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 . After the meeting with May and Lan Fan at Knox's place in the manga and Broterhood anime, my headcanon says they had met before, so yeah my take on how they met. Oh, and I made a timeline for myself over when I think certain events happened before and during FMA, so you'll see the dates in Fu's journal entries.
Chapter One: Before the Trip
Like most buildings in Central, the train station was also deserted due to services being delayed. The place wouldn’t be open to the public for a while until everything was settled, so only military trains would run for now.
Ling, May, Shao May, and Lan Fan were sitting on the same bench. The girls sat up straight, but the prince faced the ceiling and spread his arms wide, boredom glazing his eyes. They were supposed to wait for three military personnel to bring Fu’s body to one of the carts, but there was no sight of them yet. Ling groaned in annoyance.
“Patience, my lord. They shall be here soon.”
“Well, they better,” Ling demanded, sitting upright now and crossing his arms. “The sooner we get out of here, the—”
He stopped when he finally saw the soldiers they had been waiting for, two men and one woman, already laying Fu’s body inside a green cargo car; the door was still open. All Ling could hear was the hammering of his heart and his mind repeating we’re actually doing this, we’re actually doing this, we’re actually doing this over and over like a merry go round. A pat on his shoulder, though, shook him out of his anxiety and snatched him back to reality. The male solider that had touched Ling offered him a smile.
“Sorry if the ride won’t be comfortable as this train’s usually used for transporting military supplies,” the military officer said, as he dropped his hand from Ling’s shoulder.
“It’s all right. As long as we’re able to get to the border of Aerugo quickly, it’s fine,” Ling said with reassurance.
All three military officers gave the group a salute then departed, leaving the group alone beside the cart. The prince stared at the train for some time.
Looks like we’re finally going back home now…
It was a weird feeling. Ling longed to go back to Xing, but also wanted to stay in Amestris longer. There were still many sights and sounds he wanted to experience. The country still had so much to offer him, but circumstances wouldn’t allow him to indulge his whims of fancy.
“Ling, are you all right?”
The prince let out a “huh?” and looked down at May to find the little girl looking back at him with concern.
“Oh, sorry. It’s just that there are a lot of things going on in my mind.”
Lan Fan smiled. “I’m sure we’ll be able to make it back home safely.”
The prince grinned. One characteristic he liked about Lan Fan was she always seemed to make him feel better with her reassuring words.
“Yeah, you’re right. Okay, let’s go.”
“Yay!” May cheered, her fists up in the air. She then looked at her panda, the girl’s eyes sparkling with delight. “You hear that, Shao May? We’re going back to Xing!”
Lan Fan giggled while Ling smiled. At that precise moment, he realized something which caused him to frown.
She’s my half-sister.
He felt guilty for never having been there for her. The prince was sure she was two or three years younger than him, but she was so small. She had gone through many things in Amestris, just like him.
Perhaps we’ll be able to catch up during the trip.
The only problem was, how would their conversations go? He feared she might still hold a grudge against him; she, too, wanted immortality and he had taken it away from her. The only reason she was traveling with him and Lan Fan was that she had no choice.
He dropped out of his musings to find that Lan Fan, May, and Shao May were already inside the passenger’s car. Ling could tell by their baffled expressions that they were impatiently waiting for him. Finally having the courage to say goodbye to Central, Ling put on a bright smile and went inside.
Two days had passed since they had departed from Central. The trip was taking much longer than they originally thought due to the many stops along the way, but this mode of transportation was still much better than traveling by wagon. All of the stations their ride stopped at were still open, and the trains were stopping for passengers.
Late on the night of the first day of their journey, Lan Fan watched May and Ling with surreptitious glances. The two were sitting opposite one another, and hadn’t spoken directly to each other all day. She found this odd.
He needs to talk to his sister.
“My lord, I need to speak with you in private,” she whispered.
Ling looked up at her with a dazed, confused expression on his face, but followed Lan Fan to the corner without complaint. May was too busy talking to her panda about what they would do once they got back to Xing to notice the prince and his guard had moved away.
“What is it, Lan Fan?”
“I think you should talk to your sister and get to know her better.”
The prince sighed and lowered his head. “I know, but not sure how well it will go. I mean, she’s the first sibling I’ll be with for more than a month and I’m afraid she won’t like me.”
“Well you won’t know unless you try, right?”
Lan Fan smiled playfully at Ling. Due to the seriousness of her job, the young guard hadn’t smiled like this in quite some time, but she could tell by the look in her master’s eyes that he was still unsure and wanted to offer him some support. It didn’t take long though, until Ling beamed back.
