Ib felt her heart pounding wildly as she raced through the hospital doors, her eyes blurred with tears and her breathing laboured by the effort of running so very far and so very fast.
Garry had been hit by a car.
She felt herself choke on tears as she approached the front desk, and the same lady who was there all that time ago, gave her a quick glance.
"I remember you. Ib, wasn't it?"
"Y-Yes," she stammered, her lips chapped and dry. "It's Garry again…"
"I know," she replied quietly, before handing her a slip of paper. "I never told you where he was being kept. You just ran through the hospital and found him, okay?"
Ib took the paper, glancing at it hurriedly,
Ward Seven, room 5
"Thankyou so much," Ib shouted back as she dashed madly through the halls, nearly getting hit by many nurses with trolleys as she desperately searched around. Ignoring the Nurse's startled cries, she approached the door marked as 'Ward 7' and dashed into the 5th room there.
A sight shocked her.
Hooked to wires, machines and drips, there lay Garry. His violet hair strewn over his pillow and clotted with blood, and beeps echoing across the otherwise silent room. "G-Garry," She choked out, wiping her tears away and walking to his side. She grabbed his hand tightly, and gave a kiss to his head. Hurried footsteps approached and she clung to the hospital bed.
Let them try to take me away, She snarled to herself. They'll have to drag me out.
She heard the footsteps come behind her, and then they faltered. She felt a presence lower itself down and a hand cupped her shoulder. It was shaking, and Ib just about managed to hear small sobs behind her. She turned her head slowly. There was Tora, his face covered in tears and he was shaking in shock.
"T-Tora…" She managed to say, before she felt arms encompass her. She hugged Tora back tightly, and they cried together. They let their tears out side by side and comforted each other as much as possible.
Ib awoke to birdsong, and realized she'd fallen asleep when she had been crying. She looked around sleepily, her eyes tired and worn as she registered she'd been moved to the armchair. She gripped her makeshift blanket, which was Tora's jacket, and pulled it clean off of her. She stepped precariously towards Garry's hospital bed, feeling her eyes fill with tears once more. Her shaking hand moved to his cheek as she stroked it softly. As she swept stray hair from over his eyes, the hospital doors swung open.
Alisa and Arthur entered the room, holding hands tightly, before the sight of Garry and Ib startled them. Garry was unconscious; Ib stroked his hair while crying softly. Ib's head snapped up and her hand jolted away from Garry as she glanced towards the door quickly, as if panicked, before she settled. Alisa let go of Arthur's hand slowly, making her way towards Ib.
"Ib, are you okay?" She asked softly, holding out her arms wide for her as Ib rushed towards them, gripping her into a tight embrace.
She found the will to sob again. To let so many more tears escape her. She was strong; she always had been, yet Garry's condition was too much for her to contemplate. She kept screaming to wake up, to escape the nightmare that consumed her. Yet every time she opened her eyes again, she was still in Alisa's arms.
Ib withdrew herself from them, feeling surrounded and cornered, before she resorted to just staring at the ground. Alisa watched her, her own face contorted with grief as Arthur strode over to Garry's side, pulling up the armchair and sitting down.
All was silent until Arthur spoke.
"Garry," He spoke loudly, his voice ringing clear across the room. "Get up, you lazy sod."
There was no response, yet Arthur's firm eyes kept focused on Garry.
"I said get up, you wanker," He hissed.
Ib made a move, to run across the room and smack him, before she stopped in her tracks. Garry's eyes twitched beneath his eyelids, and Ib found herself frozen to her spot.
"So you heard me," Arthur mumbled, looking at Garry. "There's no time to lounge. We have important news."
Ib cast a questioning look as Alisa, who then sighed and grabbed her wrist, leading her outside the hospital room.
"What?" Ib inquired, confused. "What news?"
"The car… it got tracked down, Ib," She explained quietly.
"Well, isn't that good?" She asked, brightening up a little. "They're going to be arrested! They're going to be punished!"
"Ib," Alisa whispered, her eyes filling with tears. "It was one of your grandmother's employees."
