The Circus Master: The Curse of Lakos: Part 3: The Circus Folk

The Circus Master decided to tell Mestron and Ashlei the truth. He was always skeptical about letting people know the truth about his operation, but as Mestron had helped to save Keyro’s life and had even saved his own, then he felt he could trust him.

“You probably won’t believe me” said the Circus Master as he walked around the tent. “Even someone who has lived a life like yours probably haven’t encountered anything like us. We are time travellers.”

Mestron was taken aback by what he heard. “You’re right. I don’t believe you.. Then again a benevolent Vandal is even harder to believe so”.

The Circus Master smiled as he continued. “None of us are from your time Warlock. I won’t be born for another several hundred years. This Circus is capable of travelling to any world, at any point in its history. ”

“I’d heard of ancient myths about time travel, but it was said to have been so unpredictable and dangerous even the Gods were terrified of it. If its true you must have some friends in very high places.” Replied Mestron.

“No I don’t. At some point in the future, the Vandals will win the war they are waging with the Vampires. They’ll rule for centuries before their empire collapses, but during that time they will have access to some of the most powerful magics, as well as hordes of Witch, and Warlock servants. They will also turn the most powerful Witches and Warlocks into members of their own kind too.

They will create a time vessel. It will take them centuries of course, but still with access to all that magic they are eventually able to build a machine that can travel to any planet at any point in its history. Even though they had no need for it at that point, as they had won. It was intended to be their back up weapon. If anything ever happened to their empire then they could just go back and change it. They also intended to explore other worlds, and spread their empire beyond the earth too.

I was part of a resistance movement to steal the machine. Even though I was one of them, I had been just as much an enemy of the Vandals as any human or Vampire.”

After a pause the Circus Master continued. “I had been turned into a Vandal 100 years earlier.  In life I was a poor boy. A petty thug, a criminal living on the streets. I never killed anyone, but I wasn’t exactly a saint. The Vandals ruled at that time of course, and when I was put in prison they decided to turn me. They’d often dispose of their prisoners either by eating them or turning them. I was lucky or unlucky depending on how you look on it. I was part of the group they decided to turn simply by chance.

After I became a Vandal, I’d roam the countryside picking people off. I don’t know how many people I killed. That time was just a blur of violence, hatred and nothing.  I was just an empty shell, living for nothing but hurting people. That was until he found me. The man I owe everything too.

His name was Ron Baker. He was a farmer who managed to lure me into a trap. I still don’t know what it was he saw in me, but he told me I could control my Demonic thirst for souls. I laughed at him at first, but he refused to give up on me. He held me prisoner, refused to let me feed on people’s souls. I still had to feed on animals souls of course.

Ron also did all he could to try and remind me of my lost humanity. He made face the reality of what I had done, the lives I had destroyed. Ron always said that he had picked me at random. He wanted to capture and redeem a monster like a Vandal, a Vampire or a Demon, to prove to the people of Europe that it was possible for even the most evil of creatures to change.

After I learned to control my thirst, I tried to make up for my past. I fought against other Vandals, saved villages from them, tracked down any other Vampires or Demons I could and slayed them. Some came to see me as a hero, whilst others much like yourself didn’t believe a Vandal could change.

Still the resistance movement had seen me in action long enough to know I could be trusted. Originally they didn’t just want me and the others assigned on the mission to stop the Vandals from using the vessel to spread their filth across all of the universe.

They actually wanted us to rewrite history to ensure that the Vandals never took over Europe. At that point we honestly couldn’t imagine a time when they weren’t in charge, and we honestly did believe that they would eventually go beyond Europe and rule the world.

The Vandals had disguised their machine as a harmless looking Circus in a small unassuming town. They obviously didn’t want to draw attention to their ultimate weapon, though it was of course still heavily guarded. We infiltrated the town, were even able to steal some of their plans and learn how to work it. We were eventually discovered, but fortunately we had managed to convince the villagers to fight back.

We knew they’d be slaughtered, but we needed a distraction. It was a callous sacrifice, and yet more blood on my hands but it had to be done. Who knows what those fiends would have done if they had access to all of time and space.

