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Koori
( This story can also be found at My Little Korner of FMA Fan-Fic )

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Updated: August 3, 2005 – Chapter 5

NOTE: The final chapter in Part 1 is finished! Now time to be totally lame and beg for reviews; I'd really love to hear people's thoughts on my tale so far. The good, the bad or the ugly … just really curious to what fans of FMA think. My editors have nothing but praise but that could be because of their role in this story. One of my favorite comments so far …

“I'm very pleased with this fanfic so far. You've created a unique story but have also maintained the FMA feel, kudos.” ~ Tenshi The Pyro

So pretty please (IPB Imageinsert all sorts of begging and groveling IPB Image) leave your feedback here or on the shout box found on my web page linked above

Thank You For Reading My Story, Koori


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Title: Silver Linings

Rating: PG-13

Spoiler Rating - 1 (Low) to 10 (High): 2 – Low

Timeline: 1911 a year after Edward became a State Alchemist

Location: A small desert oasis called Ishmar.

Characters:

Edward Elric – Age 13

Physical Description – Same as in the anime

Alphonse Elric – Age 12

Physical Description – Walking Tin Can … um I mean same as in the anime.

Lillian LeCross is a young healer in the desert town of Ishmar. – Age 16

Physical Description – She has light brown hair that flows past her shoulder to her mid-back, coupled with golden eyes. She wears a veil typical of her village and keeps her body completely covered at all times, with gloves on her hands. All you can see are her eyes. (Will add more as the story unfolds)

Louis DePuy is the town's overlord and villain for the first part of the tale. He is a short heavy-set man with dark greasy hair and thin-lipped smile that stinks of the cigars he likes so much. He recently seized control of Ishmar and treats the town (and all trapped within) like his personal property. Backed by powerful alchemy and an army of men, the citizens of Ishmar are prisoners in their own homes. However, they keep their greatest power a secret from him, in hope -- a certain young girl named Lillian LeCross.

Story Synopsis: Ed and Al Elric travel to a desert oasis called Ishmar, following rumors of a powerful alchemist in hopes of finding more information on the elusive philosopher's stone. However, at their journey's end they find a quiet veiled woman named Lillian LeCross who rebukes their claims she's an alchemist. It isn't long before the Elric brothers figure out something is seriously amiss in this small town and decide to intervene.

Koori’s Korner: This is my second FMA tale, but my first attempt at one I hope will bridge many chapters. I haven’t read too many other FMA fan stories so if this tale mirrors yours too closely please send me an E-Mail with a link to your story and I’ll remove mine. Hopefully if the idea is overdone the tale and characters are a fresh twist. Rated the tale PG-13, though in general will be PG but just in case the battles get intense, will add the 13. The main characters range from age 12 to 16 so no smut. You will have to have some knowledge of the series to understand this tale.

A special thank you to my editors: Bevey, Tenshi_the_Pyro and Mademoiselle ( both of the forums at www.fullmetalalchemist.info) and Saturn Stars (of the forums found at www.fullmetal-alchemist.com)

Thank you and enjoy! ~ Koori
Koori
Chapter I – Desert Daughter

“Why are these alchemists always in the middle of nowhere?” Edward Elric’s annoyance was evident in his voice. “I’m getting sand in places that it will never come out … the joints to my auto-mail are filled with it.”

“Do you really think there is an alchemist out here, brother?”

Ed glanced over at the iron giant walking beside him. “Well, that’s what the intelligence reports Mustang gave me say.”

The duo looked down on the town from the dune they stood on. “Is this the place, brother?”

“Yep, welcome to the wonderful sand castle called Ishmar.”

A short time later …

“There is nothing for you here … you should go.”

Ed grabbed the arm of the man before he could run off like the others. “Please, we’re not here to cause trouble, we were told there was an alchemist here … can you just point us in their direction?”

“Nothing but loss and hurt here, boy … you and your strange companion should move on to the next town.” The villager freed his arm and hurried down the street.

A sigh escaped the eldest Elric. “I’d have better luck talking to this camel here.” He patted the beast on the side and was rewarded with quick stomp on his left foot. “Hey!”

“Did da camel hurt you?” A small voice asked.

Ed glanced over at the one who had spoken, a young girl that looked about three. His face softened. “Nah … I have feet of iron …”

“Maybe da lady wif da mawic hands can help.”

“Magic hands? Where can I find this lady?” Ed asked kneeling down to her level.

The child pointed across the street. “Lilly live dare!”

“Ruth! You stop running your mouth with those strangers and get inside!”

Ed waved apologetically to Ruth’s mother and was rewarded with a dark glare. “Yep, friendly little town. Come on, Al, let’s go see this Lilly with magic hands.”

“Magic hands, brother?”

“Well … if I was Ruth I’d call Mustang’s hands magic.”

Their conversation was cut short as two young boys came running out of the door they were approaching. “Hey you two be careful where you’re going! And get home, curfew is soon”

“Yes Miss Lilly!” The twosome shouted back as they continued down the street with/at a quick pace.

The heavily veiled woman in the doorway stared at the two Elrics with a curious look. “May I help you?” She was met with silence. “Um … hello?”

Ed was the first to snap out of his trance. “So … sorry,” he stuttered. “Would you be the lady with the magic hands that Ruth told us about?”

An unreadable look crossed the golden eyes above the veil. “Little Ruth … she’s a sweet thing. My name is Lillian LeCross, I’m the healer of Ishmar.”

“My name is Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist.”

An eyebrow raised at his arrogant reply as her gaze moved to the iron giant behind him.

“I'm Alphonse Elric, his brother,” he bowed slightly. “It's a pleasure to meet you Miss LeCross.”

“Please call me, Lilly. Is there anything I can do for you Alphonse, or your little brother?”

“Little! Who are you calling little? I am the Fullmetal Alchemist … a state alchemist … hero of the people? Come on, surely you’ve heard of me?!?”

“I’m afraid not …but we don’t really get many travelers out here to bring such news.” She added the second part to mend Ed’s crestfallen look. Lilly glanced around the street and the brothers did the same.

“Hmm … the streets empty kind of early, here …”

“You two probably haven’t made arrangements for the night have you?”

“We just arrived in town, ma’am.” Al replied.

“I was afraid of that … well, you'll find none now; Curfew has started. Please come inside, you can lodge here.”

“We only need to ask a few questions …” Ed started.

She grabbed his left arm and Al's right, forcefully pulling the startled two through her doorway. “Ask all you want … inside.”

A short time later the three of them were seated on the floor in a very sparsely furnished room. It consisted of the pillows Ed and Lillian sat on; a small table with a couple of chairs, and behind a curtain in a corner rested two small cots.

“I apologize for the meager surroundings; I’m sure a state alchemist such as yourself is used to more lavish …”

Ed waved her off. “I didn’t come here to appraise your dwelling, Lilly. I came looking for an alchemist.”

The eyes behind the veil glanced down at her folded hands. “I’m afraid I can’t help you then Mr. Elric. We have a couple camels to be proud of here, but no alchemist to my knowledge.”

