Ib nearly got to the door and then she heard a scream of rage.
Mary tackles the older girl from behind, smacking her head and face and slamming her to the ground. Ib struggles to push her off, and after a short struggle, she finally succeeds and swerves towards the door again. Mary kicks at Ib’s legs in rage and wrestles her to the ground once more. “WHY?!” She screeches, her face a bright red, golden curls wildly falling about her face. “Why did you do that to me?! I thought you were my friend! Friends don’t burn each other! Whats wrong with you!?”
“Whats wrong with me?! What about you?!” Ib hisses, slapping her in the face and shoving her off, raking chestnut hair away from her own face. “Do you even understand just what you’ve done to me?!” She shouts, advancing towards the slightly shocked blonde.
“The Garry I love is GONE because of everything you've done! He’s been- he’s just- he-“ Ib sputters angrily, managing to pin the raging girl to the ground, scarlet eyes boring into vicious blue ones. “I can’t even look at him now without feeling mad because of what you did! Why do you HATE him?! Why did you kill him?! He was the only person who really cared about me in this place and he’s gone! If you hadn’t ripped his rose apart, I wouldn’t be here, you wouldn’t be here and Garry wouldn’t be so weird!”
“You’re wrong! I cared about you! He was going to leave you!” Mary snarls.
“He would never do that!”
“Yes he would!”
“How would you know anything about what he'll do?!”
“Because he’s just like dad!”
Mary begins to sob miserably, visibly crumpling in sorrow. Ib sits up in shock, and moves off of her, not knowing what to say. The amount of anger that she still had within her had been extinguished for good. She hears the faint sound of the doll shuffling down the hall, yet does nothing to interrupt Mary’s sorrow.
In another area, the ragdoll hurries out of the Sketchbook and into the waiting hands of the young man. It moves its mouth, no words come out, yet Garry responds as if he could hear them. “Is that so?” Garry muses. “Well, since thats what you heard, I’ll have to go and see those two myself...”
’The Garry she loves is gone? What on earth did she mean by that?’ His mouth tightens into a thin line as he strides down the hall. It bothers him, deeply. He secretly didn't want to know what she was really thinking, and now would have preferred to have not heard it at all, but it's there, and it lingers in the back of his mind, feeding and growing off of his constantly festering paranoia. If she loved him before, what does she feel for him now? He tries to push that thought to the back of his mind and focuses on his surroundings, but her words continue to gnaw at the back of his mind as his mood slowly worsens.
As he walks towards the crayon world, he feels a rush of energy flow through his body. Locating the chest, he climbs down the rope with ease. The chest was big, but... looking at it now... it seemed much bigger than he remembers. He really had no desire to wander aimlessly through a poorly constructed labyrinth. He looks at his hand and a strange thought suddenly comes into his mind. Not even questioning it, he focuses on becoming something quick and easily hidden, as his hand and arm slowly turn dark and spectral, he quickly decides that this skill could be very useful to him...
Even though she hated how badly her reaction was, and that she had actively fought her, Ib could understand why she was so angry.
They were friends. She hadn't trusted Mary as much, but they were friends. And, when everything had gone to hell and one friend openly stabbed the other in the back and left her, possibly to perish, she threw away whatever relationship they had in place of revenge for the young man who had been everything to her.
But the blonde's fate was no less harsh than his had been. Ib could remember watching her face twist with agony and sorrow as she burned to death. And, as with all mistakes, she could feel the hard weight settle in her stomach, knowing that there was no way she could atone for it. She had read what Mary had written about wanting to be free, and that had made the weight grow. And in the end, she was alone, no Garry, no Mary, nobody. Even her memories were stolen from her.
'Mary probably doesn't understand exactly what she did wrong,' the older girl mused sadly. How could she? She had no parents, no family or any real friends. As far as she knew, no one was really there to tell her right from wrong, she had very little opportunities to grow and learn. Mary was as much a prisoner as Ib was, only it was worse, because she had been alone much longer than Ib had. And loneliness can do some pretty strange things to people...
She hadn't wanted things to turn out so badly. And now was the time to start making things right. If there was one thing to be thankful for about being dragged back here, it was the chance to fix her mistakes.
By this point Mary had stopped sobbing hysterically and now was sitting with her back turned, shoulders slumped in both fatigue and sorrow.
