Where Were Yoo?
As the Altador Cup draws ever nearer, fans from all teams are preparing for another hard season of Yooyuball.
But have you ever wondered what happened to the yooyus during the centuries in which Altador was secluded from the whole of Neopia? When the history of this noble country was erased from every last book as well as the memories of its citizens? I bet you thought that they just sort of stayed there, being kept in a little area designated just for them. You couldn’t be more wrong.
What is a yooyu, you ask? Well, yooyus are star-shaped petpets. They can curl into a ball, protected by their extremely tough skin, when they are nervous or feel threatened. King Altador uses them as his prized messengers. On a visit to Altador, you may glimpse them zippily zooming through the air with the small corner of a neomail peeping out of a tiny crack in their defenses. (It is very important that The King keeps in touch with the other monarchs of Neopia, you know.) Therefore, only fittest and most elite of the Altadorian petpets are given the honor of delivering a message from The King.
However, the fame of the yooyu most definitely comes from the Altadorian sport called Yooyuball. Yooyuball is a very fun game, in which teams from all the realms of Neopia play against each other for the Altador Cup.
But this article is about the most wonderful part (but least appreciated) of Yooyuball: the yooyus, of course. The yooyus courteously serve as the ball in this game, curling up and allowing themselves to be thrown from player to player, sometimes rather rudely. Only the most well-trained and fittest (fit being very durable, able to be thrown about by the most ferocious of arms and at terrifying speeds whilst resisting the urge to take control of themselves and fly away) of all the yooyus are chosen to play in the competition, while the others will most probably train even harder for the next year’s Cup.
What kinds of yooyus are there? Well, during the first Altador Cup, Altador had only just been reintroduced to the rest of Neopia. So, sadly, only four of these wonderful creatures had been found once more in time for the Tournament: Fire, Snow, Faerie, and Mutant. Over the course of the next year, three more yooyus had been found: Darigan, Clockwork, and the Normal yooyus.
I myself wondered how these beautiful petpets had managed to escape the attention of Neopians for so long. So, I made up my mind to ask these little guys in person. So, off I went to the cages where the yooyus were being kept in preparation for the next Yooyuball match.
I approached the cage, slightly hesitant. I’d never talked to a competition yooyu before, and I was afraid that they would be slightly stuck up. But, thankfully, they were very polite, and their company was rather enjoyable.
“Uh... hi,” I said very confidently.
“Hello,” answered the fire yooyu curiously. I guess that normally people don’t bother to talk to the poor yooyus.
“I’m Nancydrewobsessed_Jr, a green Bori, as you can see, but please call me Jr.,” I replied, smiling. “I would like to ask you some questions. Is that okay?”
“Of course!” piped up the snow yooyu. “It would be our pleasure.”
“Speak for yourself,” grumped the mutant yooyu.
“Oh, Muty, don’t be so mutinous,” the snow yooyu chided its mutant counterpart.
I cleared my throat, and at once I had all of the yooyus’ attention once more. “Now, would it be okay if I took you all to my Neohome for some snacks and a quick question or two?”
“We’d certainly love to, but we’ll have to ask our trainers...”
“Oh, my trainer doesn’t care. Go ahead and take me. It’ll feel good to get out of this stupid cage,” said the mutant yooyu, surprisingly excited.
“I’ve already spoken to all of your trainers, and they agree that it would be good for you to get some fresh air and spend a little bit of time in a normal Neohome, rather than a cage. But the decision is yours,” I was finally able to explain. All of the yooyus consented, and we headed back to my Neohome.
When we got back, I made sure that each yooyu was comfortable and happy before I began the questioning. The fire yooyu was, of course, basking by the fire, which I had stoked just for him. The snow yooyu was snuggled next to the door of our icy refrigerator. (Yes, it’s made completely of ice, and it never melts! Convenient, eh?) The Darigan and mutant yooyus were huddled together in the darkest corner they could find, with the faerie yooyu gliding cheerfully above them. They occasionally sent a glare in her direction, but she seemed to be used to it. The normal yooyu was seated on our couch, and the clockwork yooyu had found its way to the inside of our Von Roo clock, peering out through the glass as the pendulum swung back and forth behind it.
