The truth about Xining was that Reve knew nothing about it.
He should have known something was amiss when people started hassling the train's conductor about where he'd stopped the train.
He should have known something was going on when a few of the construction team walked by, carrying their limping, bleeding friend between them.
He should have known that something was absolutely wrong when he ventured his way into the big top, adorned in the full regality of his costume and ready to perform, and someone in the audience threw a bottle at his head, the shards of glass cutting him just above the eye. He could see the people further inside; the audience was sparse, he gathered, through his splitting headache, but it seemed to move as one. A hive mind of poison-spitting locusts feeding on the violence in the air and the bitter scent of burning synthetic cloth.
The scent alone made Reve dizzy, made him falter as he tried to get out. The smoke was becoming thick and black and the sound of screaming overrode the unbearable heart-beat, that pounded in his head, pumping blood from his wound and down into his eye. It stung so bad that he could barely keep it open, and the smoke wasn't helping.
People ran passed him as he tried to gather his wits, one stopping to take him by the shoulder, inquiring as to whether or not Reve could make it out by himself.
"Yeah, just.... what.. what's going on?" He fumbled with words, the sound of his voice making him wince with pain.
"C'mon, Reve, we gotta get out of here, those bastards set the tent on fire--"
And a thought occurred to Reve, as he forced himself to open his eyes, forced his reason to cut through the pain in his skull. If he'd been in-costume and ready before the fire started, then it was likely that his fellow performers had been as well.
"--Ainsi. Did you see Ainsi in here?"
The girl had come to mean quite a lot to him, and the thought of her in trouble made his heart beat faster; his adrenaline a liquid courage in his heated veins. He had to be sure she was okay, and he feared he didn't have time to run outside and come back.
"I don't know, a while ago, I'm sure she got out. And we'd better too, before it all falls down on top of us!" And with that, someone left in a coughing fit, leaving Reve to tend to his own.
After wiping the blood from his eye, staining his costume further, the illusionist ran back into the depths of the tent, deeper and deeper into the smoke and even the flames. If Ainsi was inside, he'd find her, and if she wasn't, he had to believe he'd still have time to make it out without the tent collapsing and the hellfire engulfing him.
I fell in to a burning ring of fire
I went down, down, down
and the flames went higher.
And it burns, burns, burns
the ring of fire
the ring of fire
[lyrics to make this soro appropriately cheesy by Johnny Cash :D]