“Mary... I don’t know whether or not you’ll believe me, but... I’m really sorry for burning your portrait and hurting you. I can’t explain why I did it and I won’t blame you for my actions. You didn’t deserve that, and I shouldn’t have done it.”
Mary sniffs and rubs at her eyes.
“Could you tell me why you said Garry was like your... dad?”
She hesitates for a second, and then slowly nods and takes a breath.
“When he first... painted me, he would come here and play with me all the time.” Mary looked around, staring wistfully at a corner of the room. “He and I would play together and he would teach me to draw and paint and he read to me. And then, he started coming less and less. I knew that... that something was wrong, but he kept telling me that everything was ok. Then, one day... he just stopped coming. And I was alone for a long time... until you and Garry came. He reminded me a lot of daddy, he was so nice, but.... I was sure that he would leave you behind and I didn’t want you to-”
Mary studies Ib, her voice trails off. “You’re taller.” She states, eyes widening. Last time she checked, she was at least a little taller than Ib.
“Oh, I’ve been, uh, gone for about three years.” She said softly. ”Was that why you hated Garry? Because he-”
“I don’t hate Garry.” Mary answers stiffly.
“Do you know what happened to my dad?” Mary asks instead, a hopeful smile growing on her face. “Three years isn’t too long.”
Ib freezes and looks away.
Mary’s smile crumbles. “Ib?” She asks, mouth dry.
“...He’s dead, Mary.” Ib whispers sadly.
“...Guertena has been dead for many years, even before I came here. Thats why he hasn’t come back.” She remains silent for a few minutes, the blonde quietly mourns for her father.
“Did you really think that Garry would leave me?”
“...M-Maybe... I- I thought he would be asleep. Are you sure he’s really awake?”
“He’s alive.” She replied softly, keeping her eyes lowered.
“Ib... I'm... n- nevermind.” She mumbled softly before changing the subject. “Well, now that we're here, I think we can get out through the-“
Ib looks at Mary’s portrait. “I thought the way out would be here.”
Mary raises an eyebrow, confusion written across her face. Ib stands and walks towards the painting.
“No- its that big painting, all the way in the front.”
“But, Garry carried me back through his portrait, so-“
Ib whirls to see Mary standing with a look of absolute horror on her face. “He can’t have a painting! He can't be a painting! He’s asleep outside this room! Please Ib! Please tell me that he's asleep!” She begs, voice rising in pitch.
“He isn't, what’s wrong?!”
“He's supposed to be asleep. I thought that he would be asleep, it said so!” Mary repeats desperately.
“What said so?”
“You've seen writing on the walls, right?! I saw some that told me he would be ok with sleeping, and we could go out together and I wanted to leave so badly.” She explains, wringing her hands. “So when I pulled-”
“You mean this?” Ib points to the words scribbled on the wall near the door.
“Where did that come from?!”
”There was a doll outside the room, when I got the vase for your rose and that writing appeared next to it. Do you know why the words appear on the walls?” Mary collects her rose with shaking fingers, shaking her head slowly.
“Why would some words tell you to pull his petals out?” She asks, both intrigued and a little glad to hear that that idea hadn't been purely her own.
“I don’t know, but I wanted to lea- wait, a doll was outside the room?”
“It seemed to be following me...”
All that was left of him was a tall dark shadow, moving quickly past the walls, intent on locating the room where the two girls are. What irked him slightly was that the petals of his rose were missing. He knew he should have found some a while ago.
Oh well, at least he knew whose hands it was in....
“We have to get out of here.” The blonde says urgently, her explanation growing rushed and fractured in her haste. “I don’t think that he’s ok at all, or like he used to be. I think he- well... When I was here first, I could do whatever I wanted. Now-”
Mary looks at the floor. “-I don’t feel like I can do anything. Is this what it feels like to be a normal girl?” She asks, completely off topic but feeling pressed to keep talking, as if she would somehow effectively communicate her intense need to leave if she kept trying.
Ib shrugs. “I don’t know what that kind of thing feels like.“ She says, sort of understanding her ramblings but not knowing how to properly respond.
“-We have to leave here!” Mary switched back to the original conversation.
