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Second Chances

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(Prologue:Crossroads)

Faust marveled at first at the being he created from nothing but a few wooden logs he'd found around his house. For a being that was created naught but a few minutes ago she moved around as fluently as a child who'd been doing so for years ,and she marveled at the room he'd brought her to despite it's plain look. While she got acquainted with her temporary lodging Faust went to find a suitable tool for the dead he needed. Her wooden body meant that he'd have to put in a fair bit of effort into what he was about to do ,of course she had a bit of a spindly frame so it might not be so hard.

After a slight bit of exploration he'd found the perfect tool for the job. A woodsman's axe that ,while looking like it's seen a fair bit of use, seemed to gleam as if it were bought yesterday. it'd been a little bit away from where he'd taken the wood to make his creation blending in with the dusty home invisible without a second glance. Picking it up he found that while a little heavy for someone like himself, but still fairly wieldable. With a weapon acquired the next part he'd need was to simply proceed with the act he needed if he was to bring his sweet daughter back.
Going upstairs he was sure his target would still be in it's room. While she had seemed interested in everything she saw it was only when he was near. When she'd first been born by the transmutation circle she'd been meek until she saw him. She'd probably imprinted on him not unlike a duckling to it's mother seeing him as protection. Still with him gone she'd probably sit there and wait until he returned ,unless she went to look for him but she didn't seem to be one to take the initiative too much if anything at all.
Gently opening the door he was correct in his assessment when he found her looking around frantically for him. her eyes soon found him and she turned toward him ,and her fearful expression turned to that of comfort for but a second. He'd made no attempt to hide the axe in his hand after all he wasn't expecting much of a fight. Besides she was but a husk of a person she could not comprehend why he needed to do this. She only wanted to live as any animal has those self-preservation instincts that keep everything alive. Still the fearful expression on her face seemed that she had an idea of what he planned to do as he walked closer to her ambition fueled him as he raised his axe high with malicious intent. Then she did something that surprised him.
She spoke.
"Wait...no!" She screams as he gets closer ,but that doesn't last long as he stopped in his tracks. That wasn't right. From his memories he can't recall them speaking before. Granted he can't recall much from his past ,but he does feel that she shouldn't have done that. "I don't wanna die! I haven't even lived yet!" She continues desperation clear in the plant's voice. He was still in slight shock that she can even speak and somehow the fear on her face now seems more genuine than it did a moment ago. He now contemplated his actions a little more now ,as before he did this under the assumption that she would be more like an unresponsive animal. The axe falls from his hands a tiny bit as he starts to feel sick from his actions ,and he sees the slight relief from on her face.
That vanishes as he grasps the axe tightly and brings it high again. His mind is assaulted with memories of his little one from the adorable laughter to the games of tag they played. He shan't lose the last thing he has to live for even if he must forsake his humanity. the thoughts of 'For her!' go through his head almost like a religious mantra as he brings the axe down intent to end the life of his creation. It's eye's seemed to flash what little of its life it'd experienced.
In another universe he would be successful in this endeavor and he would feed his daughters soul. He would go on to make more homunculi to further his wealth and sacrifice for his ambition. He would regain his memories of what had led him to his point ,his humanity long since forgotten. From there it split a multitude of ways it could go. Burned in his home for his mistreatment of the homunculi , crushed by mountains of wealth he'd acquired , or losing the will to live after his daughter's body finally decays , and a variety of ways he'd meet his end.
But this was not in any of them.
The plant-like girl rolled forward just a little to his left past him. The axe crashed into floorboards splitting the wood and embedding itself deep in there. Faust's body kept the momentum ,and unable to stop himself his stomach collided with the wooden handle knocking the wind out of him. The blow brought him to his knees gasping for the air that had been robbed of him. The girl herself had run to the door intent to escape ,yet she stopped to instead look at Faust with slight amounts of pity. Faust himself looked up a bit to see the Homunculus staring at him.
He allowed the surprise to be evident on his face as he hadn't assumed she'd do anything to stop her murder. She'd seemed too meek and frightful to even attempt anything ,and she certainly couldn't fight him since he was twice her size. No she'd simply dodged his blow and she'd brought him to his knees and stared at HIM with pity. He'd document this down for later to always cut off escape and the ability to fight back.
