Battle Quills... ready! Circulation: 123,710,650 Issue: 248 | 14th day of Swimming, Y8
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The Little Giant


by horsesrocktkw

--------

Evrem's eyes danced through the crowded seats of the Colosseum. Pets of all species shouted encouraging words towards their favorite teams, the opposition being pelted with jeers. Foam Fingers were waved, and flags fluttered high above the stands.

      The young Tyrannian Scorchio sighed as he leaned forward from his place on the bench. He folded his blue arms in his lap and turned his gaze onto his fellow Tyrannian teammates, standing just in front of him. Wila seemed to be having a dispute with Scrap. Evrem cast his ears towards the seemingly heated conversation.

      "No, Wila! We should go with the three plus one formation. It has always helped us in the past. Didn't we cream that pathetic practice team using that very set up?" Scrap argued, tossing back his coarse, brown Moehog mane.

      Wila merely rolled her emerald eyes at the Moehog's pitiful attempt to change her stubborn Tonu mind. "We really should try something new. Besides, the Roo Island players are much... more skilled... than the practice team. Not to mention those overly-perky Blumaroos!" Wila shivered. "Who knows? We could win with something new. We should obviously go with the one plus three formation!"

      Scrap muttered his retort under his breath, Wila smiling smugly at her latest victory.

      "I like the two and two idea myself," Evrem said, rising to his feet and approaching his team mates.

      "Oh don't be a Grundo," Wila said. "That hasn't worked for anyone in this whole tournament. Really, Evrem, you ought to know this."

      "It seemed to work for Faerieland in the practice rounds," Evrem replied, trying to keep his voice from shaking with rage at Wila's sly insult.

      "But those sissy creatures don't have a chance at the cup, now do they?" Scrap said, kneeling down to adjust his shin guards. He began to flail his hooved front legs and jump into the air, an accurate imitation of the Faerieland team.

      Evrem let out an exasperated sigh. Why was he here if he couldn't even suggest an idea without it being shot down? Why couldn't he be accepted by the fans, or even his own teammates?! Evrem could feel a bubble of anger rising through his small body, feeling as though it were about to burst. He returned to the bench, where he had spent most of the tournament, though it was just the first round. Had he not proven himself at the training camp? Now, here in the distant Altador, he hadn't played a single game. Nor did he expect to play today, the first official match of the tournament.

      Only a few moments later, the lights began to darken. The crowd stopped chanting and booing, as though a wave of silence had swept over them. Only one light was still on in the Colosseum, a spotlight shining in the middle of the arena, where the symbol for the Altador Cup was painted cleanly on the stone surface.

      A star shaped figure emerged right where the spotlight was pointed. It looked to Evrem like a snowflake, a mixture of a crisp white and light blue. Of course he knew what it was, a Yooyu. The petpet leaped into the air, rolling itself into a compact ball.

      Dayla of Roo Island took the Yooyu first. She held it under her bright red wing as her clumsy, yet speedy, Lenny feet led her toward the goal. Loryche, captain of the Tyrannians, cut Dayla off just as she was about to reach the goal. Dayla struggled to throw the Yooyu over the towering Chomby's head. But she managed to succeed, and it was caught by Fenny Vail. Her brunette pigtails bobbed behind her as she sped towards the goal. Faking it to the right, the Usul scored to the left side of the goal. She ran to greet her teammates in the center of the arena, as they patted her on her back and smiled down at her.

      Before Evrem knew it, his team of Tyrannia had responded with a scoring of their own-done by Scrap, who now seemed rather satisfied with Wila's suggested formation.

      The game went on and on like this. One team would score, and the other team would follow up with another goal. The game finished as a tie.

      "A tie? With Roo Island?" Wila screeched as she returned to the Tyrannian bench. "I can't believe it."

      "It's alright, Wila. We'll get 'em the next time-the tie breaker," Harlis, a bulky Grarrl, replied comfortingly. He placed a fire-printed, clawed hand on her back.

      "You should be one to talk! That first goal, you should have gotten that wimpy Fenny. She's an Usul, for crying out loud!" Wila hissed. "It's all your fault!"

      The moody player stormed from the arena with her fists clenched. Her chocolate pony tail swished from right to left violently, following the motion of her body.

