Chapter 3: The King's Proposition

The wait was long and hard. But hell, this is what I deserve after all. But the time wasn't spent moping around, it was spent thinking…

Wondering.

Trying to piece together what Combusken told me. I honestly had no idea who he was, and had no relations with the prince Zorua. And every possibility flew through my brain of what they could want from me. I mean the king didn't seem like the kind of guy to be interrupted during an execution.

Of all of the confusion, I'll admit I was grateful. I was one minute away from having my head roll across the floor. But again… Why me?

All of my questions were interrupted as the cell door opened in which I took a moment to realize it was near dusk.

In the cave entered King Zoroark with the prince, Zorua and Combusken. What shocked me was that they were alone besides the guard opening and closing the cell door for them.

I sat upright and looked the king in the eyes as he spoke, "Damian… So from what I hear you're quite the fighter?"

I tensed up a little, "Yeah… I mean not to brag but I know a thing or two."

Normally I would've ended that sentence with a 'So what' but I wasn't looking to bad mouth the king at this point.

The king grinned at me, then Combusken, then me once more, "Well after quite the conversation with my son and his servant, Combusken, here. I've possibly decided against keeping you prisoner forever. You see, I might come as a hard hitting, power-hungry, menacing king but I guarantee you I have a heart. And I even go as far to see the possible good in people. And honestly, I feel like you haven't had a chance to change as you are only a child. So let's make a deal shall we?"

I smirked back at the king, "If it means I can get out of here I'll take it."

King Zoroark chuckled before replying, "Of course you won't be released without being in some debt to me. And I will be finding these tasks accordingly until I've found you paid off your debt to me for destroying my family heirloom. But… Enough chit-chat. Here's the plan; I'm going to have you rest here tonight and make sure you're well-fed for tomorrow morning. Because the test tomorrow determines if you are worthy to serve me or not."

I sat back and inquired, "What kind of test?"

The king shrugged, "A very basic test of your strength. I'll have you face off against three of my best guards. Your progress in the end will determine my answer. So be at your best. Because they will be fighting to kill."

'Great, so my only way out is to fight someone to the death who are way out of my league?'

"I take it we have a deal, correct?" the king stared me down with an almost menacing grin.

I sighed and took a moment before I cockily replied, "Better have a cleaning crew ready. Because I won't make it easy on any of them."

"Great! That's the confidence I like to hear! I'll leave you to it, then. Get some rest and I'll be back to summon you to my arena in the morning."

I nodded and the king exited the room, leaving only myself, Combusken, and the prince. My gaze went over to them. As the king was out of ear shot I spoke.

"What the hell are you two getting me into? You're basically getting me executed… Only this time it'll probably be way more humiliating," I snapped.

"Look, Damian. I saw how you fought all the guards two days ago. You took all of them down with one hit and it was amazing. And all of the Bisharp and Pawniard guards are trained their whole lives for serving my father. And you took them out with whatever experience you have."

"Most well-trained Pokemon can only take out one of the guards… You knocked out twelve with one hit for each. I don't even know if the three guardians stand a chance against you," Combusken added to the prince's stat

"Well trained? Those guys fought like they'd never fought a day in their life. I mean no offense to the guards or anything," I protested smugly.

Combusken sat beside me, "Look, maybe you don't see it as we do. But holy crap have you got some fight in you. If you can take out one Bisharp at your age that's saying something but twelve like they were nothing…"

"I don't see what the big deal is. What would you possibly see in me than in anyone else?"

"Well," the prince started, "Besides the fact I saw something about you that I liked. I don't make a lot of friends outside of the castle and it would be kinda nice to have someone to just relate to."

I chuckled lightheartedly, "Cut the crap. What's this really about?"

"Well, Prince Zorua is mostly on key with his statement but maybe there's a little something we're not telling you yet. Fine," Combusken tensed up, as did the prince, "You see, we're in a heated feud at the moment. With another kingdom attempting to steal King Zoroark's palace and villages. You may have noticed Pokemon pillaging towns or burning forests."

I shrugged, "Not really… But what you're basically saying is you need another person to die in this big war that isn't even mine to fight? I feel like that just makes it one or twenty more Pokemon that want me dead. Plus, I can't be that good in this fight. I'm just some thief, who can handle himself against some weak Bisharp. Maybe those guys you guarding against were just not that good of fighters."

Combusken looked at the prince, then me again.

"I didn't want it to resort to this… But if you're not gonna see it my way you'll see it another way. I'm going to try to attack you with something that's been passed down in my family for several generations. Unblockable, so you're only chance to avoid this is with the speed of a legendary or a perhaps a psychic type. I won't even attack on war-"

In a flash of instant movement he was on his feet and his claws just managed to swoop past my face as I reacted to the attack. The heat of his arm emanating to the right side of my face.

"-ning."

Combusken rested his arms to his side, "Wow… Unreal…"

"Was… that it?" I asked almost chuckling.

"Was that it!? Are you kidding me!? You dodged that with nearly no effort! That attack takes all the energy I have. I came at you at the speed of light… The speed of light… How is this not astonishing to you?" Combusken asked, completely boggled.

I bit my lip, "Speed of light? So that's pretty fast hunh? What's faster than the speed of light?"

The two before me just chuckled.

"You're gonna destroy the guardians tomorrow," the prince stated smugly.

Combusken nodded, "Don't be so sure, your majesty. Our friend here has to take on three of the kings greatest fighters in a row. They won't go easy on you, Damian. These so-called weak Bisharp might not be any challenge to you but after the first fight you'll be tired. My best advice for tomorrow is this. Don't go all out until the last fight, unless you really feel like you have to. Because you have to face off against Shema for your final battle and it won't be easy by any means."

My heart skipped a beat, "No way…"

"Hmm?" they both stared at me.

"No… Shema…? She's not a Mienshao by chance is she?" I muttered.

"Yes, I take it you somehow know her?" Combusken inquired.

I nodded slowly, "I thought she died… Everyone told me that she…"

That was when the tears started to roll in. A good something years ago, Shema took care of me and my big brother as her own. I remember I used to drive her crazy with all of my shenanigans. Whether it be stealing or pranking Pokemon around town. Then one day she just… never came back home.

Then an Arcanine who happened to be part of an investigation team came to us and told us what happened. Or at least what we were told that happened.

And that was when pieces were beginning to form the puzzle.

Either she abandoned me and my brother, or she actually might have been injured. But the part that almost answered my questions was this… She didn't come looking for us. If she really did want me and my brother, she would have looked for us. But she didn't…

Regardless, my brother and I were awestruck and had to live our own from then. At least until he was murdered, and then… I killed that guy for it. And I was alone. I had no one but myself and my hatred for everything and everyone.

One by one the tears fell, and I hate to admit it was the first I had cried like this since my brother died. Everything was slowly coming together now, but what brought her to the king I had no idea. I just knew I was hurt inside, knowing that tomorrow I was going to fight the one who taught me a lot of what I know.

And as I stand over her near unconscious body tomorrow, I'm going to ask her one question…

"Why?"