Title: On my Honor
Pairing: Lots of mentions of RegalxAlicia, but no other ones planned at the moment…
Rating: Let's go PG-13 to be safe, since they do swear in the game, and the violence.
Status: Chapter 1 out of ? parts. Lots planned, but a number is not clear just yet.
Disclaimer: Don't own Tales of Symphonia. Please don't sue me.
Spoilers: A TON, mostly for Regal. I'd say this story is better suited for those who have beaten the game if you ask me. Read at your own risk of spoiling anything. Since it starts where Regal comes in, it should spoil quite a bit of the game after that, don't you think?
Summary: Take a look through Regal's eyes as well as a look into his past.
Author notes: I know, groan all you want, another Regal story from me. Sorry, but I love the guy. He needs some recognition, and with everything I have planned, I think he should at least get some from this. During the scenes from Regal's POV his thoughts are in italics as well. Oh, the flashbacks are not in consecutive order, and are in italics. I have them in third person because not all of them focus on Regal. The story follows from where Regal enters it. Hope you all enjoy!
On my Honor
There was no other way, I knew that. I wanted to deny it, I wanted to come up with some other plan, and I wanted to pretend that I wasn't about to go against everything I had ever stood for. But I knew it to be true. This wasn't about greed though, like it was for the other men, this was about justice. If there had been any other way to get the Pope to arrest Vharley for his crimes, I would have gladly done it. I never wanted to hurt anyone ever again.
This was the only way to make that Exsphere broker pay or I would not have agreed to it. I despised what I had to do, I hated that this was what it would take, but it was my only option.
To get what meager revenge I could on Vharley, I had to stop the travelers from Slyvarant, and kidnap a girl among them. The Pope did not care what happened to the others that was of no concern to him, only the girl mattered for she was the Chosen of the dying world. At least that is what he said. As I had made this dastardly deal part of my mind had been screaming that I could not trade this girl's life for Vharley's freedom. That what I was doing was despicable, that it was just wrong.
Yet I had made the deal with only a moment's hesitation.
Forgive me for what I am about to do, Alicia.
Foolishly the other convicts charged on in without me. Even though the Papal Knights had locked doors leading through the sewer system, it had done nothing to slow the travelers from Slyvarant down, and even though they had braved countless monsters before, my companions did not come out victorious. Within moments of assaulting the group they were taken down.
They had been too rash. For a moment I was almost relieved. Those men had intended to kill complete strangers just to lighten their own burden, a relief they did not deserve. Why the Pope had given them orders to kill, while my orders were merely to capture, I could only guess. Perhaps his Holiness did not have much faith in their abilities. My relief was short lived when I saw my opportunity to strike in a way that would mean there would be minimal violence, and miraculously, none of them had known of my presence until I made my move.
Over confident from his victory over my companions, the Chosen of Tethe'alla, Zelos, had advanced on the other convicts, leaving him vulnerable. I was ashamed that I did not even hesitate to leap down from the upper level using one swift kick to the back of the younger man's head to sprawl him out on the sewer floor face down.
Holding him down with one of my feet on the small of his back, the pressure only hard enough to keep him from struggling too much or escaping, I fixed the rest of his group with as hard a gaze as I could muster. I was not used to giving anyone as vicious a glance as the one I fixed upon them. I did not even recognize my own voice when I practically hissed at the startled travelers, "Don't move…if you move, the Chosen dies, understand?"
It was a bluff. I would not kill anyone, even if these people of the declining world were to rush in right now to attack me in the hopes of saving the red headed Chosen. I did not want to cause any more harm than necessary, unlike the men they had just faced in combat. If I had to fight them, I would, but I would not take another life. No matter how many of my principles I was breaking now to commit this deed in the name of justice, I would never kill another innocent.
Under the pressure I was exerting on his back, Zelos fought a bit, trying to get away, but to no avail. His strength, even with his Exsphere, was nothing compared to mine. I did not intend to release him until I had what I came for, as much as I hated to take a prisoner for the soul purpose of obtaining another. I could feel his body tense. "Whoa whoa whoa! You think you can get away with doing something like this to the Chosen?"