     "What was that all about?" asked Loryche in the most captain like way she could muster, as she approached her teammates. Her yellow face was flushed pink with the effort she had put into the match.

      "Wila's just frustrated that we tied with Roo Island, that's all," explained Scrap.

      "A tie is better than a loss, though," Evrem added to the conversation. All three remaining teammates turned around and glared at him through narrow eyes.

      Suddenly, a high pitched scream rang through the Colosseum. It bounced off the sturdy stone walls, a deafening sound.

      The crowd gasped as a familiar face was carried from the Tyrannian locker room on a stretcher.

      "She just fell down the stairs, we suppose," said the on-hand paramedics nonchalantly.

      "Wila!" Loryche said to the Tonu lying on the stretcher. She then asked one paramedic, "Can she play tomorrow?"

      "Not a chance. She'll need at least one day of rest, and then she should be able to compete. This could become severe if we don't treat it right away. But we are, so you still could win." The paramedic glanced at the Roo Island team, standing on their team bench and accepting items from the audience. "That is, if you can beat the Roo Islanders," he finished, taking the stretcher from the arena.

      "Now what?" Scrap said impatiently. "Who can replace Wila? She was, no doubt, the most stable player on this whole team!"

      "We must go have a team meeting," commanded Loryche. "Harlis, Scrap, come on."

      The Grarrl and Moehog trotted at the Chomby's heels from the arena. Evrem remained planted where he was, having not been invited to go to his own team's meeting.

      ---------------

      Evrem returned to the Inn where his team was staying throughout the tournament. He found all teammates, except for Wila, gathered around a small round table, hovering over a white board.

      "We'll use this formation, it'll work!" said Scrap, picking up the old argument and reviving it, this time with Harlis.

      "No, it won't." answered Harlis in his stern, deep voice. His red pupils scanned the white board, thinking hard.

      "You two! Stop!" Loryche bellowed, looking up from her work written on the white board. "There are only three of us left, and right now, the formation doesn't matter. We need to find a substitute until Wila can play again."

      "We'd have to go back to Tyrannia for that. No one is going to want to help us win now that everyone has already decided a team! Its too late, the tournament has already begun." Scrap pointed out.

      "That's true," Harlis agreed, nodding his colossal head.

      "Evrem... what are you doing in here?" Scrap jumped in, gesturing to the Scorchio in the door way, where he had remained for a good fifteen minutes before being noticed.

      "To see what you had come up with regarding tomorrow's tie breaking match," Evrem said coolly, sitting down in the left over chair.

      "We were just thinking of a replacement for... " Harlis was cut off by the excited cheers of Loryche.

      "I've got it!" she hollered. "I've got it! Why, of course, Evrem could play. He's already here in Altador, isn't he? He's already got a contract! Why didn't I think of this sooner?"

      "Evrem?" Scrap asked, almost as though the word were toxic to his inners. "Evrem?"

      "Yes, of course! Evrem!"

      "He's much too little, Loryche. Have you gone off your rocker?" Harlis insisted.

      "He can't play Wila's position of Left Forward. He can't shove those Roo Islanders around like Wila can. I agree, he's too tiny," Scrap added.

      Loryche pondered these comments for a moment. "Scrap is right. Evrem can't play Left Forward, no. He must play goal keeper!"

      "Goal keeper?" Harlis and Scrap whispered in unison.

      "That's my position!" Harlis screamed.

      "Are you out to ruin us?"

      "That's crazy!"

      "Think about it, guys," Loryche said calmly. "He's fast, he's nimble. We need someone of your size out there on the front line, Harlis. By no means is this permanent, just until Wila recovers. A mere game, hopefully."

      "A game that decides if we stay in the tournament!" Harlis argued. Loryche ignored this last comment. She turned to an ecstatic Evrem.

      "Now, you better hurry off to bed. We need you fresh and prepared in the morning."

      Evrem nodded, not being able to let words reach his dry lips. He was finally getting a chance to play in the tournament! His mind was racing. But he was just too excited-not to mention nervous-to think clearly.

      ---------------

     Evrem awoke the next morning to the blaring of a horn.

      "Wake up, wake up, WAKE UP! We only have two hours until the game and we still have to practice, hurry, Evrem!" screamed Loryche. "Hurry, hurry, hurry!"

