The king's arena functions as a court of law in which those accused of crimes are deemed guilty or innocent. Stockton describes it as a vast amphitheater circled by galleries, with hidden passages and unseen vaults. The people watch from the galleries as justice is meted out. The king, surrounded by his court, sits on a throne high up on one side of the arena.
The accused emerges from a door below the king's throne. After emerging, the accused—visualized as a male—faces two identical doors. His task is to choose which one to open. Behind one is a beautiful maiden. If he chooses that door, he is considered innocent and immediately marries the maiden. Behind the other door is a hungry tiger. If he opens that door, the tiger will devour him and he will be considered guilty. If the tiger eats the man, "doleful" iron bells ring in mourning. If the maiden appears, joyful horns and bells sound out in celebration.