In the final fight I was the only survivor but I managed to make my way into the time travelling Circus and pilot it away from its creators. The Vandals would never build another one. It had taken them so many centuries to build that one, and their empire would only last another few centuries before crumbling.

Though I had managed to pilot the machine into the vortex, it would take me many years to master it. I’d catapult myself across all of time and space at random. I never even reached the destination I had originally intended to. Eventually that changed however when my vessel crashed into another time ship. One belonging to a Vampire named Professor Fang.

Fang was a benevolent Vampire. I know that probably sounds more unbelievable than the idea of time travel, but trust me he was. He was a bit of a grumpy, bad tempered old git, but still as far as Vampires go he was nice I suppose, and he did impart very important knowledge about time travel to me.

Professor Fang told me that you cannot change time. You can create history but that’s not the same thing. Once you change history then you become toxic to the natural order of the universe. Time, the universe, or a higher power, whatever it is I’m not sure, but something will send these creatures called Kestorveks after you when you change history.”

“Kestorveks” Ashlei responded in confusion.

The Kestorveks are completely indestructable. No one has ever killed one, and no one has ever escaped one either. They can chase you through all of time, space and even other universes. Once they catch you, they will take you to an area of space that exists outside of not just this universe but all universes called the Abyss.

There you will remain forever. Never ageing, never dying with no hope of escape. The history you changed will be reset too. It is for this reason more than any other that time travel is feared. So many creatures across all the realms have discovered it and have not cared about being reckless in changing history, for their own ends, only to get a nasty surprise when the Kestorveks show up.

Professor Fang made sure that would never happen to us. He constructed a magical device that he put in the centre of our vessel. Down there.”

He pointed to the fountain. “That is the single most important component of this ship. It seeks out moments in time where we are supposed to make history and takes us to them. Like for instance recently we travelled to many millions of years ago, before man even existed, to when Dinosaurs and Dragons ruled the world.

We helped the Dragons prevent an evil Demon from destroying our world. If we hadn’t been there, then the Demon would have won and our world would cease to exist as we know it today. There’s a difference between that, and changing a history that we already know, like say destroying our planet in the time of the Dragons, or alternatively saving the Dinosaurs from their ultimate fate and erasing our own history.

Our machine takes us only to these points. It doesn’t tell us what it is we have to do to ensure the timeline goes ahead as planned exactly. The water in it will light up green if we are going on the wrong path and blue if we go down the right path. Sometimes we can only be there to save one person who will be important. It can be quite frustrating at times.

I remember one mission I had to help a young Jewish girl named Amy Silverman escape from the Nazis in 1940, simply because her daughter will go on to be one of the most powerful and dangerous Vampire killers of all time.

I wasn’t allowed to even help bring down the Nazis however. Even though they would go on to kill over 60 million people. They were part of history for many of my companions and we were not destined to stop them so we had to do nothing.”

“The Nazis? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of those Demons” said Ashlei?

“They aren’t Demons. They are people. Just as twisted as any Demon mind you if not more so. They are sadly among the many evils that we have had to stand back and not do a thing against. Still no one can fix all the evils of the universe. We do what we can. Or rather what we are allowed to do.

That’s why we are here. As always we weren’t sure what to do at first, but now we know what it is. We must kill the Mayor. He is the first of a new breed of Vampire. Among the most powerful I’ve ever seen. He has the power to take over Vandals. I didn’t think that was even possible. Clearly if we don’t stop him before he has a chance to turn others into creatures like him, then the consequences could be dire for the future of humanity. Imagine an army of those creatures spreading out across the world. He must be stopped.”

“Well I wouldn’t worry about it. Like you said you make history, the fact that these Vampires don’t rule the world in the time you came from shows you succeeded.”

The Circus Master frowned. ” I’m afraid its not that simple. Right now this is the present for us. We can still fail. All that will happen is that history will take a different course. If I or any of my team from the now erased future survive, then the Kestorvek’s will come for us and bring us to the Abyss. There are always multiple futures. You just simply can’t exist outside of the one that you came from without being toxic and therefore becoming a target for the Kestorveks.”

