The tent was filled with patrons, cramped close together in the smoke filled room. They ate their small bags of popcorn and nuts, watching those before them with wide eyes. Children cooed with excitement and grabbed the coats of their parents, pointing with their free hand at the sights in the center of the ring.
Yseult walked to the edge of the ring, sitting against a support beam for the tent, and watched the crowds with a blank face. She could see the awe filling their eyes at each act. Her violet eyes turned to stare at the next act preparing to go on.
Bipin stretched his muscular arms over his head, waiting for his cue to enter. His long black hair was braided down his back and one of the other acrobats quickly pinned it up into a tight bun to keep it out of his way. All he wore was white pants. His almond eyes were focused as he prepared his mind and body for what was to come.
The act before him finished and exited the ring. Bipin entered, surrounded by other acrobats, carrying chairs. At the center of the ring, a spotlight landed on a single chair, placed by the exiting act.
A loud cough and snort next to Yseult caught her attention. She turned her head to see a blonde haired man with thin glasses sitting against the support beam next to her. His dark coat was wrinkled from sitting on the ground and his eyes blood shot. A bottle in his hand was empty and his hair stood on end. His eyes rolled to look at Yseult and a gruff laugh escaped his lips.
“Came to see how the new one fares, eh? Or does La Reine have you on a little errand?”
Yseult stared at the man with the same blank stare, not answering.
“Do you think I have her out here for you, Monsieur Hammond?” a deep voice spoke.
Yseult and the man, Hammond, look up at a tall woman. Her sparkling hazel eyes burn with a youthful light. Her body was lean, muscular, an athletic build that was only accentuated by the black and purple corset she wore. The matching jacket she wore covered her shoulders and the tail rested atop the ruffled back of her skirt. The front of the skirt was cropped shorter, ending halfway down her thighs. The high knee black heeled boots and black tights covered her legs. The gray in her brown hair was the only sign of her age and a black and purpled feathered hairpiece held the loose curls from her face. The strong jaw and pronounced cheekbones almost gave her face a mannish look, but it didn’t lower her beauty.
Hammond flushed at the sight of her, but anger quickly replaced the lust that filled his eyes. “Madame Géroux, always a pleasure to see you.”
“I wish I could say the same to you right now, but as I can see the drink still drooling from your mouth I will have to hold my tongue.”
“Drinking is the only way I can feel normal anymore, Madame. All because of you and this little circus of yours.”
Madame Géroux leaned her hip to the side and placed a hand on it. She smiled
Yseult stood and followed Madame Géroux away from Hammond. When they were safely out of earshot, Madame Géroux turned to Yseult. She held up a pin with a white feather attached. Yseult stared at the small item.
“It is time for Bipin to be welcomed into the family. You know what to do, Cerise.”
Yseult’s violet eyes changed to black. She took the pin from Madame Géroux. “Oui, Madame.”
Madame Géroux smiled and patted Yseult on the cheek. “Très bon, mon métamorphe.” She walked away, disappearing backstage.
Yseult returned her attention to Bipin in the center ring. A tower of chairs stood nearly twenty feet high. Standing at the top, Bipin held his hand out to the side. An acrobat using a long pole, held another chair up for him. Bipin grabbed it and balanced it on the top of the tower. Another chair already waited for him when he placed his hand out and he grabbed it. He angled the chair and, with the chairs balancing precariously, he placed both hands on the chair, one at the top back and the other at the edge of the seat. His arms tensed and he slowly raised his body until he was in a handstand at the top of the tower.
For a moment, no one made a sound or breathed. Bipin took a deep breath and slowly raised a hand. The chairs shook slightly and sharp intake of breaths was heard in the audience. Bipin spread his legs and turned his head to look at the audience. At that signal the audience exploded into applause. Bipin calmly returned his hand to the chair and lowered his body down to a standing position. He held both hands out to the side and the applause grew louder. He began dismantling the tower, handing the chairs off to the acrobats below. He took one last bow once he reached the ground and the audience leapt to their feet and cheered their amazement.
Yseult moved to the side of the entrance to backstage. Bipin ran towards her, but before he could pass she reached a hand out to him. He stopped and walked to her.
With a movement as fast as a snake strike, Yseult plunged the needle into Bipin’s arm. He jumped away from her, but blood already trickled down his arm from the tiny wound. Yseult looked at the pin and the white feather changed to red. Her black eyes met Bipin’s confused face.
“Madame Géroux would like to see you to discuss your permanent addition to Le Cirque de Disparaître,” Yseult spoke in fluent Mandarin.
Bipin answered her in his native tongue. “I’ve passed her test then?”
Yseult lead Bipin backstage, past many acts preparing for their turn. They exited the main tent and walked passed the smaller tents housing animals, families, and other things. At the back of the circus grounds was a purple and black tent. The door was made of intertwining cloths and Yseult stopped in front of it.
“You must go in alone. Take this.” She handed the feathered pin to Bipin and held several of the curtains to allow him entrance.
Bipin nodded his head and, taking the pin, entered the tent. Yseult dropped the curtains and moved to sit against a tree, waiting.
An hour passed before Bipin emerged from the tent, followed by Madame Géroux. She patted his back and spoke to him quickly in French. The wonder in Bipin’s eyes brought a smile to his lips and he thanked her in Mandarin. She motioned him away and he quickly headed for his own tent.
“Yseult,” Madame Géroux called.
Yseult stood and crossed to her, her black eyes returned to violet and she watched the older woman eagerly.
“I need Sévérine. It’s time to locate our next stop.”
Shifting uncomfortably, Yseult closed her eyes. When she opened them they were emerald green. “Madame Géroux, you must really be stumped if you need me. What can I do for you?”
“It’s time to find a new destination.”
“Oh? You’ve found everything here then?”
“Your in luck, Madame. Since last we spoke a new signature has been screaming in my head.”
Madame Géroux stared at Yseult with wide eyes. “A new signature? Do you mean someone who…?”
“That’s right. I’ve located someone who may possibly be your heir.”
Yseult smiled. “The better question is when?”
A somber expression filled Madame Géroux’s expression. “I promised everyone we wouldn’t do another jump for a long time.”
“Well, it’s your circus. It’s your choice. Though if you don’t mind waiting, she isn’t going anywhere.”
“She? It’s a woman?”
“Not yet a woman. A young girl.”