Ling Yao (リン・ヤオ, Rin Yao), also spelled as Lin Yao, is the twelfth crown prince of the eastern nation of Xing and the liege of the Yao clan. Seeking a way to ensure his path to the throne amidst deadly inter-house competition, Ling has ventured from Xing to Amestris in order to divine the secret of immortality - the Philosopher's Stone.
Ling is tall and looks mature for his age, despite actually being a few months younger than Edward, and has a lean, muscular, and slender frame clearly toned from a lifetime of training in the Xingese martial arts. His dark eyes have been described by other characters as "squinty" or "shifty" and, indeed, they appear as if closed most of the time, opening only to depict Ling's darker or more serious emotions such as anger, horror, frustration, or avarice, among others. Ling wears his black hair long and tied in a ponytail with a white ribbon while his long, spiky bangs hang over his face, often obscuring one of his eyes - usually the right, though this varies depending on the direction he's facing.
Ling's original, signature outfit, consists of loose white trousers and a goldenrod shirt which bears a white flame pattern at the base and cuffs, small wing decorations at the collar and a large bird's head marking on the back - likely suggesting a phoenix motif - worn open to reveal his bare torso and the sword strap that keeps a Dao sword suspended across his back. The sword, rather than being sheathed, is wrapped in white tape. His forearms and abdomen are also wrapped in strips of white cloth called sarashi.
After his assimilation with Greed, Ling's outfit switches to one of all black, with a black sleeveless Nehru jacket worn closed under a long, black trench coat with black slacks and black shoes. The orientation of his bangs differs depending on which person is in control of the body at any given time; parted to the right if Greed is in control and to the left if Ling is in control (manga only). After the transformation, Ling's normally black eyes take on the same wine-like color of the other Homunculi and appear open more often. Also in this form, Greed can use his shield and change Ling's body to have his shield. He can also make his hands grow Claws.
On the surface, Ling comes off as a rather silly and lighthearted person, frequently engaging in comical behavior and retaining his oft-present grin even while making threats. He displays a childlike amusement for new situations whether or not they prove adverse or even potentially fatal, has a penchant for wandering off on his own only to collapse in the middle of a street, and is infamous in the Elric brothers' minds for having a voracious appetite despite never carrying enough cash to feed himself. Even with all these idiosyncrasies, he is extremely personable and his particularly complimentary nature easily gains him the friendship and trust of those surrounding him.
Of course, these aspects belie the complex and determined young man underneath. On the reverse side of his frivolous nature is his considerable shrewdness, which makes him quite capable of reading people and situations in order to manipulate them to his liking. He is particularly observant, taking into consideration even the smallest details of his surroundings in order to better understand and deal with challenges and, despite his lofty position, is not above using cheap tricks or questionable tactics to ensure his own survival. Being singularly ambitious, Ling also has a remarkably tenacious will that allows him to overcome virtually insurmountable obstacles and accept inhuman burdens for the sake of his ultimate goal. He has considerable pride that will not stand for having his humanity insulted or condemned by his enemies, but he is also capable of shelving his pride if it becomes something that will stand in the way of his objective.
This is largely due to a sense of duty that Ling holds at the center of his being. As liege of the Yao clan, he strongly believes that his primary responsibility is the protection and advancement of his kinsmen. He understands that a king's right to rule is granted willingly by the people and strongly takes to heart the idea that the people are served by their liege, rather than the other way around. In keeping with this sense of "noblesse oblige", Ling is very protective of his kinsmen and comrades, refusing to allow any harm to come to them and often deeming their safety more important than his own in spite of his own personal ambitions and goals. He has to be reminded several times that his own safety is something upon which many people depend and uses his loved ones as his primary motivation when all hope seems lost. As such, he becomes furious when observing those who willingly or remorselessly cast aside their own comrades or brethren and is sickened by the idea of superiors who reject their duty to those who trust them.
Lan Fan - As her lord, Prince Ling frequently has to reprimand Lan Fan lightly when her angry outbursts toward strangers cause her actions to come into conflict with his own wishes, but he graciously accepts his trusted vassal's devotion and service. While he seems quite ignorant of the strong feelings she holds for him, But it turns out he has the the same feelings for her as she does for him. As such he does care a great deal about her and will without hesitation risk his life to protect hers should the need arise. When she is severely injured for his sake, he uses the event to strengthen his resolve, claiming he couldn't face her if he didn't make up for her sacrifice.
Fu - Ling's relationship with Fu is roughly as close as his relationship with Lan Fan, but due to Fu's greater experience, Ling appears to trust the old man's judgment slightly more and assigns him more crucial or extensive missions than he would Lan Fan, who he keeps almost constantly at his side. Like with Lan Fan though, Ling strongly cares for Fu and would immediately step in the line of danger if the older warrior were at risk. Fu looks upon the prince with due respect and admiration, but is not above chastising his lord's childish actions and naive ideas. Fu's death at Bradley's hands initially had a traumatizing effect on Ling who was upset that despite the power he had with Greed's Philosopher's Stone, he couldn't save Fu's life, which took some time for him to get over. However Ling is grateful to Captain Buccaneer for ensuring that Fu did not die in vain, and repays the favor by honoring his final request to defend the main gate.
Edward Elric - . Ling initially has a bit of a shaky relationship with the Fullmetal Alchemist, who repays the prince's constant cadging, crafty manipulation and frequent interference with intense dislike and, often, physical violence. However, as the two young men collaborate toward their shared goal of acquiring the Philosopher's Stone, their characteristic similarities begin to resonate strongly with one another. Though they spend much of their time trading insults and chastisements, as comrades, each is fully supportive of the other's ambitions and will risk danger to help the other. Of like mind and strong will, they eventually form a friendship which consists largely of back-and-forth criticisms that belay a deep mutual respect and support.
