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Secret of the Soul


Alphonse Elric, the younger half of the famous Elric brothers, knew something no one else did.

It was a secret of sorts—one kept unwillingly, though. And Al had many other secrets, such as the lack of a body inside his armor, and how he had come to be that way. Also, the purpose of the quest for the Philosopher's Stone was a secret. But Alphonse Elric knew something that no one else knew, not even Ed. And there was no one in the world who could quite understand.

in this modern age of technology and alchemy, scientists attempt to explain everything by equation and proof. it is held that there is nothing that is beyond the understanding of humans and nothing beyond the explanation of science. all is dictated by the rules of the natural world, and if one understands all the rules, nothing is impossible.

They'd learned the hard way, Al often reflected. For all his older brother's talk about being a scientist and thus unable to believe in any god, he knew, knew as well as Al, that there were things that one couldn't do, no matter what. Things that science couldn't explain, no matter what.

What price for a human soul? Even a body and a leg had left a debt that could cleave the world in two.

when the body is cleft from the soul, the body ceases to have function, and perishes, and decomposes to the elements that made it. but the fate of the soul is unknown. nay, even the very definition of a soul cannot be determined by today's science. however, it is crucial to the activity of the human brain and function of the body.

No matter how Al looked at it, he had died that day. After all, he'd had no body, and a soul without a body was 'dead', right? So why had Ed been able to give Al a new body when he died, but unable to revive Mother? Even if it was an arm, the price had been so cheap—was it because the body was metal?

There were no easy answers, and, perhaps to ease his own mind, Ed refused to compare the two transmutations.

Al had no recollections of floating or anything so dramatic like in the stories; he had simply woken up in his new metal body, as if from sleep, the memory of the pain and fear of having his body dissolve under him fading. And there had been so much blood, so much ... and his brother twitching from the pain of it, barely able to breathe, clutching the ragged ends of a missing shoulder.

And even as fear for his brother gripped him, Al had been struck by the emptiness of his armored body.

the question of feeling is an academic one. nerves throughout the body react electrically to sensations around them and stimulations from chemicals, and send the information to the brain, which processes these reactions and determines their meaning. in the more theological sense, 'feelings' are the emotions that define life. according to modern science, these emotions are driven by the very same chemicals that stimulate the nerve endings.

It was too troublesome to dwell on the past, in Al's opinion—certainly his older brother was right about that. But Al was now gifted, or perhaps cursed, with a great appreciation for something he had never missed before—his senses.

He wasn't sure why he could see, actually. It had nothing to do with the eye-holes on his armor, of course, although in some way his soul seemed to manifest itself there as a white glow, perhaps as a sort of memory of where his eyes had been as a human. Similarly, he needed no bones or sinew or muscle to move the suit of armor he possessed, nor any ears to hear. Yet, he could not smell. He could not taste—lacking a mouth and stomach, he had no need to eat, and never felt any pangs of hunger. And he could not feel. When his brother touched his hand, there was no warmth or softness. Rain meant nothing, nor did snow, or even the sun.

The sadness of it sometimes overwhelmed Al to the point where he thought that he could not even remember what it was to feel.

however, what causes those chemicals to be released? although certain stimuli can cause predictable responses by these 'feelings', the number of anomalies in such studies is staggering. what, then, signals the mind to be 'sad', or 'happy', or 'angry'?

But then, what was this sadness if it wasn't a feeling?

No, no; not a 'feeling'. He couldn't 'feel' sadness; he never felt the sensation of wanting to cry, or a tightness in his chest. But, he was sad. He had no adrenaline to ignite the 'fight or flight' fear response, and yet, he feared for his brother's life that night, and many times since. He couldn't smile, and his body never felt light when he was happy, and his throat never closed off when he was angry. Alphonse Elric never 'felt' emotions.

But he possessed them.

of course, it must be the only thing modern science cannot explain that causes these emotions: the soul—indispensable, intangible, and unfathomable.

Alphonse Elric knew something nobody else did, because no one else could understand—not even his older brother.

One does not have to have feeling to feel.

let it never be forgotten what a precious thing the soul is. one never realizes the value of such things until they're gone.

at that time, even the greatest alchemy cannot save what is lost.