Born to Trisha Elric and Van Hohenheim of Resembool in the winter of 1899, Edward's first few years were relatively happy; but after the sudden departure of his father during the lad's formative years, Ed was left with his mother and younger brother Alphonse as his only family. The three Elrics lived in peace in the rural village and the boys began displaying a remarkable talent for alchemy at a young age, much to the joyful astonishment of his mother. However, early in the year 1904, Trisha contracted an illness that had been spreading in the area and died, leaving her two sons orphaned. Even while mourning, mired in grief, Edward vowed to his brother that the two of them would find a way to bring their dear mother back to life with the power of alchemy.
Edward and Alphonse spent the next few years living on their own in the Elric family home, supported by their close childhood friend Winry Rockbell and her grandmother Pinako, and pursuing the alchemical knowledge necessary for their planned resurrection. Although they had gained a great deal of information and comprehension regarding the extended basics of the craft, before long it became apparent to the young prodigies that there was only so far they could go while being self-taught. In a stroke of good fortune, Resembool was visited by an exceptionally skilled alchemist named Izumi Curtis who, after some persuasion, agreed to take the Elric brothers on as her apprentices provided they pass a preliminary test. She brought the boys to Yock Island near the town of Dublith in the southern region, where she informed them that they were to survive for one full month without alchemy. If, at the end of their ordeal, they could correctly explain the concept "One is All and All is One", they would begin their training under her wing.
While there, the brothers discovered self-reliance and gained new abilities and insights relevant to living in the world under their own power from having to forage and hunt for food as well as fend off periodic attacks from Mason, an employee at the Curtises’ butcher shop who had disguised himself as a masked wild man at Izumi's behest. Coming to realize that, as a human, he is but a small part of the world and universe as a whole, but that the world and universe cannot exist without a collective of small parts, it is Edward who answered Izumi's riddle properly when she finally returned. For the next five months, the Elric brothers were subjected to Izumi's intensive alchemy and martial arts training, growing significantly in both mind and body and gaining a great deal of alchemical knowledge before returning to Resembool. Though instructed specifically by Izumi to understand that death is an irreversible part of the flow of the world and that acceptance of such is important to the "One is All, All is One" concept, the boys dove headlong into their plan to resurrect their mother upon their homecoming, having advanced their knowledge while abroad and discovered the basics to a forbidden practice called Human Transmutation.
Devising a Transmutation Circle, amassing the elemental ingredients for an adult human body and offering their own blood as soul and biological data, the boys secretly initiated the Human Transmutation in their home. Unfortunately, the Human Transmutation resulted in a Rebound; Edward and Alphonse were pulled into The Gate. Encountering the mysterious being called Truth, Edward was stripped of his left leg in exchange for crossing into God's domain and peeking at the Gate's vast wealth of alchemical knowledge. Maimed and bleeding, Edward was returned to the human dimension to find that Alphonse had not yet returned from his disappearance into the Gate, that the mother they had attempted to revive was a grotesque mass of organs only capable of sustaining life for a few moments and that his own sojourn into the Gate had granted him the curious ability to perform transmutations merely by clapping his hands together, without the aid of a Transmutation Circle - in the same style used by Izumi. Desperate to at least have his brother by his side, Edward willfully performed another Human Transmutation to call him back, this time, sacrificing his right arm in exchange for Al's soul, which he bound alchemically to an antique suit of armor with a Blood Rune before passing out from severe blood loss. Al carried Ed to the Rockbell house, where a shocked Pinako and Winry performed emergency surgery to save the young boy's life.
For some time afterward, Edward remained in a sorrowful torpor until Lt. Colonel Roy Mustang arrived in Resembool on an inaccurate tip regarding possible State Alchemist candidates. Upon discovering the bloody remains of the brothers' failed experiment, Mustang confronted Edward at the Rockbell home and persuaded him to consider joining the State Alchemist program as a means to perhaps restore his limbs and his brother's body someday. Edward, driven by the guilt of what his ambition had done to his little brother, commissioned Pinako and Winry to craft him an automail arm and leg in order for him to follow Mustang's advice. When told that the surgery would be excruciating and that recovery would take at least three years, Ed commented that the pain would be nothing compared to Alphonse's suffering and promised to finish recovery in a single year.
In the fall of 1911, his new automail limbs complete, twelve-year-old Edward ventured with Mustang to Central City to apply for his state certification. After passing the written examination and psychological evaluation, Edward astounded all the officials present - including the Führer, King Bradley himself - with his superb and unique abilities and even managed to win the Führer's favor with his brazenness. Within a week, he was issued his license and the symbolic title of "Fullmetal Alchemist". On October 3rd, Edward returned to Resembool, packed up his belongings, burned down the Elric house (claiming that, without it, he and his brother would have no means of turning back from their goal) and left home with Alphonse to find a way to restore him to normal.
Adventures in the East
Three years later, at the start of the story, Edward and Alphonse visit the eastern frontier town of Reole following a lead on what they consider their best chance at restoration - the legendary Philosopher's Stone. They infiltrate the town's newfound Church of Leto with the help of a young Letoist girl named Rosé in order to investigate the mysterious priest Cornello who claims to use divine powers to bring about miracles. Suspecting that Cornello is in possession of the Philosopher's Stone, Edward exposes him as a fraud and reveals his plan to fool the people of Reole for his own militaristic goals. Unfortunately, as Edward defeats the faux clergyman, the stone Cornello holds shatters and disintegrates. Coming to the conclusion that his stone, too, was a fake, Ed and Al set off on their next assignment, but not before informing the distraught and now spiritually perplexed Rosé that she is able to move forward even without her faith so long as she has her two strong legs and the truth.
Next, the brothers move on to the coal-mining town of Youswell, where they discern that the local landowner, the corrupt Lieutenant Yoki, has been harassing taxing the villagers unjustly. With some clever trickery, Edward manages to swindle ownership of the town and mines away from Yoki and transfer it to the grateful citizens.
After thwarting a train hijacking, the boys arrive in East City, where Colonel Mustang introduces Edward to state-certified bio-alchemist Shou Tucker, whom they hope can use his expertise on chimeric alchemy to give them some insight on a different means of restoring their bodies. Unfortunately, Edward discovers that Tucker's famous past success in creating a chimera capable of human speech was the result of a human experimentation in which he sacrificed the life of his "estranged" ex-wife and that his fresh triumph was willingly gained at the cost of his young daughter Nina, to whom the boys had grown quite close.
While Edward and Alphonse suffer the grief of Nina's tragedy, they learn that Nina has been murdered by a mysterious assailant - the State Alchemist-targeting serial killer known only as "Scar", who then comes after Edward himself. Baffled by Scar's curious ability to alchemically destroy anything he touches with his right hand, the boys are soundly defeated, with Edward's automail arm reduced to shards of scrap and much of Alphonse's armor body being disintegrated as well. Fortunately, Mustang's forces come to Fullmetal's aid before Scar can enact his lethal brand of justice and, with the help of Major Alex Louis Armstrong, the Strong-Arm Alchemist, it is revealed that Scar's grudge is linked to his being an Ishvalan survivor of the Ishval Civil War. Scar flees the scene and the boys make plans to get Ed's arm rebuilt in Resembool so that he can repair Al's body without damaging the blood rune inside.
With Major Armstrong as an escort (since Edward is vulnerable to attack without his arm), the boys make their way out to the countryside, but when Armstrong recognizes an his old war colleague, medical alchemist Dr. Tim Marcoh, in a small town on the way, Edward disembarks to perhaps find the bio-alchemy information that Shou Tucker couldn't provide. Asking around town, they learn that Marcoh, who had fled the front line in Ishval has been living under an assumed name as a small-time physician, treating patients with alchemy in the years since the war. But the biggest surprise is what Edward learns from Marcoh himself - that the research he had been performing during the war, the research that had caused him to leave the military, was the development of the Philosopher's Stone. Marcoh reluctantly shows Edward the stone that he had stolen when he left the war, stating that, while incredibly powerful, it is an imperfect version of the legendary stone. Edward, filled with hope, asks to see Marcoh's research notes on the Philosopher's Stone, but even after hearing Ed's tragic story, the good doctor urges that the young alchemist not desire it, for it is truly a hellish pursuit. However, Edward's determination finally sways Marcoh, who hands Fullmetal a note describing the location of his hidden research notes along with a cryptic message: his hope that Edward's talent will lead him to "the truth behind the truth".
Edward arrives in Resembool where the Rockbells tend to his automail, Pinako adjusting his left leg to make up for the slight bit of growth since his last visit and Winry working nonstop for three days and nights to build a new and better right arm for him from scratch. Freshly repaired, Edward wastes no time fixing Al's armor body and after a day of rest and relaxation in their hometown, the alchemists set off for the location specified in Marcoh's communiqué - the first branch of the National Central Library in Central City.
