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Cirque de Lucioles

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Archer has gotten use to being alone, traveling the world as if he were nothing more than a shadow. But, when he is magically transported to a realm of magic, it changes his life, for better or worse.

Fantasy / Action
Age Rating:

Creating a Spark

Silum: a small town out in the middle of nowhere that just so happened to be smack dab in the middle of the path of a certain black haired, violet eyed teen with a dark past, a silent present, and an unknown future. For him, it was just another town that he’d have to pass through, ignoring glances cast at him by others and murmurs from the ones around him commenting or insulting his small, silent, mysterious, and dark appearance. He was used to it, though... it was like that with almost every town he’d crossed paths with and he didn’t care so much now as he did when he first started wandering on his own.

It was only thanks to his luck that he managed to come at what seemed to be the busiest time of the year for the poor town and its people. Even now, as he walks slowly to the small balcony of the second story inn he was staying at, he’s unsure if it’s bad luck that has brought him here or a minor bit of good luck that final caught upon him like a piece of tattered cloth to the thin branches of a thistle bush.

He pulled his cloak around him tightly as the wind brushed around him and he shivered, though he stayed put, leaning against the railing, the black cloth surrounding him, though just barely as the wind tried to tease and pull it from his grip.

It was only when the wind died down, that he was able to let go of his cloak and he reached down, grabbing a thin silver chain before pulling it from his pocket and he brought it above the railing, both his hands now clenching at the object and he opened one hand to stare at the item, a silver pocket watch engraved with fire and roses, and when he flicked it open, he let a small sad smile cross his lips as he saw the single word engraved on the inside: ‘Forever’.

I wish you were here with me, brother... he thought, closing the pocket watch, touching it to his forehead, before setting both it and his hands upon the railing when he started to hear the murmur of voices below. It was only then that he looked up, as a light burst of green light filled the sky above and he blinked, eyes a little wide as he watched, speechless. He’d seen the Aurora Borealis before, of course... many times on his travels, but never one quite so vibrant or beautiful as this one. It was almost... magical, he could swear. He let out a small scoff and lowered his head, shaking it as he looked back to the pocket watch. “Imagine...” he whispered, his voice dull, “me thinking something is magical...” he then frowned and picked up the pocket watch before putting it back in his pocket and he turned away, giving one last glance at the Northern Lights. “Magic doesn’t exist.” He added in a bitter tone before walking to the bed that was to be his for the next night or so.

He flopped down onto it and closed his eyes, letting out a harsh breath through his nose.

It was two hours later when he was able to finally let his racing thoughts calm and he managed to sleep for the first time in what seemed like days to the young teen.

When he awoke, he immediately got the feeling something was wrong. It was quiet, perhaps too quiet and he intended to find out why; but when he opened his eyes, they widened with many different emotions flickering in them as he looked around.

He was not in his room at the inn anymore, no, he was now somehow in a large decorated room, atop a plush bed with many different pillows and he felt his heart beat quickly as he gripped tightly to his pocket watch and it was only for a moment that he was relieved to still have that with him in this strange situation. Am I dreaming...? He thought to ask, because for one, he wasn’t where he was supposed to be, and two... his pocket watch felt... different. But he could not place how or why.

He shook his head and barely hid a sharp gasp of fright and surprise, wide eyes snapping towards a door he’d somehow not noticed before and he was tense when he heard the loud brisk knock. He slowly removes the covers of the bed and he climbs out, before cautiously making his way to the door. Unlocking it, he peeks through the crack that he allows and then opens the door wider, confusion filling him and replacing the fear, when he saw no one, and he stepped carefully out of the room.

He frowned, eyes narrowed when he saw other people, three others in fact, peeking out of their own rooms. What’s going on? He thought, but before he could voice his thoughts out loud, a new voice, one that he very much didn’t like already, spoke up and directed their attention to it. “Hurry, would you?” A woman with dragonfly wings and giant pearls draped across her front, snips, scowling at them, it would seem. She turns on her heels and walks quickly down the hall as she continues to speak, and Archer and the others had no choice but to follow, though it was obvious they were all hesitant. “I’m very busy and I’ve been forced to waste so much time on you things already; the least you owe me is your immediate compliance!”

Archer narrowed his eyes at this and he barely held his tongue. He had so many questions already and added to these questions were so many things he could say that would either get him into a lot of trouble or they would be ignored, judging from the way the woman was already ignoring the murmuring of the other humans.

