "The Gate of Truth exists within everyone. That is how everyone can use Alchemy." The faceless shadow stared at the boy. "Will you degrade yourself to an ordinary person, unable to use Alchemy?"

    In a moment, Edward revealed the Truth for the lie that it really was. "There is nothing degrading about it. I have always been an ordinary person." The Truth had been nothing more than a clever delusion all along, the only thing he had really even gained was a cheap magic trick. And now, he would give this up, along with his normal Alchemy. "A small person, unable to save a single girl who had turned into a Chimera." Unlike the one called Father, this boy had learned the lesson of conceit, and knew what humans could and could not do. "Since seeing the Truth, I have relied too much on it, made too many mistakes... I have been its puppet."

    The white being asked one more question of him, as if to test him. "Will you be all right without this?" A large grin crossed his face, "Even without my Alchemy, I still have my Friends." As if to form a perfect mirror, the being smiled as broadly, "That is the correct answer, Alchemist. You have beaten Truth. Take it all." The Marrow of Alchemy opened. "Let's go home. Everyone's waiting."

    Years later... Alphonse has put the meat back on his bones caused by long starvation inside the Gate. Roy Mustang had had his eyes healed, and was devoting his energy to leading the new country of Amestris and repairing relations with Ishval. Ling Yao had gone to his country of Xing a victor in the race to become the next Emperor, having secured a Philosopher's Stone, and vowing to one day meet again with Edward and Alphonse. And Edward? Edward had actually grown. He had become taller than Winry, making his promise to propose to her an actual possibility. And yet, here he was, working on rebuilding a house.

    Clap. "No use, huh. If I could use Alchemy, I could get this done in a snap without even having to get up on the roof." Looking at the view from the roof however, gave him pause. "Well, I guess taking my time is not all bad..." From the rooftop, he could see the distant mountains, roads, farmland, rivers, and even the stone walls of other properties.

    Just then, his brother showed up. "Brother, there's something I've been thinking about..."

    Later, at a cafe, he announced his intentions to the Chimera there. "I'm going to Xing. There, I'll study Alkahestry with Mei. And I'm not just going to Xing, I plan to travel the East, learning as much as I can. I want to see the world. With my own eyes... on my own legs... I'll go to the East, and my brother will learn what he can in the West. And when we pool Eastern and Western Knowledge, maybe we can help those who are suffering because of Alchemy."

    (Whew, longest chapter ever. Yeah, I know I skipped a few parts, like Winry's confession to Edward. But this is the main plot. Edwards goes West and learns something he can use as a replacement for not having Alchemy. Alphonse learns the healing art of Alkahestry. And it will be about undoing the misuses caused by Alchemy, along with other arts)
    Last edited by bulmabriefs144; 15th September 2012 at 09:51 PM.

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    Chapter Two

    (The source of the brothers' powers is different. Edward is all reason, a confirmed atheist, and would probably be best suited to a power that drew from himself rather than some outside source, which is why Alchemy didn't really suit him. In Al's case, Alchemy didn't really suit him because he was too kind-hearted for some of the atrocities that it was capable of, and thus more favoring a healing art like Alkahestry. With this in mind, I'll design each brother's journey according to how they're built as characters)

    "Wake up, sleepyhead."

    "Winry?" Edward paused, "Is that you? Your voice sounds... strange."

    Edward opened his eyes. The last he remembered, he had gotten on a train with Winry. She had practically proposed to him, saying some pretty interesting things about Alchemy's Equivalent Exchange. It was funny, he had done more thinking about that basic tenet lately, than all the time he had as an actual Alchemist. Before, he had taken it for granted. But now, some of the concepts seemed outright strange. How could any society really run if people only gave things expecting to get as much? Economy depended on trust, romance was built on giving your all, and sometimes being surprised at what would come out of it. And even when he was standing at the Gate for the first time, playing fair wasn't in the rulebook.

    Speaking of which... for some reason rather than a train, he was in the great white expanse outside the Gate. "Well, you are awake, right? Ready to make a deal?"

