Roxy, Calliope, and Jane walked through the hallway, looking around. They weren't sure what it was exactly they were looking for, but Rose had told them that they were to look for anything that could help them escape from this situation.
However, in reality, it was mostly Jane that was looking around. Roxy and Calliope were mostly just hanging back, watching as Jane searched. Roxy was smiling widely as she looked at the white-haired troll in front of her.
“Oh-em-gee,” Roxy said. “I still can't believe you're here Callie!”
“Under any other circumstances I would also be delighted to see you,” Calliope said with a sigh. She reached into her pocket, and pulled out a white wand. “Too bad I can't do anything to help with the situation. I truly am useless...”
“Naw, don't say that,” Roxy said as they approached another classroom. “Even if you can't wave a magic wand and make it all better, you can still help us.”
“You think so?” Calliope said. Roxy nodded, smiling. “Thank you for caring.”
“Don't mention it,” Roxy said. She went to say more, but was cut off by Jane.
“Hey, guys,” she said. “Check this out.”
Roxy and Calliope caught up with Jane, who was standing in front of a door.
“What is it?” Calliope asked.
“This room's in the middle of the hallway,” Jane said. “But it's neither a classroom nor an office.”
“Then what?” Roxy said.
“See for yourself,” Jane said, opening the door. Roxy walked past Jane, and stood inside the room.
The room was the same size as the classroom Roxy had woken up in, but instead of desks and chairs, there were several sofas and shelves full of what appeared to be DVDs and magazines. A large flat-screen TV was in the middle of the room, currently turned off.
“What in the...?” Roxy said in disbelief at the out of place room. As she said this, something vibrated from her pocket. She pulled out her ElectroID, and saw a notice on it.
An update has been added! You can now view a map of Hope's Peak Academy!
Roxy stared at the message, confused. In no way was this how she knew Caliborn to write, so why was it like this? Perhaps it was pre-written, and he just hijacked it.
“Roxy?” Calliope said. “What is it?”
“Oh, I just got an update,” Roxy said. “I guess we can see the map of this place now.”
“Really?” Calliope said. “That's wonderful! Let's see what's nearby!” Calliope pressed down on her ElectroID, and Roxy did the same, taking in the details. Currently, they were in what was labelled as 'Lounge 3'. Several numbered classrooms surrounded the room, but up ahead it showed 'Dormitories'.
“Hey, are you guys seeing this?” Jane said. “It says the dorms are up ahead. We should probably check that out.”
“All right then,” Roxy said. “Lead the way, Janey.”
“Fine,” Jane said. She smiled at her two friends. “But let's try and stick together, okay?”
Jane exited the room first, and walked down the hallway. Roxy and Calliope trailed behind, albeit at a faster pace than before. After a few minutes of walking, the ground changed colour from a dulled white to a darker colour. And then they found themselves surrounded by wooden doors. Jane walked up to one, and found it had a pixel image of a troll on it, followed by their symbol. Underneath that was the name 'VRISKA SERKET'. They had found the dorm rooms.
“Is this it?” Calliope asked.
“Seems to be,” Jane said. “I guess we should probably try and find our rooms.”
“Yeah,” Roxy said. “Let's look.”
Elsewhere, Meenah and Aranea stood in front of a large pair of double doors. Cronus was behind them, tagging along solely to fulfil the rule of groups of three.
“Come on now, ladies,” he said as he walked up to them. Meenah stood glaring at him, whilst Aranea looked at the doors in thought. “We're alive again; why not start living a little?”
“Cod glubbin clam it Ampora,” Meenah said. “You're just lucky I don't have my trident with me, else I'll be poking holes in your body about now.”
“And risk killing me?” Cronus said. He motioned to Aranea. “With a witness?”
“Aranea'd make a great alibivalve,” Meenah said. “Home gill wouldn't betray me like that, would you Twerket?”
“Hm?” Aranea said, looking away from the door to the two seadwellers. “No, no. You're too good a friend. And besides, I am rather sceptical of the claims made by the cherub.”
“Really?” Meenah said. “Dude seemed serious.”
“Even so, he hasn't matured yet,” Aranea explained. “He doesn't have the powers the Lord English we know has.”
“So what you saying,” Meenah said. “We take him on and win?”
“Not quite,” Aranea said. “The rules clearly state that would be a bad idea.”
“Then what?” Cronus added.
“I suggest playing by his rules for the moment,” Aranea said. “However, I feel that his ultimate goal is to make us all kill one another; the whole trial thing? I don't buy it for one moment.”
“But the maps show there is a courtroom,” Meenah said, motioning to her ElectroID.
“That they do,” Aranea said. “But where is there room to perform an execution?”
“Oh, you're right,” Meenah said.
