Riwenne and her friends are deep in enemy territory, so they’ve disguised themselves as a traveling circus. But that means that they have to put on a show without any experience in acrobatics or time to rehearse. Will they be able to convince everyone that they’re actually professional performers?
The New Scientific Circus
“People of Riqar City, welcome to the Scientific Circus’s Greatest Show in the World!” Illari projected her voice, and the audience cheered.
Now that I knew about the tiny microphone hidden inside her ringmaster’s coat, which connected to speakers underneath the bleachers, it was less mysterious how she got her voice to fill the big tent. I’d also watched her climb onto the platform under the ring which lifted her through a hole in the floor, concealed by the smoke pumped out by yet another machine, to make her grand entrance. Illari’s inventions created effects that looked like magic—but without exposing our real magic to our enemies.
Illari was telling the audience how the circus was based on scientific principles and she would explain everything as the show went on. Which was mostly true. There were a few secrets that Illari kept up her sleeve, like some of her proprietary designs. But I’d asked her questions that she’d answered to my satisfaction when I was just a spectator before.
As a performer, I could tell just how much she was giving away. But the real spectacle of the show came from the talented performers who stretched themselves to the limits of human capabilities. Without the years of training done by the professionals, my friends and I could only hope that our meager tricks would still look entertaining thanks to the flashy costumes and upbeat music.
When we’d seen the original show, acrobats had dazzled us with an aerial display. Even Amena wouldn’t attempt the trapeze without magic, so we had to cut out that act. Instead, the calliope music grew louder as Amena strode out into the ring. With her dyed hair and a machine distorting her voice, we hoped she wouldn’t be recognized. She sang the song she’d written for the circus, which she’d only performed once before in Ruraqie.
Come to the Greatest Show in the World
Meet the travelers from the southern desert
See the marvels they have in store
Learn about the mysteries of the universe
Following the beat of the music, I danced out after her. Kyra, Janera, and Vilqa came with me as we ran through a simple routine similar to the one we’d done at Amena’s concerts as her backup dancers.
The jugglers defy gravity with their throws
While mechanical marvels help a girl with one arm
The Wizard of Science performs chemistry tricks
And Illari commands her jaguar to do no harm
There were several verses describing what was coming to help build anticipation. Some of the words were changed to match our new acts, like Nexita demonstrating her artificial arm. Deryt would play the new Wizard of Science since he had chemical concoctions of his own, and then he would double up as a juggler with Amena. I was mostly dancing to fill out the background, but Janera would perform feats of strength, Kyra had an archery demonstration, and Vilqa would walk across the tightrope. Along with the contraptions like the planetarium projection and Illari’s mechanical jaguar, we had just enough material to fill out a two-hour show with an intermission in the middle.