Ed’s face fell. “What about your magic hands?”

“A child’s words to describe my touch when she scrapes her knee I’m afraid.”

“Another dead end … let’s go Al.” Ed stood up bowing slightly with Al following suit. “Sorry to have troubled you.”

“You can’t go!” Lilly shouted.

“Um …hmm”

“Curfew is in effect, you can’t go outside.”

“Al and I can handle ourselves.”

“It’s not you two I am worried about, it’s the consequences the village will suffer … please, spend the night. Let me get you dinner, a fresh bath, soft bed … and you two can go on your way tomorrow … please?”

“I don’t understand.” Al spoke up by the door.

“I don’t ask that you understand, Alphonse, only that you respect our ways.”

“Brother?”

Ed glanced up at his brother, an unsaid message passed between them and his shoulders drooped as he turned toward Lilly with a small smile. “Dinner sounds great!”

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Lillian came out of her kitchen with a small pot; the Elric brothers were now seated at her table. She frowned slightly at Al. “Wouldn’t it be easier to eat without the armor, Alphonse? I could find you something more comfortable to wear.” The minute she said it, she could tell it was the wrong thing to say. She cut off his stumbling reply with a wave of her hand and changed the subject. “I have to apologize for the stew tonight. Rations have not been kind to me but it should be hardy enough with the bread. And the water there to drink is as ice cold as it gets.”

“I’m sure it will taste great,” Ed said as he served himself.

Lillian smiled and bowed slightly. “I’ll go heat some water for a bath … afraid running water is something else we don’t have the pleasure of.”

“Aren’t you going to eat?” Al asked her retreating back.

“I snacked on dinner as it cooked, you two eat all that you need.”

Once back in the kitchen she went about heating various pots of water on her stove. “Not used to doing this without my … magic hands.” She thought to herself. She glanced back toward the other room. These Elric brothers … there was something about them … perhaps it was only the alchemy but she couldn’t help but think it was something else.

Just then a loud crash came from the main room. She hurried in to find poor Alphonse on the floor, his chair in pieces. “I’m sorry,” they said in unison.

Lillian chuckled behind her veil. “It’s okay.” She turned back toward the kitchen when out of the corner of her eye she noticed Al drawing something on the floor. “Don’t!”

Too late … her small room flashed with a brilliant light as the chair became whole again. Ignoring the stare from Ed she hurried to the front of the house and glanced out the window holding her breath. The street was empty. Lillian sighed in relief and turned back toward her startled guests. “Sorry …” She didn’t even try to explain her actions as she walked over and erased Al’s transmutation circle with her foot. “The water should be hot, who wants to bathe first?”

“That camel outside smelled better then me … a bath would be great.” Ed spoke up.

“Great! Give me thirty seconds in the kitchen then it’s all yours.”

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Ed waited until she retreated. “What do you think that was all about?”

“She seemed really upset when I fixed her chair didn’t she?”

“Yeah … for a town that has never seen an alchemist she seemed to know what you were doing.”

Al nodded. “Brother …”

“Hmm?”

“Her voice … it sounds like Mom doesn’t it?”

Ed’s sigh was audible. “Al you think every woman sounds … looks like Mom.”

“I do not” The hurt was evident in his reply.

“The lady at the library, the ticket taker at the train station …you’re grasping at ghosts Al.”

“You heard it too when we first met her … I know you did.”

Ed shook his head. He was about to respond, but fell silent as Lilly came out of the kitchen. “All ready Mr. Elric.”

“Call me Ed, please. And thank you.”

Walking into the kitchen, he found a large tub filled with steaming water. Behind him he heard Lilly push the door shut giving him privacy. “Looking forward to getting all this sand out.” With his left hand he tested the water. “Hmm, a little cool for me … but easy to fix.” With that he clapped his hands together and placed them on either side of the tub. A blue light flashed for a moment as the water heated.

“Ed!”

“That woman is a bit overexcited,” Ed whispered as he disrobed and slipped into the tub.

He was just starting to relax in the hot water when a commotion came from the other room. It sounded like someone was breaking down the front door. The kitchen door opened and Al was shoved inside. “Please you two … just stay in here and stay quiet and no more transmutations … please.” Lilly pleaded as she shut the door once more.

Ed stood up and grabbing a towel to wrap around his waist moved closer to the door. He could hear voices coming from outside the room.

“I’m sorry for the lights Mr. DePuy. I was working on some foreign herbs and they had an unexpected result when I heated them.”

“Little Lilly … I’m not an unreasonable man am I?”

“No, Mr. DePuy.”

“I don’t ask for much … just a little here and there … you know to make sure my men can continue protecting the town.”


A soft grunt answered him and Ed put his hand on the door. Al placed his hand on his brother’s shoulder and shook his head.

“Lights out Lilly, don’t make us come back tonight.”

As soon as Ed heard the front door shut he rushed out of the kitchen. Lilly was sitting on the floor adjusting her torn robe. “Who the hell was that?” he demanded.

Lillian looked up, whatever reply she had died on her lips as she stared at Ed.

“Brother … your clothes.”

Ed’s cheeks flared. “Um …”

“Your arm and leg …” Lilly whispered.

He moved his auto-mail arm. “Yeah … it’s where the Fullmetal Alchemist came from … um I’m going to go get dressed now.”

Ed hurried back into the kitchen shaking his head. “Full naked Alchemist is more like it.”

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Lillian accepted the hand up from Al. “Lilly, who was that?”

“Not a nice man, Alphonse.” She kept a firm hand on her right shoulder, keeping the torn robe in check. “Should I heat some water for your bath?”

“Lilly … I … I can’t take the armor off.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I don’t ask that you understand, Lilly, only that you respect my wishes.”

Lillian bowed her head slightly as Ed came back into the room, his shirt was off hung over his auto-mail arm.

“Lilly … what the hell is going on in this town?”

“A nightmare …” She sighed. “Ed, Alphonse, I owe you an explanation but it’s late and I rather not attract any more attention from the watchdogs tonight. Let me grab some oil for that arm, I know how harsh the desert can be on machines. And then you two can crash on the cots back there.”

She could tell Ed wasn’t happy with that answer but with a sigh of his own he nodded his head. “Okay, Lilly, your town … your house … your rules. But if you don’t give me answers tomorrow I’m ripping this town apart until I find them.”

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Chapter II - Alchemist of the Sands

“Sorry, boy … but you are in my element now.”
Saturn Stars
Yay! I got to learn more about your excellent story from your summary. My comments are on this chapter as I said the first time. Well thought out, and you tell something big is going to come.

Love ya heaps, send me the third chapter ASAP!

SS
Koori
IPB Image
Graphic Help By foolmetal alchemist

Chapter II - Alchemist of the Sands

Ed woke up to the aroma of bacon frying. Glancing over at the second bed, he wasn’t surprised to see it vacant. Resting on the neatly made cot was a basin of water and a crisp white towel. He took that as his cue and freshened up a bit. A short time later he walked into the kitchen to find Al at the stove, and their hostess nowhere to be seen.