Then the fury came.
She'd started running again when she saw the expression on his face and started running down the hall. With great force he'd later be impressed by he pulled the axe from its resting place and gave chase to his experiment. She'd been halfway down the stairs when she came into eyesight and he zeroed in on her. She might have had a head start but he was motivated by fury , determination , and parental care for his child. That didn't guarantee his success however as she'd been quite crafty when he'd almost caught up. She'd stopped momentarily to grab a painting and throw it at him before continuing to the door ,a destination that was within eyesight. Without thinking Faust brought the axe down on the painting that was in his way splitting it into two. His wrath went down a bit, made a note to try and repair the painting later ,and try to find the pieces.
For now he needed to end this.
He saw that she was at the door trying to unlock it. He had to think fast lest she escape and his work was all for naught. In a display of strength and accuracy he'd be impressed by if the situation wasn't so dire he threw the axe at the door. It spun horizontally before it found it's resting place in the door sticking itself deep into both the door and it's frame ,and almost taking off the soon to be victims hand. She jumped a bit and turned to see Faust just in front of her. Now in front of his creation he put his hands around her thin neck. His legs gave out soon bringing both of them to the ground. He overtopped her while she struggled against the confines of his hands.
It soon became apparent that strangulation wouldn't be able to perform the deed. She must not have needed that much air ,or maybe she had adrenaline and it was kicking in as her tree branch hands seemed almost to pry his off her neck. Taking a hand off her neck he instead grabbed the axe above his head ,and after a few tugs wretched the axe out of its place in the door. The panic in his victim grew ,but it was too late as he held the axe above his head intent to end this charade once and for all.
Then he saw it.
A piece of the picture he'd cut had landed near the door ,specifically right next to the head of his captive. In his furious state he'd missed it ,but as his head cleared the fog of wrath he grew more perceptive of the world. The picture half was that of a woman smiling, her right arm was attached to someone that was probably on the right half of the painting. She was wearing an old ,yet still nice red dress that looked more befitting of a noble. Or was it the complexion of her skin that made the dress stand out like that. No matter the reason to Faust she was more gorgeous than the angels above.
Was...
Was that his wife?
The painted women stared at Faust keeping him paralyzed so that he could not continue his work. For some reason the serene smile and those enchanting eyes seemed to pierce through him. Almost as if the painting itself was judging him for what he was attempting to do ,and for a split second the painting wasn't smiling anymore. He continued to stare at the painting ,and by this point he wasn't even strangling his creation. It was more like his hands now rested gently on her neck ,of course she was still struggling to escape him yet his weight was too great for her. Even the axe which he'd held like an expert executioner before now seemed to dangle lifelessly to his side.
It was strange the painting seemed to have some sort of power over him. He didn't want to end the life of his creation in front of his wife. Yes it was but a painting on the ground ,but it felt like more than that to Faust. As he continued to gaze at who he was sure was his dear wife his brain had started to throb in his skull. The sudden pain caused him to drop the axe finally so that he can grasp his head with one hand and barely hold down the homunculus with the other. Said homunculus now stared at him ,not that she could do much else, with the obvious fear as her captor had almost ended her life now seemed to be in pain which brought confusion.
Or at least that's the reason Faust told himself as to why she stopped struggling.
No matter the reason Faust could not kill his creation in front of the painting ,even the thought of it sent waves of pain through his skull ,but he could prevent her from leaving. He unwrapped his fingers from her throat and slowly lifted his hand from her ,all the while she made no movement as if she'd been a puppet with no strings. Her eyes seemed to soften as if she could tell he no longer meant her harm for whatever reason.
Still he got up and offered a hand to his creation ,and was only moderately surprised she had accepted. After all he was sure if the situation was reversed he’d try and get an advantage over his attacker be it a cheap hit , a small dash , or maim them in some way. Yet she tried none as he carried her upstairs to her room and almost seemed happy he gave her such contact.
Stepping inside he led her to the bed and sat down patting to the side of him. She let go of his hand and took to his other side as she sat down. The wooden construct seemed content as she started leaning into him with a small smile ,but she would not if she could see Faust's thoughts.
