At the Fuhrer's residence, Bradley is greeted by his son, who's surprised he's come home early.
"Mind your volume, Selim," he says, then hands him a beautifully wrapped present. The boy eagerly takes the gift and, with his mother's permission, opens it to find a toy train. The boy is thrilled and thanks Bradley, who mentions it's not every day a young man turns ten.
Meanwhile, there's a fourteen year-old who's being tossed around like discarded scrap---and as Al orients himself, he demands to know where he's been taken. Envy chuckles, telling them they're in his master's house.
"You mean the one who's forced you all to search for the Philosopher's Stone?" Al queries, his voice full of loathing. Envy "corrects" him on that point---they were never "forced" to do anything...more like "obliged" to give assistance after their master has helped and guided them. Al tells Envy that if he thinks his master is going to use the Philosopher's Stone on him, he's sorely mistaken---his master has every intention of shutting him out of that
...but to his surprise, Envy tells him he already knows that. He fully understands that the Stone will go to serve his master only, and quite frankly, he doesn't really care. "Just seeing all the human suffering makes it all worthwhile."
Enraged, Al struggles to get to his feet, being hindered by the fact that both they and his hands have been securely bound behind him. He manages to stand and pushes off of the floor, launching himself at Envy. Envy, however, merely "catches" Al before he falls on him, telling him he needs to be careful...he's carrying "precious cargo," after all.
"I hate you!" Al cries as Envy pushes him back to the floor, falling once again in a heap. Envy plants one of his feet firmly on Al's armor and decides to give him a little lesson in fact: does Al know just how many people had to kill to create the Philosopher's Stone?
Envy then decides to clue Al in: Of the soldiers that invaded Liore, 7000 never made it home. That, of course, is only compounded by the souls from the Ishbal massacre and the lives of the State Alchemists and the other military personnel Scar murdered.
"And they're all inside of you
now. Isn't that great?" Envy taunts, relishing Al's suffering with glee. Now that Al is fully aware of just how valuable an entity he is to his captors, Envy tells him he should behave, kicking off Al's helmet in the process.
Envy then leaves; and as Al hears his prison door slam and the key turn in the lock he lies there, helpless. He begins to think about all of the times that he, Alphonse Elric, should have died: that night in their father's study, in Laboratory Five when Lust threatened to break his blood seal, in Liore when Kimbley transmuted him into a slow-burning explosive. Time after time he should have died, but for some reason he was spared.
"Why do I deserve to live, when so many others have died?" he wonders sadly.
In the old temple, a nervous Russell and Fletcher await Edward's arrival. When he comes in, they chide him for being late, but Ed claims he got held up en route. He asks them to have a look at their father's journal entry again,and as he does so Russell begins to tell him a tale...
...about Nash Tringham, who came to Central when he wanted to learn to make the Red Water. Eventually, Nash was able to reach Laboratory Five, where he made the aquaintance of a "certain gifted alchemist." This alchemist told Nash about how to create the Red Water, how to transmute it into the Philosopher's Stone using human lives, and about the location of what was referred to as the "true laboratory."
Ed tells the Tringhams that if their father's note is true, then they've only scratched the surface on this whole affair. He starts toward the entrance to the underground rooms, telling them he's going alone. Fletcher protests---perhaps the Tringhams can help Ed rescue Al using their alchemy. Ed tells them that he's going to get Al back in one piece, no matter the consequence.
As Ed opens the door to the underground rooms, Russell makes himself clear---he didn't tell him all of this so he could create a Philosopher's Stone. Ed reassures him that creating a Stone is the last thing on his mind at the moment. He then begins down the long staircase, leaving the Tringhams to hope that he comes back---alive and in one piece.
As Ed navigates the twisting corridors of stairs, he remembers more of Russell's story: that if you journey far enough in this place, you will find a city underneath what is the present-day Central. As Ed comes across this city, he is amazed to see that it is as large, if not larger, than the Central aboveground.
He remembers Russell telling him that as Nash heard the rumors about this city, he dismissed them as legend or myth. After his work at Laboratory Five, though, he was brought down to this place, and found that they myth was, in fact, absolutely true.
Ed realizes now that this entire city---and all of its inhabitants---were sacrificed for the Philosopher's Stone. The remains of the city were then pulled underground using alchemy, leaving nothing but a rumor to fuel the curious. "Only monsters could conceive such a plan," Ed murmurs in horror.
Then Ed begins screaming---"Are you in here,dad
?! You did this---you came up with the whole plan, didn't you?!"
In another part of the underground city, Rose is sitting on a plush sofa, holding her baby and staring off in a catatonic-like trance. Gluttony paces nervously around her, torn between desire to eat her and worry over Lust. Dante shoos him off, telling the slack-faced Rose that she's too important to eat.
Dante runs her hands over Rose's frame, calling her "exquisite" and telling her that this must be the reason that Edward loves her...and that Rose loves him, too. Rose remains silent, completely unaware of what's going on around her.