"Wh-What?" Ib yelled. "What do you mean?!"
"He claimed he was hired by your grandparents. He lay in wait for Garry, and then…" She trailed off, gulping down a few tears. Before she could react, however, Ib was sprinting down the hallway.
"Ib!" Alisa called after her, attempting to catch up before a trolley pushed out infront of her, blocking her route. When it passed, Ib had gone, with the option of three corridors she could have ran down. "IB!" Alisa shrieked.
Tora passed back into the room his son was being kept to find four teenagers pacing anxiously around the room.
"What's going on?" He demanded, looking to each of them. He recognized Arthur and Alisa, but there were also two other girls there he did not know. Arthur did a quick introduction, and Tora discovered their names to be Tristan and Morana. Arthur's greeting was cut short by an answer to Tora's question.
"Ib ran off," Alisa explained, running a shaking hand through her hair. "She found out about the instigator…"
"Shit," Tora muttered, rubbing the bridge of his nose with his thumb and finger. "What do you think she'll do?"
"Hand herself in, maybe," The voice came from the doorway. As everyone turned, their eyes met with Stephen's, who smirked and sauntered into the room casually. "So, you figured it out yet? Or do I need to help?"
"Who are you?" Morana asked fiercely.
"Stephen," He answered simply, as if he answered the question fully.
"What are you even talking about?" Tristan demanded, following the lead of her sister with a scowl and narrowed eyes.
"Well, why my family did what they did to Garry of-course."
"To trick Ib into coming back to them so Garry can recover without 'complications'," Arthur sniped, glaring at Stephen.
"Wrong," Stephen trilled, folding his arms and strolling towards Garry. " We all know Ib isn't like that. The damage has been done and Garry has been hurt. The threat has already been carried out."
"So, what?" Tora questioned, his voice weary from all the drama and shouting. "What is Ib going to do?"
"You heard of Guertena's Gallery?" Stephen queried, and he chuckled as many faces in the room went chalk white.
"Wh-..How did you…" Morana started, before Stephen waved a hand to cut her off mid sentence.
"Sh. I will tell you," He started, rubbing his hands together and pulling the armchair back to him, sitting down. "So, the gallery. There's many things about the gallery you think I do not know."
Tora scowled, looking at them all. "I don't even know what you're talking about."
"We'll explain later," Alisa shot back, hurriedly. "For now, we need to know."
Stephen waited raising an eyebrow, before Arthur muttered a, "Continue," And Stephen smiled in response.
"Excellent. Now, where was I? Oh yes. The gallery holds many secrets to which it is near incomprehensible to figure out. It could turn a man insane, and twist a woman into the darkest pits of the human mind. You got that?"
"Yes," Tristan affirmed, looking at the understanding faces (besides Tora's) around the room and nodding for him to continue.
"Good. Anyway… Guertena himself was a mastermind. Artistic, logical, experienced and just downright nuts. A brilliant, brilliant man. But one day, fate struck. He had two children, a son with brown hair and crimson eyes called Elric and a daughter with long blonde hair and blue eyes, blessed with the name Agneatha who was suffering from an incurable disease. She was young, so young, and Guertena became heartbroken as each day passed and her health declined.
"So, one day, he abandoned attempts on finding a cure. It was impossible, even for Guertena, and would remain impossible for mankind. So, instead, he wanted to make Agneatha live forever; frozen as a teenager so she could live eternally, although ill. He began his work, and somehow, miraculously, found it. The cure for lapsing time. For minutes ticking by.
"He was ecstatic. His daughter was happy and she lived in that world for many more years than the doctors said so. However, over time her mother died and Guertena himself was growing old in his days.
"He was fearful that Agneatha would become bored and lonely when he died, and so painted her a huge array of paintings and made her many sculptures to accompany her. She had the idea to name it a gallery, and so he did. But he kept it hidden, very well hidden. "
Stephen gave a pause, grinning at the sights of so many shocked and taken aback faces, but he didn't let it stop him from continuing.