Central City and Laboratory #5
Upon arriving in Central, the Major relinquishes his position as the boys' bodyguard to resume his normal duties, but appoints two of his own subordinates - 2nd Lieutenant Maria Ross and Sergeant Denny Brosh - to remain as Fullmetal's escorts since Scar is still at large. With their new guards in tow, Edward and Alphonse head to the National Central Library to find Marcoh's hidden journals, but are dismayed to find that the library's first branch and all the texts within had been completely destroyed in a suspicious fire just one day before their arrival. Edward inquires at the library's main office if they have any record of Marcoh's journals actually having been in the first branch building, but the answer is inconclusive. He is, however, referred to a woman named Sheska, who had previously worked in the first branch and has a remarkable knowledge of all the texts that were held therein. Though she confirms that Dr. Marcoh's notes had indeed been in the first branch - and, therefore, incinerated - Sheska is able to recreate the entirety of the journal word-for-word due to her photographic memory. Discovering that Marcoh had coded his sensitive research notes in the guise of a cookbook, Edward and Alphonse compensate Sheska for her help and get to work deciphering the code. After ten grueling days of poring over Marcoh's text as well as a score of alchemical reference materials in the Central Library, the boys finally decrypt the journals and come to the horrific truth alluded to by the doctor himself - that the legendary Philosopher's Stone is created from live human beings.
Having come to such a devastating dead end in their pursuit, Ed and Al are thrown into a deep despair and begin to wonder whether the time of their restoration will never come. As Edward considers asking Alphonse whether he blames him for the tragedy that befell them, the brothers are interrupted by Armstrong, Ross and Brosh, who have all become informed about the terrible developments. However, their attempts to comfort the Elrics remind Edward that Marcoh had mentioned cryptically that there had been a "truth behind the truth" and he continues investigating with renewed vigor. Looking into the matter of the alchemical laboratories within the city limits, Edward discovers that the supposedly unused Fifth Laboratory is located next to the city's prison and, using the idea of the Philosopher's Stone's makeup as a base, posits that death row inmates may have been smuggled into Lab 5 to be secretly used in the stone's creation. After Armstrong informs Edward that the officer in charge of Lab 5 had been killed by Scar, cutting off their investigation choices, the brothers make plans to sneak off and investigate the facility under cover of night, without informing their bodyguards.
Arriving at the lab, they discover several points that make it clear that the "decommissioned" building is still in use and Edward opts to slip inside to get a closer look, leaving Al outside because of the prominence of his brother's size. Inside, he discovers a room built around a mysterious Transmutation Circle designed with multiple layers of alternating pentagons, and concludes that this five-point array is specifically for creating Philosopher's Stones. Before he can investigate further, however, he is attacked by a mysterious armored figure calling himself Number 48 and claiming to be charged with eliminating anyone who intrudes on Laboratory 5 in pursuit of its secrets. After Edward discovers that 48 is an "empty" suit of armor, just like Alphonse, the guard explains that he had been a serial killer called "Slicer" in his past life, before Lab 5 scientists pulled him off death row to perform experiments on his body and soul, confirming Ed's hypothesis. However, Edward runs into trouble when it turns out that the serial killer known as "Slicer" had actually been a pair of murderous brothers and that both of them inhabit the armor body, giving his opponent unexpected versatility. Badly injured and backed into a corner, Edward narrowly avoids death by adopting Scar's style of destruction alchemy, thereby immobilizing Number 48. But before he can interrogate his beaten enemy, a new mystery pair appears and destroys the Slicer brothers to keep them quiet. The newcomers, a woman and a teenager both marked with the symbol Ouroboros, refer to Edward as a precious Human Sacrifice. Threatened by their dangerous abilities and angered by their insults, Edward attempts to attack, but finds himself at a marked disadvantage when his automail arm suddenly malfunctions and ceases to move altogether. The teenager, called Envy, kicks Edward in the stomach, knocking him unconscious, and carries him outside to where Ross and Brosh have arrived as backup before the Laboratory explodes.
When Ed regains consciousness the next day, he finds himself being treated in a public clinic run by one of 2nd Lt. Ross' acquaintances. He angrily laments the fact that he was unable to conduct a more thorough investigation and Ross reprimands him despite her lower rank, insisting that he learn to trust his allies in the future. His head cleared, Edward summons Winry to Central to have her repair his arm and - after reassuring Alphonse, who had been coaxed into doubting that his memories of ever being human were genuine - discusses the revelations of the Lab 5 incident with Major Armstrong, close friend and ally Lieutenant Colonel Maes Hughes and the Führer, who warns them all that the trail of the Philosopher's Stone may be far too dangerous to pursue any further. Having reached the limit of their investigative license in Central City, Edward and Alphonse make plans to visit their teacher in the southern region in order to strengthen their bodies and minds as well as consult Izumi on the Philosopher's Stone, Human Transmutation and the possibility of restoring their bodies. Winry, desiring to see the famous automail community of Rush Valley on the way to Dublith, tags along.
Journey to the South
As per Winry's request, the Elrics make a stop in Rush Valley to do some sightseeing; there, they meet the pickpocket Paninya, whose weaponized automail legs drive Winry to seek out their creator, Dominic Lecoulte, dragging Ed and Al along for the trip. After helping Dominic's daughter-in-law deliver a baby in a storm, the trio leaves the Lecoulte home, with Winry deciding to stay in Rush Valley as an apprentice in an automail atelier while Ed and Al continue on to Dublith.
Arriving in Dublith, the Elrics greet their Izumi and her husband Sig for the first time in four years. As they reminisce and share travel stories, the boys inquire about the Philosopher's Stone; although Izumi declares that she knows very little about the legend, she informs Ed and Al that she had recently encountered an alchemist in Central who appeared to know a great deal on the subject - an alchemist by the name of Van Hohenheim, whom Edward (still filled with resentment toward his estranged father) refuses outright to consult. After observing the boys for the day, Izumi correctly perceives that her pupils' bodies have been altered as a result of an encounter with the Gate due to Human Transmutation and demands that they explain themselves fully.
After revealing everything that had transpired since they left Izumi, she comforts them unexpectedly and praises their alchemical skill in being able to survive the ordeal even in spite of her severe disappointment in their disobedience of her repeated warnings to stay away from Human Transmutation. She reveals that she, too, had made the mistake in her youth and had several of her internal organs "taken" by the Truth, owing to her frequent hematemesis. However, in accordance with her own principles, she expels the Elric brothers as her students and demands that they leave her house. Ed reluctantly complies, but as Sig walks the two to the train station (while explaining that Izumi's Human Transmutation was an attempt to revive her stillborn child fifteen years prior), he informs Edward that he and his brother are welcome to address Izumi as a colleague now that they have been expelled, rather than as a superior, and can return to the Curtis home any time they wish. Realizing his mistake in not understanding this sooner, Edward rushes back to Izumi's house and demands that she help them restore their bodies. Reluctantly complying, Izumi puts forth the idea that Alphonse, who had had his entire body taken into the Gate, may have learned more from the Truth than either Edward or herself and that his memories of the incident may have been repressed as part of post-traumatic stress disorder. Retrieving his memories may be the necessary key to unlocking the next stage in the Elrics' journey.
While staying at the Curtis house, training and conducting research over the next few days, Edward suddenly remembers that his yearly State Alchemist assessment is overdue and rushes to South City to turn it in and avoid having his license revoked. There, he encounters Major Armstrong and Führer Bradley, who tag along on his return to Dublith. Unfortunately, Edward arrives at Izumi's home to learn that Alphonse has been kidnapped by a mysterious man named Greed - a man with an Ouroboros tattoo. Learning from Izumi that this "Greed" is interested in Edward's Soul Binding transmutation and claims rather convincingly to be a Homunculus, Edward sets off alone for the secret base of Greed's Dublith-based gang - a bar called Devil's Nest. Greed offers to make an "Equivalent Exchange" of information with Edward, promising to explain the process of creating an artificial human body in exchange for information on Soul Binding, but Edward vehemently refuses. Easily dispatching one of Greed's henchmen, Edward then aims his fist at the Homunculus himself, prompting the others of Greed's gang to run off with Alphonse in tow.
As the two battle, Ed encounters a great deal of difficulty with Greed's superhuman abilities of immediate regeneration from any physical damage and the power to coat his entire body in an indestructible armor as hard as diamond. But when he learns that Greed, despite being a Homunculus, has a physical makeup identical to a human body, Edward realizes that the armor itself must be made of condensed carbon and takes a more adaptable offensive, using Major Armstrong's style of combat alchemy to soften the carbon armor and strip it away while inflicting damage to Greed's exposed internal systems. Having met someone who can countermand his "Ultimate Shield", Greed applauds Edward's ability and flees the scene just as Führer Bradley (who had followed Edward to Devil's Nest with Major Armstrong and a cadre of Southern HQ's soldiers after overhearing Izumi's description of Greed) storms the bar with his men. Edward is detained by Southern soldiers and, after reuniting with Alphonse, is briefly interrogated by the Führer regarding the national security implications of the incident. Satisfied with the Fullmetal Alchemist's honesty, King Bradley allows the brothers to leave freely, however, back at the Curtis house, the brothers discuss the battle at Devil's Nest in private. Alphonse reveals to Edward that the ordeal and its various shocks have returned his memories of being inside the Gate, but that the information he regained did not include anything new on Human Transmutation. Edward, however, is more concerned with the Führer's actions in having every one of Greed's gang members slaughtered on the spot at Devil's Nest instead of leaving a few to be interrogated about Greed's obvious connection to the strange, Ouroboros-marked pair behind the manufacture of Philosopher's Stones in Central, despite having expressed a desire to get to the bottom of the matter. Suspicious of the military's motives, Edward resolves to keep a close eye on Bradley's actions from here on.