Normally, he would have a point for the Chosen was one of the highest statuses of the land, higher than my own, held nearly as high as the King of Tethe'alla himself. But what had the Papal Knights mentioned of the Chosen and his companions being wanted for plotting against this world? As much as I loathed what I was doing, I had to be convincing, remarking in a calmer, logical tone, "One who plots the destruction of the world...can no longer be deemed the Chosen."
Although his friends seemed worried for his safety, my words seemed to affect Zelos the most causing him to squirm under my foot again, this time a bit more desperately. "…oh…Hey, Lloyd! If you abandon me here, I swear, I'll come back to haunt you!"
So I had at least managed to fool the Chosen that I was intent on taking his life if my demands weren't met. The boy dressed in red with two swords at his side though, spread his arms at his sides, the threat not causing any distress in his expression. He even gazed at the man under my heel a bit skeptically. "…I just had a sudden, violent urge to abandon you."
Even though my mind registered his sarcastic tone a chill still ran down my spine nearly causing me to visibly shiver. I was not prepared if any of them called my bluff and expected me to kill the swordsman I held to the ground. And even if I was wiling to fight them to take only one prisoner for the Pope, as well as had a great deal of confidence in my own abilities in battle, I could not be sure I could take on all seven of them at once by myself. This Lloyd…could, and would not, truly be so callous as to sacrifice one of his own companions! In spite of the short period of time these people from Slyvarant had been in our world, surely they had at least come to form some sort of bond with the Chosen of Tethe'alla!
Or was it not callousness that had caused Lloyd to say this, but a challenge towards me? Could he see that I was bluffing? Was I that transparent?
Determined not to allow them to see my doubts, my frantic thoughts on what I could do if it came down to the life of Zelos or fighting the seven of them, I set my jaw. For years I had learned to keep my face utterly stoic, whether to hide fear, grief, sorrow, or even joy, and it would serve me well now. None of them could see my true intentions or my plan would be ruined.
I should not have been searching their expressions, looking for an ounce of compassion for Zelos in each of them, because it distracted me. One of the girls, a short one with her hair in two long pigtails, came running at me. I should not have been startled, I should have been anticipating an attack from any of them since, as I hoped, they would care about the Chosen I was holding hostage. And yet I was shocked to have this child spring at me so boldly, swinging a battle ax that should have been too heavy for one of her size to even lift. I managed to narrowly dodge the blow, jumping to my left, but it would seem she'd gotten what she had wanted anyway.
Zelos, after her charge at me, had managed to scramble to his feet before I could prevent it. I should have known that was what the girl intended, but it was already too late. He dashed over to Lloyd, moving to behind the younger swordsman to wrap his arms around the boy's shoulders breathing out in relief. "Phew!"
His friend seemed a bit annoyed with the embrace. "…"
The control of the situation was slipping from my grasp and I could not allow that, not now when I was so close. If I failed now would Vharely ever be brought to justice? Would he ever pay for his crimes? My options were growing slim if I wanted to keep the violence of this encounter to a minimal, and I had just lost my first hostage along with any power I held over these strangers. That and I had not even been informed of which of the girls in this group was Slyvarant's Chosen of Mana caused panic to swell in my chest. Surveying my chances again, I noticed that the child that had attempted to assault me while rescuing Zelos from my hold had not returned to where she had stood with the group before. Could I use her as a hostage in my desperation? Use a child? In my search for justice, for redemption, could I sink that low?
Thoughts of such a vile action fled me once my gaze landed on her face and for the first time I truly looked at her, truly saw her.
Dear sweet Martel, it cannot be--!
Recognition was only the first of the waves that hit me. Next came shock, horror, denial, and finally, just fear. Was this a phantom sent to haunt me? How could this child have that hair, those eyes, that face? How could she look just like her! My mind was reeling at the sight of her, something inside of me screaming silently. I could no longer think clearly. Unable to control myself, nor my tongue, I gasped helplessly, "You're!..."
Movement brought me back from confusion. A boy with white hair had jumped forward using a spell to launch an array of fireballs straight for me. Luckily my body reacted on its own, used to rigorous training and avoiding attacks, helping me evade injury.