“I’d take facing those Vampires over the Kestorveks any time.” Said Janice. “Even just mentioning those things sends shivers down my spine.”

“Yes” said the Circus Master “we’ve never thankfully changed history ourselves, but one time there was a problem with the tent and we ended up shooting into the Abyss. Fortunately for us because we weren’t meant to be there the Kestorveks threw us out. Still it was a horrifying experience. Almost made us all want to give up time travelling.

I can remember hearing the cries of the other time travellers they’d caught and trapped in the endless darkness. We could see their shadows through the tent. They were banging on the front doors begging us to take them in and get them out of here. I wanted to help them I really did, but there was nothing we could have done.

Then of course all those lost souls scattered when the Kestorvek came near our tent. Those two front doors may look like just thin sheets, but they are actually a forcefield, forged over several centuries by the strongest magics. The Kestorvek still opened them no problem.

It was a truly hideous creature. It stood about 9 feet tall, its skin was stretched and grey, with its bones sticking out all over its body. Its bones looked like they had burst their way from under its flesh. Its face was long and its head was oval shaped. It had two moths, one on its forehead and another above its chin. Its three eyes were in the middle between the two mouths. Its eyes were gold with no pupil. Its face overall was completely blank. I’ve never seen anything like it, among all the creatures I’ve faced. It was like it wasn’t even alive.

There were two thin flaps of skin at the top of its head as well which seemed to glow yellow when it approached us. Its hands and feet were both cloven meanwhile.

I tried to attack it, but it overpowered me in seconds. I’ve never been hit so hard. It belted me across the entire room. It wasn’t just me however, we were all KOed by this one monster.”

“KOed?” replied Mestron somewhat confused.

“Oh yes of course, not a common expression in your era. I’ve been spending too much time in the 21st century. Basically he knocked us all out in about 30 seconds, without any of us even landing a punch on him. Fortunately for us he then left and when we looked outside we had landed back on earth, in the 19th century I believe.  If he had wanted us to stay we would still be there now.”

“I’m amazed you still want to travel through time. Is the risk not too great?” Said Ashlei.

“Well like I said we all thought that at first, but we realised that we are still needed throughout our own and various other planets histories across the universe. Its not always easy, but we at least we are not alone.”

“What about the rest of you? Where do you come from. I’m genuinely interested. Its not every day you meet people from different time’s possibly even worlds.” Mestron said to the other Circus Performers.

“I come from the 20th century” said Janice. “I was born in the year 1955. The first 30 years of my life were fairly normal. I was married, I had a son named Paul. We were happy. It all changed however when that thing, took over my son.”

Janice’s eyes began to tear up and the Circus Master put his arm around her. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to” said Mestron before Janice interrupted him. “No its okay. I used to not be able to face what happened, but now talking about it reminds me of why I do what I do.

My son was taken over by a Vampire. Specifically a Gretak breed of Vampire. They have the power to leave their bodies and take over humans.

It possessed my son and made him.” She had to stop for a minute or so before she could carry on. “It made him murder his friends and girlfriend. He was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. I always knew that he wasn’t capable of murder. He was the softest, sweetest most gentle boy you could have ever seen. A man called Peter would later tell me that it was the work of a Vampire. Of course I dismissed him at first, but I later saw when the monster tried to possess me too that he was right.

Peter was a Vampire hunter. He told me that the monster that had possessed my boy was a notorious Vampire that he had been chasing for years. Sadly before he could exorcise it, he was killed by the bloodsucker, and my boy. My boy was left to rot in jail. There was nothing I could do to prove his innocence. He didn’t cope in prison. I remember telling him in the few visits that I believed him that he didn’t murder his friends, but I don’t think he believed me. He eventually took his own life. He was only 22.

My husband had a mental breakdown. He never got over Paul’s death. He took his own life just 2 years later. At times I felt like giving up too, but I would later get a chance for revenge against the monster that took my family from me. I had read up on all of Peter’s books and notes which I had access too after his death. I knew all of this monsters tricks, and weaknesses better than anybody else as a result, and I was able to lure him into a trap. I think he was probably caught off guard, thinking that a sad, lonely widow could never harm him.

