..74..." Kentz whispered to himself as he stacked the pile of dominoes in front of him.
Seeing what he was capable of, having levitated a domino by "who knows how", he had gained a sense of confidence that he thought he could not have had in such a frivolous yet arduous task.
100!" Kentz loudly whispered in excitement.
He backed away slowly, marveling at what he had accomplished. Though stacking marble disks all day didn't seem like much of a training exercise, he was proud in himself that he had done it. Utter joy bubbling within him he raced into the hut to grab his Kyoukan's arm and pull him out to display his pride.
"Look Master Jinshi! I did it! I did it!" Kentz cheered, his tail wagging a mile a minute.
Now only 200 more, young one." Master Jin said as he walked back into his hut slowly.
Kentz's ears drooped in disappointment, in his haste he had forgotten the remaining two boxes. He looked back and forth between the boxes and the perfectly stacked structure before him. He wanted so bad to complete his mission, but he didn't want to risk toppling his tower.
AHHH!!" Kentz exclaimed as he pulled at his head fur in frustration.
"Master!" Kentz whined.
"One will make many choices when forging their path. One must be decisive, adamant, and take risks at times. You must now make a crucial decision. Leave things as they are, or forge onward." Master Jinshi said looking back one last time before disappearing into his hut.
Kentz looked up at his perfect domino structure and then closed his eyes. He imagined all the things that had happened in his life up until now. Being born under a hero, realizing that that hero wasn't what he was believed to be, being beaten and shoved into a corner, watching his mother suffer with him. He opened his eyes and snapped open the second box with gusto.
"I won't stand still anymore
" Kentz said to himself as he took a domino and carefully placed it at the base adjacent to the tower.
As he placed the back domino adjacent to the first structure, Kentz watched in horror as his tower began to lean dangerously to the side. He clenched his eyes and acted.
"NO!" Kentz yelled, not if asking the tower not to fall, but commanding it to stop.
Kentz opened his eyes to see that the tower had stopped its swaying and had righted itself erect once more. Kentz looked back and forth wondering what at happened, but found no other cause of the occurrence.
?" Kentz asked himself.
Looking down at the box he began, once more, to stack a second tower. During the process Kentz had to stop several times to watch as the towers swayed, making sure to hold his breath until the towers stopped their woeful dance. Sweat dripping from his brow as he paid constant attention to the black structure in front of him.
200!" Kentz whispered as he back-flipped off the ladder he had been given by his master.
" Kentz said as he looked up at the masterpiece. Guarding his eyes against the harsh sun that rained down upon him, he set back onto his task with unrelenting resolve.
Kentz spent the rest of the day carefully stacking until he had finally reached his goal. Placing the last domino on top and waiting for the towers to stable, he backed up and plopped on his rear, gazing at his accomplishment.
I did it." Kentz said in awe, almost having to confirm to himself that it was true.
"Yes, and now you are ready for my training." Master Jin said as he appeared next to him.
Kentz's heart nearly jumped out through his throat being surprised by his master's sudden appearance.
"THIS WASN'T TRAINING?!!" Kentz yelled at his master, being bopped on the head again for yelling.
"Not once did I ever say this was training. You assumed that it was on your own accord." Master Jin proclaimed.
Kentz's left eye twitched with a bit of annoyance as he realized all that his master had said was right. Kyoukan Jinshi had just suggested him to do all these tasks. Not once had he ever ordered him to do them! Kentz's mouth dropped agape as he remembered all the things he had been through: The push ups, the running up and down the hills with azaleas, the hours and hours of stacking dominoes. All of it had been for nothing. In a silent fury, Kentz rushed at his Master with a closed fist.
At the moment before impact, Master Jin, with lightning speed, actually jumped on top of Kentz's head and stood on it. Balancing on one foot, he drew back the other and kicked Kentz square in the face, sending him hurtling across the training grounds and almost down the steep hill. Kentz managed to drag his claws in the dirt to slow the sliding, looking back behind him to see how close he actually was to falling down the incline.
"He jumped on my head
like a fricken totem pole!" Kentz thought in disbelief, rubbing his face in pain.
On the other side of the field his Kyoukan had thrown off his ragged cloak revealing lean muscles and a look of pure badass.
"Young one wants to learn? Study closely." said Master Jin as he disappeared from sight, only leaving a small dust cloud from where he once stood.