“Where is Lilly?” He asked as he set the basin and towel down on the counter.

“She was called away early this morning; a child was running a fever.” Al took the bacon out of the skillet he was using and skillfully cracked a couple of eggs into the sizzling grease.

“Well … that was awful convenient … think she’s avoiding me?”

“I wouldn’t do that, Ed.”

The young alchemist whipped around to find Lilly standing in the doorway, and in her hand was a small black medical bag. Ed's cheeks flared as he sheepishly rubbed the back of his head. “Yeah … didn't think you would. Breakfast ready, Al?”

“Yes, brother. How is the baby doing, Lilly?”

“She’s doing much better, thank you.”

“You promised to tell us what last night’s fiasco was all about,” Ed reminded her between bites.

“That I did … finish your breakfast first, then I’ll explain all that I can.”

A little later Ed joined the other two out in the front room, plopping down on the empty pillow beside Al. He glanced over at Lilly expectantly and was alarmed how tired the golden eyes looking back at him appeared.

“I lied yesterday about not knowing an alchemist …”

“I knew it!” Ed’s eyes flashed with a look of betrayal. “This town … you … who the hell are you protecting?”

“Please, Ed … let me explain. I lied because Louis DePuy is a very powerful alchemist, calls himself the Alchemist of the Sands. He uses his alchemy for evil, you two. He’s killed with it … many times. He wasn’t always the only alchemist we had in Ishmar but he … he eliminated everyone he saw as a threat. Including my caregiver, Arthur LeCross, and the only alchemy Arthur practiced was healing.”

“Bastard … why doesn’t anyone do anything about it? Send someone for help?” Ed demanded.

“We’ve tried … but he destroyed any modes of transportation we had and those that tried other means were always found out. For each infraction he …” Lilly choked back a sob. “He and his watchdogs pick five random villagers for public execution … men, women … children … they do not discriminate in who they choose.”

Ed could barely keep his rage in control. “Why … why would he do such things?”

“Because he can … it’s all about the power and fear.”

“Enough of this! Come on, Al. Let’s go see this Alchemist of the Sands.”

“Ed … Alphonse … I won’t stop you this time. Don’t think I’d have the power to. But he is a very dangerous man and as powerful as you might be as a State Alchemist. He has years of experience ahead of you and won’t hesitate to kill you both. Know that going into this. I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t say that I’d rather you two left Ishmar and never look back. But know if you fail, you won’t be the only two that die today. DePuy will know it was you last night and will dish out his usual punishment.”

“We won’t fail … I’ll bury this guy so deep he’ll never hurt anyone again.” Ed declared as he and Al stood.

Lilly sighed and stood as well, she quickly hugged Ed causing him to blush with embarrassment. She did the same to Al, resting her cheek against his cool armor for a moment. “Watch over each other.”

“We always do.” They replied in unison.

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Lillian watched from her door as the two brothers walked down the street toward the house Mr. DePuy had claimed as his own. She clenched her hand in silent rage as she noticed the citizens of Ishmar watching from their windows. “I’m sending them to their deaths,” she whispered to herself.

“Lilly?”

Sighing, she turned to face Ruth’s mother, Garnet. “It’s time … this is our last chance. The State Alchemist and his brother will have DePuy’s attention we have to use that to our advantage.”

“State Alchemist … why did he bring his baby brother with him?”

“The ‘baby’ brother is the State Alchemist, Garnet. Not sure what brought them to our town … but looks like they are going to cover our escape. Let us pray this is the last blood we’ll find on our hands. Alert the others … remember our plan bring the very basics, Boonville is a two-day walk away. Hurry! I want people ready to go very soon.”

As Garnet ran off to do as she said, Lillian walked back into her own house to make preparations. She paused to glance over at DePuy’s. “Forgive us Ed, Alphonse … we weren’t always such cowards.”

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“Brother … I have a bad feeling about this.”

“It’s just this town, Al. The streets echo with the screams of the dead, but that is all going to change. This DePuy has messed with the wrong alchemist; we’ll make him pay for his crimes.” They stopped outside the building Lillian had directed them to and glanced around with anticipation.

“I don’t see any guards … didn’t Lillian say something about watchdogs? Wonder where they are?”

“Don’t know … don’t care, Al. Let’s go introduce ourselves.” Ed walked up to the door and knocked. A long moment passed … he knocked again. “Al?”

Reaching past his brother Al smashed an iron fist into the door, causing it to fly off its hinges and crash on the floor inside.

“Quick and effective,” Ed said as he stepped inside. The darkness surprised him after the bright desert sun outside. It was so dark inside that the small glow coming in around his brother's huge frame didn't penetrate the gloom.

“DePuy! Where are you, coward?!? Come out of the shadows and face me!”

His challenge was answered with a chorus of low growls. Ed frowned as a throng of menacing yellow eyes appeared in the blackness. “You know, Al, when she mentioned watchdogs, I didn’t think she actually meant dogs.”

The brothers swiftly moved into defensive stances, with Al taking the lead to use his armor as a shield if needed. “DePuy, call your mutts off now!” Ed commanded.

Once again the only answer he received was from the beasts around them as they charged. With a brilliant flash of light, Ed’s auto-mail hand shifted into a sharp blade with which he caught one of his attackers square in the chest.

“Brother! These aren’t natural...”

Ed frowned as the creature he just killed fell into the sunlight. Al was right; it was a creation of alchemy. “Chimeras … be careful, Al!”

His brother was holding his own, slamming the twisted beasts into the wall with backbreaking strength. However, there seemed to be no end to their attackers, one would fall and two seemed to take its place. “Screw this …” Ed growled in frustration. He sliced at another creature before clapping his hands together and slamming them down on the ground. He was perplexed for a moment when his fingers sunk into sand but recovered quickly and used the sand to his advantage in order to transmute a large field of deadly spikes of glass. The room was filled with howls of dying chimeras.

“Impressive.”

Ed looked over toward the voice. It was still too dark to make out the layout of the room. He could smell the odor of blood and cigars. “DePuy, by the power given to me as a State Alchemist …”

“A State Alchemist … in my humble abode? How wonderful.”

The young alchemist growled under his breath. “Stop hiding in the shadows!”

“I’m not hiding … I just prefer the darkness … too much sun is bad for the skin and all that. Now what brings a State Alchemist to this little, one-camel town?”

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Lillian shuddered slightly as the dying howls of the watchdogs faded; she prayed that their cries were a good sign for the Elric brothers. Outside her house a small crowd had gathered … too small, so many had already perished. “Are you all ready?”

“Lilly are you sure this is the only way?”

“Our whole lives are here!”

“How are we going to make it … what about the children?”

“Your lives are not here … maybe a few worldly goods but your lives are not … and if you stay it will only mean your deaths. And we’ll make it just like we always have, on our own two legs. It’s time; you will be following Garnet from now on.”

“Lilly?!? What about you?” Garnet spoke up alarmed, the concern she felt written across her face.

