• The Girl Alchemist

    I never thought he would ever do it, but when I saw it with my own eyes I was amazed and shocked. It was the pain that caused him to do it, but I felt that same pain and it did not drive me to break the law. He had used the forbidden alchemy practice of bringing someone back to life. My brother had tried to bring back our mother but he only succeeded in killing himself and almost killing me.
    My brother had forgotten the first law of alchemy; to create life you first have to give up something of equal value like your own life in my brother’s case. I only lost an arm to his foolishness but he lost his life. I roam the land searching for a way to return my arm to the way it was before my brother tried to bring our mother back. I was only ten and he was only seven when our mother died and he tried to bring her back.
    It had been six years since the whole incident and I had finally found a lead on some one who could help me. If I remember correctly it was a cold winter night when I boarded the train that was to take me towards the town where the person who might have been able to help me lived. I was curled up in my seat on the train asleep when I heard a gun shot that jolted me awake and I fell off of my seat. When I tried to get up I found a gun barrel digging into my back.
    “Don’t move or I’ll shoot you dead,” the owner of the gun growled behind me. I felt the man grab my hair and he yanked me to my feet. I stifled my scream of pain and clenched my teeth.
    This man is planning to use me as a hostage so he can get what he wants from the other passengers, I thought as he tugged me into the isle. I slowly moved my hand to my pocket and felt around inside of it for the piece of white chalk I always kept with me. I felt my fingers close around it and slowly removed my hand. Now all I had to do was wait for the man to stop moving so I could draw an alchemy circle on the floor of the isle.
    The man stopped to demand that the other passengers do what he said and I took my chance. I drew an alchemy circle on the floor and placed my right hand in the center of it. I willed the metal legs of the seats to come alive and wrap around the robber’s legs and they did just that.
    The man let go of my hair as soon as the metal legs of the seat near him tackled him. I rolled away from the man and turned to face him. My right hand was still on the circle and ready to do more alchemy if need be. Fortunately, the man had hit his head on the arm rest of the seat that had not attacked him and was out cold. I slowly took my hand off of the circle and stood up, and when the robber still did not move I began to relax.
    Then I saw the blood pooling around his head and took a step back. I had not meant to kill this man but it had come down to the point that if I did not want to be used I had to do it. The passengers in the seats near by stared at the corpse on the floor and then at me, the one who had killed him. I took another step back and tried to speak.
    “I-I didn’t m-mean to k-kill him,” I stuttered. Still the passengers stared at me like I was a murder and I was starting to think that I was one. That is until one of the passengers spoke to me.
    “Thank you young lady,” an old woman said. “You saved us all for we had nothing valuable to give that man.”
    “My…pleasure,” I replied hesitantly. “I merely did what came naturally in the situation I was in. I had no intent to…kill this man.” The old woman nodded and I smiled faintly. So they aren’t looking at me with trepidation in their eyes, I thought elatedly. They are looking at me with ecstasy! They do not fear me!
    I returned to my seat and sat down with a large grin on my face. These people were actually glad that I had helped them, unlike the other people I had helped out in the past. However, I did not drift back off to sleep after that encounter for I had way too much to think about. I removed the glove that I normally wore over my right hand to reveal the metal beneath. I did not blame my little brother for what happened to me. Instead I blamed the pain of our mother’s death.
    A wiry strand of my orange hair fell into my face and I reached up with my right hand to brush it back, forgetting that I could not feel it to move it away. It fell back into my face and this time I remembered not to use my right hand to brush it back. That one little action dashed my high spirits and got me worrying about the man I was going to see not being able to change my right arm back into skin, flesh, muscle, and bone again. I put my glove back on my hand and reached up with my left hand to wipe away a tear that was snaking its way down my cheek.
    This man I was going to see was my only hope of ever being a complete human again and I was not sure if he was for real at all. My green eyes strayed to the window and the sky above. The stars were shining brightly just as they were meant to. The only time the stars had ever left the sky was the night I lost my right arm. My brother had been so optimistic about his plan that night but it all went wrong when the stars faded away. Ash was a fool to think that he would succeed, I thought as I stared out the window. Then again, so was I. We were both fools driven by grief at our mother’s death and we paid the ultimate price for it.
