Hello everyone and welcome to my new Tales of Symphonia fan fiction. This story was inspired by Tales of Cosplayers, written by Nightfoot, so only the very basic idea of getting placed in the Symphonia world has been used. I adore Tales of Cosplayers, and after a while, I started seeing different plot points and ideas of my own that I wanted to try in a slightly similar manner. So here it is my very own. If anyone notices certain events and situations that seem too similar to Tales of Cosplayers, please let me know in as polite a way as possible and I will try to make it different. I have no intention of copying any ideas from anyone, so I hope I don't have that problem to begin with. Anyway, on to the story.

Also, please note that I do not own Tales of Symphonia or the characters. I only own the OC's that will appear in this story. Thank you. ^ ^

Chapter 1 – Do Parties Usually Have Portals?

Lara stared blankly at her reflection in the mirror, slightly in awe at her cropped hair cut, something she had done herself. Strands of chocolate brown hair littered the floor all around her feet as she took a deep breath and reached for the extra strength hair gel she had recently bought. Her friend Evangeline had been invited to a Cosplay Party for any and all of the Tales games and Eva was allowed to bring friends.

She let loose her breath and began putting gel in her hair, trying to get it just right. She looked at the picture taped to the mirror, which was a reverse image of the way it was supposed to be so that she could gel her hair in the right direction. With her cropped hair, it wasn't too hard to get it to stick straight up, but it would have been difficult to get it in the right direction without the reference.

When she finally felt satisfied, she smiled and closed her eyes, remembering the previous morning. Lara had been preparing for almost two years to put a costume together so that she could one day attend an Anime Con, but her family just didn't have the money to send her to one, so her dreams had mostly been for nothing. But with Eva's invitation to the Cosplay Party, she had found a purpose for her costume.

Yesterday morning she had run down into the shop on the first floor looking for her dad. A woman in a plain blue dress was standing behind the counter, reading a magazine. She had looked up and smiled at Lara, before returning her gaze to the article in front of her face. Lara's father was a Jeweler and he was very good at appraising rare gems as well. She had gone looking for him so she could have a gem for her Exsphere, which was the only part of her costume that was missing.

"Yes, Lara, what are you looking for?" Her father had asked with a warm smile on his face. He was in his mid-forties already, graying hair as he wasn't one to worry about hair color, and pale grey eyes. He'd had on his usual work clothes and she had smiled at that, the normality of it.

"Dad, I need a gem for my Exsphere. Can I borrow one from the shop?" She'd asked, returning the warmth that her father always used to speak to her. "It'll only be for a day or two." She'd added so that it would be easier for him to agree to it.

He had laughed loudly and reached for a drawer in a nearby cabinet. "Take your pick, Lara. Whichever one suits you best." His smile was infectious as always and Lara had found little interest in most of the gems until she spotted a little wooden box in the display with a round turquoise gem. It was unusual though, because its' color was slightly bluer than it should have been. Normally turquoise was a light blue gem that slightly mirrored the color of the sky, but this gem was a darker shade of blue, though she was certain it was still turquoise.

Lara had reached for the blue gem and picked it up. When she looked down at her hand, she was already wearing the Key Crest for her costume and she snapped the gem into place. It had been exactly the right size, as if it had been cut specifically to fit the Crest. "This one's perfect, thanks Dad!" She'd said and had turned around, hesitated for a second, and then turned back to hug him tightly. She had then run back upstairs to their apartment.

Now, as she stood staring at the mirror, she smiled; her hair was exact, and to anyone who looked at her they would know it too. Lara frowned at that thought and then shook her head; there was no time to worry about cocky, arrogant thoughts. In fact, it was a little off for her to have thoughts like that to begin with, but she shrugged it off as always.

A melody began to play from the toilet seat and Lara looked down at her cell phone placed precariously on the edge of the seat. She ground her teeth together as she grabbed it just before the movement of the vibrator could cause the phone to fall into the toilet. "That was a close one." She said to herself as she checked the Caller ID. She flipped the phone open and held it to her ear. "Hey, this is Lara. What's up?"

A giggle erupted from the other end of the phone. "Hi, Lara. It's Eva, how are you?" The soft, sweet voice of Evangeline Valentine spoke clearly, warmth and friendliness radiating from the tone of her voice. Eva sounded particularly happy at the moment.

"Oh, hey Eva. Nothing much, I was just getting ready for that party." Lara said as she stared at her mirror hair, a smile coming to her face. "Now, I know I've told you who I'm going as, but I still don't know who you're going to be." Lara had a slightly accusatory tone, trying to guilt her best friend into revealing the 'so-called' surprise.

"Lara, I'm not telling you. You'll find out who I am when my mom and I come to pick you up in a few minutes." Eva's voice said calmly, though Lara was certain she heard a faint giggle in there.

"Yeah, I guess. A few minutes huh? Well, I should have enough time to add the finishing touches then." Lara replied evenly.

"So, you're going as Lloyd, right? I've heard that no one else is planning to dress up as him. Weird, huh? I've heard that there are going to be at least three people dressed as Zelos." Eva's voice said through the phone. "Oh, my mom wants to start going now, so we'll come by to pick you up, okay?"

