I want it to be clear that this submission is a little rougher than I usually write. It is for a more mature reader and should be read with that understanding. There is no foul language or specific connotations but it may be difficult to read by some.
To the outside world, the menagerie does not exist. It has no structure, no fence, and no workers. The name is never spoken to the public or outside certain circles. It is a ghost without a face.
The real truth is, the menagerie is a private organization that is by invitation only. This invitation is hard to come by and the cost for membership varies on the participation and the appetite of the individual. The slogan, “Coins tell the tale and can purchase the sun, but only in the menagerie.” Anything is for sale here and nothing is considered taboo.
The menagerie does not move, but is not easy to be found either. Anyone attempting to find its location is left usually in a dark sewer somewhere not knowing where they are, if they are lucky.
The menagerie was founded by a group of rich nobles’ sons who were tired of the pomp and dress of the court. They aspired for the thrill of battle but could not achieve the feeling and rush as they were constantly protected, constantly coddled. They paid a hired grunt to steal away people from the street and bring them to an abandoned warehouse. Within the walls and basement of this warehouse, unspeakable things were done. The commoners and beggars who were taken were rarely found, and when they were, they were not recognizable.
Speaking carefully with others of similar mind they found they could not only make a lot of coins, as well as favors, by opening this up to a private list of people; but they could fulfill every desire they could ever have wished, even to become god.
They sent invitations out across the kingdoms to special people; people with money, power and influence, as well as a desire for something else. This desire was to feel power that they could not feel. Nobles, merchants, businessmen, and even a few clergy accepted these invitations and made their deepest and darkest fantasies come to fruition.
Over the years, the membership has grown into a budding business and the originators of this have enough money and favors to start their own private wars, and indeed that has been the desire of a member or two.
Once accepted, a mark on the inside of the forearm is given. A black mark of sin and power. An eye and a cross combined into one sealing their membership forever. Once the mark is placed on the arm, it can never be removed, and the member can never leave the menagerie. They are free to live their lives the way they choose to, acting as if nothing is amiss, in fact they demand it. In the outside world, the members are normal, bankers, nobles, priests, merchants, businessmen, all going about their daily lives. Once in the menagerie however, that all changes and they act as they choose and as they paid.
The menagerie is located in five major cities in three different countries. Each one as secret as the next one. An invitation is sent by carrier who knows nothing of the contents of the letter. It offers them a glimpse into the eyes of immortality, to look through the eyes of a god. Some fail to accept the invitation and they are left alone. Those who accept it however, are sent down a path of which there is no turning back, whether from desire or fear the pull to stay is there.
The menagerie is a place where one can buy anything they wish. If you wish to know what it is like to feel like a prince, an elaborate scenario is put together to make the buyer feel just that. If the buyer wishes to know what it is like to torture someone, then a specific race, sex, age, and type of tools asked for are given per the buyers’ request. What they do with the victim is entirely up to them.
Over the years, simple pleasures have gone by the wayside and the more dramatic, exciting and rushing have been pushed to the front. The torture of women and children are common as well as the mutilation of particular races. Depending on the desire and type of torture and the race of the victim, adds to the cost. To not kill the victim means more money as the menagerie has to kill it themselves as well as dispose of the body. Most of the bodies are either destroyed by burning or fed to large animals or thrown in the sewer system of the city to be devoured by what ever lurks in the damp, darkness.
Serious torture is very common. Removing of toes, fingers, and limbs as well as the ruining of eyes, ears, and body parts is only the beginning. Hot irons, elaborate torture devices, as well as a simple curiosity to know what makes the body work and the difference between the racial differences.
Tongs being used to sever individual toes and fingers one at a time is usually a sign of a patient and methodical member. One who has been a member for a while. Hot irons being used on the face and eyes and softer parts of the body are also a common trade mark of long standing members.
Drilling into the flesh or bone of the victims or severing their hamstring so they can not flee is common practice as well. If something should happen and they get an opportunity to run, they are denied that choice. Poisoning, drowning, strangulation are also all common practices to those who wish to feel the power of life and to feel what their god feels when breathing the life into one of their children, or even taking it away.
Priests often come to quell their urges on the street walkers or unbelievers of faith. Their rational is that if they do not belief in the gods then they are not worthy of their compassion or their gods. They are nothing and therefore do not exist to mark their souls with sin. The desire to know physical pleasure both sexual and emotional is paramount for them, to understand the tortures of the soul and how to cleanse them. Some of the priests are the most devote members, seeing it as their duty to cleanse a non-believer.
Members pay high coins in order to get the exact choice that they want to “dine with”, the more exotic the better and more costly. The less likely that race will be in a specific area the higher the cost will go and sometimes the wait could be longer than a day or two. Animals have been brought in for the pleasure of some, both for their torture and the torture of others.
One player is given a letter with an invitation in error to the menagerie. Once inside they witness unspeakable things and must find a way to get out before someone realizes that they are not who they say they are.
The players are traveling to a new city, well outside of their home kingdom. They come across a festival and are separated in the enjoyment of the hour. One or more of them are drugged and brought to the menagerie for the pleasure of one of the members. Either they must escape or the other players must find a way to get to them and free them.
The players are asked by a local constable to help in the search of recent missing persons reports. They overhear an overzealous member of the menagerie talking about what they have recently paid for and must then track them down to try and save anything who is still alive.
The players are captured for one reason or another and may or may not know each other. Their task is to escape alive but they need the help of all the captives if they plan to succeed. Once their escape is successful they must now find a way to stay ahead of those of the Menagerie. Whether trying to hide from them or alert the authorities of their location. Who to trust and who to confide in when anyone could be a member.