“Mary, He won’t let me leave! Garry is the reason why I'm back here, something happened to him and it changed him completely. Thats why I re-created your rose, the Lady In Red told me that if I did that, you’ll be able to leave and the path out will appear. So I figured that if I did it with Garry’s rose, he’d go back to normal and-“
Mary kept her eyes fixed on her friend, but her thoughts were focused completely on the flower.
She needed to keep it away from him, she had no real idea why she wanted to, but a part of her, maybe a small part of the gallery that hadn't been severed when she had been burned, was telling her that if he got his hands on his rose, then all of them were as good as stuck.
That wouldn't be so bad. Ib would probably be sad at first, but she would see that it was ok here. And they could all be together and happy. And... Garry... Ib was probably overreacting. This was Garry after all. He was probably a little grumpy after being asleep for so long.
'Things will be fine.' She told herself with a small internal smile.
But why did she still want his rose?
“We should go back to the Lady and see what she has to say.” Ib said at last, heading for the door. “Wait!” Mary pauses and then gestures for Ib to sit on the ground. “I made your hair messy.” She says with a bashful smile, doing her best to get Ib’s hair back to normal. And when she seemed the most unsuspecting, Mary quietly pulled the flower out of Ib's pocket and transferred it into her own, where the tenth blue rose petal lay in her pocket.
She held her breath, but Ib didn't seem to notice the switch, and in response did her best to smooth out Mary's hair.
When she was finished, Ib held out her hand and pulled Mary up.
“We can’t let Garry know about our fight. He wouldn’t be happy.” The younger girl mentions as they walk towards the door.
“You’re right, Mary. I’m not happy about that fight at all.” A lilting voice spoke softly behind them, slowly growing harsh.
Her bright blue eyes grow wide in horrified recognition. 'That voice...' Mary attempts to say something, but Ib pulls her through the door, slamming it shut. They shiver at the parody of Garry’s laugh as it drifts past the poorly constructed wooden door. Ib pushes it out of her mind and focuses on getting herself and Mary out of the Toybox as fast as possible.
“How did he get inside?!” Ib cries as she half-drags the younger girl with her. “I don’t know! I couldn’t do that the first time you were here!” Mary cries, stumbling in an attempt to catch her balance.
Unlike Ib, Mary is stuck on the person chasing them instead of the fact that they're being chased. She couldn't believe it. She didn't really want to. Garry was kind, talkative, a little weird and a bit of a coward, and even though she didn't trust him as much as she did the brunette, she did like him a little. Even if she didn't show it. The person they're running from absolutely terrified her and she hasn't even seen him. What did she do!? What was going to happen to her!? What was going to happen to Ib?!
On the other hand, Garry remains by the wall for a few moments, hearing the sounds of their footsteps moving away from him. The best word that could describe his emotions at the moment would have been “amusement.” Once again, she was running away from him and with the way she was dashing to put space between them and the fact that she now had to keep track of another person, she would get tired and careless and once again, he would get her right where he wanted her.
As his initial feelings died down, annoyance replaced his joviality. Why didn't she stay? Why didn't she try to talk to him? She didn't even look at him, she just ran out the door without looking back. She couldn't really hate- No. He would not put that thought into his mind. He sighs in annoyance, and begins to follow them, half focused on shoving that thought away once more.
As they reach the entrance of the Toybox, Ib sighs with relief at the rope's presence. She had been secretly afraid that he had pulled it down. Both girls ignore their aching legs and climb as fast as possible. Ib pulls Mary out of the box just as the rope goes taut. Grabbing the lid, she quickly slams the top shut. The box shakes furiously right as the girls dash outside of the door, throwing it shut behind them.
They quickly contemplate hiding in one of the many crayon houses but decide that if Garry can get into Mary’s room undetected, he could effortlessly trap them in a crayon house. The girls rush up a set of bright pink stairs and after running down many maze-like corridors with countless paintings blurring in their haste, Ib and Mary see the Lady In Red’s portrait, finally stopping to catch their breath.
“Big sister!” Mary gasps happily.
“You must go! I am not safe for you to be around!” She nearly screams, urgency making her voice come out jerky and fragile.
“What do you mean?” Mary asks, crestfallen.
“I tried not to let him do it! He forced me to!” The woman moans.
“What? What did Garry make you do?” Ib questions, her eyes instinctively narrowing.
“He manipulated you through me. Everything I said about escaping, that was a lie. There is no way to get out!”
