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I knew from the day I was born I was different. I could tell that something about me set me apart from all others. My parents saw it too; however, whenever I would ask, they would just smile and shake their heads, telling me I was different in a special way. They told me that one day, everything would become clear, and I would know the reason behind my specialness. However, that day never came. On my twelfth birthday, a tragedy occurred and it was both the beginning and the end of my life.
* * * * *
He would have been a very handsome man, if it didn’t look as though his scowl was permanently etched across his face. He made no attempt to hide his contempt of his students; in fact, he made such little attempt that many students wondered why he even became a professor. Some thought it was because he wanted to stay at the one place he called his home; others assumed that torturing people was entertaining for him, and so he made every effort to torment his students.
This is why it surprised me when he didn’t show disdain towards me at all. There was no contempt in his voice when he spoke with me nor was there any trace of loathsome for me in his eyes as we talked. It was rather odd, but I brushed it off, glad that he didn’t totally hate me like the rest of his students. It was nice to be able to be given a fair chance in class; I could ask whatever I wanted without him sneering at me for asking that question-actually, he didn’t seem to mind talking with me. He preferred to call on me in class, rather than someone who was actually raising their hand. Usually I would find this irritating, but for some reason I didn’t mind it in his class. Normally, I preferred to keep my hand down, due to the fact that I hated being put on the spot, and because of this, most of my other professors assumed that I didn’t know the answer to the question. But he knew I could answer the question. Every time he asked me a question, I would give my answer, and he would nod his head, apparently satisfied with the answer I gave.
He acted so different around me and I hadn’t a clue why. My friends were all astonished that he actually took a liking to someone: apparently he had never once, in his entire life, ever taken a liking to a student before. Other students were jealous of the way he treated me, and so accused my top marks in his class as being favoritism. My closest friends knew otherwise. I was top of his class because I was exceptionally bright, and had a knack for magic. But there was no convincing the others. I had quickly become enemies with many people, and those people did their best to make my life hell.
Everything was all new to me; this year had come as the biggest shock of my life, for I had never known what I truly was. Despite this, however, I quickly caught on, and became the top student of the academy. It was so strange, to think about-how just a few months ago, I sat at home, blatantly unaware of who I was. Who would have thought that I was an alchemist? The news came as a surprise, and for the longest time I denied it. Of course, I knew there was something different about me, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think it was because I came from a family of alchemists. My parents, who had died before they even got a chance to spring the news on me, were in fact from a long line of very skilled, very renowned alchemists. I remember the day when that man came to my house and turned my life upside down.
I had curled up on my living room couch with yet another book from my parents’ study. The books that they kept in there were like no ordinary books; they were filled with all sorts of equations, jumbled numbers and strange symbols I had never seen before in my life. I was fascinated with them-couldn’t put them down once I started reading them. It was like some strange new creature that I had just discovered and had to analyze it. The craziest part of it all was that I could actually understand what I was reading. I felt like it was all buried in my mind, and once I picked up one of the books, it resurfaced, allowing me to understand it all. I had spent the last five years pouring over these books; writing my own notes, creating my own theories, producing my own equations, but never really understanding what to do with them.
I could tell I had stumbled upon something, but what, I didn’t know. The equations were something that could not be used in this world-that much I could understand. The symbols that kept appearing in my head and in the books were not any I had ever seen, and I had already spent many months researching different languages, trying to figure out where they came from. I also looked up ancient languages; Egyptian, Latin, even ancient runes, but all in which I came up short. At that time, alchemy was utterly out of the question. I struggled between the desire to unearth a new world, and the nagging voice in my brain telling me it was all absurd, telling me to think logically.
As much as I wanted to believe that there was no such thing as magic, I couldn’t convince myself otherwise; there was so much evidence pointing me in the direction of a new fantasy world that awaited me, beckoning me to it. Although, as much as I dreamed about this castle in the sky, I never once expected it to be real. Had all of my wishing of this new fantastic world come true? Had I somehow made my dreams into a reality?
And so it seemed as such when that fateful day arrived three months ago. It was early morning in mid July; the sun was shining brightly, as it did just about everyday here in California, and having heard knocking at my door, I exasperatedly placed the book I was reading facedown beside me, careful not to lose my spot. I walked across the room to the front door, wondering who could possibly be calling on me this early in the morning. I yanked the door open and standing on my porch step was the most bizarre looking man I’d ever seen.
