Yay, my first Tales of Symphonia story! I recently finished the game with my Dad, and I'm a little embarrassed it took me this long. For video games, I often like to write about strange situations with the game mechanics, but this one just came from a thought I had just after defeating Abyssion (and oh-my-god that fight was hard...I had to be reminded to breathe!). Lloyd's Devil's Arm, "Nebilim", proved stronger than Dirk's Elemental Blades, due to my strategy of rushing in to slaughter stuff in every battle throughout the entire game.
But I started to wonder...is it really worth it to risk potential corruption and death just to deal a few hundred extra points of damage?
Worth the Price
There was a party going on in the wide fields below the cliffs of the Temple of Darkness. Abyssion was dead, and the gang was celebrating.
Lloyd had wanted to have the party at a real inn, such as the one in Meltokio, and his idea had had some merit. They were tired and exhausted, even with the heavy-duty healing that had been applied by Rayne. It was Zelos who had squashed the idea, saying they would be far less restricted by the rules and laws of the frankly-uptight city if they had their victory celebration right here in the open wilds.
So they were.
Even so, it was a quiet celebration. Right now, they were all too tired for anything else. A single opponent had nearly killed them all, and even with the eight of them fighting together it had been a near thing.
Genis had volunteered to cook, but that had been just before collapsing onto the grass. The little half-elf had hurled spell after spell after spell at the demonic Abyssion, and gotten knocked around severely when their opponent had slipped past the combined guards of Lloyd, Regal, and Presea. So, Regal had taken over the cooking for tonight. Raine, too, was sleeping off her exhaustion. She'd barely said a word during the battle that wasn't a spell.
The humans, however, were sore but otherwise all right. They sat around the campfire, laughing and talking and boasting about their own roles in the battle. Particular attention was paid to Presea. She sat between Genis and Sheena, and the two were bombarding her with so much light-hearted chatter that they were certainly fulfilling their promise to "drown out the voices of the Devil's Arm". Abyssion had shaken her up badly, and Lloyd was proud of his friends for cheering her up. Already he'd spotted a few brief smiles flicker across her face. Presea was many things, but an "Empty Soul" was something he would never let her be.
As the night wound on, Lloyd found himself finally getting sleepy. He'd eaten copious amounts of food and had worn himself out as much from sitting and talking as from swinging his swords. He yawned and got up, opening his mouth to excuse himself…
…when his arm was taken by Colette, a worried look on her shadowed face.
"Lloyd?" she asked nervously. "Can I talk to you?"
"Sure," he said blankly. Strangely enough, Colette had barely said a word all night. "What's wrong?"
Colette bit her lip. "Um…just…over here. Please?"
Confused, he allowed himself to be pulled away from the fire's glow into the shadows.
"What's wrong?" he asked again, as he and Colette faced each other.
Colette stared at her feet, squirming uncomfortably. Lloyd was immediately uncomfortable. He hated to see Colette so nervous…and she had not been so nervous since he long-ago days as a "Chosen".
Lloyd took both her hands and stared intently at her. "Colette? What's the matter?"
"You're…you're really going to use Nebilim to fight? Nebilim and that armor from Abyssion?"
Lloyd was taken aback. He drew back from Colette and frowned, forgetting that this tended to make her even more nervous. "Y-Yeah. Why?"
"I don't think you should!" said Colette earnestly, finally looking up at him with her fists clenched at her sides. "I don't think you should you that sword, Lloyd! Or that armor! I thought you were using the swords Dirk made for you?"
The Elemental Blades were now wrapped in cloth beside his pack. Lloyd had been using Nebilim during their exhausting fight to escape the Temple. To his amazement, the blades that had seemed unbalanced and unsettling had become swift and deadly on Abyssion's death.
"My Devil's Arms are just better swords," said Lloyd with a nervous shrug. "I mean, all throughout our journey we've been trading older weapons in for new ones. It's just…something we do. Dad would understand."
