Out of the Whirlwind

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, 'Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. '

'Shall a fault-finder contend with the Almighty? Anyone who argues with God must respond. '

The alchemical energy swayed like a brilliant golden flame, swirling up through the room like a pillar of fire, a wild tornado of heat and power. Electromagnetic sparks jumped and arced like lightning in the closed space, and plumes of smoke spun out and filled the room, obscuring everything in thick gray fog that hazily reflected the sun-bright light, amplifying it in the close room.

The alchemist held his breath, bronze eyes wide as he watched ribbons of fire spurt up and out, twisting up in a blaze that roared like a dragon's breath and dried the tracks of grieving tears from his face

It... It was working.
It was working!

Then the activated array crackled and there was a swift, cold backdraft that swept counterclockwise, raising his skin in gooseflesh, and the light that emanated out was suddenly shot through with streaks of bruised violet. The room dimmed as more of the golden rays were eaten by the virulent, violent indigo, and the clouds that billowed off the reaction stank of sulphur.

For the first time, Hohenhieim was afraid. For the first time, he grasped the enormity of what he'd done, of laws broken and taboos violated, of the magnitude of his own arrogance in thinking that he could reverse the decree of God. For the first time, he suddenly understood that there was worse than death.

The Gate loomed before him.

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know!

Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place so that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth and the wicked be shaken out of it?

Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on earth?

Hohenh< >ie im clutched at his chest, forehead touching the array-spangled floor, blonde hair dripping over his shoulders and pooling in the thick puddles of blood and shredded tissue. He opened his mouth to gasp for another electric, dizzying breath of air and instead felt more of the hot copper flavor roil over his tongue and spill over the dam of his lips to pour down, soaking into his clothes and staining his skin near-purple. His fingers clawed at the searing wound in his breast, trying in vain to knit the unraveled flesh back together.

It's too dark, he thought, staring wide-eyed at the viscous liquid splattered upon the floor. Too dark and too much of it... Oh, God, what happened? What went wrong? The calculations should have been... It took...
Hohenhieim fought to lift his head, blackness darting across his vision, the room spinning drunkenly and folding itself inside out. He had to see... He had to know. If it worked... If he had gotten his child back, his son, the only ray of light in this drab world, then he had gotten the better end of the bargain. Just a piece of his physical heart for his entire emotional heart; just a few pints of his own lifeblood for the son with whom he shared it; a little bit of his lungs for the boy who breathed love into his life...

Worth it. Worth it. If only...

The smoke rolled back, and Hohenhieim could only stare in horror, silent but for the sound of blood dripping on the floor.

Oh, God.

Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this!

Where is the way to the dwelling place of light, and where is the place of darkness, that you may discern the paths to its home? Surely you know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!