Yay! I updated sooner! Sorry for the wait. Finals week was murder and then I was hanging out with family during break so I didn't have the opportunity to write a lot. Thank you to all the people who reviewed my last chapter, and I'll hope you'll all stay with me! I live off reviews so if you review, I'll do my best to update sooner. Again, the underlined stuff is said in Drachman. I hope you all like the newest chapter, and I look forward to posting the next one. So here's chapter 7! ;)
Roy Mustang sat at his desk in Central and sighed. It had been an interesting week with Charity and the Elrics staying with him and his family. The mansion had been a lot rowdier with the number of kids running around, but he was glad that Rebecca had been able to play with Yue again. For the most part, everything had gone smoothly. There had been a few slips on Charity's part about where she was from, but he figured she'd get the hang of it. She was a smart kid and she fit in well with the rest of them. She wouldn't have any trouble.
After seeing them all off at the train station that morning, he'd returned to his normal schedule. Unfortunately for him, he'd put off his paperwork under the guise of enjoying a mini "family" reunion, and now it was piled up on his desk so high he couldn't see over the edge.
"Riza, remind me why I wanted to be Fuhrer again. I can't see the reason beyond all this paperwork."
"You wanted to change the dynamic of this country into a democracy to prevent the corruption of the military from destroying the lives of the citizens, Sir."
"That's right…" He laughed as he signed a document from the Parliament and put it in the "done" pile.
"You shouldn't have put this off over the week. Then it wouldn't be this bad." Riza scolded. "Now you'll be up late working on this for the next few days."
"Yeah, but you have to admit you wanted to spend time with them too. They don't come up to Central very often anymore. It makes me feel old to see the squirt with a family of his own."
Riza smiled as she looked over the papers on her clipboard. "I'm glad to see they're doing well. It's always fun to watch kids grow into adults. They haven't really changed much though. Now, no more talking, you need to focus. Those papers won't sign themselves. It was a good attempt at a distraction though."
"This is why you're my personal assistant." He laughed.
Just then, a knock at the door sounded and Luna, the secretary, poked her head in. "Fuhrer Mustang, there's a call for you on line one. It's urgent the caller says."
"Who is it?" He asked as he reached for the phone sitting on his desk.
Mustang and Riza exchanged glances as Luna left the room.
"What do you suppose…? There's no way they're in Resembool yet." Riza said with a worried expression.
"I'll put it on speaker." Mustang said as he picked up the phone and set it on the desk after pushing the speaker button. "Winry? What's going on? Where are you?"
"Mustang! Oh thank goodness I got through before the rush! The train was attacked by some men from Drachma and they kidnapped Charity. Ed, Al, Mae, and Joshua went after them after they got the train to stop, but not before they told me what happened. I don't know where any of them are!" She sounded hysterical despite her attempts to keep her voice steady. "I got off first station I could to call you so I have no idea where I am right now. I have Sara and Yue with me and…!"
"Winry, you need to calm down. Check the signs around the station. They should have the name of the town you're in. We need a location to send a search party." Riza said in a calming voice despite the deep scowl on her face.
"Ummm…. Parlin. We're in Parlin. It happened in the forest stretch between Central and Parlin."
"Can you tell us exactly what happened?" Riza said again.
"Sara… what…?" They heard a rustling noise over the phone.
"I can take care of this part mom, I was there for part of it. You need to sit down you don't look so good. Mr. Mustang? You're still there, right?"
"Sara, tell us what happened." Mustang said.
"Charity and I were heading to the bathroom and we met this guy in the cart. He said his name was Viktor, and he had a Drachman accent, but I didn't think much of it because he seemed nice and it's not like immigrants from Drachma don't exist. We talked for a bit and then, when Charity and I were leaving, he hit me on the head pretty hard and knocked me out. Then, we figure he grabbed Charity and made his way to the back car with all his terrorist buddies. They were all armed and took the whole dining car hostage before blowing off the storage car and escaping into the woods. As far as I know, nobody was seriously hurt.
