Bleak Pillars Arena
The Bleak Pillars Arena is an eclectic trade hub in the Eastern Tesseract where groups from across the Manifold Sky gather to spectate, gamble over, or even participate in unsanctioned blood sports. Built in the ruins of what might have once been a Rostran-adjacent Lost Tribes temple complex on Eastern B6, the Bleak Pillars Arena is well-known enough to attract morbid onlookers from the world over even if none of the major powers are willing to even acknowledge its existence.
Purpose / Function
The Bleak Pillars Arena lies in the ruins of what appears to be a Lost Tribes settlement. Skeletal remains found on the initial investigation of the site by Leather Jacket Nomads suggest a Rostran inhabitation dating back to before the Rostran-Ovinex War. Stone and mud brick structures are arranged amongst the orange, chalk-rich hills in a square pattern around a large, central courtyard bounded with statues and steles etched in a thus-far undecyphered script; some visitors familiar with Munyobu have suggested that the patterns of repetition and phrase spacing suggests that the builders of the steles may have spoken a similar language. Even in their weathered state, the statues depict creatures not known to exist in the present day and not represented in the fossil record, perhaps indicating mythological creatures in association with religious activities at the site. In any event, the true purpose of the surviving courtyard remains a mystery, and the constant damage and reconstruction required by the fighting that goes on at the Bleak Pillars all but ensures that the history of the site will remain shrouded in mystery for the forseeable future.
Only the courtyard and some directly adjacent structures remain intact enough for modern use, but the dense brick foundations of outlying buildings are intact and, over time, have been built successively built upon by visitors looking to make extended use of the location. These new buildings tend to be impromptu affairs of of salvaged metal sheets, envelope skins, repurposed masonry, and sometimes lumber cut from the surrouning mountains. A few structures - namely the fighter lodging, concessions, and weapons cache areas - are more thoughtfully put together. Audience stands have been constructed where the tops of the courtyard's arcades once stood before crumbling away in antiquity. This raised vantage point helps to protect the audience from stray projectiles and flying debris, but safety is not a guarantee. By attending a fight at the Bleak Pillars, the audience member accepts all responsibility for any mishap that might befall them as a result of such activities. Wealthy and influential patrons tend to pay a premium to get close to the action, perhaps even seeking the 'full immersive experience' in second-hand BF-6 "Fortress" Mobile Stronghold Auto-Armor directly courtside, but repeat visitors and those with more common sense seek the 'nosebleed' seats. The Bleak Falls Arena and its support structures are maintained by a rotating cast of tradesmen with the Leather Jacket Nomads, who, though often morally-opposed to bloodsports, regard the location as a useful source of important resources from beyond the Eastern Tesseract. Some competitors, especially former ovinex gladiators, choose to spend their retirements at Bleak Pillars to serve as trainers and facility maintainers; while the environment is hostile and the context of the place bleak, the glory of victory can have potent addictive qualities for a certain sort of person.
The Bleak Pillars Arena is located along a trade route from the Rostran Archipelago Confederacy to the Coalition of Breakaway Colonies by way of the Red Velvet Desert in Rostral A. Because of the risk of air piracy presented by the Avarix Corps based in the Red Velvet Desert, trade convoys and their escorts tend to move with haste through the region, meaning that few ever bother to stop and investigate the hive of sin that is the Bleak Pillars Arena below. Of those major powers who are aware of the bloodsport and would seek to oppose it rather than participating, none would care enough (Craterhold), wish to expend the resources (Free Faces League Scrap Harvest) in wartime, or have a plausible route (Voxelia) to directly deal with the arena.
Competitors from all corners of the Manifold Sky come to the Bleak Pillars Arena to fight and die to settle interpersonal or organizational disputes, entertain the wealthy patrons who may or may not hold them in servitude, sate a bloodlust not usually permitted in their native societies, or simply to seek the glory of victory in battle. Members of the Leather Jacket Nomads, Avarix Corps, Intercostian oligarchy, and Verdant Order are among the most common patrons of the establishment. Organized crime syndicates like the Asbestos Boys and Vale Toil Front have been known to use the arena to sort out their disputes where the Home Guard can't intervene. Though the doings at the arena are often regarded as distasteful by the major powers of the Manifold, New Voxelians have a keen cultural focus on performance art and some see a dark artistry to such violence. The most prolific competitors in the arena are ovinex. Civil Ovinex, in particular, often see a stint in the arena as a way to reconnect with the more primal aspects of their traditional roots. This is an counter-cultural rejection of the pacifying influence of Civil Ovinex life among the Rostran peoples and especially the intellectual Baxbr movement. Fights in the arena can take a variety of forms based on the specific skills of the combatants. Two or more combatants of any species may fight to the death or incapcity in the arena. Firearms are uncommon because of their boring immediately; guns with short ranges and small calibers tend to be selected to extend the action and reduce the risk to spectators. Melee weapons of all sorts - as well as bare fists - are far more common in the arena. The rules around drugs, enhanced prosthesis, auto-stilts, auto-armor, and other performance enhancements are very clear: none of it is forbidden if it makes the fight more interesting to watch.