Not having an arm sucked. It took the Circus Freak all of thirty minutes to figure out how to cartwheel without his left arm, it really put him in a mood. He tried to feel better by scaring a group of thieves, and it worked! It was funny, it was exactly what he needed: to find a use for his lack of an arm. Thanks to it, he had gotten them really good!
He was getting used to running without it. He still bore bruises, hidden by clothes and make-up, from all the hard encounters with concrete that had happened due to his instincts being deceived by muscle memory. That was what his mind was mostly made of, muscle memory and instincts, not a lot of thought went into his movements. For example, he would need the left arm to push off a wall. Instead, he would hit it. Or he would need his arm to vault over a rail and instead, hit it with his leg. On and on.
He was getting used to it, though. His muscle memory was adapting which was enabling him to gradually recover his usual prowess.
More importantly, his potential to freak people out had gone way up!
Hugo liked to focus on the positives.
“Slappity slap slap!” He had leaped towards someone, his right side leading so the woman couldn’t see his left. “Here’s the slap!” He swung his body as if to violently slap the person, who flinched in sudden fright, but was left untouched as his left arm never connected. She instead fell back on her butt.
He laughed as he continued his run. There were a monstrously larger number of ways he could freak people out now, he felt he had just scratched the surface.
Norwayaka was a country that pleased the Circus Freak.
He wasn’t a fan of the cold and snow, or of the vast landscaping between any city in the nation, or the mountains separating them from the southern countries. One thing that was amazing, however, was that everything was snow and dark buildings. Sunlight was around for only four hours a day, give or take, and people were so generally brave and used to danger that it made them really rewarding to scare and terrify.
Fedrerikstd was the city he was now on. He had been given the task to steal someone from the king of the country, it seemed to him a straight-forward plan was to make his way into one of the royal balls as a jester.
It was, after all, his profession. He was a clown, he had been born and raised to be a clown until he grew curious about other things.
The Circus Freak slowed down to a trot, crossing a marketplace that spanned a radius of several feet and half-a-dozen stands which were busy at selling trinkets, collectibles, gems, jewels and other such boring assortments.
Hugo was looking for a recruiter, marketplaces were usually a good place to find them. He observed the transactions that were happening, coins for things, a process he remembered understanding about two weeks into his self-exile.
He had learned many things since then, not one of which was what the Shadow Conclave was. Even after attending the meeting, he knew only it was a few people trying to save the world from the beasts.
He didn’t like the beasts. They didn’t laugh at all, they didn’t flinch or freak out in any way. All they wanted to do was destroy, they were boring, he wanted them to go away, and if he could help, he would. But a constant in his decision process was that he did what he liked, and scaring royalty? That, he liked.
“Hey, clownie! How ‘bout a new hat, that one looks like it was patched up one too many times.”
He stopped and leaned like his legs had halted, but his torso hadn’t, something a drunk would often experience. He leered back at the stout merchant, though that wasn’t saying much, everybody was stout in that country. And everybody carried a blade, big blades usually, like axes and swords. That would matter if the Circus Freak was capable of feeling any fear at all.
He turned his torso and showed the lack of an arm. Of course, he was still dressed in the same suit, he hadn’t changed. The sleeve was ripped open, hanging down in tatters and following his body movement like a forgotten puppy tied up to a horse, that had been run over by a car.
“You don’t like my hat?” He asked, grinning with a mix of anger and hunger.
The man opened his eyes in surprise.
“Never mind,” he simply said, turning towards another person, “my lady, if you please, look through my wares, you’ll like what you see!”
He walked closer, stalking in his approach.
“I said never mind,” the merchant warned, placing his hand over the ax.
“Uuu, I see, you want the other one?” He gestured to his right arm.
“What? I don’t want anything, I won’t do anything you don’t force me to, son.”
“DAD?!” he yelled, in excited realization. “WOW! DAD!!!”
“What? No, I’m not–”
“Oh dad, the things I have to tell you!” he slammed his right hand on the table, getting his first flinch. “Did you know I bought new socks the other day! Look,” he brought a foot up, confusing the man almost out of his own stand.
“Uhh, uhh,m what? No that’s quite alrigh—”
“Wait. Is this the right foot?” he turned the foot around, past cracking point, so much so that it cracked. He took the pain easily, as he usually did, but the man did not.
“AH!” He lifted his hands not knowing what to do. “What the! WHAT!?”
He spun the foot back to place, allowing the crack to sound amid the shocked silence.
“No yeah, this is the right foot, but you’re not my dad, you liar!” he stomped the foot he had broken on the ground, bone cracking sounding out again
“Fallen icy depth!” The merchant grimaced in horror.
Circus Freak laughed and walked away.
“Thank you, papa!” He laughed some more and decided to go look at the food market. Obviously, someone would be there administrating collection for the ball that would take place two days hence.
Now, he could always just run into the castle and try and steal it by himself, but in all honesty, freaking out an entire court sounded like a lot of fun to Hugo. Nobles and kings are always such a zealous lot when it comes to their attitude and posture, they think they’re beyond being scared or made uncomfortable.
He’d show them, he would!
The Circus Freak put up a street act. He juggled with his one hand, he balanced himself across wires that ran between the houses for one reason or another. He did acrobatic stunts, flipping and cartwheeling and jumping through tight spots. The crowd grew, people interchanging between joing and leaving, but with a much large join influx. By the end, he was approached by a man in a cloak which was being held by a pin bearing the symbol of a crow. Seemed royal.
“That is quite some skill, lad. Tell me, are you satisfied with today’s winnings?”
He hadn’t made any winnings. Or earnings or tips. It always confused him he was supposed to. What for? He hadn’t yet learned. He’d have to ask another street performer eventually.
“I’m never satisfied,” he said with a smile.
