A young shadow Korbat and darigan Mynci ran through the crowds, tripping and jostling Neopians as they rushed to the Colosseum. After running into a few Neopets and earning some angry shouts, the two friends skidded to a stop as they stared at the monstrous line of people in front of them.
The Mynci whistled. “You’ll never get a ticket with this huge line, Lysander.”
The Korbat, Lysander, groaned. “I should have gotten a ticket to the Colosseum early, like you, Silas.”
“You’d better get in line if you want even a chance of getting a ticket.” Silas chuckled. “I’ll catch ya later, once you’re out of this line.”
Lysander sighed as he watched Silas wander off. He turned to face the enormous line that he was in, which was moving forward at a sluggish pace. Hours crept by, and the sun overhead slowly tipped to the west, indicating to the Neopians below that it was early afternoon. Lysander inwardly rejoiced when it was his turn to walk up to the Gelert lady with puffy red hair.
“Uh, I’d like to get an Altador Cup ticket, for entry into the Col-“
“Sorry dearie,” The Gelert interrupted. “We’re all out of tickets.”
Lysander gaped at her. “How…?” He glanced at the table the Gelert was working at, and sure enough, the once-large stack of tickets had vanished.
The ticket lady sighed wearily. “We’ll be restocked with more tickets in a few hours.”
Lysander turned away from the Gelert lady and stared at the crowd behind him, which was glaring at him for taking so long. A few hours? I’ve already been waiting for that long!
Lysander walked out of the crowd and used his wings to fly over the stone walls of Altador City. As he headed home towards the Docks, his mind raced with ideas on how to get a ticket in some other, faster, way. His thoughts were broken as he spotted his friend below in the lush farmland, running towards the walls of the City.
“Silas!” Lysander shouted as he rapidly descended, almost crashing into the Mynci.
Silas looked up in surprise and quickly jumped out of the way as Lysander landed. “Gosh Lysander! Watch where you’re crashing!” He said, grinning. “So, did you get a ticket?”
Lysander scowled. “No. They ran out of tickets and I’ll have to wait half a day to get one if I want to enter Colosseum, let alone get a seat to see any yooyuball players in action.” Lysander sighed in frustration. “You’d think they’d be prepared to handle the enormous crowds that come every year…”
Silas’s face brightened as an idea struck his mind. “What if you got a job working at the Altador Cup? You could sell hotdogs in the Colosseum or something! Then you wouldn’t need a ticket to watch the games. Besides,” Silas winked, “They could always use some help handling the crowds.”
“Yeah, like that’ll get me into the Colosseum faster than a ticket would.” Lysander said sarcastically. Suddenly, the Korbat grinned as he began to realize the possibilities of the idea. “Actually... That’s not a bad idea.”
A salty breeze swept through the Docks of Altador as Lysander rushed through the streets, past pearly white buildings with fiery orange roofs that glowed in the fading evening sunlight. As he trekked up a rocky hill, a new wave of excitement flowed through Lysander when he caught sight of his home. He burst through the polished wooden doors of his house and ran up the stairs and into his room. Lysander quickly got out some paper and a pencil, and began to jot down any jobs he could get at the Altador Cup.
As dusk began to fall, Lysander plopped down on his soft cushy bed, exhausted. As soon as his head hit the pillow, he was fast asleep.
Lysander almost fell out of his bed. Excitement pumped through his heart as he dashed out of the room and tripped down the stairs. He groggily devoured a few whole wheat sun pancakes and quickly packed a backpack with paper, a pencil, a small bag of Neopoints, and some Altador Cup goodies. He tossed the backpack over his shoulder and headed out the door into the chilly morning air.
The dark morning sky cast a blue glow on the country. Lysander breathed in the salty cold air as he jogged through the narrow streets of the Docks, towards Altador City. Only a few Neopians walked on the streets; most of them were by the docked ships or were getting ready of the days’ business in their various shops. As he walked through the dew-laden fields of Altador’s lush farmland, faint golden fingers of the dawning sun’s light began to stretch across the eastern sky.