“Now that we’re all settled comfortably, who would like to be the first to be interviewed?” I asked loudly, so that the snow yooyu would be able to hear me from the kitchen.
“Me! Me! Oh, please pick me!” came a muffled reply from the next room.
“Alright, come with me, then.” With a quick nod to the other yooyus, I hurried to the kitchen and picked up the snow yooyu. “Is there any kind of snack that you would like to eat first?” I asked.
“Hm... An Ice Lolly would be nice right now. I rarely get treats. Thank you so much!”
Reaching into the refrigerator, I grabbed the only remaining Ice Lolly and handed it to the yooyu. I carried her up to my room while she happily licked away at it, and I set her down gently on my bed and sat down beside her.
“Are you ready?”
“Then let us begin,” I said, brandishing my notebook. “Where did you and your kind go after Altador vanished?”
“Well, since apparently the curse that was placed on Altador be the Darkest Faerie didn’t affect yooyus (I guess we weren’t very important in her grand scheme) we were all left in the barren wasteland that was left in Altador’s wake. There were thousands of every type of yooyu imaginable, and we were all mixed together, alone and confused. But, each type eventually found the others of its own kind, and each species formed its own large group. We snow yooyus migrated to Terror Mountain.”
I was scrawling furiously in my notebook, and I took a moment to cross my last T before asking my next question, which was burning on my tongue. “Do you remember any of the other kinds of yooyus that there were? Ones that haven’t been rediscovered yet?”
“No, sadly. It was so long ago, I’m afraid that no yooyu can remember. There were so many... but as each type is reintroduced, our memories seem to clear a bit. Although the Darigan yooyus just confused me. I may not have been able to remember all of the other kinds, but I’m certain that there were no Darigan ones.”
“Oh,” I said, slightly disappointed. “How did you get through the centuries without being discovered?”
“Well, we pretty much lived on the mountain itself, while the vast majority of Neopians lived either along the base, in the icy caverns, or on the summit. We avoided those areas, but every once in a while there was the lost pet who we lead to safety, or the odd one gathering rare herbs that spotted one of us. But, in general, any of the few that did see us passed us off as fat polarchucks. So, we fared quite well, until one day we all had a strange feeling of unrest. Somehow, we just knew that our home had returned once more. For many days we traveled, trying to remain hidden amidst the dense undergrowth as we left the mountain. Many of us almost melted, but thankfully, our bodies must have remembered that we once had lived in these temperatures, and, though there were a few casualties, we all made it back to Altador. Oh, how good it was to see the sweet sun shining upon the face of our beloved home!”
I finished my notes, then picked up the snow yooyu and headed downstairs, repositioning her next to the fridge. With a smile, I strolled into the living room. When the yooyus saw me, the fire yooyu immediately jumped into the air and sailed over to me. “We’ve decided on an order in which we will talk to you. Me, then Muty, Faer, Dari-”
“DON’T CALL ME DARI!” the Darigan yooyu shouted.
The fire yooyu continued without a glance at his purple friend, “then Norm, and finally Clock. He’s content where he is. Your clock must be nice,” he said with a smile.
“Well, then, let’s head up to my room. But first, is there anything you want to eat?”
“Hm... anything spicy, please.”
“Okay,” I said. I went into the kitchen, noticing that the snow yooyu had fallen asleep, and was snoring quietly. I grabbed a taco with extra spicy sauce, then made my way back to the living room, where the fire yooyu was waiting. “Would you mind flying? I hate to be rude, but you’d burn me,” I said hesitantly.
“It’s quite all right. I’d prefer to fly, anyway,” the fire yooyu answered understandingly.
I led the way up to my room, and the yooyu hovered in the air, not wanting to sit down and set anything aflame. Opening my notebook, I asked my first question, “After Altador vanished, where did you and your kind go after gathering together?”
“Well, after we had gathered, we didn’t know where to go. So, one of us took charge, and flew off in a random direction. After soaring through the skies for several hours, we were starting to tire. I was exhausted, and could go no further. I had no idea where we were, but I stopped dead still in the air, closed my eyes, and prepared to be extinguished by the ocean’s waves. My fall was cut short, however, by a warm, gooey substance. I opened my eyes. Lava! I had inadvertently discovered a new home! I zoomed happily back up to the pack of yooyus, rejuvenated by my discovery. I showed them the volcano, and they all agreed that it was just what we had been looking for!”