She looks just like her! She looks just like…Alicia!
As much as I hated it, the bleakness of my situation was apparent. With that girl's face now haunting me, a specter from my past, I would be too distracted to fight them. Even if I could have fought all of them at once my mind would not focus on anything but the turmoil the sight of her had caused me. I had no choice but to leave a failure, leaving without a captive. "…Ugh…retreat for now…"
One of the other convicts did nothing to hide his bitterness of being defeated earlier. "Damn, these guys are too strong…"
He was the first to make a break for the stairs, the other two close on his heels. I knew that if I stayed I would most likely be defeated. I still hesitated to follow the other criminals out of the sewers though.
It couldn't be…
That girl, that face…part of me did not want to believe it. Just with a look, just her appearance, had shaken me down to my very soul. Even though she was but a child she looked to be the spitting image, a mere reflection of my memory. It had to be impossible. It had to be a trick of the dim lights of these infernal sewers! Perhaps it was even my conscience run rampant, taking that form to punish me for accepting the Pope's deal, for promising to kidnap an innocent young girl.
Did my eyes deceive me?
The glance I cast over in her direction told me everything before I fled Meltokio's sewers. She still had the same wide, azure eyes set in a childlike face, her pink hair longer but pulled back into two simple pigtails.
Alicia…she looks just like Alicia…
I shook my head violently. I had no time for this. I had to get out of here. My failure…that girl's face…I had to forget that for now. By not securing the Chosen of Mana from Slyvarant I had defied the Pope, instead of laying down my life for his cause, and he would be furious if he found me or any of the others that he had made deals with. But I had been to Meltokio enough times to know just where the guards were stationed, when the shifts changed. The knowledge would help me escape the capitol city, but escape to where?
Where would I go now with this ill-gotten freedom?
At least Vharely would be arrested. That was what the Pope promised me.
Suddenly, in my mind I saw her face again. The face of the girl with the ax, the face of the girl that reminded me so much of the one I loved. In that instant I knew that I had to know her, that I needed to speak to her no matter what or I would be haunted a hundred times more by just the images burned into my memory from that one encounter. The need to speak with her, to question her, to have the information only she could give, burned in my throat to the point I thought my eyes might start to water. Or was that the grief of practically staring into what could have been the eyes of my beloved when I did not deserve to even still be breathing?
No, I could not let grief swallow me now. I had to think clearly, I had to escape to where the Pope would not find me and I had to decide what I would do about the phantom girl I had seen in the sewers. Suffering could come later, grief could wait. Now was the time for action, for a plan, I could wallow in pity some other time, perhaps back in my cell alone to rot away the rest of my life. Just not yet.
The travelers from Slyvarant were fugitives now, meaning it would be foolish for them to remain in Meltokio for long when it was the location of both the palace and the church where the King and the Pope reside. They would be on the move once they finished whatever they had been sneaking in to the Imperial City for. So where would they go next? There was not much on this continent, just a House of Guidance, Meltokio, and the Fooji Mountains. None of those locations would save them from search parties. Would they try to take the Grand Tethe'alla Bridge over to the city of Sybak? It was closer, but I could not be sure that was where they would head. It was unlikely they would even be able to cross the bridge now that they were running from the Papal Knights, yet I doubted that would stop them.
So where would they go?
Could they be headed for…could they be headed to Ozette?
Unfortunately it was my only guess at their true plans. I had no way of knowing just where they might go when they left the walls of Meltokio; I could only hope…could only pray to Martel that I was right. That they would go to Sybak and then the Gauracchia Forest, because that would take them to Ozette. I could only trust my instincts now; it was all that I had. And if I could make it in time, that would take them to me.
How long had it been since I was out in the open? Since I had seen anything outside the dungeon walls, the stands in the coliseum? The Grand Tethe'alla Bridge had been no trouble to cross, and I had made great time passing by Sybak and into the Gauracchia Forest. Even in the darkness of the woods' canopy, even among the monsters that roamed among the trees and foliage, I was more at ease than I had been in so long. Freedom was new to me, even if it was not a freedom I had earned, and a selfish part of my soul indulged in it as I finally found the trail that led to Ozette.
