Others were starting to notice. Sporegard in particular looked upon the spectacle with complete confusion. “What are you doing..?” he asked the sudden visitor.
The Mienfoo gave only a passing glance to the small Shroomish, but he remained silent past his initial command.
Though still seething, Shroomsworth managed to acknowledge his brother. “I need a moment, Sporegard... stay with the stand--” he instructed, interrupted at the last word by a heavy pull.
Where the Mienfoo went, Shroomsworth begrudgingly followed, strung along by his neck. They exited the Commerce Mushroom to the dim plaza, overcast on that particular day, and weaved around the side of the large building. With but a short journey out of the view of any villagers, Shroomsworth was roughly tossed forward by his neck petal with such force that a few stumbles were all that kept him from going face-first into the grass.
“I come all this way to find you lashing out at others in anger. Explain yourself,” Foo scolded, crossing his arms and looking upon the taller Breloom with disapproval.
“Oh, yes! I suppose I need lecturing from all over the region all of a sudden, is that it?!” Shroomsworth shot back angrily, whipping his tail around in a wide, almost dangerously heavy circle as he turned to face Foo once again. “That bloated imbecile insulted me to my face, after I have put up with him and his idiotic ideas for years! He deserved retaliation!”
Without hesitation, Foo stepped forward, fearlessly approaching the larger Pokemon and glaring up at him. Then, with amazing speed, he caught Shroomsworth off-guard. A terrible, albeit fluid and effortless blow to the stomach with his palm, sending the monocled Breloom doubling over in pain. “You've forgotten yourself. It's below your own standards to speak of others that way,” he stated quite calmly, even after such violence. “I do not wish to play this game of disrespect and complaints. Once again, explain.”
“Heheh... disrespect, you say?” Shroomsworth replied weakly. His body was curled forward after the blow to his stomach, leaving him to hold his claws to it as he winced in discomfort. “I've been playing this 'game of disrespect' since the good Miss Kecleon's thievery put all of this in motion,” he remarked bitterly, glaring right back at Foo through his monocle's lens. The way he had to bow down put them at near-equal eye level.
Another blow, swift as the last one. A kick connected with Shroomsworth's side, forcing him to stumble and fall to his knees. He propped himself up on his claws, eyes facing the ground as he coughed lightly in his attempt to catch the breath that had been knocked out of him. His monocle, dislodged by the impact, hung down into his view.
At that moment, the lightest signs of water droplets fell from the cloudy sky. A light rain was forming in its earliest stages. The mild, cool splashes didn't faze either of the two in the slightest. Foo simply stood over the grounded Breloom, looking on quite seriously. “I don't enjoy this. Speak to me with respect, and I will do the same for you.”
The proposition caused Shroomsworth to go silent, aside from his panting. His head simply continued to hang, masking it under that cap of his. Everything felt so hopeless as he started to consider whether he deserved the minor beating he just took.
In light of nothing but silence, Foo's eyes narrowed. “Do you recall your encounter with the scarred bandit?”
That got his attention. Shroomsworth's head perked up somewhat, just enough that his face was partially visible. The shower all about had progressed into actual rain, though it was light and calming.
“You became angry, and attempted to kill him with your own fists. You were ashamed, and so you came to me,” Foo recalled. “I did not approve, but I understood what your situation pushed you to do. Give me a chance to understand your aggression here.”
“I...” Shroomsworth trailed off. As the sting of the strikes delivered by his mentor dulled, a new pain formed as he tried to think of a way to explain himself. He couldn't. He could only shake his head and give a single, frustrated pound of his knuckles against the ground. It was enough of an outlet for him to calm down slightly once more, though his voice shook as he spoke, “I've never felt like this, Master. Under-appreciated, disrespected... and I keep thinking that perhaps I deserve it. It upsets me greatly.”
“I see,” Foo stated, just before pacing a few feet away. “To that I simply ask: Why do you deserve it?”
The most difficult question. Why? Not because Shroomsworth didn't know the answer. He very much did, and despised himself for it. Something had to be done, and he realized it just then. The Breloom picked himself up onto his feet once more, reaching for his mildly water-stained monocle and placing it back on his face. In the same motion, he turned away from Foo. “Apologies, Master!” Shroomsworth called out hastily, just as he ran off into the rainy forest beyond the village.
Ditched where he stood, Foo was perplexed. It took him several moments before he resolved to follow in pursuit. He had already lost sight of Shroomsworth past all of the many tree trunks between them, but he had seen the direction taken. Several minutes of hunting ensued before Foo would find the Breloom once more, standing among a field of raised, well-carved stones. “Why did you run like that?” Foo asked quite sternly, approaching Shroomsworth from the side. It wasn't until he properly got there that he was able to see two white-petaled flowers held in Shroomsworth's grasp.
Rain continued to patter around them as Shroomsworth took a deep sigh. His eyes stayed focused ahead as he spoke, fixated on the large headstone ahead of him, “In my village, it is shameful not to honor the distinguished dead.”
