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SWAP! [One-shot, Everyone, PMD]

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Cresselia92, Sep 10, 2019 at 5:09 PM.

  1. Cresselia92

    Cresselia92 SM Ash = New Ash

    Hello, everyone! Welcome to my one-shot! This is my submission for a competition in another forum, with the theme being "Undelivered Messages" and the words limit being 10k. This story, well... it uses all those 10k words, ahah.

    Anyway, this is a simple PMD AU story about two Ninetales with opposite personalities, who are both looking for a job, who both happen to wear a bow, who both happen to have a letter, who both happen to be at the right place, but also who both happen to arrive at the wrong times. And from then, things spiral out of control.

    It takes inspiration from the comedies of errors and some fairy tales. I hope you will enjoy it. ^^

    ----

    SWAP!

    [​IMG]


    ☀☀☀


    Mysterious house in a mysterious town by a mysterious hillside. Time, late.

    “Where is it!? Where is it!?”

    A young fire Ninetales pawed at some papers on the floor of his house, frantically reading through them in search of… something.

    “No! No! No! Agh! Where the heck is the letter?!” Ninetales yelled, rereading the papers scrupulously. “I can’t be late and without that letter on my first day of work! I just can’t!”

    Ninetales began pacing back and forth, clearly anxious.

    “Umm… where did I see it last time…?”

    Thumping a forepaw on the floor, Ninetales began racking his brain.

    “Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm… Oh! Wait! What do people do when they lose something?”

    Ask the local Guild? Huh… he still needed to pay them for finding his frisbee. And his Fire Stone. And his wallet. And his favorite Gravelerock. And he had no money.

    Make a wish to Jirachi? Ah, yes, that—oh. No, that won’t do, as Jirachi had slipped into one of his month-long naps.

    Go to an epic quest to find the Temporal Tower and prove himself worthy to Dialga by saving the world from a catastrophe by defeating an abomination, so that he would be revered as a hero and have his tales narrated to infinity and beyond… and get the chance to travel back in time to ask to his past self where he had left the letter?

    …Nah. Too much work. Besides, wrong fiction.

    There was only one thing left to try.

    “Let’s see… what did I do yesterday?”

    Ninetales walked toward his bed.

    “I woke up…”

    Ninetales walked to the door and opened it.

    “I opened the door…”

    Ninetales yawned.

    “I yawned…”

    Ninetales walked out of the house, stopping by the mailbox.

    “I saw Pelipper leaving the letter and greeted him… hi, Pelipper!”

    Ninetales walked back inside.

    “I slept for another hour…” He stared at the bed for a while, before shaking his head. “Err… I’d better skip this step. I have no time for that.”

    Ninetales walked to the table.

    “I ate breakfast…” He took a cookie from a jar and ate it voraciously. “There! Got some breakfast!”

    Ninetales sat on his haunches, as he tried to recall the following events.

    “After that, I had fun with Pyroar, I had lunch with Alcremie, I took a nap, I looked for gold at the mines, I bathed at the springs, I returned home, I read the letter, I shouted ‘Woohoo! I’ve got the job!’, I left the letter inside the box to make sure to not lose it, I went back ins—” Ninetales blinked in realization. “Wait…”

    He sprinted out of the house and opened his mailbox. There it was, the poor confirmation letter!

    “A-ah!” Ninetales hastily took the letter and went back inside, before placing it on the table. “Let’s see… I need to wear a blue bow and wait for my ride at the Crystal Crossroads.”

    A blank expression flashed on Ninetales’s face.

    “A blue bow? Huh… do I have one?”

    Looking around the house, he spotted a blue hanky lying on a shelf. Ninetales stared at the piece of cloth.

    “Ummmmmmmm… yeah! That should suffice!” Ninetales said, grabbing the hanky and starting fashioning it into his new bow.


    ❄❄❄


    “Would thou desire some tea, Her Ladyship?”

    A young ice Ninetales was standing in front of a mirror, looking at his reflection with a dignified expression. A red bow was wrapped around his neck, accompanied by a perfectly smoothed and lustrous fur, sparkling and immaculate like fresh snow.

    “Please, allow this humble butler to cool down thy tea.”

    Ninetales looked at a cup in front of him, brimming with scalding black tea. He exhaled a chilling breeze around the cup, producing a thin layer of ice that cooled down the tea instantly.
    Ninetales bowed at the reflection, before gesturing toward his mirror self.

    “There, Her Ladyship,” he said, before pulling the cup toward himself and smiling at the reflection. “No need to thank me. It was an honor.”

    Ding, ding, ding. ♪

    Ninetales looked toward the source of the sound, his gaze falling on an old-fashioned clock.

    “Oh, rehearsal time is over,” Ninetales said, before lapping up the warm tea. Perfectly brewed and cooled down.

    “Ah, absolutely sublime,” Ninetales said, glancing at his reflection with satisfaction. “Just like yours truly,” he added, his eyes sparkling with confidence. Afterward, his gaze fell on a painting of silver-furred Ninetales, staring at him with a stern and judgmental expression. “…Father. I shall show thou what I am capable of. That I can be successful, like my older siblings.”

    Ninetales looked again at the mirror, his joy dissipating instantly as he noticed something terrible. What he saw… was a rebellious tuft! The horror!

    “No no no! That will not do, no!” Ninetales harrumphed, shaking his head disapprovingly. “I have to fix this before immediately!”

    Without wasting time, Ninetales dragged a nearby cream toward himself and grabbed a pawful of it. With a swift motion, he splashed the cream on his fur, aggressively smothering whatever dared to ruin his appearance.

    “Perfect… yes, I need to be perfectly impeccable!”


    ☀☀☀


    “Ummm… okay, it should be good like this,” Ninetales said, adjusting his crudely knotted bow around his neck. He grinned to himself on a bowl of water, but his moment was ruined by some fur on his head flopping on his eyes. “Oof! Maybe I should have gone to the barber yesterday…”

    Ninetales licked his paw and moved the fur backward, giving it a vague flame-like shape.

    “Alright! Time to go!”

    Ninetales stood up and trotted out of his house, headed toward the crossroads.

    “Ah! Almost forgot!”

    Ninetales backtracked immediately into his house, before grabbing the letter in his jaws and squeezing it under the bow. Without anything left to do, he resumed his travel.


    ❄❄❄


    “…What scent would better suit my persona?” Ninetales said as he looked at several vials on the desk. Blue and swirly, green and round, crimson and square, pink and thin… he truly was spoiled for choice.

    Ninetales grabbed the pink vial with one tail. “Perhaps I could opt for some Eau de Danse-Fleur?” he said, before grabbing the blue bottle with another tail. “Or should I pick the Eternal Whirlpool?”

    He tapped his chin with a paw, appearing undecided.

    “Woe is me, why must I be plagued by such inconvenient indecision?”

    Ninetales looked at the confirmation letter on the desk, silently urging him to make a decision soon, before glancing at the green vial. His eyes widened slightly.

    “Ah, sudden enlightenment!” Ninetales exclaimed, placing the pink and blue bottles back on the table and grabbing the green vial with his paws. “Thou can never go wrong with some Lockduft.”

    Pressing on the squishy nozzle with a paw, Ninetales bathed himself in the intense fragrance. Pink smoke and sparkles surrounded him, giving to his fur a rosy tint.

    Ninetales inhaled the vapors and nodded to himself. “Ah, simply delectable.”

    Totally satisfied, Ninetales grabbed the letter in his mouth and slid it under his bow, before heading toward the door while striding elegantly among the antique furniture. With a flick of his tails, he waved goodbye to his house and traveled toward the designed location.


    ☀☀☀


    “Um, this should be the Crystal Crossroads… I think,” Ninetales said, trying to make out what was written in the faded signpost. “Or maybe this is the Coastal Crossroads?”

