On the way, with several other salesmen going by, Shroomsworth paused and looked to his side. Both Rhodes and Sporegard were following him, but his eyes laid upon Sporegard in particular. Maintaining his warmest smile, he suggested, “I have a feeling Ginko will become worrisome if you do not return soon, dear brother! Why don't you go ahead to the hub before night falls, hm?”
The younger Shroomish gazed up at Shroomsworth for a few moments, then smiled and gave a single nod, “I would not want to cause a fuss. I will hurriedly make my way!” Before leaving, the small Pokemon turned to Rhodes, beaming up at him similarly. “It was a great leisure to meet you, Mr. Rhodes! Do enjoy yourself.” After giving his best compliments, Sporegard took his usual bouncy steps out of the large, hollowed mushroom and back to the hub with his kin.
Now once again alone with Rhodes, Shroomsworth made his way into that wooden area behind the rocky fountain. Within, it was a dimly lit, traditionally square room with mossy walls, a thin well rising from the middle, and a large pair of double-doors with a stylized leaf engraved into them, held shut by strange vines that grew from the nearby moss. Other Pokemon were approaching the well and pouring some of their earnings into it, and Shroomsworth did the same. The resulting sound suggested that the modest coinage slid down some sort of smooth slope into the depths below. As he did this, he observed that some Pokemon he had seen making successful sales in the market hadn't even shown up. A quiet grumble of discontent was all he had to say about it.
Even with the well being rather thin, Rhodes still leaned over and tried his best to peek into it with one eye. “There must be lots of cash down there!”
The boy's excitement over their funds, meager as they may have been compared to what other areas such as Alomomola or even Tao could bring in, brought a chuckle out of Shroomsworth. “Ah, indeed... it all goes to our elder's holdings. They are expected to spend it for the good of the village,” he explained, gesturing briefly to the large doors before them.
“Oh...” Rhodes brought a claw to his chin in thought. It seemed as though he'd continue on with his innocent questions about the village and the way it worked, but instead, he peered up at Shroomsworth with a tinge of worry in those red eyes of his. “Mr. Shroomsworth... are you gonna be able to come back to Tao?”
As various Pokemon filtered out of the room, things became quiet and a little forlorn without their various footsteps and the jingling of their earnings tumbling down a chute. In relative silence, thoughts came easier, clearer, and soon enough, so did answers.
A sigh did precede them though. “Rhodes... I know you wish to help us both. It is very noble...” the gentleman trailed off. With a few steps forward and an extension of his claw, he took hold of one of the vines upon the late elder's door and idly examined it. Their mere presence was a curiosity, and at that moment, Shroomsworth's eyes widened as a realization hit him. “Something is amiss. Apologies, but we should continue this conversation later.”
The vine fell unceremoniously from Shroomsworth's grip as he turned and hastily made his way to the middle of the room. He glanced down at the sack of remaining money from the day's sales. It was within his right to walk out with it, but what would that accomplish? Instead, he once again tilted it over the well, emptying its leftover earnings into the cache below and tossing the sack aside. Unburdened, he turned and made his way out, but not before turning his head briefly to a confused Rhodes, “Please, accompany me.”
Though it was obvious that nothing made sense to Rhodes at the moment, he sheepishly went along, and the two exited the Commerce Mushroom. On the way out, most of the villagers had gone, but many foreigners remained with their goods, slumbering next to their booths, or even inside if their particular booth was built for it. A definite luxury for the more successful sales-Pokes.
Once outside, dusk was clearly upon the region. Each of the huts' doorways glowed with soft light from within, but Shroomsworth was making his way toward a specific residence. The first one he'd visited upon his arrival.
“Mister Shroomsworth..?” Rhodes's voice sounded softly in the relative darkness. “I've been wantin' to ask you a weird question.”
“A 'weird' question, you say? Make it quick, we've not much distance to cover,” Shroomsworth replied as he trudged along.
“Well...” Rhodes paused in speech, though not in his steps. “How long have Sneasel lived in the forest..?”
That was it? Shroomsworth couldn't help but chuckle in relief. “Oh! That is quite simple, they were... always... hm...”
For as long as his later youth, Shroomsworth considered that Creeping Forest was simply a Sneasel habitat by nature. Yet, now that he thought about it... “I suppose that is an oddity... you and the others had no known parents about the area, yet you are all very young. All the better that you're all living in the village now, hm?”
“... Yeah...” Rhodes responded ponderously, as though that wasn't the answer he'd hoped for.
The conversation came to a somewhat forced end as Shroomsworth wasted no time in pushing the drape of the library's entrance aside, making his way in with purpose. With Rhodes still trailing behind him, he did not find Arianna in the lobby as he had the previous day. Thus, he stepped forth, closer to the library proper. “Miss Arianna!” he called out. The library itself was filled with enough shelves that he couldn't be sure she was even there by sight alone.
Part 7 of "Successor" by