She disappears through a doorway at the end of the hall and they all follow in, coming into another intricately decorated room that Archer could tell was the main room to wherever they were. He barely has enough time to look around and observe his surrounding before their attentions are turned to a table where the woman dumps a box of masks. Masks...? he thought with a confused frown, his eyes narrowing further. “Here you are. Take whatever you think you can use, but for the love of fallen stars, please practice with it! I will not permit unpolished hooligans upon my stage! Especially mortals…” she adds this last bit through clenched teeth and Archer would’ve felt insulted, if it weren’t for the fact that his attention was caught on the masks, specifically one particular one with red markings of different shades, almost like fire.

He felt... drawn to it, for some reason. And he couldn’t comprehend as to why that was.

His attention is snapped away from the masks once more when he heard the sound of doors slamming shut and he flinches, left feeling just a bit more confused and a tiny bit lost than he already was. He never usually felt like this, but from his standpoint, it was understandable: he was in a strange place with curious people with wings. He wondered briefly if the others felt as confused and lost as he was, but he shook the thoughts away and stepped forward.

Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath before letting it out, his mind racing a mile a minute as he tried to take in every detail and sort through the strange puzzle that this was. He didn’t have all the pieces yet, barely enough to fill in the edge, let alone the middle, but he knew soon enough he would have what he needed to complete it. Opening his eyes again, he looked down at the box of masks and his fingers itched as he hesitantly reached out, fingertips brushing against the mask he was drawn to, before he gently picked it up and he held it firmly in his hands, turning it over as he looked over the carefully marked detail.

It was strange, to say the least, and though he wouldn’t normally go for this, he figured it was the best way to get the answers he sought. So for now he would play along.

He finally looked up, away from the mask, and back at the others with him, frowning in confusion. Well, now what? He thought, just a tiny bit annoyed now. He’d picked a mask, but now he wasn’t sure what quite to do with said mask.

High pitched laughter brought him from his thoughts and he blinked wide eyes back at the box, to where a faerie now sat, perched on the edge of it, where she had not been before. How’d she get there without me seeing...? He frowned now, unsure how to take her sudden appearance. She was looking down at the masks, he noticed, and not at them, “Vel thinks they’re pretty. Vel wishes she could wear one, they’d make Vel look so nice. But humans will look okay in ‘em I guess.” She stated, looking up at them now, her eyes bright and wide. “Why you humans so small, anyways? What’d the masked fairy do to you? Maybe he make Vel bigger! Big like humans! Then I laugh and stomp on all the littler fairies that think Vel a pest!” She laughed out loud again and Archer nearly winced, the sound much louder and higher pitched than before and it rang in his ears for a few seconds until she calmed down, at least.

The little faerie was stomping all around on the table now, appearing playing out what she said and for a moment, Archer was amused, but then he realized what she said and he narrowed his eyes, clutching tighter at the mask in his hands. “Erm, Vel... that’s your name?” He questioned, pitching his voice low and soft so as not to startle the oblivious faerie, but then he sighed and figured it wouldn’t much matter. He somehow doubted he would get any true answers from her, though he would most definitely try. “Do you know... what we’re supposed to do? No, do you know how we got here? ...anything at all?” He tripped over his questions, wincing a little. This was seriously new territory for him, and new territory was never good because he was never at the top of his game. And when he wasn't at the top of his game, things... got the best of him and that never turned out well.

Shaking his head, he shook the negative thoughts away and paid attention as best he could to the Fae, Vel. Vel stopped and blinked at Archer as though seeing him for the first time, before repeating, “Anything?” A bright smile lit her face then and she spoke, quick and loud and as if she were a child on the morning of Christmas, “I know lots of things! I know about birds and dragons and magic and butterflies and dragonflies and did you know they aren’t dragons or butterflies?! Vel took forever to figure that out. Haha, silly Vel! You were so silly silly billy last week.” She laughed a little to herself and then looked back at Archer before having her eyes widen and she squealed, “Your mask! Put it on, put it on! Vel wants to see your show!” When all Archer did was stare at her with narrowed eyes and a confused frown, she giggled, “Looks like Vel’s not the only silly one! You human types are all circus stars! And I want a show! Put the mask on and show Vel your stardom!” But before he could even comment on what she said, she gasped and looked back towards the doors, “Just don’t break Moonstone’s stuff. She yells at Vel so loud when stuff breaks.”

