The desert, with its harsh conditions and tribal wars, symbolizes the serious difficulties that await anyone in pursuit of their Personal Legend, but it also serves as an important teacher to Santiago during his journey to the pyramids. As the alchemist puts it, tests are an inherent part of all Personal Legends, because they are necessary to create spiritual growth. More than the desert heat, the desert’s silence, emptiness, and monotony test Santiago. As Santiago learns, however, even the desert, despite appearing barren, contains life and the Soul of the World. Santiago begins to understand his environment, and to see the signs of life in what seems to be a wasteland. Eventually he learns to recognize all of creation in a single grain of sand, and in the greatest test he faces during the book, he finds he is able to enlist the desert in his effort to become the wind.
After an exorbitant death toll, Mustang himself brought an end to the struggle in Daliha, effectively bringing the civil war to a close. However, the long and bloody struggle had all but erased the idealism of his youth; after devoting himself to the military in order to support the people, he had built himself up into the "hero" of a massacre, and only managed to save the lives of a few men stationed under him with his flames. Still, the thanks of those men inspired a new dream in the Flame Alchemist's heart. Instead of becoming part of the foundation of the country in order to protect the people, he began planning to rise above people and protect those below him with his acquired power and authority. Even if all he could protect was a few people, he would make sure that those people protected those below them and so on until the entire nation ended up benefiting from his protection. It was at that point that Mustang first set his sights on the position of Führer.