After I pulled that monster out of his latest host and tore his soul to pieces. An organisation called Rentross got in touch with me. They were impressed with how I had been able to destroy such a long lived and dangerous Vampire. I joined them for a few years. The training was a bit hard. I was in my mid 50s at that point, but still I would help them take on Vampires, Demons and Vandals, and during one such mission I met this charming lot.

Our friend here (she said pointing at the Circus Master) asked me to join him, and I was a little unsure at first, but he assured me that I could do more with his team than I ever could with Rentros and well he wasn’t wrong. I’ve been with this group for over 100 years now. We don’t age in here. We’re out of time so the rules don’t apply.”

Janice walked over to the box that she had used to entertain the villagers, that had had the figures inside it. It’s screen was now completely black.

“This thing here might seem like magic to you both, but its not. Its just a piece of technology, pretty common where I come from. We call it a television, and this thing here.” She held up a smaller black box that rested on top of the television. “Is what we call a computer game system, specifically a G-Buster 8. Me and Paul used to play it all the time when he was a little boy. He loved it so much. This was the latest model he had in our house just before that thing took him over. We were still playing it together even when he was in his twenties. Of course he would always beat me but still those were some of the happiest moments of my life. After his death I know this might sound odd, but I couldn’t get rid of either the G-Buster or the tv we used to play it on. It felt like the last little bit I had of Paul. Over 100 years on and it still hurts as much now as did on the day it happened.” She said wistfully whilst rubbing her hand down the tv screen.

“I’m sorry Janice. I know what its like to lose someone to those monsters. I only hope I’m able to honour my brother the way you have your son” said Ashlei.

Janice was deeply moved by Ashlei’s remark. She smiled for the first time in a long while. “Thank you eh” “Ashlei” “Right Ashlei. I promise you once this is over we’ll make that Vandal bitch who killed your brother pay for his and every other soul she has taken.”

Janice looked at Keptis who had been quiet throughout her confession and put her hand on his shoulder. Keptis and Janice appeared to have a stronger relationship than any of the other time travellers thought Ashlei. In the fight in the square for instance they seemed to care about each others safety more than they did for even the rest of the team, and even now she could sense there was something between them. Not necessarily romantic, but they clearly had a deeper connection.

Keptis spoke. “I’m not from your planet. I come from Mars. Its now nothing but a wasteland, but it was once a beautiful, thriving world, filled with a rich and highly advanced culture.” he said with regret. “Sadly its time would come thanks to an evil from your world. The Vampires.

My people unlike those on your planet had never discovered magic. We believed in science and believed there was a rational explanation for everything in the universe. It would prove to be a fatal mistake.

We sent a scout ship to explore and make contact with your planet. I was on that scout ship. I remember the excitement and thrill of going to explore a new world for the first time. The great blue giant that had stood in our skies throughout our history. We were prepared for the possibility of the native life forms not being friendly of course, but nothing could have prepared us for encountering a Vampire.

I still remember that first night we landed on earth. We had landed in the middle of a forest, just by a small village. The locals thought we were gods and even bowed before us. I remember one of them asked us if we could deal with the Vampire that had been terrorising their village. Of course in our arrogance we assumed their wild story of a dead man coming back to life and feeding on blood was just a silly superstition among these primitive people.

That night however we were attacked by the monster. Its strength dwarfed ours, and it was able to kill 5 of my team, wound three more and infect another called Mesimor. Mesimor and I had been great friends. He was a kind, brave and generous man, but sadly the monster he would become was the most cruel creature I have ever encountered in any world or time.

Once Mesimor had been bitten the villagers tried to kill him. They warned us that he would change, but again we didn’t listen. We tried to use all or our resources on the ship to cure him, but it accomplished nothing. In desperation to save my friend I insisted that we go back to Mars to try and find a cure for him there. It was a mistake that would doom my world, and countless others throughout all of time.

When we took Mesimor back to Mars he died not long after, and soon rose as a Vampire. He went on to infect another and another, and another. We regular Martians had no way to defend ourselves against these monsters. They were strong, and we had very few weapons. World peace had been established on our small planet many milenia ago you see.

