It was a dark stormy summer evening in Central City. The type of evening one might see only in the opening to a sort of Gothic horror novel. With strong winds whaling powerful gusts across the whole city, causing massive swells in the city's many streets and back alleys. Blowing over trash cans, tearing the canopy roofs from the shops of street vendors, breaking off branches from trees, and abusing those few Amerstrians who were unfortunate enough to find themselves in the street at this time. Causing many to hurry on their way home, while those few homeless individuals who lay huddled in the streets could only pull their thin clothes tighter to protect themselves.
However, perhaps one of the most unfortunate and exploited individuals within the whole city was not the people on the street. But rather one who was residing in the great castle, dubbed the "Divine Palace" by its architect and residents, in a bedroom that was as luxurious as it was wide and it was extremely wide. It was in this gilded cage that a frail, old woman lay limp on her bed, the darkness of the room making it so that if it weren't for her ragged breath no one would have noticed that she was there, let alone still alive. This woman was Avatar Amora, one of the most powerful women in the world, and she was dying.
As she lay in bed with her eyes focused on the ceiling above her, her chest growing heavier with every single passing breath, Amora couldn't help but think of all that had preceded her. Everything from her earliest childhood moments, to when she had first learned of her ability to air bend, to learn that she was the Avatar and being taken in by the acolytes of the Eastern Air Temple, to her first missions as Avatar. Every major decision she'd made, accomplishment she'd achieved, and important relationship she had begun playing before her eyes. Causing a weak smile to temporarily cross her face, after all she'd managed to achieve more on her own in the entirety of her life than the Amestrian government she was residing with had in the same period.
However, she soon found herself beginning to consider something else, all that she had failed to do. Her failure to return to Xing, her failure to see her parents once more before their deaths, her failure to guarantee a future of peace beyond her death, her failure to alleviate the centuries old tension in the West, or end the growing Imperialism of her homeland in the East. A list of failures which, although a good deal shorter than her successes, left the world and peoples she had so faithfully served with an uncertain future that would have been faced by the next Avatar and his or her generation. A future that seemed to grow closer with each breath she took.
"Barbosa" she cried out, her voice not going above a light whisper and causing her to repeat the name again in a slightly louder voice. Convinced that if she could only raise her voice a little louder and get the woman's attention he would come, see the state she was in, and would most certainly contact the proper medical authorities.
Unfortunately for the elderly Avatar her cries were more audible than she could possibly imagine and the woman was closer than she thought and ultimately failed to realize for a reason that Amora was unwilling to factor in. Intentional malice.
"Dammit! How is she still alive" a voice muttered behind Barbosa, causing her to raise her head and glance over her shoulder. The woman behind her had light skin, long black hair, and wore a military outfit that was nearly identical to her own, with the exception as to the amount of metal that adorned her chest.
"Calm down Onon" she stated just as another round of cries came from the elderly woman's room, prompting Barbosa to once again turn towards the room and examine the other end of the hallway, making sure that no one was coming. The two women had been planning their current act of murder for many weeks, convincing first each other and then a significant number of Amestrian nobles as to the legitimacy of their plan. After all it was no secret that the Avatar's reputation with the people was strictly divided, with her proving to be significantly more popular amongst the lower classes of society than the upper ones. With the only known exception being Amestris, or at least that was how it seemed until Barbosa had begun sniffing around a few months ago.
"She'll succumb soon enough".
"What if she doesn't Barbosa? What if she or one of her predecessors realize what's really going on, and she enters the Avatar state?-" Onon began, the second suggestion earning her a condescending chuckle from Barbosa.
"Why Onon, I had no idea you were superstitious"
"I'm not Barbosa, it's just that unlike you I'm concerned about our apparent lack of progress and its chances of triggering her power" Onon countered, prompting Barbosa to straighten up and place her hand under her chin.
"Well it is true that the power that Amora possesses is great however," Barbosa began, her tone as cold as the wind outside the palace they stood in. Pausing briefly to listen to Amora's labored, uneven breathing before she added.
"Even her powers in all their greatness cannot protect her from death".
"So how long do we wait?" Onon asked as she leaned against the wall, attempting to relax.
"Not for much longer" Barbosa answered, causing Onon to cast her an unimpressed look.
"Listen, do you hear that?". For a second Onon didn't get what her partner in crime was implying, taking the statement as another example of her friend rewording a clear answer into a question the other conversing party. But then she did notice something, the silence.
"No, I don't" she answered as a smile crossed his lips.
"Exactly, follow me" with that the two of them silently entered the room of the woman they were conspiring to kill, finding it to be just as it was when they had witnessed the old woman retire to bed hours earlier. Finding her lying unloving in the large bed that had been built to accommodate her. While Onon was content enough to simply look at their success from the door to the room, Barbosa was not as confident. Instead, electing to walk closer to the immobile woman to allow for a more personal viewing.
"Look at you old woman, such a great now lying in state, you had so many chances to become part of the future, now neither your great knowledge nor your 'spirit friends' can save you now" Barbosa gloated, taking especial pleasure when uttering the colloquialism she'd come to use to describe the many predecessors Amora claimed the ability to speak to when in meditation.
"Such a waste of talent and wisdom, if only you'd possessed the pragmatism to know where your interests truly should have lay". As if she'd just heard the magic word of some sort Amora's eyes proceeded to suddenly burst open, revealing a pair of bloodshot eyes with pinpoint pupils and cause Barbosa to instinctively take a step backwards.
"What is it?" Onon thundered from across the room.
"Barbosa….protect….successor" the woman croaked out, causing Barbosa to recompose herself before look to Onon, first signalling her to come closer, and then pointing to her own ear as she moved to stand beside Amora.
"What was that again sir?" Barbosa asked, prompting Amora to feebly raise her hand towards Barbosa and answer with.
"Did you hear that Onon?" Barbosa asked, as a smile crossed her lips.
"Indeed I did sir, the Avatar just appointed you as his successor" Onon answered, as she observed a painful look of realization cross Amora's face. As if in her final moments she realized that the friends she thought she was looking for, were actually the conspirators who were the source of her suffering. A realization made too late as the poor woman's arm went lip and fell to her side as her reathing began to slow once again.
"Call the doctor, we don't want our actions to appear suspicious" Barbosa stated a statement which earned her a firm nod from Onon, before the woman turned and ran to the door. Making it so that it was Barbosa who stood above Amora, watching the woman who had stood as the guardian of the peace and just in the world for over 8 decades languished on in defiance for a few seconds before breathing last. The new ruler of Amestris was entirely unaware as to the shock waves that she and her fellow conspirator had just set in motion, or the bloody consequences of their actions that would haunt not just their nation, but the whole world, for decades to come.