redrose999 (redrose999) wrote in fm_alchemist,

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Gilded Cage

Here is the next chapter
Warnings: Possible Spoilers, No definite pairings. I tend not to ship. Things could change. I'm letting the story tell this one so anything goes so there might be possible het and slash.

Gilded Cage
Rating PG so far
Summery: General, Action Adventure story that is Post movie. A German duke who wants them to make alchemy work in the real world captures Edward and Al. Problem is, Ed is dying of Leukemia and Al has to find a way to save him as well as find a way to escape back home to the Alchemy world .


Chapter 3
Edward Elric

A relentless pounding brought him to his senses. Slowly, Edward Elric became aware he was swimming in blackness and unable to recall anything beyond the pain coursing through his aching head.

His young body felt stiff, and buzzed with agony as awareness returned. Several endless moments passed before he was able to muster enough strength to crack an eye open.

Bright lights forced him to blink, until finally his eyes adjusted. The world twisted and floated before him, and it was difficult to discern where he was or what was happening around him. He was sitting up, back propped against what felt like the soft velvet cushion of a wooden chair. In front of him was a table, with servants moving about in a blur. He could make out the clanking of dishes and the aroma of freshly cooked meats, vegetables and breads, but his confused mind was unable to understand what it meant. Yet, his mouth watered as he dreamily wondered where he was and why he felt like hell.

Slowly, his senses began to return and he was able to make out the room he sat in. Indeed he was at a table, with fine gold utensils and china dishes. Gothic candleholders with flickering candles sat in the center, surrounded by plates of bread, fruit, prepared vegetables and a variety of carved meats. More food than he had seen on a table in years.

The room itself had a high arched marble ceiling with carved scallop shell trim and frame work. The walls themselves were marble, with gold and white paisley velvet wall paper with elaborate medieval tapestries of the hunt. Stoic suits of platemail amour dating from the old days of Prussian royalty stood stationed at each panel, numbering 13 in all.

It was the dinning hall of a German castle, however, Edward saw no windows; only the high ceilinged walls and buttress support columns of an inner room.

The table was dark mahogany with lion clawed feet with matching red velvet chairs.

Adjacent to him a small form was slumped in a chair. It was Al. His long toussled honey gold hair was loose and falling out of his ponytail, and he still wore his white short collared shirt and open vest with brown breeches. The same clothes he had worn when he left to pick up their parcels at the store. The boy stirred, his tiny form dwarfed by the chair his wrists were bound too.

Anger twitched Edward’s face. On Alphonse’s face was a dark and bloodied bruise. Their hosts had taken the boy with a fight, and injured him.

Unlike Al, he wasn’t bound. Why their host underestimate him was beyond him, but a stroke of luck nonetheless. Reaching, he curled a hand around a knife placed next to his dinner plate.

“If you are to have some bisque, Herr Elric, it is best to use a spoon.” A familiar accented voice said from the room’s entrance.

A servant placed a bowl full of soup on the table before him. It was red, colored with a tomato base, and smelled of, wine, fresh herbs and seafood. Edward froze, brow wrinkling as the same servant poured a glass of red wine in the goblet before him. “Who…”

“You wound me, young Elric, how could you forget so soon? My name is Gustave Kaiser .” The gentleman crossed the room and seated himself at the head of the table, across from Edward. He was dressed in a dark suit, and had steely blue eyes that scanned the table with cold fire. He snapped his fingers, and called to the servant. “I would like some wine.” As the servant crossed the room, those cold blue orbs focused on the bottle in his hands. “I chose a Merlot for dinner, I hope you do not mind. It goes well with red meats. It is a good year, but I am afraid it will do your headache no good. However, I wouldn’t blame you in your present circumstances, if you risk it.”

Kiaser was so damned smug it annoyed Edward. Frustrated he shook his head, and ran his hand through his hair. If he could only remember what happened. Whatever drug they used on him affected the memory, and he seriously doubted he’d ever recall how he came to be there.

There were more important things to worry about. His attention shifted over to his brother. Al’s honey brown eyes were open. However, they were glazed and unaware as he blinked blankly at the wall across from him.

