Warning: This installment contains some gore and brief sexual peril. Read at your own discretion!

Before I start, I just wanted to thank this community for reading my works. I am new to writing, but it is something I've thought about taking up ever since I was a teen. This game provided an excellent source of inspiration though. And after reading the many different fan fics on this site(I was particularly inspired by the one called, "Running Free" by dr. kitten. If you haven't read that one, it is a must!) I was greatly inspired to start writing this.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the series. As I am a very new author, criticism is also always welcome! :D

Heart of the Arisen

By: Stephanie Young

Journal Entry #1

Introduction:

They told me that pawns hold no emotion. They told me that pawns are naught but empty vessels, free from earthly desire or motivation. They also told me that pawns were incapable of love...

But how could any of this be the truth?

Every time I look at my pawn, Gabriel, I am filled with wonder and astonishment as his face alights with such beatific, unwavering admiration. Whenever I am wounded, he can sense it. When I grieve, he is always there at my side, trying in his best nature to console me. Any time that he perceives my life to be in some sort of jeopardy, no matter the form or magnitude, he just simply can't wrap his mind around it; around losing me. For I am his sole purpose for living.

I've seen him in the camp, pacing in circles just before a major battle. I've listened to him mumbling in what I can only interpret as nonsense. Something that could only brought on by the strain of severe mental anguish. I've ventured from my tent on occasion, and do my best to comfort him, and reassure to him that I will be fine, but it only makes the pain worse.

There is a drawback from being linked to another soul:

While we are two separate vessels, our spirits are irrevocably linked, and our emotions are as firmly soldered together as the grand-smithy's finest ebon-steel war axes. We move and think as one. While we cannot read the other's thoughts(Rather, I cannot. I've always been too timid to ask Gabe if he can read mine) we can still sense each other's pains, emotion, and desires. I could formulate a plan or some battle strategy, and he would act on it before even hearing me out. Being apart from each other only fosters uneasiness.

There were nights where he would venture out beyond the rift to help another pitiful soul trapped in my shoes, and I would be stricken by the most profound waking dreams, always played out through the eyes of my Gabriel; world's away from me, battling in some of the harshest of climates, against the most savage foes. Always, there was a brave soul that goaded him on, and provided him needed aid and support, just as if he were their own.

There were other nights when I experienced what one could only imagine as being the sharp pains of death. I would wake up with a start just like with any typical, run-of-the-mill nightmare, only I would never wake up alone. Gabriel would always be standing right next to me, hand on his heart, and panting heavily. I knew better than to intervene, as we both knew only too well of what had previously transpired, and in consoling him, that might only raise his level of concern for me. We face the possibility of almost certain death every single day of our lives. For him, it is every waking moment, since his life does not run in days, but rather, in the blinks of his eye.

I longed to reassure him, but what good would it do? It is perfectly obvious that our souls are inter-connected. What can I say to him, that I don't already feel?

But even still, on many of those treacherous nights, I would gesture for him to lie down in one of the vacant cots. Sometimes he would relent, but other times, he would only pretend to do as I asked, but would get up moments later to pace around the encampment once more. He was quite unpredictable and perhaps a bit paranoid, but I can only blame that fault on my own self...not his. It was I who had created him all of those months ago, for the sole purpose of guarding and assisting me in my efforts against the most fearsome of Firedrakes, known only by the name, Grigori.

The mighty beast had stolen the essence of my life. He stole the very thing that made me human. My heart was no more than a trifle hors d'oeuvre as compared to his massive towering form, which could have engulfed my village in just one lethal strike. He ripped it straight from my chest, and left me gasping for dear life. This was what it cost me to try and protect my village...my very life.

After that, my wounds mysteriously healed, and it turns out that I am something of legends. They called me an Arisen. And as with all arisens, I had to pass a few tests in order to create a follower of my choosing. I had no plan as to what I wanted in a follower. I tried to picture a protective guardian, and that was when I saw my Gabe for the first time, as he materialized before me, right out of the rift stone.

I had not intended for such a bond to evolve over such a trivial amount of time, and yet somehow, I had started to find myself at a loss for words in his presence. He must have felt the same way for me.

I have since noticed a strong correlation between the attributes of various pawns, and their masters. I have only noticed these things because I tend to engage in conversations with them on a frequent basis. Although I only have a short amount of time to get to know each individual, since pawn code dictates a mandatory limit of only three followers at one time(a silly rule if you ask me,) I tend to switch them out regularly, according to the different foes that I may face. But still, it is nice to know those who fight alongside you, for they are those whom you might well perish with.