    He scratched his head as he glanced around the area, which lacked any crystal or coast.

    “I don’t know why they give such weird names at times. Like, someone would expect to find some treasure in Treasure Town, right?”

    Ninetales leaned on the signpost, before tugging at his bow with a tail. “Ungh… I wish I had a bigger hanky! This one is… too small…” he gasped, and let out a disgruntled huff. “Hmph! I dunno why I need this ridiculous recognition bow. It’s not like there will be another Ninetales coming in this exact crossroads at this exact time!” Ninetales laughed. “That would be too absurd of a coincidence!”


    ❄❄❄


    “…Oh?” Ninetales looked around, his ears flicking back and forth. “Bizarre. My ears are whistling.”

    He looked at the distant town. “Could it be because of the distant whistle of a young lad, or…?”

    Ninetales paused, before simply shaking his head. “…Or my ears are simply tricking me. Silly me,” he said dismissively, resuming his stride.


    ☀☀☀


    Ninetales craned his neck toward the road, increasingly growing nervous. “Weird. Why isn’t there anyone around here?” he wondered, before gasping in horror. “Don’t tell me I’ve lost my ride!”

    Groaning in disappointment, he began walking in circles around the signpost.

    “Great, just great! I knew I shouldn’t have eaten all those malasadas yesterday! Maybe if I had eaten less I wouldn’t have fallen fast asleep and I would have listened to the alar—”

    “Mister Ninetales, yes?”

    Ninetales felt his heart leaping in his throat, and hastily turned to the voice.

    An imposing male Rapidash stood in front of him, wearing a golden helmet on his head and a set of gem-filled silver anklets. He was towing a white carriage, encrusted from top to bottom with a wide array of gems and extremely intricate decorations. To say that Ninetales was flabbergasted was an understatement.

    “Huh… um… huh…” Ninetales blabbed incoherently, a mix of surprise and astonishment invading his thoughts.

    Rapidash looked inquisitively at Ninetales, before his eyes widened. “Oh, Mister Ninetales…” he said, clearly looking apologetic. “Did my unannounced presence startle you? My humble apologies, it was not my intention.”

    Still unsure if he was dreaming or not, Ninetales shook his head to recover from his stupor and waved his paw dismissively. “Um… no need to apologize. Err… mister?” he said, beaming his best smile. “This is on me. I was the one who was distracted. So, let’s just leave this little accident behind. Okay?”

    “Of course, of course. As you wish, Mister Ninetales,” Rapidash responded, looking visibly more relaxed. “A-ehm! The confirmation letter, if you please.”

    Ninetales nodded and pulled the letter out of his hanky, before showing it to Rapidash. The latter read through the text and nodded in approval, and Ninetales put the letter back under the bow.
    “Thank you, Mister Ninetales,” Rapidash said, before motioning toward the carriage. “So, shall we depart fo—”

    “Yes! Let’s get going!” Ninetales shouted a tad too excitedly, earning a confused stare from Rapidash. Sensing the awkwardness, Ninetales coughed and tried to regain his composure. “Um, I mean… I would appreciate that, mister.”

    Rapidash nodded elegantly and pulled a rope tied to the door of the carriage, opening it. Ninetales had to take deep breaths to avoid passing out from his excitement as he gazed inside the coach: Refined red linen adorned the walls of the whole carriage, with gold threads and sophisticated knotwork defining the seats and backrests and diamonds giving out intense silver glows.

    ‘Whoa! Talk about VIP treatment!’

    Ninetales hopped aboard, prompting Rapidash to close the door. Once assured that the passenger was inside, Rapidash started towing the carriage, directed toward the higher hillside.

    “Phew! It looks like I’ve made it in time, after all…” Ninetales said, poking his head out of a window to see the distancing town. He grinned and retreated into the carriage, before lying on the seat and letting his tails flop lazily on the floor.

    “This is amazing! Did I win the job lottery or something?” Ninetales grinned in excitement. “I can’t wait to reach my job location! I’m so going to enjoy this!”


    ❄❄❄


    “…So, this is the Crystal Crossroads.” Ninetales glanced inquisitively around the area, keeping his tails as away from the dirt path as he could.

    “Peculiar name, I must say. There is no crystal of any kind to behold here,” Ninetales said, a haughty expression on his face. “I reckon that they all have been swiped by lousy criminals. Alas, such lowlifes infest this town.” He shook his head. “However, I shouldn’t waste my concerns for such unimportant predicament.”

    Ninetales perked up at hearing approaching sounds of wheels rolling on rocks, twigs and earth. He could clearly see a distant shadow drawing near, which he deduced was his ride.

    ‘Ah, perfect timing. Indeed, I shouldn’t have expected anything else from my illustrious employer.’

    Ninetales took a dignified stance and waited patiently for his ride. However, once the stranger came closer, his expression deflated and he had to bite his lip to prevent his jaws from dropping.

    A shaggy female Gogoat with dull horns and yellowish leaves was towing a shabby wagon carrying some mounds of hay, held all together with some ropes and what seemed to be pine tar. It was painfully obvious that it had seen better days… decades ago. Ninetales held his tails closer to his flanks, as the new sticky menace threatened his immaculate fur.

    ‘Bejabers! What in the heavens is that … spartan vehicle!?’ Ninetales internally screamed, trying his best to maintain his poker face. ‘It must have… three lustrums or so.’

    “Oi! Ya's Ninetales, ain’t ya?” Gogoat asked as she stopped in front of Ninetales, showing a cheerful smile that contrasted her relatively advanced age.

    “…This is who I am, m’lady,” Ninetales responded, squaring the Gogoat suspiciously.

    “Ah, good! Pleased to meet ya, Ninetales!” she chirped, producing a yellowish vine and holding it out in front of Ninetales. “I’m Gogoat, but if you want ya can call me Mama Gogo.”

    Ninetales stared at the vine as if it was some deadly weapon, making Gogoat look at him in puzzlement.

    “Oh? Timid fella, ain’t ya?” Gogoat said, before showing a reassuring smile. “Dontcha worry, sweetie! I dun smack.”

    Ninetales lifted hesitantly his forepaw, and Gogoat wrapped her vine around it for a vine-to-paw shake. Ninetales had to suppress a shiver as he felt the callous texture of the vine rubbing against his delicate skin, but he managed to force out an awkward smile.

    “Well, I s’pose we should get going,” Gogoat said, motioning toward the wagon. “Jump aboard, sweetie.”

    Ninetales blinked, as horror started shining in his eyes. “Pardon me? Must I… really travel on there?”

    “Why, yes! The road ahead is very rocky and I wouldn’t want ya to hurt yer paw pads,” Gogoat said, glancing at his perfectly polished claws. “But dun let looks fool ya! It’s actually kinda comfy.”

    Ninetales’s already pale face became even paler at the prospect. Did he really have to travel on that dirty, dusty and splintery excuse of a wagon?
    Part of his mind beckoned him to turn tails and leave, but the more rational side knew that he desperately needed a job, or he would have to withstand his father’s ire. However, why did he have to go through that ordeal?

    ‘Perhaps… this is a test to check if I have the gall of taking this renowned job,’ Ninetales pondered, cringing at the sight of some dirt in the hay. ‘Y-Yes! It must be it. What other explanation could there be?’

    Swallowing hard, Ninetales leaped halfheartedly onto the wagon. He searched for the cleanest spot of the cart and let his tails dangle from it, tired of keeping them raised.

    “Very well! Let’s go-go!” Gogoat exclaimed, towing the wagon with his passenger toward the hillside.

    This was going to be a strenuous journey.


    ☀☀☀


    “We have reached our destination, Mister Ninetales,” Rapidash announced, opening the door. “The entrance is right ahead.”

    “Oh, really? Great!” Ninetales responded, hopping off of the carriage and stretching his limbs. He jogged toward the building, and his jaws dropped as he stared in amazement at what was in front of him.

