Thursday, 21 March 2013

Marvin and the Pirate Circus


Marvin and the Pirate Circus is a work-in-progress of mine that takes place in a whimsical and fantastic world. Similar to Legacy, this is a plot-heavy endeavour, and relies heavily on having unique, quirky, and likable characters. The world it takes place in is in the clouds, on a world of floating islands miles above the haze that covers the world below.

You are Marvin, a young and adventurious boy who lives and works on a cherry farm in the small rural town of Ambershire.

Fed up with the boring rural life, you jump at the chance when a travelling circus known as 'The Air Pirates' comes to town. Under the pretense of seeing the show, you go down there and run away to join the circus. When they reject you, you decide to sneak onto their ship.

So, during their big show, you excuse yourself to the washroom, then sneak onto their ship and hide.

When the ship is departing, you burst out of your hiding place and wave at the crowd of townsfolk back on the island, thinking yourself terribly clever.

The captain comes over to you, and takes off his eyepatch and drops his usual accent worthy of Long John Silvers and looks you in the eyes, and asks himself what to do with you.

You are surprised to see that he has two functional eyes, and to hear him speak like a regular person. In your disbelief, you ask him if it was all fake.

He responds that of course it was. He is an entertainer, not a pirate. This is a travelling show, not a band of swashbucklers. He is sorry if you are disappointed, but then again, he did tell you not to come with them; and there is still the issue of what to do with you.

You pipe up and tell him that you want to join the circus. The captain and asks you if that is so, even after learning that it was all a sham. You respond that he is too a pirate, he is still the captain of the Air Pirates, even if the eyepatch and the voice was fake; and you can be a pirate too – you could wear an eyepatch, and have a parrot, and do anything else that pirates needed to.

The captain tells you that he admires your enthusiasm, and seeing as how they are stuck with you until they reach the next town, they might as well make use of you.

They stick you with the often neglected job of laundry. Having just completed a show, you get to clean up after it. Their various shirts, pants, dresses, curtains, carpets, towels, and whatever else need to be aired out and cleaned.

Once you are done, it is after sunset, and you sneak your way past several crewmen who look like they have jobs for you to do, and meet the Captain again.

In your usual brash manner, you demand of him if this type of menial chore is all that he has in mind for you, and if you are going to be on stage with them or not. He responds that he doesn't know about your performing, as he doesn't know if you can handle the stage; if you want to perform, you'll have to prove yourself.

You ask him why they call it the seven skies. The captain asks you to repeat yourself. You do, and add that if you are going to be a pirate, then it is important for you to know these types of things.

He explains to you that there are three major cities in this world, and the skies are divided based on lines drawn between them, he shows you in drawing sand:
He explains that someone who has been to every one of the seven skies has seen most of what the world has to offer, therefore it is a bold claim for any airman to make, and therefore a claim made by every pirate, whether or not they actually have. You ask despondently if this means that that wasn't real (true) either.

He chuckles and replies that that is one boast he actually has claim to. In his younger days, he was an adventurous airman, and he travelled the world fearlessly; as he got older, he finally got some sense in him, but he just couldn't give up being an airman, so he started the circus.

You look at him with reverence and awe, before excitedly expressing your desire to travel the world with them. The Captain reminds you that you will be doing no such thing; you can stay with them until the next town, but no further, as without your parent's permission, you cannot travel with them.

Despite your protests that they would never agree to that, the Captain sends you off to bed with the threat that he will find more chores for you to do unless you go.

When you wake up in the morning, you find yourself on the top bunk in one of the cabins of the ship, light pouring in from the portholes in the door and wall.

You burst out of the door in your excitement, into a hall lit entirely in blue. Undeterred by such strangeness, you find your way to the stairs at the end of the hall, and go through the trap door to the main deck.

The sky is a beautiful green, and the world around you is unfamiliar and exciting to you. Most of the crew seems to be awake and active already, busily moving boxes, aligning the sails, scrubbing the deck, practising their parts, along with whatever else they might be inclined to do on a pirate circus ship.

As you gaze out onto the deck, a hand comes down on your shoulder from behind you. It belongs to a man who introduces himself as Tommy. He is dirty and unkempt, and looks to be pushing fifty based on his gray thinning hair. You reciprocate his greeting, nominating yourself as Marvin.

