Synopsis: Tales of Symphonia

WARNING: This page contains nothing but spoilers.

Tales Of Symphonia begins in the world of Sylvarant, which periodically begins to decline. During this decline, the source of all life, known as Mana, begins to depart from the world, and an evil army known as the Desians appear. The Desians kidnap humans and take them to concentration camp-esque places known as Human Ranches. Because the Desians are largely half-elves, everybody is racist against half-elves. A person of a certain bloodline known as the Chosen of Regeneration must undertake the Journey of Regeneration, an event they have prepared for their whole lives. The Journey of Regeneration involves going to four shrines and breaking the seals on the Summon Spirits, then to the Tower of Salvation (which only appears when the Journey of Regeneration must start) to awaken the Goddess Martel, which ostensibly fixes everything. Mana comes back, the Desians go away, and Sylvarant shall once again prosper. The tradition was begun by the great hero Mithos and has continued to this day.

The game proper begins with two friends, Lloyd Irving and Genis Sage. The two are friends with the current Chosen, Colette Brunel. Despite being basically Jesus Colette and company live in a rural village called Iselia with a human ranch right next to them, with which somehow a non-aggression treaty has been signed. During class with Raine Sage, their teacher and Genis's sister, a bright light shines from the Temple of Martel, indicating that the Journey of Regeneration must begin. Raine goes to scout it out but Lloyd and Genis get curious and convince Colette to come along to check out the bright light. They arrive just in time (somehow beating Raine there) to find that the temple is under attack by apparently the Desians. About to get the crap kicked out of them, our party of adolescents are saved by a mysterious purple-clad mercenary who leaps out of the bushes, Kratos Aurion. With their new surly compatriot who seems to be better than Lloyd in every way, our heroes reach the top of temple where an emissary of Cruxis (heaven), the angel Remiel, tells Colette he is her real father, hands her a magic doodad called the Cruxis Crystal, and informs the party that the Journey of Regeneration had better get going post-haste.

The Mayor of the town decides this is a good idea and hires Kratos to escort Colette along the journey, along with Raine. Lloyd wants to go as well but his reputation as the village fool and a teenager besides precedes him and he is rejected. It's also Colette's birthday, but Lloyd has forgotten to finish the present he promised her and decides to rush home and finish it before Colette leaves tomorrow. Genis asks to go with him to visit his friend Marble, who turns out to be an old woman living in the local human ranch. Every single human in the ranch is wearing a strange stone called an Exsphere, which when worn without an object called a Key Crest damages their health. When worn WITH a key crest, an Exsphere enhances your powers. Most Desians wear an Exsphere correctly, as does notably Lloyd (who has an Exsphere as a memento of his late mother, who apparently escaped a Human Ranch) and Kratos.

The village hasn't been razed because somehow a non-aggression treaty was signed, but Genis (who has been casually violating the treaty already to visit Marble) reasons that the Desians just publicly broke the treaty by attacking the Temple of Martel. Convinced by his friend's logic, Lloyd goes along and the pair actually end up fighting some Desians. After a daring escape, the two part ways. Lloyd returns home to convince his foster father Dirk (who is a dwarf) to make a Key Crest for Marble, but spills that he broke the non-aggression treaty. Dirk tells Lloyd that his mother was killed by Desians, causing Lloyd to resolve to join Colette on her journey. Colette (who has come to visit Lloyd one last time) tells Lloyd what time they are departing for the journey tomorrow.

The next day, Lloyd finds out that Colette gave him the wrong time because she didn't want him to come along on the dangerous quest. All of the sudden, the Desians attack the village, claiming that the non-aggression treaty has been violated, and they want the criminal, Lloyd. When Genis confronts them about attacking Colette and therefore violating the treaty before the party did, the Desians claim to have done nothing. Genis and Lloyd fight off some Desians and Marble, who has been mutated into a giant grotesque monster thing. Marble self-destructs through sheer willpower or something and injures the Desian leader, causing the Desians to affect a retreat. However, the village has already been pretty roughed up (burning houses, an unknown number of nameless NP Cs dead, etc.) so the populace is pretty angry. Lloyd ends up getting exiled (Genis offers to also be exiled, since this entire debacle was technically his fault) and decides that now that he is effectively homeless to go find Colette and join the Journey of Regeneration.