As he approached the Colosseum, more and more Neopians began to appear. Reporters rushed about trying to interview busy workers, and colorful booths and tents were being set up. Lysander nervously licked his lips as he approached a grumpy-looking blue Quiggle that was holding a clipboard.
“I was wondering if I could get a job here, working at the Altador Cup…” Lysander said uncertainly as the Quiggle looked at him as if he was the Rubbish Dump.
The Quiggle scowled at Lysander. “Go talk to Tiana, kid.” He said, indicating to a bored-looking Kougra that was leaning against a table with brightly colored brochures and books. “She’ll make you hand out brochures or something. Now skedaddle.”
Lysander hurried towards the speckled Kougra’s table, annoyed with the Quiggle’s irritable mood. As he walked up to the table, the Kougra’s silky black ponytail flashed in the early morning sun when she turned her head towards him.
“No, we are not selling sparkling Altador Cup Achyfi anymore.” The Kougra said in an exasperated tone.
Lysander blinked. “Uh... Okay. You’re Tiana, right?”
Tiana crossed her arms. “Yeah. What do you want?”
“The Quiggle guy said to talk to you if I wanted to get a job working here, at the Altador Cup.”
Tiana raised an eyebrow. “So you want a job, eh? Whats your name?”
The Kougra chuckled. “S’not much you can do, but I might find some work for you.” Tiana studied Lysander suspiciously. “Why do you want a job?”
“Oh, personal reasons.” Lysander winked.
“So, what do you do at the Altador Cup besides tourist stuff?” Lysander asked as he helped Tiana hand out Altador Cup brochures to excited Neopians passing by. Loud cheers and shouts could be heard from the crowded Colosseum, where the morning yooyuball games were being played. Lysander felt a pang of jealousy at the sight of the lucky Neopians who carelessly handled their Colosseum tickets.
“Oh, nothin’ much.” Tiana said as she tossed a tourist guide book into an eager Kacheek’s hands. “I usually just hand out guide books, sell Altador Cup goodies and answer people’s questions. When I’m lucky,” she added, “I occasionally get to be a tourist guide and show people around Altador.”
Just then, a strange buzzing noise emitted from a pouch that was attached to Tiana’s belt. She quickly opened the pouch and pulled out a grey wocky-talkie with the Altador Cup logo on it. Tiana pressed a small button on the device as she held it up to her ear.
“Hello? This is Tiana…” The Kougra listened as a voice answered through a fog of electronic static. “What? Why can’t she do it? I’m busy!” Tiana cried into the walky-talkie. “…Wait,” She looked hastily at Lysander. “I have someone here who can do it instead.”
Tiana put the wocky-talkie back in her pouch and smiled evilly at confused Lysander. “You gotta temporary job for tonight.”
As Neopians left the Colosseum, tired but still excited from the day’s games, Lysander walked into a small stone building with a huge slushie sign above the entrance that Tiana had directed him to go to for his assigned job.
He recognized the place at once when he entered the building. This is the Slushie Slinger place! Lysander stared at the sloppy mess of melted slushie and plastic cups that littered the ground. A tired red Tuskaninny waitress with bright orange hair and a white dress (How is that still one color?) was cleaning dark grey counters. She smiled when she caught sight of Lysander.
“You must be the Neopian Tiana sent over to help me.” The waitress said.
Lysander shrugged. “I guess. My name’s Lysander.”
“Great!” The waitress wiped her brow. “You can take over from here. All you have to do is mop the floor.”
The Tuskaninny handed Lysander a heavy mop and a bucket with soapy water sloshing in it.
“I have to be somewhere right now, so I gotta go. Thanks, Lysander!”
As the waitress opened the door to leave, she turned towards the Korbat. “Oh, and make sure you do not turn off the slushie machines. That would cause a disaster.”
