While he was obviously a little confused, Rhodes tilted his head with curiosity, prompting a brief bounce in his head-feather. “So when do they get to grow up?”
“That is a good question!” Shroomsworth praised, leaning both of his claws upon the surprisingly sturdy surface before him. “Our elder decides that. At their discretion, they may make it some sort of test, or a reward for one who excels, ah-haha!”
“Wow... it sounds kinda hard to have to do some kinda test to grow up!” Rhodes remarked with amusement. “What'd you hafta do? Sell a whole buncha stuff?”
While trying to quickly find an answer to that question in his head, Shroomsworth tapped his claws upon the sturdy stall before him and averted his eyes. It wasn't really as simple of a story as many might have guessed. “Ahh... oh dear. Well, you see...”
In perhaps the only instance where stalling for time by drawing out a sentence would work, a rather questionable savior turned up. A large, purple form waded through the foreign trade stalls, headed straight for Shroomsworth. “Look who it is!” it called out in a deep, rumbling, yet jovial voice. A Nidoking's large, plated form stepped out over the middle path on his approach. Around his shoulders hung a long, simple, and well-kept cloth draped over the back of his neck that flowed down his chest. It displayed an array of randomly-arranged colors dyed over it, doing wonders toward making the large Pokemon appear as non-threatening as possible.
Despite the welcome interruption, Shroomsworth still couldn't help but breathe a low-profile sigh of dismay. The lumbering poison-type Pokemon approached the other side of his stall, only to hold up what appeared to be, by all respects, a blue rubber ball with a crude happy face on it. It might as well have just been a toy. However, given who this was, Shroomsworth knew it couldn't be that simple, and looked upon it with skepticism. “... What is it?”
“I heard you were back, and I knew you'd like to see some of my hot new products since you've been gone!” the Nidoking asserted before giving the ball a squeeze. Though he apparently put much strength into it, the ball's form only distorted to a minor degree. “I call it a 'happy ball'! You squeeze it, and the exertion pulls all the unhappy toxins out of your body 'til you're happy again!” he proudly explained, looking down upon Shroomsworth with a grin.
It was rather difficult for Shroomsworth to hide how unimpressed he was, especially as the ball was squeezed once more in front of his face, producing a mild squeaking noise. Eventually, he brought one of his palms up to rub one of his cheeks, feeling within them the minor burn of being embarrassed for another living being. “Tell me, Trudeau... how many of these have you sold?”
Just before Trudeau answered, Rhodes reached out and grasped the ball, which he was allowed to hold and squeeze with the dull bases of his claws for the time being. The Nidoking didn't appear to be stingy with his merchandise. “Not many yet – mostly foreign visitors from Alomomola.”
“Oh, thank goodness...” Shroomsworth muttered under his breath. The last thing he needed to hear was that his village was buying into this.
“That's always the story...” Trudeau went on dejectedly, “... I don't know how to reach out to the villagers here about cleansing their bodies, you know? I thought maybe something they didn't have to eat would work...”
“Maybe you should sell it like a toy? It's a nice ball!” Rhodes interjected, smiling up to the Nidoking as he tossed the happy-faced ball as such that it bounced once upon the stall before Trudeau could grasp it.
“Oh, I can't do that. It would be dishonest to call it a toy if it's medicinal!”
Much like several times in the past, Shroomsworth bit his tongue, but he was thinking it very heavily.
Luckily, it was all over as the Nidoking lumbered around, careful of his tail's potentially wrecking sway as he returned from whence he came, weaving through booths harmlessly. “I'll think of something and get back to you. Welcome back to the village and all that stuff!”
As far back as his earlier youth, Shroomsworth recalled that Nidoking. The fellow approached him one day and simply started showing off his wares, all designed to cure some sort of ailment that Shroomsworth had never heard of, or remove 'toxins'. Did everyone contain toxins? He wasn't sure, but it kept happening, and dealing with those run-ins over the years had made him a little weary of it.
As luck would have it, Sporegard returned shortly after that moment, having missed the entire spectacle. He shared his knowledge, and in but a few minutes, the stall was set with its own assortment of berries on display. Sure enough, there were customers in an out within the hour, and for much of the time following. However, there weren't quite as many as in times past. The recent issues in the region had only just subsided, after all. When daylight was winding down, Shroomsworth's humble stall had still managed to turn a profit. With a sizable sack of coin in hand, he placed the 'CLOSED' sign once more when nearing nightfall and made his way to that peculiar enclosed area behind the fountain.
Part 6 of "Successor" by