A wonderful fragrance sneaked up the kids' noses as they entered an indoor garden with Azumarill. Just one step in, and their morning grumpiness melted away like snow during the springtime. Rows upon rows of fresh earth supported different beds of flowers: from beds of blood red roses in front of bushes of deep sea blue hydrangeas, to budding lilies as pure white as snow sitting next to a field of vibrant purple lavender, their gardener had a taste for variety.
The queen flower slowly rose from the field of color. Her collar sported vibrant blue flowers all around her neck, with just a few orange one sprouting here and there. It was Florges, the Guildmistress. “Ah, good morning, children,” She spoke in a motherly tone, sweet and soft to every ear.
“Miss Florges, what's our sur-?”
“What's our surprise?” Oran eagerly cut his sister off. She grunted a frustrated sigh, with arms crossed.
Seeing children act like children brought a slight chuckle to the Guildmistress, “well, aren't you two so eager, today. Come here, children, I have something to show you.” They ran over to Florges, as she pulled out a neatly folded piece of paper. Oran's eyes lit up brighter than any star in the sky at its sight.
“You both have been working hard this past week,” Florges said, “And I thought it might be time for your first job request.” She opened the folds of the paper with care, and showed the duo its inscriptions. “Here, children- read this-”
Maranga Berries Needed
It is that time of year, again, Florges Guild: the time when the Maranga berries are in their prime for the picking. I would like a handful of Maranga picked from the Verde Forest, about five should do it. Hmm, yes, five would do just nicely. A very generous payment of 5,000 Poké will be rewarded.
“What? Berry picking?” Oran complained; just as his hopes were raised up high, they crashed back down to earth like a meteor.
“Hmm? I thought you wanted a job,” Florges said, a bit puzzled about the little one's reaction.
“Don't mind Oran, Miss Florges, he's too picky for his own good. I appreciate your gift, though,” Pecha told the guild leader with an impressive set of manners for a kid her age; though, if you asked Oran, she only said it to prove how much more perfect she was than him.
“Tell me, Oran, what do you find so unsatisfactory about this request?” Florges asked with open ears ready.
“It just doesn't sound fun to me,” Oran told her bluntly.
The Guildmistress didn't take the pup's bluntness in offense, but rather with a warming smile. “I understand,” Florges said, “you're an adventurous type. But you want the big journey all too soon. It's better to first take small steps to achieve your dream, rather than giant leaps. In fact, some of the greatest explorers started off with requests like these.”
He gave it a small thought: if some of the greats had to go through this, he might as well, too. “Okay, I'll do it,” he told her.
“What are so special about these berries, that the guy asked us to pick them for him?” Pecha asked. “Can't he just pick them himself?”
“Maranga berries don't grow just anywhere,” the Guildmistress explained, “Only a certain area of the Verde Forest can sustain their growth; we're located near that area. Every year, around this time, Slowking would request this, all the way from Azul Shores! I like to save these requests for newcomers to the guild, I just thought it so befitting. The Maranga bush is located not too far from here: just follow the trail, and you'll find it.”
“But what if we get attacked by a wild Pokémon?” Pecha asked.
“The guild is in good terms with the Pokémon of the Verde Forest. There shouldn't be any trouble. But just in case,” Florges handed them a small leather bag, shaded in a deep brown all across its surface. Its contents interested the duo the most: inside its dark green walls were a pair of bandannas, one green, and one red. Pinned to them were two glimmering bronze badges. Oran held the winged pokéball up close, and saw the start of his dreams reflect off its metallic surface. As he tied his red bandanna around his furry neck, his heart beat with a feeling of connection, like he felt he became a piece to something great, just by putting that scarf on. “wear these- as long as they see those badges, they'll know who you are.”
“You chose the red one, Oran? I wanted the red one,” Pecha complained.
“You can have the green one,” he replied. His sister's paw lunged towards his neck, aiming to take from him what she thought belonged to her.
“Children, no-!” no matter how many times Florges cried out in shock, she couldn't reach their ears. As Pecha kept violently pulling on his scarf, he could only pull back from her in pure desperation to catch a breath.
“Come on, Oran, give it to me!”
“N-no, I chose it first!”
“I'm older than you! I'm supposed to get first choice!”
