The Challenge Festival is a semi-annual event hosted by the Ramaltas and the Dubtas at the largest Ramal city-state of Tadukhepa. At this event, all city-states are invited to feast, trade, and duel. Those who come to duel participate in numerous martial events, hoping to take home rewards of both gold and honor. The feast is provided by the Dubtas of the host city, and all others bring their wares and crafts to trade in a great marketplace.
These Festivals were originally created in order to control the populace after the Ramaltas seized control. The Ramaltas needed a way to help the people see past the differences between each city and distract them from their desert lifestyle. It also gave the desert Ramalne bands a reason to return to the cities at least twice a year and thus continue interfacing and building relationships with them.
Those coming to duel at the Challenge Festival do so under the anticipation of gifts and prestige. Strength in combat is highly valued among the Ramal people, and specifically the Ramaltas. The gifts are provided by the Dubtas and can range from gemstones to exotic artifacts that are acquired from foreign lands by those subordinate to the Ramaltas. The gifts are lavish, though the prestige of winning is enough of a reward for most. The winner's name will be written into the books of history, and the greatest champions are talked about in the streets of all the city states.
The duels are fought with blunted weapons as to limit serious injuries and deaths during the event. Although some major injuries can happen by accident, it is generally accepted that no real danger is involved. The only exception to this is the challenge of a Kasentas, made by any attendee, which can result in a duel to the death. Ranged weapons are prohibited from most of the duels, however it is acceptable to throw melee weapons if the combatants chose to do so. This is a very rare occurrence, but not illegal.
To begin the Festival's duels, the Dubtas will pair off the challengers and schedule their battles throughout the first Festival day. The loser of each fight is eliminated, and the winner proceeds to fight the winners of the other pairings. This turns into a multi-day tournament until eventually it is narrowed down to the last pair of fighters on the final day. This final duel is the most highly anticipated and attended, with even the Ramaltas of many cities honoring the fighters with their presence.
While the duels may be the most anticipated part of the Challenge Festival, the marketplace that grows out of the merchants from many nations is perhaps the most important part. While each city-state has its own marketplace and economy, the significant gathering of merchants from across the Sand Seas brings more merchandise, both common and rare, to the same place and provides an opportunity for the visitors to Tadukhepa to find goods they may not have seen otherwise.
The Marketplace at a Challenge Festival is kept safe and orderly by a combination of merchant guards hired from the desert bands and the host Ramaltas' own guard. It is critical that the Marketplace be safe and prosperous, as a significant tax is levied on all goods passing hands during the festival. This event is one of the largest sources of money that the city of Tadukhepa has, and its success is viewed as the utmost importance.
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