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Circus Act - Chapter 6

GAH! I KNOW, it’s been forever since I last posted. But I have a good excuse! Just let me think of it for a bit…

Anyways, I just want to make a quick update: Calisha HAS to make eye contact in order to make people do her bidding. You’ll see why this is important later on.

Without any further ado, read on, good friends!

***

Lintang was nervous. Tonight, she had to be in the same proximity as her son and teach him to be stronger. It’s not the closeness that worried her though, on no. It’s the fact that he’ll probably spend the entire night being spiteful and snappish. There is nothing she hated more than to be disrespected by anyone, especially her own flesh and blood.

She was also more than a little worried. When she sought Adit, she had genuinely thought her daughter would get along with him. She was hoping her hot-headed child would warm up to the idea of settling down. However, after a little more than half a month, she could see that no progress had been made. She could only hope some sort of miracle will occur that brings them closer together.

“Good evening, mother,” Calisha greeted, entering the clearing in the forest they had decided to be their meeting place a few nights back. Since the young girl had been making very rapid improvements, Lintang had decided they needed a place with more space. After a few hours of scouting, she had found the perfect spot.

The ringmaster followed closely, his eyes darting around warily, no doubt trying to sense whether or not it was safe. Must be a canine thing.

“Good evening to you, darling,” the gypsy replied, taking Calisha into a warm embrace. She glanced at Kael in question, raising up her arms for permission. Her son’s eyes widened and he took an automatic step back. The mother let her arms drop in an uncaring shrug.

“So who’ll be training first?” she asked cheerfully.

Calisha said, “Kael. I decided he needed more practice than me, since he’s so behind.”

“You right,” the Birthgiver nodded. “The progress you’ve been making is astounding. I’m sure one night’s break is well deserved. Are you ready, darling?”

Kael gave her a curt nod and stepped up to where she motioned.

“Right. I think we should start with your senses. We’ll tune them up a notch; make them more sensitive than they already are. Sit down next to me, dear. Alright, cross your legs, chin up, shoulders back. Don’t think of anything but your sensations.” Her voice was soothing, bringing him to a lull.

The ringmaster tried to do as he was told, but too many thoughts were flitting through his mind. As much as he wanted to, the endless problems kept weighing him down. The Birthgiver sighed. She motioned for Calisha to give him a little push in the right direction.

Slowly, carefully, Calisha mentally nudged her brother to let go of his thoughts. Little by little, Kael’s shoulder began to loosen up. He felt the chilly wintry air, nipping at his nose. The silky grass tickled his bare feet. He could smell the scent of pines all around him, fresh and cool. His consciousness was slipping away from him, evading the harsh reality of the present to somewhere much slower, a soft blue instead of harsh reds and blacks.

Hours passed in silence. It was only when the moon had reached its peak when the Birthgiver spoke again.

“Open your eyes,” she breathed. When the Ringmaster did, he couldn’t help the sudden gasp that flowed past his lips.

“What the hell?” he murmured.

The first thing he registered was how bright it was. Sure, the night had always been a little brighter for him than it had been for others. Now, however, it was like everything was bathed in a spotlight. He could see a squirrel scurry along a branch of a distant pine tree that had to be at least a kilometer away. The grass between his feet was suddenly an intricately woven pattern of hundreds of greens.

The next thing was the sounds. The rustle of yellowing leaves was whispers of the trees. He could almost discern each individual word they were saying. His heartbeat was loud in his ears; he wondered how he could hear anything at all. He could hear his sister’s breathing, who was sitting two arms length away. Far away, a small bird was singing a lullaby to its young, humming promises of a bright tomorrow, a safe future, a wonderful life.

The smells came shortly after. Sweet, dewy smells that coloured the air and made everything feel warm, the musky perfumes of the forest, free to release its true wildness in the shades of the darkness, the natural bodily scents of his two companions.

He was most surprised, however, by what he felt. The ground was rough, rougher than he remembered. Even the wind seemed to be a little sharper than before. Everything was so much clearer, so much more enhanced. This was what it felt like to be one with the world.

