Author's Note: Well fans, you've officially twisted my arm! Ever since I put up Chapter 2 to my Epilogue of Ib story, people have been asking me to follow it up with a new story! I really had no intention to do so, but your requests really got the gears turning! The first chapter here is an extended version of the original epilogue. Look forward to original material and, like you wanted, a full-length story of my epilogue to Forgotten Portrait!
The museum curator spends her time every day making rounds in the museum. Despite the security guards and the cameras, she feels more comfortable inspecting each work of art and investigating suspicious figures herself. Many of her coworkers poke fun at her for this, but she always responds the same way: "This is my museum."
Some of her favorite works to pass by are the ones from famed artist Weiss Guertena. She was especially proud the time her museum was chosen for an exhibition of his work. Since then, many of Guertena's paintings and sculptures have been lost to high-class auctions and other museums, but she has managed to keep a few of her favorites.
As she passes by one of the paintings, she spots a familiar face: a teenage girl with semi-long brown hair red eyes. She's wearing a sleeveless red shirt, white pants and a backpack. The curator recognizes her right away, not only from her clothes and face, but also the lemon-flavored lollipop in her mouth.
"Ib, how many times have I told you that food is strictly forbidden in the museum?" Startled, Ib turns to the curator. She then quickly glances at the lollipop in her mouth. With a guilty look on her face, she takes out, revealing an empty stick.
"Oh, Ib…" She stops in front of the painting beside Ib. "You know, I've seen you in front of this exact same painting every day for the past five years. Honestly, have you ever looked at any of the other works in the museum?" Ib pauses to think for a moment, then shrugs. "Right." They both turn back to the painting. It depicts a young man in a torn blue coat. He's leaned himself against the wall, but is hunched over, as if asleep.
"Weiss Guertena's Forgotten Portrait." The curator states proudly. It's her most prized possession at the museum. "I'm sure you've read about it, Ib. Well, at least you've read about as much as you possibly could. There's very little information about it; only that Guertena is responsible for its existence. There isn't even a proper year of origin. Notice the clothes? Although worn out, it's obvious that they're modern; clothes that shouldn't have existed in Guertena's lifetime. To this day, art enthusiasts are baffled as to what Guertena used as a reference for this painting. That's what makes it so valuable."
Ib continues to admire the painting. "He seems…sad."
"Yes, he does. That's another one of this painting's mysteries." The curator says, with a hint of pity in her tone. "There are hundreds of different theories. Some say that Guertena had lost a lover at the time. Others say it was his first work that he discarded because he didn't think he'd make it as an artist. What do you think of it, Ib?"
"…I think…that he doesn't want to be forgotten."
"What do you mean?"
"He wants to be remembered. People forgot about him, and he's sad because of it."
"Well, he did become a famous artist. I think he is well remembered." The curator says with a chuckle.
Ib shakes her head. "No. Not Guertena. I'm talking about the boy in the painting."
"Hm?" The curator laughs. "That may be true as well! But what makes you say that?"
Ib pauses. "I think…I know him."
"I think I met him a long time ago…but I can't remember who he is."
The curator can't help but laugh a little. "You sure have a wild imagination, Ib! But I like that! You have a good heart."
Ib turns to the curator and smiles. "Thank you, ma'am." She says with a soft, slightly embarrassed tone.
"You're quite welcome!" Eve pauses for a moment, then takes Ib by the hand. "Come with me, Ib. If you like Guertena, I'm sure you'll love this other work of his!"
Ib stares at the large mural. It's mostly black, but has several different features. Ib looks to one corner and sees a painting within the painting of a woman in a red dress. Another corner has a red rose. "What's this one?"
"It's called Fabricated World. It's truly a fascinating one. It's said that artists do what they do in order to escape their own lives. This is Guertena's interpretation of that idea. The detail on this one is astounding. It's as if Guertena truly wanted the viewer to experience what he did so long ago."
Ib examines the painting closely. "That's The Lady in Red, right?" she asks, pointing to the lower right corner of the painting. "And that's Embodiment of Spirit."
"So you have seen the other works here at the museum!" the curator says with a smile.
