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Willow Herona and the Temple of Gold
In my long life, I have learned many things. Like seriously, a lot. However, one of my more amusing misadventures stands as the time I learned to NEVER EVER listen to Loki when he says “Let’s go check out the ancient Mayan temple!” No, never agree to go, even when he adds, “There’s a treasure chamber full of gold!” Because, I assure you, whoever told him about the temple failed to mention the evil demon monkeys guarding said gold. But, you don’t want to listen to me ramble, you want the story.
It was the summer of 1936, ironically the same year Indiana Jones stole the golden idol, and my younger brother and I resided happily, and lazily, in our massive mansion in Ireland. I think it must have been about one o’clock, Magnus and I eating lunch, when I felt the familiar pop in my chest of someone coming through the many wards surrounding my home. I fought the eye roll, as I had a pretty good idea of who it was.
I told EK, my Enchanted Kitchen, to keep my lunch warm and entered my front hall, which contained the giant spiral staircase that led to the upper floors. Two giant oak doors stood at the front, though rarely opened, and portraits lined the wall of historical figures or my family. The man standing in the middle of it all, and getting mud on my nice red carpet, was dressed like some kind of adventurer. I admit, he looked rather dashing, but the clothes didn’t quite fit the elegant, aristocratic figure I knew so well. Loki pushed his dark locks, which he refused to cut any shorter or pull back, out of his face, ice blue eyes glinting with excitement. I nearly laughed at the pith helmet he wore, which looked so out of place on Loki the aristocrat.
“Are you here for a reason,” I smirked, “Johnny Adventurer?”
“Yes,” Loki grinned at me wildly, “Can I come into the kitchen and talk to you and Magnus?”
“Fine,” I shrugged as the enchanted suits of armor finished cleaning the mud off his boots. Loki walked right past me as though this were his house and into the kitchen. He sat down in my chair, while I took a seat next to Magnus, facing Loki.
“I don’t like that look,” Magnus made a face at Loki, “It means we’re in trouble.”
“No, not this time I swear!” Loki motioned wildly as though this would prove his point.
He went on to explain that he’d been doing a tour (that’s when a warlock picks a random country and settles there for a year or so to look for work) in Guatemala, and some villagers mentioned that there was supposed to be a lost (and potentially cursed) Mayan temple full of gold in the jungle around there. Loki, of course, went exploring to find it, and did! He’d only looked around the outside, but he’d seen that it was huge, and therefore large enough to hold a lot of gold. Of course, his first thought of who to invite to help him find the gold and get it out, was us. I felt so privileged. *sarcasm sarcasm*
“What about traps? And curses?” I crossed my arms and scowled at him. All smart ancient peoples who built things that they wanted protected had their local warlock curse and/or ward it. Both could be harmful to exploring humans and warlocks.
“I didn’t feel any curses, and we’re smart enough to avoid traps,” Loki waved me off. I glanced at my brother, who wore a daydreaming sort of expression.
“Think of all the gold, Willow,” Magnus breathed, in awe at his own imagination. I shut my eyes and thought of it. Oh, it was tempting. So tempting. But Loki’s scatterbrained plots usually ended in disaster. But the gold….
“Fine,” I opened my eyes. “We’re in.”
Two days later, Loki Portaled Magnus and I, dressed similarly to how Loki had been when he arrived, to the little Guatemalan village on the edge of the jungle. People stared at us as we walked through the village and into the tiny store to grab some supplies. I had a sinking feeling they were thinking, Mmmm, more adventurers here to sacrifice themselves to the temple guards! Now we don’t have to send Martha!
We slung our bags of supplies over our shoulders and marched off into the jungle. We didn’t march long though, because as soon as the village was out of sight, Loki Portaled us right to the foot of the temple. My first impression was that it looked rather imposing and most definitely cursed. No wards though. Odd. Very odd.
Before I knew it, Loki, Magnus and I climbed the stairs to the very top and stood at the front door of our potential doom. Loki paled a little when he noticed the fairly small door. It was the perfect height for Magnus and I, but Loki was a good seven inches taller than us, and more claustrophobic as well.
“I wonder what those symbols mean,” Magnus gestured at the glyphs above the door. None of us read Mayan, so we shrugged. We learned later that they meant, “Beware the monkeys.” Go figure. Loki finally finished steeling himself, and we entered. The ceiling opened up to accommodate Loki, thank heaven, or he might have had a panic attack, but it was still dark as pitch and I remained uneasy.