“This is incredible,” he sighed quietly. He didn’t notice his volume; it sounded normal to him, maybe even a little louder than usual.

“Told you,” his sister smirked. He rolled his eyes at her, but otherwise did naught else. He continued to peruse the forest with enhanced powers, ignoring the unnecessary jibe. For the rest of the night, he stayed in the forest, examining everything there was to examine. Patterns he’s never seen before, songs he hadn’t heard. It was like the world was reborn and was stronger, brighter than ever.

As the sun began to awaken from its short slumber, his senses were entertained even more. The dawning of the light seems to bring new life. Birds began to sing, souls were unfurled. He laughed under his breath. Everything was so beautiful, how had he not noticed this before? He stood up and moved silently around the clearing, closely inspecting anything he had missed last night.

When the first tints of orange and red painted the skies and the Ringmaster was metres away from where he had sat before, he heard a presence stir behind him. He spun around, sure that someone was following him, but no one was there. The only person that had moved at all was the Birthgiver, slowly lowering Calisha’s sleeping head to the ground from her lap. The small movement instantly awoke her daughter, who watched her from the ground.

Her mother opened her mouth and said casually, “Come back.” Calisha wondered who she was talking to since the only person that was around her was her daughter. Then she realized, even at such a great distance, Kael could hear everything that was being said here, even if it was only in conversational tones.

Kael frowned, not wanting to leave this new-found haven, but knew he would have to return sooner or later anyways. He sighed, took a last look around the towering leaves, and then ran back to where his Birthgiver was waiting.

“How was that?” she asked.

“Brilliant. That was brilliant,” he told her, not even bothering to look disdainful as he usually did with her. The Birthgiver’s smile grew bigger.

“Do you see a problem though?” she challenged.

“Problem?”

“Yes, with your senses. There’s a problem, do you see it?”

“No,” he said slowly. “What problem?”

“The problem is,” she said with a secretive smile, “is that you can’t turn it off.”

Now that she put it that way, it had been an obvious issue. All this time, everything had been quiet, spoken in hushed tones. But already, the creaking of bed springs, the thudding of footsteps, the smell of fresh bacon frying, it was a little dizzying, and was just going to get worse. He frowned.

“How?” he demanded.

The Birthgiver had to suppress a giggle. Instead she said, “Sit down again, and close your eyes. For your next lesson, you will learn to control your aura.”

***

Adit picked at the grass by his feet. He had been waiting outside the young girl’s trailer for the last hour for her to come out, as he usually did. She, however, was late. He would be lying if he said he wasn’t worried, for Calisha was never late, but perhaps it was for the wrong reasons. If he didn’t find out more about the secret underground world of the circus, his father would be severely disappointed.

Out of nowhere, a sound emerged from between the trees a way away in front of him. He looked up to see Calisha stumbling out of the forest, giggling all the way, followed by a grinning Ringmaster, chasing her to the kitchens. Lintang had been behind them, watching them with bright eyes.

I should ask her about this.

“Good morning, Lintang,” he greeted politely.

“It is, isn’t it,” she said sighed happily.

“I see the forest had brought all three of you closer together,” he pointed out.

“Yes, I guess it had,” she beamed.

“Exactly what time this morning did you enter it? I had been awake from before the sun’s rising and didn’t see you.”

“Oh, we were in there since long before that,” she answered, emphasis put on the ‘long’.

They were in there all night?

“Bird watching, I suppose?” he faked curiosity.

The lady chuckled, “In a way.”

“May I join you some other time? I have found that nature fascinates me.”

“Oh, I don’t know. Why don’t you ask them?” Lintang suggested.

Because they’ll refuse, that’s why.

But Adit wasn’t stupid. He knew that the topic was closed. He would have to resort to stalking them once again.

The things one does for family.

He excused himself and made his way back to his trailer. His ink-blotted pen was put to paper, and a letter was written.

***

The moon was partially eaten tonight, unlike the full moon that had been smiling down at them the night before. Nevertheless, everything was still as easy to see as the love Calisha has for her circus.