Still we had a few weapons, but they were completely hopeless against these monsters. They slaughtered hordes of us, rounded others up and kept us in cages. They’d force us to breed with each other for more livestock. We were literally reduced to the level of animals. The Vampires also tortured us for their own sick amusement. Mesimor of course became the Vampires leader. Though he had to always defend himself. They’re such treacherous little skunks, always ready to stab each other in the back.

I first met the Circus Master when he visited my world. It was just a few years into the war. The Vampires were planning to use our technology to launch an attack on earth. They knew that they’d eventually eat us all and wanted another world. Fortunately the Circus Master and his friends arrived and helped us to stop their plans to launch a giant weapon at the earth’s surface. After it was completed however they all left. I begged them to stay and help me free my people from these monsters, but they refused.

Just before they left however, I confronted them inside their tent. I held them at gunpoint, demanded that they stay. Still they all to the last refused. Just then the tent took off. I thought it was some trick at first. Even shot the Circus Master not that it hurt him of course.

It soon turned out that I was meant to join their team and help them in their various missions throughout time. The machine had sensed this, just as it is able to pick out what time periods to take us too, and took off before I could leave. I would never have left my people otherwise.

Of course I later learned what became of Mars. The Vampires eventually did destroy everything on it. They then using our technology visited other planets, destroyed their people, turned who they could, absorbed their culture, their technology. They became one of the deadliest forces in the entire universe, slaughtering billions of worlds. And its all my fault. As much as I have come to view these people as my friends, there are times when I wish I had died on my own world. At least then I wouldn’t know the full extent of the suffering I am responsible for.”

Janice interrupted him. “You couldn’t have known. Vampires are such crafty, lying, deceitful monsters, they always find a way to spread their filth. The important thing is what you’re doing now helping people across all of time. You’re a hero.”

Keptis seemed comforted to some extent by Janice’s kind words, but it was obvious that nothing could ever truly even begin to ease either his pain or conscious.

“You see how hard our mission is” said the Circus Master. “I would have wanted nothing more than to have changed history and saved the Martian people, but if I had even attempted to change one thing about the Vampires conquest of Mars, then the Kestorveks would have whisked me away and any changes I made they would have corrected instantly.

We’ve faced the Vampire Empire on various worlds and various times throughout history, but sadly the one time we could have destroyed them for good, we were forced to turn a blind eye.

The monsters will persist throughout most of the history we have visited. Their empire will fall of course, but the Vampire menace will always lurk in the shadows on various planets. Eventually the different Vampire breeds will create a hybrid species that utilises the power of all the then known and existing Vampire breeds. These “Super Vampires” will slowly but surely turn the greatest minds, and intellects from all over the universe, as well as the most powerful members of each race.

Again they will operate in secret. Allowing the most advanced civilisations to believe that the Vampires were destroyed in the last great Vampire war which will happen in the 28th century.

These super Vampires much like the breed of Vampire known as the Siar, will have the power to transform the dead into members of their kind. It will prove to be their most useful power in recruiting new members.

They will not only build a massive army, utilising technology from all over the universe, but they will also have hidden agents and plants on all of the major powers in the universe too.

Eventually they will wage war on the rest of creation. This war will be known as the Universal war, and it last for at least over 10 thousand years and will see the destruction of trillions of worlds. We have visited this period many times. I’ve never gone beyond it. From what I’ve heard no time traveller has. I often wonder if that is because there is no history beyond the end of this war. It seems to truly be the war to end all wars.”

The Circus Master froze for a bit before continuing. The mere mention of the Universal war in the future brought back some very nasty memories and sights that he desperately wanted to try and block out again.

“Still” he continued. “It was during this time that we met our good friend here. Keyro.” He said pointing at the hideous, bat like creature that hung from the ceiling.

Keryo, whilst still hanging upside down explained where he came from to Ashlei and Mestron. He spoke in a strange almost sing song voice.

