Mary was dead.
She had to be. She'd seen Garry set fire to her frame, and had felt the flames devour every inch of her.
She'd never felt such indescribable pain.
She'd instinctively buried her face in her arms in some desperate attempt to protect her eyes. The flames were kept at bay, but there was no way to escape the heat that accompanied them. Mary felt as if her eyes would melt from the intensity of it.
Perhaps that is why everything went dark a moment later. Mary's own screams rang in her ears as the world dissolved around her, and then there was nothing. No sight, no sound, no touch, nothing at all.
was dead. There was no other explanation for it.
Given this knowledge, Mary had to wonder why everything suddenly smelt of flowers.
After smell, other senses came back to her. Pressure on her back told her she was lying down, and the sound of dripping liquid made her think of how the gallery 'talked' to it's inhabitants. Breathing through her mouth resulted in tasting dank air. That just left...
Mary cracked her eyes open, and shut them almost immediately. It was so bright! She had never seen anything so bright, what could it be? Mary opened her eyes again, slower this time. She blinked a few times, letting her eyes adjust, and took in the sight before her. She was...in a hole of some kind? A cave? She'd never been in one, but a few of her father's works had depicted them. The rocky walls rose high above her, and at the very top the hole opened to reveal...!
Mary's jaw dropped. Was...was that the sun? The REAL sun? It was bright, painfully bright, but so wondrously warm. The gallery had always been cool, the only warmth there had been created by the sun she herself had drawn after seeing it in paintings and books. For a while Mary could do nothing but lie there, reveling in the feeling of the sun on her skin and hair.
Awe couldn't keep the questions from Mary's curious mind forever though.
Was this the outside world? How had she gotten here? Why wasn't she dead? Could she climb the rock face and get closer to the sun?
The sound of another voice broke her out of the strange trance she'd fallen in. Mary turned her head, wincing as the her neck protested. A short distance away, she spied a mop of brown hair peaking out from the field of yellow and green.
'Ib?' Mary thought hopefully. She knew Ib was angry with her, and probably had a right to be if she were entirely honest with herself, but she couldn't help being happy to see her one friend. Ib might even know where they were and how they got there.
With that optimistic thought in mind, Mary sat up. She almost fell back down when pain surged through her. Sucking in a gasp, and gripped her green skirt. The ache subsided several moment later, which allowed Mary to notice her hands. When did the backs of her hands become covered in red wrinkles? She moved her hands closer to her face, to examine them, but stopped. Wherever her clothes brushed against her skin became painfully itchy.
The voice brought her back to the present once again. This time she realized it was calling out for help. Doing her best to ignore the aching itchiness all over her, Mary pushed herself up and walked over to her friend.
It wasn't Ib.
The child's hair color was similar, but Mary now realized it was too light of a brown. The red eyes were also similar, but again not quite right. They were too bright, and too... Mary wasn't sure. She only knew such eyes would have looked very out of place on Ib's solemn but kind face.
"You gonna just stand there, or are you gonna help me?"
"Oh! Sorry!" Mary rushed to reply, feeling embarrassed that the stranger had caught her staring. She'd always poked fun at Ib for doing that... "You reminded me of someone, a very important someone. Oh! My name's Mary. What's yours? Are you hurt?"
"I'm Chara, and you could say that." They said, gesturing to their legs. One of them was bent at an unnatural angle.
"Wow, that does look pretty bad."
"No kidding." The other child grumbled. "So you think you could help me out?"
"Well, I guess I could try." Mary said, ringing her hands nervously. That irritated the strange marks; she grimaced and stopped. "I don't know a lot about medical stuff though, and I don't know where anything is around here." Mary looked around. This place wasn't just a cave, it had a structure to it. It had pillars and straight walls further in. She also realized that the yellow and green that had cushioned them was a bed of flowers. The thought of yellow roses and thorny vines entered Mary's mind, and her stomach rolled uncomfortably.