He wasn’t sure what to do, to be honest. On one hand, he could ignore the insanely hyper faerie and perhaps go look for company that could actually give him answers. On the other hand, he could humor Vel and do what she asks. The second option seemed safest to him; what harm could come from simply just putting on a mask? Though it was true he wasn’t such a big fan of masks, or hats for that fact, he decided to deal with it and he let out a soft breath before putting on the mask, making sure the string in the back didn’t mess with his hair. So, I’ve put on the mask... now what do I do...? He thought, shifting his weight on one foot while he looked down in thought. How can I put on a show when I have no idea what I am to do...? Well, I could... perhaps... no, that couldn’t possibly work. He spent all of five more seconds thinking before he grinned sharply, Aha! I got it, and he snapped his fingers, only to let out an embarrassing squeal, jumping back in fright. “W-what the hell!?”

He’d just created a spark, snapping his fingers. Was that supposed to happen? He thought as his heart raced as he looked up at Vel with wide eyes.

He watched as Vel clapped her hands as she bobbed up and down in mid-air, “Magic Fire! I love magic fire! Did you know Vel is magic fire too?” Archer noticed from the corner of his eyes as one of the others walked up to the box, looking weary and annoyed, and he watched as she picked up a mask, momentarily distracted, though he did manage to catch what Vel said after. “Yeah, but mine’s prettier than yours.”

“Um... If you don’t mind me asking, what exactly is this place?” The girl that just picked up her own mask questioned, and Vel frowned, turning to her, the fairies attention taken from Archer. Not that he minded or cared, for that fact.

“This is the circus!” She started laughing again then, twirling around in the air, “And all the fairies are coming to see you and your masks make shows for us!” Archer blinked, still partially confused, but more of this was making sense. The circus, of course... he thought idly and watched the other girl put on her mask, letting a soft breath escape him when he saw the beautiful silver flute that appeared in her hands.

“Um.... I kinda don’t know how to play a flute...” she spoke and Archer barely kept hidden a laugh and he rolled his eyes. Yeah, like I don’t know how to create fire...

Speaking of which, Archer looked down at his hand, and he puffed out a small disbelieving breath, “Fire...” he murmured to himself, I can create fire... Shaking his head, he discarded all thoughts and focused on snapping his fingers together. He watched as a spark was created and he did it again, over and over, his lips twitching upward in a light smirk. “Magic fire, huh...?” He looked up at the faerie before looking down in thought again, nodding slowly. The masks, the fairies... what that woman said... it all makes sense now. He then snorted and closed his eyes, clenching his fist, Well, as much sense as anything can make right now.

He looked up then when Vel put her hands on her hips, and for a moment it almost looked a bit amusing, until she spoke, “Pfft. You can’t play the flute like he can’t make magic fire,” and Archer blinked in surprise, eyes narrowed. What is she, psychic? He shook his head at the ridiculous thought as Vel continued to speak. “You humans are so silly! Must be awful not to have magic everywhere.” Her expression turned thoughtful for a fleeting moment then, “No magic at all. Sounds so icky and boring to Vel.” She whined and Archer sighed, running a hand through his hair. My turn...

“That... woman...” he started, looking down before looking back up, “she said we have to practice with our masks. Where could we go to do that?” He questioned, and despite still being confused, he was intrigued and he was starting to get a bit more so with everything that’s being said. Not to mention, he really likes what he can do with this mask now and he definitely plans on practicing with it, creating more sparks with his fingers.

Vel turned to him again, cut off from what was no doubt going to be a rant of sorts, “Practice? Do it outside! Moonstone’ll do all kinds of yelling at you if you break her stuff! Vel touched a shiny rock, just touched it and she turned so mean!

Archer chuckled, nodding slowly and he took off his mask, looking down at it and he smiled at the faerie, “Thank you, Vel,” he said and bowed his head, taking one last look at the others before heading off. This is most definitely going to be fun, he thought, doing exceedingly well to hide another smirk, barely catching the sound of the others’ voices as he did.

It wasn’t long before Archer decided to explore around the main building, looking around for any place suited for private practice. He really didn’t want any viewers, unexpected or not, in case he failed miserably and he definitely didn’t want to be bothered while he tried to get the hang of this enchanted mask business. He needed time on his own to soak in all the information that had been provided to him, useful to his current predicament or not.