“Al!” Unsteadily Edward came to his feet, and grabbed the edge of the table. Wobbly, he edged his way over to his brother, mind racing. Al made no response to his voice, nor did he notice Edward's approach. The 17 year old only stared into space. His mind lost in another world.

Panicked tightened Edward’s gut. He had to make Alphonse know he was there. With an effort, Edward grabbed the boy’s shirt collar and gently gave the lad a shake, “Al! Wake up! Can’t you hear me Al?”

Al’s head rolled and his chin lifted. A flicker of recognition washed over the young man’s face. For a moment, the fog in his gaze cleared. “Brother?”

“Yes, yes it’s me.” Ed replied, feeling a pang of relief. He released the youth’s collar and patted him on the head. Not that he was frightened, he had been in far worse situations in the past, but he was worried. Al’s human body had limits, unlike the suit of armor he was trapped in in the past. Kaiser had leverage against him until he came up with an escape plan. “It’s ok, Al, I’ll take care of you…”

Al squinted, confusion wrinkling his young brow. He was fading. “Hmmm?” Edward was positive the boy hadn’t heard him. The boy was drugged.

Edward glared at Kaiser, fists forming. “What the hell did you do to him?”

He made a step toward the man, but a servant grabbed his shoulders and shoved him unceremoniously into his chair.

“I strongly suggest you try some of the soup, Mr. Elric, our chef will be very disappointed if you don’t.” The servant said, handing a spoon to the teenager.

“I’m not hungry!” Edward tossed the spoon and it clanked against one of the suits of armor. “Now, tell me what the hell did you do to him?”

“Opium.” Kaiser said, casually sipping at his wine. “He is unharmed, but I have limitless resources at my disposal, and your brother’s stay here could be very interesting to say the least.” He lowered his cup, and picked up his spoon. Watching Edward carefully, Kaiser took a sip of soup and smiled at his servant. “Tell Hans, it is a fine Bouillabaisse. He had exceeded himself.

The servant bowed, “Very well sir. Shall I bring one for the young master?” He glanced to Al. “He may want to eat something when he recovers.”

“Yes, of course Rudolf. Please. “ Rudolf turned on his heal and walked to the door. The two armed guards let him pass and closed the dark wood doors behind him. Four other servants remained, two of them large armed men dressed in white coats and black slacks. Kaiser lowered his spoon and turned his full attention to Edward. “You’re brother’s head will clear soon enough, but it will give me enough time to explain your new position.”

Edward snorted, stubbornly folding his arms. He was angry, yet too weak and shaky to do anything about it. “Position?”

Kaiser folded his hands and thinly smiled. “I own you.” He said flatly. “And you will work for me, until I get what I want. Until then you will stay here. Your life will be very comfortable, I will provide your every need, and even give you proper pay for a scientist of your genius. Once you are finished with the task I request, you and your brother may leave, as very rich men.”

Edward shifted in his chair, “and if I don’t cooperate?”

Kaiser’s smile vanished and he tapped his wine glass. “You care a great deal for your brother, yes?”

Straying a glance to Alphonse, Edward paled. He knew what was coming. He loosened the collar of his shirt. “Yes.”

“He will suffer. I will start by breaking his arm and perhaps his hands, we can go from there.” Kaiser fixed Edward with a cold unyielding gaze, then turned to his meal. “Think about it, wisely, Herr Elric.”

Clenching his teeth, Edward struck the table with his fists so hard the soup bowl and glass shook. “You son of a bitch!”

The two servants standing near the door crossed the room and stood beside Alphonse. Edward’s rage grew and he motioned to spring, when Rudolf entered the room carrying a bowl on a tray.

Kaiser sat back, his face amused. “Sit down, Herr Elric. Unless you want your brother to miss this fine meal.”

As he spoke, one of the men unbound Al’s right arm and took the limb in his hands. The boy’s eyes focused, and his attention fixed on the man standing over him. “Brother, I see things still haven’t changed, we’re still finding trouble where ever we go…” He said, voice slurring as he struggled to take in his surroundings. “Where am I? And why is Roy threatening me?”

