Hello and welcome! I had started watching this lovely show Karneval recently and decided to write story behind it. I love the characters and the plot, so it seemed like the perfect idea. I hope you enjoy it and review after! It helps the writing process more than you know.
Chapter 1: Darkness
I was so tired of this. I had been a part of this life for a while now and working with Circus for a long time. There was a show being put on for a city and I was called in to assist since I belonged on the Second Ship. I was told by Yogi to stop taking so many breaks in my job and to come back where I belonged. It wasn't something I wanted to do, but when the order comes straight from the Captain you have to listen. The moment I arrived on scene, I received a lecture of epic proportions about my latest break and told to go get ready for my act.
This was not what I wanted to do with my life. I only came to Circus to learn how to become stronger and to dissuade the ones pursuing me. I needed to learn how to better protect the one I cared about most, my darling little brother. Once I had decided that I was able to watch out for him, I went back to our home to find him, only to discover that he was gone. I didn't know if he had been captured by my pursuers or if he had left on his own free will, but I knew that I just had to find him. He was naïve and so dependent on others that it frightened me to no end to have to leave him, but I had no choice if I wanted to protect him. I had hoped that the one I told to watch over him would do a better job, but I supposed that it wasn't the case.
I moved into a tent that belonged to me and changed into my outfit for my act. It was a black strapless dress that was covered in painted on scales that were tinged with blue, bright orange and red flames sparkled along the ends of the dress. On the back of it near my shoulder blades were two sparkly pieces of fabric that were fashioned to look like the wings of a dragon. My act was that of a fire breather, one I was extremely good at with my condition. Only two people knew about it and it would continue to remain a secret for as long as possible.
I looked into the mirror and saw the dark circles under my crimson eyes, showing how tired I really was. My long white hair was wild and all over the place, even the two tufts of blue hair on my head, the ones that people said resembled ears, had drooped down and I grabbed the brush. I worked on getting my hair to look a little less messy, even though that was a task I could never quite accomplish. Finally, after about ten minutes, it looked back to its normal messiness and the blue tufts were once more looking the way they had been before. Not only that, but you could now see the streaks of blue that were mixed intermittently throughout my snowy white hair. I grabbed my makeup and made the dark circles disappear, then added dark eyeliner around my eyes to make my red irises stand out and blood red lipstick to my lips to make them a little darker.
I sighed and walked out of the tent to see Yogi waiting for me, giving me a bright grin that was supposed to make me feel better. "I see our little fire breather is ready for the show!"
"What do you want, Yogi?" I sighed as I walked right past him without giving him a second look.
"I just wanted to tell you about something important," he said as he ran to catch up to me, walking by my side once he had. "Not that long ago, Hirato told me to rescue these two kids that had been chased by a couple of bad guys. They chased the poor kids into an alley and that's when I stopped them. Tsukumo thought it would be a good idea to let you know that they will be staying with us in the Airship."
"I don't really see why this concerns me," I told him as I kept walking until I saw the stadium appear from past the buildings. "I don't plan on staying long enough to see them. I'm going to finish my act and then leave right after."
"That's the thing…" he said hesitantly, ruffling his hair awkwardly. "Hirato knew you'd say that and he said that you have to stay for a week before you decide to leave right away." This had me stopping in my tracks and I turned to look at him with a glare, making him shrink back from me a little. "Aw, c'mon, Cleo! Don't give me that look! It's not my fault, so you shouldn't give me such grief! I think you should stay long enough to meet the newbies before leaving, too!"
"It doesn't matter if I see them or not," I told him fiercely. "This is absolutely ridiculous and the Captain knows it. He's keeping me here so it gives him a reason to stop my extensive isolation."
"Well, you have to admit that you are going a bit overboard with your breaks. We all miss you here and we never know where you disappear to from one day to the next." I shook my head at his words and continued on with walking towards the stadium where my act would be preceded by Tsukumo's acrobatic one. Yogi sighed and ran to catch up with me once more. "Listen, Cleo, I want you to promise me that you will meet them. I really think it's a good idea that you do before you leave. If you want to go early before the week is up, I won't stop you and I won't tell Hirato that you left. I'll take the fall for it, so long as you just say you'll meet them first."
