The heat bore down on her like a hunter to its prey; a light brown knee length cloak with a hood was the only thing preventing her from getting sunburned. She walked rather fast through the vast sandy desert – which the people from the country she was traveling from, Xing, call The Great Desert. The hood on her cloak was up, preventing the sun from hitting her face. Her purple legging and purple sandals were the only things showing due to the cloak she was wearing.

She had been traveling in The Great Desert for what seemed like days now but, in truth, it had only been one day since she left Xing. She was actually making good time; she was traveling to the country of Amestris to find out whom she really was and, even though she left only a day ago, she about a days' journey left. The Cselkcess ruins would be coming up shortly, there she would rest for the remainder of the day and to dawn of the next day.

A blast of hot air came from the west, the direction she was heading, and blew the hood off of her head. She put up her arms to defend her eyes from the sand that followed the blast air as she stopped to wait for the gust to pass. Her long black hair that was bound in a single ponytail on the top of her head blew around her head swiftly and violently as the gust passed by with sand following it quickly.

When the sand finally passed her by, she brought her arms down from her face, relieving a young girl with a perfectly rounded face and blue eyes that sparkled in the desert sun. Her name was Shinobu, a young girl who couldn't have been more than twenty years old. The Emperor of Xing gave her the name Shinobu when she turned up on the outside of the western border and he made her his adopted daughter. She technically was a princess of Xing but recently her "father" has become stricken with illness and told her to return to the place where she most likely came from; Amestris. Of course, Shinobu had no memories of before she came to Xing, but she did as her "father" said anyway.

Shinobu became angry all of a sudden and kicked a nearby rock with her toe, wearing sandals as she was, it hurt. "Damn desert! When am I going to get to the Cselkcess ruins?!" Shinobu cursed at the sand, holding her toe where she kicked the rock.

Shinobu's head shot up, someone was nearby. She looked around her only to find a little boy walking toward her. She walked over to the boy, he must've heard her just a second ago. People in Xing probably heard her!

The boy looked up at her kindly, he didn't look like someone from Xing, he must've been from Amestris. "Hey miss, I couldn't help but hear you say something about the Cselkcess ruins."

"Yeah, I might've said something about that." Shinobu laughed, her toe still pounding from where she kicked the rock.

The boy smiled at Shinobu and turned from her. "I know the way, follow me." The boy ran off to the west.

Shinobu followed him, running not too far behind, but not too close so as to make sure she didn't get ahead of her guide.

Then, not too much longer later, the Cselkcess ruins came into view. Shinobu smiled in relief; the boy had a lot of energy in him, he ran all the way up to the ruins. Shinobu, being a bit older, didn't have as much energy as the boy so she was gasping for breath as she reached the ruins.

Shinobu looked around the ruins in awe. Half of a circle for the purification arts was on a far wall, broken tiers lay strewn around the area, some still barely standing. A fountain full of cool water was in the middle of the ruins. Shinobu ran over to the fountain with her remaining energy and dunked her head into it, suddenly feeling a lot better.

Someone pulled out her head from the fountain; it was an elderly man that didn't look like someone you messed with.

Shinobu smiled a little at the old man. "I'm sorry, did I do something wrong?"

The old man sighed. "Slightly. That's for drinking only, not baths."

Shinobu laughed and shook her head, water flying in all directions from her water drenched head. "Sorry, I'm from Xing, traveling to Amestris."

"From Xing to Amestris, eh?" The old man asked, sitting down a tier that had fallen down long ago.

Shinobu sat down on the edge of the fountain and nodded. "Yes, I'm going to rest here for tonight then continue the last stretch first thing in the morning." Shinobu looked up at the circle of the purification arts. "I should be in Amestris by noon tomorrow if I'm lucky."

"That's good." The old man looked up at the circle too. "Do you know anything of Alchemy?"

Shinobu looked at the old man then at the ground. "N…No, I'm afraid I know nothing of this 'Alchemy' you speak of."

The old man hit himself on the head with the heel of his hand. "Oh, in Xing they it Rendanshu. Do you know anything of Rendanshu?"

Shinobu looked up at the old man. "Very little." Shinobu paused a second. "Is there anywhere I can rest?"

"Ah, yes. How rude of me!" The old man stood up and led Shinobu to a small tent area.

People were busy running from place to place, everyone with heavy blankets in their hands.

A woman about Shinobu's age handed her two heavy blankets then moved on. Shinobu could hold onto them no problem but didn't understand the purpose of the blankets.

The old man opened up a small tent made for one person temporarily. "Here's where you're staying for tonight."

Shinobu ducked into the tent and spread out the blankets for something soft to sit on. "Thanks."

"I get up at the crack of dawn so I'll show you the way out so you can go to Amestris tomorrow." The old man said, shutting the flap of the tent.

Once the old man was gone, Shinobu took off the light brown cloak and relieved that she was wearing a short red robe that went a little above her knees, purple gloves and a purple silk belt going around her waist, tied in the back in a small bow. Her purple leggings were still in one piece, surprisingly enough.

Shinobu looked at the small bump on her toe from the rock; it didn't bleed at all, it was just really red and hurt like hell. Shinobu sighed, she wasn't too happy with the pain or the rude welcoming the old man had given her by pulling her head out of the fountain just when she became cooled off.

"Ladies, bath time!" Someone outside shouted.

Shinobu peaked outside of her tent and saw about a handful of women passing her as they carried towels, washcloths, shampoo, and soap. She crawled out of her tent and followed the other women to a small, clear, pond area. The bathing area.

