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Edward and Al are introduced in their plight to find the Philosopher's Stone. It all started when Ed and Alphonse were children and attempted to bring back their dead mother with Alchemy, something considered the biggest of all sins in their world. The results of this were catastophic for them and their friends and family, and their father, Hohenheim, had already left years before. After they attempted bringing Trisha Elric, their mother, back to life, Ed was taken to the "Truth", which decided that as compensation for such a sin, that he would take Ed's leg. Alphonse, however, was not so lucky. Truth took his whole body and placed somewhere else within the Gate. Ed saw that his brother, his only remaining Family member, was gone, and that he had also gained information about Alchemy no one would ever think about, being able to transmute without a circle, for one. After he saw Al dissapear, he drew transmutation circles all over his body, one on his heart, on on his head, and one on his arm, telling himself that he would willingly lose these body parts if it meant that Al could get brought back to life. Luckily, Ed only lost his right arm, and was able to transmute his brothers soul, something else though unthinkable, into a nearby suit of armor, thus saving his life and soul, if only temporarily.
English translation of the Japanese manga Fullmetal Alchemist.