The trio’s breaths came out in little puffs of smoke. Calisha fought against the urge to wrap an arm around herself to shield her body from the cold of approaching winter. Tonight, her mother had insisted on her wearing nothing but a light coloured tank top and short shorts. Confused but obliging, she donned the appropriate clothing and trudged back to the clearing, regretting her choice almost instantly. When she found out why she had to wear such inappropriate garments, she regretted it even further.

“Tonight, I will be teaching you to manipulate the way we perceive things,” her mother had said. “The easiest level is the sense of touch. For that, I need you to truly feel the weather. Revel in its iciness, bow down to its body bending strength.” They had proceeded to then settle themselves on the ground and simply ‘imagine the air around you thickening and heating up’. For nearly two hours they had merely sat there, her mother looking serene with her closed eyelids bathed in moonlight, the daughter looking not-so-serene with her crinkled eyebrow and chattering teeth.

Kael had to stifle his laughter. It was so strange to see his sister looking so frustrated that it was amusing. She would usually run off from anything she wasn’t a complete pro at or smugly do the easy things with her sharp wit. Her state of confusion was one he didn’t want to miss for a single second.

Out of the blue, the Birthgiver spoke up, “Ringmaster, don’t snicker, you look like a troll holding in a fart.” Her eyes were still hidden, her face still perfectly serene, but, despite her odd choice of words, her voice carried a certain assertiveness that made him shut up, instead of sniggering even harder. It wasn’t the same, however, for Calisha, who burst into peals of laughter immediately.

“Calisha,” she chided. “Come on, it’s not difficult. All you have to do is imagine. You’ve always been good at it, haven’t you? Just think about the rolling hills in a desert, the searing heat of the midday sun, the droplets of sweat trickling down your body as you run.”

 Her words were the key. The air started to shimmer around Calisha’s form. A sharp light emitted off her skin, as if she had swallowed the sun and its rays were leaking out of her pores. The temperature rose rapidly, so much so that the blades of grass nearest to her started smoking ever so slightly.

“Alright Psychic!” Kael crowed, undoubtedly impressed by his sister. Lintang shot him a look, and he instantly took on the expression of one at a close friend’s funeral.

“Calisha, darling, you have to learn control. It won’t do for you to light the whole forest on fire. Come on, suppress it a little.”

Calisha was stressed, then she was shocked, then she was elated, and now she was just confused. “How am I supposed to do that?” she asked.

“You’re a clever girl, and I won’t always be around to guide you. Just let what comes naturally guide you,” her mother soothed.

The flustered girl quickly pulled herself together. Getting herself all worked up wasn’t going to help at all. She took a deep breath, let her eyes flutter shut again and let herself be enveloped with feelings of her perfect conditions. She pulled up an image of one particularly breezy afternoon in the middle of summer last year, an afternoon she had spent sitting underneath a massive oak tree and sketching page after page of her fellow circus-mates. Forcing herself to travel back to that momet, she distantly felt the air grow slightly cooler. The bright lights dancing in front of her eyelids faded away, until it was merely a soft glow. When her eyes were opened once again, everything within a three metre radius was bathed in the same sensations she was.

“Very good, my darling,” she breathed. “Now, try pushing it out. Just imagine the whole clearing looking exactly like we are, experiencing the same things we are. Go on, work on that.

“As for you, young man,” she said, rounding on to her son, “we have to keep enhancing your abilities, or being more specific, we need to teach you how to have full control over our aura. Where your twin has her brilliant mind, you have your flexible energy. All we need to do now is hone it and make it bend to your will.”

“Well thanks for the speech and everything, but can we get started? I’m pretty sure my aura won’t start bending to my will just by listening to your droning.”

Ignoring his snappish remark, she told him, “Do what you did yesterday, then as soon as you get it, switch it off. Keep doing this until you can do it within a blink.”

Sighing, he settled down and got to work. Half an hour passed in silence, before he finally achieved the state of awareness he was aiming for. He was just about to shut it down when he heard it.

It was a small noise that came from far away, hardly worth paying attention to in the din of the forest’s nightlife. But it stood out anyways, mostly because of how foreign it was in their surroundings, like a platter of oranges in a banquet of meat.

