Chapter 1: Enlisted
Since the days humans had disappeared into the ages of myth, much had changed in the world they left behind. The sprawling plains and mountain ranges had grown choked with sterile ash and distortions of Mystery Dungeons, the livable world retracting to a sea full of islands called the Cradle. On the islands, Pokémon had retreated from the shattered world outside to settle where Mystery Dungeons were sparse and few in number. Some maintained the natural rhythms of their elders, while others - those who were said to be more touched by the humans and their presence - carried on facsimiles of the great civilizations their companions once ruled, with the help of the gifts and order left behind by Arceus, the Original One. In the ages since the great migrations, these bearers of the humans' torches spread their presence across the islands, flecking the coasts with settlements ranging from petty hamlets to great cities.
From its place amid sunken coastal lowlands, Polderfield Town occupied a middle ground as a hamlet that was built in the shadow of the great capital of the once-great Empire of Anyilla. Few visitors came past the hustle and bustle of Tidemill City and to the sleepy farming town in the fringes of Giotto Island, but even so, among the levee-surrounded fields reclaimed from the sea and the mills that kept them dry, there was still a sufficient body of Pokémon willing to ply the nearby Mystery Dungeon for the treasures of the Distortion (and to rescue those who had gotten in over their heads in the process). Their haunt was the local guild, a ring-shaped complex of shacks anchored by a tent shaped like a Farfetch'd head, neighbored by the empty field immediately north where the guild's teleporters would fetch its teams from the ever shifting maze inside when summoned.
The most recent arrivals were a trio consisting of a Cranidos, a Chikorita, and a Jangmo-o bedecked with scarves and laden with wooden chests. The three appeared in the field with a flash of light latched tightly onto a Jynx. As they let go, the trio took in their surroundings as the Chikorita gave a satisfied shake of her head.
"Whew, looks like we're finally back."
How Pokémon like the Jynx performed the feat of finding Pokémon through the Guild Badges they pinned to their scarves was a mystery to those not already versed in the practice. Some said they bent space and time to reach out to a heart they'd sensed. Others said they slipped between the worlds that bled together in the Mystery Dungeon's Distortion. One thing was for certain, though: the Jynx had gotten them out of the Mystery Dungeon, and she had done so at a speed that couldn't be beat. Reason enough for the Cranidos to dust off his light blue scarf, running his claws past the pattern of a gray silhouette of a Rampardos head, before turning to extend his thanks to the Jynx.
"Thanks Yama," the Fossil Pokémon said as he turned to the Jynx. "'Mons like you sure make doing work inside Mystery Dungeons easier."
"Well, that's why we're here to-"
"Yeah, yeah, to help," the Chikorita interrupted. "Come on Cabot, these chests aren't gonna bring themselves back to the tailor shop."
As the Grass-Type walked off with a chest strapped to her back, her two teammates gave awkward smiles as the Jynx narrowed her eyes, unimpressed at the Leaf Pokémon's haste to leave the guild.
"Well... you heard her," the Jangmo-o offered. "Let's finish this mission so we can take the rest of the day off."
The Dragon-Type hurried after his teammate, leaving their Cranidos partner behind to snatch up the remaining chests before hurrying along off the teleporter's pad after his companions. The wooden boxes had been brought to the Dungeon by another team from the guild so that their contents could be exposed to the Distortion's changing effects. The altered contents, given new properties by the Dungeon, would then be turned around and resold at a higher price... after he and his teammates returned them to the client who sought for them, that was. The Cranidos ducked down a hallway, finally catching up with his teammates near the mess hall where his presence turned the heads of the other Pokémon. The Chikorita twirled her head leaf as she smiled a little at her teammate's haste to catch up, and called out to him.
"You know Cabot, you did a pretty good job helping us out there."
"Yeah, I'm surprised you haven't settled down in a team yet," her Jangmo-o teammate chimed in. "You're a good help against ferals."
"Well, I do my best to help others if I can, but…"
The Cranidos trailed off and fidgeted his claws awkwardly. It wasn't that he didn't like working with Team Resolve and his other client teams as a freelance Guild Apprentice, but he did hope to eventually explore beyond the local Mystery Dungeon…
"Why hello there, Team Resolve."
Cabot and his companions turned back at the sound of a quacking voice to see a Farfetch'd in a white scarf with green stripes waddle up. It was none other than Akka, the Guildmaster in Polderfield Town… Had something come up?
"Ah, Cabot," she greeted. "I see you're helping them today?"
"Yeah, they needed some extra claws to carry these exposure chests out of the Mystery Dungeon." the Cranidos piped up.
"Oh? Where to?" the Guildmaster asked.
"To Sara!" the Jangmo-o exclaimed. "She said she needed some more scarves for the fair tomorrow."
"Ah, well I won't get in your way," the Farfetch'd said. "Carry on."
The team pattered along for the guild exit, coming to the mouth of the Farfetch'd-shaped tent. As the three stepped out into the sunlight, they entered a small village of whitewashed huts and spindly windmills flecked by tents and buildings shaped after Pokémon heads. Cabot and Team Resolve's course took them along a winding route through the streets, passing the Kecleon shop staffed by a youthful Kecleon and a violet, pudgy-faced Meowth assistant. Across the street from the chameleon's shop was the Bellossom florist, the Grass-Type arranging freshly displayed batches of lilies outside her shop. A little further ahead was a card shop with Jamie the Marshtomp from the Post Office gawking at a large display of colorful Pokémon-covered cards behind the counter, a few younger Pokémon playing some matches under the shade of a reed awning.
A turn left and a few blocks later took them past the four lanterns and stone plinth that was the shrine of Tapu Fini, the Pokémon said to watch over Giotto. It was built by Poldefield's founders some thirty years prior… only for the town be settled primarily from Pokémon drawn from other islands, leaving the shrine mostly unused. Beyond that was the main square, with a tall windmill standing in the center and ringed with half-built wooden booths that caught Cabot's attention. The sight made the Rock-Type slow his pace as his friends drifted ahead a few steps, much to his Chikorita teammate's puzzlement.
"So what were you saying earlier, Cabot?" she asked him, taking advantage of the quiet situation.
"Oh," the Cranidos answered, dragging a foot anxiously at the dirt of the lane. "Er... well it's just that I'm still not sure yet if I want to stay at the guild."
The Chikorita and Jangmo-o stopped and blinked at each other incredulously. Since when had Cabot made plans to leave the guild?
"Eh?" the Dragon-Type asked. "But what sort of job are you looking for then?"
"Well, something that'll let me get out there! To see the world!" Cabot exclaimed. "It's a big Cradle out there, and I'd like to see more of it than just Giotto here."
"Someone is dreamy," his Grass-Type teammate teased.
"Ah! That's not what I meant!" the little dinosaur cried. "It's just that there are so many adventures to be had in new places! You understand, don't you?"
"Well, I suppose it would be a bigger adventure than fetching some exposure chests," the Jangmo-o chortled, giving a playful wag of his tail. "Who knows? Maybe you'll luck out and find a job to take you to the other end of the Cradle at the trade fair tomorrow."
"But first things first! We've gotta finish our mission and upgrade our team's rank!" the Chikorita proclaimed. "The shop's right there, so we're already one step closer to Bronze!"
