‘Brother, are you sure you should be doing this? What if Winry finds out and refuses to fix your automail for six months like last time?’ I said, watching brother mark out the transmutation circle on the floor. His gold eyes were full of determination, ignoring the strands of hair falling in his face.
‘Relax, Al. She won’t find out, she’s busy fixing up the dog’s automail. It’ll keep her busy for sure. Besides, haven’t you ever wondered if there are other worlds beyond the gate of truth?’
I thought for a moment, my armour creaking slightly. ‘Maybe once. I had a vision of my body, it was looking through the gate at the countryside. I thought it might have been here in Amestris, but the people were dressed in strange clothing.’
Brother looked at me, his eyes narrowed. ‘You never told me about that,’ he said.
‘It was a long time ago, right after you sealed my soul to this armour.’
Brother looked away. He sighed and shook his head. ‘Well, there’s no use talking about it now. The circle’s finished.’ He knelt down and put his hands on it, causing it to activate. The blue sparks of his alchemy rippled across the surface like a swift storm.
Suddenly, the room went dim. I felt uneasy, and I could just make out brother’s breath steaming into the air.
‘Brother—’ I began.
The door burst open. ‘Ed, what are you up to now?’ Winry shouted, brandishing her spanner, but before she could throw it at him, long, black hands came out of the circle and grabbed us. I heard Winry shriek, then everything went dark.
‘Kagome, where are you going? Kagome—’
A loud crash brought me to my senses, and I came around to see a boy a few years older than brother, face down in the dirt. He was dressed all in red, with long silver hair and what looked like…dog ears!
‘You didn’t have to do that, Kagome!’ he said, getting up angrily. He stopped and looked at me. ‘What’s this heap of armour doing here, anyway?’
He kicked at me and I jumped up. ‘Hey!’ I said, staring at him.
‘A person?’ His eyes narrowed and he sniffed at me. ‘Wait, you don’t smell human at all. You’re one of Naraku’s spies, aren’t you?’ He pulled out his sword and levelled it at me.
Just then, heavy footsteps sounded behind me and brother appeared, jumping over my head and kicking the dog-eared boy in the face. ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing, aiming that sword at him?’ brother shouted, transmuting his automail arm so that it now had a blade.
The dog-eared boy stood up, growling. ‘Why you! I should be the one asking the questions, you little pipsqueak!’
I saw brother tense up, ready to insult him back, but then a girl with dark hair came around the corner with Winry.
‘Ed, Al! I’m so glad you’re okay!’ Winry said.
At the same time, the dark-haired girl said, ‘Sit, boy,’.
The beads around the dog-eared boy’s neck glowed and forced him towards the ground with another loud crash.
‘Sorry,’ the girl said. ‘Winry told me how you guys got here. We—’
‘Kagome, don’t be fooled by them. The one in the armour isn’t human,’ the dog-eared boy’s muffled voice came from the ground.
‘It’s okay, Inuyasha, I know. They’re not from this world.’
She led us to their camp, filling the dog-eared boy, Inuyasha, in on our situation. He and brother took opposite seats, staring each other down.
‘Sheesh, Kagome, you really believe all that?’ Inuyasha said, scowling at us.
Brother looked as though he was about to reply, but he suddenly yelped and slapped his face. He looked down at his hand. In it was a tiny flea.
Inuyasha smirked. ‘Well, if it isn’t old man Myoga. If you’re here, then they can’t be dangerous.’
The flea hoped off of brother’s hand and onto Inuyasha’s shoulder. ‘Indeed, Master Inuyasha. I can attest that the small one’s blood tastes somewhat different to ordinary humans, but they possess no ill will as far as I can see.
‘See, Inuyasha?’ Kagome said. ‘All they want is help getting back to where they came from.’
‘We do?’ brother said, raising an eye at Winry.
‘We can’t stay here, Ed. Your summer leave is almost over and I’ve got to get back to Rush Valley and my clients. You were supposed to be spending time with granny and me, but instead you shut yourself away again!’
He sighed. ‘You’re right, I guess. Al, let’s draw up the circle and go home.’
He found a stick on the ground, and with my help, he marked the circle out in the dirt. Like before, it was a variation of the one for human transmutation, which was basically what he had to do to himself to open the gate again. He knelt down to activate it. Nothing happened.
‘I don’t get it,’ he said. ‘It’s like my alchemy isn’t powerful enough to open it, yet it worked fine when I transmuted my automail.’
Inuyasha got onto all fours and sniffed the circle vigorously. ‘I don’t get how this stuff works or anything, but if you need more power, then maybe Kagome can help you,’ he said, sitting up to look at her.
‘You mean using a sacred arrow?’ she asked. ‘I can try.’
Picking up the bow and quiver of arrows stacked beside her pack, she nocked an arrow in place and aimed it at the transmutation circle. With a sharp exhale, she released the arrow. In a wave of pink light, it flew down and struck hit the circle’s centre. Brother whistled. Obviously, he had never seen anything like it either. Somehow, whatever the pink light was, it made me feel warm and calm inside. But the circle didn’t react at all.
‘That’s weird. I thought for sure that it would do something…maybe if I tried using a jewel shard…’ She pulled out a small bottle with shards of pink stone inside. She took one out and attached it to the head of an arrow. ‘Here goes nothing.’ She shot the circle again, and this time the reaction was instantaneous.
‘Get back!’ brother shouted to her and Inuyasha as the black hands erupted from the circle again.
I looked at them, barely managing to say ‘thank you’ before the hands wrapped around us and we were in darkness once more. The next thing I knew, we woke up in a heap in our own room.
‘Brother,’ I said excitedly. ‘That stone she put on the arrow—’
‘I know, Al. It was almost like a Philosopher’s stone. Do you think—’
‘Don’t you two ever stop?’ Winry shouted, tears running down her cheeks. ‘When I woke up in that strange world without you, I thought…I thought…’ She sniffed, unable to speak.
‘Brother, we made her cry again,’ I murmured.
‘Winry, I…I’ll make you dinner,’ he said softly.
‘What?’ she said, wiping her eyes.
‘I’ll…I’ll make you dinner!’