"Hey! Get back here!"
The two thieves ran from the angry shopkeeper with astonishing speed, slipping easily through the bewildered crown of spectators.
The taller one had a hood drawn up over their hair, a wooden mask concealing their facial features in the shape of a carved wolf. A large bag of stolen goods was tucked under their arm as they darted down the streets, accompanied by their companion.
The shorter one, with an identical hood and a wooden fox mask, turned their head as they ran. "No can do, old man!" chirped a high, feminine voice from behind the mask. "We need this food!"
"You can't get away with this!" The elderly shopkeeper was fuming, red in the face and shaking his fist. "I'll contact the military, and then you'll be caught and put in a cell! You thieving brats!"
There was no response. The two figures, clad in their dark clothes, had halted at the corner of the street. The taller one stood with one hand on the stone wall of a building, their companion waiting beside them. The old man started forward, face flushed with victory, but a loud grinding noise stopped him before he had taken two steps.
A long series of stone slabs had erupted from the side of the building, creating a heavy set of stairs leading up to the roof. The two thieves nimbly leaped up the stone slabs, taking their stolen goods with them. The crowd gaped, amazed at the feat.
The two figures soon reached the top of the grey stairs, disappearing over the edge of the roof. A long, shuddering groan followed their quick escape, the eery noise straining against the air as the large stone slabs retreated back into the wall of the building.
The watching crowd broke out into small groups, the worried witnesses speaking to each other in small whispers.
"… had to be alchemy…"
"… no transmutation circle…"
"…military won't be happy…"
The spectators gradually trickled away from the scene, leaving the startled shopkeeper standing in the middle of the street. The old man stood for a moment more, mouth opening and closing in silent stutters, until he was able to speak—or shout, to be exact.
"DAMN IT!" The man tore his hat off his head and threw it onto the ground, grinding it into the dusty pavement with one foot. "It's time to call the military! That's the third time those two whippersnappers have stolen from me this week! And they're some of those darned alchemists, no less…" The irritable mutters faded away slowly as the man trooped back into his shop.
No one had noticed the two witnesses that still stood in the empty street.
One, a large suit of metal armor, glanced down at his companion, a short boy with startling golden hair and bright golden eyes. A young, naive voice echoed from the armor in a questioning tone.
"Alchemy with no transmutation circle, huh, brother?" The two companions were walking now, heading towards the corner where the two thieves had stood before making their escape.
A grim smirk pulled at the shorter boy's lips.
"Looks like we've found ourselves a Stone, Al."
Ever and Katya leaped from roof to roof, the wind whistling against their wooden masks.
Ever felt elated. She always got excited whenever she and her younger companion were almost caught during a thievery. It was because of her wolf side, she supposed. The feral aspects of her mind had always loved the exercise and thrill of running from an angry shopkeeper.
She smiled, her lips pulling into a bright grin underneath her wooden wolf mask. She and Katya had gotten a good haul this time; nearly enough to keep them fed for three days or so. She hugged the large bundle she had tucked under one arm closer to her body. She couldn't afford to drop precious food and waste it.
"Ever!" Katya had slowed up ahead, stopping at the edge of a building and waiting for the nimble teen to catch up. The younger girl's dark blue eyes could be seen behind the fox mask she wore, and they gave Ever a short glance as the taller girl halted beside her. "I think we should go down now."
Ever peered over the edge of the building. A dark alleyway met her observant gaze, completely empty and abandoned. She looked from side to side, reaching out with her canine senses. No one.
"Fine, let's go," she said, pressing her scarred palms to the roof below her. Stone scraped against stone as large, grey slabs jutted from the side of the building. Katya jumped swiftly from ledge to ledge, Ever following close behind.
"Wasn't that fun?" Katya said happily as Ever thumped to the ground beside her. She had drawn her hood down and taken off her mask; her pale blond hair looked almost grey in the darkness of the alley. "That old man was so angry!"
"He sure was," Ever agreed as she removed her mask. One eye a strange, wolfish gold, the other a bright icy blue, her gaze sparked in a friendly manner as she glanced at her partner. She took down her own hood, shaking out her auburn hair. "Old geezers like that are always the best to steal from."
She handed Katya the stolen goods, turning to the stone stairs behind her and raising her scarred palms. The circles and runes carved into her hands looked pale against her skin as they seemed to glow with a blueish light. The grinding, scraping noise sounded once more as she pressed her hands against the wall of the building, sending the stone ledges back into the concrete-like surface.
Ever finished the transmutation, stepping back and rubbing her palms together. "Do you want to just hang out for the rest of the day?" she asked, looking over her shoulder at Katya. "We won't have to go stealing for a few days after this haul."
The younger girl let out a noncommittal hmm, gazing forward at the end of the alleyway. "Let's just eat for now," she decided with a smile. "You did snag some fruit, right? I'm starving!" She rummaged through the bag she held, making a triumphant noise when she drew out a large, red apple.
Ever narrowed her eyes as Katya crunched into the fruit. Something didn't feel right. She tilted her head, letting her keen senses pick up any hints of activity. Her eyes widened. Two people were coming this way, and one of them was—well, she didn't care to find out what was wrong with them. "Katya, people are coming! Let's go!"
Katya jerked with surprise, hastily shoving the half-eaten apple back into the bag and tucking it under her arm as Ever faced the wall. She raised her hands, but a voice sounded at the end of the alleyway before she could begin the transmutation.
"Hey! We need to talk!"
Ever eyed the short boy, letting her gaze then travel over to the large suit of armor standing beside him. She cast out her senses, curling her lip at what she found. An automail arm and leg—and an empty shell of metal. These people had to have committed some kind of taboo, to be burdened with bodies like that.
