Hello friends, and thanks again for reading and commenting on my story. :) I tried to make this chapter the best yet! I hope that it doesn't disappoint, but I have faith that it won't. xD I made it just a bit mushy, but hopefully, heart-grabbing at the same time. And trust me, this is just the beginning. More Arisen/Pawn romance goodness to come...and yes, storyline as well. I also have decided to ship other main characters in the DD universe together. I know that some people dislike fan-shipping, but I guess I'm just kind of fanatical that way, lol. So yeah...please do enjoy. This chapter does contain some sexual content, just to say I warned ya. xD

Heart of the Arisen

By: Stephanie Young

Journal Entry #7

Somewhere back in my mind, everything involving an arisen and their own soul-forged pawn sharing such an intimate moment with each other seemed to be a really strict taboo. But what I really mean is, who ever in this wretched world would wish to make love to themselves? Truly, Gabriel was just an extension of my living thoughts. An area of my consciousness in which I had only emotional and sensory attachment to. His physical form had merely been wrought of this earth, and granted life only by the mercy of the Maker. I knew that he would never be more than what he was.

And yet, with him, nothing could have felt more normal. Was I truly insane? Or was this a gift that I alone had unlocked? For even if he were merely an alter-ego, at least others could still see him in the flesh, and so they knew that he was not just a figment trapped in my brain.

I knew that my thoughts were even now echoing in his mind, and being interpreted to fit his own needs, but I did not mind him being the shadow of my thoughts. Somehow, it all seemed completely natural...like breathing in the freshest of air.

To try and describe what we had felt with him on this night, or on the nights that followed would be entirely impossible. But this is probably the best explanation I could offer you:

Just imagine feeling your own pleasure as well as the pleasure of another at the exact same time. Now, take that in for a moment, and then imagine feeling that person feeling your pleasure also, at the same time that you're feeling his pleasure, and then vice versa. Now multiply that onto an infinite plane, where each level of pleasure grows stronger than the last, and for just that fleeting moment, you both felt the absolute most intense pleasure, that would be mortally impossible to describe. There is no comparison in this life or in this world, and if anything, this is what Heaven would be like.

In just a flash, we saw into infinity that night. It was a bright light with no form or color, and it never died. Our blazing forms were present before each other amidst this light. And the feeling of love was so powerful, that human words There was a heat that melded our souls completely together. No longer did our physical forms separate our minds. We were now as one soul, complete in two bodies.

The moment seemed to almost last forever, as if we had grown to see ourselves become old and wise. Something had awaken within both of us...something profound and special. The bond that we had shared had become even stronger, as when we finally came out of our trance, I realized that Gabe's hand had not been on my chest, and yet I could still hear his thoughts as plainly as my own voice.

Did you see that, Master? That white light?

I did, Gabriel. We both saw it...it was absolutely beautiful.

But what do you think it was? Did we go beyond...to the other side?

Perhaps we did. Or maybe perhaps it was naught but a visual representation of our passion; or perhaps of love in its purest form. Whatever it was however, I am sure that we shall see it again...and many times over.

Yes Master...it is love...it truly must be.

I buried my face against his smooth, toned chest and listened to his heartbeat some more. It reverberated steadily inside my own chest. Together, we both felt human, and together, we were one whole.

Without any more thoughts or words, we both found ourselves wrapped in sleep's warm embrace.

Early the next morning, we woke up with a start to the sound of loud squawking. I panicked, hoping that no one else in the inn would hear this emergent fiasco. I had completely forgotten that Max had been with us all the time, and he was certainly not ready or willing to wait for his breakfast. But before I had any time to react, my dear husband was already on it. Gabe scooped up the little creature and cradled it in one arm, like a baby.

Luckily, we both still had plenty dried out meat in our packs. Gabe fed Max a few scraps and patted him gently on the back until he let a satisfied belch. If gryphons could smile, Max would have been grinning ear to ear. Affectionately, he nuzzled Gabe's arm and rolled around on his back.

All of the sudden, I found myself to be magnetized by Gabe's stochastic paternal instincts. If anything, he was truly starting to become human.

"Thank you, Dearest," I said, and I lowered to gently kiss Gabe's cheek. He smiled up at me, and I turned to make my way to the chamber's second compartment. This section of the chamber had a door leading to an enclosed space outdoors. This space contained an outhouse, and to my delight, there were two small tubs of hot water sitting out with two bars of lilac-scented soap. It seemed that Asalam was just one of the few people who seemed to realize the constant trials and tribulations of the Arisen. And he seemed to take pity with his kind, charitable nature. It was no surprise that he would go out of his way to accommodate us.

