Meet me, at the church, as the sun has risen
He cradled the smooth parchement between light fingers, the jarring contrast between his cracked, battle worn digits and the beautiful hand written script achingly clear, even in the lucid, dancing candle flame. Loosing a threadbare sigh, he turned the scrap over in his hands, waiting for it to reveal the answer his heart sought. But it breathed no words of comfort, no wise council, merely made his heart beat with that same curious pattern it did whenever she was in his thoughts. Silently, he stood, lifting his sword and oiled cloak as he did. Sliding the embroidered jacket over his shirt, he left the barracks, evading the sentries easily.
No sound betrayed his soft footfalls as he crossed weathered, cracked tiles, the white walls of the derelict church faded to murky yellow in the sun's rising light. Yet his heart pounded a deafening rhythym as he neared where he knew she would be waiting, and when the wisp of white lace ruffled over the stonework as he stepped into the entrance, it exploded in chorus within his head.
She was perfect. Willow-soft, bending with the breeze, her long dark locks blown to a flag he would follow to the bloodiest battle, liquid brown eyes bore into his with a fervor he would die to protect. Clad in pure white and gold, she was his goddess made real. When she threw herself around his neck and breathed tearfully, he would have torn down the halls of heaven to stop her coming to harm.
Which was why he had to leave.
She sensed the tension in him as he stepped back from the embrace.
"Please Raven, don't go. I can stop it, my father..."
His hand brushed over her lips, and they fell quiet, her eyes falling to the floor.
The tears that fell from her cheeks could have ground his soul to dust and blown it to the wind, crumbling his body and all that stood around him. The pain of her breaking heart could have broken his back, had he not known she were to be safer if he left.
"But... our love. You would throw it all away, to run? At least let me run with you, Raven! We could hide from the world, and I could cast my chains aside! How I long for the simple life, with you, my love!"
He stood motionless in the face of her plea. "I must leave. Our love is the reason, chére. You are the Black Rose, the hope of the nation. You were never meant to love the likes of me, and I must leave, if this kingdom is not to fall. You must see to it it does not, for if it should fall, we shall never have one another."
She looked up, her eyes like gateways to heaven, glistening wet. He took her delicate body to his own, kissed her soft hair as she buried her face in the feathers that had given him his name.
"For you," she whispered, "I would let the kingdom fall to ruin."
"That, chére, is why I must leave."
Coloured pencil on beige card, the character designs very much influenced by Phantom of The Opera. The story is my own creation. Pose was referenced from a photo.
Close ups can be found here: [link]