    Soon I fell asleep and began to dream of the night it all happened.
    ‘Are you sure this is going to work Ash?’ I ask my brother as I join him. ‘Of course it’ll work Ember!’ He shouts in reply, drawing an alchemy circle on the ground before him. ‘Why are you so skeptical about my idea? Alchemy runs in our blood sis and with it we can do anything!’ ‘Even bring back the dead?’ I ask slowly as I follow his example. I know the story well enough to know what my brother believes he can do with my help. I also know what his reply will be.
    ‘Right sis, we can bring mother back with Alchemy!’ Ash exclaimed with a huge grin on his face, placing his right hand on the alchemy circle. ‘I just can’t do it alone.’ ‘Yes brother, I know you can not do this alone.’ I reply, doing the same. ‘That is why I am still here. I know what you are going to do and I do not wish to see the product of your madness. But if you are to succeed at all you need my help and that is why I have not left you to your bloody scheme.’ My brother smiles wickedly and I cautiously smile back. I am afraid of what he has become and he knows it. He sees my growing fear every day. I try to avoid him but this proves impossible as he tries to keep near me. The fear I feel is constant and I feel it even now as the time to call mother back draws nigh.
    ‘Sis, are you afraid of what we are about to do? Are you that foolish?’ ‘Ye are the foolish one brother! Do you not recall the rules of Alchemy?’ ‘The rules are nothing of importance to me sister.’ ‘Have thee lost all sight of sanity! Brother this is madness! We could both die!’ ‘Neither of us shall die sister. I am prepared for the worst and I do not expect it.’ My brother is barking mad and I am not willing to go a long with him. Unfortunately I have no other choice.
    My brother and I begin the chant with our hands on the Alchemy circles we have drawn in the dirt. Soon the stars begin to dim and I know something is wrong but I can not stop the chant or we will both die. Suddenly the stars disappear all together and my brother stops chanting.
    ‘What is going on sister? Why have the stars gone from the sky? What have we done?’ I do not answer him for I do know what we have done. We have tried to do something that is forbidden by all who do Alchemy. We have tried to bring back a past life and we are going to pay for it with our lives. My brother’s body begins to disintegrate and he cries out for me to save him but I can not help him now. He has sealed his fate and his body falls apart, leaving only his clothes behind.
    Now my right arm begins to disintegrate and the pain is overwhelming but I fight the pain and plead for it to stop and let me live. It stops when my whole arm, shoulder and all, is completely gone and I begin to cry.
    I woke up with a start as the train pulled into the station at its first stop. The sun was just rising, casting a soft light over the entire train. I sat up and stretched as best I could in the limited space I had. This was not my stop but I wanted to get out of that train and stretch my legs. I stood up and walked out into the isle and froze. The body of the train robber was still where I had left it. The blood had pooled around his head and soaked into the carpet, leaving a dark stain where the head of the robber lay.
    I almost fainted right then and there. I fell to my knees on the floor and bowed my head. I was not the kind of person who could over look a death that I had caused, whether intentionally or not, especially not after what had happened to me. Just then I felt a slight weight on my left shoulder and a soft, shy voice reached my ears. “Are you ok Miss,” it asked me. That is when I actually fainted, because it was just too much for me to take in at the time. I felt the owner of the voice picked me up in their arms and placed me on a near by seat.
    I could feel a gentle, warm hand begin to stroke my hair and I heard the soft, shy voice trying to comfort me. I was still conscious but my entire mind was racing with terrible thoughts about what had happened. I finally got my mind sorted out and slowly sat up, only to come face to face with the owner of the voice that had been trying to comfort me. The owner of the voice was a boy about my age with eyes the color of the sky on a clear, sunny day and wild looking hair that was the color of the blinding sun.
    “Are you ok now Miss,” he asked me slowly, obviously not wanting to make me faint again.
    “I believe I shall be fine as long as I do not have to see the corpse of that robber again,” I replied tersely. “Have they removed it from the train yet?” The boy nodded in reply. “Good, I hope that we are moving on towards the next station now. I am ready to get off of this infernal machine.”
    “We have started to move again if that is what you are asking Miss,” the boy said softly. “But I do not think that you are well enough to return to your original seat right now Miss.”
