“How do you know my name? Are you a psycho or something?”
Jester snickered and approached while answering.
“No, but I know much about you. I know that you’re a lonely good kid that had no luck in life and always has to stand the insults of buttheads that are no match for you. I know you’re clever and unacknowledged; like an artist with a unique style. A genius left alone in a world of incompetents. A kind child that lost the love of the ones he cherished the most to never get it back, forced to leave his home and dreams behind... And that’s why I’m here.” He stopped right in front of him. “To help you.”
Alexander swallowed saliva with another shiver. He didn’t want to admit it, but that man seemed to know pretty well what he was going through… even if they had never met before. How could he know all of that? And by his looks… well, he didn’t seemed like someone to trust; more like a madman in fact. Even his dark eyes were kind of creepy… but still… maybe it wasn’t wrong to learn a little more about him. Besides, with his skinny body, he’d probably beat him with ease, so Alexander decided to give it a try.
“Who are you?” He asked, directly.
“My name’s Jester” the other one answered, “Guardian of the sacred Diabolo and the power of mind. I come from a place called Circussa, in a different world from yours.”
“Right…” Not what he was expecting for. Alexander raised an eyebrow, starting to regret his decision to stay.
“Don’t you believe me?” Jester wasn’t surprised. Humans were generally skeptical and he knew he’d have to use his magic to convince his prey. After all, he was willing to do it. “Let me show you...”
His hands moved in the air and lighted a spark that slowly became a diabolo with both sticks. That was, indeed, an interesting trick but, even if it looked realistic, Alexander had its doubts.
“Impressive” he said, partially sarcastic.
“Oh, you haven’t seen anything yet.”
The magician took the sticks together and suddenly touched the boy’s forehead with the tops. Alexander felt a strange and invisible hit before stepping back.
“What the heck are you doing?” He shouted, taking his hand to the spot.
“Look around you” said the Guardian.
“Around me…?” The youngster looked away for a second and found out, amazed, that his surroundings had disappeared in a weird smokey mist. Colors twinkled here and there, confusing him even more… but then, another twinkle called for his attention. The fog began to shape and showed him a scene he knew perfectly. The same scene that had come to hunt him not too long ago; the funeral of his parents… and suddenly, a new scene appeared next to it, just like many others that surrounded him in a completely tridimensional experience. Moments of his life, of his daily routine and nightmares, kids making fun of him, people bad-mouthing about his origin or education, Ada promising to protect him from the world, the first high-school he attended followed by more insults and mockery…
“This is your life, kid” he heard Jester say. “Incomplete, bullied, alone… Wouldn’t you want to change that for something better? Much better?”
Those words said, the scenes began to alter but, this time, the situations were also different. A group of guys were talking to him… no… admiring him! “You’re so cool!” “I wanna be as clever as you are!” “Join us, please!” “We need someone like you!” And then he saw himself at one of the best universities he knew, already as a senior and having spent some wonderful years of peace and intellectual freedom. Even his aunt was in the picture. “I’m so proud of you, Alex. So proud!”
And just as everything appeared... it was dissipated with the mysterious atmosphere. Gone. ‘Finito’.
Alexander blinked with a unique and bizarre sensation in his heart and mind; something he had never experienced before… but strong enough to make him wonder… was all of that… real?
“Things could be very different for you.”
The voice at his back reminded him where he was standing. Turning to it, he looked at that man and couldn’t help but ask him. “Who are you… really?”
“I told you.” Jester answered. “I’m the Guardian of the Diavolo; one of the five Games from Circussa, a place full of magic and possibilities; and I’m on a mission here on Earth, that’s why I believe we could help each other.”
“Each other?” Alexander didn’t overlooked the meaning of those words. “How could I be of assistance to you...? And why?”
“Well… I need to get something that was stolen back home and… let’s say my efforts aren’t succeeding. But with your help, I might be able to do it.”
“How? And… what exactly is that thing you have to get back?” He wasn’t sure which answer to expect, but this situation was getting weirder every second.
“The Baton of wind, another of the five Games…” the other one replied, “and the one belonging to a fellow Guardian, Majorette. Or… that’s what it used to be.”
