Running out of money for hotel fees in Central City, Alphonse phones Pinako in Resembool only to learn that Edward has not yet arrived at the Rockbell house. However, Pinako remarks that while Ed hasn't shown up in town, someone else has - the boys' father, Van Hohenheim.
In the graveyard in Resembool, Ed angrily confronts his father, who responds by saying that Pinako had already explained to him their accident with Human Transmutation. As Hohenheim continues mourning softly in front of Trisha's grave, Ed reiterates that there is no longer a place here for him, which causes Van to inquire as to why the family house is gone. Edward explains that he had burned it down several years ago so that he and Alphonse couldn't turn back from their goal, but Van rebuffs this claim by asserting that the real reason Ed burned down the house was to hide all traces of his sin and run away from the painful memories. Further angered by this astute observation, Ed denies that Van would know anything about it, but Hohenheim responds softly that he does indeed understand. Edward storms off toward the Rockbell house and Van follows, explaining that he might as well stay with Pinako as well since his house has been burnt down. Observing Edward's hot-tempered demeanor, Van remarks to himself that he was exactly the same at that age.
That evening, as Ed lies in bed, Van goes to see him and, remembering his son as an infant, moves to touch him, but refrains and leaves the room. Ed, however, is only pretending to be asleep. As Hohenheim discusses the accident with Pinako in the next room, she asks why Van had been gone so long and asserts that, if he had come home, Ed and Al would not have had to watch their mother die twice. Van doesn't answer, but noticing that the door to the bedroom where Ed is sleeping is now open after he himself had closed it, he asks Pinako if the thing Ed and Al had transmuted had really been their mother. Pinako responds that the creature could not even be called a human, but Van elaborates, inquiring whether the being's eye and hair color matched Trisha's. Shocked by his implication, Pinako wonders in horror if the creature the boys had destroyed their bodies to construct had been something wholly unrelated to them or their mother. Eavesdropping on the conversation as Hohenheim had deduced, Edward is equally horrified by the possibility.
The following morning, Van prepares to take the train out of town and declines to have Pinako go and wake his son for a farewell. However, before he departs, Van spies a family photograph of the Elrics from many years ago and asks Pinako if he can take it with him, as it's the only picture with the four of them all together. She complies and, in return, he solemnly advises her to leave the country, as something terrible is to happen very soon. Pinako calmly refuses, remarking that this country is no stranger to terrible occurrences and that there are many people who rely on her presence in this town. Hohenheim lets the matter drop and heads out the door, but when Pinako invites him back for a home-cooked meal at any time, Van laments with a quiet grimness that he will never again be able to break bread with her.
Back in Central, Al explains to the inquisitive Ling that he has not seen his father in ten years and, though he barely remembers him, he would like a chance to discuss alchemy, as Van Hohenheim had a great deal of knowledge on the subject. However, he bemoans the likelihood that Edward is picking a fight with Hohenheim rather than trying to gain information. When he and Winry ask whether or not Ling is close to his own father, the foreigner gives an unexpected response, revealing that the reason he hasn't had a chance to get to know his father is that the man is the Emperor of Xing. Ling and Lan Fan explain that there are twenty-four princes and nineteen princesses of Xing, as each of the fifty ethnic clans is obligated to give their eldest daughter to the emperor as a concubine so as to bear him a child. Since Ling's mother was the concubine representing the Yao clan, Ling is the current emperor's twelfth child. Recently, the emperor has fallen ill and all the clans have begun a vicious grapple for power and it is for this reason that Ling has come to Amestris - to find the secret of immortality and use it to carry the emperor's favor with the fifty-thousand people of the Yao clan. However, Ling remarks that the secret of Al's metal body seems a great deal more promising than the Philosopher's Stone's legend; because Al's inorganic form will never die, the young alchemist is the closest thing to immortality there is. But Alphonse responds that this is not the case and that the circumstances of his current existence make it uncertain if he will even manage to have a normal human lifespan; his metal body is like a ticking time bomb.
At the hospital nearby, Roy Mustang recuperates on a couch while reading through a stack of books as Lt. Hawkeye stands guard. He is greeted by Dr. Knox, the coroner who had autopsied the false body of Maria Ross, who sits casually at the other end of the couch and surreptitiously remarks that he had gotten a funny feeling when he had heard that the "corpse" had been burned by the "Flame Alchemist", and had therefore identified the dummy through Ross' dental records despite knowing that it had never actually been a living human being. He declares that any other doctor would have caught Mustang in the middle of his plot, but Roy explains that he had known Knox would be on duty the night of Ross' escape. Knox asks why Mustang expected to cover for him and Roy responds that they were comrades in Ishval, but Knox remarks that they were closer than "comrades"; in that bloody battlefield where the people Mustang was ordered to burn became medical test subjects that Knox was ordered to dissect, the two of them were more like "accomplices". Knox warns Mustang to be more careful before he suffers a painful wake up call and as Roy responds that he already has, the doctor notices that the books Roy is studying all deal with spinal anatomy. Roy mentions that one of his subordinates has suffered a paralytic spine injury and asks if anything can be done, but Knox responds that it is unlikely that the soldier in question will ever be able to return to active service. In his room, Jean Havoc chats with Heymans Breda and explains that his paralysis cannot be remedied by the use of automail because the nerve signals from his brain have been completely cut off from his lower body. Breda remarks that Jean is not suited for retired life and steps out to speak with the Colonel. He suggests to Mustang that Tim Marcoh may be able to use his medical knowledge and the Philosopher's Stone to heal Jean's legs and Roy sends the 2nd Lieutenant off in search of the elusive doctor.
In his hometown, Dr. Marcoh is surprised to see the uniformed Breda on his doorstep and even more surprised to learn that the man has come to escort him back to Central City. Feigning ignorance, Marcoh asks the soldier to leave, but suddenly sees that Gluttony is standing there as well. Marcoh frantically attempts to shut the door, but Lt. Breda forces it open and, stepping inside, transforms into Envy. Explaining to the good doctor that manpower has been running low in Central, Envy declares that he has come to commandeer Marcoh's services. Marcoh begs to be left alone, but the Homunculus reiterates Lust's earlier threat of obliterating the town if the doctor does not comply and adds that the same will happen if Marcoh should attempt to escape through suicide. As Gluttony sniffs out the vial of Philosopher's Stone in the cupboard, Envy asserts that Marcoh is coming back with them.
A short time later, the real Lt. Breda arrives in town and, finding no answer at the doctor's lodgings, asks a passerby if Dr. Mauro is in. However, when the man remarks that Breda himself had come to see the doctor just a few minutes ago wearing a State Military uniform, Heymans realizes that something is wrong and barges inside to find the office ransacked and Marcoh gone.
- The fact that Breda and Mustang both know of Marcoh's abilities and current whereabouts suggests that Ed had revealed the details of his encounter with the doctor at some point - most likely during the rendezvous in the Eastern Desert.
|Fullmetal Alchemist Manga chapters|
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