"But someone must live here, so I'll go find them!" Mary sprung away. Ignoring the aching of her skin was more difficult with the excessive motion, and she quickly slowed to a walk. She continued on though, eager to be of help to her new companion (and away from the memory inducing patch of flora). She didn't turn around when Chara called after her.
"Hello!" Mary called, going down a hallway. "Is anybody here? We need help!"
"Um...hello?" The hesitant voice caused Mary to stop. Standing at the top of some stairs was...a furry human? The creature was about the same size as her, with a kind of snout, floppy ears and very soft looking white fur. Mary didn't know what it was, but it wasn't the first time she met a being that didn't look human.
"Hi!" She called walking up to kid. His big eyes widened when she didn't hesitate to approach him. "My name's Mary."
"I'm Asriel." he replied.
"Ooooo, that a nice name, I like it! Do you live here? Do you think you could come back and help this other kid? Their leg is hurt real bad."
"W-well, I don't really live here. I'm just visiting, but Mom knows lots of stuff about healing magic. So she might be able to help."
"Your mom is here? Cool! I'd love to meet her! But I should probably show you where Chara is first." Mary spun around and started heading back, but after a few steps she stopped. Looking over her shoulder, she saw Asriel wasn't following her. He looked confused about something.
"Are you coming?" she prompted. The furry boy hesitated, but still nodded before running after her.
Chara looked surprised when Mary came back into the room with Asriel trailing after her. Mary wasn't sure why, she said she'd come back.
"Look Chara! I found help! He says he doesn't live here, but he said he would still help."
The doubt on the boy's face was replaced with concern at the sight of the injured human, and he quickly knelt down next to Chara.
"Oh, you must have fallen! Are you okay?"
"I've been better." Chara said with a short laugh. "I don't think I can get up on my own though."
"Ok...ok..." the boy muttered, tugging on his floppy ears. "Well, my Mom isn't far from here, and she would know what to do." He looked at the blonde human. "Maybe if we both support one side of them we can get them to the house. Will you help me?"
"Sure!" Mary agreed enthusiastically.
The pair each took one of Chara's hands and, when Chara nodded they were ready, pulled them up. The child cried out in pain as their leg was jostled, and the two assistants quickly ducked under Chara's arms to support her. This transferred the weight off of Chara's leg and onto Asriel and Mary's shoulders.
Mary's shoulder's protested vehemently.
"Ow ow ow ow!" Mary cried out. She ducked out and Asriel had to quickly pull Chara onto himself.
"Mary! Are you okay?"
A memory of Ib's voice briefly rang through Mary's head, and it took her a moment to respond.
"That really made my shoulders hurt! Even more than the rest of me!"
Asriel looked confused, but it dissipated after a minute. His eyes focused on Mary's hands, and then drifted up to her neck and face.
"I see why. Those are weird injuries to get from falling though." Mary's brow furrowed, but she didn't get a chance to say anything before the boy continued. "But, if you can still walk okay, I think I know how we can get through this. Follow me."
Asriel and Chara shuffled off down the corridor, with Mary stiffly trailing behind them. The came to the room with the stairs, which were a challenge to get up. Mary tried to help as best she could, pushing and pulling with her somewhat undamaged hands. When they finally made it to the top and through the door, Mary got to see what Asriel had been talking about.
When she saw that the door ahead of them was closed, she went ahead to open it for her companions. The door wouldn't budge though.
"Asriel, the door won't open!" Mary said with a pout. The fluffy boy smiled in amusement.
"That's because you have to solve the puzzle to get it open."
"Yeah, don't worry though; I know all the answers. see those buttons over there?"
Mary turned, seeing a series of large squarish buttons on the floor. In her rush to be helpful she hadn't even noticed them.
"Step on all the buttons except the middle ones, then flip the switch. That will open the door."
Mary did as instructed, and the door opened smoothly. Asriel smiled warmly at her.
