The sands of time are used fairly regularly in gem quests, and, most importantly, they are used to determine the two final contenders for an Ordination. Quests involving the sands of time usually require two individuals, or two groups competing over possession of the sands of time over a certain length of time. The team or individual holding the sands when the time runs out is declared the winner. The difficulty with holding the sands of time is that they cannot be taken above the clouds, or out of cover of the skies, or into fields. They cannot be cursed, or trapped, or have runes placed on them. They cannot be placed inside backpacks or in the saddlebags of a steed. The sands must be held in one's hands, at all times, out in the open. Fields and off-continent are disallowed. The sands cannot be held by tree-formed, or cat-formed folk, or mists or ghosts or light-forms.
The build-up to an Ordination's amethyst finale, eliminating contenders 'til only two remain to battle it out for the final divine gem (see HELP ORDINATION), are ONE versus ONE sands quests. These sands quests are contended over sixty minutes and involve two gem-winning contenders (see HELP CONTENDERS). The winner of the quest is the contender holding the sands at the end of the hour, or the first contender to pick up the sands after the hour is up. These sands quests produce some of the most competitve, unpredictable and exciting contests in the land. There are few rules and nowhere to hide - two Avalonians facing off against one another, with only one winning through to progress a step closer to ordination.
Here are the simple sand quest (for Ordination) rules: these are one versus one contests and nobody else is allowed to interfere in any way; the land must be taken 'as it is' and any obstacles, any aids - all must be taken at face value and dealt with; any bugs may be reported and might be fixed but should not be waited-upon or presumed pre-requisite to continued contest - the contest will continue regardless; and finally if either contender achieves a 'perfect defence' then it is up to the opponent to bring it to attention to the presiding deity who will disallow the method, affording the defender/sands-holder opportunity to make good his/her escape without being unduly disadvantaged by having cleverly discovered it. This 'perfect defence' is thereafter disallowed from the contest.
In the past years no-one has discovered a 'perfect defence' and only one much disgraced Avalonian has violated the spirit of the sacred sands-quests. All others have contended with noble and courageous heart, whether overmatched or not. It is one of the most perfect, undeniable tests of an Avalonian's ability in the realm since it involves a wide repertoire of abilities, combinations, methods, etc. There is no sure-fire route to victory and that is part of the sands-quest's beauty. Typically the latter rounds, the contests immediately preceding the Ordination, can be watched from the pools by the Rock Pinnacle. This is determined by the presiding deity and the contenders; some may wish to keep their techniques secret, others enjoy the audience and subsequent acclaim.