Chapter 4:

You Won't Get Away with This

The Gallery

"That's the painting that the monsters came from, right?" I asked. "Let's burn it in the fireplace."

"Yeah. Let's try that." She said.

We slowly approached the painting, took the painting down from the wall. The oil spilled out from the painting down to the floor, it created a path of oil puddle from the wall to the fireplace.

The painting was quite heavier than any other paintings in the Gallery. Not knowing what would happen if we touched the oil, we tried to avoid getting oil on our bodies.

We threw the painting into the fireplace. The painting started burning right away. The fire grew bigger, it started to spread to the oil path on the floor, half of the Living Room engulfed in flame almost immediately.

We tried backing off of the flame and hit the shelf on the other side of the room. That was when Hanako realized that she needed to refill her paints, while she was doing her things, I saw some gold ingots, and decided to put some of them in my bag.

"Hey! The fire is getting really big right now!" I yelled as the flame continued spreading toward us.

"I'm almost done!" She replied while rummaging through the boxes on the shelf.

 The flame got closer and closer to us, and the room became increasingly hotter.

 All of the sudden, the ceiling shattered open, it revealed the dark, cloudy sky, and the rain started pouring down. The rain doused the flame out completely.

Then the rain stopped pouring down, the sky became bright and clear, the ceiling reassembled itself, and the wooden floor that once was burned had fully recovered and reverted back into its original color.

Hanako grabbed my arm and started to run away immediately. There was only one person powerful enough to be able to do that sort of thing, so running away was probably the best option for us.

The Master was definitely there.

As we were running away, I looked back a little bit and caught a glimpse of the Master.

She was an intimidating adult. She was wearing an ivory colored suit. In one of her hands, she was holding a canvas, and in the other hand, she was holding an exquisite looking paintbrush.

The canvas that she was painting on, must be the Gallery.

"You won't get away with this." The master said.

We kept on running as fast as we can. After a while, we turned a corner and found ourselves back in the Living Room. The master was still there. She picked me up and thrown me into a painting on the floor.

Before I was fully submerged in the painting, I saw the master picked Hanako up.

"There will be punishment for you as well." She said. "This time, it will be worse than before."

It was too late to help her now. I fell into that painting and was separated from Hanako.

I found myself in the middle of a pine forest. It was dark and foggy, so much so that I couldn't tell if it's day or night.

I looked at the ground, the painting on the ground was of the Living Room. The frame of the painting was bare wood.

I tried touching the painting, but I couldn't go through, it was just a regular canvas this time.

Am I stuck here forever?

I took a moment to calm down a little, picked the painting up, and started exploring this new area. 

After wandering aimlessly in the forest for a while, I stumbled across a small wooden cabin. The area around the cabin felt a little safer than in the middle of the forest somehow. I knocked on the door and got no response, so I welcomed myself in.

Inside the cabin was a small fireplace, a table, a chair, and a bed.

There was a box of matches next to the fireplace, I lid the fire, and put all my stuff and the painting on the table. This time I am truly alone, so I have to be extra careful of my surroundings.

In my bag, I have some school supplies, notebooks, and stationeries, and those gold ingots I picked up back in the Living Room.

I burned some of my notebooks to keep the fire going, and while doing so, I got the idea.

Could I melt these gold ingots down and coat the painting frame with them?

Based on my science classes, I knew that it is impossible to melt pure gold in the fire, but maybe there's somewhere else hotter in here?

I'm gonna have to explore this forest deeper to find out, but right now, this is my home. I guess I should rest a bit.

 I lied down on the bed, before I fell asleep, I thought of Hanako. I wanted to know if she's alright. I wanted to know where she is.

 After a while, I fell asleep.

I woke up to the same atmosphere as before, a dark and foggy sky. I couldn't tell how long I was sleeping for, but the fire was out, and the weather wasn't that cold anymore. It's probably morning now.

My stomach was pretty empty, so I head out of the cabin to find food.

I took a notebook with me as well. I tore out a page, put it on the ground, and placed a rock over it to use as markers, so I wouldn't get lost.

In the forest, everything felt the same. I couldn't really tell how far I've been walking, or what direction I'm heading to, but after a while, after around ten markers or so, I reached the edge of the forest.

There, was a body of water of some kind. I didn't know if it was a lake or the ocean, because this body of water seemed to stretch out over to the horizon, but seeing that in the Gallery, every normal things seemed to be endless, I called this place "The Lake."

Maybe I could catch fishes in there?

I approached the lake. The water was very clear, but I couldn't see any fishes in there. Maybe the Master cannot create life? 

I decided to walk along the edge of the lake, in an attempt to find something actually useful.

After a while, I stumbled across a giant painting on the ground. It was around four or five times my height. Next to it was a bunch of fancy food, similar to what can be found in the Living Room. 

The painting had a silver frame, and the canvas was pitch black. I've never seen something like that before.

I rushed to the food, and eat them without hesitation. At that point, I was too hungry to care about anything else. I didn't even know what kind of food I was eating, but they were all made of meat of some kind.

There were three dishes, and I ate them all.

After I'm done with my meal. I looked toward the silver framed painting and reached my hand into it.

My hand sank in.

I was very hopeful and excited, seeing that there was food here, there must be someone on the other side, maybe Hanako was safe after all, and was trying to help me?