He walked around for a bit, until slowing to a stop when he came upon a small boarded up shack. “Strange... what is this doing here?” He questioned, walking up to it and he ran his fingers over the boards, curious. Can I use this, perhaps? He thought, looking around to determine what to do. It was a nice place to practice, secluded enough that he wouldn’t be bothered and the building itself looked sturdy enough to withstand any mistakes, he supposed, despite the fact that he was now apparently a ‘fire-dancer’ as he knew people of his... ‘talent’ were called.

Before he can do or think of anything more, he is knocked onto his back by a brilliant ball of light, letting out a sound that was a mix of a heavy ‘oof’ and a sharp hiss when his back collided with the ground. He just barely managed to see the figure, draped in an elaborate green cape, that appeared, seething while standing protectively between the human and the boarded up shack. When Archer sits up, he notices the figure directing one hand out, pointing back towards the main circus grounds, giving the impression that it wanted him to leave. Archer made a small noise of discomfort, eyes narrowing in a glare and he rolled his shoulders as he stood up, eyeing the ball of magic light in the figure’s other hand and he barely held back a small scoff.

“What the hell!?” He puffed out, and he tried to keep the pure anger out of his tone, though he couldn’t help the sharp agitation. “What gives?!” He frowned then, tilting his chin up before looking back at the shack. “All I did was touch it...” He muttered and stood up, brushing off his clothing. I don’t even know how to get inside anyway. He hummed and looked around before turning his attention back to the other person. “May I ask who you are,” he questioned and then added quickly, “I’m not going anywhere until you answer me, so you can forget about ‘telling’ me to go again.” His tone was sharp, near the end and he crossed his arms, an eyebrow raised as he eyed the figure.

It took a few seconds, and for a moment, as he saw the figure’s strange eyes narrow at him, he thought he for sure he wouldn’t be so lucky when the figure attacked him again. Those thoughts quickly fled from his mind though, when he saw the ball of light fizzle and his eyes went wide when their surrounding darkened, becoming pitch-black as far as the eye can see.

“H-hey, what the hell’d you do!?” He choked out, twisting this way and that. He quieted, a sharp gasp leaving his lips, when he began to see images. Spotlights came from the ether beyond whatever dream-like haze the Fae had trapped them in, bringing to mind a three-ringed circus tent, with the Fae in the center of it all, posed as a Ringmaster with a lighted baton in hand, and above Archer's head silvery strings like he was some strung up marionette. Archer jerked away and the strings followed and he felt his chest tighten, like he couldn’t breathe.

It was then that he got the message.

In a circus, we’re all puppets... and he’s the puppeteer. He’s the Ringmaster.

And then the images were gone, as well as the strings, and Archer let himself fall to his knees on the ground. He let out a few harsh breaths and when he finally looked up, the faerie, the Ringmaster, was gone.

Archer had left the shack, when he had finally felt his racing heart slow down and his breath return, and he’d eventually found a small secluded clearing; an area he could use to finally practice with his mask. Looking around, he determined it was fine enough for what he wanted, and that he wouldn’t be bothered, though he could hear voices, a little ways away, some strange and foreign, and others not so foreign.

He was curious, yes, but he quelled the curiosity and untied the mask from his belt, lifting it up to his face. He took in a deep breath and shakily let it out before putting the mask on, once more making sure the string wouldn’t pull at his hair. He looked down at his right hand and snapped his fingers, getting used to the feel of the warmth sparking from his fingertips. When all this did was make a spark, however, he frowned in thought and then narrowed his eyes. He snapped his fingers again before quickly flicking his wrist and his eyes widened, his throat tight in surprise and awe, when he saw the spark become a flame, flickering gently around his middle finger.

He snuffed it out before doing it again, over and over, a smile twitching at his lips, before he finally decided to cup his hands and he blew on the flame, causing it to grow bigger until it was the size of a baseball, flickering and ‘dancing’ against the palms of his hands. “This is... incredible...” he whispered and parted his hands, a grin now on his face, when the fire parted with his hands and instead of one fireball, he had two; and though they were smaller, the desired act was just as effective.