Here I could wait for them in the trees, where they would not see me. I could surprise them once again. Now all I had to do, was be patient, and hope. Had I been right? Would they come this way, or would they travel further from Meltokio to somewhere like Flanior, which was so much further from the people that wanted them captured?
"Duke Bryant, are you even listening to me?" The smooth, even toned voice brought Regal out of his thoughts, azure eyes blinking into focus as he turned back to his two guests. He was still adjusting to both his new position as well as being addressed as Duke Bryant. Duke Bryant had always been his father. Now it was what everyone called him other than Master Regal. Everyone had a place, George had always insisted, and it was in that place where they belonged. As much as he had been prepared, tutored, and prepped to carry on his family's duties, there were times when Regal seriously doubted this was the only place in the world for him, among nobles such as Duke Nomal and his courtier son Joshua Nomal.
"Yes, of course." In reality he had only been half-listening to their remarks, as the other half of his attention was focused on the new Chief Maid shrewdly training in a group of young female employees. That was not unusual considering George had recently hired a completely new staff for the estate, what it was that caught his attention was one particular girl.
The Chief Maid, a Ms. Jonase if Regal recalled correctly, had over burdened her with things to carry, for whatever reason that he could not determine as he could not hear what was being said, and she was trying to balance the cleaning supplies while following along with the group and paying attention to the lecture being given. Regal was certain he had not seen this new employee before. One reason for his certainty was that she had light pink hair separated into short pigtails, something that definitely stood out. Another reason was that she appeared so young compared to the other girls in her group, a child, no more than eleven he guessed. The young nobleman frowned as he saw another of the girls add a few folded towels to the pink haired child's already impressive load before running off to catch up with the migrating group.
"Duke Bryant?" Joshua sensed the Duke's distraction.
"Alicia!" Ms. Jonase shouted at the poor struggling girl who could not keep everything in her arms balanced and chase after her training group, now lagging behind the rest. Unfortunately the shout only caused the girl to jump and everything came tumbling out of her hold onto the carpet at her feet.
Duke Nomal and his son must have finally followed Regal's gaze because they laughed at the sight this child made, flushed while falling to her knees to gather everything up again and about to be reprimanded by the Chief Maid stalking towards her. The older Duke chuckled behind his hand while gesturing over at the small display, "Good help is so hard to find these days, isn't it, my friend?"
Regal was no longer listening to his guests, and without thinking he had hurried over to the child, kneeling down next to her among the numerous cleaning supplies and putting a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Are you all right?"
Her eyes whipped up to meet his, frightened, tears building behind blues hues while her cheeks darkened to a deeper crimson shade. "I…I'm fine…Thank you…"
"Alicia, how dare you address Master Regal so informally?" Ms. Jonase cried, outraged at the child's lack of etiquette and ignorance of her place in the household as nothing more than a servant. There was a color of anger rising in her face as she stood over the poor girl, fuming, her dark hair falling out of its usually neat bun. "Can you not even carry a few things while I train you in your duties? If you insist on being so clumsy I will not hesitate to send you right back to your little country village, do you hear me?"
At her clipped tone the girl flinched, hurriedly trying to pick up everything she had dropped. Unable to stand the sight of this child so scared, Regal glared up at the Chief Maid, stating plainly, "If you had been making sure that all of your trainees had been doing their fair share of the work, Ms. Jonase, then there would not have been a problem. You need not be so harsh when it's obvious she is trying very hard to learn her new tasks."
Not waiting to see the shock on the older woman's face, he then turned to the girl she'd called Alicia, smiling warmly. "Your name is Alicia?"
"Y-yes, Master Regal." She nodded hurriedly. "Alicia Combatir."
For the first time in quite a while, the Duke's smile widened. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Alicia."
I was amazed when I was awakened from a small doze by a voice below. "I hear something…footsteps from far away…"
Another followed, this one much more familiar. "I don't hear anything."
