Title: Down the Road
Beta: The lovely and great haganeneko
Artists: seta_suzume, ghosthax (thanks so much you two!), and bay115
Genre: Drama, Action, Flashback
Word Count: 36,028
Pairing/Characters: Ling/Lan Fan (UST), May, Shao May, short appearances from various OCs and canon characters (including one from the Daughter of the Dusk FMA Wii game)
Warnings: Violence, deceased body being carried throughout this story.
Summary: Ling, Lan Fan, and May took the long road back to Xing by passing through Aerugo and crossing the ocean, carrying Fu’s deceased body with them. As the group was traveling, they got to know Fu better by reading his journal. Unfortunately, the journey doesn’t go smoothly as a water alchemist, the Aerugo royal family, and thieves make sure to delay the trip.
Author's Note: For the 2010-2011 fmabigbang . This is my first stab at doing an FMA chaptered fic and first time doing a chaptered fic in a long while. Hope you guys enjoy it! Also beware: fic image heavy. :P
(banner by me)
Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there's a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.
All was quiet at the Yao place. There was a full moon that night, so it was quite dark outside. No candles were lit, save for a single room in one of the buildings
Lan Fan was reading some accounts of the guards that had served under the Yao clan over the past several generations. It fascinated her to learn how her ancestors risked their lives to protect whomever ruled the clan during that time, some fights more gruesome than others. The sound of the door sliding open startled her, causing her chest to rise in fright.
“Reading those accounts again, I see,” Fu said with a chuckle.
Lan Fan smiled. “Yes. I love reading what happened with our ancestors. It was as if I was right at the middle of the fight and experienced it myself.”
“Indeed.” Fu grinned. “That happened to me too, when I was young. Your mother was the same way.”
The young woman felt as if someone sliced her back. Her mother, Fu’s daughter, had been a guard of the current leader of the clan. Lan Fan and her mother weren’t the first lady guards, but Fu had taken pride in teaching his daughter and granddaughter martial arts as well as the clan’s history. At the age of five, Lan Fan’s mother had died during an invasion meant to stop a future rebellion. Lan Fan cried when she had heard the news while her grandfather tried to comfort her.
Knowing what he had said caused his granddaughter to turn pale, Fu gulped. “My apologizes, Granddaughter.”
“No, it’s all right,” Lan Fan said, smiling back. “I’m glad my mother died a hero.”
The old man nodded in understanding. The two fell silent, gazing out the window, using the quiet moment to enjoy the scenery. The palace garden wasn’t very far from where they were standing, the pond and the many flowers on the bushes appearing radiant in the diminished moonlight. Not long after, Lan Fan spoke.
(Art by seta_suzume )
“Grandfather, if you were to choose how you would die, how would it be? Dramatic or peaceful?”
He laughed. “I actually would like my death to be as exciting as possible. I would go against an enemy like no other, and the two of us would go down to hell together.”
“So you don’t mind if your death leads to that path?” the granddaughter said with a giggle.
Fu shrugged. “No one should be afraid of death. In the end, it’s nothing more than passing through rooms, just like the ones in this palace.”
Death just like passing through different rooms? Lan Fan raised an eyebrow at the thought, but let it slide. Maybe she would understand better when she got older.
“Well, I guess we should get to sleep now. Tomorrow is another big day for us.”
The both of them were already dressed in their sleeping clothes, so they walked over to their beds and laid down. After Lan Fan blew out the candles, the two went to sleep.
(art by ghosthax)
When the Promised Day passed, Central lay in ruins. There were so many injured that the many tents were quickly filled to capacity. Rubble was strewn everywhere, concealing the numerous bodies that still needed to be found and smoke still billowed from the destroyed buildings
Two military men carried the stretcher that held Fu’s body, Ling, Lan Fan, May and Shao May following behind. Lan Fan’s automail arm was in a cast, and Ling was helping May to walk, her leg too badly injured to support her. As soon as they made it to a wagon, the two men put Fu inside. Earlier, Ling suggested they go to Aerugo and continue to Xing by sea. The trip would be longer than crossing the great desert, but Fu’s body would decay too quickly under the heat and the camels wouldn’t be able to carry him for long. There was always a military car or wagon, but the large amount of sand in the desert would make the trip quite hard. Another reason was Lan Fan’s automail arm wouldn’t be able to handle the heat very well.