It wasn’t long before he decided to play around, after getting used to having fire in his hands, the warmth spreading from his hands and to his arms. He created fire again, parting his hands once more before snuffing the one in his left hand out, puffing out a small breath before hesitantly and gently letting it sway over the flame in his right hand. His breath caught and his eyes widened once more as he saw the fire move with his hand, and though it was barely a flicker, it was enough to please him to no extent. Now to really have some fun, he smirked wickedly.

The young teen groaned and flopped down on the grass, his hands clutching at his hair. “This is useless! I can’t get this right, damn it!” He huffed out, his tone filled with anger and annoyance and frustration. “Why is this so damn hard!?” He shouted out, falling back onto the grass before sitting up and he snapped his fingers, flicking his wrist, glaring at the fire. The fire danced and flickered, as if mocking him and he scowled. “Screw you and screw this fucking mask!” He snapped, clenching his fists and he hit them against the ground, where his cloak lay and he seethed, although all of his anger washed away and was replaced by fear and shock when he saw the fire catching his cloak.

He quickly stood up, shouting a few curses and he took off his cloak before trying his best to put out the flame.

“No! Damn it, this isn’t supposed to happen!” He ignored the whine that was in his tone and he sat on his knees, staring pathetically at his cloak. The fire had been snuffed out, leaving scorch marks. Lucky him, though, the fire hadn’t burned through the cloth. He let out a pitiful sigh and shook his head, taking off the mask before it caused him anymore trouble and he set it on the ground, frowning at it.

I wonder if anyone would care if I left it here... stupid thing, nothing but trouble and I... I can barely even get this right anyway. He thought bitterly and clutched tightly at the mask, planning on doing something to get rid of it, but he felt disheartened and he groaned, lowering his head.

“No point...” he whispered, making up his mind and he tied the mask to his belt before resting back on the ground, eyes closed as he pillowed his head against his cloak. “I’ll figure something out...” he decided before drifting asleep.

After the accident with his cloak, Archer had spent what time he had practicing what he could with his fire, experimenting and exploring his magic and only sleeping or eating when he needed to. He was determined, perhaps not from the very start, to get it right, to learn as much as he could possible in the time that had been provided. He wasn’t sure how much time he had left to get it right, but he feared it wouldn’t be too much longer until it was up.

Snuffing out the fire in his hands, he brought it to 'life' once more and parted his hands again, careful to not spend too much time with the fire like this. With all his practicing, he figured out he was still only able to hold two balls of flame for a few measly minutes. It made him a little upset with this discovery, but he figured with a little more time and practice, he’d be able to get it at one point. But for now, he didn’t worry too much about it.

He practiced for a few more minutes, waving his hands around slowly as he tried painting a picture in the air; the trails only lasted a mere second before disappearing. “Damn it...” he muttered and snuffed out the fire again before turning and he took a deep breath. “Now... just to test things out,” he added as he took off his mask with deliberate, careful movements before striding with purpose towards the bazaar, his cloak flowing behind him, the scorch marks almost blending in with the black fabric.

When Archer reached the bazaar, he looked around, eyes narrowed slightly and a smirk made its way to his lips as he stepped up to the figurative plate, right in the middle of the area. He placed his mask upon his face, catching the attention of only a few fairies and creatures in the area; he grinned wickedly then and snapped his fingers, flicking his wrist, and creating a small ball of fire in hand. When he saw the ball of flame in the palm of his hand, he threw it up in the air, with relative ease, glad he practiced this more than a few times, and the fire burst into many tiny sparkles. Although the effect was certainly less than truly desired, it seemed to do the trick as he gained the attention of many others.

He then created another ball of fire in his hand, holding it up in the air, towards the creatures and people that surrounded him. “Now, who’s up for a bit of magic?” He questioned, just a tad bit cocky, but also extremely anxious. He’d barely even noticed that one of the people he ended up there with, the girl with the silver flute, was there and he’d just barely caught her attention, though it was obvious to any who cared that she clearly didn’t.

When Archer began to replicate some of the moves and ideas he’d practiced a few hours before, he suddenly falters when a cackle rang through the air, seemingly surrounding him and his fire snuffed out immediately. “You look a little lost,” the voice said, though it was a little clear that Archer wasn’t being spoken to. Even still, he tried to look around, tried to find who the voice belonged to, his body rigid and tense and his heart racing as he tried to stabilize his breathing. What’s going on? Who’s here!? He thought and then closed his eyes when the voice spoke again; he was getting dizzy, turning this way and that, and at the moment, that clearly wasn’t helping him any. “Oh you humans always have the hardest time seeing what’s right in front of you...” Right in front of us... is he a ghost then...? A spirit of sorts?

