The Boy and the Sea Dragon
Cerqu de Saeltana
Note: Saeltana is spelled with a ‘ over the first a
One day, Gunthar came home. He found the boys in the den. All three were playing cards at a table. Gunthar walked up next to Zuangeng. He stopped. He placed his right hand on the back of the chair Zuangeng was sitting in. He placed his left hand on the table. He looked at Zuangeng’s hand. Zuangeng turned his head to the left and up to see Gunthar. Gunthar turned his head to the right to look at Zuangeng. Gunthar said, “Have you ever been to a circus before, Zuangeng?”
“What’s a circus,” Zuangeng asked puzzled.
Zuangeng looked at Petra when he said, “A circus is a group of people doing stunts and acts to entertain people.”
Gunthar said, “One has come to town. I got some tickets. It will be here for seven days.”
“It will be a wonderful experience for you, Zuangeng,” Hans said.
“When do we go,” Zuangeng asked.
Gunthar said, “We go, tomorrow. This is going to be exciting, Zuangeng’s first circus.”
The next day, Petra walked out. He got another horse drawn buggy. When he returned, they got in. Gunthar locked the door before he got in. Petra drove the buggy. He drove over several streets until they came to the edge of town. He drove down a dirt road.
Zuangeng looked to his left. He saw some red and white vertically striped tents appear. They came to another dirt road on their left. They turned left onto the road. Petra drove down the road. They came to a grassy area where other buggies and horses were parked.
In front of them, they saw a cluster of small tents. Beyond the tents was a rather large one. This tent’s top was higher than the small tent’s tops.
Petra drove the buggy up to one end of a hitching post. They got out. Petra walked to the post. He lashed the reigns to the post’s horizontal bar.
They walked onto the grounds. They walked toward the large tent. Zuangeng looked around them. A large number of small tents surrounded the large one. At one far corner of the grounds to his right was a cluster of wagons.
People were heading to the large tent. Elves walked around on errands or attending to tasks. A few elves stood together talking in their elvish tongue. Other elves were heading to the large tent. They were dressed in gaudy outfits, including fake wings and masks.
Zuangeng pointed to the elves heading to the tent. He asked Gunthar, “Who are those elves?”
Gunthar answered, “They are performers. They are the ones we came to watch.”
Zuangeng watched as the elves entered the tent at a different location from the one they were heading for.
They had to stand in a line at the entrance. Gunthar got the tickets out and held them. Zuangeng looked to the line’s front end. A small shack stood beside the line. An elf stood in it. Zuangeng watched as the elftook one ticket, tore it in uneven halves, handed the larger half back and kept the smaller half. The line kept moving. They kept getting closer.
They came to the elf. Gunthar gave him the tickets. The elf greeted him with, “Hello, Gunthar. Four tickets this time?”
Gunthar said, “Yes, Estevano. (Note: the name is spelled with umlauts over the a and o) We have a new member to the party.”
Estevano leaned over the counter and looked down. He saw a boy with brown skin and black hair. Zuangeng had changed his hair color. He looked up at Estevano. He saw an elf with fair skin and brown hair. Estevano said, “Now, who do we have here? He seems not to appear as his true self.”
Gunthar pursed his lips. He held one finger to his lips. Estevano muttered some spell. Nobody else could hear their conversation. Gunthar replied, “This is Zuangeng. Yes, this isn’t how he actually looks like. This is his first time to any circus.”
Estevano said, “Got into a little trouble earlier, hence, the disguise, Eh? Well, your secret is safe with me. Well, I hope you enjoy the show.”
He muttered another spell reversing the previous one.
Gunthar and his party entered the tent. Zuangeng looked around himself. Seats were on platforms going up the walls around the tent. There were only two gaps at the entrances. Two tall poles stood at each tent end. They reached high into the air. He looked up. The poles supported the tent top. A platform went across the poles at each end. Two beams ran end to end, one to each pair of poles. Long ropes hung from each beam close to each end. A metal rod was tied to the bottom end of each pair of ropes. Two ropes stretched end to end.
Zuangeng looked back down. Gunthar stood beside him. He told Zuangeng, “It’s time for us to take our seats.”
Zuangeng followed Gunthar to their seats. The seats were five tiers up from the ground. He looked over the floor from his seat. The floor was dirt. Wood strips stretched across the floor. They were curved to form three connected circles.
Everybody were finally seated. Zuangeng looked around. Almost every seat was occupied.
