Boy meets the world
Men below his feet are working in the fields. Their heads bowed down, their backs bent at awkward angles. Sun is burning their tanned skin, creating new wounds. The only thing that makes them forget about their back pains and scorching sun are blisters upon blisters on their hands.
With his left hand, he passed through his neatly cut, curly black hair and sighed loudly so that his mother could hear his small gesture of revolt.
"You can disagree as much as you want, but as long as we feed you, you will help out your father, now go!".
Dario passed by his mother with his bowed down, similar to the farmers that were below his olive tree a moment ago.
Behind his family's house was his father's workshop. Dario was some thirty steps away from the workshop when he suddenly stopped. He stood there staring at a wide-shouldered man hammering a bloody red piece of a metal. This titan of a man was his father, town's blacksmith. Dario stood there trying to figure out what has happened to his father in this past years. Man in front of him used to be his hero, bigger than Achilles and Aeneas combined. As a child, Dario witnessed how his father created works of art and great skill by subduing natural elements to his own will. He was a craftsman, an artist, engineer and a creator. He was someone you would wish to become. Now,... well now he is just a blacksmith. His creative spark has died out, his ambition vanished. Now his childhood hero is content with replacing horseshoes. If Dario walks in that workshop, will that be his fate also?
Afraid of the answer Dario silently turned away and simply started walking. There was no destination, no goal, just the need to get away from the shackles of an ordinary everyday life. He walked away from the slow, creeping death.
Dario walked for hours, heading into uncertainty into the unknown. Will he ever come back, what will he eat, where is he going to sleep? Those questions didn't bother him at all. All he knew is that he felt free, free to pursue his own way of life.
Dario was now seeing the world around him with new eyes.
He has already walked the entire village, he crossed the Lucca's creek and Virgola forest. He was now actually further away from home than he has ever been, and it felt good. Before him now laid a chain of small hills. Some were covered with dense vegetation and some were barren. This chain of hills looked like a necklace of completely different beads. He has never even heard of this place. It could be dangerous but fear is for sheep, not men.
As he got closer to the most western of the hills he noticed that the sun is coming down. There was no coming back now. He continued on and under the shivering light of a crescent moon, he reached the forest covered hill. Every detail in the forest looked mysterious and ominous. Birds stopped chirping and creatures of the night took over. Neither the owls on treetops nor foxes in the bushes were terrifying to the Dario it was something else. A quiet high pitched sound that he could not really identify, similar to the sound that mosquito makes but not quite.
"Real gem of this forest is probably at the source of the noise" - Dario encouraged himself to continue forward. And he did. As he walked carefully to the source, Dario noticed something strange. The volume of the sound didn't increase instead the frequency intensified. As he got to a small pond it sounded like thousands, millions of mosquitos. And yet there were none.
Dario kneeled next to the pond to drink some water after an entire day of hiking. Before he took his first sip he marvelled the depth of the pond, and there was something else in it. A faint light, like a ray of sunshine. Drawn to it like a moth to the flames Dario entered the pond. It really was much deeper than it should have been. So he dived in. As soon as the boy has dived in, the sound that lured him in now felt like a current drawing him in further and further to the light. A couple of minutes passed and it seemed that there was no end to this pond. A couple of more minutes passed and Dario was still not out of the breath.
At some point, the current just propelled him through the light and Dario found himself on the surface of the pond. Dario was confused. He was sure he was going down the entire time. Something else was off. It was daytime, in fact, it was a beautiful sunny day. And the noise stopped. As he left the pond he observed the forest now under the daylight. these trees are very different than any others he had ever seen, they look like oaks but with purple leaves. Truly strange. He hadn't noticed that earlier, probably because it was nighttime.
Hunger kicked in now. He really needed something to eat at this point. Through the forest, he marched, marvelling all the new plants he had just discovered. They were beautiful but unfortunately, they bore no fruit, so he kept on going. At the brink of the forest, the boy stopped. His jaw dropped to an unnatural angle, his knees started shaking and hands trembling. His mind was overloaded. Dario fainted.
When he came about, his mind was still overwhelmed, but at least he didn't faint. Dario just continued staring in the sight in front of him.
Two suns in the sky and on the ground fields of purple plants.
Slowly his mind started processing information again. This can not be the outskirts of Carona village. Ths cannot be even his country, his world. There is no such thing as two suns.
"Calm down Dario, breathe, breathe. Think. Stay alive. This is not terrifying. This is all you have ever wanted. You have stumbled upon something new. You are like that Cristoforo who found new Lands in Asia by travelling west. But you must be smart. Take it slow now." - after Dario talked some sense into himself boy walked slowly away from the forest and toward the purple fields. He had hoped to find some food there.