"Good job! I think we'll make a pretty good team."
Mary beamed at the praise, and Chara huffed.
"I'll believe that once you get me to wherever we're going in one piece." Chara said with a teasing tone. The other two laughed.
They went through the rest of the Ruins like that, with Asriel carrying Chara and Mary solving the puzzles. Mary even solved some of the puzzles before Asriel could finish explaining them; the monster was impressed with how easily some of the solutions came to her.
The first monster to approach them was a curious froggit. Both new comers stared at the creature, Chara in apprehension and Mary in fascination. The blonde wished more creatures in the gallery had looked like this, it was so cute!
Asriel took a moment to reassure the frog monster, telling it he was okay and asking it to go ahead and tell his mother they were coming. The monster agreed and quickly hopped off.
They met a few other monsters along the way. Chara showed less surprise each time, and Mary never failed to gush about how sweet or adorable the monster had been. A few monsters were nervous at the sight of the humans, but Asriel's friendly presence was always enough to set them at ease. The way he talked to them, it made Mary think of the way she spoke to the other artworks in the gallery. She wondered if that said something about the position Asriel held in this place.
Mary also wondered about all the puzzles. She'd never realized such things existed Outside, assuming that's where this was. The people who visited the gallery always seemed confused by all the puzzles they came across, so she'd figured such obstacles were rare outside the gallery.
At last, the trio reached their destination.
Asriel lead them to an open room with a barren tree at the center. Past the skeletal branches, Mary could see a cute, tidy little house sitting at the back of the room. It had a door in the middle and a window on each side. Just as they came in, the door opened to reveal a tall fluffy person who bore a strong resemblance to Asriel. The purple dress was so pretty, and they looked so soft. It was like something out of a fairy tale, and Mary loved it.
"My son? What has happened?" the monster's voice was gentle and filled with concern. "This froggit said you had-" the goat-like woman cut herself off when she caught full sight of her son and his companions, her eyes widening in shock.
"I found these two in the ruins Mom. I think they fell from Aboveground. Their both hurt, especially Chara, can you help them?"
"Of course." the mother replied without hesitation, despite her shock. She quickly walked over and knelt down next to Asriel. She carefully took Chara into her arms and beckoned the other two children to follow.
"You both must be so frightened, falling into a place so different from your own world. But worry not, I shall do my best to care for both of you."
The mother's voice was still gentle, but now held the strength of conviction. She lead them into the house and took a right. Asriel ran ahead of her and opened the first door the group came to, which turned out to be a bedroom. The woman entered quickly and laid Chara down on the bed. Despite the mother's best attempts the child's leg was jostled. Chara shrieked in pain, but quickly cut themselves off. The woman murmured apologies as she arranged Chara on the bed; the child clenched their jaw to stop themselves from crying out again. A few moments later the woman whispered a promise to be back soon, and left the room with the other two children in tow.
"It looks like we'll have to come up with another place for you to sleep tonight Asriel." She commented, as the the trio passed a stairway.
"That's okay Mom. They need it more than I do right now."
The woman smiled down at him proudly, and Mary felt a sharp pang of longing and remembrance. A moment later they stopped in a room with a bookshelf, a table, a comfy looking chair, and some stone gap built into the wall.
"Both of you, please stay here. I understand you may be injured as well young human, but I must attend to your friend first. I'll do what I can to heat the house though, the surface's season has brought a chill to the air."
She raised a hand, and the air shifted. Suddenly, a fire blazed to life in the stone gap.
Heat. Pain. Heat. Loss. Pain. Crumbling. Heat. Void. Pain.
A high pitched shrieking rend the air. Mary almost didn't realize it was coming from her. Upon sight of the fire, she had immediately covered her face with her arms and started screaming. When she ran out of air she stayed frozen in that position, not daring to look up at the sinister blaze. She shuddered as she gulped in panicked breaths.
"Mary?! What's wrong?!"