“What do you mean? Are there more like you?”
“There were” he explained, “but not anymore. You see, Majorette was… a good friend of mine in the beginning... she and the rest of the team; we were all incredible together and kept balance in our world, protecting it from all threats. Our last fight together was epic but… just after that, she started to act strange. Her baton became more than a weapon to her… like an obsession; but it didn’t end there. The thirst of power corrupted her and she finally betrayed us. Actually… she murdered the other three Guardians and I was the only one left to face her power. Luckily for me, I managed to defeat her, but at a high price. Just when I thought that everything would be over… she used her pixie Pipoh to take the baton away through a portal right into your world.” Looking at the boy’s confused face, he specified: “Pipoh is a small magical creature that we call a pixie. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
“Yeah… kinda…” Not really, but he didn’t mention that. “You have to… find that… ‘pixie’ and the baton.”
“But can’t you do it yourself? Why do you need me...?”
“That’s simple” the Guardian replied. “I’ve already faced Pipoh before, but when I tried to reach for the baton, it flew away from me. It seems that Majorette had put a spell on the Game so I wouldn’t be able to touch it. Now I need somebody who can get it for me in order to undo the spell.”
“I see…still… I think you could do it yourself. I mean… maybe I’m wrong, but… a pixie… doesn’t sound like a dangerous thing to me.”
“Ah, but he’s not alone.” Jester added.
“Didn’t you say…?”
“Pipoh came to your world by himself indeed, but he has found somebody to replace Majorette as a Guardian; someone who won’t trust me now because she’s fooled by that pipsqueak. And she’s a human like you.”
Alexander’s lips curved into a twisted smile.
“So… don’t tell me that you expect me to face her in your place.”
The magician smirked and the other one freaked out.
“No! Definitely not! Huh, huh!” He shook his head.
“I’m afraid you don’t understand the gravity of this situation, Alexander. Without the baton, the Games are incomplete, and so is the protection of my world… and yours.”
“Well… does a huge snakey creature ring a bell to you?”
The youngster realized what he was talking about and whispered the words in concern.
“Just so you know; your world and mine are now in a very unstable state because of the hole that Pipoh opened to come here. The fine line between both is getting thinner and it will get worse as long as the baton stays here. Can you imagine what will happen when they fuse together?” Alexander swallowed and Jester knew he had understood. “More monsters will cross to this side and destroy everything they find. Something that nobody will be able to stop; not among the humans. What will you do then, kid?”
“But…” the poor guy clapped his hands to his head, stressing. “Why me? I don’t even have powers like you! How could I…?!”
“I” the magician interrupted, “can fix that.” And just as he said it, he made a weird object appear from the blue. It looked like a golden… whip? “We can do this, Alexander. If you help me, not only will you save both our worlds but you’ll also earn the respect and admiration of those who mistreated you. You’ll become the hero you deserve to be.” He moved closer. “So; what do you say?”
Alexander looked at the Game, not too sure about the whole story. Danger was the main subject here; and he had already accepted that it wasn’t a joke. It couldn’t be… not with all those personal memories he’d rekindled…
Then, the words of his mother came to mind once more. ‘I know, darling, I know… You’ll go very far…’
He did want to go that far; didn’t he? He wanted to make her proud… much more than she was… beyond what she felt before…
He looked at Jester in the eye through his glasses.
“If I do this… can you guarantee my safety?”
“I’ll do my best to watch over you, but I can’t fight Majorette in my condition.” Said the magician. “My powers have… lowered since I came here. You’ll be alone in battle.”
“Will I have to hurt that Majorette girl?”
“That’s up to you” Jester chose his words carefully. “But it probably not be necessary if you plan your tactics. The whip’s element is the fire and hers’ the wind. You have some advantage there, and I’m pretty sure you’re also fitter. Shouldn’t be too complicated.”
Alexander took a deep breath and meditated his options for a few seconds. Finally, he opened them again and spoke with a confident voice while grabbing the whip in his hands.
“Fine. I’ll help you… Jester.”
And this one smiled mischievously.
“Welcome to the team… Jongleur.”