I thought that I was hearing things at first, since I had merely guessed on where the travelers from Slyvarant would head and it was hard to believe that they could be below the very tree which I had taken as a perch. Gaoracchia Forest was a treacherous place, not many were even fit to brave it since monsters scoured the woods and the plants had overrun everything making it dark, foreboding. Shaking my head, also trying to make sure my movements were silent, I shifted in my seat on the large tree branch to find out if I had really heard the red headed Chosen's voice.
Gathered just in the fork in the path that would take them either out of the forest, into an area I knew very little of, or in the direction of Ozette, were the same people I had encountered in the sewers of Meltokio. I could not believe my eyes, they were all here; the Chosen, the boy he'd called Lloyd, the child that had cast a fireball spell at me, even the girl who resembled my memories in such an uncanny way. All seven of them had made it out of Meltokio and to this continent! It was not that I doubted they would avoid capture and possibly come this way, I just not had expected them so soon. And what was this about hearing footsteps in the distance? Were they being pursued?
As far as I could tell, they had no idea I was even there. Perfect. Although, would they have expected me to follow them?
"Colette still has her angel senses." One of the women I had not really taken notice of before stated, gesturing to another girl with long blonde hair. She appeared much like the young spell caster that had helped instigate my retreat in the sewers, but older, and with the way she carried herself I could see she held some form of authority in this group.
Colette, who I assumed was the blonde girl the woman had made a motion towards, gazed down the dirt road that would take them out of the forest to Ozette, appearing a bit pensive from what I could make out of her face from my high vantage point. "…They're definitely footsteps. Also, the sound of clinking armor. There are lots of them. It's coming from that direction."
"That can't be good. Altessa lives over there." Lloyd murmured a bit agitatedly. "Could it be more of the same guys from before?"
So they were being pursued, by the Papal Knights no doubt.
"I'll send Corrine out to scout." A dark haired young woman wearing what appeared from here to be the garb of a ninja, possibly that of Mizuho, remarked. With a wave of her hand a small puff of smoke appeared before her, and when that cleared a small creature remained. It could have been a fox, a fox with four tails that were blue, but it ran off towards their oncoming threat before I could get a decent look at it.
If they were being pursued, that meant that they might be captured. The Papal Knights had the numbers to overtake even their strongest adversaries, and if they were coming in a large group I might lose my only chance to speak with this girl. In all honesty, I was probably not thinking clearly, I probably had not been thinking clearly since I laid eyes on her and saw Alicia's face staring back at me. Even if it was not wise to approach a group I had just recently attacked and threatened, I leapt down from my perch, startling them.
The young spell caster recognized me immediately. "That's the guy from the Meltokio sewer!"
"Man it's just one thing after another with the Pope!" Zelos groaned, probably remembering how I had caught him off guard to take him as a hostage. He shook his head. "Am I really that much of a problem to him?"
I ignored the both of them for the most part, my gaze seeking that of the girl who reflected the face of the woman I loved. She did not seem frightened to see me, not moving to draw her weapon, no reaction in her expression at all. Did she even see me? Why is it that she seemed so empty, more of a puppet than a person? Her expression did not change, she did not speak. And yet, I had to try. "I do not wish to fight you. I just wish to speak with that girl."
Out of the corner of my eye I could see the crimson swordsman's confusion. None of them had made any move towards me yet; did I not appear to be a threat? Considering it meant that they were not all going to attack me at once I should have been grateful that all Lloyd did was ask, "With Presea?"
Again the white haired boy spoke up, this time in anger, clenching a fist at me. "You've got to be kidding! Or did you forget that you tried to kill us?"
I suppose it had been too hopeful of me to think that just because they had not all rushed at me, weapons in hand, that I was not in any danger of them. A knot twisted in my stomach, reminding me that I had agreed to confront them in the sewer; I had agreed to make myself their enemy just to put Vharely away. I had no time to explain that. They would not understand it anyway, even if I tried. That, and there were probably dozens of the Pope's men coming to capture them, so it was not as if they had time either.
But I need to speak with her. I must.
