Inside the sack given to Shroomsworth was indeed what Rhodes mentioned... though he grimaced at the contents. Some dishes were cracked or chipped, but if the Sneasel's words were true, then it must have been out of his power to do anything about it. At least most were intact, and his spare monocles were there too. His claw reached in to shuffle things aside, looking for something in particular... then he found it. One of the monocles within was a little more crude than the others. The frame was just a little smaller, and the string attached was a bit simpler than the rest. It brought on a relieved smile.
Once again, Ginko spoke up. He slithered close to Shroomsworth and leaned in, gazing upon that specific monocle with interest. “You don't wear that one anymore?”
“Not really, no,” Shroomsworth replied, carefully cradling his childhood eyewear in his claws as he looked down at it. A little dusty, but not a scratch otherwise. Very lucky. “It is a little more difficult to keep on due to its size... but even then, I would never want it to be broken or misplaced.” As he placed it back with the rest of his things, he added, “I had worried something might have happened to it.”
Knowing that he'd brought something so important seemed to make Rhodes happy again. He approached Shroomsworth, no longer wary of the snake that had been throttling him minutes before. “What are you gonna do now that you have your stuff back, Mister Shroomsworth?”
As he carefully toted the sack of goods to the room he had slept in, he considered his options. “Hmm...” he sounded out while pushing the drape aside, setting his belongings just inside the room. He'd arrange them later. He then turned back to Rhodes with a most upbeat smile. “Since you are here, why not accompany me to the Commerce Mushroom?”
From the crowd of Shroomish, Sporegard bounded forth excitedly, settling right next to Rhodes as he looked up at Shroomsworth, “I wish to go too!” He then turned around, gazing at Ginko expectantly, “Please, Mister Ginko, may I go?”
Ginko looked down upon Sporegard briefly before cracking a smile. He shot a temporary glance at Shroomsworth, who was smirking with amusement right with him. “Alright! Truthfully, I'd like to go with you and catch up with my old buddy, but the children do need watching over.”
“Splendid! We can 'catch up' in due time, my good fellow,” Shroomsworth answered as his little brother was already excitedly making his way outside. With a wave of his claw, the Breloom bid farewell to Ginko for the time being, and exited the Hub alongside Rhodes.
Outside, things felt a little less dreary than they did the evening prior. Villagers were making their ways around for this and that. The sky was mildly overcast, making the morning a little darker than usual, but nothing that would stop anyone from getting on with their lives. Most were, as usual, coming to or going from the Commerce Mushroom, and that's where the three would be heading. With Sporegard and Rhodes on either side of him, Shroomsworth made his way there. Soon enough, that huge, familiar arch stood before them, beckoning them to enter the village's enclosed market.
What seemed like, though couldn't have been, scores of stands, booths, and even some enclosures stood before him, separated down the middle by a single, mossy path, marked on either side by rows of various mushrooms. At the far end of expansive holding was what appeared to be an indoor fountain, yet its rocky, natural look suggested that it must have indeed been natural. Behind it stood a constructed wooden wall that effectively enclosed a good portion of whatever stood behind the fountain. From the top of it all hung several giant, glowing flower bulbs, always casting adequate light upon the many Pokemon below regardless of the time of day outside. A curiosity to a newcomer would be that one side of the path had wooden booths completely run by grass-type Pokemon, while the other was much more diverse in both Pokemon and the styles of their stands.
Shroomsworth was proud to have spent much of his life here. He peeked over his shoulder and grinned when he found the young Sneasel marveling at the sight. Further in he went, with the two trailing closely behind him. “It is wonderful, is it not?” he began, gesturing with his claws as he went. “Our local market operates on one side, while we let foreigners operate on the other. They sell their wares, and often partake of ours!”
As the Breloom led the two younger Pokemon through the main path, many stalls were just setting up for the day. From both sides, local and foreign, Pokemon were putting up wares. Foodstuffs from raw ingredients to freshly prepared goods, souvenirs of various sorts, medicinal supplies, toys; the selection was surprisingly vast for such a humble village!