"But those swords are evil, Lloyd! Really, really evil! Did you already forget what owning them did to Abyssion?!"
Lloyd tried to protest, and found that he could not. Colette's earnest and worried gaze was wiping out any chance at defending himself.
"And you shouldn't use that armor, either!" Colette continued. "It's probably just as bad! It feels wrong! It feels evil and cruel and…and…and just like Pronyma, or Kvar, but a lot worse!" She took a deep breath, and without warning grasped both of Lloyd's hands. "I…I don't want you to end up like he did, Lloyd! I…I couldn't go on if you did."
"Colette…I mean, I appreciate your concern…but I'll never become like Abyssion. I won't. I promise."
"No," said Colette, shaking her head. "You won't. If you stop using Nebilim and the armor. Go back to using your Dad's swords. Those are good swords. They were made to protect the world. Nebilim was made to destroy it."
"I…I agree with Colette."
Both Lloyd and Colette turned in surprise, to see that Presea had approached them. Hands clasped before her, Presea gazed at Lloyd with urgency in her eyes.
"I agree…with Colette," she said. "You should not use those swords, Lloyd. They are evil." She placed a hand to her own forehead. "I…I can tell. I know. I still hear them whispering to me. They desire a new victim, Lloyd. Using those swords…will kill you."
Without warning, she unslung her axe from her back and slammed it into the ground, blade first. When she looked up at him again, her gaze was stony.
"Because if you continue to use them, I will kill you. I will kill you myself rather than let you become what Abyssion became. I feel…I feel that is my duty as a friend to you, Lloyd."
Lloyd was taken aback…and more than a little nervous now.
But the situation only grew stranger when Colette stepped forward.
She took a deep breath, and held up her chakram. Lloyd had thought it was her Stardust Chakram, but as it hit the glow of the distant firelight, he saw it was the Evil Eye.
Colette's Devil's Arm.
"Lloyd…you're the kindest person I've ever met. I…" She went red as a blush crept up her cheeks. "I loved that about you since the day we first met. I…I couldn't live if you stopped being so kind." She stared at him, her face determined. "So that's why, if you continue to use your Devil's Arms…I will, too!"
"What? But Colette…" Lloyd protested.
"It would be far less effective for Colette than it would for Lloyd," said Presea monotonously. "For Colette has killed far less than Lloyd has."
"I don't care!" Colette protested. "If Lloyd's going to use Nebilim, I'll use the Evil Eye! If Lloyd wants to risk becoming like Abyssion, I will too! If Lloyd wants to use such an evil weapon to become stronger…"
Lloyd very carefully removed the Evil Eye from her hands.
"…you will, too," he repeated. He smiled at her. "I get it, Colette." He took a deep breath. "Stronger isn't always better. You're right. Especially not with what we just faced." He took a deep breath, pulled Nebilim out of their sheathes, and dropped them in the grass along with Evil Eye. "I should have known that. I'm sorry."
Colette beamed. "It's all right, Lloyd."
Presea stepped forward and picked up the discarded weapons. She gave a tiny smile. "Yes. It is. I will give these to Raine. She will perform a spell tomorrow to render these harmless."
"And then Genis is going to make cake!" said Colette happily. She grabbed Lloyd's arm and started to tug him back towards the firelight. "C'mon, Lloyd! You're going to miss the last of the food!"
He allowed himself to be towed by the girl he loved.
The girl who had saved him.
And the next day, as Raine prepared the spell to render the pile of cursed weapons at her feet harmless lumps of metal, Lloyd sat by the ashes of last night's blaze with his father's best swords on his knees. He polished them and tended to them until the glowed in the rising sunlight.
They were not the strongest swords in the world, but they had been made for him. They fed not off of blood, but off of the hopes of those he fought for.
And to Lloyd, that suddenly made them the strongest swords of all.
In case you're wondering, I did still end up using Nebilim. My playing partner is much bigger on practicality than a good story. Ah, well...certainly made the final boss much easier!