I popped my head through to see what was on the other side.

The other side of the painting was oil.

I plunged my head right into a dark, murky pool of oil.

I immediately pulled my head back, and jump into the lake to clean myself up.

Luckily, it didn't seem to cause any harm to me. While submerged in the lake, I looked down to see how deep it was.

As expected, I couldn't see the bottom at all.

After I cleaned myself, I got out of the lake and walked back to the cabin. Following the markers, I was able to get back to the cabin pretty easily, but I was disappointed that I was still stuck here.

When I was back at the cabin, I passed time by going through each of my stationeries and thought about how I can utilize them.

There was a couple of pencils and a pen, those stuff wouldn't be really useful here. There was also a glue stick and a pair of scissors, these might come in handy later.

Until I started to get bored and tried to think of a way to melt these gold ingots down.

After a long while, I started to get drowsy, so I decided to go to bed.

When I woke up, I followed the same markers I placed yesterday on the painting and found more food there.

I ate all the food, headed back to the cabin, and messed around to kill time.

This quickly became my routine. Every day, I would do the same things over and over again.

It had been over twenty days now. I was starting to lose track of time.

Until on the twenty-fifth day. I repeat the same routine as usual, got up, followed the markers to the lake, but this time, things were very different.

Standing next to the painting, was a wolf, a really familiar one, in fact.

This wolf was at least three times my size, it had a pair of wings, and a pair of fins on its body, very similar to Hanako's old friend. 

The bizarre thing about this wolf is that it had a cage around its snout, the cage was all black, and oily? I guess. The cage was held up to the wolf by the same material, it wrapped around the wolf's head, and extended on to its body, somewhat restricting its movement.

But despite all of that, the wolf seemed so elegant, not at all ugly like how Hanako described him.

The wolf seemed angry. It looked like the food I was eating belong to him.

He growled in anger, then he started charging toward me very quickly. There was no way for me to dodge that.

But when he got close to me, he suddenly stopped.

he sniffed my body, while doing so, his expression turned into more of a submissive one.

Maybe he could smell the scent of Hanako on my body?

"Can you understand me?" I asked the wolf.

He nodded his head and sat down in front of me.

"Do you have a name?" I continued asking.

He shook his head this time.

I thought about his name for a while, since we were in a forest, I decided to name him "Mori."

"I guess I'll call you Mori." I said. 

The wolf seemed happy. Then it jumped into the painting, and after a while, it came back with some food on its back.

"Are those for me?" I asked.

Mori nodded.

We shared a meal together. After that, I went back to the cabin, and Mori followed me there too.

He couldn't get inside, so he would have to sleep outside.

I offered to lit a small fire for him, but he shook his head vigorously. He seemed scared of fire.

He pointed his leg at the cage on his face. It seemed as though the cage was made from oil, and the fire would burn Mori or something like that.

The Master must have been the one who made this cage.

But why? To prevent him from biting, or could he be capable of something more than that?

Either way, I should try and destroy this cage. Even if nothing happened, at least Mori would be free.

That night, Mori slept outside. It was freezing cold, while I slept inside as usual, and I thought about the method to break Mori's cage. Let's try cutting it with my scissors first, I guess.

When I woke up the next day, I tried cutting the cage with a pair of scissors, but I couldn't do it. Not because the cage was too tough, but because the cage was actually liquid.

So the cage wasn't there to prevent him from biting others, since he could still use his mouth. That's how he could pick up the food in the first place.

Then what is the purpose of this cage? It almost felt like the cage was there to stop him from being near fire specifically.

I continued my routine as usual, but with Mori accompanying me this time. My life went on for a couple more days.

Until one day, I was peeing in the middle of the forest and was randomly thinking about the toilet in the Gallery, and finally, I came up with a way that could get rid of Mori's cage.

I could just use the soap to wash the oil away. This might actually be a good idea.

"Do you know where the toilet is?" I asked Mori.

He nodded. I supposed all of the Dining Room has a toilet next to it?

The next day, I asked Mori to go to the toilet and look for a bar of soap in there.

He came back with some food as per usual, and a bar of soap as well.

I tried to clean Mori up, but it wasn't nearly enough. The cage was too big to be clean with a single bar of soap. 

I speculated that, like foods in the Dining Room, there should be more soap in the toilet tomorrow as well.

And I was right!

The next day, Mori brought another bar of soap back, and now we have two. 

And our routine continued. Each day, Mori would bring me more and more soap.

I used the amount of soap bars we have to know how many days had passed. Without them, I would have lost track of time completely.

It had been almost a month after that. We now had twenty three bars of soap. This should be enough.

I put all of our soaps into my bag and headed to the lake. I started washing the cage away.

It went rather smoothly. Not too long after, Mori was completely cleaned. The cage had disappeared from his head and body.

Mori opened his mouth wide open for the first time since we met.

He let out a roar. It was so powerful that it shook my entire body.

He seemed happy. This was the happiest I've seen from him, since I met him more than a month ago.

He could run a lot faster than before too. If I was being honest, He was way scarier now.

We headed back to the cabin. Now that the cage was gone, Mori could sleep warm and cozy tonight.

I lit a fire outside of the cabin for him, he seemed to like it this time.

Mori lied down next to the fire, and I decided to lie down next to him.

And I fell asleep there.