XXIII.

Ed had given into the bloodlust more willingly that night.

He hoped that if he was willing, the answers would come just as easily as his symptoms: the red eyes, the fangs, the super speed and strength…

But all he did was lose himself more than usual.

He fed from the blood of several animals, mainly deer. He was filled with a joyful, elated feeling each time his fangs pierced an animal's neck.

When he came to once more, he wandered. He soon ran into the strange woman from before.

Knowing that she may hold the key to his much needed answers, he bowed to her. The act meant little to him, but to her, he knew it meant everything.

"Glad to see you showing more respect, neophyte," she murmured.

"I apologize for not recognizing you before." Ed stood straight. "If you're feeling up to it, I have some questions for you."

Kalte considered him for a moment. "Maybe I'll humor you," she finally agreed. "After all, I have not seen such a handsome vampire since that colonel I met some time ago."

There was that word again; that name for a mythical creature.

Vampire.

"Why do you keep calling me a vampire?" Ed asked, hoping his disbelief wasn't apparent in his tone.

"Because that's what you are," she replied, looking down at him. "A vampire."

"How do you know?"

Her laughter sent a chill down Ed's spine. "Well, isn't it obvious?" she mocked. "Surely you would have figured it out by now!"

She started pacing elegantly, her long, violet robe swaying at her feet. "Your diet," she began, counting on her thin, pale fingers. "You've been drinking blood, haven't you?"

Ed shivered at the memory of what he'd done only moments before. "How do you know that?

"She smiled at him. "I know lots of things about you."

Ed swallowed heavily.

Kalte's smile grew. "There's also your fangs. Haven't you wondered about those?"

Ed's hand moved to his mouth automatically, feeling the blood staining his lips.

"Yeah," he admitted quietly.

She tilted her head back, soaking in the moonlight. "Now, let me ask you. Are you allergic to the sun? Most vampires are, but not all."

"Well…I h-have been having some problems…" Kalte looked at him knowingly, and he rushed on, "But my brother Al, h-he's allergic to the sun too, so it must be genetic or something--"

He trailed off when he saw her wide-eyed stare. "What?"

"Did you say 'Al'?" she whispered. "As in Alphonse Elric?"

Ed felt his blood run cold. "How do you know my brother?" he demanded. It was one thing for him to talk to this woman, but he didn't want Al anywhere near her.

She laughed suddenly, throwing her head back in the process. "How delightful! Al is your brother! Tell me, child, did Alphonse turn you, or did he get one his lackeys to do it for him?"

"Wait a second…are you saying that Al is a...a vamp…" He choked on the word he couldn't bear to say yet.

"Why of course!" She still sounded amused. "A newborn, comparatively. A few years at the most. But already very strong and very powerful. He has many followers that are drawn in by his handsome face and charming charisma."

"N-no…" Ed whispered. "Al's not…he can't be.."

"But he is, child. Haven't you noticed the way he never seems to grow older? He is forever fourteen."

Ed gasped. She's right…He still has his child's body…NO! This can't be true!

"I see the doubt in your eyes," Kalte continued. "How's this? Do you ever wake up and see that he's not there?"

Just the other night, Ed's mind screamed, and he felt sick to his stomach.

"No…no! Not Al!" he moaned.

And he emptied his stomach of its contents.