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Toot Your Own Horn

by davidfenton1


Hautboit gripped her oboe case tightly in her claws.

      The Eventide Draik’s eyes were glued to the Yooyuball field located at Neopia City High. A brown-and-yellow Yooyuball, which was not a real Yooyu in this case, zoomed through the air. It was caught quickly in slings, thrown again to a waiting teammate, and then launched towards a netted goal at the other end of the field.

      A groan arose from the bleachers surrounding the young Draik – her team had missed again, and the Yooyuball flew harmlessly through the sky again, this time towards the opposite goal. The other team scored instantly, the Yooyuball sailing past the outstretched fingers of the Red Meerca stationed at the goal.

      While the other side – Neopia City Central – burst into cheers, Hautboit buried her face in her clawed hands. Neopia City High had never been particularly good at this sport, but getting beaten by their biggest and closest rival was going to be tough to live down. Neopia City Central would hold this over the Draik’s team for YEARS, especially if one of their members was picked to join an official world team.

      It was the biggest honour to be pulled from a small school for an official Yooyuball team, especially when Neopia Central didn’t have a team of its own. You had to work REALLY hard to get noticed by a talent scout, and then the official representatives from the team had to come and see you play in a scrimmage against another team. Finally, the officials would have to match you up with the perfect team based on your skills and drawbacks – and that could take forever! But finally, once recruited, you could be put on any team, rolling with the greats!

      Not that Hautboit really cared too much about Yooyuball, no. She just knew a lot from her siblings’ excited murmurs when the season came around again. It seemed so dangerous, too exhilarating for the nervous Draik. However, that didn’t mean she couldn’t enjoy watching her friends play and cheer them on.

      That required something to cheer for, though. Unfortunately, her team was doing abysmally against their opponents.

      She looked up from her fingers, noticing her sister, Osbeo, was down at the front of the stands, wearing a cheerleading outfit from the NeoCash Mall and trying to raise the crowd’s spirits. The Rainbow Lenny waved brightly-coloured homemade pompoms in the air, yelling incoherently and stumbling around on her long legs. All in all, it was a rather silly sight.

      But the Neopia City High team looked a lot brighter when they looked over and noticed her. The Red Meerca goalie, Ruisins, looked especially cheered, wiping his face and smiling when he noticed the antics of the ridiculous Rainbow Lenny. He didn’t look so dismayed that he had missed such an easy save, now.

      And that gave Hautboit an idea.

      Quickly, she snapped open her oboe case, carefully snapping together the pieces while soaking the reed in her mouth – she didn’t have a water cup currently with her, so this would have to do. Once the instrument was put together properly, she quickly rushed down the steps and leapt gracefully over the bleacher barrier, turning in midair so she would land next to her sister.

      “Oh, Hautboit!” panted the Rainbow Lenny. “Nice of you to join me! Did you want to come cheer too?”

      Hautboit nodded, transferring the reed from her mouth to her instrument. She wanted to cheer, but she wanted to do it her own way.

      Osbeo quickly began her dancing again, and more and more members of the audience began to pay attention to her quick movements once she started waving the sparkly pompoms in the air again. Hautboit could see people muttering and pointing directly at her, and she got immediately nervous.

      Would her plan work?

      Quietly, she cast an enhancement spell on her instrument, allowing it to be heard over even the jeers of the opposing team. She put the reed to her lips and–

      A beautiful sound rang out! The audience in front of her was still, and someone even clapped a couple of times before stopping. Osbeo smiled at her sister, then turned back to the crowd and began singing out nonsense cheers again. Even the Neopia City High team looked over in interest, their eyes getting bigger as they saw the crowd getting worked up a tiny bit.

      Emboldened, Hautboit blew into the horn again, and this time tried to match the tune to the words of her sister’s chants. She waved her body back and forth, trying to find a nice rhythm in her movements. It didn’t take long, and she finally felt her shoulders relax as she started to feel the beat. It helped a lot that the crowd was really getting into it, too – they were stomping in time with the cheers and music, clapping their hands, hooves, or paws to the beat.

      Eventually, though, she had to stop. The crowd was being ripped up into a frenzy, and the referee jogged over.

      “You two are doing great for your team,” he started, the whistle bouncing off his black-and-white striped shirt as he spoke. “But the game is about to start again, so you’ll have to stop making as much noise so the players can concentrate.”

      The Eventide Draik nodded, as did Osbeo, but neither of them returned to the stands. They wanted to keep cheering for their team, no matter what it took!

      The referee shrugged at their determination, but Hautboit could see a glint in his eyes as he spun around and blew his whistle. The game was back on!

      This time, though, everyone could sense that something was different.

      Neopia City High’s team ducked and weaved, one of them snatching the practice ball out of the surprised Starry Grarrl’s hands. Quickly, before the Grarrl could react, the Striped Skeith lobbed the Yooyuball over to a Spotted Uni, who caught it with a whinny. With the home team’s side of the crowd in an uproar, the Uni launched the ball straight towards Neopia City Central’s goal…

      And it went in!

      The crowd was REALLY in a frenzy now, stomping their feet, paws, and hooves. Hautboit nearly dropped her oboe in excitement, especially when Osbeo rushed over to hug her tightly. The two of them began their efforts again, in between plays, to keep the crowd excited and to encourage their team.

      Finally, right before the ref blew the whistle to end the game, a final goal was scored by the Striped Skeith soared past the opponent Brown Uni’s hooves and hit the net. The crowd around Osbeo and Hautboit went wild, screeching their joy and excitement into the sky.

      They had won! By just one point, but they had won!

      Hautboit grabbed Osbeo and they jumped up and down, crowing their delight to the fading afternoon sky. Her Eventide scales were glimmering in the light, but not as much as her bright blue eyes. She looked close to tears, but they were tears of joy and delight!

      “I can’t believe we won,” she whispered hoarsely to Osbeo. Her older sister gripped her tightly in a one-winged hug, grinning down at her.

      “It was your idea to whip up the crowd with your music!” she announced happily, and with much pride. “That led to a game that no one will forget in a long time!”

      Hautboit gripped her oboe ever more tightly, but she nodded with a big grin. Really, it has been Osbeo’s idea to cheer – she had just helped. She wasn’t sure if her music would work with the crowd, or if it would have cheered up her team like she had hoped it would. But being able to see the overwhelmingly delighted folks around her had been completely worth it in the end.

      Maybe she should see about getting a whole team of musicians together for the next game…

     The End.

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