Delightedly, I lowered myself into the shallow water. I called Gabe to come outside, and invited him to bathe in the tub beside me. Though I knew that he wasn't quite fond of baths, I insisted that he had reeked of death. In fact,we both had.

Reluctantly, he agreed. For a while as we bathed, we reflected deeply on each others' thoughts. We thought of course on how unusual it was that our bond had shifted and metamorphosed into something much deeper. Previously, I could not read his thoughts without aid from our glowing scars, and yet now it was second nature. Then we thought on what we should tell our other two companions. We would keep our union a secret from everyone else, rather than perhaps, Quina, and then of course, Barnaby and Selene.

Once we were all clean, we packed up all of our belongings and headed to the front of the inn. Asalam was sitting at his counter, with the still ever-present grin on his face.

"Arisen! Good morning! I hope that you slept well."

I nodded, "We certainly did...all thanks to you! We are completely in your debt, sir."

"Oh no, Arisen!" he placed his hand on my shoulder(I cannot say that I had not felt somewhat uncomfortable by this action, but not so terribly enough to break my smile.) Then he continued, "It is I who am in your debt, my friend. For after all, you aim to save the world from that wretched, damnable dragon...and without a world, I would be out of business, aye?"

"Perhaps." I laughed, "But either way, I am most thankful."

He chuckled back, "Well, don't mention it. It is fine. I pray you have a safe journey ahead, fair Arisen."

At that, I nodded and walked towards the entrance where I saw Addy and Luz waiting for us. Gabriel greeted them with a hand across his chest, and they both followed the gesture. I noticed some armor upgrades from before. I had wondered if their masters truly loved them as much as I loved my Gabe. But if each world runs in its own cycle, then perhaps in a few of the cycles, there would be Arisens in similar situations to ours. But I tried not to burden Gabe with my thoughts. Instead I started for the castle to inform Ser Maximilian hear the good news.

Once we were at the castle, I saw a rather peculiar sight. Ser Max was laughing. Quite normally, this knight commander would be rather uptight. His life had been devoted entirely to duty, and nothing more. While normally I had not much like the man, I still respected him greatly. And I had certainly considered it an honor to take on his special request. I looked over and saw standing beside him, Ser Mercedes. I should have known she would have been the one to finally crack his hard exterior.

"Ah! Good Arisen!" he said as we walked up, "We have just had the most lively conversation about you."

I grimaced slightly, wondering what it was about me that would have amused him so, "Well, it's good to see you in good spirits, Ser. I have come to report good news as well."

"Aye," he said. "I have already received word that you have completed your task. Forgive me for not telling you before, but I had sent a few agents on ahead of you. I sent them to watch you, and ensure that the task was handled properly," he stepped back a bit, "This was just a test of your character and resolve, Arisen. Sure my knights could have handled it, but the Duke needs only the finest knights on his side against the dragon. That is why I tested you. I needed to know that you were someone we could depend on."

I cannot say that I was upset by his actions. I could sense his distrust for a long time before doing this quest...in fact, that was why I had done it begin with. "No harm done," I said, "I'm just happy that no one else was harmed in the process." He nodded and briefly chuckled, "Ser Mercedes says that you had Balsac screaming like a little schoolgirl. How I would have loved to see that."

I turned to Mercedes, "Wait...you were there?"

"Why of course, Arisen. You see, Max was not being completely honest when he said a few agents were sent out. By a few agents, he meant just myself." At that, Maximilian gave her the evil eye, "Ser Mercedes, you know very well I sent two other men with you. You should not mislead the Arisen so"

"Aye, that you did. But upon seeing the Catacombs, both of your "agents" made a quick run for it. You see, Arisen...Max and I had a bet. Upon the threat of a skeleton army, I was certain that you were the right one for the job. Max however, had his doubts. So I wagered that if you were to survive, and come back in one piece, Max would agree to have me take him out for a night out in the town."

"Is that so?" I laughed. Maximilian hung his head, "That it is, Arisen. I am to subject myself to such humiliation as a price for my looming doubts about you." he turned to look back up at me, "If it is any consolation, I have full trust in you now. I know that you will not disappoint our great Duke."

Mercedes nodded, "And I must add a token of my thanks as well, Arisen. Without you, Ser Maximilian's life would continue to be bland and colorless...naught but a mindless servant of the Duke."

"Hey!" Maximilian interjected

I smiled up at him, "She is right, you know. Just because you are the Duke's highest knight commander, doesn't mean you can't live life just a little bit."

"Ah well," he sighed, "As long as no drinking is involved. I cannot risk not being at my fullest come time for duty." Mercedes patted his shoulder, "You know, I've found a tall glass of wine to be rather helpful in easing my tension on the battlefield...and in easing tension altogether" I laughed as Max's face crumpled. Mercedes might have picked the wrong guy to try and reform, but only time would tell.