    “Stop calling me Miss,” I spat at the poor boy, who was trying so hard to be kind to me. “My name is Ember F. Soot. I am on my way to see an alchemist about something very important in a town called Dragonland.”
    “My name is Blue and I am heading the same way as you but for a different reason,” the boy replied. “What is a young lady like you doing visiting an alchemist that can ‘supposedly’ create life?”
    “That is my business and not yours Blue,” I replied as my left hand moved to grip my right arm, hoping that the boy would not take an interest in my action. Fortunately he did not and I was able to think about the situation I had wound up in just because of my fear of killing some one and being a murder. Blue watched me the whole time, as if he had something to say but was too afraid to say it. When he finally opened his mouth to speak I braced myself for what he was about to say. What he asked caught me off guard.
    “Why are you traveling alone,” Blue asked me quietly. “Most people like you travel with their family. Why are you going off alone to a town that you do not know to meet a man that you do not know?”
    “I have no family left to travel with you fool,” I replied softly. “I see that you are also without a traveling companion.”
    “I am an orphan who is going to live with an uncle that I have never heard of until he claimed me as his nephew last week,” Blue replied with a slow shake of his head. “It seems as if we both need a traveling companion if we want to make it to the town in one piece.”
    “Why should I team up with you? I can take care of myself if you have not noticed.”
    “You fainted at the sight of a robber’s lifeless corpse. There are going to be many more deaths if you are going to be traveling to Shadow Town Miss Ember. I don’t think that you will be able to handle that.”
    “Were you here when the robber tried to rob the passengers of this car? He tried to use me as a hostage but I killed him.”
    “You don’t have any weapons. There is no possible way you could have killed a man with a gun without a suitable weapon.”
    “Is alchemy a suitable weapon,” I asked Blue as a mischievous smile played on my lips. Blue just stared at me with a shocked look on his face and his mouth hanging open. I almost laughed at the hilarious expression on his face but I managed to restrain myself. Fortunately he recovered quickly and spoke again.
    “Y-yes, but how---,” he stuttered. “I mean why are you---, how can you be an alchemist? You are a girl and I have never seen a female alchemist, nor have I seen an alchemist as young as you are. It doesn’t make any sense at all.”
    “I know,” I said softly as I let my left hand slide down my right arm. “That is why I am going to see a man that I know nothing about. I…need his help with something that has happened to me. I guess I will travel with you if only for your protection.” Blue smiled at that and I tried to smile back. I knew that our friendship would not last long though. Once he found out about my arm he would abandon me just like the others had. I was always alone in this world and I was used to it.
    “This train won’t take us to Shadow Town,” Blue said, trying to get me to speak. “We will need to get off at the next stop and make the rest of the trip on foot.” I just nodded for I had known that I could not make the whole trip by train. Right then I was debating whether or not I should tell him about my arm and get it over with. No, that was not my best idea and I pushed the thought out of my mind.
    “I better get back to my seat,” I said calmly as I stood up to leave. “I need some time to think alone.” Blue nodded and I left him sitting there, watching me go back to my seat as fast as I could walk.
    When I got back to my seat I threw myself down onto it and began to stare out the window, trying to figure out what my next move was going to be. What now, I thought. I don’t see how I shall be able to hide my secret from that perceptive boy. I can’t tell him what I have become but I can’t let him find out either. What can I do now? By then it was noon and the sun was high in the sky above. My stomach growled loudly, telling me that it was time to eat but I did not get up and move towards the dining car.
    I took the glove off of my right hand again and rolled up my sleeve to reveal more of the metal that I had crafted into a working human arm. I stared at my arm trying to remember what it had looked like before the whole incident with my crazed brother, when it was warm, soft, tanned skin and flesh and not hard, cold, silver metal and mechanical workings. I began to stroke the cool metal of my arm with my left hand without realizing that I was doing it.
    The man that I was going to meet was the only hope I had of ever redeeming myself for what I had helped do. This was my last chance and I was not going to destroy it. My stomach growled once again and this time I stood up and headed towards the dining car for my lunch. I had no idea of what lay ahead for Blue and me at the time but I knew that it was not going to be an easy path.