meredavey: (moon)
[personal profile] meredavey
Title: Ripples – Chapter 3
Author: meredavey
Series: Brotherhood (although it can stand on its own) - Legend!verse, part II
Pairing: Roy/Ed, Al/SECRET
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Rumors are stirring just like Ed's boredom, and the world begins to change. "You shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
Notes: Uhhh, I posted the wrong version of this yesterday; but here's the right version. (and no, I didn't mention the books from El Dorado in Wild! There's an extra story behind that. I will write a full version of that later, but basically after finding it was you know, fake, they explored around and found a library with books. This was over a course of a few months. :) And here is the correct version!!

Al disliked the desert, perhaps it was a holdover from when he was in armor and was more likely to sink because he filled up with sand. The horse he was riding made a strange snorting sound and Al looked down at it. Although he’d grown up in Risembool and learned to ride at a young age it’d been years since he’d ridden for any great length of time. The sand swirled about the horse’s feet as it plod across the desert at a steady pace. The guide hardly paid him any attention and so they traveled in relative silence. The hot and heavy sun beat down upon the ground with vengeance, crisping everything in its path and Al remembered that his brother had had to trek through the desert with the automail.

No wonder he was always wearing full length clothing, if he wanted to he could have fried eggs on his automail.

Al gave a little laugh at the thought of his brother frying eggs on his automail. After that he chuckled every few minutes. It did feel a bit strange to be going on a trip without his brother at his side. The companionship had always been more than welcome whenever they traveled.

Al had never seen Xing before, outside of pictures so he was delighted when he was able to see some of the tallest buildings beginning to rise over the desert. As they began to draw closer to the great empire of Xing, Al noticed that the desert sand began to fade into patches of sparse grass and then thicker, healthier grass.

Al stared intently at the different flowers that surrounded them and as he passed one such bed of flowers he halted his horse to lean down and snap one off. He turned it in his hands and gave it a little sniff. He was about to stick his tongue out to taste it when it was ripped from his grasp.

His guide glared at him. “Don’t eat,” he said gruffly in heavily accented Amestrian. “Poisonous.”

Al stared at the flower that had been knocked to the ground and then in perfect Xingian inquired, “How many flowers here are poisonous?”

The guide was surprised that this Amestrian was speaking Xingian fluently. Al smiled, “I had friends from Xing so I took it upon myself to learn their language,” he told him. “It wasn’t very hard.”

The guide gave him a little smile. “Yes. We have many poisonous flowers here in Xing, more than your Amestris. You never know what could be poisonous so be careful or ask.”

The guide turned his horse and continued on down a thin dirt path that cut through a small oasis.

“How many oasis’s are there?”

The guide thought for a moment and then shrugged. “Like all deserts sometimes they disappear and some others are deep in the desert and cannot be reached easily.”

“I ask because I wanted to know if people could survive out in the desert undetected for years.”

“Sure, it’s very possible in fact it could even be probable. We’ve had a lot of immigrants from various places in the desert come to us. They were scared but they won’t mention what they saw.”

Al stared down at his horse. Well, I think I have my answer. Something is scaring people, people who usually only have simple folk beliefs. Something has got them so scared they’re running from their homes and communities. Leaving everything behind. Whatever it is it can’t be good. I better see if I can get some of them to talk to me. The more I know the better chance I have of discovering what is going on.

“Here we are,” the guide pointed to a huge stone wall that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Al tilted his head to one side then the other as he tried to guess how long it was.

“Impressive right?” the guide asked. “It’s one of our national treasures. It’s called the “Great Wall”.”

“I can see why!”

They plodded through a huge stone archway that led into the outer city. People stopped what they were doing to look and Al pushed his heavy hood off his head so that he could see more clearly.

Al could hear the whispers of the people, wondering what an Amestrian was doing here, what he wanted and if he brought trouble. Al gave easy smiles and tried not to grin as curious children peaked out from behind their mother’s skirts. Some were braver and they came up closer to see what the foreigner looked like. He gave them all smiles and little bows as he passed.

One child said rather loudly, “His hair is really blonde!”

His mother tried to hush him and Al turned saying to the mother and child in Xingian, “It’s very blonde for Amestrians too. My father came from a different place.”

Wide eyed the mother hustled her child back into the house. Al sighed. If normal civilians didn’t trust him how was he to get the scared villagers to talk to him? He caught up with the guide who was waiting for him at another entrance.

Their horses parted the crowd as they entered the middle part of the city. This must be the market, Al thought to himself. There were vendors of all shapes and sizes selling a huge variety of things. Not all the vendors were Xingian themselves. Some were obviously from far away regions: he was sure he saw a few from Aerugo, perhaps even Creta. He caught sight of the distinctive Drachman facial hair and mixed among them were Amestrians. Al considered going to them for help. They had built up a reputation with these people – he might just get something out of it if he too built up a relationship with the vendors. It was food for thought.

The guide was greeting people too now, comfortable in this atmosphere. They continued moving in in a spiral pattern. They passed through another archway making their way into the innermost part of the city. Here was the palace and the noble’s homes.