At least Al was his usual calm self. Edward’s heart thudded against his chest, as he stiffly dropped into his chair. “I don’t know, Al. And he’s not Roy, he just looks like him, remember how I told you about the alters? He’s one of them.” Tense, he exhaled, trying to tame his anger. He had to control himself. He had no idea where they were or the layout of the estate they were in. If they were to escape, he would need to plan and time. “All right.” Edward looked at Kaiser defeated. “I’ll cooperate. Leave Al alone.”

The servants finished untying Alphonse, and stepped away.
Puzzled, the boy dropped his head in his hands and rubbed his brow. “Alter Roy… Incredible.”

“I heard you had duplicates of people in your world. Amazing, I must some day learn about this, Roy.” Kaiser seemed amused. He relaxed into his chair and beamed at Alphonse. “Ahh, evening, young Elric! Please have some Bouillabaisse ! We are celebrating your brothers decision to work for me!”

Al lifted his head, uneasily glancing at Edward. “Edward?”

Edward sighed and watched Rudolf place the bowl of soup in front of the boy. “We’re prisoners, Al.” Edward explained biting back his fury “This is Herr Kaiser, our Host.” He emphasized the word host sarcastically. Reaching out, he grabbed a roll and took a bite.

Alphonse touched his own cheek dazed. He squinted his eyes, “Host? Well then, perhaps you can answer my question, where is Noa and what threat did you use on her to get her to work for you?”

Edward had to give his little brother some credit. He was unfailingly polite. “Noa? Noa’s here?”

Kaiser’s face twitched. “Yes. It is our business why she is here. I apologize, Alphonse, it is up to her to answer your question.”

Once more, Edward fought his rage. Their situation was growing worse by the moment. He was now responsible for two people. Narrowing his brow, he focused on the on Kaiser. “You have all the cards.” He said flatly. “What do you want me to do?”

“To find a new gateway and to make Alchemy work here.” Kaiser opened his hands in a broad gesture. “A man of your talents will be able to discover one if it exists.”

Alchemy didn’t work on this earth because it was the energy source for Alchemy on Edward’s “Earth”. As far as Edward knew, this Earth had no gateway to draw alchemical energy. It only opened one way.

Yet didn’t that go against the properties of Equivalent Exchange? If this world was THE power source for the world of Alchemy, wouldn’t it be reasonable to think there was a power source for it? Equivalent exchange; it was just a matter of finding it?

Edward folded his arms, lifting a brow. Noa saw the future and into people’s pasts. How? There had to be a source for it. Edward nodded. In the end, Kaiser’s task would benefit him.

He’d have the power to escape with his brother and Noa. He’d also make Kaiser pay for his insults and threats. “And if there is no source?” Edward asked. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Alphonse. The boy neatly placed a napkin on his lap and tested the soup.

“Than you are free to go.” Kaiser said lifting his wine to his lips once more. “Of course, it could take you years, Edward, so I wouldn’t plan on leaving anytime soon.”

“What do you plan to use Alchemy for?” Alphonse asked. He lowered his spoon so it lay on the edge of his bowl (their mother would have been very proud of his manners). His young brow wrinkled. “Brother, I don’t feel comfortable having you do this research when we have no idea what he wants it for. How many people in our world suffered from Alchemists abusing their powers? Do you want the people of this Earth suffer to?”

Alphonse had the habit of asking the difficult questions. Questions Edward feared asking because he knew the answers were ones he didn’t want to hear.

“What I do with such powers, is my business, Alphonse. If you prefer a short and very painful life, I suggest you take this up with your brother, later on. He is the one who made the decision. I for one, would rather enjoy dinner.” Kaiser lifted a finger when Alphonse went to object and gestured to the food. “Enough boy, this is business between your brother and I. You have little say in the matter.”

“Even when it’s my life you’re using?” Alphonse snapped. He looked back to Edward, annoyed. “Brother? This isn’t fair!”

Bowing his head, Edward sighed. It was very difficult to make Al angry, and Edward suspected Al was down right furious. The younger brother was devoted to him and had a strong sense of responsibility. Being used as a hostage was enough to stretch the boy’s patience. Edward couldn’t blame the boy, Alphonse was right. What Edward was doing had the potential of killing thousands, but he had promised to protect Al. He just hoped the boy would understand. “Life is unfair, Al. We’ll discuss it later. Just make the best of it.”
“You’re not making the right decision.” Al said, wincing as Edward placed a warm damp cloth on his bruised cheek. Its heat soothed the battered swollen flesh and made the sting fade into a dull throb.