“That is enough!” Florges lifted the bratty bunch off the ground by their scruffs, quelling their inevitable bloodbath. She looked at the Buneary, with not a single sign of approval in her eyes, “I am very disappointed in you, young lady! That is not the kind of behavior I expect from you!”
“But he took the one I wanted!” she complained.
“That does not mean you can attack him over it!” After a quick breath, the Guildmistress continued with tested composure, “Pecha, dear, it shouldn't matter which one you choose.”
“But I don't like green,” she told the Guildmistress. “It clashes badly with my fur!”
“That should be the last thing to worry about when you go out there,” Florges yelled. “Not liking it I understand, but I won't put up with that kind of spoiled behavior! Apologize to Oran.”
The Buneary crossed her arms, and puffed her face. She hoped her agitated expression would get across to the Florges, but looking into the angered glare of the Guildmistress changed her reluctant stand. “I'm sorry, Oran,” she said hesitantly, without batting an eye to him. The Guildmistress offered the Buneary the scarf, though Pecha hesitated to take it. She already foresaw the humiliation awaiting her if she put that gaudy thing around her neck; but she also foresaw worse if she kept the Guildmistress waiting. Swallowing her pride, she snatched the scarf from Florges' hands, and tied it loosely around her neck.
“Well, aren't you two just the cutest, little explorers this region has ever seen~!” Florges praised them both, almost like she forgot about her rage a moment ago. “It's like those badges were practically made for you. Now, remember: there's no rush, just do your best.”
Oran threw the strap of the bag over his shoulder, and bolted for the door, “Don't worry, Miss Florges: we'll get those berries faster than you can say 'Quick Attack'! Let's go, Pecha!”
“I'm coming,” She shouted, trying to catch up to the speedy half-pint. All was quiet in Florges' chambers, once again.
Florges returned to planting a rose bud in a fresh spot of dirt, without noticing her assistant standing behind her. “They're a rowdy bunch, aren't they? I can barely keep up with them,” Azumarill said.
“Oh, they're just children,” Florges replied, while patting down the dirt around her bud, “though I wish they wouldn't fight over the littlest of things. I know they'll grow up into wonderful Pokémon, one day. They're just young seedlings waiting for their time to bloom. I know they'll make the guild proud. Quick Attack.”
Despite the morning heat hiding behind the thick foliage of the Verde Forest, the boiling hot air tried to get to the minds of the two explorers; Oran ignored it all with a smile, knowing this was just a part of the experience, yet Pecha knew none of these conditions would do her fur any justice. They traveled the fresh, muddied path for what felt to them like hours, when it's only been an uncomfortable ten minutes.
No matter how much Pecha pushed herself, she couldn't match her brother's eager speed. Each time she took a step, the soft ground latched onto her paws, and refused to let go. “Burgh, Oran, can you slow down a minute?” Her constant struggle over her feet with the earth stretched the distance between her and her brother. Watching Oran practically breeze over the clingy road only agitated her more.
“How about you hurry it up a little, Slowpoke?” He replied.
“Easy for you to say- you don't have short, stubby legs! I can barely walk in this mud!”
“Isn't this what you signed up for? Why are you so afraid of getting a little mud all over you?” He asked while keeping his eyes on the winding path.
“It's because I'm not made for these conditions,” she replied with an exhausted huff.
“That's funny, I thought you appreciated Miss Florges' gift,” he chuckled. “Who's the picky one, now?”
The most bitter of tastes tingled her tongue; she kept her silence about her while being fed her own medicine by the hands of her own sibling, the bitter taste soon turned sour. “Let's just find the berries, already.”
“Look!” Their strenuous journey paid off. The path lead them to a dead end, with their target in sight: water-locked by a small pond, the trail led straight to a small bush; a beam of sun broke from the tree lines, warming the vibrant green leaves of the plant. “That must be the Maranga berry bush!”
“Are you sure about that?” Pecha asked, unable to soak in the same belief as her brother.
“It must be; Miss Florges did say the path will take us to the bush, didn't she?” He said, rushing off to collect the fruits.
