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Masked Ones
General information

Ballum (formerly)
Bess (formerly)

Notable members












Chronological information
First appearance


Last appearance

Secrets of Deltora

The Masked Ones are a mysterious, travelling circus troupe known for the strange animal masks which they wear. Despite their odd appearance and behaviour, their performances are highly popular in Deltora.[1]


Tales of Deltora[]

The Masked Ones were formed by Prince Ballum after he was forced to flee the palace after he was accused of attempting to murder his brother. He wore an owls mask to disguise his face after it had been damaged by fire. As he travelled and performed around the country, many others decided to join with him. They too wore masks, so that, if they were attacked, the guards would not know which one was Ballum. As more and more people joined, the troop became larger and more respected in Deltora's north.[2]

Secrets of Deltora[]

Doran the Dragonlover wrote about the Masked Ones in his travellers' guide Secrets of Deltora.[1]



A leaflet advertising Otto, the Masked Ones' strongman.

The Masked Ones are encountered by Lief, Barda, and Jasmine on their way to Shadowgate. They are dropped into the secret meadow where the Masked Ones are kept by the Ruby dragon. Their strongman, Otto, went to investigate, and was killed by the phantom of the Masked One.[3]

Lief, Barda, and Jasmine where captured and brought before Bess, leader of the Masked Ones, to be killed on the grounds of spying and suspicion of Otto's murder. However, Bess welcomed them because Lief looked similar, if not identical, to her son, Bede. The rest of the Inner Circle despised this decision.[3]

On their way to Shadowgate, Lief learned much about the history of the Masked Ones, and of Bede. Bess explained that she wished for Lief to be her son's replacement, having seen it in her glass ball. However, when the Masked Ones decide to head east again, the companions explain that they will not be following.[3]

Bess asked Lief to wear her son's mask of adulthood for one hour before they leave, to which he agrees. Afterwards, she attempted to poison Barda in order to keep Lief and Jasmine with the troop. However, Kree switched the poisoned drink so that Bess drank it herself. When Barda tried to remove her mask, it tore her flesh, revealing that the masks of adulthood bond to human flesh.[3]

Many of the adopted "bare faced" members of the troop tore their masks off in disgust and tried to murder the inner circle. However, Rust summoned the barrier moths to attack all non mask wearing individuals. In the chaos, Jasmine managed to pry the bluebird mask off of Lief before it bonded to his face. Barda chased after the Masked Ones to regain their belongings, but they drugged him and left him on the side of the road. Afterwards, Steven bought the companions goods, and picked up Barda.[3]

The Sister of the South[]

Doom told Lief about the Tale of Ballum, explaining how Bede and Lief are cousins, and how it the same strategy was used to separate Doom and Endon. Bede and Zerry latter attended the wedding of Lief and Jasmine.[4]


Masked Ones Leaflet

An advertisement for the Masked Ones.

The Masked Ones are a travelling circus made up of acrobats, jugglers, singers, dancers, strong men, magicians, fortune tellers, and illusionists. Once someone is accepted into the troupe, they are assigned a role depending on their strengths and talents.[3]


The Masked Ones are ruled by a troupe leader who oversees the creation of the troupe's masks and plans out their travelling schedules. The position of troupe leader seems to be hereditary, as Bess, the leader in the time of King Lief, inherited the position from her mother, and her son Bede resembled Lief. The troupe leader's position is marked by a golden ring that can open up to conceal powdered poison. In this sense, the troupe leader holds the life and death of the troupe in their hands.[3]

Beneath the troupe leader is a council of high-ranked members known as the inner circle. It is unknown how one becomes a member of the inner circle, but all members have been given their masks of adulthood. The roles of the inner circle vary among each member, but they often oversee training and care of new members of the troupe.[3]


Masked Ones Banner

A banner in the Masked Ones' camp.

