I'm not really sure if I'll ever get around to finishing this. I really want to. I just haven't really found the inspiration to continue it. Looking back, I know there are a ton of things I want to change, but I'd love for some feedback from another set of eyes! Another perspective, y'know? I apologize in advance...The formatting is a little messed up. Prologue Spoiler (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Show Spoiler Hide Spoiler The hairs of the paintbrush moved delicately over slightly parted lips, staining them black. Or at least, it looked like black to any normal person, but once you looked closer, you could see that it was a mix of all colors. Colors; each of them stood for a part of life. Green stood for nature that was slowly dying. Yellow stood for joy that people tried so hard to feel. Blue stood for hope and peace that people so desperately clung to, and so on. Yes, this mixture of colors was a mixture of life itself. The paintbrush traced its way along smooth, pale skin. It traced intricate designs around the eye and cut a clean line across the neck. But any amount of makeup only enhanced the beauty of a person. However, this was just the beginning. The makeup was just the finishing touch; the icing on the cake. The outfit was more candy for the eye. Starting at the head, the blonde hair was pinned tightly with diamonds. A large bun laced with a girl’s best friend, a ring of rubies to act as a headband, and a sapphire for decoration. Moving down, there was a red ribbon around the neck, looped through a tiny golden bell that rang with the slightest movement. Working down, the arms were bare except for the lacy black gloves that were pulled past her elbow, a dainty little ring on the ring finger. Tight around the waist was a red corset, pulled so tightly that the curves in her waist had been sculpted to perfection. Below the corset was a flat stomach with a simple, silver belly-ring. The tiny little skirt that hugged the hips was just enough so it didn’t reveal anything above mid-thigh and left enough to imagination. The final piece of the outfit was the boots; the boots that were knee-high and laced with red ribbon. As the elegant hands pushed the body up from the chair, the four inch heels could be heard clicking on the ground. Emerald eyes stared into the mirror at its reflection and the lips curled up in a smirk of satisfaction. She was stunning. There was no doubt about that, and the icy blue eyes watching her from behind agreed a hundred percent. “Beautiful, of course. Why else would I have hired you?” his deep voice made her skin tingle, but she was long past loving him. She was so connected to him that she felt every breath that he took. Every breeze that caressed his skin caressed hers. She could even see herself through his eyes. He stepped forwards, and he looked just as attractive as she did. With his crimson hair, pale skin, and muscular figure, he was something out of a dream for most women, but not for her. Oh, he was real, alright. “Oh, I don’t know, maybe for my skill?” in her hand was a sleek whip. It was a simple weapon, but as she snapped it against the far wall, it clearly held a lot of power. He chuckled and placed a finger under her chin, making her look up at him. He was quite a bit taller than her, even with her heels. “Perhaps. Now go prepare your performance while I entertain the crowd. You’re on in ten.” with that said, he left her to herself. Not one to waste time, she left and turned the opposite direction that he had. The hallway was dark, but that was no problem for her. She took long strides and her fingers trailed along the wall. After just seconds, the wall had been switched for cold, metal bars. Inside, she heard creatures growl and hiss, but she didn’t mind it. The sounds the creatures made were not threatening, but welcoming. Just as she had a connection to him, she had a connection to these creatures. After a few long paces, she reached the back wall. She pulled a rope and the bars sunk into the ground, leaving the creatures free to leave their confines. Bright, glittering eyes looked back at her from the darkness and one by one, they began to leave. “Mummy will be with you soon. Don’t worry.” She gave a purr as the last one left, flicking its tail in her direction. She followed them, dragging her whip behind her. There was no need to use it. The animals followed her every word. After all, they knew that if they disobeyed, the penalty was straight to the point. The penalty was death. She waited behind the heavy, velvet curtains. Each animal was sitting in their respective cages. Funny, how they left one cage only to be contained in another. They were well rewarded for their performances, however, and they all knew that. She knew some of them were thinking of it already as some drooled at the thought. Meanwhile, on the other side of the curtain, he was standing. The audience was already captivated, which made her throw her head back and laugh. It was only a matter of time now. “Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen to our wonderful circus! Here beneath our tent is beauty and magic! Now, you may think this is going to be another performance, but I assure you, this will be a night you will never forget!” the audience stared at this man. He tapped his cane on the ground. This one man could hold the attention of hundreds of people that sat around him. “I’m sure you can already tell that we aren’t your average circus. You may have noticed that we don’t sell food, drinks, or merchandise at the door. We don’t have staff wandering up and down the stairs trying to trick you into buying sweets or toys. Why is this? Well…” he tipped his hat and swiveled to face the crowd to the front. “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have some very special guest with us tonight. They are on a very strict diet as a part of their training. Oftentimes, our guest go insane with hunger. Do not fret, however, because we have the very best protection for you all.” As he spoke, metal bars rose up to separate the audience from the ring. What they didn’t notice was that the entrances and exits had been barred as well. “Now that precautions have been made, please welcome our first performance! Our guest will be able to greet you… at the end.” As he said this, the audience cheered and applauded as his platform sunk into the ground, leaving the ring bare of any life. For a moment, there was absolute silence. Then the curtains were raised, allowing the woman to make her appearance. Certain men in the crowd went wild, and everyone sat on the edges of their seats in anticipation. What would come next? From below the ring where the Ringmaster disappeared to, the cages rose up with a light cloth covering them. Ropes from above lifted the first, revealing a real beauty. Everyone would recognize it instantly as a tiger, but the thing that made it unique was the beautiful, violet fur it had with black stripes. Its eyes were a lovely shade of violet as well, but that was harder to tell from such a distance. The tiger gave a loud growl and the crowd was silent for a moment. It was such a magnificent beast, yet many questions arose from it as well. Was the fur dyed? Had they genetically mutated it? And if so, how? Those questions were stifled as the next cage was revealed, leaving four covered. This cage held a lion. It was normal colored, but it had two heads. Both heads stared into the crowd, canines gleaming in the lights that dangled from above. The crowd whistled and cheered, and the tension built in the room. People were obviously curious as to what would come next. The third cage revealed a horse with gemstones embedded into its neck and golden hooves. Its mane was the most peculiar, however. People screamed as the woman walked over to the creature, which was let out of its cage, and stroked its mane. She crowd murmured in confusion as she was unharmed. The horse’s mane was made out of flames; not hairs dyed to look like flames, but real, actual flames. The fourth was harder to see at first. It looked like a normal wolf, but she allowed the animal to escape the cage. A block of pure diamond was brought into the ring and people gasped as it shined and glimmered. It really was a sight to behold… Until the wolf’s claws sliced the block apart. It sunk its fangs into the diamond, and between its claws and its canines, the wolf effectively turned the block of diamond into little pieces of diamond scattered on the ground. The fifth one was the prize. It was the one that the woman had the most pride in. She’d raised this one from when it was just a tiny little thing. Now, it was twice her size and ready to tear apart anything that put her or itself in harm’s way. The cage was revealed and gasps rippled through the crowd. The audience was speechless. The cage was considerably bigger than the others, which had gotten the crowd curious, and now they were staring at something that only legends had described. It was a phoenix. The flames that rose from the crimson feathers were real. They were no figment of imagination. They were not a result of special effects. The flames were real and right in front of their eyes. The beak was long and sleek, a deep color that gave off more of a shine than gold. Its eyes were a not a color that could be described. If you ever got close enough to look into its eyes, the colors never stopped changing. Not one color could have described it. Its talons were sharp and left scratches on the metal perch in the cage. A voice echoed around the ring, even though there were no speakers in sight. The Ringmaster’s voice made an appearance once again. “Now that we’ve had a chance to see our precious gems, let’s see them in action! Our Tamer, Kira,” he paused to allow the Tamer to take her to the front and to the sides, and to accept her applause. “Has complete control over these magnificent beasts. Just sit back, relax, and be amazed!” His voice cut out and all the creatures stepped out of their cages. The cages disappeared below the stage and Kira’s props were all lifted onto the stage and into the air. There were the usual flaming