What was Edward thinking? Certainly he was aware that men like Kaiser were implacably evil and almost never kept their promises. Even if Edward thought he could trick the man, the consequences to other lives would be dreadful.

“You know me better than that, Al.” Edward said. He lifted the cloth and checked the swelling. “Hell of a bruise there little brother, I hate to say it, but you fared better in these scrapes when you were living in that suit of armor.” He forced a bitter sweet smile, then handed Al the compress. “It’s usually me who’s the punching bag. I don’t know if I like the trade.”

Alphonse placed his hand on the cloth and held it fast to his cheek. “He’s going to kill me anyway, once he gets what he wants. So it really doesn’t matter, does it?” Alphonse exhaled and flopped back on the bed he sat on. He looked at the elegant golden embroidery on the bed’s velvet canopy. It was a vine and rose pattern and reminded him of some of the wealthy homes he had seen on his world.

Sighing, he rolled his head. Edward pressed his back against one of carved cherry bed pillars and stared off at the wall. His features were thoughtful, as if he was thinking about Al’s words. “I’m not a fool, Al. I know what kind of man Kaiser is. He is the kind of Coward who hides behind children and women in order to get what he wants. I have no intention of helping him and all the intention of helping us. But right now, we have nothing here, and need to bide our time so when we do escape it is for good.”

Al let his brother’s words fall into silence. Edward was right of course. They knew far to little to make a permanent escape. They were trapped in an alien world with few friends and no way to fight the forces Kaiser had at his disposal.

But if Edward and he could find a way to make Alchemy work here, the odds would change. “I suppose you want to find out what Herr Kaiser is really after, Brother?”

“And stop him.” Edward weakly smiled, and brushed a lock of golden hair from his brow. “If he has knowledge like the Thule Society, he is a dangerous man, Al. Very dangerous.”

Like always, Edward was playing a treacherous game and trying to be the hero. Alphonse nodded. He was very proud of Edward, even if he didn’t agree with his methods. “Than I won’t question your decision, Brother.”

Edward offered a grateful smile, and came to his feet. He wrapped his arms about himself and stiffly made his way across the room, to the window. “Its means a lot, Al, really.”

They were in a large bedroom with a high vaulted ceiling and a red velvet canopy bed. The walls were stone and on them hung hand woven tapestries of castles and royal hunts. The only two windows at the end of the room were barred and covered with heavy red and gold velvet curtains. It was it was furnished with a settee couch (though Al was not an expert he thought it was perhaps 100 years old) and matching cushioned chairs. There was a coffee table in front of the chairs, and five ceiling high large bookshelves against the far wall behind the couch and chairs. A fireplace was opposite to the shelves and near the corner stood a fine desk with a single chair and small bookcases next to it. The bed was adjacent with two dressers on both sides. A nightstand sat close to the bed itself.

Ed had placed a warm bowl of water with episonsalts on the stand, to soak Al’s bruised face.

It was home, work area and their gilded cage at the same time.

Edward nudged the heavy curtains away from the window, letting the orange red glow of the sun stream in. “Sun is setting, and we're looking over a cliff. No climbing out this window unless we’re interesting in falling a long time.” Edward cocked his head, hair matting his face and slipping into his eyes. “Heh, we’ve had our share of climbing out of windows eh, Al?”

“Yes brother.” Alphonse dipped his rag in the warm epison salts bath and dabbed his cheek. “I guess they suspect that. Any idea where we are?”

Edward shrugged. “I suspect the Black Forest Mountain Range, but I haven’t lived here long enough to know the geography. Its one of the things we have to learn about, if we’re to escape to France, and eventually to London.”

Alphonse came to his feet and crossed the room to his brother’s side. Together they looked out at the misty snow covered cliffs below and the tall trees growing against its seer face. There was forest as far as they eye could see and misty purple mountains beyond that. It was breath taking.

“Noa would know.” Edward added. Worry darkened his golden gaze and he shifted his stance uncomfortably. “Al, you saw her?”

His voice softened into a tone Al had not heard coming from his brother before. It was gentle, yet filled with a mixture of fondness and hurt. “Yes. She tricked me.” Al heaved a breath. He disliked the truth, and knew his brother would be angry. “I’m sorry Brother, but I think she is working for them.”

