2.6 Voices and Lies


I was wandering through a haze of shadowy corners and blurred edges, looking for a way back to myself. All around me buzzed a conversation.

A voice I had heard somewhere before drawled, “What is it with humans and names, hmm? Alchemists in particular. They put so much meaning behind them. It’s bizarre.”

A second voice, one I could not place, replied, “They lead short lives. They want to be defined. Different from everyone else.”

“That,” said the first voice, “is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“That’s life.”

“Ha! And what would I know of life?”

The laughter was still ringing in my ears when I finally opened my eyes.

Reality is filled with sharp lines that cut scars in space, and the light is so bright it’s chilling.

“You’re awake,” said a voice. A real voice, carrying a weight so tangible I can almost feel its pressure against my eardrums. Libra sat at my bedside, hands clasped on her lap.

“Libra,” I said, my voice barely above a croak. “What happened?”

“You collapsed. I thought you were going to die.”

It was starting to come back to me- the dizziness, the rushing blackness… “End of the line for you, alchemist”… I thought you were going to die.

“Where’s Yuki?”

“She’s asleep now, but she was here a few hours ago.” Libra looked on edge, like there was something she wanted to say.

“What is it honey? What’s bothering you?”

“This is going to sound very strange,” she said, biting her lip, “but when you collapsed… they… I mean…”

“Were you there?”


“Did you…” Deep breath. “Did you see the Grim Reaper?”

“I d-did. Two of them.”


“Two. One was a bureaucratic sadist with empty black eyes.”

Him and I have met.

“The other one had silver hair.” She thought for a while. “Silver like starlight.” She shrugged, like she couldn’t think of anything else to say about him.

“I thought you might be able to see them. It’s… it’s something that runs in the family. My mother used to see them too, and her father, and grandfather… Have you told your mother?”

“No. I didn’t think she’d believe me. I-I thought you might, though.”

I exhaled in relief. “Promise me you won’t tell her. She can’t see them.”

Libra nodded. “Good thing she didn’t walk in then. She was in the garden while it happened.”

We were silent awhile, contemplating this.

“Before they left, they said you can’t avoid them forever,” said Libra, haltingly. “Th-they said you’d know that.”

They were right. Because I know.

An alchemist may live on the potion forever, if they never stop making more. But it will never, ever support more than one person. Libra and I could live off the potion, but not Yuki. And I can’t live without Yuki.

No good will ever come from alchemy, a dying form of science that dies with its practitioners. It has brought nothing but sorrow to us- we’ve been haunted by Death for as long as we have existed. It is better to bury this. Destroy everything I’ve made, burn the journals. The piece of armor will be passed down through the generations, nothing more than a decorative heirloom, all meaning removed.

Libra bit her lip. “What did they mean? What’s happening?”

I am talking in a series of lies.

I don’t know why we can see them. I don’t why they felt they needed safety precautions, or why they think I may evade them. I don’t know anything at all.

“I’m sorry, honey. I know as much as you do. I suppose all people know they can’t avoid death forever. Maybe that’s what they meant?”

Disappointment was evident in Libra’s face, but she just nodded. After a while, she left the room, and the door clicked shut behind her.

“So why did you lie?” said the voice from behind me.

3 thoughts on “2.6 Voices and Lies

  1. Ah, this is very sad. I suppose that immortality could be a bit of a curse, unless two alchemists were in love with each other and didn’t care about anyone or anything else… still, that’s a rather sad life, not to care.

    Liked by 2 people

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