"Well, anyway," I bowed, "I am glad to be of service. But now, I need to go seek out Jasper and his family. Until next time, Sers."

"Good day, Arisen." Max replied, "Just let me know when you are ready to report to the Duke once more, and I will gladly open the gates for you."

"Much appreciated." I said as I turned back and lead my team down to the town square.

It didn't take very long to find Jasper. His voice was unmistakable. He would stand in one spot the entire day, yelling about my triumphant return and whatnot. I didn't waste any time telling him of Fournival's eviction notice.

"Blah...bastard's been tryin' to get rid o' me for years," he said with a clinging sadness in his words. "Pray Arisen. I cannot argue with your word, but at the same time, my family will have nowhere to go."

I looked onward at Jasper's son Pip, as he chased another kid around the square. "You don't have children, Arisen." he continued, "This town...our...house. That is all my Pip knows. Please don't take that away from us. There must be something that we can do..some sort of arrangement."

Jasper was right. The man was wretchedly poor, and his family took in odd jobs just to survive. What would happen to them if they were to be forced live out on the streets? I started to think upon the consequences of such a decision. "I'll see what I can do, Jasper," I told him, and noticed a glimmer of hope in his eyes. Immediately, I led us back up to Fournival's manor.

I knocked on the door, and a servant girl answered., "Greetings madame. I apologize, but my master Fournival does not wish to speak with guests at the moment."

"Yeah, yeah," I replied. "Tell him that the Arisen wishes to speak with him." Her face went red as she stepped back, and then I heard Fournival's voice in the background. "It's alright Mara. Let the Arisen in." She stepped to the side and I made my way upstairs to where Fournival sat at his dining table, next to his young daughter, Symone. He nodded up at me, "How goes your intervention?"

I said nothing, but instead tossed large pouch of gold on the table. Delighted, he went on, "In truth, I'd hoped to have the matter settled by now...however, as I see that I have your ear...or coin rather. Perhaps you, Arisen, would purchase the land in question?" he nodded again and said, "Such a thing would allow your mediation to continue apace, yet free me from further obligation."

"Just take my coin, Fournival. It is the amount that you have required to be paid in full. You may count it if you wish." He smirked, "Ah Arisen! I knew you of all people would understand my plight. Now my obligations are fulfilled, and the tenants need not quit the land. I pray this is but the beginning of a long and prosperous partnership 'tween you and I.'

"Yeah," I scowled, "Not likely. As I find it rather difficult to hold respect for stingy money-grabbers such as yourself. But, I have done you one favor. Do not expect any more"

"Ah, indeed not, Arisen. I am in your debt. And make sure to let me know if you have any rarities that you might sell to me."

I trekked back to the town square once more. Luckily, it wasn't that much of a walk. The topside of Gran Soren was quite small; but you should not be deceived by its appearance, as most of it lay underground. Most inns and shops had vast basements, tunnels and chambers beneath, and most townspeople in fact, had lived in underground apartments. If most of these underground spaces had been more easily accessible, I would have been able to build up a higher standing with the townspeople. I had ventured into the gutter once, but it is an awful amount of filth to wade through in order to get into the good places. Maybe I would do this later on.

For now, I would seek out Jasper once more.

I went to his usual standing spot, but I could not find him anywhere. Pip had also run of somewhere else. Instead, I saw his wife Sara, She ran up to me and squeezed me tightly, "Maker bless you, Arisen! You have saved our home!" I struggled to breathe under her grip, "It was all I could do to ensure your family's well-being. You need not thank me."

"In truth," she went on, "I thought that such heroes existed only in cradle tales. I beg of you, take this." She handed me a large, matured greenwarish herb, "It is all I have to show my favor for your efforts."

I thanked her politely. This herb would certainly come in handy, and restore quite a bit of health for one of us were we to fall on the battlefield.

Now that we had accomplished today's tasks, I realized that we still had an entire day to do as we pleased. My thoughts had started drifting towards home. I had wondered how my "family" in Cassardis was doing. As Gabe paid close attention to my thoughts, I heard his response rattle around in my own mind,

You know, Master. Cassardis is not too far from here. We can travel there and you can always rest at your house, afterwards.

Yes...perhaps so.

I turned back around to my pawns, "Alright, my friends...let us make for Cassardis then."

"Yes Master," Addy nodded, and Luz made a slight bow, "As you wish, Arisen."

As we walked out, I delighted myself in the thoughts of freshly seared salmon steak with tuna paste. Ah, the comforts of home cooking...it had been so long since I had a home-cooked meal from Cassardis. But luckily, I would not have to wait much longer. Gabe smiled and took my hand as we left the city gates.