As he was closing down to the fields figures started appearing in the fields. It as still hard to see them clearly when it hit Dario. What if they don't like strangers, what if they don't speak my language? It was too late for questions now, they have obviously spotted him. Four figures that were in the fields now were running towards him. Dario stood his ground. He was not brave, just too tired and hungry to run. As they got closer he noticed that they were quite tall, taller even than his father. As they got even closer he could see that their skin has a dark purple complexion. Even though his mind was chained in fear Dario was astonished at the sigh in front of him. Other than the height and the skin colour their facial features and body proportions were the same as Dario's. "Magnificent" - boy thought.
"Hello, I am sorry to interrupt your work in the fields, but I would really need something to eat." - Dario shouted at them as they were now at talking distance. They stood silently, looking at him with as equally much questions as Dario had. Trying to overcome the language barrier boy pointed with his finger to the mouth. Youngest in the group that looked like he was the same age as Dario, offered something to Dario. Dario accepted the strange fruit without seconds thought and started eating. It was the sweetest thing he has ever tasted. He ate with pleasure, and the Purple people were obviously happy he had liked it. When they started talking Dario couldn't understand a single word, but at least it didn't sound threating.
Boldy Dario approached the young Purple in order to shake his hand. Unfamiliar with the gesture, young Purple looked at the stretched-out hand trying to figure out what to do, so he just copied Dario's movements. When their hands touched it was the first inter-world handshake, and Dario felt proud of himself. Dario looked the young outworlder in his two brown eyes and introduced himself "Dario" and he was returned with "Vinci". The remaining farmers repeated the gesture and they also introduced themselves as "Vinci"
What followed was so strange and unexpected. The Purples accompanied Dario to two wooden contraptions that looked highly complex in their nature. When he was shown that he must sit in one, together with two more Purples, Dario felt a bit uncomfortable, but that was nothing compared to what happened next. Contraption rose to the skies. Dario screamed and yelled which was very funny to his new hosts. By the end of the trip, Dario was no longer scared but felt powerful. He was after all the first human ever to sore to the skies.
The Purples that found him were obviously a family because they all lived together in a giant tree house on top of an enormous tree next to the fields where they first met. These farmers now hosted him like a king. With his stomach filled Dario fell asleep in a common room.
In days that followed, Dario and the Purples were communicating by any means possible, mostly with gestures and drawings. Through drawings, Dario realized that all Purples have an artistic soul. The way they painted and drew, all of their work should be on the ceilings of churches and cathedrals. Dario observed closely to see how they follow basic geometry to produce works of great art, which they consider just as simple drawings which everyone is capable of.
Every morning Purples would go to the fields with their flying machines leaving Dario alone in a giant tree house with elder female Purple and two boys that were around 7 years, in Earth terms, he still hasn't figured out how do they count time. Alone with the kids, he had the time of his life. Kids showed a big interest in the stranger so they included him in all of their games. One of their favourite games was when they jumped from the tree top to the ground with a piece of linen. Dario was fascinated to learn that this piece of linen slows down the fall and not just that. It was quite fun actually. Once they got to the ground they played in another wooden contraption, similar to the flying one, but it could only go by land. They smashed into one another demonstrating great skills in manoeuvring these machines.
Dario learned how different is this society from their own. It is more similar to packs in the animal life, and they all are ruled by a sense of higher duty. Everyone is responsible for the well being of the family without apparent social structure. Children are schooled by their own family members, in this family the teacher was the eldest female. But what was strangest of all is that they possessed no names. The only name they bore was the name of the family, in his host's case "Vinci".
The boy was fascinated with his host family as much as they were with him. Dario tried to draw his world and present it is as beautiful as possible. He even learned few words of their language to emphasize the wonders of his home. Purples seemed to be fascinated with the fact that there is only one Sun in Dario's world. What they didn't like was the concept of countries and rulers. It was hard for them to explain, but Dario suspected that in the past Purples had bad experiences with the subjects.
The goodbye was hard for both sides, they grew very fond of each other. The family packed a bag of supplies for Dario and there was a tear or two. Dario withheld his tears until he saw a farewell gift. It was a picture of the entire Purple family and with Dario in the middle. Young Purple who first shook his hand presented the gift with words "Lenardo Vinci". Dario knew what that translated into - "member of the family".
A handshake was not enough for a goodbye. He hugged all of them starting from the old teacher all the way to the kids. The boy then lowered himself from the tree with the help of linen, just like the little Purples taught him, and he never looked back. It was too hard.
Dario returned the same way he entered the strange world. but before he left the mystical forest, he buried the pond with rocks, so that the passage may never again be found. Dario realised that if the two worlds ever collide, kind-hearted, artistic Purples would face annihilation.
After he secured the future of his purple friends he travelled the country trying to find the place where he could belong. In the end, he found it in Florence. Because of the time spent with the Purples, Dario grew to be quite an expert in art so he apllied for the position of a painter for some rich patron. When the patron saw his work he was amazed. "This is amazing, who are you?"