The Temple of Nathulion
A contest of stamina popular among men throughout the Southlands and Hropapra, frequently held at harvest time but not infrequently celebrated at any large festive gathering. The contestants gather in a circle at least 30 tors from a vat filled with a sweet, highly potent mixture of honey, butter, and a viscous alcoholic paste peculiar to the locale, such as gugr, sometimes spiced with narcotic herbs. Women wielding whips or rug beaters usually guard the vat, though in more remote regions or in those places where woman are scarce, half-wild dogs and even live stinging willows are used. Each contestant holds a 5 didta stein filled with watered wine. At commencement, each contestant races to the vat, dips his stein in the mixture, and races back to the circle, with women, dogs, or stinging willow branches beating, biting, or stinging him. Rarely do the contestants run straight back to the circle, as they twist and weave energetically to avoid the worst from their attackers and so mix well the wine and paste. Once a contestant reaches the circle, he must either drink the entire mixture in one draught or forfeit. His compatriots then fill his stein again, and he must race back towards the vat to dip it again or forfeit. This cycle is repeated. The last contestant standing is the winner. Typically, barriads last less than 20 turns, though in Rotash a team version sometimes lasts three days.
Despite the myriad local tales of the origin of this game, the earliest reference to a contest of this nature is from The Song of the Centaur (PA 2795), which also explains the origin of the name. Among the queries, dares, and jests that the Wajarel ranger and the centaur Bharyrra exchange is this:
Bharyrra, is the wine of the Hollow as sweet as the mead that
Weighs down the flagons in the Inn of Arith?
Wajarel, can you chase a roe that never runs?
Can you rape a maid that never flees?
Fill you cup in the venomous hive, run!
And run away, on your two legs,
Better are four,
Before the bees sting your tiny rump,
Drink deeply the gold brighter than the sun
Run, and turn again!
(6, ii, 114-123)
Cthonir the Blind