----Meka: Circus Chroma----_Underneath the tent of many colors_"Ten minutes 'til show time!"
Rio shuddered at the sweaty green hand that patted him on the back. Everyone else seemed to be just as uncharacteristically nervous as he was. Perhaps it was the great abundance of freaks that Gabby chose to take under his wing, Khron knows where he found them. He didn't particularly like the idea of frightening the audience as a form of entertainment. He knew Jungo wouldn't have adored the idea either. Ever since his death three years ago, things had been rough for the Circus Chroma. They had to skip two visits to the Mekian capital because they could not afford it, and put all of their dependence into the hands of their new order, this Orr-kin freak, this goblin demon. He knew that Kali didn't enjoy his company either. As far as she was concerned he was a disgrace to Orr-kin kind, and she spoke of this often. None of them understood it, but at least they both agreed on something, despite their differences. Gabby was not doing justice for their tribe.
"Disgraceful! In the olden days, all you had was a wagon and the clothes on your back! No money! No tents! No grande performances! You'd be lucky if we had something to juggle with! This is an insult to our nomadic ancestors!"
The eldest of the group, Scratches, was perhaps the most outspoken.
"And now they're hosting freak shows? What, pray tell, comes next? Clown schools
?! I'll tell you one thing, you shouldn't need 'formal' training to become a clown! If you're a clown, people will know that you're a clown, just by taking one look at ya! You know what I call people who need training in the art of the fool? 'Sticks'!"
And poor Elian, he had no idea."Today's performance will be nothing short of perfection, yes?"
The cold, high voice sent chills down Rio's spine. "Yes, Gabby, perfection, just as promised. I assure you the Circus Chroma is a pinnacle of such perfection.""As you have told me time and time again, Monkey of the West."
the Orr-kin interrupted. "Tonight we'll see if you're a fibber, yes?"
He left Rio with the other members off the troupe, signeling Kali to join the freaks.
"NYAN'YA!!""Stay calm, Elian"
Rio cooed, attempting to comfort the boy. "She'll be doing a different act today."
The boy was very confused, looking from his nanny to a pair of men dressed in overalls, hauling equipment over their shoulders. One of them was very short. "But isn't she going to perform with them?"
The short one noticed Elians distress. "Don't worry kid." he insisted. "She'll still be able ta see ya on the trapeze. Be happy! Today will be you debut! You're one lucky kid!"
"Don't worry your cute little head pumpkin" added a women with the exotic look of a queen of Gypsies, dressed in frilly pink clothing with bewitching green eyes. "If you fall, Rio and I will catch you." She ruffled his blonde hair and took him to his place underneath the ring, to prepare for their trapeze act. All the while Kali, the Ze'lovk, joined with her own kin, and many other strange peoples as Gabby prep talked them all."Well ladies and gents, a little under five minutes now! I expect you all know what to do!"
chimed Gabby with a grin. "If you don't, then let me pleasantly remind you what you are."
Sharply, he whacked the foot of an armless lady who sneered back at him, "Ow
!" "Freaks, ladies and gents! You are all freaks! And you!"
He stopped in front of a freak far more disturbing then the rest. Even more disturbing the man with the elephant feet, or the man with the pig face. He eyed the creature as if he was nothing short of a prize, a possession to show off to the world. "You are the worst of them all yes!"
Once again, he whacked the armless lady's feet with precision. "OW
!!" "I expect a performance more frightening, and more thrilling then the acts of a fire bearer and a beast master combined! These are a people with great expectations my friends! We wouldn't want to let them down, especially the small emperor... Especially the small emperor..."
"Skinny Goblin!" spoke up Kali, using the Orr-kin insult, "'Ow do ya dink dis idea will attract more of da audiences?" She did not look away from the glimmer in Gabby's eyes, nor did she flinch at the sudden movement of his cane. "Dey would not come if dey know dat dere is terror.""Now now my dear Ze'lovk-"
"YOU DARE SPEAK OUR TONGUE-?!""-THAT'S where you are wrong!"
Gabby's can was moments away from the side of Kali's face, just about ready to strike. Casually with the other hand he took out a golden watch, "Man enjoys fear. They enjoy the rush that it gives them, the feeling of excitement. Trust me, wrench, I have studied enough of man-kin behavior to understand how they would react. Now, it is time to raise the curtain as they say in the theatre. Do not disappoint me. THAT GOES FOR ALL OF YOU. That is"
he added with a high giggle, "...if you don't want to be harmed."