"Yeah, sure. See you in a little bit." Lara said.

"See you in a little." Eva replied and the click sounding in Lara's ear was clearly the end of the conversation. She flipped her phone closed and shoved the technology into the pocket of her baggy black pants.

Lara looked at the mirror, the reverse image of her costume, or at least the mirror image of Lloyd Irving. She calmly walked to her room and picked up the Key Crest which still contained the gem. Using a little adhesive glue she stuck it to the red glove on her left hand. Fixing a long white ribbon cloth through the neck of the jacket she straightened it out so it fell the same distance on either side. At last, every detail was complete, her Lloyd Cosplay was acceptable. She had almost every detail, including the suspenders, as the pants were too loose to stay up on their own.

There was a ringing through the house and Lara smiled as she looked at herself one more time and left the bathroom, making sure to remember to turn the light off. "I think she's just coming out, dear." Lara heard her mother through the hallway, and she knew that she was talking to Eva.

Lara rounded the corner and stopped dead in her tracks, staring in awe at the girl in the doorway. It was almost impossible to recognize Eva, as she was dressed in a green dress with yellow-gold trim. From what Lara remembered of the game, Eva was dressed as Martel, and dare she admit it, Eva looked amazing that way. Eva's naturally green eyes completed the look, just as well as Lara's naturally chocolate brown hair and eyes allowed for her to match Lloyd almost perfectly.

"Hi Lara." Eva said with a giggle. "Do you like my costume?" She asked and spun in a small circle slowly, allowing Lara to get a good look at the details. She was wearing a green wig that had clearly needed extensions to make the hair length appropriate, but it looked so natural. Eva was a natural at cosplaying Martel, she could just tell.

"Eva, wow! So, you're dressed as Martel! You look awesome!" Lara said enthusiastically, smiling brightly at her best friend. She walked over to the door and looked at her friend's costume.

"Thanks so much. I worked really hard to put it together." Eva said smiling back.

A sudden thought struck Lara and she stared in awe at the dress again. The details were all there, Eva had worked really hard. Her mother must have helped out a bit with the threads, but Eva was very skilled with a sewing needle, despite her young age. "Eva, did you make that yourself?" Lara asked, having finally found her voice again.

"Lara, we can talk when we get to the car. I'm sure my mom's getting a little impatient out there." Eva said and her eyes glanced nervously behind her into the hallway. As if on cue, a car horn beeped outside and Eva twitched, but smiled as she turned around and beckoned Lara to follow.

"Mom, I'll see you later, and if not then I'm spending the night at Eva's." Lara said to her mother, whose reddish brown hair fell just below her shoulders. Lara stood a bit on her toes to kiss her mother on the cheek and then she walked out the door to follow Eva to her mom's car waiting outside.

Twenty minutes later, they parked temporarily next to the sidewalk and Lara was the first to climb out of the car. Eva stayed in the passenger seat for a minute longer and shared a goodbye hug with her mother before stepping out of the car as well. Lara was too busy looking around to take much notice of the color in Eva's cheeks. A moment later she spotted two people waiting by the doors to the building. The two were dressed as Sync and Legretta from Abyss and Lara took that to mean the twins Ashley and Jake.

Ashley and Jake were twins that they knew from school; both were a grade above them. Ashley generally wore dark make-up and dressed as a Goth, while her brother dressed in whatever style fit his tastes for the day or week. He could show up to school as a preppy-popular kid, or the next week be a full-blown punk kid. The two were virtually complete opposites of one another, and argued a lot about which characters were best, though they only agreed on characters when it came to Tales of the Abyss, their favorite game.

"Hey guys!" Lara exclaimed as she ran over. She hadn't seen the twins since they had graduated from high school the year before. It was a little depressing to think that the two no longer roamed the halls of their school, but it was great to see them again.

"Hey Lara!" They both exclaimed at the same time, though they each had to hug her in turns.

"So, you really are dressed as Lloyd." Ashley said as she looked Lara up and down. She fit the description of Legretta easily enough; she did have the dark, gothic personality to make it work. Her hair was naturally blonde, or at least, that's how Lara had always known her, so it seemed natural to see her as Legretta.

Eva walked over and stood a little off to the side, though she was friends with the twins, she had always been shy around them despite how much they liked her. Jake was the first to take notice of Eva, and then Ashley looked over just as her brother stopped hugging the poor girl.

"Eva, you look amazing." Jake said as a wide smile broke across his face. He had taken the mask off so he could see them better. "And Lara, you look great as Lloyd, one of the best Lloyd cosplays I've ever seen." He added and Lara smiled back at him as he said it.

Ashley growled slightly as she sighed. "Alright, let's break this little love fest and get inside. Everyone is waiting." She said, frowning as the three of them walked by her, talking and smiling as usual. Ashley growled a little in frustration, but followed behind them.

The inside of the building was amazingly large and grand. A huge space was set aside, its' flat surface was shining and glimmering in the dim lighting; clearly, it was set up as a dance floor. The ceiling overhead was domed and it made the room feel cavernous. There was a line of tables set up with food and bowls of punch, possibly spiked drinks. People crowded the large space; all of them dressed in costumes from the Tales series of games.

