Topic: Making the World go Round
Firuz is a human Isekai'd into the PMD world of "Gates to Infinity" as a Tepig. Early during the plot of Gates, Firuz, here going under the name 'Feremiz', has been assisting their team boss Vorylina with various tasks as they look for information about a three-headed dragon Feremiz sees in his dreams. Weeks have come and gone doing chores - until suddenly Feremiz notices a "little shop of horrors" near the town plaza that no one had bothered to check before.
A summer morning under the rising sun, Firuz the hu-er, Tepig, went about the edge of Post Town, idling behind his partner Vorylina. This was what, week twelve or so of his misadventures? Running errands, doing community service around town, chasing outlaws, having nightmares every once in a while; all under a more or less false name and in the hopes of -last he checked with the Axew- building a paradise.
'Feremiz', as he was going around now, yawned. He would have liked to focus on some other things if they only had the resources for that, such as searching for the three-headed dragon in his dreams, but coin was hard to come by so Community Service was it today.
The two Pokémon reached to the gates of the town at last, or that was what he made of the dull voices all around... including Vorylina's.
"…at least a fair amount of quintales, if there's a bonus for selling Seeds…"
He was admittedly not paying attention, only following the Axew's tail for guidance, lost in his tiredness and his own thoughts... he just went by looking around the place and not minding anyone's business except for noticing that, as had become usual since last week, people were hushing about a criminal Pokémon lurking around town.
"…all it takes is ooooone distracted moment while you are outside and BAM!"
"All I'm saying is, if a Pokémon is 'foreign-looking', wouldn't that be something easy to notice?"
Feremiz's mind didn't even register the argument but he was inclined to agree. He absentmindedly registered the scents of many familiar Pokémon around. How hard would it be to recognize that you don't recognize a Pokémon?
"…betcha it has huge predator eyes to boot, too! And fangs like these."
"Fa's 'm concern' som'n s'gonna approach ma'kid, am gonn' smack t'er head from h're to the Glacia-"
"…The Archen? That's Tracer or something, come on! ...The new recruit! He came to the shop to sell scales friggin' YESTERDAY!"
True, everyone was being leery of each other and in general being unfriendl...ier.
"-Ow! Feremiz damn it!"
Even Vorylina was testy these days, it seemed; the soft crunch of dirt underneath her feet as she turned was little warning for the roar that she let out square into the Tepig's ears.
The male frowned and was about to complain back when he noticed that the Axew had stopped and he, lost in thought as he was, had just stomped on her tail without noticing.
"Sorry..." he offered begrudgingly as he stepped off her and circled around.
"Seriously," the Axew answered. She swung her tail a few times, shook herself and glared back at him. "Shouldn't you be paying attention?"
She tensed and straightened her posture, her scales rattling faintly. "Your day will feel short if you spend it sleepy and distracted you know."
"I don't... not sleep because I want to," he spat.
A brief silence.
"-Oh, the dreams again."
Feremiz tilted his head and looked away, allowing himself to let his sight wander around, which lasted for a moment. He finally heard a buff from the Axew.
"Well uh... Cheer up? There's some distractions for the day. You can check the travelling merchants?" She pointed him to the far end of the plaza where there was a creek and a road that went downhill, only the tops of a few tents could be seen that way.
The Awew and Tepig shared looks for a moment until finally Feremiz sighed. "Yeah I can do that one."
"Who knows," she added, "maybe one of the travelling merchants has seen your three-headed dragon."
Feremiz frowned at his partner and finally nodded. "What about you?"
"Coins in, coins out," answered Vorylina, pointing to the team's bag. "And keeping an eye on any scams Dunsparce might fall into."
"See you later then?"
The two Pokémon patted each other for a goodbye and headed each their way. Feremiz crossed the Plaza and headed to the far end of town, passing over a water stream, and easily reached the end area, in lower and much less frequented terrain. From the rumours going around, tenants didn't exactly like the place because it was less visible and they found the Cofagrigus hosting a store there... creepy. All Feremiz saw when he arrived at the end stands was a Mienfoo hastily setting up one of the Visiting Stands; Cofagrigus' store was closed.
Not really feeling like up much for things, though, Feremiz decided to ignore the two shops there and went to sit by a third, unoccupied stand by the side, one that he could recall having seen a number of times, always empty.
Feremiz looked around the place. It was just a half-made stand made of some logs serving as a wooden counter where various little trinkets and ornaments lay, as well as random embroideries, and an open tent giving some sunshade. The Tepig took a look at the trinkets, there were such as a twirling wool stripes, leather cords painted with various colours, little silver coins, scrolls and at the very centre of the desk a small cap-like object made of some soft material.
Now that one was at least somewhat interesting, and unique among the objects in the tent. The Tepig approached and examined it. Small, apparently mushroom like with a nice red and a white half and a circle-like pattern in the middle, and not much of a mushroom-like odor at least. He felt it reminded him of a Poké...something.
Feremiz wondered what made this particular object unique and why it and everything else was left unguarded. His Tepig side got the best of him and he approached to sniff the object, and while he thought for a moment that he saw it wiggle, he found nothing strange and leaned closer.