“I’ll catch up … I need to carry out the second part of the plan … if DePuy wants to rule this town, he’ll rule over ashes. And … I’m hoping the Elric brothers will be successful.”

“If they are … can’t we come back?”

“Do you really want to raise your families in these blood soaked streets? It’s best if we start anew. Now hurry up … the sounds of the battle within are intensifying. This is our one and only chance.”

She smiled behind her veil at the silent resolve she saw in the faces of the others; she hoped the determination would see them through the days ahead. As they proceeded out of town she snagged Garnet’s arm and pulled her off to the side.

“Lilly?”

“Lead them to Uther …”

“What? That is an extra two days of travel, if not more! Why?”

“Someone is giving us away to DePuy. Hopefully this will throw him off. Remember to cover your tracks and with luck we’ll see each other again, someday.”

Garnet hugged Lillian with tears in her eyes. “Old Arthur would be proud.” With that she hurried off to catch up with the others.

“You’re on your own now,” Lillian said to the retreating crowd as they disappeared over the first dune. “May the rest of your lives be in peace.”

Lilly glanced toward DePuy’s residence it was all ready … at her feet laid the last transmutation circle. There were identical drawings on every porch, connected to one another. She’d only need to trigger one to cause a hellish chaos.

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The attack came swiftly with deadly accuracy, the only warning was an almost silent whistle, but it was enough and Al stepped in front of his brother, letting his armored body take the brunt of the assault. There was a wrenching sound of metal being torn from its seams followed by a dull clank. The glint from a large blade gleamed in the dim light before disappearing once more into the darkness.

“Al!”

The dust settled and Ed found his brother kneeling in front of him, his right arm had been severed and was lying on the ground beside him. “Enough of this! No more attacking from the shadows!”

Slamming his hands down on the ground, Ed called upon the power of alchemy and the whole building structure disappeared into sawdust that rained down upon him. In the brilliant sunlight he could now see four men, who seemed temporarily blinded by the invasion of light.

“Now or never, Al … let’s take them down!”

The loss of an arm didn’t slow down his brother he charged the closest man, and Al’s armored gauntlet sent him flying across the street. He didn’t get back up. Ed heard a whistle coming from behind where he was kneeling. “Not this time,” he growled as a wall of granite appeared at his back. The bladed weapon thrown at him became lodged within. Even before the barrier had finished forming, Ed was on the move. Whipping around the granite he charged his attacker. The startled man had no chance of dodging the assault and was knocked unconscious by Ed’s auto-mailed fist.

The Elric brothers faced their final two attackers … at their feet laid the bloody corpses of the half-dog and half-mountain lion chimeras.

“So which one of you is the Alchemist of the Sands?” Ed inquired.

One of the men chuckled.

“What’s so funny?”

“Neither of us are, shrimp.”

“SHRIMP!?!”

The annoyed alchemist knocked the final two henchmen out cold before they had time to draw their weapons. Ed stood over the last crumpled body, panting slightly. He glanced over at his brother who was retrieving his severed arm. “I’ll fix that for you in a second, Al … but if none of those were DePuy … then where is he?”

Before Al could answer him, the ground beneath their feet began to move. Or to be more exact, the sand did. Ed jumped back as a large sinkhole appeared; the loose sand pulled the corpses of the dead into its lethal eye. “Al! Watch it!”

It was an unnecessary warning; Al was already on the move. Ed grabbed an unconscious man as he fled the sand trap. His brother did the same with the remaining two and they escaped out of the ruins.

“What the hell, was that?”

“Just cleaning up your mess.”

Ed and Al spun around to find a robed heavyset man standing behind them, a cigar dangling from his lips. He glanced at Al’s still missing arm. “Interesting.”

“DePuy, nice to see you …”

“You’ve caused quite a mess, State Alchemist … I’m impressed …”

“You’ve said that already … and I’m ready to impress you some more!” Smacking his hands together he bent down toward the ground. Before he could make contact, though, a deluge of sand struck his face.

“Sorry, boy … I haven’t figured out how you are doing your transmutations but you are in my element now.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Lillian watched the battle between the alchemists from her door. Ed and Al had seemed to be winning from what she had seen, but she lost sight of them when DePuy had summoned one of his sand storms. She had seen this before and knew the damage he could cause with his creation. He would change the granules of sand into shards of glass, which would shred everything they came in contact with. She wasn’t even sure the armor protecting Al would survive, and knew Ed wouldn’t.

“I can’t be idle any longer … I’m sorry Arthur.” She knelt down placing her hands on either side of the transmutation circle at her feet. The array of fire began to glow and with preplanned precision the buildings lining the streets began to explode.

It had the desired effect, the shard storm faded. Before it died completely she saw the armored body of Al running toward her, his brother cradled in his arm. She stood stopping the chain of explosions before it reached her own dwelling.

“Lilly! Please … help!”

Al ran up to her, his brother was unconscious in his embrace … his clothes almost completely destroyed. Lillian wasn’t sure what startled her the most, the fact Al was missing an arm but she could see no blood … or anything at all in the darkness of the gap in the armor or the fact his brother was covered in blood his exposed skin shredded from the violent attack.

“I tried to shield him … please Lilly … he can’t die … he’s all I got.”

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Chapter III - Treasure of Ishmar

“You know what, Ed, equivalent exchange sucks!”
Koori
Chapter III - Treasure of Ishmar

“Bring him inside.”

Al looked over his shoulder at the still burning buildings and falling sand. “What about …”

“DePuy doesn't come out in the daylight so we have awhile before we have to worry about him.” Lillian said nonchalantly.

“That doesn't make any sense …” Al seemed unsure.

“When do the insane have to make sense? Hurry before your brother bleeds to death in your arms!” By her tone of voice it was clear the topic was closed to discussion.

Al followed Lillian inside her home, one of the few remaining structures left standing in Ishmar. “Lilly, what happened outside?”

“A desperate act from desperate people … lay him here on the cot.”

As Ed was gently put down, the only sounds he made were ragged breaths. Lilly glanced over at Al, “Are you going to need healing?”

“No.”

She nodded and gestured toward the front door. “Then use your alchemy to fortify us the best you can. I'll tend to Ed.”

“Lilly … are you an alchemist?”

“Yes … now hurry.”

She waited until Al was safe outside before turning to Ed. “This isn't good,” she whispered. Moving quickly to the bag she had packed earlier, she retrieved a small notebook and a bar of silver ore.

With trembling hands she flipped through the notebook, one of the few items left to her by Arthur. Finding the correct page, she laid it down beside Ed and started tracing the alchemy arrays found within on the teen's chest, using his own blood. “Hang in there, Ed.”

Lilly finished the circle and took a calming breath. “I have one chance at this … just glad you are on the small side.”

“Who … calling … small …” Ed sighed, his eyes never opening.