He abruptly tells you that that is no name for a pirate; no one is ever going to be afraid of the dread pirate Marvin. He asks you if you have a better middle name, or maybe a dead brother to call yourself after. You tell him that your middle name is Shamrock. He grimaces and tells you that he liked Marvin better.

He then says to you 'Well then Marvin Shamrock, Tommy "the Terrible", Thomas Maddock at your service, under Captain's orders, I am to find whatever presentable talents you have to offer our fine show. Do you have any talents Marvin?'

You begin listing off your various talents; you can whistle, you are good with animals, you can climb trees – he stops you there, saying that they need something that people would pay to see. He cites himself, he is a knife thrower, he can hit a bullseye from fifteen paces away. People love seeing him throw knives, and pay good money to watch his show. If you don't know your talents, then they are just going to have to find them.

He takes you inside one of the cabins, which features prominently a bullseye target. He then hands you a set of throwing knives, telling you try your luck with them. He tells you that it is all in the wrist, and to show you the desired motion, he throws a knife neatly into the centre of the target.

After struggling through a few sets of knives, he takes you away from that to try some of the other attractions. He introduces you to Killian, the Swordmaster of the troupe. Killian explains that he isn't really any better with swords than Tommy, or even most of the troupe, he is just flashier and more impressive, so audiences like seeing him do the act, and that is why he has the title.

Tommy tells Killian that he is being far too modest, as he is a fine swordsman who could take your head off before you've had time to blink.

Tommy then takes you to a girl named Mary, and asks you to guess what her talent is. She is fairly tall, and is plain but pretty; lacking any props or hints, you have no idea. She tells you that she is a contortionist, and what makes her special is that she can make herself look like a skeleton. Perplexed by such a dubious claim, you request a demonstration.

She turns around, and after a moment's preparation, she turns around again, looking nothing like before. She is missing her hair, her eyes are rolled back, her ribcage is jutting out, her stomach is all but two dimensional, such that you can even see her spinal cord, her cheeks are sunken, and she is walking with her arms extended in an unstable shamble. You give a cry of surprise, which promptly reverses her transformation, except for her hair of course, which is still lying discarded on the ground.

You compliment her on her talent, but question the hair. She explains that it is only a wig; she shaves her head because having hair like that would just get in the way during a performance.

Tommy interjects that she also does it out a fear of not looking androgynous enough already. Mary calls him an ass, then promptly apologizes to you, and assures you that you didn't hear her say that.

Tommy takes you along to meet Jessica, who works on the high flying stunts, including the trapeze and tightrope. He tells you that he has heard that Dimes are good at this sort of thing, so it is another potential talent for you.

Jessica is cheerful and friendly, and more shapely than Mary, although you are too young to appreciate something like that. She begins talking to you excitedly about her act, and then starts talking about how the low-density bone structure and low centre of gravity of Dimes gives them excellent balance and agility.

You and Tommy look at each other with an expression that says 'huh?' written on your faces. Jessica picks up on this, and invites you to join her up on the highwire. She invites Tommy up as well, with a sickly sweet tone of voice, to which he declines, in an uncharacteristically polite manner.

First up is the tightrope, which proves significantly easier than the throwing knives. Jessica is generous in her praise, and even Tommy seems impressed. She wasn't originally going to try the trapeze with you, but after such an impressive feat, she doesn't see the harm in it.

It is difficult, but still quite feasible for you, given your Dimyan heritage and adventurous nature. The safety net is up, so even if you fall, there is no real danger.

After that spectacle is over and you've said your goodbyes to Jessica, Tommy takes you to see the centrepiece of their show, the theatre. Excited to see such a grand sight, you follow him eagerly.

He leads you to a small, poorly lit cabin that contains three bored looking individuals lazily reading lines from their scripts to each other.

Clearly unimpressed with what he sees, Tommy smacks the wall to get their attention, and declares that the first mate is in attendance. They get right up and salute him, and declare that they are awaiting his orders. Tommy tells them to introduce themselves you, the Captain's runaway Dime.