The three continued down the lane filled with the trade fair's booths and reached a large tent styled after a Galvantula with scarves dangling from display racks. The Chikorita leader spotted a Surskit at the back of the storefront pawing through a stack of scarves, prompting her to clear her throat and call out to the Bug-Type.
"Hey! We got the exposure chests you asked for!" the Chikorita called.
"Oh, I'm surprised you guys brought it after all," the Surskit said as he slided over to the counter. "I was starting to think we wouldn't get those chests back before the fair."
Cabot and his partners gave sheepish smiles before passing the exposure chests over the counter one after the other. They were a bit on the late side, but even so, the Surskit seemed reasonably satisfied. A job well done… or well enough to pass.
"Well, always glad to be of ser-"
"But wait, where is Sara?" the Chikorita asked as she interrupted Cabot. "She's the one who posted the mission."
"She already went home for the day," the Bug-Type answered.
The three Pokémon jumped back and blanched out of surprise. They'd gone through all that trouble getting Sara's crates out of the dungeon only to miss her in town?!
"Eh?!" the Grass-Type cried. "But we need her signature to tell the guild we completed the mission. We won't get any points towards our rank otherwise!"
"Well, she lives in a burrow under a tree in the fringes that she keeps decorated with her in-progress projects," the Surskit offered. "If you go there and tell her you brought the chests, I'm sure she'll be happy to give you her signature."
The guild Pokémon's surprise faded and was displaced with groaning resignation at the prospect of more work so late in the day, the Jangmo-o of the group being the first to voice his disappointment.
"We gotta walk all the way to the fringes of town after already going through the Mystery Dungeon...?"
"Looks like we'll have to wait on those points…" the Chikorita murmured.
"Oh, I can do it!"
The Chikorita and Jangmo-o looked up in a start to discover that their Cranidos assist had volunteered for the task with a raised claw. The pair looked at each other surprisedly, before turning back to their temporary teammate to make sure he wasn't overexerting himself.
"You know me," Cabot replied. "I don't need any excuse to get out and around a bit. Besides, we were only in that dungeon for a few hours."
Team Resolve caught themselves as they mentally processed Cranidos' offer, their demeanors visibly brightening up at the realization that their evenings were spared. Looked like fate had dealt them a favorable hand this time after all!
"Well I won't say no to that!" the Chikorita cheered.
The Leaf Pokémon hastily fished out a rune-covered paper from her bag with a picture of a Galvantula and passed it over to the Cranidos with the shop's receipt. Cabot grasped the paper with his claw and stored it in his own bag, his teammates breathing grateful sighs of relief that they didn't have to go on an unscheduled hike into the fringes.
"Thanks for the help, Cabot," the Grass-Type said, giving a thankful bow that was echoed by her Jangmo-o partner.
"Yeah, we owe you one."
"It's alright," Cabot answered, playfully waving away the matter with a claw. The Cranidos lowered his head and charged on, leaving his temporary teammates behind as he ran along for the town's fringes, glad to see some scenery beyond the Mystery Dungeon's same patina of floors. Who knew? Perhaps he could even make an adventure out of this detour!
"Thanks for the signature Sara!"
The fringes of towns such as Polderfield were always easy enough to discern from their centers. The further out one went from town, the scarcer huts and other buildings became, with nests and burrows taking their places amid thinned undergrowth. And so it was that Cabot's journey took him out into the hills above Polderfield, coming to a burrow where the Galvantula owner of the tailor shop lived. Much to Cabot's pleasant surprise, the Bug-Type was more understanding than anticipated about his tardiness, and quickly gave Cabot gave the signature he and his clients needed through an inky footprint.
"Sorry we kept you waiting for so long though," the Cranidos offered.
"It's alright," the tarantula said. "Just be a bit more careful with time in the future, okay?"
"Right, will do."
The Cranidos gave a grateful bow and set off away from Sara's place under the treetops. He made his way down the path past mats with attending mailboxes denoting spaces claimed by local Pokémon. Some of the mats sat directly in front of nests in tree limbs or burrows in the earth, while others were laid out in the open in clearings. The Rock-Type came to a fork in the road, and after seeing that one path was visibly sparse on mailboxes and mats, he turned north and made a detour, the spirit of adventure swelling in his heart.
Cabot carried along, humming ditties that he'd heard floating around his parents' shop since his hatchling days as he moved along the hillside path. He passed shade-giving trees, flowers in bloom, and the rustling of a feral here or there in the distant undergrowth as he came to his favorite viewing point over Polderfield. From above, one could see the entire town, now clogged with stands for tomorrow's fair. Further beyond was the surrounding farmland, ringed with polders filled with fields of grain and berries that were hemmed in from the sea by levees with windmills churning lazily with the town's rhythms. Guarding the fringe between the town and the fields was the fortified manor of the local Earl who ruled over the area, the stately residence watching over Polderfield from its foothills.
In spite of the view, Cabot's thoughts kept turning to the trade fair tomorrow. There'd definitely be food, drink, and performers… but more importantly there were bound to be adventurers looking for a helping claw. Perhaps he'd join a team headed off to the far north of the Empire. Or who knew, perhaps even outside of the Empire to Garanza or Linglan! The Rock-Type contentedly looked over the hill as the possibilities swirled in his head, playing through daydream after daydream…
… only to be broken by the sound of a nearby whinny, slightly startling the young dinosaur as he realized he wasn't alone. Cabot braced himself, looking around his surroundings tensely. The noise didn't sound like any the local ferals made, so…
Cabot turned around, and saw the form of a Ponyta in an emerald green scarf with an inverted silver trefoil design trotting over to a stream, lowering his head to lap up the water. The Cranidos watched as the stranger drank, noticing that the design of his scarf seemed to be of a tier above the simple cloth cuts used around town. Perhaps he was a merchant's child? They always seemed to be more ready to part with their money on frivolous things such as fancy scarves… After letting curiosity get the better of him, the little dinosaur decided that perhaps it would be best to greet the stranger, and paced forward in order to give a welcoming call.
"Oh hi there!"
The Ponyta jerked his head back from the stream with a start and looked around in surprise. The Fire-Type's gaze settled upon the sight of the stranger Cranidos in the clearing with him, causing a curious but skeptical expression to spread over the horse's snout.
"Uh... hello?" the Fire-Type asked. " Who are you?"
"I'm Cabot!" the dinosaur exclaimed. "I live here in Polderfield Town, though I don't think I've ever seen you before."
The fire horse tilted his head and pawed at the ground uneasily, sizing up the new Pokémon in front of him. He was obviously not a feral since he had a scarf, and he seemed friendly enough, so it couldn't hurt to at least introduce himself back.
"It's Berecien," the Ponyta answered. "But I'm from Tidemill City, so that might explain that."
"Oh, you came to visit our town?" Cabot wondered. "How come?"
"I didn't actually," Berecien responded. "I just took a quick break from my usual run."
"Eh? You run all the way here from Tidemill on a regular basis?!" the Cranidos cried. "But that's at least three hours away when walking!"
Cabot's exclamation prompted the Ponyta to give a dismissive snort and a shake his fiery mane. Hike or not, the Fire-Type didn't seem to think much of the distance.
"Well it doesn't take that long if you're fast enough," Berecien offered. "Besides, I could use the space to run. Beats being stuck inside some dworek all day..."
