Your beloved is the character designated as your romantic interest in Dragon's Dogma - the gifting of the quest item Arisen's Bond is intended to signify the Arisen's choice of beloved, though in practice the person chosen is the character you last spoke with who has highest affinity with the Arisen.
The "beloved" is the character with the highest affinity for the Arisen - if more than one character has maximized affinity then the most recently spoken to of that group will be chosen as the beloved.
Once the Arisen enters The Greatwall as part of the quest Deny Salvation, the character who is deemed to have the closest relationship with the Arisen will be kidnapped by The Dragon and taken to The Tainted Mountain, and will disappear from the game until the completion of that quest. On completion the 'beloved' will move to live with the Arisen in Cassardis. On completion of the end-game the current beloved will appear in a final cutsene with the Arisen's former pawn.
Knowing exactly who your beloved is can be difficult. Even after they are taken by the Dragon, sometimes the only clue that this has actually happened is a short comment by the Dragonforged, if a character has clearly vanished from the world where they used to always be or if the Arisen Bond that was gifted to a character is dropped by Grigori at the Arisen's feet at the end of Deny Salvation. Eventually your beloved is revealed during your final encounter with The Dragon, at which point you are given the choice to sacrifice them or fight The Dragon to save the beloved's life. Once you kill The Dragon, the beloved will live in your house in Post-Game.
Beloved determination is not based on gender and it is entirely possible for your beloved to be the same gender as the Arisen.
The Arisen's Bond is an item intended to be gifted to the Arisen's beloved; the item gives the receiver Maximum Affinity and so marks whoever you give it to as your beloved. If the Arisen's Bond was gifted, an extra cutscene will be shown after Deny Salvation showing that same ring drop from the sky - indicating that something has happened to your choice of beloved - despite the significance of this cutscene, the Arisen's Bond does not guarantee your choice of beloved will be chosen.
The final battle
Your current beloved at the time of the completion of the quest Deny Salvation becomes the captive of the Dragon during The Final Battle quest; once completed the beloved then goes to live with the Arisen in their house in Cassardis.
The great hereafter
On completion of the entire game, after the quest The Great Hereafter, the most recently spoken to person with high affinity joins the former pawn of the Arisen on the beach at Cassardis. (not necessarily the player's beloved)
Controlling the choice of Beloved
Almost every character (besides the Duke, the Dragonforged, and any pawns) can be made your beloved, even children and the elderly. This makes sense given the wide age range of which you can make your own character. There are designated characters designed with this function in mind, such as Selene, Quina, and Valmiro, with unique dialogue for this role, making them the most popular choices.
Specific characters wanted as love interest can likely be made by maximizing affinity through giving many gifts, completing quests revolving around that character, and actively lowering other character affinities. In particular, main characters, shopkeepers and other inhabitants the Arisen has significantly interacted with may be a love interest due to the frequency of interactions gradually raising affinity. Affinity can be lowered by impolite actions including violence, threats, bumping into, carrying around, and gifting Liquid Effluvium.
If you have more than one character with maxed out affinity, your love interest is the last one you spoke to; this can be changed at any time, even after besting The Dragon. Save your beloved, talk to a different character with max affinity, and that character will be your beloved during the epilogue.
For example, you can rescue Aelinore from the Blighted Manse after what is clearly a romantic scene, or receive a confession of love from Madeleine; only to find out later The Dragon chose Asalam or Caxton as your beloved, because they're vendors you're almost guaranteed to be talking to many times. Vendors being your beloved this can be extremely inconvenient, as you no longer have their services until after killing The Dragon. If Asalam is taken, vocation cannot be changed until post-game, and worse, Asalam won't even live in Gran Soren anymore. (In Dark Arisen, Olra changes vocations, but more importantly, affinities were altered to make merchants and innkeepers more difficult to obtain as beloved through normal interaction.)