I knew for a fact that he wouldn't let this go unless I agreed to his terms, so I decided to just give up. I nodded that I would do as he asked and he gave me a happy grin before running off somewhere. I pushed my bangs out of my eyes as I began to pick up the pace, keeping my eyes set on the stadium as I let my thoughts wander back to my last nightmare. Usually, this wasn't something I would do regularly but this was always a topic that bothered me deeply. Anything that had to do with my brother worried me more than I could bear and that was why I was so determined to find him by any means necessary.
It was soon after I had become a full-fledged member of Circus and assigned to work under Hirato that I had decided to track my brother down. I had left him with a caretaker, a friend of ours that looked to be around my age at the time, so I knew that he should stay safe while I was gone. I always felt deeply upset for having to leave my little brother at all, but staying meant that he would eventually be found by the people that were incessantly trying to capture me and I couldn't let that happen. I had no other choice and it hurt me down to my soul. As I had reached the area where we had lived, a place not far from the ocean, I realized that it was too quiet. I knew then that something was wrong and I ran towards the beach where we would sometimes play, only to find a trail of blood leading to the water and making my own blood run cold. I searched all over the place in hopes that I could find either him or his caretaker, but there was no trace of them. The image of the blood trail was permanently etched into my mind as I was sick with worry.
I didn't realize it until I had almost reached the stadium that I was panting in fear as my stomach turned painfully, that worry escalating to extreme heights. It was for this reason that I never allowed my emotions to be seen lest the people I worked with saw me in this condition. I didn't want their pity, nor did I need it. I fought to push my raging emotions down to the furthest corners of my mind as I walked into the back entrance of the stadium, making my way throughout the corridors and past throngs of people that were working to get to a specific door that would lead out to the ring. I could hear screams and shouts of joy as Tsukumo went about her acrobatic act. Before long, the shouts turned to applause and I knew that it was almost my turn. The door opened as she could be seen bowing one more time to them, then she turned around to walk towards me.
"Did Yogi tell you about our newest additions?" she asked as she shook the sparkles from her hair before giving me her normal serious look. She was in varying shades of pink and her platinum blonde hair was up in her customary two long semi curly ponytails. She brushed her bangs to the side as her violet eyes settled on me, not once straying from mine as she assessed me.
"Yes, he ambushed me outside of my tent," I sighed. "Then he proceeded to spin this long tale about his heroics of saving both of them. Seriously, he should learn how to get straight to the point instead of dragging things along so unnecessarily."
"You know he does that for a reason," she told me. "He knows that you will just run away again so he does what he can to keep you with us for as long as possible. I'm assuming that he told you that we all miss you, yes?"
"That also was mentioned, along with informing me that it was imperative that I meet these newbies."
"He was right," she said softly, a weird look of warmth crossing her face for a brief second and making me feel like I had just imagined it. "We believe that if you meet them, you might just stay with us a while longer instead of leaving. This could be your real break."
With those words, she walked past me and refused to say anything more. I waited patiently alone for a few minutes until a man peeked his head out of the door to give me a thumbs up. I took a deep breath to steady my nerves, which I always seemed to get even though I was never scared of performing in front of a crowd, then walked out through the doors and into the darkness waiting for me. I could see perfectly in the dark even though no one else could, except for the monsters of the night that were the enemies of Circus. I moved along until I reached the very center of the ring, seeing torches line the entire perimeter that would be part of my act.
Letting out another breath that I didn't know I was holding, I snapped my fingers and the torches seemed to light themselves, casting such a bright white glow for a few seconds that it revealed the entire crowd sitting in the stands. Little did they know that it was I that made the flames roar into existence. There were gasps from them as the light began to die down and settle to an orange glow that left dancing shadows all about the ring. Raising a hand slowly above my head, the flames from the torches rose up and began to form an arc that reached a certain point above me. They banded together and formed a dome of fire, then what looked to be a droplet of fire slowly came down to rest on the palm of my hand just as the dome sputtered out entirely.