She studied the shorter boy again, her sharp eye now catching the silver chain visible hanging under his red coat. She felt her wolf side tense, triggering a low snarl to emit from her throat. She felt Katya stiffen beside her. She knew that if Ever's canine aspects were on guard, whatever they were facing was dangerous.
The boy smirked arrogantly, stepping forward. "We just need some questions answered, but we'll have to take you to the military if you resist."
Ever took a step back farther into the shadows of the alley. They probably couldn't see her face right now due to the darkness; she had to get her mask on before they saw her. "Katya," she murmured. "Put on your mask before they can see you clearly. One of them isn't normal—we shouldn't fight them. Leave the food. You understand?"
The younger girl nodded, dropping the bag of spoils onto the pavement and strapping her fox mask back onto her face. Ever picked her wooden mask off the ground, attaching it to her face as quickly as she could. They had to get out quickly, or the military would catch them.
"Well?" The boy's voice had gone dangerously low. "You gonna answer us or not?"
It was Katya that gave him a reply, a slight sneer in her tone. "We don't listen to dogs of the military," she snapped. "Now back off, pipsqueak." Ever noticed with grim amusement that the blond boy was rather short—maybe even as short as Katya, who had to be at least a year or two younger than him.
"Who're you calling a tiny little gnat that you can't even see with a microscope? Huh?! HUH?! You little brat!" The state alchemist was spitting with rage, his face a bright, livid red. Ever could literally feel the anger wafting off of him, due to her wolf side. Under the mask, she smiled. At least now they knew how to get under the dog's skin.
Katya must have realized the same thing, because she spoke to Ever in a low whisper. "I'll keep making him angry. You transmute a way for us to escape." Raising her voice, she yelled at the pair at the end of the alleyway. "Well, it's a fitting nickname, pipsqueak! You're so tiny, I bet I could step on you without even noticing!"
"What?!" The alchemist was practically fuming now, attempting to charge towards Katya as his metal companion held him by the shoulders. "Lemme go! I'll beat her up and drag her to the military half-dead! You hear that, shrimp?! I'm gonna get you!"
"Brother!" The armor had finally spoken. Ever, palms pressed against the wall, paused with surprise at the naive tone of the metal suit's voice. But then again, he was hollow. Based off of the alchemy books she had studied, she would've dared to say someone had transmuted a human soul into the metal body… But she couldn't see a reason why. Hmm.
"Brother, calm down! They're trying to distract you!" Ever froze. Shit. She focused her energy into the stone wall, feeling her palms heat up slightly. She heard the rumbling of the stone slabs as they began to shudder out of the wall, but she was wrenched away as something heavy slammed into her.
"Let me go!" She struggled fiercely against the large suit of armor that held her down, a long snarl coming from her throat. She felt the armor jolt with surprise at the feral noise, but she continued to writhe in panic. "Let me go!"
"Please! We don't want to hurt you!" The armor looked over its shoulder at the short boy, who had twisted Katya's arm painfully behind her back. The young girl was jerking as she tried to get free from his grip, face twisted with pain. "Brother, let her go!"
Ever growled at the alchemist when he continued to hold Katya's arm. "I swear on my life," she said, hearing a wolfish tone of anger entering her voice. "Keep hurting her and I will throw this hunk of metal off of me and ruin the god damned blood seal that keeps him bound!"
Everyone froze except for Katya, who wriggled free, leaning tiredly against the wall. "You… know that he's hollow?" the golden-haired boy whispered. "How? What are you? Can you really find things like that out with the Stone?"
Ever shoved at the armor that held her down. "I don't know what Stone you're fucking talking about. Let me up!"
The boy snorted. "Please. Alchemy without a transmutation circle? There's no way you could've done what you did back there without the Stone." He paused for a moment, peering at her. "Unless…"
Katya spoke up, scowling. "She doesn't have a Philosopher's Stone," the girl hissed angrily. "Ever, just show them your palms. I'm pretty sure they'll keep to their word and let us go if we just answer their questions."
Ever let her muscles relax, studying her opponents' postures. It didn't seem like they were hiding anything or lying… "Fine," she mumbled. "Let my arms go." The armor backed up, letting her stand. She slowly held up her palms so that the pale scars were facing the two partners. They stiffened.
"You.. carved a transmutation circle? Into your skin?" The state alchemist sounded horrified and aghast, golden eyes wide with shock. "Why would you do that? Wasn't it painful?"
Ever curled her hands into fists, letting them fall to her sides. "I have them carved into my feet, too. I almost died from infection and blood loss, but it was necessary." She felt a cold mirth enter her tone. "Equivalent exchange, you could call it."
"Equivalent exchange? For what?" The armor was speaking, sounding afraid yet sympathetic. Ever felt her teeth grit.
"I have my reasons," she snapped. "Katya, let's go." Her companion stood up from the wall, drawing her hood up. Ever followed suit, feeling the dark fabric slip over her hair. "We gave you your answers. We'll be leaving now." Reaching out with her senses, she bit her lip at the large amount of people walking around near the alley. It would be hard to jump from building to building with all these people wandering around on the streets.
The boy and the armor backed up, allowing Ever to reach her palms out towards the stone wall. Her palms were just beginning to glow when another voice sounded at the end of the alleyway, making everyone freeze. "I don't think you'll be leaving."
A young man stepped forward, dark hair and onyx eyes matching the shadows of the alley. Gloves, stitched with transmutation circles, covered his hands. Behind him, a blond woman stood, gun at the ready. Behind Ever, Katya let out a fearful murmur. "The Flame Alchemist…"
The man smirked. "Unfortunately, you'll have to come with me, chimera. Thank you, Fullmetal, for leading me here."
Whoo! The rewrite of the first chapter of The Wolf Blood Alchemist! I'm sorry if it seems too short or rushed; I'm really trying to make my story chapters longer! ^.^;;
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