“Hello? Um... purple guy...?” Archer almost laughed at hearing the girl’s response to this, but he stilled his tongue and concentrated. His performance was already forgotten by him, but the presence of other Fae was clear in the back of his mind.

“W-who are you?” He tried, when the girl got no answer, and he opened his eyes, trying to calm his breathing. He winced when his voice broke and he cleared his throat, straightening up, though still as tense as a board. He wouldn’t try to speak again, afraid his voice would give away his growing anxiety once more.

It was then he remembered where he was and what he’d been trying to do. He'd come there, to the bazaar, for the sole purpose of testing his skills on the Fae around here.

He snapped his fingers again and tried to create another ball of fire before he lost the attention of the creatures around him, but he kept stumbling. He was feeling a little more anxious now and incredibly nervous. Who is that...? He thought meekly and prided in the fact when he got another ball of fire going.

He took another deep breath and pulled the fire away, creating two separate balls of flame. He waved them around a little, before snuffing out the fire in his left hand and he used it to wave it over the other ball of fire, bending it nearly to his will and he used that to his advantage, spreading the fire out and trying to do several different things with it. Maybe... maybe it was a mistake to come here... I need to practice more. But even with these thoughts he still continued his ‘act’ and he snuffed the fire out and his hands were covered in a thin layer of burning flame, more vibrant at the tips of his fingers.

When he was confident the fire wouldn’t snuff out if he tried to move around, he tried dancing, slow at first, creating his own music in his head and hoping with all his practice he at least kept their attention long enough to please them all. With this in mind, he tried to ignore that lingering presence, his skin crawling with something he couldn’t quite name.

The Fae laughs, finally making noise again and Archer almost loses his concentration once more. “The name’s Heathersbane. The Harlequin, if you please. You’re doing a swell job with your fireballs there, sir, but might I suggest you relax a little? Your audience is starting to giggle.” Archer grimaced when he heard this and he finally decided to stop, snuffing the fire out as he made a small noise in both frustration and relief, sighing softly as he sighed.

“Thanks for the tip,” he muttered, though just a tiny bit grateful. He was glad he was wearing his mask, or else everyone would most certainly be able to see the blush of embarrassment that had spread across his cheeks. Already I kind of screwed up, though I supposed... he paused and opened his eyes, looking around at the smiling, laughing and giggling faces of the fairies around them, I kind of succeeded at entertaining them, depending on how you look at it, I guess.

“And you, young lady,” Archer hears Heathersbane again and he figures he’s talking to the girl again, “I hear you've been causing quite a stir.” He pays no mind to this as he tenses once more, eyes narrowed as he sucks in a sharp breath, when he sees the Ringmaster, the Fae that had threatened Archer back at the shack.

He hides his cloak, pulling it uneasily behind him and out of the view of the Ringmaster, not wanting the other to see part of his failure. “H-hey, don’t scowl at me,” he tries to puff out, acting a bit peeved. “I-I’ll do something better for the real act, you’ll see. This was just... tiny entertainment for the Fae’s...?” He winced at how squeaky his voice came out at the end and he groans, nearly face palming his mask. That would have hurt... both him and the mask, surely.

He shakes his head, to rid his thoughts and looks down as he reviewed what he’d done, ignoring the Ringmaster now. I should probably practice the dancing. He thought, his voice nary but a whisper even inside his head. That was... somewhat new, he concluded, and besides, he'd never really danced before, other than when his brother had been... And anyway, it had been a little fun, other than the fact that he’d been as stiff as a board and afraid of intense failure.

“Well a show’s a show,” Heathersbane said to Archer with a shrug, earning the human’s attention back to him, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” He seemed to yell to the sky and Archer almost let a small smirk show, though it was hidden behind his mask, especially when the girl spoke again.

“Um... What?” And Archer couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped his lips as he removed his mask, shaking his head and he tied the mask to his belt once more. While he was doing this, he noted that Heathersbane began talking again.

