A Real Yooyuball Hero
Also by geneames1
Khull_Khumm left his house in Mystery Island bright and early one morning, still rubbing sleep from his eyes. He was barely awake, but this was a special day and he was an Island Poogle with a mission. He was on his way to the Colosseum in Altador. Today was the day of the highly anticipated Altador Cup match-up between Maraqua and (his own personal favorite team) Darigan Citadel. Unfortunately, he hadn’t been able to get a ticket to see the Yooyuball match. He’d spent his carefully hoarded pocket money on a new pair of skates, and hadn’t been able to take them back to the store for a refund. Although he wouldn’t be able to actually watch the game from the stands he planned to get to the stadium early so he could watch the players arrive – maybe he’d even be able to get an autograph from Layton Vickles, the team Captain! Also, he’d be able to stand outside and listen to the roar of the crowd and the sounds of the game in progress. Not as good as actually seeing it for himself, but better than nothing.
The trip to Altador took him well over an hour, and by the time he arrived the sun was well up in the sky. Two hours until the game and already the Colosseum grounds were crowded -- spectators, food vendors and souvenir salesmen milled about, the vendors busily selling their wares and throngs of fans eagerly snapping them up. Seat cushions, foam hands, team pennants, wildly colorful pom-poms in Maraquan blue or the black and purple of Darigan Citadel – all were flying off the shelves as fans of both teams prepared themselves to cheer on their respective teams. Khull_Khumm sighed, a little despondent. He’d give anything to be there in line right now, buying a black and purple beanie or sports bottle while goodnaturedly taunting the Maraquan fans. Small consolation though it was, he reminded himself he had a brand new pair of skates waiting at home. He sighed again.
Turning away from the souvenir stands, Khull_Khumm headed toward the players’ entrance. There were several Neopets crowded up against the security barricades, which held them back from the doorway, and Khull_Khumm found it impossible to see anything over the taller Neopets in front of him as they completely blocked his view.
Determined to get closer, he dropped to his knees and began crawling carefully through the forest of legs. He was almost at the barricade when he spied something on the ground in front of him. It looked like an envelope. Curious, he picked it up. When he at last reached the barricade by the door he stood up, dusted himself off, and turned the envelope over in his hands. It wasn’t sealed, so he opened the flap and looked at its contents.
When he saw what was inside his heart skip a beat. Slowly, reverently, he pulled from the envelope... two tickets to today’s game! They weren’t just any two tickets, either – they were in section 5, row A. Practically on the field! Khull_Khumm squealed in unabashed glee. Clutching the tickets tightly to his chest he was momentarily stunned at his good fortune. Hooray, he’d be going to the game after all!
He stood there by the barricade lost in a daydream. Envisioned himself watching Layton Vickles fire a Yooyuball past the Maraquan goalie – ‘He shoots! He scores!’ Gradually, however, Khull_Khumm became aware of a loud sobbing somewhere off to his left. Slightly turning his head, he was able to see a small Gelert out of the corner of his eye. He listened as the youngster spoke to the grown-up beside him, apparently his father.
“I had it right in my hand, Dad! Someone bumped into me, and I dropped it, and now I can’t find it!” The child’s speech dissolved into loud wail.
“There there, son,” said his father, patting him gently on the back. “Don’t be so upset. I’m not angry, it could have happened to anyone. If we go to the lost and found we may very well discover that someone turned the envelope in.”
Khull_Khumm felt his heart sink. The envelope? Looking at the tickets he held in his hand with dismay he realized he knew what the boy was crying about. He realized too what he had to do. He slipped the envelope into his pocket.
“Excuse me sir, I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation.” he said politely to the grown-up who was still comforting the sobbing child. “Did you lose something?”
“Why, yes we did,” replied the older Gelert. “An envelope, a small white envelope. It held our tickets to the game.”
Khull_Khumm sighed as his suspicion was confirmed. Resolutely squashing his disappointment he slowly took the envelope from his pocket.
“I guess these are yours, then.”
He held out the two tickets. The Gelert took them slowly from Khull_Khumm’s hand, eyes widening in disbelief. He scanned the ticket information in silence, then looked from the tickets to Khull_Khumm then back to the tickets several times in rapid succession.
“These are the tickets we lost!” he finally said. “Look, Donny, this nice Poogle found our tickets!”
Donny stopped sniffling and looked at Khull_Khumm shyly.
“Where were they?” he asked.
Khull_Khumm replied with a shrug. “The envelope was on the ground over there,” he said, pointing. “ I thought I’d be going to the game after all, but these belong to you. It wouldn’t be right for me to keep them.”
As he watched, Donny blew his nose with a tissue and wiped his eyes on his shirtsleeve, good humor restored. Khull_Khumm smiled to himself, feeling slightly cheered.
“My name is Anton Shaye. I thank you, young man. That was a very noble thing to do,” said the father kindly.
"Yes, it was!” said a strong voice behind Khull_Khumm.
Gasping, the young Poogle realized he knew that voice! Turning slowly, mouth agape, he saw standing right behind him on the other side of the barricade the tall, lean figure of Tandrak Shaye, Darigan’s right forward!
Shaye continued, “I would have been disappointed if my brother and nephew had to miss the game. Glad that’s not the case, Anton! So, young Poogle,” he continued, looking down at Khull_Khumm, “where will YOU be sitting?”
Trembling, his eyes tearing slightly, Khull_Khumm stared numbly at the ground.
“I won’t be watching the game, Mr. Shaye. I don’t have a ticket.”
“Not watch the game? After what you just did?” exclaimed the player, clapping Khull_Khumm good naturedly on the back, “I can’t allow that to happen. A good deed should never go unrewarded.”
He thought for a moment, then grinned widely, eyes twinkling.
“What’s your name – Khull_Khumm? Well, Khull_Khumm, I guess you’ll have to accompany me as my guest. I hope you don’t mind sitting on the player’s bench? I’ll introduce you to the other members of the team, of course, since you’ll be coming in with me through the players entrance and sitting next to them during the game – I’ll bet I can wheedle an autographed Yooyuball out of Layton, too. I’ll get the whole team to sign it. Is that okay with you?”
Khull_Khumm nodded his head slowly, dumbstruck. Shaye leaned over the barricade and plucked Khull_Khumm off his feet, lowering him gently on the opposite side of the barricade.
“Off we go, then. I’ll see you after the game, bro. Enjoy the match, Donny,” he said to his nephew. “Make sure you cheer so loud for our team that you scare those other players all the way back to Maraqua!”
Donny nodded vigorously, and gave his uncle a bright smile and a big thumbs up. Shaye looked down at Khull_Khumm, who was standing by his side.
“Let’s go, young buddy. I think we’re in for a fine game today. What do you say?”
Khull_Khumm smiled widely.
“Go Darigan!” he cheered, and Shaye grinned.
“Sounds good to me!” he responded as arm in arm the two Neopets walked briskly in to the Colosseum.