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 13 out of 14 parts. Hey, look I have a number!
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 honestly don't know how I managed to get this far, but I know I have one person to thank, and that's Christie. She has gotten me so far, encouraged me all the way, and I can't thank her enough for it. I am incredibly sad that this is the end. I hope to find another adventure to take Regal on, but so far, this is my tribute to him. I hope you've all enjoyed it.
On my Honor
I never actually heard why His Majesty would reinstate the Battle Arena's old program of prisoners fighting beasts for paying spectators, but work spread about the new matches soon enough. I suspected that Zelos had, in a vendetta not entirely his own, sponsored the move, using his new status as a Royal Advisor instead of the Rights of the Chosen. NO matter the cause of the fights being brought back, I still received word of a particular match within weeks of my recovery, as did Lloyd and the others.
George was scheduled to fight.
Raine had slapped Lloyd and Genis over the head when they had suggested we make a day of going to see the fight. Presea, Sheena, and Colette were more tentative, asking how I felt about it. Zelos had announced right away his attendance was already requested by the King, but he would help get tickets for anyone else that wanted them. When they had all fallen silent, waiting for me to finally express my own thoughts on going, I had told them the only thing that my lips could form at the moment.
The coliseum in Meltokio was not a place I had ever been able to stomach even before I had been imprisoned. Growing up I had thought those that could watch the combat there between captive beasts and convicted men sadistic. I assured my friends that I would not hold them back from going, or hold it against them if they did attend, but I could not go back to arena, and certainly not for such a display.
I did, however, go with them to Meltokio. I had business with His Majesty to take care of a day or two before, as did most of the others as the King wanted as much detail about the Reunification or the worlds as possible as well as guidance about how to proceed making ties with Slyvarant. I did, reluctantly, walk with them to the coliseum, and perhaps they thought I might change my mind if I was there with them just before the match. But I already knew I could not go in there, even if it was likely I would never get another chance for anything of the sort again, not even for closure.
More than likely my friends would witness George's last minutes on earth, for reasons all of their own, yet I could not bring myself to go. I assured my friends that I would meet them for dinner later on the upper level of the city before I turned and started back towards the center of Meltokio. Even Presea had headed towards the arena, but she had ever right to see the man who had had such a heavy hand in her sister's death come to justice. Whether George survived combat with monsters or not didn't matter to her either, I knew that and so did she, but I understood her need to bear witness just as she understood mine not to be there.
Without thinking much about it, I paused in my slow steps across the bridge, leaning against the railing as a roar erupted behind me shaking the walls of the coliseum. Whatever had just occurred there had to have pleased the crowd, and I tried not to imagine the brutal fate of the one who had had to fall for such a cheer to rise. In spite of all he'd done to me, all George had taken from me, I did not wish for him to be torn apart by beasts. After so many years of violence, fighting to survive, of being fed lies, of torture, of strife, and of punishment, I couldn't help but think that my soul was exhausted.
If I did not go to the match, I could strive to put the ugliness behind me, I could mourn for those I had loved and lost, but I would not be chained down by hatred. Vengeance had consumed my life for too long, the sins of my past holding me back from truly living, and if no one, Presea, Alicia, Lloyd, or any of the others believed that that was the life I deserved then it was time I moved on.
My left hand had idly begun to rub my right wrist, a habit that I was unconsciously forming. It shouldn't have been second nature to be able to move my hands freely and yet it was still something that I was adjusting to. Biting my lip, I did my best to ignore the second roar that burst forth from the shuddering walls of the coliseum. What was going on there no longer concerned me. I had delivered George into the hands of the authorities, I had given them the security video of the attempt he made on my life, and I had cooperated with them to the fullest of my ability, and what had become of that treacherous man after that was out of my hands.
I'm going to start over, Alicia. I'm going to try to begin again.
I'm going to live…really live…just like I promised.
Closing my eyes, I drew in a deep breath, as though oxygen would cleanse my very being just by flowing in and then flowing out. My entire body relaxed, though my back and side still throbbed because I had pushed myself too hard in the mines, and for the most part I left everything behind. I couldn't entirely walk away from what had happened, not when people that were so important to me were in those memories as well, but I could release the anger completely.
But I still miss you, Alicia. I will never forget you.
I will always love you.
Whether it had been a dream is which I had come face to face with my beloved, or whether she had really come to me, didn't matter to me as much as the knowledge she still loved me. I did not deserve it, but I needed it. I would not have the strength to keep going without it. Just knowing that she didn't despise me, that she didn't curse me, that she had wanted me to remove my shackles, soothed the tattered edges of my shredded soul, infusing it with new strength which would help me carry on.