Greed - As two very different beings sharing one body, it is only natural that the relationship between Ling and Greed be rocky at times. However, though they frequently struggle for control of their vessel, the two greedy beings seem to have come to a sort of understanding, with Ling willingly allowing the intruding Homunculus to commandeer his body freely in exchange for power and possession of the Philosopher's Stone while Greed sometimes turns a relatively blind eye to the few occurrences during which the prince forcibly regains control of his body. While Greed bonds with Ling over the prince's powerful ambitions and avarice, Ling slowly learns to look inside Greed's soul to discover what treasures truly lie at the heart of the homunculus' desire.
Wrath - Due to his strong sense of duty to the Yao people of Xing, Ling is unable to accept Wrath's position as Führer King Bradley - as a ruler who sacrifices the people that trust him for his own gain. Driven by these conflicting philosophies on what it means to be a "king", Wrath and Ling clash violently several times, even after Greed takes control of the prince's body. However, they do consider each other to be worthy opponents on the battlefield. Ling counters Wrath's pride as a Homunculus with his own pride as a human being, even threatening Wrath for insulting humans while suppressed by Greed's consciousness. When the Promised Day arrives, both Ling and Greed agree to kill Wrath for what he did to their subordinates.
Ling is a highly skilled combatant, well-versed in Xingese styles of martial arts. He is also an expert swordsman, and was able to hold his own for a short time against the likes of King Bradley, a homunculus with arguably the greatest martial capabilities of anyone in the series. He has displayed significant agility and remarkable strength - even going so far as to lift the behemoth Gluttony by himself. Like many other Xingese royal martial artists, Ling is able to read the flow of the Dragon's Pulse, which gives him the ability to sense, locate and track the Qi of living beings around him, such as animals, allies and foes. Additionally, it allows him to sense spiritual anomalies like Philosopher's Stones, and concordantly any Homunculus besides Wrath (who contains only a single soul and therefore normal Qi).
Aside from his prodigious physical skills, Ling is a crafty and capable tactician, able to think several moves ahead of the enemy the big picture as well as incorporate his surroundings, various skills and unique tools to his advantage in a battle. His natural charm and intelligence make him a model leader on and off the battlefield.
As a Homunculus, Ling gains the ability of instant regeneration; he also gains the Ultimate Shield. However, these powers come at the cost of leaving Greed in control of his body most of the time. Upon Greed's Philosopher's Stone being sucked back out, Ling loses these abilities.
Part in the Story
Born the twelfth son of the Xing Emperor and the scion of the well-to-do Yao clan, young Ling lived a childhood of privilege and mortal danger, as the shaky succession situation in Xing meant that he lived under constant threat of assassination from each of the other clans hoping to attain the throne. As such, he became rather crafty and skilled in combat, but unable to take proper care of himself. When the Emperor's health began declining in Ling's teens, the competition for the crown became notably more severe and Ling began to look towards other ways of surviving and rising to the monarchy, eventually investigating alkahestry and its counterpart from the land to the west - alchemy. At the age of fifteen his studies led him to the legendary Philosopher's Stone - an item reported to bestow immortality upon those who held it - and, hoping to earn his father's favor with such a prize, began his journey westward across the Great Desert with two of his family's vassals, the young bellatrix Lan Fan and her grandfather Fu. After taking special care to visit the abandoned ruins of Xerxes - the birthplace of alchemy - Ling and his bodyguards made their way into Amestris and wound up in the South Area town of Rush Valley.
Arrival in Amestris
In Rush Valley, Ling's frequent habit of wandering off on his own gets him separated from his companions and he collapses of hunger in an alley, where he is discovered and treated to a meal by a young man in a suit of armor and the boy's older - yet shorter - brother. Ling explains to the two that he had traveled across the desert and through the Xerxes ruins to learn more about Amestris' scientific alchemy in contrast to Xing's medicinal alkahestry. Revealing themselves to be alchemists interested in alkahestry and its potential to help the people of their country, the two young men introduce themselves; the armor-clad lad as Alphonse Elric and his brother as State Alchemist Edward Elric. Edward and Alphonse ask him to demonstrate some alkahestry for them, but Ling remarks that he has absolutely no talent for the craft and cannot offer an example. But when he mentions that what he is truly seeking is the Philosopher's Stone, the two young men change their demeanor and hasten to leave. Sensing that something is amiss, Ling summons Lan Fan and Fu to his side to arrest his new friends, but finds that the Elric brothers are, themselves, well versed in martial arts and combat alchemy. While Ling sits back and observes in amusement, the four combatants engage each other furiously about town and the battle ends with the Elric brothers proving their mettle by defeating and capturing both of Prince Ling's cohorts. Casually helping Fu and Lan Fan escape, Ling goes into hiding himself to assess the situation. He is aware that Edward seems to know more abut the Philosopher's Stone and immortality than he is letting on and, like Fu, was able to sense that Alphonse does not give off the same life energy as all physical beings do - as if the armor itself were empty inside. Ling decides that the most efficient path to discovering immortality is to follow these Elric brothers around and ask for their help.
Meeting the Elrics' friend and mechanic, Ms. Winry Rockbell, Ling tags along as the three Amestrians venture to the nation's capital, Central City, by train while Lan Fan and Fu ride surreptitiously. However, no sooner do they arrive in Central than Ling's habit of wandering gets him lost again and he is arrested in the street for being an illegal immigrant. That very evening, as he is being interrogated in his cell, a commotion erupts when a mysterious person breaks into the military police station. Intrigued by the fact that the new armor-clad intruder s wholly unaffected by all manner of gunfire and that he lacks a presence in the same way as Alphonse Elric, Ling asks the skull-faced gate-crasher to let him out of his cell. The intruder pays him no heed, but when Ling mentions that he comes from Xing, the armor takes notice and frees the young prince. Ling follows as the armor man makes his way to his original target: the cell of a woman named Maria Ross, who has been publicly framed for a murder. Springing her as well, the three escape into the darkened alleyways of Central, heading for a rendezvous point in the warehouse district. On the way, Ling's odd new party runs into Edward and Alphonse Elric, who are confused about the situation and demand an explanation. Short on time, the skull-faced armor man tells Maria to hurry on ahead to the rendezvous point while he holds the Elrics off and no sooner does she disappear into the shadows than an explosion of flame erupts in her direction. In the confusion, Ling escapes with his new companion and, promising to explain the situation to the Elric brothers later, heads to the rendezvous point by way of nearby rooftops, where they see that the other part of Barry's operation has managed to convincingly fake Maria's death while smuggling her into hiding. Seeing that the operation has concluded, however sloppily, Ling heads back with his new comrade to the armor man's hideout, a run down apartment building in town.