The Buneary observed the softly rustling waves of the pond; within the light brown muddy waters, she noticed a large, shadowy blot escape her sight, like something was swimming in the murky pool, jetting towards Oran. Her normally rolled up ears perked up straight in the air, and each strand of her fur stood on end as a slight chill tingled up her spine. It was her own personal warning to herself- soon, they might have company. “U-uhm, Oran, I think those berries might be taken, already,” she warned him, but with no response from him. “Oran!”
She kept calling to him for his attention, but he never acknowledged her cries. For all he knew, she just wanted to boss him around. The Maranga bush amazed the Riolu with how wide it was- he could even hide inside of it if he wanted to! Sickly yellow fruits dotted the inside of the lush green plant, their prickled bodies preventing any harm from a mishandling grasp. Oran reached to grab the closest, most juiciest berry he could find to put it in his sac. “Good,” he told himself, “That's one down; just four-”
“Oran, look out!”
“Hmm?” A loud splash broke from the pond as something shot out of its murky depths, and shook the ground around the little Riolu with a menacing thump. The Quagsire loomed over the Riolu with disturbing closeness, and an empty grin. To him, there was no such thing as the concept of personal space. “Do you mind, pal?” Oran asked him. “you'll have your turn when I'm fin-”
From nowhere Oran met the brute force of the creature's tail, throwing him into the waters like he was just a rock. He flailed about like a Magikarp on land, struggling to keep his head above the water for air. “H-help!” he screamed repeatedly.
“Oran!” Pecha ran to his side, lending her paw to her gasping brother.
With all her strength she fished the heavy pup onto dry land. Coughing and hacking great deals of liquid, Oran wagged most of the moisture out of his short fur, glad he could fill his lungs with air, instead of murky pond water. “Y'know...a 'Please, get out of my way'...would have been nicer!” he yelled at the Quagsire.
“You should have listened to me, Oran! I tried telling you a about that guy,” Pecha said.
“Hey, you: we're from the Florges Guild, and you're interfering with our business!” Oran flashed his badge at the Pokémon, but failed to even catch a side glimpse from him. “Can't you see this?!”
But the Quagsire ignored the duo like they weren't even there, slowly picking a berry at a time off the bush, and then downing it whole. From the look of things: he perfected the art of swallowing his food in one bite to a disgusting fault. “H-hey! You're eating them all!” Oran charged at the Water Fish Pokémon, delivering a barrage of feeble flails to its backside without even fazing it. “Stop! Eating! Them! All! Give me a hand, Pecha!”
She unrolled her long bunny ears, and used them to deliver devastating punches to the Quagsire's back. Even with the added efforts of his sister, they were mild thumps to the creature, barely doing anything besides getting their bodies covered in his slime. Berry by berry, the Quagsire dried the bush out without even acknowledging their failed attempts for his attention.
“What other moves do you know besides Pound?” Oran asked.
“Nothing that will help us at the moment,” Pecha replied.
“Yeah, same here; I'm gonna try something else!” He seized his pitiful flailing and took several steps back. With all the running power he could gain, he leaped off the ground and threw his feet out in front of him before impacting with the Pokémon's back. Quagsire's squishy body absorbed his dropkick with ease, and threw him back on the muddy trail. “Ye-yeah, so that didn't work,” he whimpered as he picked his aching body back up.
“Have any more bright ideas for wasting our time?” His sister asked, continuing her Pound attack on the Quagsire. The berries disappeared by the second, and nothing they did could slow the monster down. With each sound of its gulp, their success grew slimmer and slimmer.
At the latest of times, a simple idea came to the Riolu's head. He got up to his wobbly feet, and harvested the berries on the other side of the bush while Quagsire was busy on the other. “There, that's two. Three.” The spiny shells of the fruit pricked his hasty paws as he grabbed them, but he ignored the slight pain. “And here's fo-”
A stream of water blasted through the bush, launching the Riolu back into the moat with enough pressure to break through rock. “Oran!” His sister shouted.
“N-now's not the time for me to practice my swimming!” He flailed around in the water, hoping he would eventually reach the shore. His arms and legs failed to do anything but ache, giving the water a wonderful opportunity to swallow him whole.
