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TitleAn Artistic View of Magnagora
UserSapphira
RankingWinner
Post Date (Visible)March 2021
Content

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==CONTENTS==
Introduction
The Piety of Science
A Chaotic Revel
A Twilit Promenade
Sunset Execution
Treading the Boards
The Megalith of Doom
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-INTRODUCTION-
Magnagora is a nation rich in culture, history and religion. From the
outside looking in, it likely appears to be a martial nation that is
cruel and irreverent, a twisted, tainted thing that harbours abominations.
Yet this is such a narrow-minded and uneducated view on a nation that is
vastly multi-faceted, with each side being a piece of a greater whole.

As an artist, one must often look beyond the surface to see the truth,
using it to bring out the real story and the misunderstood beauty.
Magnagora is smog-laden, gritty and dark; but within her walls lies many
wonders from her architecture, to her views, to her people.

Using Magnagora as a whole as inspiration, I have put together a
collection of paintings to reveal the gem within the coal, and express
through colour and brush what it means to live in Magnagora, to be part
of the Engine of Transformation, to be a cog in the machine.

Each image is accompanied by an explanation relating to the theme and
its inspiration, and is a unique artwork by Sapphira d'Vanecu.
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-The Piety of Science-
Magnagora's religious culture wends its way through every parts of
society and day to day life. While some, like the crystal city, tend to
shun such practices in favour of scientific advances, the Engine of
Magnagora has managed to marry both reverence and innovation. This
painting shows the unique blending of these two different schools of
thought in a scene that while imagined, is extremely likely to be a real
event. Set in a clinical type room, the painting recreates a ritual
vivisection, that has been utilised for both scientific discovery,
as well as some manner of pious ritual to Lord Forbidden.

{ A clean, spartan chamber has been illustrated in silver-white tones
as light spills from brightly shining gas lamps on the walls. The
occasional bookshelf breaks up the stark surroundings, piled high with
thick tomes, furled scrolls and sheafs of foolscap alike on topics one
can only guess at. A pentacle has been inlaid upon the marble floor in
argent silver, gleaming with polished brilliance as it dominates the
tiles. Surrounding the sigil stand or kneel a variety of figures - some
in hooded robes, others in crisp lab coats now splattered with droplets
of blood and the occasional stringy draping of unidentified gore. The
focus of the painting and indeed the occupants of the room is the inert
body arranged in the centre of the arcane pentacle. Perhaps originally
an elfen, the corpse is now splayed graphically and unnaturally open
after a gruesome vivisection, many vital organs completely missing or
carefully arranged outside of its original home for the inspection of
the scientists. One such scientist jots notes upon a clipboard, while
a shorter figure in robes kneels over the cadaver; in one hand he holds
a bowl of partially congealed blood, while from the other a string of
argent prayer beads devoted to Lord Forbidden dangles.}
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-A Chaotic Revel-
The midnight hour is one that strikes fear into the heart of many a
mortal, yet in Magnagora it is a time of meaning and celebration. Any
ball worth its salt kicks off at the stroke of midnight, and many a
ritual does not begin before this time. Magnagoran nights are filled
with life and entertainment, particularly during festivals and the
like. The following artwork has borrowed from this, showing how there
are times when even the lowly are associated with, when nobles will kick
up their heels and all manner of diversion is welcome. Quite
deliberately, the scene has a sense of chaos, an undertone that is
evocative of the teachings of Lord Legion, as well as the intertwined
Ouroboros symbolism. This suggests that their very disordered merriment
is an act of worship.