Her scarlet eyes grow wide with shock. “But-” She chokes out. “Why did I have to-”
“You have no ties to this place. Mary, if he had resurrected you, he would be powerless while you would have supremacy once more. Bringing you back through Ib has only stripped you of your-“
Her voice cuts off in horror and Mary screams as the Lady In Red becomes a beautiful, yet heartbreaking black marble statue. She's frozen with her eyes wide, her mouth open in a silent scream and a finger pointing towards the lavender haired young man leaning against the wall. His hand presses against it, a thick, jagged trail of marble connecting to the statue.
Mary tries to run towards him, her initial fear replaced with vengeful anger but Ib yanks her back, turning to run again. “He hurt my big sister!” The blonde wails while being dragged down the hall. “How did he do that?!”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
The two skid to a halt as they spy the slender young man farther down the passageway. Glancing from him to the place he once was, the two stand there, breathing heavily. Garry looks calm, yet the halls around him show his hidden anger and frustration, warped into a hellish cavern, bathed in a deep red light with the paintings on the walls melted, dissolved and deformed beyond comprehension.
“I'm not a normal person anymore.” He says with a smirk and a light shrug. “Looking back on everything, I feel as though I may not have been one in the first place, but, I really can't help but feel a little grateful.” He says slowly, fixing his bright red gaze on the small blonde. “I may not be normal, but I'm more powerful than I ever could have imagined.” Garry explains, a demonic grin surfacing on his face.
Without a word, the girls spin on their heels and rush down the hall as he begins to advance on them. As the duo get further and further away, they slowly find that they are being led into a dead end. The only other way out besides the way they came quickly became blocked by a cluster of bony blackened arms.
For all their efforts, they had been trapped anyway
“I was more than content to stay here while you went away, Ib. You were more than happy to forget about me and leave me here.”
“She couldn’t help it! People always lose their memories of this place when they leave!” Mary cries both in Ib’s defense and in a desperate attempt to soothe him, her voice growing shrill with fear. “I kept thinking about you!” Ib shouts loud enough for her voice to crack under the pressure, palms sweating as she pries at a cold black hand, miraculously succeeding in removing it and creating a small hole. Only a few more hands and they would be free. “Just because I didn't-“
“-Where do you two think you’re going anyway?”
All at once, more limbs reach upwards, grabbing at the arms of the two girls, and managing to yank them apart and away from the hallway, also preventing further attempts for them to escape. Ib stares in horror and Mary begins to cry as her friend rises out of the floor, shedding the shadowy cover. Compared to the kind, gentle man from her memories, this man’s face is pale, contrasting heavily to his dark purple hair and gleaming red eyes. His dark coat billows threateningly and Ib half expects to see it transform into a pair of black demon wings.
“You’re in my world, remember?” He says, although it sounds a little harsh for a reminder. He must have seen the look on her face grow hard because his voice becomes gentler. “I did all of this for you Ib... I wanted to get you back, I want everything to be like it used to. ” He says, his features softening. For a moment, he almost looked sad, but... ‘No. Its all wrong. Theres still something so possessive about that look. And those eyes...’
“IB, DON’T LOOK AT-“
A hand slaps itself over Mary’s mouth, the girl writhes in an attempt to remove the appendage as her other arm is grabbed away from her. The brunette’s scarlet eyes flash angrily at the man before her. “Don't do that to her! Let us go and stop doing this!” Ib demands, stiffening as his features grow harsh.
“I am so annoyed by this behavior. I’ve been trying as hard as I can to make you happy, yet you run from me or ignore me at every single moment. I don’t know what I could possibly do to appease you.”
“I stopped being happy the day you dragged me back here!” She responds tartly, glaring up at him.
For a minute, two red eyes bore into the other and the whole room is silent. And then...
“I really didn't want to do this, but you've left me no choice.”
Mary successfully yanks the hand away from her mouth. If she could use the dolls to scramble Garry’s memories, then Garry-
“IB, NO!” She screams in horror as her friends scarlet eyes begin to glaze over. She watches him slowly smile before glancing her way. Mary opens her mouth but before she can say anything, he snaps his fingers and she suddenly feels dizzy as her body grows limp.
Her final thoughts were of the world she would return to when she woke up, and whether or not she would want to see it.