I was tired. So very tired. Remaking the world and all of its inhabitants was draining even for the Arisen - but then again that was the reason why each one was tested so thoroughly. No one but a true Arisen could take the role of God. No one but a true Arisen could bear the burden of forging the countless souls within their own heart to populate what would otherwise be an empty and unliving world.
Still... everything that rises must fall.
Even God grew weary of holding up the world. I had seen it back then in Savan's eyes - the fatigue of an eternity spent fulfilling this duty, the same fatigue that had long since come over me as well. He had waited endless lifetimes for me to free him from this fate, and I had waited even more for my own replacement to arrive.
Sometimes, I feared they would never come. It wasn't simply me being pessimistic; I had a good reason for worrying, after all.
Again, the dragon had descended upon the world. Again, a new Arisen appeared, facing the challenges that I had. Again, they grew stronger, more willful, overcoming every trial that was thrown at them... save for one.
It was arguably the most important one of them all, a simple choice that would decide whether they were worthy to see the truth of this world. For many, it would be the toughest decision in their life, the point where men like Duke Edsmund had failed time and time again. For the true Arisen, however, it couldn't even be called a choice.
Your beloved or the world. Sacrifice one, or risk the other.
Back then, I didn't hesitate. I had chosen my beloved in an instant, and I had faith that so too would the next Arisen... if they ever had a chance to even see them.
"You're doing this on purpose, aren't you?" I asked as Grigori returned to the realm of god once more.
"I know not of what you speak, Arisen," the dragon replied. It was a terrible lie, of course, one he could not even bear to say while looking me in the eyes.
"You know exactly what I mean." I had long suspected him, after all, but held my tongue until now. This time, however, my patience had finally run out. "What made you possibly think that Symone would be the Arisen's beloved?"
"He spent the whole day with her," Grigori said, indignantly. "That has got to count for something."
I rolled my eyes. "He was babysitting her. You know, because she's a child. Reluctantly too," I said, remembering my own experiences with the girl. "He just wanted to get the gold idol for Caxton. Just like every other Arisen did before him."
"So I made a mistake," Grigori said, shrugging his wings. "Besides, even if she wasn't his beloved, would you really want a man who would abandon a child to me to take your place? Even if the child was Symone?"
"No, no I wouldn't," I said with a sigh. He had a point - such a man wasn't fit to watch over this world. Still... "That doesn't change the fact that you're not taking this seriously."
"One mistake isn't that bad," Grigori reasoned. "Sure, I was wrong this time, but I felt all of my other choices were reasonable. Remember that time with the duchess?"
"All that Arisen did was give her a hat."
"And she loved it!"
"Would you want a women who fell in love with you over that hat?"
It was a horrible hat at that. It was as terrible and inescapable as that ancient brine and even now, as the Seneschal, I still couldn't figure out how that accursed jester could sneak it onto every Arisen's head.
Grigori stared at me for a moment. "...I'm a dragon, Arisen," he said hesitantly, trying to dodge my question.
It didn't work. That alone was enough for an answer.
"I thought so."
Grigori furrowed his brows. "Well, what about the time with Julien? That Arisen brought him back to life."
"After she killed him. She just wanted to have him stand trial. She wasn't even into men, she was trying to save Mercedes!"
"You can't be sure of that," Grigori said. "There were plenty of Arisen that liked men."
"Not that one. Definitely not that one. Do you remember that encounter? She literally punted Julien at you and bounced him off of your nose, before running off to join Ophis and her gang."
Grigori laughed. "You have to admit, that was pretty amusing. She was, what, half his size?" It had been, though I refused to admit it. "Well, what about Selene?"
"She just moved into her home without even bothering to listen a word anybody says, and that Arisen was actually straight."
"Then... the innkeeper? Everybody just seems to love talking to him."
I glared at him.
"Fine," Grigori said, relenting after just a few years under my gaze. "I will try to do better next time."
Again, the dragon had descended upon the world. Again, a new Arisen appeared, facing the challenges that I had. Again, they grew stronger, more willful, overcoming every trial that was thrown at them...
And finally, the day came for the Arisen to finally face the Dragon.
"So, Arisen," Grigori said - ready to make his offer once more. This time, however, he didn't even get to finish talking before the Arisen's sword was driven straight into Feste's heart.
It had been a really horrible hat, after all.