In the dusk of slowly settling night, Sapling Village was winding down. After a very recent tragedy, it wasn't quite the stirring hub of commerce it often enjoyed being, even at the peak hours of the day. Thus, not much of a crowd awaited a most familiar, monocle-wearing visitor as he approached on the path. There was only a somber silence which accompanied the orange glow of the setting sun through the surrounding trees. The mood wasn't lost on Shroomsworth, even though he'd just arrived. He shared their sense of loss.
With the elder gone, there was only one logical place to first make his return. Shroomsworth sighed to himself quietly as he trudged his way to the entrance of Sapling Library. Much like many of Tao's old buildings and all of the others in Sapling, there was no entry door, in favor of a draped archway. From under the drape, soft light emanated like an offered welcome. With that, the flimsy cloth was pushed aside as the Breloom peeked his way into the building proper.
The library's lobby was a cozy area, one that its caretakers often used as living space. There was adequate seating both with and without end tables, coffee tables, anything that could be needed between them and any number of visitors interested in their literature. Glowing, bulbous flowers, often strange to newcomers, grew from the walls like traditional sconces, freely giving off an adequate, faintly-blue light. Several feet from the entrance, the room expanded greatly into the library itself, with many books sorted for many tastes. That wasn't what interested Shroomsworth, though. In the middle of the comfortable lobby was a familiar face, forlornly buried into a book of some sort over one of the taller tables. She hadn't even noticed him yet.
“Ahem...” Shroomsworth cleared his throat to gain attention. He stepped all the way through the drape, allowing it to properly close behind his tail. The Roserade seated nearby perked up to notice him, and a smile came over her face. He could tell it was genuine... but it was anything but excited.
“Shroomsworth...” she called him by name. Arianna released the book from her viny grasp and pushed her seat back, standing from it. She quickly approached the gentleman standing in her library's doorway, stopping just short of him. “I wasn't entirely sure if you'd come right away... but I'm glad you did.”
“How could I not?” Shroomsworth replied, stepping further into the comfortable lobby. There were no belongings in tow other than his worn monocle, leaving him at a loss to do anything except approach the back of a chair and settle his claws upon it with a sigh. Arianna followed at his side, and he turned his head to look upon her. Seeing the sadness through her smile caused feelings of guilt to well up inside him. “I am sorry,” he spoke up after a moment of silence, averting his gaze once again. “I trusted her...”
“As did I,” Arianna replied without missing a beat, “but we can't dwell on that. It wasn't your fault any more than it was mine.”
Just then, Shroomsworth felt a single vine creep under his chin, gently coaxing him to look its owner in the eye once again. Her smile looked a little more welcoming than it did before. It certainly did the trick. After the intense feeling of betrayal he'd suffered before making his way westward, a genuinely friendly face from his childhood was much like applying salve to a wound.
“I'm simply happy that you showed up. I'm certain your siblings will be too,” Arianna assured in a calming tone. She then utilized the vines protruding from her flower-like hands to pull the nearest seat out from under the table. “Please, make yourself at home.”
So much time spent traveling made the offer all the more pleasing. A relieved sigh sounded from Shroomsworth as he let himself settle into the wooden chair. “Thank you,” he accepted graciously, wincing down toward his own feet once he was off them. Their combined ache made him wish he had simply taken Barty's air service, but the rather explosive consequences of his departure didn't exactly make room for the idea. No sense worrying about that now, he guessed.
Part 1 of "Successor" by