The Greatest Show on Earth:Part Three
Hyoo took a sip of his Neocola, feeling despondent. He was sitting alone in a tavern miles from home, trying to drown his sorrows in food and drink. It wasn’t working.
It had been three weeks since he left home to find his travelling circus. He hitched rides from passersby, on the lookout for anybody that seemed to have any talent. So far, he had found nobody. His savings were running out. Despite this, he wrote cheerful letters home to Anna, assuring her everything was going great. He didn’t want to disappoint her.
From what he could work out, he was currently in an area called The Haunted Woods. He had read about the world in school. It was supposed to be filled with creepy, quirky Neopets and places. He was hoping he would have some luck here.
A loud peel of laughter caught his attention. He looked up. Across from him on the other side of the room, a group of friends sat together. A blue Blumaroo and rainbow Scorchio dressed in colorful, silly looking clothing were cracking jokes to the rest of the table. A pretty red Draik and exotic island Shoyru listened and laughed, their eyes twinkling. A short and stubby purple Meerca wearing a strange top hat was smiling and chuckling, not as loudly as the others.
They looked like a group that had been best friends for a very long time. The female Draik and Shoyru were even sharing a drink together. Hyoo found himself unable to look away from them, and started eavesdropping on their conversation. From what he could hear, they were a traveling group of performers. They each had unique talents. The Blumaroo and the Scorchio were comedians. The red Draik danced with fire, and the island Shoyru specialized in exotic dancing and gymnastics. The short Meerca was a magician. They were a motley crew of interesting and unique talent. They were exactly what Hyoo was looking for.
I have to recruit them Hyoo thought to himself. But how could he go about convincing them that they needed him, when really he was the one who needed them? As he pondered, he noticed that Polly had flown off his shoulder. And he was making a beeline for the performers’ table.
“Polly, no!” he shouted.
But it was too late. Polly flew straight into the table, creating instant chaos. The Draik screamed as he landed on her long brown hair, trying to swat him off. The Meerca pushed back from the table so forcefully at the sudden movement that some of the food dropped straight off the table. The Scorchio grabbed for Polly, standing up in his chair trying to reach him. Hyoo watched in dread as his Pawkeet terrorized his potential new recruits, certain his chances were ruined.
“Hey wait, Casey, stop!” the island Shoyru said suddenly, speaking to the rainbow Scorchio. He did. They all did.
“What’s the deal, Kalua?” he asked, annoyed. “This obnoxious little bird-“
“Look at him!” Kalua said, interrupting him. “What do you see?”
The group paused, as if expecting this to be a riddle rather than a straightforward question. But then the Draik, still clutching her silken hair protectively, gasped. “It…It’s a plushie?” she said uncertainly.
“But that’s not possible, it’s a Pawkeet!” protested the Meerca. “It was just flying around. Plushies don’t do that.”
“Well apparently this one does, Zenko,” Kalua said to him. “Come here, little one, it’s ok,” she coaxed to Polly, reaching out her arm. It was covered in golden bangles and jewelry. Tentatively, Polly landed on her outstretched arm. The Blumaroo, who had been quiet this whole time, watched in amazement.
A light bulb went off in Hyoo’s head. He knew what to do. But he had to play this carefully. He stood up in his chair.
“Hey Polly, come here boy!” he called. Obediently, Polly abandoned the group and flew back to his owner. Hyoo casually sat back down again, taking a bite of his food as if nothing extraordinary had just happened. The group watched, mouths open.
“Hey! Is that your bird?” Kalua asked him. Hyoo was figuring out quickly that Kalua seemed to be the leader of the group.
“Yes he is, why?” Hyoo asked innocently. Polly squawked on his shoulder.
Kalua looked taken aback. “He…He’s so amazing!” she sputtered. The rest of the group murmured in agreement. “I mean, a plushie that flies and squawks like a regular Pawkeet? How ever did you find him?”
“I found him a long time ago, when I was young,” Hyoo answered. “He’s pretty remarkable, but he’s nothing compared to the other ideas I have.”
“Ideas?” the Blumaroo asked. “Like what?”
Hyoo walked over to the group, taking an empty seat at the table. “Well, before we go into these ideas, I think I ought to introduce myself,” he said. “My name’s Hyoo. What are all of your names?”
“I’m Kalua,” said the island Shoyru. Hyoo noticed she had colorful flowers tied into her long, flowing dark hair.
“Casey,” said the rainbow Scorchio. He had a cheerful, happy demeanor and didn’t seem like he was too easily rattled.
“Zenko,” muttered the Meerca. For a showman, he was very quiet. He kept fiddling with his deck of cards, cutting and shuffling them over and over. Hyoo wondered if it was a nervous tick.
“Jonvi,” said the Blumaroo. Upon closer inspection, Hyoo saw that his colorful, cartoony outfit was meant to resemble a comical version of King Roo’s robes. He also noticed a jester’s staff propped against his seat.
“And I’m Ash,” said the Draik. Of the group, she seemed to be the most wary of Hyoo. He was, after all, a stranger. And he was a stranger that was currently dissecting each and one of their every move, trying to figure out the best way to turn them into stars.
“Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you all,” Hyoo said earnestly. And it was. He thought they seemed like a great group of Neopets, and not just for their talents. He admired the way they interacted so easily and happily with each other. They seemed very at home with each other, which was important for a group dynamic. “How long have you all been friends?” he asked casually.
“Seems like forever,” said Jonvi. “Maybe five years now?” he said questioningly to Kalua.
“Yes, about five,” Kalua confirmed, taking a sip of what looked like a strawberry smoothie. “We all came across each other when I moved here from Mystery Island.”
“Cool,” Hyoo responded. “It’s obvious you all are really close. What types of stuff do you all like to do together?”
“Perform,” answered Ash, watching him closely. “We each have our own set of talents.”
“Oh do you?” Hyoo asked, feigning innocent cluelessness. “What are they?” Inside, he was nervous – one wrong move, and he could lose his potential stars.
Ash’s eyes started to narrow. Hyoo knew right then and there that Ash would be the most stubborn and difficult to train. If she even wanted to be trained at all. Hyoo had read that Draiks were very difficult to own and train, but that was for human owners. And Ash looked like she refused to be owned by anybody.
“Well, I’m a tropical dancer,” Kalua volunteered. Despite being the leader of the group, she seemed open and not very closed off. She seemed to trust Hyoo immediately. “I specialize in hula dancing and hooping. I like to bring my native culture to my dances with body paint, jewelry, and stuff like that.”
“Casey and I are the comedians,” said Jonvi, glancing at the Scorchio. “Casey does more of a general clown act, and I specialize in medieval jokery. I studied the medieval time period in school, and decided that instead of reading it, I wanted to live it.”
“Something similar happened with me,” said Zenko, the magician Meerca. “I read about magic tricks and illusions from a young age. I was so fascinated by them and wondered if I could ever do them myself. So I started with card tricks, and then got into more advanced magic.” Hyoo noticed that Zenko seemed so much more engaged and passionate than he had been all night. He really cared about his work.
“And what’s your talent, then? Asking questions?” Ash said.
Hyoo smiled gracefully at her, perfectly masking his irritation. “Not at all. I have much more to offer than that, I promise,” he answered smoothly.
“Ash, be nice,” Kalua chastised. Ash scowled at her in return. “You’ll have to forgive Ash, she doesn’t like strangers. By the way, her talent is fire. She dances with flame ribbons, swirls flaming batons, and is a fire breather. Much like fire itself, she is very passionate and has a bit of a temper.”
"Again I ask, what's your talent? And what's with the inquisition?" Ash said. Kalua rolled her eyes at her friend. But interestingly, didn't tell her to be quiet this time. She wanted to know this, too.
"I don't have a particular talent," Hyoo admitted. "I just have a dream, and the passion and dedication it takes to achieve it."
"And how does that dream involve us? A bunch of strangers in a tavern you have never met?" Ash asked, folding her arms skeptically.
So he told them. For the next 15 minutes, Hyoo spun an impassioned tale of his first time at the circus. He spoke about the feeling he got when he first found it, and how nothing had ever touched his heart the way the circus had. He told him that he wanted to be able to make others feel the way he felt that day by bringing his own circus to life. He told them about how he had left his old life and risked everything to try and achieve this dream.
"And that's why I'm here now, talking to you all, who have such incredible and diverse talents. I see so much potential in each of you, and I am hoping we can work together to create some incredible."
There was a long pause. Hyoo couldn't read the mood to see if his speech had made any bit of a difference.
"So let me get this straight," Ash began. Oh man, Hyoo thought. "You just wandered around expecting to find a bunch of talented Neopets you could brainwash into being in your show? When you don't have a bit of experience performing yourself and no experience with planning a show? That's your big dream, and you're going to use us to get there?"
Yeah, it does seem pretty far fetched when you put it that way, Hyoo thought.
"Yeah no thanks, I'm not buying it," Ash said, standing up angrily. "Come on Kalua, come on guys, let's go."
But Kalua didn't move. She was gazing at Hyoo intensely, as if in a daze. Hyoo looked back at her, trying to keep his face calm. Suddenly, she came to. "Ash, sit back down," she said.
"What?" Ash said incredulously. "You're not actually buying this, are you?"
"I am," said Zenko. They all turned and stared at him. Kalua was smiling at him. Hyoo could tell she was on board.
"What?" Zenko said defensively. "Look, we were all young and inexperienced with a dream once, too, weren't we? We all started at the bottom. When we met, we were all strangers. But we gave each other a chance. Because we saw how passionate about performing we all were. He has passion. He...He reminds me of me when I met all of you. He should get a chance, too."
Ash huffed angrily as everybody seemed to nod in agreement. She stared Hyoo down. "I don't care if you've brainwashed all them, you won't brainwash me. I will never be in your little circus."
With that, she stalked off. Jonvi got up and chased after her, as he always had a soft spot for Ash and was the one who handled her fiery temper the best, but everybody else stayed put. Kalua looked at the door Ash and Jonvi had just left out of, then back at Hyoo.
"So," she said to Hyoo, rubbing her hands together and giving him a dazzling smile. "Let's start training at dawn tomorrow."
To be continued…