Chapter 1:

Preparation for the Big Sale

Crimson: The New Wonder of the World

"Dion. Dion! Wake up, my boy!" said the warm voice of a woman.

Gently, Dion's sleepy and puzzled amber eyes slowly opened to reveal his mother, Diana, carefully caressing his blonde hair. Her little smile filled the boy's heart with joy, and the feel of her white silk dress brushing him softly soothed him like always.

"Good morning to you too, mother!" said the boy chuckling quietly and smiling, stretching slowly.

"Come on, dumbass, we are going to be late for the sale!" interjected his younger brother, Elias, annoyed that his brother could still be in bed.

The 14 year old Dion and the 12 year old Elias were supposed to go and sell their cabbages in the biggest market located near the sea, where many merchants came from afar to sell their goods. The market always took place at the middle of July, when Summer was at its peak.

"Oh no! Are we late? Damn it!" shouted Dion, while he quickly stood up, throwing his mother off the bed accidentally. "Oh no, I have to wear the-" said Dion and stopped, shivering in disgust. Meanwhile, Elias helped their mother get up.

"You damn fool! You threw mom off the bed, you dumbass!" said Elias angrily, then slapped Dion on the back of his head with his left hand. Elias was left-handed, so he had more confidence to hit Dion with it, rather than use his other hand.

Dion let out a startled cry of pain, while Elias kept slapping and chasing Dion around their house. Their mother looked very displeased, and with a very imperative and serious voice, she snapped at them: "BOYS! Calm down, NOW. Or I will send both of you to clean the cows' stables! I thought I raised mature men, not some brainless children!"

"We are sorry, mom..." said the boys in a regretful choir, with their eyes to the ground. Diana never joked when she threatened them with something. The last time when the boys didn't listen to her, they’d been sent to school in her childhood dresses.

"You are still in your pyjamas! Go and dress up for the cabbage contest with your special clothes, or I shall send you there naked!" said Diana with a playful grin on her face.

The boys immediately went to dress up. Their Greek house wasn't a big one, but it had two floors. The ground floor had two rooms: a large bedroom, and a universal room, which, depending on context, served as a dining room, a living room, and a kitchen. The first floor was where they stored their clothing, but also where their father, Lycus, held his armor and weapons. Dion and Elias dashed upstairs so they could dress up in their special crimson tunics.

"Elias, why do we have to wear these again?" asked Dion.

"Because, when our great great grandfather first arrived in this village, he was covered in the blood of a bear he had fought on his way here. So, the crimson color became the symbolic color of our family, and we have been honoring him for decades." said Elias, while imagining their great great grandfather fighting the fearsome bear. "And after that, he became the biggest cabbage seller in our village! We should be proud of him. But why do you always forget this story, Dion?" asked Elias grumpily.

"I'll be honest. I don't think this happened, and I believe that maybe our family created this story just to look cool. I mean, how could he turn from a warrior who defeated a giant bear into a cabbage farmer?" asked Dion, admiring himself in a mirror.

"Whatever." replied Elias, glancing at their father's ceremonial armor. The armor had a shiny crimson color and silver details, making it look very fancy, but sadly it was pretty dusty and dirty. After glancing at it, a dark thought struck the boy's mind.

"Dion... what if he never returns?" asked Elias. He tried to make it sound like an offhand question, but his brother could feel the nervousness in his voice.

"He promised us he would return once the war was over." replied Dion with a confident voice." I trust him, and I strongly believe the army will march victoriously back into our village!" shouted Dion with a big smile on his face, holding his brother close to him. "You will see, Elias, you will see!"

Elias smiled and hugged him back. "I hope he will come back, and bring us tasty food!" added Elias, both chuckling a bit. "But I hope he doesn't brings crayfish, the last ones made me stay near the toilet constantly!" said Elias, his mind suddenly filled with disgusting thoughts about the crayfish.

Both of them went downstairs, then got out of the house. Outside, on the porch, their mother was waiting for them with a basket of fresh bread and dried fish. She was accompanied by a man in a blue and white toga who happened to be their next-door neighbor. He was a solid guy, who always looked messy. But he was a caring man who had always loved the two boys, because they were hard-working children who never hesitated to help their mother.

"Hello, boys!" said the neighbor, shaking their hands.

"Hello, Mr. Theo!" replied the boys, excited for the journey to the sea.

"Are you ready to earn some money?" asked the man, rubbing his hands greedily.

"We are always ready, sir!" replied Elias smiling.

"That's the spirit!" added Theo.

"Why do you guys always have to be always at the top?" asked Dion, rather annoyed.

"Because, my dear Dion, being at the top always means you will be powerful! And that power surely comes from money, my boy! Once you have money, you can have everything you desire!" replied Theo, and laughed, with a hand pressed to his big belly.

"Yes, but money cannot bring father back." replied Dion darkly.

A long silence fell after Dion's words. Diana looked down in pain, while Elias clenched his fists in anger. He was always there next to his father and had always helped him. Lycus was a role model for him, so Dion had sworn that he would become a fair and brave man, just like his father. Unfortunately, the war started, and he had to go.

"I will try to make you feel better today. I promise." said Theo, softly patting Dion's head. "Now, jump in the cart boys, or we are going to miss a place for our stall!" added Theo, trying his best to cheer everyone up. He went to the cart and got up on it. "I hope we will return soon! Now, come on boys! Say goodbye to your mother!" he encouraged them with a gentle smile.

She hugged her beloved sons and whispered to them with tears in her eyes: "I am so proud of you, my boys. You look just like your father. Please take care of yourselves and of Mr. Theo, alright?"

"For sure mom! When we return, I promise that I will buy you a new dress!" replied Dion, barely concealing his own tears.

"Yes mom. But I will buy you expensive jewelry!" replied Elias, seemingly trying to compete with Dion.

Their mother laughed gently, then kissed their foreheads. She helped them get into the cart, then waved at them, as Theo's horses started moving. "Please take care!" shouted Diana, as the cart started moving on the muddy road.

"We will, mom! I love you!" replied Dion and Elias.

"I love you too!" she shouted back loudly.

The boys thought that it would be one of the best summers they had ever had, and were so excited to see the beautiful sapphire sea once more. While getting out of the village, the boys once again admired the houses, especially their modest, yet interesting architecture. The kids playing outside waved at Dion, and Dion waved back at them.

"You are pretty popular in the village, aren't you, Dion?" asked Mr. Theo with a smile.

"Well, I kinda am! I mean, I always help people out with any work they have, and I am also taking care of some of their children! So, I have pretty much all the reasons to be popular." replied Dion shyly, but with a small, confident smile.

"I see! What about you, Elias?" asked Theo, but noticed that Elias was pretty disturbed by the question.

"I don't want to talk about it." replied the boy, his mind darkened by thoughts about all the complaints about him and all the bullying he received due to his clumsiness. Elias always had to be helped or protected by his bigger brother, because he was clumsy at everything. This always made him upset and angry at the same time, and for this reason, a growing jealousy of Dion pierced Elias' heart, because his older brother was more loved than him.

Back at home, a terrified messenger on a horse arrived who had an urgent announcement to make. An announcement which shocked everyone, including Diana, who kept shouting her boys' names in agony. But her boys, together with Theo, didn't know what was going on, carrying on their way to the market.