The Lord's Tower
Adventurers. Heroes. What utter folly to think they'd make a difference! Their place is in the Tower, and should they fail, they can at least claim to have died in glory.Perhaps one of the best-known celebrations in the Medimian Empire is the Festival of the Seared Veil that takes place for the week approximately at the height of Autumn - typically in the month of Rova. Though the festival is, as many festivals are, chock-full of individual celebrations and regional variation, the Lord's Tower is known to be the most well-attended of its events. Set in sunlit Coruscia, jewel of Medimia's mountain regions, the Lord's Tower is an immense stone structure standing at the centre of an expansive multi-levelled amphitheatre, known colloquially as the Lord's Watch. The tower has nine stories each decorated in the style of their adjacent layers of Hell, with the final layer invariably designed as an ornately palatial arena as worthy of Asmodeus's palace as mortal decor can claim to be. The layout and features of each layer change with every occurrence of the festival, due to the deadly event it hosts - the true purpose for the Tower.
Purpose / Function
Seventy-eight would-be heroes, four months of training, and thirteen teams. It does make for a wonderful little spectacle, doesn't it?The Tower was constructed for one purpose - bloodsport. In the months prior to the festival, the nine layers are filled with terrifying creatures from all corners of the mortal and outsider planes, traps enough to make a rogue weep, and harrowing illusions, enchantments, and other challenging spellwork often provided by the Amethystine Regiment. Would-be adventurers and do-gooders are scouted across the empire and recruited, often forcibly, to a team of six. The teams are evaluated and balanced once all seventy-eight participants have been recruited and processed - they make up thirteen groups, in total. These thirteen are given four months to prepare. Four months in which they must train and work as a team, and four months in which they can take out their competition prior to the tower. No members are replaced once this training period has begun. If a team loses a member, it will participate with a member missing. Otherwise-harmonic teams have quickly fallen into disarray due to the social outcomes of this stage. Additionally, all teams are granted a set budget for training, upkeep, and equipment, which they may supplement with their own savings if desired. This budget is never replenished: if they should spend it all on alcohol in the first week, they will suffer for the remaining months and likely die swiftly in the Tower itself. At the end of the four months, and the beginning of the festival, the thirteen teams are sent into the Tower. Beginning in the volcanic wasteland inspired by Avernus, they must race to the bottom layer - Nessus-inspired - and slay whatever terrifying final enemy awaits them. Though any amount of teams can exit the Tower alive, only the group with the fastest time are considered the true victors of the event. Very few manage to succeed. Those who do are almost always changed in a number of ways, their heroism turned to patriotism and their faith spun darker. They rarely protest to being given seats of power in Medimia's strongest fighting factions, and some few victors have made a name for themselves in politics - one of the current Rubies Regnant was, in fact, once a competitor.
We have no need for frivolities. Remove them.As an authoritarian and relatively uncaring state, Medimia has always met with significant resistance from those with ideals of freedom and fairness. Throughout the state's history, they have put these upstarts down with shocking force, ending ideals and tearing families apart with blades and bullets alike. The Tower was put forward only two centuries ago, by the time's Ruby of War. It stands as a monument to his ingenious idea that if broken beyond belief, a hero would either break or bend. The broken could be disposed of, but those flexible enough to bend were of vital use to the war effort. The tower took two decades to properly construct and enchant for the first time, at which time it was tested with a small initial group of six. That initial group became two, then five, and all the way to thirteen as the world ever moved onward and more heroes tried to rise up in Medimia against the rough circumstances forced against them. Past years have introduced temporary rules to excite crowds. Most recently, the Tower of 5623 required all thirteen parties to consider each other as hostile; when two groups emerged at the same time, they put on a flashy show worthy of many. The victors were then forced to behead the losers - if they had rejected the offer, both would have been decapitated. Crowds generally enjoy these twists: they scream for blood, and the twists draw more forth.
The Tower of Death, Hero's Rest, Heavensfall
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
This would make an excellent book. Also, how terrifying. The sidebar talking about how survivors are changed is perhaps the most chilling thing of all.
My drow are deeply disappointed that I didn't think of something like this to entertain them with. Looks like no dinner for me again tonight. Dammit. >.< EXTREMELY well done!
This is subtly chilling, so subtle in fact i didn't realize it until i was half way through, too caught up in the fascination behind the competition. Really well thought out and well written too.