The circus comes without warning. There is no announcement in the paper, no billboard, no word at all - simply a field filled to bursting with white and black striped tents, penned in by an ornate black wrought-iron fence, where yesterday there had been nothing. The sign hanging from the locked gates informs the public only this:
Opens at Nightfall, Closes at Dawn
When night has fallen and the gates are open, the circus announces its name: Le Cirque des Rêves, the Circus of Dreams. The name is an apt one, for the wonders that await - acrobats who perform with no nets beneath them, tattooed contortionists in evening gowns, living statues that move imperceptibly over the course of the night, a garden in bloom made entirely from ice, a carousel adorned with fantasy creatures who seem to breathe, a roomful of stoppered bottles that smell like so many memories.
And everything inside, from the tents and the fence, to the costumes and props on the performers, to the food and drink for sale, are decked entirely in black and white and shades of gray. Even the grass has been either painted or powdered, and a chemist has been consulted to turn the flames of the grand bonfire in the central courtyard a dazzling white.
Le Cirque des Rêves, indeed - everything hovers on the edge of reality. Days, weeks, years pass, and you remember the circus like childhood stories, unsure of what parts were real, what parts must have been clever machinations, and what were impossible fancies.
Few patrons, if any, are ever aware that the wonders contained behind the wrought-iron gates are a showcase of the abilities taught by two longtime rivals. One, famed stage magician Prospero the Enchanter, coaches individuals with innate magical talents to perform greater and greater works, limited only by the strength of their will. The other, the mysterious Mr. A. H—, can teach anyone with a suitable temperament to weave sigils and alchemical symbols into impossible shapes that bend reality around them.
Le Cirque des Rêves is the venue for a grand competition, each fantastical tent a gambit made by competitors unknown to each other. The students know only that their opponents are among the circus crew, and they cannot interfere with another’s work. Beyond that, the precise rules remain a mystery to all but their mercurial and taciturn mentors. So, too, does any hint of how the challenge ends - when the competition will be over, or how a winner is determined.
Hosted and narrated by:
Scenes played: 1
License: Community License