Notes: Another 'missing scene' of sorts, set between Craggy Coast and Mount Horn. Also, making up random folklore, hooray!
"So… Where do Kangaskhan Rocks come from, anyway?"
"Mmmph?" Looking up, Bidoof swallowed a mouthful of berry pulp before asking "Sorry, what?"
"Well…" Glancing over at the nearby statue, Ichigo explained, "I was just wondering if you knew where they came from. I mean, it does seem a little strange, right…?"
"Golly… how so?"
"I don't know… Doesn't it strike you as kinda… odd? Sure, there's Miss Kangaskhan back home, but…" She trailed off, shaking her head. "Just seems like a really strange conicidence, that's all."
"…Huh… That is mighty strange…"
"So you don't know anything about it?"
"Nope. Don't have a clue." The beaver looked a little ashamed about admitting that, and swiftly added, "But I reckon Chatot would know, yup yup! When we catch up with the others, we can ask him!"
"Ugh…" Ichigo felt her face screwing up and quickly glanced away from the campfire so her friends wouldn't see her expression. To cover the movement, she reached into their supply bag to pull out another handful of berries. "You want any more Razz Berries, Bidoof?"
"Oooh, yes, please!"
Hearing his honest excitement calmed Ichigo down considerably, her tension melting right away. When she turned back to hand him the berries, a warm smile had replaced that brief grimace. Rustling through the bag again, she looked to her partner.
"How 'bout you, Laramie?"
"Um… We have any more Bluks?"
"You should know; you're the one who found most of 'em." Tossing a few his way, Ichigo grinned, peeling a Pinap for herself. "You're pretty good at the whole foraging thing, you know."
"Yup yup! What she said!" Bidoof chimed.
Ducking his head slightly, Laramie mumbled, "It's no big deal… I'm just used to it."
"Well, you're better than it than I am."
The bulbasaur shifted uncomfortably. Sure, she'd clearly meant that as a compliment, but she hadn't mentioned why he had such an advantage over her. Still, he couldn't remind her about that with Bidoof sitting right there, and besides… she'd probably laugh it off, anyway. Try spinning it into even more praise he felt rather uncomfortable hearing, even if she meant well.
"Anyway… I never really thought about why Kangaskhan Rocks are around before. They've just always been there for travelers and all." Chewing thoughtfully, Bidoof went on, "You think the Guildmaster would know?"
Ichigo just shrugged. "Maybe…"
"…Actually… I heard a story about that once."
Both looked at him in surprise, and Laramie coughed. "I mean, it's only a fable, a-and I don't know if it's really…"
"So? Tell us anyway!" Ichigo prompted.
"O… okay…" Shifting his legs slightly, he cautioned, "But it's pretty sad, so…"
"I'd still like to hear it. Right, Bidoof?"
Ichigo stretched out on her stomach, watching him intently; Bidoof was settling down as well, all wide-eyed wonder. Clearing his throat, the grass-type nodded, somewhat reluctantly.
"Okay… So… The way I always heard it, a long, long time ago, mystery dungeons were even wilder and tons more dangerous. Like, back when the world was really, really young, all the mystery dungeons used to be linked together."
"Linked…?" Bidoof echoed blankly.
"Yeah. So if you entered a forest, you could find yourself wandering into a cave, or suddenly lost in the desert, or even end up underwater or drifting through the clouds. The dungeons eventually stabilized and lost that link, but back then, nobody had any idea where you might end up."
"Huh… Sounds like they really were mystery dungeons," mused Ichigo.
"Uh-huh. So Pokémon usually avoided them back then. Sure, there were wild Pokémon who lived inside, but it was really rough, because even they ended up getting lost. If anyone was lucky enough to make their way out, they usually just settled down wherever they were, because that was better than risking everything by going back in."
Nodding his agreement with the shivering beaver, Laramie continued, "But even though it was dangerous, there were still Pokémon who lived all over the world outside of dungeons. Some of them even came together to form the first villages… though they weren't much like Treasure Town. Though they lived in the same place, everyone pretty much kept to themselves. There weren't anything like shops or services or even houses -- Pokémon didn't even see each other as neighbors! You just looked after yourself and your own kind, and ignored anyone who wasn't bothering you.
"Now, one of these gathering spots had a Kangaskhan living there. She was the biggest Pokémon there, so all the others were afraid of her and kept their distance. Nobody wanted anything to do with her, since she was so big and scary. But actually, she wasn't mean at all! She was very kind, compassionate, and even though everyone avoided her, she kept an eye out for everyone and kept them all safe… especially the little ones."