"The explosion brought Dad, Uncle Al, Aunt Mae and Josh up and they got the story from the people in the dining car. Mom came up after that and they told her and me what happened. Then, they talked to some people before they finally convinced the engineers to stop the train, and, after that, they all took off after the Drachmans to get Charity back. I wanted to go with them, but apparently a head injury was enough for Dad to say 'no'. Damn hypocrite. Josh got to go. Mom stayed back to take care of Yue and I, and to get you the message. So yeah… that's the situation." Sara said with a shaky voice.
Mustang and Riza were silent. Neither knew what to say. This day had suddenly gotten a lot more interesting.
"Hello?" Sara said.
"Sorry, are you sure nobody was seriously injured?" Mustang asked.
"Yeah, the worst of the injuries were taken care of by Aunt Mae before she left. A few people were shot, and I had a concussion, but everyone's fine for the most part now I think."
"Thank you for telling us. You need to get on the next train heading out to Resembool and stay there. We'll send out the military to track everyone down. Can we talk to your mom again?" Riza said.
"Yeah…Mom, it's for you."
"Roy, Riza?" Winry said after her daughter handed her the phone.
"Winry, take Sara and Yue home. We'll get this sorted out and keep you updated, okay? Everything will be fine." Riza said.
"Alright." Winry took a deep breath over the phone before she continued. "Please be careful, I have a bad feeling about all of this."
"You be careful too. Bye." Mustang said.
"Bye." The phone went silent, but another knock on the door interrupted the already tense atmosphere.
"What?!" Mustang shouted before he could help himself.
"Sir," Luna came in with a panicked expression. Shouting could be heard in the hallway behind her. "Reports are coming in about a Drachman attack on an eastbound train! The phone lines are swamped with calls."
"Yes, I already know all the details. Thank you Luna, you handle them. I don't want to be disturbed for a few minutes."
"Okay" she said before she ran out of the room.
"Dammit! How the hell did they get wind of this?" Mustang said as he banged his fist on the table, causing a few paper piles to fall to the floor. He pinched the bridge of his nose in an attempt to calm himself.
"Maybe they did it because they believed she's related to us…" Riza said with a doubtful expression. "I don't like to think that a spy got the information about Charity to Drachma, but that seems the more likely reason. You do know what this means though?"
"Yes. Whatever their reason for taking her, once word gets out that they were from Drachma, the people are going to be in a state of panic. This is bad. A Drachman attack on Amestrian soil? Such a thing is unheard of. On top of that, the citizens will think that someone related to us was taken hostage! Whether it was an independent group of people or the Drachman military, the people are going to see it as an act of war. Dammit! A war with Drachma is not what we need right now!"
Riza bit her lip and looked down at Mustang. "Roy, what do you propose we do right now? We'll just have to take this one step at a time, starting with Charity being kidnapped."
Roy took a deep breath to calm himself before he stood from his desk and straightened his uniform. After his outburst earlier, he needed to collect his thoughts. He needed to keep a calm front for the people regardless of his personal feelings. He was their leader, and they were all going to be looking to him. "Simple, we start by sending out a search party to track down these terrorists and assist the Elrics. We'll send reinforcements to the border at the same time…" He said as he walked out of the office into the hallway filled with people trying to organize themselves with the rush of information that was pouring in. "Luna!"
"Yes Sir!" Luna stood from her desk and saluted.
"Connect me with Brigadier General Armstrong in Fort Briggs. Riza, I need you to organize the search party. Havoc!"
"Yes Sir!" the women said as they jumped into their given tasks.
"Yes Sir?" Havoc asked as he walked up to Mustang.
"I'm putting you on the search party. I need someone looking for Charity that I know I can trust, and you know the situation. Tell Riza to make you leader."
"Yes Sir!" Havoc grinned and saluted before he ran to catch up with Riza's retreating figure.