“All right, I’ll try to talk with her.”
Ling rose and crossed back over to May to tap her on the shoulder. At first, the young girl cringed and threw him a frightened look, then smiled up at the young prince and the two began to talk. Lan Fan gave a mental blissful sigh to herself, and a warm feeling settled inside her at seeing the two acting comfortable around one another.
In the evening of the second day, Lan Fan was in the cargo car, gazing at her grandfather’s body, which was wrapped in cloth. She had been in the passenger car with May and Ling earlier, the siblings talking about their experiences during the Promised Day. Lan Fan didn’t pay attention to the conversation, her mind thinking about Fu. She excused herself and went to sit with her grandfather’s body.
The young woman thought about what would happen if Fu were still alive. Would they be taking this path back home or cross the desert? The answer was obvious to her.
We would be going by sea.
There would be no rush getting back home, and the sandstorms in the desert usually picked up during this time of year. However, Fu needed to be buried as soon as possible because his body would decompose much quicker in the heat.
Lan Fan then remembered the journal. She wanted to read it ever since they had embarked on their journey home, but the lighting had been poor and because Ling and May usually stayed up late. The girl was patient though, so she could wait. This was the hardest time she had to restrain herself.
The next night they made it to South City. This station was still open to the public, just as the others their train had stopped at. While a few people got off the train, here there hadn’t been many; clearly South City wasn’t a tourist attraction. There were a couple military men waiting for them, so as soon as Ling, Lan Fan, May, and her panda got off, the people waiting for them had put Fu’s body in a horse-drawn wagon.
“Okay, this is the only one we have available at the moment,” one of the military men said. “From here on out, you guys have to cross the border on your own. You could have gotten to Aerugo’s sea port faster if you were able to take another train ride, but that country stopped accepting trains from Amestris long ago.”
“It’s all right, we’ll be fine,” Ling said, nodding in understanding. “Thanks for the help, though.”
“No problem,” the other military man said.
After the group bowed to the soldiers, the two men gave a salute and left. May looked at Lan Fan and Ling with uncertainty.
“Should we camp outside of this city or find an inn to stay for the night?”
Ling stroked his chin. Camping would be much cheaper and he hadn’t brought much money with him from Xing. Outside was pitch black, though, making it almost impossible to find a place to sleep. It wouldn’t hurt spending a few cenz for the night. He glanced at Lan Fan, and the woman nodded; Ling knew what she was thinking.
“We’ll try to find an inn first. There should be one somewhere.”
Everyone hopped onto the wagon and Ling took the reins. He shook them, and the horse started slowly.
The more they traveled through South City, the more Ling thought the place was a huge military base of sorts. There were only a few shops and restaurants around, and all of them closed for the night. Military cars and tanks were scattered everywhere. Many soldiers were outside talking to one another, but a few of the men were staring at the group. Ling had a hunch they were wondering why three very young foreigners and a panda were visiting the city.
(Art by seta_suzume )
“So many soldiers. Quite a few of them know alchemy,” May said, arm shaking when she felt their “chi” flow inside her.
Ling shuddered at that thought. He too could sense their chi and noticed some of the men’s energies were stronger than others.
So much destruction because of this country’s alchemy…
“It’s because South City is not far from the border of Aerugo. I remember back at Rush Valley, Edward told me how Amestris has borderline conflicts with that country.”
“Do you think the two countries are still battling now, even though the Promised Day is over?” Lan Fan asked.
“I think it’s too early to say, but the two countries might come to some sort of agreement over the violence. King Bradley is gone, so alchemy won’t be used in the military as much.”
They continued to search for an inn, but had no luck due to most of the lodgings were reserved for the military. There was a defeated look on Ling’s face.
“Looks like we won’t be able to find a place tonight. We should probably set up camp outside of the city.”
“Well, there’s gotta be an inn where we can rest until morning,” May said, eyes wide in anxiety.
Shao May almost dozed off, wanting some sleep too. However, as soon as the panda turned around, she squeaked in joy and tugged one of May’s braids.
“Shao May, what is it?”
The girl turned around and instantaneously she, too,cheered. Across from the gang, there was a wooden building with the sign “Sunny Grove Inn.” Lan Fan sighed in relief while Ling grinned.
“Hopefully that place has comfy beds in there.”
“But that means the place could be expensive!” the female guard said with narrowed eyes, clearly not liking the prospect of that thought. “You sure we have enough money?”
Not even giving himself a second to think about it, Ling smiled like someone who thought his plan wouldn’t fail. He already said to himself he would pay whatever amount if he needed to.
