(Found) Acrobat girl, slave, plague, metal collar

Askingforafriend

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Trying to remember a book I read in the 90s - young adult target audience.

Setting: World where villages have to pay or they are attacked by soldiers and infected with plague.

Plot: Young girl acrobat is a slave (metal collar, kindly master has key). Troupe is visiting village when soldiers come and infect everyone with plague. Girl survives, which makes her immune and now valuable. Nursed back to health by ‘trickster’ who becomes new master and, over time, friend. She has a monkey (I think). At the end they confront villain and she rescues trickster by carrying him over tightrope above lava/fire. Finds out he was carrying belt full of treasure and gets angry and leaves. Monkey bites her to show that that trickster had put key to her collar in her arm, so she was ‘free all along’. She rejoins him.

Any help welcome - it’s driving me crazy!
 

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