The Masked Ones are a seclusive people who do not socialise with anyone outside of their troupe. The exception to this rule are the large cities and towns where they make their performances, if only because that is how they make their money. If they find anyone on the road, or pass through a small village, some jugglers and acrobats might perform a few novelty tricks, but the troupe will not stop.[3]

Troupe members also openly express high amounts of prejudice and contempt towards anyone not in the troupe, whom they refer to as "Bare faced." Masked Ones only ever marry within the troupe and only accept new members who are orphans or runaway children, since they are not done growing and can be molded into members of the troupe. This rule was broken by Bess, who accepted teenagers and adults into the troupe to keep its numbers strong, but it is unlikely her practice lasted after her death, as the older members she brought in were looked down upon by the inner circle and referred to as "barefaced hangers-on."[3] Furthermore, many of the recent adult recruits violently turned against the masked ones when it was revealed that inner circle masks fuse to the flesh.

Due to Ballum's banishment from the palace, the Masked Ones have a deeply rooted hatred towards the royal family.[2] They openly referred to Lief as a tyrant, yet gave no examples to back up their claims. This lack of facts extends to anyone they find near their camp sight after performance hours; the troupe instantly believe these people to be spies for the king and execute them without hesitation.[3]

To discourage these spies, the Masked Ones bred a strange species of moth to act as their border guards when resting. The moths are summoned by a member of the inner circle and are trained to spit corrosive venom at anyone that does not wear a mask.[3]

It is not certain what became of their culture after the four sisters were dealt with. Though with the prosperity of the land restored and two of their rescued members (Zerry and Bede) supporting Lief as king: their hostile outlook to outsiders may have gradually faded.


Due to their suspicious nature, the Masked Ones developed their own language to communicate with one another. They replace all vowels with the letter "a" in all words except names. T is used in place of th. So, the sentence "We are the Masked Ones" would be said as "Wa ara ta Masked Ones."[3]


The Masked Ones250

The Masked Ones created elaborated masks to hide their identity.

The Masked Ones, as their name suggests, all wear masks. The masks are never taken off, not even to eat or drink. When members of the troupe become eighteen - of adulthood - they are given a special mask of adulthood that bond to their very flesh.[3]

Inner Circle[]

The masks worn by the inner circle are made, as normal masks are, with glue and fur or feathers or some other material, although appear better quality and more lifelike than those of the normal troupe. But the inside of the mask is coated with a substance made from boiling purebond roots that causes the mask to bond with skin and thus make the mask permanent. A spell may be said over the root because, as shown by Lief during Shadowgate, the mask has the ability to make the wearer believe that they are a true Masked One and are above the 'ugly bareface hangers on'. Lief underwent this exact thought process after wearing Bede's adult mask for an hour before the Masked Ones scattered in Happy Vale.[3]

Others in the troupe[]

Those outside of the inner circle wear normal masks that are in no way spelled or permanent. The normal masks are made by those within the troupe, and so appear rattier and of poorer quality than those of the inner circle. Traditionally these were children who had yet received their masks of adulthood, but Bess began adopting older members into the troop to increase their numbers.[3]

Members and Roles[]

  • Ballum (Founder. Wore an owl mask. Deceased.)
  • Bess (Troop Leader in the time of King Lief. Wore an owl mask. Deceased)
  • Rust (Member of the inner circle. Wore a fox mask. Called the guardian moths.)
  • Quill (Member of the inner circle. Wore an eagle mask.)
  • Plug (Member of the inner circle. Wore a frog mask. Looked after the orphans.)
  • Otto (Member of the inner circle. Wore a boar mask. Strong man. Deceased.)
  • Zerry (Orphan magician's apprentice. Wore a polypan mask. Defected.)
  • Fern (Costume designer. Wore a cat mask. Deceased)
  • Bede (Singer and Bess' son. Wore a bluebird mask. Defected.)



  1. 1.0 1.1 Rodda, Emily. Secrets of Deltora. Scholastic Australia. 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Rodda, Emily. Tales of Deltora. Scholastic Australia. 2005.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 Rodda, Emily. Shadowgate. Scholastic Australia. February 1, 2004.
  4. Rodda, Emily. The Sister of the South. Scholastic Australia. October 1, 2004.

See also[]