Eventually, they came to a single, wooden stall at the far end of it all. Its sign simply read 'Berries', with a crude painting of assorted berries to the side, obscured by a hanging placard that read 'CLOSED'. It gave Shroomsworth a nostalgic feeling to gaze upon this, his old stall. The place where he started it all. It was big enough for your average medium-sized Pokemon, so he always had to stand on a small wooden block just to see over the counter. He couldn't help but chuckle to himself when he stepped around just to see that it was still there, tucked under the stall with a batch of berries. Others had likely been using the stall on some days, but there were other, more convenient ones that sold the same thing by now.
It was obsolete, but it was his favorite. It just wouldn't do for it to go unmanned while he was around. “Fellows?” Shroomsworth began, stepping up to the counter and placing his claws upon it. It felt so strange to be the proper height. Rhodes and Sporegard stood before him on the opposite end of the stand, and he simply smiled at them,”I think I will commandeer my old post, so to speak, to warm up to being here once more. What say you two be my helpers for the day, hm?”
“Of course, brother!” Sporegard spoke up excitedly. “What shall I do?”
“You have a very important task, Sporegard!” Shroomsworth said with such confidence. Though... he didn't quite have an idea of what task that would be. At least, until he glanced under the stall. There was quite an assortment of berries stowed away in various sacks. Right away, he knew what needed to be done. “You know where the other berry stalls are, yes? Do see what they have on display, so that we may show off something they do not.”
“Oh, smashing idea!” The little Shroomish, with all of the excitement of a well-mannered child, immediately waddled off among the other stalls.
With his brother off on his task, Shroomsworth was left with Rhodes. The young Sneasel had been rather silent, and appeared distant at a glance. As he reached up to pluck the closing placard from the stall, he decided to speak up to break the odd silence, “Something on your mind, dear boy?”
Rhodes didn't exactly snap to attention as though he weren't paying any of it prior. Instead, he glanced up at the Breloom and nodded, “Yeah... Mr. Shroomsworth, I have a question!” Showing a bit less regard for manners than he likely should have, the Sneasel hopped over the front of the stall, letting his legs dangle off the side as he used it as a seat. “Is your brother really a kid..?”
That was out of left field. Shroomsworth was so taken aback that the placard slid out of his claws, harmlessly dropping onto the counter-top. “That's... quite a question. Why do you ask?”
“Well... that guy called all the Shroomish kids, right? Sporegard acts like a kid too, but... somethin' feels different. Maybe he just sounds a li'l older, I dunno...” Rhodes shied away from his explanation and twiddled his claws together the more he went through it, realizing it might be insensitive.
While the truth of the matter wasn't pretty, Shroomsworth couldn't help but smile weakly. “You are actually quite perceptive! Sporegard is, in fact, older than you are,” he admitted, following up with a displeased sigh. “As it turns out, age is not a factor in determining the perceived youth of Shroomish in this village... they are almost all children in the eyes of the other Pokemon who live here.”
“Really..? Why?” Rhodes asked with genuine curiosity.
It was actually a little strange for Shroomsworth to have to explain his village's ways. It was usually a thing best left to Arianna and her scholarly interests, but if Rhodes of all people wanted to know, he could at least summarize. “It is a most interesting traditional thing! As far back as this village's roots take it, Shroomish resided here even longer still. However...” Shroomsworth paused to sigh, gazing down at the aged wooden surface of his stall, “... early texts suggest that they were very simple-minded.”
Apparently very interested, Rhodes turned to more comfortably face Shroomsworth and nodded, hugging his legs to himself rather than letting them dangle.
“The early villagers took them in out of their respect for the forest, seeing as the Shroomish were part of it too. They began teaching them.” After a brief pause, Shroomsworth smiled once again, “Miss Arianna suggests that many of our charitable traditions come from generations of this relationship between the Shroomish and the other villagers. In a way, we were very important to shaping the future, despite unflattering beginnings in history!”
Part 5 of "Successor" by