Story Concept: Life Struggle
Fiction has a graveyard.
Just as life moves on and leaves history behind it, the unreal worlds of humanity's fancy have abandoned much of its past, and along with it the once vibrant cast of characters that inhabited those disremembered works.
Collectively the Fictional world in all its myriad universe is called Palimpsest by its inhabitants.
The unlucky ones are called The Forgotten.
These lost souls had been the brain child of geniuses, madmen, saints and fiends. The good, the villainous, the flawed and the pure. Whereas some worlds are recalled again and again, some are not so lucky and fall into disrepair, wearing away to nothingness with the relentless passage of time, time that effects the unreal as much as the real.
Some characters are willing to play their part and then fade. It seems the order of things and in their own memories they can cherish the people they entertained, enthralled, the readers their made laugh or cry or simply dream away an afternoon. For those characters in books with a limited audience, a bad break, or an obscure release they can recall by name everyone who read of their adventures and granted them vivacity. Some even believe that erasure is not the final adventure and that beyond the memories man they will find new lives to live and stories to tell on another page: The Epilogue.
Still others hold that in fading they will sleep until their tales are discovered by new readers to return them to animation, perhaps more vigorous then ever before.
But there are others who do not and cannot believe in fictional existence beyond forgetting.
And this is where The Amphitheater begins.
The being is called many names, but his favorite seems to be Equivocator.
Female or male is difficult to say (assumed to be male at least in appearance) as he speaks through his Alternates who speak the words given them: always appropriate with disturbing accuracy to the situation they're sent to.
No Fictional who has ever seen The Equivocator seems capable of speaking when asked to describe him.
Whatever the venue of his influence, all roads lead to his grand experiment. The Amphitheater.
The exact parameters of this are undefined as its more of an idea then a place.
The concept is simple: Fictionals participate in a series of challenges devised by The Equivocator in places he designates. These can be as mundane as a race, as intricate as an ancient riddle that has yet to be solved, and as solemn as a fight to the death. After twelve trials the winner is sent to Atramentous, domain of The Equivocator himself. There he is allowed a single bequest that has never been denied.
And this request can encompass becoming fully real: the long held desire of nearly ever Fictional.
Naturally this contest has violent competition to participate and the Alternates scour lands in the grip of dissolution to find desperate characters willing to risk everything for a heartfelt desire. The exact motive behind this extravagant series of trials is unknown, but seems to revolve around suffering. Tasks could require actions made against those the contestants hold dear, destruction of cherished items, facing deadly monsters and traps, and finally even taking the life of another, these matches in particular usually being forced confrontations between long time friends or even loved ones. The Equivocator has never been directly implicated in these villainous games, but most who know him have nothing but anger for his callous use of life for his own entertainment…or darker purposes still.
However he seems never to have lied. Fictionals have returned from the Amphitheater with their hearts desire or even been committed to reality. The flip side is that the actions to bring them there are usually too ruinous for them to enjoy their prize, driving them to madness.
But in fiction, like life, men and woman and beasts are willing to do much simply to survive.
She was once the character of a well beloved children's series written by an English author, but he tragically died leaving his series unfinished. She is one of the Gradient Sages of Chroma, or more accurately one in training. These well intentioned wizards use the power of The Great Wheel to keep the balance of nature in their world, each sacred color related to elements, emotions, and amorphous concepts as well as their moderation. For a time she was content, going on adventures with her friends throughout her world and uncovering a great mystery. But now that mystery my never be solved. The writer is gone and the series is slipping into negligence.
Now her brother Hue, who was injured unto near death in the final book to be written, will likely wither away. Chroma itself has come to the end of its purpose and is crumbling away, leaving its inhabitants to watch in dread.
Then an Alternate arrived and presented the Amphitheater offer.
Most of the survivors of Chroma were too disheartened to even consider the contest as an option, but in this Shade saw a chance to rescue her brother, maybe even give him the one dream he had always claimed to have.
True, real existence in the world beyond.
Now she travels by the secret symbols of The Equivocator to far off realms away from her dying homeland. Her tale may be ended but perhaps through her sacrifices to come she can see her sibling isn't only saved but entirely removed from the threat of becoming forgotten.
But a young sorceress is a tempting target for the more brutal denizens of Palimpsest. The monsters from horror tales long out of print, the armored space warriors from paper backs left to gather dust on the shelf, the truly noble heroes of a bygone era who have perhaps gained a bitterness from the injustice of their plight all vie against her for their final gamble before being lost to the past. In the Amphitheater there is no mercy simply for being young.
Shade's resolve is strong, but in the midst of her trials she begins to question whether the horrors she experiences will ultimately make her reward lose its meaning. She meets companions on her strange journeys, some of whom she may be forced to battle, as the final winning tally must be a single victor. But perhaps camaraderie, loyalty, and love are more worthy then even life itself. Slowly but surely, unintentional or not, she begins to find out about The Equivocator and get closer to him then any Fictional has dared to. In the histories of forgotten worlds she learns secrets about Palimpsest that could at last lead to the liberation of its people from the hollow hopes offered by The Equivocator who holds every creature in his grip.
In the end it will come down to a decision. Does she fight for her brother's dream of reality, which may or may not be the fulfillment of his heart's desire? Does she claim the prize on her own behalf which she fairly earned? Does she abandon the contest all together to seek out another solution to the Forgotten's woes?
Or does she stay with the contest so she can make a final wish with implications for the whole of fiction.
An audience with The Equivocator himself.