    A prestigious mansion with white marble columns and golden pinnacles cast their shadows on Ninetales, who started feeling slightly inadequate at standing in front of such princely building. His ears flicked when the massive golden gate opened creakily, right before a red carpet rolled in front of him.

    It took him a full minute to process everything, but a grin started forming on his muzzle as he was taken over by a sudden feeling of authority. Puffing out his chest and lifting his muzzle, he strolled on the long carpet while swaying his tails left and right. A Bisharp with a blue bow eyed Ninetales, not even reacting when he waved his paw to greet it and disappeared inside.


    ❄❄❄


    “We’re almost there, sweetie!” Gogoat chirped, glancing at the wagon.

    “How lovely. Lost in a forlorn location by a forlorn mountainside…” Ninetales muttered sarcastically, before looking at what was ahead of them.

    His ears and spirit dropped as he analyzed the dwelling at the top of the hill: A traditional trattoria with various wooden tables and chairs scattered in front of the entrance. Some Skiddos with red bows walked around the place, setting the tables and taking orders from different Pokémon. He saw a Jumpluff and a Shiftry drinking some unrecognizable beverages, an Absol chatting jauntily with a Drampa, and a Snorlax wolfing down an enormous plate of macaroons.

    He perked up when he saw white towers protruding in the background, not too distant from the trattoria. Was that a proof that the meager dwelling was part of the mansion?

    ‘This may indeed be a test, perhaps as a way of weeding out the competition…’

    Ninetales hopped off of the wagon as soon as Gogoat parked it in the back of the trattoria, and began looking for any splinter hiding in his marvelous tails.

    ‘If this is the case, then… I must endure it. Soon enough, Her Ladyship will judge my work and hire me for my true position.’ Ninetales nodded to himself. ‘Yes. I must endure it. I must… stay perfect.’


    ☀☀☀


    “So, this is how a mansion looks like from the inside…” Ninetales muttered, looking at some paintings hanging on the walls. They depicted a family of Serperiors with crowns and tiaras, engaged in various activities like dancing and tea parties. However, what piqued his interest was the portrait of a blueish Snivy, looking at the watcher with a dreamy expression. He wondered why it was depicted like that, especially considering that Snivys are green. Probably an artistic choice.

    “… State your name and business.”

    Ninetales jumped when he heard the feminine voice, before hastily turning toward the speaker. Who he saw was a Delcatty with a refined blue bow on the tip of her tail, gazing at him with a serious stare.

    “Umm… I’m Ninetales, the new apprentice,” he replied, wrapping his tails around his legs. “And you are—”

    “Delcatty, the governess. Though, thee will have to direct me as ‘gafferine’,” Delcatty responded with an authoritative tone, her eyes narrowing as she studied Ninetales. She walked up to him, her gaze falling on the bow on his neck. “…What is this?”

    “A… bow?” Ninetales said tentatively.

    “Wrong, very wrong,” Delcatty responded, frowning indignantly. “That is an abomination. A lousy caricature. A complete sham.”

    Ninetales’s ears dropped, feeling dejected at having his handiwork criticized so heartlessly. “Hey, now, it isn’t really that bad…”

    Delcatty raised her paw, silencing Ninetales instantly, before continuing her analysis of the candidate. She scowled at seeing the scruffy fur, the split ends, the lazy slouch and… a bit of a beer belly, too! Outrageous!

    “Heavens! What indecent figure!” Delcatty exclaimed, glaring at Ninetales. “Thee cannot be a candidate! Show me thy evidence!”

    “Okay, okay! No need to shout!” Ninetales replied, picking the letter from under the bow. “There… um… gauffer?”

    “It’s gafferine, plebeian,” Delcatty growled, before reading the letter scrupulously. Her eyes grew wide when she saw the signature of Her Ladyship herself, meaning that Ninetales had been hired fair and square.

    “H-How…?” Delcatty asked in disbelief, refusing to accept that Her Ladyship had agreed to hire that… indecorous slop!

    Perhaps he was hired because he was a Ninetales, a rare species renowned for its innate finesse. So, what she needed to do was to turn that sloppy youngster into a premier butler. ‘How?’, indeed.

    “…Fine. If Her Ladyship agreed to hire thee, I cannot go against her commands,” Delcatty said, her tone oozing reluctance. “However!” She glared at Ninetales, who flinched under her stare. “Thee must do exactly as I say. If I find thee dawdling even once, then thy last sight will be of this manor from the bottom of the hill.”

    Ninetales stared at Delcatty, so intimidated by her piercing stare that all he could do was nod furiously.

    “Excellent. Pay attention, as I illustrate thee this mansion’s rules,” Delcatty said, leading Ninetales through a corridor. “Rule 1: Always stand whenever Her Ladyship stands. Rule 2: Always curtsy whenever thy come across Her Ladyship or her family. Rule 3…”


    ❄❄❄


    “Here’s the place, sweetie!” Gogoat said, showing Ninetales the inside of the trattoria.

    Ninetales said nothing as he scrutinized the area: Multiple numbered wooden tables and a desk were the first things that attracted his attention, followed by a young red-bowed Mienshao moving gracefully between the tables, holding a tray in her paw. He followed Gogoat closely, holding his tails above his back to avoid coming in contact with anything that could ruin his splendid fur coat. Before he even knew it, he was standing by the desk.

    Gogoat turned to Ninetales. “So, do you have yer letter?”

    “…I do, m’lady,” he responded, producing the letter and extending it to Gogoat, who took it with a vine. She gave the letter a quick skim to verify it, before nodding in approval and storing it behind the desk.

    “So, as our waiter, ya have to follow a few simple rules,” Gogoat said, showing a serious expression. “If ya see some customer, take ‘em to an available table and note down their orders and the number of the table. Then go to the kitchen over there,” she said, pointing toward a door beside the desk, “and give the orders to the chefs. After that, ya simply bring the food and beverages to the tables.” Gogoat looked back at Ninetales. “This is all.”

    “Sounds like a very uncomplicated task,” Ninetales responded.

    “Yeah! Should be easy enough as yer first job,” Gogoat said, smiling warmly.

    ‘Indeed. It’s as brainless as it can get.’

    Gogoat perked up upon hearing the door opening and looked at Ninetales. “Oh, it looks like we’ve got some customers. Wanna give it a go?” Ninetales turned to see a Braviary and a Rufflet looking around, before nodding subtly. “Good lad! If ya need help, just ask my children or Mienshao. They’ll lend ya a paw or two,” Gogoat said, before disappearing into the kitchen.

    Ninetales took a deep breath, arming himself with all willpower he had in his body, and strode toward the two avians.

    ‘Very well. Let us get over with this torture.’


    ☀☀☀


    “…Rule 99: Always wipe down thy paws whenever thee change room. Finally, rule 100: Never, ever, reveal the workings of this mansion to any living or ghostly soul,” Delcatty concluded, looking intently at Ninetales. “These are the golden rules of Majaspic Mansion. Any questions?”

    “Ummm… yes. I may have… a few of them,” Ninetales muttered, as he resisted the urge of massaging his throbbing information-filled head. He gazed toward his forehead, looking at a pile of books stacked between his ears. “Why did you stack all those books on my head? I thought books were for reading, not for circus tricks.”

    “Those books have the purpose of helping fix up thy obscene posture,” Delcatty explained, her tail swaying slowly. “Even wounded guards can move more gracefully than thee.”

    Ninetales rolled his eyes. “Well, I’m not a wounded guard, am I?” he grumbled, before feeling his chin forcefully lifted by the sharp tip of Delcatty’s tail. “OW!”

    “Muzzle parallel to the floor!” She whacked his paws, making him straighten his pose. “Raise thy shoulders!” She whacked his belly, making him suck it in. “Stomach in chest out!” She whacked his flank, making his tails shoot upwards. “Fewer waves in those tails!”