The Cranidos tilted his head and glanced puzzledly at the Ponyta. He had heard his fair share of what was called Giottani from the Pokémon who had further-reaching roots on the island than his own family, but he'd never heard that word before. So then, what exactly was a...
"Dworek...? Are you from another island or something?" Cabot asked. "I mean, I know they have their own language in Tidemill which ferals and a few Pokémon in town also speak, but it doesn't really sound like that."
"That's because the word is from the language that Pokémon speak on Nagrobek Island," Berecien said. "My family was originally from there before the Company chased them out and turned the island into some horrible prison."
"Oh?" the Cranidos murmured "But… did Pokémon from there generally like running around?"
"Well I'm not sure if all Pokémon do but... my dad said the island had some great open fields he ran around in with his father when he was about my age," the Ponyta insisted. "I figured by running around here on Giotto I'd keep the memories alive somewhat."
Cabot blinked and wagged his tail uneasily, watching the Fire-Type paw at the ground. The horse was a strange being, speaking a strange tongue and familiar with strange things... But on the other hand, part of him seemed just like him, always yearning to go out further for adventure.
"But I admit I may have gone a little bit farther than usual," Berecien continued. "This is one of the last chances I have to run around like this for a while anyway."
"Oh? How come?"
"I signed up for the navy not too long ago," the Ponyta said. "Service to the Empire has been a point of honor in my family, and I didn't want to be the first 'mon to break that tradition."
The Cranidos blinked and tilted his head at the horse in surprise. Family traditions or not, the navy sure seemed like an odd profession for a Fire-Type, especially for a creature who liked running enough to run here all the way over from Tidemill...
"But if you like running so much, why would you want to go into the navy so badly?" the Rock-Type questioned. "I mean you'd be stuck on a small ship on the water all day!"
"Because the navy has a place for all kinds of Pokémon," Berecien began. "Besides, I wouldn't spend all my time on a ship. The Empire may be a lot smaller than it used to be nowadays, but there's still plenty of ports of call to see while on the job."
Cabot tilted his head curiously. He had always seen the navy as a job stuck aboard some cramped and dusty ship with nothing to see beyond waves and the sky for long stretches... But the way Berecien described it made it sound like an adventure in its own right, and a gateway to seeing more places than he could ever dream of doing normally.
"Anyway... I should probably get going soon or else my family is gonna notice I'm gone."
The Cranidos paused, and realized that the sun was already starting to set over the horizon. The detour to Sara's house had already taken longer than he'd expected, and sticking around to chat with the Ponyta would delay him even further, and he still had both the Guild and his parents to worry about.
"Right…" Cabot murmured. "I've got paperwork to drop off at the guild, I guess I ought to hurry it up if I don't want my parents to think something happened in the Mystery Dungeon."
The Ponyta gave a quizzical tilt of his head at the Cranidos' words, but decided to shrug the matter off. After all, while Cabot had his own matters to get into order, he too had places to be, and dilly-dallying around wouldn't help him get to them any faster.
"It was nice talking to you Cabot."
"Yeah, same," the Cranidos responded with a nod.
"I'm not leaving for Basic Training until the end of the week, so who knows? Maybe we'll meet again sometime soon."
"I would look forward to that."
The two Pokémon bid each other farewell, before they turned around and shuffled off in their own directions. As Cabot made his way back down the wooded hillside towards Polderfield's huts, he kept finding himself staring beyond the sunken fields and out at the sea again and again, picturing himself sailing away into a world full of adventure.
The sun was setting down by the time Cabot made it back into Polderfield Town, and the town had started settling into a more sedentary rhythm. The booths were largely completed by now, and some stores had already begun shuttering their doors for the evening. There were the expected holdouts: the inn, the tavern along the river, and a shack whose roof had been built into the shape of a Rampardos... 'Galton & Julia's Box Busters', the finest (and only) such operation in town as well as home sweet home for the little Cranidos.
Cabot paced forward to the shop and propped himself up on the counter to peer behind it, only to hear a loud crash and feel the counter shake under his claws. Even so, the young dinosaur didn't flinch, as it was merely the normal sign of normal work by his parents, followed by the normal sight of a male Rampardos raising his head up and walking in from the breaking room. The Box Buster shook loose some broken wooden planks behind the counter before noticing his child and giving a cheery wave.
"Hey there boy!" the larger dinosaur greeted. "How was your day?"
"It went great!" the Cranidos exclaimed. "We got the chests Sara needed for the trade fair. She already left for home though, so I went to her house for her signature."
"I'm surprised you didn't just wait until tomorrow," the Rampardos said. "You're home a bit later than usual after all."
"Well, the trade fair is tomorrow!" Cabot replied. "I wouldn't want to make a detour to Sara's shop first for her signature, or go to the guild to deliver it."
Galton gave a bemused shake of his head at his son's enthusiasm. It was always nice to see his child in high spirits, even if he had to be kept from getting too far ahead of himself every now and then.
"Heh, you've been getting a bit worked up over that thing for a while now," the father dinosaur chuckled. "Are you excited for tomorrow?"
"Yeah I am!" the Cranidos cheered. "I just know that I'll find something interesting there!"
"Well even if you don't, you know you can always just come work with me at the shop," the Rampardos said.
Cabot pouted at his father, prompting Galton to give a playfully reassuring pat to his child's head. His dad had suggested numerous times he take over the box busting shop at some point in the future, but spending the rest of his life in the same place opening boxes was the last thing Cabot wanted.
"Relax, I'm sure you'll have a chance to find something," the larger dinosaur reassured. "Go tell your mom you're home so she can start with dinner."
"Alright, I'll go do that."
Cabot went around the shop, passing a small pile of shattered wood heaped out in the alley next to the tent that covered the shopfront. At the back was the family residence, a simple two-level hut that had been built into the rear of the tent with the front door left ajar. The Cranidos pushed the door open to come to the main room, where the simple table and its quartet of blocky stools where the family dined and entertained guests was set out. As the Rock-Type entered his home, he could hear humming coming from a room further to the right.
"Hey mom! I'm home!"
As soon as the words left his mouth, the bulky form of a female Rampardos came from the backroom. Evidently his mother was handling housework tonight and leaving the surplus boxes to his father, though Cabot didn't remember her demeanor seeming this puzzled on past nights where she took the lead keeping the house in order.
"Eh? So late?" his mother answered. "You're usually home about an hour earlier than this."
"Oh it's because I went to Sara's house to get her signature after the mission," Cabot explained. "She had already left for home after we came back from the dungeon."
The Rampardos sighed and shook her head, much as she had done so many times before for her child's more reckless episodes.
"You know, me and your dad do worry about you if you come home late without us knowing about it."
"But it's not that big of a deal," the Cranidos reassured. "And I just wanted to get it done before the trade fair tomorrow."
"The world has many dangerous places Cabot, including that Mystery Dungeon you crawl through," the larger dinosaur said. "I just don't want to see you get hurt."
Cabot paused and looked away uneasily, pawing at the ground with his feet. The Cranidos scratched himself behind his head, fumbling with his words before he found an response that sat well with him.
"I guess I just didn't really think about it like that," Cabot muttered.