As the waitress closed the door, Lysander turned towards the melting sludge on the floor and groaned. “This place is already a disaster.”
“LYSANDER, WAKE UP!”
Lysander was yanked out of his sleep. He peered at a fuzzy purple blob through half-open eyelids. “Silas?” He mumbled.
The darigan Mynci chuckled. “Where in Neopia have you been? I’ve been looking for you everywhere!”
Lysander sat up and groggily rubbed his sore muscles. “Sleeping on cold tile floors.” He turned to stare at the Tuskaninny waitress from the day before, who was now in a mad flurry, throwing colorful slushies at grouchy customers. “How did you know where I was?”
“I asked this Kougra girl who looked like she worked here if she had seen any shadow Korbats running around, and she said that she had sent you to work at the Slushie Slinger building yesterday. She also said that if I found you I should give you this.” Silas handed Lysander a small plastic Altador Cup name tag that was attached to a yellow lanyard. “She said you’ve now been officially employed to work at Altador Cup XII, and that the tag shows that you have the authority to help other workers at the Cup.”
Lysander stood up and put the name tag around his neck, grinning. “That’s awesome!”
Lysander and Silas left the Slushie Slinger Building and walked towards Tiana’s booth. “To tell you the truth, I’m really surprised that I got employed so fast, this being the official Altador Cup and all...”
Silas shrugged. “They probably need a lot of help.”
When Tiana was within sight, Silas started to head towards the Colosseum. “Well, I’ll see ya later, Ly, I’m going to watch some yooyuball and cheer on Team Darigan Citadel.”
Lysander waved to Silas as he continued towards Tiana, who was rapidly handing out various Altador Cup assortments. When she saw Lysander, Tiana immediately frowned.
“Where have you been?!?” Tiana yelled. “You were supposed to be here before dawn!”
Lysander cringed. It was already nine o’clock. “Sorry, I... Overslept.”
Tiana smiled sweetly at a Neopian passing by, then frowned again as she turned to face Lysander. “I’m glad you got a nice beauty sleep. Go find the building that has all the ‘Cup supplies in it and bring some crates of brochures back. I’m running out.”
Lysander left Tiana to find the building. “What building is she talking about?”
As Lysander scanned the area, his eyes fell upon the irritable Quiggle from the other day, who was signing Neopians up for yooyuball practices.
Lysander trudged towards the Quiggle. “Uh... Sir?”
The Quiggle glared at Lysander. “Whatta ya want? Not satisfied with your job?”
“No... I was wondering where the supplies building is...?”
The Quiggle pointed toward at a small pale building topped with a bright orange roof. “It’s right there. Stop bothering me.”
Lysander thanked him and hurried towards the building. When he entered the building, Lysander realized it was a lot smaller than it looked. Near the back of the room, a short and burly Nimmo was leaning against a stack of dusty boxes, casually sipping a chokato slushie.
“Hey kiddo, what can I do for ya?” He asked cheerily.
“I’m looking for some Altador Cup brochures.”
The Nimmo winked. “Ah! Working for Tiana, huh?” He rummaged through stacks of boxes and crates, then finally pulled out a dusty brown crate. “Here they are!” He handed the crate to Lysander.
The old crate was a lot heavier than it looked. “Thanks...!” Lysander managed to say.
Tiana was relieved when Lysander dropped the crate next to the booth.
“Thank Fyora! I only had a couple brochures left!” Tiana opened the crate and started stacking the glossy new brochures on her table. “Thanks, Lysander! If you could man the booth while I direct a few Neopians around the area, that would be great!”
For the next few days, Lysander ran back and forth from fetching crates, handing out tourist books and brochures, and cleaning dirty booths and buildings. Everyday, Silas would catch Lysander up on the placing of each team.
Lysander walked towards Tiana’s booth, breathing in the chilly morning air. The sun was beginning to peak over the sea. Hopefully I’ll finally get to relax and watch the games today.
