there is something out there, in this world, that you can't possibly think of.
Things could go worse, thought one estranged Nicholas Flamel. I could have died, or lost the twins to Dee.
As it was, he did fail - somewhat. Josh had moved over to what some would call the 'Dark Side', though Nicholas suspected that Josh was under the influence of Dee; magical influence. There was something in his eyes, in that last, crucial moment that told Nicholas that something was amiss.
He turned his head to the side to see his wife, Perenelle Flamel, grey streaked hair tied back and bright eyes looking at his every move. Nicholas noted, with happiness or with a sense of melancholy (he couldn't tell) that there were more age lines around her face. Sparks of energy cracked around her once in a while, but he could basically see her dimming.
From inside the door, he could see the frame of Sophie Newman. She looked rather confused and terribly lost. That's no surprise, after this week. "Ah, how nice to see so many people visit my death bed," he joked weakly. Sophie gave a weak smile, but nothing more. Perenelle didn't agree to his attitude at all.
"This is not a joking matter, Nicholas!" she scolded. Her scowl became softer. "You could've died." Funny, I was just thinking that earlier.
"So...what do we do now?" Sophie's timid yet tired voice came from the doorway. She didn't move another step, instead opting to stay where she was. Neither she nor Josh trusted Nicholas Flamel, not since this whole escapade started, but right now she needed the guidance that Nicholas was always capable of.
"Well, I would first like to know where I am," he said, french accent becoming a little prominent as he looked over the room: Brown walls, brown accents, brown beds. Almost like the inside of the earth, he mused inside his head.
"We got a room inside a hotel." Perenelle informed. "We're still in London, though." Suddenly, something in Perenelle shifted, almost as if she was nervous or anxious about something. This did not go unnoticed by either Sophie or Nicholas, whilst the latter started to speak again. What could possible set Perenelle on edge? "Are you okay?"
The sorceress sighed. "Dee is planning to unleash the Lady of the Serpent, Nicholas. If she's released, the whole bout of London - and England - will be in complete chaos." As soon as Perenelle said 'Lady of the Serpent', Sophie saw the image of a woman - with bared teeth, eyes sly and quick, slitted and a luminous green. They stared into her and she shivered.
"Do you mean Coatlicue?" she let out unknowingly. The Flamel's eyes widened.
"Don't say the name so freely, Sophie!" Perenelle said abruptly. Sophie started a little. "Why not?" A grimace was all she got in return, Perenelle's green irises looking more lucid than ever. "Names have power," was the only answer she gave.
"I think we might have to visit him, Perenelle." Nicholas said suddenly, effective gartering the attention of the others. Sophie had no idea who 'him' was, and the Witch of Endor's memories didn't serve any help.
As if she could read her mind, the older woman sighed. "The Witch of Endor has never met him, Sophie. He's very... private." Perenelle said, carefully maneuvering around her words. "We've worked with him once."
Sophie's eyebrows knitted. "But who is he?"
There was a small silence until Nicholas spoke again. "Sophie, you understand that I am old, yes?" his pale eyes looked into her and she nodded. "There...there was another apprentice that I took in, other than William." Perenelle didn't look at him or Sophie, instead looking straight ahead. Sophie wondered what happened, and if there was something related to what happened with William. "His name...well, he had a rather long name. But, for the longest time, I called him Hohenheim."
Sophie saw a flash of a black and white picture, of a boy with sharp eyes and a frown on his face.
"He was around twenty then when I first brought him in. There was...something wrong with him actually," Nicholas commented lightly. "Like...almost like he didn't belong in this world. I taught him many things of alchemy. He was far more smarter than I, you see. He had knowledge. He had wisdom. I had once thought that he would soon become one of the most amazing people in the world. I even thought of him as my own son - both me and Perenelle did. Soon after, he disappeared in an accident, related to alchemy." His voice went down an octave. "I've never forgiven myself since."
"We met up with him again, twenty years ago," Perenelle said. "He was different. He had gained immortality - the real immortality. Not the way me and Nicholas did, by drinking an elixir every month. Sophie, he only had the Philosopher's Stone once, and he became immortal. Forever. A different Philosopher's Stone." Sophie nodded, not able to say anything. There was another way from the Flamel's and the Dark Elders to become immortal?
"Okay, so, we have to meet this Hohenheim person?" Sophie asked, not seeing such a big problem.
"...so, where is he?"
Nicholas chuckled awkwardly.
"Well...he's in Germany right now, 1939, right in World War II."
Edward Elric shut the door behind him, setting a gloved hand to his temple. Nothing. Again, even after Alfons had left for the night to his own room and left Edward to look over the structures and mechanism of rockets by himself, did he find nothing.
