The year was 1495 when Benvenuto d'Alviano, the renowned renaissance painter of Italy, discovered the true magic behind his artistry.
That same year, the second daughter of Henry VII of England, Elizabeth Tudor, died at the age of three due to atrophy, the wasting away of a part of the body. Sad news indeed, but it was only an opportunity to Benvenuto, who based his paintings upon awful incidents of the like. Of course, the public did not see those paintings, unless Benvenuto wanted his head separated from his body by the gleaming blade of the guillotine. Oh no, he kept those paintings stashed in his cellar, where no man would discover them.
But Benvenuto did not become a popular painter by hiding his paintings from the public eye. As ridiculous as it sounds, Benvenuto made other paintings that showed fictional towns and beautiful women, all of which were created completely from his deep imagination. These were the paintings he was known for, the paintings that were responsible for his name landing alongside other great artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Giovanni Bellini. But although he was a popular artist, his dark obsession soon caught up with him.
The date was September 26th and Benvenuto was finishing up his painting of the late Elizabeth Tudor. But, if one were to look at the painting, Elizabeth Tudor was not the first thing that came to mind.
The painting that Benvenuto created showed a small child sitting in a dark cave alone, some light shining through from the faraway entrance of the cave. But it was no ordinary child; it had a few strands of black hair coming down from its head, its eyes were completely white. It sat alone, naked, next to a small body of water inside the cave. Tears were running down from its eyes and onto its small stomach. The baby's whole body was black and gray, like the body of a corpse rotting in the sun for days on end.
Although nobody would have guessed, the small child in the painting was Elizabeth Tudor, or Benvenuto's image of her, created somewhere deep within his dark imagination. But if looked at closely, a resemblance can be made between the decaying child in the painting and the unfortunate Elizabeth Tudor.
The painting was magnificent in Benvenuto's eyes, a real piece of work. He had finished it within a span of ten days. He examined his painting once more, just to make sure he hadn't forgotten anything, and with a nod of approval, he placed his paint palette on a smooth wooden table on the other side of the room. But he didn't put down his paintbrush, which, for reasons unknown to even him, he was drawn to. He only used that particular brush when he painted his secret paintings.
Tragedy happened on his way back to retrieve his painting. He was following his normal routine-he would take his finished painting down to his cellar, and there it would remain forever. Only, this time, due to his own clumsiness, an attribute he was certainly aware of and could do without, he tripped, over what he did not know, and crashed right into his painting.
* * *
Benvenuto awoke with a jerk, his eyes flinging open, welcoming the darkness. Wherever he was, it was pitch black. The ground on which he laid was cold and rocky and just plain uncomfortable. An object was in his right hand, but he quickly realized the familiar feeling of his paintbrush.
Benvenuto got to his feet and felt around until he found a wall. He then began follow it, choosing a random direction and hoping for the best.
The place wasn't entirely foreign to Benvenuto; there was a familiar feeling to it, but he couldn't quite place it. He felt as though he had been here before, but Benvenuto never left his hometown Florence, and he certainly never traveled outside of the country. And as far as he knew, he never set foot in a place like this, such a damp, dark setting.
Benvenuto's thoughts ceased when he saw a glimpse of light from around the corner and the sound of faint weeping. He hurried to the turning from which the light was coming from and peeked around the bend. What he saw took his breath away.
Around the corner, sitting next to a small body of water, was a three-year-old girl, crying into her arms. The little girl was no other than Elizabeth Tudor, or at least Benvenuto's image of her. Benvenuto didn't know what to think; the girl bore all of the details he had given her from his painting.
That was when Benvenuto figured it out. He remembered what had happened just before he had awoken in this mysterious place, which was a cave, he now knew. He had accidentally tripped and fell into his painting…literally. Somehow, he had ventured inside his painting, an undesirable place indeed. It was fascinating in its own way to actually be in a place that he, Benvenuto, had created by hand, but at the same time scary.
