The Trials of Gofa the Mighty
Gofa the Mighty came to the mountain fortress of Azam the Seer to demand the knowledge to defeat his enemies. But Azam denied him, for the Seer took little notice of the affairs of the world. Gofa was angry at being rebuffed. He drew his blade, Indomitable, and challenged Azam to single combat. But Azam only chuckled, saying, “Your deeds are well-known, Gofa, as is your manner: Quick to anger, slow to learn, and always chasing the point of your sword. But you say you come to this place seeking knowledge. Instead let us see if you have the wisdom to use what you seek.”
Azam set before Gofa a task. “Hidden in the dungeons beneath my fortress are three jewelled skulls. Retrieve the skulls and return to me. For each skull you retrieve, I will answer truthfully one question.” Gofa grinned then, and his eyes blazed. He said, “Stay here. I’ll be back.” He descended the stair into the depths of the fortress.
Now Azam’s fortress was built upon an ancient labyrinth, a twisting maze of dark passages filled with traps, dead-ends, and dangerous creatures. They say Gofa the Mighty spent three days and three nights in the maze. At last he descended to the deepest level of the dungeon and there he found the passage that split into three. Taking the left-most fork, Gofa was surprised to hear a rumbling behind him, and as he turned he saw a wall of stone slam up from the ground, blocking the way back. With no other option, Gofa followed the passage to its end. It led to a great chamber filled with a swirling vortex of sand a hundred feet across. Wide stone pillars jutted from the sand sea, and at the center of the room he saw a pit ringed with stone to prevent the roiling sand from spilling in. Above the pit was a clay pot dangling at the end of a rope. At the far end of the room, a small platform could be seen, with a great brass valve upon it. This was the first task: where in this room was the skull, and how did Gofa retrieve it?
Leaving the sand pit behind, the first jewelled skull tucked safely in his pack, Gofa the Mighty made his way back to the three-pronged forking passage. The stone wall that had blocked the exit had receded into the ground. As Gofa stepped into the centre-most passage a wall again rose behind him, locking him in. This passage led to another chamber, this one smaller than the first, with a ceiling so low Gofa had to hunch his broad shoulders. The floor was made of a series of square stone tiles, each 10 feet across and inscribed with the same strange runes. Five of the tiles glowed with a faint orange light; upon each was a piece of a brass clockwork mechanism. At the opposite corner from here he stood Gofa could see a locked gate, and behind it the second jewelled skull resting a top a plinth. Gofa strode boldly into the room, making straight for the gate. As he stepped on the first tile, the rune beneath his feet glowed orange. But as soon as Gofa stepped on the tile next to the first, the rune flashed white and a bolt of lightning shot through his body. He stumbled back, and the runes reset. It was then that he noticed a plaque on the wall, depicting various shapes made of squares. This was the second task: how did Gofa cross to the gate and retrieve the skull?
Returning now to the fork, Gofa was tired, angry and wounded. He had two skulls, but he cursed the labyrinth, cursed Azam, and cursed the very gods for his predicament. He advanced down the final, right-most passage, his stride not even breaking at the boom of a stone wall slamming shut behind him. The passage led to a room of total darkness but for the dim glow of four green lights. Silhouetted against the light Gofa could just make out four pillars; their tops lost in the darkness above him. In the gloom across from him he saw two tiny, green points of light staring back at him. The slow breaths of some great creature echoed in the empty chamber. Gofa unsheathed Indomitable and stepped into the darkness, and came face to face with a gorgon, a huge bull-like creature covered in thick metal plates charging him. This was the third task: how did Gofa defeat the gorgon and find the third skull?
Three trials, and three skulls, and for them three questions: these things Gofa the Mighty won not with brawn, but with cleverness. Tell me how Gofa completed the trials, and I will answer your questions.