Julia shook her head and murmured disapprovingly under her breath at her child's antics. Even so, the matter had all worked out in the end, so perhaps it was best to not badger him too much over the issue.
"Well you're home now at least…" the mother Rampardos sighed. "I'll go start preparing dinner."
"Okay, I'll be in my room."
Cabot clambered up the crude stairway to the second floor, where a simple table and stool along with fresh straw bedding awaited him. The Cranidos threw his bag aside and flopped down into the fresh straw, rolling over to stare up at the ceiling with a contented sigh.
"Whelp, this is it," the little dinosaur murmured to himself. "Hopefully there's a nice traveling job available at the fair."
The Cranidos pawed at his straw bedding, fluffing it up for more cushioning as the view of the town from outside his window caught his attention. Cabot paused, and looked out at the sight of booths being decorated in the main square, prompting him to give an anticipatory wag of his tail.
"It's a big world out there, and starting tomorrow, I'm gonna see every bit of it!"
The sun set over the horizon, whisking Cabot off into a world of dreams where tantalizing visions of crawling through faraway vistas and sailing over clear waters played out in his mind. The general motif was the same: in his dreams he was the explorer, the dashing hero, ever pushing out into the unknown for the next horizon…
Until his dreams abruptly stopped. His eyes flickered, letting in morning sunlight. The Rock-Type stirred against his straw bedding, rubbing his eyes as he lethargically put his scarf on.
"I thought you said that you wanted to go to the fair!" a voice downstairs called. "It started an hour ago!"
At his mother's words, the Cranidos jolted upright and noticed that the sun was higher in the sky than he'd thought it would be. The Rock-Type yelped and hastily ran down the stairs, grabbing a berry off the table as he quickly greeted and bade farewell to his mother before slipping out the door.
Cabot charged ahead for the main square, where he saw a horde of Pokémon milling about amidst a kaleidoscope of gaily-colored booths attended by various vendors. There were faces he recognized from the guild and around town such as Sara and the Kecleon merchant, along with a host of strangers that were new to him such as an energetic angular duck that floated above the ground chirping happily at passers-by.
"Broaden your horizons with Alcon's move tutoring. It takes just one easy session to unlock more of your full potential!"
The Cranidos blinked and watched as the Porygon nosed out a glinting disc in a strange clear sheath. Ah, that must be a 'tee-yem'… But there would be time to gawk later, he had a job to find! Undaunted, the Fossil Pokémon pranced ahead, passing a Turtonator claiming to sell the Cradle's finest charcoal, and a Smeargle painter looking for a new apprentice. He also noticed a Fraxure, Servine, and Raichu in white scarves with waterspout patterns hawking crates of tropical fruits and berries at unusually low prices… Why, it was as if the fair had brought a whole second town over to Polderfield!
"There sure are a lot of Pokémon around town…" Cabot murmured to himself. Yes, there was undoubtedly quite the selection of booths to choose from. But some of these Pokémon were clearly just here to ply their wares and trades, so then, where would he start looking for a job…?
"Heh, welcome aboard! You'll fit right in with us as a roadie for our travel circuit!"
Cabot looked to the left, where he noticed a Simisage shaking hands with an Aipom from behind a booth. With the Grass-Type were a Gothorita and a Donphan, who chattered idly about their 'next stop'. Cabot paused and scratched his chin in thought at their conversation. It did sound promising, but what exactly was the group doing that would attract so much attention from the Aipom? After mulling it over a little, the Cranidos decided the best way to know for sure was to simply ask, and made his way over to the booth.
"Sorry, but did you say something about a travel circuit?"
The three Pokémon perked their ears up and turned to the little Rock-Type as the Aipom scurried off. Feeling a little on-the-spot, Cabot pawed his feet against the ground, clearing his throat to try and press the matter.
"Do you have any spots left?" the Cranidos asked. "And what would you need from a new hire?"
"Why yes, we do!" the Simisage cheered. "You're lucky you came to us this early, Cranidos. After all, many Pokémon would love to get a job that involves helping the great Thalez with his performances!"
At once, Cabot's excitement evaporated into blinking and a flummoxed pause. 'Performances' certainly didn't sound like the kind of adventure he was looking for...
"Wait, performances?" the Rock-Type spluttered. "But you just talked about a travel circuit."
"That's right," the Gothorita said. "For this job you'd travel all over Giotto to get the right supplies to locations Thalez performs."
"Once there, you'd help set up the stage and do the groundwork that allows Thalez to work his magic on the crowds!" the Donphan continued.
Cabot slowly shifted his gaze to the ground out of disappointment. The more he heard about this job, the less it sounded like an actual adventure around the Cradle and more like the drudgery of being a pack mule. Seeing other towns on Giotto would be nice, he supposed... but beyond that, how would this be any different than simply just dragging crates up to his father's shop?
"So what do you say Cranidos?" the Simisage prodded. "Do you still think you got what it takes?"
"I... uh…" Cabot began. "I think I should probably look around a bit more first before I sign up for anything."
The little dinosaur turned around and hastily moved along, leaving the stage hands to trade surprised looks with one another. After Cabot had put enough distance between himself and the trio, he finally stopped and gave a disappointed glance around the surrounding fair.
"Well that was certainly a lot different from what I expected…" the Cranidos sighed.
The Rock-Type continued his track throughout the fair, passing stands full of food and handicrafts along with groups of chattering Pokémon, as he searched around for any interesting-sounding opportunities. He stopped again when he noticed an empty stand with a Gallade, a Blastoise, and a Goodra all wearing rescue team badges loitering in front of the counter, disappointment visibly etched on their faces.
Cabot gave a puzzled tilt of his head at the sight of the booth. The team didn't look like they were running any business out of the booth... So why were they just hovering around one like they were selling stuff from it? It certainly seemed a matter worth investigating, prompting the Cranidos to pace over closer to the stand.
"Bah, fine time for that Wigglytuff to take a break!" the Gallade groaned. "Feels like we've been standing here all morning, and we still haven't found any workable teammates!
"I'm honestly starting to think nobody in this town has any real wish to go on a traveling team," the Goodra murmured.
"Excuse me, but do you guys travel to other islands or something...?"
The three Pokémon scanned their surroundings looking left and right, before looking down to find the source of the voice: a young Cranidos curiously eyeing them, his tail wagging amiably. The group looked at each other puzzledly, before the Blastoise gave a shrug and knelt down to address the little dinosaur more on his level.
"Yup, it comes with the territory for the members of Team Surveyor," the turtle replied. "There's no challenge too great for us!"
"And… you were looking for a new teammate?" Cabot asked.
"That's right," the Goodra said. "Why, do you know someone who'd be interested in joining us little one?"
"Well, yeah. I'd be really interested!" the dinosaur exclaimed.
The atmosphere suddenly changed as the smiles on the trio's faces became markedly less enthusiastic and an awkward silence filled the air. The Blastoise stared at the Rock-Type hesitantly, before clearing his throat to speak.
"You wanted to join us...?" the Blastoise prodded.
Cabot tensed up, and started to shift uneasily. He'd encountered Pokémon in all sorts of states of minds during his work as a Guild Apprentice, and he knew all too well that the sort of attitude the trio had was the same sort the higher-ranked teams at the Guild had when they only had low-level missions to pick from..