Lara and Eva separated a little from the twins to get a better look around, but there was a lot to see. Lara, who had never been to a convention, was simply impressed by this simple party. She took a deep breath and the four of them walked further into the room. It was then that she noticed a man set off from the rest, dressed in a long black coat, long silver hair cascading down his back. Lara walked over and noted that he looked a bit like Widdershin from Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology.

"Excuse me, I couldn't help but notice are you trying to cosplay Widdershin?" She asked and watched as the man jumped at her sudden question as if he hadn't seen her there. His eyes were bright green and seemed to glow in the dim light, looking oddly eerie.

"Why hello there, umm yes, that's what I was going for." The man said as he looked back and forth like he was looking for an exit. There was something really shifty about this guy. "My name is Alexander Morgan. What is yours?" He asked as he hesitantly reached his hand out as if asking her to shake it.

Lara missed the hidden tone of his voice and shook his hand. "I'm Lara Cruz." She replied and she looked over to see her friends approaching. "Those are my friends." She said and pointed them out to the man.

"Ah, I see. You and your friends share common interests." He said and Lara failed to notice the change in his voice. "Might I ask if you are familiar with the Prophecy of Istara?" Lara turned to face him, confused by the question. "I see that you are not. I am terribly sorry if I have confused you." He said.

Lara smiled and shook her head. "It's no big deal. Say, that's a really cool crystal you have there." She said and pointed at a black crystal that seemed to be embedded in the man's chest. Suddenly Lara backed away from him, staring at the crystal. It was in fact, embedded in his chest, and not simply adhered to the skin by some type of glue. That fact alone was scaring her away from this man who already seemed like a shifty, mysterious character. It almost made her feel like she was in a Tales game.

"Oh this, it's not really part of my costume. I had an accident in my youth that got this thing stuck here. No one dares to perform surgery to remove it; the doctors all say it'll kill me to remove it." He said calmly, but Lara noticed a sudden gleam in the man's eye. "It's really not a big deal though; I've learned to live with it. I hardly notice it's there at all, anymore."

"Hi there, I'm Eva." Eva said sweetly as she took her place standing by Lara's side. Lara looked at her friend as if trying to warn her without saying anything. Eva reached her hand out to shake hands with this stranger. She clearly didn't see any of the danger that Lara was starting to notice.

The man smiled politely and bowed to her as the twins stepped closer. "I wonder if I might ask you all for a small favor. You see, I'm a game developer and I've been working on a Virtual Reality game for quite some time. I need some beta-testers, and everyone I've met has refused to try it." He said, his smile was charming, alluring, it was no wonder the others couldn't see it yet. Lara wasn't sure if she was seeing things correctly, but her gut instinct was telling her that this man was bad news.

"Yeah, sure. Sounds like it'll be a lot of fun." Jake said enthusiastically, Ashley immediately disagreeing with her brother but offering her assistance to the man anyway. "We'd love to help you test it out. If it works properly, tons of people would be interested in it. And if not, plenty of game companies would be interested in the technology anyway, right?" The man smiled at the twins.

"Okay, Lara, you're coming too, right?" Eva asked and Lara looked at her friend for a moment before nodding once. There was no way she was going to leave her friends to face this alone. They were her friends, so she couldn't let them go without her, now could she?

"Excellent!" The man exclaimed, clapping his hands together as though delighted by their willingness to help him. "Follow me, right this way." He said and began leading them down a dark hallway. Lara felt really bad about this, but kept her mouth shut. Her friends would just call her paranoid as usual.

He led them into a room that held a metal device shaped like a dome or even like an igloo and he motioned for them to step closer. They walked over to the device and he opened the door for them to step inside. Lara barely had time to notice as she got the feeling she was being pulled towards something without her permission. The others noticed it too and began screaming, deafening Lara as she tried to turn and run, but the pull was too strong. The silver-haired man was smirking, the glint in his eyes clearly meant no good.

When Lara turned her head to look at the metal dome, she could see a swirling vortex of purple-black energy that was pulling her and her friends towards it. Jake and Ashley were the first to disappear as they had been closest to the machine. Eva was next to be pulled in, screaming her head off as she disappeared.

"Good luck my friends! Especially to you, my dear Lara. I do hope you don't die before you meet me again." He said as he turned his back on her and left her to be pulled into the vortex.

That was the last thing Lara saw before her vision went black and she felt the sensation of falling. The screaming all around her had ended, and she felt as though she was now all alone. Stupid bastard, what the hell was that for? Lara thought angrily as she realized he had forced them through a portal, possibly into a world from which they would never return. After she had that thought, her mind went blank, and she was left with nothing but darkness.

I don't really want to leave you there, but that's it for the first chapter. I feel it's a bit short, but that can't be helped at the moment. Thanks for reading the first chapter. Please review, thanks. It's a bit of a serious chapter, but I felt it needed to be for the beginning. I'll be around, see you later folks. Please keep me motivated, I can't keep this up at a decent pace if I'm not motivated enough to work on it as much as I can. Thanks in advance.