The solution to this potential issue is to lower the affinity of any undesired characters prior to starting the quest Deny Salvation. As affinity rises unintentionally through common interactions such as buying goods or inquiring about quests, repeat playthroughs will likely increase potential beloveds, making Liquid Effluvium use effective to avoid mishaps and lower affinity.
Several characters have quest lines which tell of closeness or affection towards the Arisen, and consequently increase affinity to a high level. These characters have special dialogue on completion of the main and end game.
Characters with special end game dialogue include:
- Upon being gifted The Arisen's Bond:
- Selene: "This...for me?! 'Tis a marvel...I am wondrous glad of it. I feel as if I am just born, newly alive at last this moment!"
- Quina: "What? The expense of such a...Your kindness is too much to bear. Thank you, I love it. Truly.
- Madeleine: "This is for me? Oh...Then I...I am...special to you? I...I don't know what to say...it's a wonderful gift. Wonderful! For true! I treasure you above all else in this life...Truly!"
- Aelinore: "What an exquisite ring! ...Is this for me? I thank you, dear warrior! 'Tis truly a thing of beauty. I much prefer it to the bauble I received from the duke."
- Mercedes: "...For me, ser? Better suited to rings than rapiers, am I? Let a woman useless as a knight serve as a wife? Is this your meaning? ...'Tis a a jest, ser. I would be joyed to wear it, as a rememberance of a dear friend."
- Julien: "A ring? You mean me to wear it? Do you quite realize the meaning of such an act, ser? ...I'll not decline it, mind. A favor from the Arisen is a great honor indeed. My thanks."
- Valmiro: "For me, cousin? Truly? Then I am happy to take it. Truth be told, I'd happily take anything you saw fit to give. Just know you're not like to get much in return from one odd as me, eh?"
- As the Beloved:
- Selene: "There, in the dragon's keeping, I was frightened...Truly frightened. Scared to die...After meeting you, I was scared to lose it all...'Twas the first time I had ever been truly conscious of death. 'Til now it had ever held little meaning for me as a pawn. But it is that mortality that gives human life its color. Life without death is no life, in truth. I've come to understand that now, as a human myself."
- Quina: "It's strange the things I missed. The scent of the ocean, The sound of waves on the shore...I...I shall never neglect to appreciate them again. I believe I understand now. When the dragon gave you that wound, it wasn't to harm you...It was marking you as chosen. A sign you were fated for great things...This world but spins in a great circle, for all eternity. Your struggle against that dragon is simply one arc in that circle. In truth, I care not for fate, or heroism, or whatever deeper purpose you were meant to serve. You saved my life...It is a debt I can never repay."
- Madeleine: "I thought it was my end when the dragon took me. Truly, I did. But just when hope was lost, you risked all to rescue me. I've no doubt it was the fates at work. When we first met here, in this village, I was desperate eh? Oh, I wore a proud face, but I was at my tether's end, and no mistake. Thanks to the wyrm, near all the goods I planned to sell were lost. If not for you, I'd mostlike been forced to sell even myself...Doubtless such a life would've lead me to an early grave. From the first momment we spoke, I knew I could rely on you. And with your support, I found the strength to give it all another go 'round. You've saved us all from the dragon's wrath. Call it fate, or fortune, or destiny - we're the two of us here for a reason, you and I. Perhaps we're to spend the rest of our days together...Oh, spare me that look! I say it with all my heart...Truly!"
- Aelinore: "You are ever my knight in gleaming armor. You championed me against the wyrm itself! I couldn't abide living in this cursed land any longer...But as I fled, I was captured by the dragon. I near lost all hope entirely. I was deathly afraid. In truth, I was afraid even of returning home. My father would never abide my having sundered the marriage he crafted. There was a time I even considered death...But when the momment came...there, in the dragon's talons, I found myself calling out to you. And you came. You have saved me, ser, and not just with steel and valor. I fear my words fail me...You have saved my all, my dearest warrior. My great redeemer."
