3: 3/4Metal Alchemist?

Two automail legs thudded heavily on the quiet cobblestone road through the small town, their owner ignoring the stares he was attracting, the quiet whispers and the nudges, the fearful looks atthe sword resting in the crook of his shoulder, blade gleaming red as the afternoon sunlight hit it and reflected, also bouncing off his automail arm. His face was covered up to right below his nose by the collar of his cloak and his amber eyes stayed trained on the road in front of him, a curtain of blonde bangs shading his face.

Edward Elric II, the new Fullmetal Alchemist, was heading to Rivant, and not for the military. He walked up to the docks in silence, a boarding ticket in his hand for a ship to Rivant, and the rest of his journey brooked no further disturbance.

"You're going to Rivant? But why, Junior?" His father had asked. Ed had only shrugged and put his hands on his automail knees and stared into the fireplace by which his mother was sitting, quietly wringing her hands, worried.

"Ed... since when did you have automail legs?" she asked, and Ed looked up into her dark eyes, then averted his own.

"An accident," he said. "I lost my legs."

"What kind of accident?"

"A train," he lied.

He was on the ship by the afternoon and indoors; his automail would rust in seawater very quickly, and he did not want to run the risk rusting before he reached Rivant. Who knew how little automail mechanics there were in Rivant? And besides, the only ones he trusted with his automail repairs were his aunt Winry and cousin Alley.
He gritted his teeth in pain as the after effects of the surgery started to kick in, and Al and Alley held his hands through the entire thing as he writhed and held back screams that threatened to rip his throat apart. His legs were on fire; what was left of them, anyway. The connectors had just been put in, and Winry was already designing the legs that would be fit in to replace the ones he had lost.

Later, Winry came by with a plate of food and he looked up at her. "Aunt Winry... don't tell my father."

"But Ed... they deserve to know."

"Please.. I'm begging you, don't say a word to him... Tell him I lost them in a train accident."

"If you really want... alright, Ed." She had had her doubts, but if this was what her nephew wanted.. then so be it.

"Don't tell Uncle Alphonse either... or my mother. I... after this is over, I have to go."

"Go where?"

"To find my own answers."

By night of the third day at sea, Rivant began to swim into view and Ed retreated back inside, satisfied that he was almost there. He rested his arms on the pommel of his sword, the point buried into the wood floor. Now, now he had a reason. Now he would truly become a guardian, a guardian for Rivant.
Vergo looked up as Faris came back into the room looking worried, and his hand tightened on his automail arm. He had had a defect at birth, and had been born short of one arm. His father, now deceased, had constructed an automail limb, the most technologically advanced automail of Amestris, though his arm's function was more for defense than offense. "What's wrong?" he asked, and Faris sat down heavily in a cushioned chair, chin in her hands.

"What does Ren think he's doing...? And where is Rohan?"

"I'm sure I don't know, Faris. What is he doing?"

"He's calling the Fuhrer of Amestris for a meeting... but... for what purpose? I do not think it is for a friendly meeting... Ren is... different now. He keeps looking at giant map of the country, almost hungrily... it scares me, Vergo. Do you think he's planning a hostile takeover?"

"The Fuhrer of Amestris would not just give over Amestris, no matter how good the terms. The only option would be a hostile and bloody takeover."

"That's... terrible..."

"That's an understatement," Vergo snorted, polishing his automail. He stopped for a moment, then shook his head. "But anyway, whatever he's doing we really have no say in it, do we? Besides, my uncle can fend for himself, he's not a baby. But that doesn't give me any inclination to go back to Amestris. I have nothing to go back to anyway."

Leroy soon found himself boarding his own ship bound for Rivant. Maes and Ilia waved him good-bye from the docks, Maes looking worried and fidgety. "Leroy! Don't get blown up, okay?" Leroy laughed and leaned on the railing of the ship.

"Don't worry. I'll try not to. Maes! I'll bring you back a present from Rivant, hear me?"

