Curse of the Ancients
Curse of the Ancients
Author Matt de la Peña
Main Setting(s) Izamal
Publication date June 4, 2013
Preceded by
The Trap Door
Followed by
Cave of Wonders


Sera has a secret. She's seen the future, and is it terrifying. Unfortunately, she can't do anything to prevent the Cataclysm while stranded with Dak and Riq thousands of years in the past. Their only hope lies with the ancient Maya, a mysterious people who claim to know a great deal about the future. Is there more to these ancients than what meets the eye?


The prologue has Sera experiencing a memory during the time warp - what she can remember of the Cataclysm. She deserts Ilsa and drives to her house, but before she opens the door, the memory ends.

Sera, Dak, and Riq warp to the middle of a Mayan village, Izamal, supposedly in 1562, but it appears to be much earlier, while the Mayans are seeking shelter from the upcoming ‘great storm.’ The trio change their clothes, then study the once again vague riddle on the SQuare.

Dak is being ignored during this, however, so he leaves to have a look around the area. Dak sees three men writing in the village’s observatory, with a clown mask beside them, as well as evidence that this is not 1562, and returns to the other two, only to see them surrounded by Mayans, one of whom has the Infinity Ring. Dak attacks them, thinking that they’re Time Wardens, and the Infinity Ring is broken.

However, the Mayans were actually just villagers trying to give the trio shelter from the storm, which they accept. Inside the shelter, Itchik, the owner of the home, introduces everyone. When introducing himself, Dak, thinking the Mayans are Hystorians, says he is from the future, but they say that they doesn’t understand what he’s saying.

Just then, the house collapses, and a stone wall falls onto Dak as he saves a little girl from it. Dak falls unconscious, and while Sera stays with him, Riq has a conversation with Kisa, Itchik’s niece, who gives Riq a snake bracelet before leaving.

The next day, Sera and Riq investigate the observatory, per Dak’s wish before he fell unconscious, and end up helping clear up the rubble that was left of the observatory after the storm. Sera discovers what’s wrong with the Infinity Ring-it’s fine, except that it doesn’t know the date, which, due to the Mayan’s having a different calendar, is hard to calculate, although Riq is able to figure it out, due to the numbers in one of the SQuare’s messages being dates. The village is then visited by men from Calakmul, a much larger village, who wish to see their codices.

However, the men take the Izamal’s codex by force and leave with it. Riq joins the group that goes to retrieve the codex, while Sera meets with one of the men, who demands that he gives her the Infinity Ring. Things get even worse when Dak, who recently gained consciousness, and Kisa, attempt to rescue Sera but fail. Thankfully, Kisa is able to summon snakes, like a snake charmer, which scares the men off, as they think it’s witchcraft.

Meanwhile, Riq and the other men come up with a plan to get the codex back. When the group passes by, Riq pretends to be a thief running from the other men. He steals the codex and and throws it to the men of Izamal, one of whom takes it back to the village after pretending to give it to Itchik. Itchick then offers a fake codex to the men if they hand over Riq. The plan works, with a slight altercation after the men wish to see Riq publicly killed. After this, Dak, Sera, and Riq warp to 1562.

During the warp, Sera experiences the same memory as before, but this time she remembers the whole thing. Her house was trashed, so Sera went into the barn, where she saw four bodies: Dak’s parent’s and her parents. When the trio lands in 1562, Dak notes that Sera is obviously crying. Riq wanders off, offended by something Dak said, so Dak and Sera investigate a meeting at one of the caves. It turns out to be a ceremony for the Mayans to honor their local gods, which they can no longer do publicly. However, the Spaniards end the meeting, kill a man and imprison the rest.

In the cell, a Mayan man asks Sera and Dak “What is the most important thing in the world?” They answer it incorrectly, but recognize it as part of the SQuare’s riddle. Later, Riq, dressed as a monk, visits the cell and is given a locket by Dak. He is asked the same question as the other two, and, to their-and his-surprises, answers the question correctly: Friendship.

Now that the Mayans trust Riq, they send him to get a boy, Okib, who has the key to the cell. Before that, however, Riq visits the new observatory, inspired by the locket, which said “observatory,” but doesn’t get much out of it, then finds Okib. That night, Okib and Riq free the prisoners and Riq reunites with Sera and Dak, and apologizes for wandering off before. They then meet one of the women Riq saw at the observatory-María, the local Hystorian.

She leads them to a locked door in the observatory, which she believes leads to the site of the first Hystorian meeting in that area of the world. The trio get help from the locksmith’s assistant, K’inich, who can use the keys. The five people enter the room, only to find it empty. K’inich turns out to be a Time Warden, and says that everything in the room is out in the village bonfire, where all ancient Mayan artifacts are going to be burned. K’inich leaves the room and locks the door, trapping Dak, Sera, Riq, and María.

Thankfully, they find a secret room hidden in the locked room they were in, which contains a copy of the ancient Mayan codex, an exit to the outside, and a message Kisa wrote to future Hystorians, explaining her story and thanking Riq for the time he spent with her. After reading the message, Riq joins the other three, who are going outside.

In the village, Riq, Sera, Dak, and María use a similar strategy to replace the SQ codex with the Mayan one that was used earlier in the book, to get the Mayan codex. Dak steals the SQ codex and Riq, still dressed as a monk, chases him and ends up with the Mayan Codex, which he gives to the monks. Once that’s done, the trio is attacked by Time Wardens, but are saved by Bacab, a Mayan, at the price of his life. The trio then warp away as Riq shows Sera a locket with a symbol on it, that Sera thinks is Chinese.