Following their battle with the forgefiend, out heroes explored the wreckage of its exploded form. They found no source of its animation, but determined that its twisted blades were made of adamantium and carved with evil runes. Separating them from the body, they moved on.
They traveled for several hours in the passages of the hall, and as they came to more populated areas began to attract attention from those around.
Corbel told them that it would be very late by the time they got to the Hall proper, and the group decided it would be best not to give their enemies time to prepare. So they pushed on.
When they reached the central galleries of Gilt Hall, a crowd was awaiting them. The stone lord Vanha met them, and explained that they would be able to meet with the Hallitae-rhim immediately. Ushered into the chamber, Corbel made a show of dumping the severed giant head before the leaders and demanded the dwarves return to the south gate and protect their entire realm.
The leaders muttered among themselves, and then told the group that they had merely done the task that was appointed them, and that they had already been compensated for their troubles.
Then the stone lord interrupted, and said as champion defenders of the Gilt Hall dwarves, the group had the right to have their proposal measured by the gods. The rulers reluctantly agreed, and gave them one hour to prepare.
Confused, our heroes asked how exactly the god were going to take the measure of their proposal. Vanha told them that it was trial by combat with the gods’ vessel in a sacred ring. He was not allowed to say much more about it. Luckily, Kallius finally figured out the secret of the golden dragon statue, and it explained that the vessel was a stone automaton with power to generate spikes from any stone. The ring was surrounded by a barrier that blocked all spells, and only one divine blessing would be allowed.
They chose Luix as their champion, and worked to maximize his potential for success. They armed him with the adamantine daggers, which they enchanted. They collected what potions they had and loaded him down. To protect him from rising stone spikes, Celeste gave him her potion of flight.
An hour quickly passed, and they were led to the ring — a large sand circle with three pillars representing the main divine protectors of the Gilt Hall dwarves. It rose above a second ring also divided into three, one filled with sharp stones, one with swirling water, and the third with burning coals. In the center stood a massive stone statue of a dwarf covered in spiky armor. A narrow bridge was set across the gap between the crowded gallery and the pit.
Luix stepped over, and immediately took the flying potion. The statue launched at him, swinging its massive fists. The fighter drank a second potion as the creature closed.
It lashed out and struck him powerfully at the end of its charge. He tried to attack back, but some power was turning his blows and throwing off his aim. This was noted by his comrades, who looked about to see what was causing this effect.
Luix flew from the guardian’s reach, and pleaded for the help of the dwarven gods at their pillars. This fell on deaf ears, but as the creature closed and grabbed at him again, he heard tinny giggling in the empty air. He shouted this to his allies, and hoped they expose the cheat.
Meanwhile, Kallius was moving through the crowd looking for anything that stood out. He laid eyes on a serious-faced ashy dwarf that was looking about the arena and not directly at the fight. Then, he realized that the creature was in fact a dredger, and called to the ranger.
As he did so, a dwarf from the nearest rank jumped up to attack him. Deciding that this man was probably being controlled, Saerin ignored his charge and fired his bow at the duergar.
Even as this was playing out, Corbel had excavated a chunk of the area to create dust and gravel, and Celeste summoned an air elemental. She instructed the outsider to swallow up the dust and scatter it over Luix, the guardian, and the mysterious giggler.
When it did, Luix became aware of a small winged shape hovering near the pillar. Ignoring the blows of the guardian, he swung the adamantine dagger at the invisible interloper, overcoming unlike, dust and invisibility, to land a mighty blow. The tiny creature was smashed to the ground, and the crowd was stunned by the sudden appearance of another creature in the arena.