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(Continued from Chapter 11)

Roy stretched his legs out in front of him, cradling the frosted glass containing a fresh, cool drink on his stomach before he took another sip. The kids from three families were almost in a state of riot on the front lawn, still experiencing the release of pent-up energy after the three-day train ride from Central that five of them had just experienced. Those who spent the greater part of their year in the city were always like this, the first couple of days after arriving at their country home on the hill. It was as though the clear, fresh air of this wide valley both energized them and served as a safety valve.

Whatever the case, the children could be very loud sometimes. Their parents were lucky that both the front and back yards of the Mustang house were so big, and contained so many pursuits that the kids could do outdoors. If the youngsters had stayed indoors, the adults would need to wear earplugs.

And life goes on )

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(Continued from Chapter 10)

It was Mei who first alerted them. Sometimes, as she and Alphonse worked together in Roy’s garden, she’d take a break and sit on the fence, gazing through a gap in some of the bushes on the southern perimeter, watching the fields to the south of the hill on which the house stood.

And that was why, on a clear morning two days later, she saw the two riders while they were still a considerable distance away. They rode in a rather relaxed way up the small road on the eastern edges of the grass fields, obviously not in a big hurry.

Hohenheim and Havoc stood with Al and Mei at the fence for a few minutes, to make sure that these were the riders they’d been waiting for. But finally Hohenheim remarked, “I’m glad I didn’t bet you any money on this, Jean,” and Havoc laughed.

Getting things sorted out )

(Continue to Chapter 12)
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(Continued from Chapter 9)

As the glass shattered and the room immediately lit up with a rush of heat, Riza realized just how much she’d been expecting this. A wash of blazing light roared over her, smashing into the wall by her bed, and she rolled reflexively onto the floor even as the blanket on the other side of the bed caught fire. She heard a loud cry, “No!”, and instantly the flames snuffed out, leaving the room in blackness.

“Riza!” Roy cried sharply. “Riza – where are you? Are you hurt?”

“I’m fine,” she gasped, springing into a crouch. “What about you?”

Groping hands found her head and shoulders in the dark, pulling her to her feet and sweeping her briefly into Roy’s arms.

A decision )

(Continue to Chapter 11)
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(Continued from Chapter 8)

They didn’t quite make it all the way to the stone pillars, or to the town that was supposedly on the other side, but both of them were quite able to set up a camp for the night. It was almost like old times, in fact, from their years fighting in Ishbal.

The daylight gradually failed, the rays of the setting sun streaming eastward to light the ochre pillars with flame in the distance before vanishing altogether. By the time darkness finally fell, Roy and Riza had found another little spring and a copse of ragged, stunted trees under which to shelter.

The first few days in Ishbal )

(Continue to Chapter 10)
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(Continued from Chapter 7)

She was always impressed by his reflexes. Virtually the instant he saw her, he was on his feet and over the other side of the cot, standing there as though it were somehow a barrier between them. To his credit, he didn’t start looking for an ignition glove or raise a hand as though to snap his fingers. There was that much recognition, at least, in that first moment. Though naturally she’d been ready to lunge aside if he’d had his glove on and had indeed sent a bit of flame her way.

Meanwhile, recognition of another sort flooded into his eyes as his brows came down and he snarled, “What the hell are you doing here?

Which was, of course, exactly what he had said when they’d found him at the edge of the gorge. Riza didn’t move, responding mildly, “Are we going to have that whole conversation over again?”

A bit of a rocky start )
(Continue to Chapter 9)
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(Continued from Chapter 6)

Havoc strode up to Hohenheim and grabbed the front of the man’s jacket with both fists, jerking him forward. He glared into the man’s face and growled, “Just what do you think you’re doing? Do you mean to say you’ve known all along what was wrong with Roy, and you didn’t say a word?

Hohenheim seemed untroubled by the other man’s vehement anger. “Yes, I’ve known ever since I heard he left Central. But despite how that sounds, I wasn’t trying to keep it from you. I just felt it was better if Roy told you himself. But he had to come to terms with it first, and that’s what I hoped to help him do, if I could just talk to him in private for a while. Obviously I never got the chance to do that.”

“You bastard!” Ed raged. “You never, ever change, do you?”

A lonely journey )
(Continue to Chapter 8)
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(Continued from Chapter 5)

“I came from farther north,” Mei told Riza as they waited for Ed and Al to consult with the farmer. The girl pointed back behind her, sweeping her hand vaguely toward the northern horizon as she talked. “I came through desert three times, two times to come here and once to go home. I never saw so far south in Amestris before.”

“And you were by yourself?” Havoc said, from his horse on the other side of Mei. “You were pretty young, the first time you travelled here. That was quite a journey for just a young girl.”

“There were nomads who helped sometimes,” Mei smiled. But then her eyes glinted. “Sometimes they didn’t help, too. But I could fight them off.”