“Ya know, for a happy Pokémon, you're awfully violent!” The Quagsire slammed her away from him with his massive tail. “Oomph!” she rolled across the wide path, stopping at the very edge where land stopped and the water began. Before she got back up, the Quagsire dropped into the pond with a lazy body slam that showcased its full grace.
Oran could barely see anything in the cloudy belly of the pond as he slowly sank to the bottom. He patted the bag with a soft touch, feeling its contents were still safe and secured inside. “Well, this is just great,” he thought to himself while keeping his mouth shut tight, “how am I supposed to get myself out of this, now? I don't think more kicking would help me now. If only the guild taught me how to swim, I wouldn't be having this problem- but nope- gardening is a waaay more useful ability to have!” A subtle cramp in his lungs grew more noticeable, demanding he should take a breath in the coming time. Whenever he made an all-or-nothing attempt to surface, he only caused the cramp to worsen. “I'm really in trouble, aren't I? This is not what I had in mind for a swimming lesson! Must get out of here, and fast!”
From a distance he spotted a shadow moving towards him. As much as he wanted to believe it, from the back of his mind, he knew it wasn't Pecha- she couldn't swim that fast underwater, let alone this deep. The speedy figure made itself out quickly: Quagsire. His mouth agape, he aimed to swallow Oran's bag, along with the pup as an optional bonus. “No, no, no, no! Stay back!” While delivering multiple kicks to the Quagsire's malleable face, Oran kept his sac away from him within arm's length. The Water Fish circled around his target, trying to find a way to work around the jackal pup's sad game of underwater Keep Away, but the only thing he found was Oran's foot constantly bombarding his forehead.
Quagsire took in a hefty breath, and pushed his opponent out of the belly of the pond with a merciless Water Gun. “Aaaaaaaagh!” The powerful stream broke Oran through the surface of the water, and launched him high into the air, before he dropped back onto dry land with an unkind face plant.
“Oran!” Pecha ran over to help pick himself up. “Are you okay? We're too weak to fight him- we need to head back to the guild!”
After spitting out a mouthful of dirt, Oran responded, “Are you asking me to run away, while it just started to get fun?” He stood to his wobbly feet as his senses returned to normal. His sister shielded herself from the nasty rain produced by her brother wagging his wet fur.
“Everything we throw at him just bounces right off of him, Oran. I'm not asking us to run away- I'm asking us to take a tactical retreat.”
“You can run away all you want,” he replied with a confident growl, “I'm staying to complete our mission; and I won't let even a hundred Quagsire get in my way!”
The Quagsire jumped out of the moat and onto the trail, waddling towards the bratty duo; Pecha felt it from a distance: his permanent, carefree smile seethed with unimaginable rage aimed at them for interrupting his meal; to him, a thorough punishing was in order. Her mind debated on two opposite actions: take her brother back to the guild by force; or help her brother stand against this Pokémon. The more she thought about it on the spot, the more Oran's point gained her favor: they were on a mission, and they should see to its completion, whether she liked it or not. She caved in to her decision, “All right, fine. You wanna stay, Oran? I'll stay, too; as the eldest, it's only right that I lend a paw.”
Oran couldn't believe it: for once, his ears caught the magical sound of his sister caring for him, even if it was just for this moment. He and his sister, finally working as a team, the very thought failed to keep his emotions locked tight behind his eyes. “Th-thanks, sis,” he sniveled while rubbing his face clean of tears, though he kept a certain level of toughness about himself.
“But we can't fight this guy directly, he'll just shrug us off completely.” As the Quagsire drew nearer with each sluggish step, she had to devise a plan on the spot. “we need a plan.”
“What is it?”
Her throat dried up like a desert and closed on itself, as if it didn't want to speak of her embarrassing idea. But she gave her best wording it out, “I'm going to Attract him. While I have him distracted, you can pick however many berries you need left. Then, you will Quick Attack the both of us out of here. Can you remember all that?”
“Sounds easy enough.”
The Quagsire closed in on the duo with each slow step. Pecha gulped away whatever quick changes of heart she had about her plan; for it to work, she had to walk out of her comfort zone. “O-okay, you can do this, Pecha,” she told herself for a quick hype up. “J-just like what mom taught you. Just ignore that bad taste in your mouth, and do it.”