A few hundred metres away from there, someone was hiding. More importantly, that someone had a camera and was taking pictures of them.

Click.

***

 The whirrof a Polaroid being printed was hardly registered in Adit’s ears. Who would pay attention to such small things when the girl he was “getting married to” was, in the most literal sense of the word, shining? Her lights danced and pulsated, a creature as alive as the trees around him, kissing the dark to set it aflame before quickly darting again in search of another partner. It was like nothing he had ever seen before, and if this wasn’t witchcraft, he didn’t know what was.

Captivated and repulsed as he was by the bursts of warm light, he didn’t notice the quieter of the twins steal away. In fact, he didn’t notice him at all until the boy was right behind him.

“Gotcha,” the Ringmaster growled. Adit only had time for his eyes to widen in surprise, before something struck him at the back of the head and everything went dark.

When he came to, the first thing his eyes sensed was a silhouette of a face peering down at him, a curtain of dark ringlets tumbling down from it, tickling his face. Before he had to even associate the face to anyone he knew, however, it pulled back to holler at its companions. In his half-conscious state, all he heard was undistinguished warbling but they must’ve been words for two other people came bounding to her side. The taller of the two roughly grabbed him by the collars and slammed him into a tree trunk. He faintly felt a dull throb where he collided with the bark, but it was nothing compared to the ache in his head.

“What are you doing here?” the manly figure snarled. Squinting, he realized it was the pesky Ringmaster. Of course it was. Who else could it have been?

He attempted a taunting grin and answered, “What, are night-time strolls not allowed here?” This earned him another shove to the thick trunk. This time, the pain was sharper. An involuntary grunt emerged out of him.

“So you just happened to take a night-time stroll through the woods in the middle of the night, carrying a camera which you didn’t need and accidentally stumbled upon us? I didn’t think so either. Talk,” he commanded, shoving Adit a little harder back with the last word.

Adit took a shaky breath and launched into speech, “I came here to take pictures of you, okay? I was curious. Was I to be blamed? You were constantly sneaking around here in the middle of the night, only to emerge in the early hours of the sun rise.”

“That gave you no right to sneak around. What good would a damn camera be anyways, if you were curious. Who are you spying for?” he demanded.

“Does it matter? Either way, you’re screwed,” he spat. Kael gave an exasperated sigh before swivelling around to whisper something in Calisha’s ear. The young girl nodded and took a seat where she was to watch the rest of the proceedings. Adit quickly tore his gaze away from her chocolate eyes as Kael approached him.

“Alright, I’m asking you this for the final time. Who sent you here?” His voice was quieter now, a deadly flat that sent a cold feeling down Calisha’s spine.

Adit sighed, but gave in. “I had not told you this, but I am the son of a wealthy man who is a devote believer in the Church. We live quiet lives, though we do have more privileges than most. He attends mass every Sunday, fasts whenever he is required to and goes to confession once every three days.

“Being the man that he is, he instantly became suspicious of your circus when he heard the rumours.”

“Rumours?” the Birthgiver interrupted sharply.

“Of your supposed ‘powers’. There was no way you could have done your acts with special effects, they were too good. So people started talking. They spoke of a girl that could conjure rainbows, of acrobats that stayed in the air for far longer than what was normal. It was like magic, they would say in wonder.

“My father, who had helped uncover many underground magic cults, instantly recognized the signs. He went to Father William, the head of our local church, and reported his worries. They discussed about this for some time and eventually decided to send a spy for confirmation.

“As luck would have it, you came to me the same night to discuss your daughter,” he said, talking now to the Birthgiver. “I reported it to my father and he agreed to let me go. It was a great honour, and I was – and still am – determined to carry his orders.”

“And what will he do if you confirm his suspicions?” the Birthgiver asked fearfully.

Their prisoner was quiet for a moment, before the final death blow was brought down, “They attack.”

***

Wooo, cliffhanger :DD

REALLY QUICK SHOUTOUT to the anon from India. Whoever you are, the owners of this blog adore, appreciate and flipping love you! Talk to us more often, tell us your name! We won’t bite xx

  1. circodel-destino posted this

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