      Startled at this foolishness for not setting his alarm, Evrem scrambled out of bed, leaving his warm sheets behind. He raced for the closet and threw on his team jersey and put on his armor-like wrist, shin, and other guards, for safety.

      Evrem scuttled after his teammates to the Colosseum, where team Tyrannia had scheduled a practice. Though the match wouldn't be starting for hours, fans had already begun filing into the seats to watch practice. They were eager for autographs or photographs of their favorite athletes.

      As Evrem approached the goal, his new position, he heard a rather loud and obnoxious fan behind him say, "They're putting him in? He's too small for such a game. He's smaller than my youngest!"

      Evrem tired to ignore the rude spectator, but this soon proved a difficult task. He knew this would just be one in a series of sharp insults still to come from the stands. Their beloved Wila was injured, and he had been put in to replace her. Had it really been that big of a mistake to come here to Altador, to try to make his name mean something more?

      The Tyrannians began to practice. It went fairly well, and only two Yooyus got past Evrem. He was quite pleased with his performance, but despite his slightly boosted confidence, he couldn't help but feel anxious. He supposed that it was only natural.

      Soon enough, the lights began to disappear, and again, the crowd grew silent. The familiar Altador Cup symbol on the floor of the arena began to split open. Evrem swallowed hard and clenched his moist palms into fists, determined.

      The Yooyu this time was of the faerie variety and it soared through the air. This time, Scrap grabbed it first and started off towards the Roo Island goal. The Moehog gave it a hard throw, but it was blocked by Clutch Billaban, a green Pteri with eyebrows that resembled two baby Buzz. Swearing under his breath at his failed attempt, Scrap tried to rebound the Yooyu. Instead, the defender, Gordo Gunnels used his height advantage to snatch it from midair.

      All the while, Evrem could hear the crowd shouting at team Tyrannia.

      "How could you put him in?"

      "That's what you call a replacement?"

      "We want him OUT!"

      "Get Wila back in already!"

      Evrem regained his focus as he realized that the bouncy, yellow Lilo of Roo Island now had the Yooyu and was fast approaching him. Evrem stretched his body as big as it could go as the Yooyu flew into the air, headed right at him. The Scorchio caught it just as it almost hit the back of the goal!

      The crowd erupted in an explosion of applause and cheers for Evrem as he threw the Yooyu back into play.

      Unlike the last game, this match remained scoreless. The game was to be over soon, and it appeared almost as though a tie would yet again take place.

      Fenny Vail, that "wimpy" Usul, had taken possession of the Yooyu. She dodged and ducked away from the Tyrannian players and was only a few feet away from Evrem.

      SLAP! The Yooyu hit Evrem square in the face! The Yooyu fell and rolled into the goal!

      "No!" Evrem yelled as blood trickled from his large nostrils. But it was too late. Roo Island had scored victoriously. The Buzzer signaling the end of the game was ringing. Roo Island had won.

      The spectators in the arena were just as unhappy as Evrem. They all knew that what should have been a penalty, had cost Tyrannia the match. They were eliminated.

      Evrem buried his face in his hands. He knew that he would never be playing Yooyuball again, having lost the game for his team. Everyone had been counting on him, and he had let them down. He was surprised to see all of his teammates gathered around him when he looked up.

      "Evrem, you did excellent."

      "You really showed us what you can do."

      "I'm very proud of you."

      Evrem was alarmed. Excellent? He had lost the game!

      "Everyone knows that Fenny was playing unfairly, Evrem. You played an excellent game and only let up one measly goal! It was us, the offense, who truly lost. We couldn't touch that pesky Yooyu. You did very, very well. And we're eternally grateful for the effort that you've put in, and your determination, not to exclude skill," Loryche said, smiling.

      "But we're eliminated!" Evrem wailed.

      "Yes... but we see a star in you. You played beyond expectations, did more than what was asked of you. You proved yourself for that. You are the true winner-the champion." Scrap slapped Evrem on the back. Though it was meant to be comforting, it was more painful then anything.

      "Despite your size, you played like a giant. Way to go, Little Giant," Harlis said.

      "Way to go, Little Giant!" Loryche and Scrap echoed.

      And with those final words being said, team Tyrannia headed home.

The End

 
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