okay firstly: you’re not dumb anon!! thank you for asking, and i’m overjoyed happy you asked and happier to explain!
‘Swallows on the Beam’is a 22 chapter, 195,000 word fanfiction written by ao3 usershuofthewind! 22 of the estimated 52 chapters are completed, and I’ve been reading for little over a year now! It’s hands down my favorite fanfiction ever written, and I recommend it to everyone, even people that haven’t watched Fullmetal Alchemist.
SOTB takes place a few years after the end of FMA:B, and Ling Yao is emperor. Tensions are rising, and when spies start disappearing, Ling and Mei decide that they need someone loyal and capable to infiltrate the Xingese court and befriend the Feng family.
All of their spies before had been too unnoticeable to get any real information, and they all disappeared without a trace, therefore they needed someone that could pose as a noble and make a splash; that way, if they disappeared, people would notice.
Lan Fan is chosen, and she takes off her mask and masquerades as a steppes woman named Feiyan Ma of the nomad clans. She befriends the Feng triplets, along with a number of other people, most of which are women. The fic is full of espionage, female friendships, Lan Fan backstory, Xing worldbuilding, and a kickass mystery to boot. There is also hints of Ling/Fan mixed in, but it’s a sweet sweet slow burn, and it’s agonizingly good.
Every time things slow down for a second, something else happens, and shu is a masterful storyteller that has honestly written something more interesting than nearly half of the published books I’ve ever read.
‘Swallows on the Beam’ is a ABSOLUTELY PHENOMENAL fanfiction that capitalizes on Lan Fan’s hazy background and stays true to her character while giving her a bigger picture, a leading role, and wonderful interactions with not only Ling, but also Alphonse and lots of other interesting original Xingese characters.
tldr: Feminist, espionage, LanFan-centric, mystery fanfiction written by tumblr user @shu-of-the-wind takes my life and inspires me to be as badass as Lan Fan every single day. Please read it. Do it for Lan Fan.
Because I LOOOOVE to talk about animation and the detail in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, I noticed something new to talk about in regards to it that I found super interesting and maybe someone else will too!
So in episode 19 of FMAB, “Death of the Undying”, we see Mustang carve a transmutation circle into his hand.
So, with that being said, most likely any other studio would’ve had just forgotten about it or just moved on. But not Bones. In episode 31, “520 Cens Promise”, that’s 12 episodes later, they continue to show remnants of the transmutation circle that was carved into his hand.
12 episodes later, which most of the time is a whole season later, and they still didn’t forget.
Thank you, Bones. I will forever love talking about the detail that comes with FMAB.
And in case anybody wanted to know: yup, that level of detail is totally in the manga as well. The picture below was from chapter 62, which corresponds with episode 31.