Seeking Treasure Beyond The Cup: Part Two
It was on their twentieth practice match of Yooyuball that Team Krawk Island decided to give it a rest. Their practice ground was currently an alleyway not too far from Dasher Soley’s Neohome. This unusual location for a top team to train was only temporary because their official practice stadium had been razed to the ground by some confused newbie pirates who thought it was the location of an ancient civilisation! Those imbeciles made off with decorative items before setting fire to the building! Needless to say, Team Krawk Island’s manager blew a gasket over the incident but he was unable to press charges against the offenders. It would take a very long time to rebuild the stadium so the Yooyuballers had to practice elsewhere for the meantime.
Captain Garven Hale called it a night. “Right, I think that’s all the Yooyuball I can stand fer today. Let’s get some food and then catch some shut-eye.”
The pirate squad packed their equipment away and took a stroll past the shady figures that came out at night to perform some dodgy transactions with their mystery buyers on the docks. There was always a dodgy trade or two happening on Krawk Island, the black market was the main source of income for the land, it kept the economy stable.
They entered the Golden Dubloon (which was jam-packed at this late hour) and battled their way forwards towards the bar. Loretta Fontaine was pouring drinks for a few tipsy pirates before turning her attention to the Yooyuballers.
“Oh hi! I’m Loretta Fontaine, you probably remember me from breakfast this morning. How can I help you this evening?” the Aisha cooed as she leant towards them across the counter. “You should try my Perfect Pizza – it’s divine!”
Garven smiled at the charming waitress and declined. “Nah, we’ll have an order o’ Shiver Me Shrimp, Capn Threelegs Cutlass Crusade and a Keel Haul each to wet our whistles.”
“Anything for my favourite Altador Cup team,” she said dreamily, writing down their orders to take to the kitchen.
Dasher was scouting the tavern with his eyes for any sign of the famous Brown Usul, Hannah, because he wouldn’t mind having a chat with her again. If he could hear more about her little escapades then he might be more inclined to sneak off and have a go at treasure hunting himself sometime. Unfortunately he could not spot the small Usul in the crowd of rowdy buccaneers. For all he knew she could have been stuck talking to some ruffians who were trying to get a free meal out of the place!
Loretta returned from the kitchen to mix their Keel Haul beverages – a green liquid in a skull cup – and she did this quickly with expertise. “Here’s your round of Keel Hauls, lady and gentlemen! Your food will be a while because there are several orders backed up for other customers. I’ll lead you to your table, if you’d like to follow...”
The team complied and fought their way through the crowds to a table that was currently occupied by a few other pirates.
Loretta cleared her throat and said sternly, “You need to clear off, gents, you’ve already eaten and paid, I have VIPs waitin’.”
There was a pirate Techo, Skeith and Hissi at the table who stared at her in ridicule. The Hissi leant forward and said pointedly:
“You ain’t doin’ anythin’ right now and these guys will be eating soon enough, so we’ll be needin’ that table,” Loretta reiterated with more authority.
The Hissi glanced at his friends and repeated himself. “No, we ain’t budgin’. Find another crew to bother.”
Garven growled and picked the upstart up by his shirt. He pressed his face close to the Hissi’s. “We’ll be takin’ those seats, thank you.”
“Oh! You’re Garven Hale, right?” he squeaked in amazement, suddenly softening. “Your Yooyuball squad blows all those other teams outta the water! I can’t wait to see you in the next tournament!”
The burly Bori placed the Hissi down gently and raised an eyebrow. “Glad yer a fan. Now tell yer mates to budge off so we can eat.”
“Of course!” He turned to his friends and said, “Let’s go, guys, the ship will be waitin’ for us anyways.”
“Sure thing, Cap’n,” the other Neopians complied, making a hasty exit.
“We’re rootin’ for you, Team Krawk Island!” the Hissi yelled in one final farewell as the Yooyuballers sat down.
Dasher frowned. “I miss bein’ Cap’n.”
“You’re the one who lost the brawl fer leadership, Dash. Live with it,” Garven stated matter-of-factly.
“Meh. Yeh got in a lucky punch.”
“You still lost.”
Dasher was bored and continued to search the tavern with his eyes for Hannah. When he couldn’t spot her he addressed Loretta who was standing by.
“Where’s that Hannah gal from this mornin’? Is she abouts the joint?”
