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Frontier Town Drungfield's Remedies

Jackie Cat

A cat who writes stories.
Heartache staff
they or she
Frontier Town had its fair share of quacks and snake oil merchants, but it had one credible GP, and they said that if the reaper came for you while in her care, they wouldn't take you without a fight.

The indeedee doctor, who gave her name as Drungfield, ran a small practice succinctly titled "Drungfield's Remedies, Tonics, Salves, & Medical Consultation" – although nobody, not even the doc herself, ever called it that. The sign simply read "Apothecary" and displayed a small icon of a winged allium bulb. The doc was at once the town's physician, pharmacist, and psychiatrist, though only very reluctantly would she perform the latter service. The Gazette once quoted her as saying "you can catch crazy, if you go out of your way to spend time with it".

Pushing through the wooden door produced a deliberately-neglected creak, and caused a clutch of bells to chime overhead, in order to be heard over the bustle of Frontier Town. The scent in the air was a strange brew of aromatics and antiseptics – mingling notes of lavender and Heal Powder with the sharper tang of rubbing alcohol. The room was dim, lit by miserly gas lamps, which glinted off shelves and racks of jars, containing medicinal herbs like cheri and rawst, tinctures and ointments of every kind, medical alcohol for disinfectant, cheap whiskey for anaesthetic, and even a few dubious vials containing what appeared to be scolipede extract, presumably for manufacturing antivenom. Sitrus and oran berries hung in nets, their colors muted in the low light.

The space was divided not by walls, but by indoor curtains and folding stands, and one corner was given over to spare medical beds stacked on their ends, and a cushioned leather examination table that looked collapsible for transport. Various medical implements were laid out on a wooden table near the doc's desk: precision scales for measuring herbal doses, tweezers for extracting poison barbs, and an old leather-bound book – perhaps a medical journal, or a catalogue of local maladies and cures.

Drungfield herself looked like a male indeedee at first glance, though she was very quick to correct anyone who made that mistake – or any mistake. She wore a pair of half-moon glasses, and a stern gaze. When not working with a patient or out of her office, she was generally to be found reading at her desk. A sign hung just over her shoulder, engraved with the doc's distinctively blunt philosophy: "Real medicine doesn't taste sweet".
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[Ch01] ~ Wes Gets a Treat
The second Wes pushed through the creaking door, he had to refrain from making a face as all kinds of scents assaulted him at once. Gods. This sensitive Rockruff nose was going to take some getting used to, that much was certain.

He glanced about the place with narrowed eyes, pausing to squint at the more dubious looking objects. This place was…not the typical doctor’s office, at least from what little experience he had with the ones in Phenac. It was…simpler, in its own way. More cluttered and full of strange smells and objects, yes, but it also felt more…rugged. Earthy, even. Wes didn’t mind this, though—if anything, it felt far more welcoming that the usual cold, sterile doctor’s offices that he so despised.

He spotted a Pokémon up ahead behind the desk, and hobbled up to it. She paid him no mind, too engrossed in her book to notice him. After several seconds of uncomfortable silence, Wes cleared his throat and spoke hesitantly. “…Hello?”
The Doc lowered her book and raised a brow. It was hard to read her expression. She'd looked at least as disapproving of whatever it was she'd been reading.

"Well?" she barked. "You got an injury or an ailment, son?"

She eyed him up and down, put her book aside, and pressed a digit to her temple.

"Or a psychological malady?"
Son. Were it not for the clearly feminine voice, Wes might have wondered if Sherles had followed him to this bizarre dimension. The disapproving look on her face was definitely fitting enough.

“I, ah, yes.” A second of silence. Wes saw the other Pokémon raise an eyebrow and hastily fumbled to correct himself. “Injury! An injury. Perfectly fine in the psychological department.” Definitely. Maybe. Probably not. “Anyway, it’s nothing major, probably just a…I dunno. Sprain or something. If you’ve got some ointment or something, that’s all I’ll need and then I’ll be on my way.”

He decided now was a bad time to mention that he had no way of paying for the ointment. He’d come up with something to offer in place of money…somehow. Hopefully he wouldn’t have to improvise an answer for at least the next thirty seconds.

Worst case scenario, he could just grab the meds and bail. This lady didn’t exactly look the athletic type. He’d outrun her easily.
Drungfield sniffed, and stared Wes down a moment. She was psychic – did that mean she could read minds?

"Sprain, is it?" she said at last, just as Wes' thoughts were turning towards fleeing. "I'd better take a closer look. Hop up on the table behind me."

The doc put her book down and beckoned to the rockruff as she walked towards the examination table. It didn't look uncomfortable, and was low enough to be easy to get onto.

"I take it you're another suddenly-appeared stranger," she remarked. "In which case I expect you're hard up. I won't charge you today – you'd only have poorer luck finding work with a bum leg. Not to mention, you'd be in dire straits if you ever had to book it away from danger."

The indeedee waited by the table for Wes, a thin smile on her stern face.

