Tales From the Desert: An Origin Story
Since he had been a small Neopet, all he could see himself doing was become a great chef. Perhaps as great as Gargarox Isafuhlarg himself! Sadly, unlike living in a space station currently orbiting the planet, and constantly exploring new expanses of space, it was very difficult for the young Wocky to make a name for himself here in the Lost Desert. Finding new and unusual things to put into dishes was next to impossible.
However, that didn't stop him from trying!
Every day, he would walk down the streets of the market place in Sakhmet, from stall to stall, eager to see what new foods the shopkeeper would be selling that day. The Wocky enjoyed visiting his sort-of friend. He even held onto the possibility that, if he never became a chef, he could always take over as the proprietor of the small establishment himself once the Grarrl retired and moved somewhere.... less sunny, perhaps.
His friends could not figure out why he enjoyed visiting the grumpy Grarrl so often. "You are rich!" they would tell him. "You can do or see anything you want! Why go there?"
Somehow, he had never been able to admit to his friends the reason why. Yes, he came from a rather well-off family. Wealthy enough that he was painted to his native Lost Desert color when he had been very young. The Wocky just did not see himself as determining his life based on the neopoints his family had earned instead of his own accomplishments. He wanted to try to make his own way in the world.
Once, though, he did try to tell his older brother about his visits to the marketplace.
"You want to be a shopkeeper?" Corbin had asked disdainfully. He was also a desert Neopet like his brother, but the Lupe was getting ready to move to Altador and work in a very important position for their king. A job he would not stop bragging about. And yet, a job he was apparently not allowed to tell anyone else about. It was this fact that Corbin's little brother used to his advantage.
"It's better than the job that you have! IF you even have one!" the smaller Wocky shouted as he jumped from his chair.
"I told you, you little Slorg, I'm under express orders by King Altador not to tell anyone anything about my job just yet. It's top secret!" Corbin snapped. Without waiting for his brother to respond, he stalked off, all while muttering various threats under his breath.
Despite his anger at Corbin, his smaller brother didn't bring up his aspirations again.
And thankfully, Corbin did not tell their parents what his brother's future plans were. He probably thought that by not doing so that his brother would embarrass himself even further and utterly fail at becoming a chef or Sakhmet shopkeeper.
Nevertheless, the Wocky continued to venture into the marketplace. The sun was not too high in the sky just yet, he had yet to burn his feet, and he rescued a Grackle Bug from what he thought was almost certain doom at the hands of a hungry Aisha with a stick. At first he didn't believe that his day could get better until he reached the shopkeepers' stall.
A yellow Ruki wearing palace garb was standing out front, hammering something into one of the stall's foundation posts. The movements were causing the entire tent to shake, and a few perilously stacked piles of Tchea Fruit were in danger of falling over. The shopkeeper himself was already busy attempting to pick up spilled Cheops fruit. He let out anther groan of misery after yet another table toppled to the ground.
"Perfect! There goes my stock of Sand Watermelon! Now I'll never be able to tell the sand apart! Do you realize how long it takes me to make those?" He began to yell at the Ruki, who then stammered about his urgent need to be somewhere else at that moment. Grabbing the satchel holding his supplies he quickly darted down the street, the motions sending sand flying.
Judging by the size of the shopkeeper's teeth, the young Wocky mused, I wouldn't be surprised that he left so quickly.
"You need help, Turyan?" he asked the shopkeeper as he began grabbing the remainder of the spilled Cheops fruit from the ground. He wiped away the layer of sand that had congealed on its surface. Turyan merely grumbled under his breath and proceeded to set the fallen table back up again.
The Wocky smiled softly. Turyan was acting the same as always. He wasn't really all that angry.
After several moments of silence in which the young lad watched his sort-of mentor try and barter away his goods, Turyan finally spoke to him.
"Why aren't you off with that brother of yours? I've heard he's been doing some heavy work for the visiting dignitaries from Altador."