“How did you get through the centuries without being discovered, and how did you know when to go back home?”
“Well, as we thrived inside an active volcano in Tyrannia, not many Neopians were dumb enough to climb inside,” the yooyu said, looking at me strangely. I must have sounded really stupid with that question. “Anyways, we knew that it was time to go back. That’s it. We just knew. So we flew back, abandoning our temporary home. And let me tell you! Boy, was it ever great to see our home again!”
“I’m sure it was, I agreed, wrapping up my notes. The yooyu finished his taco, and we both went downstairs.
The mutant yooyu was waiting, having already retrieved a slimesicle from the fridge. I was slightly annoyed by his arrogance, but decided to ignore it. He followed my back to my room, perching himself on the edge of my bed as I once more too out my notebook.
“Would you mind if I called you Muty? The other yooyus seem to call you that,” I pointed out when he glared at me.
“Fine. Just get on with it,” Muty said grumpily.
“Where did you and your kind go-?”
“After forming a big group, my kind and I went to the Haunted Woods,” he interrupted. “I loved that place, haha. Sidney was the bessssssst.”
“How did you manage to go unnoticed for all of that time?”
“Not many are foolish enough to travel as deep into the Haunted Woods as we did. Most people are scared just by the Brain Tree. That huge, pulsating brain isn’t exactly a pleasant sight. We knew we had to return home, however, when Altador reappeared. I don’t know how we knew, or why, but we just knew,” said the mutant, licking the last bit of slime from the stick of his slimesicle.
“Thanks you, Muty. I appreciate your taking the time to talk to me,” I said.
“Yep,” he replied, only half-meaning it.
The Faerie yooyu was much more enjoyable company. She was not confused in the least when we reappeared only a minute after we left. Faer was used to Muty’s curt replies, and understood. So, she was ready for our return, zooming immediately to my side.
“May I please have some Faerie ice cream? You can just call me Faer, by the way. That’s what everyone does.”
“Okay, then, Faer,” I said. I tiptoed into the kitchen, trying not to disturb the snow yooyu, who was still snoring softly. I opened the fridge just a crack, reached in, and grabbed a faerie ice cream. It was a good thing I had gone shopping the day before.
I handed Faer her ice cream, and we went up to my room, both of us settling on the bed.
“Fire already told me the questions you’re going to ask. So, I’ll go ahead and start. When Altador vanished, all of us Faerie yooyus took off into the air, in search of the land we had heard about in legends- Faerieland. Though we were weighed down by the burden of our disappearing home, we were all very excited about finding Faerieland. We Faeries are always optimistic, you know. Oh, it must have been a beautiful sight! Imagine, hundreds of Faerie yooyus flying together, all perfectly round, with long, slender pink and purple wings beating in unison. It felt GREAT to be up that high! Did you know, that of all the yooyus there are, all of them can fly. But only the Faeries can soar as high and for as long as we can! I view flying as a gift. Being able to zip through the air every which way and not have a care in the world- you’ll never know how great that is,” she said sadly, casting a glance at my wingless back. “Unless your owner is going to paint you the marvelous colour of Faerie?”
I shook my head sadly. “No, I’m afraid not. My owner is more of the dark and creepy type. She thinks that most Faeries are too preppy for her taste. But I’m sure she’d greatly enjoy your company!” I quickly added, not wanting to offend the yooyu.
“Oh, it’s all right,” Faer said, a bit testily. “Where is your owner, anyway?”
“She took my two sisters out earlier to play games,” I answered. “Now, would you mind answering my next question? How did you go unnoticed by the Faeries for so long?”
“Oh, we weren’t unnoticed. Fyora knew we were there, but she also knew why, so she didn’t bother us. As for the other Faeries and the various Neopians... well, she tend to blend in wish the clouds, and we never stayed still long enough to allow them a good glimpse.”
“What made you return home to Altador?”
“Well, one day, we just knew something wasn’t right, and that we couldn’t stay in Faerieland. We felt a sort of... pull... towards our home. We didn’t think that it would be there, but what do you know. Right there it was, like it had never been gone at all!” At this, Faer zoomed around the room happily, narrowly missing my rare vase from the Lost Desert.