Once there, the hollow man introduces himself as Barry the Chopper and explains that he requires Ling's help in sneaking Maria out of the country to safety. Hoping to cut a bargain for information, Ling agrees to have one of his vassals take Ms. Ross to Xing using the same secret desert route that his own party had used and summons Fu and Lan Fan to his location with smoke signals. Ling chooses Fu for the mission and, after dropping him off with Ross' party to serve as a guide, he heads back to the Barry's hideout with Lan Fan in order to inquire after the secrets of the Chopper's body and apparent invulnerability. Barry explains that his soul had been alchemically removed from his body and then bound to an empty suit of armor, but that he doesn't really understand how it was done and the scientists who performed the ritual are all dead. Ling is discouraged, but Barry mentions that Alphonse Elric's situation is identical and that he may know more about it. Additionally, Barry explains that he and his temporary partner/guardian Warrant Officer Vato Falman are currently acting under the orders of Colonel Roy Mustang - who also happens to be Ed Elric's superior officer - and that Ross' death had been fabricated by Mustang's men in order to smoke out the members of a ruthless and secret enemy organization which had been manipulating people and alchemical resources within the Amestrian State Military for a mysterious purpose somehow connected to the Philosopher's Stone. The next phase, according to Barry, is split between the members of Mustang's group who will remain in Central to act if the enemy appears and the members who will cross the border covertly to rendezvous with Ross at the Xerxes ruins and synchronize their accumulated information. Hearing all this, the prince decides to seek out the Elrics once more, but orders Lan Fan to stay behind and send up a signal if anything happens.
Ling tracks down the military hotel where the Elric brothers are staying and sneaks into their room just after Edward is mysteriously summoned out of town. Ling explains to Alphonse and Winry the purpose of Edward's sudden departure as well as his involvement with Barry the Chopper and the fact that the mysterious opposition will be making its move very soon. As he speaks, however, Ling notices a Xingese signal flare rise over the city and understands that Lan Fan and the others have already begun engaging the enemy. Ling and Al head into the city toward the location of the flare, but are stopped in their tracks when they encounter Lan Fan attacking a stray dog with kunai - and then see that same dog morph into a human adolescent before their very eyes. Alphonse shows signs of surprised recognition toward the androgynous teen - apparently known as Envy - but Ling senses that the strange newcomer appears to have a massive number of souls milling about within its body. Before Ling can investigate further however, Envy is joined by his rotund comrade Gluttony, who also seems to have more than one soul. Ling laments that they have to deal with such strange opponents, but when Lan Fan informs him that both newcomers have the curious ability to reconstruct their bodies after being dealt normally fatal blows, the prince jumps at the chance to discover the secret of their apparent immortality and engages Gluttony and Envy with his vassal's help while Alphonse leaves the scene to join his own comrades.
As late afternoon becomes dusk, Ling and Lan Fan show their superior combat skills by "killing" Gluttony and Envy multiple times, but become quite vexed as their foes simply regenerate from being dealt devastating blows and keep fighting. Additionally, Ling becomes aware that the lithe Envy manages to inflict disproportionately severe damage to the surrounding area with his blows, suggesting that the immortal, shape-shifting being has a sizable mass packed tightly into a small form. Taking advantage of a short lull in combat while Envy and Gluttony heal themselves in an alleyway, Ling asks them to surrender to his harmless interrogation and end this farce, but Envy refuses and, noticing that the skirmish has drawn the attention of several townspeople, orders the ravenous Gluttony to devour them all whole - the easterners and onlookers alike. Gluttony's dim-witted countenance is suddenly overtaken by a swell of malicious mania and Envy, in turn, begins another transformation, his muscles beginning to ripple and small scales forming upon his skin. However, before either monster can unleash their pent-up strength and begin the second round of combat, a disembodied voice echoes through the alley, commanding that Envy explain himself and stand down. The voice, to which Envy sheepishly refers as Pride, angrily informs his cohorts that their mission has failed and that their incompetence has allowed their headquarters to be breached by Alphonse and Barry's group. Envy docilely heeds Pride's command to retreat and Ling decides not to follow, reasoning that he and Lan Fan would not be able to keep fighting for much longer, especially if more of those monsters were hiding in the shadows.
Ling and Lan Fan head back to the hotel with Al and Winry, where the prince discusses the merits of soul binding with the armored alchemist. Though Ling asserts that Alphonse's body is the closest thing to immortality, Al responds that his metal body is not as convenient as one might think; as a human soul bound to a metal body, the instability of his existence means that, at any given time - in a year, a century or even a day - the two unlike essences may reject each other and Al will die just as suddenly or unexpectedly as anyone else. Ling suggests that Al can simply transfer his soul to a new object when signs of instability appear, but Winry's response leads the prince to believe that soul binding is not the best path after all and convinces him that bodies like Envy and Gluttony - creatures that Al calls Homunculi - would likely be more desirable.
Edward returns shortly afterward and, as the Elric brothers exchange information about their adventures apart, Ling eavesdrops with Lan Fan. Hearing that the boys can find a way to restore themselves by returning to a mysterious place they call "The Gate", but will need to capture one of the Homunculi in order to gain more information, Ling steps in and volunteers to help - citing his and Lan Fan's ability to sense the monsters' inhuman presence. Together, they formulate a plan which utilizes the Homunculi's apparent desire to keep the Elrics from harm - while the boys bait an old and dangerous human enemy they call "Scar", Ling and Lan Fan will lie in wait for the Homunculi, who are sure to come in defense of the two alchemists.
