Zirkua Fantastic has been steadily running since 1753, amazing its patrons with acts of otherworldly skill and prowess. But that talent comes at a steep price: each artist must give a year of his or her life to the circus. None of them know why, only that the circus' owners will go to whatever lengths are necessary to ensure it. Toby, the hoop dancer at Zirkua Fantastic and son of one of the owners, is content with his life: he enjoys performing and Zirkua's wandering life, and even has a boyfriend among the circus' hawkers. But when a new artist arrives, bringing with him a strange flask and a number of odd occurrences, Toby falls face-first into the truth behind the circus: Its contracts bind King Jester, the immortal embodiment of chaos.
Zirkua's performances and contracts have held King Jester prisoner for centuries, but now something's amiss. King Jester's sister, Dragon, has escaped her own bonds and is working to free her brother, and his power is growing. If he is loosed on the world, it will mean the worst war in human history and the end of civilization... unless Zirkua Fantastic can find a way to stop him.
One of the first things I think of when I think about circuses and carnivals is the vendors. Games, foodstuffs, souvenirs. Any circus or carnival worth going to, in my experience, will have vendors. Even the big, fancy troupes like Cirque du Soleil sell you things (things that I've bought… expensive things that I've bought… I swear, it was worth it…). So of course, when I crafted Zirkua Fantastic, I had to include hawkers' corridor.
But there's more to it than that, for me. I admit to having a minor obsession with hawker culture. Two of my bucket list locations are Singapore, to visit a big hawker center, and La Paz, to go to the Mercado de Brujas (Witches' Market). Something about tiny, specialty shops clustered together like that, half business, half life form, appeals to me in a very real way. Probably also why I love malls.
But I also knew, from the very beginning, that hawkers' corridor, had to be a separate entity, a totally human experience. I almost imagined it, at its inception, as something that had to form simply because of the attractive power of magic. People would inevitably follow, and some of those people would inevitably have some sort of artisan skill.
Once I had that, I knew Marley had to be a hawker. It just made sense.
Thanks, Voss. If you want to check out Zirkua Fantastic, here's the link.