Chapter 14:

Family Photo

The Gallery

This room wasn’t stretched endlessly or ridiculously long, in fact, this dining room was just a regular room, just like the living room from the top floor of the mansion, and at a corner of the room, there were some drawers and a shelf.

Normal rooms like this could only mean one thing: this is the room that Dexter, Victoria, and Hanako used to live in, like in the living room, the bedroom, or the office.

I walked up to them to see what’s in there; hopefully, they left something here that would tell me more about this place.

In the middle of the shelf was a picture frame. It was faced down, so I flipped it back up and saw the family photo with Hanako, Victoria, and Dexter in it.

Wait… this isn’t a picture at all.

When I looked a little closer, I noticed that the picture was actually hand-painted using oil paint.

In this picture, Dexter was holding a tiny canvas, around the size of this picture frame, and the family was standing in front of a massive mirror.

Dexter was the one who painted this family photo.

The details of this painting are incredible; this is a lot better than Victoria’s painting.

At that moment, I was convinced that Dexter was the one who created the Gallery in the first place.

I took an even closer look to admire the details.

Hm? What is that?

It seemed to me like a part of this photo was painted over, the colors and the texture of that part seemed slightly different than the rest of the photo.

What could be under there?

Did he mess up the painting, or ran out of those colors?

Maybe he painted over his old pets or something like that?

But why, though?

I didn’t have the answers to any of those questions, so I just put the family painting into my backpack.

Finally, I found some sort of clue about this place.

I continued searching through the shelf and found a small notebook with “Axel” written on the cover.

Nice! It seemed like I will get to know more about Mori from this.

I turned to the first page and started to read the notebook.

“Dear diary. I just bought you from that weird shop on the outside. From now, I’ll try to talk to you every day! I don’t know if I can though, sometimes, I just want to sleep all day, but I’ll tell Violet to remind me every day, so that shouldn’t be a problem. I will talk to you every day, so I have something to read about myself when I grow up!”

Wow! I wonder how long has it been because Mori sounded so weird.

He talked like a child back then. He even repeated himself!

Now the question is: should I continue reading this?

He probably wouldn't like it if other people read his diary, so I should stop here for now.

I put the diary into my backpack as well, so I can give it back to him if we ever meet again, that is.

The rest of the stuff on the shelf seemed unimportant to me, just a bunch of decorations and ornaments.

There were some papers on there as well, but I couldn’t understand what it was saying.

With nothing left to see on the shelf, I moved to search the drawers next.

I opened the top drawer, but it was just full of boxes.

I then opened those boxes, but it didn’t seem that important, mostly just some old and unusable painting supplies, some of the boxes have knitting supplies or other household stuff in them.

I check the rest of the drawers, but didn’t find anything important at all, until I opened the last drawers.

Along with the same old stuff, there was a small box that looked weirdly special.

The box was very dusty, but when I blew the dust off, I saw that the box was heavily decorated; it had some kind of gemstone embedded into it. It also had a beautiful golden pattern running around the box.

But what made this box so special was the fact that it had a lock on it, but the lock was so old and rusty that I could probably break into the box without a key.

I tried pulling on the lock. It jiggled a bit, but it didn’t open, so I took out my rock pick, and used it to smash the rock, trying not to damage the box itself.

The lock shattered instantly. I removed the shattered pieces off of the box then I opened it.

Inside were two flowers: a lilac and a lavender, and for some reason, they didn’t look decay at all, they still seemed fresh, like the lilacs that Hanako gave me.

The flowers also glow, again, like Hanako’s lilacs.

I picked the flowers up to take a closer look, and spot something under those flowers.

There were two rings under there. The rings were golden, with really big and pretty diamonds embedded in them.

Could these be…

Wedding rings?

These were most likely Victoria’s and Dexter’s wedding rings.

But why weren’t they wearing them anymore?

Instead, they chose to leave them here, and what’s with these flowers?

The glowing lilac definitely belongs to Hanako, but what’s about this glowing lavender?

Maybe it belongs to Mori? There was Mori’s diary here after all.

Either way, I think I’ve been out here for too long now, I’m almost out of food, and making my way back will take a couple of days.

By that point, I would completely run out of food, so I should stop here.

I put the box with golden rings and glowing flowers in my backpack.