    "Get out of my dreams! I'm not willing to make any more deals with the likes of you!" screamed Edward. He was about to pinch himself, when he realized from the pain, and the fact that he was most certainly not able to wake up. "Also, I've got nothing left to trade."

    "Ah, but you do. You gave up your own Alchemy to save another person, and defeated Truth. You have earned something far better, the power to Know." The whiteness of the Gate was suddenly replaced with an almost surreal garden. In its center was an enormous tree filled with a strange-looking fruit. "Since the time of Eden, Man has always striven for Knowledge. Alchemy is but one possible application, and one dependent on outside forces such as ley lines and the energy of the beings from the gate. But you, who have rejected this Truth, might be able to find your own path, through Knowledge. Take this fruit, and you will know all things, good and evil." Reaching out his hand, he passed Edward the fruit. "Oh, don't worry, I'm not here to tempt you."

    "No, you're here to kill me, apparently. That's mandrake." Edward said without a trace of emotion. "It causes wild hallucinations, and usually death. Thanks, but if I'm supposed to gain this Knowledge you speak of, I think I'll do it on my own."

    The strange being touched Edward's forehead. "If that's your answer , then you definitely deserve this gift. Knowledge is most worthy of those who seek it on their own, using the lessons of experience." The white figure's mouth opened into a broad smile. "Don't worry. We shouldn't meet again."

    Edward awoke with a start in the seat of a train. Winry's head was resting on his shoulder. At his feet was very little legroom, for Winry's automail tools lay in a pile, blocking any attempts to stretch. The train was stopped, miles from the actual station. Which meant, of course, something was wrong. Before, Edward had been able to stop such events before. But this was when he had a metallic arm and leg and the use of Alchemy without a circle. If something bad happened, how would he be able to defend himself?

    (I'm gonna need to think up a better word than Knowledge.)

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    Chapter 3

    Sneaking out without waking Winry, he went outside the train. If he was right, he didn't want Winry caught in the crossfire. Ed was hardly a sexist, and had certainly seen Winry take care of herself in the past. But now, his worry was that he wouldn't be able to help her.

    Sure enough, the train had been stopped by marauding bandits. "Typical," he said to himself, "it's never an uneventful train ride, is it?"

    "Nope, never." Edward turned around to be slammed across the face with a rather heavy wrench. "Dammit, Winry!" Of course she hadn't actually hit hard enough to cause any serious damage, but still, it hurt. "Would it kill you to stay safe, for once?"

    "Probably." Edward shrugged. As they walked closer, it became apparent things were more serious than a simple train robbery. The engineer was tied up, as was the crew. About three men and an Alchemist woman were setting up some kind of bomb. For some reason the woman appeared to be wearing several heavy coats, and looked uncomfortable.

    "Are you ready yet," the other thieves asked the Alchemist, "what's taking so long?"

    "I'm not hot enough yet." Not hot enough for what? Edward wondered. Finally she took off layers, first the coat, then a jacket she had clearly had underneath, and then several blouses and slacks layered on top of each other leaving her in nothing both a thin black chemise and some brown suspender pantyhose. All of these were wet from sweat. Drawing a circle around the clothing and numerous flasks, she transferred the sweat into the flasks as various materials. The first contained water, which she promptly drank. The second appeared to be a sort of crude gunpowder from the potash in her sweat mixed with trace minerals. The third was iron, copper, nickel, and lead converted from trace matter to powder form, which would probably serve as shrapnel. Using a circle again, she formed a rough shape of a bomb with some of the excess metal.

    She was clearly not a State Alchemist. Not only was her idea of using her own sweat as a weapon very unorthodox, but any State Alchemist could have probably mined the materials from the surrounding area or from their own bodies without the use of such tricks. The Iron Blood Alchemist, for instance, had been able to use his own blood without so much as cutting himself to make iron. This didn't change the fact that many, many people would die in a few minutes unless he stopped them.