It seems that almost every day, there's a new face; a new personality. They walk about the streets of Gransys while their masters take cover for the night. It seems that time matters naught beyond the rift. Perhaps the each world exists on a different plane of time altogether, and pawns can access as many worlds as they like with only a second's worth gap from the time hence they left, to the moment of their return. It's quite a profitable system for pawns, as they would gather knowledge from each quest they undergo, and forward that knowledge to their masters.

A few of these pawns have stood out to me over all of these months. I remember coming across the dearest, sweetest pawn that you could ever hope to come across. His name was Otis. He had so much to tell us about his arisen, and the deep bond that they shared. He told us that his master had made him in the image of her "guardian," a man who had revealed himself to her in so many dreams. She had said that the man was a portrait of love itself, and that her pawn would be in turn, a physical embodiment of the same.

It was all in truth. Pawns are only what you make them to be. I came across one other pawn that stood out quite painfully in my mind...he had no name, as his master had never taken the time to name him. I hired him out of compassion. I remember once asking him about his master, and he returned me the most painfully anguishing, horrendous glare I had ever seen. I almost thought that he was going to try to kill me at one point, but even the most savage of pawns are still bound by the code. I can only imagine that whoever his master was, he was not someone I would ever wish for my pawn to be bound in oath to.

Truthfully, I hold my pawn very dear to me. As he acts on my will, I can feel his good intentions. For someone who hasn't lived for a very long time, he exudes wisdom. Not to mention, being a vast storehouse of knowledge, with experience to boot. It's no wonder that many arisen choose to hire him along on their journeys. I can't complain. The gifts and rift crystals that he sends back are invaluable to our cause. And I can tell you, we eat like kings.

But alas, I am straying away from my tale. I suppose the real reason I am keeping this journal with me is to record momentous moments of my life. So far, I have only been lecturing on every mundane detail. Still, it helps that you know who and what I am. For if I were ever to pass, this journal would be my only legacy. Well, both this and my faithful pawn.

First of all, if I ever said that meeting the dragon or creating my pawn was the most momentous event that I have come to experience these past months, pay it no mind. While I have come across many close calls, and life changing events, they've naught but paled in comparison to the various ventures of several evenings past.

Now, usually I don't travel at night. While I'm normally not a skittish or paranoid person, I also do not have eagle-eye vision. In fact, my vision is rather poor. Even in the daytime, I am forced to wear these appalling, miasma grey spectacles. My old friends and neighbors never thought that it detracted from my beauty though, fortunately. I'm one of the lucky few to be graced with funds to purchase such an intriguing set of eye-wear. My vision doesn't affect me too much in combat, since I am the type who likes to strike her enemies up close with my deadly daggers and magic bow.

But there I go again...my wandering mind.

I happened to find myself in quite a predicament the other night. As the sun had begun to set, we were making our way to the nearest encampment(my pawns and I,) when our path was all of the sudden cut off by the most ferocious, malodorous, wild, reeking form of a monster that I had ever laid eyes on. A Gorechimera leaped down from its sunning rock, with fresh blood glazing its lip, and entrails dangling from the sides of his blood-dappled maw.

Nothing stood between us and the terror looming within a meter of our position. Gabriel raced into action. As he sliced into its neck with his daggers, the creature lowered itself into a pouncing stance. I was frozen in terror, as the shadowy form with bright, glowing eyes lowered it's upper haunches, and sprung upwards. It's hard to remember what happened next, but before I knew what was going on, Gabe had me hoisted up in his arms, and when I looked back, I watched my other two pawns, Jules and Rin hacking and casting spells on the creature. Gabriel dropped me, and made a steadfast bound back towards it.

I stayed back, regained my composure, then steadied my hand to raise my bow. I felt the magic take form in my hand, as I shaped its will to my own mind. Every weak spot was detected by the steadily charging magic bolts. After each point was recognized, the bolts released. I felt a spark of willpower drain out of me, but this was the price I had to pay in order to throw the beast off guard.

Its eyes burned a fiery red, and it threw its weight back at my pawns. Jules and Rin were thrown off the creature's side. Jules was hurled off a steep cliff ledge and Rin got caught in the lion's deadly maw, which crushed her tiny body. Both were instantly thrown out of this world. All that remained were my pawn and I. He was almost out of health, so I pushed him aside and unsheathed my Heaven's Key daggers. They were my secret weapon, given to my pawn as a gift some time ago. But he had insisted that I kept them. And for a time such as this, they certainly proved useful. I made quick work of the monster that had pursued us. For just a moment, we thought we were finally safe.

"The sun has already finished setting, master."

