Perchance To Dream
by Karen

Florence, Italy 1600's

It was a few hours after midnight, and while the rest of

the man's neighbours had long since sought the comfort of their beds; he still lingered around in his workshop. Leonardo had been there for almost three days running, convinced that he was on the verge of a major break-through on his latest project. Oblivious to all external distractions, he had neglected to comb or trim his white beard, to the dismay of his land-lady, Ursula.

Ursula was a small, severe woman of unshakeable nerves who at no moment in her life had sung a note, seemed to be everywhere from dawn until quite late a night. She was always pursued by the soft whispering of her starched skirts; her black hair tied up in a bun. When she undertook the enlargement of the house, she built a special room, used as her tenant's workshop, far from the noise and bustle of the house.

The room had a window flooded with light and a bookcase she put in order, and stacks of yellowed paper covered with indecipherable signs. The new place seemed to please Leonardo; because he was never seen anymore, not even in the dining room. Her tenant would spend hours there, scribbling his enigmatic notes and sketches on parchment he had brought with him from Milan. He ate the meals that Amaranta, Ursula's daughter brought him twice a day. He would spend nights walking around the room thinking and searching for a way to apply scientific principles of bird flight, lift, and thrust to everything that was useful when put into motion.

Urusla put up with her tenant's eccentricities, and thanks to her, the white-washed stucco walls, the wooden furniture, and the inlaid tiled floors and the closets were neat and orderly.


Once again the tell-tale signs of the Phoenix Gate's arrival was announced by a glowing sphere of fire and light. Brooklyn and Sata tumbled out of its circle of influence and the Gate closed behind them.

They found themselves standing atop a steep hill bordered on the east by a river stretching away to the horizon. A large city of white houses and villas, ships docking and disembarking, filled with all manner of craft tied up to the mooring posts. The houses seemed to be a uniform white with terraced gardens, red tiled roofs, and a central open air courtyard. The view from their hill was excellent; so the two gargoyles had an unbroken glimpse in all directions. On one side it faced the aforementioned silvery stretch of the river; to the west it faced a glittering domed palace. Directly behind them was the city, and opposite them stood a small house. The sign above the door read: "Benevici! Senorita Urusla. Rooms to let."

"Okay, someone has to ask" "Where are we?" Brooklyn sighed.

"I am not sure, but according to the sign, this is apparently some sort of rooming establishment. The propitier of which is a woman named Urusla. Maybe we should see what Diamante's mirror has to show us. It might indicate where we are." Sata explained.

"Good idea. But will it work for us. I remember Diamante, the Peruvian scryer telling us that the mirror's magic is kind of fickle. It sometimes doesn't show anything, and sometimes it does. And sometimes it shows images of what might be things." Brooklyn said.

"I know. I remember, too. But the images are not always what me expect them to be. It's up to us to interpret the images. I know that, but it's worth a try." Sata said.

Removing the Incan scryer's gift, Sata held the carved glass in its stone frame up to the Italian summer moonlight, angling the small object first one than another.

"All right, here goes nothing." Sata sighed.

Holding the mirror so that they both could look into it, Brooklyn and Sata peered into its surface. The by-now familiar seascape appeared then resolved itself to show a tall white haired man absorbed into studying a pinned up piece of paper perched on an easel in a cluttered room. The image held for a few seconds then vanished.

"That must be who we're looking for." Sata said.

"Then this must be the place where we'll find him." Brooklyn agreed.


Amaranta choosing that moment to come outside and tend to the watering of the flowers, spotted the two gargoyles looking at the mirror. Staring a few seconds in shock, Amaranta dropped her bag of seeds and water pitcher, and ran back into the house.

"Hey! Wait a minute!" Brooklyn said. "OKAY, that went well." he muttered.


"Mammasita! Mammasita! The Signore's visitors from abroad have arrived! I told you they would! I just could never be sure if it was true or not, or when they would arrive!" Amaranta exclaimed.

"Stop spouting nonesense, nina, go back and tend to your chores!" Ursula yelled from inside the house.


"Apparently again our presence in this time and place was expected." Sata wondered.

"Yeah, it looks that way. Maybe we should go inside and announce ourselves." Brooklyn agreed.

"Yes, we can't stay out here." Sata replied.


The three residents of the house having assembled in the living room greeted the newcomers.

