Khayal's mother asks him to take his father's lunch to him out at the mines. On the way some of his father's fellow miners let Khayal know that his father is working in the furthest mine today, number 8. Since it's so far away he decides to take a shortcut. Being so focused on his task he completely runs over a young girl. He stops to find out where she's from and what she's doing here, but she passes out after stating that she has successfully crossed the Great Desert. Khayal ends up sharing his father's lunch with the starving young stranger. After the meal is complete and Khayal is well thanked the young stranger introduces herself as May Chang and small panda companion as Xiao-Mei. Khayal asks why they came so far from there homeland of Xing. It turns out that she is looking for the secret to immortality, but before they can continue a loud crash is heard.

They towards the sound and as they approach they hear that mine number 8 has had a cave-in. Khayal and May rush to the collapsed mine. Khayal is stopped by another miner from rushing in to rescue his father since the mine is still collapsing. May makes the comment that they don't need to go over to the fallen mine shaft to help them and then begins to perform an alchemic sequence which ends with the restoration of the mine. Khayal's father, Halling, can be seen through the clearing dust helping a fellow miner out of the adit. May states that this is her way of repaying Khayal for the meal he provided.

The group retires to the local inn for food and refreshments and Halling relates that this is the second time he's been saved by an alchemist. The first time was by the Elric brothers. May, upon hearing of the accomplishments of Edward, decides then and there to seek him out.

Back in Rush Valley Winry, who is working for Mr. Garfiel, is just about to take a break from work when Ed and Al show up looking for some repairs to Ed's arm. Again. Paninya, who has just finished repairing the roof hears a commotion inside and upon entering expecting so see Ed and Al she finds a well pummeled Ed on the floor. Apparently due to the drubbing that Winry has given him for once again damaging his automail. While Winry begins to fix Ed's arm Paninya and Al sit down together. The talk comes around to how Paninya is no longer thieving to make a living, but is having a bit of trouble convincing people that she really has given up being a thief. During the chat going on between Ed and Winry while she works on his arm, she finds out that the boy's next stop is going to be Central and Winry determines to go with the brothers.

While Al and Ed are waiting for Winry to finish her remaining tasks they head into town to do a bit of exploring. While there Al sees something that catches his eye in an alley and goes to investigate. Ed, thinking Al has found another stray kitten, asks him if he has and Al replies yes. Turns out it's not a kitten, but a young man and before Ed can tell Al to leave him they end up feeding him. He's grateful and following the meal relates that he has come from Xing in order to do research on rendanshu, or what is commonly known in Amestris as alchemy. Ed and Al introduce themselves and request the visitor to show them some examples of his country's rendanshu, but unfortunately, while interested in the art the visitor does not practice it. When the boys question this it turns out that the visitor is searching for the Philosopher's Stone. That's all the brothers need to hear to end the discussion, but when they try to leave the stranger has them detained by his masked accomplices so that he can hear more about the stone and how he can use it to achieve immortality.

Chapter Notes

  • The country to the east is called Xing and they also practice alchemy there, but it is known as rendanshu and is based more on healing than on creating.
  • Paninya has finally convinced Dominic LeCoulte to accept attempts to pay him back for the automail legs he gave her.
  • Turns out Rush Valley is a very boring place unless you are very interested in automail.
  • Amestris is a besieged country from all sides except the eastern Xing.

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