Water still dripping from their damp clothing, Omar, Jewel, and Shuriel began shivering as the temperature drastically began to drop the further they progressed down the hallway and into GLaDOS’s next chamber. The three elves discussed methods by which they could escape from her grasp as they continued onward, each suggestion less likely to work then the last.
The hallway opened into a large, snow-covered chamber. In the center of the room, chained to the floor by several frozen chains of ice, was a large, draconic-like creature. Ferociously tugging against the chains, its strength was renewed upon seeing several morsels wander into its chamber. GLaDOS informed her subjects that the creature’s presence in the chamber, she called it a ‘frost drake,’ was baffling to her as well, commenting that the beast must have been more stealthy then any of the three of them. Seemingly out of annoyance for their intentions to escape, GLaDOS attempted to flood the room with several tons of ice, but Omar, Shuriel, and Jewel’s tampering of the Enrichment Center’s water grid several rooms back caused her pipeline conductivity grid to malfunction. As a result, two “failed test subjects,” were displaced into the chamber.
GLaDOS informed Shuriel, Omar, and Jewel that the task of fixing the conductivity grid would require her full attention before signing out of the room. The frost drake began roaring with renewed vigor as the chains, weakened by the cold temperatures, began to snap apart. Shuriel ran over to the two newcomers into the chamber; one appeared to be a small human boy wearing rather unassuming clothing while the other was a rather large and bulky human man, donned in full-plate and carrying a large, double-bladed ax. Naturally, Shuriel attempted to revive the warrior first, who awoke startled. Explaining to Shuriel that a psychotic voice, whom could assumed to be GLaDOS, attempted to pump him and the lad full of water, the man called up divine magic to cure himself of his wounds further. In the meantime, Shuriel used some smelling salts to awaken the child.
Jewel and Omar, whom were both of little use in helping Shuriel to aid their new guests, began attacknig the drake from afar; Omar with his blunderbuss and Jewel with a hand crossbow. Omar’s shots struck true, but Jewel’s attacks did little more than further enrage the beast. In a matter of seconds, the drake clawed and tugged its way free of its bonded, roaring hungrily towards the five test subjects. Thinking quickly, Omar shot the drake with one of his entangling cartridges which quickly ensnared it in purple goo. Jewel’s crossbow continued to show its ineffectiveness against the drake, its bolts bouncing harmlessly against the drake blue scales.
Pulling himself to his feet, the holy man drew his axe and charged the drake, roaring ferociously. A particularly well-aimed blow cut deep into the drake, causing it to bellow in pain. Responding to this grievous wound, the drake unleashed a massive breath of frigid air at its dinner, hitting all but Jewel and seriously wounding those it struck. Bloodied and beaten, the small boy retreated to a corner and immediately vanished from sight; Shuriel noting that the child had cast an invisibility spell on himself. Not concerning himself with the boy, however, Shuriel instead lobbed once of his alchemical explosives directly at the drake, causing it to bellow in agony at being exposed to such a hot substance.
Jewel decided to abandon her crossnbow and ran into the fray, flanking the drake with the human’s aid. She was able to score a direct attack on the monster using her rapier, but its rime-covered body diminished the impact of her blows. Seeking to end the encounter, Omar took a final shot at the drake, aimed straight for its head, and pulled the trigger. A direct hit pierced the monster’s skull where it immediately collapsed, dead. In its death throes, the drake slammed against the room in rage, knocking a piece of the metallic wall asunder and revealing a hidden hallway. While Shuriel attempted to remove several fangs from the drake’s mouth to sell as improvised daggers, Jewel crept into the passage, noting that GLaDOS had made no comment or reaction to the breach. About halfway down the hallway, she found a mysterious message written in what appeared to be blood, urging the reader to continue down the hallway and to ignore anything and everything that GLaDOS said. Deciding to take her chances, Jewel returned to the others and informed them of the hallway. As the made their way down the hall, the child introduced himself as Breven Kindlebrin, a natural-born mage, and the holy man as Zerrick; a cleric of Set. Omar, Jewel, and Shuriel also introduced themselves to their new companions, the five of them making their way cautiously down the exposed passage.
