Disclaimer: I don't own Tales of Symphonia… or anything else, for that matter.
Who are you?
Do you even know?
Into the Symphony
I sniff the air as I lay in an unfamiliar place. The air is heavy with plant musk, grubby dirt smell, and a tint of wood burning odor. Somebody nearby has a fire going, but I can't hear it crackling. The air pressure must be pushing the ashy aroma down. Listening, I can hear the sound of the leaves brushing each other, crickets and other bugs going at it with their songs, and some choice birds putting out a decent dirge.
I open my eyes. I'm in the woods on a windswept afternoon. It's getting on towards evening, with the sky being various tints of blue, orange, pink, and purple as the sun is fading back behind the trees in preparation for twilight. There's probably only about an hour before it gets dark, and then about thirty more minutes before it gets too dark to see.
"Aw man…" I mumble to myself as I observe the serene spectacle of nature around me. How in the hell did I get here? What happened to sitting in my room and playing visual novels all night? I sure as hell can't do that in the forest!
Well, being a sensible guy of eighteen, I guess it'd be uncharacteristic of me to scream out in sudden fright. I mean, sure, I don't know where I am, but it's not the end of the world. All I have to do is find whoever's making fire and ask them how to get back to my place. I got out here somehow, didn't I? It shouldn't be too hard to get back.
What was I even doing before I came out here? …Meh, can't have been too important.
I begin walking in the direction the wind is blowing the wood burning smell from. It's also the direction of the sun, which satiates my want for continual sunlight. I go for a good ten minutes with nothing to show for it, but it could be worse. Thankfully, whatever force compelled me to come out here also compelled me to put on my good hiking boots. Better to be wearing these than those old street shoes I'd worn to the movies yesterday. I'd have blisters within the hour if I'd been stuck with those.
Uh-oh… That's gonna be a honey bee. Is there a hive nearby? I can definitely hear more than one of them. Actually, those wing beats are pretty heavy. It'd better not be locusts. The last thing I need is a swarm of bugs eating my clothes off. It's one thing to be lost and alone in the woods. It's another thing entirely to be lost and alone in the woods with holes in your shirt.
Wherever I am, summer doesn't seem to have made much of an impression on the temperature. I'd hazard that it's about seventy degrees Fahrenheit right now, or roughly 21 degrees Celsius if it matters to you, which gives me the impression that the night is going to be significantly cooler. Now, I know some of you might not think that a night in the mid-sixties is all that bad, but I'm not from a cool climate and don't do cool weather. I'm wearing a t-shirt and some crappy cargo pants right now. No sleep for me unless I can get something warmer on.
Meanwhile, I've got bugs closing in on me. Where the hell are they coming from? Those wing beats are so heavy that they seem to be coming from everywhere at once! Wait… Behind me!
I spin around to find that, sure enough, I've been stalked. Out from behind a large tree springs a squadron of absolutely massive hornet-looking things. Thank goodness I was moving when I turned, or else I'd have just frozen out of shock. Instead, my legs pick up and get me moving faster than before. I break into a sprint, praying to whatever might be listening that these damn war wasps aren't much for pursuits. The telltale sound of buzzing suggests otherwise as I zigzag through a thicket of trees. This is the part where the cargo pants help me out. I'm pretty sure I just ran through a briar patch. Agh, my ankle!
I run for as long as I can, but the buzzing doesn't seem like it wants to give up. Then, out of nowhere, I catch sight of a savior on the ground. It's a giant stick! Haha! I know what to do with this! In a swift motion, I snatch up the stick and turn around. The bees are almost on me, and I swing my newfound club with all the gusto I can manage on such short breath.
Boss Fight: BEEDRILL and THE POLLINATORS!
My swing fails to make any connection, but it does scatter the squadron. I turn with them, making sure to keep my eyes on at least one of them. It's not enough, though. Within seconds, one sweeps down and sticks its butt-needle into my back. Time for swearing!
"GAGH! SHIT!" I yelp as the stinger pulls out of my flank. Have you ever been stung by a bee before? Imagine that pain, and then multiply it by at least two hundred. Also, add the fact that the stupid bug isn't just gonna fly off after it gets you. You've still got it and its four buddies to contend with.