“Yes, yes. I want to hire you, lad. The king will enjoy your freak of nature act, I’m sure he will.”
“Will he? Oh, joy!” He mocked, “will he come by tomorrow, then? He can watch me then!”
“No no, my boy, don’t be dense. I want to hire you. Come with me and I’ll set you up in a room where you can spend the next few days, you’ll get to eat whatever you want.”
“Whatever I want?!”
“Best of all, when you do leave the room, it will be to entertain the court! All the lords and ladies.”
“Oh wow, I can meet the lords?”
“You sure can. And there’s a quite enormous sum that will be waiting for you after it all, too.”
“Oh boy, sum of what?” He smiled wildly.
“Is it berries? Is it raisins? I don’t like raisins!”
“Of money, lad! You are dense, aren’t you?”
“Well I should hope so,” he tapped his tummy, “it’d be pretty weird if I wasn’t, right?”
The man exasperated.
“You want the job or not, lad?”
“Yes!” He nodded. “Let’s have fuuunn…” his freakish monstrous voice clawed out of his throat there, a fact that made him cough to save it a bit. He couldn’t scare the recruiter, it would cost him the job.
“Sorry about that, something in my throat,” he lied. The man looked a bit doubtful but still accepting, probably imagining the praises he would get for getting such unique entertainment.
“Riiight…well, follow me then, I just have a few errands to run.”
The Circus Freak cursed in his mind. Now he had to behave for how many breaths? The torture!
How he fidgeted while the man dictated some servants to cart around some food. How he trembled, trying to contain himself from stealing a piece of fruit off a child’s hand, to see that adorable face twist in confused betrayal. He would find himself chewing hard on his knuckle when not being seeing in an effort to stay…behaved.
Eventually, however, he finally climbed into the back of a carriage, along with some servants. They had a better sense of things than their master, they eyed the Circus Freak anxiously as they went in. He just grinned, happy to finally get going, and even happier he would get to play with those servants.
One of them jumped off the carriage as it was moving, darting off in a run while yelling. The thing stopped, and the man came to check on them, but all he found was Circus Freak, normally smiling with his closed eyes, apparently due to stitches in the form of crosses, but it was just make-up. The three remaining servants were looking away, white as white could be.
“What happened in ‘ere?”
I turned my head around and ripped a nail off my little finger.
“Who knows? Fickle people, these servants of yours, just run off at a drop of a hat.” That was what he said, his arm innocently behind his back.
“Hmpf,” the man grumbled, “a lower stock of people, you cannot find. Look at this, you lot, even the Jester has more self-respect than you.” He smacked their knees with a cane and closed the door in annoyance.
The Circus Freak eyed the servants, but none of them would look at him.
“You sure are squeamish, huh?” He brought his hand forward, a thread of his glove had stuck to the bare skin the ripped nail had left behind. “Oh boy,” he bit the piece of clothing and pulled, slowly getting it unstuck. Even without looking, the servants winced. “Oh, I have to, what if it gets infected?”
They finally looked at him, like he was crazy, like he was crazy and they wished they had never met him. He giggled and ripped the piece of clothing aside so that his entire little finger was bare.
He then bent left to make his left hand match but caught nothing in the air.
“Oh, that’s right!” He giggled, “I don’t have it anymore.”
He leaned back against the curved wall of the carriage.
“I’m taking a nappy nap, but don’t worry!” He closed his eyes, the crosses showing up over a spooky smirk. “’M keeping my eyes on you.”
He fell asleep pretty quick. He was used to that, he slept easy, but lightly. He woke up when he felt the carriage come to a complete stop.
“Get out ‘ere and help with the baggage, you rotten’ lot!”
The servants scurried out, more relieved to get away from Hugo than scared of their master. The Circus Freak stepped out of the carriage after them.
“You follow me, Jester. I’ll take you to your accommodations.”
“Uuuh, good, good.”
The castle was impressive.
The place, much like the city of Fedrerikst, was a far cry from the development he was used to witnessing. There was no electricity, scarce even any steam technology. The whole place was downright medieval, down to the castle, which had four towers unevenly spaced and high, it looked like a crown from the outside. It was big, very big indeed, but then it had to be. These things were built to house thousands, especially this, the main castle of the kingdom, the capital of the capital city of the capital country of the northern monarchies.
“Wow, it’s really big!”
“Yeah, what it lacks for shiny lights and gizmos, it makes up for in constitution, eh?” The man was obviously proud of the place, “won’t find a stronger, sturdier structure in all the world!”
“Oh I dunno about that,” he smirked, “I’ve seen some pretty sturdy mountains.”
“I mean man-made, clown.” The man grew instantly annoyed, “save the jokes for the show, will you?”
“Well, if you insist. Will I get some yummies, meanwhile?”
“What? Of course, I told you you’ll be fed. These will be the best days of your life, jester, I can promise you that.”
“Ooooh! Does that mean I’ll be getting awesome socks?! I really need some! And a new glove!” he showed his ripped glove to the man, the base of course, so as not to show the wound and incur any kind of suspicion.
“Uh…I guess? I don’t know.” He looked away and continued to lead the Circus Freak into the castle, “you’re starting to make me wonder if I made a mistake, are you really this crazy? I thought it was just for show.”
“I am the show,” he said with a proud nod.
“Ah,” the man seemed to understand, “I see, one of those, huh? Never turn off, do you?”
“Can’t turn off who you are!” But you can delay it, or suppress, even if just temporarily. And all the easier, too, when it’s for something you really want, and you kinda know when it’s coming. It’s much easier to be patient and fake who you are then.
Oh! So that’s what romance is!
He had been struggling with that one for a while. Now he understood. He was still not interested but he liked to understand these things, it could always come in handy for a particular scare.