The Proving Grounds Building / Landmark in Flightless | World Anvil

The Proving Grounds

There are arenas all over Hosquerre, but this one is the biggest. It's located on the southern edge of Churanu, against the side of a steep rock face. Tucked between the cliff and the circular arena are the administration and storage rooms and the animal holding pens.   A section of the cliff juts outward, with the ring built around it. A section of this rock has been carved into a cave that provides elite seating for the most important spectators. The rock changes the shape of the ring, which influences the fighting strategy of competitors and makes the Proving Grounds stand out among Hosquerre's arenas.   The ring is surrounded by a moat. The moat is about ten feet wide and just as deep. The moat was added after the first opening games, after an incidence in which the game organizers forgot that though the wall keeps sabre-tooths in the ring, RiftcrawlerRiftcrawlerRiftcrawlers are significantly better at climbing. There were four casualties and the arena closed for six months to construct the moat.   The ring itself is filled with Hosquerre's iconic black dirt, brought in from the slopes of Mount Quéqué, a volcano. Blood is not visible on the dark ground, which is said to make warriors braver.  


The arena is open every 5th day, aligning with the 5th day of the traditional Hosque calendar honouring the Goddess of War.  


The day always begins with executions. Convicted criminals are send into the arena one at a time, along with a sabre-toothed cat. They are armed only with a single knife and given no armour. The expectation is that the cat will kill with condemned person, and the wranglers bring the sabre-tooth back into the pens before it can eat the person. The body is sent to the family for a proper burial, or else buried in the pauper's field behind the arena.   Sometimes, the little knife they get is enough to overcome the predator. If the condemned person wins the match, it is seen as a sign that the gods favour them and wish them to live. They are pardoned and free to go. This isn't the same as being found innocent; it is still assumed you did the crime, just that the gods don't want you to be punished for it.  


After the convicts, the weekly tournament begins. Participants sign up throughout the week and are slotted into a roster. Up to three matches can occur in the ring at once, with the same number of referees monitoring. Matches are not to the death. The weapons used in tournaments are blunted, except for special events that are always well-attended due to the promise of blood. Even then, killing your opponent is deeply frowned upon.  

Beast Fights

Because of this, many warriors and spectators consider the tournament part of the day less interesting than the beast fights. The beast fights happen shortly after noon, after the first two rounds of the tournament. The tournament participants go to eat, rest, and prepare for the finals if they made it. Meanwhile, the more daring warriors enter the ring to battle various wild animals. These fights have no referees and deaths are not rare.   A variety of animals are fought in the arena. The most common are older sabre-tooths no longer used for execution, hell boars, wolves (and occasionally, if they manage to catch one, a Dire Wolf), beardogs, or terror birds. More exotic animals brought in from outside of Hosquerre, like Crocodogs,cave bears, or Tielis always bring in bigger crowds. Rumour has it that oncethe arena even featured an Indarig, but a simple look at the size of the doorways in the rumour proves that impossible.   The most popular fight, though, is against a Riftcrawler. Usually, people signing up for beast fights don't know what animal they will be against, but a fight with a riftcrawler has to be signed up for specifically thanks to their high fatality rate. They are also very difficult to catch in the wild, and impossible to breed in captivity, so it's rare that one is available.  

Tournament Finals

When the beast fights are over, the semi-finals and finals of the tournament take place. Everyone who makes it to the final 4 win a small cash prize, and the victor wins an even larger prize. It costs money to enter the tournament, supplying the winnings.   The day repeats 5 days later. Some fighters come back every week, some do it every now and then. During the week, the arena is used by the military for drills, and evenings are available to rent for individuals who have scores to settle with acquaintances (Killing in this context is still illegal, but a duel is still a popular way to work out differences and resolve arguments).  


Anyone is free to sign up to compete in a scheduled tournament, and participating is quite popular. There is never any difficulty in filling the roster. All competitors are there voluntarily, competing for fame, glory, and cash prizes. A few of the best warriors are professionals and make enough money from sponsors and tournament winnings, but most are ametuers who do this on their days off.
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