The Day the Circus Came to Town

K. Ryan

Rating: PG

Authors Note: Written for the latest Tortall100 challenge "The Beginning of a Friendship, or the Making of an Enemy." It's the first Circle fic that I've published--involving a young Lark and Rosethorn. Might have slash undertones, might not. The disclaimer is at the bottom.

Niva, years away from enlightenment, a week away from her novitiate, hated acrobats. Flashy, shallow creatures, so proud of their flexibility that they thought the world was theirs to amaze. The girl also suspicious of any industry that only took in the beautiful, and then trained them to spread their legs and slip their feet behind their ears. No one else was, though. The incessant giggling was beginning to grate on the girl's nerves. When Marlie Weaver 'oooh'd' and 'aaah'd' about Benradun's Bending Beauties coming to Summersea ("All the way from Sotat!") she had calmly reminded the girl that Sotat was a quarter of a mile away if you travelled north and she should avoid annoying alliteration.

That was why Niva was doing extra cleanup work at the Water Temple--which was full of Dedicates who seemed just as enamoured the acrobats as the students. Niva's respect for adult judgement had never been high--but it was non-existent, now. Looking at her own sour reflection in the mop bucket, Niva sighed. Humans were idiots. That was that.

"Oh, Mr. Benradun!"

Dedicate Elmsreach was in the next room, twittering. Niva winced.

"Dedicate," the man, Mr. Benradun, sounded stressed. "Apologies for the late arrival, but…I have a girl with me, she needs rest, and Healing. Show life is no longer…agreeing with her."

"The Water Temple is always open to those who need Healing, sir."

"Thank you, Elmsreach."

Niva could here giggling. The man must have smiled at her.

"If you please, sir, how long do you expect we should have the girl--?"

"--My troupe leaves in the morning, Dedicate."

"So, you'll want her--?"

"No, we don't want her. We are unable to retain those her…constitution."

"But…Mr. Benradun!"

"Thank you for your charity, Elmsreach--"

"Mr. Benra--"

"Hael!" Niva started. The man had raised his voice sharply, and was obviously talking to someone on the other side of the door. "Bring her in, would you? We (The man turned again to the Dedicate) put her to sleep, so she won't be any trouble."

The sound of footsteps, and Dedicate Elmsreach's pitiful attempts to interrupt the flow of events.

"There, Dedicate Elmsreach. All settled! Thank you for your cooperation."

Through the window, Niva could see two flamboyantly dressed men leave and head down the corridor.


Niva grinned. The stupid woman sounded so bewildered.

The next day, all the undedicated at Winding Circle were buzzing with speculation. Why was there an acrobat, asleep in the infirmary? Who was she? Why was she here? By the time Niva had her noon-bell break, she was thoroughly sick of the mysterious newcomer. She had managed to steal a glance at her that morning. Slight, dark haired, and some four or five years older than herself--and breathing so heavily the other girl had felt the urge to force so much poppy down her throat that it would render her insensible as well as quiet. Niva had also noted, with disdain, that she was rather pretty.

I wonder what sort of acrobat doesn't agree with 'Show' life? She thought, absently.

Maybe one with half a brain

Time would tell.

Disclaimer: Rosethorn, Lark, Emelan and Winding Circle are the creations of Tamora Pierce. No money is being made with this writing.