~...The enemy had struck swiftly on that fateful night. They had killed her father and taken over his Kingdom, the only home Princess Caliope and James had known from birth. The only thing that saved them both was Caliope's wilfulness in insisting that she continue on her evening walk. James, always close and charged by her father to protect his only daughter had heard the blood rending screams of the inhabitants of her fathers castle as the enemy attacked. He had snatched her up in his strong arms and taken her to one of their "secret" hiding places. He had to hold her close to him muffling her sobbing into his chest as each ear piercing scream that came from deep within the castle would sear its memory into their minds and hearts.
On the night after the bloody slaughter the mood within the castle had gone from frenzied madness to drunken revelry with the enemy having found the cellar laden with barrel after barrel of fermenting wine. By the sounds of the intermittent screams, it seemed that some of the women had been spared their lives but now suffered an even more intolerable existence by the hands of these drunken pillagers. During that night as the sounds became muted, he had decided it was time to leave their hiding place and take them to safety.
James had led them to the stables in the pitch darkness, saddled up Caliope's horse Purcy constantly patting his nose to stay quiet. He swung himself up on the steed lifting Caliope into his arms with one quick motion, pulling her close to his chest wrapping his arms around her and dug his heels into Purcy's belly pushing them forward at breakneck speed out into the forecourt and over the drawbridge left open by the careless enemy.
They had travelled for twelve days and nights pushing Purcy to his limits. During the days they were fed and hidden by villagers throughout the Kingdom by her father's loyal subjects and travelled hard and unrelenting as darkness would fall. The enemy had sent out search party's in order to capture the most prized possession ....Caliope. But soon they would be safe in the Kingdom and haven of Princess Penelope, her Godmother.
That had been six long heart rending months ago. Caliope had been inconsolable and even though she would insist that James be near her at all times even demanding his bedchamber be next to hers, she held him at arms length. James' devotion to her had astounded Princess Penelope who had instructed all in her household to respect him as one of the family for deep down she knew that in time, Caliope and James would be as one, regardless of their birth rights.
Now as the days wore on, Caliope had resumed her evening walks albeit not around the grounds of her own home, but nevertheless it was a sign that James knew she was slowly healing. Every evening he would accompany her on her walks but would always remain in the shadows, close enough if she needed him but far enough to give her privacy. Each waking moment spent with Caliope his love would grow stronger and at night his dreams would be filled with her beauty and the urges to feel her soft silken skin against his own. Perhaps soon, Caliope will look at him again as she did before that fateful night, with eyes of love instead of eyes of sadness. He would wait...~
Hearts Crusade - Part 1 [link]
The skyscape is with thanks to Australian Severe Weather [link]
and the mountain scene from Paul Butler [link]
who so kindly has allowed me to use their photography for my manipulations
Hope you all like "Heart's Torment"
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