Not of the rocket science - oh no, that he found a lot on. But in a hidden pocket hand sewn by himself was a brown book, filled with the work of his father's life. It wasn't the only book - there were twelve in all, but this was the volume Hohenheim had when he transferred back to Germany. The others were burned in the house.
Edward, seventeen, had not given up a way to look for a way home. Of course, he knew he would be there soon - but the death of his father was very sudden, and it had taken out more on him than ever. Now he was truly alone, all by himself - the last time this happened was when he was facing the truth.
He spent countless days reading the works of famous alchemists: Paracelsus (who unknown to him was his father), Hermes Trismegistus, Arthur Dee, John Dee, of popes and countless people with different names (to his chagrin, he had found about three or four more Edward's) that all stuck around, floating in his mind. He simply did not find a way to get back to his home - even with the slightest theory in his mind, it would somehow always be squashed to bits before it fully blew up. It seemed like all great alchemists that got somewhere either vanished or their work was forever lost. It was maddening.
Of course, there was one idea in the back of his mind that he did not dare touch.
There was a knock on his door. Edward's eyes slid to the time and saw it was near twelve. "Probably Alfons again," he muttered to himself, remembering when the blond would come in just to give him something he missed in the late hours of the night.
Instead, when he opened the door, the most peculiar people were there - a girl, about two years younger than himself, with blonde hair and blue eyes that reminded him painfully of Winry. Then, beside her was a man, about in his late forties to fifties, with salt and pepper hair and pale eyes that looked and took in everything with careful observation. Near his side was a woman about the same age, maybe older by a few years, with dark hair pulled back away from her face. He could see her bright green eyes looking into him coolly.
"May I help you?" he asked, eyebrow raising. The blonde girl looked confused, while the man looked slightly sheepish.
"Ah, I'm sorry." Edward saw that he was speaking English instead of German. "I didn't introduce myself - I'm Nicholas Flamel, my wife, Perenelle Flamel, and this is my apprentice - Sophie Newman."
Edward looked at them with no recognition, except for Nicholas Flamel and Perenelle. "Okay. What's the World Alchemist doing here?" He had read of Nicholas Flamel, one sentence, back in Amestris. And it seemed, here, that he was even more famous.
"I've actually come to see someone, perhaps you know him - after all, you look a lot like him. His name is Van Hohenheim." Nicholas noticed the slight stiffening of Edward's shoulders, and he saw how the man's face tightened before he looked away, long blonde bangs shielding his face. He stepped aside and held open the door.
"Come inside. I think this is going to be a longer talk than you'd expect."
Sophie Newman was having a hard time taking this all in. First, they escaped to 1939 in a Ley Lane in England near Buckingham Palace, then she found herself spinning and falling into a stone floor filled with people in old clothes. Looking around, she noticed everyone was talking in a strange language, and Perenelle was helping herself up while Nicholas was talking to a police officer with green eyes as bright as Perenelle's behind glasses.
Then came the bombshell that was the odd man behind the door. She had first thought it was Hohenheim, due to the brief glimpse of the Witch of Endor's memories, but then she looked closer and all thoughts were erased from her mind.
He was probably the most gorgeous guy she had ever met. Seriously. How come the guys back in the old days were better than the ones in the 21st century?
The odd guy was a little over her height, with broad shoulders and a white button up under a black vest. Long golden hair was tied up in a ponytail, leaving blonde bangs to highlight high cheekbones, sharp eyes the color of molten gold, and a strong jaw. He had an almost regal look to him, actually.
When they went inside, she noticed everything was the same as it was outside; brown, drab, yet holding an antique look to it that entrapped her.
The guy, whom she decided could not be Hohenheim, looked at them while pouring himself a glass of water. "So, what do you want Hohenheim for, Herr Flamel?" Sophie noticed he spoke with a slight accent, a mixture of german and french.
Nicholas seemed like he was looking for somebody, as if they would pop up out of nowhere. "Hohenheim used to be my student. I would like to ask him something. Do you know where he is...?" Nicholas ended with a question, and was taken aback as Edward's eyes flashed in suspicion.
"Your student?" he half asked, half said in surprise. So the bastard was here before! "That would make you..." his eyes widened. "No way. You've used a Philosopher's Stone?" Sophie saw that Edward look slightly sick. She had an idea what the Philosopher's Stone was - and apparently, the Witch of Endor did too, she could sense it. But something was stopping the Witch of Endor's memory from coming, almost as if she was ashamed.
"No, no!" Nicholas corrected hastily. Perenelle looked like she was about to do the same thing. "Of course not. Never. I use and elixir every month to keep me alive. Totally harmless." Edward calmed down, then took a sip of his water.
"I'm sorry, I didn't say who I was, actually, did I?" he looked a little dubious. "Edward Elric, Hohenheim's...eldest son." he said the last part with little hesitance, but managed to get them out all the same.