"Fuhrer, there are news reporters requesting a statement. How do you want to respond?"
"Tell them I will be with them after I contact Fort Briggs. Let them know that we are handling things accordingly and that the people are not in any immediate danger."
"Sir, Brigadier General Armstrong is on the line." Luna said as she held out the phone.
"Excellent." Mustang said as he put the phone up to his ear to talk. "Brigadier General Armstrong? This is Fuhrer Roy Mustang…."
When Captain Slovik said we wouldn't stop until noon he wasn't kidding. I glance at the sky to see the sun slowly make its way across the blue expanse. I can't even tell there was a storm last night. The heat from the sun has already dried up most of the water left by the rain, and my clothes are no exception thank goodness.
It was miserable the first few hours of travel as it drizzled. I was cold and wet, and being carried like a sack of potatoes had left an awful rash where my wet clothes rubbed against my skin. I did take some comfort knowing that Viktor was experiencing the same problem on his shoulder though. He had switched shoulders a few times to minimize the discomfort, but I could see it in his face. Bastard deserved whatever came to him.
According to Yuri most of the storm had actually occurred while I was unconscious so I missed it. He told me that was why they had made up a camp in the first place. I had already figured that it had rained because of the wet earth smell, but, in all the excitement after I had woken up, I hadn't noticed I was a little bit damp. I hadn't been soaked though so apparently someone had taken it upon themselves to keep me somewhat dry for the worst of it. I'll admit I was grateful for that (otherwise I would have been even more miserable), but that didn't make me like these people. They were still bad guys.
Despite the thoughtful gesture or whatever it was, I guess that thought didn't apply to a drizzle since nobody bothered to give me a poncho or something then. To be fair though, none of them wore any rain gear so it wasn't like I was being deprived. These people just have a screwed up perception of decent and awful weather. Drachman weather must really suck. I think as I sigh and bring my hands up to support my chin, my elbows propped up on Viktor's back. They have really bad weather perception and impressive tenacity.
We've been traveling quite a few hours now, and none of these guys are showing any signs of exhaustion. It's incredible. I've run over the numbers in my head a bit and I would estimate we left that make shift camp around seven hours ago, and these guys are still marching at the same pace we started, even Viktor who's been carrying me this whole time! I'm not heavy, but I'm seriously starting to wonder what kind of steroids these guys take. Or maybe Drachma is just a country of seriously buff Energizer bunnies. I give as an afterthought.
I go back to my time estimates. Hopefully I can estimate how far we've traveled if I keep track of our speed and our time. It's about ten in the morning right now, but I'm not sure since my watch was taken away from me. That means that we left camp around three in the morning. I was kidnapped around four in the afternoon so I have about eleven blank hours. Not a good sign. I frown at a tree as we pass it. I don't know how long we were stopped at that camp, but either way, that's a long gap for me. I don't like not knowing how far I was from the tracks when I woke up. They probably kept me out that long for that reason though. Even if these guys underestimate me a bit, they don't take any chances in making sure I have no bearings in these woods. It's extremely aggravating.
I stare at the ground with an absent expression. There are footprints being left behind because of the mud, but that doesn't make me feel any better. I know that Leonid is trailing the group covering up tracks. Viktor's the best, but I guess Leonid isn't far behind him in skill. The odds are really stacked against me. I purse my lips at the thought. Just when I think that I'm in a good position to find my dad and get out of this screwy dimension some bastards pull the rug out from under me. Should have figured something like this would happen. The Truth never said this would be easy. Actually, she probably hinted at the opposite somehow, I just missed that part.