“Exactly,” Aranea replied. “So don't pay much heed to what he says. For now, let's keep searching.”
Aranea then pushed the doors open, and the three Beforan trolls stepped through, entering the library. It was a large, spacious room filled to the brim with bookshelves lined with books. Several desks were littered about to sit on, and there was even a checkout desk. But it was empty.
“Huh,” Aranea said. “I was expecting to see someone in here.”
“Well, the place is empty as shell,” Meenah said. “Course nobody'd be here.”
“I know that,” Aranea said. “Anyway, let's go see if there's any information we can use.”
“Can do,” Meenah said. “Come on Ampora. Let's go find somefin.”
“All right,” Cronus said with a shrug. “Let's do this.”
Dirk, Jake, and Jade walked down a staircase. Dirk was in the lead, and Jade was at the back. They hadn't stopped moving all day, trying to find if there were any exits anywhere. So far they had found nothing, but that hadn't deterred them.
“Dirk,” Jake said as they continued down the stairs. “Do you have the foggiest as to where this leads.”
“Not a clue,” Dirk said. “But hopefully somewhere with an exit.”
“I'm not sure...” Jade said. “If this situation is as bad as what I think it is, then we might not find an exit.”
“Yo, don't say that,” Dirk said as he reached the bottom of the staircase. “We'll find a way out.”
“Let's just hope so,” Jade said. She and Jake soon reached the bottom of the stairs as well, and were presented with a long hallway. At the end was a door that looked suspiciously like an elevator.
“Well, I guess we press onwards,” Jake said. But as he took another step forward, Caliborn appeared out of nowhere.
“No. Nope. You cannot come down here right now,” he said.
“Why the hell not?” Dirk responded.
“Is it the exit?” Jake said.
“Not at all. You brain-dead fool,” Caliborn said. “Down here is the elevator. It leads to the courtroom. You have no business being here. Unless a murder has been committed. Now get the hell out of here before I make you.” His eyes flashed dangerously, and he pulled out a machine gun. Jade let out a yelp of horror.
“Put that thing away!” she said, backing up.
“Once you leave,” Caliborn said.
“Ugh, fine,” Dirk said. “Come on guys, let's head out of here.” Without a further word of argument, the three of them returned to the stairs, leaving Caliborn to guard the elevator.
Rose sat at a table in the dining hall, slumped over. Her group, consisting of herself, John, Karkat, Terezi, Kanaya, and Dave, had all been searching for some means of escape. But they had come up empty-handed. The only thing they had found out was that currently, they couldn't go any higher than the current floor they were on. Caliborn had said that they would get to explore more of the building after every successful trial. The thought made her sick.
“Rose,” Kanaya said, snapping her from her thoughts. “Are you okay?”
“Fine,” Rose said. “Just wondering as to how Caliborn thinks he can get away with this.”
“Perhaps it would be best to not question it,” Kanaya said. “At least until we establish what everyone has discovered today.” As she said this, a few groups of others entered the dining hall thanks to the notice Rose had placed in the gym. After a few more minutes, everyone had gathered. Instinctively, they all turned to the group of six sat in the middle of the room. Rose looked at them all for a moment, before Eridan began to speak.
“Well,” he said. “Did anyone find anything?”
“That is a good question,” Rose said. She continued to face the crowd. “Can everyone please report their discoveries so that we can establish more about this place.”
“Well,” Feferi said. “My group found the pool. Caliborn mentioned to us that we can only access changing rooms using our ElectroIDs, and that we will be punished if we enter the changing room of the opposite gender.”
“Our group has also made a discovery,” Equius stated. “We have discovered several speciality classrooms; one example would be a room solely full of computers.”
“We found the dorms,” Jane said. “They all look the same: there's a bed, a chest that we can store stuff in, and a personal bathroom. The windows are also boarded up there as well.”
“Is that all?” Rose said. Several nods. “Well, we discovered that the stairs leading to the next floor up are blocked off; to access any more of the building, we'd have to successfully survive a trial.”
“What?” Calliope said. “That's utterly preposterous!”
“Believe me, we tried arguing,” Rose said flatly. “There's no swaying him.”
A silence fell over the group as they all sat at various tables, talking. Rose's group all sat down as well, and they looked at each other.
“Well, this blows,” Dave said, sighing. “There are still no leads on how we're getting out of here.”
“True,” Rose said. “But at least we're somewhat more acquainted with the building.”
“Yeah,” Dave replied. “By like, one floor.”
“It's better than nothing,” Kanaya added.
“Besides, Dave,” Terezi piped up, flashing a wide grin. “Have you seen the art room? Oh my god, the supplies in there are to die for. Think of all the comics you could make, Dave. Think of it.” She suddenly leaned across the table, and inhaled deeply. “I can smell your desire for it clearly.”