Kali continued to glare unwavering as a the sound of gears turning violated his ears. They were moving upwards as far as she was concerned. She could feel the ground moving, and begun to hear the cheers coming from behind the black fabric that covered their cage. Then, there was a beam of white light, and she was grabbed by the arm by a man much smaller than she, but the look on Gaby's face told her that it was best if she didn't argue. Just like that, he disappeared, and she was left alone with various other freaks. Soon she heard the rattling of chains, including the cold feeling of steel bonding together her wrists. Outside there was cheering.
The cheering would soon turned into screams.
Isaak looked at the black tent with interest. This was knew. He had never heard of the Circus Chroma using a black tent before. 'I wonder what illusionary tricks the Great Rio would conjure up this time'
he thought, folding his arms.
Down below the two beams of light redirected to the center most ring of the three rings, from which appeared a tall, skinny green fellow dressed up in the garments of a noble. The way he addressed the crowd, it was as if he was a true ringmaster."LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! BOYS AND GIRLS! BEHIND THIS CURTAIN LIES A GHASTLY CONCOCTION OF DELIGHT, HORROR, FANTASY, AND TERROR! TODAY, YOUR EVERY WISH IS OUR COMMAND! TODAY, YOUR EVERY WHIMSICAL DESIRE WILL BE BROUGHT TO LIFE! BUT I MUST WARN YOU. EVERYTHING HERE HAS IT'S PRICE! SO, WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, WELCOME TO THE GREATEST SHOW UNEARTHED!"
"What's all this then?" the emperor's son asked a nearby guard.
"It must be a new act your highness. Nothing to worry about."
"Good" the young prince glared at the tall Orr-kin below. "I do not like surprises." The moment he said this, flames erupted around the tent that had appeared in the center of the rings, which engulfed it entirely, leaving behind nothing but ashes and a cage. Inside the cage was the largest mix of the most hideous creations that Diana gave unto this world. People with oversized feet, people without any legs and walked with their hands, or without hands and ate with their legs, people with warts all over their faces or without a face at all, people with scales covering their backs and limbs, people with one eye, split tongues, an extra finger, people with no limbs at all which were carted around on a trolley, bearded ladies, giants, children who looked like old men, people with less then normal fingers, people with webbed feet or hands, disortions in the faces, sharp claws and teeth, alien eyes, body proportions gone horribly wrong, extra limbs, rough skin, something wedged between the nose, legs that are completely backwards, a shrunken skull with the face of an ape, a skull that rises two heads upwards, conjoined twins at the shoulders or at the heads or even at the back, and hideously fat lumps who could survive being stabbed with more than a couple of knives.
These were Diana's monstrosities, not even Khron looked upon them with grace. They are abominations, monsters, demons that came from the in-between place that every Man dreads. The audience looked upon them in shock. Some stared at the extra limbs, some stared at the lack thereof. Others were fascinated by the androgynous genders, or the strange reversal in age. There were screams when some acted as if they were
beings from another plane of existence. Some of them rattled the cages like predatory animals with men whipping at them from the sides until the cage fell with a bang and they started wandering the area as the platform on which Gabby stood rose to new heights. Of course it was all staged. They all knew their role and played it well.
The real terror didn't begin until a concerned man pointed out that there was a girl in the ring.
========================================================================================'This is not the Rio I knew. Rio would never frighten anyone!'
protested the warrior assigned to protect the young emperor in his own mind. 'It makes no sense, who is this guy?'
The emperor's son, he had noticed, didn't react as strongly as the rest of the audience (much to his great surprise). His eyes were squarely implanted on the scene beyond, in a great mixture of disgust and curiosity.
"Would the young prince wish for us to end this abomination?" asked on of the guards.
"No!" ordered his highness, his eyes still fixed on the cage, specifically on the girl inside. "I want to see what happens to the girl!" The guard followed the young emperor's gaze to see the little lady he spoke of, standing still in the midst of all the chaos. She wore a long black jacket, a red cloak, and a top hat to top it all off. Her appearance on the ring caused an uproar amongst the people who looked on in horror, denouncing the name of the Circus Chroma. The Gypsies stood by, silently praying for some sort of success. Some now worked a few feet above the stands, unseen by the audience. Others kept to underground, but still knew very well of the audience's terror.