Stranger from Xing and the Return to Central
With his automail arm having sustained heavy damage in the fight against Greed, Edward departs from Dublith with Alphonse to visit Winry in Rush Valley for repairs. While she prepares the necessary parts and materials, the Elrics wander around town and encounter a strange young man passed out from hunger in the street. As they treat the young man to a meal, he introduces himself as Ling Yao, a traveler from the eastern nation of Xing. Ling explains that he had crossed the Great Eastern Desert so as to see the ruins of Xerxes - the birthplace of alchemy - with his own eyes and explains that he intends to research Amestrian alchemy and its differences from alkahestry, a native Xingese variation used primarily in medicinal practices. Upon hearing of this foreign practice, Edward and Al become excited at the prospects and ask Ling to demonstrate it for them, but Ling reveals that he is not an alkahestry practitioner and that the only aspect of alchemy that interests him is a legend he had once heard - the legend of the Philosopher's Stone and its capacity to grant immortality.
Ed feigns ignorance of the Stone and attempts to leave, but Ling sees through his ploy, immediately summoning his two armed bodyguards to detain the Elrics. Edward resists, prompting both of Ling's bodyguards to attack with Xingese martial arts; the ensuing fight spreads throughout the town with Alphonse combating the sword-wielding bodyguard Fu and Edward battling the kunai knife wielding Lan Fan. Edward encounters some difficulty dealing with his opponent's speed, but quickly learns that Lan Fan becomes rather rash and predictable each time Ed speaks ill of Ling. Using this information, Ed manages to gain the upper hand over her, but when Lan Fan disables Ed's automail arm with a knife and tosses a grenade, Fullmetal is forced to improvise. Hiding in the smoke and dust of the explosion, he detaches his inert automail and plants it as bait for a hastily transmuted snare trap to capture her. Alphonse, who reveals himself to have discovered the ability to transmute without a Transmutation Circle, appears on the scene defeated and captured Fu in tow, followed by Ling, who cleverly frees his comrades and escapes. The Elrics re-encounter Ling taking advantage of the hospitality at Winry's place of business and, after all the necessary repairs have been made to Edward's arm, reluctantly agree to let the young man and his cohorts tag along as they travel back to Central City with Winry in tow.
Arriving at their destination, Ling's habit of wandering off kicks in and the party manages to lose him. Ignoring his absence, Ed and Al head with Winry to headquarters so as to greet Hughes and ask whether he had uncovered anything new pertaining to the investigation of those Ouroboros-bearers that they now suspect to be Homunculi like Greed. They are shocked to encounter Lt. Hawkeye and Colonel Mustang at headquarters, who state that they had both recently been transferred to the capital, but when Ed asks how Hughes is doing, Roy informs him that Maes has retired from the military and left for the countryside with his family. Disappointed, the Elrics find lodging at a local military-run hotel and attempt to continue the investigation on their own, but soon discover a horrible bit of news in the evening paper: that their friend 2nd Lt. Ross has been convicted of Hughes' murder, which had apparently taken place a month prior. They rush off to confirm the information and coincidentally run into Ross herself, who is apparently fleeing from jail in the curious company of both Ling and Barry the Chopper, the soul bound armor guard that Alphonse had fought during the mission at Laboratory 5. While Barry keeps the Elrics occupied, Ross escapes on her own, but when the group observes a huge explosion over in the direction Maria was headed, Ed slips by and hurries to see what happened; he is mortified to find Colonel Mustang standing over the body of 2nd Lt. Ross, charred beyond all recognition by the Flame Alchemist's alchemy.
Edward confronts him angrily, but receives no explanation for Mustang's actions save for an apology for not informing him of Hughes' death. The Elrics accompany the cleanup crew, including Major Armstrong, to the hospital where Dr. Knox reveals that the body he had just autopsied was so thoroughly burnt that only the dental records could be used to verify the corpse's identity. He admonishes Mustang, but to Edward's fury, the Flame Alchemist offers no further signs of remorse instead recommending that Armstrong - who is visibly distraught over his subordinate's violent death - take some time off in the east, where Roy claims the women are particularly beautiful. Incensed by his superior's callousness, Ed return to their hotel with Al, but find that Winry has disappeared; they deduce that Winry, having seen the report of Hughes' death, went off into town and their suspicions are confirmed when Gracia, Maes' widow, calls and asks them to come to her house and pick up their friend.
Arriving at the Hughes house, Edward decides to set the record straight and explains the situation regarding Maes' death to Gracia, apologizing profusely for having drawn her late husband into such a dangerous situation. Though prepared for Gracia's admonishment and blame, Ed is somewhat taken aback when Alphonse joins in the apology - stating that, if it will cost other people their lives, he no longer wants his human body back. But they are both surprised when Gracia urges them to press on in the pursuit of their goal, telling them that her husband would want them to continue and their failure to do so would be to render Maes' death meaningless. Ed is heartened by these words, but can't help noticing Gracia sobbing in the window as the three youngsters depart. Edward mopes in the hotel for the rest of the day, but as he goes to check on Winry - who has also been moping - she informs him that she had baked an apple pie at Mrs. Hughes' house, as Gracia had taught her how during her last visit. She urges Edward to have some while stating sorrowfully that she would have liked Maes to try some as well.
The Ruins of Xerxes
The next morning, as the Elrics and Winry continue moping about their hotel, they receive a sudden visit from Major Armstrong, who says nothing but throws a heavy blow at Edward, denting his automail arm. Ignoring Ed and Al's protests, Armstrong declares that he will be taking Fullmetal to Resembool for repairs while Alphonse - who is too conspicuous - remains in the capital. The two State Alchemists arrive in Resembool soon afterward, where Ed is surprised to see 2nd Lt. Breda waiting for them.
Breda introduces Ed and Alex to a Mr. Han, who will be sneaking them across the border into Xerxes, and Edward begins to understand what is going on. Moving under the government's radar, Ed, Han, Armstrong and Breda travel by horse across the hot sands of the great desert to reach the ruins of Xerxes' capital, where Fu is waiting to rendezvous with them. As the party moves through the ruins, which have become a haven for refugees and travelers alike, Edward takes note of a large mural depicting what looks like a very familiar transmutation array, but before he can examine it more closely, Fu calls him and states that they are almost to the rendezvous point, where the last of heir group is waiting. And Edward, jovially cursing the Colonel, remembers the strange comment Roy had made about women in the east being beautiful as he lays his eyes upon the mysterious final party member - a very much alive 2nd Lt. Maria Ross.
Breda explains that, after becoming suspicious of the flashy and overly-publicized way in which Ross was arrested for and suddenly convicted of Hughes' murder, Mustang secretly orchestrated her violent escape from prison, elaborately faked death and covert extradition from the country to where no one would recognize her. With that out of the way, Breda declares that Edward and Major Armstrong were brought out of the country on Colonel Mustang's orders so as to synchronize all of the data they had all collected on their mysterious enemy while away from prying eyes. Ed and Armstrong share all the information they and Hughes had collected on Laboratory 5 and the Homunculi while Breda fills them in on all the data Mustang had gathered from Barry and his own investigations.
With all the information synchronized, Edward reflects upon the encouragement that Mrs. Hughes had given him earlier and comes to a decision. He declares to the others that, though he cannot give up on the promise he and Alphonse made to each other and though he is only one human being only capable of so much, he will do his utmost to ensure that no one else will become a casualty in their personal redemption. After Ross leaves with Fu to continue their long journey across the desert to Xing, Breda and Armstrong make preparations to sneak back into Amestris through Resembool. However, Edward asks them to wait while he goes to reexamine the mysterious mural. He notices the array contains several archaic alchemical runes such as "the hermaphroditic double-headed dragon" as well as what appears to be alternating pentagons with five suns and five moons at their vertices and, though he recognizes the array's shape as the circle he discovered in Laboratory 5, the circles large missing sections prevent him from truly understanding what the circle was for. Before he can get a closer look, however, Edward is attacked from behind. Easily subduing his assailant, he discovers that the man is Ishvalan and immediately realizes that he has been quietly surrounded by Ishvalan refugees hiding from the Amestrian government in the ruins of Xerxes. They demand that he become their hostage to be used as a bargaining chip in their negotiations for the return of their Holy Land, Ishval, but are interrupted when the eldest of their camp, Mistress Shan, arrives on the scene admonishes them for their reprehensible behavior. When Edward asks why Shan would protect an Amestrian when she has so much reason to hate them, she reveals that (though she does hate Amestris) she remembers a pair of Amestrian doctors who had saved her life during the Ishval Civil War. When Edward discovers that Shan is speaking of Sara and Urey Rockbell, Winry's parents, he is glad to hear of their bravery but asks solemnly if Shan knows how the two died. Sorrowfully, she explains to a mortified Edward that the Rockbells were slain near the end of the war by an Ishvalan warrior monk whom they themselves had helped save - a man with bandages all over his face and an elaborate tattoo running up the length of his right arm.