“I was part of a secret project, hoping to create the ultimate weapon against the Vampires. Various species working together tried to grow a monster that could survive in any environment and beat the Vampires at their own game. Of course all of their attempts at least where I came from were a dismal failure. I remember when all that ever would exist of my race were sent to fight the Vampires. The Vampires butchered us. We were easily outwitted, outmatched and overpowered. I was the only survivor and that was only because I fled.

I was on the run from both the Vampires and my creators who obviously considered me an embarrassing failure and wanted to experiment on me again, to “improve” me as a warrior.

I wandered alone, knowing that there was nothing else like me in the entire universe. I travelled from world to world in a stolen battlecruiser and would try and help out against the Vampires whenever I could, whilst still not getting caught. As much as I hated my creators, I could still see that the Vampires were the greater of two evils.

Eventually I would run into the Circus Master and after we foiled a particularly nasty plot from the Vampires to destroy the Andromeda galaxy, he offered me a place in his team and I’ve never looked back.

Not a day goes by where I am not grateful to the Circus Master for rescuing me from the time I came from. This tent is the only place in the entire history of the universe that I feel like I belong. I’d be devastated if we ever stopped travelling.”

“Of course” Keyro said turning to Coro “I’m not the only one here who is a one of a kind.”

Coro had been waiting to talk for a long while. The “Circus folk” loved sharing their stories, as they obviously were often forced to hide who they were in most of the times they visited.

“They found me on a planet at the edge of the universe called Sentez” said Coro. “My world was always cursed. Its solar system was right beside a place where the different realms of existence met. From the sky in our planet, which was on the very edge of the solar system, we could see the edges of Heavenly, Hellish and various other realms. Unfortunately however they could see us too.

The Demons would regularly when they were bored visit our planet and wreak havoc on my people. In between visits from our Demonic tormentors we would always make sacrifices to them and worship the monsters in a vain hope that they would spare us.

The worst was when the Demons would compete with another realm of monsters known as the Manticores. The Manticore realm was an attempt to by the Creator to see if he could create monsters worse than Demons. The two have tried to prove even long past the Creators disappearance that they are the more evil of his two “children”.

Its bizarre in a way. They are at war with each other, but they never really fight with each other. Instead they inflict pain and misery on all other life forms to try and outdo each other.

On top of this renegade monsters and creatures from various realms would also obviously use our solar system to travel through, and they’d often stop off on our world first.

Of course now and again the Angels and creatures from other realms would protect us, but sadly, the Angels who lived near the edges of their realm often had to protect themselves just as often too. We were the most vulnerable, but the Angels who lived in those parts were far from the most powerful members of their kind.

My family were part of a group who still believed in the Angels however. We hid underground from the rest of our kind, who viewed us as traitors. At that point the last time the Angels had protected our world was over 100 years before I was born. Furthermore whilst the Angels victory at the time was spectacular. They even helped us to rebuild our world for a short time. The Demons reprisal against us years later when the Angels were indisposed, was their most vicious attack against our planet. Billions of our kind were slaughtered.

Naturally my people would worship the monsters from then on, swearing to the vile abominations that they would never cross them again.

The group I was born into however, would always try and contact the Angels. We tried casting spells to speak with them, we even tried to bind them to us. Of course we failed time and time again, and eventually the Demon worshippers found us and handed us over to their “masters” in penance.

I was the leader of the Angel loyalists. My family had commanded them for generations. I would have died for them, but sadly I lacked the great leadership skills of my father and those before him. The Demons outwitted and outfought me, and were able to use me to lure the others into trap. Those monsters decided not just to kill or even torture me. They damned me forever.

They cast a spell which caused anyone who looked at me to go insane and turn into a savage monster. I was forced to retreat to the wilderness to protect my people. I did try to cover my entire body with robes, but even then nobody wanted to be near me understandably out of fear.

That is until they found me. The Circus had arrived to deal with a Menticore that wanted to prove its mettle by casting a massive curse that would condemn our entire universe.

By that point I was the only one of my kind willing to help the Circus Master. My kind had been so cowed by the Menticore and the Demons they didn’t want to take sides against either of them, no matter what the cost.