Shaking her head with a slight smile she removed her right glove and gripped the bar of silver ore tightly. “You know what, Ed, equivalent exchange sucks!” With that proclamation she triggered the power of her circle.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Al was standing outside on the deserted street wondering more about where the people had gone than how to protect himself and those within, when a horrific scream came from inside. The scene he rushed into was that of a nightmare. There was blood spattered in a large ring around Ed and Lillian. His brother was still on the cot, but Lilly was crumbled on the floor her robe soaked in blood.

As he moved closer Lillian stirred and for a moment he caught a flash of silver but it disappeared under her clothing. “Lilly?!?”

She drew in a ragged breath and the eyes that looked up at him were laced with pain. “It will be okay now, Alphonse … your brother will be just fine.”

Al looked over at Ed. The once shredded skin had seemed to vanish, although there was still a lot of blood including the remains of a transmutation circle. “Lilly … what did you do?”

“What I had to do … we didn't have a lot of time or resources.” As she spoke, she crawled away a few feet before collapsing. Al rushed over and picked her up one-handed with ease. Then despite her protest gently laid her down on the remaining cot. “I'll be fine in a few hours … as will Ed … you need to do as I said Alphonse … use your alchemy to protect us until we … until we wake up … it will be okay.”

Very few things scare Alphonse Elric … after losing one's body, not many other acts can bring upon terror. However, there was one thing and that would be losing his brother. He did as Lilly had instructed him by turning her wooden walls into solid rock using the ground beneath her floorboards as material. He used her kitchen pans to create iron bars across her windows, but he didn't seal the view completely so he could watch outside for signs of attack. After he did all that he could he returned to the others.

If it wasn't for the blood, it looked as if the two of them were just sleeping. Beside his brother was a notebook. Picking it up, he read the handwritten pages to see that it was explaining how to use alchemy to heal the skin of burn victims. The notes spoke of using animal flesh as the exchange for destroyed human flesh. “Lilly didn't have any animal …” Al looked over at her blood soaked robes. “What did you do, Lilly?”

With a nervous hand he reached over and started to pull the robes away from her. He didn't get far when suddenly she grabbed his arm. “I told you I was fine, Alphonse.”

Al pulled his arm away as Lillian sat up. In his eyes she looked perfectly fine … if you ignored the crimson stains on her robes. “I'm going to go freshen up and change into something a bit cleaner … with any luck your brother will waken soon as well. But he lost a lot of blood … he may need more rest.”

As she stood, Lilly noticed the notebook in Al's hand and asked for it back. “It's Arthur's medical notes … one of the few remaining items I have of him.” Waiting until after Al gave it to her, she disappeared into the kitchen.

When she reappeared a short time later, she wore loose long pants tucked into boots that were laced up to almost her knees. Her robes had been replaced with a long sleeve tunic with a sash tied around her waist. The gloves and veil remained the same. “Needed something more efficient for traveling,” she answered his unasked question.

Al noticed she carried a basin of water in her hands as she went over to where Ed rested. Using a cloth she began washing the blood from him, erasing all traces of his horrific injuries.

“Will he wake up soon, you think?”

“I don't know, Alphonse.” Lillian finished and, after setting the basin down, moved to look out the window. “Judging by the sun we still have a couple hours before nightfall.”

“Do you think we'll be able to survive another attack?”

Lillian looked over at the iron man. “Alphonse … I want you to take Ed and get as far away as you can from here. I'll do the best distraction I can to give you and the others time to flee.”

“But …”

“This isn’t your fight, Alphonse, it never was. Please listen to me! I saved your brother’s life but you staying here will kill him.”

“Lilly …”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Lillian watched the silhouette of Alphonse disappear over the horizon, in his arm he cradled Ed, wrapped up in a blanket … still out cold. She had patched the hole from his missing arm with a tarp to keep the sand out. There were questions she wanted to ask but in the end she decided they both had secrets to keep and not knowing was the best action. At her feet was her small bag … she wasn't bringing much, just Arthur's notes, a few personal belongings, and the final silver bar she owned.

She stood out in the middle of the street her hands at her side with her gaze on the ground in front of her as time passed. Around her sand swirled and to the east the sun descended behind the hills. It was moments after darkness fell when the stench of his cigar smoke reached her, she slowly looked up and saw him standing among the ruins from earlier, at his side she observed one remaining watchdog.

“Your tyranny ends tonight, DePuy … there is no one left here for me to protect.”

His dark chortle carried through the early dusk air. “I should thank you for sending those that remained to Boonville … it was starting to get boring here.”

Lillian started to smile but it died on her lips as he continued.

“I'm sure Garnet will lead them there quickly … funny how the life of a child can be such a strong bargaining chip. But that is enjoyment for another day; afraid you have crossed me for the first and last time Little Lilly. Arthur was a fool … even a bigger fool to think he was hiding you from me. I had hoped to use your talents but I'm afraid you just aren't worth the bother.”

With lightning speed Lillian reached down and triggered the final array at her feet causing the buildings around them to explode. In the same fluid motion she raced toward DePuy. The quickness of her attack surprised him, however the beast at his side was ready and the knife in her hand found its heart instead of its master's.

As Lillian withdrew her blade a powerful force slammed into her back, knocking her down. She recovered and looked around; she had lost him in the darkness … however his stench still remained. “Damn it!” She had blown her one chance, because once he had the upper hand the game was over. However, she wasn't going to roll over and give up. Racing past the remains of her home she snagged her bag and tried her best to disappear into the night.

“Oh, come now Little Lilly … since when do the shadows hide you?”

She tried to home in onto his voice, feverishly looking for anything that would give his location away. “I know all your tricks, you monster! It was those unearthly beasts that gave you a hand up in the dark. Alerting you to every little infraction made after curfew. Without them you are just a human, a pathetic …”

Her retort was cut off as a large column of sand suddenly appeared in front of her. With skilled athletic abilities she dodged his attack without a pause in her pace. “I am the Alchemist of the Sands! My power is unmatched!” He challenged.

“I know all your secrets, DePuy and you know none of mine!” Out of the corner of her eye Lillian saw the burning ember of his cigar tip. Her whole body began to glow a soft lilac as the blade appeared in her right hand. “Die bastard!”

“Not tonight,” was his calm reply, as the ground beneath her seemed to vanish. Lillian's last sight before being completely lost in the sand that poured down on her was that of DePuy's sarcastic smile.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Al stared back to the East where Ishmar had long since disappeared in the endless desert. “Am I doing the right thing, brother?” He sighed at the silence from the teen. “I'm used to following your lead … wish you would wake up.”

Far off he heard the sound of explosions; in the distance he could see a soft red glow in the darkened sky. “Lilly … please be okay.” He took another hesitant step and stopped. “Please … wake up, I don't want to leave her … and I can't do this alone. WAKE UP!”

“Oh quit your shouting, Al … just a couple more minutes … still sleepy.” The muffled replied startled him and he lost his grip dropping Ed into the sand.

“Hey! What the heck is wrong with you?” There was a short pause. “Um … and where the hell are we?”

“Brother! You're awake! Are you okay?”

Ed stood up, the blanket still draped over his shoulders. “I seem to be … mind explaining what the heck has happened and why I'm standing out in the middle of the desert with not so much as a pair of pants on?”