Genis and Lloyd wander south into the desert and eventually reach a village called Triet, where they find that Lloyd is now a wanted criminal and the Desians have put up posters everywhere. After fighting some Desians Lloyd gets blindsided and captured (Genis manages to escape by playing the race card), but he breaks out of Desian prison before getting cornered by some blue-haired guy who is way out of his league. Suddenly Genis (who has managed to track down Colette and co.) and the cavalry arrive and the team manages to escape the base.

Now that the party is finally gathered, the team decides to actually start regenerating the world. This involves finding the four Seals and unsealing them, releasing the Summon Spirit (a powerful magical being akin to a demigod) sealed there. The team finds the Fire Seal in the desert and unseals it, no problem, in the process granting Colette wings. It turns out that with each seal they unseal, Colette will be granted more and more angelic powers as she is literally transformed into an angel. The process is also apparently painful, as it takes Colette out for the night.

The party decides to go track down the next Seal. Remiel has told them that the next seal is across the ocean, but beyond that it turns out that the location and even number of seals is totally undocumented. While passing through the mountains the team is actually attacked by an assassin who wants the Journey of Regeneration to fail: a buxom purple-clad ninja named Sheena Fujibayashi. After fending her off, the team crosses the ocean to the most developed city in the world, Meltokio, where the local governor Dorr appears to be actually putting together a fighting force to fight the Desians. Unfortunately it turns out that Dorr is working for the Desians, who have promised him medicine (probably nonexistent) to cure his wife Clara, who has been transformed into a Exsphere monster just like Marble. The party confronts Dorr, takes him out (he redeems himself on his deathbed), and then kicks the crap out of the local Desian presence. Unfortunately one of the prisoners is Marble's granddaughter, Chocolat, and upon finding out that Lloyd killed Marble (Genis is forgotten), decides she would rather go to a concentration camp than get rescued by him, so she allows the Desians to recapture her and take her to another facility. Lloyd vows to rescue her one day to repent for his crimes.

After finding and defeating the Water Seal in the area, Colette is granted new Angel powers and is again bedridden for a night. The party is starting to get suspicious but Colette blows them off and the team crosses the mountains in search of the next seal. Enroute they stop in a small tourist town called Asgard whose main draw is a set of ruins. Hearing rumors that the Summon Spirit of Wind has begun appearing at the ruins and demanding sacrifices they conclude that the Seal of Wind must be located in Asgard, but the town refuses to let them investigate before the actual day of the festival, where a maiden sacrifice chosen from the populace will dance before the Summon Spirit. Raine decides to take the place of the sacrifice and the party slam dunks the Summon Spirit (who turns out to be a fake, since of course the Seal isn't released yet) before finding the real Seal of Wind and releasing it. While exiting they encounter Sheena again, who after being defeated yet again drops cryptic hints about being from another world and flees. Colette is once again bed-ridden and Lloyd pulls off an infamous mind-game using nothing but empty coffee cups to trick her into admitting that for every angelic power she gains (stuff like wings and super-strength) she loses a human ability (taste, touch, etc.).

The team then travels off in search of the next seal but enroute find a village called Luin that has been totally WT Fpwned by the Desians. They also find a gravely injured Sheena, but Colette convinces Sheena to join up with them in the name of revenge (instead of getting executed by the group) and the party prepares to take on the local Desians. After infiltrating the ranch, the party meets Kvar, the leader of the ranch, who tells Lloyd that he killed Lloyd's mother. It is also revealed that Exspheres are "cultivated" on human beings and grow through the subject's suffering, until the Exsphere basically eats its subject's soul, explaining all the wanton violence that seems to occur in Human Ranches.

The matter is now personal, but the group is forced to flee. In search of a different way to enter the Human Ranch they track down some guy in the next town over who actually managed to escape, but find that he is totally mind-broken and incoherent. With no other recourse the party must seek the legendary Unicorn Horn, which is capable of healing anything apparently. After tracking down the Unicorn underwater, they determine that they have no choice but enlist the help of the Summon Spirit of Water, but you can't do so unless you're a summoner. Surprise! Sheena's a summoner. The party finishes jumping through hoops to get into the Human Ranch and wipe the floor with Kvar's pasty suspiciously Germanic face. Kratos despoils Kvar's dead body for no apparent reason.