All of these things are bothering me, but they aren't my most pressing issue. I remove my hands from my face and examine my handcuffs. While we've been traveling, I've been thinking about my crazy idea that I can feel my shadow. This weird feeling has been happening on occasion ever since I got here, but I haven't really dwelled on it too much. With the stress of playing a role, getting accustomed to things in Amestris, and recovering in the hospital I've been pretty occupied. Not to mention that awful meeting with The Truth when I first got here. Needless to say, I haven't really had the down time to think about crazy impressions. However, after that bizarre experience back at the camp, this matter has been pressed to the front of my mind.
I know for a fact that something happened there when I actually reached out to the feeling. More like the feeling forced itself on me, but still. I've never felt more aware of my surroundings or more… powerful? Maybe that's the right word despite my reservations in using it. However, that feeling only lasted a second before that awful pain was everywhere. I shiver at the memory. I never want to experience that again.
Now that I'm actually putting thought into this whole thing, I realize that I've actually felt this before. Not the pain, but the bizarre energy boost. I vaguely recall something occurring in the hospital that sparked it, but most of the memory is fuzzy and distant. I remember meeting the Elric brothers and then…nothing until I woke up tied down to my hospital bed. At the time I just figured I'd passed out, but everyone said that I'd had a panic attack. Looking back, I'm pretty sure that wasn't quite what happened. Despite the similar feelings, I'm pretty sure that I would have remembered the pain since that's what I remember most from the incident back at camp. So that means the pain is new.
I let out a sigh of frustration and glare at the cuffs. I'm pretty sure that these are the culprits behind the pain. Call it a crazy person's intuition. Of course, that's not the only reason I'm blaming the cuffs, I have other reasons too. Reason two; they got hot when that whole escapade at camp happened. Reason three; ever since they've been on, I haven't been able to see any alchemy doors. Reason four; they just give me this really sick feeling every time I look at them. Reason five; even as I'm listing my other reasons I don't trust them, I can hear the pained voices in my head rising in volume.
I tear my gaze away from the handcuffs and picture my family to distract myself. My head is pounding, but the voices fade away to a dull whisper. Yep, those definitely need to go as soon as possible. I glance at the cuffs again. I'm pretty sure that, although I've never seen one before, the stones imbedded in the metal are philosopher's stones. I would have guessed human souls would be blue, but red works too I guess. I wonder how many people died to make these awful things? A flash of anger runs through my system at whatever sick bastard made them.
"They need to be punished."
I reel back in shock as that sentence echoes in my head. It didn't sound like The Truth. Actually, it sounded a bit like me, but I have no idea where the thought came from. I cover my eyes with my hands and take a deep breath. That shadow feeling is back, and I can feel the metal around my wrists heat up almost in warning.
"There are other side-effects too, but you haven't noticed most of them." The Truth said that when I was trapped in the philosopher's stone vortex of pain. Dammit. Something tells me I'm not going to like those side-effects.
Damn Truth speaking in damn riddles won't give me a damn straight answer! I swear. Once I find my family, I am leaving this place and never coming back. I want nothing do to with The Truth and this crazy dimension again. Yes, I've met some good people here, but this whole thing is completely out of my comfort zone.
I'm brought out of my pity party by Viktor, who roughly switches me onto his other shoulder. I wince and bite back a hiss as my bruised ribs protest the sudden motion. Yeah, getting carried by a hulking lout through the forest is definitely out of my comfort zone. I snidely comment to myself. Suddenly, an idea pops into my head and I grin. Well, there's no reason I should be the only miserable one here, so I decide to break the silence between us with one of the worst questions known to traveling people.
"Are we there yet?" I whine as I do my best pouty face. I know he can't see it, but it helps me get into character. Whiney baby, I can do that.
Viktor doesn't respond and just keeps walking. I frown and his obvious attempt to ignore me. Trust me buddy, I'm just as unhappy with our current situation.
"Seriously Viktor, are we there yet? I'm hungry and all wet and I think I have a sore on my stomach from being carried. When are we going to stop?" I whine again with more insistence. All of this is true, but I don't really care about it that much. I just want to annoy him.
He just grunts and adjusts me a bit so I'm even more uncomfortable. Bastard.
