The Vacuous Heart of Blood

Author: MoonStarDutchess

Prologue: The World As She Knows It

Disclaimer: Full Metal Alchemist and all its characters are the property of Hiromu Arakawa. No profit was made from this fanfiction. The only things that I do own are the OC's. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of original characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The author holds exclusive rights to the overall course of the plot. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.

Special Note: Not even a few decades ago, women were considered second-class citizens seen only fit to breed, take care of the house, and look nice for their husbands. I'm just stating the facts. It happened, is still happening in some places, and it's the way things are in this story. It's what Riza is fighting against. She fighting to be herself and for what she wants. It's not my intention at all to make men the villains in this and I will not do so. This isn't a tale about men vs. women. I just felt I needed to clear that up.

Prologue: The World As She Knows It

Riza Hawkeye despised customs more than anything else in existence, and that was especially true when they were forced upon someone. No living thing should be pressured into conforming to what everyone else wanted, no matter what the reasons were for doing so. Unfortunately, it was happening every single day of the year somewhere within her level of society. It was turning men and women into golems trapped in lives they didn't want and they were too jaded to realize it. It was ingrained in them from an early age to put their duty and status above what was in their hearts.

Her mother had won her father's heart because she wasn't one of those types of people. She didn't long for status and treated everyone the same regardless of rank or profession. Her mother raised her to be like that as well, her father having no argument and being the most loving man to his daughter that anyone had ever seen. Then all of that changed when her mother died and her father remarried.

Her stepmother had slowly turned her father into one of those golems that craved honor and status above all else. He lost any vestige of love anywhere within his body. Her father had become a puppet. The hugs or smiles of pride when she did something particularly extraordinary stopped. The daily walks with him or the horseback ride that they use to take every Sunday ceased. All she received from him after his second marriage were scoldings, looks of disappointment, and finally, sent off to boarding school to learn how to be a lady. The kind of lady that would do whatever her husband told her and to discount her own intellections, needs, and desires. Just like her stepsisters already had done.

Those girls were incredibly intelligent but it was never utilized. They were merely arm candy and baby machines for their "masculine" and "in charge" husbands. Oh, but they were successful because they were pretty, married, had three children each and were richer than god.

She would have related her tale to that of Cinderella except her father wasn't dead, she wasn't living with them any longer, and she most definitely didn't have a fairy godmother. She also didn't expect to find her prince charming around anywhere. She was 24 years old and in a twelvemonth, she would be deemed, by society standards, too old. No man would touch her because she was "too old" to bear children. Of course, bearing children and looking pretty were the only things that mattered and, coincidentally, those were two things she could never do.

When she'd returned from school and still hadn't conformed to what he and her stepmother wanted, she was sent to her present location, a country mansion overlooking the village of Advina in the Vinilla region of Amestris. Advina was both a village and a large expanse of land that her father owned and it was known all over the world for its exquisite wine and cheese. She was hoping he would give her the task of running it, having inherited a love of business from her mother, but no. He left that task up to Lord Frank Archer, a man that she knew her father wanted her to wed. The pressure she received from people to marry him, a man of great status, was growing heavier every single day. Yet, no matter how heavy it got, even if it broke her, she refused to budge on her refusal. Marrying that man was the most revolting thing she could think of.

She slowly stood from the wing-backed chair and adjusted her nightdress, straightening out the hems. She walked over to stand in front of the patio doors that led to her balcony, her eyes trying to see past the slightly fogged up glass. She rested her hands on the two golden door handles, twisted them, and then pushed the door open, the cool morning air greeting her with its icy chill. Small bumps appeared on her bare arms, and she shivered slightly as she walked out onto the balcony and into the misty morning.

It was when her feet stepped upon the cold marble floor that she realized she hadn't slipped on her shoes. The bottoms of her feet were probably red because of the frigid contact but she made no move to go back inside to retrieve any shoes. Riza smiled slightly. If her maid saw her out here like this, she would have a heart attack. Of course, it was too early for her maid to be up so no one would be privy to her "foolish" actions. Besides, to everyone else, her actions were always foolish and a fool couldn't increase in folly.

She walked over to the railing, leaned against it, and stared out at the brumous landscape before her. Despite not being able to see the village below or the forest or mountains with her eyes, she had their images in her head. If the fog weren't encasing them, the huge grey, natural castles, also known as mountains could be spotted in the far away distance, their peaks rising so high that the ends couldn't be seen thanks to the clouds. To their right and left would be the forests with their tall pine trees and thick redwoods ascending into the air, towering over every structure nearby except for the mountains themselves. On the left of the mountain, through the forest, there was a brown dirt road. Every time it rained, the road would turn into mud so thick nothing could make its way through it.

The village was closed off to much of the country, only getting a newspaper twice a week from the bigger cities, when shipping's of wine and cheeses were exported. Yet, sadly, it still kept the stiff, horrible attitude that the rest of Amestris possessed. Women were second-class citizens, never to be put above the men. She once joked that it was because men had an extra appendage where they kept another brain. Needless to say, the joke didn't go over very well and earned her looks of disgust from the other women.

She stood there and watched as the sun rose into the sky, mentally noting how beautiful it was and how she'd never get sick of seeing it. It slowly burned off the fog, revealing the land that looked more like a painting than something from reality. Those were advantages for a new day to come.

Unfortunately, like everything, there were disadvantages plastered right next to the advantages. The rising of the sun also meant a very unwelcome visitor would be coming to the mansion for breakfast. In addition, there would be a knock on the door to her room by her maid, Marianna.

Sure enough, she heard a horse neigh in the distance and looked past the gates to the yard. She saw Frank Archer riding toward the house on his horse. Then, as expected, there was a knock on her door.

Riza sighed. This was the world as she knew it and nothing would ever change.