“The name Moonstone ring a bell? I mean, she’s always kind of in a mood and more-so lately but,” he whistled, a smirk clearly evident in his voice, “she doesn’t like to be questioned... I’ve seen pixies tossed down the well for that! And then you went and left your mask where any old imp could snatch it,” Archer heard as, though the Fae’s tone remained light, his voice took on a threatening edge, and Archer barely held back a shiver, “that would’ve been a disaster... We wouldn’t have had a use for you anymore.” So that’s why he said what he did when he introduced himself... he thought lightly, keeping his head down as he fiddled with his mask and belt.

“Well, sorry, but I don’t really care for a bunch of mythical creatures or being a slave to the aforementioned mythical creatures. And maybe I just hate not having a say in things!” The girl retorted and Archer flinched back at her tone, though his eyes narrowed at the ground. What is she thinking? She’s going to get herself into trouble... he hissed in his head. He thought for a moment that perhaps he should speak up, say something, anything to lighten the mood, but he stayed quiet. The two have seemed to have forgotten he was even there, and he was a little glad, though perhaps a tiny bit guilty for eavesdropping.

“Easy there, miss.” Heathersbane said and Archer let out a silent sigh of relief. At least things won’t get too edgy, he determined. “I realize this must be very confusing. Lucky for you, the circus isn’t on forever! And once the show’s over, you can all go home like non’o’this ever happened... hopefully,” he paused, muttering under his breath, “I should really get on that...”

Archer froze when he heard this and his breath quickened as he looked up. “Home...?” He barely remembered to keep his voice down to a whisper, that only he could hear, and he let a smile turn up his lips. That’s a relief, at least. He thought lightly, sticking his hands in his pants pockets.

“Hopefully isn’t going to cut it. I refuse to entertain you people!” She then walked away and Archer frowned, confused for a few moments, and even more-so when she came walking right back after a few minutes. “Well, you’re still not getting any entertainment!” Does this mean, what I think it does...? If we try to leave, we truly won’t be able to? He looked down in thought and nodded slowly. I see... alright then, I guess... I’ll just have to wait until the circus ends. And until then... he let the thought trail and he shook his head with a gentle smile.

“Well that’s a shame. Have you even tried your new talent? You might enjoy it.” There was something in his voice that made Archer nervous, and he frowned. What was wrong? He wondered, but knew if he asked, he wouldn’t get a straight answer. He figured he should just be patient for now and see how this all played out.

“Yes, but I won’t work for free.” This had Archer scoffing and he finally decided to speak up.

“That’s a bit unfair, it’s not like we’re expected to do anything truly terrible.” He huffed out and he held the girl’s gaze when she turned to glare at him. She was the first to look away and Archer was a little pleased that he still had what it took to get his way like this.

“Oh?” Even still, with Archer’s comment, Heathersbane spoke up, before having his voice become softer and Archer was unsure for a moment if they were to even hear what was said next, “I often forget the greed of humans...” but he decided it didn’t matter since he had, but didn’t care too much about what had been said. “I know where you can find treasure. You can take as much as you can fit in your pockets and I won’t say a word. But now is not the time. For the moment, you need to be useful and well behaved.” Archer snickered at this and rolled his eyes. From what he’s seen, he doubted the girl could be such as that; she was like most, vibrant, loud, and with an annoying, fiery spirit that could rival even a bull’s.

“How do I know you’ll actually give me the treasure?” The girl asked and Archer groaned, running a hand over his face. Just take the deal and shut up... or you know, actually I think I might just leave myself... ridiculous as this is. He thought with a bitter undertone.

From where Archer was though, he could barely hear the whispered response Heathersbane gave to her, but if he were honest, he didn’t so much mind or care as he turned his head away, smirking. Maybe he was finally telling her off, or perhaps he was playing along and giving her what she wanted. With a shrug, Archer decided that he was again didn’t truly care.

There was a small pause of silence when the whispering stopped and Archer blinked in confusion and curiosity before frowning, glaring a little at the girl when she said what she said, “I'll need a hundred of your fairy currency from you. When I go home, you get it back and I get the treasure. Deal?” It was then that he decided he had enough listening to her and he turned away fully, huffing out a deep breath through his nose and he shook his head, running a hand through his hair and ruffling it. Even he wasn’t so greedy when it came to his own travels...

“Right then...” he murmured, shrugging his shoulders and he finally took that first step, walking away from the two and out of the bazaar. Time for more practice, he thought lightly, already going over the details in his head of what exactly he would practice.