"Hey, don't do that! I have a bruise `there from when Irina made me fall down. It hurts." I pretend to sniffle a bit. Why did I never take a theatre class?
He just keeps walking in silence, completely unaffected by my words. This annoys me, and my already low tolerance of this guy sets me over the edge.
"Dammit! I don't care if you hate me and think I'm a waste of time; I won't be ignored by stupid bastards like you! If you think you can just brush me off then you've got another thing coming!" I snarl as I swing my bound hands into the back of his head. It's an awkward hit, but its revenge for Sara.
This catches his attention as he stumbles forward a bit and drops me as he tries to catch himself. I land on my butt in the foliage and feel relief at my soft landing. Thank goodness I won't be adding another bruise to my collection.
"Are you sure you're a Hunter or whatever? You're pretty clumsy if you dropped your live target."
"Shut up! Stop talking to me! I don't want to listen to you!" He snaps as he walks up to me to lift me back up on his shoulders. I don't waste any time and aim a kick at his knees. My legs may be tied, but that doesn't mean they're totally useless. He backs up before I make contact unfortunately. Maybe I should bait him more so he gets closer…
"Clearly whoever taught you skimped a bit on your education. Maybe you should go back to mountain man school and learn how to do your job properly. That's assuming the Amestris military doesn't find us and kick your sorry ass. Your parents would be so proud." I yell at him.
I seem to have hit a nerve because his glare becomes a full out snarl and his face is turning a nasty shade of red. Maybe this was a bad idea…
"How dare you say that! You have no clue what you're talking about! You can insult me all you like, but NEVER insult Yuri! You're just a soft, weak Amestrian with no idea how unforgiving the real world is! You're high society so you've been raised first class your whole life, and you have no idea how hard life can get. I don't want to hear any more from you!" He shouts.
This guy is seriously blowing a gasket. I wonder what it was I said? As he glares down at me with his intense blue eyes, I feel myself shift uncomfortably. I glance down to avoid his gaze and my eyes widen. His hands are shaking, but he's gipping a rather large knife in each one. When did he pull those out?! He wouldn't…right?
"Viktor!" an angry shout draws both of our attention from each other as Yuri appears in-between us. The old man slaps Viktor in the face harshly. "Put that away! We NEVER raise our weapons out of anger! You know better than that!"
"It doesn't matter what she said!"
Viktor clenches his fists and closes his eyes. He has an angry red mark on one cheek that must be stinging. He takes a few deep breaths before he opens them again. He still looks pissed, but he doesn't say anything.
Yuri turns to me, but, since I'm staring at Viktor in shock, I don't notice until I feel a slap across my own cheek. Stars explode behind my eyes and my cheek stings. When my vision clears a second later I look at Yuri with wide eyes. He's frowning at me, but he doesn't look angry. It's more of a disappointed frown.
"Miss Charity, we don't want to make this difficult, but if you don't stay in line it will be. You're our prisoner now, and, as long as that is true, you will show respect. What you're doing needs to stop now. Provoking people like you have been isn't a good idea."
No kidding. They pull knives on you! I don't respond with anything more than a nod as I look down at my feet so they don't see the tears stinging my eyes. There's a really strained silence between all of us. I bite my lip and close my eyes to concentrate. Apparently my emotional state is effecting my ability to shut out the voices because they're really loud, and my vision is blurring. Damn handcuffs.
Yuri sighs, breaking the tense atmosphere, and says, "Viktor, go help Leo backtrack. I'll keep an eye on her for a while."
"Yes sir." Viktor says as he turns and walks away.
Once the trees hide the younger man from view, Yuri squats down on the ground and reaches for my ankles. I watch in shock as he unties the knots around them with practiced hands.
"What are you doing?" I ask while looking at him cautiously.
"I'm letting you walk. I'm old and I don't feel like carrying you around on this back of mine so you're going to walk in front of me." He smiles as he removes the ropes and glances up at me.
