This is part 8 of an 11-part series (click here to read the first blog in the series).
She now knelt where he’d been standing, facing the wheel across the fire. Her naked body traced with thin, red lines… chinked with charred burns. The Circus Master was consulting the Fire-Witch at the edge of the clearing. Her strange murmurings provoking a response from the wilds – thunder rumbling in the distance. The fire flapped and wrapped as the wind began to gust. Sophie stared at the dragon-scale cane poking out of the conflagration. The metal glowing searing hot. She steadied her breathing. She knew what was coming next. Could feel the flood of his presence as he strode over.
‘It is now time to repeat your Binding Oath.’
Lightning flickered in the distance and the thunder rolled closer. Could hear the wind galloping over the treetops… drawing the summoned storm. A haunting whistling sound as the air gushed down into the clearing. The Circus Master moved to stand by the fire, diagonally in front of Sophie. She looked up, expecting him to say something for her to repeat. But he just stood there… waiting. Then a slight nod, as an instruction for her to begin.
‘I pledge myself to you – my Master. This is my Binding Oath. You are my Master and I am your Little Bird. We are One… a part and apart. As ever before, as ever after.’
His eyes sparkled greedily, as if she were lost treasure dug from the ground. A raindrop tapped onto her neck. He turned to stand with his back to her. The lean musculature of his torso hardening rigid, before he breathed a long exhalation. His body relaxing – fluid like molten iron. He stooped sideways and clenched his right hand around the staff of the cane. The steel was seething hot, so the steam seared and hissed as his grip tightened impossibly. The smell of scorching flesh. He pointed his face towards the storm-clouds broiling in the dark heavens. The acrid smoke jetted out of his mouth along with sizzling sparks of flame. He drew the cane from the fire and held it high in the air.
‘Bu – Ra – Hay!’
The electricity leaping from the cane met the lightning cracking down from on high. A brilliant scimitar of bright splitting the black sky. The thunder breaking directly overhead and shattering down over the forest with an epic boom. His figure lit up, incandescent – black bones glowing white. Air intoxicated with the odour of burning hair, flesh and blood. Sophie cowered back on her knees as the Circus Master turned and fixed focus on her. Mad, wild eyes. Crackling horns of electrified, black hair smouldering. Expression stark and blazing like the fire in the cold, but body slinking with relaxed vigour.
The baying wind rushed in all directions now, shivering Sophie’s ice-sculpted nipples. He lowered the cane handle, so the pommel was close to his mouth. Sparks flying from the branding ring as he blew over it. Then pointing it in her face, so she could see the ‘M’ and the backwards ‘C’ glowing. Sophie straightened her posture, pursing her lips resolutely. He gestured with his palm and she knelt forward. Forehead to the ground, ass in the air – praying towards the fire. The raindrops pitter-pattering on her back in a light haze as the precipitation began to catch up with the magical thunder. She closed her eyes peacefully as he circled behind her.
‘My Little Bird, with this brand, I seal your Binding Oath to me – your Master.’
He leant over and pressed the brand onto the top of her buttock. The agony was white-hot, but she tried to hold her body still. The abject scream blasting out of her mouth without touching the sides of her throat. He drew the brand away, yet the scathing pain blazed on. She dropped onto her side to writhe around in the dirt. A blinding blanket of lightning, bombastic booms of thunder, a splashing sheet of cold rain, suddenly tipping hard and fast. The fire howling as it drowned beside her.
He dropped the cane and stood watching his Little Bird rolling and squirming at his feet. Waiting a while, before stooping to pick her up. She hugged close as he cradled her in his big arms. Carrying her away from the fire and down the slope towards his camp. The bucketing precipitation washed over to cleanse her, but she could feel the precise shape branded into her flesh. His signature burned into her buttock. She was his… again! Tasting the salt as she sobbed happy pain into the rain.
The road looked more like a river as the torrential downpour splashed over the dark concrete. They forded the avenue and moved into the camp, making towards the largest caravan. The door swung open as they approached and he squeezed her body to manoeuvre through the door. It was warm in here. The sound of the rain becoming cosy, pummelling down on the outside. The fragrance of hearth-fire, old antiques and magical brews.
The place was a TARDIS: much bigger on the inside than it looked from without. The ceiling so high you could feel the space stretching out for meters above. Lots of strange objects cluttering the vast room. Racks of throwing weapons and various elaborate pieces of circus equipment. An arcane alchemist’s lab, jumbled with glass tubes and bottles of bubbling green liquid. A zoo of taxidermy animals, fronted by a haunted pole-cat, staring intently out of long-dead eyes.
He strode across the room and delicately placed her on the large bed. The soft kinaesthetics of smooth silks and fluffy furs. Luxuriantly comfortable, except for the searing pain of the brand, forcing her to toss and turn. His expression was calm and solemn as he rolled her onto her back. The curling palm of his hand stroking over her head and brushing down her spine. She flinched as he hovered his fingers over the brand, agony twinkling to his touch. She peered up through a pained, twitching squint and their eye-contact lingered.
He scrunched his hand, as if grasping hold of an invisible arrow protruding from her wound. She winced, but held focus and watched his eyes narrow. A jolt in his body and the pain began to rush out of hers, flowing through his hand to collect inside him. His eyes micro-flinching, teeth gritting, the hint of a grunting growl. As he rose and pulled, all the agony flooded out of Sophie in one go. Joyous relief instantly melting into serene comfortableness.
The Circus Master’s body racked with tension, muscles writhing over his torso like entangled snakes. He snarled and spun on his heels, sweeping his arm in a whirling arc to hurl several balls of yellow feathers from his opening fist. The little birds tumbled before straightening out, flippering into a flap to whizz in blurry circles around the chamber, before shooting out of the caravan door in a chaotic, trooping line. They took all the pain with them, dissipating it into the night.