Returning Father and the Nameless Grave
Promising to deliver Shan's message of gratitude and remorse to the Rockbells' graves, Edward departs and is dropped off by Breda and Armstrong in Resembool. As he heads toward Pinako's house to have the minor damage to his automail arm repaired, Edward stops at the village graveyard to say his peace to Urey and Sara but notices a familiar figure standing before the grave of his mother. Shocked and angry, Edward comes face-to-face with Van Hohenheim, his father.
Edward scolds Hohenheim furiously for leaving them and then for coming back where he isn't wanted, but Hohenheim doesn't seem interested in his son's grievances, instead asking what happened to the house. Edward crossly explains that he burned it down as a declaration of their resolve, but Van Hohenheim declares instead that Edward had done it because he didn't want to be reminded of his mistake with Human Transmutation. Even more upset, Edward storms off toward Pinako's house, annoyed that Hohenheim is headed there as well. That night, Edward lies awake in bed listening as Pinako and Van discuss the tragedy that had befallen him and his brother and is shocked when Hohenheim suggests to Pinako that the creature that the boys had brought about through Human Transmutation had not been their mother at all.
After Hohenheim leaves the next morning, Edward asks Pinako to help him dig up the corpse of the creature he had transmuted in order to verify whether or not it truly was Trisha. Upon doing so, Pinako is able to conduct an examination, which concludes that none of the deformed body's traits had anything in common with Trisha; the hair is black as opposed to brown, the femurs are too long and the pelvis belongs to a male. The being that the brothers had sacrificed their very bodies to create had not even been their mother. While this fact disturbs Pinako, Edward is shown a ray of hope in the discovery: if bringing people back from the dead is an absolute impossibility, then somewhere inside the Gate, Alphonse's original body must still be alive.
Edward fashions a proper grave for the creature's remains, remembering that - though it was not his mother - it had been a living human, which had raised its head to look at him just before dying. He then calls Izumi to inform her of his findings and ask her to confirm whether or not the baby she had transmuted had actually been her child. With these new discoveries acquired and his arm repaired, Ed prepares to leave, but before he does, Pinako asks him to deliver a message to Van that she had forgotten to relay. She tells Edward that his mother's last message to his father was an apology for not being able to fulfill their "promise" and for passing away before him.
Arriving in Central soon afterward, Edward is shocked to discover that Alphonse's body has been badly damaged in battle, with large chunks missing from his armor. As he repairs the damage alchemically, Edward is informed by Alphonse that an operation had taken place during his absence which led Mustang's group to the very threshold of the Homunculi's lair, resulting in the deaths of Barry the Chopper and the Homunculus Lust. In turn, Edward explains that he dug up the body of the creature they had transmuted while in Resembool and discovered that it was not their mother. He goes on to explain his belief that Alphonse's original body must still be alive, meaning that instead of creating a new one, all they have to do is retrieve the one that exists. Alphonse then remembers that, during the incident inside the Gate, he had seen his human body opposite himself and also mentions that he has a memory of seeing Edward from inside the body of the transmuted creature before it rejected his soul. Just then, Edward receives a phone call from Izumi, confirming after hours of research that the child she had transmuted had traits that could not have come from either her or Sig's lineages - meaning that it was not her child after all. She thanks Edward for releasing her from the burden of her guilt at having caused her child to die a second time. Following her example, Al thanks Ed for proving to him that he was not the cause of a second death for their mother. With this new information, the brothers resolve to find a way into the Gate to retrieve Al's body.
The boys consider their options, positing that the circumstances of their joint rebound may have caused their spirits to cross and intermix, allowing Al's body to survive, but when the topic of using the Philosopher's Stone arises, Ed expresses his aversion to using human lives for their personal gain and thinks of the Homunculi. Requiring more information, the boys decide that they will need a way to speak with a Homunculus directly. Edward visits Laboratory 3, where Al had informed him the entrance to the underground base of the Homunculi lay, but finds only that the entrance has been silently covered up with alchemy. But as they wonder what their next move should be, the Elrics are met by Sgt. Brosh, who informs them that Scar has been sighted within the city and has apparently resumed his extermination of State Alchemists.
As he reveals to Al what he learned in Xerxes about Scar likely being the one who murdered Winry's parents, Edward gets an idea and states that they will need to confront Scar, not only to ask him about the Rockbells, but also to lure out the Homunculi by putting himself in seemingly mortal danger. Remembering that the two of them were called "Human Sacrifices", Edward posits that whatever the Homunculi are planning requires the Elrics' participation, making their lives indispensable. Alphonse spots flaws in the plan, but when Ling and Lan Fan appear at the window, having overheard their conversation and offering their help in exchange for a part of the spoils when they manage to capture an immortal Homunculus, a joint plan comes together.
Over the next few days, Edward draws as much attention to himself as possible by going around town performing flashy alchemy for the citizens of the capital in an attempt to lure Scar out of the shadows. Presuming that Scar's presence around one of their precious Human Sacrifices will cause the Homunculi to take action, the Elrics have arranged for Ling and Lan Fan to lurk nearby on lookout for the monsters' unique presence. Taking notice of Fullmetal's odd behavior, Colonel Mustang and Lt. Hawkeye stop by to speak with them, but as the alchemists exchange information, Scar himself appears on the scene and attacks. Explaining their plan, the boys persuade Hawkeye and Mustang not to attack and enlist them in the plan by asking them to keep the Military Police from interfering. Flame and his adjutant escape while the Elrics engage the Ishvalan murderer. Though teaming up on the Scarred Man with circle-less transmutation, the Elrics remain constantly on the run from Scar's potentially lethal destruction alchemy and while Alphonse instructs some freshly arrived MPs to keep back, Edward finds himself cornered. On a hasty gamble, Edward once again adopts his opponent's own style of alchemy against him and the deconstructive blows of the two right arms nullify each other, leaving both alchemists unharmed but for their respective right sleeves, which are torn away. However, with Scar's arm exposed, Edward notices a large and ornate tattoo upon the Scarred Man's skin and realizes that the killer before him had been the one who took the lives of Winry's parents.
The battle goes on as Scar continues to press the Elrics with his deadly skills, resulting in a significant deal of damage to the surrounding area and a few injured MPs, but in the meantime, the Elrics wonder why the Homunculi have not yet shown themselves and Ling has not signaled their capture. Attempting to stall Scar from attacking further so that Ed can regain some of his stamina, Alphonse demands once again of the Ishvalan how he can condemn alchemy as blasphemy and then turn around to use it himself as a justification for murder. Al condemns the man himself for murdering the Tuckers in East City, but Scar replies that the alchemy they revere so much had turned Nina into an abomination, never to regain her humanity. The Elrics are again wracked with the guilt of choosing inaction in the face of their inability to help Nina back to her original state, but counters by saying that Scar's actions have not all been justifiable - that his murder of the Rockbells after they had saved his life is unforgivable. Unfortunately, Winry arrives in the alley at that very moment and, overhearing Ed's remark, expresses her grief over the fact that her parents had been killed by one of their patients. Picking up an MP's dropped sidearm against Ed and Al's vehement protests, she takes aim at Scar. Scar admits that Winry has every right to shoot him, but remarks that he will consider her an enemy if she pulls the trigger. Edward races to reach Winry before either she or Scar can attack and manages to place himself between them, causing Scar to hesitate at the boy's selflessness. Taking the opportunity, Al attacks Scar and drives him from the area while Edward tends to a badly shaken Winry. As Ed convinces her to drop the gun, Winry sheds confused tears over the fact that she wasn't able to fire at Scar despite his being her parents' murderer as well as a direct threat to her friends' lives, but Ed reminds her that her hands - which delivered a baby in Rush Valley and gave him a new set of limbs - were not meant to take life, but to give it. Giving her his coat and promising to explain everything about her parents later, Ed hands Winry off to the arriving MPs and heads off to assist Al.
As Edward arrives on the scene, however, the group is suddenly joined by the Homunculus Gluttony who attacks Scar and prompts Ed to wonder where Ling is and why he hasn't yet made his move. Just then, Ling launches himself out from a nearby manhole, grabs Gluttony and shoves a live grenade down the monster's throat as he leaps to safety and commands the Elrics to do the same. The grenade goes off with tremendous force, obliterating the upper third of the Homunculus' body. Almost immediately, Gluttony's body begins to re-form and Ling demands a strong metal cable. Edward quickly transmutes a nearby train rail into steel cable and hands it off to Ling, who ties it tightly around Gluttony's rapidly expanding flesh, effectively trapping the creature more thoroughly the more it continues to regenerate. Ling declares the Homunculus captured, in accordance with his promise. Suddenly, Lt. Hawkeye arrives in disguise, shoots Scar through the leg and orders Ling to place Gluttony in the back of her car before speeding away with them both. Realizing that confirming the lieutenant's identity in the presence of the growing crowd of MPs would cause more trouble, Ed and Al decide to trust Mustang's plan and turn their attention to the fleeing Scar. But before they can deliver a final blow, the boys are interrupted by a sudden interloper - a young girl who quickly attacks them both and asks Scar if he is all right. Already confused by this development, Ed and Al watch in amazement as the little girl performs two unusual long-distance transmutations simultaneously, creating a smokescreen which allows her to escape with her Ishvalan friend.