Prepared to face the world anew, I turned from the railing, facing the center of the Imperial City that was willing to welcome me once again. So absorbed in my own thoughts I was unaware of what was going on around me, and my movements brought me into a collision with someone meaning to pass by me. An arm hit my injured side stopping me in my tracks with a gasp as I faintly heard a few things clatter to the ground, the flash of white hot pain jolting through me so suddenly I nearly feel to my knees.
"Oh my, I'm so sorry!" The feminine voice laced with concern, a slight twinge of panic, broke through the ache that had intensified in both my back and side. When I opened my eyes perhaps an instant later there was a hand on my forearm where I had drawn it in to hold my middle, hazel orbs focused intently up at me. A young woman with those deep, thoughtful eyes had been the one to bump into me, and while the physical aspect of the encounter had been painful, I was more stunned by her.
I didn't recognize her. That shouldn't have been startling considering the time I had spent in the dungeon, the fact I lived in Altamira, and that I obviously did not know everyone is Tethe'alla. Yet her features struck me. I was taken aback by how her creamy complexion accented her deep, thoughtful gaze, brought out her long eyelashes, and was emphasized by the darker shade of her hair. The gentle breeze caused a stray brown lock to fall free of her braid and onto her forehead. I was staring at her even though the throbbing in my mending wounds was pounding against my senses.
"I'm so sorry, sir, I should have been watching where I was going. I'm usually not so clumsy," she murmured quickly taking my silence for irritation, glancing me over to check for injuries or damage. "Are you all right?"
"I…" I shook my head a little to clear it. "Forgive me. I should have been paying more attention, Miss."
"Are you sure?" One of her eyebrows lifted in question as though she didn't believe me, and she drew back her hand gradually as if she might need to thrust it out again suddenly to catch me. The concern shinning in her eyes was startling as well especially as we were strangers.
"Really, I'm fine," I assured her after a moment, taking a step back to give myself some room to crouch down and pick up what she had dropped when she'd bumped into me.
Tilting her head to the side, she knelt down with me, grabbing the nearest volume but still trying to hold my gaze. "Your posture seemed to say otherwise. Let me get these. I'm the blind klutz causing trouble…you really shouldn't trouble yourself after I hurt you."
Shaking my head I held out the stack I had acquired. "Miss, it was an accident, there is no reason to be so hard on yourself. You didn't hurt me…not really. I'm merely…sore."
It was the truth that while the collision had hurt, the young woman hadn't been the one to do the real harm. My wounds would not have been troubling me at all if I had given myself more time to heal, as Raine had cautioned me. Grinning slightly, I stood when she did, willing myself not to stare but unable to stop myself from taking a better look at her.
She was a slender young woman, thin, but toned as though she was no stranger to activity and she was probably about the same height as Sheena. She wore a scabbard on her belt, perhaps why she appeared so fit, and she also wore a dark blue tunic, a simple garment that went with the tan leggings she had on. I couldn't help but think that she was not from Tethe'alla, which was a stunning thought because I hadn't expected people to travel to the Imperial City from Sylvarant so soon after the Reunification.
"I'm sorry. I really should have been paying more attention to where I was going, but I've never been to Meltokio before and it's such a beautiful city," she replied returning my smile a bit sheepishly. "I really am sorry, sir."
"Regal," I corrected her gently, automatically. "My name is Regal."
She blinked a little surprised, but her smile widened a little. "I'm really sorry, Regal. My name is Liane."
"Apology accepted, Liane, but you don't really have anything to apologize for. It was an accident," I insisted glancing over the books she held and wondering if she'd just visited the bookshop on the lower level earlier. "Meltokio is a beautiful city, I can understand if it distracted you as you were going along."
A slight flush rose in her cheeks as she dropped her gaze suddenly, clutching her armful of books tighter to her chest. "Well…that and the hurry I was in to get away from the coliseum couldn't have helped…"
"You…were at the arena?" I hadn't really thought about which direction she had come from as the ache had filled my senses too quickly for anything else to register right away. I couldn't help but wonder just who this woman was that would come from any city in Sylvarant, armed with a blade as well as her curiosity, and she had fled the coliseum amidst the cheers. The matches could not have concluded yet. "But you left…?"
"Someone told me in one of the shops that the matches in the arena might be exciting but…I didn't have the stomach for them. I suppose I should have known what to expect from his description though…" Liane sighed rolling her eyes at her own actions. She smiled weakly up at me, attempting to brush that one stray lock of hair back but the breeze would not have it, freeing it once more.
