Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Trial of Blood

Eztlequiuh is a game also known as the Trial of Blood (but more properly known as the Burden of Blood), and more commonly known as bloodball or football.  Eztlequiuh is a team sport played by residents of the Plain of Sorrow, and possibly played in other places throughout the world (since the fall of the Nerathi Empire, it has been relatively difficult to gain statistical information and census data from distant locations).  Some claim that it was developed by the dwarves, others by the half-orcs, but most scholars claim the game was developed by the ancient Olman Empire.

Historians believe the game originated as a bloody religious ceremony among the Olman people.  Each team was composed of eight individuals (typically Humans, reflecting the racial makeup of the Olmans); historians believe the number eight was sacred to the Olmans, and more importantly, that it was somehow relevant to the game.  Teams would attempt to deliver a ball through a small stone hoop, and some anecdotes suggest that any method to prevent the other team from scoring was legal.  Losers would be executed as sacrifices, and the game was difficult enough that it was possible for neither team to win.

Eztlequiuh is much more subdued these days. Modern Eztlequiuh is typically played in teams of eleven, and it is somewhat common for teams to be separated by race (though this is hardly a requirement). Modern Eztlequiuh is a friendly game wherein one team attempts to kick the ball into the other's goal; in this respect, it is similar to contemporary association football (a variant known as "handball" is more similar to contemporary American football).  It has a few minor differences and some regional variations, but is otherwise the same.

However, some cultures still cleave closer to the old ways.  Orcish settlements and slave-owners, for example, may still play Eztlequiuh as a bloodsport.  The city of Scandshar, in which slavery is still legal, occasionally repurposes slaves for gory Eztlequiuh tournaments.  If the losers are not executed, then players are encouraged to extremes of violence while playing, so as to defeat the other team through attrition as well as athleticism.

Particularly among these throwbacks, old traditions sometimes remain.  Some players and spectators may utter the cry of "Blood for blood!" which is thought to be part of an older chant to one of the forgotten gods of the Olman Empire.  Dark rumors claim that each game of Eztlequiuh — even the friendly ones! — feeds this dark entity, and some claim that a society of dwarves still serve this entity, crafting bloody Eztlequiuh spectacles that can last for days and funnel sacrifices to this Blood God.

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