- | IL 47 | The Flowers of Middenhiem - Prelude | 08/03/11 | -

Darkness had descended upon Central city on a late summers night. The street lamps were fully lit, casting warm shadows on the stone grey pavements where the last of the late night revellers were staggering merrily home. Their merriment seeping into the surroundings, as does a fine wine into an oak barrel.
There was, however, one man who didn't fit into this mood, this feeling of joviality. A lone hawk in the presence of sparrows, carefully scrutinising both his surroundings and those he could observe. His clothing was simple, but contrasting. A stiff, high collared, black trench coat stood out from his pristine white gloves and mask. Under his coat was a set of form fitting garments in addition to what looked like a small grappling hook and a concealed set of throwing knives.
This was not the kind of man you would willingly try and converse with, there was just something unnerving about him that made people want to avoid him. Not one of the people walking on the street heard his footsteps, nor did they see him walking calmly down the boulevard. No one noticed him knock on the front door of one of the mansions adorning the road and being invited in.

The masked man entered the grand entrance room of the mansion, chaperoned by a balding, middle-aged military officer. Richly decorated furnishings surround the two, with a wine red carpet cushioning their feet and the gold leaf on the murals adorning the walls. The masked man looked around in curiosity. "Good evening Marcus", spoke the officer," We've been expecting you". The two walked past the sweeping staircases into the heart of the building and through a set of doors into a large hallway, adorned with exquisite paintings of Amestrian landscapes. They continued walking for a while until the balding officer looked thoughtful, stopping close to the end of the hall. "Wasn't Maria supposed to be with you?". The masked man halted next to the officer, slowly turning his face towards him."I killed her" spoke a soft voice. Sweat began to appear on the officers face,"What do you mean you killed her, she was a highly important.."
"What she was, Brigadier General, was an informant. It was in the best interests of the society"
The masked man continued walking, leaving the officer trembling slightly behind him.
"They're waiting for you Marcus, I'll be back to see you out".The officer turned back down the hallway and walked away. A shame, thought the masked man, the two had been close but protocol was protocol. He'd just have to get over it.

As the masked man walked towards the end of the hallway, the doors in front of him opened to reveal a large circular room with several individuals standing around at the edges. All along the walls family portraits stared accusingly at the man standing in the centre of the room standing on a polished marble pedestal. The man was in his late 60's in full ceremonial attire complete with rapier and livery.A booming voice emanated from the frail looking speaker,
"It appears that Marcus has appeared before us this night. Please take your position so that we can begin".The masked man walked around the edge of the room, closely observing its' inhabitants There were, to be expected, several scientists and alchemists in the room as well as the military personnel. Nothing that he hadn't noticed before. The masked man finally stopped just opposite the doors, standing perfectly still. There remained silence in the room until the doors swung shut and the central speaker began to speak.
"Gentlemen, Ladies, we have gathered here at this hour to celebrate what we have achieved.
Your efforts and long hours of work have finally come to fruition and have culminated in our greatest achievement. Tonight we celebrate the success of these efforts, to celebrate the transcendence of us mere mortals into something more. Just as the mythical king Xerxes ruled from his golden throne so too shall we rule this glorious land of Amestris, not as mere mortals, but as Gods..."

to be continued...