I brought down the droplet of fire level to my face and then lightly blew on it until it took the shape of a bubble. With a grin, one of the few times I would let one be seen, I forced the bubble to split until a large mass of fire bubbles danced above my head and made the children scream with joy. One of the bubbles drifted over to a group of kids and one of them hesitantly poked it with a finger, colorful sparks raining down on their heads that would feel cool rather than hot. They screamed happily and gave me a big smile that begged for me to do something else.
I let the rest of the bubbles drift about as I caught one on my hand, blowing on it lightly again as it stretched itself into a larger form. I jumped into it and let it float upwards with me inside, flipping and twirling with a laugh as I remembered how fun this used to be to me back before the hurt. That was when I remembered that I couldn't afford my own happiness right now and shoved my emotions back down as hard as I could, letting the bubble drift down to the floor and stepping back out of it. I raised the palm of my hand to touch it against the large bubble and let it grow even bigger before it popped, sending fireworks buzzing about everywhere at different speeds before fizzling out altogether.
A few of the boys began to chant the same thing over and over, and the mantra was "Dragon's Breath." The process involved literally breathing fire for as long as possible, just like that of a dragon. I wasn't sure if anyone else could do this or even if there were other fire breathers out in the world like me, but I could breathe fire for a long time and it had earned me the nickname Dragon Lady. I forced all of the little bubbles made from fire closer and inhaled them, feeling the flames burning within me as the darkness rolled over us all. Letting the flames build up strongly until I felt like I couldn't hold it in any longer, I forced the flames from my mouth in a constant stream, a huge plume of fire extending several feet away as it all rose up from my throat. Everyone cheered for me as I kept it going until I began to tire, closing my mouth and letting the fire in the air morph its shape into that of a huge lion. It roared loudly before I made it change into that of a tiger. This animal loped about the ring until I shifted its form one last time.
The fire stretched until it was as large as it could possibly be in the confines of the stadium, wings ripping free as a huge dragon formed. It roared fiercely as the children gaze up at it in awe, wide grins at the sight of it making me feel happy again. The dragon flew about above our heads, diving and dipping low enough to brush its scales close enough for the children to think they could reach up to touch it. The dragon roared again victoriously, landing on the ground behind me and rearing up onto its hind legs as I threw my hands into the air with my head tilted back. I was breathing heavily from all the magic I had used, looking up as the people running the show turned on the lights and I finally let the dragon disappear into thin air. I felt sweat running down my back and realized that I had tired myself out quite thoroughly since I hadn't done something like this in a long time. As the crowd cheered and the sounds of their applause rang out around the stadium, I bowed low to the ground a few times in every direction to show them my appreciation. I saw a few bouquets of flowers thrown out onto the ground as close to me as they could and a few younger gentlemen who worked with us ran over to collect them all, handing me a few of them as I waved at the crowd.
As I walked out of the doors after all the people who were carrying my flowers, I looked down at the ones in my arms and sighed. "What am I going to do with all of these?" I asked myself before carrying on with walking, making my way in the direction of my tent.
"You could always put them in vases throughout the Airship," a voice said behind me, which prompted me to turn around to see that it was Hirato. He took of his hat, flaunting it with a grand wave, and bowed to me, keeping his eyes locked on mine the entire time. "I would be happy to allow them to decorate the place a little more. It adds a certain flair that we sorely need up there."
"What do you want, Captain?" I asked before turning my back on him.
"I see that you are frustrated with me, so that means that Yogi did his job in telling you about our guests," he said as he calmly walked over to me, taking the flowers in my arms and carrying them from me as we both walked out of the stadium. "You know I always have a good reason behind everything that I do. I wouldn't needlessly force you to stay here when I know that you are searching for something that is important to you. That's why I have allowed you so much time on your own and away from us."
"I know all of this, but it still irritates me," I said quietly. "I feel that I am running out of time now more than ever. I need to find him."
My words seemed to make a glimmer of recognition appear from his eyes before he nodded slightly, then told me that I should head up to the ship as soon as possible. I sighed but told him that I would just as soon as I packed up my tent. He told me that I needn't worry about it and that I should just fly up to the ship now. I jumped into the air and flew along as the ship came into view, making my way inside to be greeted by tiny black sheep that were waiting for me.