The trip was planned, but Ling needed a couple people to help him carry Fu’s body to the nearest wagon or car. Lan Fan couldn’t do it because of her automail arm, and May was too small to hold the stretcher. The prince left them for a bit and quickly found two low ranking soldiers willing to lend a hand.
“Thanks for helping us out,” Ling said to both of the men.
“No problem. You guys need to go back home, it’s the least we can do,” one of the military man said with a grin.
Both men waved to the group before they left them alone. May and Shao May had their heads down while Lan Fan and Ling stared at their surroundings.
The guard couldn’t help but tremble inside. The Promised Day had taken so many lives, including her grandfather. There were still several stretchers holding the deceased that needed to be carried away to their relatives and loved ones. Lan Fan could only hope Central would be rebuilt and the people would get back with their lives as soon as possible. Her thoughts were interrupted when she heard a female voice.
“So, that is the man who died with my captain, huh?”
The four turned and gasped when they saw two people looking at them. One was a woman who also had a cast on her arm, and another was a muscular man with cuts and bruises on his chest and face.
“Are you…the Armstrongs?” Ling stuttered.
Olivier nodded. “I’m General Olivier Armstrong and this is my brother, Major Alex Louis Armstrong. We’re here to take Captain Buccaneer’s body back to Briggs for a proper burial.”
The female officer pointed toward the two men carrying a stretcher. Lan Fan shivered; seeing Buccaneer’s body again gave her the chills. That was the man that had gone down to hell with her grandfather. She then gazed at the general, who was looking at Fu’s body in the wagon. The female guard could tell by the woman’s facial expression that she felt deeply sorry for her grandfather’s lost.
After a long silence, Ling chuckled. “Funny you should say that as I’m going to bury Fu’s body back at Xin—”
Before the prince could finish, the major hugged him tightly, fat tears streaming down on his cheeks. Unfortunately, the tight embrace caused the prince to let go of May, the little girl falling onto the ground and yelling in pain. Lan Fan gasped and ran to help May get up, using her good arm.
“It’s so beautiful that you care for your guard as if he’s your father! Nothing is more caring than burying your loved ones in their homeland!”
(Art by seta_suzume )
Major Armstrong blinked as he saw his sister glaring at him and gave a sheepish laugh, letting Ling go. Glad to not be crushed to death, the Xingese man coughed and gasped for breath.
“We’re going to Aerugo first so that we can find a boat and return to Xing by sea. The journey shouldn’t take us more than two months,” Lan Fan added.
Usually Olivier wasn’t the kind of woman to show emotions, but her eyes went wide. “Two months? That’s quite a long trip, especially with you three being so young. Are you sure you all can make it there alive without adult supervision?”
All three immediately grinned.
“Of course. We have already done it before, so we’ll be able to do it again,” May said. Shao May nodded.
“Carrying Fu’s body may slow us down and be a great task for us, but it’ll be worth it,” Ling added.
Olivier nodded in understanding. “Good to hear that. Before I go, though, I would like to make one suggestion.”
A confused expression covered Ling’s face. “Sure.”
“Take the military train to South City as that city is closest to the Aerugo border. It shouldn’t take you more than two and a half days. Be careful though; there are still active mines out there.”
May beamed with confidence. “Don’t worry, we’ll be fine. I’ll be able to find them with my alkehstry.”
The general smiled slightly, thought May saying that was kind of cute. However, her expression changed immediately to a stern one when she looked at her brother.
“You’ll be able to arrange a train for them to take to South City, right?”
The Strong-Arm Alchemist nodded. “Yes, I can. Give me a couple hours.”