"He is," the Wocky admitted. "He won't tell me what the job even is though. He says it's top secret." The last few words came out a bit more sourly than he intended, but Turyan didn't pick up on it. Instead, the Grarrl said, "Pah! Top secret? if that's true, it's the worst kept secret in the entire city!"
He rapped his nails against the post the Ruki had previously been working on. "Try giving this poster a looksy and tell me what you think, boy."
The Wocky sauntered over to the post and was immediately overwhelmed by the bright colors that awaited him. There was a picture of a strange looking Altadorian petpet with four arms (or were they legs?) surrounded by great big letters that proclaimed:
ALTADOR CUP TRYOUTS! COME BY TODAY!
"Altador Cup?" he asked. "What on Neopia is that?"
Turyan laughed out loud. "That's the big secret your brother was hiding! Apparently the sport was a big deal in Altador's days of old, and now their king is attempting to bring back its glory days again. Several other Lands have already organized their teams, even. Got their equipment and everything!"
The Wocky turned his attention back to the poster. As he read the rest of words beneath the picture, his interest began to grow. Turyan caught the lad's excitement and chuckled. "I'm about to close up for lunch," he told the boy. "You and I could stop by the tryout location and see what you think."
The Wocky's grin was answer enough.
The tryouts were being held outside of the Palace, the Wocky learned from the poster, and it was with great eagerness that he accompanied Turyan the shopkeeper to their location.
The Grarrl told his shorter companion all about the game of Yooyuball, and how the petpets pictures on the poster were the Yooyus, specifically chosen to be the most important players of the game, the playing ball itself. Apparently amongst the Yooyus, it was the highest honor to be chosen for such a position.
As the two grew closer, they began to hear cheers and screams of excitement and delight from the crowd surrounding the rapidly build tryout playing field. The Wocky immediately sprinted away from Turyan, not hearing the hoarse laughter from behind him. Pushing to the front of the crowd, the Wocky observed the spectacle with awe. The Altador Cup hopefuls for the Lost Desert team looked magnificent in their team gear.
"Leera, watch out!" an Aisha yelled as a strange round object was hurtling towards one of the goals that had been set up. The camouflage Kau the Aisha was yelling at took an immediate dive to his right and made a spectacular catch of what the Wocky now realized must be the Yooyuball. The player Leera threw his friend a thumbs up, and after checking to see if the petpet was hurt, launched the Yooyuball back into play.
A short distance away, the Wocky noticed, a table had been set up. The officiates from Altador, here to watch the tryouts and select the players were watching intently and making notes on each hopeful. The Wocky noticed that his elder brother was working as an assistant for one of them.
Going on and on about how important this job is... he's a delivery boy! he thought with amusement.
The Wocky watched his brother with amusement as he ran from player to player, giving them new gloves, messages from the officiates, or even just straightening their equipment and uniforms.
"Look out!" someone yelled. The Wocky looked up just in time to see a Yooyu that had rebounded off of a wall heading in his direction. Several other Neopets dove out of the way from the oncoming petpet, but instead the Wocky launched himself off the ground and snatched the Yooyu away from the air.
Not waiting, he then lobbed it to a waiting red Scorchio, who used the opportunity to score a goal against the opposing hopefuls vying for a professional position.
Some of the officiates had jumped from their seats. The Kau called Leera grinned in approval.
"You there!" a Mynci yelled at him. "How did you do that? What's your name?"
Smirking at his brother Corbin's expression, which was a mixture of shock and awe, the Wocky turned his attention back to the Cup official.
"Vonde Cayle," he told him proudly. "Now where do I sign up?"
As the other officials proceeded to surround him and take notes about him and who he was, one of which began measuring him for a uniform and equipment, Vonde smiled to himself.
He may not need to become a shopkeeper or a chef after all. Perhaps there was something more than spending the remainder of his life in the Lost Desert.
Who knows, Vonde thought. I might even make a name for myself this way!