Unexpected Inspiration Series: Concordia's Carnies


Adair flinched and covered his eyes, failing miserably at hiding the image of his new friends recklessly throwing knives around. That would be burned into his brain for the rest of forever. Sol's hands-- they had to be Sol's, no one else was that warm-- gently pulled Adair's from his face. Adair kept his eyes scrunched tight, which made Sol laugh. Sol was always laughing, so Adair didn't take this personally, but his next words shouldn't have come with a laugh attached. "Usually it's me Etch throws them at."

From the position of Sol's voice when he spoke, he was blocking Adair's view of the stage. Adair risked opening his eyes. Yup, the view had changed to Sol's chest and... was that one of Adair's missing tubes of paint sticking out of his pocket? It was! That wasn't important now, though. What was important was the conversation. "At you? You can't be serious!"

Sol grinned and lifted the sleeve of his shirt to show a small scar on his upper arm. The falling snow all but sizzled as it hit his bare skin. "In his defense, he only nicked me once. He hasn't hit Blade yet."

Adair risked a glance back at the stage in time to see Etri and Blythe tossing six knives-- seven? ten? it was hard to tell and frankly he didn't want to count-- back and forth between them. He shut his eyes tight again. "Why can't they juggle balls or rings like normal people?"

"How about torches? Me and Etch both juggle flaming torches."

Change that to 'the rest of forever plus another century.' "That is so very much not any better. Why did you have to tell me that?"

"We're not flammable. Inflammable? Whatever the word is where we can't catch fire."

Okay, Sol had a point. Not that 'point' was a word Adair wanted to think about right now. "It's everything else around you I'm worried about."

-Excerpt from an early draft of Colorweaver (Book 1)

Concordia is the only place where you'll find 'carny' as a respectable job description; they even have a voice on the governing council. Even so, there are people who believe rumors that the performers are thieves and troublemakers. That's not exactly wrong, considering that the troupe in the capital city are technically thieves, but mostly it's just that: rumors. The carnies do like to play up the strange and put on a good show! The truth is that they're a tight-knit family who are fiercely protective of their troupes. Part of these rumors stems from how stern they are about strangers wandering into their campsites. (Fun fact: the first time Adair accidentally wanders into a carnival camp, he mistakes Sol for a bouncer who's going to throw him out. Once again, not exactly wrong because Sol used to have this job before he got caught wandering off a few too many times.) This inadvertent intrigue just makes people more curious-- they want to know what's going on behind the lights and glamor.

They'd be severely disappointed by the answer. The carnies are simply a family. A loud, large, fun-loving family, but not particularly exciting or mysterious. If someone is interested and not simply curious, it isn't difficult to join. If someone already has two people in the troupe to vouch for them, it's an automatic in. Otherwise, there's a test period, not so much to see if they'll be kicked out, but to determine if this new person might be a better fit with a different troupe. There are around twelve troupes, with between fifteen and fifty members in each. This fluctuates, though, as troupes combine or branch off, or as individual members decide to go solo. This is rare, as most prefer the company of a troupe or the level of security that comes from pooling resources and skills. Even then, unless they decide otherwise, they're still considered a member and can return whenever they wish. Firedrake was in this position after they left for personal reasons.

All troupes travel around Concordia and the continent except for one. The troupe in Silveridge, Concordia's capital, is much larger and stays permanently in the city. They perform in various theaters and venues throughout Silveridge, as well as working as street performers. Performing outdoors allows them to watch over things, which is useful when they're also the 'thieves' who return stolen art back to the artists who created it. They're not the only ones who do something other than perform, however; the troupes that travel around keep an eye out for anyone who might need the safety of living in Concordia or who might be showing signs of magic without realizing it. Usually finding someone with untrained magic happens within Concordia since most who have magic live there, but it does pop up in other places if someone's ancestor had come from Concordia. Either the troupes will bring this person back to Silveridge with them or they'll send someone out to train the person if they don't want to come along. The reaction to this news varies, especially for someone living outside Concordia, but that's information for another day.

CONVERSATION

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