The tremble in Asriel's voice showed she wasn't the only one panicking. Fearing to speak, to hear his response, Mary bolted. She ran down the hallway, past Chara's room, a door that wouldn't open, and finally the last door allowed her entrance. She threw it open and slammed the door behind her. She sagged against it once inside. Her body loudly protested her rabid movements, and the friction against the door, but the pounding in Mary's ears drowned it out.
When the blaze appeared, it had all come to the surface. The horrors of the gallery, the new fears that came with this place, it had all surged up, overthrowing her default demeanor. Bubbly denial gave way to panicked anxiety.
I should be dead.
HE set me on fire.
Why am I not dead?
So much pain.
Where is this place?
I wanted to be with Ib!
What is it?
I drove her away.
Not outside, can't be, impossible.
Bad girl, bad girl, see what you've done?!
What do I do now?
Drove her away.
Never thought this far.
I'm a horrible friend.
Why does everyone leave?
Her thoughts began to spiral out of control, and only got worse when she caught sight of herself in a mirror within the room.
Don't look like my painting anymore. red veins, like on hands, chincheeks. Never changed before never. Tried, couldn't. What does- who am- what am-
"Mary?" The hesitant voice of Asriel entered the whirlwind of Mary's thoughts. She grabbed at it desperately, using it to ground herself. "I'm real sorry Mary, I thought humans knew about magic! Please don't be scared."
"I'm not scared of magic!" Her voice came out as a rasp after her screaming fit. But at least the indignity caused by the boy's assumption had broken her out of her episode. Her whole world had been infused with magic, she would never be scared of it.
"Really? Then why did you run away like that?"
It took a minute for Mary to answer. She forced herself to calm down, taking deep shuddering breaths.
"I just...I really don't like fire, okay?"
"Okay...I'll try to remember." Asriel sounded relieved, and very earnest. "Um, my Mom's going to want to see you soon. She just getting done healing Chara. Is it okay for her to come in?"
"Yeah...I'm okay now."
"Great! Uh, I'll go let her know."
His footsteps retreated, and there was the sound of a door opening and closing. Mary continued to take deep calming breaths. Coming down from the rush of fear made her body's aches and pains come back to the forefront of her mind. It felt like her skin was once again on fire. She REALLY didn't want to move, but she knew she would have to if anyone was going to come in the door.
"ow ow ow ow ow ow ow!" Mary whimpered as she managed to push herself up. She took a few stiff steps into the room, stopping beside a simple wooden desk. Then she just stood there trying not to move.
Before long Mary heard the opening and closing of a door again. Foot steps approached, and then there was a light knock against the door. Mary turned towards it, wincing as she did so.
"My child? May I come in?"
Mary was struck with the irony of asking to enter a room in your own house. Mary winced again, this time out of guilt.
"Yes, you can."
Mary got one look at the concern in the goat woman's eyes and hung her head. 'Bad girl, bad girl, you make everyone worry.'
"Asriel told me about your fear of fire. I am sorry for scaring you."
"It's okay." Mary mumbled.
"Well, the best we can do is move past it. My son said you were hurt also. Where do you feel pain?"
"I think something is wrong with my skin."
"Hmmm, that is strange. Let me take a look."
Mary felt warm fur touch her palms. Her hands were lifted up, and she let out a small whimper.
"I can see why, these marks on your hands...are they burns?"
Mary didn't respond.
"They do not look fresh, but they do seem agitated. You said it hurts all over?"
Mary gave a small nod. The woman sighed. She touched the girl's chin, gently tilting it up. Mary was met with a warm smile.
"We were never properly introduced were we child? I am Toriel. I am the caretaker of these Ruins, among other things. May I have your name?"
"Mary, please know that you are not in trouble. We all have our fears, and it seems you have a very good reason for yours. Now all I want is to heal you. Will you let me?"
