The Blood Alchemist – Prologue

The long and eerie silence was punctured by a sharp, pained gasp.

Bloodshot eyes flickered open in the darkness. The boy, gasping for air, fought to steady his breathing, even as he coughed up bits of blood. With his vision reeling and head pounding, he strained to make something out in the canopy of darkness that covered him. Desperately, he tried to reach out for the familiar comfort of his blanket that had accompanied him during nightmares and bouts of illness, only to grasp at the cold, empty air. As his vision cleared, the harsh reality dawned upon him: there was no blanket, no bed, no roof above him. Instead, he was lying in the midst of rubble, with only the sky above him.

Everything came flooding back to him at once.

As the eldest son of a wealthy railroad merchant and a lesser noblewoman, the boy had everything handed to him since birth. Being the firstborn, tradition dictated that he would inherit his family’s fortunes and business. Yet, fate wasn’t at all lenient to him. A delicate constitution made him fragile, than even the slightest work would render him sick for days.

His childhood was spent confined to his room, but upon discovering books, he requested his father to let him go there as he pleases. It delighted the merchant to discover that despite having a weak body, the boy’s intellect was sharp and he was quite wise for his age. It pained the merchant to think that had he been physically able, his son would perhaps surpass his achievements and might have been the biggest merchant in the entire continent.

Because of his deep love towards his son, he hadn’t uttered a word about it. However, the boy knew. Even if his parents lovingly supported and encouraged him, the opposite was true with other people. The servants weren’t shy talking about it. Once when he was recuperating, he sneaked to outside to get fresh air but he heard them whispering. They said his illness was getting worse by the minute, and the doctors weren’t expecting him to make it past his twentieth birthday—that is, if he was lucky. Everyone was already of the opinion that his younger brother would soon replace him as the heir.

It hurt, and made him feel useless. But he wanted to prove them wrong.

The boy loved his family, even his brother. Especially his brother. Despite how others perceived them, his younger brother and sister were not only his siblings but his best friends. Both even promised to do everything to help him recover, so when that day comes, he would assume the role within the family that was expected of him.

To him, they were more than siblings; they were his only true friends, the sole sources of unwavering support. Motivated by this bond, the boy committed himself entirely to his family’s welfare.

He promised to do everything to become stronger in any way possible. He would protect them. He would be there for them.

Only for everything to come crushing down one fateful night.

One late summer evening, as the sun dipped in the west, the boy and his siblings were gathered near the fireplace in the family drawing room. Nights like this was usually spent in study, but today, their father permitted them to play longer. As long as his eldest son didn’t stress himself out, then it would be alright for them to do so until dinnertime.

But then, he heard his parents arguing quietly in another room.

Their voice were hushed through the thick walls that separated the study and drawing room, but the boy knew what they were arguing about. He had heard about it for weeks. He even read about it in the letters his father left in the table of the study. A nobleman wanted to purchase a rare object from his father, who, in turn found it in his expeditions in the deep west. It was said to be either a powerful artifact or a valuable item from the ancient times, but the boy eventually knew what it was. It was an object so dangerous that his father was reluctant to hand it over. He thought it was best to the Church where it belonged.

However, his mother had another idea.

She wanted him to sell it. Not because they needed the money or she was tempted by the prospect of immense wealth it would bring, but because she knew the nobleman. The boy heard her repeatedly saying how powerful that man was, and denying him the object would only put them in harms way. She even told him a rumor about another merchant who went against the nobleman and was found dead a fortnight after a very public argument. His mother warned that if their father continued to refuse to him, their family could be very well in danger.

But the husband continued to refuse, insisting they were doing the right thing. The object, if in the hands of someone as greedy as that nobleman, could very well endanger the world.

The boy then saw his father leave the room. When he passed by his children and noticed his eldest child looking up, the merchant smiled sadly and patted his head. Meanwhile, the boy could still hear his mother sobbing softly in the other room.

After they were tucked into bed, the boy fell into a deep sleep for the first hour or so before being jolted awake by another loud argument. This time, it wasn’t just his mother and father’s voices that filled the air; there were others involved as well.

The boy’s gaze immediately flew to the window where the noise came from and noticed his younger brother was already there, observing the scene below. His brother and sister, although they had rooms of their own, sometimes insisted on sleeping together with him. They said it made them feel safe.

It seemed he woke up before he did. His brother’s face was etched with worry as he too tried to make sense of the voices outside.

“What’s the matter?” the boy raspily called out. He slowly got off the bed, careful not to step on his sister who was still sound asleep. Shivering, he approached his younger brother by the window.

Hesitantly, he turned back. “Some people arrived. They were talking to mother and father.”

“What were they talking about?” he asked.

The younger boy shrugged. “I couldn’t make out much of what they were saying, but mother seemed to be crying. What could they be need at this hour?”

Leaning against the glass, the boy saw his parents standing near the gates. In front of them were a group of men wearing royal blue coats and tall hats. Some riding horses, some on foot. Hoisted on their sides were swords. Then, nearby was a lone carriage bearing the symbol of the royal family.