- Mercedes: "Pray, let me apologize... I was as like to die of shame as dragon's fire. To have been the beast's captive so easily, and to have caused you peril for it... I am sorry. 'Twas a duel to the death you fought with the wyrm. Sincere as any I've seen. And yet, there was a sense of... familiarity between you. An air of kinship, almost. I harbor no delusion that I might have been of any help, had I a blade in hand. But what's more, there was an aura there, fit to bar any intercessors. 'Twas enough to make me envious, the bond you shared with the beast as equals. Pray, do not take offense, but I saw a likeness in you and the dragon. Where that resemblance lies, exactly, I could not say... but you and it both are things apart from the world. Unique. I well know that no effort I might spend could e'er make me fit to aid you, Arisen. I am fit to believe in you, and wait. And so I shall. Pray, come back to me alive, ser."
- Reynard: "My head feels clear, somehow. Like a man finally free from the haze of a night's drinking. When I felt the Wyrm's talons about me, sure I was a dead man, all went black a moment. Then there you were, somehow. In my mind, I saw you. I knew it sure as the sky is blue, that you would come for me. My head's held little but thought of my father these years past. With nothing to drive me on...no purpose to clutch to my breast, I faltered. 'Tis only natural that a man left hollow should fall, no different than a rotted tree. But I am hollow no more. Not empty, but a clean slate. Free of all that's burdened me. I feel ready to begin anew. To start fresh. Together, with you."
- Julien: "As I think on it now, 'tis a funny thing... Just what am I come here to do? Until now, I have acted for my homeland and its people. I well know others would brand me a villain, but I have e'er followed a knight's path, as I see it. But now... Having stood betwixt you and the dragon, I am humbled. Yours was a struggle far above the petty matters I've long concerned myself with. The wyrm exists beyond diplomacy and intrigue, unbound by oath or expectation. As do you. You've given me cause to see how miniscule, how insignificant I truly was, though I bear you no ill will for it. Nay, I think you. I thank you and watch on with eager interest where you journey takes you next."
- Valmiro: "There's aught I learned, after what you did... I'd always thought you strong, good fisher. Since we were but minnows. But you're still human. You've no perfect will of unshakeable iron. On that mountain, you weren't free of doubt. The choice you made was real, and painful, I doubt it not. You knew you might die, like as not. You just have been scared, but you still chose. I see now that to think you strong is to sell you short. You're--you're much greater. You face each coming trial as best you're able, wrestle with it, and make your choice. I am a lucky man indeed to share a bond with such as you."
- Final Speeches:
- Selene: "You're... like me. Aren't you? As my grandmother gave me life, he/she gave you yours... They gave us death, and with it true life... This is the world he/she wanted for us."
- Quina: "You're not... your face is his/hers but you're not... No, but he's/she's here now. Still, I... I'm sure of it."
- Madeleine: "So...Is it over? I don't know what you were wrapped up in, but it must have been something grand. And the world is a different place for it...Though I'm sure we'll still manage brilliantly, you and I."
- Aelinore: "Thank you. I'd given up hope of seeing you again. In any form! It's clear forces beyond my ken are at work here...But I'll ask no questions, not today."
- Mercedes: "It is you...Isn't it? Of course it is. I'm sorry. You just seemed...changed. But I suppose it isn't you who's different. It's everything else, and you who changed it..."
- Any male character: [No special dialogue. Only body and facial expressions like an ordinary NPC Beloved.]
- Once Deny Salvation is completed there is no way to change the character selected by the Dragon. This means that the Beloved is decided as soon as the player reaches the first save-point in Deny Salvation after starting it.
- If the Beloved was given an Arisen's Bond, it will drop to the ground in front of the Arisen at the end of Deny Salvation. It can be retrieved and placed back in the player's inventory.
- The current Beloved can change multiple times through a playthrough.
- The ease of gaining Merchant and Innkeeper affinity was greatly reduced as part of the changes made to the Dark Arisen version of the game.
- As it has been said, almost every character (besides the Duke, the Dragonforged, and any pawns) can be made your beloved - even Feste: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUbLL3J0__o