(A/N) Yes, I know I have a few stories going... but c'mon, I couldn't let this plot idea get away... when my muse speaks, I listen. This might just be my favorite setting yet. Set during the tail end of the Great Kharlan War, Kratos is a Tethe'allan prince, and Yuan is a Sylvaranti commander. A Tales of Symphonia prequel, and revolves around some of my favorite people at much younger ages...Please R&R.
Disclaimer: You've heard this before, so sorry I am not the actual owner. Not really, YOU should be sorry for assuming such, because it pains me deeply to admit such a terrible truth. The real world hurts. So escape into the world of Symphonia!
Kratos ran a hand through his hair. It was becoming a nervous habit, and part of his mind was telling himself that it wasn't proper. He didn't really give a damn about that part. He glanced back up at the half-elf servant as if expecting her to take back her words, or somewhat hoping. The woman shook her head sadly, silvery locks swaying to emphasize the gesture.
"I'm sorry sir." She tried to give a reassuring smile, but failed spectacularly. Good thing Kratos wasn't paying her anymore attention. The door clicked softly behind her as she left, and he allowed himself to sink in to the nearest chair, shoulders visibly slumping. His pride wouldn't allow him to look so weak in front of anyone but himself.
Aether was dead.
The last of his living brothers had died in battle, in what was long considered pointless bloodshed. His hands were trembling slightly, and he squeezed them into fists to stop the shaking. He should be used to loss by now, after Thetis and Typhon fell to the same fate. It still hurt something awful. His brother's smiling face, marred only by the stubborn strand of his dark almost-black hair, kept surging to the forefront of his mind. Kratos sunk further into the cushions in a poor attempt to blot out the coursing memories. Aether would never smile again, his bright russet eyes, a strong family trait, would never flash in mischief again. Kratos sighed. The grief was crushing. Aether had only been twenty, and his life was already cut so short. Pushing himself out of the chair, Kratos stood and surveyed his appearance in the ornately decorated mirror placed atop the mahogany desk. His auburn locks were askew as usual, but his expression was one of agony. He reeled in the emotion, and straightened his tunic the best he could. Schooling his facial features into a semblance of indifference, Kratos tried to look composed. His ailing father would need serious support after this blow, assuming he'd even heard.
Sweeping yet another hand through his spiky hair, Kratos averted his gaze and strode purposefully for the door. He couldn't shake the feeling that Aether's eyes were watching him through that horrified expression, and grotesque images of how his body might look now, gnarled and disfigured haunted his walk. His father was in his chambers, as he almost always was these days. His sickness had grown worse since Thetis had passed several years ago. The man could only lose so many sons before he broke, and it seemed that his body was finally failing him. Two Tethe'allan knights guarded his father's chambers, rigid and noble in their vigil. In a vain endeavor to distract himself, Kratos recalled how he'd always admired the armored uniforms of the knights with their shining chest plates and simple country crest. They looked proud and defiant in the face of death. The wide hallway echoed loudly with Kratos' even cadence of steps, while approaching his father's chamber door he paused briefly.
"How is he faring?" While aiming for a casual tone, Kratos found he hit more of a melancholy note when directing his question at one of the knights. The man met his eyes understandingly and gave a short shake of the head.
"His highness isn't taking it well." Kratos exhaled sharply, though he could only have expected as much. He forced the enormous set of doors open. Every noise was almost painfully loud in the thick silence. His father lay limply in the rather large bed, and Nyx wept quietly at his bedside. Nyx, his older sister, with her long brown locks and brown eyes had been the only one of them to inherit their mother's looks. Kratos couldn't help but acknowledge that they were all that remained of the once five children. Two of five. She had just turned nineteen the past week, and was looking forward to have Aether return from the war front and celebrate. Kratos turned an eye to his feeble father, and almost broke his strong facade at the sight. The man looked frail and weak with sickness, but tears were streaming freely down his face upon hearing the news. The thick red quilt that covered him was dotted with dark, wet patches from his mourning. Kratos embraced his sister and sat at his father's bedside. Aside from the extravagantly decorated head board, it was easy to imagine that this man wasn't the king of Tethe'alla, simply a sad man grieving his dead son. Nyx blew her nose loudly into a handkerchief. She had always been the proper one, knowing what to say, what to do, and when to do it. Kratos didn't know how to console his broken family, what was left of it anyway, and he simply held his father's quivering hand until the tears ceased flowing.
"He fought till the very end. They told me so." Nyx sobbed softly. That sounded like Aether. He was everyone's favorite, their father included. Charismatic, strong, and courageous, Kratos could never imagine him dying. Not Aether, he was immune to the rules of mortals, he always found loopholes.
"He shouldn't have had to." Kratos sighed almost angrily. The war had gone on long enough; death had touched too many lives for there to be any gain left in triumph. Even if they were to win today, what sacrifices had they made to do so?
"You know as well as I that it is either victory or death." His father managed to find his sternest, most royal voice as reprimand. They had never seen eye to eye about the war, which consumed everything in the kingdom. "If we lose, the Sylvaranti would like nothing less than to murder all of Tethe'alla and finally be rid of us." Kratos turned his head and bit his tongue before he said anything more to agitate him. The Sylvaranti were just as sick of the war as he was, he imagined, it had gone on for as long as he could remember and much earlier than even the half-elves working in the castle could remember. It had gone on for several hundred years, and obviously it was set in stone that such an amount of time could not be wasted arbitrarily for a simple cease-fire. His silence didn't please his father, who must have desired a hearty agreement.