Gluttony, however, is semi-aware of what's going on---and he wants to know where Lust is, now! Dante flippantly tells him she's probably lost, and then takes Rose up to put on a new dress. Envy knocks on the door, telling Dante that Ed's arrived. Dante couldn't be more pleased...
On the way to the main entrance, Envy and Dante are confronted by a wailing and frantic Wrath, who's going on about needing to find the Philosopher's Stone...to bring back "Mommy" before it's too late. Both Envy and Dante try to silence him, but to no avail. Finally, Envy begins beating the crap out of Wrath to shut him up.
Meanwhile, in Central proper, Izumi is not having much luck defeating Archer...in fact, it's all she can do to transmute barricades to protect her from the barrage of bullets he's firing at her. Archer says he now understands the freedom that the Elrics have come to know...and that he loves the feeling his new auto-mail gives him. Izumi tells him she'll never acquiesce to him, and attempts to transmute another barrier until one of her coughing spells hits her, sending the already weak Izumi to the floor.
Just as Archer prepares to finish her, he's surprised to find he's being fired upon...by Lt. Ross and Sgt. Bloch! They, along with their friends in the military, have joined forces against Archer. Ross and Bloch rescue Izumi, who tells them that Ed should be at the old temple by now...but, she wonders, why on earth would they risk their careers and their lives on the word of a couple of children?
"Those children hold the State's future. It's our duty to enable them...at least, that's what Hughes used to say," explains Ross in the only way she can.
At the underground temple, Ed is surprised to hear music coming from outside the temple walls. As he opens the main entrance gates, he is stunned to find Rose dancing in a trance-like state. When he asks her what she's doing here, Rose merely replies that she's been waiting for him.
In Resembool, Winry is scolding Din for trying to play with an angry crawfish---one that’s gone and pinched his nose. Sciezska then turns to Winry and says she’s finally begun to understand something...when Hughes was alive, he always used to tell her that nothing is ever completely negative. She says she didn’t understand before, but now she thinks she understands---it’s like the homunculi.
When Winry queries, Scieszka explains that she believed the homunculi to be evil, creating war and destroying lives simply to gain the Philosopher’s Stone. However, unlike humans who would only use the Stone’s power to benefit their own ends, no matter the cost to others, the homunculi hide the existence of the Stone---going so far as to destroy any one or thing that might give a hint to its authenticity, leaving behind only the Stone’s myth. In this view, Scieszka argues that the homunculi may actually be doing mankind a favor
Winry, on the other hand, disagrees. She uses Din’s experience with the crawfish as an example, stating that leaving a hint of danger inside the myth of the Stone may actually entice
people to search for it, and therefore create even more problems.
As they decide to go back up to the Rockbell house, Scieszka wonders if Ed and Al are all right. Winry laughs---of course they are!
If Winry only knew how wrong she was…
In the underground temple, Ed has joined Rose in her dancing, slowly circling across the vast temple floor. However, Ed’s not convinced that everything’s kosher, and to that end he again asks her what she’s doing in this place. Rose continues to dance, telling Ed that she’s been waiting for him…that she loves
Ed stops dancing. He looks at Rose, questioning whether she knows what she’s saying or not---they’re just friends
, and have never even made reference to anything else. Just then “Lyra” appears, gently chiding Ed on his callousness. After all, Rose has been hiding here since the incident in Liore. When Ed asks “Lyra” why she brought Rose to this place, she merely explains that Dante told her about the old city, which was forgotten by all except the old alchemists. To her, it seemed like a good place to hole up for the time being.
Ed queries further---when he asked about the nature of Dante’s death in Liore, “Lyra” was awfully vague. “Lyra” tells him she’s sure she told him that Greed killed Dante, but Ed stops her. He reveals that he too had gone up to the estate just after her death, and her story doesn’t fit the circumstances---for one, there was a large transmutation circle designed to weaken homunculi drawn all over the floor near Dante’s corpse. IF that didn’t stop Greed, then the remains of his “real” form would have. Simply put, there’s no way that Greed killed Dante.
“Lyra” states that while Ed’s tale is very interesting, it proves nothing---after all, she saw Dante’s corpse with her own eyes. Ed tells her that that in itself means nothing; after all, given the supposition that the Philosopher’s Stone could be used to transfer souls from one body to another, the “corpse” of Dante may have been as a result of the body no longer being of use to her soul. Ed eyes up “Lyra’s” frame and states casually that her
body, on the other hand, would probably fit the bill.
“Lyra” protests, but Ed transmutes a spear out of the floor and hurls it at her. “Lyra” claps her hands, the same as Ed does, and vaporizes the spear in midair. “That was too close,” she mutters.
Ed then tells her that her secret’s out---the real Lyra wasn’t capable of doing alchemy without a transmutation circle; nor, for that matter, had she ever seen the Gate. He calls Dante by her true name and Dante admits to everything.