A closer look at the stone read their recently-deceased Elder's name in chiseled letters. Foo took care not to step forward onto the freshly-disturbed soil covering the grave once he realized what it was. He had no words.
“I was... terrified to come here and accept that he is gone,” Shroomsworth continued. He sounded much more clear-headed than before, though no less shaken. “I felt like a lost child, and perhaps began acting rather childish to match. I apologize for treating you poorly, especially after how far you've traveled.”
“It doesn't bother me to travel. Perhaps it suits me well to pay respects to the late Elder myself,” Foo stated thoughtfully.
“I was out of my right mind when I received the news... I lashed out at Miss PK, yelled at her, blamed her... no one could have seen this coming. She did not deserve that,” Shroomsworth thought aloud. He bent down, allowing the two flowers he had been holding to drop gracefully onto the grave of his deceased mentor. His eyes briefly averted from the scene toward Foo, but quickly turned away again upon noticing that he wasn't being questioned for what he'd just done.
“Are you to return to Tao, then?” Foo inquired. He was always to the point when he could be. It was just how he was, even when he was concerned.
A moment of pause occurred. It was much like when Shroomsworth had his idea the day prior, but this was different. He had help, an experienced second opinion. “... I require your aid, if I am to do that,” Shroomsworth revealed, taking a step back from the Elder's grave as he turned to face Master Foo. “This village will not survive with the Elder that surpassed this one in charge of commerce, however capable she may be at everything else. I had thought to take over, but... I became somewhat selfish in my desire for that. It would best go to someone more suited.”
“Already, you seem to be overcoming your prior difficulties. Perhaps you should first admit that you do wish to return to Tao,” Foo lectured as kindly as he could manage.
A sigh sounded from Shroomsworth among the gentle patter of rain. “... Very well. I would like to return to Tao. My brother Sporegard is more than capable of leading instead, with a little preparation. However... no one will respect him as a leader because he is a Shroomish. They are regarded as simple-minded children here,” Shroomsworth explained, bowing his head and managing a friendly smile. “Your talents would help him attain the respect he deserves in the eyes of his peers, and I could ensure that he's prepared enough before we depart.”
Foo put his fingers up to his chin in thought. “Hmm... if he is willing, then yes, I can do this for you. However,” he paused, pointing an accusing finger up at Shroomsworth, “... I will accept no more changes of heart. You are committed to coming back, yes?”
“... Yes. Yes I am,” Shroomsworth confirmed, retaining his smile from earlier. Immediately after, he bent forward in a brief, polite bow. “I will linger a tad longer. Please, go and meet with my brother at the stand. I will be there shortly.”
Foo gestured similarly, bowing right after Shroomsworth. “Collect your thoughts well,” he wished before turning and heading back the way he came, quickly disappearing into the light mist of rain falling through the trees.
Left on his own, Shroomsworth turned and glanced down at the flowers he left on Elder Shroom's grave. Though it pained him to do so, he leaned down and took just one of the two back into his claw, still leaving the other to respectfully lie where he originally placed it. “I'm terribly sorry, Elder... I know you understand,” he whispered under his breath. With the flower in tow, Shroomsworth exited that proper line of graves. Each one had an Elder's title upon it, but as he went further out, there were other stones. Crude ones, perhaps signaling the burial of the more common villagers.
His eyes set on one. It wasn't far from the proper graveyard and was rather surrounded by trees, making it one of the more obscured ones. The mere sight sent a terrible chill through him. Still, he soldiered through it and stepped forth. The stone itself was crude, but on it was etched a simple, though smooth insignia of a mushroom.
Shroomsworth felt a little more overwhelmed than he did when approaching the Elder's grave, but he still leaned down and placed the flower upon the damp grass next to the headstone all the same. He gazed upon it for a moment after. Clear droplets fell from above his cap as he stood still, obstructing his view only mildly. Not that it mattered; he was rather lost in thought, and continued to be as he silently turned and trudged away from the unnamed grave. Slowly, he made his way back to the village.
…”Why, Elder? I do not understand...”
“She was sick, Shroomsworth. She did not last but a few hours after her arrival. You hadn't even hatched by then.”
“But it is not right for no one to know about her!”
“If the village knew of her illness, they would become wary of her offspring. Your life would have become needlessly difficult. The only option was a quiet burial.”
“... I do not care! This is not right at all!”
“It was her dying wish for you to be raised normally even if she would be forgotten. Doctors from abroad assured her you would be healthy, but many of our superstitious population won't accept that answer from foreigners.”
“I dreaded to tell you all of this. I am sorry. Please, honor her wishes and tell no one.”
“... I think I understand... but I do not wish to be here anymore.”
“Very well then. For bearing this knowledge, you may be considered an adult in the eyes of our village, if you're ready. I will not force you. For now, let's head home.”
Final part to "Successor" by