Something like thirty minutes later, Mon-mon and Payapa were on their way to this mysterious “shaman” place. Payapa didn’t quite know what that was, but Mon-mon had assured it was a type of doctor. She wondered why her dad had never told her about that, but quickly changed the topic in her mind. It wasn’t a pleasant topic at all, so it was best avoided.
Mon-mon had insisted on carrying Charles, even though Payapa had argued over it for a minute or two. However, as it became evident that it was wasting precious time, she quickly gave in. It was probably for the better; Mon-mon was much larger and stronger than she, so was undoubtedly better suited to carry such a tiny Pokemon.
Payapa spoke to him about trivial, nonsensical, irrelevant thoughts the whole way to whatever building was their destination, hoping for (but not expecting) a reply. Mon-mon said nothing, letting the poor child have her moment in peace, knowing that her own voice was no substitute for the little Rattata’s.
Eventually there was a little hut in the distance, right inside a grove, as Mon-mon had said. It wasn’t super overt, but it was clearly there. It was a little weird to build a house this far from the city without disguising or camouflaging it any; there could be any number of predators who would love to ambush whatever doctor lived this far out, and that thought made Payapa a little uneasy. Predators weren’t something you had to worry about in the city (unless you were a dullard fish living along or in the bay itself), but her dad had told enough scary stories about where he had previously lived and what life was like that she had no desire to ever live outside of a city.
Really, thinking of predators always brought her back to her dad’s recanting chasing down and killing his “livestock” to feed company or something like that, before he had moved to the bay and married their mother. Furthermore, it seemed really horrid to eat something that could... talk. A little creepy, too. Did that just not bother him? She didn’t know and didn’t intend to ask.
The strange, lumpy hut didn’t even have a proper door. It was more a grass curtain, and a thin one, at that. This thing wouldn’t keep anyone out. It seemed so hazardous to Payapa... like it simply screamed “come in anyone, and kill me in my sleep!”
Mon-mon walked through the grass shambles without any reserve, and Payapa followed. She didn’t really want to, but this was her only hope. This was apparently the only doctor, and Mon-mon had gone through all this trouble when she clearly hadn’t needed to by any means, so Payapa was hardly about to shun the effort. It was terribly gracious of the tea lady.
The look of the place was as grim as Mon-mon was gracious, however, and Payapa wanted to swivel about and turn right out of the hut. She didn’t, though, because Charles was still hostage in the other’s arms. There were a couple of pestles against a far wall, and countless berries on innumerable shelves. Payapa wasn’t sure she’d even seen half of them before; surely they were either very rare, or very illegal. Both, in all likelihood. Powders and dried plants were carefully arranged according to some set of properties, surely, but only Prosphora knew what. Payapa had no clue.
It all seemed terribly shady, and, without the sunlight to give any other sort of impression (as there were no windows, and the entrance was facing away from the sun), reminded her what she might imagine the underground, secretive markets to look like.
Mon-mon spoke without stopping to consider how dismal the place looked, though. “Ramia, I have sick for you. Please, look?”
Ramia? Was that the doctor’s name? Probably.
Before Payapa even had the chance to consider what type of name Ramia was, a gigantic purple snake sporting entrancing, vibrant yellow-and-pink feathers (with matching marks!) slithered its way out from behind a very thick, leafy curtain. Not the spindly leaves draping from the entrance, either. These leaves were clearly intended to block visitors from viewing further within the hut. This struck Payapa as a little strange; why keep all these berries out in the open? What did it want to block from sight, then?
But then she was broken from her thoughts. This was a snake. There was a gigantic snake, and perhaps it wasn’t even the doctor. Why would a doctor be a snake? This snake had probably killed the doctor and left out a fake display to lure unsuspecting Pokemon deep into the first room before emerging to strike--
“Yessss...? Ah, you mean to sssay you’ve sspoiled a sssnack for me?” it--she?--asked.
Payapa looked on at the snake’s markings, transfixed, and horrified. Had Mon-mon accidentally walked the three of them into a trap?
Mon-mon gently placed Charles down on a grass bedding in the middle of the dirt floor. “No snack, sick little boy. Can you look see what’s wrong with?”
The snake lowered itself to Charles’s level and flicked its tongue a couple of times. “What are the symptomsss?”
Mon-mon turned back to look at Payapa, who was stuck somewhere between fear and agitation. “Keku child? What happen to little boy?”
Not knowing what else to do, and confused that Mon-mon didn’t see this snake as a threat, she started to talk. “When I first met him he was blind, so there was that, but then now-- I mean, it’s been some weeks, I guess?-- he couldn’t move and stuff. He was all limp, and now he’s not even talking...”
The snake seemed to expect more, but Payapa didn’t really have anything else to add. So, it asked another question. “Yesss? And when wasss that? Important to know how long he’sss been ill.”
“Oh, uh, since an hour or two ago’s when I found him. Maybe only an hour. I don’t know. I tried to get him to a doctor as quickly as possible.”