hoops and platforms, but the Tamer knew that beneath the stage was another obstacle course that would shock the crowd once it was in action. She went through all the usual motions of a circus, letting them jump through hoops and doing daring stunts, like placing her head in the tiger’s mouth. This was only a simple task for the animals. She had no fear of them either, which was clear whenever she made contact with them. They trusted each other completely. But now, the real games began. As the obstacles disappeared the same way everything else did, a larger cage rose; a cage that filled the whole ring, leaving only enough space for Kira and the other animals to sit. Inside this cage, there seemed to be a complicated obstacle course that seemed to replicate a jungle. Inside, already pacing back and forth was a normal orange and black tiger. It was exceptionally bigger than an average tiger, but it was the tiger that everyone was familiar with. This was where the real show began. A door opened at the side, allowing the violet tiger to make its way into the arena. The two stared at each other for a moment. Kira looked into the crowd and saw mixed expressions. Some people were cheering them on, some people were confused, and some people thought this was morally wrong. She grinned as the tigers circled each other, waiting for the other to make a move. Finally, the orange tiger leapt for the violet one, who managed to block the assault with a simple swipe of its paw. They went on like this for mere minutes. The violet tiger seemed to give no effort at all as it took down the other. The normal tiger was shaking now, fur matted and stained with crimson blood. The arena was quite a mess, even though the violet tiger seemed completely unharmed. The crowd was absolutely silent at the bloodshed they’d just witnessed. This was the only scene they’d have to deal with though. There were different tests for the other creatures. Some were as simple as showing off their speed. However, the phoenix was the one that would stick with them the most. As the animals and Kira were accepting applause, the phoenix rose into the air and burst into flame. It was beautiful, like watching a star explode, and the ashes slowly fell to the ground. However, from the ashes, came a tiny chick; one that had crimson feathers as well, but less vibrant. The crowd applauded and wept at this scene. A phoenix was something many people couldn’t comprehend and just being in the presence of something as precious as a phoenix’s rebirth was enough to reduce people to tears. They disappeared below the stage and the show continued as usual. Acrobats and other entertainers stole the stage. People had almost forgotten about the guest mentioned until the Ringmaster appeared once again with a cage beside him. “Ladies and Gentlemen, what I have here beside me is something you’ll never see anywhere else.” And sure enough, he was right. As soon as the cage was unveiled, people in the crowd screamed. Inside was sitting something there were no words for besides unnatural and immoral. It looked a little like a little boy, but where there were supposed to be legs, there were little stumps. The arms were long and thin, and grotesque wings were embedded into its back, covered in blood as if they’d just burst from his body. They were so heavy and ripped so badly that they didn’t look functional at all. Its eyes were large and filled with darkness that chilled people’s very souls. Already, people were scrambling over each other trying to flee the circus, but the Ringmaster spoke over the commotion. “Yes, yes. My dear Derrick here is a very unique specimen.” Some people still listened to him, intrigued. However, these people were very few. The ‘freak’, for lack of a better word, was clearly terrified by all the commotion and bared its razor sharp teeth at the crowd. “But the things he can do. The destruction that he can cause, well,” the Ringmaster gave a chuckle and the bars of the cage lowered. “I think I’ll show you firsthand what terror feels like.” The creatures from the first performance came back out, stunning the crowd into not moving. Everyone was crowded around the exits that they found were closed off. The Tamer’s arm rose, and with it, her whip. By now, people didn’t know what to expect, except that something bad was going to happen. The bars separating the ring and the audience slowly went back into the ground and the people in the crowd had a sort of understanding that their time was short now. The members of the circus (creatures included) stared into the eyes of the crowd, scanning for the weak ones and for the ones who would put up a decent fight. Kira’s whip came down and everyone moved at once. Animals bit the flesh and tore it apart, snapping the bones in their strong jaws. The ‘freak’ dragged itself with its long arms and propelled itself forward with its wings. Its first attack would always be to tear the legs off, perhaps in spite, or perhaps because it stopped people from getting away. The Ringmaster and the Tamer stood in the ring and laughed. It