After we stopped the Menticore, the Circus Master offered me a place on board the tent. Originally he gave me an old Robot to live in.” Coro pointed to the inanimate man of steel that had perplexed Ashlei and Mestron earlier.

Coro continued. “The Circus Master had taken it from the Androx planet. They had a real talent for making Robots. This Robot was essentially a suit that had been built for their armies. The suits would make each Androx who wore them stronger, in fact they’d be practically indestructable. The suit was perfect for me meanwhile because it completely covered every inch of my body.

Of course I wanted to still be able to interact with people and the universe at large, but beggars can’t be choosers. I was happy to be among people again. The Circus Master never gave up in trying to help me meanwhile. Even after I gave up in thinking I’d be free from that cold, unfeeling suit.”

The Circus Master interrupted. “I could never remove the curse the Demons had placed on Coro. They wove it into his very soul. However I was able to build a magical shield around him. It altered people’s perceptions of what he looked like. Of course originally I set the spell to cause people to see him as he had once looked. However my spell had an unintentional side effect of allowing Coro to alter people’s perceptions in any way he wanted.”

“So that’s what those illusions were. The Demon that kept us in here, even all those different forms you’d turn into” said Ashlei.

“Yes” replied Coro. “I can’t change into anything, but I can make you believe I have and I’m doing it right now. This clown form I often assume when we go undercover is obviously not what I look like. My people are rather different to yours.”

“Show us your real form” said Mestron. “I mean you said that we can see it without going mad thanks to the magic.”

“You really want to see?” Coro said knowing that they would regret it.

Ashlei assured Coro that no matter what they wouldn’t judge him, as they had seen what a hero he had been against the Vampires, only to scream when Coro morphed into his true form.

Coro stood about 6 foot tall in his true form. He had a basic humanoid shape, but his skin was bright red, his fingers were long pincers as were his long toes. His arms and legs were incredibly thin, whilst his body was square shaped and thick.

His head was large and round and it ended in a snout, with a relatively small mouth, filled with with still large green fangs. He had two massive black eyes which somewhat resembled a fly’s. At the top of his head were 6 green horns.

Coro quickly morphed back into his human clown form.

“I’m sorry” said Ashlei. “It just takes a little getting used too.”

“I understand” said Coro. “Believe you me by this stage I’m used to people freaking out when they see what I look like. For practical purposes, rather than make them see me as I actually am like the spell intended, I just go by this clown form instead. Of course my real form has changed somewhat anyway. The combination of the Demons and the Circus Masters magics have affected my body. I don’t know the full extent of how much they have changed me, but I am much stronger, faster and I can heal most injuries that would kill any normal natural creature. We know that the magics will continue to change me. Into what who knows, but as my friend said here. it would seem I am one of a kind.”

Still at least I can walk among people again. I owe everything to the Circus Master. He gave me back my life.”

“Its one of the things I’m most proud of” said the Circus Master in response. Ashlei was touched by the teams show of friendship, whilst Mestron meanwhile had focused his attention for the last few minutes on the Strange Boy who greatly unnerved him.

He felt sure the boy was a Vampire. He had seen enough of those slimy monsters by now to know one just from its movements. Still it couldn’t possibly be he kept thinking. Not only, if their sob stories were true would any of the people here want to travel with a Vampire, but in spite of everything that happened he wasn’t really willing to believe that a Vampire could not be a monster.

After the Circus folk had finished gushing over each other, (which Mestron found sickening anyway) he asked rather sharply what the boys story was.

“He’s the strongest member of our team” said the Circus Master, completely seriously. “He’s a member of the Jiang Shi breed of Vampire.”

Mestron had heard of the Jiang Shi. They were the dominant supernatural predators of China, though they were very rare in Europe. As single minded as animals, the Jiang Shi lived for nothing but the kill. Their strength was above that of most Demons, and other Vampire breeds.

Their greatest vulnerability was magic however. It could destroy or according to some legends even tame them. Though again, Mestron an experienced Wizard himself, did not believe any magic could be powerful enough to hold back the savage evil of the Vampire.