Lamia coiled loosely around where Charles was laying, and lowered her head to his chest. Payapa was incredibly uneasy during the display, but managed to keep quiet. She supposed this was the doctor after all, and felt rather foolish for her feelings. She couldn’t help having them, regardless of her supposition. It just looked rather bad to see a snake putting its face all close to a near-dead rat that was her first real friend.
“He doesn’t sound very well, ssso I’m going to try a mixture and ssssee how that workss--”
“What do you mean try?!” Payapa interrupted, “Like he’s just some sort of experiment? What’s wrong with you?!”
The snake cocked its head in return, and looked at the angry little reddening Kecleon with interest. “And so would you rather I do nothing inssstead?”
This shut her up.
“Really,” this Ramia continued, “I ssshould kick you all out for bringing such a dangerousss specimen in. I think he isss too far gone, but I will give my effort. With careful diligenccce, I will not be afflicted in the same way as this rodent. I will try, but there isss really no good solution.”
Payapa’s heart sank, though she didn’t fully understand what Ramia was going on about. The gist of Charles’s future was clear, however.
Ramia raised itself up and looked over its ingredients. “Excccept... a sap. Thisss does not help you, as there is no possible way for a child like you to obtain it, but I thought to be honessst. A sap from an eternal tree in the west, though I have never been. It has itsss tricks to make Pokemon abandon the path to the tree, and failing that, its guardians are numerous and formidable.”
“Where... can I get it? Can I buy it somewhere?” Payapa asked earnestly. Perhaps if she just borrowed from her dad--
“Absolutely not, I ssshould think. It’s invaluable, pricelessss. Perhapsss none even possesssss it in this time, at any rate. I shall do what I can with what I have, which is to sssay, considerably less mystic ingredients than what I’ve told to you.”
Mon-mon apparently had something to add. “Life sap, I hear of it. There is also life tea, though I never had chance to make. It was legend in home, and I hear only made three time in all my home history. Legend tea. I would always want to use craft to make life tea, even if legend.”
Ramia nodded in a large, sweeping motion. “Life tea, I’ve heard of that too. I’ve never had a chance to learn the recipe, for I’ve never met anyone else who knew of it. I don’t ssssuppose you’d have the recipe? Even if I’ll never get the chance to make it, learning recipes issss something of a hobby--”
Payapa had had enough of their pointless talk at this point. “Are you gonna help him or just babble about stuff you won’t even be able to do?! Are you just trying to taunt me? ‘I would fix him with this amazing super awesome thing, but nevermind, but oh let’s talk about how to make it in the case I ever did
have it--which I won’t’?!”
Mon-mon turned and frowned. This bothered Payapa greatly; Mon-mon had only ever smiled or at least been sympathetic to this point. It made her feel a bit like a selfish brat, but she just wanted badly for them to get back to Charles. It was for Charles!
Ramia scrutinized Payapa. “Yesss. Your friend. I will try. However, payment will be due.”
Having absolutely no idea how to approach the issue, she just blurted it out. “I don’t have any money, so I’m gonna have to give you an ‘I owe you’ on this.”
“That is fine if you have no money, as money isssn’t my concern, anyway. I request the recccipe of the tea.”
Payapa was confused momentarily. “What?”
Mon-mon spoke for her. “I can give recipe, but exact write is at home with husband. O-kay to come back later and give?”
“Absssolutely. Thank you, Mon-mon.”
Payapa grabbed at her chest limply. Even when she’d just been so childish, they proceeded with helping her. Both
of them had. She felt briefly ashamed.
Mon-mon left without much of a word, but Payapa stayed behind. It was imperative to watch the snake do its work, and to make sure she didn’t come back to an eaten friend and then herself follow the same path. She knew that was a little ridiculous, but really...
...it was still a snake.
Though she supposed that at least Charles had being sick going for him; earlier Ramia had expressed disdain at the idea that Charles be near her at all, so Payapa started to be able to push the thought from her mind. It really did make no sense for the snake to want to eat a sick victim. Surely it would get just as ill, and it had still managed to be here after however long, right? A reputation would have emerged if it had eaten its clientele at any point... right?
Payapa sat next to Charles and placed her claws on his head, stroking his fur. She wanted to talk, to say something, to try to rile him, but just settled for a repetitive action that would both comfort her through the nature of the act and let Charles know that she was around, even if he couldn’t hear her or muster the energy to talk. It wasn’t long at all before tears found their way down her cheeks, either.
In the meantime, Ramia started to collect various herbs and berries from her shelves, placing them in a pile near an unlit fireplace. At some point, Ramia decided the light was too little, or that she needed a fire for some other reason. Prepping the ingredients, maybe? So the fireplace was lit, and the room grew far less sinister in the orange glow. It was hard to look quite as terrifying as it previously had when the place was now being bathed with a warm, alive light. Though, she moved her tail abruptly when she noticed the shadow it created over Charles, seemingly cutting him in two with darkness as the knife. No, there would be none of that.
Part 19 of Complementaries.
Ch 1 of Complementaries is over!