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Greatest Show

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Every two years, the circus comes to town. No one knows how, or why, or even who . But, without fail, on the summer solstice of every second year, a large, painted dome appears in the fields outside of Neverwinter. No fanfare, no preparation. One second there’s nothing but grass and dirt, and the other a red-and-white striped circular structure. People have tried to stake out its location to see how it appears. None have ever succeeded. Some say they pass out, others that they were knocked out, a select few that they forgot. One way or another, the mystery of the Circus remains unsolved.

They call it the Circus because it has no other name. At least, none that anyone knows. Whenever its name is said, it turns to static in a person’s ear, so they’ve stopped trying. It’s simply the Circus now, no fanfare or otherwise. No one knows why, or if it’s part of the act, but what’s the point in asking? It’ll just ruin the magic.

Magic doesn’t exist, of course. Some who have seen the Circus say otherwise. They say the place is magic-- real magic. Not the special effects or tricks that others may use. Critics and skeptics say that it’s impossible. They’re skilled con artists, and nothing more.

When Angus McDonald was born, the Circus was in town. Again, when he turned two, then four, then six, then eight. Angus McDonald is ten now--the world’s greatest detective--and he plans to figure out just exactly what hides behind the Circus’ star-embroidered curtains.



Angus doesn’t remember much from his past visits to the Circus. The first memory he has was when he was . . . six? Five? Seven? No, the first one was right. When he was six. He remembers his grandfather took him because his parents didn’t want to. He remembers the loud cheers of the crowd, the smell of smoke and the feel of energy electrifying the air. And he remembers the fanfare it spun the town into. Everyone, even his parents, were ecstatic to have it around. His grandfather didn’t make it to his eighth birthday, and his parents would never have taken him, so Angus didn’t ask. 

Because of that, he’s had to do research for most of his information. He doesn’t mind researching. Angus prefers spending his time alone and curled up in the corners of the Neverwinter library with a good book. But no books have been written on the Circus, so he’d had to go by word of mouth, interviewing anyone who’s bothered to respond to him. 

He’s learned that, overall, there are eight main performers, though no one knows their names.

First to perform, always, are the Twins. An enchantingly beautiful, nearly ethereal pair of skilled trapezists that defy gravity itself with their stunts. After them is the Protector, who seems to be their strong man. Rumours say he’s fought a bear before--multiple times, even--but for the most part, all accounts focus on his acts of strength around the ring. He’s lifted one Twin on each arm before, along with the rest of his performing troop.

The Peacemaker is up next. Angus doesn’t know why he’s called that, but no one else seems to, either. He’s a charmer, of sorts, only instead of animals, he works with plants, playing pan pipes that cause flora to bend and grow under his control. It’s the one Angus believes the least, but every account has been so consistent that he finds it hard to be fake.

The Wordless One proceeds him. He’s never said a word, hence his name, but he doesn’t have to. His illusions say everything for him. Angus had asked if they meant holograms, or something of the sort, but everyone he’d spoken to was adamant that they were illusions.

The show closes with a double act. Both Twins, the Lover, and the Reaper. The Lover used to be a technician, people say, but one of the Twins managed to convince him to do an act. The two act out a love story through dancing and juggling--along with fire, of course, thanks to the Twin’s influence. Meanwhile, the Reaper and male Twin perform death-defying acts, though it’s mostly the Reaper who puts himself in danger. He walks the tightrope, sometimes with a scythe, sometimes with the Twin sprawled dramatically in his arms. Neither of them, as far as Angus has found out, has ever been injured during an act. 

The Director is the leader of it all. She’s the spokesperson, the ring leader, the leader of the pack. From what Angus has heard, she has no act of her own aside from leading the show. Still, they say, she leaves one of the strongest impacts of them all.

Angus turns ten tomorrow. (Ten? Eleven? Nine?) 

The Circus arrives in less than twenty-four hours, and he will be getting some answers.