“I know what you’re thinking” said the Circus Master. “How could we of all people have a Vampire on the team. Well the Strange Boy was a special occurrence. We found him when on a mission in China to stop an ancient Dragon from reviving the Terracotta army as its slaves to conquer the world.

The boy was in the care of the last of the Terracotta soldiers, the only one who had not been cursed by the original Dragon who condemned them to an eternity below the ground as statutes.

He told us that they had both been in a group of heroes who protected the land from monsters and Demons. Their leader who I believed was named Lam, was a great wizard. He was also said to be a legendary Vampire killer who slaughtered thousands of Jiang Shi. When he came upon the Strange Boy however he found he couldn’t slay him.

He knew that he was a monster, but ultimately the beast resembled a boy and even Lam the man who had killed more Jiang Shi than anyone else couldn’t harm him.

Instead Lam took the boy in and using all of his magics tried to find a way to suppress his demonic urges. The spells were of course painless to the Strange Boy. In fact they did more harm to Lam, but he didn’t give up in trying to free the boy from the evil that had possessed him.

Years ago in Lam’s homeland of China, the Dragons had used magics to place the Jiang Shi under their control. However that was the Dragons. The most powerful magical creatures who had ever lived, magically infused Dinosaurs!

Also they didn’t exactly make the Jiangshi friendly and docile. They turned them into their personal, savage little guard dogs for their cities and castles. There have throughout all of the time periods we’ve visited been some benevolent Vampires, but Jiang Shi are pure Demon through and through.

Lam was trying something that had never been done before, but he managed it. The strain of the magics very nearly killed him, but he was able to channel the Jiang Shi’s overwhelming urge for chaos, murder and destruction into wanting to protect the innocent. He didn’t cure the Strange Boy’s thirst for blood however. A Vampire must have blood to survive, but at least, the Strange Boy would only take it from animals at this point.

Of course effectively switching the Vampires all consuming lust for destruction to wanting to protect the innocent can sometimes make our little friend here a bit too eager to destroy evil, but still Lam did it. He turned one of the worst creatures of evil, a child of Khastran, into a champion for good. Sadly he was never able to replicate the experiment.

It was hard enough with a child Jiang Shi. Imagine trying to do it to an angry adult, that was stronger and always trying to kill you. Lam did try but the spell never worked again. He sadly died before ever taming another Jiang Shi. Still his adopted son lived on as a defender of the land.

During our mission to stop the Dragon, the last of the Terracotta warriors sadly died. Well he wasn’t the last really. The rest were still alive, just trapped underground as statues. They would be freed however during the Vampire wars and be given a chance to defend their planet in one of the most important battles in human history, but anyway not to get off topic. The Strange Boy was left on his own.

It sounds silly as at the end of the day he was not a boy. He was a brainwashed Demon, and there was a chance his conditioning could wear off. Still we couldn’t just leave him to wander through the wilderness forever, living alone, being shunned by the very people he was protecting.

So we adopted the little bloodsucker. It wasn’t easy for us of course, living alongside a Vampire. Me most of all. Vampires and Vandals as I’m sure you know Wizard, we have an instinctual hatred of each other.

It seemed that even managed to override Lam’s magic at first. He didn’t attack me, but if I was danger he would never try and help me. He’d also just growl at me a lot of the time on our travels.

Still we both did the impossible. A Vampire and a Vandal not only living together, but actually being a force for good in this universe. Like I said before, to many that probably seems more unbelievable than the whole time travel thing.”

“Well” Mestron replied somewhat taken a back by all of this. “I still don’t know whether to believe you or not. Its quite a bit, even by my standards. But at the end of the day I do know that you want to help here, so whether you’re all time travellers, having a laugh, or just lunatics it doesn’t really matter. Lets just get on with stopping that monster.”

Underneath his seemingly flippant attitude however, Mestron not only believed the Circus folk, but he wanted to join them. In his mind it could be his last chance for redemption, to prove he was a hero and find a meaning for his life. There certainly wasn’t anything for him here anymore except Ashlei, but even then he felt guilt at having brought the Vandal and the Vampire war to this village..

However Mestron would obviously have to really prove himself first before they would even consider taking him on.

 

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