She tapped into her inner well of cuteness. The approaching Quagsire stopped to watch the little Buneary sway her body back and forth, and found himself thrown into a fantasy occupied by only the two of them. She blew him a kiss carried by the wind, and stole his heart through all his fat and blubber. When she looked into his eyes, she noticed his face turning a faded lavender hue, and all rage that once filled his smile turned to courtship. Everywhere the Buneary jumped, the Quagsire followed after her like a love-struck puppy; she played her own version of Keep Away with the Water Fish Pokémon, trying to keep herself out of his grasp. “Okay, Oran, go,” She called out, “you have no idea how uncomfortable this feels!”
While his sister distracted the beast, he rushed over to the Maranga bush, to carry out his side of the plan. Quagsire's Water Gun did a number on the inner branches of the plant, a gaping hole, clear of all leaves and produce, showed only its spine. The prickly fruits were scattered across the dirt, some even floated around in the moat. He placed the berries into his overly soaked bag, carefully avoiding their spiky shells as he placed his hand around them. In a matter of seconds, all five were accounted for. “Pecha, I got 'em!”
“Gimme a sec.” Pecha stood still over the edge of the moat, with the infatuated Quagsire closing in on her. He reached down to grab her with his stubby flippers, but to his surprise- she took a step to the left. The Pokémon splashed into the pond without a care in the world. “Okay, I had enough fun for today.” She latched onto her brother's soaking wet back with a vice grip.
Before the Quagsire even poked his head out of the water, the children disappeared like ghosts, with only a trail of dust to prove of their existence. He dunk his head back into the pond.
Florges found herself dumbfounded at the sight of Oran when he returned to her chambers: she stared at him mouth agape, amazed at how much dirt and scent of pond muck his fur collected after such an easy mission. “O-oh, my, what on Earth happened to you two?” She asked. “How did you get so dirty? And where is your sister?”
“We fought a Quagsire,” Oran yelled with a shout brimming with glee. “Pecha went back to our room to groom herself.”
“You fought a Quagsire?” Of all the Pokémon she knew living in the Verde Forest, she had no recollection of a Quagsire.
“Yeah, but it got real mean whenever I got close to the Maranga berries.”
“B-but at least you didn't attack it first, correct? You only attacked it in self defense?”
“Mm-hmm, but none of our attacks could harm him; so Pecha came up with a plan to distract him while I cleared the mission,” he said passing his bag of contents to Florges. The leather sac felt heavier in her hands, not from what it held, but from what it absorbed from the pond. She flipped over its cover, and counted all five Maranga berries within its belly.
A slight smile and a sigh of relief broke across her worried expression; knowing the children found a way to get out of trouble safely, she learned to rest a little easier. “I'm glad the two of you returned safely. I'm sure you enjoyed your first taste of adventure, didn't you?”
“Definitely,” he told the Guildmistress with sparkling eyes. “In fact, I wanna go on another one, right now!”
“Now, now,” she giggled, rubbing her gentle hand on top of his head, “let's not get too excited. You just came home, darling. You did wonderful today. Why don't you rest up for a while, get cleaned up? Thank you for retrieving these, I'll give Slowking a call.” She picked herself up, and walked to her desk.
“But I haven't even been gone for that long,” he tried arguing back. “I wanna go on another one! Please?”
“And in that time, you've done so much for the guild,” she replied. “Go on, enjoy the rest of your day. You deserve it.”
The day slowly burned away into night, and the guild was left silent after dinner. Pecha slept as heavy as a Snorlax, but Oran's eyes couldn't seem to close, even if he made them. As he laid in bed, restless, he held his bronze badge high above him, letting its sleek metalwork be the only illumination in the dark room. He clearly saw his own reflection, and thought of what the future held as he held the badge.
“Psst, hey, Pecha. Pecha,” he whispered to his sleepy sister, but in return, got nothing from her that counted as a “response”. “Pecha, are you awake?” He poked at her, and never stopped until he got her attention.
“Nhn, what?” She mumbled in a low growl. “Can't you see I'm trying' to sleep, Oran?”
“I was just wondering, what did you think about today?” He asked her.
“My body is sore, Florges made me skip dinner, and I'm trying to forget that I Attracted an older Pokémon. Can I go back to sleep? It's kinda hard to do that with you invading my space just to poke at me.”
