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Circus Songs

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I took my seat at the circus in the front row as other lords and ladies and anyone else with enough golden yorths to buy admission filled the stands. A lion roared at the center of a circle made of dragon blood. Supposedly, it kept the lions at bay.

“Isa!” I heard Count Vlad call. He still seemed sober, but then, it was only ten in the morning, and you never knew when the Count would be drinking. I ignored his summon for me and watched two men soar over the lion on bars. Everyone clapped, and the ring leader motioned for silence. Everyone quieted.

“We are pleased to present our spectacular show to you all tonight,” he announced. Several polite patrons clapped. “However, we seem to have one particularly special guest tonight.” He grinned. “Prince Ayaz!” Everyone gasped and looked for the prince. He was known for almost never making public appearances.

Prince Ayaz, only 17, was the nephew to King Eneis, and next in line to receive the crown. Queen Shoeshi had had a daughter, now 3, when attempting for a son. Now, with no other males available, Prince Ayaz was the only choice for king.

How wonderful! I wondered if father knew, when he bought admission for my 15th birthday celebration, that the prince would be here. Probably not. How could he?

One lord called out, “Over here!” and everyone turned to look at Prince Ayaz, who was sitting in the last row, hidden in the shadows. He raised his hand and briefly waved, but called out, “Ring Master, I beg of you, there’s no need to halt the show to introduce me. These people came to see a show, not a prince.”

Everyone clapped and applauded for a show. “Very well!” Ring Master shouted. “A show it is!”

I was excited to have a seat in the front row. I smoothed the neck of my light blue ruff, and the fabric of my darker blue farthingale, anticipating a great show.

First, centaurs came out. They were known for their curiosity, but not their aptitude. They were easily trained for almost any simple task. They began juggling apples, and then trotted as they juggled. Ring Master shouted something, flicked his wrist, and each apple caught fire.

I gasped. How wondrous! He shouted something else, and several lions ran out. The centaurs reared, dropped the apples, and ran off.

I’d like to think that if Ring Master hadn’t done anything then the centaurs would have been rounded up afterwards. But I’m not sure. Instead, he sent a trainer standing outside the circle to go after them. The trainer ran in front of a lion, who roared in protest and turned a different direction. Towards me.

The prince stood and shouted to Ring Master, but I heard nothing over the pounding of my heart in my ears. There was a lion, facing me, looking at me, targeting me. Why wasn’t I moving? I was standing in place, frozen. Why couldn’t I move? Why didn’t someone stop the lion?

It charged at me, roaring and growling. There was a flash as something pushed the lion away, but not before it jumped and tore its claws across my face, across my eye and cheek.

I felt as though the whole left side of my face was in flames. I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t even make a sound. I just ran, over the seats, pass the lords reaching out to help me, even by the prince himself. I held my hand over the torn skin, where I could feel blood pulsing out. I ran, fast as I could, but I didn’t know where to.



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