"Welcome back, welcome back!" they yelled, seeming almost happy to see me as their clothes bounced because of their hopping.
"Good to be back," I told them calmly, giving them a small nod as they recognized my voice.
Soon enough, they all walked away in different directions as I did the same. I walked down a bunch of different hallways until I found my room, pulling out a key and unlocking the door for me to walk inside. I could only sigh again as I looked around at the practically barren room. Everything was covered in white, which I thought was the perfect fit for a girl who was so cold. I went into the bathroom and stripped down so I could get clean in the shower, not taking very long since I didn't want to see all the scars I had acquired over the years. Once I was clean, I turned off the water and wrapped a towel around my body so I could walk out into my room again. I delved into my dresser for some clothes that were comfortable for now. I pulled out a blue v neck t-shirt, white shorts, and a white hoodie that zipped up. I quickly put on my clothes and adjusted the sleeves on my hoodie before walking outside of my room entirely. I saw Yogi waiting for me once more and I groaned in frustration.
"I decided to see what was taking you so long since I knew for a fact that you were on the ship," he said with a grin. "I suppose it is a good thing that you changed though and took a shower. You really can't meet new people while being stinky. But you should probably dry your hair first."
I rolled my eyes and allowed the fire within me to make my hands warm up, then ran my fingers through my hair. I could hear a hiss as steam rose, forcing my hair to dry quickly. I made the two blue tufts of hair stick up like ears once more since they refused to do anything no matter what I did and only then did Yogi let me move along. He looping my arm through his and tried to get me to skip with him, but I would only growl and attempt to drag my feet each time. Before long, he managed to get me out into an area that was like an indoors observing deck. It was a large space with an entire wall that was a large window, one that looked out onto the scenery before the ship.
I could see the full moon ahead of us outside the window, one that seemed to be trying to slowly sink towards the horizon. It was then that I happened to look down a little to see a figure sitting on one of the couches. It was a young man who could be 15 or so and he had dark black hair. He wore a pair of goggles on his head slanted to the side, had a long blue zip up hoodie on him, dark pants and shoes, and I could even see black gloves peeking out from his pockets as he had his hands in them to keep up his bored façade. He must have noticed the fact that I was watching him and turned his head in my direction, fixing his blue gray eyes on me as he looked at me with disinterest. I could just tell that he didn't want to be here anymore than I did, but I refused to say a word about it.
"The one in blue with a rotten attitude is Gareki," Yogi told me, giving me a smile when the one named Gareki lost his disinterest long enough to replace it with suspicion.
"Who's she?" he asked simply.
I was about to answer him when I caught sight of another figure that was smaller than him, one that was hiding behind him as he watched us. I saw a single red eye as he peered around Gareki and I felt my breath instantly catch, making me tense up and stand straight as a board. My thoughts stopped and my mind went blank as we stared at each other. There was a glimmer of detection in that one red eye I could see and he moved out a little further behind Gareki. I could see his white hair and two lavender tufts just below his ears, making me stop breathing as I realized who it was.
"Cleo!" the boy yelled, running over to me faster than Gareki could stop him. I sank to my knees just in time for the boy to collide into me and we wrapped our arms around each other in a tight embrace. He buried his face in my shoulder and laughed happily while I felt my eyes sting with unshed tears. I couldn't believe my luck.
"Well, he seems to know you, Cleo," Yogi said in astonishment. "This little guy is called Nai and he came in with Gareki."
"I know who this one is," I said softly as I let out a tiny laugh. "He is the one I have been looking for and now all of my searching has come to an end."
"Who is he to you?" the young man named Gareki asked as he narrowed his eyes at me.
I leveled my eyes and our gazes locked as I said, "Nai is my little brother."
"We figured he might be when we saw the resemblance the two of you had," Yogi said with a happy smile.
"You mean the white hair and red eyes?" I said flatly, giving him a blank look that voiced my disapproval.
With a hesitant laugh, he ruffled his hair awkwardly and said, "Well, it's not exactly a common trait that you see all that often. I'd hoped that even if you weren't related that you two might bond and you'll still stay with us for a while longer."
