Author note: I don't own Bravely Default or Bravely Second, nor do I own the movie "The Devil's Carnival," the TV show "American Horror Story: Freakshow" or the song "Carousel" by Melanie Martinez that inspired this.

I admit I'm a bit of a sucker for some good Carnival AUs, so this was fun to write! I do hope that you enjoy reading this first chapter! Constructive Criticism would be awesome! Thank you!

Warning: Canon-typical violence, harsh language, Creepy Carnival AU, some Bravely Default/Second spoilers mashed into the histories of various characters, various pairings, more warnings to be put up later if needed.


Carousel

Summary: A travelling carnival has arrived! From the tensions between carnies to the secrets they all keep, it's only all fun and games until somebody falls…


1. The Curtains Rise


In The Past


"Daddy? There's a carnival!"

"I-I see there is one coming, yes."

"Can we go?"

"Go…? Rev, I don't know. You're still adjusting to your new body…"

"I know how to move around now! And I'm even taller than you, so you won't miss where I am!"

"Ahaha…that is true, I suppose. Perhaps going will help our mood. Very well, Rev. We will go tomorrow."

"Thank you, daddy! I love you!"

"I love you too, Rev."


He said nothing as he entered the carnival with his son, ignoring the stares from people that saw that his son was glowing blue. Rev didn't seem to mind the staring, but Geist did.

Rev hadn't always glowed blue, after all.

His body had never been just a suit of armor, either.

He was perfectly normal, once. But Geist knew it was his fault that his own son was dead. That his own son existed in this state of armor, smoking and glowing blue. That a whole plague had went and wiped out countless people.

"Daddy?"

Revenant's voice cut his thoughts into pieces, albeit momentarily, and Geist looked to Rev quietly.

"Yes?"

"What kind of things did Mommy like in the carnival?"

Geist froze. He still recalled the dying face of her expression, the brightness fading in her eyes as she weakly cradled a newborn Revenant in her arms. He tried to shake it away, knowing he had to answer the question his son asked him. It would be good for Revenant to know at least a little bit of what she was like.

"She liked the carousel best." Geist finally managed, looking to his son once more, cracking a smile on his face. "The horses on it move through the use of gears and other devices. They're all attached to each other…she liked how those mechanics worked and what magic they had."

"So, it's kind of like how I'm able to move in my body?"

Geist swallowed, but nodded. "Yes." He managed, hiding the discomfort as best as he could. "Like that."

Revenant giggled, the armor shaking a little. "That's so cool!"

Hearing his son's cheerful reaction made Geist smile a bit more. As long as his son was happy…he knew he could be, too. Perhaps time would heal what had happened with his wife and son.

Though, given the circumstances of Rev's situation, it would take much longer regarding his son.

"Maybe," Rev giggled, "Maybe we could go on the carousel?"

Geist nodded, nodding, smiling back at him. "Yes. That sounds wonderful."

Something moved in the corner of his eye, and he turned.

There was nothing. How strange. He thought there was something…

Or someone, perhaps?

"Daddy?" Rev sounded concerned, and Geist looked to him. "Is something wrong?"

"Ah—no." Geist finally managed, shaking his head quickly. "Nothing's wrong, Rev. Let's go."


"That was so much fun, Daddy! Thank you!"

Geist chuckled a bit as he and his son got off the carousel, smiling softly as he looked to him. The armored body of his son rattled a little, metal parts clashing against each other as their joints moved, but Geist paid it no mind.

"You're welcome, Rev…" As he inhaled slowly, he thought he saw something move once more. He blinked, turning his head both ways.

"Daddy?" Rev sounded concerned. "Are you alright?"

"R-Rev." Geist turned towards him, frowning a little. The atmosphere of this place felt…colder, if he could put it that way, and it was sudden. "I think we need to go. We can come again tomorrow, perhaps, just…we should go."