“I have been instructed to take you to see Princess Mei,” his guide told him and led him to a stable at the far end of the inner city.

Here they dismounted and handed their horses over to a groom who gave a little bow before walking away with the horses trailing behind him.

His guide showed the way to a side entrance into the palace.

“Wei-lu will show you where you can get cleaned up,” and the guide left him in the company of a young-ish man who smiled at him and motioned Al through a door on the left side of the room.

Al had to admit that the palace was beautiful, very beautiful and festooned with many vibrant colors.

“You like?” Wei-lu asked in broken and accented Amestrian.

“I do, it’s lovely,” Al told him in Xingian. He got a big smile for his troubles.

“I will talk to you in my native language then,” Wei-lu told him. “It will be easier for me then…”

Al nodded and they swung around another corner. In front of them was a large bath that bubbled. The water was clear and steam rose from the top of it. Al had never seen a bath this big before. He was stunned into silence.

“Get in,” Wei-lu said, “it is warm and clean. It is called a hot spring. It is shared amongst the people who live in this palace. I will fetch clean clothes and prepare a towel for you to dry off with when you get out. Take as long as you need. No rush.”

Al scrubbed a hand across the back of his neck and gave a bow, “Thanks,” he said and began to strip off his dusty and stained clothing. He slid into the wonderfully warm water and sighed in contentment as it rose up to his shoulders. He ducked down to wet his hair and then ran his fingers through it. There was a tap on his shoulder and he looked up to see Wei-lu holding some glass bottles. “To wash your hair,” the man explained. Al took them gratefully and liberally applied some to his hair. Once it was all smoothed in he ducked into the water to rinse his hair out. When he came up Wei-lu was holding another jar. “Body wash, it will make your skin silky smooth.” He smiled.

When he got out he felt refreshed and the towel was warm and soft. He dried off quickly and Wei-lu helped him dress.

“These are really fine clothes,” Al said a bit confused.

“Princess Mei asked us to get you the best. You will be having an audience with the Emperor after all, right?”

Al swallowed and nodded carefully.

“Then you will need clothing befitting nobility.”

Al accepted the royal family’s gratitude and finished dressing. Wei-lu pulled out a mirror.

“See, you look handsome. Now you are ready. Princess Mei will take you to see the Emperor now.” He bowed and backed out of the room.

The door shut for a moment and a few minutes later it opened and revealed the young princess. She smiled. “Alphonse,” Mei greeted him warmly.

“Mei!” Al exclaimed and looked her up and down. “You look good!”

She blushed and smiled. “Thank you, you look handsome yourself.”

Al crooked his arm towards her. “I was told you were taking me to see the Emperor?”

She nodded and took his arm. “I am.” She looked at him. “You got even taller.”

“So have you,” Alphonse looked down at her with affection.

She squeezed his arm and led him out the room. “It seems strange to hear you speaking Xingian.”

“Well, it’s good practice. Is there anything I need to know before I go in to see the Emperor?”

“Treat him with respect, treat him like a deity if you have to.”

Al looked down, “Does he disappear as much now?”

Mei sighed, “He still has those bad habits. Luckily Ran Fan is good about bringing him back without too much damage.”

Al laughed, “When I told Brother I would be coming here he said to tell him this, ‘Give Emperor Mooch my regards. Tell him he still owes me money. I’m charging interest’.”

Both Al and Mei laughed. “Well, some things don’t seem to change at all.”

“No, they don’t really do they?”

They approached the large doors to the throne room “Just remember to bow,” Mei whispered. “You’ll know when you can talk to him as an equal.”

She gave his arm one more squeeze and the guards outside nodded and opened the doors.

“Princess Mei and Alphonse Elric to see you, Emperor.”

The Emperor waved them in. He was slouched in his throne, one leg thrown over the arm. He glanced over as both Mei and Al bowed to him.

“Greetings, Alphonse Elric.”

“Hello Your Imperial Majesty.”

Ling smiled and relaxed into his throne, spreading his arms. “It’s good to see you again. How are you?”

Al could see her nod imperceptibly and he relaxed. “I’m good, and you Your Imperial Majesty?”

“I too am well, Al, may we drop the formal titles now? We are friends so we have no need to use them.”

Al smiled. “That is fine with me. I bring a message from Brother.”

“Oh ho? Now this interests me. What is it?”

“Brother says, “Hello Emperor Mooch. You still owe me money. I’m charging interest.”

Ling threw his head back and laughed for a moment before his face went serious. “Now, lets get down to business. I hear your brother is exploring the west?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I was hoping he might be here too – I have some interesting information.”

“Oh?”

“There have been rumours of wandering witches, witches casting spells on innocent people and harming them. I thought it might be interesting to your research. I was not expecting a personal visit, though.”

“It coincided with my own research. Brother and I had both heard these rumours as well so we split up to discover as much as possible separately. We have the books from El Dorado and they might have clues. That’s why I’m here in person.”

Ling sat back again, every inch the ruler of a great kingdom. “Well, you shall have access to my full library.” His eyes opened. “We shall talk more in private later.”

With that, he dismissed them.
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