Hanso had laughed when Fyora had told him that there was an artefact that needed to be recovered from Roo Island. The thought of something dangerous lurking on the cheerful island populated by Blumaroos, dice, and gummy snacks was ridiculous. The only thing remotely scary on Roo Island was Deadly Dice, and even that was a joke.
Naturally, this earned him an elbow to his ribs and a glare from Brynn, who always took her job seriously, no matter how ridiculous the task seemed. She had then reassured Queen Fyora that the two of them would take care of the artefact, and escorted Hanso out of the room before he started laughing again.
"Come on, Brynn, even you have to agree that the idea of Roo Island ever being in danger is pretty silly." The two were descending the staircase that lead to Queen Fyora's throne room, which occupied one of the towers in her newly constructed castle. Hanso would have assumed that after everything Faerieland had gone through, the faeries would be slightly fazed by high-up rooms and the like, but apparently this was not the case.
"Faerieland falling out of the sky and Brightvale being attacked by wraiths were also pretty silly ideas at one point as well, Hanso," she reminded him.
"Still..." he trailed off, deciding that arguing with Brynn would be useless. "Where would the artefact even be? Underneath a pile of gummy snacks?"
Brynn rolled her eyes. "I swear, you are incapable of taking anything seriously. Remind me why I decided to work with you again, please."
"Because Queen Fyora asked you to help, and you take on what ever job you are given, even when you really shouldn't. Besides, I take some things seriously."
"Nice to see you've got your priorities straight there," Brynn teased.
"Hey, at least I'm honest," Hanso replied.
Despite their differing opinions on the importance of the mission, they left for Roo Island early the next day. They had left many of their usual artefact hunting supplies at home, because even Brynn had to admit that the mission was certainly not their most dangerous. They had boarded their boat to the island along with quite a large number of passengers, which was unusual. Roo Island was not a very popular destination.
"What are all of these pets doing here?" Hanso asked Brynn. "Either they're on the wrong boat, or we are."
"King Roo had some sort of new games arcade built, I believe. Apparently it's the best in Neopia."
"Well, they better stay out of our way," Hanso muttered. "They last thing we need is a bunch of kids screwing up what should be an easy job." He glanced over at a group of preteen girls, who were pointing at him and giggling.
"Ask him!" a green Aisha with curly brown hair and braces hissed at one of her two friends.
"No!" the other girl, a blue Gelert shrieked, and the group once again dissolved into nervous giggles.
"Are they going to do that for the entire ride?" Hanso asked Brynn.
"How should I know?"
"You're a girl!"
"Thanks for noticing," she said sarcastically. "Really, your observation skills are outstanding. They should give you an award."
"I just figured you would know, since you were their age once," Hanso added quickly, trying to fix his mistake.
"You make it sound like I'm forty or something. Besides, I was never like that."
As their conversation took place, the one of the girls had finally worked up the courage to go and talk to Hanso.
"Excuse me?" Hanso and Brynn looked up at the girl, a blue Cybunny with blonde hair. "Are you Hanso? As in the thief? I was wondering if I could ask you something?" She had an annoying habit of posing everything she said as a question.
"Well, you've already asked me three things, so I suppose a fourth couldn't hurt," Hanso informed her. At first, he was amused by the fact that he had so many fan girls, and even more amused by the fact that Brynn's tendency to act possessive whenever they approached him (he assumed it was some sort of Kougra hunting instinct). Now, though, they were beginning to get on his nerves.
"Are you single?" the girl asked, and her friends giggled some more. Sweet Fyora, he was beginning to understand how Jazan felt. This horrified him.
"No," he answered warily. "I have a girlfriend. In fact, she is sitting right beside me, and if you do not return to your seat I can not guarantee that she will not threaten you with her sword." The girl cast a frightened look at Brynn, and then scampered back to her seat. This time, her friends did not giggle. This may have been due to the fact that they, along with many other passengers, were busy staring at the approaching shoreline. While it was common for some passengers to obsessively watch as their destination grew closer, Roo Island should not have garnered this much interest. Brynn and Hanso turned to look at the shoreline as well, and what they saw shocked them.
Roo Island was slowly being devoured by a mass of purple.
"It's the Krawken!" a random passenger shrieked. "The Krawken has returned!"
"Don't be stupid!" another passenger scoffed. "The Krawken isn't purple!" The passengers continued to shout suggestions as to what the purple mass may be, and among them an airplane and a bird were suggested, despite the fact that the purple mass was clearly neither of these things.
As the boat grew closer, someone was finally able to correctly guess what the purple mass was. "It's bugs!" the shouted, and a few other passengers shouted in agreement."
"Looks like I was wrong," Hanso said, turning back to Brynn. "This job isn't going to be so easy after all..."
The boat docked at Roo Island Pier, which was thankfully devoid of bugs. After the passengers had settled down from their small panic attack, they were herded off the boat by the captain. Brynn and Hanso remained where they were seated until the majority of the passengers had left the dock.
"Madness, isn't it?" the ship's captain, an elderly male Blumaroo, commented as Brynn and Hanso left the boat."
"It certainly is," Brynn replied, her gaze focused on the purple bugs that were currently swarming the forest that bordered the island. "When did the bugs arrive?"
"Shortly after the new arcade was built. King Roo didn't think it was ready to start running just yet, but that Avinroo kid, he insisted that it open as soon as possibly. We heard there would be a few bugs with the machines, but we didn't think that meant this type of bug!"