    Delcatty walked in front of Ninetales, humming in deep thought as he struggled to balance the books and his posture at the same time.

    “…Not exactly optimal, but if thee will always stay in the penumbras, perhaps nobody will notice,” Delcatty mused, before beckoning Ninetales to walk toward her. “Let us work on thy gait. Step forward.”

    “Y-Yes, gaffeur…”

    Delcatty scowled at Ninetales, making his fur stand on end. “Gafferine, Butler. No gauffer, nor gaffeur. Gafferine!” she hissed.

    Ninetales squeaked and his ears flattened. “Okay, okay, um… gafferine!”

    Delcatty wrapped her tail around her body, still glaring at him. “…Step forward.”

    ‘Yikes! She’s really scary when angry!’

    Ninetales took a step forward. He felt the uppermost book wiggling perilously, but luckily it didn’t fall.

    Delcatty beckoned him to continue walking, and he took some extra steps. However, he could feel the books wiggling more and more, until he accidentally slipped and the pile came crashing down on him. Ninetales moaned, feeling soreness overtaking his body, and began rubbing his head with his forepaws.

    Delcatty groaned in exasperation. “Good gracious! Thee are a disastrous candidate. Cannot even take a few steps properly.”

    “Ungh…” Ninetales frowned at Delcatty. “Seriously, does it matter the way in which I walk?”

    “Rule 5: Always stride with elegance and finesse,” Delcatty harrumphed, narrowing her eyes. “If thee cannot adhere to the simplest of rules, then thee shall be dismissed immediately.”

    Ninetales said nothing, shaking off the books and sitting up. That job was starting to get under his skin already, what with the obnoxious amount of rules he needed to remember.

    “Honestly, gafferine, most of those rules are ridiculous. Can’t you cut down a dozen or two of them?”

    A swift tail smack was the reply.

    “Argh!” he hissed, rubbing his head and glaring at Delcatty, who kept a serious stare. “What was that for?!”

    “Rule 98: Never complain about the rules.”

    “Really!? You even have a rule for not complaining about the rules?” Ninetales asked in bafflement, still massaging his head. “Also, that’s not complaining. That’s… um, giving a suggestion,” he rebutted.

    “Well, feel free to give thy ‘suggestions’ to Her Ladyship at the end of thy workday, if thee desire,” Delcatty countered, before smirking smugly. “That’s it, if thee will survive until the end of the day.”

    Ninetales gulped audibly, his tails quivering slightly.

    ‘Why did that feel like a threat?’

    “Anyway, I can’t babysit thee all day, so I will give thee a few tasks for starters,” Delcatty said, walking toward a crystal table. Ninetales approached the table and saw a sealed bamboo roll on top of it.

    “What’s that?” Ninetales asked.

    “That, Butler, is the list of thy assignments,” Delcatty answered, her tail swaying slowly. “We shall work more on thy gait later. For now, focus on finishing all tasks written inside that roll.”

    Ninetales nodded. “That’s all?”

    “For the time being, yes. Wouldn’t want thee to cause a ruckus while I am not around.”

    Ninetales waved his paw dismissively. “Pfft! I bet I’ll be fine! I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?”

    Delcatty narrowed her eyes. “Thee wouldn’t want to know. As such, follow all instructions to the letter.”

    “I will, I will. Should be easy-peasy,” Ninetales said reassuringly, waving his tails back and forth.

    “Actions speak louder than words, Butler,” Delcatty retorted, before standing up. “I must get going. I shall return in two hours to check thy progress.” She glared at Ninetales, who took a step back. “Everything must be impeccable. Do not make me regret it.”

    Having said so, Delcatty strode out of the room, leaving Ninetales for a much-needed break. And silence. Oh, how much he missed some silence!

    “Phew! At long last! That Delcatty is… so fussy!” Ninetales commented, before biting at the cap of the roll. “Let’s see what kinda things I need to do here…”

    The cap went pop… and a flurry of sheets burst out of the roll, hitting Ninetales on his face like a furious Leaf Storm and burying him under a pile of paper. Ninetales emerged from the mound, looking in bafflement at the various papers scattered around him.

    “What the—how the heck did all this stuff fit in there?!” Ninetales picked a random sheet. “Set up an eight-course table for ten people in the veranda,” he read, before blinking in confusion. “A what table?” He took another note. “Water the roses and the sweet peas in the hallway with lukewarm water.” He rubbed his chin. “Sweet peas? Ummm…” He picked another note. “Pour Mix Elixir in all teapots to ward off undesired Polteagiests.” He blinked. “Polteagiests…?”

    Ninetales continued reading through the notes, quickly becoming overwhelmed by the sheer amount of assignments. And he only had two hours to get things done!

    “Goodness! In what mess did I get myself into!?”


    ❄❄❄


    “…Don’t you think you’re exaggerating?”

    Ninetales blinked as he turned to see Mienshao, who was looking at him with a perplexed stare. “Pardon me, but I do not understand what thou are implying.”

    Mienshao pointed at his tails, which were immersed in a basin brimming with soapy water. “Mate, that’s the 23rd time you’re washing your tails! And you have delivered… what, seven or so orders?”

    Ninetales’s muzzle scrunched. “Well, I wouldn’t have to do so if I wasn’t forced to carry greasy plates with my tails, and I cannot afford to have them filthy.”

    “Mate, getting a bit dirty is what you should expect from this job.” Mienshao shook her head. “Y’know, you really should learn how to chill out and not freak out every time you spot a stain or a stray hair.”

    Ninetales’s left eye twitched. “Hmph! I only know I would have lived without that unnecessary wordplay, Miss.”

    Mienshao shrugged. “I was just saying, mate. You can do as you please.” Mienshao grabbed a bowl of salad. “You’re a hard worker, so there is that at least. However, I’d suggest you tone down that flowery language of yours.”

    Ninetales raised an eyebrow. “Why should I?”

    “Just a recommendation, that’s all,” Mienshao replied, before heading out of the kitchen and whispering. “Some customers don’t like smarty-pants…”


    ☀☀☀


    “This should be the teapots room…”

    Ninetales opened the door, and sure enough, he saw a wide array of teapots and teacups arranged inside some crystal showcases. On a nearby desk, green bottles with written MIX and blue bottles with written MAX sparkled under the filtered sunlight.

    “Um… What do I have to do here?”

    He began searching through the numerous papers in his tails for the note, before slapping his forehead.

    “Oh, yeah! I had to pour Max Elixir in the teapots for… some reason.”

    Ninetales grabbed the MAX bottles in his tails and poured their content inside the teapots, before nodding in satisfaction.

    “All done! Now, what’s next?”

    He rummaged through the notes, before exiting from the room and closing the door. Once gone, purple shadows began swirling around the teapots and slipped inside them though their nozzles. The teapots began clattering and whistling noisily, as bubbling black tea started spilling copiously from the holes and cracks.


    ❄❄❄


    Ninetales was striding among the tables, looking for empty plates that needed to be retrieved, and spotted an empty bowl in a nearby table. He took a deep breath and approached the customers.

    “I hope thou have enjoyed thy meal, good sirs,” he said professionally, aiming for the plate with his jaws open.

    However, a gray arm slammed in front of his muzzle, making him squeak in shock and stare at the owner of said arm. An Obstagooon was glaring at him, his nostrils dilated and his paws balled into cracking fists. A foursome of Linoones was sitting beside him, their tongues dripping with soup as they looked at the scene.

    “…‘Thou’? ‘Thy’? ‘Good sirs’?” Obstagoon growled, coming face to face with Ninetales, who lowered his head in fright. “That way of speakin’… Are you makin’ fun of us, dandymon?”

    “N-No! What makes thou believe that?” Ninetales stammered, his eyes darting in all directions.

