~The Den of Malediction~
Tivlia the Maraquan Blumaroo had always been a tenacious treasure hunter. While growing up in Maraqua, she quickly learned to search for valuable commodities. Many times, she had made astounding sums of Neopoints from the prizes she had found. She hoped that her upcoming hunt would be no exception.
She swam outside, excited to explore the new place. Called the “Den of Malediction,” it was a reclusive area which few had explored. Sensible Maraquans avoided the place due to the fear it evoked within them. However, not an ounce of fright consumed Tivlia. No ridiculous rumors would stop her from getting her fins on some lustrous treasures.
She bravely rushed toward the opening of the cavern, ignoring the multitude of giant signs which warned her not to enter. She swam through a small cave and exited, where she found herself floating in a hidden courtyard. Maybe it was beautiful at one point, but it was quite worn after, presumably, many years.
Tivlia scoured the area and found nothing of value whatsoever. She did notice some runes inscribed on the wall, but she couldn’t read them, so she approached the next door. As she turned the knob, she was startled to hear a voice boom around her. “Turn back, you fool, lest I vanquish your soul!” warned the creepy voice.
Tivlia laughed. She wasn’t going to fall for any silly prank. She shamelessly swam through the doorway, but before she could react, the door behind her slammed shut. She shrugged, figuring that she would find out a way to escape later.
Before her stood a giant maze of stone walls. There were many dead ends accompanied by treasure rooms. Her eyes lit up; this meant that she could search as much as she pleased and hopefully return with riches galore! With alacrity, she swam toward the first room.
To Tivlia’s relief, the rooms were labeled with numbers, which had surprisingly stood the test of time. That way, she wouldn’t get lost. With excitement, she began to search the rooms. To her dismay, Room 17 required a key, so she couldn’t enter. Hopefully, she would find this item in one of the other rooms.
For many hours, she searched hundreds of rooms, but she noticed nothing more than some creepy statues of monsters with glowing red eyes. She didn’t know or care why someone would build such abominations. She was more concerned with her failure to find anything worthwhile.
In Room 324, she entered and noticed an unusually shiny silver key strung on a necklace and draped around the neck of a statue. She triumphantly grabbed it, figuring that she could unlock Room 17 and hopefully gain some wondrous prizes. However, she had a few more rooms to search first.
It turned out that there were 400 rooms, but Tivlia hadn’t found a scrap of treasure in any of them. She swam forward to see if there were any more, but unfortunately, she stood at a massive dead end. To her disgust, she would have to swim back through the entire maze to return to the entrance. She grumbled to herself, figuring that there should be an easier way.
She arrived at Room 17 and turned the key. The door creaked open, and she swam inside. She found a room that was empty, except for a giant puzzle cube atop a pedestal. Tivlia quickly concluded that something would happen if she solved the cube, or else why would it be there?
Tivlia knew she wasn’t smart enough to solve the puzzle in any reasonable amount of time. However, she was one of the more cunning Neopets of her kind, so she had an idea. The colored squares on the cube were thin metal tiles attached by hooks. Taking advantage of this, she detached the tiles and rearranged them so that the colors matched, and the cube was solved.
Just then, a loud BOOM sounded, and a vicious whirlpool dragged her toward the center of the room. The floor opened up underneath her, and she fell into a watery pit. Once she came to her senses, she realized that she was sitting in an intentional trap.
The room was empty except for some more statues. As soon as Tivlia started to swim around, she felt an agonizing pain up her spine. “FOOLISH MORTAL!” the voice boomed as her skin started to tighten. Before she knew it, she had been turned to stone.
Two of Tivlia’s sisters were sitting comfortably in their Neohome, wondering where she went. “Where is Tivlia?” asked her sister Stepholla.
“She went off to the Den of Malediction, whatever that is, to treasure hunt,” answered the other sister, Alshena. “I have no clue why she hasn’t returned yet.”
Stepholla choked on the snack she had been eating. “The Den of Malediction!” she exclaimed. “Is she INSANE?! Even the most notorious treasure hunters know to stay away from that trap! No mortal has gone there and returned!”
“So it would take an immortal to rescue her,” concluded Alshena.
“Luckily, I know someone who can help.” She grabbed her purse and walked outside. “Stay here. I’m going out.”
“But could you explain---”
The walk had been long, but Steph had finally made it to her destination: The Tower of Incantation. It looked quite ordinary, and most people regarded it as such, since it was closed to the public. However, Steph knew the Neopet who owned it: an extraordinary, immortal magician, capable of causing worldwide bliss or agony by casting a single spell.
Steph knocked on the door and was greeted by a Stealthy Draik. “Hi, Steph,” the Draik greeted her. “What brings you here?”
Steph sighed. “Maldice... I need your help. That blockhead Tivlia ran off to... the Den of Malediction.”
Maldice scowled. “Mortal FOOL! I suppose she was trying to find treasure?”
“There’s absolutely NOTHING in there! I’m certain of it, since I designed the place myself a millennium ago!” She grabbed her wand and stormed off. “Now I have to go save that wretched simpleton...”
Maldice was swimming through the Maraquan ocean, using a spell to breathe underwater. She approached the Den of Malediction and swam inside. Once she got to the courtyard, she ignored the next door and stood in front of the runes. She waved her hands and said some magical words, and then a glowing teleporter appeared in front of her. She stepped on it, and it took her straight to the pit, where Tivlia was waiting to be rescued.
Maldice found Tivlia’s statue and waved her wand in front of it. The stone pieces fell off of Tivlia’s skin and crumbled to the ground. “Huh?” she uttered.
“Let’s go, you fool!” Maldice dragged a half-asleep Tivlia into the teleporter.
“What is your DEAL?!” snarled Maldice. “Any mortal who approaches that place is a FOOL!”
“I’m... sorry, I guess...”
“You GUESS?! If Stepholla hadn’t told me you were lost, you would have stayed there FOREVER!”
Tivlia stared at the ground.
“Forever is a VERY long time. Trust me, I know.” Maldice smirked. “Let me tell you the story behind that place. One thousand years ago, a group of nasty Darigans attacked Neopia and tried to dominate the planet. To most, their powers seemed immeasurable, but not to me. I sealed them away in the Den of Malediction, and they’ve been stuck there as statues ever since.”
“Why don’t you destroy the place now, so innocent Neopians don’t get lost there?”
Maldice slammed her fists down on the table. “Mortal FOOL! You haven’t the faintest idea how magic works, do you?! Their spirits would escape!” She scoffed. “Get out of my sight. I had BETTER not be called to help you again.”
Tivlia sighed as she and Steph walked home. At first, Tivlia was simply glad to be safe, but then her thoughts returned to the prospects of more treasure. Carelessness was a part of her soul. She figured that she would be more successful the next time. No one could safely say that the Blumaroo had learned her lesson.