was all they could do, watching people scramble around, even sacrificing their own children. “Sacrifice is necessary. Even human instinct knows that. Just as these people are our sacrifices needed to perfect our team.” The Ringmaster said to Kira, who simply gave a nod and watched the bloodbath in front of her. It was over in a matter of minutes. In the end, there was a boy, surrounded by these creatures. He was huddled in the corner, shivering and clutching his head. He could smell the breath of the animals and was sure that he would be dead soon to join his parents and sister in Heaven. But he was startled to feel the tiger’s tale caress his cheek and the wolf nuzzle his arm. Kira was the one who picked the boy up carefully, bringing him over to the Ringmaster. “Tell me boy,” he began. “What is your name?” The boy didn’t seem to remember how to talk, but a nudge from the horse made him give out a strangled cry, “Shane, sir.” “Shane, is it?” the other members of the circus came out behind the Ringmaster, neither smile nor frown on their faces. The boy was beyond terrified now. Would they torture him? Or would they turn him into one of the freaks? The Ringmaster tapped the boy’s shoulder with his cane to grab his attention again and grinned. “Welcome, Shane, to the Freakshow!” Chapter 1 Spoiler (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Show Spoiler Hide Spoiler Flora had no idea what time it was, what day it was, or even what year it was. Everything was blurred together in her head. With fruity margaritas pumping through her veins and the sweet, dreamy confusion from the drugs, nothing registered in her mind but the beats making her heart pound and the burning muscles from hours of dancing. This was the real way to live, no responsibilities to worry about and no one telling her what was right and what was wrong. This was where she could just let loose and be with people like herself: people who wanted to get away from the harsh eyes of society and the choking grip of adults. The music was pumping loud, so loud that she couldn’t hear the bartender yell at her as he slid her Bloody Mary smoothly across the bar. She’d definitely maxed out her parents’ credit card by now. This was her tenth drink, wasn’t it? Or was it her eleventh? She couldn’t remember anymore. She raised the cold glass to her lips and tipped her head back. It was so refreshing, even if it tasted unusual. Before she was halfway done, she was grabbed by the waist and the glass fell, smashing into billions of pieces. The pieces looked like diamonds drenched in blood, but she had little time to soak in the beauty of it. Outside of the club, she could hear sirens. The police. “Miss, what is your name?” Flora didn’t answer him. She refused. They would find out sooner or later, but they ruined her night. Why make it any easier for them? There was absolute chaos in the club, but even with all the cops coming in and busting all the dealers and the drunk, the music was still going; and that’s what she focused on instead of the cop pushing her from here to there, yelling things in her ear. She didn’t budge even when the cold air hit her face, giving her a nice shock. “Your parents are going to be disappointed.” The police told her, but she just scoffed and stared blankly out the window of the police car she’d ended up in with two friends. Her arms had been pulled behind her arms and cuffed, making her shoulder twist in an odd way. They rode in complete silence. Well, until the girls got comfortable with each other and started chatting away. It was complete nonsense, however, since their minds were too clogged to form proper thoughts. Flora knew what she wanted though. She wanted out, and this cop car wouldn’t stop her. They’d handcuffed her hands, but she still had her feet. She could run. Problem was, the car door was locked. Or at least, she thought it was. She really couldn’t focus anymore and she felt like she was going to puke. She gave a sort of dark laugh and realized this would be the first morning in months that she wouldn’t wake up in a pool of her own vomit. She must have blacked out after that, because a moment later, her body was strapped down to a bed. Her head hated her at the moment and felt like there was something on the inside, growing until it pressed against the inside of her skull. It was unbearable, but there was nothing she could do. Trying to move her arms, she found that there were needles and tubes coming from her skin in various places. Maybe if she gave one good pull, she could get out. No use, so she did the only thing she could do. She gave a nice, shrill scream. Next thing she knew, there were doctors rushing into the room, looking at screens and checking her body. Nothing was wrong, but the doctors increased the painkillers they’d given her, reducing her screams to nonsense once again. After being treated for nearly overdosing, she was dragged back to her parents. There was an awkward silence in the car, but Flora was used to this. She never spoke to her parents besides short answers when they