Ruby's getting kind of tired of the bumping of the truck on the trip to Johto, and how it keeps interrupting his knitting, but it's nothing he wasn't expecting to deal with. What he's not prepared for is the gold-ringed portal that opens up right in front of him and swallows him and his Pokémon whole, and deposits him and his freinds somewhere entirely different from the southern region he was just entering.
A woman - taller and darker skinned than most of the other people he’s seen here, wearing a modest yellow dress in lieu of anything Viking chic - opens the door. She seems just as excessively cheerful as her wife.
“Oh! A new face! How the heavens must bless me, today, to show me such novel hearts by my hearth, to lend me their grace and their cheer! - come in, we have plenty, come in! I will add potatoes to the pot.”
That’s definitely obsessively cheerful. If Ruby had rigorous self awareness, he might equate this drive with his own focus on beauty, but that doesn’t rank highly among his many virtues.
“Hello. I’m Ruby.” He thinks back for a moment, then continues. “I stopped by the... immigration center, looking for a place to stay for a bit, and your wife suggested I come here.”
She leaves the door open for him, and starts drifting to the house’s kitchen, gesticulating to punctuate her statements.
”Ah, so you have seen my beautiful Sabine - what grace! What passion! I have good taste, you must agree.”
“I didn’t actually meet her for that long, but she’s certainly passionate.” It’s not just the work, either, slthough she did seem enthusiastic on that score; wearing a Skitty ears headband is fsr from common back home, and from what he could tell from the streets its not the current trend here either.
”Speaking of which, do you have rules about Pokémon here? Nana, Ruru, and Coco are very well behaved, but I know some people have places off limits to even contest ‘mons.”
“... pardon?” says the woman-who-hasn’t-introduced-herself, turning around to look at him.
“I do contests.” He says, as if this was helpful. Then, a thought occurs.
”Is it translating that as the name of a species again? It was doing that before.”
“... you are saying ‘goblin’, child; goblins are the fruit of goblin fonts, alongside goblin fruit, and they are the creations of witches. Goblins are not a ‘species’, my grace of the heavens, any more than plants or stones are, they are a kind of thing. You have three goblins, which you enter paegents with, and you would know if they may enter here as well?”
“Huh, this really isn’t translating well, that's annoying. Maybe this will clear things up."
He reaches for his belt in a smooth motion and, with the speed and grace of a long practiced action, pulls off three red and white spheres. He then tosses them into the air with a flourish, and calls out, "Ruru! Nana! Coco!"
“... they may remain here if they harm nothing, child. Are you a witch?”
"I don't do Pokémon battles. And no, I'm a coordinator."
“... and that... is...”
“It means I do contests, not battles.”
There’s no denying it, though; the botched translation, the confusion, the lack of recognition of Pokémon and Pokéballs...
”I must be a lot further from home than I thought.
“It may be so, child, but the heavens watch over us all! Would you like something to drink, while you rest? The living room is there, and others will be glad to hear of your travels.”
Ruby heads to the living room, where there are two younger children, both younger than he is; from the looks of it, maybe 7 and 9, although he doesn't think he's good enough that he'd be able to tell them being a year off that. He continues his combing of Coco's fur while she finishes dinner; she's done just as the woman with the Skitty headband from earlier arrives. Dinner is fairly tasty, but it quickly becomes clear that they're missing a lot of the technology that he takes for granted from back home, and it's kind of an ecletic mix; they have no Pokéballs or other storage technology whatsoever, even though those had been around for centuries before some of the stuff they do have.
During dinner, he manages to finally unpack what, exactly a goblin is; they aren't wholly dissimilar to Pokémon, which seems to be why the translation got tripped up there. There are some... fairly major differences, but it's the closest thing to Pokémon contests they have, and there's one starting up tommorow where he can get a ruling from their equivalent of contest judges.
Some of what they do have seems like it must be very advanced - dinner is cooked with the help of a strange looking ever-burning bush within the fireplace, there are a few flowers scattered throughout the house that illuminate as much as lamps would, there’s a houseplant in the corner which spends its time gravely playing a small blue violin and providing ambiance, a few other contrivances are scattered here and there - but further inquiry reveals everything to be of magical manufacture.
The woman with cat-ears and her wife continue being ridiculously hospitable, cheerful, and incurious, and provide a place to stay, for the night.
There is morning, and early afternoon, the next day, and then he’d best be off to the pageant, if he’d like to be in it.
He definitely would. He'd spent the morning putting the absolute finishing touches on their conditioning, making sure they were ideally bedecked to wow an antirely unfamiliar audience, who wouldn't even necessarily have the same basics of appeal structure, and then heads off to the building in question. He's maybe half an hour early - there wasn't that much to do.
Were this internal narration audible to anyone who had seen his preparations earlier that morning, there might be a sense of disbelief.
The building is very, very nicely made, and nevertheless resembles a sort of overgrown tree stump.
There’s a woman in a spectacular dress, just outside of it - a tasteful mix of metal scales in shimmering technicolor, a soft, silken, translucent fabric, simultaneously of the same Viking-chik style he’s seen elsewhere and inifinitely transcending it.
She glances down at him.
”Hello. You are here for the paegent auditions?”
"I am. I'm from a ways away, though, where we do contests differently; I'm hoping to get a list of the rules, and to make sure my Pokémon will be allowed to compete."
“Those who compete will compete; those who do not will not. You are not from Tea, and you did not learn this language by nature; from where do you come?”
"I'm from a place called Johto; Goldenrod city, to be specific. I have no idea where that is relative to here."
“Perhaps it isn’t. I have know stranger things. Young boys arriving early, for instance - most people will come five minutes before, and some will arrive five minutes after, and some will arrive after dusk. You and I have arrived thirty minutes early; why do you think that is?”
“I had some things I needed to have done before I participated, and didn’t know how long they would take, so I made sure to give myself plenty of time.”
“How practical. What do you plan to enter in the pageant?”
“My Pokémon are trained to participate in Cuteness, Coolness, and Intelligence contests, but I’m not sure how the categories line up here.”