Intersections II: Scarlet Furies and Red Destinies
Chandresh enters the circus and dons one of the Halloween masks that are available to the circusgoers. Chandresh follows the man in the grey suit throughout the circus as he visits tents and watches performances. Chandresh is unaware that Marco is following him in turn. Just as the man in the grey suit pauses in a relatively clear area, something changes in the circus. The bonfire sputters, performances falter, and Marco crumples over. Chandresh draws a knife and throws it at the man in the grey suit, who moves out of the way just in time. Instead, it strikes nearby Herr Thiessen in the chest. Chandresh staggers away. The man in the grey suit lowers Herr Thiessen to the ground and says something unheard over Herr Thiessen’s dying form. Poppet screams when she sees Herr Thiessen’s blood. The man in the grey suit leaves the scene and hands Chandresh’s dagger to Marco as he passes him.
The Pool of Tears
The narrative switches to second person point of view to describe the Pool of Tears. At the center of this tent is the pool where smooth black stones can be dropped to collect at the bottom. The tent is melancholy and still. It invites sad memories to come to mind. Dropping the stone into the pool makes one feel lighter.
Bailey retrieves his keepsake box from the oak tree and packs his belongings. He sneaks out of his room after everyone has gone to bed and writes a note to his family. As he sets it on the table, his sister asks what he’s doing. He admits that he is leaving home but does not elaborate. The two argue about him running away and Caroline tells him to grow up. Bailey tells her that his decision to leave is him growing up because he can’t be happy if he stays there. He walks to the circus but when arrives, it has gone.
The man in the grey suit leaves the circus to find Hector waiting for him at the edge of the courtyard. The man in the grey suit uses his power to turn the attention of the circusgoers away. He tells Hector that the challenge has gotten out of hand because the venue is too exposed. They argue about the flaws they see in the challenge and each other’s approach to it. Hector argues that the man in the grey suit becomes too attached to his students and the man in the grey suit points out that seven of Hector’s students have chosen to end the challenge themselves. He tells Hector that Celia will hate him if she wins and Hector insists that she will be the victor. He reminds Hector that an innocent man died at the circus that night and departs when Hector replies that the game isn’t over.
Celia arrives at Marco’s flat in London the night of Herr Thiessen’s death, covered in blood. She tells Marco that she tried to heal Herr Thiessen, but it didn’t work. The two piece together the events of the night and what lead to Herr Thiessen’s death. Marco told Isobel that he was in love with Celia, which motivated her to break the charm holding the circus together. Celia invited the man in the grey suit to the circus in the hopes of getting a verdict, which led to Chandresh following him there. Neither knows how Chandresh found out the man in the grey suit would be there that night.
Marco and Celia begin to speak of their magic and their relationship. Marco shows Celia how he does his manipulations using his notebooks and shows her the miniature version of the circus he has built out of paper. When Marco offers to talk to the man in the grey suit about getting a verdict, Celia tells him that she doesn’t want to talk about the game. She tells him that she’s tired of holding things together and holding herself back. She leans on him for comfort and the touch escalates into passion. Celia and Marco make love for the first time. While Marco sleeps, Celia steals the notebook that contains the circus signatures and sneaks out.
Herr Thiessen’s senseless death is a pivotal moment that reveals how several threads of the plot intersect. There is dramatic irony as Marco and Celia attempt to piece together what caused Chandresh to attack the man in the grey suit, leading to Herr Thiessen’s death. While the reader knows Hector has been poisoning Chandresh’s mind, Celia and Marco remain unaware. In contrast, the man in the grey suit seems to guess at Hector’s involvement when he confronts him. Similarly, Isobel’s’ dismantling of the circus’s protection spell when Marco breaks her heart has unintended consequences for the circus. All of these events are indirectly caused by poorly managed emotions as Isobel reacts from pain, Chandresh from confusion, and Hector from frustration over his damaged ego. Although Celia is unaware that her father’s maneuverings got Herr Thiessen killed, she does understand the danger posed to those caught up in the circus. Celia’s inability to save Herr Thiessen confirms earlier foreshadowing when Lanie warns Celia that people cannot be as easily repaired as teacups. The responsibility Celia feels for his death ultimately results in her stealing Marco’s book, and inches the plot toward its climax.
Hector and the man in the grey suit continue to serve as foils for one another when their long running conflict comes to a head the night of Herr Thiessen’s murder. The entirety of the challenge is based on their ideological approaches to magic, but their difference of opinion is in stark relief when Hector goes so far as to attempt to have the man in the grey suit assassinated. Their heated exchange following the incident makes it clear that the man in the grey suit believes that Hector is a reckless fool. At the same time, Hector’s single-minded pursuit of winning, and whatever glory it might entail, blinds him to everything else going on, even when the man in the grey suit points it out to him. His callousness finds him overlooking his daughter’s obvious pain even when the man in the grey suit transports her voice across the circus to force Hector to listen to her grief. In contrast to Hector, the man in the grey suit cares about the toll that the challenge is exacting, both in taking Herr Thiessen’s life and in Celia’s emotional pain. While he certainly is no hero, the conversation establishes that the man in the grey suit is by no means the cruel person Hector is.
The longstanding romantic tension between Marco and Celia is finally resolved in “Beautiful Pain” when Celia visits Marco following Herr Thiessen’s death. Ironically, all the forces that have been conspiring to keep them apart have contributed to throwing them together. When Isobel dismantles her balancing spell, it throws the circus into chaos, but also removes the metaphorical barrier between Marco and Celia. Similarly, Hector’s interference causes Herr Thiessen’s death, which has the opposite effect on the challenge that he hopes when it causes Celia into an emotionally fragile state. The rawness of Celia’s grief coupled with the weight of responsibility she has been carrying for the circus leaves her vulnerable and in need of comfort. The moment acts as a catalyst for Celia finally stop denying herself the one thing she truly wants: Marco. However, the state of their relationship is still uncertain at the close of the chapter when Celia sneaks out after stealing Marco’s book, creating mystery over Celia’s motivations and suspense over what will happen between the lovers next.
Bailey finally asserts what he wants from life and embraces his dreams by confronting his sister before leaving for the circus in “Farewell.” Bailey’s decision reveals he has come to embrace the future that he really wants rather than one of the ones that have been prescribed for him. When Caroline finds him on the brink of leaving in the middle of the night and calls him childish, Bailey finally stands up for himself and his dreams of a different life. While a cathartic moment for him as he stands up against his lifelong bully, he must contend with his choices when he discovers the circus has gone in the very next scene. The chapter ends leaving Bailey with another pivotal decision to make. The cliffhanger creates suspense over whether Bailey will forge on after the circus, or return to the comfort of the life he already knows.