Garven Hale was leaning against the railing of one of the hotel's numerous balconies when he heard the door slide open. He didn't turn, his mood still foul from the loss to Tyrannia. Wasn't even really a loss, more like a complete thrashing. His fingers tightened on the railing, his tail beating back in forth in agitation. He felt someone lean against the railing beside him and turned to look, opening his mouth to snarl at them.
He stopped short upon realizing that it was Tandrak Shaye. He closed his mouth and glared ahead, wondering what the Darigan wanted. He'd never admit it, but the Darigans were his favourite team other than his own. Despite their rivalry, he got along with them better than he did with the other teams, but he wasn't in the mood to deal with anyone in his current state. He felt the Gelert's eyes on him but ignored them steadfastly.
"I was rooting for you, you know," Shaye said quietly, after a beat of silence.
"Thanks." Garven swallowed, looking down at Altador below them. The Altadorians were quietly going about their days, oblivious to the two Yooyuball players peering down at them. "We're champions... both of us... the best o' the best," he said hoarsely.
"That we are," Shaye said.
"How did Tyrannia wipe the floor with us so badly then?" Garven snapped, turning to face him, paws clenched.
Shaye shrugged, looking down, his ears drooping. For the first time Garven realized that Darigan's loss must also be weighing heavily on them. The Gelert looked exhausted, bags under his eyes.
Garven leaned back against the railing, the breeze brushing through his fur. "We deserve it, mate. Either one o' us. The cup's changed. It's like powerhouses don't exist 'nymore. A few years back an' we woulda swept th' floor with this lot, and now we can barely get a few wins in."
Shaye sighed, his paws squeezing the railing tight. "We're getting old, Hale. These teams, they've got the right idea, swapping in new players. We've been at it since the start... maybe Dasher had the right idea." He wiped at his eyes, slumping against the railing. He looked defeated, nothing like the arrogantly charming Tandrak Shaye that made headlines wherever he went.
They were quiet for a bit, just basking in Altador's sunlight. Garven's thoughts were jumbled. He was so tired of having to claw his way back to the top. It was where they belonged. Darigan belonged there too. He could admit that to himself. They were the two golden teams of the cup. The pillars of greatness the rest of the teams could never hope to match. So what had happened?
He was pulled out of his thoughts by Shaye's next words. "Layton won't leave his hotel room. He just slithers in circles and mumbles strategy to himself. I'm worried about him. He's determined that we become the first repeat champs. It's consuming him," he said, voice cracking on his captain's name.
Garven elbowed him, forcing a smile on. "None o' that talk, now, Shaye. One of us here is gonna get th' cup back, and show 'em that we're not to be counted out. O' course it's gonna be us, but you and yer team have got to give it a go. Show the youngins that they're nothing next to us. Talk to yer cap'n. He's distraught, but you've gotta come back from this."
A small smile tugged at the corner of Shaye's mouth. "Please, Hale, everyone knows Darigan's going to be the first champion to regain the title. I've been listening to the bets. The money's on us."
Garven snorted, a real bubble of amusement rising in him. "You've got to be jokin', Shaye. Krawk Island's the predicted returnin' champ 9 times outta 10."
Shaye laughed, a mischievous twinkle finding its way back into his eye. "Please, like your squad's got the stamina to get to the end?"
"Least we've got th' talent, mate," Garven retorted, smoothly.
Shaye looked as if he were about to respond, his eyes narrowed, but stopped short and changed tactics. "Alright, Hale, we've established one of us is going to be the next cup winner. We've got some time before the next match. How about you and I take this to the Golden Dubloon and settle it there? It'll even be on your turf, so you've got the advantage."
Garven raised his eyebrow, peering at the Gelert interestedly. "I'm startin' to like you, Shaye. Think we'll get back in time?"
Shaye smirked. He looked as if he'd just caught a rather delicious lunch, and Garven felt like he may have just fallen into a trap. "If you can keep up, my friend."
Well, Garven never backed down from a challenge, he could take on whatever the Darigan threw at him. "Aye, mate, I'll meet you downstairs. Last one there pays for the food an' drink."
"You're on," and with that, Shaye was already gone.
Garven didn't know what he'd agreed to, but he did know that the sting of Tyrannia's victory over them was less overwhelming than it had been before, and he had Shaye to thank for that. Or maybe Shaye had to thank him? He'd looked happier at least. He wasn't sure. Maybe it was a mutually beneficial relationship?
Garven didn't bother himself with the specifics. He just concerned himself with two things. One, either his team or the Darigans were going to bring the cup back to a former champ, and two, he was currently racing a Gelert downstairs and had already lost a considerable amount of time.
Garven scrawled down a note. He was captain, after all, and he couldn't leave his team for a day without any warning. They didn't have practice, so on that front they were fine, but Zayle had a habit of worrying. He grabbed some neopoints, and a few other necessities and tossed them in a bag, and slung them over his shoulder before hurrying downstairs to the hotel's lobby.
Shaye was lounging in a chair, waiting for him. "Took you a while, Hale," he said smugly.
Garven rolled his eyes. "You ready to go, mate?"
Shaye nodded. "Yeah. Layton's feeling a little better too. Kep got him sorted. She'll keep him sane while I'm gone."
Garven shrugged, flexing his arms, and then shaking the tension out. "Alright, Shaye. Time's ticking."
Shaye grinned, heading out the door. "And you're paying," he sang mockingly, flapping into the air. Wretched Darigans and their wings.
Garven didn't know what the future held for either of their teams but he knew they would be alright. The two fiercest teams in the Altador Cup couldn't be kept down for long. And for now? Well he had a passive aggressive Gelert to keep up with.
Author's Note: Hey guys. Here's another AC story from me, fingers crossed it gets in. It's my first time not writing from a DC player's point of view, but I hope you enjoyed my take on KI's Garven Hale. Krawk Citadel forever and always! I've got some more stories in the works, and some oldies I'm editing, so keep on the lookout for more stories from me.