{Shadow and light play games upon the page, revealing decadent glimpses
of a sumptuous midnight revel. Patrons of every rhyme and ilk are
depicted in all manner of dress - from the opulent and lavishly coiffed
to the dishevelled and scantily-clad - in the midst of a wild, chaotic
bacchanal, the natural resolution to festivities where the wine flows
freely and spirits are high. Austere viscanti mingle with towering
orclachs and savage loboshigaru alike, dancing, carousing, toasting
each other and sharing general merriment. In one corner a harried
furrikin balances a tray laden with glasses, while beyond a shadowed
pillar a couple engage in an intimate embrace. Several robed mugwumps
toss dice with illithoid dandies, dressed in garish, expensive suits,
eyes wild with fever. Dancing and feasting are prominent as the
figures wend between virulent light and stygian darkness - there is
no notable order to the event as the high and low mingle in all manner
of hedonistic pleasures and decadent disorder reigns supreme. Painted
with bold lines and vivid hues, the chaotic gaiety is underpinned by an
intricate mosaic that tiles floor of the chamber; jade and onyx twist
and wind to form a massive serpent, curving in on itself until its maw
swallows its own tail in the sigil of the Eternal Ouroboros}
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-A Twilit Promenade-
This painting depicts a scene that could easily take place in any number
of cities in the basin of life - two young lovers taking an evening
stroll down a city street. What sets the work apart is the inclusion of
small, evocative details. A border of night-blooming jasmine and a
glorious sunset are symbols of the Enchantress; so too is the fog of
lavender, suggesting the couple are bewitched by Her influence, perhaps,
and not just each other. A slightly self-indulgent piece for the artist
in part,the painting draws out the simple, romantic beauty of a
Magnagoran street and gives a glimpse into personal affection that
some may not expect from the hardened scions of the city.

{A border of tiny white blossoms frames the intricate painting, each
sprig of night-blooming jasmine rendered in delicate detail as the
whimsical foreground of the greater, emotive imagery beyond. Sombre Lane
has been depicted, captured at the very moment the day wanes and dusk
takes over the sky with its rich hues, painting the firmament with broad
strokes of scarlet, burgundy, violet and indigo. An elaborate
wrought-iron post bears a glass lantern, the vibrant sky reflected in
its facets in the moments before the gas lamp would ordinarily flicker
into life. The worn cobblestones below are slick as though rain had
recently fallen, gleaming in the last strains of the daylight, belying
their normal state of perpetual filth. The buildings along the street
are cast as shadowed shapes looming to each side, disappearing beneath
the delicate floral bordering of the painting. In the distance two
figures stand in the middle of the street; indistinct due to the
shadows their shapes are still discernible as an elegant viscanti
couple, pausing in the midst of a promenade. The taller - the male -
holds the smaller woman's hand within his own, the metallic gleam of
a ring on his finger just visible at the small of her back as his head
bows towards her to share an intimate, whispered word. The woman leans
in to listen, face tilted upward and her free hand holding her skirts
daintily out of the way of the puddled street. Curling in subtle
tendrils that slowly wend about the pair is an ephemeral fog of soft
lavender; a thin haze along the ground, it slowly thickens as it
reaches the couple and begins to enshroud them in its evocative snare.}
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-Sunset Execution-
Magnagora has a strong military tradition - great warriors of brute
strength, cunning sorcerers and musicians of skill - and so too do they
know strict discipline and decisive action. Here, the weak are weeded
out and the strong grow stronger as they learn to stand on their own two
feet. Without a firm hand, discipline wavers and as such, Magnagora is
uncompromising in bringing citizens to heel; others view them as cruel
and yet rulings are always fair and just - they do not need to be
coddled as children. This painting shows the punishment being enacted
upon a wayward individual, in the presence of the people and by the
order of the council. The Northern Gate is the traditional place for
public execution, and the artist has not failed to reveal the majestic
view afforded from the tower, nor the stoicism and composure of all
present.