"Wait, what do you mean, Yogi?" Nai asked, looking up at the blonde man standing nearby. I had a feeling he had only caught on to the last part and he focused his red eyes on me next, saying, "Are you going to leave soon?"
"I had planned on it," I said and was going to explain further when Nai looked panicked.
"No, you can't!" he yelled before hugging me even tighter, trying to keep me there with him. "You can't leave me again! Stay and make friends with Gareki! He needs it!"
"Not cool, man," Gareki said with a sigh. "I don't need friends."
"Listen, Nai, I'm not going to leave," I told him, pulling away so I could look him in the eyes. "When I said that I had planned on it, I meant that I had planned on going out to search for you some more since I didn't know you were already here. I've been looking for you for so long and I didn't intend to stop until I found you."
"But I'm right here."
"I know that now," I said, giving him a smile and reaching up to tousle his hair that only made him laugh. "I didn't know that before walking in the room. Now I'm glad that I was told to meet the newbies before I left."
"See? I told you that you should meet them!" Yogi said.
I shook off his words and Nai pulled me to my feet so that he could drag me over to the couch that Gareki was still sitting on. He sat down next to the young man and I took the opposite couch across from them with Yogi. Gareki seemed angry about something and I had a feeling that it involved me since he refused to so much as look in my direction. He didn't say a word and I knew that I would have to step up if I wanted to get some information.
"You don't seem very happy with me, Gareki," I said as I turned my gaze on him, waiting until I got the response I wanted.
He didn't say anything for a while until he finally glared at me, those gray blue eyes blazing angrily. "If Nai is so important to you, why did you leave him in the first place?"
"That's easy!" Nai piped up, tapping Gareki on the arm. "She told me that day that she had to leave to protect me!"
"But why? Why did you think that abandoning him would mean protecting him?" Gareki asked as he stood up quickly, his body language suggesting that he was more than angry now.
"I was being hunted," I said simply, shocking him just enough that his anger bled away. "I won't go into the details behind it, but the only way for Nai to remain safe was for me to disappear. They knew of my existence but they didn't know about his and that was how it was going to stay."
"Cleo, you never told me this," Yogi said sadly, looking down at the floor.
"Only Hirato knows my whole story," I told him with a bitter laugh. "He wouldn't let me on this ship until he knew everything. It's a requirement of the Second Ship. Now, I would like to know how you came across my brother, Gareki."
"It was while I was doing a job," he said as he sat down on the couch. I could hear something off about this, but the rest of his story seemed true as he carried on. "This lady was keeping Nai captive and had him handcuffed in this room. He asked me if he could escape with me so I took him along. What I wasn't expecting was the fact that the lady wasn't really a lady. She was some kind of… monster. She killed some servant working under her and she was hell bent on trying to kill us, too. We managed to get out by some stroke of luck and then happened upon two people from Circus on the train we were on. It's been a long two days."
"The monster you spoke of isn't an ordinary monster," the voice of Hirato said as he walked into the room. "They are called Varuga and they are an 'evolution' that an organization created that Circus is after. However, we need the two of you to be examined by our doctors."
"Why should we?" Gareki asked suspiciously.
"We just want to make sure that the Varuga's blood didn't get into your bodies," Hirato told him. "If that happens, their tainted blood will change you into one of them and I don't think that is something either of you would want."
He was about to turn around and leave once more when Nai hopped up from the couch. "Wait a second!" he said loudly, making Hirato turn around. Nai lifted his arm up and showed a strange looking bracelet to him, one I hadn't noticed until now. "Is Karoku here? This bracelet belonged to him."
Hirato examined the bracelet closely for a second and then answered his question. "Unfortunately, no one by the name of Karoku is a part of Circus. This bracelet looks quite old though and it should have been destroyed long ago… However, if you give us your full cooperation, both you and your friend, I'm sure we can find a few clues for you about this Karoku's whereabouts."
When I had heard Karoku's name, my blood froze with shock. Karoku had been the one I had entrusted with Nai's safety. Now that I thought back the relief of finding Nai safe, I realized that the blood trail I had found back at our home must have belonged to Karoku. Something was very wrong and Nai looked upset about the whole situation, so I knew I had more searching to do on his behalf to find his friend.