"Where did he
?" Kentz question was answered abruptly, as a strong back hand sent him flying back into the field.
"Young one, do not get distracted!" Master Jin yelled as he quickly charged behind him.
Kentz back-flipped over and caught himself, his feet skidding a bit as he put up his guard. His master connected with several jabs and a few crosses thrown in for good measure. Kentz grunted as he managed to block a few, but more were hitting there target
HARD. Kentz shook his arms to get the blood flowing again but discovered one had actually gone numb.
"He's so fast! I can't even see him!" Kentz said as he blocked a flying side kick, but the force sent him back a few feet.
"Concentrate! Concentrate and fight back!" Jin yelled as he reached in and hit Kentz's arms apart, leaving his chest wide open.
"Force Palm Barrage!" Jin yelled as he delivered what to the average eye would seem like hundreds of palm thrusts to Kentz's chest. Kentz leaned over, wide eyed and mouth agape, unable to even move his arms as he was pounded. Once Jin finished with his assault , he grabbed Kentz's head and delivered a hammering knee to the gut, before striking with his secret move. Master Jinshi grabbed a hold of Kentz's left cheek with his left hand, and grabbed hold of Kentz's right thigh with his right hand and twirled his arms, throwing Kentz high in the air like a wheel. As Kentz began to spin and comeback down, Master Jin took his right fist into his left palm and thrust his right elbow into Kentz's sternum.
"VELOSUS CRUSH!!" Master Jin yelled as he made contact, sending Kentz spinning like a wheel across the field into a tree.
As Kentz's weakened body slammed against the tree, hard enough to shake a few leaves off, blood splattered out of his mouth. Kentz fell over in a heap clutching his chest and breathing raggedly. He just laid there and stared at the ground. As Master Jin approached the broken heap that was Kentz's body he placed his hands on his rickety hips and spoke.
"What did we learn?" Master Jin said with a bit of a grin.
"Gaghk!!" Kentz gargled, his stomach contracting inward, sending a fair amount of blood on the ground below him.
"Don't despair. I have not mortally injured you in any way. It is just going to hurt for a while." Master Jin said as he wrapped himself up in his cloak once more.
"Tomorrow real training starts." Master Jin said just as he disappeared in his hut.
Beaten and taught a very valuable lesson about respecting the master, Kentz got steadily up and walked back home. He would have to make sure to tread quietly around the village, unless he wanted his Dad to find him, and if he did, it surely spelled disaster. He stealthfully made it home without alerting anyone in the village, stepping into the clearing of the secret in almost pride at how nicely he had done so.
"MARCO!" Tyler screamed out loud as he walked around camp swinging a huge branch.
"PIKA!" Matt responded in his native tongue, smiling blissfully as he dodged Tyler.
"MARCO!" Tyler shouted again as he swung the branch again, nearly missing Kentz.
GAK!!" Matt choked as Kentz tackled him to the ground.
"MARCOOO-AHHHH!!" Tyler yelped as he was tackled the same.
"What are you two doing?!!" Kentz whispered in an angry tone.
"Extreme Marco Polo. Tyler suggested it!" Matt said, smiling in excitement.
"Yeah! You're mom was supposed to take winner!" Tyler said as he slipped the blindfold off his eyes.
"Ok! Who won?! Come on you two don't leave me in the dark!" Kentz's mom laughed.
Kentz stared over at his mother in amazement. This moment was the first time he had seen his mother smile sincerely in a long time. Seeing his mother having so much fun and being so happy brought him to tears.
"Baby? Is something wrong?" Kentz's mother asked as she rushed over to hold his face in her hands.
Feeling the warm from her radiate into his cheeks, he felt a sense of calm come from her that he had not felt since he was held in her arms as a pup. He was happy. He was happy that his mother was happy, and all of it had come from just playing a simple game with two idiots.
"No mom. Everything is as it should be." Kentz said as he smiled warmly.
The silence was broken as a twig snapped somewhere in the bushes. Kentz went wide eyed as he expected the worst: His father had found them! He knew it in his heart.
As the figure stepped through the bushes, Kentz heaved a sigh of relief. It was only the knuckle-headed Mankey he had grown up with.
"Hey you! Where have you been?! You and your mom have been M.I.A. for 2 days! This is the last place I thought you would
" Saru started, but cut short as he saw the brown headed boy sitting in the dirt not three feet away.
