Gathering
A Clover Guild Story
By Ribombee-anon

It was a big day at the Blue Claw Inn. As Capim Town’s most popular place for food, drink, and rest, it often held small performances and events. But today was special: the legendary traveling singer Meloetta was visiting the town for the first time in years, and she was teaming up with Capim’s very own Politoed to perform some songs. The entire town was buzzing with excitement, which only grew as sundown approached—and with it, the main event. Pokemon began migrating to the tavern over an hour before the performance. Most went in, but some of them lingered outside. One such Pokemon was a Meowstic with a gold bracelet. He gave odd looks to some Pokemon, but never spoke to any of them. Everyone assumed he was a bouncer, or waiting for a friend, and paid him little mind. After all, their thoughts were mostly taken up with anticipation. They couldn’t wait to see a performance by a world-famous singer.

The first floor of the inn was mainly occupied by its tavern, a well-lit, rustic sort of room with a bar at one end and a stage in one corner. All around the tavern, tables of various sizes and heights, suitable for all kinds of Pokemon, were densely packed together. The smaller tables were closer to the stage, with bigger ones being farther back, so nobody’s view would be blocked. A Meloetta and a Politoed with a lute sat on a pair of stools onstage, quietly talking to each other, and sometimes chatting with members of the eager crowd. Off to the side, the tavern keeper, a boisterous Crabrawler, took orders with the aid of two Indeedee barmaids. They all watched the slowly growing crowd, eager at the cash they would rake in from the event. This was shaping up to be the most lucrative day in a long time.

At last, the scheduled time arrived. Meloetta rose from her stool, nodded to Politoed, and hovered above the stage. Politoed played a quiet, formless tune as Meloetta spoke to the audience, her voice amplified and bright. She thanked them all for coming, and announced the songs she and the lutist would perform: a mix of songs of her own invention, as well as traditional tunes.

After one round of applause, the performance began. Meloetta started with a set of four songs, accompanied by the lute. She sang high and clear, effortlessly hitting every note, and sliding between them like water. Politoed’s instrument harmonized with her perfectly, and sometimes, Politoed himself sang in a deep voice alongside the lead singer’s melody. The lyrics of each song were filled with powerful emotions and imagery of beautiful nature, but often bore a slight tinge of longing and melancholy. The entire audience sat enraptured by Meloetta’s lovely voice, and applauded enthusiastically after each song.

The fourth song seemed even more beautiful than the previous three. The lyrics began:

When in the springtime of the year
The trees bear leafy crown
The ash and oak are standing tall
And flowers grace the ground

When moonlight heeds the Noctowl
In the coolness of the night
The shadows of the trees appear
Amidst our lantern light

We've been rambling all the night
Along the distant way
Now we wander back again
And bring a garland gay

This song received the most applause. But a single Pokemon was dead silent after this performance: an Oshawott named Gus sitting near the front. He had been staring at Meloetta all throughout this particular song, because there was something very odd about it.

Meloetta and Politoed bowed and announced they would take a short break before continuing. They went backstage, and a low rumble filled the tavern as the patrons began to chat and order drinks and food. Meanwhile, Gus bowed his head and fell into deep thought.

There were two other Pokemon at the table with him: a Sneasel sat on a floor cushion beside him, and a Ribombee sat on the table itself. They easily noticed his lack of applause, and were watching his reactions curiously.

“Not a fan of that song, huh?” the Sneasel asked with a smirk. Gus gave a start and looked over at her, and she shrugged. “I get you. Music’s not my thing either. Booker here—that’s the Ribombee—dragged me into this dumb event. I couldn’t care less—”

“N-no,” Gus interrupted. “You’ve got the wrong idea. I’m a fan of music. And that was a beautiful song. But it sounded so... familiar. I swear I heard a song like that before.”

“Really? Must be a coincidence.”

“No, I mean... I think the melody and lyrics were a bit different, but it was basically the same song.”

Sneasel cocked her head to the side. “Weird. Never thought Meloetta would rip off someone else’s song, considering she’s such a goody-goody. Who sang the version you’re thinking of?”

Gus almost replied automatically, but hesitated. He knew the name of the singer. But he wasn’t sure if he should say it among all these Pokemon, because it was not a Pokemon name. It was a human name.

The Oshawott, despite living in a place devoid of humans, knew this name for one simple reason: he was actually a human from another world.

For reasons unknown, he had been drawn into this world of Pokemon and transformed into one of those creatures himself. He had kept this a secret thus far, concerned about how the native Pokemon would react to this revelation. But if he mentioned an obviously non-Pokemon name, like the name of the singer he had in mind, he feared his secret would come out. He worried what would happen if the Sneasel and Ribombee realized this name belonged to a human, and from that, they somehow deduced the bizarre truth...