The Aisha clearly didn’t like talking about the Usul but answered anyway. “She left early tonight, leavin’ me and Rosetta to wait the tables. She never tells us where she’s goin’ but when she eventually turns up again she puts on a song and dance about whatever stupid adventure she got herself into that time.”
“Think she’s gone treasure huntin’?” he asked curiously. He was itching to try something other than Yooyuball for a change! Dasher was now afraid that he was going to miss that opportunity.
“That’s what she NORMALLY does.” Loretta’s expression was bitter. “I’ll be back shortly with your food. Excuse me.”
As the waitress left, Zayle Sufhaux shrugged. “Think the Fontaines don’t like that Usul much?”
“Whatever gave you THAT idea?” Nitri asked sarcastically. “I think they’re jealous of her freedom.”
“I’M jealous of ‘er freedom,” Dasher grumbled as he gulped down his Keel Haul. “I’m sick of bein’ typecast as a Yooyuballer. I mean I love the tourney, don’t get me wrong, but I want t’do somethin’ else fer a change. Cap’n Dread forbid I die before I get t’try somethin’ new! Don’t any o’ you feel that callin’ in yer bones? To break the rules, t’risk life and limb instead o’ bein’ protected like some kinda baby or somethin’?! We represent the pirates in the tournament but we don’t do much piratical stuff...”
His teammates could not argue with that logic. They did not feel very pirate-like at the moment, more like athletes... No... they were celebrities... Ugh.
Garven sighed. “Yer right, Dasher. But where t’begin? Me ship needs fixin’ up before she can sail again.”
“We need t’find that Hannah gal. She’s our best shot at gettin’ outta this routine,” Dasher insisted eagerly. “She’s actually right, we need an adventure, stuff the coliseum can never provide...”
Loretta returned with their food and left them alone to eat. Once she had gone to serve some other customers, Dasher said, “Think of it... REAL treasure.”
Zayle bit into some of his Shiver Me Shrimp and said honestly, “But that Aisha said that Hannah has gone away. She could be well on her way t’the treasure. We may never see her again.”
Zayle had a point. They had no chance of finding that stealthy Usul now, and they had Yooyuball practice again tomorrow.
Team Krawk Island pondered over this whilst they ate dinner. Had their ship sailed? Were they doomed to a life as Yooyuballers?
* * *
Hannah the Brave breathed in the salty sea air of freedom as she waited for her informant to arrive at the Krawk Island docks. The night sky was beautiful, the stars glimmered a billion light-years away, and she forgot for one blissful moment that she was a waitress at the Golden Dubloon. Tonight she was Hannah the Brave – her true self – and this was her ideal life.
Ships moved in and out of view. Some arriving and others were departing. Now her mind wondered who her informant would be. What kind of treasure awaited her at the end of the trials she was about to face?
Luckily she did not have to wait long. A hand tapped her on the shoulder and she whipped around to see who it was.
Hannah gasped as she glanced from the figure’s boots all the way up to his head. He was much taller than Hannah and smiled as he pulled down his hood.
“Evening, Hannah,” he greeted her in a friendly tone, watching her expression carefully. “I believe you got my note?”
The Usul couldn’t believe it! She studied his face, the scar across his cheek, and returned his smile. “Kanrik!”
She threw her arms around him elatedly, hugging her old friend tightly. “Kanrik, it’s been so long, I can’t believe you came in person!”
“Well, it’s the only way I can make sure that you’ll get the map securely. That... and it’s been an age since I last saw you. I wanted an excuse to come visit,” the Gelert confessed, returning the hug. “Now let’s talk somewhere private.”
* * *
Team Krawk Island left the Golden Dubloon, signing a few autographs on the way, walking towards the docks whilst discussing Yooyuball yet again. They could never give up the sport, not in a million years, and not even old age would stop them! Not in the case of Dasher and Garven anyway.
The team needed a way to recover their lost ranks in the tournament after receiving the “Winner’s Curse” by ending in Eighth Place last year. They needed a strategy, they needed—
“Hey, look over there!” Hawkshanks whispered as he spotted two figures walking away from the docks (one Gelert and one Usul). “I could be mistaken, but isn’t that...?”
Dasher squinted and moved a few steps forward to spy a closer look at the Neopians. He grinned. “That’s her! C’mon, team, we’ll spy on her and whoever she’s with t’find out what they’re up to. Looks like she’s gonna strike a deal fer a treasure map t’me. This might be our only shot at gettin’ away from Yooyuball fer a few days.”
To be continued...