    "Hey! Yeah, I'm talking to you! Stop that now, and I might let you go." He was probably going to die here. Even if he still had Alchemy, three men with guns could probably stop him from drawing a circle. Add that to an Alchemist who knew her stuff, even if she didn't have the best methods, and he was probably going to die here. The men fired.

    Chapter 4

    Time seemed to slow to a crawl as he saw the oncoming bullet. As he stared at it, something curious happened. It was like his brain was doing high speed math problems, calculating everything from the speed and trajectory of the bullet to the chemical composition of its casing to the degree of spin the bullet was having. Edward's luck and reflexes had always been fairly good, he'd once dodge a boulder coming towards him in a narrow room. Of course, it'd helped that he was small, an advantage he no longer had. Ed correctly predicted the path, and dived out of the way.

    Again, the thugs fired on him, but this time his brain was working even faster. He analyzed the path of all three bullets and sidestepped neatly out of the way. This was a much different feeling from Alchemy, rather than operating under the Law of Equivalent Exchange, it felt more like it was drawing power from his own stamina rather than from some Gate. He was becoming more tired. The principle was different too, it felt more like using what he knew and applying it as part of science. Could this be what the creature had been talking about? Bending down, he tried to make a spike of stone similar to how he usually used his power. No good. Not that there was no effect, where his hand had touched the ground there was a long stalagmite, but it appeared to have no intention of forming beneath the target. If he had to put a word to it, he'd call the sum of what he used Analysis. He was using his understanding of how things worked to create and destroy matter, and to pick apart the cells of matter in order to rearrange them. He'd have to redefine many things from now on, for instance this was definitely not a Transmutation Circle. The symbols were different, the rules were different, and the means of using was much different.

    • Whatever his hands could touch or his eyes could see, he could analyze.
    • The power drew directly from him, rather than an outside source, making him personally exhausted with each use.
    • The Alteration, appeared to be unable to travel along lines of earth, extending instead directly from his body in a circle around whatever he touched.
    • There didn't seem to be any Equivalent Exchange, but rather the procedure couldn't create or destroy matter, only reform it. Not that it made any difference if you reformed something into powder.
    • He had a sinking feeling that this power couldn't work on anything alive. Because matter couldn't be created or destroyed, he could probably try to separate a chimera (and might meet equal success as with Alchemy) but he'd probably be hopeless if he tried to disintegrate such a creature.

    Great, he thought, the only way I'm going to be able to stop these bullets is with my bare hands. Before he could figure out how to use this to fight effectively, Winry picked up a wrench and threw it at one of them, knocking him out cold. "Back off of my boyfriend!" she screamed. Well, I suppose I could do something like that. Sculpting the column into a fairly firm rock, he chucked it at the second thug, smashing his gun.

    The fatigue was starting to get the better of him. Before, using Alchemy might have taken physical parts from his body if he did it wrong, but never wore him out like this. Just looking at things was taking its toll, and he still had one thug to go. For some reason, the Alchemist seemed to be making no move the threaten him, or to finish her bomb. Instead, she seemed to be looking at him. She must've noticed too, that his Alchemy was somehow different from the norm.

    The thug on the other hand, had taken notice of Winry. "Say goodbye to your girl..." he said as he fired. Edward stepped in front of Winry, as the thug unloaded his last four bullets on the guarding Ed. Ed blocked with his hands trying to envision these bullets melting on contact, analyzing all aspects of their flight. He felt each bullet shatter at the surface of his skin, and the gunpowder from each creating a tiny explosion that burned his hand. Strange, but I don't feel it penetrate, he thought as he lost consciousness.

    (Cliffhanger. I'm gonna switch to Alphonse's story. This is all from my now-closed forum, so it's all done at once. I'll write some more later)

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    Chapter 5

    Alphonse was having similar troubles, but not with a battle.
    " 您沒有護照,因此你不能進入這個國家。" The border guards were speaking some strange language that he'd never heard Ling Yao or May Chang speak. Sigh... He supposed he liked being around May, but this had been a long journey. Would she even remember him? It had been a few years after all.