    “I dunno. Maybe the fact that you’re talkin’ like one of those aristocratic scums!”

    Ninetales gasped in shock. “Aristocratic… scums?”

    “Yeah! They’re all the same! Sounding so full of themselves, and usin’ all those colorful words to show how cultured they are!” Obstagoon rambled, before jabbing a finger into Ninetales’s chest, who flinched at the contact. “You’re one of them, aren’t you? Heck, you even smell like one of them!”

    “W-Well… I…” Ninetales wrapped his tails around his body, unconsciously trying to shield himself. “I… cannot respond to that.”

    “Ah? Feelin’ the jitters, twerp?” Obstagoon said, showing a toothy smirk. “It is because I’m right, isn’t it? Spinelessness is another attribute of those aristocrats.”

    Ninetales looked at the bowl. “N-No. I… I only want to retire the plate…”

    “Indeed! A fitting job for a perfume-filled sissy like you.” Obstagoon laughed. “But hey! This is what you should expect from a Ninetales! Bein’ all girly and adorable is part of your nature!”

    “…That is a very unfounded and uncalled-for statement, sir!” Ninetales retorted, glowering at Obstagoon. “If thou are such a disgruntled individual that must spit on others’ pride and attires to feel remotely high-and-mighty, then thou are not any better than what thou define as ‘aristocratic scum’.”

    This rebuttal proved to be a fatal mistake. One second Ninetales was standing in front of Obstagoon, the next one he was pinned to the ground and had his muzzle locked by claws.

    “Dontcha dare compare us, twerp! You're not the one who has been treated like trash by your spoiled class!” Obstagoon snarled.

    “L-Let go of me!” Ninetales wheezed, flailing helplessly as he found himself barely able to breathe.

    “Guys…” Obstagoon flashed a sinister smirk, which made Ninetales’s blood turn to ice. “Why don’t we show to this twerp how it feels like to be like trash?”

    Ninetales looked at the Linoones in confusion, before his eyes widened in horror upon seeing them holding their plates with their soups’ leftovers above his body. He squirmed even more desperately, but he was no match for Obstagoon. “N-No… I… I implore thou…”

    “Dump it all!”

    And then, the downpour. Warm red-orange liquid splashed all over Ninetales, tinging his previously immaculate whiteness with long webs of stains and bitten noodles. He shivered uncontrollably as he felt every single drop of soup rolling on his skin, impregnating his prized fur coat from top to bottom with the odorous fluid. The hooligans just laughed aloud, reveling in their triumph and in his misery.

    Laughing at his imperfection.

    Ninetales’s upset turned to dread as the Linoones’ faces slowly morphed into the spitting image of his siblings, their words and laughter resonating in his mind.

    ‘Tee hee hee! Runt.’

    ‘Thou are just a runt, 10th.’

    ‘Forever imperfect, forever a failure.’

    ‘Thou shall never be like us.’


    Ninetales whimpered pitifully as he wiggled himself free and fled from the laughing delinquents, ignoring the concerned and shocked stares of the witnesses, and barged into the kitchen. He could feel all gazes falling on him, but he heeded them no attention as he crawled under a table in dismay.

    “This… this isn’t a dream. This… is the f-foulest of nightmares…” Ninetales croaked, breathing irregularly while staring at his stained fur. He wagged his tails, which produced a horrendous squelchy sound. “I want to awaken! Please, I… want to…”

    Ninetales couldn’t hold back his hiccups anymore as he threw himself to the floor, hiding his head between his paws and sobs resonating in his throat.


    ☀☀☀


    “The two hours are over. Did thee complete thy tasks?” Delcatty asked.

    Ninetales looked at Delcatty uneasily. “Huuuh… yeah, about that…”

    Delcatty’s eyes narrowed. “What?”

    “I… err… may have skipped a task or ten?” Ninetales responded while smiling sheepishly.

    Delcatty leered at Ninetales, who shielded his face with his tails. “Hmph! Very predictable response…” she growled, but regained her composure quickly. “Notwithstanding, I hope thee have followed the instructions to the letter, at least.”

    “Ah, yes! I did that, yeah,” Ninetales said, grinning widely.

    Delcatty nodded. “Very well. Show me.”

    They walked toward the hallway, where fresh roses greeted them. However, Delcatty spotted what seemed to be wet sugar peas scattered on the desk.

    “Why did thee place sugar peas on the desk?” she asked.

    “Well, aren’t those sweet peas? I mean, sugar is sweet, right?”

    Delcatty groaned irately, but decided to just move along. “Next task…”

    Ninetales accompanied Delcatty to the veranda… where many plates had been arranged in eight-shapes in front of ten seats. Too dumbfounded to get any angrier, she stared at Ninetales in disbelief.

    “And here’s the eight-course table!” Ninetales said, before tilting his head. “…I think.”

    “Say, Butler…” Delcatty murmured. “Did thee get thy diplomas by pity?”

    Ninetales blinked. “Not that I remember, no…”

    Before they could discuss any further, the noise of something enormous slamming against a door filled the air.

    “…What else did thee do, Butler?” Delcatty asked, dreading the response.

    “Oh, I have poured some Max Elixirs in the teapots…” Ninetales said.

    Delcatty grabbed Ninetales by his face, showing a horrified expression. “Thee did WHAT?!”

    Suddenly, the first floor started shaking violently, and a massive wave of black tea struck the two Pokémon, who screamed as they were swept away. The tea burst out of the doors and windows, soaking the furniture and floors in the process, while ghoulish giggles echoed in the hallways. Ninetales coughed up some tea, before letting out some heat to dry his fur.

    “Whoa! What just happened?” Ninetales asked in bewilderment. “Did the Polteagiests do this?”

    …NinetaAAALES!”

    Ninetaled felt the colors drain from his body as he turned to see Delcatty, shooting him a death glare, her blood boiling so much that her fur dried instantly. “Thee… unfixable… NINCOMPOOP!” Delcatty roared, slapping the floor with a paw. “Thee are nothing more than a ignorant, walking disaster!”

    “I-I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to…” Ninetales stammered.

    Delcatty whistled loudly, summoning a couple of Bisharps by her sides. “Guards! Apprehend that crook at once!”

    “What?!” Ninetales took shaky steps back. “H-hey, now, let’s talk this over…”

    “Get him!” one of the Bisharps shouted.

    Ninetales screamed and jumped out of the way of their arms, before bolting down the corridor. He ran for his dear life, desperately looking for the way out of that prison of gold and marble.

    ‘Dangit! The exit! Where is it!?’

    Metallic footsteps of the guards chased him, which made him panic even more.

    ‘Goodness-goodness-goodness-goodness!’

    However, luck decided to shine for him: He spotted an open door leading to a dimly lit room and instinctively sprinted inside. He locked the door and leaned against it, sighing in relief when he heard the guards growing distant.

    “Crazy! That lady is crazy!” Ninetales shook his head. “Gosh, and that’s only because of some innocent mistak—”

    “…What are vous doing in mon room?”

    Ninetales hollered at hearing the sudden feminine voice, before faceplanting.

    ‘Urk! My heart is receiving one heck of a workout today!’

    Ninetales grunted as he turned around, quickly spotting a pair of orange eyes in the penumbra, looking at him curiously.

    “Ah! Um… sorry for barging in your room. I’m, huh, the new butler,” Ninetales rolled his eyes. “Or rather, I used to…”

    The mysterious Pokémon blinked. “Used to…?’

    “Yeah! I kinda messed up with… well, everything!” Ninetales sighed. “The life of a butler isn’t for me…” He shook his head. “But enough talking about me. Who are you?”

    “Moi…?”

    The figure walked out of her hiding spot, making Ninetales go wide-eyed: She was a Servine with royal blue skin and azure underbelly, with orange leaves adorning her neck. Her skin sparkled under the sunlight, giving her a mystical appearance. “Je m’appelle Lianaja Shiny III, firstborn of the Noble Majaspics.”


