Winners of the neighbourhood wall painting competition Rank/Title in Imperial Soulmates | World Anvil

Winners of the neighbourhood wall painting competition

Welcome to Imperial Soulmates! In a gigantic and futuristic fantasy empire filled with solarpunk magitechs, Hélène is hiding that she's one of the emperor's soulmates. However, to lift the legal curse on her best friend, she will have to blackmail the emperor himself... Come read about her plans, and the world in which she lives!
Introduction to the story | Hélène | Soulmates | Novel upcoming

Table of Contents

Neighbouring wall paintings a staple of imperial culture. Before the foundation of the empire, it was an event held on major festival days in the capital. The conquests of the empire have made many people look up to the previous city-state and attempt to imitate its culture. As more and more people joined in and everyone got very serious about it, yearly official competitions were born in many cities, even occasionally turning into regional and national events.    
The wall painting tradition
  Who: In each tower building, the inhabitants of the apartments in a few floors will gather together to form an art group whose sole purpose is to paint their section of the external walls.   What: The art painted on the walls can take any shape, but it is usually something big and impressive. The most competitive groups often paint animals that can eat those painted by their rivals.   Magic: The paintings can move and force specific feelings on viewers. There are different ways to imbue them with magic: anchor enchantments to metal flecks in the paint, hide paintings of runic diagrams inside the bigger art form to anchor enchantments, use potion instead of classic paints and so make use of the magic of plants and animals...   When: Most art groups gather every weekend to practice art and new techniques, prepare paints and materials, and plot their next wall art piece. Actual painting is something that occur during festivals or in preparation for them, not during every meeting.   Why: The goal of all art groups is to give neighbours a regular occasion to bond to form a tightly knit community. The purpose of the art piece itself is to represent the group and its values, to show off their artistic and magical skills, and to impress—or even intimidate—the neighbours.
The competition in Quanahr
  When: In the city of Quanahr, the competition takes place once a year on the major spring festival day.   Judges In Quanahr, there is no fancy special judges; everyone is judged by their co-citizens. Everyone walks slowly through all streets of the city, examining the walls of all buildings and carefully taking notes. Of course, this leads to a lot of politicking between neighbouring art groups. Blackmail or bribery attempts are not uncommon despite the vote being anonymous.   Winner: The winning group gets a special plaque to fix next to the main door of the building—the only undecorated space. There is only one plaque per art group that lists the floors and apartments belonging to the groups and the years they have won—otherwise, adding a new plate per win would soon cover the entirety of some buildings.   Prize: Bragging rights. Contrary to some other cities, Quanahr does not offer additional prizes. However, winning the competition is sure to get the artists and their magical skills noticed throughout the city and sometimes even the region, and they may get offered some interesting job opportunities.   Current holder of the title: Building 9A Rune, a group that gathers all inhabitants of the building and that is led by Old Malik. They are on a 6 year winning streak and will put their title back on the line next month.
Main contenders of the Quanahr competition
  Building 9A Rune (Hélène's building): A building-wide painting that represents a dragon flying in a cloudy sky.   Building 69C Ward floor 149-177: A representation of a lake and a few shiny fish, crustaceans, and plants frolicking below the surface.   Building 55H Moss floor 163-189: Carnivorous plants the hang towards the lower floors and send tendrils towards them to eat the animals painted below.   Building 12S Cat floor 210-333: A series of ferocious felines hiding in a forest and getting ready to pounce on the birds painted on the floors above.   Building 3B Lotus: A huge building-wide painting that represents the dark abyssal level of the sea with a terrifying angler fish hiding in the depth and eating a small dragon—clearly meant to represent the dragon from 91 Rune.
Hélène carefully went through the window of the apartment and stepped on the platform held up by her neighbours' magic. As soon as she was in place, they pushed it away from the building into the void of the city.   Hélène was unfazed despite the lack of railings, more than used to the exercise after the decade spent in Quanahr. There was almost no winds anyway, all of them muffled by the wards a neighbour had carved on the platform. She turned back to look at the walls of their tower and squinted as she shifted her perceptions towards the magical spectrum.   The paint was still fresh, as required for proper settling of the enchantments into the pigments. However, the metal in the paint was vibrating too slowly in reaction to her magic—it was drying fast. She had to hurry. No one would be happy at having to strip down the wall and restart the entire painting, and Hélène was certainly not going to have a half baked enchantment attached to her name! Never mind Old Malik's reaction...   She breathed in deeply and focused all of her magic at the surface of her body. Once ready, she pushed the first strand at the foot of the painted dragon before starting to quickly twist the rest of the magic, transforming it in a complex mess of yarn, while regularly going back to attach a strand as a checkpoint on a different part of the dragon.   After a long half hour, she finally released the entire system. The platform obediently moved further away from the wall to give her a good view on their creation to check its awakening.   It took a few minute, but eventually the painted dragon shivered before slowly blinking. It shook itself, and its new mechanical parts started to rotate, slowly accelerating. The dragon finally moved completely from its initial spot to start its journey over the full expanse of the building.   Hélène continued to watch until it came across an expanse of water covering the lower floors of the tower. The beast did not pause and simply opened its mouth to unceremoniously expulsed a huge jet of flames. Immediately, the water completely evaporated, leaving behind a few fish uselessly flapping on the ground, half carbonised, including a clearly identifiable angler fish.   Hélène smirked. No way would the Lotuses be able to one-up that in the time left before the judging!
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Dec 28, 2023 13:36 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

I love this tradition so much.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Jan 1, 2024 15:43 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Thanks! This idea really come out of nowhere, but I really love how this is giving me excuses to have my MC interact with her neighbours and force her to be sociable, and the whole fierce competition about something so silly is really fun XD

Jan 27, 2024 09:30 by Kai

This is the ultimate form of those over the top neighborhood Christmas light competitions, I love it.

Jan 27, 2024 15:23 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Oh yes! Very "friendly" intense competitions with your neighbours XD Just the perfect things to make for great neighborhood relationships!   Thanks <3

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