“Good.”Oliver turned back to face Lan Fan, Ling, and May. “Well, my brother and I wish you a safe journey on your trip. Also, when you get there, tell the old man that I said thanks for helping my captain deal with King Bradley.”
“Thanks you two,” he said with a bow. “I’ll let him know when we bury him. I also wish you luck on your trip back to Briggs, General Armstrong.”
The general smiled once more then, she and her brother left to follow the men carrying Captain Buccaneer. Ling turned to face Lan Fan and May.
“All right, we’ll go to the station then, but a few things first. Lan Fan, hurry up and grab your things from your hiding place.” Ling then gazed at May intently. “You need to show me where you have been staying so that I can get your things.”
“All right,” May said while nodding.
Lan Fan nodded too. “Yes, Master Ling.”
Ling helped May up once more. The princess did not protest, so they hobbled to the wagon where Fu’s body was laid. Lan Fan was left alone, but she didn’t hesitate leaving quickly to get her things.
Lan Fan’s automail mechanic, Will, lived in a two story house a couple blocks away from downtown Central. In the neighborhood, all the homes almost looked the same, each one being brick buildings or painted light green. There was one distinguishable feature that the guard could tell her mechanic’s house apart from the others, though; the man never tended the roses he had planted very well. After giving a dirty look at the dried up roses, Lan Fan approached Will’s house and knocked on the door.
“Okay, coming, coming!” someone inside yelled. The door opened and a man dressed in a jumpsuit stood there, his eyes open wide in surprise. “Oh, Lan Fan. I didn’t expect you or your grandfather to come back.”
Lan Fan closed her eyes and sighed. Last night Will got angry when she and Fu left to help Edward and the others outside of the city. The young woman assumed Will thought the two wouldn’t come back.
“Sorry about that, sir. My grandfather and I sensed trouble not far from Central, so we had to leave.”
The mechanic struck Lan Fan with a puzzled look. “Let me guess, it had something to do with what happened today?”
The guard nodded, not saying anything. Everyone, including Will, now knew about the Promised Day, so there was no need for explanation.
“Well, you guys gotta do what you gotta do, I suppose,” Will said, shrugging. “You two could have been killed, though. Speaking of which, where is your grandfather?”
A silent gulp escaped Lan Fan’s throat. How would the man react if she told him her grandfather died? Outrage, most likely. The only thing to do was to lie.
“He’s waiting for me at downtown. We actually need to go back to Xing because something came up.”
Nodding in understanding, Will smiled. “If you two must leave now, there’s no stopping you. Okay then, go grab your things.”
“Thank you,” Lan Fan said with a bow. Will stepped aside to let her go upstairs to her room.
The room wasn’t much, just a couple beds and a desk. Quickly, Lan Fan went to the desk and clenched her grandfather’s pouch; it was still warm. The young guard decided to take a look inside it. As expected, inside there were mostly just flashes, grenades, and kunai. However, one particular item caused her to gasp.
She never knew her grandfather had saved a journal. Usually, guards would be busy protecting their higher-ups, so there was barely any time to write in a journal. Excited and curious at the same time, Lan Fan began reading. The writing was in Dongese, one of the simpler Xingese languages.
I suppose the reason for this journal is to write down some adventures I have had. Most of the entries might be about me saving Master Ling’s butt, but that’s okay as I’ll get laughs from those memories.
I’m neither a writer nor a scholar, just a guardsman that knows martial arts. I know the Amestrisan language and basic writing and math, but that is about it. I was more focused on saving lives. This journal is to look back at the past and remember the most important things that happened in my life.
Another thought startled Lan Fan—should she continue reading? There was the risk of finding some more personal stuff. Still, the young girl wanted to know more about her grandfather and how he felt during the events he had written about.
Remembering she needed to meet with Ling and May soon, Lan Fan put the journal in her bag and went to gather their clothes. She would read more of her grandfather’s journal when she got to South City.
Onto to Chapter Two!