    ❄❄❄


    Gogoat entered in the kitchen, bringing various empty bowls in her vines. “Okay! A Leppa Sorbet and Cheri Shake for table 32, and a Mato Soup for table—”

    She froze when she noticed the soup-covered Ninetales under the table, his head hidden under his drenched paws and a puddle pooling on the floor. She relayed the orders to her children, before walking toward the distressed fox.

    “Sweetie… What’s wrong?” Gogoat asked in concern, sitting down in front of Ninetales.

    Ninetales stiffened, his mind racing for a way to deflect the question. He couldn’t show this moment of weakness. That was… an imperfection.

    “N-No, nothing. I… I’ve just… got some onions’ stench in my oculus…” he lied, pointing at some conveniently placed freshly cut onions.

    Gogoat, however, could clearly sense with her horns that Ninetales was really distraught, and she did what any good Mama Gogo would do: she produced a vine and gave him gentle strokes on his back. Ninetales winced when he felt her caressing his skin, but he was in a really deep funk to react.

    “There, there. Just relax, sweetie…” Gogoat cooed, showing a motherly smile while wiping his tears with another vine. “Ya’ve got it rough with a customer, didn’t ya? That happens at times, some of ‘em can be nasty. But dun let that put ya down,” she said reassuringly. “Now, whatcha think if we fix yer fur? It’s just some broth, should come off easily.”

    Ninetales looked at Gogoat, his ears lifting ever so slightly. “Ruh-really…?”

    “Of course. Leave this to me, sweetie,” Gogoat smiled warmly, helping Ninetales back to his feet. She accompanied him through the kitchen, shielding him from prying eyes, and they both disappeared into another room. This event didn’t go unnoticed to Mienshao, who immediately exited from the kitchen.


    ☀☀☀


    “S-So… you’re a princess!” Ninetales exclaimed, floored by the reveal. “Oh, um, what did that lady say? Um… Rule Whatever, be courteous or something…?”

    Lianaja waved her leafy arms, trying to reassure him. “No need for greetings, monsieur.” She smiled serenely. “Je have always found those ways dated, anyway.”

    Ninetales sighed in relief. “Phew! Glad to hear I’m not the only one.” He tilted his head. “Strange that I didn’t see you when I entered. Were you hiding or something?”

    “Oui, monsieur.”

    Ninetales frowned. “Why?”

    Lianaja looked down. “Je must do this all the time. And… je am not allowed to leave this mansion.”

    Ninetales gasped in shock. “What?! Why?”

    “…Rule 101: Any member with unique coloration mustn’t expose themselves to the outside, to avoid contamination with non-royals,” Lianaja said glumly.

    Ninetales groaned loudly. “Seriously!? This has got to be the most idiotic rule I’ve heard all day, and I’ve heard a hundred of them!” He narrowed his eyes, noticing various geographical and nature books on some shelves, before looking again at Lianaja. “And you’re happy with that?”

    Lianaja sighed and looked away. “…No.”

    “Well, if you are unhappy, why don’t you get out of here?” Ninetales asked. “I think you could use some fresh air. Heck, I could even accompany you to the courtyard for a while, if you wish!”

    “But… the governess would be so cross with vous if she found out…”

    Ninetales shrugged. “I’m already neck-deep in trouble with that lady. Breaking one rule wouldn’t make a difference.”

    Lianaja frowned. “This isn’t exactly a compelling argument, monsieur…”

    Ninetales sighed. “Princess, aren’t you tired of staying locked in this mansion all day?” He pointed toward the books. “To have to rely on old books to have a vague idea of how the world is? I assure you, it’s much better when you see it with your own eyes.” He waved his tails indignantly. “And for what? Just because everyone’s afraid that you will be ‘contaminated’ if you interacted with non-royals?” He shook his head. “Who spouted this nonsense, by the way?”

    “These have been notre rules for centuries, monsieur.”

    “Well, let me tell you something, then.” Ninetales narrowed his eyes. “Your family’s rules, as is, stink like a Skuntank’s tail. I mean, why must you let those rules control your lives all day every day?” His gaze softened. “Don’t get me wrong. Rules are necessary, but your rules are… really suffocating. Besides, if you are so unhappy with them, shouldn’t that be a sign that a change is needed?”

    Lianaja rubbed her leafy arms together. “…Je do not necessarily disagree with vous, monsieur.”

    “If so, you should adopt a position. Changes won’t happen as long as you stay locked here. Don’t you agree?” Ninetales walked to the window. “C’mon, let’s take a quick stroll! Nobody will notice your absence, I promise.” He glanced at Lianaja. “What do you say?”

    Lianaja looked away, a torn expression in her eyes. Ninetales understood that going outside meant going against the rules and out of her comfort zone, but he believed it was for her own good. He looked down the window, his eyes widening when he noticed the distance from the ground.

    ‘Whoa! I had no idea that this room was so high!’

    Ninetales pondered on what to do, when some vines began growing from the base of the window toward the ground. He blinked and turned to see a smiling Lianaja, her leaves glowing with power.

    “Je say… Show moi the world, monsieur.”


    ❄❄❄


    “I am… legitimately impressed.” Ninetales looked all over himself, his fur shining as intensely as before the accident. “How did thou accomplish this result, m’lady?”

    “Oh oh oh! That was nothing that some elbow grease couldn’t fix, sweetie,” Gogoat said, laughing jovially. “Ya’d to see me thirty years ago, when I was just a wee lass with plenty of fur to take care of.”

    “Thou must have been the charming sight back in those days, I presume.”

    Gogoat grinned. “Well, I certainly couldn’t complain, sweetie,” she said, before perking up when she heard noises from outside.

    “What is occurring?” Ninetales asked.

    Gogoat and Ninetales peeked out of the kitchen, when they witnessed an interesting scene: Mienshao holding Obstagoon by his ear, who was crying out in pain while his fellow Linoones stared in shock.

    “Ow, ow, ow! Hey! Is that the way to treat a customer!?” Obstagoon yelped. “Not cool, babe!”

    “Listen up, you city slicker,” Mienshao said impassively. “In this trattoria, everyone is welcome as long as everyone is respectful toward each other…”

    “Okay! So?”

    “…But you aren’t a respectful Pokémon,” She leaned closer, her paws flaring with a blue aura. “Are you?

    “…Huh…”

    Mienshao grabbed Obstagoon by his chest fur and began spinning on herself, dazing the delinquent with the rapid rotating movement. Once gained enough momentum, she flung Obstagoon away from the trattoria, who hollered as he vanished in the horizon as a twinkle in the sky.

    The Linoones traded panicky looks, when the Skiddos charged at them en masse and sent them flying with horn marks on their bottoms and bellies, rejoining their leader as bright twinkles.

    When the dust settled, the patrons applauded and cheered for Mienshao and the Skiddos, grateful that they got rid of the gang’s unpleasant presence.

    “The trash has been thrown out. You can resume your lunch, everyone,” Mienshao said to the customers, before she and the Skiddos retreated in the kitchen, meeting a smiling Gogoat and a dumbfounded Ninetales.

    “There! Those rascals are gonna think twice before trying their stunts again,” Mienshao said, smirking proudly.

    “Oh oh oh! Ya didn’t lose yer touch, Mienshao!” Gogoat laughed, before beaming her best smile to Ninetales. “They won’t bother ya anymore, sweetie. And remember this: Here everybody has the back of everybody.” Gogoat stroked Ninetales on his head, further emphasizing their support. “Ya’re part of our big family now. So, cheer up.”

    Ninetales didn’t know what to say. Nobody had ever stuck up for him like that, not even his own family. It felt… really nice to have someone who unconditionally cared about him.

