Ariana and Thaddeus MalDrake :The Freak Show

Thaddeus disliked St Canard the moment they caravan crossed into it. They traveled mostly by horse drawn carriages but the horses were darker than night, and gave off a purple gray smoke, killing grass where their hooves stepped. They were Nightmares with gleaming red eyes, and they pulled gothic carts loaded with all manner of mythic beasts , monsters, and Normals with severe deformities. And he was the leader of them all. The strange and unfamiliar did not bother him. What did was that he was setting foot in the protectorate of a McCawber, one he knew very well who had no love for him and hadn’t since they were mere children. 

 

He didnt begrudge Morgana her anger. He thought in fact, it was justly deserved. He had wronged and shunned her, but it had not been from disrespect. Still, to tell her the truth might invoke an old agreement and that he was not willing to do. 

 

He gave the order to set up on the outskirts of th fairgrounds then set about walking around the  perimeter , catching if anyone needed help or if all the animals had been feed.

    • DarkwingPsycho
      DarkwingPsycho

      There were few fliers for the freak show, mostly around gothic shops and mystic neighborhoods, places most basic Normals did not frequent.   Those interested in the macabre, gruesome, and otherworldly were drawn in by the dark displays and foreboding atmosphere.  For one grieving girl, it was a bit of home in a time she felt lost.

      Ariana had been walking toward the bus stop from work, intent on going straight to the overnight car Madame Mambo had so kindly let her crash in, when one of those aforementioned fliers caught her gaze.  Thaddeus Maldrake's Travelling Circus.  She wasn't sure why the name sounded familiar, but...maybe something like that would be a good distraction from her sorrows.

      So that was how she found herself wandering toward the domineering fairgrounds, her bare feet striding listlessly over the soft grass, her eyes following the curious trail of burned hoofprints.

      • Celeste O Emberwing
        Celeste O Emberwing

        A hunchback securing a tent gave her an odd look as if recognizing her in some way, then blinked and went back to his work. After all, she looked Normal enough. The Carnies were used to curious onlookers and peepers, and paid her very little mind. A gypsy fortune teller as setting out a crystal ball on a table covered with a velvet cloth outside her cart and gave Ariana a sly smile, “ Read your fortune, Dearie? First one is on the house... Madame Esmeralda knows all....and tells much more than you’d ever imagine..” she tossed her ebony hair, her large hope earings clinking.

        • DarkwingPsycho
          DarkwingPsycho

          She didn't notice the hunchback and continued to follow a few stragglers toward what seemed to be the entrance.  As she passed through she glanced toward the fortune teller with a shy smile.  She hadn't done well in divination herself, and wondered if it might be a good idea.  But the ache in her heart was still very raw, and she wasn't sure she wanted to see or think about a future if Drake wasn't in it.

          Shaking her blonde curls, she moved past the woman after a soft "thank you" and headed toward the largest tent with wondering eyes.

          • Celeste O Emberwing
            Celeste O Emberwing

            The fortune teller just smiled in a knowing way. That one was definitely on an intriguing path. Oh well. She’d likely get a chance to take a peek at her palm later. The curious ones always came back sooner or later.

             

            suddenly a massive gray and tawny griffin crashed through a tent wall and thrashed about, shrieking in frustration as it chewed on its front paw with is sharp beak. The hunchback stopped what he was doing and ran over, along with a pair of burly identical twins covered in scars who set to trying to lasso the griffin, but this only caused her to thrash about more, unfurling her wings and screaming at them.

             

            ”Hold off there,” a deep voice with a mixed accent, something that was almost an inexplicable mix between Cajun and Transylvanian, cut through the den as a tall drake with dark green plumage in an ornate ringmasters coat of red and blue velvet appeared, moving with urgency but also a smoky grace. He positioned himself inbetween the would be captors and the irate creature, right in the path of her claws, and received a slash across his face and down his neck for his efforts. It only caused him momentarily to pause though, even as his dark blood dropped on the ground, hissing and steaming where the morning sun touched it. He  put both long fingered hands up in a calming manner,”Jemima, steady girl...steady now, belle. That’s it, chere..” Whether it was his tone, or his yellow/ red eyes performing some sort of hypnotic spell, one couldn’t be sure, but slowly the griffin calmed, her feathers unruffling, though when she went back on all fours from her rearing she kept one foot clear of the ground. The ringmaster spied this and instantly set about to removing a shard of broken glass that looked like it was from a liquor bottle from her paw as quickly and gently as possible before he ripped a shred of white from his under shirt and wrapped it around the injured paw.”Easy now, there’s m’girl...all that fuss and done in a heartbeat...” he continued to croon in the animals ear, ignoring his own injury.