The Journey of Regeneration is finally back on. After finding the Seal of Light, Colette loses the power of speech in exchange for the worst Angel spell ever and is no longer capable of hiding what she is giving up. Turns out that the final price for transforming into an angel is actually giving up her humanity (literally dying) after an entire journey's worth of torture. Won over by Colette's suffering, Sheena basically totally defects and tells the party that she is from an alternate world called Tethe'alla where the same prophecy and Chosen lineage exist, and that every time Sylvarant prospers, Tethe'alla declines and vice versa, hence the reason why she was sent to assassinate Colette. Nevertheless, the Seal of Light was the last seal, so the party decides to press on to the Tower of Salvation to awaken the Goddess Martel, intending to at least ask Remiel whether there's a way to save Tethe'alla as well.

Suspecting that Lloyd will try to stop her, Colette pulls another fast one on him and goes on ahead to the Tower of Salvation. By the time Lloyd, Genis, Sheena, and Raine reach the top of the tower, the deed is basically done: Colette has given up her humanity and died to be reborn as an angel. What this actually means is that she is rendered basically completely unresponsive, although she'll still fight to defend herself and all.

At this point the storyline explodes.

Remiel reveals that he is actually an evil dick and tries to kill the party, but the party beats the crap out of him. Then Kratos reveals that he is in fact Remiel's superior and tries to kill the party, whereupon they get to meet the leader of Cruxis: Yggdrasil, a long-haired blonde man wearing a disco suit. On the verge of getting whupped by the leader of heaven after a grueling boss rush, Lloyd and crew are rescued at the last moment by... the Desians? Turns out there's a bunch of Desian look-a-likes called the Renegades who oppose Cruxis, and they're the ones who attacked Iselia in the first place. Their leader, the blue-haired guy from all the way back in Triet, is named Yuan. He spills the beans.

Turns out the Desians are just part of Cruxis, and they've been manipulating the Church of Martel ever since this entire Journey of Regeneration thing started. Also, Cruxis Crystals are just special Exspheres, and angels are just half-elves wearing Cruxis Crystals. Cruxis' entire scheme is to resurrect the Goddess Martel, which led their leader, Yggdrasil, to for some reason create another realm (Tethe'alla) that competes with Sylvarant for mana. Through social engineering the Church of Martel has genetically engineered Chosen for ages, with the intent of making the perfect vessel for the soul of the Goddess Martel. And, at last, that perfect vessel is Colette.

The Renegades oppose the resurrection of Martel, and key to their mission is now Lloyd for some reason. The party manages to escape with the help of Sheena, who actually made it from Tethe'alla to Sylvarant via interdimensional vehicles provided by the Renegades called Rheiards. The party nicks some and flees to Tethe'alla.

Surprise! Tethe'alla is way nicer than Sylvarant. After crash landing and totaling the Rheiards on top of a mountain, the party decides their new aim is to return Colette to normal. Since she will no longer be an angel, that means that Cruxis' plans will fail and that therefore Sylvarant won't prosper. Deciding that the Tethe'allans might be more amenable to them now that they've essentially decided that Sylvarant can go screw itself, they go to enlist the aid of the King, who looks like Jesus. Enroute they meet Zelos Wilder, the Chosen of Tethe'alla, who is wildly unlike Colette in that he is male, red-haired, and a womanizing noble intent on abusing the money and power he gets as the Chosen to procure entrance to as many women's pants as possible. Nevertheless ten thousand fangirls immediately ship him with Lloyd.

To enter the palace, the team enlists the help of Presea Combatir, a pink-haired loli woodcutter wearing a Key Crest-less Exsphere. Genis crushes on her immediately and ineffectively. After meeting the King, The King tells the party (now plus Zelos, who is being sent along to make sure we don't pull anything fishy, and Presea, who WANTS TO GO HOME) to go to the academy city of Sybak and ask the eggheads there to solve their problems.

The eggheads are useless, leaving it to Lloyd to solve the problem by carving a Key Crest for Colette's Cruxis Crystal (since it is just an advanced Exsphere).

It also doesn't work.

