The creek of wooden wheels on a hard packed dirt road began to invade the still night when the moon was normally at its zenith, growing louder as a stream of wagons made their way along. Light soon spilled across the dark landscape, casting strange shadows. The lead drivers had a glass lantern on each side of them, the flames flickering brightly; several cabins still had lanterns burning – golden light leaking out into the night. The menagerie members were still high on the enthusiasm of Andoran patrons, as were their coffers. It was difficult to turn in early when the rush of adrenaline was pumping through one’s veins.
Tensleigh’s cabin was one such that was dark, though she was not asleep. Despite the lull of the wagon swaying gently back and forth, she found herself staring at the ceiling – dozens of thoughts running through her head. The roar of the crowd, the dazzling costumes, the soft fur of her lions, it never got old. She lived for performing and it seemed to suit her well. Moreover, the thought of staying in one place her entire life was a nightmare. She was still in her prime and had already seen most of the world. Only the most elusive places were left to discover – the Sea Folk Isles, the Aiel Waste, and Shara. I wonder how they treat performers there. If the royalty of Shara has a court set up anything like that of Andor or Cairhein.
Several moments later, Tensleigh rolled over and sighed into her pillow. She felt as awake as she had in the ring. Pushing herself up off the bed, she drew on a robe and quietly opened her door, quiet night rolling into her cabin as she glanced around. Victor would be positively apoplectic if he saw her jumping wagons in the middle of the night. He’d already spoken to her about doing it in the daytime. As if it was a difficult feat to manage. She’d been maneuvering in harder situations practically since she was an infant. Balancing lightly on the balls of her feet, she walked quickly across the metal links connecting her cabin to the following wagon and swept up over the side. It was more pleasant up here, the rush of air in her ears as the caravan moved along.
Hips swaying with the movement, Tensleigh moved easily along the wagon tops. Golden curls snapped around her until she untied a ribbon from her wrist and drew them back to the nape of her neck. Not that that would hold her hair for long – it seemed to have a mind of its own most of the time. Viktor often commented on the volume and color of her hair, remarking on how similar it was to the manes of the lions she worked with. Apparently he thought it was a compliment, always smiling at her afterwards with brilliant white teeth. Sadly, despite outwardly groaning, she often thought of it as one. Shaking her head as if to clear it of its thoughts, Tensleigh forced herself to stop thinking about the menagerie owner, and her best friend. The topic of Viktor was always confusing for her and this trip was all about serenity.
Holding the neck of her robe closed with one hand, she deftly moved to the fifth wagon from hers. In the night, the brilliant yellow of the wagon looked like more a light gray. During the day, it was a bright enough to rival a Tinker's wagon. She'd told Viktor as much, back when they were smaller children. When his father had been running the show and their friendship hadn't been awkward. A part of her had figured he would paint over the gaudy colors upon taking over, yet here they still were. Half growling at herself, Tensleigh cleared her mind once more. Laying down on her stomach, she tipped her head over the side and looked in the high windows. A sound just barely discernible over the wind, she could hear the soft growls and heavy breaths that conferred the three lions were asleep. At least someone around here is getting sleep. As they rightly should. In Andor, more than in any other country, the big cats were in high demand. They had even given the Queen herself a private audience, her eyes sparkling at the sight of the large felines. Tensleigh had felt a kindred with her then, flushing with pride over the skill of her animals. Afterward, the Queen had personally thanked her before retreating to another area of her Palace.
Flipped back up on top of the wagon, Tensleigh rolled onto her back and then into a sitting position. Dangling her feet over the sides, she giggled quietly as the wind caressed her bare skin. Despite her love of performance, betimes the extreme quiet was necessary too. Chewing the side of her lip, the lion tamer found herself thinking of Bo for the first time in ages. How the old man could be found in quiet contemplation as often as he was found in the lion cages or in the ring. She wondered how he fared, or if he was even alive. It was not easy to find information on performers in different menageries, the relationships between them being tenuous at best.
Placing her arms behind her, Tensleigh leaned back on them and tilted her head up to the dark sky and twinkling stars. After a moment of staring, she found herself looking for shapes in the amorphous set of stars, a game her father used to play with her when it was late and she couldn't sleep. She found a cup, a soldier, and a fish easily. Lions were harder to find. She'd just begun to connect stars when she heard a noise toward the front of the wagon. Snapping her head to the right, her blue eyes widened in surprise.
Edited by keyholder21, 06 September 2011 - 03:45 PM.