A pained shriek pierced the air. A woman lay in a colorful tent on the pelt of some sort of animal, and it reeked a bit from its last occupant. She lay with her knees up and spread among a small crowd of others. A man in white injected a needle into her arm, telling her to breathe and relax and that she would only have a few more contractions until the baby would be born.

Among those in the small crowd was a man who kneeled near her head. He had relatively feline eyes with a yellow coloring and slit pupils as well as a small, pair of black furred feline ears to match. He had a narrow face and black slicked back hair. His rough hand was weathered from work and was now holding the smaller and much more fragile hand of the woman below him.

The woman's face was now pale in color from some blood loss and her brown hair was splayed about to form small rivers over the musty pillow propped under her head. What was odd was that the woman had brown feathered, sizeable bird like wings sprouting from her back. They had quite a wingspan, though were currently folded awkwardly as best as one could when stuck on their back.

Currently she only had a wool blanket covering her bare body, as modesty was not needed in a place like this and especially a time like this. The circus wasn't one to have grand births, only ones in secret in one of the many tents with a man who barely passed as a doctor. Well, secrets weren't easily kept in a place like this, as there seemed to be ears everywhere. In fact, some others were standing outside of the colorfully striped canvas "walls" as this was happening.

The miracle of life wasn't something many people held highly in "The Leaping Dragon Circus". Well, so it was called, but there hadn't been an act for dragons in years. But what they did have that attracted crowds was this: freaks. And plenty of them. Though maybe just because people tend to have skewed definitions of what a 'freak' may be considered. Such as that the humans of the world of Adareye believed that many creatures we may deem as 'mythical', were freaks. Werewolves, vampires, unicorns, you name it. As well as those with mere deformities such as a stunted height or disfigured hands. "The Leaping Dragon Circus," had a whole array of outcasts among its ranks and all were led, or owned rather, by a cruel Mistress. Such a Mistress that ruled with such secrecy that no one even knew her name, only her title.

Yes, Mistress was not a force to be reckoned with. She had plenty of loyal goons, or a few select people who choose to be faithful for some sort of boon, or reward. She could usually be seen wearing a nice dress of some sort with plenty of rings and jewels adorning her fingers. A fur or silk scarf was rarely missing from her outfit. Her blonde hair was always kept in a neatly sprayed bun to show off her dangling golden earings, but mostly that she meant business. And denying her any sort of business usually warrented some convincing in the form of her voice, which had the magical ability of persuading even the most stubborn of creatures.

And at this time, the Mistress stood above the woman who was in labor. Her mouth was drawn in an indifferent line as her cold grey eyes observed the woman under her. To her, the woman was merely a dog, or a livestock of some sort. One that would be bred to produce more freaks for her possession. Afterall, she had forced the currently concerned looking man at the woman's side to impregnate her in the first place. That's how things usually worked around this place. The Mistress held her pipe to her lips and took a deep breath before blowing the swirling smoke into the air, which was rather cold at this time of night.

Outside of the tent, brassy music played throughout the grounds. The circus was situated in a field at the time, as it usually was. Their location was selected here because a city was not too far off. The train they had arrived in, a rather old train with faded colorful box cars, was now sitting on the tracks at the edge of the field. The circus members milled around the train; entering and leaving boxcars to gamble, talk with others, drink smuggled liquors, and various other acts that usually remained unquestioned. Brightly colored tents of varying sizes dotted the land as well and were inhabited by some of the higher ranked performers or anyone lucky enough to be granted the luxury of staying in one.

Now back to inside of the tent, the woman released a short final shriek that was mostly hidden among the sound of circus music. There was an exhale, and the doctor held the newly born baby. He took to cleaning it as carefully as he could when using old towels to do so. He then swiftly cut the umbilical cord, unknowingly condemning the new child to live in hell. Maybe it would have been better if the child was a stillborn.

But it, she rather, wasn't dead. No, she was breathing and was a healthy looking baby girl with a small head of raven colored hair. What was odd was that she had never released a cry like a normal baby, though she'd have plenty of tears shed in the next years of her life. What was also peculiar was that she had small feathered avian wings the same color as her dark hair. They were folded awkwardly on her back, and the baby stretched them out a bit.

Now the Mistress was interested. She looked at the baby, mostly just her wings. Perfect, another freak for her collection. The young ones were usually a nuisance to keep, but at least they could be taught obedience easier and question escape less because this life was all they ever had.

The man who was kneeling anxiously beside the mother, now eased the mother up into a sitting position. The doctor held the baby out to the mother, and as soon as the woman's eyes had met the child, you could tell that she was already attached. She accepted the child and held her close, wool blanket drawn around herself. She looked at her child before smiling at its father. They had been a unique case, where the two had grown to actually care for one another over the course of the pregnacy. Maybe not in a romantic way, but the relatively young man's kind smile in return was a geniune one.

"What should we name her?"the woman asked the man.

The man thought briefly before casting a brief glance at the ever cruel looking Mistress who sported a rigid posture. Then he looked to the child and felt a burst of hope, a single surge of defiance. His child would put the Mistress in her place one day. She had so much potential in her life as a young child who would grow to know this place like the back of her hand. His answer came easily.

"We should name her Victoria. "He suggested.

The mother's eyes lit up at that and she inhaled a small gasp. "That name is beautiful. "She said before she looked back to the baby in her arms, cradling her close.

"Victoria..."she tested the name on her tongue as she looked to the baby, who had had avian wings drawn close now.

The doctor spoke uo as he packed up his supplies. "Ah, that's a nice name. It means victory, you know?"he commented idly, voice quite nasally sounding.

"Yes."the man replied confidently, casting a look at the Mistress.

The Mistress' eyes were set and gleamed with some frustration. Her jaw sat stiffly. "How wonderful."she said with naturally venomous words, her voice offering no warmth.

The baby cooed lightly and stirred, drawing the attention of the others. With everyone looking, she spread her little wings out a bit and her eyes finally opened.

The others seemed to hush, transfixed. The girl had intriguing eyes. One eye was violet in color and the other was green and had a cat like pupil like her father's. For the Mistress, she had lucked out with the intriguing eyes. To the father, this was merely a comfirmation that this girl was different.

But no matter what veiws they had on the birth that cold fall night, one word seemed to stick out; victory.