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In Paulo Coelho's story, The Alchemist, the story begins when Santiago chooses to be a shepherd in order to travel, and then decides to pursue a recurring dream he has had to find treasures. He leaves Spain with his sheep.
First he visits a gypsy woman so she can read his fortune. She wants a tenth of his treasure when he finds it, so he agrees, and she tells him to go to the Pyramids in Egypt. This he already knows from his dreams. Then he meets an old man who wants a tenth of his sheep in order to help him. Santiago agrees and the man (who is really the King of Salem) tells him about his Personal Legend (what will really make him happy in his life), about following the omens along the way, and encourages Santiago not to give up on his dream.
Santiago sells the rest of his sheep in an attempt to travel to Egypt. He is not a person familiar with the ways of the world, and his is robbed. Left with nothing, the boy takes a job with a crystal merchant. He is there longer than he had hoped, trying to make money for more sheep. He is a good salesman and makes money for the merchant, greatly increasing his business. The merchant teaches Santiago more than he knows: the merchant never pursued his Personal Legend, and now feels stuck. This is an important lesson for Santiago, who also learns to speak Arabic. Eventually the boy makes his money and knows it is time to leave.
However, instead of buying more sheep, he pays to travel with a caravan across the desert. On the way he meets the Englishman who has learned all he can from books about alchemy, but has never succeeded in changing lead to gold. The boy tries to tell the older man about his Personal Legend and watching for omens, but the Englishman's heart is closed to different methods of learning. Both men travel to the oasis to meet "the alchemist."
Arriving at the oasis, Santiago is much better at listening to the Language of the World, that which connects people, animals, and the world to God. Santiago meets Fatima and falls in love. He says he will return when his search is done. The boy sees an omen in two fighting falcons and takes his vision to the leaders of the oasis, telling them they will be attacked. They decide to believe him. Meanwhile, the boy is threatened by a man on a horse, demanding who has seen an omen. Santiago faces him, ready to be killed if it is his fate, but the alchemist is just testing him.
The two travel together, while the boy listens to the alchemist. They are arrested, and the alchemist tells their captors that the boy can change himself into the wind. The men want to see this, but the boy is petrified: he has no idea how to do so, but he has no choice—failure means death. Speaking the Language of the World, Santiago talks to the sun; then he talks to the wind, and artfully enlists their help. He is successful, and the boy and the alchemist separate, as Santiago continues on his quest. At the pyramids, the boy is attacked by robbers. One of the robbers tells Santiago that he, too, had a dream, about a treasure at the root of a tree in Spain. Because the robber does not follow his Personal Legend, he will never find his treasure. Santiago knows now that he must return home to Spain. His treasure is in the churchyard where the boy and his sheep rested. He goes back, claims his treasure, and then whispers to Fatima, on the wind, that he is returning home to her. All he has achieved has come from following his Personal Legend.
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