After few days of Ed making himself prominent in the public eye so as to goad Scar into attacking, the infamous alchemist killer finally makes his appearance. Almost immediately after the Elrics begin their skirmish, Ling and Lan Fan sense the presence and movement of a Homunculus and rush to discover Gluttony heading - apparently alone - toward Ed and Al's position. They intercept the rotund beast and Lan Fan informs him that his alien aura makes it impossible to escape from them. However, Ling notices the presence of a conspicuous human watching them and realizes that the man is none other than Führer King Bradley, Amestris' commander-in-chief. Bradley, having heard Lan Fan's assertion, draws two swords and charges with incredible speed - declaring that Lan Fan's bothersome ability to sense Homunculi must be eliminated. Though Lan Fan is able to dampen the sword strike at the last minute and even break one of the Führer's swords, she sustains severe injury to her left arm.
Forced to intervene, Ling hoists Lan fan over his shoulder while he attempt to single-handedly fend off the attacks of both the Homunculus and the Führer, but is knocked into a nearby abandoned building. Away from prying eyes, Bradley begins to interrogate the Xingese prince about his ability to sense Homunculi, but when it becomes apparent that Ling is using this time to plot an escape route, Bradley quips that the lad's flight could be better assured if he would only abandon the young woman. Furious at the notion, Ling asks if the great King Bradley could abandon one of his own comrades in the field, to which the Führer responds in the affirmative without hesitation, remarking that his having done so time and time again is how he has climbed the ranks. As Ling declares that a "true king" exists solely for his people's sake and only by their will, Lan Fan ignites a flash grenade to blind the enemy. His eyes closed to shut out the glare; Ling rushes toward the exit, but is blocked by Bradley's thrown sword. As Ling turns his gaze on the supposedly blinded Führer, he is shocked to find that Bradley has removed the patch covering his left eye, revealing both that it is still operational and apparently marked with the same Ouroboros symbol borne by Gluttony and Envy. Suddenly realizing the daunting odds he faces, Ling throws a series of grenades which distract his opponents long enough for him to leap from the building and flee into the city with Lan Fan.
However, the enemy gives chase and Ling soon realizes that he is being corralled by Bradley and Gluttony toward an unpopulated area where he can be ambushed. Lan Fan urges the prince to leave her behind and save himself for the sake of their clan, but when Ling staunchly refuses, she draws a kunai and unhesitatingly severs her immobilized left arm in order to lay a trap for their pursuers. Ling bandages her wound with his shirt and helps her tie the disembodied arm to a nearby stray dog. While the stray leaves a misleading trail of blood for Bradley, Ling and Lan Fan escape into the sewers, with Lan Fan keeping relatively still to slow the bleeding and Ling heading off in pursuit of Gluttony, who has apparently left to encounter the Elric brothers. Ling arrives to discover Gluttony assaulting Scar in the Elrics' presence and takes action, quickly shoving a grenade down Gluttony's throat. The grenade goes off with tremendous force, obliterating the upper third of the Homunculus' body. Almost immediately, Gluttony's body begins to re-form and Ling demands a strong metal cable. Edward quickly transmutes a nearby train rail into steel cable and hands it off to Ling, who ties it tightly around Gluttony's rapidly expanding flesh, effectively trapping the creature more thoroughly the more it continues to regenerate. Ling declares the Homunculus captured, in accordance with his promise.
Just then, a car pulls up and the woman behind the wheel opens fire on Scar, shooting him through the leg. At her behest, Ling loads the bound Gluttony into the back of the car and climbs on himself as the vehicle speeds away. The woman informs him that she is another subordinate of Colonel Mustang and has been debriefed by 2nd Lt. Breda, but when she remarks that they are heading straight for their hideout, Ling urges her to make a detour to pick up the injured Lan Fan. The driver complies and after locating Ling's vassal, the group makes it to an uninhabited cottage just outside Central City.
As the sun sets, Ed and Al arrive at the cottage with their commanding officer and a doctor to treat Lan Fan's wounds. The Elrics apologize to Ling for Lan Fan's predicament, but the prince reminds them that he and his vassal chose to cooperate of their own will and for their own reasons. He acknowledges, however, that his conviction has so far been dwarfed by Lan Fan's, who gave up more than he could conceive without a moment's hesitation. Once the emergency surgery ends successfully, Ed and Al head inside to greet Lan Fan while the oft-mentioned Colonel Mustang comes out to greet Ling. The prince and the colonel exchange pleasantries and thanks, each remarking that he has been fortunate to make such a high-ranking acquaintance from a neighboring country. However, they both acknowledge that the far greater prize is the Homunculus Gluttony, who lies inexorably bound in an adjacent storage room. As Mustang explains to Dr. Knox that Gluttony is an inhuman creature with a possible connection to a portion of Military High Command, Ling interjects with new information - that Führer Bradley himself is connected to these creatures. As the prince recounts his experience fighting Gluttony and Führer Bradley and seeing an Ouroboros upon the Führer's eye, the Elrics are astounded, but Mustang remarks that this news presents a perfect opportunity to attain Bradley's throne for himself. He expresses plans to interrogate Gluttony and, if possible, remove the Philosopher's Stone so as to heal an injured subordinate. However, Ling refuses to abandon the prize for which Lan Fan sacrificed her arm and the Elric brothers object as well, reminding everyone that they need to the Stone in order to regain their original bodies. As the three sides argue, Gluttony becomes agitated at the sound of the Colonel's name. The Homunculus declares furiously that Mustang was the one who murdered his companion, the Homunculus Lust and, in a flash of freak rage, Gluttony produces a strange volley, which simultaneously breaks his bonds and obliterates roughly a quarter of the building and a large patch of ground outside. No one is injured in the strike, but everyone is aghast to see how the benign, rotund Homunculus has been changed by his fury, his mouth now a gaping maw extending down to his abdomen and lined with rib-like teeth.