"Guertena then died from old age, passing away beside the frame that enabled them to pass through worlds. He thought the secret had died with him, and that the frame would become forgotten to the world. No. The son, Elric, who you probably forgot about, was jealous of his sister.
"Why should she have the blessing to live forever in the world without the fear of death or age? He became blind with fury, and found the gallery. He twisted the paintings with his father's own knowledge and research, and turned the gallery against his sister. In time, another young man, William, a teenager in-fact, and a fan of Guertena's, became friends with his son. He cleverly discovered Guertena's knowledge, and tricked his son into leading him there. Once he had successfully accomplished that, he found Agneatha. He rescued her from the gallery and brought her graciously into his home.
"Of-course, she was still ill, and even though medical knowledge had improved and she was given a few more years to live, she was dying. The young man and her married quickly and gave birth to a daughter, before Agneatha passed away from childbirth. As William was about to name their daughter in the barn she was born in, Elric crept behind him and slit his throat."
The whole room seemed to darken considerably as Stephen gave a dark laugh, and proceeded with the tale.
"In revenge for what Agneatha was given by their father and the betrayal of William, Elric stole the daughter away and kept her in the gallery, and vowed that she would never leave. For a few years, he stayed in the gallery with her. No-one knows why he didn't just leave her to die. Many suspect he needed her to become older for his revenge to become worthwhile.
"As his heart started to become lighter for her, and grow merciful, he met a woman for his own and had many children. Alas, fate struck again like lightning, without pity. Guertena was thrust into fame, his exhibitions shown across the world.
"It drove Elric insane with anger as his father was yet again paraded across the world along with the story of his sister, the girl who disappeared for so long and then returned years later with not one day to her age. In fury, he locked the girl inside a frame instead of just the gallery, and as he burned in the flames he set himself alight upon, he screamed his curse that she will pay for her parents' and grandfather's sins, and bear their betrayal upon herself. Elric left behind his wife and three children.
"The only thing Elric left with his niece was a nameplate. A single nameplate with one name engraved upon it. 'Mary'."
Stephen glanced around the room, registering the shocked faces and returning a smirk to each and every one of them, before Arthur found his voice.
"How...? Is that true?"
"Why would I lie?" Stephen asked casually, shrugging.
"How do you know this if it is the truth?" Tristan queried, narrowing her eyes suspiciously at him.
"What? You think I am ignorant to my family's ancestry?"
Another shocked pause.
"What?!" Alisa demanded, her eyes widening. "You don't mean to say—"
"It is as you think. Me and Ib are related to Elric, Mary – and, of-course – Guertena."
"Is this the complete and honest truth?" A voice questioned, and everyone's heads turned to the hospital bed where Garry struggled to sit up. Alisa and Tora darted over and checked him over, before hugging him, and Arthur, Morana, and Tristan were content with a smile and relieved sigh. But Garry's eyes were only fixed upon Stephen.
"Of-course. How else do you think Ib activated the gallery in the first place?"
"What are you talking about now?" Tora demanded, glaring furiously at him. "What's this about a gallery and all the bullshit you just burst out with?"
Everyone ignored Tora as Garry glanced at Stephen, confused. "What are you talking about? I'm not related to Guertena and yet I entered."
"Because you were with Ib at the time, and got caught up in it."
"What about us?!" Arthur interjected quickly. "We still ventured into the gallery."
"This is why you should study your family history, Arthur," Stephen answered in a drawl. "Elric had three children. You are a descendant of one of them, as I and Ib are. You dragged the maid and Alisa along with you. And to the sisters," He turned to them, grinning. "Related to the youngest of the three, the daughter. I think her name was Jenny, if I remember correctly."
"That's not true…" Morana argued quietly, her face paling. "We're related to Guertena?!"
"Indeed," Stephen affirmed, smirking. "And fate has brought us altogether again. Aren't you pleased?"
"Shut up," Garry suddenly snarled. "And get to the point. Even if this is true, how is this going to help us figure out what Ib is doing and what your family is planning?"