Gabby continued speaking, calling the freaks out by name as they did various tricks. A man with flippers played the horns like a seal would, and the lady with no arms ate dinner at a dinner table. The tamers seemed to have calmed them rather well. Some of them gave the crowd a ghastly grin. Yet no one bothered the girl, who wandered amongst them like a lost soul, a ghost, who did not interact, only walked. Her movements, made it seem like she was lost, and looking for her parents. Most of the tamers were too busy however, and had to whisk the freaks away back into their cages underneath the rings. Like lions or gladiators at a colosseum.
Gabby then called the audience's attention to a single black box where the tent once was."TODAY I HAVE THE HONOR OF INTRODUCING YOU ALL TO A NEW ACT, ONE THAT WILL SURE TO SEND TINGLES DOWN YOUR BONES! BEHOLD, A REAL LIFE VAMPIRE! KOZEC!!"
The box was revealed to be another cage, as the cloth was extracted from the top, revealing a freak with far more animosity than the others. He acted violent, sneering at the tamers, lunging at the cage until he was let loose. Immediately a tamer came to subdue him, actually fighting with the beast with unusually pale skin, and stark crimson eyes. He controlled the vampire like he would control a ferocious lion, whipping at him and scaring it with a chair. It was forced to do flips, acrobatic works of wonder. The audience was transfixed by the sight, but some of them could not look away from the girl who approached the tamer. Some would swear she was on the verge of tears."SOMEBODY GET THAT CHILD AWAY FROM THERE!"
Whether the voice was heard or not did not matter. The tamer seemed to take notice of the little girl, and attempted to drive her away, but he could not control the vampire at the same time. Kozec lunged at the girl, appearing as if he was was going to tear the girl at the throat. But then, when all hope seemed to be lost, as the entire audience collectively held their breaths, the girl rapped the vampire once on the head, and pinched his noise.
Kozec began squirming and squealing, and the little girl began leading him back to the tamer, waving happily at the crowd.
All at once the crowd began to cheer.
"Truly remarkable!" announced a commenter on the events. "A superb battle of wits between an innocent flower, and a beast of the night! Truly have I never seen such a display!"
"How do they do it?" asked his female companion.
Meanwhile Isaak looked on with obvious disgust. "I can't watch this any longer. I need a smoke."
Without bothering to alert his allies, he left the stands. If anything happened, somebody else would handle it.
Besides, he'll only be out for a few minutes.
After the cheers have subsided, the little girl smiled, and patted Kozec on the head. She then handed him the clothes that she was wearing. To the surprise of the audience, Kozec puts them on, and lifts the little girl onto his shoulders, smiling in embarassment at the crowd as he walks away with the waving child on his shoulders."HOW ABOUT ANOTHER CHEER FOR KOZEC, THE LAST OF HIS KIND, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!"
Again the audience erupted in excitement, and the show was handed over to the Gypsies for the time being. The young emperor watched idly, still dazed by what he just witnessed. "Is your highness comfortable?" asked one of the guards. All the young emperor did was nod impatiently. The vampire had done enough to spark his interest, yes. In fact, he was almost considering hiring him. "I wish for one of you to approach the tall, skinny Orr-kin. Ask him his price for that vampire."
"Sir, I don't think-"
"Send him!" continued the birthday boy, pointing to Zorath.
Frankly, Zorath wished he didn't have so much pride in his service to his own country. Otherwise he would have refused.
Back underneath the rings, the freaks were joyous, all of them congratulating Kozec on a job well done, despite the fact that some of them were still frightened by his appearance and powers, and Kozec would have known, they all knew that he would have earned them great honor. Kali in particular approached him out of respect. "You did good out dere. I 'ad fought you would 'ave surely 'armed da child. You 'ad us all fooled.""Indeed! Wonderful job! Simply wonderful!"
Neither Kali, nor did any of the other freaks saw Gabby coming. The She-Ork in particularly tried her best not to bear her teeth at her boss. "But the show has only begun!"
"I don' suppos'd you don' plan on scarin' da people some more!""Very nice guess, Xe'lovk, but I'm afraid it will be more than that. I suppose you all aren't aware of how much the emperor cares for his son, yes?"