    “You have my humble gratitude…” Ninetales murmured, tears of joy and relief sprouting in his eyes. “…Mama Gogo.” He looked at the Skiddos and Mienshao, his mouth turning into a genuine smile. “Everyone. Thank thou.”


    ☀☀☀


    “This is trés magnifique.”

    Lianaja ran across the courtyard, enjoying the ticklish sensation of blades of grass brushing her legs and tail and the intense scent of wild daisies. Ninetales walked after her, amused by her display of childlike glee, when he spotted a pile of dry leaves. He grinned as an idea popped in his mind.

    “Hey, wanna try something fun?” Ninetales asked to Lianaja, looking expectably at her.

    Lianaja blinked. “Fun, vous say?”

    “Yeah! Just follow my lead!”

    Ninetales ducked and pounced at the pile of dry leaves, scattering them around and releasing creaky noises by wiggling in the pile. “Ah ah ah! That tickles!” He waved his paw toward Lianaja. “C’mon! Give it a try!”

    Lianaja looked hesitantly at the leaves, but at seeing Ninetales having so much fun, she gained confidence and dove into the pile. She landed in the leafy mantle and began swatting leaves around with her tail, before rolling on the leaves and releasing soft creaks. She began giggling aloud, enjoying the unique sensations her body was experiencing. Ninetales smiled, finding her laughter simply adorable.

    “Having fun, Princess?” Ninetales asked, grinning widely.

    “Absolutely,” Lianaja replied, laying on her back and letting the sunlight bathe her skin. “Vous were right, monsieur. The outside… is so much better than the books.” She giggled again. “It feels nice to not have to worry about hiding.”

    “This is called freedom, Princess,” Ninetales smiled. “Freedom from the hassle known as golden rules. It’d be much better for y’all if you had more flexible and forgiving rules.”

    “Alas, those rules are a necessary evil, monsieur,” Lianaja said sullenly.

    “Huh? But you are a powerful family, no? Shouldn’t you be able to bend or rewrite the rules?”

    “It’s not that simple, monsieur,” Lianaja sighed. “Nous are supposed to be a role model. If nous behaved like wild Pokémon so openly, then nous would lose plenty of dependability. Nobody would trust timewasters as their leaders.”

    “…I think I get what you mean. I probably wouldn’t trust someone who played all day, either…” Ninetales sighed, reflecting on his own life choices. “Though, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a compromise.”

    Lianaja tilted her head. “What vous do mean?”

    “What if… you created some dedicated time slot for doing whatever you please?” He looked at the horizon. “Maybe… every afternoon you could dedicate an hour or two free of rules, so that you can enjoy some time without daily obligations.” He looked again at Lianaja. “Naturally, you would have to make sure that no curious Pokémon are around, so to not ruin your reputation.”

    Lianaja hummed. “…That might be doable. Je would love some rules-free time…” She mulled over the idea for a while, before nodding. “Je will bring this up to Mother.”

    “Great! I’ll be rooting for you!” Ninetales wagged his tails, showing a proud smile. “You certainly deserve to be happy.” Lianaja smiled back at him, when a sudden red blur tackled Ninetales to the ground, making him cry out in pain. “Aagh!”

    “Monsieur!” Lianaja cried in shock, staring at the Bisharp pinning Ninetales.

    “Ninetales, you’re under arrest under multiple charges, including but not limited to improper etiquette, resistance to a public official and tea tsunami,” Bisharp recited. “As well as plagiarizing Our Lady Lianaja.”

    “What?! I didn’t ‘plagiarize’ anyone! Lemme explain!”

    “Explain yourself to Her Ladyship.”

    “No, wait! Stop!” Ninetales shouted helplessly as he was dragged back into the mansion, his hanky detaching from his neck in the scuffle and falling in front of Lianaja. She picked it up in her leafy hands, right before seeing Ninetales disappearing through the gate.

    “Monsieur…” Lianaja whispered, holding the blue hanky on her chest. She saw other guards closing in on her, but before they could do anything she sped into the mansion like a blue arrow. She had to adopt her position!


    ❄❄❄


    Ninetales was standing by the desk, writing down orders for some delivery services. He raised temporarily his gaze, seeing Gogoat nuzzling all her children and congratulating them for their hard work, and smiled hankeringly. If only his own family was as supportive…

    He shook his head and looked back at the desk, when he spotted a yellow envelope with written “Ninetales” on top of it. The kind of envelope used for job requests. But something was off about it.

    “This is not my calligraphy…” He flipped the envelope of the letter, and his eyes widened when he read what was written behind…


    ☀☀☀


    Her Ladyship was a really imposing Serperior, as majestic as she was intimidating. Ninetales held his head low, feeling minuscule under her piercing gaze.

    “…Je have heard many things about vous, Ninetales.” Her Ladyship remarked, sounding very authoritative. “Vous have no sense of decorum or responsibility. Vous have ruined valuable furniture by letting Polteagiests run wild. Also, vous have broken the most important of rules: Exposing my dear daughter to the exterior.”

    Ninetales drooped his ears and tails, fearing for the worst.

    “…Notwithstanding.”

    Her Ladyship glanced to her side, and Lianaja came into view. Ninetales blinked: Did her skin look… more vibrant?

    “Je have never seen my daughter so full of spirit and energy before. She looks… reborn.” Her Ladyship turned to Ninetales. “What did vous do?”

    “I… just took her outside?” Ninetales responded. “Sun can be beneficial. But your rules… do you have something against staying outside, right?”

    “Rule 67: Limit exposition to the sun to the bare minimum,” Lianaja recited.

    “Ah, see? That’s a big problem. You’re Grass-types, you’re supposed to stay under the sun.” Ninetales frowned. “Who created those rules?”

    “…Heliolisk I, the first of notre dynasty.”

    “Heliolisk… a species known for Dry Skin…” Ninetales raised an eyebrow. “Maybe that rule was beneficial for him, but you aren’t Heliolisks, are you?”

    Her Ladyship’s eyes widened. “…That is correct.”

    “And you didn’t bother checking the rules because of that anti-complaint rule, huh?”

    Her Ladyship frowned. “…Indeed. Je… had never considered that…”

    “But Ninetales did,” Lianaja said, gazing at Ninetales. “He was really insightful.”

    Ninetales blushed slightly. Did he really accomplish something good for once?

    “So, do vous agree with an update of the rules, Mother?” Lianaja enquired.

    “Oui. Nous shall go over the rules soon enough.” Her Ladyship smiled softly. “They are due a much-required revamped, after all these centuries.”

    “Well said!” Ninetales exclaimed, before remembering with who he was speaking and looking down. “Um, that’s good. Now, about my case…”

    “Vous have broken the rules, indeed, but vous have done so for Lianaja’s sake, a stranger. This is proof of votre heart. Therefore… je have decided to pardon vous, Ninetales of Lake Zone.”

    Ninetales blinked. “Huh? Lake Zone? Don’t you mean Loke Zone, Her Ladyship?”

    Her Ladyship tilted her head. “No. Je am positive of having hired ‘Ninetales of Lake Zone, Serenity Town’.”

    Ninetales’s eyes widened, realization striking him.

    ‘Waaait! Then, this means that…’


    ❄❄❄


    “Ninetales… Loke Zone… Serenity Town…”

    Ninetales leaned on the seat as the pieces of the puzzle started to snap into place. “So there is another Ninetales?”

    He looked again at the letter. “This means only one thing…”


    ☀☀❄❄


    “The other Ninetales has my letter!”

    (continues in next post)
     
    NebulaDreams likes this.
  2. Cresselia92

    Cresselia92 SM Ash = New Ash

    Both Ninetales bolted out of their respective buildings, earning shocked stares from everyone around them, and ran down the hills. They followed the signposts for the lower hillsides, when…

    ∗ SBONK ∗

    They crashed into someone.

