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What would an Elemental Prison look like?

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--- Quote --- What was created by the mages left those that gazed upon it in awe. A huge, dark red ring, almost black, with faint swirls of blue, brown, and white running all through it was found floating amid the rolling hills. The ring's center is a mirrored, cloudy reflection that hurts the eyes to gaze upon. Under the ring was found a large expanse of multicolored sand. This patch of sand is simply called The Sands of the Elements. For each element there is a color sand--Red, for fire, Blue, for water, Brown, for earth, and White, for air.

Some speculate that the elementals were pulled through the ring and entrapped. Other protest and say the ring transformed the elementals into the sand. No person really knows what the ring or sand actually are, whether the ring is a portal to another plane of existence or if the sand itself is a prison, still holding the entrapped elementals now. Scholars and commoners of all walks of life, from all over, journeyed to the ring to gaze upon it?s greatness.
--- End quote ---

And so was the second attempt. The first attempt was just a wall with swirling colors representing the elementals. But at some point I decided I didn't like the wall (although it was a wall for 8 years since I thought of it in the first place). Now, I know I don't like the circle but find it difficult to go back to the wall.

The entire purpose of it, in a nutshell, was to trap the evil elementals that have been plaguing all of Aros. The elementals were created on accident and slowly grew in power. Then they decided they wanted to rule Aros and started a war with the Gods. The beings of Aros were being torn up by the war so they finally decided to get into it. So they developed a spell to create a prison for the elementals to trap them and save Aros from certain destruction.

So the spell was cast and a prison was made.

The thing I need help with....

What would be a cool prison type thing for the elementals?

The only requirement is that it does have to have a physical form and it must be surrounded by patches of the sands that form the magic of the world.

A towering, four-sided monolyth or pyramid...covered in eldritch runes of binding.

Each side is a different color; and at the bottom, sands of different color form in piles where the sides are eroded by weather...or maybe you have to shave off your own dust from the walls?

Siren no Orakio:
You're imprisoning embodiments of the primal forces of reality. Personally, I would feel something nearly equally primal would be needed. To oppose all four of the cardinal elements, let us turn to the intercardinal elements, the combination of the ideas into something new.

From Fire and Earth, mortal man smelts the power of metal, at once the bite of the sword and the bulwark of the shield.
From Earth and Water, Nature works her leafy miracles, from the lowly shrub to the great redwood, the power to grow and thrive. Mortal man names this power Wood.
From Water and Wind, the spirits of the past and present bring forth the power of the Mist, the concealing veil between places, the power that clouds, confuses, and chokes.
From Wind and Fire, the Gods forge their wrath, the electric flame of the skies that man names Lightning.

We begin, then, by forging mortal man's contribution to the prison. In every shape save one, there are weaknesses, corners and edges to pry and defeat. That shape is the sphere. The sphere is significant in size, a great, open cage, free of weldings and seams, that hovers majestically above the ground.

Nature, then makes her contribution, lacing the gaps of the cage with the ageless resilience of the most ancient forests, great, leafy vines interwoven with the struts of the metallic sphere, taking support and strength from the metal, nourshed by, and in turn, nourishing the third component of the sphere.

The dead fill the gaps that the living cannot, with blinding, haunting mists that echo of sorrow and sadness, though at the same time, it nourshes the great vines and carries the final component of the sphere.

Finally, the gods have given their blessing to the scheme, enthreadind the sphere with thundrous, crackling lightning. It courses widly through the mists and framework, eternally reforging, strengthening the struts.

Far more than a mere prison, there is an insidious quality to this great enchantment: It draws and feeds upon not the wills of the casters, but rather, upon its prisoners themselves. At once both ambrosia and anathema, the elementals cannot help but attempt to merge with, to 'purify' the combined elements of the sphere, yet always they find that they are the ones consumed, integrated into the combinatorial magics. Far, far more power is consumed than is needed, and over time, this power is crystallized by the forces within the prison, let fall to the wind and weather: The sands of Aros. It was the hope of the magi that this sand would return to nature, distributing its life and power again to the barren world, free of the malevolant intelligence it once possessed...

Siren no Orakio:
Okay, on second thought, that's, uhm, overboard, and has setting integration issues. But I still had fun writing it.

Against the background of the sky, one can faintly see four objects, floating high above. Each is a different geometric shape, representative of the four elements.

Each is created from one of the four precious metals, and deeply graven with the symbols of one of the four elements, as well as ritual runes of binding and constraint: Gold for Fire, Silver for Water, Platnium for Wind, Iridium for Earth.  

The four all orbit about a common center point, a dark, hissing point, painful for the mind and eye to look upon. From their orbit against the sky, they are scraped across the wall of reality itself,  slowly wearing down, raining their sand upon the world below...

Somewhere, far out in the Great Wastes, a sphere floats above a sandy patch. It was forged through great and terrible magics to contains the Elementals; the prison is made of the essence of Nothing, the great Void beyond the worlds. It can't really be seen - a blind spot that the eye slips over, as the mind can't grasp the concept of seeing Nothing made into Something.

The Elementals, of course, struggle for freedom within the Sphere - only when they touch that which Is Not, their essence is drained off, and rains down from the sphere's edge as a fine sand, which blows back out to rejoin the world...


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