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Literature / Deeper Up the Tower

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”You must submerge as you rise”
To the Tower, brave Florian went to the Tower. The Tower with many names. The Tower, the puzzle-box, the wonder. A thing that tempts from the horizons of dreams and skirts the perimeter of notions. Promises are kept in the Tower, or so they say. Reckonings are known in the Tower and things are lost. A terrible price to pay in the Tower"."

Deeper Up the Tower is a digital queer fantasy zine written by Creator Chris Revelle and with art and design by Ryan Collier.

The official description is as follows:

“The Tower, the puzzle-box, the wonder, a strange place haunted by shimmering dreams and porous realities, offering ascension, damnation, and everything in between. It beckons to adventurers far and wide to plumb its depths as they ascend and take in its many isanities and marvels. A mysterious knight named Florian enters the Tower on an unknown quest and finds themself wandering through a psychedelic disco fantasy full of mystical animals, queer weirdos, and magic. Each floor brings a new adventure, a new experience, a new oddity. The further Florian goes, the more fluid things become.

The Tower will test Florian—determined to find something they lost, our champion faces the unknown with each passing moment in the wavering walls of this citadel.

The Tower will test everyone.”

Began July 24th, 2020 with four installments already available and more content promised every two weeks.

Deeper Up the Tower provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Agent Peacock: Mata Rath/Snapdragon qualifies with his bright red braid and bright armored caftan.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: The inhabitants of the Tower are quite colorful, as depicted in the art and the story.
  • Amazing Technicolor World: Especially as emphasized in the vibrant art, the world of the Tower is strange and colorful indeed.
  • Ambiguous Gender Identity: Florian is referred to with them/they pronouns and they seem to have a androgynous appearance.
  • Another Dimension: Wail claims to be from another plane (called Penumbra), suggesting other worlds out there.
    • Florian appears to be from another world as well, but fell to the Plane of Compromise.
    • Suga's story alludes to her having come from another dimension when the dragon leader of her world taught her how to jump into another dimension before Suga ended their life.
  • Blood Knight: Suga is a great example. Before coming to the Plane of Compromise, she killed her way to the top of every situation she found herself in and takes incredible delight in killing.
  • Bottle Episode: Arguably every chapter is a bottle episode as it takes place only within the confines of a floor of the Tower.
    • Floor VII takes place mainly inside a magical glass vessel that contains a mysterious beach and jungle with an empty village within the jungle
  • Color Motif: while being very colorful overall, pink and purple are the most prevalent.
  • Credits Gag: Collier and Revelle's credits are always listed as Artist and Writer, respectively, with the twist that each have new secondary credits every installment. This leads to credits like "Writer & Spirit Trapped in an Emerald" and "Artist & Taloned Shadow."
  • Curse: If the spider on Floor I is to be believed, the fountain is a former god transformed into a statue who performs a function for the Tower as a first-level gatekeeper and, to top it all off, cannot remember their past because their curse resets their memory with a new lie regularly.
    • While not explicitly stated as such, the magic gauntlet Agrias finds acts as this, seeming to cause her pain while she wears it while giving her access to new powers.
    • Florian's encounter with Zayjanka involves a coin that Florian is able to tell is cursed by using the silver spectacles with Mariska gave them.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Despite Wail’s spooky, ghostly, unsettling appearance, they do not appear to bear any malice.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Suga's stated mission is this. She plans to climb to the top of the Tower and challenge God to a battle to the death. Suga plans to take God's power for herself.
  • The Drifter: Florian is this, as they float from situation to situation within the Tower.
  • Driving Question: What is Florian‘s quest in the Tower?
    • Now answered (they're looking for Olivier)
    • What wish will Florian make of God?
    • Where is Olivier?
    • And is Olivier still alive?
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Floor VIII is full of this. Outside of Florian, who mainly just listens and eventually reacts to a story, no one has a name. They're referred to by their position within the city: the Doctor, the Deacon, the Marshal, the Magistrate, the Witch, the Advisor, the Actuary, the Mayor, the Candidate, and the Blacksmith.
  • Evil Weapon: Mata Rath is convinced the strange weapon he lifted off the coffin woman’s unconscious body is unholy and unclean.
    • Agrias' gauntlet appears to be this.
    • Mata Rath also tells the story of a cursed sword that corrupted his lover Severn. Severn uses the sword to call down fire upon their home city.
  • Fantastic Flora: This is what Nicky Pinkus appears as, but it’s unknown if this accounts for their entire existence or if it’s merely an appendage of another being.
    • On Floor XI, Marchiosis's palace sports vases of flowers with mouths and eyes at the center of the blooms
    • On Floor VI, there are giggling crystal flowers embedded in the walls of the sphinx's chamber.
  • Fantastic Fruits and Vegetables: strange, gem-like fruit hang from the tree on Floor II and according to Jaansif, they grant very long, if not immortal lifespans.
  • Fantastic Fauna Counterpart: talking animals appear throughout the various floors
    • The boar on Floor VII is a gigantic creature that appears and disappears within a jungle. When shot by Saffron, the boar seems to bleed billowing smoke.
  • Grammar Nazi: the spider on Floor I accuses Florian of being pedantic when they point out their confused use of words.
  • Knight Errant: how Florian is presented, as a wandering knight.
  • Magical Land: The Tower is this, housing a seemingly infinite world inside.
  • Motor Mouth: Mata Rath seems to be this, very willing to tell stories and make merry.
  • Mystical White Hair: Florian is described as having silvery hair.
  • Noble Demon: What Wail appears to be, but they heartily refute it.
  • Offerings to the Gods: The fountain on Floor I seems to be invoking this as they're an angelic figure that demands an offering.
    • If the spider is to be believed, the fountain is actually an old deposed god trapped in this state.
  • Our Elves Are Different: Jaansif is the only one we’ve met so far and she appears to be taller and broader than one might expect for an elf.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Difficult to describe Wail, but they're arguably a monster and definitely different
  • Portal Door: The Tower seems to be full of these that take people from floor to floor, with yellow doors in particular being associated with Florian.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Wail stares with spooky red eyes.
  • Royal Rapier: Florian’s weapon of choice, along with a buckler.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: This is what Mata Rath thinks Wail is, at first, and it’s understandable to see why when he’s looking at a bell-jar full of creepy red eyes staring out from a dark, viscous black substance.
  • Sinister Surveillance: the Doctor uses his "miracle machine" to spy on the city he works in with the goal of sabotaging a political opponent.
  • Short Story: the serialized structure of Deeper Up the Tower tells the story through individual short stories cover each floor of the Tower as Florian climbs it.
  • Taken for Granite: what appears to have happened on Floor I with many people seemingly trapped as statues when they offered tributes the fountain didn’t like.
  • Talking Animal: the spider on Floor I.
    • The sable on Floor V.
  • The Tower: appears as a primary influence in how generally magical and portentous it all is.
  • Tower of Babel: also appears as a primary influence with how language and the words used to communicate appear to be a theme.
  • True Sight: The silver spectacles that Mariska gives Florian allows Florian to see through illusions and transformations.
  • Upper-Class Twit: the Doctor on Floor VIII is very much this.
  • Wandering Minstrel: Mata Rath/Snapdragon appears to be this as a "holy minstrel".