Edward shook his head. “No, not Noa. She hates men like Kaiser. She must have been captured and forced to trick you.”

The younger Elric squinted his eyes, feeling the pull of his swelling skin. It surprised him Edward did not jump to any conclusions. He must have liked Noa more than he wanted to admit. “Yes, I was under the impression she didn’t want to be involved. You like her, don’t you?”

Edward paled and dropped a hand to his artificial arm. Turning away he sighed. “She’s suffered enough, that’s all, Al.” Stiffly, the elder boy crossed the room to the couch and seated himself. He leaned with his elbows on his knees, thinking. “She’s got psychic abilities,” he began. “They’re probably making her use them. How, I don’t know, what I do know is whatever it is, its something that is important to her.”

Edward avoided his feelings for the woman like an expert, Al shook his head, and decided to let it drop. When and if Edward was ready to discuss the matter, he would do so in his own time. “I remember her mentioning it. If we see her, I’m sure we can discuss it with her.” He recalled how the woman spoke to him about why the Thule Society was interested in her. He leaned into the brick wall and studied his brother thoughtfully. “ So, what’s the plan?”

“Learn what we can. I want you to look into the layout of the place and the grounds, and find out exactly where we are and how to leave the country.” He sighed, weary and put a hand to his head. “I’ll do what I can researching, I have a few ideas. Another gate isn’t impossible Al; it’s just the cost of using it. We might have to bite the bullet and use it in order to prevent it from being used, then send ourselves through it. Hopefully we’ll find our way home. Being here is a mistake.” Edward leaned back and kicked his feet on the table.

“What would we use for Equivalent Exchange?” Al asked, aware of the answer before Edward gave it.

“Mr. Kaiser” Edward closed his eyes and bowed his head. “He knows too much, I’m sorry Al.”

He felt cold inside. Alphonse Elric hugged himself and joined Edward on the couch. The boy pressed into his big brother’s body, and laid his head on his shoulder. It seemed they were doomed to commit sins wherever they went. When would it stop? “Brother, I understand, and you are right, we have to return home. I just don’t know how. There is no telling where whatever gateway we find leads.”
He heavily sighed, and meet his brother’s gaze. Ed appeared paler than usual and heavily burdened. “If there was only a way to find a portal that lead to an energy source that had no cost. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”

Edward sadly smiled. “Yes, Al, it would be. But it can’t exist; the laws of Equivalent Exchange make it impossible. Energy comes from someplace, Al. Anyways; I’m too tired to think about it. Just promise me you’ll keep an eye open and learn what you can.”

Alphonse nodded aware his brother was trying to spare his soul by not dragging him into the alchemy lab. Yet, as far as Alphonse was concerned, his brother was stuck with him in and outside of the lab. “Yes brother, you can count on me. We are in this together, like before.”

Patting his brother on the shoulder, Edward came to a stand and pressed his hands into the small of his back. He stretched. He seemed slower than normal and pain reflected in his face as he shuffled across the room. He must have been injured when they captured him. “Well, we have enough books to start with, I can’t go through them alone, it would take forever.” He paused, looking over his shoulder with a sly smile. “I know better then to keep you out of this, Al, but when it comes to the actually performing of the rituals, its my soul on line, not yours. No mistakes like before. OK?”

Alphonse couldn’t make any promises. What was Edward thinking? He knew how Al thought. Al dabbed his cheek and studied his elder brother. Edward was looking for peace of mind. “No mistakes, but you can’t do this alone. I’m a very powerful Alchemist myself, Edward. Please trust me.” He fixed his brother with a firm gaze, than stood. He placed his hands on his hips. “Our travels together and my time with Izumi have taught me a great deal, Brother. You can’t do this alone.”

Puffing air out so it rustled his bangs, Edward Elric nodded. “Yeah, I thought as much.” He waved a hand, “You’re hopeless, Al.” He said. “But I’m proud of you, have I ever told you that? Humm?”

He didn’t need to say it, but Al liked hearing it nonetheless. He was proud of Edward too, they both grew a great deal over the last several years. Even if Edward hadn’t, in height…
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