Unfortunately at this point Genis and Raine trip some half-elf sensors (surprising everybody but the player) and it turns out that Tethe'alla, much like Sylvarant, is stupidly racist. Ten million guards turn up to take Genis and Raine to their immediate execution without trial while Lloyd and the rest of the team get locked up in the basement, where the half-elf scientists have to work. One of them, Kate, recognizes Presea as a former human experiment.

Lloyd decides that racism totally sucks, convincing Kate to let them out of the basement as long as they return later and bring Presea to her. The party commences upon a bold rescue attempt. They succeed in rescuing Genis and Raine but are now public enemy number one, with Zelos being considered a traitor to Tethe'alla after helping with the rescue attempt. The team decides to retrieve the Rheiards and GTFO but Yuan and the Renegades have anticipated this and ambush them. Suddenly a DESIAN (Pronyma, who operates basically as Yggdrasil's secretary) turns up out of the blue, claiming to be sent to retrieve Colette. At the last moment Colette's love interest powers activate the Key Crest and she regains her humanity, and the party fights off Pronyma. Kratos (now wearing a spiffy jumpsuit made out of 80% belts signifying his evilness) turns up, revealing Yuan as ALSO a high ranking angel working for Cruxis.

For an evil guy who is totally not on our side Kratos seems awfully chatty. Turns out the party can be left alone due to something called the "toxicosis," so Kratos peaces out and the party is now left to their own devices. Having succeeded in returning Colette to normal, they decide they have to return Presea (who has been dragged along with them this entire time) Kate while seeking out a way to change Yggdrasil's system so that Sylvarant and Tethe'alla don't have to compete for mana. Unfortunately they're stranded on the wrong side of the ocean due to the bridge being raised, so the party decides to sneak into Meltokio, the capital of Tethe'alla, so that Sheena can contact her ninja village.

While traveling through the most ridiculous sewer level of all time the party is ambushed by a bunch of convicts who have been sent to kill them in exchange for their freedom. They get owned, but one of them, a blue haired super-buff guy wearing half a shirt, seems to recognize Presea. Afterwards Sheena successfully contacts her ninja friends who procure the party a ninja boat so the team can travel to ninja town to ask the advice of the old ninja man. Additionally, after returning to Kate, Genis is pretty thrilled about the prospect of getting a Key Crest on Presea so she can stop being a zombie. Kate advises the party seek out Altessa, a dwarf living in the region of Presea's hometown. To get to both ninja town and Presea's hometown, the party has to travel through a haunted forest, where they are ambushed by the bluenette, who has been stalking them this entire time, hoping to talk to Presea.

Most likely around this time, Lloyd learns Rising Falcon, the coolest move in the entire game barring Mystic Artes.

They kick the crap out of him and take him prisoner before running away to ninja land. There, mysterious jungle prisoner "Regal" is convinced to join the party as long as he gets to eventually talk to Presea for some reason. The party confers with the ninja leader, Tiga, who is acting in place of Sheena's grandfather, who is in a coma. Lloyd makes use of his ideals-no-jutsu to convince Tiga to defect from Tethe'alla and help the party find a way to circumvent Yggdrasil's twisted system. First step: Tiga agrees to send his ninja reconnaissance out to find the Rheiards, so we can get back to Sylvarant. Awesome! The party bids farewell to ninja town and goes to return Presea to her hometown, the most depressing place ever where everybody hates her. It turns out that Presea is regarded as a demon child because she hasn't aged for 12 years and the corpse of her dead father is still in her house for some reason. This is because the uninhibited Exsphere has drained her so much of her humanity that she is barely aware of what's happening around her. Deciding to fix her ASAP, the party finds Altessa, but he refuses to help because seeing Presea reminds him that he used to be an asshole. Seeing the party is committed, Altessa's robot secretary, Tabitha, advises that they look for inhibitor ore, because if Altessa sees the materials for a Key Crest in front of him, he'll probably just throw up his hands and make one.

The party doesn't have any idea where to find inhibitor ore.

Just joking! Mysterious jungle prisoner "Regal" knows exactly where to find inhibitor ore.