The Belly of The Beast
While the Elrics and Mustang attempt to deal with the beast outside (attacking it futilely with alchemy and luring it into the nearby forest), Ling heads inside in order to get the recuperating Lan Fan to the safety of the Colonel's car, which Dr. Knox has prepared for a speedy evacuation. However, when the others return from the trees - having distracted Gluttony long enough to escape - Ling, Edward and Alphonse opt to stay behind, as they still need to get as much information out of the Homunculus as possible. The adults are loath to leave the boys behind but Ling reminds Mustang that his true goal lies elsewhere. As the others speed off toward the city with Lan Fan in their care, Ling and the Elrics head back to the forest where Gluttony is still thrashing about in search of Mustang. In spite of their earlier bravado, the boys find themselves cowering in fear of the howling Homunculus until it once again turns its berserker rage upon them. At that moment, however, the impending combat is interrupted by a black dog which appears on the scene and - verbally commanding Gluttony to stand down - quickly morphs into the Homunculus Envy.
Envy makes his way to Gluttony's side, reminding his still-upset brother that they are not allowed to kill Colonel Mustang, regardless of what he has done to their comrade. Spying Ling, however, Envy remarks that Gluttony may swallow the Xingese prince whole so long as he is careful not to harm either of the Elric brothers. Hearing this, Ed, Al and Ling realize that they have a slight advantage in combat so long as the Elrics attack the restricted Gluttony while Ling focuses on Envy, whom he was able to trounce once before. Ed transmutes a wall to separate the two Homunculi and the three humans go to work on their designated opponents. Ling makes short work of Envy, despite the Homunculus' ability to morph his arms into deadly weapons, and remarks that he will let up if Envy simply agrees to divulge some information regarding his Philosopher's Stone. Envy becomes enraged at being talked down to by a human, but Ling responds that humans shouldn't be underestimated. When it appears that the Elrics are having trouble containing Gluttony, Envy sees his chance to attack, but is once again deftly tossed aside by his human opponent. However, as Ling prepares a finishing blow, Envy quickly morphs to resemble Lan Fan, causing the prince to hesitate. Unknown to the stunned Ling, Gluttony has shaken off the Elrics and is preparing another of his destructive volleys behind him. Edward dives forward to tackle Ling out of harm's way, but the thundering flash swallows them both. As he is pulled toward the eye within Gluttony's gaping maw, Ling feels the curious sensation of having his body pulled apart, piece by piece, before everything goes dark.
When he awakes, however, Ling finds himself unharmed and lying in what appears to be a shallow sea of blood, surrounded by an expanse of darkness populated by random piles of random stone and wooden debris, some of which is on fire. Bewildered by his surroundings, the prince wanders about in the blackness, all the while painfully aware of the utter lack of living beings therein and the absence of stars in the dark expanse above. Coming across some human bones, Ling fashions a torch and continues his trek, finding no end to the all-encompassing darkness. Soon enough, he hears a familiar voice calling out nearby and, approaching it, encounters Edward Elric in the self-same predicament.
The two wander together, asserting that, though it seems absurd, they do appear to have been swallowed by the Homunculus Gluttony. Along the way, they come upon more and more random objects like human skeletons, trains and old buildings from wildly different time periods, but nothing even close to an exit or even a wall. Ravaged by hunger and fatigue, Ling collapses mid-stride and awakes to find Fullmetal carrying him. Ed reminds the prince that he cannot give up on living while there are still people in the outside world waiting for his return and, finding a stone dais, the two young men decide to rest for a while. Both famished, Edward proposes boiling the leather of his left boot (as his automail leg can do without it) into something edible and, though the two manage to stave off starvation for a while longer, Ling vows to slander Edward in the annals of Xing's history as "the man who fed a shoe to the emperor".
In short order, their actions draw yet another presence from the darkness, a presence which Ling's senses recognize as a Homunculus even before the lithe Envy emerges from the shadows. Edward demands to know the location of the exit, but Envy sighs dejectedly that there isn't one, while lamenting that he and the Fullmetal Alchemist were accidentally swallowed along with the prince. The Homunculus explains that their current location is somehow both inside Gluttony's stomach and not, implying that Edward should recognize it. Shocked, Edward brings up something called the Gate of Truth and Envy remarks that Gluttony is the failed result of an attempt to create an artificial "Gate of Truth". Though Ling doesn't understand the alchemical terminology, Envy makes the root of the problem quite clear - as the three of them are currently in a space existing outside of reality, their only option left is to sit in darkness until their lives fade away.
Trying to make sense of this predicament, Edward asks Envy some questions and discovers that Führer Bradley is not, in fact, the one to whom the Homunculi refer as "Father", but rather a Homunculus himself of rank and age inferior even to Envy. Having heard this, Ed deduces that Amestris' recent civil war in the Ishval region must have had some role to play in the Homunculi's plans - a supposition that is confirmed when Envy remarks gleefully that it was he who had started the war by disguising himself as an Amestrian military officer and shooting an Ishvalan child. Enraged to be facing the very cause of a war that had caused so much damage to the country and his own life, Edward lashes out at Envy, but his steely punch doesn't seem to faze the Homunculus one bit. Taking the challenge, Envy declares that he will show the boys something interesting before they die as his body begins to morph and warp. Sensing a familiar change in Envy's energy, Ling advises Ed to back away and mentions that his past skirmishes with the Homunculus suggest that Envy's mass is greatly disproportionate to his size; his true form must be significantly large. And, no sooner have the words left the Xingese prince's mouth that Envy's real body manifests as a huge, eight-legged, human-faced lizard-creature with horns protruding from its hairy back and mutilated, warped human visages screaming cacophonously as they bubble and drip grotesquely from its sides and underbelly.
Disadvantaged by their opponent's size and strength, Ed and Ling are batted around like toys before they are able to regroup for a counterattack. With a few of his ribs broken by Envy's attack, Ling asks Ed to transmute him a weapon and the two go on the offensive; however, Edward is cowed by the screams emanating from the human faces on Envy's body and hesitates, convinced that there are people inside the creature calling for help. Despite Ling's intervention and assertion that it is merely another of the monster's tricks, Ed's hesitation allows Envy to knock the young alchemist to the ground, dazed and injured. As Ling watches aghast, his injuries preventing him from coming to his friend's aid, Envy's monstrous tongue lifts Ed into his enormous mouth. Before he can be devoured, however, Fullmetal kicks out one of Envy's teeth with his automail leg and shouts to his fellow captives that he may have discovered a way for them to escape this void.