Mary felt a pleasant warmth spread through her. There was a deep kindness in Toriel's tone and careful touch. The girl found herself wanting to make this woman happy.
"I'll try." she said with a small smile. Toriel returned it.
"Wonderful, young one. Do you know how long you've had these burns?"
How long had she spent in the nothingness? Did it even matter? Did the time there mean anything?
"I don't remember."
"That's alright Mary. I don't have much experience with the kind of skin you have, but it seems like they were bad burns and only healed over recently. It's no wonder they became agitated on your way here. I believe I have a salve that would work well on them. Combine that with a few healing spells and you should be able to sleep soundly tonight."
Toriel suddenly looked uncertain.
"My child, I do not wish to make you uncomfortable, but I need to be able to treat all the burns. Could you remove your dress while I retrieve the salve?"
"I can do that." Truth be told Mary was becoming quite annoyed with how the fabric was brushing against her sensitive skin.
"Thank you child, I will be back soon." Toriel quickly exited, and Mary went to work removing her outer layers. There was a lot of whimpering involved. By the time Toriel came knocking Mary was standing by the bed in her dress slip. The goat woman stepped through the door, and halted in shock.
Every bit of newly exposed skin was covered in the same branching red burns that covered Mary's hands, neck and face.
"Oh my...you poor child! No wonder you were so afraid of the fire!"
Toriel set down a jar and cloth she'd been carrying and rushed over to help Mary sit down on the edge of the bed. Once the girl was situated, Toriel retrieved her supplies from the desk.
"This may sting a little at first." She took the tip of the cloth and dipped it into the jar, then used it to spread some of the salve onto Mary's check. The girl cringed.
"I am sorry my child, but this will help you heal quickly. Perhaps we could talk while I treat you. Is there anything you'd like to know?"
"Um, could you tell me where we are? And, what exactly this place is?" Mary asked hesitantly. Toriel just smiled patiently.
"I should have guessed you'd want to know that. Chara asked the same thing."
During the rest of the treatment Toriel told the story of how monsters and humans had once lived together on the surface, but had been sealed away underground after losing a war with humanity. The monsters had long suspected it was possible that someone from the surface could fall into the Ruins, since it was one of the few places sunlight reached the Underground.
"You and Chara are the first humans to actually fall down here and prove those suspicions though."
Mary looked away at that comment.
Once Toriel was done with the salve she left to get some bandages. Mary was actually starting to feel sleepy. The salve did sting when first applied, but after it sat for a bit it created a wonderful cooling sensation.
It was amazing, Mary thought. These monsters had been driven from their homes by humans, and here this mother and son didn't hesitate to help two children of that same species. Well, one child of the same species and one who they presumed to be the same species.
Toriel returned with the bandages, which she said would help the salve from rubbing off during the night; as well as protect the more delicate burns. Toriel murmured healing spells as she wrapped up the girl; her soft voice made Mary even more drowsy. Before she knew it Toriel was carefully tucking her into the large bed.
Mary's eyes drifted shut. Just before she fell asleep, she heard voices.
"You can sleep here tonight, so long as you don't move around too much. You'll have to stay above the covers too."
"I'm okay with that Mom, but where are you going to sleep?"
"I'll move the chair from the den into the hallway and sleep in that. If either one of you needs me during the night, don't hesitate to come wake me up."
"Okay Mom, good night!"
"Good night, my child, rest well."
There was a weight beside Mary on the mattress, and a voice beside her said:
"Good night Mary."
The wave of nostalgia brought on by that wish was enough to finally pull Mary under.
This idea wouldn't let me go, so I had to post something for it. I think Mary and Chara are very similar characters at their cores, and I wanted to give them both a second chance. There will be more interaction between the three children in later chapters, as well as some parent bonding between goat mom and goat dad. I hope this serves as a good enough introduction though.
I also have some ideas for how Mary ended up there, which will also be explained later.
So what do you all think? Was this good? Should I keep going? Reviews and such are appreciated!