“I think so. I don’t know about you guys,”—he stopped to smell himself, but immediately he squinted his eyes in disgust—“but I could use a bath, actually.”
Both Lan Fan and May nodded, the two also wanted to get cleaned up, too. With everyone agreeing to stay here for the night, they parked the wagon in a safe spot where no one would find the body, then went inside.
Thankfully the room was cheap, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
The room was dusty and the tables were wobbly. There was lighting but it wasn’t good and would make for sore eyes. As for the beds, they were as stiff as someone with a huge ego. May and Shao May had to toss and turn until they finally decided to sleep flat on their backs. At least the bathroom wasn’t dirty and the water was warm.
“Oi, this inn doesn’t have room service either,” Ling complained with a heavy sigh.
“Well, what do you expect from a city that had been through so many skirmishes with another country?” Lan Fan pointed out. “Besides, we’ll be traveling through Aerugo, so be content at least that you have a bed and warm place to stay for tonight.”
Ling glared at Lan Fan. She wasn’t fazed by her master’s expression, knowing she indeed had to say that to calm him down.
“Fine, then,” he grumbled. “I’ll try to get some sleep now. Good night.”
Ling turned away from Lan Fan and closed his eyes. The young woman smirked, glad she was able to stop her master from complaining more. She was about to sleep too, but stared at her grandfather’s journal inside her pouch, which was resting on the table. Sleep would be good because she was tired, but the temptation to read the journal was getting to be too much for her. Already having made her decision, she took out the journal and read the next entry.
November 21, 1913
The Yao Clan was attacked by the other clans’ assassins ever since the emperor came to power. Funny there was competition already for the future seat. Last night however was very strange.
Everyone at the palace was asleep, including my granddaughter and me. When we heard a noise, we woke up right away. The two of us went outside and saw a small girl and two other people running across one of the roofs. We immediately jumped up there and startled them.
(Art by seta_suzume )
“Oh, you two must be the prince’s guards, huh?” the girl said with a smirk.
“I take it from your hair style and clothing that you’re a princess?” my granddaughter remarked, her kunai already in hand. Indeed, her pink attire and hair stylized in many braids indicated she was a princess.
The girl nodded. “Yes. I came here to kill the prince myself.”
Like a tiger, my granddaughter charged at the princess, but then one of the guards attacked her with a sword. Granddaughter blocked the assault with her kunai and the two exchanged blows for quite a while. The other guard went to throw many shuriken at me, but I blocked them with my knife. As soon as the princess jumped off the roof, her guards did too. We then followed them.
The three were pretty quick on their feet, knowing we were pursuing them. The princess then stopped with her back to us. Her guards jumped onto another roof, as if they knew what she was going to do. Thinking she was an easy target, we had our weapons ready and the two of us dashed at the princess. As we approached her, she turned around with a smug expression and we stopped. My granddaughter and I were at first confused why there were five kunai forming a circle. That was then I noticed an alkahestry symbol made out of dirt.
In swift motion, the girl bent down and touched her hands next to the alkahestry symbol. Blue light flashed and an explosion came. The two of us were able to leap backwards in the nick of time, though we still coughed as a bit of the smoke went into our lungs. As soon as the smoke cleared, the girl and her guards were gone. We hung our heads in frustration.
“That’s Lady May Chang from the Chang clan,” I said after we were silent for quite some time.
“How do you know?”
“Only a few of the emperor’s children knows alkahestry and I heard she’s the only daughter that can perform it.”
“How can a weak clan have a princess that knows that?”
“Whether a clan is weak or not, we can’t underestimate them. Life is full of surprises, sometimes.”
It was hard for me to believe that girl was the prince’s half sister. She was the first sibling to attempt the assassination, but she won’t be the last.
Lan Fan chuckled. She, too, was amazed that this girl was Ling’s half sister and was now traveling back to Xing with them. May had never returned to the palace to attempt the assassination a second time. It was a good thing that the Yao and Chang clan would make peace; Ling and May could use some time to catch up.
Something caught Lan Fan’s attention, though. May had come to Amestris with only Shao May. Perhaps she and her panda ran away without letting the guards know? Then again, the guards would have found her by now. Lan Fan and her grandfather were able to find Ling easily…except for the time when they were at Rush Valley and it had happened to be Alphonse Elric that found the prince first. Lan Fan decided to ask May about that later.
The young woman felt her energy draining from her and she was no longer able to keep her eyes open. Maybe it was time for sleep.
Onto to Chapter Three!