asked. They, in return, never asked. So it was a surprise to Flora when they got home. Her mother and father turned to face her and made her sit down at the dinner table. They were going to have a talk. “Why are you doing this, Flora?” her mother sounded worried, and Flora didn’t doubt she was, but she really didn’t care. Her parents could worry all they wanted. She wouldn’t change for anything. “I don’t think it matters to you, so why ask?” she crossed her arms and started to get up, but her father put a firm hand on her shoulder and pushed her back down into her chair. “Because you’re spending our money on drugs and alcohol.” He spit out, sounding disgusted with himself for even mentioning it. “If you made your own damn money and spent it on god knows what, then we wouldn’t be in this situation! Go live your own life.” He didn’t sit down. He stared into her eyes until she stood up as well. There were no tears in her eyes. There was no hesitation. What she wanted was clear in her mind and seeing her parents like this only pushed her towards the decision. “Then I will. I will go live my own life.” Her father scoffed at the thought. His hands slammed down on the table, but he said nothing. Her mother stayed silent as well, thought little sniffles could be heard from her. Flora took this as her cue to leave and went upstairs. Her room was bare by the time she was done with it. There hadn’t been much to begin with. She ran her fingers over the mirror in her room, or what was left of it. Long ago, she’d gotten so angry that she punched it and shattered it, though the top part of it remained. She traced the jagged edges and found that even though she saw little beads of blood seep out from shallow cuts, she didn’t feel them. Flora picked up the bag that contained some money and clothing. She walked out of the doors before her parents had time to process what was going on. Without anywhere to go, she ran into the forest. The trees almost seemed to form a path for her. She would run from home constantly, and while the branches and roots would trip her or slow her down, none of that happened while she ran this time. After just minutes, her lungs burned and her muscles ached. She leaned her shoulder against a tree and the branches around her seemed to welcome her. “No,” she said to herself, pushing off and trudging ahead. “I have to keep going…” she had no idea where she was going, but she knew for a fact that this forest was huge. There were miles between her and another town. Once again, she collapsed against a tree, the withdrawal finally taking a toll on her. She grabbed her head and let out a scream. She screamed and screamed until her throat was raw, but nobody heard her. A twig snapped and her heart leapt. Someone was there. No, it was just a rabbit, but the rabbit was staring at her. She threw a stick at it and it just moved to the side, eyes never leaving hers. It was mocking her! It had to be mocking her! She took a bigger rock this time, one that just barely fit in her hand. She got onto her knees and slammed it as hard as she could into the rabbit’s body. The blood didn’t splatter like it did in the movies. The rabbit went still and blood spurted from the wound on its tiny body. The white fur got stained with the sticky, crimson blood. It coated her hands, but her head had a different scenario for her. Hallucinations took over her senses, and a scream was ripped from her throat. It was melting her hands. The blood made the flesh on her hands drip and ooze, like a burning candle. Flora looked at her hands in horror and tried to wipe the blood away, but as she did, her skin peeled away with it. Whimpering softly, she dragged herself along the path, arm looped through her bag. Hours passed, and she was sure her skin was gone by now, only leaving her bones. A crawling skeleton was all she was now. When she finally dared enough to look down at her body, it was fine. A little blood on her fingers, but the skin and flesh was still there; still attached to the bone. That was just the first of many hallucinations Flora had during her painful and very long journey. Eventually, she just gave up and collapsed. The snake burrowed through her eye and the slithering continued through her head and into her neck. Through her other eye, she saw a pair of shoes by her side. She didn’t have the strength to look up anymore. The snake ripped itself out of her body, or was that a hand on her shoulder? She couldn’t tell anymore, so she just let darkness take over. It was morning by the time she woke up. She wasn’t in the woods with sticks digging into her back, but in a soft bed. The sheets were tangled around her legs and there was a thin layer of sweat covering her skin. She pushed herself up with her elbows and took a look around. She was surrounded by soft velvet curtains. She reached for them and found she was shaking violently. Was she…afraid to see where she was? Before she could really think, she yanked the curtains back and was relieved to find she was in a normal bedroom. The panic returned to her, though, because she didn’t know whose bedroom it was. “Hello?” she called out. As expected, no one answered her. Her feet slid down to touch the wooden floor and moved herself over to the door. Her hand moved to the doorknob, but a voice from behind her made her jump and gasp. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” It was a man’s voice, and when she whirled around, she saw him sitting in a chair against the wall. How did she not see him before? He was wearing tight white tee shirt that showed off his muscular chest and long, baggy jeans. His arms were crossed as he looked at her with red eyes that made her a bit uncomfortable. Wait, red eyes? No human had red eyes. His hair was a dark brown and he was now tapping his foot, waiting for a response. “Why not? Where am I? Who are you?” he only seemed amused at her questions. He stood and she found that he was at least a head taller than her. He looked down at her and pointed towards a window. She was absolutely certain that hadn’t been there before, but she didn’t question it as she stepped up to it. Nothing out of the window answered her question though. She was in the middle of a forest. There was nothing to see but the tops of trees, and at the very edge of the forest, an ocean. That wasn’t her forest. The forest she collapsed in was land-locked. “That doesn’t answer anything…You better have answers for me.” She put up a strong front, but when he took a step in her direction, she stumbled back. Any strength that she’d shown had been zapped just like that. “I don’t think you’re in the position to be demanding anything.” He said with an even voice. He didn’t look like he wanted to hurt her, but he didn’t look like he was going to be any help either. “After all, I’m the one who’s been taking care of you for a week.” A week? She had been unconscious for a week? Flora pondered this for a moment. The man seemed very patient, so she tried to ask another question. “Who are you?” “The name’s Mason Vicardi.” He leaned in dangerously close to her face. “And who, my dear, are you? Couldn’t ask since you were knocked out cold.” “Flora Bastille.” She said quietly, tilting her head away from his face. She couldn’t tear her eyes away from his though. They were just so captivating and unique. After a moment, he stood up straight again, but she swore she saw a flame flicker in his eyes. “Ah, like the prison? Anyways, welcome to Dimitri’s home.” He gave her a genuine smile that softened his face. “I can…show you around if you’d like. It gets a bit dangerous around here if you’re not careful.” He took her hand without waiting for an answer and she couldn’t help but notice that he had a sort of charm to him. The way he presented himself and the way he spoke; everything pointed to him being a performer. She allowed him to lead her down the dimly lit corridors until they came to another door. “This is where the tour begins.” He said to her, opening it. Her eyes widened. The first thing that she saw was a beautiful chandelier. The crystals dangled from golden rings and it seemed to be lit on the inside from a ring of fire. It produced an effect that light bulbs would have never been able to copy. She tore her eyes away from it and found that windows that were taller than herself lined the walls. The floors were polished, white tiles and the walls were a light violet color. In the corner was a black grand piano, and as she passed by it, she saw there wasn’t a speck of dust on it. Every room held its own surprise. A grand painting of someone Mason called “Dimitri”. Crimson hair and blue eyes, this Dimitri person was as strange as Mason’s red eyes. The next room had an instrument more beautiful than the piano. Mason said it was an armonica. It looked like a very unique piano, except instead of keys; there were glass bowls. He didn’t know how to play it, but one of the women here did. Another room held two huge couches in the back and a flat screen TV above a fireplace on the front wall. There was a table in the center and the same tall windows along the back wall. It went on and on, every room unique in its own way, until Mason stopped in front of a door that was different than the others. Until now, all the doors had been wooden. This door was made of marble, which she had to admit, was an odd material to make a door out of. The doorknob was gold, and she started getting more and more curious as to what was behind the door. “This is Fiona’s room. She’s a tiny little thing.” He knocked gently on the door; so gently that Flora doubted it could be heard. Seconds later, the door did open and revealed a girl who Flora actually looked down at. This was surprising, since Flora wasn’t very tall herself. The girl couldn’t have been taller than five feet. She had dirty blonde hair that was put up in a very intricate bun on her head and pale, jade-green eyes. In a way, the girl reminded Flora of a pixie. “Hey, Vicardi. Who might this be?” Even though she looked like a little pixie, she sure didn’t sound like one. Flora didn’t know what she expected, exactly, but the stern attitude in her voice