“Okay okay, you got me,” Dave said. “It's not all that bad, I guess. Anywhere that offers the tools to create Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff can't actually be that evil.”
“This is of course blatantly ignoring the psychotic cherub that is keeping us prisoner,” Karkat said.
“Let's just try and ignore that,” Dave said. “I doubt he'll do much unless someone here's dumb enough to actually commit a murder which I'm sure they're not.”
“Yeah,” Karkat said. “Still, I don't think we should entirely let our guard down; we don't really know these people on more than a superficial level. And last I checked, over half of them were dead.”
“That is also an issue,” Kanaya said. “How come those who were previously established to be dead are walking amongst the living?”
“It is probably part of whatever scheme Caliborn has in mind,” Rose said. “He'll probably reveal it to us eventually.”
“I hope so,” Dave said. He then looked up, and saw John standing over the table, holding a tray of food.
“Hey guys,” he said. “I went through the kitchen and found some food. I guess this could be dinner? Anyway, eat up!”
“Thanks,” Rose said. She took what appeared to be a bunch of grapes, and chewed at them. “This isn't half bad. I'm glad that our captor at least has a sense of hospitality.”
“Unless it's poisoned,” Karkat said.
“Don't worry about that,” Terezi replied. “I can smell this kind of stuff from miles away.”
“You could easily omit that information though,” Rose said. “How perfect would it be to kill someone by poison?”
“I wouldn't stoop as low as to play that sick game,” Terezi said, frowning. Her face soon bounced back into a wide grin, though. “Besides, it's much more fun to prosecute the culprit than it is to actually commit a murder.”
“Good to see that our mood hasn't changed, then,” John said, laughing.
“Yeah,” Dave said. “We can almost forget how we're trapped in some creepy school for just a moment.” The others laughed at Dave's remark, and they all soon fell into various light-hearted conversations.
A couple of hours later, though, one of the many television screens flickered to life. Caliborn's face appeared.
“Attention losers,” he said. “It is now ten PM. Meaning Night Time has begun. In a few minutes. The dining hall will be locked down. Please make your way to your dorm rooms. For a peaceful sleep.”
The screen died down, and an uneasy silence filled the room. Everyone looked around, nobody saying a word, before all eyes turned to Rose.
“Well, I suppose we should follow the announcement,” she said. “It wouldn't be wise to break the rules.”
“So we just head back to our rooms for the night?” Aranea said. She sighed. “That's a shame. I was hoping to do some late-night reading.”
“Of course, I don't think there's a rule against it if the library isn't locked at night,” Rose said. “But who knows with him?”
“I agree,” Calliope said. “And being out alone could make you a target if people believe what my brother is saying.”
“Gurl, don't worry a boat it,” Meenah said. She wrapped an arm around Aranea, and grinned. “I'll be with her and'll definitely keep her safe.”
“Meenah, you really don't have to go to all this trouble,” Aranea said. “I'll be fine.”
“Not takin any chances, sorry,” Meenah said.
“You truly are a good person,” Calliope said.
“Thanks,” Meenah said. “But really I just don't want my friend to die.”
“I see,” Rose said. “However, I suppose the rest of us should just head to our rooms for the evening. Don't stay out too long you two.”
“We won't,” Aranea said. She smiled warmly, before beginning to head in the direction of the library. “Well, see you tomorrow!”
“Yo, wait for me!” Meenah cried out, rushing after Aranea as they vanished through the doorway. Rose then looked around the room, and saw everyone beginning to leave. She also realised that her own group had retired for the evening.
Sighing, Rose walked through the dining hall, lost in her thoughts, before she ran into Roxy.
“Hey!” Roxy said. She smiled widely. “It's been too long, huh?”
“I suppose,” Rose said. “Although, we could argue that we've known each other longer than anyone else, being each other's alternate version of her doomed mother.”
“Yeah,” Roxy said with a chuckle. “But do you really think nobody will kill?”
“I can't say for sure,” Rose said as they walked through the hallway. “However, I know that the majority won't risk it, if that's any consolation.”
“Not really,” Roxy said. “But if it helps, I won't be doing any murdering.”
“Likewise,” Rose said. She looked ahead, and saw the dorm rooms. “Well, I suppose I'm going to call it an evening. See you tomorrow.”
“Yeah, see ya,” Roxy said. She smiled at Rose, who then walked into her room, retiring for the night.
Roxy remained outside for just a moment longer, before walking across to her own room. She pressed her ElectroID to the door, and stepped inside, shutting it behind her. She knew it was wrong, but having the door locked like that made her feel the slightest bit safer, not that anyone was actually going to try and murder her. But what about her friends? Could they be in danger? It wasn't worth thinking about, Roxy decided, and instead she made her way to her bed, and slipped under the covers, soon drifting off into a deep dreamless slumber.