" Saru stammered and pointed with wide eyes.
"It's okay Saru. He's
" Kentz began.
"Don't worry! I'll get him!!" Saru yelled as he lunged at Tyler.
"Eh?" Tyler interjected in surprise.
Before Kentz could explain, the spontaneous monkey jumped at the young trainer. But before Saru could make contact, Tyler spun and grabbed Saru's left arm and twisted it behind his back before slamming his face into the ground with his right hand.
"Is this one of your friends Kentz?" Tyler asked, as if the monkey was not even a minor threat.
yeah. How did you do that?!" Kentz asked in disbelief.
"Oh! Well first you find a big branch. Then you blind fold the other player, and if you want to spice things up a bit more you can set the branch on fire, that way the
" Tyler excitedly began to ramble.
"NO! The spiny pin thingy!" Kentz exclaimed as he pointed to his friend who was currently being forced to eat dirt.
"Oh, Him? I specialize in hand to hand combat. Aikido, Hung-gar, Kung-fu, Praying Mantis, Jiu-Jitsu; You name it and I know it." Tyler said as if it was no big deal.
" Kentz pondered, as he brought his paw up to his face.
Without warning, he dashed at Tyler and shot a reared back and shot a punch at Tyler's left knee-cap. As Kentz jabbed, Tyler merely stepped to the side swiftly and tripped Kentz.
"Got something' on your mind bud?" Tyler asked in sincerity.
Kentz immediately jumped off his back and launched a flying side kick at Tyler's midsection. But, as once again Tyler was ready. He blocked the kick with both of his arms behind each other then grabbing Kentz's leg with his left hand, stepped back with his left foot, and slammed Kentz down on his back with his right hand.
"So you like to fight too?" Tyler asked smiling.
"Kentz baby! Don't attack our guests." Kentz's mother asked in earnest, not wanting anyone to get hurt.
"Yeah! Quit fighting guys!" Matt yelled in a similar manner.
"He's not fighting me. He's talking with me." Tyler said as he adjusted the sock cap on his head, dodging a flurry of strikes in the process.
As Matt and Kentz's mother watched on in confusion, his eyes displayed concentration in the young Riolu's face, but as Tyler surveyed, they relayed so much more. Anger, Fear, Sadness, Confusion, Desperation, and so many other things. But out of all these mixed and jumbled up emotions, one stood out more than the others at the moment: Resolve. Out of all the things that this young voice needed, there was one thing that he truly "wanted", and that was to be free. Dodging a few more kicks and punches, Tyler made point to catch the last strike in his hand. Kentz blinked, being shocked that the human had caught his punch.
"Come see the world with us. You're strong." Tyler said as he flashed him a happy smile.
Kentz's mind left him. The only words that echoed in his head were those very distinct ones: "You're strong". No one had ever told him that before. From a lifetime of crawling, and struggling, and fighting just to stay alive, no one had ever told him that he was strong. He had always been the "weak one", the one who always lost. Kentz body went limp as he went to his knees. He slammed his open paws into the dirt and stared at the ground wide eyed.
"Come with me and be my Pokemon. I'll make you strong, and I promise you that I will show you all this world has to offer." Tyler said confidently as he placed his fists on his hips.
Kentz didn't speak, didn't move, and didn't breathe. Matt's ears splayed as looked upon this, he didn't like for his friends to be sad. He slowly walked over to Kentz and patted his back.
"Listen. Ty says some stupid things when he is fighting. We are not forcing you. You've already told me that you can't. It won't hurt anyone's feelings if
" Matt tried his best to console his friend.
days." Kentz mumbled.
"Um? Excuse me?" Matt asked, leaning in a bit closer.
"Ten days. Give me 10 days and I'll come with you." Kentz said with a straight face.
"You have eight." Tyler said as he cracked his neck.
"What?!" Matt and Kentz exclaimed.
"There is no way he will be ready in eight days! He has to train, get things ready, prepare to say goodbye, make sure
" Matt tried to argue frantically.
"Done." Kentz said softly.
"I still have to train, and it will be hard. But I'm going to dive head first into my training and become an excellent fighter. Now I have something to fight for." Kentz said with a determined grin.
"What is that?" Matt asked, tilting his head.
"My life." Kentz said with a smile.