Union Contest Tradition / Ritual in Known World of the Spellster Universe | World Anvil
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Union Contest

The Union Contest is a Tirglasian competition where eligible nobles fight for the hand of a prince or princess. First established to remove favouritism and give all clan nobility an equal chance of marrying into the royal family, once announced, the offer of marriage cannot be rescinded without inviting civil war (although competitors are free to forfeit if they decide the prize isn't worth winning). Modern standards lean more and more towards seeing the competition as outdated and rarely ending in happiness without careful rigging from the prize and their preferred victor.   Whilst generally done to choose a spouse for members who have either not found a suitable match or those who'd prefer to leave it up to fate, Tirglas' current queen has insisted all her children find their husbands and wives in this manner. Rumour states this is largely due to her deeming her children's actual choices as unfit, especially in regard to her youngest son, Prince Hamish.


The competition begins only when the final clan has arrived with their competitor. Each contestant is garbed head to toe in mottled browns and must remain nothing beyond their eyes to show at all times or risk being eliminated. This is to keep the intended spouse from identifying a potential suitor and sabotaging either them or those in their path.   Once begun, three feats are asked of them, with eliminations happening at each stage until one is left victorious.  
  1. The first stage lasts several days and halves the competition via one-on-one duels. Two competitors enter an arena and fight with practice swords until one is either unmasked or has three hits marked against them. This is done to prove a competitor's strength and stamina so that only those capable of protecting the new family in an attack are chosen. Generally considered the most brutal of the trials, broken bones are a common outcome and some competitors have died.
  2. The second stage is a days' long event involving running through a sectioned-off patch of forest undetected. This is to mimic the swiftness and cunning a royal ancestor took at a young age after a coup slaughtered the rest of his family. Whilst the competitors make their way to the designated endpoint, they can expect to be pelted by guards armed with bladders full of dye. Those who reach the end thusly marked are eliminated.
  3. It is also here that a prince/princess is expected to offer a favour, typically a ruby heart, to one competitor.
  4. The final trial is chosen by the intended spouse. This is often a task that the prince/princess is good at. In the case of Prince Gordon, he requested the task of tracking down an animal, something his beloved was more adept at than himself. Those who are marked with the favour go last to give them the opportunity of seeing what they're up against.
The marriage ceremony generally begins immediately after the winner in the final feat is made known.   Being as a great many clans, if not all, are involved, the contest inevitably turns into a spectacle with the space surrounding the arenas in the first trial and the stage set for the final trial often packed.
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