Al quickly explained all that had happened while Ed had been out cold, as his brother dressed in a second outfit from their bags. When he got to the part about the alchemy Lillian had done to save his life, Ed gave himself a once over.

“I don't remember much once that DePuy guy sucker punched me, but I do recall those shards shredding my auto-mail, along with everything else. Yet, it seems to be working perfectly … not even I can repair my auto-mail with alchemy.”

“Well, Lilly has both knowledge of the human body and alchemy … she probably just applied what she knew when reconstructing you.”

“Maybe,” Ed held his mechanical arm up in the moonlight. “I can see the places she fixed in the metal, they aren't made out of the same material but it looks like silver.”

“Brother …”

“Yeah?”

“We need to go back. I left because Lilly told me to and she said you would die if we stayed. But she was all alone … she won’t stand a chance. Please fix my arm quickly so we can get back … before it’s too late.”

“Fix it with what, Al?” Ed looked around at the empty terrain. “I agree about going back, I owe that alchemist, DePuy … your arm will have to wait.”

Al opened a second duffle and dumped it out. A small heap of skillets and pans appeared. “Please, it won't be as strong as the rest of me but it will work for now … right?”

Ed answered by clapping his hands together and as the desert glowed blue, he made his brother whole again. Afterwards the pair raced back toward Ishmar hoping that this time they wouldn't be too late.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Chapter IV - Silver Secrets

“Al,” Ed said softly placing a hand on his brother's arm. “She's not here or if she is she's no longer capable of answering.”
Koori
Chapter IV - Silver Secrets

Ed knelt to pick up a charred piece of wood as he looked around at the destruction. Lillian's circles had done their task, since there were no buildings left standing. His auto-mail crushed the wood in his hand. As he stood the ashes mixed with the sand at his feet.

“Don't let your guard down Al, we don't know who or what is out there in the shadows.”

“Do you think Lilly is okay?” Al asked as they moved cautiously deeper into the smoldering ruins. The concern he felt for the healer was evident in his voice.

“I don't know, Al, all we can do is hope.” Ed caught sight of a shadowed shape that looked out of place and hurried over to it.

Al noticed it as well and his large legs reached the mysterious object before Ed. “It's another one of DePuy's chimeras, brother, thought we killed them all. We barely made it past his pack … Lilly …” He fell silent.

Ed cursed under his breath, as he looked the body over. “Well, she got this one pretty good, looks like she hit its heart. Don't give up on her, Al! Keep looking, she could be hurt or maybe she made it out and headed to join the rest of the Ishmar people.”

As his brother wandered off to search, Ed paused to examine the remains of a transmutation circle on one of the destroyed porches. “Crude but effective.”

“Brother!”

The alarm in Al's voice was evident and Ed rushed to his brother's side ready for battle. The initial apprehension quickly became dread as he saw what his brother held in his hand.

“It's Lilly's bag she wouldn't have left without it.” Al's voice was choked with emotions.

“We don't know what happened here, Al.”

“Lilly!”

Al's shout caught Ed by surprise. “Al! We don't know where that DePuy guy is … let's not go advertising ourselves quite yet.”

“Lilly!” Ignoring his brother's warning Al continued to shout, both Elrics listened for a reply.

“Al,” Ed said softly, placing a hand on his brother's arm. “She's not here or if she is she's no longer capable of answering.”

“I shouldn't have left her.” Al's shoulders slumped.

“Al, she would have … what the hell!” Ed yelled out in alarm as something grabbed his left ankle. He jumped back freeing himself. In the moonlight he and Al stared in disbelief at a hand reaching out of the sand that gleamed silver.

“What the hell?” Ed repeated.

Al shoved his brother aside and started digging at the sand. “It's Lilly!”

Ed clapped his hands together and placed them on the ground. The soil in front of him began to rise up in the form of a giant hand. The sand rained down on them and revealed in the palm of his creation was the crumpled form of Lillian. Ed gasped in surprise as she stirred coughing and gasping for air. He gently dissolved his formation back into the ground and joined Al where he cradled her in his arms.

All three were quiet as Lillian continued to cough and brush the sand from her veil and face. “Thought I was dead for sure.” She finally choked out. “The sand was loose enough for a little air to make it to me and my veil blocked it from flowing into my mouth. But I couldn't move, it was like being buried alive.”

Lillian's chokes became sobs and Ed placed a hand on her shoulder in an attempt to comfort her. It was then that he noticed the cool touch under his hand and pulled back slightly. Her sleeve had been torn away and revealed her right arm was completely covered in silver. “Wow, that's some fancy auto-mail you have, Lilly.”

“We're not safe here. I wasn't able to stop DePuy.” Lillian's voice was hoarse from sand and tears.

“You relax, Lilly, catch your breath. Al and I will handle DePuy now, since you've done your part.”

Lillian nodded and relaxed in Al's arms, closing her eyes as he stood. Her right arm slid off her chest and Ed caught it and went to place it back when he paused and lifted it up in the air a couple of times.

“Lilly?”

“Hmm?” Came the mumbled reply.

“This auto-mail is so light, what is it made out of?”

The hand he was holding was jerked out of his grasp and tucked against her chest. Alert eyes looked back at him from behind her veil. “Something my father made for me, sorry I don't know the particulars.”

Ed knew once more he was getting half-truths, but decided they weren't at the best place to discuss it. “Okay, let's find some place safe to wait the night out then we'll go hunting for DePuy.”

“There is a storm shelter under where the church stood. I assume it's still intact, but it may be a death trap if DePuy finds us.”

“Agreed, we need to find someplace where he can't sneak up on us.” Ed looked around; in the darkness all he could see was the glowing embers of dying fires.

“Honestly, Ed, this may be the safest place for us. If DePuy was still here the ground would have been alive by now. He's retreated back to his hole. As long as we are vigilant we should be okay.” Lillian motioned for Al to set her down, which he did carefully.

Ed couldn't take his eyes off her silver arm; the moonlight illuminated it as she moved. She looked over at him to find him staring and self-consciously placed her other hand over her metallic arm. “That’s the reason I keep it covered, so no one knows about it.”

Ed flexed his own auto-mail arm. “I don't see anything weird about having a metal arm. What about you Al?”

His brother chuckled as he moved his own metal arms. “Nope, nothing weird at all.”

Lillian rewarded them with a small smile. “Let's get comfortable … well not too comfortable, it will be dawn in a couple hours and then we can finally end this.”

The Elrics nodded and settled down in the shadows of the dying town to wait until daylight.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Lillian sat with her knees drawn up to her chin and used the sitting Al as a backrest with his approval. Nearby, Ed was stretched out using his overcoat as a pillow. His steady breathing suggested he was resting, confident his brother would alert him to any trouble.

“You should rest too, Lilly.”

Glancing over her shoulder at him she nodded. “I know, but I just can't get the feeling of earlier out of my head. To be so close to death and … well, you wouldn't understand.”

“I understand plenty what it means to be close to death, Lilly. The pain, fear … yes I understand. But you didn't die, so you shouldn't dwell on it. Move forward!”