I narrow my eyes. I'm pretty sure there's nothing wrong with his back, but I don't know why he would lie about that. He stands up and offers me his hand which I take and he lifts me to my feet. I wince as the blood flows back into my legs.
"Of course, don't get any ideas. If you try to bolt, you won't get far." He says as he gives me a serious look.
I don't doubt it. I think wryly, but I don't say anything to him. He gestures with his hand towards the rest of the group who are getting pretty far ahead, and I start walking. He falls into step behind me which makes me nervous. I don't like not being able to see him.
The next few hours pass in a blur. I'm exhausted by the pace they move, and, conveniently enough, the hike is uphill most of the way. With the sun getting higher in the sky, the summer heat becomes stifling, and Yuri offers me a water bottle which I take without question. By the time we get to a clearing to stop for lunch I'm ready to collapse. I know it's pathetic, but I've never really been hiking since I was a kid. Once dad disappeared… mom and I just never did that stuff.
I sit as far from the other people as I can and take off my shoes. My feet are starting to develop blisters but I'm not surprised by this. When I left my room the night I got here, I hadn't been wearing shoes so the ones I currently have are brand new. At least I had the sense to get sturdy shoes when Riza and Winry took me shopping and not sandals.
"That doesn't look too good." Yuri is looking at me with a sandwich in either hand.
I look away and try to put my socks back on. I don't want his pity.
"Irina!" He calls over his shoulder.
"What!" She calls back from the group of people sitting a few feet away.
"Bring your first aid kit over here would you?"
"Girly needs it?" She asks.
"Yeah." Yuri responds as he glances at me. "Don't put your socks back on, those need to be taken care of before they get worse." He orders me. I just glare at him as he hands me one of the sandwiches. "Eat this, courtesy of Boris. He's quite the talented house wife. He can make these while we're on the trail." Yuri says with a twinkle in his eye.
"Her ya go Yuri." Irina is standing next to him holding a first aid kit in her outstretched arms. He took it and opened it up before bending over me and grabbing one of my feet.
"I don't know if you know how to do this, but I'm going to make sure it gets done right." He says as he takes out some moleskin. I'm silently grateful for this since I don't know how to take care of blisters. I've never had them before. I studiously look away and take a bite of my sandwich.
"So Blondie," Irina's still here and she draws my attention. "How'd you manage to piss Viktor off? He's gotta be one of the most docile guys I've ever met." She laughs as her hands go to her hips where her whip is hanging. I eye it nervously as she continues to speak. "First you break Robert's nose and give my poor Leo a nasty bruise, and then you piss Viktor off while giving him a good smack to the head! If you weren't a prisoner, I'd take you as an apprentice Amestrian or not!" She grins down at me.
I shift uncomfortably and, without saying anything, look at my right foot which has already been treated. I reach for my shoes, but Irina's hand grabs mine and she shakes her head as she extends a clean pair of socks towards me.
"Don't be putting on those old socks Blondie. You'll get more blisters. It's important to keep dry socks when hiking. Here's an extra pair I keep in my kit so wear them." She says it like an order.
I feel the heat rising to my face as I hide my eyes behind my bangs. These people are taking care of me despite them being enemies… Yeah, it's part of their job to get me to Drachma in one piece, but it still freaks me out. I'll be honest and say I'd almost prefer cruelty. It would make me feel less guilty for getting these people turned in to the military.
I take the socks from her hand and put my shoes back on since Yuri has finished both feet now. So… should I say thank you or something? While I'm debating this, I hear a rustle to my left, and Viktor and Leonid come out of the bushes. I glare at Viktor and he glares back. No, saying thank you would give these people the wrong impression. I decide as I watch the two men dust themselves off.
"Leo!" Irina says, and she dances (yes dances) off to wrap her arms around his neck and give him a kiss. "Here's your sandwich." She says as she pulls away, handing him the food. He just grins at her and steals another kiss, this one a lot more… French I guess.