After Envy lets the little alchemist free, Ling makes a makeshift splint for Edward's broken left arm and asks if Fullmetal can really get them out. Replying that it may be so, Ed points out the broken and elaborately carved slabs of stone on the ground, explaining that they are the missing pieces of a large mural he had seen in the ruins of Xerxes. Having said so, Ed states that the fact that these pieces are within Gluttony's body suggests that the Homunculi were trying to hide the evidence of what actually happened in the ancient ruined country centuries ago. He has Envy collect all the similar fragments in the area and bring them to the dais, where - examining them further - the alchemist proclaims that the mural in Xerxes was an archaic Human Transmutation Circle and that their construction had given him an idea. While he affirms that any attempt to transmute a dead human into a living one will result in disastrous failure, he posits that transmuting a living human without altering anything will cause the real Gate of Truth to open while avoiding the negative repercussions of Human Transmutation. Opening the true Gate within this false Gate, Ed suggests, should give the trapped trio a bridge back to reality. Only understanding snippets of this alchemical diatribe, Ling puts his faith in Fullmetal's skills. However, Edward continues - addressing Envy. Having now seen the entirety of the Xerxes mural, he has discovered that the symbolism carved thereupon suggests that its purpose was not only to create a Philosopher's Stone, but also to manufacture a perfect, godlike being with it. He remarks that the explanation for the sudden and complete disappearance of Xerxes' population is that the entire country was transmuted into a massive Philosopher's Stone. However, given the creation of the Homunculi after that fact and the recent events that have taken place, Edward has realized that whoever it is that the Homunculi call "Father" is trying to recreate the destruction of Xerxes here in Amestris.
Envy sidesteps the accusation and produces a small Philosopher's Stone from his mouth, chiding Edward for beating around the bush when all he really needs in order to free them from this endless space is the power that Envy's stone contains. Ed is reluctant to use it, commenting that it is made of the souls lost at Xerxes, but Envy tells him to consider it scientifically rather than emotionally, as these souls no longer remember their humanity and can never again be returned to their bodies.
Using the sea of blood, Ed draws a large and elaborate Transmutation Circle upon the ground and stands at the center with Envy. As he begins the transmutation, Edward asks Ling to tell the people of Amestris about the Homunculi's plans if anything should happen to him, but Ling refuses, remarking that Ed should survive this trial and tell them himself, since there are people waiting for him on the other side, too. Once again, Edward claps his hands together and Ling is suddenly reminded of a thought he'd had the first time he had seen Edward transmute this way - the pose the alchemist takes makes him look as though he's praying. The circle activates with a bright light and rush of wind and, per Ed's orders, Ling steps into the ring. As before, Ling feels
the sensation of having his body pulled apart, piece by piece before everything goes dark. When sensation returns, Ling finds himself being dragged along with Envy's body into a cavernous room. He is confused for a moment until he and Ed are encountered by Alphonse, proving that they have succeeded in returning to the physical plane. However, the boys are suddenly approached a by a mysterious old man clad in white robes - a man whose freakish aura far outweighs that of the Homunculi.
As the Elrics speak uneasily with this mysterious being, apparently mistaking him for their own father, the robed figure displays unbelievable powers by reconstructing a broken piece of Al's armor from thin air and repairing Edward's broken bones with a simple touch. But when Alphonse suggests that Ling be treated as well, the Xingese prince draws his sword and demands that the robed man be kept away from him, as he can't possibly be human; he was most likely detecting the presence of multiple souls instilled within the robed one and the sheer number of them, by chaotic legions, in one seemingly serene vessel greatly unsettles Ling into a state of caution. But it seems that Ling needn't have insisted, as the strange man remarks that he only has use for the two alchemists and orders Gluttony to dispose of the "spare". While Ed throws himself in the way to shield Ling, Alphonse mentions that the man in robes is the one whom the Homunculi call "Father".
Ling declares that this man's attitude toward human life proves that he's the enemy leader and chastises the Homunculi for looking down on humans as fools. However, the "Father" replies that he does not consider humans foolish because their existence is so far beneath him that it would be absurd to give them any consideration at all. With this statement helping them make up their minds about the mysterious stranger, Ling, Ed and Al launch a vicious attack on the Homunculus leader, but find all of their efforts, both physical and alchemical, thoroughly blocked or unraveled by the man, who barely lifts a finger to do so. While the Elrics prepare their second wind and ready simultaneous alchemical attacks, Father declares his boredom with the farce and stamps his foot meaningfully upon the floor. Suddenly, Ed and Al find themselves unable to perform alchemy and are quickly subdued by Envy while Gluttony pins Ling to the ground. Edward demands that Envy explain what the Homunculi are up to, per their arrangement inside Gluttony's belly, but the behemoth Homunculus reneges. Meanwhile, Father chastises Gluttony for allowing these humans into their sanctum but notes that the prostrate Ling has remarkable strength and endurance for one of his species and remarks that such a resource shouldn't be wasted. Father touches a finger to his own forehead where, a moment later, a vertical eye opens amid the man's wrinkles and begins secreting a shiny, red viscous fluid into the robed figure's waiting palm. The Homunculus leader states that Ling would make a good pawn and adds that the Homunculus Greed's position is currently vacant.
To Ling's surprise, Alphonse cries out that the red fluid in Father's hand is a Philosopher's Stone and Envy replies that Father plans to put the Stone directly into the prince's bloodstream in the hopes of creating a human-based Homunculus. The souls in the stone will attack Ling's own soul and ravage his body mercilessly, but on the off chance that the boy survives, he will be given immense power. Ed and Al struggle fruitlessly to save their friend, but Ling demands that they stop, declaring that this is what he's wanted all along. Intrigued by Ling's statement, Father pours the Philosopher's Stone into a cut on the Xingese prince's face. Immediately, Ling's entire body is overcome with extreme pain as he begins writhing and vomiting up blood. Seeing Ed and Al continue struggling, Ling reassures them through his screams that they need not interfere and then collapses, completely insensible, to the ground.