The team boards the ninja boat and breaks into a corporate mine to steal inhibitor ore. On their way back to Altessa's, they find out that Presea's depressing village is filled with assholes who reported them to the authorities. Colette randomly collapses, gets knocked out at the hands of a mind-controlled Presea, and then a Desian rides down on a couple of dragons and kidnaps Colette. The party decides to fix Presea and go get Colette back ASAP; after Altessa removes the stick from his ass and makes a Key Crest for Presea, she regains awareness and joins the party to retrieve Colette out of remorse. Just when they need a method of flight the ninjas from ninja town inform them that they have found the Rheiards in a secret arctic Renegade base. Unfortunately, the Rheiards run on very specific fuel that can only be provided by the Summon Spirit of Lightning, Volt.

Even more unfortunately the ninjas of ninja town tried this once before with Sheena when she was seven and Volt ended up killing a quarter of ninja town's population and sending grandpa ninja into a coma. Now she has severe PTSD. The party gets Sheena a dose of some desperately needed therapeutic friendship and Sheena gets catharsis after Team Lloyd totally wastes Volt, but not before Volt kills Sheena's best friend, Corrine. Burdened by their loss and their new power, the team boards the ninja boat and infiltrates the Renegades' arctic base. After stealing the Rheiards (and owning Yuan along the way) the team flies up to the Dragon Nest where Colette is (they know this somehow, don't ask questions) and faces probably the hardest boss battle in the game, after which they rescue Colette.

Now that the team is reunited and at its full 8 members, the team decides to separate the two worlds by forming pacts with the Summon Spirits of both worlds based on some words that Kratos, who is totally not helping us, let slip. The team easily forms pacts with the Summon Spirits of Tethe'alla, but are now faced with somehow finding a way back to Sylvarant. All of the sudden, a lightning bolt strikes at Presea's hometown, and upon going to investigate it the party finds the place totally obliterated, save for one survivor: a completely unsuspicious half-elf named Mithos. Like Mithos the Hero. New unplayable friend in tow, the team heads to Altessa's to recuperate, where it turns out Altessa is now willing to hold actual conversation with us.

Turns out Altessa used to work for Cruxis, along with many other dwarves, but he fled from the organization and hid out near Presea's hometown of Ozette. Suspecting that the strike on Ozette was his fault, he agrees to help the party and tells them of the Otherworldly Gate, supposedly a portal back to Sylvarant. The party is hindered on their way by Sheena's former ninja friend, who is annoyed that a JRPG party proved more effective at subduing Volt than an entire ninja village, and has drawn the conclusion that Sheena was holding back at age 7 and deliberately let Volt kill everybody. Avoiding the ninja drama queen, the team returns to Sylvarant and drops off Mithos at Palmacosta so he doesn't get rekt while they gather Summon Spirits in Sylvarant. The authorities at Palmacosta inform them of increased Desian activity (weird since the Desians were blown up in the locale, by the party, in the lowest budget explosion ever), so the team goes to investigate.

Turns out its just the Renegades, who are now interested in working together with the party ever since they became a collection of the greatest badasses this dimension to the next. Yuan is finally willing to tell his plan after hours upon hours of ambiguity. The Renegades want to resurrect the Giant Kharlan Tree, the source of all mana. This tree withered in the Kharlan War due to overuse of magic, which is why there is such a limited supply of mana and why Sylvarant and Tethe'alla have to fight over it. Turns out Sylvarant and Tethe'alla were once one land that Yggdrasil split apart, and that Martel's soul is fused with the seed of the Giant Kharlan Tree. If Martel is ever reborn, the seed will be absorbed into her, losing the chance to grow; similarly, if the seed ever germinates and grows into a new Giant Kharlan Tree, the soul of Martel will be absorbed, foiling Yggdrasil's plans to resurrect her. But that would also solve the mana problems in the world. How to make the seed germinate? Blast it with a lot of mana.

How to do so? Turns out the Renegades have been manipulating one of the Desian leaders to build a giant mana gun, and they need the help of the Lloyd Team to infiltrate that base and take control of it. At the cost of the deaths of a few minor characters the party manages to take control of the Mana Cannon and fire it, immediately resolving the entire storyline.

That does not happen. Against everybody's expectations, the tree goes out of control and destroys Palmacosta. Since the tree is only getting Mana from the Sylvaranti Summon Spirits, Lloyd gets the idea to blast it with Tethe'alla's Summon Spirits' Mana using the Renegades Mana Cannon. With the help of Yuan, leader of the Renegades, they manage to calm down the Seed, and Colette suddenly returns to normal. However, she collapses, and has to return to Iselia. Cue Disk 2.