Furious at their loss of Scar, the boys have the military police escort them to MP headquarters so as to pick up Winry, but on the car ride there, Al reveals that he has picked up the mysterious little girl's even more mysterious little pet - a tiny panda the boys mistake for a weird, black-and-white cat. Arriving where Winry is being held, Ed and Al are shocked to find that the Führer has been personally keeping her company. Taking his leave, the Führer advises Fullmetal to take good care of her and, now alone with the boys, Winry asks Ed to explain everything as he had promised. After relating the sad tale of her parents' noble death, the three youngsters head back to the hotel, where Winry receives a phone call from her clients in Rush Valley, who are impatient to have her back. She thanks Ed for stopping her, stating that she would never be able to face any of her new friends again had she become a murderer and the boys see her off as she boards a train bound for the South Area. As her train starts to pull away, an embarrassed Edward makes Winry a promise - that the next time he makes her cry; her tears will be those of joy.
The boys head back toward their hotel, but are met along the way by Colonel Mustang, who asks them to get into his car. Having received word from Riza that she has arrived at a secluded safe house on the city's outskirts with a wounded comrade, Roy drives the boys and a surgeon friend of his named Dr. Knox out to the rendezvous point. Seeing Lan Fan gravely maimed from the events of the mission to capture Gluttony, Edward apologizes to Ling, but the Xingese prince merely states that it was his own choice to participate in this mission and that the Elrics needn't feel any guilt at all. Approaching Lan Fan, who is now entirely without a left arm, Ed and Al ask if there is anything they can do for her, to which she replies that she would like an automail arm. Impressed by her drive, Ed promises to introduce her to the Rockbells soon.
Heading over to where Mustang, Knox and Ling are discussing the nature of the Homunculi and their connection to Central Command, the boys hear the Xingese prince make a shocking declaration: that Führer King Bradley himself is likely a Homunculus, as he bears the Ouroboros mark on his patched left eye and was the one who - working in tandem with Gluttony - injured Lan Fan. Edward and Alphonse are skeptical, suggesting that the Führer's wife and son would surely have noticed him acting strangely, and remarking that - according to alchemical texts - homunculi lack the ability to reproduce. But Knox chimes in with a bit of interesting information - though young Selim Bradley is, by all rights, the Führer's son, the boy was adopted and is not descended biologically from King Bradley. Seeing opportunity in this new development, Roy decides that he will interrogate Gluttony and remove his Philosopher's Stone for his own use, but the Elrics and Ling, who each have their own desires for the Stone, object.
During their argument, the bound Gluttony becomes agitated at the sound of the Colonel's name. The Homunculus declares furiously that Mustang is Lust's murderer and, in a flash of freak rage, produces a strange volley which simultaneously breaks his bonds and obliterates roughly a quarter of the building as well as a large patch of ground outside. No one is injured in the strike, but everyone is aghast to see how the benign, rotund Homunculus has been changed by his fury, a gaping maw now extending down to his abdomen and lined with rib-like teeth.
The Belly of the Beast
As Gluttony begins another attack, clearly targeting Roy, Edward marvels in horror at the kind of monstrosity that alchemy can create. Mustang dons his Flame Alchemy glove and declares that the Homunculus must be destroyed here before it either kills them or escapes with their identities. But though the Flame Alchemist engulfs Gluttony in a torrent of fire, the monster simply sucks the flames into his gullet, where they apparently disappear. Panicked, Mustang and the Elrics flee toward the nearby forest treeline as Gluttony gives chase, gobbling up the ground at the alchemists' heels with his mysterious power. They initially split up so as to confound the beast, but after it becomes apparent that the Colonel's injuries will keep him from evading Gluttony effectively, Edward transmutes an earthen dummy of the Flame Alchemist while the Elrics and Lt. Hawkeye help Roy back to the car.
But—while Riza loads Roy into the car next to where Ling and Knox have placed Lan Fan—Edward, Alphonse and Ling opt to stay behind and get more information out of Gluttony. They thank the adults for all their help, but remind them that capturing Gluttony was their plan and that they have to see it through. After Ed and Ling convince Roy that his job right now should be taking action against King Bradley, Lt. Hawkeye hands Edward her pistol and tells him to use it if he needs protection. Though he remembers the incident with Winry and Scar in the alley, Edward gravely accepts the weapon. As the others speed off toward the city, the Elrics and Ling head back to the forest where Gluttony is still thrashing about in search of Mustang. In spite of their earlier bravado, the boys find themselves cowering in fear of the howling Homunculus until it once again turns its berserker rage upon them. At that moment, however, the impending combat is interrupted by a black horse which appears on the scene and - verbally commanding Gluttony to stand down - quickly morphs into the Homunculus Envy.
Having been called "pipsqueak" by Envy on several occasions, Edward attempts furiously to enact his revenge, but is ultimately held back by his brother while Envy makes his way to Gluttony's side, reminding the still-upset Homunculus that they are not allowed to kill Colonel Mustang, regardless of what he has done. Spying Ling, however, Envy remarks that Gluttony may swallow the Xingese prince whole so long as he is careful not to harm either of the Elric brothers, causing Ed to realize that the he and Al have the advantage in combat. Transmuting a wall to split the battlefield in two, Ed and Al attack the restricted Gluttony while leaving Envy to Ling. Unfortunately; the rotund beast remains largely unaffected by their attacks and manages to cross the barrier to Ling before long. Realizing that Ling - frozen in hesitation by one of Envy's tricks - is about to be devoured by another of Gluttony's volleys, Edward dives to help his friend out of harm's way. But, in a thundering flash, everything goes black before he can get either Ling or himself to safety. Before he blacks out, Edward feels the curious sensation of being deconstructed and notes that the eye in Gluttony's belly reminds him vaguely of the eye inside the Gate of Truth.
When he awakes, however, Ed finds himself unharmed and lying in what appears to be a shallow sea of blood, surrounded by an expanse of darkness populated by piles of random stone and wooden debris, some of which is on fire. Bewildered by his surroundings, Edward wanders about in the darkness, calling out for his brother or even Gluttony, but is met shortly by Ling, who emerges from the blackness with a rudimentary torch fashioned out of a found human bone. Ling explains that he had landed in complete darkness to which there seemed to be no end, but fortunately came upon an open flame that was probably a remnant of the Flame Alchemist's ineffective attack on Gluttony. Seeing pieces of Lt. Hawkeye's car and the safe house among the scattered statues and broken stone columns, Edward is forced to accept that he and Ling were indeed eaten by Gluttony, but cannot believe that this massive expanse could possibly be a stomach. Fortunately, the two find Alphonse's severed hand shortly afterward, suggesting that the rest of Al's body managed to avoid being devoured, but unsure of anything else, they pick a direction and start walking. Along the way, they come upon more and more random objects like human skeletons, trains and old buildings from wildly different time periods, but nothing even close to an exit. Thinking that the ground beneath their feet might provide an answer, Ed clears away some of the blood with alchemy to discover that what they're standing on is not dirt but clotted blood accumulated over what must have been centuries; transmuting a hole through it, however, they discover that there doesn't not appear to be a bottom and return to their endless wandering. Finding a stone dais after hours of fruitlessly searching for some kind of boundary to this place, the boys decide to rest and Edward uses alchemy to boil the leather of his left boot into something for them to eat, but Ling senses that the fire from their rest stop has attracted a familiar presence as Envy emerges from the nearby shadows.
Ed begs the Homunculus to show them the way out, but Envy remarks that there is no way out and that Gluttony is a false Gate - the result of a failed attempt by their leader, "Father", to recreate the Gate of Truth. As such, the three of them are trapped in a place that lies between reality and the Gate; the only course left to them is to sit and wait for their lives to end. Horrified by the idea of leaving Al all alone, Edward considers the possibility of the Homunculus leader taking steps to retrieve him due to his status as a "precious Human Sacrifice" and asks Envy if King Bradley is the one the Homunculi call "Father". However, Envy scoffs at this question and asserts that Bradley is also one of the Homunculi; albeit even lower in the ranks than even itself. Edward mulls over the possibility that Bradley's involvement suggests that the Ishval Civil War has something to do with all of this - a supposition that is confirmed when Envy remarks gleefully that it had started the war by disguising himself as an Amestrian military officer and shooting an Ishvalan child. Enraged that the Homunculi began the war that had damaged Resembool, given birth to Scar and taken the lives of Winry's parents, Edward lashes out at Envy, but his steely punch doesn't seem to faze the Homunculus one bit. Taking the challenge, Envy declares that it will show the boys something interesting before they die as his body begins to morph and warp. As Edward backs away, Ling mentions that his past skirmishes with the Homunculus suggest that Envy's mass is greatly disproportionate to his size; his true form must be significantly large. And, no sooner have the words left the Xingese prince's mouth that Envy's real body manifests as a huge, eight-legged, human faced lizard-creature with horns protruding from its hairy back and mutilated, warped human souls screaming cacophonously as they bubble and drip from its sides and underbelly.