"Yeah! Okay, just be safe and-"

Leroy didn't get to hear the rest of what he said because it was drowned out by the loud booming of the ship's horns signalling that they were about to leave the dock. The water churned beneath him and Leroy felt the ship starting to slowly float away from the land, from his home, his country, his charge, Amestris. The rest of the military had also gathered to see him off and he received a hearty salute from Armstrong and a rather worried one from Havoc, and he saluted back, then waved.

He retreated from the railings to his cabin; too long out here would prove to make him covered in salt and seasick. He'd much rather be seasick without the salt, and he picked up a book about Rivant and flipped it open, jolting in surprise when something slipped out of it and fell onto his lap. He picked it up and sighed, relieved, now realizing it was the pendant that Faris had given him all those years before; he thought he'd lost it! He fastened it around his neck securely and leaned back in his creaky wooden chair, his eyes scanning the green wallpapered room lazily. It couldn't have been more than a few couple of feet wide, and it was almost small enough to have his head brushing the ceiling; he was again grateful that his father wasn't terribly tall, not like Armstrong.He sighed again, propping his feet up onto a woebegone wooden desk, book propped up on his lap, trying to get used to the rockingmotion of the boat. His father... he hoped he was alright, for Maes's sake if not his. Poor Maes... to have lost two brothers anda sister so suddenly... well, they had only moved away, but it gave him less time to visit, but Maes was strong, he could cope. He hoped he could be strong like Maes too, be strong and cope.

Roy flinched as a particularly violent wave of water collided with his back, pushing more salt into his already excrutiatingly painful wound. He still wasn't exactly sure how he had gotten it, but he had hypothesized that it might have beena result of a piece of ship slamming into his back while he was shielding Riza. Now he was glad that he had been shielding her; better his back then her face. He sighed softly and rested his chin on the plank, thinking that they had been adrift for entirely too long. These streams of colors, he thought as he looked into the sky, were thoroughly disorienting, and oddly... ominous.

I'm getting to old for this sort of thing, he thought as another shark fin dipped into the water. They were keeping their distance, oddly enough, but he wasn't complaining. He watched Riza, who was fast asleep with a death grip on their plank. How could she sleep when they were afloat who knows where? He squinted and looked as far as he could, and he straightened up; did he see land?

Queasy and green, Leroy was determined as hell not to open the porthole and throw up as he buried his nose in his book and tried once more to ignore the sloshing and rocking in his stomach. He was just thankful he hadn't eaten anything earlier, otherwise it would not have been so easy to hold down his fort. He could feel a lump rising up in his throat and it took all his willpower to beat it viciously back into his stomach. He groaned and put the book aside, supporting himself just long enough to stagger outside and throw himself onto the guardrails. He needed AIR!

It wasn't very much help; salty stuff had never gone over well with him. It was dark and dusky now, so that meant possibly only another four days left to hold down his lunch, breakfast, and dinner. Geez, he had to maintain some dignity once he hit land; he couldn't just set foot and start throwing up valuable internal organs, which was exactly what he felt like doing. Ugh.

Just four days... he brushed his dark hair out of his eyes. Four days of continuous sickness. Woo-hoo.

Vergo's temprement had not improved by the next day, no, not at all. If anything, he seemed to become even more violently inclined as the Fuhrer's day of summoning drew closer and closer, as Faris observed when Vergo polished his automail so violently and vigorously that he defeated the purpose of polishing and scratched it. When questioned, he would huffily reply, "Nothing's wrong, just drop it." And she would. For another three hours, which seemed to be the intervals in which he was violently inclined.

Outside of the castle everything seemed to be normal as usual: people were shopping, playing, lounging, laughing, having a good time, working... the usual. But inside the castle things were very different. There seemed to be a constant hushed silence, a flurry of disquieting murmurs surrounding the stand-in King, Ren Rivant, after the disappearance of Rohan Rivant. Faris was also nervous, one brother had seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth while the other had changed completely, it just wasn't natural.

And she didn't like it, didn't like those strange, alien, cold looks that she got from Ren, her dear older brother Ren who had been the favorite of the four-Rohan the eldest, Ren the middle, Baldor the youngest, and Duran who was younger than herself- the Ren who used to play with her and carry her around when she was little.

He had changed overnight and the change was not a good one.