            • DarkwingPsycho
              DarkwingPsycho

              Ariana stopped along with others as the giant creature tore through the tent, and she put her hands over her bill in sympathy for the griffin.  She had been about to rush forward when a strange personage placed himself between the staff and the animal, and she gave a cry as he was slashed deeply from the claws.  His hold over the creature mesmerized her.  While most of the other onlookers were either recording the incident on their phones or standing in awe, Ariana ran forward near the man but not too close lest she upset the griffin.

              "Sir!" she cried.  "Sir - you're bleeding!  Is there...is there someone here I can get for you?"

              • Celeste O Emberwing
                Celeste O Emberwing

                “Gunther, would you take her back to her pen and give her something to eat, some fresh rats perhaps?” The tall man was saying to the hunchback when Ariana approached him. He turned I her as the hunchback and twins slowly lead the now calm griffin away. The claw marks on his face were already beginning to heal at an unnatural rate. Where his blood escaped the wounds and dropped to the grass it hissed like acid the moment the sun touched it. Two large hooked fangs protruded from his bill. That, along with his red eyes, was a dead give away to his vampiric heritage. He swept his tall top hat off and bowed to her politely. Was it her imagination or was there something familiar about him?

                 

                ”No need for concern, m’lady. As you can see...the harm was not so much as it looked.” He paused, peering at her, as if struck by her appearance, but no, that couldn’t be, surely she was still in her home, in Transylvania...

                • DarkwingPsycho
                  DarkwingPsycho

                  She inadvertently stared as his wounds seemed to close of their own accord, and it wasn't until then that she realized the ground around him was steaming.  The fangs were, of course, a dead giveaway.  She looked relieved rather than repulsed or terrified.  "Oh, thank goodness," she breathed.  "I thought perhaps you'd need help, but you can heal yourself.  Are you the ringmaster?"  It was a fair assumption, given his clothes.

                  It was then that she noticed the way he was looking at her, and she shifted her weight uncertainly.  "I'm...sorry if I offended you."

                  • Celeste O Emberwing
                    Celeste O Emberwing

                    He blinked rapidly, “ oh no,  m’lady, not at all. Forgive a humble man for staring, it’s just in yer startling beauty, you remind me very greatly of another young lady I once knew from a distance. Yes, I’m the ringmaster of this , ahem, ramshackle establishment. If anyone has caused you any trouble or offense, be assured I’ll make sure it’s righted.” He paused, grimacing at the blood on the ground, then removed a silk hankercheif from one pocket with a gothic  capital M embroidered into it and wiped his face to make sure none was left smeared on his bill.  “Well..that’s just plain unfortunate. Guess I’ll be breaking into my reserves tonight to replenish that...”

                    • DarkwingPsycho
                      DarkwingPsycho

                      Her face reddened at his comment about her "beauty," and she was again reminded of Drake.  Tears sprang to her eyes, but she quickly repressed them with a deep breath.  "Well I'm glad you have those, then...how soon before the...the show starts?"

                      • Celeste O Emberwing
                        Celeste O Emberwing

                        He tilted his head, sensing he had said something wrong to invoke her emotion, which radiated off her in waves like a cool blue breeze. A deeply sorrowful aura, and he was regretful to be the cause of it, but thought addressing it directly would only make it worse. Normals so often did not like their problems brought into the light, and it was often best not to pry unless they indicated they wished to talk about them.

                         

                        ” it’s my hope to have everything up and running for an opening show tonight, but we have been having problems...the last venue was not very hospitable...Duckburg is a bit old fashioned and insisted we pack up and vacate rather quickly, which means most of the animals are restless from travel without any breaks and they can be...irritable in this state, much the same with most of my people. And we’ve been traveling for most of the year now.”

