Ed stood silently before the Truth. Everything about being in front of his Gate is the same as the last time he had been here, from Truth standing there wearing his arm and leg like trophies to the endless expanse of white. He glared at Truth; this was the “One”, the “All”, and, supposedly, “God”. Ed’s uncharacteristic silence seemed to throw Truth off for several seconds before its face began to contort into the same disturbing smile Ed had seen every time he had been brought before his Gate.
In the distance, a flare of alchemic lighting became visible; Ed watched the lightning that began blue shift steadily into red like it always had when a transmutation involved a visit to the Gate.
“Another one?” Truth suddenly cried out in dismay.
Ed stayed silent, although he wanted nothing more than to laugh hysterically at the unusual display of emotion from the so-called God. Truth had seemed to completely forget Ed’s presence at the Gate as he quickly removed Ed’s arm and leg to place them on the floor before the Gate and deconstruct himself, no doubt to reconstruct himself at the distant Gate. The plan was working!
Ed reflected momentarily on everything that had led him back to his Gate and Truth once again.
After defeating Father on the Promised Day, Ed had apparently passed out almost halfway through what he had intended to be his final transmutation. When he came to, he had been confronted by Hohenheim and given some unexpectedly useful information and advice. The information consisted of one of the simplest, but most unusual looking alchemy arrays Ed had ever seen, the instructions on how to use it being the same as any circle except that it must be drawn using the alchemist’s blood, its purpose, and the words “even a god can only be focused on so many places at once”.
It turns out that this unusual circle that must be drawn using blood was the true source of Xerxes’s proficiency in alchemy in its time. The circle opens a channel that draws the alchemist before their Gate to speak to the Truth. The blood used in the drawing of the circle functions as a sacrifice, and the alchemist can request information from their Gate through Truth. The more blood that an alchemist uses in the circle, then the amount of information that can be acquired increases; if information is requested beyond the value of the blood used, the question will not be answered. This circle was common knowledge before the fall of Xerxes and was also the source of the knowledge Hohenheim used to create the Dwarf in the Flask.
For several days following the Promised Day, Ed contacted as many alchemists he trusted with knowledge of the circle to help with his plan. Another few days were spent after everyone had been gathered collecting the blood to draw the circles. Each of the alchemists involved had been briefed, warned, and advised by Hohenheim on how to handle the exchanges and several dozen questions had been thought up. In the end, the final group consisted of Mustang, still blind while Dr. Marcoh worked to heal Havoc, Armstrong, Izumi, both of the Tringham brothers, and Ed himself.
The plan was for the alchemists to take it in turns to activate one of a series of circles and gather information. As soon as one returned, the next would activate their circle. After a rhythm had been established, Ed would activate his circle. While Ed’s circle was still active, the rest would begin to activate circles roughly every half-minute in the hopes of distracting Truth while Ed retrieved his brother.
Now that Truth had disappeared to deal with the first distraction, Ed stepped forward to touch his long-lost limbs while a second flare of alchemy burned on the horizon. Immediately they began to deconstruct, followed by the entirety of his automail, and then reconstructed attached to his body once more. Ed smiled softly to himself, reveling in having feeling in his arm and leg at long last, before turning to look at Al. Throughout his silent exchange with Truth and his obtaining his limbs, Al had been sitting before his own Gate behind Ed, looking at him over his shoulder.
Their eyes met, and Ed was certain his brother’s soul had found its body a week ago on the Promised Day. In the background, another flare of alchemy burned bright, closer than the previous two, and Ed grinned at Al.
“We better get going before Truth gets back here to try and stop us, Al.” Ed spoke with a mischievous grin.
Ed quickly crossed the distance between them, stumbling somewhat due to the large shift in balance no longer having heavy metal appendages caused. Ed reached down to help Al stand on malnourished legs, and they began to stumble their way back to Ed’s Gate. Ed reached forward, shoved it wide open, and they stepped through it back to Amestris.
After Al regained his bearings in the room full of circles drawn in blood and quietly observed the exhausted alchemists in the room smiling ecstatically at him, he turned to Ed. “We’re whole again, Brother. What do we do now?”
Ed was quiet for a moment, his gaze locked on the only alchemist still touching an active circle. Mustang was kneeling with his hands pressed to an array glowing an angry red around him; he looked like he was surrounded by the fire he had demonstrated such effortless control over so many times in the past. Ed smiled and replied softly, eyes never leaving the other alchemist, “Anything we want, Al.”