Disadvantaged by their opponent's size and strength, Ed and Ling are batted around like toys before they regroup for a counterattack. However, Edward hesitates to strike as he realizes that the souls oozing from Envy's body were once human and suffers further injury. Knocked to the ground with his left arm and ribs broken, Ed stares dazedly at a strangely familiar piece of broken mural beside him as Envy lifts Fullmetal into his enormous mouth with intent to devour his body. Still dazed, Ed spies a Philosopher's Stone inside the creature's maw - the stone serving as Envy's core. Bemused by the fact that he hasn't the strength to reach it, Ed begins to succumb to despair, but is struck by a jarring realization: the broken piece of mural outside in the darkness is one of the missing parts of the mural at the Xerxes ruins. Kicking out one of Envy's teeth, the revived alchemist shouts to his fellow captives that he may have discovered a way for them to escape this void.
Once Envy lets him out, Ed examines the broken mural piece further and begins to come to a new conclusion - that the reason all these things are inside Gluttony's stomach is that the Homunculi were attempting to hide evidence of their actions in Xerxes. He asks Envy to look around and gather all the other broken pieces of the Xerxes mural that exist in the void with them and, once they are collected, Ed's examination confirms an earlier supposition - that the mural in Xerxes was actually a sort of archaic Human Transmutation Circle. Though similar in construction to the one at Laboratory 5, Ed notices that this Xerxesian circle contains certain runes and markings that suggest a different purpose. The symbol for God is written upside down above the hermaphroditic symbol, signifying the act of dragging down God to create a perfect being, and the image of the heraldic lion swallowing the sun symbolizes that the Philosopher's Stone is also somehow involved.
But before he can suppose further, their present predicament is brought back to the forefront of his mind. Ling asks Ed exactly how they're going to escape from Gluttony's stomach and Ed reveals his idea as it was given to him by the memory of the circle at Xerxes: while any attempt to transmute a dead human into a living one will result in disastrous failure, Ed posits that transmuting a living human without altering anything will cause the real Gate of Truth to open and may circumvent the negative repercussions of Human Transmutation. Opening the true Gate within this false Gate, Ed suggests, should give the trapped trio a bridge back to their own reality. Before he puts this plan into action, however, Ed turns to ask Envy some important questions. Revealing his earlier suspicions regarding the mural at Xerxes, Edward notes that the complete and utter disappearance of the ancient country's relatively advanced civilization in a single night leaves only one possibility given the mural's workings: all of Xerxes' people were turned into a single, massive Philosopher's Stone by someone who wanted to become a perfect being and surpass God. Edward asks Envy if that "someone" was the mysterious being whom the Homunculi call their "Father" and asks if the Homunculi's plan is to recreate the annihilation of Xerxes in Amestris, but Envy sidesteps the question, promising to answer if Edward can get them back to their own plane, and produces his own Philosopher's Stone from his mouth, chiding Fullmetal for beating around the bush when all he really needs in order to free them from this endless space is the power that the Stone contains.
Ed is reluctant to use it as a toll because of the human lives therein, but when Envy explains that the souls of Xerxes can never again become human, Ed acquiesces and begins the transmutation. Using the sea of blood around them, Fullmetal devises and constructs a new Human Transmutation Circle with Envy and his Stone in the center. He asks Ling to explain the impending tragedy to everyone in Amestris if anything should happen to him, but Ling refuses, stating that Ed should simply survive the ordeal and tell them himself, since he too has people waiting for him back in the physical plane.
Opening the Gate as Ling steps in, Edward spares a mournful thought for the Xerxesian souls being used up before being drawn by his spirit toward the Gate he had seen years before. But when he arrives at his intended destination, Edward is surprised to find that there are now two Gates and more shocked still to see a body seated before the new doorway - the naked, emaciated body of his brother Alphonse. Ed makes a mad dash for Al's physical body, but is halted by the shadowy limbs that burst suddenly from his own Gate, constricting him and dragging him backward. As Alphonse's body stands and faces him, Edward begs his brother to take his hand and come back with him, but the body responds simply that it is unable to leave this place with anyone other than its own soul. Before Edward is pulled back through the Gate and toward his own reality, he promises Alphonse that he will return for him someday and asks him to wait.
When Ed emerges from the Gate in Gluttony's stomach, dragged along with Envy and Ling, he finds himself inside a dimly lit, cavernous room, where the armored Alphonse is overjoyed to see his brother once more. But as Edward comforts Alphonse, a mysterious figure clad in white robes emerges from the shadows - a figure whom Edward recognizes as his father - Van Hohenheim. When it becomes clear that the robed man does not recognize them, however, Ed realizes that the figure before them is not Hohenheim at all - despite the shared visage. The absent-minded man does, however, recognize Van Hohenheim's name and shows unreasonable joy upon learning that the one who shares his face is not only still alive, but has borne offspring. Edward tries to clear up the situation, but is ignored when the robed man notices Alphonse's missing hand. Before either Elric can explain, the mysterious man reaches out his palm and transmutes a new hand for Al out of thin air, without constructing a circle, circulating his energy or even using materials from the rest of Alphonse's armor. The boys are aghast at this apparent refusal of alchemic principles, but before they can make sense of it, the robed man displays even more impossible feats by repairing Ed's broken arm and ribs without so much as batting an eye. The robed man remarks that the Elric brothers are vital assets and asks them to take care.Al suggests that Ling be treated as well, but the Xingese prince responds violently, demanding that this strange being keep away from him, as he cannot possibly be human. But it seems that Ling needn't have insisted, as the strange man remarks that he only has use for the two alchemists and orders Gluttony to dispose of the "spare". Edward throws himself in front of Ling, explaining that he is their friend, but as the man replies that he couldn't care less, Alphonse reveals a new fact: that this strange robed man before them is the one whom the Homunculi call "Father". Ling declares that this man's attitude toward human life proves that he's the enemy leader and chastises the Homunculi for looking down on humans as fools. However, the "Father" replies that he does not consider humans foolish because their existence is so far beneath him that it would be absurd to give them any consideration at all.
Having sat on the fence on whether to attack the man who had just healed them, this statement helps Edward make up his mind as he directs an alchemical onslaught at the Homunculus leader, declaring that he is the root of all the recent strife and evil. Alphonse and Ling join in, but find their every attack thwarted by Father's ability to transmute without even moving a hair. In short order, Father claims that he has grown weary of their struggles and, stomping his foot upon the ground, completely turns off Ed and Al's ability to transmute. The boys are horrified at their sudden and inexplicable lack of alchemical power and are quickly subdued by Envy while Gluttony pins Ling to the floor.
The Elrics attempt fruitlessly to transmute and Ed asks Envy to explain what's going on with their alchemy, but the monstrous Homunculus merely laughs at him and chides the humans for believing that they could control and take possession of a power that is merely lent to them by a higher power. Edward demands that Envy explain what the Homunculi are up to, per their arrangement inside Gluttony's belly, but the behemoth creature reneges, prompting Father to scold him for saying too much. Meanwhile, Father chastises Gluttony for allowing these humans into their sanctum but notes that the prostrate Ling has remarkable strength and endurance for one of his species and remarks that such a resource shouldn't be wasted. The Homunculus leader states that Ling would make a good pawn and adds that the Homunculus Greed's position is currently vacant as he touches a finger to his own forehead where, a moment later, a vertical eye opens amid the man's wrinkles and begins secreting a shiny, red viscous fluid into the robed figure's waiting palm - a fluid both Elrics recognize as the Philosopher's Stone.
Envy replies that Father plans to put the Stone directly into the prince's bloodstream in the hopes of creating a human-based Homunculus. The souls in the stone will attack Ling's own soul and ravage his body mercilessly, but on the off chance that the boy survives, he will be given immense power. Horrified, Ed and Al struggle desperately to reach Ling, but Envy's overwhelming strength holds them still. Remembering that he still has Lt. Hawkeye's handgun, Edward draws and takes aim at Envy, demanding to be let go, but Envy responds by placing the sobbing Xerxesian faces in the line of fire and mocking Ed's inability to shoot at such a pitiable visage. Before Ed can make up his mind, however, Ling speaks up from the other side, demanding that the Elrics not intervene. He declares that attaining the Philosopher's Stone has been his goal from the beginning as Father pours the Stone into one of the prince's open wounds. The Elrics watch, mortified, as Ling writhes and screams in agony from the effects of the Stone; Ling reasserts that they need not stop the process before collapsing to the ground. When he rises again, moments later, Ling consciousness is gone Greed has returned in his place.
However, when Greed fails to recognize the Elric brothers or even remember the Devil's Nest in Dublith, it becomes apparent that this new Greed in Ling's body has none of the memories or allegiances of the Greed they knew. Greed explains that Ling had given his body over willingly but before Edward can express his disbelief, the underground sanctum is suddenly intruded upon by an unexpected duo - The Scarred Man and the young girl who had come to his rescue before.