Sure enough, my situation fails to change beyond the obvious addition of searing pain surging through my body. Another bug flies at me, this time from the front. My stick is at the ready for this one, though, and out comes a vicious thwack as the insect bounces off the club and teeters off to the side. Before I can so much as readjust my angle, another one of them swings in and swipes its stinger towards my face. I juke my neck to the side, managing to only have the side of my cheekbone torn at instead of my eyeball getting impaled. I hit the ground anyway, having lost my balance while trying to avoid the strike. This puts me on my aching back, unable to properly defend myself any further. All I can manage is weakly swinging my stick up at them as they circle my prone body, probably preparing to pull off some sort of premeditated formation attack. I hold the stick up over my face and brace for whatever might come next…
Not wasting any time, three cracks of fire rocket in and explode into the monsters. Following it up, a large figure runs up and leaps over me, swinging a sword as it goes. The bees don't stand a chance, either being destroyed by the fire or by the flash of steel the figure has clutched in its hand. Just like that… I'm safe.
My breath is quick to catch up with me, at which I force myself to sit up and get situated to where I can see who or what exactly has come to my rescue. Of course, the first thing I notice is the fact that the sword-slinging figure that played part in my rescue is wearing a predominantly purple outfit. Who in the hell wears purple? Kratos Aurion, that's who!
Wait. No. That's… That doesn't…
I look up at the figure's face, finding him staring down at me with cold brown eyes. His hair is auburn, covering one of his eyes.
My eyes roll back in my head, and I collapse back to the ground.
I spend some matter of time unconscious, though I can't deny that the first thing I think when my mind stirs that I've just had one hell of a dream. Then I shift and feel a stiff pain in my back. Did I sleep on my car keys again?
My eyes creak open after a while, at which I notice that the moonlit room around me isn't mine. For one, it's much more wooden. Also, it has snoring in it. It's not like crazy-loud-sleep-apnea snoring, but it's still there. I know I don't share a room, and anyone wanting to be in that room would have to sleep on the floor. In fact, it does indeed seem like the heavy breathing noise is coming from the floor, but I can't see down there because the moonlight isn't actually very strong. Maybe it's just my sister. It actually wouldn't be the first time I woke up with her in my floor.
That aside, what's happened to my back? I reach around to try and remove whatever's gotten me there, only to find that I'm mistaken. There's nothing there but bedsheets. I touch the spot on my back where the most concentrated pain is, but find nothing there except a sore spot. An image of those monster bees attacking me flies across my memory for a second, but I dismiss that as mere hallucinations. Maybe that's why I'm in this weird place and someone's sleeping in the room with me. Maybe I wandered out here in some sort of hallucinatory trance and got myself hurt, only for these people took me in. If anything, hallucinations would definitely explain why I saw that guy in purple. I know for a fact that he's not real.
So maybe it wasn't an actual dream. Just a delusion, but what might have caused it? That's the million-dollar question, and I doubt Mr. Snore-n-Bore down there will want to answer it tonight. I guess I can wait until tomorrow to ask. It's just… Well, for the life of me, I can't remember what the hell I was doing yesterday.
Eh, well… I guess if sleeping it off works for stomach aches it'll work for short-term memory loss. With a sigh of contentment, I roll onto my side and close my eyes back.
Why is there a bandage on my face?
The next morning starts with a wonderful smell. I'm practically mesmerized as what I believe to be bacon sends the most heavenly fragrance into my nostrils. Somebody downstairs must know how to wake me up. Nothing gets me out of bed better than the smell of good food drifting up the stairs.
I rise up and hop out of the bed with unbridled enthusiasm. Another day awake is another day alive, as my grandmother always told me. Meet it with your A-game and, should it try to slap you down, punch it in the face and tell it to fuck off!
…Well, that last part's paraphrasing. You get the meaning, though.