    "I'm sorry, I didn't catch that," Alphonse looked up at the border guard, who avoided eye contact, "what did you say?" The guard looked at him blankly, obviously not grasping what he said either. "Oh great, this is going to be a long day."

    "I can help, I believe." The man was clearly Ishvalan, but he looked past his prime, unlike Scar. "I've toured this land before when I went to study Xerxes. This man wants some sort of proof of identification so that he can let let you into the country. I need your name, age, and reason for visit." Alphonse told the man all of the relevant information, and he scribbled something down on a scroll of parchment. The official stamped it and gave it back.

    " 您將需要從國家郵票正式去看她。" Alphonse looked at the official again in confusion. "He said if you're going to see May Chang, you'll need another stamp from a state official saying that you're here to visit the Royal Palace. Otherwise, you might be arrested at the gate."

    Alphonse, bewildered by the whole incident did the only thing he could think of. "You wouldn't mind coming with me as a translator, would you? I'm a little helpless in this land without an understand of the language." The man looked at him, and shrugged his shoulders. "I can travel with you until the Royal Palace but after that, you're on your own. I can't enter, and have business of my own. My sister is in a nearby village."

    Alphonse sighed with relief. He was going to be able to learn Alkahestry! Unlike Edward, he still technically could use his Transmutation Circle, but he had vowed not to. He had seen too much of his and his brother's life ruined by Equivalent Exchange, and too many people had been hurt. Not to mention, he had no idea if Alchemy even worked here. After Father was destroyed and his laboratory demolished, the source of Alchemy had cleaned substantially, but now nobody was really sure where it same from. As he vowed not repeat his past mistakes, the Ishvalan man showed him to a caravan. The long trip had taken its toll on him, and he nodded off.
    Last edited by bulmabriefs144; 20th September 2012 at 10:01 AM.

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    Chapter 6

    Edward awoke. I'm alive? He blinked. But how? That man fired a round of bullets at me. He looked at his hands. The bullets had deflagarated, burning his hands, yet there was no sign of penetration into the skin.

    Looking up, he saw the Alchemist staring at him. Winry was thanking her profusely, while the Alchemist was ignoring her. "I have to ask, what happened?" Edward glanced at Winry, and why is she thanking you?"

    The Alchemist introduced herself as Granger Freeport, and explained what she saw.

    She saw the man's back as she raised his firearms. She saw him empty all his rounds on the boy. Now was her chance, the men had threatened her family with harm if she did not cooperate, but now all three men were either knocked out or rendered weaponless. Her Alchemy wasn't quick or clean, and she couldn't save him in time, but she could avenge him. All of this rushed through her brain, as she saw him fire off his remaining shots in rapid succession. But then something amazing happened, she saw him use some strange type of Alchemy (at least, she thought it might be Alchemy) in midair. The bullets exploded an inch from his hand. He passed out shortly thereafter, but it didn't look like it was from the concussive force, rather his skill appeared to take a great deal of energy to use. Since the boy had kept them distracted, she had been able to act on her own. Worry had made her sweat, and now she had enough to make use of her Alchemy. She didn't know her to directly form her sweat into what she needed, only to chemically extract the minerals and then use another Transmutation circle to form it into a weapon. Extracting iron, she next formed chains around the thugs.

    "So, what was that?" Granger asked, "You know some sort of new Alchemy, don't you?"

    Edward paused, and frowned. "Well, no. I can't use Alchemy, not anymore. I gave up my Gate. What I have now doesn't come from Equivalent Exchange, it comes from me."

    "Wait... That jacket, the sacrificed Gate, the weird Alchemy... you're the Fullmetal Alchemist, aren't you?" Figures, Edward thought, Mustang must've told everyone about me. Well, it's not like being well known is that rare for me. I'm just glad they're not calling me short anymore.

