The Middle Isles
The Five Trials
The Five Trials are an Aquonan tradition that date back at least a couple of centuries. When two or more groups are vying for a particular honor, a freeman speaking for himself or his group may demand the privilege of submitting the sides to the Five Trials. While the results of the trials are not considered binding to the King, it is at the same time considered a peerless way (excepting battle) to prove one’s worth for a task. The King must acquiesce to the request, as well.
The Trials are designed to test five different areas of worthiness: Accuracy, Swiftness, Endurance, Wit, and Combat.
-Accuracy is generally determined by throwing axes at a target, with the closest to the mark deigned as the winner of that particular Trial.
-Swiftness is judged by a footrace to the top of the hill (often known as Arcas’s Rest) just outside of Aquona, where they must grab a strip of cloth before turning around and returning via the same path. The winner of the race is the first to return.
-Perhaps the most straightforward Trial, Endurance is determined by contestants going down to the shore and holding their breath underwater for as long as they can. The last to rise is the victor of the Trial.
-Wit is, in its own way, the most challenging of all the Trials. Not far from Aquona by the shore lies the Blue Cave. An iron coin is laid squarely in the middle of the cave, and the entrance is guarded by between 5-7 stout warriors. The challengers must find their way into the cave—without spilling blood—and retrieve the coin. They are given only the time between high and low tide to retrieve the coin.
-Finally, there is Combat, in which a Third, a Second, and a Champion for both factions are named. The Thirds fight one another; the Seconds fight each other next, and then the Champions battle. The side which wins the majority of these fights is named the winner of this Trial. Each pair of combatants gets to draw straws to see who chooses the weapons—the options being Bare-Handed, Staves, or Sword and Shield. The items chosen must be those used, and no other. Combat is to be non-lethal.
In the end, the King must consider who has won the most of the Trials, and if that side has done so in an honorable and fine manner. He may then grant them the honor or boon they have requested, though he may still judge against them, given extenuating circumstances.
Needless to say, cheating is poorly looked upon, and only the most dishonorable of warriors would consider such actions.