Chapter 1

The Philosopher's Stone

I took a step back from the edge. Now that I was actually here, I was beginning to feel scared.

I tried to focus on other things. Like the fact that I was in Ireland! For years, I have yearned to be here and I did it! I traveled across the world to be here. I had made it. However, I could never have guessed how beautiful it was in person.

There was green everywhere! Everything was a vibrant green: the rolling hills, the trees, the people. Okay, maybe not that last part. But still. When you walked around Ireland, you got a sense that time had slowed and you had all the time in the world to take everything in. The warm, windy breezes. The smell! Oh, the smell! I have never breathed such clean air.

I had come here as a tourist and only had a week to be here, but I was loving every minute. We've been visiting all the sights (my mom, sister, and I) with our tour group. And now we were at the place that I've dreamed of coming my whole life.

I was standing on the cliff. You know. The one where you lean over the edge and kiss the rock. It was suppose to bring you good luck. But I was getting cold feet.

I shook myself, What are you doing? You've been waiting your entire life to do this. People do this all the time. You can do this, Taylor. My body didn't believe my mind. The adrenaline was pulsing through my veins and my heart was pounding with fear.

If I don't do this, I'll never forgive myself, I thought. And that was all it took. I pushed the fear aside, took those last steps, and bent over the edge of the cliff.

"Whoa." I breathed. I was staring down the steep line of the cliff. It ended at what seemed like miles down, going into the churning ocean. It would be a very long fall.

"Stop it." I chided myself. "All you're doing is psyching yourself out. Get a grip."

I leaned over more, trying to ignore the vast distance between me and the ocean. When I was pretty sure I could hold my weight, I went for it. The rock was cold and hard to my lips.

Triumph coursed through me. I did it! I finally did it! No sooner than I thought it, I felt something. It came from the cliff itself, and shot up through me, burning. It felt like electricity, alive. It shocked me senseless and before I could stop myself, I was going over the edge.

"Good to see you again, Fullmetal." Mustang said in a bored tone.

"Oh, you sound like you mean it, Colonel." Ed remarked, planting himself on one of the couches in Mustang's office.

A smirk replaced Mustang's frown. "How goes the search?"

Ed shifted his eyes away. Norx Village had been a bust. Him and Al had followed a lead there, but had come up empty. Just like every other time.

"There was no Philosopher's Stone in Norx Village." Ed finally said.

"So," Mustang said, "the stone eludes you once again."

Ed bristled, "Was there a reason you had me come back to Central or did you just want to chat?"

Mustang leaned back in his chair, considering. "I have a mission for you."

Ed fidgeted on the couch, "What kind of mission?"

"I admit, there's not much to it, but I still needed you for this one. You're to go to the train station and escort a prisoner here by the name of Edgar Ronin."

"That's it?" Ed's eyes widened in annoyance. "You had me come here to babysit someone?"

"This man isn't just an ordinary prisoner." Mustang's voice rose. "He's been researching the Philosopher's Stone and has been rumored to have succeeded in creating one."

"Seriously?" Ed asked, interested at last.

Mustang nodded. "I want you to go through all of his research. It's on the train with him. Since you're already here, you can escort him from the station."

"Alright." Ed agreed, standing. This might turn up something, or at least lead Ed and his brother in the right direction.

Ed started for the door, but stopped. "Hey, Colonel."

"What is it Fullmetal?" Mustang looked back up from a document he had begun reading.

"Why is this Edgar Ronin in custody? I mean, he's just a researcher, right?"

Mustang sat the piece of paper down and met Ed's eyes. "Ronin is suspected of using humans in his research."


Outside of Mustang's office, Al greeted him, "How did it go, Brother?"

Ed looked up at Al and grinned reassuringly, "It looks like we've got a job to do."

I woke up in a cold, dark place. "What happened?" I groaned, sitting up. The memory came to me in a flash. The cliff. I had fallen off the cliff. I should have ended up in the ocean, but I hadn't. I wasn't even wet.

I stood, scoping the area for clues to where I was. It was almost too dark to see anything. I stood in some sort of tunnel, that much I could tell. Running down the length of the ceiling were tiny cracks letting in just enough light to see.

At least I wasn't hurt or dead. Yeah, that's the way! Find something positive about a completely negative situation.

"Where am I?" I thought aloud. How did I get here? I was still in Ireland, right? Was anyone looking for me? Did they think I was dead?