Gabe turned his gaze toward the western star, and moved his hands ever so slightly to get a lay of the land. He had tracking skills that were unmatched by many. A quick wave of the hand, and he was content in his calculations, "Encampment's this way, master. We'd better get a move on before something else jumps out at us"

I nodded, and let out a sharp sigh of relief, but at the same time, it was also a sigh of disappointment. In my sorrow, I managed to stammer a few words out.

"T-thanks, Gabriel. For saving my life."

But Gabriel was not listening to me. He was stopped in his tracks. A queer noise had stirred behind the thick brush. A deer perhaps? I wasn't worried about, but I could tell that he had felt really uneasy feeling in his gut. His rapid heartbeat seemed to radiate in my chest. It was a very unsettling moment. Before I had time to think upon this matter, I felt the cold chill of an icy blade in the dead center of my back. Gabriel shuddered, and threw himself uncontrollably against my chest as I fell.

"Master! Open your eyes!"

I did open my eyes. Surrounding us on all sides stood a group of armed rogues. The giant leader wore a nasty smirk on his weathered face, as he puffed on a fancily carved, foreign pipe. Without hesitation, he trod right up to our ghost-white faces, while the other members of the group were a bit more standoffish. I could sense that Gabe was almost out of life. And I was certainly in no shape to battle, despite the miraculous quick healing of the knife wound. Because of being an arisen, I am without a heart, and therefore my chest is protected by a strong enchantment that causes the surrounding area to deflect what are normally fatal blows to the chest.

The rogue leader seemed to be taken aback by this, but spared any questions he might have had. I knew what he was after. If we played out this scenario properly, we might be able to get out of this alive. I fumbled for the right words to say, but could only mutter a small sound.

"Silence!" The leader grabbed at my throat. Gabriel threw himself at the leader to try and knock him over, but the man was insanely stocky. Gabe had barely made a dent in that giant's leathery skin. The leader laughed his efforts, and the rest joined in with him.

"Yer a cocky li'l sod-brain, aren't yeh, mutt?"

Gabriel spat at him and made another attempt to loosen the man's grip from around my neck. I fell to the ground as the leader turned around and gestured his men forward. They immediately ganged up on Gabriel, and then the rest grabbed me and pinned me up against a tree. Gabriel struggled against his weakening strength in order to lash out at his captors. He even bit one guy on the arm in the heat of his rage.

A crooked smile creased the sides of the giant's face. "Yer gunna pay fer wot you've done, dog!"

The giant gestured two henchmen to his side, and without his approval, they started to beat the life out of Gabriel. "We'll give ya two options to live." The giant pointed at me, "Either we confiscate all of yer belongings. And yes, that means the very clothes on yer backs, or we will all have our way with yer woman. Pick an' choose. We really don't 'ave all day. In fact, I don't see any day left, so yeh might well hurry."

Gabriel screamed, "You stay away from her! If you lay one hand..."

"Too late."

The giant stepped back, as more men came into the scene, and began ripping off articles of armor and clothing, piece by piece, bit by painful bit. In the chaos, I maneuvered my arm slightly below my waistline, which I knew contained a vial of medicament. As Gabe's face hit the ground, I slid the vial undetectably towards him. He pulled the cork off with his teeth, and cocked his head to the right, so that the mixture would go down. Now, I don't know what that mixture did to him, but I tell you, despite being scantly clad, with no armor or weapons, he carried the strength of 100 Wyvern on his shoulder. Like a raging ogre, he tossed those men around like ragdolls. The ones that held me up had to release me in order to contain him.

I reached for a nearby treasure chest and found a really fancy longbow. Quickly, and precisely, I shot at Gabe's attackers. One by one, their lifeless bodies fell. Gabe was showing off his raw strength, and didn't even consider digging for a weapon. He bash their heads together, and snapped their necks like twigs. I have never been so proud of my own creation. Before Gabriel, all that I set my hands on seemed to turn into instant disaster. This was the first thing I had done right.

Once our attackers were subdued, we dealt with the giant. And trust me, he was a lot easier to kill than he looked. One arrow to the chest, while Gabe had him pinned was really all it took. It was but a brief second that we could finally gaze back at each other with ear to ear grins. But after we quickly realized our nakedness, it sort of spoiled the moment.

Gabe tossed me a blanket, and told me that I should probably head into the tent to get some rest. But he reassured to me that he would make sure to stay on the lookout just in case other enemies were to show up. He also told me that he would recover our belongings and whatnot.

My mood reverted from utter joy and admiration to being greatly disheartened by his stoicism. Not even the grandest of triumphs could bolster his confidence. But I would repeat myself, for his sake. It is not his fault. For he truly cared for nothing else...nothing but to make sure that I stayed alive.

I entered the tent, in hopes that I would awake the next morning to a more lively, refreshed and sociable Gabriel.

TO BE CONTINUED