Drawn into his own psyche, Ling feels his inner self bombarded by a myriad of agonized souls fighting for control of his physical self; however, one soul makes itself heard clearly above the wailing horde and introduces itself as "Greed" before declaring menacingly that it will take control of the body and all Ling has to do is sit back and relax. Much to the creature's shock, Ling accepts vigorously. Greed expresses his disbelief that someone would willingly let a stranger take control of their body, but Ling responds that, as the man who will become Emperor of Xing, he has room for as many strangers as it takes to make him powerful; having the power of the Philosopher's Stone was his goal from the start, so of course he accepts it now that it has been freely offered. Greed applauds Ling's courage, but remarks one last time that Ling still has the option of backing out. However, the prince states angrily that Lan Fan had sacrificed her very flesh for his goal and that he could never face her again if he went back from this challenge empty-handed. In order to provide for his people, he requires absolute power to rule. Intrigued by the promise of an empire, Greed accepts Ling's invitation and takes control.
As Greed commandeers the body, using it to attack the Elrics on Father's orders, Ling's consciousness remains dormant, but when Edward calls out to the prince, reminding him that Lan Fan is still waiting for him, Ling takes the reins for an instant and subdues Fullmetal with martial arts so as to keep up appearances before the other Homunculi. As the Elrics are led away by Envy, Ling uses his temporary control of his body to write a message to Lan Fan in Xingese stating that he has successfully acquired the Philosopher's Stone and asks Greed to deliver it to Ed and Al so that they might relay it.
Later on, when Greed is introduced to the Homunculus Wrath - King Bradley's true identity - the Führer remarks to his new brother that he had encountered the Xingese prince once before and had lectured him on his naïveté. Overhearing from inside the body, the furious Ling takes control of his body once more just long enough to tell Bradley to shut his mouth and quit looking down on humans, proving that he is capable of stealing his mortal shell back temporarily if Greed becomes too complacent.
Regain of Control
After watching Greed kill Bido in Father's Lair, Ling is disgusted with Greed for killing someone that was his friend. When Greed's memories of his first life start coming back, Ling wonders how far the homunculus will go to prove he's a monster; he just killed the last friend he ever had. Greed protests that the memories are not his, but Ling points out that Greed wouldn't be in such pain if it wasn't true. When Greed claims to have been purified of the old Greed's memories, Ling snaps at Greed and gets in the face of the homunculus' soul; even if they were his minions, they were the only part of Greed that he chose. As the memories cause Greed further pain. Ling yells at him "Fool! If you turned your back on something you wanted, you don't deserve to be called Greed!" With these words, Ling forced Greed to accept his memories and cry in anguish for killing Bido.
Greed then visits and attacks Wrath, asking him why he can still remember them to which Wrath responds, "You're a fool, whose endless desire won't let him even discard the past!" Their fight ends soon after as Greed leaves; he then meets Ed and faints of hunger, thanking goodness to see a friend in a place like this. During Ling's control of his body, he tells Ed about Father planning to open the gate on the "Promised Day" and suggests that he and Al try getting their bodies back then. He asks about Lan Fan's condition, relieved to hear she's okay just before Greed takes over again. Ling convinces Greed to either give his body back and let him become emperor of Xing, or team up with Ed; Greed chooses the latter for minions/friends.
In the battle with Pride and Gluttony, Ling asks for control of his body to help fight Gluttony in the dark, and Greed obliges. He isn't disappointed as Ling deals a blow to Gluttony. Gluttony is angered and about to use his fake gate of truth when Lan Fan appears and stabs him in the head with her new automail; Ling is happy to see her again. After the fight, Greed regains control and realizing that only Father and Sloth are in Central, makes a quick getaway to Central. He then appears to fight Wrath at the Central HQ's gates. During the battle with said character, Fu appears to (rather reluctantly) aid Greed (although the reluctance apparently ends when Fu realizes his foe is the one who severed his granddaughter's arm). Fu fights alongside Greed until Wrath pins Greed down with one of his blades, then switches his other blade with Fu's longer, and better suited, sword. After Wrath deals a blow and is about to fatally wound Fu, Ling abruptly overpowers Greed and saves him. (Greed later complains to warn him before he takes over) Shortly after, Fu tells Greed to use his Ultimate Shield (to protect Ling) and attempts a suicide attack by igniting the grenades around his waist and moving towards Wrath. However this backfires when Wrath deactivates the bombs and slices Fu in half in one single slash. Buccaneer then uses the sword that was previously impaled in his own body to stab Wrath through Fu, for he had been using Fu to block his attack from Wrath's sight. It is unclear whether or not Greed took back control, since Wrath exclaimed "Greed," when he unexpectedly attacked him from behind, however, the tears that were streaming down Ling/Greed's face imply otherwise. They might have both made the sneak attack together while sharing a single body, or Ling could have done it out of anguish for his long-time, dying companion.
As he continues his battle with Wrath as a sudden earthquake from the Central transmutation circle distracts him, Wrath takes advantage of this and attempts to shove him off the edge of the fortress, but topples off along with him. Greed manages to hold onto the wall, but then slips and nearly falls, only to be caught by Lan Fan, whose automail strains to hold up the weight of both men. She holds onto him until a Briggs soldier shoots Wrath, causing him to let go of his grasp and fall, allowing Ling to climb back up.
As he climbs back up he begins yelling for a doctor hoping his Philosopher's Stone can be used to heal Fu but to his dismay is met by silence. Frustrated and in grief at the loss of Fu, he begins crying over lack of control he has over the situation stating: "I finally gained immortality.... and I can't save even one of my subjects!?"
After Ling expresses regret that he can't even do anything for the dying Buccaneer, even though he helped deal injury to Bradley, Buccaneer makes a last request to him to help defend the gates of central HQ. Ling readily agrees and asks Greed for power to fight the invading central troops. He is finally shown in full carbon armor and uses both Greed's ultimate defense in unison with Ling's skill to defeat the central troops. The Central forces are quickly massacred. Greed/Ling is later seen attacking Father, who is in his true form, from behind. The Attack, however, is unsuccessful. Father is then activates the country-wide Transmutation Circle, killing almost everyone in the country, except for Ling/Greed, May, Ed, Al, Hohenheim, Izumi, Roy, Pride, Riza, the Chimeras (excluding Heinkel), Scar, Lan Fan, and Wrath.
