Making History: A Haunted Victory
The moment the referee blew the whistle, Krell knew the game was over. It had been a long and drawn out month, and today was the longest day ever. For the last seven years, Krell and his team had been struggling to break free of the winners curse. It was a long road, which had so many twists and turns. In recent years fans had begun doubting their ability to compete seriously anymore.
The game was over; Krell had lost track of the goals that had been scored. He was afraid to look at the scoreboard. He heard Crade yell a few feet away and turned to see Fanetti from the net jumping and cheering. That's when Hovri's voice came echoing into the stadium, followed by Tobias.
"Unbelievable!" Hovri roared in awe. "Team Haunted Woods has become the first team to win two cups in the modern era of the sport!"
"What a striking comeback!" Tobias echoed. "After taking home the cup eight years ago, and then a seven year struggle to recover their title; the Haunted Woods team has won yet again!"
Krell stood in shock of everything. Seven long years of suffering from the winners curse, and they finally made a comeback. One that would be remembered for a very long time by the sporting world.
"No, not just a comeback," Krell said to himself. "A page for the history books!"
He raced towards his cheering teammates; pulling them all into a group hug. They were all smiling and laughing, as colourful confetti and the booming cheers of fans filled the stadium. A Neopian times reporter and his assistant took quotes and asked some questions. It was sure to be a front pager for sure.
* * *
After the awards ceremony, all the teams gathered for the after party to celebrate their hard work. They were rewarded with a large feast and all the Neo Cola they could drink. Chatter and laughter filled the room, as friends and rivals caught up on old times.
"Hey, remember a few years ago," Tandrak was saying to Lilo. "How you and I were running for the yooyu, and we both tripped?"
"Yes, we nearly fell on the poor thing," Lilo chuckled. "But nothing beats Reshar throwing the yooyu back to the field, along with his catching mitt."
Tandrak and Lilo both laughed. It had been pretty funny to see the Darigan jetsam's surprise when his glove had gone flying into the field with the yooyu. Good thing Kep had been close by to retrieve it and the yooyu. King Altador was present at the party, too. He congratulated all the teams on their hard work, and hoped to see them next season. As the party died down, the teams headed for their bunks. They needed rest so they could travel home the next day. Everyone was exhausted from the eventful day.
* * *
The bunks for the Haunted woods team was quiet. Darkness filled the room, yet the team was wide awake. Krell was still in awe of what had happened today. He was very proud of his team, he couldn't have asked for better friends.
"Hey Krell," Zo jr. said from his bunk. "Remember when I first met you?"
"Sure do," Krell replied. "You were always pulling pranks on me! Nothing was funnier than replacing our practice ball with an evil coconut."
In the first year, things had been rocky. Wan and Krell had gone into the sport as childhood friends, hoping to make a name for themselves. They had met Chelo Binay; a veteran player and the one who taught them everything about the game. Shortly after Zo had been scouted as a forward for their team. Despite his tiny size, he had been tenacious and eager to prove himself. Zo also loved the occasional prank. Fanetti, their goalkeeper had been the last of the team scouted. Despite his small size, he had proved himself to be an outstanding goalkeeper. Krell had been appointed the team captain in that same year. The committee had seen his leadership qualities and noted that he would be invaluable to his team.
"Hey, do you two remember our first official training day?" Fanetti chipped in with a laugh.
This earned Fanetti roars of laughter from Krell and Zo. Brains groaned in confusion from his bunk, the zombie Usul had no idea what was so funny. Crade, the newest addition to the team was also confused by the thunderous laughter. When Krell and Zo finally caught their breath, they answered the perplexed groan from their undead friend.
"Our first day of training," Krell said with a chuckle. "Chelo had convinced Wan that it was good luck to wear his jersey inside out and backwards."
"I can't wait to see her," Zo squeaked, "She'll be so proud, we won another cup!"
"Hmmmmm," Brains groaned. "Remember when I joined?"
"Yeah, it was a surprise," Krell said. "But look at you now, though. You proved all those nay-sayers wrong!"
When Brains had joined the team, he had been met with skepticism. A shambling zombie playing yooyuball had left fans questioning the team's sanity. Through hard work and tenacity, Brains won over many fans. In fact, Brains had become one of the more popular figures in yooyuball. The zombie Usul was even a friend and penpal of Kreludor's team captain. Derlyn had been the first of the team captains to run up and congratulate Krell's team.
"Crade," Brains said in his gravelly voice. "Remember all the myths from training camp?"
"I sure do," Crade said in a sibilant voice. "So many of them are false!"
Brains chuckled at Crade's surprise; the young Draik had learned so many things in the last month. The zombie's hoarse laughter echoed in the room eerily, making the atmosphere of the dark room seem comforting.
"What was the myth that shocked you the most?" Fanetti asked the wraith Draik.
"The myth on how Elon got his nickname," Crade said. "The kids at camp said it was because he was really good at running plays."
"Nah, he just doesn't like sharing the ball," Zo giggled.
They reminisced a bit more. Particularly about one off season a few years back; the entire team had come down with Neopox. It had been rough, they had missed three practice sessions! They also talked about the off season last year. The Neovian eating contest monster was still a large topic among the team. Even team Darigan citadel's goalie Reshar had joined them in the catacombs. Lani and Lillie had wandered into the catacombs at one point, too. The young twins had scared many people with their blank stares. Brains was probably the only person Krell knew, who wasn't unnerved by the little girls.
Eventually, they all fell asleep. The laughter that had filled the dark room, gave way to rumbling snores, and dreams of the future.
* * *
The morning sun shone brightly; it was another hot day in Altador. Krell had stopped in at a Captains meeting. Each year after the cup all the team captains got together before departure and congratulated each other, and swapped training tips. Keetra Deile, captain of the Virtupets team approached him. She was grinning from ear to ear, like a child who had just got received Kiko lake's finest toffee's.
"Congrats," she said. "You guys made the biggest comeback ever!"
"Thank you." Krell grinned. "You and your team put up quite a fight yourselves!"
Keetra grinned widely at the tall Halloween Kyrii. Out of the corner of her eye, Keetra saw Aldric coming up to them. He beamed brightly as he shook her hand and then Krell's. The magma Kougra was in very good spirits.
"Congrats to you both!" he said. "You guys are seriously tough!"
"Thank you!" Krell and Keetra said in unison.
"We'll get you guys next year!" Aldric said cheerily, "We'll be ready!"
The three captains laughed, everyone was in terrific moods. They all departed for home on friendly terms. This year had been a great one! So many surprises had come out of it. Krell could only hope that next year, things would be even better.