"...Boo!" spoke the little ball-like top suddenly, adding a wiggle for effect.
"...Aaaah!" Feremiz almost skipped a heartbeat as he yelped and jumped back. Indeed, the little ornament had moved!
"Ooooh? You look like a good customer."
"...L-like what?" Feremiz breathed hard a couple of times, still taken aback. "...Wha? What are you?"
"Well look around, I'm a shop tenant!" spoke the creature.
Feremiz inched closer, lowering his head so that he could look under the cap. What met him was the eyes of this sort of... creature, this little mushroom-like blob. Now the Tepig could understand how it had gone unnoticed for so long- but why?
"You are... a Pokémon then," he spoke tentatively.
"D'uh look *who's* speaking," answered the creature in a surly tone. "And you are a totally native Tepig, aren't you?"
Feremiz could not help but step back and look away for a moment.
"Well, pioneer," spoke the creature wiggling, "don't just stand there! Are we going to trade or talk?"
"I'm sorry," the Tepig excused himself. "I'm new around here and I don't... I don't really know that many people."
The creature seemed to snicker at the comment. "'People', eh? Get comfy with them, don't worry about the ones back home then. Well, I've seen you around for a while."
Feremiz did not like the comment about the townspeople, if he had interpreted the creature's tone right; he dug his feet on the ground in response as he wondered what the creature meant with other people back home, feeling uneasy around the critter.
"Well and who- what are you anyway?"
The creature hopped around the desk, inching closer, and "bowed" to the Tepig. "I guess you haven't seen anyone like me before. And I'm not even a rare sight like say a... a... let's see..." the Foongus seemed to think for a moment and hushed. "...three-headed dragon".
Feremiz frowned and tensed. The idea raced by his mind that if this creature had been listening- or even spying...
He turned to look for Vorylina wondering if it was a prank or something but no, for starters from his position he could not see to the town plaza, only the tops of some stores such as the Box Buster. He wondered for a moment if he had actually gotten up from a night of sleep.
"And good thing I'm not as rare!" continued the creature, bringing Feremiz back to reality. "See, this is my little super-secret store, and I have good passcodes and wares if you have coin."
"Yeah, the cool stuff. Now, who might you be, pioneer?"
"I'm- well..." Feremiz froze and looked down to his Tepig feet for a moment. It always took him a moment of surprise when he woke up every morning, to fully swallow that sensation that even if he was who he thought he was, he could see nothing beyond it and the veil of amnesia. Most of what he could recall was having hands and something about taxes.
For now though, he'd stick to his story. "I'm Feremiz and I'm a recent recruit," he offered weakly. All the while the Foongus kept his eyes on him.
"Aha. A Tepig, suuuure," teased the Foongus, prompting Feremiz to snort in discomfort. "Like I'm a Foongus 'amoong' us. So, what do you think eh? Well-hidden place that looks just like random storage."
"It... isn't?" Feremiz spat back, recalling the so-called 'passcodes'.
"I already told you: I have the good stuff," insisted the Foongus. "I work with a very select clientèle. Otherworldly, even! My clients leave satisfied and *never* come back," the critter spoke, almost hissing the last part.
"'Not coming back' doesn't sound like good business," spat Feremiz before even thinking about it.
The Foongus wiggled. "It is when what your clients desire is to leave."
The Tepig just looked at some of the random trinkets and then back at the clerk, trying to make sense of the conversation, though his mind promptly drew a blank. The Foongus took long note of the Tepig's blank stare and hopped back.
"Geez, you look tired. You did save after waking up this morning did you?"
"I'm sorry, 'save'?" Feremiz shook his head.
To that the Foongus simply nodded, and stared at him threateningly. The two Pokémon just looked at each other for a while, half of Feremiz' mind wondering when would his Axew partner come in to take him off this calvary. And besides them the only noise around was the Mienfoo unpacking and setting shop a couple tents over and the water stream besides them.
"Uhhhh," began the Tepig, not even sure how to answer.
He gulped, wondered if he should say anything more. The mention of the three-headed dragon and the impression he was being teased about things only exacerbated his usual feeling of being the more ignorant around the town's lot.
It took a bit longer of an uncomfortable mutual stare until Foongus simply hopped forward and wiggled vigorously.
"You really are this new!" he insisted. "You need to save your money!"
"Well, have you noticed how those Kecleon hold the only banks and loans around?" inquired the smaller creature with a single hop. "Even in the Dungeons...?"
“They can’t be trusted I tell you, they even-” The Foongus stepped back. "Nevermind. That's irresponsible of me, offering unsolicited investment advice like that. Where are my manners!"
The critter then hopped around the desk, looking at some of the items as if looking for something, but then inched closer to Feremiz.
"Why don't we start again? I'm Gamañel and this is my store."
"...Feremiz," offered the Tepig, moving closer to the desk.
He then made attempt to lift a paw for a greeting, instinctively, but stopped as he realized Gamañel was looking at him inquisitively.
"...Yeahhhh no," ventured the Foongus. "Handshake's not gonna work, I see we both find ourselves short of them hands at the moment."