The passage opened up into a large room that appeared to be made of a single sheet of metal, the floor coated with debris. On the far wall, opposite the entrance, was the letter ‘V’ engraved into the wall. As they entered the room, a loud slam alerted Omar, Shuriel, Jewel, Zerrick, and Breven that they were trapped in the room; the last thing anyone saw was metallic arms pushing the hallway’s walls against the exit; sealing them inside. GLaDOS’s voice echoed through the room, telling her ‘guests’ that she would forgive then for trying to escape if they abandoned their quest immediately as she opened what appeared to be a magical doorway within the room, her final words were, “take it or drown.” As the echoing of her voice faded, small holes in the floor, ceiling, and walls, smaller than a child’s palm, opened up and water immediately began flowing into the room.
As she started to panic, Jewel noticed that another message, painted on the walls in blood, was within this room and was quickly being washed away by the water. Hurrying over, Jewel saw that the message said, “Make six,” only seconds before the message was washed away entirely. Conveying the information to her comrades, the five of them ran up to the place where the marks had been and quickly began trying everything they could to “make six,” including drawing numbers on the walls and writing the passage six times. It was Zerrick who noticed that a large, jagged piece of adamantine was beneath the rubble in the room. Realizing what had to be done, Zerrick grabbed the club and ran back up to the place where the inscription was, scratching the letter ‘I,’ after the ‘V.’ Having formed the numeral for six, the metal immediately withdrew itself and Zerrick and the others were washed halfway down the next hallway before the metal closed again, assuring them that they would not drown … in that chamber. As they stood up, Shuriel turned to Zerrick and requested the rod of adamantine for himself, saying “I can put that to better use than you.” Zerrick shrugged and handed Shuriel the rod, doubting very much that the elf could use the hunk of metal at all.
The party made their way down the hallway towards their next challenge, ignoring GLaDOS’s pleas to turn around and her taunts; although she was not always entirely correct, it was clear that she knew much more about her prisoners then she let on, noting to Breven that his parents were heavily disappointed with him and to Jewel about her extreme paranoia. In an attempt to escape GLaDOS’s jerring remarks, Jewel ran ahead of the party and into the next chamber, a blank room with roughly 12 indents in the wall, as well as a large spread of tiles on the floor. Each tile, Jewel noted, had a number ranging from 1 to 39 on it and several tiles were already placed into the wall, followed by a bloody stain beneath where someone appeared to have died trying to solve the puzzle. As the rest of the party entered the room, Jewel noted that another message in blood was on the walls; this one stating that, “Science is the study of patterns.”
Upon seeing the clue, Zerrick immediately knew the answer to the puzzle. In his youth, a mentor used to use number puzzles to help the young cleric hone his mind. This pattern, known as the Fibonacci sequence, was an extremely famous number pattern, and he was able to quickly dictate to his comrades which numbers to place in each indentation. Working quickly, the group was able to escape the room before GLaDOS could attempt to kill them. With renewed confidence, GLaDOS’s taunts directed at Shuriel and Omar bounced off of the party’s hearts and minds, their spirits too strengthened by victory to pay her any mind.
That fortification diminished slightly upon observing the next chamber. Lined from wall to wall and upon the ceiling with iron spikes, a large apparatus in the center of the ceiling hung ominously above the adventurers. On the floor of the room was another clue, this time a riddle.
“Karma cares not who throws the first blow, only that violence is punished.”
Off-set by the threat, only Jewel was brave enough to set foot into the room. As she did, the apparatus that hung above her began to release vile creatures that Breven was able to identify as homonculi; horrid creatures usually created by wizards to perform vile experiments upon. Each homonculi produced a beam of light from its body as it struck the floor, connecting with each of the five adventurers in turn. The homonculi crawled slowly and in agony towards its bonded individual, leaving a trail of slime in its wake.
While Jewel ran off to experiment with the room, the others tried to figure out the mystery of the homonculi. Omar shot his with his blunderbuss, but instead of wounding the homonculi, a small puncture wound appeared on his shoulder and began to bleed. Meanwhile, Jewel discovered the opposite effect; when she pricked herself on a spike, pieces of it vanished as though it was the object being harmed. In a moment of mixed inspiration and madness, Jewel began to hurl herself into the spikes one by one, causing them to break before the party’s eyes. The men of the group watched dumbfounded as the drow danced around into spikes, until at least, a door was revealed behind a particular section. With the way ahead clear and everyone a bit confused, the party pressed onward, GLaDOS taunting them all the way, her insults getting more and more desperate. Finally, five test subjects entered the final chamber; as soon as they entered, both the doors out and into the room were sealed. GLaDOS told her captives that they were to remain in the room until they were ready to return to the Enrichment center or until they died of starvation and dehydration.
