The sun was shining splendidly across one of the small villages which dotted Meridell, and as was to be expected of young children, all of them immediately rushed out of their homes and gathered into the field. They were rambunctious, one could say, but nevertheless their activity brought a sense of liveliness to the land that nothing else could emulate. The children would always play from noon to dusk in the dusty old field, and it was their haven. Unlike in their homes, there were no parents to nag them or tell them what they should or shouldn't do. They were free to do as they wanted, whether it was frolicking or running or something new. That was how life was for them. And they wouldn't have had it any other way.
Then one day, there was news throughout the land of something magnificent. Yooyuball, a revived sport from ages past, was making a grand comeback. The news excited the children, and from there on forth they practiced the sport with makeshift yooyuballs whenever they went to the field. They were determined to make the cut to become professional Yooyuball players. Among the group of those children was a yellow Eyrie by the name of Fiorina.
Fiorina was, as everyone else in the village, a peasant. She had no particular talent for anything, but that didn't stop her from trying. Her parents, blue and green Eyries, were farmers who owned a small patch of land near their humble cottage. Sometimes, she had to help her parents on their field and miss an entire day of play. But she took the small amount of work she contributed in stride, and was always cheerful about it. Her parents in turn deeply loved her, and she was their pride and joy. So when she told them that she wanted to be a Yooyuball player, her parents obliged and encouraged her on following her dream. But that was easier said than done. Even with all the practice she had with the other children, she still hadn't learned even the most basic technique, and as she lived in one of the smallest villages in the land, the chance of an agent even coming there was extremely unlikely. Despite all that, however, the young Eyrie held on to her dream, and continued the routine of practicing for well over a year.
Then one warm afternoon, while she was out on an errand for her mother, fate smiled upon her. As she went to the local market, she bumped into a rather dignified looking blue Gelert. Thankfully, she didn't drop anything on the mysterious stranger.
Recovering her wits, she immediately blurted, "O-Oh! I'm sorry, sir."
The blue Gelert didn't look annoyed or angry, though. He looked curiously at the yellow Eyrie and said, "Who are you, child?"
Fiorina was taken aback by his question. Normally, if she had bumped into someone as regal looking as he did, they would have shouted or gave her a nasty sneer. She quickly composed herself, however, and said, "My name is Fiorina. Who are you, sir?"
The Gelert replied, "My name is Alphonse. You see, Fiorina, His Royal Majesty King Skarl has decided to host a young Yooyuball league, and he has given me the honor of recruiting talented children for this. I can already tell just looking at your arms and legs that you have been practicing the sport, and I must ask of you to perhaps join the league."
Fiorina could hardly believe her ears! This was the chance that she was waiting for. Hiding back her excitement, she quickly replied, "Yes! I mean, I would love to join the league."
Alphonse chuckled and said, "Well then. Since you've decided, it would be best to tell your parents about it, of course. And should they approve as well, come to the courtyard near the castle tomorrow. That is where all of the league will practice in."
With not another word, Alphonse turned and went toward the exit, leaving a very dumfounded and starstruck Eyrie standing with a loaf of bread.
Suddenly aware of what she was doing, Fiorina quickly ran out of the market to her home and told her parents of the news. Her parents, while enthusiastic about the opportunity, were also quick to warn her of the risks.
Her mother said, "Fiorina, you must understand that being in a league won't be like practicing in the field. You'll learn many new things there, but there's a chance that you could be seriously hurt in a real match."
Likewise, her father added, "I understand that you wish to join them, but you must know that if you get hurt, there's a chance that you could be seriously injured. Permanently injured, even. You would have to give it all up if that happens, you know."
Fiorina had a thoughtful look on her face, but in the end said, "I'll take the risks. This is what I want to do. I won't regret it."
The next morning, she was off to the courtyard near the castle. As she neared it, she couldn't help being awestruck at the architecture and design of the fortress. She had only ever seen it in books, and even then they were usually tatty and torn. She thought about how she wanted to be a player the moment she heard of the sport, and clutching her paw to her chest, she continued on to the courtyard.
As she entered, the first thing she noticed was that there were a few other neopets there as well. There was a red Shoyru, a yellow Kau, a blue JubJub and a green Meerca, along with Alphonse. She cautiously walked up to the blue Gelert, and he smiled.
"Hello, Fiorina. I see you've decided to really join the group."
She shifted her feet and said, "I-I suppose so."
Soon, she learned the names of everyone in the small group. The Shoyru was named Rayid, the Kau Kagri, the Meerca Gregorio and the JubJub Yoris. She learned that all of them had been recruited similarly to how she was. They had real talent, if slightly unrefined, and Alphonse was going to make them the best yooyuballers on their side of Neopia.
And within time, they did. They became local celebrities and role models for most of the children in Meridell. Granted, that's not to say they didn't have their ups and downs. Once, during a local tournament against another group from Meridell, Yoris had exhausted himself from training the previous day, and the match ended in a shutout in their opponent's favor.
But the group kept pushing on, and soon Fiorina had been picked as one of the representatives of Meridell in the Altador Cup. She was overjoyed, but she couldn't bear just leaving the group.
"I don't know what I would do without you guys."
Ravid smiled and said, "Don't worry. Just because you'll go to a new team doesn't mean we can't keep in touch."
The rest piped up as well, and after a while they had convinced Fiorina to leave the group.
As time went on, Gregorio and Yoris became representatives of Meridell in the Cup as well, while Rayid stayed behind as a recruiter for the league and Kagri became a coach. Nevertheless, all of them kept in touch, and they still remain friends to this day.
From her humble beginnings, Fiorina gained countless treasures that could not be taken. And she did so because she held on to a simple dream.