"Kid, do you have any experience exploring Mystery Dungeons and the like?" the Gallade demanded.
"Yeah I do!" the Cranidos answered. "I graduated to Normal Rank almost a year ago and have been helping different Rescue Teams ever since."
"Almost a year huh...?" the Goodra asked, giving a sigh.
"Look kid, our team has a Gold Rank. We're not some rookies who explore the first few floors of a dungeon looking for apples and bail out," the Gallade snarled. "When we go to an island we explore the nearby dungeon until the very last floor, sometimes fighting through multiple Monster Houses along the way. Do you really think you can keep up with us?"
Cabot grimaced and backpedaled uneasily at the Psychic-Type's words. Sensing the little dinosaur's visibly shaken demeanor, the Blastoise sighed and spoke up.
"I suppose what we're trying to get at is… We're looking for someone a bit more… experienced," the Water-Type said.
"I... see…" Cabot muttered.
"Look unless you know someone as experienced as us, just move along okay?" the Goodra insisted. "I'm sure there's something else at this trade fair more suitable for you."
"O... kay," the Cranidos stammered.
The Fossil Pokémon turned around and began trudging off with a deflated hang of his head, leaving Team Surveyor's Pokémon to scoff in the background and return to their still-fruitless search for a fourth teammate.
"That didn't go well…"
Cabot sighed and drooped his head, giving a kick at a small pebble at the ground. He had expected to find multiple jobs that would allow him to go on adventure throughout the Cradle by now, but here he couldn't even find one...
Then again... what adventure did start off smoothly? Didn't they all have some first hurdle to get around? The thought helped to lift the little dinosaur's spirit, prompting him shake his head and recollect himself.
"But I can't give up here!" the Rock-Type said to himself. "There has to be something!"
The little Cranidos made his way around the crowded stalls, looking for any leads for a suitably adventurous job. There certainly wasn't a shortage of potential jobs to be filled... There was someone looking for a courier in Tidemill, a carpenter looking for an understudy, an accountant looking for a bookkeeper... But the only remotely travel-oriented job he'd found was a spot aboard a merchant ship that maintained a fixed route to and from Boisocéan. A grand adventure the first time, but to do it over and over again...?
"This is harder than I thought…" the Cranidos murmured.
"Have you ever wanted to sail the Cradle's seas?"
Cabot looked towards the sea, where he saw a small crowd gathering around a podium crudely fashioned out of a crate and decorated with a indigo cloth with a leaf design on it. On it was a Swanna, with a few Pokémon behind him idling and poring over some blank papers. The bird fanned out his wings to gesture at his audience, enthusiastically speaking with the curious faces arrayed around him.
"Then you can put your mind at ease, once you're in the navy!" the Flying-Type exclaimed.
Cabot tilted his head curiously at the recruiter's words. He remembered how Berecien had talked about it the other day, how the Ponyta had insisted there was more to it than just being stuck on a ship all the time. He reasoned that it couldn't hurt to listen a little more, so the Cranidos walked over to the podium for a closer look.
"Of course you'd do more than just sail around and visit places, you would help to keep our own Giotto safe!" the Swanna continued. "Pirates and corporatist traitors lurk these waters, and it's because of Pokémon like us that they don't just come in and invade towns such as these!"
As soon as the Swanna's words left his beak, the crowd quickly thinned out of disinterest, a few more vocally braggadocious Pokémon excusing themselves to tend to stomachaches. Word of the dangers of the job quickly exacted their toll, leaving behind the Swanna along with a small party of exasperated-looking clerks behind the counter.
"… You probably would've been better off talking about the different ports of call they'd see," a Furfrou murmured from the rear of the podium.
"Oh? What are they?"
The Swanna and his colleagues looked around for the source of the voice, seeing no apparent speaker at first. After a flummoxed blink, they looked down and saw that in front of the podium was a small Cranidos, curiously moving a claw to his mouth.
"Eh?! You still haven't run off- I mean, er… Tons of places!" the Swanna hastily replied.
"Magmapool Town with its hot springs, the sandy beaches of Copperband Village, the beautiful mountains overlooking Starpeak Square…" the Furfrou added. "One of the perks of being on the front lines defending the Empire!"
Cabot moved a claw over his chin as thoughts of what naval life might be like swirled in his head. It would undoubtedly involve a good deal of sailing, but it would also take him far and wide throughout the Cradle, with a good deal of bad guys to headbutt out of the way in order to get stronger. The recruiters hadn't mentioned anything about pay, but they had already illustrated that it would be quite the adventure...
And that was what he wanted most from his job anyways.
"It sounds interesting... but what does a Pokémon need to do to join the navy anyways?" the Cranidos asked.
"Assuming you're above the age of seven," the Swanna began. "All you have to do is give us some information about yourself like your name and where you live, and we'll sign you up."
"Oh! That's easy!" the Rock-Type exclaimed. "How do I that?"
"Let me get the paperwork!" the Furfrou cheerily responded.
The poodle went to the back to the podium and fetched several papers and a small inkpad. The dog slid the papers over to Cabot along with a charcoal nub, which the Rock-Type began to gingerly fill out: name, species, hatching date... all details that ought to have felt tedious to fill out, but that melted away with his giddy anticipation. Before he knew it, it came time to place his pawprint on the paper to sign; Cabot pressed his claw into the inkpad, and pressed it down hard onto the paper, giving a small excited wag of his tail. It was the first step in a new adventure, and he just knew his parents were going to love hearing about it.
"You did what?!"
A tense silence fell over the dusty dining room in Polderfield Town's Box Buster shop. On one end was Cabot, still tired from a brisk run back to the shop after filling out his paperwork with the naval recruiters; and on the other were his parents, digging their claws into the crude wooden table. The pair's startled and exasperated outburst was a far cry from the excited and happy atmosphere that Cabot expected would follow his revelation, the Cranidos stammering and stumbling over what to say next.
"I... signed up for the navy?" the Cranidos hesitantly repeated, only to be answered by a low growl from his father and a scolding question from his mother.
"Cabot, how on earth could you do that?!"
"B-But what do you mean?!" the little dinosaur stammered. "Why are you upset? I thought you guys wanted me to find something at the trade fair…"
Cabot visibly blanched as he looked at his parents' faces. This- This wasn't how mom and dad were supposed to react! He'd finally found work that would fill his yearning for adventure, and here his parents were treating it as if it was all a big mistake!
"Because working for the navy is dangerous, Cabot," the mother Rampardos said. "Life on a boat is already unsafe, and then you have pirates and the Company on top of it!"
"How did you expect us to react hearing you signed up for that out of the blue?!" Galton exclaimed.
The Cranidos shrank back a moment, taken aback by his parents' protest. This was everything that he'd hoped for from a job, a chance to go on adventures far and wide, and they weren't okay with it...
… No, they would be okay with it, just as soon as he made them understand.
"But it's finally a way for me to see the world!" Cabot began. "And the Empire is really strong so I'm sure I'll be fine! We can take on any pirates! The Company too... I think."
"This isn't a decision to be taken lightly!" his mother shouted. "You should have come and talked to us!"
"Listen to your mother Cabot."
The Cranidos went silent as he noticed his father was now too giving him a stern glare, Cabot's gaze drifting down to the table uneasily. Why were his parents doing this to him? Didn't they understand that this was the sort of job he'd been yearning for all this time?