Lost in his thought, the grasp he had around his paintbrush loosened, and he accidentally dropped it on the hard, rocky ground. Benvenuto was surprised that what was usually such a small noise, made a loud, echoing sound throughout the cave. He bent down and picked up the brush, but was shocked when a small beam of light appeared from where the bristles of the brush previously lay. The beam of light shot straight up from the ground to the top of the cave.
Benvenuto stared at the paintbrush, confused. Just as he found out what was going on, his concentration was disrupted by the sound of a footstep. He looked around the corner at where Elizabeth Tudor, now more of a feral creature than a little girl, and discovered she was on her feet and looking in his direction.
Benvenuto could now examine her full characteristic. Her gnarled teeth were twisted in intense directions; her thin legs were surprisingly able to support her body. She was almost completely bald except for several long strands of wet hair that reached down to her face. A look of anger covered her small countenance.
At the sight of Benvenuto's peeking head, she began a half-limping run. Benvenuto, wanting nothing except to get away from the monster child, bent down to where the beam of light shone and began swiping his paintbrush frantically on the ground. Wherever the bristles from the paintbrush touched, the ground in those areas was replaced by light. When Benvenuto was done, an exceptionally large hole of pure light shone from the ground. Benvenuto didn't dare peer inside for the fear that he would go blind. Instead, he shielded his eyes and jumped into it.
* * *
Benvenuto literally flew into his room, crashing hard into the floor. He instantly got to his feet and looked around, getting a fill of his surroundings. When he found out that he was back in the safety of his glorious villa, he placed his hand on a nearby table, and took a moment to calm down. It didn't work.
When he leaned his hand on the table, he realized he was still holding his paintbrush, which he threw upon the table. He wondered what kind of infernal device had been bestowed upon him. Many questions entered his mind that day, but over the following seven years, he began to solve them.
He concluded that the paintbrush was a gift from God. With that paintbrush, he made a world. It was a world where his dark imagination could dwell, where strange creatures and powerful beasts could roam. Where small towns lived in fear and people fought to survive. It was a place where cities weren't even safe to live in.
In the year of 1502, Benvenuto completed this world. Coincidentally, the great and talented renowned artist Benvenuto d'Alviano disappeared the same year.
* * *
When Benvenuto had painted all of the paintings needed to complete his dark world, he went down into his cellar and took one very specific painting up to his art room. The painting showed a town that looked as if it were in the Middle Ages. Civilians went about their business as local guards with silver armor protected and watched over the town. This was the last painting Benvenuto would enter.
Benvenuto laid the painting on the floor, took a firm hold on his paintbrush, and jumped on the painting. Seconds later, Benvenuto was in the town as shown in his painting, except he was on one of the wooden building, from which he fell.
Benvenuto fell face first onto a path made of stone. He quickly got to his feet and looked around. Nobody seemed to have noticed him; everybody went about his or her own business. Benvenuto would not have made a scene if he hadn't looked down on the ground. What he saw sent his heart racing.
On the ground, just in front of his feet lay his paintbrush, broken into two different pieces. Benvenuto hurriedly bent down, picked up the part of the brush with the bristles, and attempted to make a portal back home. Nothing happened.
Benvenuto would have helplessly continued to try and make a portal back home if a voice from behind him said, "What are you trying to do, paint the ground?"
Benvenuto turned around as fast as he could and discovered two guards looking at him, both with irritating smirks spread across their faces.
"What do you think you're doing?" one of the guards asked him.
"Trying to get back home." Benvenuto felt stupid for saying what he said, but it slipped out because he was in a panic.
"Trying to get back home?" the other guard said. "What, are you insane?"
The comment made by the guard infuriated Benvenuto. He never had someone talk to him in such a rude manner. "How dare you!" Benvenuto yelled. "How dare you speak to me in such a way! I created you!"
"Created me?" the guard said. He was looking at Benvenuto like he was crazy. Then he said to the other guard, "Come, let's take this madman to the dungeon."
The two guards took hold of Benvenuto and dragged him on his feet to bring him to the dungeon. While being dragged on the ground, Benvenuto constantly yelled, "I created you! I created you! Let go of me! I'm not crazy! Let go of me!"