                        • DarkwingPsycho
                          DarkwingPsycho

                          She nodded, knowing all about Duckburg's stance on magic or oddities.  "Where...where else have you been?" she asked curiously, her eyes wandering over the tent city again.  Then she blushed a little self-consciously as she added, "Would it be all right if I...saw the animals?"

                          • Celeste O Emberwing
                            Celeste O Emberwing

                            “Oh just about everywhere, C’ere. Mostly round about the bayous, I’m still struggling with that accent. But we been to Spoonerville, Mouston, and over seas , New Hamsterdam, Rabbitaly, Wingland, Transylvania...”

                             

                            He paused at her request but lit up in pure pleasure, offer her the crook of his elbow. “It would be my pleasure, M’lady. Just between you and me, that’s where my heart lies. I have a soft spot for all the poor folk of course...misfits, so-called freaks although I like to think of them as gifted,  magical types who are pushed out into the wide world outside the magical community...that’s what this place is deep down, a home fed all the outcast with like minded non judging people. But also sort of a..moving wildlife preserve for magical creatures too, if you will. They tend to pop up all over, and the next thing you know, all the Normals are chasing them down with guns and such...”

                             

                            he lead her her into a large tent,” we’ve ended up with a number of crippled critters that had a bad run in with civilization...phoenixes, bugbears, manticores, dragons, chimaeras, ghouls, hippocampus, unicorns, alicorns, Pegasus, yetis...even a hatching Midgard serpent..” the tent was filled with large cages and aquariums and the soft grunting or growling or screeching of various creatures amid the earthy scent of fresh straw animal musk.

                            • DarkwingPsycho
                              DarkwingPsycho

                              Her eyes sparked just a bit at the mention of Transylvania, and it wasn't immediately clear if that was good or bad.  Looking down hesitantly at his arm, she was once again reminded of her former beau and felt a twinge of heartache.  Still, it would be rude to refuse...slowly she accepted the offer and was escorted toward enclosures.

                              "That's a noble cause, Mister...Mister Maldrake," she said.  "You...are Mr. Maldrake, right?  The owner...?"

                              She sighed quietly, thinking that perhaps if she had known about this community when she was banished things might have turned out quite a bit differently.  Her thoughts scattered, though, when he mentioned a Midgard serpent.  "Really?" she breathed with admiration.  "I've never seen one in person...is it still here?"

                              • Celeste O Emberwing
                                Celeste O Emberwing

                                “Thaddeus Maldrake at your service. Thad to my friends, but sadly those are few and far between.  And family even fewer. I own the show, but  many of the acts own their own wagons and such. Everyone is free to come and go as they please, I’m not much for paperwork or contracts...and our doors are always open to those who need a bit of sanctuary, a break from the hustle and bustle of the modern world.”

                                 

                                He paused, smiling,”of course...mind you, he’s a bit on the small side, a decedent of the one that fought Thor in the ancient days..they don’t get nearly big enough to wrap their coils around the planet anymore but still...” he lead her down the way of cages, past a shadowy Vritra and a glittering Níðhǫggr, both smaller dragon like serpents, to the cage that held a  ebony black and  shining red  Midgard Serpent who was at least a thick around as a redwood tree and coil upon himself so many times it was hard to tell how long,  his scales like massive jewels each as big as a child’s hand,  his eyes like pools of tamed fire.

                                • DarkwingPsycho
                                  DarkwingPsycho

                                  "That sounds wonderful..." she said wistfully when he mentioned a break from the world and the freedom to come and go.

                                  Her eyes wandered with interest over the various animals, feeling light-headed and breathless.  She hadn't laid eyes on anything like this since her time at Webminster.  And even then, most of what she had experienced was very controlled and minor.  When she spied the serpent in question, she gasped in wonder and approached the beast slowly.

                                  "What's...what's its name?" she asked softly.  Her hand reached out tentatively toward the bright scales, hoping to stroke the serpent's side if it would let her.

                                  • Celeste O Emberwing
                                    Celeste O Emberwing

                                    The black and red snake peered at her, then moved his head closer to inspect her face, his long tongue flicking out to taste the air  curiously as he memorized her scent.

