In this entry to Fantasylegends Darkest Before Dawn contest, I have drawn the darkest hours of the far southern kingdom of Isperia, the tragic loss of its national hero and his wife, and eventually their only daughter's rise to heroism.
After riding to the aid of gypsies, the Mouri and other peoples attacked by his own country's prejudiced cultish sects, the fearless knight Don Antonio de Vivar and his wife Doña Isabel intend their newborn child Esperanza to become a powerful lady and a significant step in their Isperia's prosperity and equality. Peace is interrupted when Antonio and Isabel are persecuted by the cult that has gained leverage over their country's power and begun full scale slaughter of the gypsies and Mouris that had come to live in harmony with Isperia's people.
The attempt to fight back the cult's treacherous soldiers ends with Antonio and Isabel's deaths and their maid Pepa taking the infant daughter to the safety of the Isperian wilderness.
Raised as an innocent village girl with a love of dancing, swimming and horse riding, Esperanza Vivar's peaceful, carefree world takes a grim turn when violence and strife reach her life at last. Her nightmares take the form of all reason being abandoned and in its place, creatures of the night form all around her ready to drag her into the blackness.
Eventually as the dark closes in around the fair Esperanza, she has her parent's and Pepa's love and her people's bid for freedom for her to stand up and give her all for Isperia's former glory, even with just a quarterstaff at her side.
At last Esperanza receives the training and experience needed to become the Doncella who will lead a band of freedom fighters that will sweep aside the bloodthirsty cult's forces and restore liberty to Isperia. As the sun fights its way through the clouds, Doncella Esperanza's sword shines its rays and her benevolent horse Elena rears mightily above the troubled kingdom for all to behold.
This image was hand-drawn with Berol ink and colouring pencils.
Esperanza's nightmare was inspired by Fransisco Goya's most iconic etching to express the feelings of fear, loneliness and stress when all becomes confusing and scary. Esperanza and everything else is a fantasy creation of my own, inspired by Spanish history. The darkest starts from when her parents were murdered, then to when Esperanza must face that dark years later. Dawn is when she becomes a true warrior.