He knew them. He read about them in the newspapers. They belonged to the Imperial Army, who had been serving the Teutonian royal family for centuries. Surrounding their parents, and at the back, were their own servants and guards. They also seemed to be ready to fight and protect their masters but they were clearly outnumbered. Knowing his father, the boy believed he had likely told them to calm down and stand back while he talked to the newly arrived people.

Then, a man stepped out of the carriage. Even in the dimly lit street, his immaculate but ill-fitting white pantaloons and rings of gold jewelry dangling from his thick neck were visible.

The boy moved closer towards the window to see better, and his eyebrows knitted in recognition. He read about this man, too. Balding, with tufts of dirty blonde hair, and a soft face resembling a walrus. A protruding lower lip, and a jutting jaw. This man wasn’t only some nobleman, but a prince in the royal family. A prince! And, if he remembered correctly, he was also the eleventh in line to the crown of Teutonia, the country which currently holds the greatest power in all of the Middle Continent.

What’s he doing here? the boy asked himself. His eyes widened. Is he the nobleman who’s after that object father didn’t want to sell?

He seemed to be the one speaking the most. Meanwhile, his father was quiet, yet resolute in his stance. His mother, meek as always, cowered behind him but her hands gripped his’ tightly. The boy knew his mother was afraid, but she was unwilling to leave their father to face the nobleman alone.

Then it happened.

In the darkness, two silver flashes cut through the air, followed by a spray of blood. Then, the boy watched as his father buckled and collapsed to the ground. His mother still attempted to catch her husband, staggered forward but ultimately fell as well.

It was followed by terrified screams and the sound of clashing metal.

The younger brother gasped in horror. Although equally shocked, the older boy instinctively pulled him away from the window. Immediately, his brother began to cry.

As he tried to calm his brother, he caught sight of another figure in the room—their sister, standing by the bed, wide-eyed. She had been awake, witnessing everything.

Before he could react, his sister dashed towards the door, her screams for their parents echoing through the house. The boy called out to her, but his voice was smothered by a cough. Determined, he attempted to follow her, but then he remembered his brother, still in shock beside him, sobbing silently and groaning incoherently. He knew he couldn’t leave him alone in such a state.

In his frantic search for help, he temporarily considered shouting for the servants, but then he heard screaming and shouting. Of course, they would come for them as well.

Spotting a closet against the wall, he quickly ushered his brother inside. Now confused as well as frightened, his brother looked at him with questioning eyes.

“Stay here. I will find our sister, and we’ll escape together. Be quiet. Don’t let them find you. I’ll be back.”

His brother only offered a quiet nod. The boy then closed the door and locked it.

With urgency, he pursued his sister towards the halls. Adrenaline coursed his whole body and he ran faster than he would have normally done, navigating the bloodstained hallways and rooms of their home. The sight was grim—servants and guards alike lay lifeless, their blood smeared across the walls.

At last, he sighted the front door. Stepping out of their home, he saw them—his mother and his father lying close together, dead. He saw his sister clinging to their parents in a final, desperate embrace. As the boy watched, the nobleman withdrew a  blood-soaked sword from her tiny back.

The nobleman’s gaze met his, a cruel, sadistic grin spread across his ugly face.

“Well, well. There’s still one here,” he said.

“He seemed to be the oldest. He might know something that his sister didn’t,” one of the military men near him suggested, to which the nobleman nodded in agreement.

Slowly, the nobleman sauntered towards him, wiping his sister’s blood across the shiny silver blade.

In that moment, beneath the unforgiving moonlight, a tempest surged through him. A black tempest of hot, raging fury and cold despair. Each heartbeat signaled something within, a culmination of every hatred, grief, and loneliness that he every felt, waking up at the moment he realized the finality of his family’s demise. The agony was so unbearable that he wanted to lunge at the nobleman and everyone behind him. To tear them from limb to limb, and destroy them like what they did to his family.

Surprisingly, there were no tears. No, not yet. Not yet, anyway.

With a cry of rage and agony, he lunged forward. He carried no metal weapons, he knew not a shred of fighting tactics. But there is one thing that he had been learning in secret for the past few years.


To a nobleman or even a wealthy person, magic was an unnecessary skill reserved for those who are desperate enough to earn money through any means. With money, they can hire any wizard or sorcerer, anyway. But they don’t need to learn it on their own.

However, for someone like him who had a weak constitution and couldn’t be relied on in terms of fighting, he needed something else in his arsenal.

The smile on the nobleman’s face faded, as he saw sparks of light from his one hand. Meanwhile, the soldiers immediately stepped forward to protect the hideous and terrible human being they called their prince.

But then his body betrayed him at the very last moment.

He tripped and collapsed in the pile of dirt, coughing violently as he did. The light in his hands immediately vaporized, as mocking laughter rang across the front yard. Lying there, each breath a battle for life, he was enveloped by a suffocating cloak of helplessness and hatred for himself.

The nobleman’s face loomed over him grinning widely, a visage of victory and vile pleasure. A lump in his throat formed as his eyes started to get wet. The boy did everything in his power not to give him the satisfaction of seeing him cry.