As Lysander began to get the booth ready for the day, a Shoyru wearing a mixture of Altadorian clothes and yooyuball gear rushed to Lysander.
“Hey kid, you’re an Altador Cup employee, right?”
“Great! We need you to work in the Yooyu Pen.”
“Just follow me.”
The Shoyru led Lysander to the Colosseum and under the Yooyuball Field. They approached a large pen, in which yooyus were flying, playing, and napping. At the top of the pen was a claw that Lysander guessed would grab a yooyu to place on a pedestal outside of the cage, which would rise up onto the yooyuball field. A few Altador Cup workers were standing by the entrance to the yooyu pen, chatting.
“Hey Derrick, I think I got someone who can replace the last yooyu-keeper!” The Shoyru shouted.
A rather large Yurble turned from the chatting workers and scanned Lysander. “Oh yeah? Ya think he won’t get blown up like the last feller?”
“What? Blown up?” Lysander stammered.
Derrick chuckled at Lysnader. “Yep! The last guy mishandled a clockwork yooyu... Didn’t really work out for him or the yooyuball game.”
Lysander stared at Derrick. “What happened? Why did he mess with a clockwork yooyu?”
“His job was to make sure the claw grabs a yooyu and gets placed on the pedestal, and onto the yooyuball field. One clockwork yooyu was stubborn and struggled its way out of the claw. Since that worker is gone, you’re gonna have to do his job for him.”
Lysander started to get excited. “I get to choose which yooyus go on the yooyuball field?”
“Not exactly. The claw usually transports a yooyu onto the field without any problem, but other times you have to secure a yooyu in the claw.” Derrick explained. He turned towards one the workers next to him and grabbed a pair of gloves that looked almost like the slings Yooyuball players wear. He tossed the gloves to Lysander.
“Here is some protection for your hands, if you have to pick a yooyu up.”
Lysander eagerly put the gloves on stood close to the yooyu claw.
“Good luck, kid!” Derrick said. “There are some workers just outside of the pen if you need help catching a loose yooyu. Don’t you dare hold up any yooyuball games.”
“I won’t!” Lysander shouted after Derrick as he, the Shoyru, and the other workers left the room.
Lysander turned around to face the yooyus, who were contently ignoring him. He sighed happily, and plopped down on the floor of the room. Silas is going to be soooo jealous. Lysander grinned.
After a few minutes, Lysander could hear people above him on the Yooyuball Field. Probably practicing for today’s games, Lysander concluded. After a while, the noise got even louder and louder, as people from around Neopia filled the seats of the Colosseum. Lysander’s heart began to beat faster as he could hear the commentators announce the Yooyuball teams over the hubbub.
“Brightvale versus Faerieland.” Lysander repeated after the commentators. “I hope it’s a good game!”
Lysander glanced at the yooyus, some of which were excited and were literally bouncing off the cage walls, while the other yooyus were ignoring the excitement. Lysander spotted a normal yooyu that was already ready to be selected by the claw. Well, this doesn’t seem like it’ll be too hard. The yooyus are already ready to go.
As soon as the claw began to move, the yooyu jumped up and went straight into its arms, which quickly closed around the rolled-up yooyu. The mechanical claw jerkily situated itself over the pedestal, dropped the yooyu, which then rose up onto the field by the pedestal. Almost immediately afterwards, Lysander could tell the game started. The somewhat-muffled crowd was cheering wildly, and less than thirty seconds after the yooyu had rose onto the field, Team Brightville (as the commentators announced) scored a goal. Lysander helped direct the claw over a snow yooyu. After a fire yooyu and another snow yooyu had willingly been selected by the claw, Lysander leaned over into the pen and grabbed a faerie yooyu—which had a fit in Lysander’s hands—and placed into the claw’s tight arms. Lysander grinned at the sounds of annoyance from the two teams above when the yooyu appeared on the field.
The rest of the game whizzed by. Lysander sat down to rest, and a few minutes later a mutant yooyu hobbled up to Lysander, peering at him between the ropes of the cage.
