I was gonna say, give me a list of ways Al completely outclasses Ed, but that might never end... howabout some thoughts on how the Resembool kids would spend their days? What kind of Calvin & Hobbs shenanigans did they get up to? How much did all the other kids fear/hate them. etc.
jafkldjafljdlsa you know me too well
(Look, I do love Ed a lot, I just feel like Al gets overlooked in some ways with Ed as the main character, so I just feel the need to sing his praises lol)
Oh my gosh, pure unadulterated insanity is what they got up to.
You have three incredibly brilliant child prodigies living in a very small town that likely has one school and a handful of teachers if not just one . They were probably SO BORED in class. Actually, we KNOW they didn't pay attention in class because that's actually canon lol. Ed and Al spent all their time reading alchemy books under the table and Winry literally slept through classes because she'd stayed up all night dismantling her radio to see how it worked or helping Pinako in the shop. They were so far ahead of the material being taught and so under-stimulated I bet they were absolutely terrible to teach. The only reason they didn't start skipping school completely is because none of them wanted to disappoint their parental guardians.
And then the chaos they got up to OUT of class - oh boy. The combination of skilled but not quite polished alchemy and engineering genius sounds like a wild combination.
How many weird things did they try to create? Ed reads one sci-fi book about robots and that's the whole afternoon right there. It never does start working, but it does manage to absolutely terrorize the neighbor's cat.
One time there's a new house being built and there's all this leftover scrap material and the three of them decide to build their own house because honestly, how hard can it be, right?? They construct a full fort and while it's not the prettiest thing ever, it does stand upright and attracts basically every other kid in the neighborhood to come play mock battles and sieges in it until one concerned parent demands Trisha make them tear it down before someone gets hurt. Every kid in Resembool mourns Fort Elricbell. Or Fort Rainbow. Or Fort Dragon. No one could agree on a name.
(And I know young Winry is depicted as being scared of alchemy, but I have to imagine that she got used to it growing up next to them. It became normal, and then it became a tool for shenanigans, and then it didn't become scary again until, well, you know. Afterwards.)
You know Winry tries to take apart like every piece of machinery in her house. Pinako is a terrible influence on this habit, because she completely understands the obsession, and she wants to encourage Winry to figure out how things work on her own. The only rule is that she has to figure out how to put it back together when she does.
Hohenheim is also, surprisingly, a big encourager of this because he loves encouraging learning and he's just so proud to see his best friend's granddaughter take after her.
Winry has one really faded memory she barely remembers of Ed and Al's kind of scary dad approaching her when she was over for dinner one night and telling her her grandma had said she's really interested in machines, then revealing a tiny wind-up automaton he found at the same kind of place he went shopping for vintage armor. (Winry still has it. It's been buried in a drawer in her room ever since Ed and Al's weird dad left and they got sad about it.)
They went on SO MANY adventures. They were certain that they were going to trek to the capitol once, packed bags full of snacks and chalk and clothes, and set off in the general direction and when it got dark, Trisha and Yuriy gathered them up and helped them set up a tent in the Rockbell's backyard, promising they could start up their journey to the capitol as soon as the sun was up. Ed tried to tell ghost stories and scare Winry, but he and Al both ended up being too scared to spend the entire night outside, and in the morning Winry smugly told them she won.
I think the other kids of Resembool maybe thought they were a little odd, but also loved them, because if you hung out with the Elrics and Winry for the day, YOU KNEW you were going to have the most fun and most crazy day of shenanigans ever. Al would go up to a group of kids at recess and be like hey, after school we're gonna try to dig a tunnel all the way to Aerugo because Winry told me it isn't possible, but Ed and I think that if you made sure to reinforce the structure of the walls so it doesn't collapse, and had enough people to dig, you absolutely could, so we're gonna prove her wrong, wanna help? Everyone would be like hell YES we do that sounds amazing. And then Trisha would have 15 kids in her backyard trying to dig a tunnel with Alphonse standing over them ordering them all around in a nicely organized system while Ed tries to figure out what the right alchemical circle would be for this situation and Winry tells them loudly several times that it wasn't going to work.
They were crazy smart kids with too much curiosity for their own good who grew up in a small country town where they could run free and if they did anything REALLY wild, Ms. Hart down the road would definitely let Trisha know, they got up to SO MUCH insanity.
(And when things go weird, the rest of the kids in town think, huh, it would be the Elrics, wouldn't it?)
Fantastic ask, thank you!! I loved thinking about this!! Also the association of young Resembool trio and Calvin & Hobbes is perfect.
i am always so often thinking about xerxes' culture and everything about that part of the story and i always have so many emotions and thoughts about it. especially like... ed and al are the last descendants of xerxes. do they know anything about xerxes except what's in history books? did hoheinheim ever tell them anything about it? do you ever think about this cause i do every time i get back into fma
Oh I think about this ALL the time.
There is this whole aspect of Ed and Al's history that they will just never have access to. Because even if Hohenheim DID have books and records and journals and what not about it, they all burned in the fire because Ed and Al either never knew they existed, didn't understand the personal relevance of them, or were just so bitter about their father that they didn't care to preserve any of his things. (Because not only did their father leave, but it was HIS alchemy books that started everything in the first place.)
I think a lot about how much lost history must have burned in that house, both important to the world as a whole because Hohenheim was the very best source for Xerxian history and personally, because that's an aspect of their father they'll never fully understand.
Just another tragedy of the fire. Just another part of their family they lost.
I honesty don't know if Hohenheim DID tell them anything. From what little we see of him before he left, he seems like a distant father - the kind to go build them a swing outside as a way to show his love, but not the kind to talk with them, because talking with his children - connecting with his children - was scary in a way he couldn't handle and doing kind things from a far was easier.
I do think Trisha knew a lot about Xerxes, but I doubt Trisha ever shared it with anyone else. And when she died, a lot of the history of Xerxes died too.
Maybe Pinako knows bits and pieces of it. Maybe Van told her stories of growing up in the desert when he still couldn't handle Resembool winters and she laughed at him for burying himself in his house with a million layers on. Maybe he once reminisced about a dish from his childhood that he didn't know how to make and didn't even have the right ingredients for, but had never really forgotten.
But even if she can tell those stories, those little details, Ed and Al will never really be able to understand what Xerxes was like. It's a part of their family they'll never really be able to reclaim, because the history is so distorted and passed down through so many generations that it's warped and distant. They have no personal stories to hold onto because Hohenheim never shared them.
Although I do like the idea that they recognize bits and pieces of the language, because it was buried in the same books they read to teach themselves alchemy, and maybe they just never questioned what that language was until Ed sees it written on the ruins in the desert or until they confront where they came from later after everything.
Alphonse is determined to relearn the language, even though it's long since died and the last speaker never passed it on. He searches for records of it in Xing, tries to track down the history of people who left Xerxes before the disaster, or who lived on the outskirts and were missed by the transmutation, people who assimilated into other lands and passed bits and pieces of culture down through generations.
He meets distant relatives, great-great-great grandchildren of Xerxes, and gathers all he can, tries to piece together the shape of the country they'll never know, the childhood of their father they'll never understand.
And afterwards, it's just another thing that Ed and Al have to mourn. So much little time with their father, so much little time to understand him as a person, so much of a relationship lost to them by Hohenheim's guilt and grief and the situation.
I don't know where I'm going with this, but yes. I think about Xerxes often, and I think Ed and Al do too, always chasing after knowledge that they'll just never be able to have without their father.
This was a GREAT question, thank you!