The room grew silent, as if all of the freaks were struck by confusion all at once."Oh, come on people! I thought it was pretty obvious myself!"
"And your point?" asked the lady with no arms."Ah, straight to the point!"
with a twirl of his cane, Gabby waltz up to the armless lady and rested a hand on her shoulder. "Point being my lady is that I propose a magic trick! Not any of that dastardly sawing stuff, no! Something far more traditional! ...I shall make him-"
He poked the cane at precisely the right stuff, and the wall seemed to flip right over, sending the armless lady off to some mysterious new area. "-disappear!"_Meka: The Birch_"Hey, João! I'm back"
Mouse stated upon taping the waiter lightly on the shoulder. The waiter looked rather annoyed at first, but his brown eyes widened in happiness and joy when he looked upon his favorite costumer. "Bueno! It's you!""Shhh!"
Mouse scolded, looking with distrust at the people around them. "How many times have I told you? I do not like being called by that name!"
"And why not, my friend?"
Mouse shifted his eyes cautiously before silently answering, "Even the walls have ears in places such as this. Can you perhaps take us somewhere a bit..."
"Ahh! You and your friend wish some privacy! Do not worry, I know exactly the place! I'm sure you'll remember it well!"
Mouse rolled his eyes, "I look forward to it. Come on!"
he signaled Jeggred, as they walked with João. "João, this is one of my friends...errr, he uh, will be paying for this evening's meal."
João glanced at Jeggred and smiled. "No need Bu- Mouse. A friend of the man who saved my life is a friend of me. You both can have whatever you want this evening, it's on the house! Haha!"
João led them both to a secure spot on the roof of The Birch. It was large enough for them to eat, but secure enough for nobody to notice them. "I sometimes like to come up hear and breath in some fresh air, you understand" João explained. "Sometimes it gets pretty hot down there. They put great detail into making you fill like you're in a rainforest sometimes. Right Mouse?" The rodent-like man glared at him, "You know I hate this place João."
João chuckled again, and started to descend back down the stairs. "You know I'm only joking! Anything in particular you'd like, Mouse?"
The mousy man scratched his hand with his foot, "Ehh pastels with extra cheese for me, and for this guy...um, give him the normal Faeleean cuisine. Water will do for the drinks."
"Torresmos, followed by bean stew it is! Alright you two, stay put! I'll be up in a few minutes!"
When João had finally left, Mouse turned to face Jeggred. "Please don't complain. I hardly get people who are willing to pay for me. You're lucky, João's usually very stiff about money. Actually he's a total pain in the- But I trust him. That's what's important. As for you, I've just noticed something very important back there on the stairway."
Mouse pointed at Jeggred accusingly, "You never told me you're name! Did you?"_Meka: Cloud Carnival_
"What?!" Theo exclaimed, "You are crazy! We need to get pictures of the prince! Otherwise, Flavius will have our heads!" He frowned when it became apparent that his coworker would not listen to him, no matter what he said. "Besides, why should we care what the guards are doing! We were not sent here to interview them, were we?" He stopped, noticing that Alimbur had already gone ahead, leaving him behind in the rapidly emptying crowd. He considered taking off right at that moment to capture the photos that he needed for the next day's paper, but he was also quite curious. Besides, he wouldn't want to lose Alimbur on the first day. Then he'd really get into trouble. He'd just go and make sure she was okay before heading off to take a quick snapshot. He heard that the circus was supposed to last up until the sun began to set anyways. It was still up in the sky at a reasonable angle, he had some time.
Determined, Theo pushed some of the crowd out of his way, calling out for Alimbur to wait.
As far as Alimbur was concerned, the guard had left, and so did his accomplice. Inside, there was a rather obese lady, whose neck was bejeweled with gems of every color, and precious beads. Her fingers and wrists were similarly bejeweled and she wore clothing fit for a countess. Her nails were rather long, similar to the sharp talons of a lioness, and were painted a brilliant red. Her eyes were hidden underneath a black veil, as well as curly golden hair the length of her waist. She seemed to be busying herself counting coins right next to what seemed to be a crystal ball. And while she did not notice Alimbur at first, if she edged any closer the women would have suddenly spoke sharply, and with authority."No more fortunes will be told today, young lady! Come back tomorrow!"
Behind Alimbur, a few paces back, Theo was attempting to catch up to her. "Can't you wait for anything?" he cried to her.