Hanso laughed. "Or this many, I'm guessing?" The captain and Brynn both glared at him, and he quickly shut up.
"Do you know where Mr. Avinroo lives?" Brynn questioned.
The captain snorted. "Mr. Avinroo. Better not call him that, it'll go straight to his over-inflated head. That kid has an ego bigger than all of Neopia. His sister is pretty sweet, though, as is his cousin. She left the island recently, but the siblings are still here if you'd like to talk to them." He gave Brynn the address, and after thanking the captain she left with Hanso to go track down the Avinroo siblings.
They reached the house shortly, avoiding the bug-infested areas of the island. Along the way they had notice some odd fissures in the ground, is if though the island was cracking from the added weight of the bugs.
"This is like, the third time something like this has happened to an island," Hanso commented as Brynn knocked on the door. "Faerieland sinks, Krawk Island gets attacked by the Krawken and split into pieces, and now this. What in Neopia is going on?"
The door was opened by a small blue Aisha, who, upon looking at Hanso, screamed. "IT'S HIM!" she shouted. "ARI, IT'S HIM!"
"Shut up, Abigail, I'm about to utterly destroy this boss!" a voice called back from within the house.
"BUT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND, IT'S HANSO! HE'S AT OUR HOUSE!" The small blue Aisha had disappeared back into the house, and was currently trying to drag her brother away from his game.
"Hide me," Hanso whispered to Brynn, who rolled her eyes.
There was a cry of "NOOO, I WAS JUST ABOUT TO WIN!" before the girl remerged, pulling her older brother with her, a remote control still clutched in his hand. He forgot about his game entirely when he looked up at Hanso and Brynn, who were still waiting at the door. "You... you weren't lying," the teenager said.
"I told you Hanso was here," his sister said with a smug expression.
"And Captain Brynn, too," he pointed out. He then extended his hand, and introduced himself. "I am Aristotle A. Avinroo, the master of games!" His sister pinched him, and he then added "and this is my dumb little sister, Abigail."
"We'd like to ask you two a few questions, if that's alright," Brynn informed them. Abigail nodded, and led the pair into the house's kitchen. Aristotle followed behind.
"Sorry about the mess," Abigail said, gesturing to the stacks of empty Pizzaroo boxes, paper plates, cups, and other take-out food containers that littered the small kitchen. "I'd take you guys into the living room, but it's just as messy because somebody doesn't know how to clean up."
"That's not my job!" the Blumaroo hissed.
"That's not what mum said!" Abigail shot back.
"Where are your parents exactly?" Hanso asked.
"Kiko Lake, I think. Or maybe Neopia Central. We're not really sure," Abigail shrugged. "They like to go on vacation."
"And they just leave you at home by yourselves?" Hanso raised an eyebrow.
"We don't mind it. Ari just plays games all day, and we order take-out food to eat. Our cousin Lulu comes over sometimes to keep us company, too, but she says she's on a case right now, looking for King Roo. She's going to be a detective someday."
"King Roo? Is he missing?" Brynn said in a concerned tone of voice.
"I think she just wants an excuse to snoop through people's stuff some more," Aristotle said with disdain.
"He's just mad because she went into his room," Abigail told Brynn and Hanso. "He hasn't let anyone in there since time I went in there and found his stupid plushie collection."
"Oh, yeah?" Aristotle said. "Well, you were pretty mad when she went into your room and found your dreamy Hanso diary!"
"What? Dreamy Hanso diary?" Hanso looked alarmed.
"Shut up!" Abigail squealed, blushing furiously.
"Dear Diary, today I dreamt of Hanso about ninety times," Aristotle quoted, much to his sister's dismay. Hanso and Brynn exchanged looks, silently debating whether they should question the siblings as they had previously intended to, or just leave.
"If you don't shut up, I'm going to delete all of your saved game files!" Abigail yelled.
"You wouldn't dare!" The two siblings began to physically fight each other, and Hanso and Brynn took the opportunity to slip out unnoticed.
"Those two are completely mental," Hanso said as they walked away from the house.
"There was no way we were going to get any information out of them," Brynn sighed. "Now what are we going to do? We can't just leave Roo Island like this!"
"They said their cousin was taking care of it, right? Why can't we just leave it to her?"
"Because she's just a kid, Hanso! And we can't forget about the artefact that Queen Fyora sent us to retrieve in the first place."
"Right. We'll just grab the artefact, and leave the bugs to Roo Island's Royal Guards. That's their job isn't it?"
"Brynn, this is way beyond our control. They need an exterminator, not two artefact hunters."
"I suppose." She sighed again, and looked a their surroundings. "Where would it be?"
"Follow me," Hanso said. "I've got a plan." He took Brynn's hand, and led her over to where Count Von Roo resided. "We're going to the home of the only thing that could be considered remotely dangerous. If he doesn't have the artefact, I don't know who does."
"This is precisely why I'm the boss," Brynn muttered. "You have the stupidest plans..."
They returned to Faerieland the next day, the supposedly dangerous artefact in tow.
"Have you retrieved it?" Queen Fyora asked when they entered the throne room.
"Yes," Hanso replied. He held out a pair of dice. "I have been told these are deadly."
"Indeed they are," Queen Fyora said gravely. She took the dice from Hanso, and informed them that they would be stored with the rest of the artefacts that they had recovered.
"That's it?" Brynn asked once they left. "That's the dangerous artefact? They're... they're just dice!"
"Deadly dice, Brynn. Deadly Dice."