“I’m waiting!” Sneasel snapped.

Startled, Gus replied without thinking: “L-Loreena McKennitt.”

Sneasel scoffed. “What the heck kinda name is that? That’s not a normal Pokemon name, right, Booker? Wait, what’s wrong with you?”

She looked at her Ribombee partner, but found he was staring up at the Oshawott as if he had just seen a ghost. Booker gulped and steeled himself before stuttering, “I... I’ve heard that name before. That... th-that isn’t a Pokemon name. It’s a h-human name.”

The Oshawott had a similar reaction to the Ribombee. He gasped, stammered, and finally said, “Wait, what? How do you know what humans are?”

“H-how do YOU know what humans are?” Booker replied.

“Okay, wait a minute,” Sneasel interjected. She looked at Gus and said, “Lemme cut to the chase. You’re a human who came from another world and turned into a Pokemon, right?”

Gus was nearly floored by the Dark-type’s spot-on guess. He stammered wordlessly, and Sneasel smirked again.

“Wondering how I figured that out? Let’s just say you ain’t the only one with that kinda sob story,” she said as she lightly tapped Booker’s head with a claw. He flinched and glared up at her.

Gus stared down at the Ribombee—no, the human-turned-Ribombee, according to Sneasel. Gus had thought he was the only person with this particular predicament, but if Sneasel was to be believed, he was not alone. And if there was one more human here, how many others...?

All of a sudden, another voice said, “Excuse me.” The trio looked to see a Vulpix approaching. He had his head low, and his ears perked straight up. “My name’s Nick. Maybe I heard you wrong, but... you’re saying you’re... humans?”

“Guess the secret’s out,” Sneasel muttered. She pointed at the Ribombee and Oshawott and said, “Not me, but these two are. Got a problem with that?”

“No, not at all,” the Vulpix replied. He lowered his voice and continued, “I’m just surprised... I thought I was the only human here.”

“Oh no, not another one!” Sneasel groaned. “Are there any other humans I oughta know about?! Dealing with one was weird enough, and now there’s two more of you guys!”

“Keep—keep your voice down!” Booker hissed. “Let’s not cause a scene.”

It was too late. The scene had already begun.

Drawn by Sneasel’s outburst, a loud crowd soon gathered around the table with Gus, Booker, Nick, and Sneasel. Gus and Booker shied away from them, while Nick eagerly talked with them, and Sneasel fruitlessly told everyone to back off. Though their voices were a mess of sound, it was easy to deduce the topic of conversation: humans. Most of the members of this crowd were claiming to be humans transformed into Pokemon and brought to this new world, while the rest were native Pokemon who had become partners of those hapless humans. None of them had expected to find so many others in the same situation. They began talking in loud voices, discussing what happened to them, what their lives were like before this, how they all ended up in this town, and more.

They paid no mind to the rest of the tavern. The other patrons were murmuring, staring awkwardly at the gathering of strange Pokemon, wondering at their constant mention of “humans”, and generally acting annoyed. One group of patrons even left the tavern in frustration. An Indeedee barmaid approached and asked the rowdy group to be quiet, but she was ignored. It didn’t take long for the tavern keeper himself to intervene.

“Oi!” the Crabrawler bellowed from behind his counter. “What do you lot think you’re doing? Back to your seats! No throwin’ a bloody party in me tavern! And what are ye gabbin’ on about—humans? Buncha rubbish!”

Half of the crowd fell silent at the booming voice of the crustacean, but the rest kept talking. Crabrawler growled and hopped up on the counter, waving his big claws around, snapping them open and shut with loud clacks.

“Well, if ye lousy gits won’t listen to me voice, maybe me claws oughta do the talkin’!”

He would have lunged into the crowd and started punching, had a sudden voice not yelled, “WAIT!”

The entire tavern went quiet. Crabrawler stopped and looked over to see a blue Meowstic. He was hurrying over to the counter and waving his arms, one of which had a shiny gold band on the wrist.

“Wait!” he repeated. “I can explain. I’m with them. They’re my friends.”

Crabrawler snorted and snapped his claws one last time. “Your friends are noisy buggers, laddie. Tell ’em to shut their mouths or get outta me tavern.”

“Sorry. They just... they can get carried away when they talk about humans. We’re, uh... we’re a club. I guess you could call us a club. We’re lore enthusiasts, and we like studying legends. Stories of past heroes, the Dialga at Temporal Tower, the time a brave hero and his partner defeated Rayquaza at Sky Tower... that sort of thing. And we especially like stories about humans. And sometimes we... like to play pretend, like we’re really humans. It, uh... helps us get immersed in the legends, and understand them better.”