Before I can bound out of the room and discover what breakfast has in store for me, I once again notice that I'm not where I ought to be. A wooden room, a workbench to the side, a window with an elevated view, stairs leading down, and a door that likely goes out onto a terrace. Thinking back to a recent shocking face I've seen, I'm reminded of a room I've seen before in a video game. It's the same video game, in fact, that Mr. Purple's face was in. That game… Tales of Symphonia.
Well… If there were ever something I'd have to meet with my A-game, this would be it. If I'm gonna be in Symphonia for some random reason, then I'm not gonna shrink away from what's at stake. I've beaten this game before. I know what happens. If I play my cards right, then I can work my way around and kick this game's ass just like I did on the Gamecube!
Of course, doing that depends on what's downstairs from this room. Where not getting anywhere unless we proceed. Before we do so, though, I need to find my shoes… and my shirt, for that matter. Who the hell's been undressing me? I guess they had to remove my shirt to treat the sting I got back there, but why my shoes? They even took my socks! I loved those socks! They were like brothers to me!
…Okay, not really, but I still don't like the fact that I've been stripped to just my pants by people I don't actually know. Not that I have anything to hide. I won't say that I'm fantastically in shape or anything, but I've done enough hiking and played enough basketball to keep myself out of the binds of poor structural health. Eat your green vegetables, kids! It helps! …No, seriously. It helps.
Meanwhile, I guess I have to walk downstairs without a shirt on. So be it, then. If they didn't have the patience to lay a new one out for me, then they need to have the patience to deal with me not wearing one at all.
I walk down the steps with no attempt to hide my presence. Whatever noise might have been going about on the ground floor seems to grow quiet as I emerge into it, finding two characters sitting at a low table without chairs. One is a squat man with a bushy beard, while the other is a young man with brown hair that seems to simply defy gravity. I know them as Dirk and Lloyd, respectively. Dirk is Lloyd's adoptive father, while Lloyd is none other than the game's protagonist. I've seriously lucked out by catching him here.
"Well well! Look who's awake," Dirk stands to greet me as I finish making my way down. He speaks with such an accent that I can't help but be taken aback by him. "I trust you're feeling better after being out for so long."
"I guess I am," I can't help but say as I notice ivy growing up along a support beam. That aside, it's time to act the fool and pretend that I don't know what's going on. "Did one of you rescue me? How did I get out of the woods?"
"Oh, you were brought in yesterday by my friends," Lloyd takes this moment to stand as well, at which I notice that he's not wearing his overshirt that makes him so recognizable in the game. Instead, he's just got a simple black t-shirt, not too unlike the gray one I'm missing. "They said something about you getting attacked by monsters and passing out."
"Oh… That's right," I act like I'm remembering after having forgotten. "It was horrible, but I guess I don't deserve any better for traveling alone in an area where monsters have their way."
"Now now, such bad business isn't any way to talk around the breakfast table," Dirk speaks up again, this time waving me over. "Please, join us. I'm Dirk, and this is my son, Lloyd."
"Nice to meet you," Lloyd smiles and shakes my hand as I approach. "What's your name?"
"Lyle," I smile back as my mind tries its best to ignore the fact I'm shaking hands with a fictional character. "Lyle Sheppard."
I sit down next to Lloyd, finding that they've gone through the trouble of preparing a plate for me. On it is aforementioned bacon, as well as eggs and some bread. A good enough breakfast if there ever was one.
"Thank you very much," I remain polite, even after Lloyd goes to tearing into his bread in a somewhat savage-like manner. Dirk doesn't seem to notice his son's ways, instead looking at me.
"You're very welcome," he says kindly before finishing off what's left of his plate. "Dwarven Vow #2: Never abandon someone in need."
With that, he stands. "Speaking of that, Lloyd, come and speak with me before you leave today. I'm gonna be outside getting some air."
His voice is notably less cheery as he says that, but he goes ahead and heads on out through the door anyway, sparing us no elaboration. Hmm… I can't quite think of what that's supposed to indicate. Considering that I don't know what point in the game this is, I can't say for certain what's going to happen just yet.
Lloyd sighs, next to which I take the chance to go ahead and devour this bacon before it gets any colder. Man, I didn't even realize how hungry I was until I started eating. This is precisely what I needed. Could go for some water, though- Oh, nevermind. I've got a cup of it next to my plate.
