I awoke to darkness, morning light had yet to reach the far curtain, and the sea birds were quiet. Early then, I decided as I lay motionless, doing my best to lessen the thundering within my breast. Being startled awake was not a pleasant feeling, I’d been slowly coming to understand over the past several nights. Everything was constricted, drawn tighter than was comfortable, sheets twisted partly around my legs.
This was nothing new, unwelcome though it might be. There was small comfort to be found in the dim and silent room, more still in the dark shape to my side. Soft breathing of the blissfully unaware, soothing in its own manner as my eyes grew accustomed to the shadows within my home.
Turning softly on my side, familiar landscapes painted in shades darker than the surroundings came into view. A tousle of raven hair scattered across the pillow we shared, and the barest hints of skin peered out from beneath the remaining expanse of thin bed sheet that I had not fully wrested away in my troubled sleep.
The dusky knight had taken to sharing the bed and I had not seen fit to refuse. A companion to the Arisen, steadfast in a world that was still new in many respects. No, I seemed to have little say in the matter, and the simple presence of another so close was a boon. I found sleep a trying and tiresome thing, dreams even more draining.
These things I did not share outright, though I felt that Ser Mercedes was not unaware of my troubled rest. She seemed to have similar problems in the night, and perhaps that was why she’d taken to sharing the bed. I could only help think so, with precious little to draw upon. Mine was a burden, this life granted so fully and suddenly.
Brought up from nothingness, to serve. That had been my lot, and I had wanted for nothing else at the time. Days of travel and adventure, to swing my blade at the behest of my master. Wasn’t that my calling? Perhaps not, as the Arisen had seen fit to cast a new lot, for the both of us.
It was that which troubled me so, and left me at odds with how to proceed. The Arisen was meant to govern this world, shape it as guardian and caretaker. I was to lend my support, stand by her side for all time. Now, that was lost to me, exchanged for what, I knew not.
Ser Mercedes had said it was not I who had changed, but the world, which was now different. To me, that sentiment was a false one. Much had changed, that was true, but surely the most different was myself. Before, I sought only to follow where the Arisen would lead. To lend my strength to her cause, whatever it might be. In a way, I was still filling the role assigned to me, a faithful pawn to the end.
Or so I fervently wished to believe. Circumstances were otherwise. Thoughts and feelings that felt as strange as the flesh and skin I now wore as my own, memories faint but steadily stronger, all served to muddle the situation. I wished for answers, but the only reply was a reality more solid than I had been able to realize in my previous existence.
Beside me, the knight stirred in her slumber, a yawn gracing her features as she rolled over to stretch, slender limbs draping across my waist. Traveling somewhere between the waking world and the land of dreams, she muttered slurred words in her native tongue, one that held no meaning for myself or the Arisen’s faint memory. Though it may have been discomfort, as her questing hands found purchase on the tangled sheets and sought to bundle more upon herself.
With little but to oblige, I surrendered what I could to the slightly smaller woman, who eventually stilled once she had wrapped most of herself around me, leeching the vestiges of warmth before drifting back into the sea of slumber. I felt the sun would long be up before I was able to do the same.
So, for the moment, I did my best to settle my thoughts, as they drifted to memories of another kind of darkness, the rift and a familiar ache welled up in my breast. What had once been home now far beyond my grasp. Hopefully, memory alone would bring some solace, as come morning there was much to be done.
Dawn eventually broke over the cove, and with it came the gulls and crows that habitually dotted the long piers of the village. Theirs were a sound I knew well enough to last a lifetime, two perhaps, were I of a mind. Though the early calls eventually faded into the background as the tide came in, washing softly against the sand. A far more pleasant sound to be sure.
Ser Mercedes was also freshly risen, though her mood suited my own, regardless of how pert her morning greeting was. For all the sound sleep she’d managed, there was a tender edge to her eyes, and the manner she carried herself as she washed the vestiges of sleep from her face. Of late, it was only here in the Arisen’s home, where the knight shed her façade of bravado. We spent a great deal of our time together, at least since she came upon me as I washed ashore nearly two weeks past.
It was a strange thing, to consider that I had learned as much of the Hearthstone knight as my own former master, whose body I currently inhabited. As much time as I had previously existed in the form of the Arisen’s pawn, Fenil. This distinction still troubled me, and I suspected it would for a great while longer. Though, to that end, I had always been more alike to my master than others of the Legion.
After all, I had become manifest solely to the Arisen’s considerable will, and we had been of like mind from the first moment I came into being. There was no other life that I knew half so well, until Mercedes had pulled me up from the foam and brine filled waters of the cove.
At that moment, I felt I had gained something of kinship with the knight. The both of us lost and wandering in a new existence. Whereas my body and purpose had become muddled, Mercedes had suffered as great a blow to her pride, and her own sense of self. So, we sought meaning and solace, each in the other. I cannot say if it is truly a remedy, or something else. Though it gives me time and a measure of strength to come to terms with what I must do, and how I might honor the Arisen’s will by acting as best I can in her stead.
I cannot be who I was. Though neither am I wholly the one whose image I now sport. Not the pawn Felin, nor the fisherwoman who slew a great wyrm. But, I would do my utmost to uphold her name, carrying out my duties as I knew Prytania would undoubtedly do had she not cut herself from the very coil of life that she was destined to uphold.