    “Ooow!” Fire Ninetales moaned in a daze, rubbing his head. “Hey! Look where you’re run—”

    Double gasp.

    Ruby eyes met sapphire eyes.

    Golden fur brushed against silver fur.

    Heat collided with cold.

    Ninetales and Ninetales.

    “Y-You…” Fire Ninetales stammered in shock, taking a step back. “My goodness! So it’s true! There is really another Ninetales!”

    “Thou have stolen the words from my mouth, good sir,” Ice Ninetales replied, equally shocked.

    Fire Ninetales raised an eyebrow. “…Eeeh, I think not. You talk really weird, Ninetales.”

    “How peculiar, because I should be saying that about thy way of conversing, Ninetales.”

    They exchanged challenging stares, but soon started laughing, amused by the unusual situation.

    “So, you must be Ninetales from Lake Zone, huh?” Fire Ninetales asked.

    Ice Ninetales nodded. “And thou are from Loke Zone, am I correct?”

    “Yep!” Fire Ninetales grinned, before shaking his head. “Boy… how did this mess happen?”

    “I’m afraid we can only guess,” Ice Ninetales responded, before he fell silent as he analyzed the whole situation. “Hold on… Lake… Loke…”

    Fire Ninetales’s eyes widened as he reached the same conclusion. “…Waaait…” He facepalmed. “You gotta be kidding me! So, this whole swap happened because of one wrong letter?”

    Ice Ninetales nodded. “Seems so. Perhaps there was some mishap with Pelipper Mail?”

    “Yeah, maybe. However…” Fire Ninetales scratched his head. “What now? We should tell everyone about the mistake.”

    “…No need to. Nous have heard everything.”

    Both Ninetales blinked and looked around them. From one side, there were Lianaja and Delcatty atop of Rapidash, and from the other stood Gogoat and Mienshao.

    “Two Ninetales? That is… undoubtedly astounding,” Delcatty muttered, as she squared Ice Ninetales. Now that looked like Butler potential.

    “Though, calling you both ‘Ninetales’ could get confusing really fast…” Mienshao said, crossing her arms.

    “Ummmmmm… what if y’all called me Firetales and called him Icetales?” Fire Ninetales proposed, before scratching his cheek. “Um, yeah, I’ve never been good with names…”

    “Actually, I believe those names shall work just nicely. Very intuitive,” the newly named Icetales said.

    “Well, if you don’t mind, I don’t mind either!” Firetales said, grinning at his counterpart.

    “Still, there is the fact that ya got the wrong jobs.” Gogoat frowned. “Which is a pity, cuz ya’re good at managing orders, Icetales.”

    “Well, we could use someone who doesn’t mind getting dirty…” Mienshao mused.

    As of cue, a leaf fell on Firetales’s dusty head, who didn’t even react.

    “Howbeit, the mansion needs someone who knows some proper etiquette,” Delcatty remarked.

    Icetales fanned his tails, keeping a dignified stance.

    “Trés correct, but je would love to have more activities with Firetales,” Lianaja commented.

    “Unfortunately, we can’t mix our personalities and skills with each other.” Firetales blinked, before looking at Icetales. “…Can we?”

    Icetales hummed in deep thought. “Allow me to propose something…”


    Many months later…


    A blue-bowed Icetales was striding down the path, leaving behind the mansion. At the same time, a red-bowed Firetales came jogging from the trattoria, whistling merrily. The Ninetales stopped in front of each other, right where the paths merged.

    “Greetings, dear fellow. How is thy day?”

    “Oh, it’s really great! If I knew baking was so fun, I would have started that years ago!” Firetales wiped some sweat. “Sure, it’s a bit rough, but still very satisfying.”

    Icetales nodded. “Indeed. Working at the trattoria gave me the chance of meeting many pleasant Pokémon, and I can also gain experience in a refined environment.”

    “Yeah! The idea of swapping jobs during lunchtime was brilliant! I’m glad Mama Gogo and Her Ladyship agreed to that.” Firetales grinned. “So, how’s the situation at the mansion?”

    “I have arranged everything for the rest of the afternoon. Lady Lianaja is waiting for thou by the courtyard.”

    “Perfect! I’ve already some things in mind!”

    Icetales showed an amused grin. “Ah, some Ninetales cannot wait to rejoin his darling…”

    Firetales started flushing. “What the—!? It’s nothing like that!” he sputtered, trying to hide his face in his tails. “We’ll only have some… fun time! That’s all!”

    Icetales smirked. “Oh, I’m not doubting that…”

    “Good!” Firetales exclaimed satisfactorily. However, it occurred to him what Icetales was implying, and went wide-eyed. “Wait… no! It’s not that kind of fun time, dude!”

    Icetales laughed. “I know. I was merely jesting.”

    Firetales fumed and looked away. “Hmph! And here I wanted to invite you to Pangoro Café after work…”

    “Well, what if I paid for both today?” Icetales offered. “As an apology offering, yes?”

    Firetales shrugged. It sounded like a good apology.

    “By the way, Mama Gogo has left a couple Razz Berry cupcakes from today’s party. I bet you’ll love them,” Firetales smiled. “Also, there are only the catering orders and the inventory left to do, so you won’t need to dirty yourself.”

    “Much appreciated, dear fellow,” Icetales responded, before taking off his bow and extending it to Firetales. “So, what do thou say? Swap?”

    Firetales grinned, extending his own bow. “Swap!”

    The End
     
    NebulaDreams likes this.
  3. NebulaDreams

    NebulaDreams A Dense Irritating Miniature Beast of Burden

    Hiya! It's nice seeing a new face on the forums, so I thought I'd pop in and check out what I guess is your first fic post on this site. So, a furry version of The Prince and the Pauper, huh? I can get behind that...

    Ah yes, wrong dimens-- sorry, I mean fiction, of course.

    Congrats for making iced tea, Icetales. Really making great use of your powers.

    So, reading this for the second time, I picked up on the foreshadowing on Icetales' character, from his inferiority-superiority complex to the job he was supposed to take as a butler. As his opening scene, it did a lot to set the stage for his character arc, which was really nice.

    What would win: expensive perfume or spit?



    "Me, use eloquently flowery vocalisations? Inconceivable!

    ---

    So this one-shot was a joy to read, especially for a contest entry. You managed to cover a lot of ground in the space of a short story, with the different viewpoints as well as the detailed description, which brought the settings to life and gave off a solid sense of place in every scene. Everything flowed rather well and I was quickly engrossed by the humour, dialogue, and the situations the characters found themselves in. Icetales' POV was the highlight of the fic for me, as he had the most character development as well as a much more heartwarming arc in my opinion. Although we only get brief glimpses into his past, that's enough to sell how insecure he is and how much his family traumatised him. I actually felt kind of bad when he got picked on by the other customers, but that made it all the more resonant when the Gogoat sticks up for him, making him thaw out of his shell. He appeared to be an upper class twit at first, but it didn't cross the line into insufferable territory, which was what made me emotionally connect with him in the end.

    The other POV character, Firetales, was still entertaining to read, though not as strong as the other one. Unlike Icetales, Firetales is a bit more of a static character. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as his more down-to-earth and laidback personality serves as a good counterpoint to Icetales, as well as a way for the Servine princess to find her way out of her royalty-imposed prison. It's just that the emotional stakes of Icetales' POV were given to Lianaja instead of the protagonist in that viewpoint, and that was a little underwhelming in comparison.

    Still, it was a great moment when the two storylines eventually converged and Firetales/Icetales found a compromise between both of their lifestyles, sending the one-shot off on a satisfying note. In any case, I'm glad I read this, and I hope to stick around for more of your works when you start posting again here. Let me know if there's anything else you want me to address, either through here or Discord. Thanks for sharing with us! ;)
     
    Cresselia92 likes this.

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