"Ah, there you are! I've been expecting you for a long time now. What happened? Lost your horses? Got robbed? Got lost? he asked, looking down at a sketch in his hand.

"These are the travellers from abroad you've been expecting, Signore Leonardo?" Ursula asked.

"Yes, Mama. He promised they would arrive when they arrived. "I told you they would." Amaranta said.

"Ah, could we start with introductions? My name is Brooklyn." the brick red gargoyle said.

"Yes. I am Sata, a honor to make your acquaintance good lady and that of your daughter." Sata said formally.

"I'm Ursula de Valle, this is my daughter Amaranta and this is.." she trailed off.

"I can speak for myself, good woman. I am Leonardo Da Vinci, I am going to be famous one of these fine days, not just in Italy, but maybe all of Europe!" he exclaimed excitedly.

Brooklyn and Sata coughed politely, not at the claim, but to avoid telling the inventor/artist details about the future from which they came; because eventually the man would become famous, and not just in Europe but all over the world.

"Well, now that your friends are here, what now?" Amaranta asked.

"They are here to help with my grandest endeavour yet!" Leonardo cried.


Leonaredo's chief ambition at this point was to invent a flying machine, propelled by wind currents and a steam engine. It would be based on the principles of bird flight and could accommodate more than one passenger endowed with adventurous temperaments and a head for heights. His zeal to construct this contraption and learn the secrets of its mechanics; wind currents, lift, drag, thrust, and flight paths, had kept him busy for months. Prior to the gargoyles arrival, he had completed it, but had also run into an apparently insurmountable obstacle: Money and sponsors.

To remedy the situation, Leonardo resolved to approach his old friend the Medici at his villa. To this end, he enlisted the aid of Amaranta whose portrait he had just completed; the paint was still wet. She brought him a basin of water, a mirror, and a razor, while he made himself presentable.


At the Medici villa

"What has happened to the project you explained to me a week ago, Leonardo? If I recall correctly, you were most interested in the possibility of building a flying machine powered by the means of a pendulum and steam." he asked.

"I still am, without the slightest hesitation, interested, good Medici, my friend. However, I have one little problem. I need funds in order to carry forward with the project." Leonardo answered.

"And you would like to borrow said funds from me. I am sorry, Leonardo but I cannot oblige you, not even for the sake of our old friendship. I am truly sorry." the Medici said.

"But! Why not! My friend! Leonardo exclaimed.

"For the sake of our old friendship or not, I simply cannot see the wisdom of investing in this madcap scheme of yours, that may or may not take off. I am sorry. I suggest you look elsewhere for sponsors." he concluded.


No one was interested. That did not dissuade Leonardo, who decided to go ahead with the project despite the lack of funds.

On the appointed day for the launch of the Mark I "Da Vinci's Marvellous Onthopter."; he had duly informed Ursula of his grand project. With her customary aplomb, she continued knitting without paying attention to her tenant's preparations. She then got up to attend to the account books, and passing Amaranta, who was fixing lamb for that evening's dinner, she said:

"I have a hunch it isn't going to take off."

"What isn't going to take off?" Amaranta asked, who unknown to her mother was fascinated by Da Vinci's sketches and inventions.

"The old man's finally lost what marbles he had. His crazy flying machine. If people had been meant to fly, they'd have been born with wings." she sagely remarked.

Amaranta having been present during Da Vinci's meeting with the gargoyles and spied on them when he closeted with them in his workshop, giggled but quickly smothered it with her apron. She continued to baste the lamb.

"You will not believe this, Mama, but just this once I think you might be wrong in your prediction about the flying machine. And I have the funny feeling that some time in the distant future, men may indeed fly. Maybe sooner than you think." she muttered, thinking of the gargoyles.

"Whatever are you talking about, Amaranta?" Ursula asked in astonishment.

"Oh, nada, Mama. He's a very good artist by the way. I offered to pose for him, and he's just finished my painting." Amaranta said.

"I was not consulted! To supervise! Ursula sniffed. "Honestly, that man! He'll never amount to anything if he doesn't pay his bills on time. Mark my words, girl, that's a predication." Ursula said. "You're not going to the launch." she added.

"Oh Mama!" Amaranta exclaimed. The cry of exasperated children everywhere.


