That was it..? That was it! Everyone had heard horror stories about gambling, including Pal. He felt it, when he’d almost thought he would lose that bet. If he had... he would have been just another horror story. Perhaps gambling was not something he would try again, despite his success this time.
As Pal exited Royce’s office, everything was true to what he was told. While the staff shot him surprised glances, they let him pass all the way to, and out of the exit. Truth be told, it was a somewhat awkward march, knowing so many eyes were on him. Still, before he knew it, he was out in the bay area proper, with all of the money he could want. He’d really made it.
With his knapsack in tow, and his earnings tucked safely into it, he set out for Tao Village, proudly swaying his paint-tipped tail behind him with every step. Nothing would keep him away.“Perhaps we can finally start living normally again...”
That thought lingered all the way home. It would take some time for him to get there on foot, but with all the rebuilding already going on, it was doubtful that anyone would even mind his absence. What use was an artist to a massive rebuilding effort, after all?
Several hours and many steps later, his arrival was greeted with the sounds of hammering and various chatter in the distance. The carpenters must have been hard at work on something already. Pal wasn’t looking for a building that was going to be properly repaired though, he was looking to a specific boarded-up building. One that was very well-known to at least one-third of the village.
At least, that was going to be his destination until he caught sight of a familiar Zoroark trudging away from that very building, out toward the many rows of destroyed, spared, and partially rebuilt huts which the villagers resided in.
“Palette!” Pal called out excitedly. He had such great news to share that even the idea of doing so brought a big smile to his face. Caring not for the exhaustion he’d built up on his long walk, he cast away his usual calm nature and ran straight for Palette. As she turned to acknowledge him, he leapt right for her in an eager hug.
Though surprised by the seemingly sudden emotional outburst from Pal, Palette was quite happy to wrap her larger, clawed arms around him. “Ah, Pal! I was hoping I’d see you!”
“And I you! I have such wonderful news, ma chérie! We will have a place to live on our own again!” Pal revealed with such enthusiasm. Most certainly, with the money he had on him at that very moment, he would buy them the most luxurious home aside from the Merchant HQ.
“Oh, I know! Devonshire is very generous, is he not?”
That... wasn’t quite the response Pal expected. Confused, he took a step back from the hug and boggled up at Palette. “What do you mean by that..?”
The Zoroark simply giggled briefly, pressing her claws together in front of herself with glee. “Didn’t he tell you personally? He’s arranged for a new home for us, to make up for burning mine prior! It’s wonderful, isn’t it?”
“... Uh... Pal?”
“..! Eheh, uhh...” Pal snapped out of what seemed to be a brief bout of lifelessly staring forward. From that point on, his smile appeared to be cracking somewhat, like he was forcing it to stay on. “That is... that is fantastic! We shall certainly live the good life together! I am terribly grateful to monsieur Devonshire...”
The sudden high-strung tone of Pal’s voice made Palette raise a brow. His reaction was making her a little nervous. “Uh... yeah, it’s really great, isn’t it? I’m going to take a look at the plot. If you’re not too tired, I’ll see you there!”
Down the path she went, completely unaware of the fortune the Smeargle had, or what he went through to get it. Would he tell her? Probably not anytime soon. His smile untwisted into the frown he desired to make, and his body slouched forward with some combination of mental and physical exhaustion. Having a lot of money was never the point, so such a luxury did little for his mood.
As numerous other Pokemon passed him by without a second glance, Pal stood pondering what he learned from all of this. What amazing life lesson was bestowed upon him by such an experience?
Maybe someday he’d figure that out.
Part 5 (final part) of "Red or Black" by