"I hope that it hasn't tarnished your opinion of the people of Meltokio. Not everyone here enjoys such a spectacle," I retorted forcing myself to keep the bitterness from words, to keep my expression pleasant. There was no reason to trouble someone I had only just met with my horrible memories of the coliseum.
She shook her head. "But I've probably ruined your opinion of the people of Sylvarant by not looking where I was going…"
I couldn't help but chuckle at that, even if it increased the throbbing around my still healing wounds, a natural reaction that seemed to still take me by surprise. Not long ago I would never have believed that I would ever laugh again, and I certainly would not have recognized myself dressed in casual black trousers, a black button-up shirt, without my shackles. "No, I don't think something so simple would change my opinion after I've already made some very good friends from Sylvarant."
Her eyes widened for an instant before her smile brightened, her arms tightening on the books a little. "That's good. I would have hated to have destroyed the opinion of the friendliest person I've met since I've come to Tethe'alla, especially by accident. Meltokio isn't used to tourists is it?"
"Perhaps not, but that will probably change soon, I'd imagine," I remarked thoughtfully shifting slightly where I stood. "And I'm flattered, but I feel that I should do something to make up for things if I'm the friendliest person you've met thus far…"
I wasn't sure what I was doing, what was compelling me to go beyond just courtesy with this young woman from Sylvarant to extend a hand of friendship, but it felt right. To begin again this appeared a step in the right direction, the start of my new path, and so I felt no hesitation or any reason to. Liane, while I barely knew anything about her, was obviously brave enough to venture into a land she didn't know and such bravery should be acknowledge, encouraged, and rewarded. Meltokio was inhabited, in some areas, with those that were too absorbed to offer her that.
"Perhaps, if you're still exploring the city, I could show you around…if you'd like the company?" I offered wondering if she'd scoff at the idea. I was still a stranger for the most part.
"Really?" she asked after a moment seemingly taken aback by the suggestion. "I mean…I wouldn't want to trouble you. I'm sure you have better things to do than show around a country bumpkin."
"I would not have offered if I did not want to, Liane." As she was flustered, I took the opportunity to take the books from her arms and then offered her one of mine. I hoped that the blush on her cheeks was not because I had made her uncomfortable. "I don't mean to intrude on your trip but--"
"No! No, I mean, you're not," she exclaimed quickly reaching out to carefully loop her arm through mine, cautious because she didn't exactly know where I was hurt. "I just wasn't expecting…to run into such a gentleman…"
Again I chuckled. "Perhaps that will change too. Do you have any idea what you would like to see next?"
Liane beamed up at me, cocking her head to the side. "Maybe…my kind tour guide could make a suggestion? I've only made two stops so far…a bookstore I happened to wander into and the coliseum, so I'm open to anywhere you think would be interesting."
"Then…would you like to see the castle?" I was certain that the guards would let me right through without even asking my purpose there. It wasn't as if the palace were normally closed off but His Majesty was habitually careful, for his safety and his daughters, since the business with the Pope.
"…You're…not joking?" Hazel eyes curiously sought mine, looking for a sign of insincerity that she wasn't going to find. "Regal…that would be…incredible."
Gently, I led her across the bridge, walking with her on the side opposite my injured one, carrying her collection of volumes mindful of my wounds as well. The excitement she was now struggling to contain was seeping into her steps lightening them, giving them a slight bounce, and it glittered in her gaze. Yet even thought she was holding it back, it had spread to me as well. There I was starting over, facing the world a new as best I could, and somehow joining her on her journey gave it a thrill I had not anticipated.
"Wait until you see it," I insisted, grinning.
Her laugh echoed my own, and it was probably terrible of me to revel in it, to want to keep the invigoration I'd only just found again for the rest of my existence. But I had promised that I would live. I had promised to stop punishing myself. In doing so, in healing and in moving on, I would honor the wishes of those I had lost and those I had only just found that cared for me. I would strive to keep my word, but not out of obligation.
Whether it was right or wrong, whether I deserved the chance to or not, and even though I might never truly be redeemed, I wanted to honor my promise.
End Notes: Well, I have to say, I enjoyed every minute of writing this. I love Regal, and I am so glad to have done this. Now, please, if you have not already checked out Heart of the Phoenix please do so. That is where Liane is from. Check out Shaddowind's story because not only is it amazing, but it's extremely well done. Thank you all so much for reading Honor, and I hope you enjoyed it!