Ed’s not impressed---he realizes that the underground city was used as sacrifice to creatae the Stone, and then used to aid in Dante’s body-snatching. Dante also tells him that there’s also the fabled “lost city of the East,” but that she’s not the one behind these incidents…
“No. It was Hohenheim of Light,” Ed says coldly.
Dante’s hurt---Ed sounds so formal when speaking about his father---but Ed’s interested in something else; is this the way his father lived too? Creating war, sacrificing lives? Dante says nothing, but when Ed why they would do such a thing, she says simply “we were worth it.”
Ed rages out at Dante---she’s destroyed hundreds of millions of lives to create the Stone, just so she can live longer?! Dante replies that in her view, humans aren’t capable of handling the Stone. When Ed retorts that she shows humans mercy to take it away from mankind, leaving only the legend behind, Dante tells him that humans are a sinful race that would allow the power of the Stone to control them. If left to their own devices, the Stone could become a human’s greatest weapon.
Dante also brushes off the fact that she’s destroyed cities---had she not, humans might have destroyed the world
. She regards herself as a “shepard” of the Stone, using its power to prolong her life and keep mankind from ever gaining access to it.
Ed, however, sees things differently. Dante’s no god-like creature---she’s a mortal, just like he and all humans are!
“Not anymore,” snaps Dante coldly. She then turns her attentions to Rose, who’s still in a daze-like state, and tells Ed that she had been looking forward to taking over Rose’s body and becoming the beloved of Hohenheim’s son. Ed is aghast at the sound of this, but then turns his attentions to another pressing matter---what has she done to Alphonse??
Just then, Gluttony bursts in, startling Ed. He’s in an obsessed frenzy, wailing on and demanding to know what’s become of Lust. Dante tells him to ask Ed, and Gluttony charges him, chomping on Ed’s auto-mail like a horse on a bit. Ed tells Gluttony that Lust is gone; she was killed by Wrath trying to help him. Gluttony drops the auto-mail in horror and begins to wail even louder. Dante scolds him for his crying—after all, homunculi aren’t supposed to have feelings---but Gluttony continues in his lament, exiting the room the way he came in.
Ed’s had enough of this affair, and he’s ready to settle things. He transmutes his auto-mail into his familiar arm-blade, while Dante transmutes a dragon-headed snake out of the floor material. As the dragon’s head collides with the floor, Ed uses the snake-like body as a bridge to cross and leap from, striking Dante’s frame with his blade. He feels vindicated when he proves that she’s not Lyra---her body is rotting, which means her soul is too. Equivalent exchange---she can’t expect to live forever with no soul.
Dante laughs---Ed still believes that old lie?
Ed tells her that he does
believe it---in fact, it’s the basic law of alchemy, if not the whole world!
Dante, however, tells him to face facts---nothing
in life can be explained through equivalent exchange. Consider that State Alchemy exam Ed took four years ago---sure, he put a lot of effort into studying for it, and passed; but how many others spent years trying to pass the same exam, and failed?
Dante uses another example---she takes up Rose’s baby and tosses it into the air, allowing the stone dragon she transmuted earlier to catch it in its mouth. As the baby sits on the dragon’s tongue, helpless and crying out, she explains that the baby is doing all it can to survive…but in the end, it will die anyway, whether now or in the coming years. Everything remains the same---when you die, you die. Circumstance and luck have a lot to do with how one’s life ends up.
Ed tells her that that’s enough, and he himself claps his hands and transmutes the dragon into vapor, catching the baby as it falls and handing it to the still-dazy Rose. He tells Dante not to use the life of a child in her little scheme.
“Funny…your dad said the same thing,” she says calmly, and as Ed turns to look at the baby, he sees the transmutation circle for the Gate illuminated on its form. Ed is transported to the Gate, where he’s admitted…
When Ed wakes up, his mind and vision are a bit fuzzy. He sits up, wondering where he is, when he realizes there’s something not quite right about him. As he gets up, he happens to glance in a small mirror on top of a dresser. He questions why his hair is short, and what happened to his auto-mail, when suddenly there’s a siren blaring outside. Someone bursts into the room---it’s Hohenheim!---and tells Ed they have to get out of there at once!
Before Ed goes anywhere
, he wants a few answers…like what happened to his body? And where is he? What is this place? Did Dante do this?
Inexplicably, Hohenheim takes up Ed’s chin in his hand, forcing him to look at his eyes. “Transmute. Does that word mean anything
“Of course it does!” cries Ed, now even more confused.
Hohenheim is baffled---how on earth did Edward end up here? Good question, says Ed, but unfortunately there’s no time to explain. Both Elrics turn and run---but when Ed questions what exactly it is they’re running from, he gets an unexpected answer…
“Zepplins,” says Hohenheim.
Ed turns and looks out into the sky---and to his shock, there are giant airships floating over the city, poised to attack!
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