“I thought today was fun,” he told her. “I'm so excited for tomorrow, I can't sleep; I can't wait to go on another mission!”
Pecha yawned, “I'm sure you are.”
“You're not excited?” He asked her in curiosity.
“I'm trying to sleep,” She told him. “I can't multitask sleeping and talking to you at the same time.”
“I'm not that bad to talk to, am I?”
She ignored his attempt to strike up a conversation in the middle of the night, and was out like a rock. He rolled back into his bedding, but the thoughts of future adventures refused to leave his head. He was one step closer to becoming a great explorer, just like his mom who inspired him now. His veins tickled with a fuzzy warmth from just imagining what's in store for him. As much as he wanted to make them a reality, he had to get his rest one way or another. He closed his eyes, and tried keeping them closed until his waiting impatience turned into sleep.
The duo's morning started off like any other: with an eardrum-busting song from the guild's alarm clock, Loudred. Waiting in the assembly hall, a strange visitor broke their usual routine of waking up, and starting their day with tedious work. He was the funniest Pokémon Oran had ever seen! A large Shellder sat on top of his head like a crown, constantly gnawing at his thick skull. Though, telling by his ditsy smile and dim-witted glare, he ignored it completely. In his left hand, he held a sac filled with Poké. “Good morning, Slowking,” Florges greeted him with a bright spirit no average 'mon had the time to muster for the morning. “I hope your travel wasn't too strenuous.”
“Hmm, yes, good morning, Guildmistress Florges,” he replied in a deep, slow voice. “Visiting your guild is always my greatest pleasure. I'm sure you have my berries, yes?” Florges passed him a bowl, holding his five Maranga berries. “Ah, yes, and what a wonderful harvest you did,” he replied in slow glee.
He handed Florges the sac, and its sheer weight caught her off guard for a moment. “O-oh, thank you, Slowking. You're too kind,” she complimented him.
He set his eyes on Pecha and Oran, “Are these the tenderfoots who harvested these berries for me?” He asked.
“Yes,” Florges replied.
Slowking looked the children in their eyes with his ditsy smile, “I must thank you two for retrieving these for me. Maranga only grow once a year, and they happen to be my favorite.”
“Why are they your favorite?” Pecha asked.
Slowking gave her question a slow thought with a long “Hmmm,” and remained silent for a moment. “I can't put my finger on it, everything about it is good,” he replied. “Their insides are just so gooey and smooth, sometimes I like to mix it with my coconut milk. I don't mind sharing if you're still curious,” He took one of the Maranga, and busted it open, sharing one of the halves with the duo. Just as he said, the berry was just a thick shell protecting a yellowish pudding.
Oran dipped his finger in the batter, and licked it. From just a tiny sample, an overwhelming bitterness washed across every taste bud in his mouth. A harsh tingle ran up his spine, and he had the sudden urge to pass it to his sister without a word. She dipped her fingers in the goop and tasted it, “I like it.” Tilting the shell to her mouth, steadily she took small slurps of the thick cream.
Slowking downed his half like water. “Ahh, how refreshing,” he said happily. “If you don't mind, I'll be leaving now, Florges. Take care, I'll be in touch,” he turned his back on the three, and went on his long way back to Azul Shores.
“You two did wonderful,” Florges praised the children with a silky song. “Absolutely it will make a fine dinner tale for the guild to hear.”
“Really?” For a moment Pecha felt her tummy upset itself, and stopped eating her treat; what if she already knew about what she did to Quagsire, she worried. Just the thought of bringing that embarrassing moment up to the entire guild made her stomachache worse.
“Yes,” Florges nodded happily. “Oh, dear, what's wrong, Pecha?” She noticed the Buneary acting a little strange: she had her paws wrapped around her belly, and she shivered as if she caught a bad chill. “Has something caught you ill?”
“N-nothing,” Pecha replied, “j-just, I probably just ate the Maranga berry a little too fast. I-I'll be fine, Miss Florges, honest.”
“Hehehe,” Florges chuckled faintly, wiping her brow. “Oh, forgive me, I keep forgetting how quickly you children want to eat your food. Just be more careful, and take smaller bites next time.”