{A magnificent sunset dominates the firmament, uniting the three
paintings as the light in the clear sky dwindles and twilight settles
upon the land. The upper reach is rich, dark indigo, pin-pricked with
the first stars of evening in fragments of silver, the colours fading
and changing in majestic striations as they draw nearer to the horizon;
violet, claret, lavender, cobalt, rose and orange painting the heavens.
The mountains beyond are dark shadows against the twilit canvas of the
sky, the view sweeping across the basin of life unparalleled. The focus
however is drawn to the foreground, where an execution is imminent. A
small crowd of figures stand above the Northern Gate of Magnagora,
huddled in robes and cloaks that are whipped and tugged by the wind
along with the vibrant pennants and banners decorating the gate,
snapping sharply in the unseen breeze. A convicted taurian looms in the
centre, his horned head covered in a sack of rough-spun black wool,
and a thick noose is looped tight around his bulging neck. The
impassive executioner stands with her hand upon the lever used to
operate the trapdoor mechanism, face stoic as she prepares to do her
duty. The artist has expertly caught the most pivotal moment of the
scene, the very second that the door beneath the guilty creature begins
to release just a crack. It is the instant between living and death,
anticipation of the inevitable almost palpable as the crowd looks on
with a mixture of delight and horror. The taurian's muscles strain,
his chest expanded on what will be his final breath.}

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-Treading the Boards-
The theatre is the home of culture for many a nation, and Magnagora is
no different in this regard. Magnificent architecture houses the Theatre
of Bloody Threnodies, as well as an art gallery and ballroom, among
other functional spaces. While there may not constantly be a performance
scheduled, when a new play opens there is great fanfare and support, and
among its catalogue are many distinguished titles by remarkable writers
and esteemed thespians. Upon the stage, the traits of Magnagora and its
rich heritage come alive in spectacular fashion.

{The austere stage dominates the artwork, framed with crimson curtains
that have been drawn back. Overhead, the opulent glass dome of the
Theatre of Bloody Threnodies glitters thanks to the light of hundreds
of candles, each flickering within its place in the majestic
chandelier. Rows of chairs filled with silk-bedecked nobles fade into
the periphery as the eye is drawn back to the brightly-lit stage. Two
actors dressed in elaborate costumes are painted in the midst of their
performance; One wears a golden wig and an intricate mask in the role
of the Enchantress, while the other stands proud, his face hidden
behind a crimson replica of the Masque of Fain. To one side stands a
third actress, a stain on her silvery gown suggesting those in the
cheap seats came armed to show the betrayer their thoughts on her
actions, while roses in scarlet and black arc through the air from the
private theatre boxes above, landing on the floor about the performers
as the nobles laud the performers and also the divine they represent.}
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-The Megalith of Doom-
No imagery of Magnagora would be complete without its most prominent
landmark and edifice of power, the Megalith of Doom. Once the Stone of
Truth, the tainted Nexus is a physical symbol of Magnagora's own
transformation, adapting and embracing to become the Engine of
Transformation. An elegant necropolis surrounds the sacred place, more
showcasing of the city's architecture and civilized nature which is far
easier to ascertain outside than while beside the glorious beacon of
power. Here the citizens gather and pass by, drawing power and sharing
gossip alike, the Megalith being as much the physical centre of the
city as it is the unseen heart of the nation.

{Painstaking lines and intricate detail form the skyline of Magnagora
at dusk, with the Megalith of Doom dominating from within its domed
necropolis that does nothing to hinder the emerald glow of raw power.
Towers with fluttering pennants against the sky give way to tiled roofs
and domes that glitter beneath the fading sunlight. To the west is the
Bridge of Torment, the innumerable corpses bloodied and twisted to form
the architectural marvel, each small feature outlined from a bent shin
to the open-mouthed wail of an unfortunate soul. Beyond the bridge is
the beginning of the Sea of Despair; sunlight gleams on the
tempest-tossed waves, golden next to the stormy-green depths of the
waters. To the East the spires of the Silent Cathedral pierce the
firmament, and beyond the gates lie the wastes of the Blasted Lands,
here cast in indistinct shadow. Dispersed about the city are all
manner of embellishments - stone gargoyles perch on cornices and
towers; there a stray bat stretches its leathery wings, here an imp
can be seen clinging to a spire. The sunset is a dramatic backdrop
to the beauty of the old and unique city. Smog may touch the higher
reaches but rather than lessening the view, the haze seems to enhance
the glory of the city.}
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