To attend Le Cirque Nocturne, one must begin here; there is no other option. Tickets go on sale at twilight, but the gates never open before full dark. The price of a ticket depends entirely on who's paying - the more spending money the purchaser has available, the higher the ticket price. Those without much extra money in their budgets find tickets surprisingly affordable. Each ticket seller is sensitive to the supernatural, as part of their job is ensuring extraordinary creatures end up at Management's office — supernatural creatures frequently find that their admission is entirely free.
Directly beyond the ticket booth lies the only public entrance to Le Cirque Nocturne. A twisting path through trees lit only by twinkling white lights and the occasional lantern. Anyone trying to sneak in sans ticket can walk the path as often as they'd like, but will only ever find themselves back at the head of the path, right behind the Gates.
At the end of the path lies a second archway, set into an enormous topiary. Beyond this gate lies the Midway. Like a traditional carnival midway, it is sprinkled with games, shops, and food vendors. Cirque's artists make their home here, offering portraits and caricatures, face-painting - even tattoos - in their shops and stands. Dancers, stilt-walkers, and jugglers roam the midway all night, and guests can stop for amazingly delicate sweets, savory treats, or even sumptuous meals.
A few traditional carnival favorites can be found on the Midway, providing those breathless shrieks of laughter everyone expects. The carousel is a particularly beautiful attraction, a bright and glowing ride suitable for children and adults. The Ferris Wheel lights the carnival from above; visible anywhere on the grounds and well beyond, often helping guests find their way back to the Midway if they're turned around in the maze of paths. Like the Carousel, this attraction is a favorite for all ages – guests always feel safer near the glowing lights. Indeed, guests are safer in the vicinity of these rides; looked after by caring operators.
THE BIG TOP
What circus would be complete without a Big Top?
A giant tent just off the Midway, the Big Top somehow feels even bigger once inside, no doubt thanks to the magic winding through every particle of the circus. Traditionally the Big Top was the territory of the Ringmaster, a place where he oversaw the many performances happening in the three rings. The acts are still there — aerialists and acrobats, skilled stage combatants, and the Cirque's cadre of fire-based acts, all performing daring feats and fantastic tricks. The Ringmaster, however, is gone. Of course, the guests don’t seem to notice, distracted as they are by the spectacle. The employees, though, are bound to feel the absence.
Rather than the showmanship of the Ringmaster, there are animal acts and smaller shows between larger ones. These whimsical acts offer a respite between the more breath-taking feats. They also tend to be a little more on the family-friendly side.
THE FREAK SHOW
A throwback to the traveling carnivals of old, the Freak Show of Le Cirque Nocturne is especially freaky. Guests can meet not only the Bearded Lady and Strongman, but they can also see a man with clawed hands, a woman who can turn her own head completely around on her shoulders, conjoined twins, and a live mermaid. Other acts include a skilled contortionist, hook suspension, and anything involving skin and lots of needles.
Of course, the patrons don't know that everything in the freakshow is much freakier than they think. But who's going to tell that the Strongman is a Minotaur, or that merfolk are real? It's much safer (and more lucrative) to let them think they're just seeing standard, entertaining, mundane sights they're expecting.
THE FROZEN GARDENS
Seemingly contained within a large glass structure, stepping inside feels more like crossing into an entirely different world. The Frozen Gardens resemble a palatial garden in the midst of winter – beautiful and carefully manicured. However, every detail is crafted from ice and snow. Snow falls continually from the ceiling, as though it were a real sky, the ceiling obscured by heavy winter clouds. Guests are offered warm wraps at the entrance, lest they end up with frostbite, and just outside, a food vendor helpfully sells hot cider, chocolate, and warm pastries.
Since the Cirque’s reopening, the Frozen Gardens has become the home of the Winter Court of the Fae. Some of these Fae make their home in the Gardens themselves, and some choose to live in the manor house with the rest of the employees. There can be no doubt that the territory is considered to be under the control of the Winter Court, though. No Summer Fae are welcome in the Frozen Gardens, save for their official envoy, and employees working in the attraction are best served by making friends with the Fae.
THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE
A favorite of young visitors, the Gingerbread House is not contained in a tent, but rather set in a small white building coated in swirling black patterns. Smells wafting out of the sweets-shop are heavenly, and lure guests inside with the promise of exquisite treats.
The staff of the Gingerbread House do not put children in the oven, of course, instead spoiling them with treats and goodies before sending them on their way. Parents can look forward remarkably good coffee, in addition to the colorful pastries and hot chocolate. Despite its central location and popularity, children never seem to find this attraction more than once per visit. Adults, of course, have no trouble locating it again.
Scattered about the grounds are beautiful, intricate statues - painted performers who are the epitome of subtlety; moving so slowly and with such grace that they do not seem to move at all. Considering the levels of patience and control they display, these performers are considered consummate artists & often end up with their own fanclubs.
Enamored guests have been known to offer trinkets and flowers to the statues, waiting patiently while they slowly shift positions to accept the gifts. Of course, the performers never speak their thanks - that's left to the patrons to assume. The Living Statues include The Empress of the Night, The Black Pirate, The Lovers, The Paramour, and The Snow Queen.