“Uh, hi!” Lysander greeted the devilish-looking creature. “Do you wanna go onto the field next?”
The mutant yooyu hissed at Lysander and stretched out its hand to scratch him.
“Jee wiz!” Lysander exclaimed, dodging the yooyu’s tiny claws. “I didn’t think that was so offensive.”
The yooyu ignored Lysander and bounced to the opposite side of the cage to pester a sleeping fire yooyu. A few seconds later, while Lysander was watching a few other yooyus play some sort of card game, the commentators starting speaking, and the crowd was cheering again as the teams were announced. Moltara versus Terror Mountain... That’s an interesting match, Lysander thought.
That game was even crazier then the last one. Lysander wiped his brow. In the short game, twelve yooyus went onto the field, five of which had to be forced. I hope most of the games aren’t this crazy.
Seventeen yooyuball games later, Lysander’s hope was destroyed. The usual number of yooyus required per game was eleven, and that wasn’t even counting the really close games. Lysander was panting as he sat on the floor, when he immediately jumped back up at the announcement of the next two teams to play on the field.
“Darigan Citadell versus Kredulor? Silas must be watching this game!”
After Lysander made sure the first yooyu went safely onto the field, he scanned the pen for another, more exciting yooyu to put on the field. As soon as Lysander spotted a Dargian yooyu, he dived at it and tried to keep it still in his hands. As the claw began to come, Lysander attempted to throw the yooyu up into its arms, but the yooyu flew strait back at him and scratched him from his ear to the side of his mouth. Lysander tried to grab it again, but another yooyu had already been selected.
Lysander groaned as he gently touched his scratch. Now I have more than one reason to hate Darigan yooyus.
Eleven yooyus later, Lysander decided to try and catch the Dargian yooyu again. He pounced on the yooyu, and, after juggling it in his hands, was able to successfully shove it into the claw. Lysander instantly felt an evil satisfaction at the cries of horror from the crowd above when the yooyu appeared on the field. There was only thirty-eight seconds left, and the teams were tied.
Lysander sat quietly, listening to the intense game above him. The teams were running back and forth, frantically trying to score a goal. Finally, the crowd went wild as the commentators announced that Team Kreludor had managed to break the tie with the last goal.
Hours later, after a total of twenty-six games, Derrick entered the room and hobbled towards the yooyu pen.
“Haha! There were some great games today! Watching clockwork yooyus explode in people’s hands never gets old!” He gleefully said. “You’re done with work for today, Lysander. You can leave the pen room.”
Lysander got up from the ground and smiled as he turned towards Derrick.
“That was really fun! I didn’t get out of it without some type of pain, though.” Lysander pointed at his scratch.
Derrick rubbed is chin. “Eh, it’s not that bad. I hoped you learned a lesson about handling yooyus!”
Lysander grinned. “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow, sir!”
Lysander ran out of the Colosseum, scouring the crowd for Silas. He found him at one of the booths, buying Team Darigan Citadel fan items.
Silas suddenly turned around and almost smacked into Lysander. “Whoa- Lysander!” He shouted. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you!”
As the two walked back to the Docks, Silas told Lysander about all the day’s events.
“You should have seen my Make Some Noise score! I think I broke a record! Then there was that yooyuball game... Darigan Citadell versus Kreludor... DC could have won the game if it weren’t for that horrible Darigan yooyu! Tandrak accidentally scored in his own goal, breaking the tie for Team Kreludor. It was awful!”
Lysander giggled. “I knew the Darigan yooyu was a great choice!”
Silas stared with his mouth hanging open while Lysander explained what he had been doing the entire day. After Lysander described securing the Dargian yooyu into the claw in the last seconds of the game, Silas tackled Lysander and brought him to the ground.
“I’m never forgiving you for doing that!” Silas yelled while he fought Lysander, who was barely struggling due to his laughter. “NEVER!”