The first, a bald man with an impressively braided beard identifies himself as Pete "the Punisher". The second, a lanky unkempt man with half as many teeth as he should, is called "Jolly" Roger. He smiles for you, and you discover that his missing teeth on one row correspond with the remaining teeth on the other, giving him an unsettling single row of teeth when he closes them. The third wears an orange bandanna on his head and has neatly trimmed sideburns that extend to his jawbone. He has a ponytail and wears a black vest over a classy white shirt. He introduces himself as Donald "Lockjaw" McGuffin.

Tommy begins listing the talents of the three men; Pete is the show's strongman and, strange as it may seem for a muscular, bald man, he also doubles as the show's main hairstylist. Grimm, aka "Jolly" Roger Grimm is in charge of the card tables. He can read people like a book and makes money for the show from his gambling; only where such practices are legal of course. He is also a capable girner.

You ask what that is, and Roger says plainly that it means he can put his lower lip over his nose. In response to your confused facial expression, Roger explains that it is good for physical comedy, as it distorts the perception of his facial composition to that of a borderline caricature of a man, which puts the audience at ease and enhances the experience.

Tommy rolls his eyes and tells Roger that as much as yourself that that means it makes him look funny, and that is why people people laugh. Under his breath, Tommy expresses his contempt for college graduates.

The turn then passes to Mr. McGuffin, and Tommy tells you that there is royalty in your midst, as Lord Lockjaw is a runaway Malichi prince. He is then interrupted by the subject of his claim, who explains that he was the last heir to a minor house and inherited his money after his parents died. Lockjaw goes on to explain that he helped found the circus out of his own pocket along with the Captain, and deals more with the business side of things rather than the performing.

You ask McGuffin what the Captain was like back then. He laughs and replies that some people never change; the Captain is, was, and always will be a wandering airman at heart. Tommy takes issue with this, and demands to know what McGuffin would know about who the Captain really is. He (t) tells him (m) that doesn't care what his (m) deal is with the Captain; he (t) still outranks him (m), and is twice the airman that he (m) is. McGuffin swiftly and coolly replies that he meant no offence by what he said, either to Tommy or the Captain.

Tommy dismisses his apology and takes you away. He rhetorically asks you if you know why he (t) is first mate and not that prat McGuffin, even though he (m) has been here longer; he tells you that it is because Lockjaw doesn't really care about any of them the way he (t) does, he (t) has made sacrifices for them; the circus is his (t) home, its crew his (t) family, unlike the spoiled prince McGuffin, whom he (t) is sure the Captain only tolerates because of his (m) money.

Next up, he takes you to meet the musicians. They practise in an underdeck cabin, back through the blue hallway and into a room lined with what appears to be cushions of some sort. The room contains a multitude of instruments, aside from those in the hands of the musicians, there is a piano, a xylophone, several sets of various drums, and a few stands, some empty, and some with elaborate string instruments on them. The musicians themselves are as interesting and alien as the room itself. They offer a more courteous reception than the actors, assembling for the first mate without prompting.

Tommy tells them to introduce themselves to their new Dimyan companion. First to meet that request is Charles Wilburt Montogomery, who dons expensive looking and frilly clothing, and has proper posture and an aristocratic accent. He tells you that he is the company's sole pianist and engineer. Tommy notes that for such an uptight blueblood, he makes a fine grease monkey. Charles insists that he is neither a blueblood not a grease monkey; he is an accomplished pianist and engineer who will not stand for his titles being misrepresented. Tommy tells you that despite how he appears, he is actually a pretty good guy.

Next up is Winston McVale "the Mouth", who plays the cello. His instrument appears to be some form of oversized violin that rests on the ground instead of one's shoulder. He has red hair done up in a ponytail, and wears the simplistic garb typical of the other pirates. He has a slightly overgrown beard, and as far as you can tell, there is not anything remarkable about his mouth, which piques your curiosity regarding his nickname. You ask him; and responds that that isn't something he ca explain to a kid like you. Charles verifies this fact, and Tommy takes you along to meet the next musician, while surreptitiously telling you that he has an exceptionally foul mouth, and Jessica wouldn't approve of him using his extensive vocabulary in front of a kid.