The Menagerie is a wondrous feat of glamour and illusory magic. Outside, it is like any other tent. Inside, the Menagerie reveals itself as a vast, exotic garden filled with animals in open habitats. The attraction is filled with mundane and impossible creatures - even the occasional firebird or unicorn - which guests can see and interact with. A wild river runs through it to provide a practical means to water all animals living within. This river isn't the safest of places for guests, as some Inhabitants are carnivorous.
Since the Cirque’s strange reopening, the Menagerie has also become the seat of the Summer Court of the Fae. Some of the Fae choose to make their home in the attraction itself; some remain in the manor house. Regardless, it is quite apparent that the Summer Court holds dominion over this area, at least in their own view. No Winter Court Fae are allowed into the Menagerie, aside from their official envoy, and employees of the Menagerie are best served to get along with the Summer Court.
THE MIRRORED LABYRINTH
Every good carnival needs a mirror-maze, and the Labyrinth is undoubtedly a magnificent example of one. Located in a complex system of tunnels beneath the grounds, guests can be lost in the mirrored halls for hours if unwary. Occasionally, guests never find the exit, but this isn't exactly part of the advertisement. The Mirrored Labyrinth is the lair of Le Cirque's Wendigo, who ensures guests can enjoy a good scare before they find their way out. If they find their way out.
The mirrors are cleaned and repaired daily, lest anyone be troubled by the sight of blood-smeared glass. Given the nature of the attraction, it's no surprise it's also home to several spirits. They can be seen in the mirrors intermittently; reflections of the people they once were.
A small arrangements of tents and booths houses Le Cirque Nocturne's oracles, fortune tellers, tarot readers, palmists, and mediums. While the area is hung with Turkish lanterns, it still exudes an intimate atmosphere. Patrons may choose the manner in which their fortunes are read, but aren't always happy with the results. After all, not everyone comes looking for truth, but the diviners of the Cirque aren't paid to share pretty lies.
If the truth isn't what a patron wants, they're probably better off with the Cirque's hypnotists and mentalists. Those performers work their magic in a single small, cozy tent with a stage – don't worry, it's always just large enough for the crowd.
NEVERMORE – SPEAKEASY/BURLESQUE
When Cirque mysteriously reopened, the infamous Virtue & Vice was replaced by Nevermore, an incarnation of the bar that Elia and Marcus owned in New Orleans. This black-curtained pavilion is large, but the atmosphere is decidedly intimate, draped in dark colors and filled with sumptuous fabrics. There is a variety of seating for guests, armchairs to couches, and even plush pillows on the floor from which guests can relax and watch the performances. Don't worry about passers-by sneaking peaks; those curtains are enchanted for privacy. The bar serves liquor by the glass, manned by a single charming bartender. Between performances, live musicians keep the music going. Guests must mind their manners, but the burlesque performers are known to be very affectionate... although the objects of their affections don't always end up going home in one piece. Patrons who become rowdy or grabby are escorted out immediately, sometimes violently. There are rumors that some performers may offer private services for high prices, but there doesn't seem to be an official stance on this, just blank looks to people who ask. If you have to ask, you don't have the money.
THE BANDAID STATION
This is what the circus employees affectionately call their on-site clinic. This is not a tent at all, but a smallish building off the Midway. The front is neatly stocked with everything healers might need to treat their human guests - up to a moderate human wound - but the Cirque's healers are extremely capable in most situations.
Through a set of heavy curtains lies the larger area of the building, meant for the treatment of employees. This is the primary focus of the medical station, and it is set up to accommodate more arcane needs for healers - complete with beds in various sizes and equipment.
THE CAULDRON & THE HUB
The Cauldron is the heart of the Cirque, literally and figuratively. Always found dead-center of the grounds, it's huge and roiling with smoke and multicolored lights. The Cauldron is beautiful, if spooky, and serves as a container for all the varied Arcane energy that keeps the circus operating as is usual. Patrons who notice the Cauldron always seem to think better of getting too close or trying to touch it - the result of subtle, skillful warding.
The Hub is rarely ever noticed by patrons, despite placement just across the path from the Cauldron. Small exterior, but much bigger on the inside, it houses the Cirque's security and primary electrical equipment. Lights, sound, security cameras... boring, right? For the most part, this building is off-limits to non-Security, non-Techie staff.
THE PLANTATION HOUSE
The beautiful plantation house is front-and-center as one enters Le Cirque's gates, but it is completely inaccessible to them without the invitation of an employee. This mansion is a shifting construct, and while the façade never changes, the interior is a different story. Each Cirque employee has a designated suite of rooms which appear when the new employees sign their contracts, down to a nameplate on their door.
It should be no surprise that the rooms themselves are enchanted; able to change based on an employee's personality or desire. The decor, views, balconies & even gardens all manage to appear for each suite without ever changing the external structure visitors see. As mentioned, the house is inaccessible to uninvited outsiders; they always find the doors locked, and the windows show only empty rooms.