                                    ”We call him Asmodeus.  He’s  quite calm if you would like to touch him? He never bites, unless he  gets riled up first,a Don we’ve only had that happen once. A Normal boy thought it would be amusing to throw sharp rocks at him and one hit him in his eye, which is why the left one is just a bit cloudy. It took him almost a week to allow anyone back into his enclosure, you can imagine.” He paused, looking at her, smiling as he noted the tone he had often heard from many of his fellow carnies. “you could always join us. If you like. “

                                    • DarkwingPsycho
                                      DarkwingPsycho

                                      "Oh...the poor dear…" she said sadly, moving her hand gently along Asmodeus' cheek and side.  "People can be so cruel, can't they…?"  Her gaze turned wistful and sad, then his suggestion registered through the melancholy haze.  For a few moments she entertained the idea, then shook her head.  She knew she would miss NegaGosalyn too much...and Lilly and Fenton and even Morgana, though she was angry with her sister right now.

                                      "Thank you..." she responded.  "But I can't.  I'll settle for...staying around until you leave, if that's all right...How much longer are you in St. Canard?"

                                      • Celeste O Emberwing
                                        Celeste O Emberwing

                                        “For the week only, unless we get run out of town sooner,” he smirked vaguely,” We try not to overstay our welcome. And if the Normals are too uneasy about us, or the local Magical Folk think we draw too much attention, we try to be respectful and move on. I unfortunately have a complicated past with the resident witch in power, Morgan’s McCawber, and I would prefer not to upset her if my show, or particularly, MY pressence upsets her in anyway, although...” he sighed,” I do wish there was a way to make amends with her. She was always such a sweet girl. I never truly meant to upset her as I did, but I fear my agrieveance is too great, and has been allowed to fester without apologies for too long.” He shook his head, removing his top hat to push his unruly green locks back out of his eyes.

                                        • DarkwingPsycho
                                          DarkwingPsycho

                                          Ariana blinked.  "Morgana...?"  Then realization seemed to flicker in her eyes.  "Oh you're that Thad!  Why did you stand her up?  She was upset for days..."

                                          • Celeste O Emberwing
                                            Celeste O Emberwing

                                            He blinked, equally surprised,” Then you ARE her sister! I thought I recognized you, but..” he drew in an unnecessary breath then let it out slowly, dropping his gaze, “ I never intended to hurt her. I was young, and your father and my mother had made a betrothal pact shortly after Morgana was born. They introduced us  as children and insisted we attend many of the academy frivolities together...I believe you were too young to recall, but  there was rarely a ball thrown by either of our families that we weren’t required to spend the evening in one another’s company. It was..pleasant enough. I liked Morgana, she was sweet, and innocent, cheerful, kind to creatures. But I wasn’t in love with her. And the closer we came to graduation, the more ...trapped I felt by our impending marriage. My mother , of course, would not hear any of it. I attempted to speak to your father but he seemed oblivious to what I was trying to say. Whenever I attempted to tell Morgana that I believed we were wrong for one another...she just seemed far too happy, naming imaginary children she wanted to have one day, planning how to decorate her own manor, talking on parties and social occasions in the future...constantly showing off the ring I’d given her, my mother’s blood diamond, to her classmates. I couldn’t seem to find the courage to tell her the truth.”

                                             

                                            He paused somberly, leaning against one of the cages. “Then..on the night of the prom, I had determined I would find a way to tell her, somehow, even if it was cruel to have waited so long, but in all the excitement, my little sister had slipped out. She was not allowed to attend school, you see. She had...health issues of the most unusual sort. And she is rather..conspicuous. Even though she is younger than me, she is only small in spirit, very quiet, and meek, a pure soul. The local towns people thought her some sort of monster, and believed she was a wild beast who had digging up the graveyard and desecrating their loved ones resting places. As it turned out, that was a resident pack of werewolves, but at the time, my sister, Dahlia, thinking she could go to the dance, had become lost and wandered into the outskirts of the town, near a carnival of gypsies who had been putting on shows there. By the time we discovered her missing, they had cornered her. She was horribly maimed, barely alive,  locked in a cage. I lost all sense. I slaughtered the entire caravan of them in a blacked out rage. By the time it was over, I had long since missed the prom and your sister had been waiting for hours. She was so hurt, so angry she refused to see me, to allow me to explain, and her friends began to spread rumors that I had stood her up due to my beguilement with another woman. I wanted to tell her this was untrue, but then your father began feuding with my mother over the matter, reigniting an old grudge between the two families that the marriage had been meant to absolve perminately. He broke off the betrothal and being young and stupid, I was so relieved, I thought maybe it was better, less painful for her never to know that I had not shared her feelings. To think I was just ...a monster who had broken her heart.”

