Though the eyes of a five-year-old
child, carnival is a wondrous thing.Zillions of people flowed in
an excitingly chaotic dance, laughing and giving themselves over
to the enchantment created by the acrobats, jugglers, barkers,
and entertainers of all varieties, who plied for their attentions
and coin.Huxters bellowed over the den of the crowd hawking their
wares from tiny stalls.Things to be had, one-of-a-kind trinkets
to be found no where else in the world (except a couple of stalls
down)! Faces and objects of intrigue flashed by, burning images
in her mind that would colour her dreams for years to come.Aromas
she had never experienced before assaulted her senses; some so
wonderful she wanted to stop and breathe them in deeply so she
would be able to smell them in her later memories and others she
hurried past and felt sorry she had been exposed to them.
Nikki was entranced.So awe-inspired
was she that she did not notice when her aunt Taarna stopped to
look in one of the stalls, until she excitedly turned to point
out a new fascination and found herself alone in the milling
crowd.Suddenly the smiling faces became nefarious sneers and the
abounding dreamlike wonders, became ominously nightmarish
threats.She panicked, running through the mob of merrymakers,
frantically trying to make her way back to where she had last
seen her aunt.The further she ran without finding her aunt, the
more desperate she became.At last, she threw herself down on the
ground and cried.Her sobs racked her tiny body, so that she could
barely breathe, but she was an IronWolfe child, and sobbing on
the ground was undignified.Training given from the time of her
birth, kicked in and she sat up, smoothed out her dress, calmed
her tears to a moderate weeping, and began to look around her for
anything or anyone familiar.
A bright red, blue and green blur
appeared approximately twenty meters directly in front of her.She
was not sure if her imagination was playing tricks on her,but she
thought that the blur might have been staring at her.She tried to
make herself small and unassuming.She did not want to be eaten by
a viscous carnival blur her first time ever at a carnival.In
fact, she did not want to be eaten by a carnival blur at all… or
any blur … or eaten ever!
She wiped the tears from her eyes
and blur focused, becoming a tall, red-haired young woman, in a
flamboyant peacock-inspired blue and green costume. Her sparkling
blue eyes were locked unwaveringly on Nikki.She twitched her cute
turned-up little nose and brightened her impish smile, as the
little girl's attention turned to her.With a suddenness that
caused Nikki to start, she threw herself into a series of
acrobatic flips and landed on her knees in front of the young
girl, proffering a small bouquet of flowers.The devilish smile
broadened and her eyebrows raised.
"You have the distinct look of an
IronWolfe.If memory serves, only Richard, Taarna or Castellan
might have a child your age.To which do you belong?"
Nikki giggled taking the bouquet,
excited and relieved to meet someone who knew her, sort
of."Castellan is my daddy!"As soon as it came from her mouth, she
remembered her mother's death and that her family had enemies.She
began to panic again and clamped her lips tightly shut.
"There is no need to be scared,
Kiddo.I am your Aunt Terra's cousin, Niki."The woman's smile grew
softer and warmer.
"Me too!" Nikki bounced up and down
"You are Terra's cousin?" Niki
asked in mock wide-eyed surprise.
"No!" Little Nikki giggled."I'm
"Oooohhh! I seeeeee!" Niki
responded rocking smoothly back and forth to the rhythm of the
drawn out words. "She took the young IronWolfe's hand and shook
it in a ridiculously exaggerated manner, sending Nikki into
another fit of giggles."I am Niki Darling."
"What a cute name!" Nikki
squealed.A shower of glitter fell over her and turned into gold
butterflies, flying up to tickle Nikki until she squirmed with
laughter.When she fell over with laughter, they turned back into
glitter and flitted down, settling over the ground and her
"Who is your friend, Niki?"Asked
the glitter thrower.To the little girl she was a golden Pixie-esc
goddess.From the exotic features of her face, glinted the same
blue eyes as Niki, but dark hair and deeply tanned skin set the
women in stark contrast to one another.This new person was clad
all in shimmering gold, down to a glittering layer of gold over
all of her exposed flesh.In her hand she had delicious looking
sweetmeat.Nikki suddenly realized she was hungry.
"This is Nikki!"
"Astounding!" the new woman
exclaimed as she sat down beside the little girl.She divided her
sweetmeat in thirds, giving Niki and Nikki each a piece."I'm
Majik Starshyne.It is a pleasure to meet you Nikki," she said
with a polite nod, taking the girls hand and shaking it in the
same exaggerated way that Big Niki had.Nikki was lost in giggles
"More over," Niki continued, "She
is not just Nikki.She is Nikki IronWolfe.Paul's niece." Niki got
a slightly, but not too much so, stern look on her face, "What
are you doing here by yourself?"
"I was here with my daddy and my
aunt, but I got lost and could not find my Aunt Taarna." Nikki
looked like she was fighting to keep her eyes from welling up
"Aunts can be slippery things
sometimes.They wander off so easily.You really must keep a better
eye on her next time.We can't be having lost adults running
around the place without the supervision of their children.It
would be havoc!"Niki said, trying to cut of the onslaught of
tears before they started falling again."It is a good thing you
found us."She leaned in as if sharing a secret."We tend to get
into a lot of trouble when there are no children around to keep
an eye on us."
Majik looked at Niki Darling."Tall,
blond hair, blue eyes, pretty as a rose, but mean as a
The redhead nodded. "That would be
"I will find her or Nikki's
father.Can I assume he looks either like Taarna or Paul or
"Something like that," Niki Darling
For the next half an hour, Nikki
was entertained by a troupe of jesters, jugglers, freaks, and
geeks, until she found herself being swept up in her father's
arms."You scared me to death! I was so worried!"He was hugging
her so tight that she had to wiggle to breathe.At last he let her
loose enough to look into her eyes.
"I am sorry, Daddy.I promise that
next time I will be more responsible and not let Aunt Taarna
wander off like that.You adults can get into so much trouble in a
place like this, when we children do not look after you."
Castellan smiled and hugged his
daughter close again.In the eyes of Niki Darling the world seemed
to brighten when that smile shone.Castellan looked to Majik and
Niki."Thank you, so much.I appreciate you taking care of the
angel of my heart for me."
"No problem," Niki Darling said, in
a jovial, light-hearted tone." She really is an angel.Besides she
is sort of family and very delightful family.If you ever need a
sitter, look me up."
"I am sure that Nikki wold like to
have you over sometime," Castellan stated.
Niki shrugged the impish smile
sneaking back over her lips. " I suppose I could watch her too."
She winked at Castellan."I know things are still raw for you
right now, but if you ever decide you are ready to date again,
get in touch with me.Terra always knows how to find me."
With a smile and a flamboyant bow
the two ladies took their leave, sauntering off.Castellan smiled,
shaking his head.Carrying his daughter, he headed off the
opposite way, to where Taarna was waiting for them.
"I really like them, Daddy," Nikki
said.She pulled back and looked at him, her head cocked to the
side, like she was considering something."But I do not think that
Mommy would have approved."
Castellan smiled bigger at the
thought of Dawn meeting those two."Neither do I,
Sweetness.Neither do I."
Original work and all revisions ©
SAM Blaize and Self-Spirit Jo.