I glanced down both ends of the tunnel. Both of them went on forever. Which one should I choose to go down? Cause I had to choose one. I couldn't just wait here for help that might never come.

The direction behind me went from barely lit to pitch black. But the one in front of me appeared to get lighter the farther it went.

"That way," I said to the one in front of me and started walking. As I walked I could hear my footsteps echoing off the walls. It was so creepy. I so didn't want to be in a creepy tunnel by myself. This was never part of the tour.

As I went farther down, the light from the cracks got brighter. I walked until I could finally see something at the end.

"Hello?" I called out. My voice bouncing off the walls was the only answer I received.

I went on to the end of the tunnel where there was an opening to a large circular room.

"What is this?" I asked, looking all around. There were markings all over the floor, as if they'd been drawn there. They connected into circles with strange symbols placed in the spaces in between. It was intricate and yet perfectly symmetrical. In the center of the design was a skinny altar. On top of the altar sat a shiny red stone, small enough to fit in my hand.

It all seemed so familiar. I had seen this somewhere before, I just knew it. But where? What did this remind me of?

"Transmutation circles." I breathed in wonder. "Then that must mean-." I gasped, looking back to the altar.

"No way." I shook my head in denial. This couldn't be real. It just couldn't be! But it was here, right in front of me. "The Philosopher's Stone." I said in wonder.

I took a tentative step forward onto the edge of the circle. When nothing happened, I let out a breath I hadn't known I had been holding. Then I took another step, and then another, and another. Before I knew it, I found myself in front of the altar.

I stared at the stone. It wasn't smooth. It was in the shape of an oval with faucets over its surface. The light reflected off it in such a way that I thought there might actually be a light within it. It was mesmerizing.

Doubt weighed heavily on my mind but I thought, What if? What if this could be true? I recognized everything for what it might really be. Was it true?

I reached out and caressed the stone gently. It wasn't cold like I thought it would be. It was somehow emitting its own warmth. Curious, I picked the stone up and held it, gazing at it intently.

A jolt of electricity ran up from my feet through my entire body. It felt like what had happened on the cliff. The energy shocked me to the core.

Suddenly, the circle began to glow. It wasn't the bright blue I was familiar with. It was red, as red as the stone. The symbols, the lines, all of it was glowing.

A black line appeared to split the circle in half. Then it opened.

I gasped in terror. It was an eye! I was standing on a giant eye!

From the depths of the eye, black arms swam out and wrapped around me. They were too fast and I couldn't get away. They lifted me easily into the air.

"Nooo!" I screamed helplessly. The arms plunged me into the eye and I screamed again.

All I saw was white. White nothingness. It stretched on and on, endlessly. I wondered how long I had been looking down that expanse of nothingness.

I turned around. Sitting yards away was a person. Well, actually it wasn't human at all. I was the shape of a person though. There were tiny black fragments that outlined its body. It had no features except for a mouth.

"Who are you?" the words spilled from my mouth.

It smiled, "You know who I am." The voice was a combination of many voices.

"This isn't possible." I said, shaking my head.

"And yet you are here."

Still shaking my head, I muttered, "You're the Truth."

"Very good." it laughed.

"How did I get here?" I asked.

Truth stood. "I brought you here."

"Why?" I asked.

Truth came to stand closer to me, only a few feet away. "I think you can make things more interesting."

I didn't understand what it was saying, but I was afraid. I knew what happened to people in this place.

"Don't worry." it assured me. "I brought you here, so you need not sacrifice anything."

The fear didn't leave me. I didn't know if I could trust what Truth was saying. I clenched my fists and realized I was still holding the stone.

I held it up, "Is this really the Philosopher's Stone?"

It smiled, "Yes." Truth said nothing more. It took those last few steps and touched the stone.

The stone became scalding and I screamed. I tried to drop it but couldn't. I dropped to my knees, red energy crackling up from my hand to consume my whole body. I squinted through the pain to see the stone. It shined so bright. Too bright. I could feel it changing texture and shape, becoming a liquid almost. It seeped into my skin and the pain intensified.

Truth stepped away but in its place was a giant gate. It opened wide to a terrifying darkness.

I heard Truth's voice one last time, "We'll meet again." Its voice dissipated, but not before I recognized my own voice mixed in with the other ones. I looked around but Truth had disappeared. All that was left was me huddled on the ground with the gate looming over me.

A thousand eyes opened in unison in the shadows. They stared at me hungrily. Black arms snaked out and I couldn't get away. I couldn't even move. They covered me and pulled me unwillingly into the darkness.