In Iselia, everyone gangs up on the mayor to let Lloyd and Genis back in. He shuts up and the group discovers that Colette's skin is starting to crystallize: the toxicosis that Kratos mentioned a trillion years ago. The party goes around saving her, and manages to find Genis and Raine's home village. However, their mother has gone insane, Kyoko Zeppelin Soryu style. Regardless Colette is saved, but the party discovers that Mithos (Genis's friend) is Mithos (the ancient hero) and they're both Yggdrasill. His plan is to turn people into the same mindless beings using Exspheres and Cruxis Crystals. His reasons are - well, it's a long story...

In ancient times two great nations, Sylvarant and Tethe'alla warred using magitechnology, which uses immense amounts of mana. It used so much mana that it caused the Giant Kharlan Tree, the source of all mana, to wilt away. Since mana is the font of existence, the world was threatened.

Mithos stopped the war, but not before losing his beloved sister Martel to it. He placed her soul in the Great Seed, then tried to stop the war from happening again by separating the two sides that caused it into Sylvarant and Tethe'alla. By having them vie for Mana the powerful Mana technology used in the war couldn't be developed. He then forced marriages until he got someone who matched Martel's Mana Signature and could become a vessel for her soul. Since her last wish was for a world without discrimination, he created the Desians for that purpose.

Anyway, Mithos separated the worlds with Origin and the Eternal Sword, which gave him the power to change creation. His companions turned against him - Kratos didn't agree with what was happening, and Yuan knew the Exsphere plan wasn't Martel's wish because he was Martel's fiance. While Yuan formed the Renegades, Kratos began wandering the earth until he met a woman named Anna. When Anna was transformed into a monster and he was forced to kill her, Kratos began to seek revenge. They did have a son together - a son named Lloyd. Thus, we have the game's fourth Wham Episode.

The party goes and awakens Origin, but since Kratos was the one who formed the pact with him, Lloyd has to defeat Kratos and Kratos has to sacrifice himself. With some Mana from Yuan, however, he survives. Dirk and Kratos give Lloyd a sword each and everyone comments on how Lloyd Has Two Daddies. During this, however, someone ends up getting attacked by Mithos and having him inhabit their body. Because depsite the fact that he died when he revealed himself, he was absorbed into his Cruxis Crystal which Genis took with him. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.

The party goes to Derris-Kharlan, a spaceship where Mithos is, and gets the real final Summon Spirit, Maxwell. Before that, however, Lloyd has to break everyone out of their dream worlds, being too strong to be affected himself. The party goes and fights Mithos, who has decided that since his Exsphere plan isn't gonna work, he'll just make a nice world on Derris-Kharlan for himself and Martel. There's a chance here for a scene where Zelos reveals how much he hates being the Chosen, and that he just wants to die and have his sister take the position. But since this scene has Zelos dying and Kratos replacing him, the sequel means that it isn't canon.

After the fight with him, Mithos finally gets Martel into Colette's body, but she says how much she hates the Exsphere plan and disappears. Mithos is now really pissed that all of his plans have failed, and makes a new plan - take the Great Seed into outer space, destroy it, and let both worlds die. Lloyd manages to get him to stop and he disappears into Lloyd's Exsphere. Lloyd prepares to create the Giant Kharlan Tree, but since Martel is so suicidal, the Mana is deflected. Lloyd's Exsphere, along with Mithos's power, allows Lloyd to sprout wings. Along with Colette's wings from when she was an Angel, the two fly up the Seed. Origin convinces Martel to want to live.

Efreet, Celsius, Undine, Sylph, Volt, Gnome, Luna and Shadow (the Summon Spirits) use their Mana to solve the problems, and Maxwell... well, he just kind of sits around doing nothing. Anyway, the Great Seed is germinated, and Tabitha, who got pretty beaten up by Mithos earlier, is filled with all the souls of the Chosens, along with Martel herself. She becomes the Goddess Martel, the mythological figure worshipped by the Church Of Martel. She shows the party what the tree will look like in the future, but it needs happy thoughts to grow that big. And a name. Lloyd says "The name of this tree is..."... and the game ends.

In Tales of Phantasia, which takes place in the distant future from Symphonia, there is a Giant Kharlan Tree named Yggdrasill, just like the villain of Symphonia.