The ringmaster came out to the middle of the floor. He had long blue hair. He wore a pair of black pants and a white shirt. Around his neck and hanging down the front of his shirt was a black tie. He wore a blue jacket. The jacket front and sides went to his waist. The back had two tails that went to his knees. Both front edges had a red stripe running the whole length. A tall black hat with a red band around the bottom sat on his head. The hat top was flat. His right hand held a black stick with a black leather strap hanging from the top tip.
He stopped in the middle of the floor. He took his hat off. He held it in his left hand. It was tucked right side up between his arm and body. He spoke in a loud voice and the island’s language. Gunthar had taught Zuangeng their language. Zuangeng understood some of what the ringmaster said. What he could not, Gunthar translated into Dragonese.
The ringmaster yelled, “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Welcome to Cerqu de Saeltana. We are here this fine afternoon to entertain you. We hope you will enjoy your stay.”
He burst into song. He sang the anthem of the circus. All the performers came out on the ground. Three elves led the procession. Each one carried a pole with a flag at the top. The right elf carried the local country’s flag. The middle elf carried the local island’s flag. The left elf carried the circus’s flag. Some performers came on foot. The others came on wheeled contrivances. They paraded around the ground. They waved to the audience. They made one full circle.
The flag bearers marched to the middle of the tent. They stopped in front of the ringmaster. The bearer of the country’s national flag stood in front. The bearers of the other two flags held back. All the performers stood outside the rings. They were at attention, facing the flags. The audience stood. The ringmaster sang the country’s national anthem. The audience sat at the end. The flag bearers led the performers off the ground. The show began.
Zuangeng watched mesmerized, open mouthed and eyes wide open. He watched the elves perform in different acts and death defying stunts. elves in gaudy costumes and masks danced and pranced across and around the ground. Some elves somersaulted or cartwheeled.
He looked up. He watched elves on the swings. Two of them hung upside down. They tossed an elf or two between them. The tossed elves somersaulted in mid air. Sometimes, they clapped each other’s hand as they passed each other. The act came to an end. The tossed elves fell toward the ground. They fell horizontally, arms spread out. When they neared the ground, they turned right side up. They floated to the ground. They gently landed on their feet. They bowed, turned around and scampered off. The swinging elves fell headfirst. They landed the same way.
Two elves walked in opposite directions across the two ropes. They used only their arms for balance. They turned around at the opposite ends. They walked back across. They stopped midway. They twisted their bodies to face each other. They folded their arms. One arm crossed the stomach. The other arm crossed the small of the back. They bowed to each other. They were back upright. They scampered the rest of the way.
An elf was at the end further from Zuangeng. The elf wore a gaudy costume. Spread wings were on his back. He wore a bird mask. He climbed the ladder to the platform. He stood on the platform. Zuangeng heard a drum roll as the elf prepared to jump. He walked to the platform’s edge. He squatted down. He leaned forward. He stretched his arms over his head. The drum roll ended with a final crashing bang. The elf dove off the platform. He fell head first for a few feet. His arms remained over his head. He leveled off. He flew horizontally to the midpoint. He went upright. He spun as he shot straight up. He flew around the tent. He did spins, loops and tumbles. He landed lightly on his feet on the ground. He bowed and pranced off.
Two elves were on unicycles. They were on opposite ends, one on each rope across the tent. They faced each other. They used their arms for balance. They cycled toward each other. They met in the middle. They stopped and clasped hands together. Together, they cycled back and forth several times. They ended in the middle and separated. They cycled to the opposite ends. The end opposite of each elf was lowered. This created a slope. Each elf cycled up and down the ropes.
Sometimes, the high acts were accompanied with acts on the ground. Zuangeng was busy going from one act to the other. There was no safety equipment anywhere. There was not one mishap during the whole show.
The show came to an end. All the performers came out, again. They paraded around the grounds. The flag bearers led the procession. The ringmaster stood in the middle. He sang a song of farewell. He turned around in a complete circle and waved.
At the end of the song, the audience stood up. They exited the tent. Gunthar and entourage walked to the buggy. Petra gave the reigns to Gunthar. He was the last to get in. He took the reigns. He drove them home.
Hans asked Zuangeng, “What did you think of the circus? Did you enjoy it?”
“It was fantastic! It was fun to watch,” Zuangeng said in enthusiastically.
Hans said, “Some circuses have animal acts as well.”
Zuangeng could hardly stop talking about his experience all the way home. They listened to him. Gunthar twisted in his seat to watch him. Petra kept his eyes on the road.
They arrived home. Everybody but Petra got off and entered the house. Petra returned the horse and buggy.