I wonder what it's called in a world without France? I look away from the happy couple and study my new socks. I feel like I'm intruding…
"Viktor, how do things look back there?" Captain Makar walks up to Viktor casually.
"Fine. We didn't see any signs of pursuit, and, as far as I can tell, we're pretty alone out here." Viktor says before taking a bite out of a sandwich Yuri handed him.
"Excellent! We'll just let you guys rest up a bit before moving on. I'd still like you to backtrack for a few more days. Just to play it safe. We snatched the kid right under the nose of the Fullmetal Alchemist and his brother the Eastern Alchemist, and I'd be damned if we got caught by them. So we're changing course and going west a bit before we start to head north." He grins and, taking a deep breath, returns to the others gathered in the middle of the clearing.
I frown and watch him leave. I've heard those titles before, but I'm not entirely sure what they mean. Something to do with being government employees or something along those lines. All I really know for sure is that whenever Mustang called Edward "Fullmetal", he'd vehemently deny all claims to the title and insist he was retired while simultaneously raising a fist and attempting to keep his eye from twitching. I'm pretty sure Mustang did it to goad him, and I honestly can't blame the Fuhrer, it was funny.
"Viktor, we should head out soon. You can eat your sandwich on the way" Leonid says as he glances up from Irina. His hair is disheveled which ruins the sense of purpose he tries to speak with.
Viktor just nods silently and leans against a tree to wait for us to leave. He takes out a knife from nowhere and starts to whittle a stick with a bored expression.
"You ready to leave Miss Charity?" Yuri says and I jump at the interruption.
I look at Yuri, furious with myself for getting caught watching Viktor, and silently nod my head. I ignore his offered hand and get to my feet before stalking off after the other men who have already started walking.
"See you at the campsite Blondie." Irina says as she walks past me to get to the front where I presume she'll be scouting ahead.
This is going to be a long day.
"They were here just last night." Mae said as she bent over to inspect the ground.
"How can you be sure?" Al said as he leaned over his wife to look at the dirt she was rubbing between her fingers.
Mae grinned. "Whoever's hiding the trail is pretty good, but there was definitely a campfire here. I'd guess about ten hours ago. It's noon now so that means they were here around two in the morning."
"You never cease to amaze me." Al said as he grinned. Mae smiled back as she stood up.
"We're just lucky the trail didn't wash away in that storm." Ed said as he crossed his arms in front of his chest and leaned against a tree.
"Aunt Mae's awesome like that Dad." Josh said with a grin.
Mae shook her head. "We did lose the trail, I didn't follow that here." She said.
"What do you mean?" Josh asked as his eyes widened in surprise.
"Yeah, what do you mean Mae?" Al said with curiosity.
"Last night, I felt a surge of alchemical energy around this area after the storm only fainter so I followed it and it led us here. It reminded me of…" She broke off and shook her head, frowning as she did.
"What did it remind you of?" Ed asked.
"It was a bit like what I felt when Char… when that explosion happened a few weeks ago. But, at the same time, it wasn't. It also felt a bit… off. Like how Amestris was back in the day…" Mae looked frustrated as she tried to convey her message. She glanced at Josh a few times while she did.
"I didn't sense anything." Al said sounding a bit disappointed.
"You were never able to completely master chi sensing so that's probably why." Mae said as she patted her husband's arm comfortingly.
"I see. We'll talk more in private when we get the chance. Lead on Mae." Ed said as he pushed himself off the tree and started moving forward.
"Of course. It's this way." Mae said as she turned and took off to the north.
Joshua frowned as he followed his family through the underbrush. What had Aunt Mae been about to say? I'm positive everyone's hiding something, but I can't figure it out. I'll have to ask once we get Charity back. He looked ahead with determination. Those Drachmans won't know what hit 'em so stay safe Charity. We still need to have a rematch.