    "I'm headed West, wanna come?" After explaining to the engineer that Granger had been coerced into her actions, Edward, Winry, and Granger boarded the train for the coast.

    (Chapter 7 will be about Alphonse. I'm gonna eventually have him learn Alkahestry, either from May or during the trip)
    Last edited by bulmabriefs144; 21st September 2012 at 01:42 AM.

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    Chapter 7

    Alphonse headed West. Since he was all but defenseless without the use of his Alchemy, he was gonna be in trouble without some means of defending himself. Perhaps he should ask one of the Xingese men riding in the caravan to teach him Alkahestry.

    Alphonse looked out the window. The deserts of Xerxes had given way to rice paddies. Miles and miles of floodlands covered the countryside. It seemed impossible that one country could have this much water. Alphonse was worried. Ling Yao had taken the Philosopher's Stone back to the emperor. Even though they had no desire to use the Stone for power, instead focusing on the ability to live (and rule) forever, if anyone beside the emperor wanted this "gift" the amount of human blood needed to make another Stone would be immense. This land could easily turn into another Xerxes.

    Alphonse frowned. He asked the translator, who he had found during the trip was named Zophar, "Could you ask someone to teach me Alkahestry?"

    After an hour or two of lessons, Alphonse had the basic principle down. Alkahestry reminded him of the time he had spent on that island alone with his brother, while training under their teacher Izumi. This was a form based on understanding the land, and things like the ebb and flow of the tides, the seasons, and knowledge of living things. The Xingese travelers, through the help of Zophar's translations, taught him that there actually two forms of Alkahestry, the Inner Essence (Neidan) and the Outer Essence (Waidan). Waidan was the flashier stuff, which he'd seen May use, the healing and transmutation abilities using Alkahestry circles. Neidan, on the other hand was based upon self-healing, learning to pump blood, expand and contract muscles, and generally increase one's own vigor. While a master of Waidan could do anything an Alchemist could, a Neidan master could increase their own muscles to the extent of punching down trees. No wonder

    To heal with with Alkahestry, he was explained took at least partial mastery of both Inner and Outer Essences. The healer created extra energy in their own body, drawing from the land through energy lines called the Dragon's Pulse, and using the extra energy as something to transfer over to others. This was why Alkahestry never seemed to cost anyone body parts, they already had what they needed.

    Even if he were using Alchemy, Alphonse had a feeling being able to sense energy like this would have made him much better than he ever was even if he hadn't seen the Gate. But with a power like this, he felt like he could take on anyone. He had to remind himself that he was entering a land where the best Alchemist wouldn't know what to do, since at one point they couldn't draw power except from Father, and this was a nation of talented experts of Alkahestry.

    One of the men offered to test his skill in battle. Giving him a set of five knives, he was told to bow and face his opponent.

    Alphonse had learned a substantial amount in just a few hours, thanks to already having a background in Alchemy. But the skills were fresh in his mind, and he had trouble applying them. Remembering the principles of drawing from the earth into one's body to strengthen, drawing from the earth to the outside world to use Alkahestry, and drawing from excess in the body to heal was one thing. But the opponent who was challenging him was throwing daggers at him, and it was all he could do just to dodge.

    The man hadn't moved from his perch atop a small boulder, instead using a carving on it as a conduit to move to areas where the dagger had been thrown. A series of daggers hit the tree behind him, and the circle activation that followed shattered it into splinters. Dodging out of the way, he still managed to graze his arm. Here goes nothing, Alphonse thought, carving a small pentacle in the soil. The healing wasn't great, but it was sufficient for a first time. The splinters were extracted and he managed to stop the bleeding. It would still take a day or two to heal fully though.

    The man threw another two sets of daggers, hitting the ground at his feet. Channeling the energy, he made heavy bushes grow from seeds, trapping him in branches. Alphonse wished he knew half as much as this man about how to use this skill. Crouching down, Alphonse collapsed the ground, causing the plants, their roots, the knives he held, and himself to fall several feet. He next made the earth shift back upward. Being able to draw power directly from the earth rather than through Equivalent Exchange was handy, but despite all of this, he could feel it gradually take its toll. The men he was challenging didn't let up either, no sooner had he managed to reform the earth using his knives than the man converted the area around him into quicksand.