"Aether will not have died in vain!" He raised his trembling voice, "As the next in line to be king, you need to understand that!" Kratos' eyes jerked sharply to his father's own reddish orbs. He narrowed his gaze. Aether was to be the next king. Not him.
"I don't want it." Kratos all but hissed. He wanted no part of this pool of blood, this luxury in perdition, this empty excuse for a family. When Aether had died, so had the heart of their dynasty. Kratos was the youngest; he had always been left to his own devices, and most certainly never troubled with prospects of inheriting the throne.
"Give it to Nyx, she's older, and more fit to rule thousands of people." It was true, though a woman had not ruled for many generations, it was not unheard of. Nyx would be a great queen. The king shook his head, and his graying hair hung damply over his ears.
"The son always precedes the daughter, Kratos. You will be king, and I will not allow you to lead the military as is custom. I can't lose you, too." Kratos stood defiantly, ripping his hand out of his father's. He had never wanted to be forced into battle, but breaking tradition for his own simple protection was cowardly, especially when such a decision would have spared Thetis, Typhon, and Aether.
"If we're breaking tradition, then you can transfer the sovereignty to Nyx. She'd do a much better job than I could ever do." Kratos had put to use his calm demeanor, holding his emotions by the tightest leash. He was sure he would snap any moment. Nyx, meanwhile, sat stick straight and looked at him with pleading eyes, albeit tear streaked. He knew it was a lot to ask of her, but she was so much more prepared than he was. She saw that.
"Father, he's only fifteen." Nyx coaxed solemnly, "Don't force this on him." Kratos was still standing, waiting for a response from the king to dictate his actions.
"Kratos," he said at last, "you must, if Sylvarant smells weakness, or even suspects such in our bloodline, the war we've been fighting for will be lost as soon as they pick us off." His voice had become faint and strained, "Tethe'alla cannot have faith if it doesn't have a decisive leader, and we will fall apart with this kind of dispute for the throne. As much as I hate to admit it, no one will accept Nyx as the heir." Kratos grit his teeth and practically smoldered with anger.
"Won't accept her? She's your daughter! I'd be perfectly fine if we lost this damn war and ended it!" His voice was raised to a mutinous yell and he stormed out of the room without being dismissed. The knights flinched as the slight boy blew through the doors radiating fury and ignoring calls from the king to return.
Kratos had finally decided. He was leaving.
Yuan slunk through the streets silently. He liked to think he was agile and panther-like with his stealth skills; it's what got him accepted into the Sylvaranti army. They usually didn't take half-elves, or even elves on pure discrimination. He had told them he was an elf, of course, but that didn't make his acceptance any less extraordinary. Everyone knew that most 'elves' were just half-elves seeking some kind of relief. It made his rise to commander even more noteworthy and this important mission an honor to undertake. Obviously he was the best at what he did. He paused briefly in his musing to yank his cape off of a wooden box it had snagged on. An iron pan tipped off of the top of the container after a particularly forceful tug and it came crashing to the bricked ground with a formidable clank. Yuan cringed at his momentary lapse in concentration.
At least the cities were nearly empty at this time of night; Meltokio especially had a sort of curfew ever since the war started. It had taken him ages to find a chink in their lines to slip behind. Finally he was here, no worse for wear, but without a real clue which direction the castle was in. The Sylvaranti had little to no intelligence of this city since before the war had begun, and that was ages ago. Everything looked like it had been shifted from the maps he'd studied, and the darned place was enormous. In his opinion it topped Palmacosta as a capital city any day. As much as he hated to admit it, he was lost. Yuan slowed to a halt, finally accepting defeat for now. It would look fairly suspicious if he waited any longer to check into an inn for the night.
His new name was Yuan Hirozaki, lest they have heard of his spectacular accomplishments during the war as Yuan Kaafei, and he was a traveling merchant pioneering the market in Meltokio for the first time. He sold weapons and armor, and was checking to discover what might sell well in this fair city. It would be a good excuse for his militaresque outfit that he'd needed to sneak past the highly fortified defenses of the Tethe'allan army, and it would also explain his failure to navigate the city well.
Yuan spotted one of the many inns, and hoping he could afford it, pushed open the heavy tavern doors. The inside was faintly glowing and not quiet in the slightest. No one payed the late night traveler any mind, possibly because his blue hair pulled back sharply into a ponytail signified elven blood. Even elves were left alone by humans, and Yuan was perfectly happy with his low profile. He checked in to the inn, cursing himself slightly at the price. He could only stay two nights in this town before he ran completely broke of gald. Walking up silently to his room, the wooden floorboards creaked reassuringly. He would complete his goal the next day anyway, he didn't need an extra night.
It was common knowledge that the King of Tethe'alla was ailing, he might pass any day now, or so the rumors said. If handled correctly, this momentary weakness of leadership could finish the war. Never before had the royal line been so vulnerable, and Yuan knew that the monarch had always insisted his sons to lead on the front lines. He'd fought with a few of them. They were trained incredibly well, but lacked good battle strategy, and Yuan knew the king was regretting allowing his last son to fight with the regulars. Yuan knew for a fact that he only had one son still alive and the youngest at that. Without the royal line of the Aurions in place, the entire Tethe'allan army would be in disarray. Now was the best time to strike. He was sent to capture and bring back the last remaining son. Perhaps with their heir in the enemies' hands, a peaceful surrender could be negotiated. Nevertheless, the boy, Kratos, was his mission to retrieve. Yuan was going to end this war.
(A/N) So yea, I have the first three chapters pre-written so expect an update soon! Tell me where you might want this to go, I'm open to plot ideas!