'Why can't I KILL you?' The thought tangled through his head. He had purpose and conviction so the task at hand should be as easy as ending that of a fly. Albeit a big and feminine wooden fly ,but the point still stood. He had already thought of multiple ways to end her. Chopping her in her sleep, locking the door and trying again , bringing her to the cliff he knew of (he'd not dwell why he knew of this location), and maybe finding a few termites to eat her inside out to cover a few. Yet when he tried to go through with this train of thought, his wife's face , her beautiful smiling face , flashed through his mind and he couldn't...
And for the life of him he didn't know why.
The homunculus shouldn’t have meant anything too special to him. Just a means to an end to have his daughter back ,so why was she still sitting next to him slowly falling asleep. Could it be he was growing attached to the homunculus in some morbid way? 
Faust didn’t know. He got up and left the room locking the door behind him when she finally fell asleep. Going back to his study he looked at his daughter and at the book on the desk. Taking a seat he put his hands on his head and squeezed a little bit on his temples. Why did that picture affect him so badly that he couldn’t kill his creation? 
He had little memories of his wife ,so maybe she had a more subconscious effect on him. If that were the case then why did she scarcely show up in his memories if she affected him so much? How could she have such a hold on him if he could remember so little about her?
She must have done something remarkable…
Sighing Faust found himself at an impasse. He couldn’t kill his creation because of the hold his wife had on him, and he couldn’t imagine a life without his daughter. Looking at his daughters sullen expression did not help his mood.
Maybe a night on the town would help his mood.

Chapter Text

When he’d first looked down upon the town from the stairs that lead to it from his house Faust had thought the place was a dump. The town was in heavy states of disrepair, the people were filthy and crude, and plainly it smelled horrible. Still he decided that maybe he was being pessimistic about how it could be. Looks could be deceiving after all from his experience with his creation he’d thought she’d accept her death and she hadn’t. So maybe the town would be quite pleasant.
Unfortunately he was wrong.
The town smelt even worse now that he was actually inside it, and the people looked more filthy. He actually stood out in how nice his clothes were, and a few looked at him with envy. From his journal and a few of his memories if he remembered correctly this was a town of criminals and outcasts in some way or form. They certainly looked the part, and a part of him wondered if he would be attacked.
Of course other than their looks of envy or apathy there were a few that held different more positive emotions. Looks of happiness, recognition, and dare he say worship sprung into a few people’s eyes as he walked past. And those people that looked to attack him were quelled by someone who did recognize him and stopped them, often whispering something in his ear that would cause them to back off either in fear or elation.
Fause did wonder what they were talking about, after all they certainly knew something about himself that he did not, but he did not approach the people. Partly out of fear he’d catch something and partly because he didn’t know how to go about approaching them. He certainly couldn’t ask how they knew him because he had no idea how they’d react. He was certain that they had little knowledge on anything medical and possibly wouldn’t even know of amnesia ,so if he just asked who he was or how they knew him well...he wasn’t actually sure. More than likely they’d see him as an imposter and with his nice clothing, compared to their own, they’d attack him.
The guard was the only people he’d seen so far that had attire that wasn’t filthy, but that was because it was their armour and their filth was mostly mental. On more than one occasion he’d have to divert his path because some guard was beating someone, joining in on gambling with the civilians, or just making an ass of themselves. Clearly the guard was quite corrupt or maybe they were outcasts themselves, only were being paid to guard people. Some did appear to be doing their job correctly and even looked friendlier, so maybe it was only some of the guard.
He did make a note of all of them in case however.
In any case the town wasn’t of much use as of right now. He’d gone with no money to do anything right now, and even then he was trying to remember anything to do exactly. Nothing struck his fancy, that was free, and everywhere he went people were turning heads in some way. This was quite the distraction he needed fro-
“Are...are you not Faust?”
Well it seemed someone was finally acknowledging him. Turning around he was fairly surprised to see a fairly normal looking woman with blonde hair and blue eyes in a green dress. It was a dress that had certainly seen its years in use, but given how everyone else was she might as well look like a noble. Not to mention he could learn about himself from the woman since she’d approached him, and that made things considerably easier.
“Yes I am, what do you need me for?” Upon confirmation she looked with barely contained jo-no she actually had quite an apathetic look on her face. It was strange her voice seemed to convey more emotion than her face did as it had an unchanging expression. An actor or musician of some kinda?