“It’s still hard to imagine.” Havoc glanced at Riza, who’d been listening intently to the girl’s description of her journey even as her own eyes kept moving, back and forth, looking south across the fields of grass ahead of them.

Armstrong and Hohenheim sat a little aside, each of them holding the reins of one of the brothers’ horses, and each one lost in thought. But Riza noticed that Hohenheim, too, continued to scan the southern fields as though somehow he could detect Roy’s presence just by thinking about him.

What happens when they find him\ )

(Continue to Chapter 7)
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(Continued from Chapter 4)

Before they descended from Roy’s hilltop house, Riza couldn’t resist taking one quick walk through the rooms. It was a very nice place, with wide windows on every external wall to allow as much light into the house as possible. Since Roy had only been there a few days, much of the house still had something of an empty look, despite being pretty well furnished. It just lacked most of the more personal touches that indicated that an actual human being lived in it. In that sense, the teapot and cups in the sink were almost comforting.

One room that did already show signs of human population was clearly intended to serve as a library, since several brand new polished bookcases stood along three of its walls. Only those on the wall to the left of the door had been designated for books so far, and only a few of those shelves had been populated. Unpacked boxes of books remained still stacked in one corner; clearly he hadn’t gotten around to opening them yet. But Riza could tell that even those books probably wouldn’t quite fill even that one wall of shelving. Roy had obviously expected to be here long enough to acquire many more books for this room before he was done.

Planning the Pursuit )

(Continue to Chapter 6)

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(Continued from Chapter 3)

Olivia Armstrong was as good as her word. As soon as Riza had taken the surprising call from Pinako Rockbell in Risemboul, she had sent Breda and Falman rushing through the halls of the building, hoping to catch the General on her way out. Being the inquisitive person she was, she hadn’t gone that far, and immediately returned to Riza’s office, commandeering her phone.

Olivia had pulled a high-speed express train – coincidentally, the one Roy Mustang himself had used on official trips around the country during the past five years – and had gotten them on their way by evening, radioing ahead to be sure that all tracks they’d need would be entirely clear of traffic as they passed through. Far from the usual three days to Risemboul, it would take them just over a day and a half.

Will they arrive in time? )

(Continued in Chapter 5)
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(Continued from Chapter 2)

Spring had completely taken hold here. For the past couple of mornings, Roy had stepped onto his front porch and just breathed. You could almost smell everything growing within an inch of its life. There was a small lake to the north, and the humidity travelled down to this area, bounded and prevented from moving east by that ridge across a low valley behind the house. This little cottage he’d bought several months ago was situated in a good position: on a hill from which he could view the valley and the ridge behind, and a gentler valley in front of the house that widened slowly toward a row of hills a few miles away to the west.

Behind him, slightly to the northeast, lay Ishbal, just a short distance away with its heat and its desert. Fascinating, what a couple of high ridges did to block the means of turning that land into as lush a region as this was. And before him, across a small rocky river and over those green hills just a bit southeast, was Risemboul.

Continuing the hunt )

(Continue to Chapter 4)
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(Continued from Chapter 1)

Chapter 2

Roy leaned back in his chair and surveyed the remains of his bowl of stew on the table. Most people who travelled in higher social circles had no idea that some of the best meals they would ever eat could be found in these small country inns. Never mind the posh restaurants – people in smaller places like this really knew how to cook, and most of their ingredients had been on the trees, in the ground, or in the barns no more than a couple of days ago. Nothing equaled good home cooking, with local foods.

He took another sip of his mug of ale and surveyed the rest of the clientele. They were pretty much as he expected: mostly farmers, a few local merchants, and a couple of others whose professions were not immediately visible. Only two women at the tables, probably having supper with their farmer husbands. And three women and two men serving the tables and going back and forth with trays of drink and food.

Read the rest of Chapter 2 )
(Continue to Chapter 3)
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Chapter 1

He stood at the entrance to the train station, taking one last look at the street outside. It would be dawn soon, and it was almost time to pick up his suitcase from the locker where he’d stored it, and board the first train out of Central for the day. He was only just beginning to feel a bit tired, after wandering the streets of the city for most of the night. But there would be plenty of time to nap once he’d left the city limits.

He had spent much of the night simply wandering the streets, after visiting the cemetery one last time. He had enjoyed the quiet dark, and the fresh smells of spring that accompanied him on his stroll. He had wandered through a couple of peaceful neighbourhoods, walked along the main market area where the booths and carts were closed up for the night, and of course had moved through the downtown area where administrative buildings were as plentiful as stores. He had only edged along the fringes of that area, though. He didn’t want anyone to see him and he didn’t feel like talking, and there was always a bit of activity in these buildings, even at night.

Read more... )

(Continue to Chapter 2)
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