This strange man wore a long, black cloak and a top hat, although it had to have been at least 80 degrees out. His hair was snow white and very long, which he had tied back into a ponytail. A very scruffy beard covered his face and a pair of ancient looking spectacles sat at the very tip of his nose. However, this was not the strangest part about him: his eyes were an unusual color. They were red; blood red. They were indeed a frightening color, but I could see kindness in them. I stared awestruck, unsure of what to make of him.
“Are you Miss Estelle Eida?” He smiled at me, and before I could even answer, he replied. “Well of course you are! You have your mother’s eyes.”
I was extremely taken aback by his response. “You knew my mother?”
“Well of course I did!” He laughed, as if it was a strange thing to say. “I knew your father as well. Both were great acquaintances of mine. And they were also two of my best students.”
I stared at him, puzzled. Who was this man? And how did he know my parents? Students, he said…was he their teacher at some point? I must have looked quite confused because he said, “If you’ll let me come in, I’ll explain everything to you.”
I opened the door a bit wider to let him through, staring at him apprehensively as he walked over the threshold. He plopped himself down on one of the leather armchairs in the living room. I followed and lowered myself back onto the couch where I had sat only moments ago.
He cleared his throat. “Perhaps I should start from the beginning.” I nodded and he continued. “Now let’s see. Ah yes, shall we start the story with a little history of your past? Yes, that seems appropriate.
“Now you may not know that the Eida bloodline is one of the oldest and purest bloodlines of any known alchemy family in history.”
My eyes widened in shock. Alchemy? “But I thought alchemy was some sort of myth. No one could ever actually do alchemy, could they?” I asked, bewildered.
He chuckled. “Oh the ways this society has brainwashed you. Didn’t you ever feel like you were different in some way? Didn’t you ever feel like your parents knew something about you that you yourself did not?”
I inhaled sharply and nodded. How had this strange man known how I had felt my entire life? Who was he? “Excuse me, but who are you?” I asked. I didn’t feel it fit to continue listening until he at least told me his name and how he knew my parents.
“My name is Nicolas Flamel” He smiled, eyes twinkling. “I am the head of the ……school for alchemy.”
“School for alchemy?” I inquired, completely caught of guard. “You mean to say that there is a school out there that teaches alchemy?”
“Most certainly,” he replied, “and might I add, that it is the best in the world.” He laughed. “Of course, I may be a tiny bit biased. However, it is one of the best.”
I was astounded by his response. “So that means my parents attended this school?” I asked slowly, trying to wrap my head around it. Mr. Flamel grinned at me before he spoke.
“Yes, that’s right. Your parents were students of mine, two of my very best, in fact. And I would expect no less from their own daughter.” He peered at me over his spectacles.
What did he mean expect no less from me….Wait! Was he saying what I think he was saying? “Wait a minute!” I said, suddenly. “Do you mean to tell me that I will also be attending this school?” Taking his wide grin as a yes, I responded, “No no no, no way. There is no way I could attend that school. I really don’t think I’d be able to fit in at all.”
Mr. Flamel leaned forward in his chair. “Don’t think you’d fit in, huh? Don’t be silly! You’re an alchemist, you belong at this school. You could achieve great things at……..”
“But I haven’t done anything great before, I wouldn’t belong there.” I sputtered. Why was this man so persistent to make me go?
He stared at me for a moment, and then spoke quietly, “For the past five years, you have shown incredible potential as a student, not to mention pure talent as an alchemist.” I had been staring down at my hands, trying to take everything in, and as he said that, I quickly looked up, shocked at his response.
“Please show me the notes you have been writing for five years.” He asked me, eyes gleaming, as if to prove me something, as if he knew some deep, dark secret I knew not.
My notes?! How had he found out about my notes? I was speechless, couldn’t find the words to ask how he had found out about my research. He sat, waiting for me to retrieve my notes. Finally, after a few seconds, I stood up, and slowly walked over to my parents study and grabbed my notebook full of five years worth of careful observations, notes and equations. I brought it back to Mr. Flamel, heart pounding. What was he about to prove to me?
He took the notebook from my hands and began flipping through pages, glancing at certain symbols and equations, with the occasional, “hmmm, I see” and “ah yes.” After many minutes observation, he closed the notebook and placed it in his lap. I watched him, expectantly. At last he spoke.
“Estelle, these notes are far beyond your parent’s capabilities. They discovered very little compared to what you have unearthed. You have surpassed your parent’s life work in merely five years time.” He smiled gently, eyes twinkling again. “That, my dear, is why you must attend………..