    Alphonse strapped the knives in tightly. Quicksand was the worst enemy of both Alchemists and budding Alkahests. Without somewhere solid to carve or draw on, or someone to rescue them, the person falling in quicksand was sunk, so to speak. There was only one thing Alphonse could think of, that might save him. Time to use the last of my Alchemy.

    Chapter 8

    Clapping his hands together to complete a transmutation circle, Alphonse stood in front of the Gate. Sand stood around his feet in the immense white emptiness surrounding him.

    He took one last look at his Gate. The Marrow of Alchemy. It described stages of Alchemy, from putrefaction to fermentation, and all manner of major elements. It looked remarkably like some sort of flower, but he knew it actually had more to do with the human body.

    "Well, well, well. Look who's here again to do business." The weird creature mocked him. "And what would you like to trade this fine day? Your eyes for the chance to see the future? Your hands for a way to make great art? You humans must learn humility. Nothing I can give you is of any worth, if you don't have the value to use it."

    "I would like to trade my Gate of Alchemy..." Alphonse said, "in order to attain knowledge of Alkahestry."

    The creature laughed. "Well, I won't charge you anything, but are you sure? If you can only use Alkahestry, you won't be able to do certain things at all. You won't be able to use Equivalent Exchange, and you'll have to start from scratch. The Gate will give you the power of Alkahestry without a circle, but it won't make you any good. "

    "I have to." Alphonse stared at the creature. "I can't stand the idea of Alchemy anymore, and won't use it again." The creature sighed, "Give me 15 years of human life. Alkahestry draws on life force, and in exchange for your ability to use it, there must be life as a price."

    Alphonse looked skeptical. "My Gate wasn't enough of a price?"

    "There were as many as five people in your time who could use Alchemy without a Gate. Alkahestry does not use a Gate, and does not use Equivalent Exchange because it draws from the earth and the body. Your Gate is now rarer, and more valuable than any Gate, since you will be the only one to use it. Do you accept the price?"

    Alphonse shrugged and nodded. The former Gate dissolved, and was replaced with a Gate which seemed to be made from jade. The image on the Gate was also different. Images swam through his brain as the gate opened, many of them disturbing. Emperors being poisoned, strange creatures, and many symbols he had never seen before. What disturbed him most was the alien nature of these images, while the Gate of Truth for Alchemy revolved around things he knew in the back of his mind, this was more like seeing someone else's memories.

    Alphonse reappeared in the world, only to be quickly surrounded by quicksand. He had only seconds to discover how to use his new ability before being swallowed up by the sand and drowning in it. Somewhere in his mind, he instinctively knew how to use it. Clenching his fists, he opened them and pressed the right hand over top the left, creating a small five-point circle in midair. The moisture drained around him, leaving him stuck in the mud at about shoulder level.

    "It looks like you learned some new tricks," Zophar translated, "but it's still my win." The man pulled him out of the mud, and gave him a cloth to clean off with.

    "You did well." A girl he'd never seen before spoke. A girl who appeared to be about fifteen, with eyes that seemed to reflect whatever eyes touched theirs and hair strangely white. A girl whose voice was not strictly that of a girl's but a multilayered voice, as if there were echoes of many people, young and old, male and female echoing after the initial young girl's voice. There was something terribly familiar about her, but he didn't understand what. "You can call me Sophia."

    (Not to be a play on kaglover. Sophia and variations of this, means Knowledge or Truth)

    She smiled, a large toothy grin. That smile, I know where I've seen it. Alphonse was suddenly very frightened. It's that same smile I saw staring back at me inside the Gate, for years, while my body was outside. It's that creature!
    Last edited by bulmabriefs144; 5th October 2012 at 06:01 AM.

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