Shockingly, Scar and the little girl display an unhindered ability to transmute and in the confusion of their sudden assault on Gluttony and Envy, the Elrics are freed, but still powerless. Hoping to direct more of the chaos at their enemies, Edward addresses Scar, blurting out that the entirety of the Ishval Civil War was a plot fabricated by the Homunculi. Enraged by this revelation, Scar's fury runs rampant and Edward takes his chance to go after Ling. While fighting against both Greed's familiar carbon armor and the Homunculus' insistence that the Xingese prince is long gone, Edward tries repeatedly to get through to his friend, reminding him of the country he's left behind. But it is only when Ed mentions Lan Fan that he sees a change in his opponent's demeanor. Just as Edward perceives the prince shining through, he is struck in the face with a carbon-clad hand and then placed in a Xingese body lock. While Scar and the little girl appear to have escaped, Ed and Al have been recaptured by Greed and Envy respectively. As Father orders Envy to take the Elrics to speak with the Homunculus Wrath, Al laments the apparent loss of Ling's consciousness; however Edward reassures his brother that Ling is still alive and well somewhere inside.
Envy leads the Elrics above ground to Central Command, where Ed cleans off all the blood in the shower room while recounting his adventure inside Gluttony's stomach and the Gate to Alphonse. Al is surprised to hear about his physical body's existence, but reveals something to Edward as well: injured by Gluttony and incapable of escaping the recent battle on her own, the little alchemy girl is hiding inside his armor body. The boys are then led by Envy to a room where Wrath is waiting to speak with them and are shocked to discover Führer Bradley inside. More shocking still is Colonel Mustang's presence. When Ed inquires as to what is going on, Mustang explains that each of his subordinates have been scattered to different areas by executive order and that Lt. Hawkeye has been promoted to the Führer's aide - letting Fullmetal know subtly that Bradley has effectively taken them as hostages to keep the Colonel in line - and goes on to say that the conspiracy they had been chasing did not merely involve a portion of High Command, but rather, everyone at the higher levels of government are the enemy.
The Northern Wall of Briggs
Being unable to protect their loved-ones, Ed and Al go to the north of the country to make a request to its guardian, Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong, Major Alex Louis Armstrong's older sister, to help them look for the "Alkahestry girl," May Chang.
They ally with Major General Armstrong (after meeting and defeating the Homunculus Sloth when he was digging through below Briggs Fortress) and attempt to get information out of General Raven (who is later killed by Armstrong). Because of Raven's disappearance, Solf J. Kimblee is called in (along with Winry, who replaces his automail with one more suited for the northern climate) and tells Edward he has to do his job as a state alchemist. Ed is assigned three tasks - 1) search for Scar, 2) search for Marcoh, and 3) "carve a bloody crest into Briggs". Edward chooses to look for Scar first with the Briggs soldiers.
Winry comes with them to look for Scar and May. Scar is seen fighting Zampano and Jerso until Ed and Al intervene. When the Briggs soldiers show up, they come up with a plan to escape from Kimblee with Winry. Edward splits up with Alphonse so Al can warn the soldiers and Winry of a trap back at the fort. Edward is later impaled by a metal rod after losing a fight with Kimblee and collapses (Al also blanks out in unison with Ed's wound). He then saves Kimblee's subordinate Chimeras with alchemy so that they can remove the rod. At the expense of cutting a short part of his life span, he heals the wound using his life energy that puts his body out of immediate danger, but is still in pretty bad shape requiring actual medical treatment. Darius and Heinkel take him to a doctor in North City to recover, and by the time Ed has fully recovered, they have to flee again when the military catches up due to Darius having to withdraw money from Ed's bank account to pay the doctor for his services and to keep him and his wife silent. When the revealed homunculus Greed runs off, he runs into Edward at Mustang's safe house, and Ed offers him to join his group, something Greed agrees with.
The Promised Day
Ed is then later at the Rockbell house in Resembool hiding with Greed and the rest of his followers. Ed goes to Winry's room to keep watch, and Winry comes into her room and starts to undress when she is shocked to see Ed. The two scream from the shock, which causes everyone to believe Ed and Winry are in danger and rushes up to her room and an annoyed Winry kicks everyone out of her room. Shortly after the incident, she fills Ed in on where Al is and what's been happening in Reole. While Ed fills her in on how Ling has become Greed, and why they were hiding out in her house. Ed, who is worried about her safety asks her to leave the country but she refuses, wanting to help Ed in anyway she can. Ed soon departs and Winry stays in Resembool for the time being.
Ed arrives to Kanama, where is Hohenheim. After a serious talk with his father, Ed finds Al being possessed by Pride, who finds them thanks to Gluttony's smell sense; from Chapter 86-88 occurs the fight against Pride and Gluttony. Ed and company take the upper hand first because Ed used transmutation to blow up the electric system. The darkness caused allowed Heinkel to attack a defenseless Pride, while the sudden return of Lan Fan, with the aid of Ling, allowed to take care of Gluttony.
However, the noise of the fight attract the villagers, which carry with them fire lanterns, where Heinkel and Pride were. The lanterns' light allowed Pride to cast shadows to attack Heinkel and to destroy the lanterns, which make a fire in the woods. The fire's light was enough for Pride counterattacks with shadows. Guided by Fu, Ed finds and helps Heinkel before Pride kills him; also, thanks to Fu and his light bombs, Ed recovers Al's armor body from Pride's control. Nevertheless, seeing how things were going, Pride eats Gluttony to improve his own abilities and gain more lives, making Pride with the upper hand in the battle.
Being informed by Fu and Heinkel about the events, Al thought a plan where Hohenheim was vital; it was then when Hohenheim came into help Ed, Greed and Lan Fan. Concerned about Hohenheim's presence and plan, Pride forgets about everyone else and centers his attention in him, just to be attack by Al for the back, something that doesn't work. Amused about "the plan" and the recovery of his hostage, Pride mocks Al, something that makes Hohenheim act according to Al' true plan: lock up Pride and Al in a huge earth dome, where total darkness make Pride's powers useless.
Although at first Ed was furious with Hohenheim for lock Al in the dome, after knowing was Al's own idea, he talks with his brother and prepares for the now starting Promised Day. In Chapter 89, Ed and the rest leaves Kanama to go to Central to the final clash in Father's lair.
Mustang's gang arrives at Central. While Mustang and Hawkeye meet up with Edward, the other subordinates send out a radio transmission of how the upper brass of the military is corrupted, although they say it in believable terms and do not mention the Homunculi or their real intentions. Mustang and everyone then encounters Envy who mockingly reveals he was Hughes' killer, something Mustang has been trying to find ever since Hughes died. Edward, Scar, Mei and the chimera all move on to get to Father, leaving Hawkeye and Mustang to fight Envy. Envy, realizing that Mustang could easily kill him, attempts to escape. Mustang orders Hawkeye not to come follow him and goes off after Envy, but she chooses to come anyway. Envy makes another dash for it when the angered Mustang mercilessly continues to burn him, and finds Hawkeye is searching for Mustang. Envy shifts into Mustang and tries to deceive Hawkeye. Hawkeye however understands that it could be Envy and tricks the Homunculus by saying that Mustang never calls her "lieutenant" but Riza when the two of them are alone. Envy falls for her trap that confirms that it was indeed Envy and not Mustang. She is able to take him by shooting him repeatedly for a little while even with her injury, but Envy eventually is able to get the upper hand and ensnares her in his elongated arm. Just as he is about to kill her, Mustang blasts him from a side entry, and warns Envy that Riza is one of his dearest subordinates. He burns Envy one final time, which causes the homunculus to revert to his ugly parasitic form from before. He is only one spark away from killing Envy when Hawkeye, although injured, surprisingly gets up and puts her gun to his head. She refuses to put her gun down and tries to persuade Mustang to stop. Mustang yells at her, going into a fit of rage and refusing to give up his vengeance. Ed and Scar arrive shortly, and Ed uses his alchemy to grab Envy to stop him while Mustang then demands that Ed to give him back for him to finish Envy off.
When Edward refuses, Roy threatens to burn his arm off. Edward accepts the challenge, but asks for him to look at himself first, claiming "You think you can lead a country looking like that?!". Edward then reminds him of his goal and Mustang's temper subsides partially. Scar partially agrees with Edward that Roy couldn't lead others the way he is now, but shows no opinion if Roy does exact his revenge on Envy.
Roy then begins to scream about the time it has taken to get this far and how close he is to killing Envy "for Hughes". Riza yells back that she understands, but what he's doing right now is not helping anything, rather, it is just satisfying Mustang's need for revenge. She begs him, "Don't go where I can't follow." Roy tells her that if she was going to shoot, she should have shot, and then asks her what she would do if he were to die. She replies that she wouldn't continue living and would die with him. Roy, still somewhat aggravated, blasts a hole in the wall. Finally when it seems his anger has mostly subsided, he comments about how he cannot lose her too. He laments on his recent behavior and actions and apologizes to her for how he forced her to act. He sinks to his knees, defeated.
Envy then cuts in, mocking their apology. He antagonizes everyone, bringing up events that he hopes might bring them to fight amongst each other and taunting others with the things they have done. When they show no response, Envy wonders why his words aren't affecting any of them. Edward looks at him, pointing out Envy's envy of humans. Ed goes on to explain that, even though humans are weak and sometimes they fail, humans always have their friends to help them up. Whilst Homunculi don't have such a comfort; Envy frees himself of Edward and falls to the ground. Riza is about to shoot, but Scar stops her, pointing out that Envy doesn't have much time left. Envy comments on how pathetic he seems, on their "mocking nature", and how Edward, the one that he despises the most, is the only one that understands how he truly feels. He pulls out his heart and disintegrates, bidding Edward a tearful farewell.