"I cannot speak for any others, however, I, at least, never intended to take your lives. My orders were to retrieve a girl named Colette." That at least, was the truth, as much as I could spare for them. Directly, I had not attacked them as the other convicts had, I merely had held Zelos at bay to negotiate their turning over Slyvarant's Chosen. Sadly I'd never gotten to the negotiating, so it was not that they could really trust my actions from before.
"…Me?" The girl I had already guessed was Colette chimed up innocently.
Even though the girl I wished to talk with so desperately would not react to me, perhaps the others with her would. I needed the chance to speak with her, meaning I would work with them to get it. Again that urgency to talk with the phantom child, the one that's face haunted me, grew to the point that I could barely hold it in. My throat burning, I once again met her azure orbs saying softly to reassure her, "I will do you no harm. Presea…is her name, correct? Please, let me speak with her."
Something on her neck suddenly struck my vision as if I'd been blindsided by a blow. That stone! That stone…on her neck…it was one of those cursed stones; the kind that could turn even the gentlest, kindest, most innocent person into a violent monster! And behind my horror there was guilt. I was partly responsible for Exspheres ever reaching the surface world of Tethe'alla, a sin I would never be absolved of. But this girl, this Presea, she could not have done anything so awful as to deserve that horrible stone on her neck! Did she even know what could become of her because of that evil thing?
"An Exshpere! You are yet another victim!" The words fell from my lips, I felt my mouth moving to form them, but I could not hear them. My eyes were boring into hers, my heart weeping at the familiarity of her gaze, and I lifted my bound hands to examine the stone.
For the first time, Presea moved. She slapped my hands away and I drew instinctively back. To my left I heard the young spell caster shout, "Presea's in danger!"
Along with the sound of swords being drawn, Lloyd's voice followed. "I don't know what the heck is going on, but we have to stop this guy!"
But I couldn't allow them to stop me. Didn't they understand? No, how could they? How could they understand the things I had seen, the things I had done, because of stones like the one Presea wore? I would not get the chance to explain anything to them either, as it seemed they were intent on separating me from their companion. Every piece of my shattered soul screamed that I could not allow that, shrieked that if I did not counter them I could lose my only chance to get answers from this child that was nearly a reflection of Alicia.
Lloyd, Zelos, Colette, and the young spell caster were the ones that came charging at me. If they were looking for a battle I had to give them one, even if I did not want to hurt them, even if I did not want to fight them. What else could I do? I tried to hone in the anger I felt deep inside for being kept from the answers I sought, growling out at my attackers, "We have no choice but to fight!"
There was a choice. They just hadn't allowed it to me.
Four of them, I thought it would be easy enough. Perhaps I had underestimated their strengths, or had I underestimated how much I did not want to battle with them? I should have been able to take them at full strength, but there was part of me holding back. Even in light of the fact failure could mean death, as I had no idea how far these people from another world would go to insure their own safety, or losing could mean I would lose my only opportunity to question Presea, I held back.
I was not worried for my own life as I was slipping into unconsciousness after Lloyd's final attacks, no; if Vharely had been apprehended as per my agreement with the Pope then I had nothing else tying me to living. Except…why was it that when I looked into Presea's eyes it was not her that I saw, but Alicia? My Alicia. Disgust coursed through me as I fell to my knees on the ground.
Where was my strength to fight when I needed it? How could I have been so foolish as to hold back? I should have fought them with all my might; I should have wanted the truth more than I wanted to just end my suffering. Yet I could not stop the darkness swirling my vision with the will to fight now, it was too late. How many times will I fail you, Alicia?
"I'm…sorry…" I couldn't stop the darkness from taking me then.
To be continued
This took me a while to get out. The scripting out of the scenes was annoying but necessary. I hope you enjoyed it. The flashbacks will make more and more sense as the story goes on, I promise! Please let me know what you think! I appreciate comments!
Also, I wanted to thank Christie for inspiring me to write this, all of her encouragement, and all of her help. I really couldn't have gotten this story off the ground without you! Marika, your story Tainted Disposition was also an inspiration and I want you to know that! And Heidi, I want to thank you too, because of all your help getting skits! I may need to keep asking you for favors, but I want you to know how much I appreciate your hard work!