"So, what happened to you?"
I nearly choke on my water at the question. Oh crap. What did happen to me?
"I was attacked by monsters," I quickly whip up the most basic excuse I can think of. "Giant bees, if it matters. A wing of them got after me in the woods, and I wasn't much for taking them on all by myself."
"And then my friends saved you. They told me what happened," Lloyd remarks. "But why were you out in the forest alone in the first place? Between the monsters and the Desians, most people just stay away altogether."
"I'm an adventurer," the lie just slips out of my mouth, playing off of my deceitful ability at storytelling. "I came up this way looking for things to see and people to meet, but I guess I took a wrong turn by headed into the forest if it's so dangerous."
"Wow!" Lloyd gets excited, much to my surprise. It's kind of strange to see him like this and not like some stereotypical video game hero like one might expect. "That sounds really cool! Have you been to a whole lot of places?"
"I've gotten around," I try to be vague about it while seeming smart at the same time. At least Lloyd thinks it's cool. That'll keep him distracted if I make any discrepancies.
"Do you do it just by yourself?"
I hit another snag. That does sound weird, going about journeying all by one's self. Then again, I don't really have any choice but to roll with it. If I'm gonna dig a hole, it's gonna be one worth digging.
"Yeah, if only because I've never had anyone to run with," I claim before noticing that Lloyd's actually looking at the door. I guess Dirk's weighing on his mind more than my fake adventures. Good. This gives me a way out for the moment. "You should probably go talk to your dad. It sounded like it was important."
"Huh? Oh, yeah…" he looks back to me and then back to the door, as if indecisive about whether or not that's actually a good idea. After a moment, he finally gets up and starts making his way over to the ingress. He picks his bright red overshirt off a coatrack nearby, steps into his boots, and gathers his sword belt before going, naturally. Suddenly going from a normal guy to that JRPG hero I've seen several times before.
"By the way, your clothes are hanging on the line outside," he remembers to tell me before headed out in search of Dirk. For some reason, he fails to shut the door. Huh… I wonder if that's because he was raised by a dwarf. Dirk's a dwarf, by the way. Did I mention that? Well, he is. In fact, he's one of only two dwarves you see in the entire game. That's not important right now, though. What is important is that I get my clothes back.
Once I've annihilated the rest of my breakfast, I make tracks for the sunlight. As I shut the door behind me, I'm once again graced by the wind. I can hear Lloyd and Dirk making words off to the side of the house, but decide to leave them be. That's their conversation, not mine. Instead, I head over to the clothesline strung up between the house and a nearby tree and pick my shirt off of it. I give it a quick look over, searching for the hole where the bee caught me in the back yesterday. It's surprisingly absent, though I can't help but notice that there's a sliver of needlework in its place. Somebody actually took care to repair my clothes. I can only assume it was Lloyd or Dirk, but it might have been another one of the main group. If my memory serves me correctly, then it was the rest of the main party- Kratos, Genis, Colette, and Raine- that rescued me and brought be here. So they'll all know me, at the very least.
It doesn't take long to get fully dressed, at which I take a moment and lean against the side of the house to collect my head for a moment.
Alright, let's organize our thoughts. I've been blooped into Tales of Symphonia… so that's a thing. I don't know why or how, but that appears to be the gist of my situation. Also, if I think about it, I can't really remember what I was doing before coming here. It's definitely not the most ideal way to spend one's summer vacation, especially considering that it goes against all rational thought and reason. People don't get sucked into video games, not unless they're in a weird fanfiction. What does that mean for me?
…Absolutely nothing, actually.
Hey! Something's coming out of the woods! Oh, dude! It's that giant dog thing of Lloyd's! What's it called again? Noise? Nose? Norris?
"Wait for me, Noishe!"
Noishe! That's it! …Wait. Who said that?
Out from behind the oversized canine runs a young boy with white hair wearing blue. It's Genis, Lloyd's best friend and the primary magic user for the game's main party. He must be here to get Lloyd, and…
Wait… I just remembered something…
OH CRAP. THAT'S BAD.
All reviews and criticisms are appreciated!