We all had decided beforehand that the treasure was likely to be in the bottom of the temple, and therefore we would make our way downwards. I swear, we weren’t ten feet into the darkness when we hit our first trap. Magnus stepped on a flagstone, and Loki and I nearly went into the pit of spikes that opened up below us. They actually had to haul me back up onto solid ground.
“There’s a hole there,” Magnus helpfully pointed out while Loki and I sat on the floor, panting. We glared up at him for a moment, then decided the only way to get across would be to inch across the maybe six inch ledge rimming the side.
We crept along that ledge as carefully as possible, knowing our lives depended on it. I cursed Loki under my breath as I went. We reached the other side, Magnus slipping only once, and continued on, the floor sloping downwards all the way. Finally, Loki had to light a glow stone so that we could see, and not trip over our own feet.
It was Loki who triggered the next trap, a simple trip wire which triggered spikes to shoot from the wall. If I hadn’t grabbed his jacket, he would have had a lot more than that little cut on his cheek, which healed within a few minutes. We weaved carefully though the spikes without incident, aside from Magnus ripping a hole in his sleeve, and then whining about it.
Our path went ever downward, twisting and turning, but never branching. The deeper we went, the more I got the feeling of being watched, like something was plotting our deaths. Stupid Mayans, I thought, making temples that freak people out. At last, the path leveled out and we entered a huge, and empty room. Nothing but more stone block walls and flagstone floors. Magnus and I both turned and glared at Loki.
“This is your temple of gold?” I glared. “It looks like a temple of stone to me. Stone and empty promises.”
“Amen,” Magnus nodded with me, mirroring my glare, “Another Loki scheme gone wrong.”
“I swear, they told me it would be here!” Loki protested. He and Magnus began to argue, and the feeling of being watched began to close in. I wandered around the large room, touching the walls lightly. My fingers found a little hole between stone blocks, and I looked into it curiously. One large yellow eye stared back and blinked once. I squeaked and it was gone.
I looked wildly over to the men. Damn them, they hadn’t even heard me, they were so busy arguing. Stupid testosterone, I grumbled inwardly. I continued my inspection of the room, more carefully this time, and discovered a slightly depressed block. Glancing over at Loki and Magnus, I pushed on the massive stone. It moved! Excited, I threw my weight into it, and with a grinding noise it pushed further into the wall, and then the wall split right in front of me and began to slide to either side.
“Diana, what on earth are you- oh my God,” Loki stopped and stared around at the huge room that the wall had exposed.
Every single surface glittered, shone and sparkled with a golden light. Torches lined the wall, illuminating even more piles and more piles of shimmering gold. This gold was enough to see that Loki, Magnus and I never had to work again, and that was saying a lot, considering our near immortality as warlocks. We stood in the opening with our mouths hanging open in wonder and amazement. Loki and Magnus ran forward and began scooping gold into their sacks. Suddenly, the feeling of being watched crashed down on me again. I looked up to the ceiling slowly, and my eyes grew round with fear.
“Loki, Magnus,” I said very softly, “Get up very slowly, and let’s go. Now.”
“Are you nuts, Willow?” Magnus laughed, “We’re going to be rich!”
“I really think we should go,” I whispered. Magnus finally looked up and grabbed Loki’s arm and pointed up.
And with that action, they descended on us. Hundreds of demon monkeys poured from the ceiling and into the room of gold. We grabbed our bags and ran for our lives. We flew so fast around corners that we almost ran into the walls. Our clothes were nearly shredded when we ducked through the spikes, and we went at an impossible speed on the ledge next to the pit. The demon monkeys seemed to be able to walk right through the spikes and leapt the pit with grace and ease. Loki, Magnus and I tore out of the temple full speed, all but falling down the plethora of steps, the monkeys still hot on our heels. Then it dawned on me.
“Drop the bags!” I screamed at the men.
“Are you insane?” Loki yelled back.
“Yes!” I yelled back, “Drop the freaking bags, old man!” The men dropped the bags of gold and kept running. Despite the fact that the monkeys quit following us after Magnus and Loki left the bags, we ran straight back to the village, a distance of several miles through thick jungle, before we stopped and collapsed on the ground.
“Monkeys,” Loki heaved, with a disgusted expression.
“Yeah, monkeys,” Magnus half laughed, still panting and slightly terrified. I turned slowly around on Loki.
“It’ll be fun, he said,” I muttered, looking mutinously at Loki, “There’ll be gold, he said. Well, now he’s going to be DEAD!” I all but shrieked to last part and lunged at Loki. He spent the next few hours in the village running for his life, once again.
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