"Have you forgotten already? The place she always gravitated towards when she was upset and grieved? Think, Garry,"
Garry frowned, before his eyes widened and his lips formed a perfect 'o', and then clamped shut in horror. "The Gallery?"
"Precisely. Now… what is more valuable to the family more than money and jewels galore?"
"The gallery itself…" Arthur whispered. "No, even more so, the knowledge…"
"You're smarter than you seem," Stephen grinned, leaning back on the armchair. "It's as you say. Ib is the, ah, how to put it? She's the 'Agneatha' in this tale. She is the blessed one to enter the gallery. The rest of us related to Guertena? We are merely presented with the chance to enter, but it was never made for us. And the rest of my family? They are Elric. They want the gallery for themselves. For years, they've studied how to enter it and how to live forever…"
"…but they never succeeded…." Alisa continued, her eyes alight with dread.
"…and this is their last effort, and they must know what they're doing, because they played the ultimate trump card of harming Garry to cause Ib to return there…" Arthur offered, and paled when Stephen nodded in confirmation.
"…yes. It is all true. The whole moving away thing was meant to drive her there at first anyway. But Garry was there for her, and you all were, too, so she felt no need."
Garry struggled against the wires as he tried to get up, "We have to stop her, Damnit!" He cried out, but Tora pinned his arms back, glaring at his son.
"I don't know why, but hell, I'm going to believe this story. It's the only explanation as to why I feel like so many dates in my life were done so wrongly. Why I thought you'd be older than you are, although all the dates add up. Damn it, I believe it because your eyes speak only truth. But be rational, this is NOT going to help Ib."
"Your father is a wise man," Stephen added, nodding. "Heed his advice."
"There's one thing I don't get though," Tristan piped up as her sister typed furiously on her phone. "Ib went into the gallery before, twice, so why are they only interested now? And why is Ib going to the gallery with the threat of them finding it?"
"Firstly, why did you think they suddenly noticed her after I 'left'? I left because they figured out it was not me, but Ib, who was the one who had the influence over the gallery. I left only weeks ago. And secondly, do you really think Ib and her parents know of their heritage? I only knew because I was raised to believe that Guertena wanted me to share the gallery's wonders to the family, and when I realized they were wrong about his ideals and the fact that it wasn't me they sought, I left. Although, they'd had suspicions for a long time about it anyway, and so they would have caught on eventually."
The group groaned, burying their faces into their hands or cursing. Garry, however, hit the side of the bed with his fist and he snarled.
"Let me out of here! I'm not letting her get trapped in that damn gallery! You can try and stop me, but you won't."
"Oh, jeez, Stephen, why did you bloody pull me here? He's angry enough as it is. He's going to rip out my throat." The drawl came from the doorway, and every pair of eyes darted towards the source. But only Garry's eyes widened.
They widened as they met the other pair of eyes.
A/N: I really hope you enjoyed the twist and I didn't completely butcher the story. Also, sorry about the long dialogue on Stephen's part. I just wanted it to be explained from him because he suited that role. I was originally going to have the grandmother come in, then scrapped that idea, because I wanted the big guns to roll in later, so its a surprise with what they're dealing with.
Plus, it's more logical for Stephen to go into the ancestry...he wants to help Ib afterall. I mean, why would the enemy explain it and their plans? Maybe to taunt, but I think it'd be stupid for them to reveal Arthur's, Morana's and Tristan's heritage, because they have access to the gallery and the possible destruction of their plans. I could have left that bit out until later, but I really wanted to reveal it now to get the confusing story out of the way.
Also! Confusion of dates are here! Yay! I know many of you got confused with the time shift thing with Garry, but as you can see, characters noticed it too.
THANKYOU TO ALL MY FOLLOWERS AND REVIEWERS!3 At the last chapter I'll give a special shout out and special replies to reviews with questions or those that really touch me :)
Please! Enjoy, follow and review, and let's follow this story together until the end. (Because cheesy endings are always awes- /shot)