I couldn’t track down the source of the oil monsters on this floor, but I managed to find a bunch of old and abandoned family stuff.

But should I show them to Dexter?

Maybe he left them here for a reason?

After I was done packing up, I left that dining room and started to make my way back.

My journey back to Dexter was pretty chill; I have plenty of food and water, and I didn’t come across any oil monsters until I got really close to Dexter.

I sneaked past the oil monsters like the last time, and they didn’t notice me at all.

Eventually, I made it back to the dining room where Dexter was.

I opened the door to find Dexter pouring linseed oil into glasses to feed the oil monsters.

When I closed the door, he heard me and turned to me.

“Oh! You’re back!” Said Dexter. “Did you find anything?”

I was still debating whether or not I should tell him what I found.

“No.” I replied, “I didn’t anything about oil monsters at all.”

I didn’t want to lie, but I didn’t really want to tell him what I found either, so I decided to tell him a half-truth.

“What a bummer!” He said, “But thank you either way, though.”

“No problem.” I responded, “It’s part of the deal after all.”

“Yeah… you’re right.” He said.

“I’ll go into the bedroom for a second.” I told him, “Is that alright?”

“Yeah, sure.” He replied, “Go on.”

I entered the bedroom, hoping to finally get some sunlight. I quickly rushed to the balcony and stared aimlessly into the ocean.

After a while, I turned back to the bedroom and noticed something peculiar.

I saw that one corner of the bedroom was completely empty. In fact, the room actually looked pretty awkward with an empty corner like that.

What’s weird about this was the fact that the shelf and drawers from that dining room corner would fit really well in this corner.

So he didn’t want to have this family stuff with him after all; good thing’s that didn’t tell him yet.

This also meant that the family used to live somewhere deeper into the basement until something happened that forced them to move here, and then move again, up into the mansion above, but they left Dexter here.

Maybe I should read Mori’s diary to get more clues about this family?

That would be too invasive of me, so I’m not going to do that.

I left the bedroom to find oil monsters feasting on the oil, and Dexter stood quietly at the head of the table.

I had no choice, but I stood still as well; if the monsters hear us, we’d all be dead.

Eventually, the monsters got up after they were done, and started to leave the room.

Dexter and I followed them out of the dining room and waited outside in the corridor for a bit.

Then the monsters all came out of the toilet and started to walk back up the stairs.

When all of the monsters left, Dexter and I quickly went into the toilet to feast upon the food that those monsters just created. I finally got to eat something that wasn’t bread.

While we were eating, we chatted for a bit.

“What are you going to do next?” He asked me.

“I’ll probably explore some other floors.” I told him, “I want to go home as soon as possible.”

“How far did you make it?” He continued asking me.

“Not that far, actually.” I answered, “I didn’t bring enough food with me.”

“If you do find something, make sure to tell me, alright?” He told me.

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” I replied.

He continued eating his food, so I decided to ask him about Hanako and Victoria.

“So, like… do you want to tell me about your family now?” I asked him.

“Huh? I thought I already said no.” He replied.

“But you do know that I’ll find out eventually, right?” I told him, “So what’s the point of hiding it from me?”

“And just how are you gonna find them out?” He asked me back.

“I have my own ways of doing things,” I replied.

“Interesting…” He said.

“Did you find something about my family while exploring?” He asked me. “You did, didn’t you?”

He asked me with a stern face; it made me panic a little.

“Of course not.” I told him, “If I actually find anything, I would have shown them to you already.”

“You’re not a good liar, huh?” He replied.

“What do you mean?” I asked him.

“Can I see what’s inside your backpack?” He asked me back.

“Definitely not.” I responded, “There’s a lot of personal stuff in there.”

“Like what?” He continued to pressure me.

“It’s stuff from my own world.” I replied, “And I’m not gonna tell you what it is.”

“It must be really important to you, right?” He asked me.

“Of course…” I replied.

“So does my family.” He said, “So if you’re not gonna show me your personal stuff, I’m not gonna tell you about my personal story either.”

I didn’t know what to replied to that, but I think I should leave for now.

“Well, I’m done eating now.” I told him, “I’m so tired, I’ll go to sleep now.”

“Good night.” He said to me.

“Y- You too,” I responded.