"If you would have come to us and used your head instead, maybe you would have realized that it's a bad idea to impulsively sign up for something like that," the Rampardos harrumphed. "There are plenty of other jobs that would have suited you much better, like taking over the shop for instance."
Cabot gritted his teeth and seethed at the mention of running the shop. He'd been talking on and on about wanting to go off on adventure, the entire reason why he bothered joining the guild in the first place. Had dad been listening? Did he even care what he wanted?
"So that's what this is all about?!" the Cranidos shouted, slamming his claws against the table. "You don't care at all whether I find something I like! You just want me to take over your stupid shop!"
The father Rampardos stomped against the earthen floor, jolting the table and the surrounding ground as his mother's face turned into a hardened scowl. Cabot eased himself, and saw that his parents were both glaring at him, both clearly unpleased with his new attitude.
"Don't you dare speak to your father like that!" his mother hissed.
"That stupid shop put food on the table for this family since before you hatched!" his father roared. "And if you've got such a problem with it, you can get out and go take care of yourself!"
"Fine! I'll go do that!" Cabot yelled back. "I'll sleep at the guild tonight!"
The Cranidos turned around and angrily stormed out of the house, leaving his parents to glare after him as the dust still swirled in the air. Once the silence had returned to the room, Julia's countenance eased, as the Rampardos softly spoke up.
"... Did we do the right thing?"
"... He just needs some time to come to his senses," the father Rampardos grunted. "Let him blow off some steam tonight. He'll be back soon enough."
Julia looked at the ground and she shook her head with a sigh. Cabot was always a headstrong one, and undoubtedly needed to be reeled in from his less cautious tendencies from time to time, but even so, his acrimonious exit left her feeling unsettled.
"I hope you're right…"
True to his word, after storming out of the family home, Cabot spent the night at the Guild, sleeping in the common accommodations. Night came and went, the Cranidos waking late in the morning after a tumultuous sleep. Cabot wandered about the grounds to attempt to find a team to work with, only to find he had trouble focusing or working up the motivation to do much of anything after yesterday's fight.
The Rock-Type left the guild, hoping a short walk around town would clear his mind. But the minutes turned into hours that stretched into the afternoon, as the surrounding huts and shops gave way to the hill overlooking Polderfield. Once there, he laid down doing little other than staring off at the town and thinking uncomfortably about what happened between him and his parents.
"Why couldn't things just have gone a little smoother...?"
The little dinosaur gave out a sigh and lowered his head against the ground, peering down at the town below. He was so happy after being accepted by the recruiters yesterday, but everything afterwards had gone completely wrong! It was supposed to be the best day of his life... so why did his parents have to react like this...?
"Cabot...? Didn't think I'd run into you again so soon."
Cabot jolted upright and whirled around at the sound of the voice, only to come face to face with the familiar Ponyta from the day before. The Cranidos blinked and pinched himself to make sure he wasn't seeing things, before stammering out a response to the Fire-Type.
"Huh?! Berecien?!" the Rock-Type exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
"I just wanted to see your town after our talk yesterday," the horse said. "Figured I might as well go here once before I leave for Basic Training."
The Ponyta shook his head and paced over beside the Cranidos, lying down on the grass. The Fire-Type looked ahead at the village and fields of below, before casting a prodding glance at Cabot, thick with curiosity as to why the dinosaur had crossed paths with him again.
"So why are you lying here all by yourself anyway?" Berecien asked.
"Oh... just taking a break from stuff, that's all…" Cabot murmured.
"Hm? What do you mean?"
"Well... you see, I signed up for the navy," the Cranidos began.
Berecien blinked and perked up his fiery tail. Much to Cabot's surprise, the Ponyta was staring at him as if he'd suddenly turned a bright pink before his eyes. Had he said something wrong?
"Wait, you did what?"
"Uh... well you made it sound kinda nice," Cabot offered. "... Is it a bad thing?"
"... You didn't sign up for the navy just because some stranger said it was nice, did you?" the Ponyta questioned. "I mean, it's a serious profession."
"Oh, it's not like that! I'm serious about it!" the little dinosaur spluttered back, waving his claws hastily. The Rock-Type then put a claw up to the corner of his mouth, trailing off pensively.
"It's just that I've always wanted to go on adventures, see different places…"
The Cranidos looked down and slowy tapped his claws together. When Berecien had put it that way, it really did make things sound kinda silly... but being able to make a job of adventuring was what he'd wanted for years!
"Work at the guild just gets so repetitive after a while, and we had this trade fair in town yesterday where a bunch of recruiters made it sound like the navy would have plenty of adventure," Cabot explained. "And when I heard them about talk about it and remembered what you told me, it just seemed like the kind of thing I wanted to do."
"I see…" Berecien said. "Though I still don't understand why you're lying around here."
"… After I got home and told my parents, I got into a fight with them," the Rock-Type admitted. "They didn't really like that I signed up without talking to them first."
"Well... that's kinda understandable."
The Cranidos jolted upright and stared at the Ponyta as if he had suddenly sprouted a pair of wings. Berecien was joining the navy and he'd made it sound like a grand adventure... And now here he was telling him that he was wrong and that his parents were right about it?
"I mean, I trust that you already knew about it going in, but life on a ship isn't a game," Berecien began. "Naval service might be an opportunity to have an adventure, but in the times that we live in, it can also be your grave."
Cabot faltered, slowly shifting his gaze down to the ground and rubbing his claws uneasily. He... hadn't thought about any of that when Berecien mentioned the navy yesterday, but it was hard to say that the Fire-Type was wrong about any of this. But it couldn't have been that bad if the Ponyta was still joining... right?
"If it weren't for the family tradition, my parents would freak out too if I signed up out of the blue for a job where fighting pirates and the Company is an expectation," the Fire-Type said.
The Cranidos shifted uneasily at Berecien's words. The call of adventure meant more to him than anything in the whole world, and he'd always been chomping at the bit to go beyond his little corner of Giotto... But when the Ponyta put things that way, maybe his parents hadn't overreacted after all...
"Anyway, regardless of what you do, I suggest trying to make up with your parents," the Fire-Type offered. "If you're really gonna go through with this, you don't want to leave the island with a fight with them."
"I suppose you're right…" Cabot murmured.
"I know it's probably not an easy thing for you to sort out, but I really don't think that they're trying to spoil your fun," Berecien added. "Look, you said your mom got worried something happened in the Mystery Dungeon if you stayed away too long right?"
"I'm pretty sure this is just the same sort of thing," the Ponyta insisted. "You really can get messed up in the navy, much moreso than during your average guild mission."
Cabot paused in thought and shifted uncomfortably at Berecien's reminder. He didn't particularly like dwelling on the risks of adventures… but he couldn't rightfully say that the Fire-Type was wrong.
"I just hadn't thought about it like that…" the Cranidos muttered. "But okay. Thanks Berecien."
"Well, you're welcome," the fire horse replied. "Just know that while I didn't have much choice with my parents, you do."
Berecien looked at the sky, and noticed that the sun had moved far to the west, its reddening rays indicating the onset of evening. The Fire-Type gave an irked snort and stomped at the ground, before turning back to his companion with a sigh.