Ling is later shown after he and Greed witness Father's power. Greed claims that he would be able to rule the world and to "fill the emptiness inside of [him]." Ling contradicts him, to which Greed tells him to shut up. However, after seeing everyone cheering Edward on, he manages to get Greed to admit that all he really wanted was "friends like them."
Soon afterwards, Father attacked him in an attempt to absorb Greed's Philosopher's Stone. While Ling resisted, Greed eventually tricked him to make sure that Father only absorbed the homunculus, claiming that there was no reason for Ling to come along and die. The Ouroboros tattoo then faded from Ling's hand. He then watched as Greed tried to fight against Father from within, but was killed in the attempt.
When Father was defeated and everyone's attention was turned to the lifeless armor of Alphonse, Ling was quick to offer the Philosopher's stone that Lan Fan had picked up to Edward in order to resurrect Alphonse. Ed turned down the offer, later thinking about how quickly Ling offered the very thing he had come to Amestris to find.
After the battle was fully over, Lan Fan asked Ling to show mercy to all the opposing houses of the Yao clan
now that he had gotten a Philosopher's stone. Ling quickly agreed, commenting that it was an answer that was influenced by Greed. He tells May Chang that he will become emperor, as he has the Philosopher's Stone, and then tells her that he will spare her family and all the other families. He then picked up May Chang and began to journey on his way back to Xing, along with Lan Fan and Fu's body.
His last appearance in the manga was in a photo taken several years later, with him as the emperor of Xing. He was also mentioned as "Emperor Yao", and shown to be making contact and negotiations with Roy Mustang to open up trade between Amestris and Xing. He also successfully made the clans give up most of their troops to the new Xing national military which was modeled and were even trained and equipped by the Amestris State Military. He also ceded all the great desert to Amestris in exchange for the equipment and training. While Amestris created a buffer zone for potential but extremely unlikely aggression by Xing. While Amestris got direct access to the ocean for first time in its history, which was their primary reason for signing the treaty with Xing. Ling Yao also made his dynasty hereditary with in his clan. He gave the people of Xing a bill of rights which was modeled after the Amestris bill of rights. He also founded a Xing state legislator which was also modeled after Amestris because he knew he could not rule and write laws for the country by himself. The reforms of Lin Yao where met with wide applause by the people of Xing, because they had grown tired and wary of the clan wars. He also sign a military alliance with Amestris against Drachma because he found their policy of expansion a common threat.
- Ling's prison processing tag number was W1582.
- Having once shoved a grenade into Gluttony's mouth, he is one of few people to have had a limb in Gluttony's mouth without losing it.
- Though after becoming Greed's vessel, Ling did lose that arm briefly (as Greed's philosopher's stone regenerated it) when Gluttony made a surprise attack.
- Ling closely parallels Greed, even before becoming him.
- Almost immediately after he is introduced, Ling asks Ed about immortality and Ed notes that Greed had been asking the same thing not long ago; he later shows interest in transferring his soul to a suit of armor, just as Greed had.
- Ling looks similar to Greed, even before the creation of Greed-Ling.
- Ling develops a grudge against Wrath when he badly injures Lan Fan, not unlike the hatred that Greed holds towards Wrath for killing his friends. Additionally, Envy quickly comes to dislike Ling in a way that is reminiscent of its original hatred for Greed. Finally, Ling is similarly avaricious and protective of his friends and subordinates, something Greed also comments on later.
- After Greed's death, Ling notes that his avarice rubbed off on him; Ling had promised May that he would protect all the clans of Xing, which she noted was way too greedy.
- Ling also mirrors King Bradley/Wrath in a number of ways.
- Both are in positions of high status in their respective countries.
- Ling is the 12th son of the Emperor, and Wrath started out life as the 12th candidate for Führer.
- Both become the only human-based homunculi in the series.
- Their ideas on what it means to be a leader are at complete odds with each other.
- In the process of becoming Wrath, Bradley's struggle against the invasive substance burned out all but one soul in his Philosopher's stone, possibly including his original soul. In contrast, Ling willingly accepted the Philosopher's stone and was able to maintain his individuality amongst the stone's numerous souls.
- It's noted Wrath was unable to reproduce since becoming a human-based Homunculus; it remains unconfirmed if Ling's time as Greed's vessel has left him with the same problem.
- Ling is a very popular character and he ranks high in the character popularity polls. In the latest fan poll Ling got ranked to the 9th most popular character in the series. The second Greed (Ling as Greed) came in 13th place while the original Greed himself came in 12th.
- Ling appears to be sensitive about his eyes, as he is aware that they look 'shifty'. He tries to keep up a smile to counteract with this so he may give off a more pleasant demeanor to others.
- Ling shares the same Japanese and English voice actors as Death the Kid, a character from the anime series Soul Eater. Both are extremely skilled in martial arts, and the two are capable of sensing human souls. They also have a ridiculous yet polite personality, and are assisted by women.
- Ling has two theme songs from the Brotherhood CD. The first is called "Number One" and the second is called "Hikari no Sasu Basho." Both are performed by his seiyu, Miyano Mamoru.
- In the original 2003 anime series, at the beginning of the Ishval Extermination Campaign, a State Alchemist who looks remarkably like Ling can be see heading toward the front lines with the rest of the human weapons. This is considered to be a cameo appearance.
- The Fullmetal Alchemist Chronicle Guidebook states Ling becomes emperor of Xing the same year he returns to his country at the end of the series.
- The journey of Ling has similarities to the Prince of Persia from the Sands of Time trilogy. Both are in line to inherent their respective thrones, have advanced skill in swordsmanship, and work closely with and have strong feelings for a female protagonist (Lan Fan and Farah respectively). They also later share a body with a darker personality who periodically takes over involuntarily (Greed and Dark Prince).