“Oh thank the divines, you must tell me where you’ve been. Please do say your back in business.” She asked getting closer to him. Faust suppressed the urge to grab his forehead in panic. She certainly knew him, and apparently he’d run a business. What did he sell however? He couldn’t remember, but wasn’t he an alchemist?
He’d answer this carefully, and try and see what she exactly wanted.
“Why yes I am, how may I assist you?” He asked the woman who was now close enough that from an outsider's perspective they were two friends speaking. For all he knew, with his current memories, they had been friends before. “Glad to see your back in business.” She gave a small smile, but that vanished and was replaced with a more business like face.
“As you know my husband is always pushing me to do things I do not want, and I think one of your creations can replace me for a bit. I can provide ample compensation for her work.” She finished and looked at him expecting an answer. Faust on the other hand felt dread from hearing what she said. How had she known about his creation? From what he could recall this was his first time creating such a thing, yet she just mentioned it so casually like he’d always done.
“What do you have in mind?” He questioned trying not to show his uncertainty. She looked almost puzzled by his question, like he should know. She shrugged her shoulders before she opened her mouth again. “It seems your absence has had an effect on your memory, but I do understand. You’ve had, and probably continued to, have quite a number of customers, so it’s understandable after all this time you’ve forgotten a few. I would have her work in assistance to me. After all, one woman in a shop in this town is dangerous, but two women given my wares....”
She stopped and quickly pulled two knives from her sleeves quite fast. They spun in her hands a few times before she brought them into an X just under her chin, and Faust had to marvel at both her ability and the blades themselves. They had quite exquisite craftsmanship from both the handle, and the metal itself seemed sharp enough even to cut from look alone. They almost seemed to gleam in the sun as they were held in the women's arms.
“Should dissuade anyone looking to take advantage of the circumstance.” Upon finishing one of the knives goes back into her sleeve and she tosses the knife up and catches it. The blade part in her hands, that he now notices have old cuts and scars, and the handle presenting itself to him. Faust looks at the blade questioningly, making a note that the woman is far more dangerous than he expected, then back at her.
“And this is.” He questions the knife-seller who in turn pushes the blade a little closer.” It’s two things Faust. One a token of my appreciation that you’ve returned, and two for your own protection. I’m not sure why you haven’t come with one of those things you have to protect you, but it seems you forget where we are. This is Salach Village, a town for the worst of society, and danger could b- no it is around the corner.” She explains and almost forces the knife into his hand.
The small blade feels...nice to hold. It’s as if the metal were weightless, and the handle...the handle fits comfortably in his palm. A quick squeeze on the wooden handle shows it to be not only quite smooth, but also pleasantly sturdy. He resists the urge to trail his finger up the blade's sharp side to see how it is to the cut.
“I would like one with a bit of fear in them. Those have a keener eye than the others, and aren’t too rough with the merchandise. I do hope you remember my Husband and I’s shop.” She tells and then looks at him. Faust had almost forgotten the deal the women had made and thinks back to his one homunculus. Yes...she was quite scared of everything before his attempt on her life. Even after it seemed she was only comfortable around him, so she’d be quite useful for the women’s purpose.
“Yes I do believe I have one that would fit your needs. Rest assured Ii’ll have…” Faust pauses as he goes to give his client his creations name. The problem is that he had not named the plant girl before or after his his failed murder. Mostly out of the fact he hadn’t expected her to still draw breath and that he didn’t want to get attached to her. Getting attached would’ve complicated his ambitions, but those were on hold for now.
“...You’ll have.” She echoed bringing him out of his thoughts.” I’ll have Maple arrive soon, I do believe I remember your shop's location.” He answered quickly to his client. Maple? MAPLE!? That was the name he had decided to give his creation. Had Faust had the time, and not been in public, he would have slapped himself for the name.
The women, ignorant to his mental beratement to himself, simply nodded at his words. “ I do hope you’re truthful of your words.” With that she walked down the street and turned a corner leaving Faust. He looked on for a few moments, pocketed the knife, and walked home.
Maple...what a name…



Standing in front of Maple’s door the next morning was just a little awkward. He had no idea how he would go about handling the homunculi after his attempt at her life yesterday, and even then tell her about the job he wanted her to do. Would she lash out at him? She had seemed more docile after, but maybe that was her judgment when she had been tired.
