Then came the next day. Shroomsworth and Sporegard were out of the hub at the earliest convenience after having their respective meals, and were soon darkening the doorstep of the Commerce Mushroom once again. Well... Shroomsworth was darkening it, at least. Sporegard didn't exactly cast much of a shadow.
Once again, the old berry stand was available, and they naturally took it. Anyone from the village was welcome to any stand they felt they could handle on a first-come-first-serve basis, with the knowledge that a notable portion of the funds would go to the good of the village. Of course, everyone would go for the more luxurious and attention-grabbing stands first. After all, they still got a cut of the profits when the day was over.
Never had Shroomsworth bothered to pick any other stand. That single one, it was special to him. He didn't need it to be flashy. It was great just like it was; the same as when it all began for him. He turned to Sporegard, who was so very excited to be helping him, and then he sprang at least part of his idea upon the smaller fellow. “Sporegard... I do so feel I should tend to some business with Arianna. How about you try your hand at this in my stead? In fact... why don't you take over for the day, while I observe? Once I return, of course.”
The little Shroomish's eyes widened, and an ambitious smile grew upon his face. With a single hop, he was atop the stand itself, among the displayed berries. “I would be honored, brother! I would so love some pointers from you, as they say.”
“Excellent! I'm certain you will do a fine job, and we will work on any shortcomings I spot. For now, however...” Shroomsworth turned, making a brief glance back at Sporegard before leaving, “... I must check in with our hard-working Elder...”
And so he did, leaving Sporegard to prove himself as he made his way to the back end of the Commerce Mushroom. As he rounded the corner, he spotted the once-blocked doors to the elder's chamber, now wide open. It felt like as good of an invitation as any, so he stepped right in.
The air of the elder's chamber was surprisingly cool and relaxing, sporting its own natural, rocky fountain much like the larger market outside. Several mushrooms grew around the trickling water as though they were forming within a cave which, by all accounts, wasn't terribly inaccurate. A large, circular bed sat in the very middle of the rather large room, sticking out as the most luxurious thing there. Everything else was either wooden, earthen, or part of the large mushroom enclosing it all.
Most worthy of note however, was the trapdoor leading down to the destination of the village's funds below. It was hanging open, and not long after Shroomsworth's arrival, a familiar masked face appeared, followed by the rest of who it belonged to as she trudged up a flight of steps.
“Ah, Miss Arianna. So good to see you,” Shroomsworth greeted, as well-mannered as ever despite their last meeting ending with his displeasure.
This time around, things were on the other foot. Arianna emerged from the cellar appearing somewhat worn-out. It was hard for Shroomsworth to say he didn't see that coming, knowing her. She may have been dedicated to the village's well-being, but managing its commerce was another thing entirely.
Arianna's eyes laid upon her visitor. It was difficult to judge what she was thinking, but if one had to guess, she appeared relieved. “Shroomsworth... I had begun to wonder if I would see you here again.”
“You should know quite well that I cannot stay away from here, ah-haha...” Shroomsworth remarked, sounding as nice as could be. However, his head tilted with sudden curiosity, “Dare I ask, how are you holding up?”
After being asked such a thing, the Roserade shot Shroomsworth a suspicious glance. “I feel as though you already know the answer to that. Even more, that you reek of an agenda. That's quite unlike you...”
That was more than enough to wipe the smile off of the Breloom's face. “What..? Why would you say that?”
“You have every reason to be displeased right now, and yet here you are, smiling and asking me obvious questions,” Arianna accused. There was no amusement on her end as she stepped close to Shroomsworth, practically glaring up at him.
Perhaps it was worth actually stating his plans, lest she begin thinking he was up to something worse. After breathing in and letting out a deep sigh to prepare himself, Shroomsworth did just that, “I wish to take the position here, under the condition that Sporegard officially assists me. I cannot imagine that I would second-guess the job with a beloved sibling at my side, and I believe he would very much enjoy staying within the village.”
Dead silence followed. Arianna simply stared up at Shroomsworth, quite unamused. Her expression caused him to glance away uncomfortably.
“I would consider this, if not for the fact that I no longer feel that you should have such a position,” Arianna declared. It seemed as though it should be cold, but her words came off more as disappointed than anything else.
Regardless of their tone, they sent a shock through Shroomsworth. “What?! You cannot be serious! The Elder clearly wished for Sporegard and I to--”
“The Elder wished the best for the both of you, and you have neglected to pay your respects even once!” Arianna interrupted in a rare state of irritation. It quickly subsided as she sighed and gazed off to the side distantly, “That is shameful, Shroomsworth. I expected better of you. Your brother would sooner have the position, were he not a child.”