Thirdly is Bill Longshore, a pale and disinterested looking man, who tells you that he is the lead vocalist and violinist of the circus. His voice seems just as apathetic as the rest of him, and doesn't sound like the one you heard at their show before. Charles assures you that he cleans up well, and is in fact the on your heard at their show, although you'd never believe it of you hadn't seen him perform. He doesn't look as if he's shaved since the performance, and appears to have slept in his current clothes.

In contrast to Bill is Zhu Lee, of Julie as everyone calls her; she is well dressed, wearing a colourful and exotic dress, and has her hair tied back against her head. She is cheerful and enthusiastic and speaks with a thick accent and poor grammar. She explains that she is the main percussionist of their band, and plays the drums, xylophone, cymbals, bells, triangle, chimes, and cowbell for them.

The musicians seem a nice enough group, and you are invited to try out various simple instruments such as the xylophone and flute, but it is generally agreed that you are not at the level required for their performance.

Tommy begins to say his and your goodbyes, when he is interrupted by Charles asking Tommy about your role in their next production. Needless to say, the subject gets you excited, an excitement which only grows when Tommy gives out some details.

He explains that the Captain thinks that it is too good an opportunity to pass up by not using you in the production, on the other hand, you are young and inexperienced, so he wants to play it safe. You excitedly begin prodding Timmy for more details, who tells you that eh doesn't know anymore yet, and eh won't until the Captain makes the final decision, if you want any more details, you'll need to get them from the source.

With that, you say a hasty goodbye to the musicians, and a very exacerbated Tommy, and run off to try and find the Captain.

After hastily heading topside, you look around the deck and don't see the Captina. A few quick questions reveal the he is on the crow's nest, watching for their destination island to come over the horizon. You climb up there to speak with him about your role in the ipcoming production. Amost immediately, you begin pestering him for details so that you can prepare.

The Captain tells you that no preparation will be necessary; the best actors are ones that are not acting, but instead are living out their roles, and that authenticity of spirit is what he hopes to get from you.

Needless to say, that does not satisfy the curiosity of a young boy anymore than a picture of water sates the thirst of a dying man. You continue your barrage of questions and various fantasies of what your role could and should be. As you start practising introducing yourself as the Dread Pirate Marvin in your best imitation of Long John Silver, the Captain interrupts you and tells you to look at the horizon, pointing in the direction that the ship is heading.

He tells you that over the horizon lies their destination, Auraburg; they will reach town tomorrow, and when they do, you will get your role. Until then, they will travel due west, and it will appear on the horizon in a few hours. In the meantime, it is getting late and you should probably be getting to bed. Despite your protestations, the sun is setting; however the Captain offers you the opportunity to practise the talents Tommy showed you today before you go to bed.

You can barely sleep that nigh t out of excitement, and wake up extremely early, before dawn, while it is still light out. As you rummage through the room, looking for a light source, you wake up your roommate, Jessica, who lights up a lantern.

Despite her obvious grogginess and grumpiness at being woken up several hours early, she tries to be nice to you and negotiate going back to bed. The two of you eventually come to a compromise and you leave her to go back to sleep in exchange for the lantern.

You make your way to the main deck and find it manned by the Captain and Mary, who are adjusting the sails and on the crow's nest respectively.

The Captain acknowledges your enthusiasm and compares it to his own, as it is the reason you are both up a this ungodly hour. The moon is nearly full and the stars are out in full force' it is a clear and beautiful night. The Captain tells you that Auraburg is visible from the crow's nest; you should go up there to see both it and Mary.

Once up, Mary greets you with a kind and distracted air, She snaps out if it when you ask for the binoculars. As you are looking at Auraburg in the distance, she tells you that your remind her of the Captain. You excitedly ask her if you think you could be like him one day. She responds that she hopes not, as such a life may seem exiting now, but it is a hard life and she is sure that the Captain is hiding some terrible tragedy from his past.

You dismiss all of that, leading into a few lines of "It's a pirate's life for me".

---

This is all I have typed out for now, additional story exists but only on paper. The story itself is not even complete there, but I quite like it. 

I will try and continue the story here in the future, but until then,

-Colin

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