"Oh! I see! So then the kids showed everyone she was really good and they all became friends, yup yup!"
"…Err… Isn't that right…?" Bidoof asked, suddenly feeling a lot less confident about his theory.
"……" Sighing, Laramie didn't answer directly, instead continuing the fable. "Now, Kangaskhan had a little one of her own; a little girl, who liked to go exploring and play with the other kids. Or, at least, she tried to… But the parents of the other children were so scared of her mother that they tried to keep their kids away from her, too. They were scared that she'd turn out just as big and strong and scary as Kangaskhan.
"One day, while Kangaskhan was out gathering food, a Drifloon floated into the valley. Most of them had never seen a Ghost-type before, so they steered clear of it… all but baby Kangaskhan. She was fascinated with the strange purple balloon, and unlike everyone else, it was actually willing to play with her! So she laughed and stumbled along and followed it back to where it came from…"
"…The mystery dungeon," Ichigo breathed.
"Uh-huh." Nodding solemnly, Laramie went on, "Most of the others watched her go, but they didn't do anything to stop her, even though they knew how dangerous it was. And actually, some were really glad to see her go, since that meant they wouldn't have to worry that she'd grow up and be just as scary as her mother was."
Bidoof and Ichigo fell silent, gazing at him. His partner's tail lashed, betraying her mood, while the beaver's eyes had widened considerably, breath hitching in his throat. The soft sound made the tightness in Laramie's own throat harder to ignore; he swallowed hard, trying to alleviate it.
"When Kangaskhan returned, it wasn't hard for her to figure out what had happened. Nobody explained just what had happened, but it wasn't like there were many places she could hide or anywhere else she could have gone. Kangaskhan searched the whole valley and couldn't find any sign of her daughter, and that only left one explanation. And as she searched in vain, all the other Pokémon held their breath, sure that when she figured it, she'd turn on all of them. Because they could have stopped her child from wandering off, and they hadn't done anything…"
"Tsh." The corner of Ichigo's mouth twisted with disgust, but she kept whatever she was thinking to herself.
"But Kangaskhan didn't take her revenge. Instead, she just gathered her things and headed into the mystery dungeon to search for her baby."
"She knew she didn't have much of a chance," Laramie answered Bidoof before he could finish. His voice had grown soft and reverent. "She went anyway. Any chance was better than none. …And nobody ever saw her or her baby again."
"……Ohh…" Blinking back tears, Bidoof sniffled.
"Nobody really knows if she ever found her child again. But it's said she wandered around the whole world, constantly searching. Even when she found her way out of the dungeon, she turned right around and went back in, barely stopping to rest. During her endless journey, she drew the attention of some of the legendary Pokémon, who were inspired by her courage, her compassion… and her determination."
"D…did they help her find her baby?" ventured Bidoof.
"Like I said... Nobody really knows for sure." Shaking his head, Laramie explained, "But it's said that they blessed wherever she stopped to rest, making each area a tiny haven for travelers. With their powers, they eventually made the mystery dungeons stable, and created the Kangaskhan Rocks to mark the way for explorers. That's why you can find them inside dungeons, and those tiny areas where they're located never change… supposedly, anyway."
Silence filled the small clearing for a while. Laramie couldn't help noticing how Bidoof kept glancing over to the statue now, as if that would prove how accurate the tale actually was. An all too familiar reaction; even now, Laramie remembered how he'd reacted when he first heard that story.
But it was probably just another fable, in all honesty. Just a cautionary tale to warn children not to wander off alone, and how important it was to look out for your neighbors. Right…?
"An…anyway, we should probably get to sleep," he declared, getting to his feet.
"Uh… right, right…" Bidoof nodded.
Standing up, Ichigo helped them smother the campfire and clear it away, then took the time to check their supplies again and ensure everything was accounted for. That done, she settled back down, noting with some amusement that her companions had already dozed off and were huddled together, sides pressed close and leaning against each other. She couldn't exactly join them, given the obvious safety hazard behind her and all, but she could still lay across from them and keep watch.
The flickering flame illuminated the statue overlooking them, allowing Ichigo to study its gentle expression. Whether that story was true or not, she had no clue… really, she had no way of judging at all. But… in a way, there was something comforting about it, though she couldn't exactly pin down why. Maybe just the thought that there was something constant about the mystery dungeons… something familiar, someplace safe.
…Well, no sense in staying up all night wondering about it. Stifling a yawn, Ichigo curled up tightly, tucking her tail in close and angling it so that she could still see her companions well enough despite the darkness. Even if snuggling up next to them was too dangerous, just being able to see them helped her drift off faster, secure in the knowledge they weren't going anywhere.