“Oh, and children, before I forget,” the Guildmistress reached into the sac of coin, and handed Pecha and Oran a small handful of the reward: five hundred Poké for the both of them, glimmering the their palms. “Something for your troubles. I would love to give you two more, but I can only give each of you ten percent of all monetary rewards. Guild policy, I'm afraid.”
“I don't mind, Miss Florges,” the Riolu said to the Guildmistress with a wagging tail. “As long as I had fun, I don't care what I get for a reward.”
“You should at least care a little bit,” said his sister under an annoyed breath.
“If you don't mind, children, I have my duties to attend to,” Florges excused herself from Pecha and Oran. “I'll have Azumarill arrange some tasks for the both of you shortly.”
“Agh, what, we still have to do chores?” Oran's tail seized its wagging. All the hype he put himself through to get ready for today, the Guildmistress went and smothered it all.
“Oh? Is there a problem, little one?” Asked Florges. “I just don't want you both to be lagging in your guild duties; they're just some things that need to be done. I haven't the time to argue, I hope to join you during dinner, tonight.” Florges waddled away to her chambers, to assess the newly acquired reward.
“Man, what a bummer,” Oran fussed to himself. Not once while living in the guild did he ever enjoy the Assistant-Guildmistress' chores: they gave him time to think to himself, time to fight the voice in hi head that wanted to drag him elsewhere. The voice always won.
But when he hoped for a response from his sister, nothing came, at least in the form of an answer. Pecha got over the symptoms of her belly ache, at the cost of throwing herself into a different problem, chanting a repetitive mantra to herself, “No, no, no, no, no.” Pecha this worried was a new sight to the little Riolu. “What am I going to do now? Now, they'll all figure it out!”
“What's gotten into you, Pecha?” Oran asked.
“Oran, this is terrible,” she whined.
“Yeah, I know; I'm stuck here all day,” he replied.
“That's not what I'm talking about,” Pecha shouted, unable to calm herself from her nervous fuss. “Everyone's going to find out: I Attracted a Quagsire!”
“Really? Is that all?” He teased.
“No, you don't understand how embarrassing that was for me- I spent all last night literally repressing that horrible experience to the deepest depths of my mind to forget it, and now I have to tell everyone about it!”
“Maybe they'll find it funny,” Oran attempted to reason with his big sis.
“You're right, they'll find it funny,” Pecha looked her brother in the eye with calmed tone, only to work herself up, again, “they'll find it too funny! Too funny to take me seriously, again! Which is why: we'll tell them a little fib.”
Oran asked, “What's a fib?”
“It means I'll tell them the truth, but not exactly the truth. I'll keep it just vague enough to sound like it happened.”
When two and two came together, Oran couldn't believe what he was hearing, “Are you saying you're going to lie to the entire guild? You can't do that, Pecha, lying is bad!”
“Hush up! Hush up! Don't you have any volume control?” Pecha hastily silenced her brother's mouth with her paws, worried of any pedestrian member walking by, catching an earful of their conversation. “It's not all gonna be a lie- I'll just fabricate the ending a little. What actually happened in the forest, stays there; just between the two of us, okay?” She whispered.
Oran squirmed his mouth out of her clutches, “Okay, but no more secrets after this! It makes me feel weird inside, and I don't like that feeling.”
“Fine with me.” She sprung away from him in a hurry.
“W-wait, Pecha, where are-?” He asked too late, he lost all sight of his sister before his question ever finished. “Shoot,” he groaned softly to himself. Alone in the assembly hall, he wondered for a bit, about where Pecha headed off to in such a rush, but entertained that thought no more than three seconds.
When the chimes of the dinner bell finally rang through the stone halls, everyone stampeded for the cafeteria at the same mad pace- if it was a race to see who'd get food in their growling bellies first, everyone would come to a tie. The cafeteria cramped with anxious eaters in under five minutes, and not a single spot was left open; not even the smaller Bug-types had room to stretch. Despite the lack of shoulder room, the servers, watched by a stern Granbull, navigated through the crowded space with the flexibility of serpents.
But Oran sat with his head lying behind his paws, ignoring the chatter around him with an occasional soft groan. His bones ached deeply, not from the labor he endured throughout the day, but from sheer boredom, from waiting for the slow-crawling hours of the day to carry him all the way to his dinner seat.