Other than that he’d poured over the books he had in his study with his daughter, his real daughter, for some solution to his problem, but they yielded no extra information. This was a problem because it meant one of two things: one he NEEDED to kill homunculus to feed the soul orb, that was a little fainter than yesterday, or two other methods hadn’t been attempted yet. Given that he didn’t know if he was on a time limit or not the time to experiment was going to be severely anxiety producing.
Still he did need to talk to his homunculi eventually. Both to make sure she didn’t run away, and both to get her to do the job he had accepted. Perhaps he had been too gung-ho about the arrangement. In any case he opened the door to his homunculus room.
“Daddy.” The word shocked him as he took a step inside her room, along with the small weight he felt around his chest and stomach. The creature had apparently decided to wait for his arrival, and looking down had brought him into its embrace.
Looking down as the girl nuzzled herself further into him he was curious as to why she showed this reaction to his presence. It was strange to the alchemist that she would still be so affectionate to him.” Don’t leave me alone. I don’t like being alone.” She spoke partially muffled from speaking into his clothes.
“I won’t.” He told the homunculus as he gently wrapped his arms around her. That had cleared up her reaction a tad bit, seems she despised being alone, but he still wondered why she trusted him. It wouldn’t be hard to take advantage of the situation at hand. He’d just need to pick her up and carry her to the furn-
He was almost forced to his knees as another flash of his wife’s face struck his mind, but this one was different. This one was of her holding a baby, his daughter, in her arms having just given birth. It was a scene that before had caused his heart to swell at happiness, given that no complications had arised from her birth, but now it almost seemed to mock him. He heard the tree girl start breathing heavily as he had accidentally started gripping her tightly.
Loosening his grip and pulling back, but he kept his hands on her soldiers. “And what have you done today Maple?” He asked his creation and noticed the smile on her face growing. "My name is Maple?”
Ah yes he supposed giving her a name was acknowledgement from him that she seemed to crave.” Yes it is Maple, but you need to answer my question. What have you done today.” He nodded before going back to his question. The homunculus seemed to think a bi before he noticed her expression growing more and more distant. “Well I woke up from my nap because of the birds chirping and I noticed you weren’t there. I waited for a bit and wondered if you were going to come back, and then you didn’t for a really long time…”
Faust noticed the tears that were starting to build on the girls face, but he made no move  to wipe them away. He did note that they had an orange tint to them not uncommon among the sap from a few trees around his home. It was a detail that fascinated him and he wondered more of the differences in their biology, but he held off as his ‘daughter’ composed herself.
“So I left and explored the house for a little bit. The house was big, so ,maybe you got lost, but you weren’t anywhere. Not in the library , living room, kitchen, basement, or...or ANYWHERE!” She suddenly cried leaping into him.
“PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME AGAIN. I”M A GOOD GIRL, SO PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME BEHIND! I WANT YOU TO SEE ME GROW INTO A MIGHTY TREE!”She sobbed into his shoulder all while Faust grew more in both dread and just being uncomfortable. Her tears were indeed like sap, and they would surely stain his coat an amber color, along with being sticky, but also just from the situation itself. He had no idea how to comfort the homunculus, he hadn’t expected to have to in the first place, but it seemed she had a want or need for attention. Understandable given her young age.
But he needed to confirm something.
“Did you enter the room at the end of the hall or leave the house?” He asked this in a dull tone, and he noticed the girl almost went stiff as a board in his arms. She sniffled a few times before she spoke. “N-No. I was gonna, but it felt scary in there so I left it alone. I was gonna leave ,but then I thought you'd be scary again if you came back.” The plant trembled lightly in his grasp.
Good she hadn’t seen it.
“Listen to me Maple.” He gently spoke looking into her tear stained eye as the other was covered by her ‘hair’. “That room is forbidden from your entry, and you will only enter in emergency or I allow it ok.” He gripped her shoulders firmly and let a small smile to his creation, as an affirmation to her, when she nodded back. “That’s very good, now then I have something to tell you.”
He stood up and put his hands, careful not to let his coat sleeve touch his side lest it become stuck, near his side. “We’ve got just some money trouble, and daddy needs you to do a job for a lady friend.” He lied slightly to her and noticed she seemed to tremble when he told her that. “M-Money?” She asked in a hushed voice looking down.