A small inscription on the floor, written in the same red script that had gotten the party this far, was on the floor. Jewel noticed it immediately, the words ‘bleaker for thou’ scrawled quickly on the floor. Despite the very pessimistic message, Jewel was not ready to give up when whomever had been writing these messages had gotten her and her comrades this far. She reached into her haversack and pulled out her investigating notebook and a piece of charcoal that she used to record important events. Quickly, the drow began to write; to her allies, she appeared to be writing random words and combinations of letters, so the four of them were slightly confused when Jewel stood up quickly, turned to Shuriel, and requested that he begin wailing on the floor with the adamantine club the group had found earlier. When Shuriel asked why, Jewel showed him her work, revealing that the phrase was an anagram for ‘break the floor.’ With a devious grin on his face, Shuriel took the club and struck the ground as hard as he could, directly on top of their helper’s words. Spidery cracks immediately began resonating across the room, and the floor gave away to another chamber, the filtering of sunlight directly ahead of the five escapees.
Zerrick quickly cautioned the group, warning them that the scene ahead of them was probably a trap of some kind. As they drew nearer, Zerrick’s predictions were confirmed to be correct and the light disappeared, leaving only metal plates behind. As the hallway they came from closed off, GLaDOS informed her test subjects that she was bringing them directly to her observatory. The floor began to slowly rise beneath them, and Breven, Jewel, Omar, Shuriel, and Zerrick each began to prepare for a confrontation with GLaDOS. What they found, however, was completely different.
GLaDOS revealed to the party that they were not within the Mortal Realm; GLaDOS’s Enrichment Center existed as a demiplane, floating in the Astral Sea. She also referred to the party’s contractual obligations to return to their testing chambers. When her subjects refused, GLaDOS deployed a massive, robotic appendage from the ceiling and began to mercilessly attack her subjects. Breven and Zerrick quickly found out that GLaDOS’s machine was all but completely immune to their magic, and Omar’s bullets bounced off of its adamantine platting. Jewel noticed a control panel on the other side of the room and quickly bolted to it as Shuriel pulled out a potion that he claimed he was ‘saving for later.’ In a moment, Shuriel’s body massively expanded, as if he had undergone years of fitness training in moments as he lifted the adamantine rod and starting striking GLaDOS’s machine as hard as he could.
Working together, Jewel and Breven were able to activate a device GLadOS had called ‘living adamantium,’ which began dispensing from a vat in the room. A powerful blow from an enlarged Zerrick, however, sent GLaDOS’s mech crashing into the vat, sending living adamantine flying across the room, drenching Zerrick, Omar, and Shuriel in the substance. It immediately reacted to their metal weapons and solidified, allowing them to crack through GLaDOS’s armor and destroy her creation once and for all. Displeased, GLaDOS was about to deploy another machine when Breven muddled with the control pannel again, causing critical errors across the Enrichment Center. As a safety procaution, the Center automatically teleported the five former test subjects off of GLaDOS’s demiplane and back onto the Mortal Realm.
Breven was the first to awaken; the sun on his face, grass beneath him, and the blue sky above. He listened for a moment as his eyes adjusted to the light; no mechanical noises, no, he doubted this was an illusion. Looking around, Breven realized that he was in a field not far from his hometown, Gullykin, which he had not seen or visited in nearly twelve years. Offering his friends and savors a place to stay for the night, the odd group made their way down to the halfling city, noting that Shuriel was acting oddly and referring to himself by the name Shidrax. By the time they reached the village, however, Shuriel was back to normal and the sun was beginning to sink low into the sky. Breven lead the other four throughout the down, the halfling villagers stopping to stare at the odd assortment of people who were parading through the town. Upon reaching his home, Breven was surprised to find the door unlocked, and although he called out to his parents as he entered the opening room, his voice trailed off as he found the room completely scorched, with the words ‘Still Watching’ burned onto the floors and walls.