“Attention losers. It is now seven AM. Marking the end of Night Time. The dining hall is now unlocked. Meaning breakfast will be served. Here's to a new day. Of mutual killing.”
Roxy opened her eyes, staring at the light above her head. It had turned on automatically after the morning announcement, marking day time, since there was no way to see the outside world. She sat up, and not for the first time she wondered where they were exactly. But there wasn't much point in reasoning with it right now, and she climbed out of bed, heading out of her room.
The walk to the dining hall was uneventful, and Roxy quickly sat down with Jane, who was eating from a generously sized bowl of fruit.
“Hi Roxy,” Jane said. “Sleep well?”
“Surprisingly,” Roxy replied. “I was sure I'd be worrying about everything, but I slept like a rock.”
“Me too,” Jane said. “I guess the events of yesterday just wore on us so much.”
“Yeah,” Roxy said. “We probably didn't notice because Callie was keeping us in such high spirits.”
“Speaking of which,” Jane said. “Have you seen Calliope at all this morning?”
“No,” Roxy said. A sudden chill ran through her spine. “Has anyone else?”
Jane shook her head. “I asked Rose's group, but they hadn't seen her.”
“Jane,” Roxy said. “Do you think maybe Callie...”
“Don't say that,” Jane said “She's probably just sleeping in or something.”
“Yeah,” Roxy said. “Still, perhaps we should let her know it's breakfast time. Wouldn't want her to miss out on eating, would we?”
“No,” Jane said. She stood up from her seat. “Let's go then.”
The two girls walked across the dining hall as quickly as possible, but before they could reach the exit, Aranea approached them.
“Hello,” she said.
“Hey,” Roxy said. She looked at Aranea, and noticed that she wasn't wearing her necklace. It probably fell off in her sleep or something. “You okay?”
“Not really,” Aranea said. “I haven't seen Meenah at all this morning. Have you girls seen her by chance?”
“No,” Jane said. “And we haven't seen Calliope either.”
“The cherub girl isn't here?” Aranea said. “You don't think something happened to them, do you?”
“It couldn't be,” Roxy said. “They're probably still asleep or something. I guess Callie's been worrying about her psycho brother, and Meenah stayed up with you in the library.”
“Oh yeah,” Aranea said. “Meenah did leave the library shortly before I did, saying she was tired. I hope she made it to her room all right.”
“Isn't the library en route to the dorms?” Jane said.
“Yes,” Aranea said.
“In that case, why don't we look around there to see if there's any sign of her?” Jane replied.
“Sounds like a plan,” Aranea said. “Let's stay together in case there's anything dangerous. Not that there would be, but you know, better to be safe than sorry.”
The three of them then left the dining hall, quickly moving through the hallways, approaching the library. As they did so, the sound of everyone else eating grew quieter. This sent an uneasy feeling through Roxy. And just as this feeling rushed through her, a new sound reached her ears: screaming.
They all looked ahead as the screaming increased in volume, and a figure approached them. Roxy soon realised that it was Meenah. Her face was pale, and her eyes were wide.
“Meenah!” Aranea said, rushing over to her. “Are you okay?!”
“Oh cod, oh cod, oh cod...” Meenah replied. She buried her face in her hands. She was visibly shaking.
“What is it?” Aranea asked, her tone agitated. Meenah remained silent, trembling. A feeling of panic soon settled in, and Roxy felt growing anxiety at the exchange.
“I woke up in the library,” Meenah said. “And I saw... oh man... it actually happened...”
“What happened?” Jane said.
“A corpse...” Meenah said, trembling. “Someone's been murdered!” At that moment, it felt as if a blade of ice had struck Roxy. A thousand thoughts filled her head, none of them pleasant.
“We have to head there right away,” Aranea said. “Come on!”
Aranea took the lead, followed by Meenah, and Jane and Roxy swiftly followed suit. Nobody said a word as they ran through the hallways.
“A body?” Jane said to Roxy. “She can't be serious, right?”
“I hope not,” Roxy said. “Maybe she thought she saw it, and panicked.” But deep down, Roxy knew that the truth was likely to be less optimistic. They then turned another corner, and a large set of doors greeted them. One door was slightly ajar.
“In there,” Meenah said. “The body's in there.”
“Show us,” Aranea said. “We have to see.”
“O-okay,” Meenah replied. “I just can't believe it. Who the shell would do this?” With that, Meenah pushed open the doors, and she and Aranea stepped inside. Jane and Roxy followed, and stood inside the library, amongst the massive shelves. The two trolls suddenly stopped, and Roxy rushed up to them, looking past them. What she saw turned her blood to ice, and rendered her unable to breathe.
There, in the middle of the library, slumped in a pool of blood, was the body of Calliope.