“I always do, Alphonse. I know in my head I'm alive but at the moment my heart hasn't caught up. If you want I can take first watch and you can rest a bit.”

“Um …” she could hear the hesitancy in his voice. “Well, if you insist just holler if you need me.” He finished quickly and fell silent.

Lillian relaxed against his cool back as he rested, listening. “No heartbeat … no breathing …your arm is back as if nothing happened,” she thought to herself. “He sounds so hollow except when he speaks, then his words overflow with emotions as if that is all he has left. Oh, Alphonse, what are you?” Sighing she stood and stretched her arms above her head. She quickly dropped them when she noticed her silver arm shining like a beacon. “Got to fix that.”

Looking through her bag she found a clean tunic and glanced around for a place to change. There was nothing in close proximity and she didn't want to wander too far. Lillian glanced over at the Elrics; Ed was asleep with his back to her and Al … well as far as she could tell he was also resting. She would have to risk it. Ed had called her arm auto-mail and she hadn't corrected him since the truth wasn't something she wanted to reveal. Turning her back to the others she slipped out of her ruined shirt cautiously. She glanced down; the silver didn't stop at her shoulder, veins of it spread out across her chest and down her back.

A soft noise came from behind her and as she jerked around, the silver across her chest flowed to cover her breasts. Ed’s gaze was on her and she knew it wasn’t her state of undress that caused the wonderment reflected in his eyes. Al had tilted his head away in respect but Ed stood and moved closer.

“Lillian … what are you?” He reached for her silver hand and she let him, wrapping her fingers around his.

She was surprised by his question. “I'm human, Ed. Just like you and Al, I have metal mixed with flesh.”

“This is not auto-mail.” Ed declared as he ran his hand over her arm.

“No it's not, Ed.” She sighed and then reached a decision. “It's Truesilver.”

The young alchemist gasped. “Impossible! How?”

Lillian glanced over her shoulder into the darkness and in the same moment freed her hand. “I've said too much already. I promised to keep it a secret and I don't know what lurks out there.” She slipped on the tunic and the silver disappeared underneath, except for what could be seen on her right hand. “Since you both are awake, I'm going to look around. Don't worry I'll be careful.”

Neither tried to stop her as she disappeared into the night.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


“Brother, is Truesilver what I remember it being?”

Ed shook his head slightly trying to clear the shock from his system. “Yes, Al, it can only be created by alchemy and it's very rare. In all the books we read to find information about the philosopher stone, we have to read a thousand more and might be able to write a page of information on Truesilver. It's more forbidden to create than lead into gold.”

“Why? It's just a metal …” Al's confusion hung in the air.

“Just a metal? Didn't you see it? It moved on its own! Truesilver is the living metal.” The awe in his voice was still evident.

“Living metal … I don't understand?”

“Neither did I, until now and I'm still not sure I understand. I'd love to get a closer look.”

Al chuckled softly. “You already got a pretty close look there, brother. You could have waited until she had her shirt on.”

Ed's cheeks flared with embarrassment. “Yeah, well.” A brilliant flash on the other side of the ruined town cut off his reply.

“That's the light from a transmutation!” Al declared already moving.

“Damn, why did she have to wander off?” Ed raced alongside his brother, his auto-mail leg aiding his speed. “Maybe it's not what we think it is,” he said hopefully.

The sandstorm that came into view destroyed that fragile hope and the Elrics only paused a moment before racing toward the mayhem.

“Let's finish this, Al!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Chapter V – Karma

“That explains a lot.” Ed said aloud as he once again found solid footing. “But now what?”

“Not to sound too cliché, but now you die!”
Saturn Stars
Well, your story certainly has gotten far hasn't it! I can't wait to see what happens next, I hope to receive your next chapter to edit ASAP

Much love,
Koori
QUOTE(Saturn Stars @ Jul 22 2005, 02:32 AM)
Well, your story certainly has gotten far hasn't it! I can't wait to see what happens next, I hope to receive your next chapter to edit ASAP

Much love,
[snapback]222803[/snapback]



The final chapter for part one should be in your in-box, Miss Stars. If your e-mail ate it again just poke me via my hotmail account and I'll send it again! And I couldn't have gotten this far without my wonderful editors ... you included. IPB Image

*HUGS* ~ K
Koori
Chapter V - Karma

The force of the wind kept Lillian in the center of the tempest. She knelt, trying to limit the amount of flesh that would be exposed once DePuy shifted his alchemic sandstorm to its deadly final stage. Underneath her clothing the Truesilver was already moving trying to protect her most vital organs. She raised her right arm to shield her eyes; it was difficult to do against the strength of the wind. Her sleeve was pushed back revealing the silver beneath.

“Once I’m finished removing the flesh that Truesilver will make me rich on the black-market. Hell, even the army will pay me well for it!” DePuy’s gloat came from somewhere outside the storm.

“Sorry to burst your bubble, but I’ve grown quite attached to my arm. You’ll have to do better than this little sand sprinkle if you have any hope of doing much more than taking the polish off of it.” Lillian’s words came out braver than she felt, but if she couldn’t attack him straight on at least she could assault his pride.

“You little witch! You’ve seen what I can do. If I remember correctly, when I was done with your dear Arthur you could have buried him in a shoebox with room to spare.”

Lillian clenched her hand in silent rage but held herself in check. “Keep him talking.” She thought to herself. “Have to keep him focused on me and give Ed and Al a chance.”

Aloud she continued. “Well, if your goal was to get sand down my shirt you’ve succeeded.” She slowly stood up against the power of the wind and took a step toward DePuy’s voice.

“No one defies me!” The force around her increased as he shifted the grains of sand into their ultimate stage.

The shards of glass ripped her clothing; through her pant legs more silver was revealed. She continued her deliberate march toward his voice, keeping her arm in front of her face as a shield. Abruptly, she was hit from below the waist by a blunt force, which knocked her back into the storm and onto the ground. Tiny razorblades tore into her exposed flesh as she struggled to shield herself.

Suddenly the attack against her stopped and she dropped her arm to find Al kneeling over her, his armor taking the full force of the storm. “Stay still, Lilly! Let me protect you.”

Lillian nodded and moved closer to Al so he could wrap his arms around her to create an impenetrable shield. She could hear the glass shatter against his steel shell. “It’s up to your brother now, but be ready Alphonse,” she said.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Ed watched his brother disappear into the sandstorm and then turned his attention toward DePuy. The Alchemist of the Sands seemed focused on Lillian but Ed didn’t let his guard down. Kneeling he clapped his hands together and placed them on the ground, DePuy wasn’t the only one that could manipulate the sand. He repeated his transmutation from earlier creating a giant hand under DePuy. But this time he caused the hand to form a fist around his target; then solidified his creation trapping DePuy in its grip.

“Looks like I finally got a hand up on you, DePuy.” Ed chuckled at his own humor as he warily approached.