Ib begins to examine the painting's details. "This is like Guertena's legacy. He has so many other works, but this one is a culmination of all of them. If you wanted to explore the mind of Weiss Guertena, all you needed to do was look into this painting."
The curator seems astonished. "My, Ib, you really have a knack for this! You remind me of when I was your age!" All of a sudden an idea pops into her head. "Say, Ib. You may be a little young, but what would you think about working here as my personal assistant?"
Ib gasps and turns to the curator in surprise. "Really?"
"Yes! You could help me watch over the museum, and you could even help out with tour guides! What do you say?"
"You'd really let me do that?"
"Well, of course! This is my museum, after all! I want the best and brightest helping me out! Just talk it over with your parents."
Ib squeals excitedly before embracing the curator. "Thank you, ma'am."
The curator laughs. "Oh, you don't have to call me 'ma'am'. That makes me sound old! Besides, you come around here so often, I'm surprised we're not already good friends!"
Ib looks at the curator curiously. "So what should I call you then?"
She smiles at Ib. "You can just call me Eve."
At that moment, the lights in the museum begin to flicker. "Hm?" Eve looks around curiously. "That's never happened before." She thinks out loud as she takes out a walkie-talkie and holds it up to her mouth. "Anyone else see that? Someone go check the circuit breaker." She waits for a moment, but no one responds. "Security?" Still no response. "Hello? Hello, anyone? Hello!"
Ib looks at Eve. "Is something wrong?"
Eve places the walkie-talkie back at her side. "I'm not sure…" She looks around curiously, not finding anything out of the ordinary. Then she looks at Fabricated World, and notices something. A small amount of blue paint has spilled out, seemingly from behind the frame. "What is that...?" She moves in closer to examine it.
"Hm? What did you say, Ib?"
"I think…I've been here before…" She gasps in shock and falls to the ground, grabbing her head. Images begin leaking into her memory. Images of mazes and moving statues and different colored plush bunnies. But the most powerful memories are those of a young man, the one featured in her favorite painting, Forgotten Portrait.
Ib begins to let out a small whisper. "His name…is Gar-"*BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG*
"Wah!" Eve falls backward in shock. "Wh-What in the world was that!"
"…"Ib remains in silence, then slowly turns her gaze downward to the floor.
Eve turns to Ib. "Ib? What are you looking at?" she looks down as well. "Ah!" To her surprise, Eve sees a series of red letters splayed out on the floor.
"'Welcome back'?" she turns to Ib. "Ib, what is this!"
Ib is still in shock. "I…" *BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG*
"Again!" The two look back down on the floor. "Huh?"
"DO YOU WANT TO SAVE HIM?"
Eve reads the message to herself. "Ib, is it referring to you…?"
"I…! Ah!" Ib collapses onto the ground and grabs her head. Images begin flashing in her mind, and she screams in pain.
"Ib!" Eve runs to her side and places her hands on Ib's shoulders. "Ib, are you all right?"
The next one to speak is neither Ib nor Eve the curator. "Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! My darling Ib, it's been ages! Just look how much you've grown!" The voice surrounds them as the museum seems to fade away, leaving the two girls in a black void.
Eve cradles the suffering Ib in her arms. "Who's there?" she cries.
"I was beginning to think you'd never come back, but here you are!" the voice says. It seems to be enjoying itself immensely. "Honestly, it's sooo boring here without someone like you around. And you even brought a new friend! This is so exciting, a new game has finally begun!"
"What are you talking about?" Eve asks, trying desperately to hide her fear. "Show yourself right now, you brute!"
The voice laughs again. "Now, now, Eve, no need to be so rude." He says calmly. "Ah, but you're right, I haven't formally introduced myself. Allow me to do so right now." At that moment, what seems to be a spotlight shines down from above them. After the girls regain their composure, they look to where the light has shone.
The spotlight is focusing down on a young man, no older than his twenties. He's wearing a nice blue suit and blazer, as well as sporting a top hat and cane, whose head is a white crystal rose. He removes his hat and bows to them, revealing his raven black hair and blue highlights like a spider resting on his head. He finally lifts his head to them and looks at the girls with calm, blood-red eyes.
"I…am Weiss Guertena." He says, smiling. "It's a pleasure."