Hi peoples. This is my next section. (Just so everyone knows, this is not in chapters.) Please read, enjoy, and most of all reply!
“Winry was caught in the fire next door.” Al finally explained.
“What?” I asked as I jumped back. “How could that be?”
“Mr. Hughes told us a few minutes ago. We suddenly remembered you when he mentioned her and Ed ran in to save you.” Al explained.
I looked at Ed. He seemed to be taking this pretty hard. I put my one hand on his shoulder and stared at the ground. I knew how he felt. Loosing a loved one was the hardest thing to bear. We had all known that Ed had favored Winry. He might’ve tried to hide it, but it was still obvious.
“I’m sorry, Ed.” I told him.
“Look, just leave me alone, ok?” He said as he pulled away from me and walked to the alley entrance.
“Winry wouldn’t want you to be alone.” I whispered as I walked up next to him.
I looked over at him and saw that he was holding back tears. I placed my hand on his shoulder and he looked up. He finally met my eyes, but quickly darted them back to the ground. I watched as he fell to his knees and his tears broke free.
“Why did it have to be Winry?” He cried. “Why her? She was the only death in that fire. Why couldn’t it have been someone else?”
“Brother,” Al stopped when I put my hand up.
“Ed, I know that it’s hard for you. If you don’t remember, I lost my mother because of a fire. The same fire almost took my life. I understand your pain. I can help you, but that’s only if you’ll allow me to.” I explained in a calm voice.
“No,” Ed gasped. “You don’t.”
“Yes, I do. Let me help you.”
I kneeled down next to him. I used my arm for support and tried to look at his face. He was doing a really good job of hiding it, so I just kneeled there and spoke into nothing.
“Winry would want you to talk about. I knew that she hated it when you didn’t speak your feelings. Please, talk to me Ed.”
He just turned away from me. He then stood and walked off. Al quickly followed him. There was suddenly the sound of someone running towards the alley. I looked around the corner and saw an officer running towards me.
“Are you Grace Predator, the Nature Alchemist?” He asked as he stopped and saluted.
“I am.” I answered as I struggled to stand back up and lost my balance.
I began to fall backwards, but someone caught me. They then lifted me onto my feet. Mustang moved from behind me to my side and saluted the officer.
“Why is she needed?” He asked.
“Lieutenant Colonel Hughes has asked for her to report to the injury station. She is said to have healing powers and we have many injuries that are deadly. Hughes wants her to come and try to heal the more serious cases.”
I looked over at Mustang. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He then looked from me to the officer. He then forced himself to nod. He didn’t want to overwork me. Especially after what happened when I healed him.
I followed the officer out of the alley and past the front of Central City HQ. We walked past the hot ashes of the burnt building and down another alley. This alley held a great number of people on stretchers. As I looked around I noticed that most of them had on blue uniforms.
“Lieutenant Colonel Hughes.” The officer said as he saluted when Hughes walked up to us.
Hughes nodded, a sign that he dismissed the officer. He then looked at me, stared long and hard at my missing arm, then turned. He began to walk down the narrow isle that had been created. I slowly followed. I looked form person to person, trying to soak in all of this.
We came to a stop in front of the stretcher at the end of the alley. A white sheet covered the body that lay there and I knew who it was. Why had he brought me to Winry’s body? I could heal, yes, but I could not bring someone back from the dead.
“What do you want me for, Hughes? I cannot bring Winry back from the dead, you know that.”
“I want you to look over her body. We don’t think that the fire killed her.”
“I can’t right now. I have to find someway to either get my own arm back or get an auto-mail arm. I received my first assignment and I’m leaving in about a day.”
“If you can figure out the true cause of Winry’s death,” Ed’s voice said from behind me. “I’ll use human alchemy to repair your arm.”
“Ed, you know that it is illegal.” Hughes said as he turned to look at Ed.
“I know, but I want to know what really killed Winry. If this girl is the only one available to do it,” He motioned to me. “I’ll pay her back no matter what the cost.”
Hughes sighed and walked away. Leaving me with Ed and Winry’s body.
“Are you sure that you don’t want to leave?” I asked him. “It’ll probably hurt worse if you see her body.”
“We have to figure out what killed her.” Ed declared.
I nodded and turned to the sheet. Ed might be able to handle it, but could I? I was squeamish and couldn’t stand the thought of blood or bodies. I removed the sheet and hated the sight that I saw under it.
Her body was charred in places, but her face was only dusty. She was lying on her back and, thankfully, her eyes were closed. I looked her from head to toe, noticing the scratches that her body had received.
The first thing that caught my eye was her neck. It was unusually puffy. There were a good many herbs that could cause that reaction in a living person, in a dead person there were ten. I needed to figure out when she had come in contact with whatever herb had done this. Had she been alive, or had it been applied after her death to throw off the observer?
I looked for signs that could tell me if she had been alive or dead. I then noticed that her chest was bulged out, like she had died and never let her breath out. If I really wanted to know why it was so, I would have to cut her open, and that was the last thing I wanted to do. Instead I thought harder. She had been alive when she had come in contact with the herb.
Her neck being swollen showed that her windpipe would be closed up. She wouldn’t have been able to let the air back out. She had suffocated, but I wanted to find out what herb had caused this. I wanted to know this more than anything else for the time being.
I removed her cloak and saw that a rash spread from her wrists to her shoulders. It would be on her hands and torso as well. I now knew what variety the herb was. I would find one more thing that would tell me exactly which plant it had been.
I felt at the bottom of her neck. There was no knot. I massaged her ankles. There wasn’t any sign of swelling. I rubbed her stomach. There. She had a hard lump near the top of her stomach. She had swallowed the herb know as death catch. No more than five minutes later, her windpipe began to swell. She could neither inhale, nor exhale. It had taken no more than ten minutes to kill her.
I looked back at Ed. He was staring at Winry’s body. His hand was slowly rising, as if to reach for Winry. Finally his eyes caught mine and he dropped his hand.
“You know what did it?” He asked.
I nodded, “Go get Hughes.”
I watched as he ran off. I then turned my attention back to Winry. I knew how to make the swelling and air in her lungs disappear. I hurried and pulled a small leaf out of my pocket. I laid it on her chest, then clapped my hand to the stretcher. Instead of touching her body, my hand hovered over the leaf.
It rose from her chest and flew the length of her neck and chest. When the leaf settled back on Winry’s chest the swelling began to go down like a popped balloon. I then cupped her hands and pulled the sheet back over her body.
“What was it, Predator?” I heard Hughes behind me.
“Some how she swallowed a herb. Death catch, if I’m right. It made her throat swell until she could breathe in or out.” I explained as I turned to face him.
“Good job. Elric, I believe you owe this kind girl something.”
“Uh,” Ed looked up at her. “Are you sure that you want me to do this? It could cost you your life.”
“I can handle that.”
Ed motioned to a stretcher behind him and laid on it. What would he use in exchange? I couldn’t imagine what would be of equal value to my arm. It wouldn’t be as costly as a human life, but it would still be a lot.
“No matter what, hold still.” Ed instructed.
I nodded and heard him push something against my stretcher. I ached to see what it was, but I knew that I had to listen. There was a muffled sound, but I ignored it. I heard Ed at the end of my stretcher. He clapped his hands together and-
“Ed, what are you doing!?” It was Al.
I sat up and looked at my side. He had a transmutation circle around a body and me. Winry’s body. I watched in horror as Ed’s hands flew towards the circle’s edge.
“Ed, no!” I yelled too late.