8 • Madarame's Art Gallery

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5/25 After School

I paused as I was walking down the street, noticing a red and black letter that seemed to be posted everywhere. I picked one off of the window and read it.

"Sir Ichiryusai Madarame, a great sinner of vanity whose talent has been exhausted. You are an artist who used his authority to shamelessly steal the ideas of his pupils. We have decided to make you confess all your crimes with your own mouth. We will take your distorted desires without fail. From, the Phantom Thieves," I read aloud.

"They sure love making a spectacle of their work," Raven said.

I tossed it in the garbage, knowing they were going to do this soon. I took out my phone and went to the Palace, not having to wait long for them to show. I sat on the edge of the wall that surrounded the museum and watched them all appear.

"The atmosphere in here seems significantly different..." Fox said.

"I mean, we did basically declare war on him by sendin' that card," Skull says.

"It could be worse," I say, all of them looking over at me. "They could have the place on full lockdown"

I jumped down from the wall then we all ran in through the route secured by them earlier. We stopped in the control room that was on the highest floor.

"It's finally time..." Skull said.

"There will be no turning back once we begin the operation," Fox - Yusuke - said.

"And if worst comes to worst, we might have to fight..." Ann mumbles.

"That's right. Are you ready, Joker?" Mona asks.

"Ready as I'll ever be," Joker responds.

"Ok! Everyone to your positions!"

Skull and Panther took care of the lights in a separate control room. Yusuke attached Mona to a hook that he'd lower down on. Joker was manning the switch that lowered Mona. I watched from above as Mona was lowered down into the darkness. He rode up with something covered in a sheet.

"Hehehe! How's that for a skilled plan?" He asks, the others running out to join us.

"That was amazin', Mona!" Skull says.

"Lord Madarame! Th-the piece is gone!" A security guard exclaimed from below.

"So? What'd the Treasure turn out bein'? I'm guessin' it's a paintin' based on the shape"

"We can look into that later. For now, we must escape," Fox says.

"Yeah, it's time to go!" Mona said.

We tried running out of the control room but the doors were locked. Instead we had to jump out a window.

"Whoa, this shit's real high up..." Skull says.

"But at least we're outside! Is there a way down out here!?" Mona asks.

We ran down the stairs that were on the outside of the building, meant for decoration. Once we got down we ended up in the courtyard. Mona started to get real excited then decided to take a short break to look at the Treasure.

"Treasure! Hrm!?"

"This is the treasure!?" Skull asks.

I sigh, running a hand down my face. "It was a trick"

"Meddlesome vermin. Is this what you're looking for?" Shadow Madarame asked, a guard on either side of him, one of them holding another painting covered in a white sheet.

"What nonsense that you used a mousetrap on me!" Mona states.

"So you had a fake prepped, huh!?" Skull asks.

"Counterfeits are accepted in the world of Japanese art," Shadow Madame answered.

"What made you change like this? Is it because you became famous!?" Fox asks. "Can't you understand how much it pains me to inquire about the crimes of my foster father!?"

"Now that I think back, the only reason I took you in was due to my ties with your mother. That woman never lost her passion for painting even after her husband died. Her skills and talent were quite astonishing... that's why I decided to look after her. Your mother and the artwork she created, they're all my works of art!"

"How low can you sink...?" Panther asks.

"I suppose I can grant you a gift before you die, a glimpse of the genuine Sayuri"

"Genuine...?" Fox repeats.

The guard holding the painting showed it to us. It was a picture of a mother holding a baby. But in the painting known around the world the bottom half was covered in smoke, the baby wasn't seen. This wasn't the same as the one everyone knew.

"This can't be. Mom...!"

"Indeed it is. This was painted by your mother. It's a portrait of herself," Shadow Madarame said. "A woman who knew her death was coming painted her last wishes, for the son she would leave behind. That is the truth behind the mystery of Sayuri's expression!"

"You stole something that personal!?" Skull asks.

"I knew at first glance. I knew it'd be a huge success, if I added a touch to the painting and announced it under my name!"

"But the baby in the picture... why did you paint over it?" Fox asks.

"It was all to stage it. If the babe is erased, the reason for the woman's expression will become a mystery. That is what the general public is drawn to! Each of those parasitic critics wrote the same thing"

"I always felt something was off about all this. Now I know what it is," Panther says."If you really treasured that painting, you wouldn't even think about replicating it for profit! You don't love art at all!"

"Though you have a real treasure, your true skills are nothing more than those scribbles on that fake!" Mona growls.

"It makes me laugh, asshole!" Skull says.

"So you'll defy me no matter what... well then, since you're my work of art, Yusuke, I'm going to real you for the sake of my future. Along with those insolent friends of yours there," Shadow Madarame states.

"I can't believe you're treating both mother and son like they're objects, you're inhuman!" Panther says.

"I've heard that you destroy your 'art' once they outlive their usefulness..." Fox started. "Did that include my mother as well?"

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