"Well, I should probably get going," the Ponyta said. "I should get back before anyone notices I'm missing."
"Oh... right," Cabot murmured.
"Just take it easy on your parents, and give joining the navy some careful thought okay?" Berecien asked. The Ponyta began to trot off a few paces, only to abruptly slow down and stop. Much to Cabot's surprise, the Fire-Type paused and looked back over his shoulder, evidently wanting to say something else
"But if you do end up joining," the fire horse began. "I'll look forward to seeing you in Basic Training."
"Hm right," the Rock-Type nodded. "I'll look forward to it as well."
Berecien nodded back and lowered his head, heading off into a faster and faster gallop away from the clearing. Cabot listened to the Fire-Type's hoofbeats as they faded further and further into the distance, until they vanished entirely, leaving him alone with the town beneath him and the idle sounds of life in the surrounding forest.
The Cranidos paused and mulled, finding both angles to Berecien's argument to be more compelling than he'd like. On the one hand, adventure surely awaited him if he went through and joined the navy… But on the other, if things fell through or if something went wrong, what would it do to his parents?
The dome-headed Pokémon thought, and thought, before rising up to his feet uneasily. He wasn't sure about it, but after mulling it over, there seemed to be one logical choice to make.
"I think I know what to do..."
Cabot began trudging down the hill, a lingering unease hanging about him like a cloud all the while. Even so, in spite of his misgivings, he knew what had to be done...
He just hoped that things wouldn't turn out into another mess.
"Cabot! Cabot! Are you here?"
Cabot's parents had wandered into Polderfield's guild in their search, the complex having settled into the sleepy equilibrium most guilds do a few hours after updating their postings. The pair tried asking all the Pokémon they could find on their way in if they'd seen Cabot: the Siglyph who updated the mission listings, the Dragonite medic, the Marshtomp mailmon, and the Phanpy apprentice who worked at the storage shop just outside of the complex… only for all of them to answer back with negatives and shakes of their heads. At the entrance, the Rampardos pair burst into the main foyer and scanned the surroundings, their search turning up naught but a number of puzzled stares from passing Rescue Teams.
"I don't see him anywhere..." Galton murmured.
"He's always here normally!" Julia insisted. "Why would he suddenly vanish like this?"
"Well it is a bit crowded in here," the father Rampardos offered. "Maybe he's busy and doesn't notice us."
Galton's wife scanned the guild hall once more, looking here and there among the passing Pokémon when a familiar yellow heart-shaped crest caught her eye. The Rampardos looked ahead and saw it belonged to a Jangmo-o pawing at a mission board accompanied by a Chikorita.
"Wait, those are the Pokémon Cabot worked with yesterday," Julia said. "Maybe they've seen him around."
Galton and Julia made their way over to the mission board as the Jangmo-o and Chikorita looked over the day's listings on the board. The pair appeared to be deep in thought, evidently having trouble finding a listing which suited their fancy.
"What about this mission?" the Jangmo-o asked.
"Eh... we'll get barely any points towards our rank for that," the Chikorita murmured.
"Excuse me, but you two worked with Cabot yesterday, did you not?"
The two Pokémon looked up with a start from the mission board and peered over their shoulders. Much to their surprise, there was a pair of worried-looking Rampardos standing behind them, weren't these...?
"Oh, you're Cabot's parents right?" the Grass-Type wondered.
"That's correct," Galton answered. "We wanted to talk to him but we can't find him."
"Do you know where he is?" Julia added, only to be answered by a shake of the Jangmo-o's head.
"I haven't see him today actually," the Dragon-Type replied. "I know he was here last night though."
Galton and Julia grimaced at the Jangmo-o's answer. Cabot was always one to plunge himself back into what he considered 'adventure' whenever he wanted to get out of the house... Why wouldn't that be with Rescue Teams? Had he wandered off on his own?
"Are you sure you haven't seen him?" the mother Rampardos questioned. "Or did he at least mention where he would go to today?"
"Do you mind giving us a moment, children?"
The four Pokémon looked over and saw a Farfetch'd in a white scarf with green stripes heading over, her leek slung over her shoulder. The duck waddled along and looked up at the unnerved Rampardos, before turning towards the younger Pokémon.
"I just need a moment with Julia and Galton here," the Flying-Type said. "How about you two pick that mission asking for an escort to the dungeon's seventh floor?"
Team Resolve looked at each other uneasily, sensing that something was amiss. Even so, the Guildmaster seemed to be fairly insistent that she could handle things... perhaps it would be best to take that escort mission after all.
"Er... I mean, if you're sure about that," the Jangmo-o began.
"Yeah, a Rescue Team's first duty is to come to the aid of Pokémon in need," his Chikorita teammate added.
"Bón, I'll handle things from here," the Farfetch'd reassured.
The two young Pokémon hesitated for a bit, before taking the mission posting off the board and walking off. After Team Resolve was sufficiently far out of earshot, the two Rampardos turned worriedly towards the Farfetch'd who peered up at them curiously.
"Guildmaster Akka, do you know where Cabot is?" the mother Rampardos asked.
"We've been looking all over town for him, but we can't find so much as a scale!" Galton exclaimed.
"He did stay here during the night, however, he left earlier this morning," Akka answered.
The hope in the Rampardos' eyes abruptly evaporated at the Flying-Type's reply. After spending half the day looking for their son, to hear that even the local Guildmaster didn't know where he was hit them like a Mega Kick in the gut
"Oh I see..." Julia murmured.
Akka paused and moved a wing uneasily towards her bill. She hadn't expected a simple answer to affect Galton and Julia so much… Perhaps she was overthinking the matter, but…
"Has something happened?" the Farfetch'd wondered.
"He went to that trade fair yesterday and signed up for the navy out of the blue," Galton explained.
The Guildmaster ruffled her feathers and glanced at the parents in stunned surprise. Cabot had always been on the bolder side as an adventurer, but that certainly seemed to be a cut above what she'd expect him to do on a spur of the moment decision.
"That's... certainly something," Akka said. "How did you two react exactly when he got home?"
"We were upset of course!" the father Rampardos responded. "How else were we supposed to react to that sort of news?"
"After we disapproved of his choice to sign up for something so dangerous just like that, he got mad himself," Julia added. "He even lashed out at us and called the family shop stupid..."
"Hrm... I see," the Guildmaster mulled as she shifted her leek against the shoulder of her wing.
The two parents paused and drooped, their account of the whole episode dredging up unwelcome hurts. Julia looked at the ground worriedly, shaking her head with a sigh.
"I just don't understand how he could do this," the mother Rampardos murmured. "Doesn't he know we're just trying to keep him safe?"
"Well... isn't he already in harm's way on a regular basis?" Akka asked.
Galton blinked and shifted uneasily at the Farfetch'd question. Was Cabot getting into other dangerous things he was hiding from him? Akka wasn't suggesting that, was she?
"What do you mean, Guildmaster Akka?"
"Well, missions inside the Mystery Dungeon always brings risks with them," the Farfetch'd explained. "Whether it's a territorial feral or a trap, there's no shortage of things that can become treacherous inside a Dungeon if one isn't careful."
"But I do worry about those things," Julia said. "I sometimes just wish he'd stay in town where it is safe."
"But even the town isn't always safe, Julia," the Guildmaster countered.