Feremiz fumbled at the comment. Hands were a thing he had been missing ever since he arrived despite him not remembering really what did he do with them, but the Foongus clerk had just hit the nail on the issue. Besides, all the teasing was making his fur stand on end at moments.
"I... could offer a nosebump...?" he ventured shyly.
"Eugh," recoiled the Foongus, slithering away from him. "Even in your world that's just right out sappy."
"...W-wha?" A cold ran down Feremiz's spine. Who was this creature. "What did you-?"
The Foongus let out a soothing scent and wiggled at him, motioning for him to come closer. "Worry not, pioneer. I've been around for a while, trading on DLC with a few humans."
His instincts fighting him for a moment, Feremiz had to make an effort to follow the Foongus to the end of the table. He looked around, then behind him wondering if Vorylina was somewhere nearby; no luck.
The Tepig breathed hard. No pleading for help this time. He turned back to the Foongus- he had to find out more even if it would sting.
"...Dee-ellllll-see? Is that a kind of item?" he asked, ears perked.
The Foongus presented Feremiz with a few trinkets such as little embroideries on silk and wool. "'Item' might not be the best word... By themselves, these little trinkets do not more than make your room look prettier, don't you think?"
The Tepig raised himself over the counter to take a better look at the various patterns in front of him. Wool dyed with various colours and silk following various shapes. He shook his head.
"Well the ones I sell are cooler. Each one is a map to a place that doesn't exist until you buy it."
Feremiz opened his mouth trying to come up with something to comment as he tried to make sense of the idea. The first thing that came to his mind was the newest "part-timers" around town.
"When you say places," he asked with some hesitation, "you mean like the Magnagates?"
"The card ones? Don't compare me to those rookies, well-intentioned as they are."
"I mean... I don't see how-?"
Feremiz stopped as Gamañel walked around over his own embroideries.
"All you have to know for now is what I already told you. I can offer you to literally remake the world, for a fair rate."
The Tepig looked around and took a step back, a sense of some sort of danger encroaching. "Remake the world? I don't think we have that kind of currency. We go- uh, we barely go around our ends meet."
"Currency? I'm quite willing to negotiate." The other creature seemed to hop around contently. "See, I can be a valuable partner. Your guide to Downloadable Content of course!"
Feremiz tilted his head, wondering for a moment if he was now high on the creature's scent or if there was some whole new level of weirdness around town, as if summoning gates from cards was not enough.
"That said, I'll only take real money," announced Gamañel haughtily. "No Steam wallet. No Brave credits. And none of that Bitcoin crap."
"Uh... look..." Feremiz rubbed his feet on the grass and shuffled around nervously. "I don't even understand what are you talking about. All I see here is trinkets and artwork..."
"Aha, my friend, then you better catch up fast," offered the Foongus looking at him and pointing his hat to the various pieces of artwork in the little desk. "Lest a better client come along, and go."
The hint at a change in attitude was not lost to Feremiz, who frowned at the Foongus and maintained his stare as well as he could.
"You look like you have some adventure out for you," Gamañel explained, "but it'd be a shame if you are disappeared before spending any money."
"Like the others. Probably didn't make it back to the human world, even. And to think some of them had really good coin, the idiots..."
Feremiz' heart froze and he took a couple hard steps back, not believing what he was hearing. Gamañel caught the gesture immediately and stepped forward.
"Now now pioneer, don't expect me to pat you in the back. Like I said: we find ourselves short of hands."
"Wha- what do you know?" inquired Feremiz, in between a couple difficult breaths.
"All you see in this tent is for sale."
"For sale!" Feremiz found in himself the force to involuntarily let out a growl. "For f- ...Did you do... do THIS to me?" he demanded, suppressing some tears.
Gamañel seemed to squirm for a moment before hopping out of an embroidery and on to his counter, and he watched as Feremiz breathed soundly. "I've set shop here for seven years. Your kind is far too difficult to find," he offered as his only explanation.
The two Pokemon stared at each other for a moment, the Tepig calming down from his initial anger and now sensing the dread at the confirmation that there were... or, had been, other humans around. He could feel himself sweating.
He pointed his nose to the Foongus, motioning for him to continue.
"What I'm offering you can open new maps... new roads to a different fate. If you are willing to buy."
Feremiz shook and tried to speak harshly. "The others. What others?"
"That's for conversation once a... partnership has been established."
The Tepig stepped back, incredulous at he was hearing and fearful of what could the other Pokémon know of him. And as soon as his conscious mind drew the realization that he could return later with some money and with his partners for support, the promise of a road to death allowed his instincts to take the reins; before he realized, Feremiz turned and bolted out of there.
Gamañel watched Feremiz run away. "Let's do establish a partnership later though, the world is not getting any younger!" he yelled to the parting Tepig.
He hopped in place for a moment and let out a last quip.
"You're welcome to buy from the best... or die like the rest!"
Feremiz stormed past the bridge on the road to the central plaza and out of sight.
Betareading and title help by @Tracer.
Wiki entry here. Also available on AO3.