Crabrawler squinted at the Meowstic, then at the large crowd. The group was staring back at him. After a long and awkward pause, a Charmander took a step forward out of the group.

“He’s right,” she said. “We just like fooling around.”

An Axew came forward and nodded. “Yeah. Sorry. We didn’t mean to get carried away.”

“It won’t happen again!” a Chespin chimed in.

The crowd murmured in agreement. Crabrawler grunted and looked back at the Meowstic.

“Aye, if ye keep to your promise, I’ll forgive and forget. But if ye make more trouble, ye answer to me claws—and ye may lay to that!”

“Yes, sorry,” the Meowstic said. He went over to the group, and told them it was time to leave. Despite some protests from those who wanted to stay and hear more music, the group agreed to join the Meowstic and leave the tavern. Despite having never met him before, they could tell he was looking out for them, and even willing to lie to help them out. They trusted him, and were curious to learn more about him. They all rose, and tried to ignore the dirty looks being shot at them by all the other tavern patrons as they filed out of the building one by one.

The Meowstic led the Pokemon, who numbered around a dozen or so, out into Capim Town and the cool late evening air. They walked down winding paths among dense foliage and the towering stumps of ancient trees. The sun had set, and the only light came from eerily glowing plants scattered around the town, as well as warm lanterns and candles shining from the windows of various buildings. They soon reached a large round plaza of cobblestone at the edge of town. Multiple paths split off of this plaza, some going back into the town, others leading out into the wilds, with a tall multi-armed signpost to guide the way. Some benches stood at the edges of the plaza, and the group sat on these while the Meowstic paced around, considering what to say next.

At last, he looked at the Pokemon and approached them. “Thanks for coming with me, everyone,” he said. “I’m Lliam. And I guess I should start by saying I’m in the same situation as you guys—or at least, most of you guys. I’m a human. I randomly woke up in this body, just outside town, and came here—probably around the same time as all of you. And as I was exploring the town, my psychic powers let me sense that some of the other Pokemon around me were actually humans. Since we all had that in common, I thought it would be a good idea for us to team up somehow. I was planning to take it slow and come up with a plan to gather us all together without any native Pokemon finding out our true identities. But that Crabrawler forced me to do something, so... now we’re together sooner than I thought. I guess that’s a good thing, though.”

“It sure is a good thing,” said an Axew, as a Snivy beside him nodded. “Thanks for stepping up for us back there, Lliam.”

Sneasel nodded as well—carefully, to avoid dislodging Booker, who was sitting on her head. “Yeah, good thing you showed up before the tavern keeper got us. That crab’s no joke. I’ve been in this town long enough to know that. But now that we’re all together, what now? You got a plan?”

“Actually, yes,” Lliam said. “I’ve been thinking about this ever since I learned there were other humans here with me. Here’s the plan: we should make a guild.”

The crowd murmured, and Lliam waited for them to quiet down before he continued: “We’ll buy an empty building, fix it up, and start a business to help Pokemon. That way, we can stick together, make a good name for ourselves, and we can earn money. What do you guys think?”

“That’s actually a good idea,” said Gus. “Better than all of us being on our own. Safety in numbers, right?”

Other Pokemon echoed his sentiment.

Sneasel crossed her arms and nodded. “You’re right. This does sound like a good plan. Y’know, Lliam... hearing you talk, I’m starting to think you’d make a good leader for this guild of ours. What do you think, Booker?”

The Ribombee was startled by the sudden question, and gulped as he saw everyone staring at him, awaiting his response. He avoided everyone’s gaze and mumbled something. But Sneasel heard him, since he was right next to her ear. She smiled, then looked at Lliam and said, “He thinks it’s a good idea too. So, that’s two votes for you.”

“Make that three,” Gus said.

The rest of the Pokemon and humans-turned-Pokemon talked for a bit. Before long, they all agreed that the Meowstic would indeed be a suitable leader. Lliam smiled, and looked away sheepishly.

“W-well, if you all think so, I guess I can be the guildmaster,” Lliam said. “I’ll do my best to lead you all.”

Nick grinned at the Meowstic. “Congrats on the promotion, then, Guildmaster. Don’t mess this up.”

The crowd laughed, but it was a friendly laugh. Some even encouraged the new guildmaster, and expressed their hopes for their new guild. With high spirits, the whole group gathered together and discussed their plans long into the night.

The humans-turned-Pokemon still didn’t have the faintest idea how they all came to this new world, why they transformed, or how many other hapless humans were out there. But they did know one thing: with new friends at their sides, both human and Pokemon, they would make it through this.

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Pub: 06 Mar 2023 01:10 UTC
Edit: 06 Mar 2023 01:21 UTC
Views: 978