"What are you talking about?" Galton questioned. "If he stayed here he wouldn't be fighting pirates on a regular basis!"
"Perhaps not, but would that protect him from the times that they do come?" Akka replied. "Wasn't that what happened to your shop two years ago?"
The father Rampardos opened his mouth to reply, only to pause and trail off. The incident in question Akka spoke of was a pirate raid about two years ago, which had torn through Polderfield in a whirlwind of fire and smoke. Most of the shops on the block had been burned up in the attack, with only a lucky headbutt helping to keep his own along with Julia and Cabot from getting swept up in the chaos. He had to admit that in that particular case Akka had a point, but…
"I mean… I suppose, but that's not the same, and-"
"I know it. But you can't keep Cabot perfectly safe no matter what you have him do," the Flying-Type interrupted. "If that's the case, wouldn't it be worth considering letting him spread his wings a bit and sating his thirst for adventure?"
"I... guess…" Galton murmured.
"As his guildmaster I noticed he always wanted to go out on adventure," Akka continued. "Working for the navy isn't safe, but perhaps it really is the kind of job Cabot has been looking for all this time."
The two Rampardos faltered and went silent at Akka's words. All this time, they'd been so concerned about the dangers that Cabot would face in the navy that they hadn't considered the possibility that he'd already taken them into account when making up his mind. He admittedly already took more risks than they'd like, but... could it be that this was what he really wanted for himself?
"I… I guess we never thought about it that way..." Julia began.
"In the end it's not really up to me to judge your decisions," the Guildmaster remarked. "But put some thought into the matter, and do whatever you feel will work out best for you and your child."
Akka slung her leek over her wing and looked expectantly at the Rampardos couple, waiting for an answer. Galton and Julia both paused and looked at each other, both seemingly struggling in thought, before giving shakes of their head and turning back to the Farfetch'd.
"We'll think about it a bit more…" Galton said. "Thanks for your advice, Akka."
"It's my pleasure," Akka replied. "I'm sure everything will work out fine in the end."
Cabot's parents gave the Guildmaster a wave before they turned around and exited the guild's entrance. The pair shuffled along onto Polderfield's winding lanes, their minds preoccupied with where Cabot could be... and what was best to say to him once they met again.
The walk back into Polderfield Town felt longer that time, each step feeling more tiring and slower than what Cabot remembered coming home from the night before. Then again, with the butterflies dancing in his stomach, it was hard to feel otherwise. During the entire walk through Polderfield's winding lanes, Cabot had been dreading meeting his parents again. Would they still be angry? The Cranidos' nagging doubts kept surfacing one after the other, until he reached the front door of the Box Buster shop. The little dinosaur shook his head to dismiss the thought, before taking a deep breath and pushing the door open.
"Mom? Dad? Are you there?"
Cabot looked around the barren common room, waiting for a response and bracing for the worst, only to be answered by the sound of village life outside. Barring a little dust swirling here or there, there was no life to be seen in the shop. His parents ought to have been hard at work at this time… Why had they left? Were they upset with him? Did they not want anything to do with him right now? The Cranidos drooped and began shuffling back for the door in low spirits, only to hear his mother's voice call from the door.
The young Rock-Type looked up just in time to see his parents entering through the door. The pair seemed not to be angry as he had feared, but instead worried and visibly tired, as if they'd just come from a long and arduous day of work.
"We've been looking for you all over town," Galton said. "Were you feeling alright?"
"Oh... er... I..."
Cabot trailed off, tapping his claws together as he found himself at a flustered loss for how to begin. After a shake of his head, the Cranidos cleared his throat, finally collecting his thoughts enough to speak up.
"Mom…? Dad...?" the little dinosaur began. "I'm sorry for signing up for the navy."
The Rampardos pair jolted upright and blinked at the Cranidos, both surprised to hear such an apology come from their child. This was what he'd wanted... and he was apologizing for it?
"I didn't mean to worry you so much," Cabot continued. "I just thought it sounded fun and like a nice adventure, but if you guys really want me to quit then-"
"Cabot, it's alright," his mother interrupted.
"We know how you feel about it and how you really want something like this," Julia explained.
"If you're sure you want to do it, we won't stand in your way," Galton concurred. A blinking silence hung in the air following the Box Busters' words, Cabot staring blankly back at his parents. They… they were okay with him going into the navy?
"Really?" Cabot asked.
"We talked with your Guildmaster and she explained how much you've been wanting something more adventurous for a while," the mother Rampardos answered.
"It wouldn't be right for us to stop you from chasing your dreams like that," his father added.
Cabot blinked, half-tempted to pinch himself to make sure he wasn't just in a dream. As the shock wore off, a smile began to spread over the Cranidos' mouth, and his tail wagged out of barely bridled enthusiasm.
"I... ah…" the little dinosaur uttered. "Thank you all so much."
"It's okay," his mother reassured. "Come here."
The Rampardos motioned for her child to draw near, and pulled her son into a loving embrace along with his father. The pair gave a tight squeeze, and let their child go, the young Rock-Type looking around at a loss of what he ought to do next.
"So.. what now?" Cabot wondered. "The recruiters said that Basic Training started in a week and-"
"Well, me and your mother actually got something for you," Galton replied.
The father Rampardos passed over a flat, misshapen parcel that was wrapped in cheap and unbleached paper. Its unseen contents felt soft to the touch even through the paper, making Cabot pause and wonder just what sort of item could be inside.
"We ran into Jamie as he was delivering mail." Julia said. "He had this package addressed to you."
The Cranidos didn't see any markings on the package, only for his claw to run up against something that felt solid and waxy on the back. He flipped it over, and saw a wax seal with the leaf sigil of the Empire on it, marked with 'Office of the Admiralty' on it.
"Oh, it's from the navy!" the Cranidos cried.
"Why don't you open it?" his mother asked.
The Cranidos tore off the seal and opened the package, pulling an indigo cloth out of the parcel. The Rock-Type unfurled it and saw that it was marked with a leaf design on it, the same mark the recruiters the day before had worn. Then, that meant that this was…
"It's a navy scarf!" the little dinosaur exclaimed. "I thought they wouldn't give me one until Basic Training!"
"Why don't you try it on?" Julia proposed.
Cabot carefully undid his scarf and slipped the indigo garment around his neck, tying a loose knot behind his head. The Cranidos paced over to the mirror, casually sizing himself up as he peered into it to see his reflection.
"What do you think of it?"
"Ah! I think it looks great!" Cabot cheered.
The Cranidos wagged his tail, and blushed a little at seeing himself with the navy scarf. For a such a plain cloth, it seemed to fit him well. Its color stood out well against his hide, and the fabric was comfortable and easy to wear, perfect attire for an adventure on the waves beyond.
"Good luck with that adventure of yours son," Galton said.
"I'm sure you'll do great," the mother Rampardos added.
"Thanks dad! Thanks mom! I'll make the most of it!" Cabot exclaimed. The Cranidos gave a jubilant pump of his claws in the air, his spirits higher than he'd remembered them being in years.
"I'll show you how a real adventurer handles things!"
- dworek - Polish: "estate" / "manor" (diminutive)
- Giottani - Venetian: "Giottan"
- Bón - Venetian: "It's fine" / "It's good" (Used as an interjection here)