“Ready to go back down?” I asked, steadying the vase.
“Yeah,” she said, taking one last gulp of ice cream.
Once downstairs, she immediately zoomed off to the kitchen, placing the empty ice cream dish next to the sink. The Darigan yooyu meandered over to me, taking his time in getting there.
“I take it it’s not okay if I call you Dari?” I inquired when he had finally reached my side.
“No, it’s not. Call me ‘Dare.’”
“Okay, Dare. Would you like a snack?”
“Yes, please. A Darigan Muffin would be nice,” he requested, smiling.
“But that’s a Battledome weapon, isn’t it?” I asked, confused.
“Yes, it is, but it can still be eaten all the same,” he said nonchalantly.
Without a word, I retrieved a Darigan Muffin from our stash of Battledome items, and gave it to the yooyu. I needn’t have worried about crumbs, for Dare was very neat.
“Fire already told me what questions you’re going to ask, and I presume that they are the same for all of us?”
“Yes. Please go on,” I breathed.
“When Altador disappeared, there were many normal yooyus left in the aftermath. So many of us, in fact, that two separate groups were formed. This was because we weren’t sure if any new places would be able to provide for all of us. So we split up. My group, obviously, was the group that ended up on the Darigan Citadel. We lived happily, and, over time, we found that our bodies were starting to adapt to the new climate: Our colour darkened to a rich, deep purple, we grew pointed wings that could both be used as a weapon against the harsh enemies of the Citadel, or as a method of escape. Our eyes became red, to intimidate any who dared challenge us. They also helped us to see in the dark a lot easier. Though we went through a physical metamorphosis, our personalities remained the same. We were not influenced to become mean or cruel. Eventually, though we were perfectly happy on the Darigan Citadel, we knew that the time had come to leave. We were reluctant to leave our new home, but as the need to go home increased, we knew we could never be happy where we were. And so, flying back to the spot where Altador has once stood, we were shocked to see that it had returned! And so had several other yooyus, by the look of it. We were so happy to meet up with our normal cousins, whom we had missed dearly. It was a joyful reunion. But then the Altador Cup started up for the second time. We are proud to say that the Darigan Citadel won the Cup, and that they will ALWAYS be a major competitor,” the yooyu crooned cheerfully.
I had to struggle to keep up with his words; he was talking very excitedly.
Apparently, though the Darigan yooyus are glad to be home, they’ve picked up a strong sense of loyalty to the Darigan Citadel, for housing them through their many years of need. Finishing my sentence with a brisk dot, I nodded to the purple yooyu, who led the way back downstairs.
The normal yooyu was waiting patiently by the stairs for us. Dare went back to the corner that he shared with Muty, and I walked over to his cousin.
“I see you’re well and ready. Would you like anything to eat first?” I inquired.
“Hm... a cupcake would be nice,” he said politely.
I crept into the kitchen, past the snow yooyu, who was still asleep, and grabbed a cupcake. I gave it to the normal yooyu, and we went up to my room.
“Call me Norm,” he said, sitting down on the bed and biting into his cupcake. “Mmmm. This is good. Thank you!”
“You’re very welcome. Now...” I opened my notebook for a sixth time. “Where did your group of normal yooyus go when Altador disappeared?”
“Ah, I see Dari already told you about the two groups. (He only lets me call him Dari. I believe it’s because we were both once normal, so we’re closer than the others.) Well, when Dari’s group took off, we didn’t know where to go. But then, we got an invitation from the Clockwork yooyus to go with them. There aren’t very many of them, you see, and I think they probably enjoyed the extra company. We eventually wandered upon Neopia Central, and there we parted company with the Clockwork yooyus. We traveled straight though, and ended up settling down in the forest at the edge of a nice little lake, with round little Kikos hurrying about everywhere.”
“But, since you were so close to civilization, how did you manage to stay hidden?” I asked curiously.
“Our orangish-brown colouring camouflaged quite well with the surrounding forest, and we stayed out of the way. Kiko Lake isn’t the most popular world to visit, as they have only a couple of odd shops. If someone did spot one of us, however, they must have thought that they were a gullible, rather small Kiko who had tried to paint themselves with something other than a paintbrush. Kikos aren’t very curious folk. They’re just happy the way they are.”