Shinobu stank and felt really dirty because of being a day in the desert without a bath since before she left Xing. She got undressed along with the other women and got into the pond. Shinobu still had her hair up in a ponytail, just sitting there with the water up to the her nose.

There was a young girl of maybe about six or seven next to her, washing her hair. She noticed Shinobu just sitting there. "Do you want some shampoo?" The girl asked, rinsing her hair out.

Shinobu shook her head. "I'm fine."

"Ok, if you're sure." The girl said, turning away from Shinobu.

A woman a little older than Shinobu swam over to where she was sitting with about two other women.

She sat down on the rock shelf that Shinobu was sitting on. "Hello, you're a new face." She didn't have an accent like people from Xing and she also didn't look like someone from Xing, unlike her friends.

Shinobu brought the bottom half of her face that had been hidden up from under the water. "Traveling from Xing to Amestris."

"Really?" The woman seemed interested. "Well, that's not too far from here."

Shinobu nodded. "No, it's not."

The woman put one arm around Shinobu's shoulders. "Well then, dear, enjoy your stay." The woman smiled a little. "But we must do the traditional welcoming for women, just as men have their own thing, we have our own."

Shinobu was trying hard not to keep from blushing, it was strange to have some random woman putting her arm around Shinobu's shoulders. "Which…is?"

The woman laughed. "You get one guess…"

Shinobu's face turned light red as she stepped out of the pond and quickly got dressed, walking fast back to her tent. Her hair was still wet and therefore got the back of her red robe wet. Shinobu's wet hair also got the blankets wet as she laid down.

The sun was setting now and Shinobu was tired, she closed her eyes and went to sleep.

A vast city lay before her, a large building with a green flag with some form of crest draped over this building that stood proudly in the very center of this city. Around it, small apartments and houses stood along side it, ranging in size.

People flooded the streets, going about their business like every other day. Small children played where there were no cars or adults. Women with babies in their arms talked with their friends happily about their new child. Men in uniforms walked around the city, some entered a gate to the building in the middle of the city, running quite fast. The few cars that past had the crest that the flag over the building had.

Shinobu walked through this city, taking care not to bump into anyone. She didn't notice when a small boy ran right through her, as if she wasn't even there.

Shinobu looked at all of the people she passed, looking at each of their faces carefully and hoping no one would notice her staring. None of the people she passed had a face like those in Xing had: they were the Amestrians.

Shinobu made her way slowly to the building in the middle of the city, she was curious as to why the building was gated off. Then, as if knowing what she was thinking, a man a little older than Shinobu with blonde hair and dirty blonde, spiky, bangs and an unlit cigarette hanging from his mouth, dressed in a dark blue uniform with some stars on the shoulders that showed rank, ran up to the gate.

He stopped and caught his breath a minute, taking the cigarette out of his mouth then putting it right back where it was. "Lt. Jean Havoc, let me in."

The guards at the gate opened it up and Shinobu followed him inside, the guards didn't even see her as she walked right past them and into the building behind Havoc.

Then a man wearing the same kind of uniform, except with more stars and a silver pocket-watch, a stern face, and black hair came stomping down a set of wide set stairs. "Havoc, you mind explaining why you're late again?!" The man shouted, he seemed pissed off.

Havoc sighed. "Sorry Colonel woke up late."

The Colonel glared at Havoc then walked back up the stairs with Havoc not far behind.

Shinobu took a step to follow the two men but the scene started to fade. A black and red liquid looking space filled the scene where the walls of the building had once been.

Then a snake came out from the black and red liquid and hissed at her, baring its fangs.

Shinobu shot up, covered in a cold sweat. She was shaking slightly but shook it off quickly and stood up, her clothes were dry enough.

Shinobu grabbed her cloak and walked out of the tent, the sun was rising. She walked over to the fountain area and found the old man sitting on the same tier as he was yesterday…drinking coffee?

The old man heard her approach and turned around to look her in the face. "Hello young one."

Shinobu sat down on the edge of the fountain again and yawned. "Morning."

"So, are you heading out?" The old man asked.

"Yeah. In a few minutes." Shinobu said. "As soon as you show me the way to Amestris."

The old man stood up. "Yes, I suppose that's true."

Shinobu stood up and put her cloak back on. "Thanks again."

The old man shrugged and walked toward the purification arts circle. Shinobu paused for a moment to look at the middle of the circle. In the middle was the same crest she saw on the building in her dream. Shinobu quickly walked on though, thinking about it.

The old man stopped in front of two tiers that were still standing side by side.

Shinobu stopped right in front of the old man.

"Just keep going west until you reach the mining town of Youswell, there you can catch a train to anywhere in Amestris." The old man said, handing Shinobu a slip of paper with city names on it.

Shinobu looked over the paper then back at the old man. "Is there a city in Amestris that has a large building with a green flag draped over it that has a white crest like the one in the middle of the purification circle here in the ruins?"

The old man walked over the circle then realized what she was talking about and walked back over. "Yes, Central."

"Central?" Shinobu confirmed.

The old man took the paper and circled the name "Central". "Central City, Amestris. The military of Amestris has their central HQ there."

Shinobu realized that mean that the two men that she had tried to follow were part of the Amestrian military. Shinobu took the paper and bowed in thanks, then ran off to finish the last stretch of her journey to Amestris.

Next Time;

Amestris – Youswell Mining Town:

Shinobu arrives in Youswell, Amestris and meets some people there who know a lot about the country and Central City.