"Uh…uh, okay!" The two of them began walking towards where they'd entered the carnival from, where the entrance was. The wind grew cold, and Geist wrapped his white robes about him as best he could. They were a bit worn, and they did their job. The wind was simply colder than he thought.

Rev seemed to notice his discomfort, trying to wrap one metal arm around his father given that he was taller than him, and Geist gave him a thankful grin.

The entrance gates were in sight.

But there was something wrong.

They were locked.

"What…?"

Geist broke away from Rev, darting to the gates. Chains draped over the bars of the gates, looping behind and over and around them with far more locks than he thought necessary.

Did we stay too long? He checked the sign of the opening and closing times, and he frowned.

It's an hour too early.

They could search for the one in charge of this carnival (there had to be someone in charge, right?) or…

Geist chuckled slightly, raising a hand towards the gates.

"Undo."

The chains and locks undid themselves, the clicking of them resounding in the air, followed by a thud on the ground. Rev went over to Geist as his father opened the gates with both hands.

"That's so weird, Daddy." Rev managed. "Why would they lock up early while visitors are still in here?"

Geist opened his mouth to try to answer, but another voice, velvety like chocolate, spoke up.

"Because those who get stuck in here during the last hour get an invite to a special show. If they want to go, that is. You're free to go if you don't want to, of course."

Geist whirled towards the source of the voice, staring right at him. The man was clearly younger than him, but a black, lacy mask obscured the upper half of his face from sight. His whole attire, black velvety robes with a gold trim, with thigh-high, high-heeled boots to go with it, made him blend with the nighttime itself. Geist might not have even noticed the man if he hadn't spoken just now.

"Who are you?" Geist demanded, one of his arms instinctively pushing his son behind him somewhat. He felt a sharpness in the air between them. He felt this strange familiarity, as well, but he couldn't put a finger to it.

The other man smiled an enamouring smile, locking eyes with Geist's own. There was a glint in those eyes that made Geist speechless as he heard the other speak once more.

"Call me…the Ringmaster."


Present Day


Kamiizumi breathed deeply as he walked past a few tents. Popcorn and caramel wafted into his nostrils, reminding him of the main entrance far behind him. He hadn't exactly planned on wandering around in this carnival, but it reminded him of the festivals he attended in his youth, and so entered the place for the sake of nostalgia.

He swallowed, wincing at the dryness of his throat. He was thirsty—he needed water. Or at least tea. Perhaps there was a booth somewhere that sold drinks? He had half a mind to go back to the entrance to try to find one when he noticed one of the nearby tents being open, the tent flap wide open.

Looking to the open tent flat, he was silent as he read its sign: "Enter at your own risk."

Risk? What risk was there?

It was quiet as he entered the tent. The tent was decently-lit with a few strategically placed lanterns. Before him was an empty table, a chair just beside it. However, no one else appeared to be in the tent, save for Kamiizumi himself.

He frowned.

"I suppose it's closed."

He turned to leave. He probably shouldn't be here if there was no other carnie here as well, he reasoned. Otherwise someone would believe him to be a robber, or someone bad. He didn't want that to happen.

Crackling laughter, full of mirth and something else Kamiizumi couldn't quite place, caught him in his tracks.

"Leaving so soon?" The voice broke into a giggle, crooning, "But you just arriiiiiived!"

Kamiizumi turned, the sight of a new person entering his sight. Now seated at the far end of the table was a man, legs crossed and head bowed. As the man tilted his head upwards, Kamiizumi thought there was flaky red makeup on his face, particularly on his cheeks.

It took him a moment to realize the red makeup might not be makeup.

The man smiled widely, toothily, before he giggled again, red eyes reflecting the faint light of the tent.

"What's the long face for, hm?" The man stood, giving a mock bow. "You may call me Geist. Geist, the Bloody!" He broke into a length of giggles, his whole body shuddering with every single one.

"…The Bloody?"

A mixture of feelings chased each other in his chest. He felt this need to be disturbed, and he was disturbed, but instead there was a strange sort of fascination he could not describe. Beneath the matted brown hair and the blood on his face, Kamiizumi saw something in Geist's red eyes that just drew him in.