DePuy still had a cigar clenched in his mouth as he struggled against his bonds. “You seemed to have as many lives as Little Lilly, Mr. State Alchemist. However, it’s a good thing for her … gives me a chance to harvest the Truesilver she was good enough to reveal to you and your brother.”

Suddenly Ed’s creation exploded showering him with sand and dirt. DePuy dropped to the ground and turned to face Ed. He casually placed a hand into the pocket of his pants and with his other hand he took the cigar from his lips blowing out a ring of smoke.

Ed clenched his auto-mail hand into a fist. Out of the corner of his eye he saw his brother disappear behind one of the ruined walls of the town. “At least Al and Lilly are safe,” he thought to himself.

A subtle change in his footing was enough warning as he catapulted himself straight up, with the aid of his mechanical leg. Underneath him the ground had become alive, shifting into a sinkhole.

“How in the hell are you doing your transmutations?” Ed demanded.

“You don’t really expect me to answer that, do you?” DePuy answered with a small grin.

Ed landed on solid ground; at least it was for the moment. He clapped his hands together and slammed them down. The sand in front of him rushed toward DePuy in a giant wave, as if Ed had liquefied the ground. He didn’t wait for the creation to reach the alchemist, under the cover of his attack he raced over to where he had seen Al take cover. Behind the wall he found his brother and Lillian huddled. Ed couldn’t help but notice that a pair of silver legs had joined Lillian’s silver arm.

“Damn, you have some explaining to do, but it can wait. I can’t find this guy’s weak spot. Lilly, you know him better then us, any ideas?”

“Keep moving!” She yelled as she leapt up.

The Elrics followed, escaping another deadly sinkhole. Ed landed beside Lillian then moved to place himself in front of her. Al did the same and the threesome faced off with the Alchemist of Sands.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Lillian watched the Elrics with a look of admiration. There was no hesitation as they fell into fighting stances. Her eyes darted around noticing that the remains of DePuy’s treacherous alchemy continued to manipulate the desert. The sand was alive with sinkholes and sandstorms.

“How in the hell are you doing your transmutations?”

Ed’s earlier comment echoed inside her head. He was right, DePuy was evil but he wasn’t magic. There were basic laws all alchemy followed and one of the big ones was the need of a transmutation circle. Lillian was a walking transmutation circle, since the silver from her arm connected to her legs from both the front and the back, completing the circle. And within were different arrays. Yet it only allowed her to manipulate her own metal. Even she needed to draw a transmutation circle for any alchemy she formed outside her own body. Then again Ed was creating alchemy without the need of a circle.

She growled in frustration as she slammed her hand down on the ground. Her fist fell beside a footprint in the sand and she frowned. In the heel of the print was the remains of a transmutation circle, her eyes followed a series of footfalls and in each one the circle was repeated. She did a quick glance from Ed’s feet to that of the print and decided his boots were too small to leave the mark.

“Ed! His transmutation circles are on the soles of his boots!” Her warning came as once again they were forced to move as the sand beneath became liquid.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


“That explains a lot.” Ed said aloud as he once again found solid footing. “But now what?”

“Not to sound too cliché, but now you die!” DePuy unleashed another deadly alchemic sandstorm.

“Screw this; I’m tired of playing your games!” Ed clapped his hands together and slammed them down on the ground. “You are not the only one who can control the desert!”

The sand beneath him began to shake violently and Ed pulled back alarmed. “That isn’t supposed to happen.” A quick glance around revealed the reason; the ground had become too volatile with all the sudden changes DePuy had been causing. Mother Earth could only take so much stress and she had reached her limits.

“Al! Lilly! We need to get the hell away from here! The ground has become too unstable!”

“Ed!”

“Brother!”

Ed’s warning had come a moment too late; Al had lost his footing and fallen into one of the many sinkholes. Lillian had tried to help grabbing one of Al’s hands but the sand was now pulling them both toward the deadly center.

“Over here, Fullmetal, we’re not done yet.” DePuy’s voice had become almost hysterical.

“I think we have more pressing matters. If you haven’t noticed your alchemy has caused the ground to go into meltdown, we have to get out of here or we’re all going to be pulled in.” Ed turned his back on DePuy to help the others.

“I’m the Alchemist of the Sands! I do not fear the desert!”

“Then maybe you’ll fear this!” Ed whipped around with lightening speed and slammed his auto-mail fist into the jaw of the other. He didn’t wait to see where DePuy landed as he rushed over to where Al and Lillian were quickly being pulled under.

Suddenly Al freed both arms and grabbed Lillian pulling her from the sand. He raised her over his head and then tossed her as hard as he could toward his brother. Ed broke her fall and they both looked back at Al, just in time to see his armored hand disappear beneath the sand.

“Al!” Lillian screamed in terror.

“His armor is always filling with sand. Makes him sink like a rock.”

Ed’s negligent reply seemed to startle Lillian. “Ed?”

“Don’t worry, Lilly. I’ll have him back out in a jiffy … you just watch your footing.” Ed said as he knelt down. Clapping his hand he placed them on the ground. “One more transmutation then we’ll leave you in peace.”

The sinkhole that had claimed Al suddenly started spinning in the opposite direction. The sand began rising up in a giant twister. After a long moment the armored body of Al was pulled free from the ground and Ed dissolved his creation.

“Thank you, brother.” Al said as he landed.

“Anytime, Al.” Ed said with a slight smile. The Elrics glanced over at Lillian who was staring dumbfounded.

“I’m glad you’re okay, Lilly.” Al said.

Lillian shook her head and then shrugged. “You …” she gasped as the ground shifted under her feet.

“Go! Go! Go!” Ed shouted.

As the trio raced out of town, Ed was surprised at how easily Lillian kept up with them. Running past their camp from the night before, they gathered up their separate bags with barely a pause in their pace and then didn’t stop until they were safely away from the deadly sinkholes.

Ed looked down from the safety of an overlooking dune. The sinkholes had formed one giant one and it was slowly pulling the remains of Ishmar into its eye. “Damn, DePuy got away again!”

“No,” Lillian said softly. “No, he didn’t.” She pointed down toward the disappearing town.

Ed followed the direction she was indicating and saw someone struggling in the grips of the sinkhole.

“I guess even he can’t make transmutations with the sand moving.” Lillian’s voice seemed void of emotions.

“I have to save him!” Ed cried.

Lillian grabbed his arm holding him in place. “Ed, I have no doubt you are one of the most powerful alchemist I have ever seen but not even you could stop that in time.”

Ed’s shoulders drooped as he watched DePuy disappear into the center of the ever-growing sinkhole. “I guess we have to attribute his fate to karma.”

“Brother, do you think that sinkhole will reach its climax soon?” Al’s concern was evident in his voice.

“I do, but just to be safe.” Ed clapped his hands and placed them on the ground. The sand beneath them became solid rock and it spread out in a giant circle, surrounding the vanishing town of Ishmar.

“Ed, that transmutation is miles in length, who the hell are you?” Lillian gasped.

“I’ve already told you Lillian. I’m the Fullmetal Alchemist!”

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End Of Part One


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