“Look at that. Not only is this pest a practitioner of magic, but he was also lame and stupid,” he spat viciously. He looked over his men. “Hey, you there. Search the house.”

The men hurried towards the house. Consumed by fury and yet shackled by a last mission, he gritted his teeth as he saw them trampling on the bodies of his family.

“As for you—”

The nobleman stepped on his neck. Lying down on the ground, he stared at him. He grabbed his fat leg encased in a supple leather boot, and tried to remove it, but in vain. As he did, his thoughts raced back to his brother, locked up in a closet. He could never reveal his location to them. For sure, they would bring him out, too. The boy assumed they didn’t know about his brother, or else they should have been searching for him as well. They would ask him about the object, and his brother, having no knowledge of it, would be killed instantly.

That morning, he made a solemn promise to his father. Even before his mother and father had that argument earlier in the evening, his father already talked to him about something else. He asked him to protect three people and one thing. Now that two of those were gone, his only job now was to keep them from finding out his secret.

That his brother was alive and he had the thing the nobleman was looking for.

“Where is that thing?” he demanded. “Did he give it to anyone?”

Even with blood trickling down his chin, he managed to grin. Then spat out. “Yes. But you would never guess in a million years.”

“Really? Aren’t you afraid to die?” he said.

“Death? I’m a sickly child. I stare Death in the face everyday. You could never frighten me with death. You already killed my parents and sister. All that’s left is me. And I would never betray my father’s trust,” he said.

“Is that so?”

When the soldiers returned, the boy was half afraid they found his brother. But he was relieved when they came back empty handed.

He almost smiled.

“Where is it? Have you found it?” the nobleman said.

“No. We searched the whole house, but it wasn’t there,” said one of the soldiers. “It seemed he already gave it to someone else.”

In a fit of rage, the nobleman bellowed, his voice echoing in the night. He raised his sword and slashed the soldier who answered. “To hell with it! Burn down everything! Burn it down and make sure nothing is left of this filthy house!”

“But—my lord,” said another one.

“Let’s just tell my father that a group of bandits attacked this place. A merchant’s house, it’s only a matter of time before it was robbed. Nothing would bat an eye,” he said. “Burn it down. Make sure it’s turned to dust by sunrise.”

The boy’s eyes widened. His brother was still inside!

“No!” he screamed as the nobleman went back to the carriage. “No—no—I—“

He yelled and crawled after the nobleman. At that point, he would be willing to give up everything, if that meant his brother would be spared. But again, his body betrayed him. Soon, he was seized by a fit of coughing.

“What about the boy?” one of the soldiers said, nodding towards him.

“Leave him there. He would die, anyway,” the nobleman said from the carriage. “Let’s leave this accursed place. It’s close to midnight.”

Tears started to stream down his face as he watched the nobleman and the soldiers leave. He couldn’t do anything as he saw them destroy his home and kill his only remaining family. But then, another soldier came back. Instead of helping him, however, he kicked him in the stomach.

He started to lose consciousness, as everything around him was consumed by fire.

That was the last thing he remembered. Now, he had woken up—but it was something he didn’t dare, or even want, to hope for.

As he struggled to sit up, he looked at the destruction and death around him. The swings, once the scene of laughter and joy shared with his siblings, were now nothing but a heap of wood and nails. He saw the swings where he and his siblings play everyday, now a heap of wood and nails. The patio, where his parents spent countless afternoons, smiling and talking as they sip their afternoon tea, is now charred. And their house, the sanctuary where he told his brother to hide, hoping against hope that he wouldn’t be slain by those wicked men just like they did with his family, was now a smoldering ruin, the final emblem of despair and cruelty that they suffered.

Like a funeral procession, the night continued to march forward. But for him, everything had stopped. Now, there was only one thing he could do: revenge.

Slowly, he crawled to prop himself up. He couldn’t stand anymore, and it would take all his energy to go to his family and spend his dying breaths with them. After a strenuous effort, he was able to kneel on the ground.

His parents didn’t know he was studying magic, something that was seen as unfit for the upper class. However, it was the only thing that kept him occupied during the lonely days when his brothers and sisters couldn’t play with him because they were performing responsibilities that were supposed to be his.

He raised his trembling and bloodied hand in the air. He could barely see anything now, but he memorized the magic circle needed to summon it. More importantly, he has the object it needed to manifest and materialize.

The object the nobleman was looking for, whom his father had entrusted to him that morning.

Using his thumb, he engraved lines and symbols into the dirt, until it was completed. Then, he uttered the words.

“Veni, veni, venias, ne me mori facias. Si facis, ne inanis sit.”

The magic circle lit up an ominous crimson.

The wind howled, the sky darkened, and the ground shook.

He opened his other hand. On his palm, a shiny opalescence crystal in the shape of tears appeared, floating midair.

“Invoco te.”

Out of the magic circle, the most hideous beast the boy had ever seen appeared. He knew that as payment, it would consume his soul. But with nothing to live for, he would willingly give it. Soon, he would die anyway. Even if he would rot in Helheim, he would be glad to know that he unleashed the beast that would seek the revenge that he was unable to do. If the world that took his family away burns down with its arrival, then so be it.

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