The teen sighed and ran his hands over his face before deciding to practice; he seriously needed to get this right. And while he thought it would be better to practice with an audience, he didn’t want to risk what had happened again and he steeled his nerves, working through his head that he could do this. He didn’t need Moonstone’s approval, nor the Ringmaster’s, because as long as he entertained the fairies with what he did, that was enough for him.

Walking back to the secluded area, he discarded his cloak, so as not to burn it this time, and he put his mask back on before taking a deep breath and he let it out, slow and easy.

It was hours later when Archer collapsed against a tree, panting heavily; exhausted. He’d not once stopped practicing since he’d left the bazaar and somehow, not only did he learn he was nearly a natural at dancing around with fire in his hands, he managed to catch his cloak on fire... again. However, lucky him, this time the cloak hadn’t been scorched like the first time, but even still, he’d had to put it out before the fire had gotten too out of control.

Shaking his head, he ran his fingers through his hair before looking up at the sky. It was dark now and his time was almost up; if he didn't do something now, then he would run out of options and to his understanding, that fairies wouldn’t be very happy with him.

So with these thoughts in mind, he headed back to the bazaar. With his luck, he’d be mostly alone with the fairies and he could put on a semi-good performance for them. His hopes were squashed as he saw another human there, another girl, different from the greedy one with the silver flute, but he paid her no mind. He had made sure to borrow one of the ribbons on the stands, ignoring the Fae running it and he walked to the middle as he had done so before.

With a soft breath, steeling his nerves, he put on his mask again, his cloak flying behind him gracefully, and he took a deep breath, slowly letting it out before smirking and he snapped his fingers. Here we go, he thought and the fire spread, slowly spreading over the ribbon and his hands. “Ladies and gentlemen, Fae of all kind, witness now the incredible Archer~” he purred with a smirk as he began his show.

He started with an easy presentation of twirling the ribbon in the air and around him, dancing and jumping around as graceful as a swan. He delighted in the happy noises heard from the Fae around him and he threw the ribbon up in the air, counting down the seconds until it would fall back into his hands again and he used this distraction to fan the flames upon his hands until he’d managed to spread the fire along the bottom of his cloak and the tip of his sleeves and hood and he held his hand up, to catch the ribbon when it finally did fall and he felt pleasure and adrenaline hum through him when he heard the gasps when the Fae saw his the fire upon his cloak.

He kept his concentration on the fire, taming it the way he wanted and controlling it so it didn’t spread any farther than what he wanted. The fire was warm against his skin, a pleasant feeling, unlike when he’d burned himself when he was a kid.

He used his fire to create trails in the sky, whipping the ribbon around as it added to them and he danced around the clearing, the Fae giving him the desired room he needed to move about. The fire surrounded him and for the first time in a long time, he finally felt... alive.

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Baby: Captured at the first page then rofl through the whole book!

Shaniska: I enjoyed this storyline. Also loved the brief expansion of the characters.This was a great shifter book without a long and drawn-out storyline.

Anja: Das Buch ist spannend und lustig zu gleich. Leider sind reichliche Rechtschreibfehler darin enthalten. Sorry ist nur meine Meinung.

Serenity Choi: I know you said that this isn't the end of their story, but man how i wish it was still going. Writer, you did a magnificent job telling this story. Now I'm going to read more of your work and wait for book 14.

Estera: Still too much drama for me, i stopped reading this book at some point because it was too stressful for me

Hana: Not good not boring either.

Janice marie: A very good read, another adventure, different characters, love it, thank you Author 👍

adcato: I love this story. The characters are beautifully written, and they have great chemistry with each other. The flow of the story is so good.

Mikayla Cid: Would love to read more of this

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adcato: Amazing story! I love the characters and their connections to each other. The flow of the story is so smooth and moves effectively.

Maria: Das ist mein drittes Buch was ich jetzt von dir lese .Ich mag es wie du schreibst. Mit Liebe , Emotionen und Feingefühl , Personenbeschreibung.

Precious Andrew: Wow 👌 👏 such a wonderful engaging story. Winnie, you're good at how you write your stories.Welldone

allison o'connor: Didn't sleep and now I've got a headache. But I'm loving them! On to book four.

marilyn: Wow....I can't believe everything that has happened so far. It's so interesting and intriguing

Holly: Can definitely see where the author is going with this. Struggling with some of the grammatical errors but perfectly capable of continuing with the sentence.

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