"Perhaps that boy Lucien will cover my fee. That, or you can owe me the favour. I have an errand or two in mind, once you're healed."
The way she looked at him as she spoke and that knowing glint in her eyes…wait. Was she a psychic Pokémon?

Ah, shit.

As if it wasn’t strange enough being in a Pokémon’s body in a bizarre human-like Pokémon society, now Wes was going to have to tread carefully because any random stranger might be capable of reading his damn mind.

He managed to clumsily haul himself up on the table, trying not to show his bruised pride. He raised his injured leg. “I, ah, got something to work as a brace for the time being. Gonna need some help getting it off, though.”

I hate this.

He did perk up a little at the mention of more “strangers.” He scanned her once again; no signs of hostility so far. “So you’ve met more like me already?”

He shifted on the table—less intimidating though it was, a doctor’s office was still a doctor’s office, and his fur was already prickling with discomfort. To distract himself, he hastily added, “And, uh, thank you, by the way. For doing this. I can run those errands for you, no problem.”

That last part was a lie—Wes wasn’t keen on being made into some errand boy, thanks, but he supposed it was the least he could do in return.

The doc nimbly went to work prying off the makeshift brace.

"We had a dozen like you arrive in town out of the clear blue yesterday afternoon. You can read about it in the Gazette. Apparently there are still more we're to expect. Hold still."

Drungfield set about squeezing different parts of Wes' leg, watching carefully for reactions.

"How did you injure this?" she asked, tersely. "And how far did you walk on it?"
Huh. He’d have to find a copy of that Gazette somewhere, then. Wes had been wondering where the rest of their group had gone—there’d been well over a dozen of them with that cloud in the beginning.

Damn cloud.

He paused at her question. For a split-second, be considered fudging the truth a little to sound less insane.

She’s a psychic, you idiot. You literally can’t lie to her.

He accepted defeat with a small huff. “I sort of…got dropped out of the sky. And then another guy got dropped out of the sky on top of me. Walked on it ever since, except for the train ride we took to get here.” He threw her a sideways glance. “Sounds insane, but it seems like there’s been plenty of insanity around here lately, so.”
Drungfield's eyes narrowed, but she didn't raise an objection. At length, having poked and prodded at Wes' leg enough, she stepped back.

"Well, I can hardly blame you for this mishap, if what you're saying is true. I saw a 'mon appear out of thin air yesterday, so who am I to doubt such an outlandish claim?"

She sighed, and shook her head.

"You guessed right – sprain, aggravated by extended use. Unavoidable, I suppose? Hmph. Not to worry. You'll heal fast, son."

The doc selected a small box from her crowded shelves, and produced a muted blue stick, rectangular and smelling strongly of oran, jerky, and salt. She presented it to the rockruff's muzzle unceremoniously.

"Chew on this," she ordered Wes. "Slow-release oran strip. It'll do you a world of good. Do not fuck your leg up any further, I don't want to see you limping in here again from the same damn injury. Nothing I like less than curing something twice when once will do."
Wes flinched as Drungfield shoved the stick at him. Jeez, lady. Her bedside manner could use a little work, but Wes supposed it wasn’t anything worse than what Fateen put him through. Swallowing yet another sting to his pride, he opened his jaws and took the medicine. It was overwhelmingly familiar to the times he’d offered Neo and Novo strips of jerky, and he definitely felt some type of way about being on the receiving end.

“…Thanks,” he said hesitantly, his speech slightly muffled around the treat—no. NO, the medicine, gods, the medicine. Not a treat. Not a damn treat!

Without really meaning to, he scowled at the doc’s next statement. “Well, if I’m supposed to take it easy, how am I gonna do those errands for you? I can either rest and heal up or be your errand boy, but I dunno how I can do both.”

He realized half a second too late that his tone was a fair bit snarkier than he’d intended.
Drungfield sniffed, and that thin smile returned.

"You have mettle enough, son. You'll be right as rain within a day or two, with youth on your side, and run errands once you're better."

She eyed the sprain again, and pushed up her spectacles.

"Best avoid scraps for a few days further, though. Try not to get on anyone's bad side."
Wes scoffed at that. “I never try to get into any ‘scraps.’ They just seem to have a way of finding me whether I want it or not.”

He quickly devoured the stick, hating the way he had to situate it between his paws. He was never going to get used to this canine form, he was sure of it. “Anyway, uh thanks again. What sort of errands will I be doing?”
Drungfield leaned against her desk, favouring one leg.

"If you've got no other particular skills, the least you can do is deliver prescriptions, fetch supplies from Main Street, and help me prepare treatments. But if those scraps that keep finding you have made you any use in a tough spot, what I really want are medical ingredients. The sort of high-grade lum berries, heal seeds, and suchlike that are vanishingly rare outside of mystery dungeons."

The doc always looked serious, but as it turned out, there were degrees of dour displeasure beyond her normal frowns.