Hmmm he would need to educate about the subject.
“Money is how I get things to make life easier for us, and how I could buy things for you” He explained as he looked at her. At that she looked up at him and looked like she had another question.” Is this a way to get rid of me?” She questioned with slight depression in her voice.
He almost shook his head at the question. If he wanted her gone, which he slightly did, then he would’ve just killed her , not then he could, then pawn her off to someone else especially in this town. He could imagine some of freaks that certainly would love something that even resembled a little girl. Killing her would’ve been far less cruel than that.
“No dear I’m not, but you’ll have to be around a woman for the days you work. She’ll keep you safe and give you money if you just help her a bit ok? I’ll take you there tomorrow and then pick you up.” He answered the homunculus and she let her shoulder lose some tension in them. “Ok...what now?” She answered before she went into a question just as his stomach growled.
“Now we have dinner, but first I must get changed.” He answered before he left to the newly forbidden room where held known he had a few sets of spare clothes. Entering it he realized that she might not even need to eat, but he’d already offered and even then she might want to. As he took off his lab coat and shirt he thought back to her conversation with the homunculus just a few minutes ago.
She had almost seen his secret or escaped, and neither could happen. He did question ;however, how she escaped the room. He was sure he’d locked it and that she had no way out, yet she’d explored the house? How had she managed that? Other than that he couldn’t have her wandering off, and was trying to think of a way to keep her from leaving. Oh well he’d figure out later.



The table had been set for two, and the homunculus, and dinner itself wasn’t two spectacular. Just salted meat and some still good potatoes he’d found, and while they did the job he made a note to go and buy some food at the market. He noticed that while she wasn’t the biggest fan of the salt meat, not that he blamed her, but did eat everything. Of course she’d finished first, having a smaller portion than him, and was looking up at him then back to the table every now and then.
Faust could tell she wanted something.
“What’s on your mind? He asked the homunculus as he’d gotten tired of her little eye games. She looked at the table before she spoke. “Did you leave to get me a gift?” She asked so quietly that Faust almost didn’t hear her. “Yes ,but it took the rest of our money. I’ll give it to you after dinner ok?” He lied to his plant. She brightened up and held out her plate for seconds.
No he hadn’t gotten her a gift, but he did have something she might like from his daughter. He’d give her a hand-me down, and if she complained about the condition well they were having money troubles...actually know that he thought of it Faust hadn’t checked around all that often in search of money. He was sure he’d remembered some laying around, but for the life of it escaped him as to where it was. He’d check after he’d gotten her the ‘gift’ he’d gone out for.

Faust did have to admit though that it was nice sitting here eating with someone. Despite her abnormal features she was still quite pleasant company, and Faust was sure that being alone at this time might drive him just a little mad. Just her fork hitting a plate or something else was a strange thing that reassured him that everything was gonna be ok. It kept his mind off of constantly wondering if the soul orb was going to pop at any second. It came every now and then, but Faust just let himself enjoy the moment.

He might as well try and get the best the situation had to offer.



So it turns out his money troubles lie he’d told was actually the current reality. After he’d given her a book on fantasy tales from the forbidden room, he’d always had one since his daughter always came in at night, and while a little decrepit she’d adored it. She gushed over the pictures of the princess and the knight that saved her, the sight caused Faust to forget about asking how she got out. After reading the book to her, and filing the idea to teach her to read, Faust combed the house in for any form of currency.
Not a single coin in sight.
This was going to be an issue indeed. He’d need money to...well actually just live in general. If he had not a cent to his name, then he’d have no means of putting anything to his research into the soul orb and other ways to resurrect his daughter. All he’d found was some old clay among his alchemist supplies, and those needed to be thrown out and replaced.
“Damnation..” He couldn’t help but mutter. It seemed that he would have to rely on his creation for a little while as he got set back up. As of right now unless people took clay for currency he’d not be getting any new groceries. Sitting in his study he wondered what he would do the next day after he took his daughter to the knife’s saleswoman’s shop, and then later try to get his daughter a reason to stay if he ever went out.
As his eyes fell onto the transmutation circle then he figured he might be able to solve both those problems.