|The Distant Image of Their Backs|
|Title||The Distant Image of Their Backs|
|Japan Release Date||April 12, 2005|
|U.S.A. Release Date||March 20, 2007|
|Preceded by||Chapter 45: Scar's Return|
|Followed by||Chapter 47: A Girl in the Grip of Battles Past and Present|
Van Hohenheim rides with several other people in a horse-drawn carriage headed out to the countryside. As he admires the family photo he had taken from Pinako's house, a curious passenger asks him about it and he explains that he had returned home after a long time away only to have an argument with his eldest son, but is confident that they will meet again soon, as they are both alchemists. Suddenly, the carriage is overtaken by a group of bandits, who shoot the driver after he fires a warning flare. When one of the bandits opens the back of the carriage to find all the passengers huddled in terror, Hohenheim speaks out in protest and is promptly fired upon. However, the bandits run off in horror when they discover that their bullets seem to have no lasting effect upon Hohenheim's flesh. As a rescue team arrives to assist, the injured driver explains that the bandits were acting as though they had seen some kind of monster and when the passengers ask Hohenheim how he can possibly be alive with bullet holes in his clothing and eyeglasses, he replies solemnly that that is exactly what he is - a monster.
In Central City, as Lan Fan falls onto the rooftop of a shorter building - her left arm and shoulder pouring blood - Wrath examines his now broken sword and applauds her on having dampened his strike with a kunai. Gluttony moves to devour the injured girl with Wrath's permission, but Ling angrily intervenes, quickly cutting the Homunculus apart on his way to aid his vassal. Wrath steps in to block their escape as Ling hoists Lan Fan over his shoulder, but the prince deftly parries the Führer's strikes by circling around into the blind spot caused by Bradley's eyepatch. Though he commends the boy's combat skills, Wrath summons the freshly-regenerated Gluttony, who pummels Ling and Lan Fan through the window of a nearby abandoned building. The two Homunculi follow and, now away from prying eyes, Wrath begins interrogating Ling, demanding to know his identity, intentions and why he can tell Gluttony is not human. However, Ling spies a nearby exit and prepares himself for escape, much to Wrath's disdain. The Führer mentions offhand that Ling would have a better chance of making it out if he abandoned the girl to save himself, but Ling refuses. Acknowledging that the man he faces is King Bradley, Ling chides the Führer and declares that a "true king" exists solely for - and because of - the people who follow him adding that Bradley will never be a "true king" as the injured Lan Fan ignites a flash grenade and tosses it at the feet of the Homunculi. Though Wrath and Gluttony are blinded by the eruption of light, Ling shuts his eyes and, reading the flow of the wind, rapidly navigates his way to the exit. However, his path is suddenly blocked by a sword thrown by Wrath, who has removed his eyepatch and reveals that his Ouroboros-marked left eye can still see. Rising to his feet once more, Wrath mocks Ling's statement as being naive and declares that there is no such thing in the world as a "true king".
At the cemetery in town, Winry visits Maes Hughes' grave with Gracia and Elicia and remarks that his passing during her absence reminds her of the last time she saw her parents before they left for the front lines of the Ishval Civil War. Explaining that she had seen something of her father's determination in Hughes as well as her mother's strength in Gracia, Winry says that being with the Hughes' had felt like having her happy family back again. The three women depart the graveyard and make their way back through town, but as they promenade, Winry overhears several townspeople remarking that the Elric brothers are currently embroiled in a fight against the notorious State Alchemist killer, Scar. Worried, she apologetically excuses herself from the Hugheses and rushes off to find the boys.
Meanwhile, Edward and Alphonse have their hands full battling Scar as they wait desperately for a Homunculus to appear. Their skirmish damages the surrounding area and injures some nearby military policemen, but still, the Elrics have seen no sign of their quarry or of any signal from Ling that the mission is complete. Alphonse, noticing that Ed is becoming exhausted tries to buy some time by asking Scar how he can condemn alchemy as blasphemous and then use it himself as a tool for murder. Al condemns the man himself for murdering Shou and Nina Tucker in East City, but Scar replies by asking if the alchemy the Elrics taut as the ultimate truth could have returned that little girl to normal after it had made her into an abomination. He explains that her death was a mercy-killing after their accursed alchemy had forever robbed her of a life outside of a cage or military laboratory. Hearing this, the boys are wracked by guilt at their inability to save Nina and their passive choice to leave her alone despite knowing that she would live the rest of her live as a test subject.
Winry makes her way close to the battleground and notices the nearby terrain damaged by alchemy. Admitting that alchemists have made mistakes in the past, Edward responds to Scar's assertion by stating that not all of the murderer's actions can be justified either. He demands to know why an agent of God would murder two doctors and reminds the Ishvalan that he himself had murdered the Rockbells after they had saved his life. Unfortunately, Scar is not the only one shocked at Edward's comment, as Winry has - at that moment - arrived on the scene, overhearing everything. Distraught, Winry collapses to the ground in grief and hysterics, demanding that Scar answer to her; she haltingly takes up the dropped sidearm of a fallen MP against Ed and Al's vehement protests and as she tearfully levels it at the Scarred Man, he remembers the words of his master regarding the cycle of hatred.
- As Winry and the Hugheses make their way from the cemetery, the mysterious "man in white" can be seen in the crowd, his left arm in a sling.