“I see. How did you know that it was time to go back home to Altador?”
“We just felt the need to return one day. But, like our Darigan cousins, we didn’t want to leave quite yet. So we waited for a few weeks, but then decided to head back. The pull was becoming stronger and stronger. We arrived home right after the Altador Cup had ended and prizes were being released. (It was good to know that they were still having it!) Several of us decided to go home with various Neopians, in the hopes of finding a new home, while the majority remained in Altador to catch up with the other yooyus.”
I nodded, remembering guiltily the poor yooyu in my safety deposit box.
“Are there any other questions that I can answer for you?” Norm asked.
“No; I believe that’s all,” I stated, opening the door for the yooyu.
Once back downstairs, I had to extract the Clockwork yooyu from our Von Roo grandfather clock. He was slightly reluctant to come with me, but left the clock without complaint. “Is there anything you would like to, erm, eat?” I asked, not sure if clockwork yooyus ate.
“Unless you have some spare nuts and bolts lying around, no thank you,” he answered politely.
“Sorry, I don’t think we do. But I can check if you’d like,” I replied, unsure.
“No, it’s okay. I’m fine; really. Let’s just get the interview started.”
“Well, if you’re sure...” I led the way upstairs to my room, all the while making sure that the Clockwork yooyu didn’t hop into another clock.
We reached my room without event, and we both sat down on my bed. As I prepared for my last interview of the day, I asked, ”Would you mind if I called you Clock?”
“Not at all. In fact, I’d prefer it if you did,” Clock said, smiling.
“Alright, then, Clock. Please tell me; where did you go after you separated from the normal yooyus?”
“Ah. So Norm told you about that, now, did he? Well, when our groups separated in Neopia Central, the normal yooyus continued north. However, we stayed in the NC, as we call it, and explored. There were so many shops there, and at least several thousand pets. I was overcome with a sense of claustrophobia. There were so many people and things and smells; it felt like I was going to suffocate! At least we were lost among the crowd. Being so short can be very helpful if you don’t want to be noticed, you see.
“Anyway, eventually it had to be recognized that we needed to find a home. As we wondered, we began to search for a suitable place to live. Each yooyu went their own way, and families were separated.
“I found a home within a large grandfather clock in a rich neopet’s mansion. It was a nice place. There was a red Pteri who came around once every few months to grease the parts and inspect it to make sure that everything was in working order. I’m not sure if he ever saw me. I am actually rather good at camouflaging with metal environments, you know.
“The only problem was blowing up. Every once in a while, I couldn’t suppress the urge any longer and I had to explode. Automatic combustion, and all. You know what it’s like.” Clock glanced up at me. “Or maybe not.
“Well, it is annoying, you know. I mean, whenever I blew up that bothersome Pteri had to show his beak a bit earlier than usual.”
“What made you want to go back to Altador?” I inquired, interrupting the yooyu from his mutterings about the red Pteri.
“Huh?” The yooyu blinked. “Oh. Well, one night as I curled up at my usual spot inside the ole’ grandfather clock, I felt an odd sensation: a sort of tugging inside of me. It’s hard to explain, but I guess it’s why that red Draik makes his periodic trip to Mystery Island, and why, every autumn, Lennies can be spotted flying south. It’s a sort of intuition, I guess. It meant that it was time for me to go home.
“Although I’m sure that we all felt the pull, it took some time to find every one and gather together. That’s why we didn’t appear until the second Altador Cup. Neopia Central is a big place, after all.”
“I see. That makes sense.”
“Can we go now?” He looked up at me with wide mechanical eyes. “I need charged before tomorrow’s game.”
“Alright,” I replied.
We headed down the stairs, and Clock joined the other yooyus.
“Is it time to go?” called one of the yooyus.
I nodded my head silently, as one by one the yooyus filed out the door.
Once back at the Altadorian Coliseum, the yooyus and I said adieu. I went around to make sure that the trainers knew that their petpets were back. Then I headed home to conclude this report.
So, there you have it, folks. We now know why the yooyus left, where they went, and why they came back. This year, new yooyus may either grace us with their playful presence, or annoy the meepits out of the players. (PIRATE YOOYUS FOR THE WIN.)
Good luck to everyone out there!