"Hohenheim had children?" Perenelle said, seemingly asking herself the question instead.
"I have a question for you, m'boy," Nicholas said. "Are you...the Fullmetal Alchemist?"
Edward blinked. Sophie didn't know anything about the Fullmetal Alchemist. "Ah...I haven't heard that title in years," he mused. "Where'd you hear that?"
"...Hohenheim." he said silently. Edward looked at him then nodded. "I understand. Dad's been through the Gate so many times, it's a wonder..." he didn't finish the last sentence, but looked at the Flamels and Sophie apologetically. "I'm sorry. He died last year."
There was a shocked silence.
"B-but I thought he was immortal," Sophie said, apparently feeling like she had to say something. Edward looked at her, then smiled painfully.
"Nothing lasts forever, Fraulein Newman, and neither did he." Edward waved it away. "But he isn't here, and he's wanted death for some time now. So, if you have a question, you may ask me. I might know it." Edward looked a little abashed. "If you know my other title, you must know that I was - "
"An alchemic child prodigy," Perenelle finished. She nodded. "We do."
"Prodigy?" Sophie repeated in surprise. She was gone unnoticed, something that hadn't been done in the past week at all.
Nicholas looked fairly grim, hesitating what he was about to say. "Edward...do you mind telling me about the Gate?"
The blonde, who was drinking water again, almost choked, setting his glass down on the table and wiping his mouth with one hand. He looked at Nicholas with suspicion, and almost... fear? "Why would you go looking for...that?" he stumbled on his words. Sophie wondered idly what could cause three alchemists to be so winded.
"Please," Perenelle pleaded, so quiet that Edward had to strain to hear her.
He pressed his lips tighter together, then sighed. "The Gate is also known as the Truth, All, One, Everything, Nothing, or most common, God." Edward's voice went by as a small whisper, but his words were clear as no one talked.
"The Gate hold mankind's most terrible sins. Inside is what...is...well, it's hell, to put simply. Hell. Real, terrifying hell."
"...you didn't go inside the Gate, did you?" Nicholas asked suddenly, looking alarmed. Edward gave a small, rueful smile.
"Well, thrice actually. The first time, it took my leg. Second time, it took my arm. Third, it sent me here, a whole dimension away from home..." Sophie felt her heart plunge in ice water as she heard the vague account. It sounded horrible.
"The Gate is also infinite knowledge. It goes by the rule of Equivalent Exchange, alchemy's number one rule - you know that, Flamel." Edward said, staring at Nicholas in the eyes. "I would advise you never to ask about the Gate again. You've heard it from my father, I can tell, but I cannot tell you the correct transmutation to get there, the correct price to get through, the trade and the sacrifice needed."
"...You know, but you just won't tell us." Perenelle summarized. Edward nodded. "Sharp, Frau Flamel." Suddenly, Edward turned to Sophie, looking her up and down. His eyes softened. "You remind me of my love back home. I'll tell you one thing, fraulein. When people die, they get buried, yes?" Sophie nodded. "Then they get decomposed and eventually return to the earth. The earth uses that soil to grow food and help people live. It's a cycle, you see, and that is what life is - we are small parts of the huge circle that is the universe, or God, and we make up no more than a single blade of grass. But it's all of us, you see, together, that makes God, that makes the universe, because without us, the universe cannot exist, and without the universe, we cannot exist. It's a cycle. Like life and death. And we cannot change it." He looked at her meaningfully. "You have to understand this, if you want to continue in what you are doing."
"What..." Sophie started, but was cut off by Nicholas chuckling.
"Of course. I can't believe I forgot that." he sighed. "The whole basis of alchemy." his eyes stared up at Ed in admiration. "Now I see why they call you a genius."
The corner of the blonde's lips touched up, but it didn't move any further. "I'm afraid I have to ask you to leave."
Perenelle jumped up. "Of course, we've come here without invitation, after all. Come, Sophie, Nicholas." Perenelle took Sophie by the arm and lead her outside, while Nicholas looked Edward in the eyes and a small connection passed through them.
"You've given me far much more information than I came for," he said softly.
Edward grinned. "Well, then you'll just have to keep on that old bargain, huh?"
Nicholas chuckled. "I'll see to that."
Just as Nicholas moved to go out the door where his wife and Sophie were, he was interrupted by Edward. "Oh, and Nicholas?" said man turned to see Edward's eyes filled with a fire he had never seen in any other's before. Not even in Saint Germain's flames. "Remember, All is One, and One is All."
The alchemyst smiled. "I sure will."
All is One, and One is All.
because even when our eyes are closed, the world outside is still alive.
and honestly, it's way beyond our imagination.