He wasn't sure what that something was. Not at first.

Geist took one delicate step closer to him, leaning forwards, staring neutrally before breaking into another giggle. "Hmm, yes! Yes, I am the Bloody! I assure you," The toothy grin returned, "All the bloodstains you see on my person are perfectly dry. No need to worry about stains on you now!"

"…I see."

Kamiizumi did not step back, nor did he step forwards. "Forgive if this is much to ask, for having just met you, but…were you always this bloody?"

Geist was silent, staring ever so blankly again. Without warning, he threw his head back and laughed aloud. The other man nearly jumped at the laughter, but managed to stay grounded as Geist lowered his head, his laughter turning to titters and giggles.

"O-oh, that." He crooned. "It feels like a lifetime."

Why did Kamiizumi not up and flee the area? He had no idea, honestly, what he was thinking or doing for a moment.

"I think," Geist was still smiling, reaching for a teapot on the table that once wasn't there, "That I'd like your name. It only seems fair, given that I already gave mine."

"Ah, yes. Of course." He swallowed as Geist poured the tea into a small cup, handing it to him. He was not uncomfortable because of the man in front of him, he was more afraid of what the other might know from hearing a name alone. "I'm Nobutsuna. Nobutsuna Kamiizumi."

"No..bu…tsu...na?" Geist let the syllables roll off his tongue, one by one. His smile vanished, but only for a moment as it replaced the wide grin with an almost smug grin as he put the teapot back down. "Hmhmm…a pretty name. A charming name! An…"

Kamiizumi was about to sip his tea when Geist leaned up close, as if about to kiss the other. Kamiizumi tensed, but the other suddenly pulled away, cackling

"An alluring name!"

He crowed and laughed, and all Kamiizumi could do was stand and stare. Kamiizumi did not know what to think about this man that laughed so much, who looked so amused and yet so strangely welcome to see him.

What was he supposed to think about a man he'd just met, openly laughing and giggling like this? That the man was insane? He could see how this man could be unnerving, and yet…

"You haven't run away screaming. That's a new thing."

Kamiizumi blinked out of his thoughts as Geist neared him once more. Instead of leaning into kiss, however, he began circling the other. Kamiizumi turned his head in the attempt to keep eye contact, keep sight of the other as he raised the cup of tea to his lips and sipped it. It felt almost too suspicious and strange to be part of the man's own behaviour.

"Tell me," Geist quipped, "Why haven't you run? It's not often that people stay when they see me."

Kamiizumi locked eyes with him as Geist stood in front of him once more. His hands twitched, and then he answered, putting the cup of tea down on the table.

"I've seen worse. That's why."

It was true. Kamiizumi knew he'd seen worse than people just covered in blood. Was he so desensitized to truly say it? Most likely yes.

"Really?"

Geist leaned up close, once again inches away from kissing the other if he wanted to, but Kamiizumi made no move to walk away or even step back, keeping his eyes locked with his. Geist smiled, but the other immediately knew it wasn't the wide toothy grin from earlier as both lips were closed tight together. Was the smile genuine, or fake?

"You must have seen much to not be so jarred by seeing me."

Geist's voice came out in a whisper, but then he pulled back, that strange, faint smile framing his face before he walked past the other, presumably out of the tent.

"Do come back tomorrow eve. I think I want to see you~!" He giggled once. Kamiizumi turned to watch the other go, and he blinked.

Did he really just leave?

"Wait!"

Kamiizumi rushed out after him, but as soon as the cold air of outside touched his skin, the man was gone.

Just—gone. Like he simply disappeared.

Kamiizumi frowned, saying nothing as he looked around, but there was no evidence of footsteps, no sound at all save for the wind.

What was he supposed to make of this?

"I think I want to see you~!"

Geist's words echoed in his mind, and then Kamiizumi decided for once against better judgement.

He would come back the next night.