A few sputtered attempts at beginning a sentence escaped from Shroomsworth's mouth. He couldn't think of a thing to say to that. It cut him to the core. Sorrow and frustration began to mix; one for the fact that she was correct, and the other for the fact that she wouldn't even try to understand.
Finally, Arianna took a step around Shroomsworth to the doors of what was currently her room, extending an arm to gesture outward, “I will continue to lead for now. Please, exit and think about your actions, otherwise do not approach me about the position again.”
Though her words were mildly reluctant, they were still stern and unwavering. Shroomsworth had felt vague rejection in his last meeting with her, but this was outright. In a huff, he turned and looked upon the lady briefly, only to stomp out of the room as his frustration took over. The large double-doors then shut behind him, as if to accent how he was suddenly unwelcome.
“This is ridiculous...” Shroomsworth muttered to himself as he weaved through the market once more. To him, it was clear that she took out her unease with being the new Elder out on him. He deserved better, and his mind started on devising attempts to show it. Would he end up undermining her if he did such a thing? For the first time, he found himself not caring.
Without a word, Shroomsworth took his place behind his old stand, staring forward with a terribly displeased look on his face. It was rather difficult to hide after his encounter. He looked down to notice a rather respectable sum of Poke upon the stall itself, given the amount of time he had been absent. Yet, he was in no mood to be much of a mentor at that very moment.
Sporegard, having been atop the stand the entire time, was quite perceptive of this as usual. Brief silence occurred as he looked upon Shroomsworth before inquiring, “Dear brother, did something happen..?”
“No... nothing, Sporegard. Nothing at all,” Shroomsworth quickly blurted out. His claws gripped against the edge of the stand and seemed to be squeezing it hard enough to strain the wood slightly. “Let us... let us simply have a quiet day of sales.”
“Oh...” Sporegard paused, only to apparently come up with an idea as his face immediately lit up with a smile, “perhaps I can tell you one of the Elder's stories! Did he ever tell you of when he met Miss PK and--”
“No! Ahem, no, Sporegard, I am not in the mood for--... eh?” Shroomsworth interrupted in his frustration, only to have something catch his attention. “What about Miss PK?”
“She once came to him and spoke of how she would lose everything she had! He helped her with some of our own expenses, in exchange for help in return. I believe he was simply being nice, though...” Sporegard went on in his usual talkative, excited manner.
Of course, talkative and excited was the complete opposite of how Shroomsworth felt, and somehow, hearing that nice story about their Elder didn't help matters. His mind wandered back to his argument with PK before his departure for Sapling. The things he said, and how he didn't believe her. His claws made a small impression in the wood before he took notice and released it.
It was at that very moment, that terrible time in which Shroomsworth felt so imbalanced, that he showed up. That strange Nidoking, once again weaving his rather wide path through everyone else on his way to Shroomsworth's stall. In his claw he held some sort of small, simple sack.
“Hey you! I'd almost thought you left again!” Trudeau called out with overt friendliness that caused Shroomsworth to cringe in his current state of mind. The Nidoking showed up only to unceremoniously drop the small sack upon the counter-top, allowing it to wilt downward and reveal its contents. Some sort of blue powder.
Once again, Shroomsworth was looking upon a product of which he had no idea what to think. However, this time his eyes drew back up to Trudeau, who was looking so very proud of himself. He felt no restraint against saying what was on his mind, “Why do you come to me and show me these ridiculous things, Trudeau? I hardly even know you outside of this activity.”
Being asked such a thing seemed to throw Trudeau off a bit. His eyes widened, though even with that insult, he simply grinned with those large fangs of his. “Heh, well! You're always pretty critical... I figure if somebody as haughty as you ever thinks one of my products is a good idea, I'll sell a million of them!” the Nidoking explained, only to take the bag of unknown powder back into his claw and turn around. “You're a little too
haughty right now though, so I'll come back later.”
As the larger Pokemon began to walk away, something in Shroomsworth's mind snapped. He was so very tired of... everything, and he couldn't take it anymore. His baser instincts longed to take everything out on the last man to wrong him. He stepped out from behind the stand, and his legs seemed to automatically carry him forward. His arms longed to whip forward with deadly accuracy.
Then something happened. A grip upon one of the petals of his neck stopped him cold, brought him out of his near-raged state just long enough for him to turn and see a shocking face. A familiar Mienfoo, looking up at him with disdain. A look that immediately reignited his irritation.
“Master..? Let go of me,” Shroomsworth demanded. Unfortunately, his demand was only met with a harder tug that sent his body jerking in the same direction.
“Outside. Now.” the Mienfoo demanded in kind. His commanding grip refused to ease up.
Others were starting to notice. Sporegard in particular looked upon the spectacle with complete confusion. “What are you doing..?” he asked the sudden visitor.
Part 10 of Successor by