“I’ve had hardships, monsieur Royce. I came here only with the desire of a chance to set them straight. I may have failed...” Pal trailed off as he reached behind himself, digging one of his paws into that rucksack he’d been carrying. From it, he pulled a pouch bulging with pokedollars. With both paws, he shoved it against the Slowking’s rounded belly, forcing the larger Pokemon to grasp it himself, lest it fall on the floor. “... but I will not hand my dignity over to you.”
Royce held the pouch he was given up for a closer look. Having been in the business for years, he only needed to feel the weight and know the money was legitimate to be able to tell a ballpark estimate of how much it was.
“100,000...” he confirmed. A grin once again came over the Slowking’s face. He peered down at the Smeargle, who was looking right back up at him, as though he were gazing into the eyes of an evil giant. “You restricted yourself to gamble with half of your funds, and waited to hear the consequences before showing it. Clever.”
It was a bit impressive that Royce could deduce such a thing, not knowing all the details. Given that Pal had initially lost a bet with 100,000 Poke, and was now showing 100,000 more, it was a good guess. It was also correct.
The Slowking couldn’t help but laugh. It wasn’t any sort of dreadful, ominous laugh, either. It was genuine amusement. “Haha! I’m impressed!” he exclaimed with delight, turning around and walking a few steps away from Pal. He joined his arms together behind his back, letting the pouch of money hang back there as he explained, “It’s always a drag dealing with those who don’t prepare to pay the debts that they’ve brought upon themselves. It’s refreshing to see someone who isn’t so blinded by desperation that they forget about responsibility.”
Pal was quite relieved. This could have gone worse... much worse. If Royce were any seedier, it most likely would have. At least this business was somewhat
legitimate. “Then I may return home, now?” he asked, though he let some of that stoic front he was putting on falter, feeling it no longer necessary to be apprehensive and stand his ground.
“Yeah, yeah... I have no business with you if you’re paid up,” Royce admitted. “I assume you’ll be going home completely broke,” he continued on as he approached his desk, pausing to sit in his chair once more, “and that’s certainly a shame in its own right. Is that really what you want?”
This caught Pal’s attention. He could feel that apprehension returning, letting his head turn away slightly. “I told you before, my situation is none of your business.”
“Oh, certainly! I just like your style, so I thought you might like to hear a different sort of deal. If you don’t like it, you’re free to refuse.” Royce settled the bag of money he was given on his desk and patted it once, as though to accentuate that the offer involved it somehow.
It seemed harmless to listen, if he could leave afterwards. “Very well. Tell me your deal,” Pal accepted, looking upon Royce with great skepticism. It was hard to believe anything he could say at this point would be convincing.
However, the confident smile Royce had lead to the idea that he thought differently. “I will offer you a final, private gamble. Another doubled-up bet with all of your money, right here in my office. If you win... 400,000 Poke, straight into your paws.”
This reeked of being too good to be true. Pal didn’t buy it. On the other hand... that was enough to have a nice home built for himself and Palette. It was what he came here for. “And if I do not win..?”
Royce performed an almost playful spin in his chair, all the way around in a full circle. The suspense was only broken after he was finished. “You’d be surprised at the sorts of things you can be put through on a stage. Utter humiliation, invasion of your personal space, outright torture... it’s all part of the act, as far as the audience is concerned. Though, you could willingly sign on as some of our... night entertainment, and things would be much easier on you...”
Again with the thinly-veiled perverse ideas. “That is horrible! Stop looking at me in such a light!” Pal exclaimed. He wasn’t so much stoic anymore, instead quite frustrated. No one had treated him like this before, and he really didn’t appreciate it.
“Alright alright, heheh... it’s nothing personal this time, it’ll just make me lots of money. So...” Royce leaned over his desk, supporting himself on his forearm as he peeked at Pal sideways in a cheeky manner, “deal, or no deal?”
There was a pause for thought. On one hand... the implications of losing the bet were horrifying. On the other hand... Pal could go home with enough money to take care of everything. His luck hadn’t been great today though... he could only let his innermost thoughts guide him to an answer.
“I’ll do it.”
A grim chuckle sounded as Royce stood from his desk once more. “Excellent...”
Part 3 of "Red or Black" by