“What's wrong with you, now?” Pecha asked him.
Oran raised his head above his arm wall, “I'm so bored! I'm dying of boredom! I thought it would all wash away by dinner time, but it's still sticking to me!”
“Have you actually tried bathing?” She suggested in a neutral tone. “It might work.”
“I'm an explorer! Explorers don't bathe,” he replied loudly. “We don't got time for that stuff! Not when there's an entire world of possibilities staring us in the face!”
“And it's probably clenching its nostrils shut,” Pecha said while sinking her fluffy chin into her paws.
Just in time to pick the children' spirits up with food, an Ambipom handed them each a bowl of berry salad consisting of sliced Oran, Aspear, and Sitrus berries by the large palms at the ends of his twin tails. “Here ya go, oh-ho oh-ho,” he said with a beaming white smile, before walking off. Peering into the bowl of blue and yellow slices of goodness at least lifted Oran's spirits up a little, and his tummy impatiently growled at him to begin stuffing his mouth with them. He won't deny his own stomach food, for any reason.
The chimes of tapped glass screeched and hollered across the noisy scene, silencing everyone within earshot. They all took their attention off their food to figure out where it came from, even Oran. Florges, the Guildmistress, stood with a slow rise from her seat, eager to share some news with her fellow members.
“Thank you all for giving me your undivided attention, I won't take long,” Florges said to her members. “This morning Pecha and Oran have fully completed their first guild mission,” She said as if singing it to the light applause of the cafeteria. “Yesterday they went to on a mission requested by Slowking; they have faced, and solved, an unexpected problem, all on their own! Truly they deserve their spots in our ranks: Guild Florges, please welcome our newest exploration team!”
Oran's ears perked up to the rounds of applause given to him by the guild. The spotlight they gave them, he doubted he'll forget its warmth anytime soon. One part of him wanted to cry a liter; the other part told him to keep it together. While his sister played off her interest subtly while slouching into her paws, his excitement found a way to take control while his two halves argued with each other, “Really? You mean that?” He asked the Guildmistress as the rounds died down, a bit misty-eyed.
“I mean every word of it,” Florges clearly told him from the other side of the room, smiling. “Starting tomorrow morning, you and Pecha will begin your training.”
“Isn't this great, Pecha?” Oran asked her, with more stars in his eyes than in the night sky. “We're finally going to be explorers!”
“Yeah, great,” Pecha replied, focusing her enthusiasm rather on the coming moments than the one now. She knew what's coming, she prepared for what's coming.
“But in the meantime, why don't you two enjoy yourselves, tonight?” Florges asked. “In fact, I hear you two have a riveting tale about your first mission. Oran, care to tell?”
“U-hm, really? M-me?” He was put on the spot. He wanted to tell the real story, maybe the guild might get a good kick out of it, he thought. But the promise he made to his sister formed a barrier in his mind, preventing him to find the words to speak it. All he could say without stuttering on his own nerves, “Uhm...lessee here...how did it go, again?”
“Oh, no, Oran, did you forget, already?” Pecha jumped in, to seize the moment she was waiting for. “Don't tell me you already forgot what happened while we were in the Verde Forest!”
“I'm sorry, Miss Florges: I think Oran was so excited to tell you what happened, he suddenly found himself drawing blanks,” Pecha proclaimed to the Guildmistress.
“I am?” At first Pecha's angle confused the Riolu, he thought she was talking gibberish. But then it struck him, and his confusion cleared. “I-I mean, yes! Yes, I got too excited to remember stuff!”
“Don't worry, Miss Florges, I remember the entire story,” the sister said to the Guildmistress proudly.
“Well, just as long as the story is told, I'm sure we'll all enjoy a little bit of dinner entertainment,” Florges replied.
The guild ended their tiresome workday with a feast of berries, just as they always did. While the empty bowls piled into towers on each table, Pecha not at all minded telling everyone the story about she and her brother took down the difficult Quagsire. Some members paid no mind to her while eating away. Others stayed respectful to her as she told about how she distracted the Pokémon by throwing a rock at it,while Oran sneaked behind him to grab as many of the juicy fruits as possible.