Ed's group finds the Doctor Alchemist, who sends candidates for the title of Führer, but could not take the power of the Stone. They quickly over power Ed and his party. The Doctor then calls five of the Führer Dolls, having each of them stand in one of the small circle in the larger transmutation circle. This creates a very large transmutation circle all around Central and several large eyes and the Black Hands from the Gate of Truth appear around Ed, Al and Izumi. The Hands then drag the three of them down into the eyes.
Ed, Al and Izumi are then shown to have been brought to Father, who has overpowered Hohenheim and has attempted to steal his Philosopher's Stone. Father then announces to them that they are already dead. While Ed tries to wake up Al, who was unconscious at the time, Mustang and Pride suddenly teleport into Father's lair. Ed then asks how Mustang got into the lair, when Roy tells him that he went through the Gate. Upon hearing this, Ed immediately begins looking for any missing body parts, when Mustang asks why the whole room is pitch black. Ed and the others suddenly realize that Roy has in fact lost his eyesight. Shortly after this, May Chang somehow breaks into the lair and Al regains consciousness. With May engaging Father in combat, Ed and Al then decide to take on Pride together, glad that they can still use alchemy to attack. When Ed and Al both attempt to strike Pride, instead of using his shadows to dodge and counterattack which he normally does, he simply jumps to dodge, which surprises them both. When May is critically injured by Father, Ed asks Al to help her while he takes on Pride. As they fight, Ed asks why Pride is fighting with weaker shadows rather than going all-out. Pride tells him not to misunderstand, as he needs him alive to fulfill his role.
Knowing that Pride won't kill him, Ed boasts that if it's going to be like that then he'll kill him and the others no problem. But Pride tells Edward that since he's been fighting big people, he has no idea how to fight someone smaller than him, while he uses his shadows to nearly incapacitate Ed. But to his surprise, Ed fends off Pride's shadows with his automail arm, coming close to decapitating the Pride. Ed admits that he has been fighting opponents that are bigger than him, which means he knows how short people fight. Ed grabs a hold of Pride and head-butts him on the head, which disintegrates the right eye area of his face. Edward's fight with Pride is cut short when Father assembles the five sacrifices in order to open "The World's Gate" so he can obtain enormous power. But Greed then shows up and cuts down Father, saying "The world belongs to me!". But by surprise, Father is still alive and still intends to open the gate. After the skirmish, Ed, Al, Izumi, Greed/Ling, May, Hohenheim, and Roy are seen alive with Roy saying that it's quiet all of a sudden. Hearing this, Ed looks around if Father had made the people of Amestris into a Philosopher Stone, which Father admits that he did, to Ed's shock as he looks at the smoke where Father is in. He tells them that in order to contain God within himself required a massive amount of energy, which the people of this country provided. Now both they and God reside within him. As the smoke clears, Father is seen as having a new form that resembles Ed and goes to saying "And I have you to thank for that my friends", much to everyone's shock.
The Final Fight and New Beginnings
Ed, Al, Hohenheim, Izumi, Roy, Ling/Greed, and May witness Father in his new form that contains "God" within him. Father thanks them for their help and goes to disposing them with a column of energy, but is stopped by Hohenheim's power of the Philosopher stone. Father is impressed that Hohenheim can stop his attack despite the fact that he has nearly half a million souls within him, but tells the latter that his true enemy is time. He then goes to destroying the floor that Ed and the others are standing in. Fortunately, May saves them with her Alkahestry as she states, "The more power there is in the ground, the more I have at my disposal." Father resorts to creating a sun in his hand to finish them off, but feels a sudden pull from his body. Hohenheim explains to Father that the souls of Amestris do not belong to him yet and that he planted each of the stones within the earth's soil in order to begin their counterattack on Father. With the Reversal Nationwide Transmutation Circle completed, Ed, Al, Izumi, and everyone else have finally regained their alchemy, with Ed proclaiming that their counterattack has now begun.
Hohenheim encourages everyone to keep fighting as "every tiny fraction of the stone's power used to fight them pushes him closer to breaking point", although he isn't sure how much it will take. But as the rest of the party pursues Father upward as he harvests more stones, Pride restrains Edward with the intent to steal his body, as his own "container" is on the verge of destruction. Ed asks why does the homunculus follow Father in the first place, and Pride responds, "What child doesn't listen to what his parent tells him?" Ed tells him that Father doesn't care what happens to him. Pride continues to try to overtake Ed's body until Kimblee's soul intervenes. Ed takes this opportunity and turns himself into a Philosopher's stone, invading Pride and destroying his "container" body, reducing him to his true, fetus-like form. He then places Pride's true form on his coat and follows the others up to Father, in time to be hit with the full force of Father's attack.
Although the blast was intense, they all survived, thanks to Hohenheim using his Philosopher's Stone-enhanced body to absorb most of the energy to protect Ed and Izumi. Ed is stunned by this, but Hohenheim seems to be severely weakened afterwards and was easily tossed aside by Father. While Greed distracts Father, Ed attacks from behind, only to be blocked and cast off.
Father begins to use the power of God to extract Ed's and his friend's souls to make additional Philosopher's Stone, but fortunately a soldier intervenes, firing a missile at Father. Father is seems to be unaffected. The rest of the military arrive, preparing to battle Father.
None of their attacks do any damage to Father, as he uses the power of God to create reactions around him that repel the attacks. His supply decreases greatly as they bombard him with attacks. During this time, Greed attacks Father. Father thanks him for showing up when he needed to increase the size of his Philosopher's stone, and tries to take Greed's Philosopher's Stone to add to his own. Edward uses this moment to attack Father alongside his comrades, who defends himself. But since Father had used up too much of his Philosopher's Stone from the reverse transmutation circle and to defend himself, he cannot control God, and a surge of energy explodes out of him.
His automail arm is completely destroyed by this explosion and his left arm is impaled on some nearby rebar. Al realizes that since Ed gave up his arm to bring back Al's soul, he could probably reverse the exchange. Much to everyone's shock, Al, with May's help, gives up himself to restore Ed's original right arm. Ed, realizing the return of his right arm, calls Al an "idiot" and begins a furious barrage of attacks that very much weaken Father, draining his Philosopher's stone supply greatly. Father then tries to absorb Greed's Philosopher's Stone (succeeding, but Greed remains sentient), and while his body is being assaulted from the inside by Greed, Ed punches a hole through Father's chest, telling him to go back to where he came from. Father is then sucked inside himself, finally meeting his end at the hands of Truth.
After Father's downfall, Ed begins to attempt bringing back Al. He is offered the Philosopher's Stone by Ling, though he says his brother and himself agreed on not using the Stone. It is then Hohenheim offers his last life to be used. Shocked, Ed asks as to why he would do such a thing. Hohenheim replies by saying he is their father, elaborating it is partly his fault for why the brothers attempted bring back Trisha and apologizes for leaving them. Ed is touched as he sheds tears; he berates Hohenheim for even saying that, finally calling him 'father.' He reflects on what everyone has done for them and the hope everyone has for them to regain their bodies. Having made his decision, he draws a Human Transmutation Circle and does his 'final act of alchemy as the Fullmetal Alchemist.' He is next seen in The Gate with Truth. Upon being asked what his sacrifice is, he points out the Gate of Truth, saying he will sacrifice it. When questioned about it as Truth says he will lose his alchemy, Ed says that although the Gate is behind all of alchemy, alchemy was the reason they were manipulated. He says because they were shown things like the Truth, they believed anything and everything could be solved with alchemy. He then states this is wrong, saying it was nothing but pride. Upon being questioned whether he wishes to be 'degraded' to an ordinary person, Ed replies by saying he has always been an ordinary person, bringing up the example of his and his brother's failure of saving Nina. Truth asks one last time whether he is alright with this; Ed replies that even without his alchemy, he has his friends. Truth smiles and says he has answered correctly. Truth then states he has been defeated and for Ed to "Take it all!" Afterwards, Ed is shown the "back door" and proceeds to get Alphonse. The two brothers return back to the Living World, where they are greeted with a tremendous welcome by their friends and family.
Later, Edward and a recovered Alphonse return home to Resembool, where they are greeted by a delighted and tearful Winry. Two years later, Edward is shown trying to get used to his new life without alchemy. However, he still decides to study it, as he plans on going West to study alchemy while Al heads on East. Before he leaves, he is shown with Winry who reminds him to take care of his automail leg (which he decides to keep as a reminder of his adventures). As the train arrives, he manages to admit his feelings to Winry, by telling her "It's Equivalent Exchange! I'll give you half my life, so you give me half of yours!". At first Winry wonders what he means, but then realizes that the phrase he used is actually his way of proposing, based on Equivalent Exchange. She scolds him for using the law of Equivalent Exchange and tells him that instead of "half" she'll give him her entire life. Winry then quickly corrects herself, saying that she'll give him almost her entire life. Ed laughs, and after she shouts at him and asks if he is making fun of her, he tells her that he isn't, but is instead marveled at how she overturned the law of Equivalent Exchange. He pulls her in for an embrace, telling her that he'll be back soon. The two are married sometime after Ed returned from his journey, as indicated by a photo showing them holding young children and Ed wearing a wedding ring.