Outside the house, the spot that the inventor had chosen as his airfield, Leonardo and the two gargoyles he had enlisted as his assistant, spread out the entire length of canvas, attached these to the wooden frame of the machine, topped by a shape that looked suspiciously like a windmill.

He had Brooklyn and Sata carry the flying machine from its place of honor in his workshop to the hillside which turned out to be several neighbouring houses over. He was dressed in overalls complete with goggles and an explorer's helmet which he wore over his unruly white hair. He also had a compass and several strange maps.

Gesturing with his left hand, he indicated where he wanted the gargoyles to place the flying machine.

"Please set it down in the indicated circle, if you would, my friends." he instructed.

"Is this good?" Sata asked, setting down her end, while Brooklyn followed suit with his end.

"Yes, my dear, Sata." he replied.

"With all due respect, sir...." Brooklyn trailed off.

"Not, Sir, Please don't call me Sir. That's for peerage and the merchants, and the cabelleros, and people like that miserly Medici. Call me Leonardo, everyone else does. The inventor said absently, wondering if the gargoyles could fly with those wings.

"As I was saying, Leonardo, Do you know what you're doing?" Brooklyn said, eyeing the flying machine askance.

"Of course, I do, Brooklyn, my boy! He laughed, "At least, I think I do. he muttered. "Now, if you will just hold the right side of the machine steady, my boy," he added.

"Sure thing." Brooklyn answered, lifting one end of the machine.

"Excellent, now Sata, my dear, if you would just use the callipers to make sure that the lateral sides are all even." he instructed.

Taking the measuring device Sata did as she was instructed "I can't be entirely certain, but it looks like there's a ten degree variation." she said.

"Align them, then turn the rotary dial to the left. While you're doing that I'll just check the pressure valve on the steam engine." he said.

"Is that better, Leonardo? I have made the adjustment." Sata said.

"Yes, much better." The inventor answered. "Thank you both for your help. Now comes the moment of truth!" he exclaimed. "Sata help Brooklyn hold steady the machine on your end, thank you, my dear. he said. "Theory is all well and good. but the true test of any invention is in the practice. The proof is in the pudding, to coin a phrase." Well, here goes nothing." he muttered.

The red and green gargoyle looked askance at each other, and if they had had a hand free to cross their fingers and hope the inventor could carry this off, they would have.

Leonardo boarded his experimental craft. The flying machine rocked slightly, then settled back on its moorings.

"All right, when I give the word, cut the ropes! he shouted. Giving a slight tap to the side of his head, Brooklyn acknowledged the instructions.


"Ah, Bella donna! Here goes nothing! he shouted NOW! he yelled. Sata drew her belt knife and cut the mooring ropes.

The flying machine lurched, the two gargoyles held onto their respective ends to provide the required thrust, and they pushed it forward towards the edge of the hillside. It reached the edge, announced by the creaking of its skeleton, and the roar of its steam engine. On the second try the unwieldy contraption lifted off without a twinge of complaint and with a certain elegance.

Sata glanced at the red gargoyle, "Brooklyn-san, we had better accompany him." the jade green gargoyle urged.

"Agreed. He might keep out of less trouble that way." Brooklyn answered.

The two gargoyles launched themselves into the air and took put flanking positions to either side of Leonardo Da Vinci.

"My friends, I never imagined flying could feel this wonderful! I promise, I will never forget this moment for as long as I live!" The inventor crowed excitedly. "When we land,we must record this moment for posterity!"


After having said their farewells, the two travellers were once more swept up into the ocean of time by the magical fire of the Phoenix Gate.'


Years later, when art historians would go through the recovered belongings of the longed artist Leonardo Da Vinci; in a chest that had withstood the deprivations of time and weather; they discovered two paintings. One was entitled "Amaranta in Repose.". The other painting was an oil on canvas picturing two winged figures, one red and one jade-green, carrying a young girl in a red and white chequered dress. She had one hand tightly clasped in each of theirs, soaring through the midnight sky of Florence, portrayed with a remarkable life-like vividness. The same enigmatic smile that graces the artist's more famous portrait, "The Mona Lisa" curved the girl's mouth as well. Her raven black hair was blown out behind her by the wind. Underneath the painting was a worn inscription: "Dream of glory! Dream of life! And dare to fight for both! L Da Vinci, Florence Italy, 1625."


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