was definitely not it. Mason didn’t seem to notice, so she assumed this was normal. The girl crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Relax, Heart. This is Flora. The girl I rescued a week ago? She finally woke up today, so I’m taking her around.” Now, Flora wasn’t a very friendly person. She didn’t have a bubbly personality, so she didn’t know how to act in this kind of a situation. Fiona saved her the trouble. “Nice to meet you. Don’t bother Dimitri. He’s busy.” With those few words, she closed the door with a bit more force than was necessary and they stood in the hallway alone again. Mason simply turned and continued onto a door, probably to introduce her to another person. The next door was wooden, but it was painted yellow with splashes of different colors. Odd. What kind of a person would want to paint their door like this? But the door was quickly forgotten because the door opened and the person inside ran out quickly, seeming to be in a hurry. However, they ran straight into Mason’s chest and fell onto their back on the ground. Flora couldn’t help but laugh a little bit. The boy, she noticed, had bright blue hair. She paused. Bright. Blue. Hair. Looking closer at it, she couldn’t find a trace of any other color, which led her to believe it was either his natural hair color or recently done. He looked up at the two of them and gave them a bright smile, almost as bright as his hair. Ironically, his eyes were the same electric blue as his hair. “Well, well, well. The little girl’s awake! Wow, you’re more stunning awake than you are asleep. So glad that Mason and I found you before something bad happened. Heehee.” he stood quickly and took her hand in both of his, shaking frantically. “It’s nice to finally be able to talk to you! I’m Babei! Babei Rouge! What’s yours?” he spoke so quickly, Flora barely had time to process what he’d said. Mason came to her rescue and put a hand on the boy’s shoulder, calming him down a bit; or at the very least, keeping him still. “My name’s Flora.” She said carefully, afraid that if she said anything more, he would explode with excitement. It seemed she didn’t choose her words wisely and his grin widened even more (if that was even possible). “Flora! What a beautiful name! Perfect for a delicate flower like you! Oh, but don’t you let her hear me say that. She would have my head, yes she would. Now what would we do if that happened, right? Haha. Now, would you like so-“ “That is quite enough, Babei.” Mason closed the door, but Babei didn’t seem to hear him. He continued chatting to himself; something about ink and cameras, but Flora didn’t have time to listen closer. “That boy, I swear. He’s a good friend though. A great listener when he finally stops talking.” Mason continued along the hallway, which seemed to be where everyone’s bedrooms were. At the next door, his hand hesitated. The door was made of a foggy glass with intricate golden designs weaving through it. It blurred what was on the inside of the room, but if you looked closely enough, you would be able to see a little bit of it. He traced the golden designs with his fingers gently, like stroking an animal. Through the glass, Flora saw the colors shift and slowly move closer. The door opened, revealing a woman with light hair and pale skin. Her emerald eyes held strength in them, and she greeted them with a tense smile. “Mason, nice to see you out and around. Is this the little girl you saved? What’s your name, girl?” For the fourth time that day, Flora introduced herself. “I’m Flora Bastille. What’s yours?” the woman was absolutely stunning, Flora admitted to herself. The way her hair framed her slim face in natural waves, the graceful way she moved, even the color of her eyes; everything was breathtaking. “Kira Heart.” Heart? That sounded familiar. Before Flora could ask, the woman nodded her head, already knowing her question. “Yes, Fiona is my little sister. Listen, I’d love to stay and chat, Bastille, but I have some things to take care of. Dimitri’s busy, so he won’t be around for introductions.” She finished her sentence and closed the door gently. Briefly, Flora wondered if the door would shatter if she slammed it. “Two people have said Dimitri’s busy...But what does he do? For a job, I mean. There doesn’t seem to be much to do around here.” They were surrounded by trees. There wouldn’t be any big cities here, so jobs would be limited. There could be some little towns scattered here and there, but no big companies to run. Mason let out a small laugh. “I haven’t told you yet, have I? Geez. I’m an airhead at times, so forgive me.” He looked back at her and winked. Her heart gave a tight squeeze and a blush spread across her face. Stupid, stupid, stupid. This is no time to be falling for someone. Mason caught her attention once again by putting his index finger under her chin to tilt her head up and putting his other index finger on his lips, acting as if he was telling her a secret. “We run a circus, milady." And that's all I've got written so far! Please tell me what you honestly think!