                                             

                                            He looked up, finding her eyes, his own ruby ones filled with sincerity, “I disgraced my family, and for that, I was banished from my family home. I’ve been wandering about in the world ever since. But I still regret the pain and embarrassment I caused Morgana, and your family.”

                                            • DarkwingPsycho
                                              DarkwingPsycho

                                              Ariana listened curiously, not remembering much about the betrothal but more about how Morgana had been after being stood up.  She felt at first that she didn't want to empathize with someone who had hurt her sister so much, but the more he spoke, the more she did.  Her hands flew to her bill when he mentioned his own sister had been maimed.  "Oh dear!"  She paled.  "The...entire caravan...?"  She couldn't say they hadn't deserved punishment or some sort of consequence, but death?  She wasn't sure what to think or feel.

                                              "She still does..." she responded softly once he had finished the woeful tale.  "I know what it's like to be thought a monster...and to be banished.  That's...why I'm here."

                                              • Celeste O Emberwing
                                                Celeste O Emberwing

                                                He blinked, “But...what could you have possibly done to deserve banishment? You were always such a sweet , innocent child. So obedient to your father and mother. You never spoke out of turn to anyone.” 

                                                 

                                                He he couldn’t understand how the kind young girl he remembered could have ever done anything to deserve the lonely bagavond fate he had created for himself.

                                                • DarkwingPsycho
                                                  DarkwingPsycho

                                                  Her eyes fell to the ground at his compliments, not buying them for a second.  "I'm not sweet...I mess up everything...I don't deserve such kind words.  I...after what happened with my mother in the village, Father was mad with grief.  He began plotting revenge and it got worse after I went to school.  After I graduated he...he wanted me to...to use what I had learned against the town since...his magic wasn't what it used to be.  I refused, and...well, I...I'm no longer welcome with my family."

                                                  She shifted her weight, and as ever her thoughts also drifted to Drake and her unworthiness in every other relationship she had experienced outside of home.

                                                  "Oh..." she added as a thought struck her.  "Am I keeping you from...from your show?"

                                                  • Celeste O Emberwing
                                                    Celeste O Emberwing

                                                    “ Oh, the show doesn’t generally start until sundown...” he smiled,” most of my fellow carnies tend to...favor the shadows to sunlight. But that aside, if you are a distraction of any sort, m’lady, then you are indeed a most welcome one. I’ve not had such an enjoyable conversation in such a long time...sadness and all,” He paused, his expression serious, “ My slight against your family, and the innocent lives I took were cause for my banishment...but you did no wrong in showing mercy, sweet lady. Your mother was a gentle woman, she would never have wanted her memories to be stained with revenge and blood she’d. She was always very kind me...a beautiful woman...and in that, I might add, her daughter has followed in her footsteps. You favor her, in all the best ways,” he traced a  claw very lightly along the feather tuft of her cheek, his red eyes staring deeply into hers.

                                                    • DarkwingPsycho
                                                      DarkwingPsycho

                                                      "Oh..." she said softly, glancing toward the setting sun.  Her blush deepened when he said she was a welcome distraction, not really understanding how he could think that.  He was probably just being kind.  Despite his past mistakes...he seemed kind.  At the mention of her mother, though, she turned her head sharply with interest.  "You knew my mother?"  Threnody had died when she was still young...Ariana had a few memories, but not many, and any information she could get about her mother was like gold.

                                                      His gentle touch made her shiver, and she looked down shyly.  The action made her feel warm and guilty all at once, despite the fact that she was newly single.