"Not every malady is profitable to treat," she muttered, more to herself than to Wes.
Wes looked up at her and scanned her demeanor. He chose his next words carefully. “Those tougher errands wouldn’t happen to have some kind of reward with them, would they? Seems only fair if some are significantly more dangerous than others.”

Really, he just needed some money to help him get by for the next little while. He couldn’t go around committing to one errand after another for every meal or night’s stay somewhere—then he found himself getting hung up on the last part of her statement.

“I—hang on. The hell is a mystery dungeon?”
The Doc looked as if she was about to scold Wes, then thought better of it. Then he asked about dungeons, and her train of thought changed track. She cleared her throat.

"I always figured mystery dungeons were a global phenomenon... maybe you know them by some other name. They're also called worldly distortions, 'cursed places', or sacred places if you're the pious sort. Locations that take on a life of their own, that produce miraculous, perhaps paranatural items, guarded by wild 'mon, mad 'mon, or phantasms of them. They rearrange the space inside them, and defy the laws of 'mon and nature alike."

She sniffed, and made a dismissive motion with one hand.

"Terribly valuable contents; terribly unsettling phenomenon. On that note, regarding what you were saying before – honestly, if you need cash to get by, I can give you enough errands and pay for each to make your way for the time being. That won't last forever, though, so I hope you've got a worthwhile trade skill..."

As she said this, the old indeedee paced to her desk and thumped it in three specific places. A drawer slid open, and she produced a couple of dollar bills before shoving it shut again with a click.

"Your advance, son. Ought to pay for your room at the Haus for the week. May the Wishing-Star safekeep my good fortune, but I have the queerest feeling I can trust you not to swindle me. Don't make me regret it."
Well, that all flew over Wes’s head. He put significant effort into wrangling his expression into something neutral, because apparently he was supposed to know what this “global phenomenon” thing was. Frankly, it sounded completely made-up, and were it not for the doc’s serious expression, he’d have thought she was messing with him.

But then she was suddenly giving him a handful of what could only be money. Wes stared, taken aback. “I, uh. But I…haven’t even done those errands for you yet?”

He hadn’t expected any sort of advance payment. What kind of person just gave out money to complete strangers? He had the medicine now—it would be laughably easy to take the money and simply never come back. Didn’t she realize this?
The indeedee scoffed, and raised a brow.

"No, and you won't be any use on my errands until you recover. Or if you strangers wind up getting kicked out of the Haus for being freeloaders or suspicious types. Lucien's word is good, as is his credit, but he's not the mayor round here. Best you pay up early."

Drungfield frowned, and sucked her teeth.

"I know a boy from a rough background when I see one, and on top of that, you're far from home and out on a limb. It sure didn't seem like you strangers knew each other hardly at all. So... Right now, you ain't got anybody you trust. And the way I figure it, you ain't gonna be too motivated to trust me if I make it clear I won't trust you. So here's your damn advance, son."
Well, he couldn’t argue with that. His fur still prickled with the uncanny sense that she could see exactly what was running through his mind.

“Well, then…thanks,” Wes mumbled, and accepted the money. He somehow managed to awkwardly stuff it under the straps of his brace—he was sure he wasn’t supposed to be able to move his limbs like this, so freely and almost in a human-like way, but he wasn’t about to complain. At least there was something to make up for the lack of opposable thumbs, however small it was.

He glanced back at the doc. “You keep mentioning this ‘Lucien’ fellow. Who’s he?”
"Mm? Ah, right. You were one of the late arrivals."

The thin smile again. Drungfield sat back down at her desk and reached for her book as she spoke.

"Prinplup Lucien is the town marshal, and the mayor's son. He's putting up the credit for all you newcomers to stay at the Haus for a few nights, on account of your every one of you being entirely skint, on the condition that everyone can find work enough to cover the cost by close of business at the end of the week. But he decided that when there were only twelve of you. And now, if I'm not very much mistaken, there's more than thirty. No wonder the boy's pa is blowing a gasket."
Ah ha. Town marshal and the mayor’s son. Not even the Pokémon world was safe from nepotism, apparently.

Wes listened with a deliberately neutral face, attempting to mask his immediate discomfort and dislike. Not all authority figures are bad, a small voice in his head said. Duking and Sherles aren’t like that.

He flicked an ear in annoyance. Yeah, well, they still don’t think much of me, so what difference does it make? Wes knew well enough by now that he was better off avoiding these types of people…and above all, being indebted to them. He would need to find a reliable source of income as soon as possible.

“Right. That’s…kind of him.” How long before he uses this “generous” favor against us, I wonder. “Got any ideas of who needs what services or help around here? I mean, I’ve got some basic skills, sure, but…”

He could cook and patch up clothing and tinker with vehicles, but Wes didn’t consider himself particularly skilled at any of those things. The only real skill he has was…well. It wouldn’t have a use here. Not an honorable one, anyway. He shifted and cleared his throat.

“Don’t suppose you have some kind of mechanic around here?”
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