The Isle of the Lost (Page 17)
The light seared through the barrier as easily as it had burned a hole in the tree-house roof.
Lightning flashed, and the very earth shook with a supersonic rumble. For a second they could see through the dome and directly into the night sky. The black box began to emit a strange beeping noise.
Carlos and Evie scrambled back inside, and Carlos picked up the box. It was making a sound neither of them had ever heard before.
And for a brief moment, there was something on the television in the room, which had burst to life all of a sudden.
“Look!” Evie cried.
The screen was flashing with so many different scenes it was dizzying. For a moment they saw a talking dog (Carlos screamed at the sight); then it switched to a pair of twins who were nothing alike (one was boyish and athletic and the other was sort of a diva, and they both sort of looked like Mal, except with yellow hair); then it switched again to two teenage boys who seemed to be running a hospital for superheroes.
“Look at all these different television shows!” Carlos said. “I knew it! I knew it! I knew there had to be other kinds!”
Evie laughed. Then the screen flickered and went dark again, and the box in Carlos’s hands went dead. “What happened?”
“I don’t know. I think maybe it worked? It penetrated the dome for a second, didn’t it?” he asked, approaching the box fearfully and touching it with the end of one finger. It was hot to the touch, and he pulled his hand away quickly.
“It must have,” Evie said. “That’s the only explanation.”
“Promise you won’t tell anyone about what happened, especially about the dome. We could get in real trouble, you know.”
“I promise,” said Evie, making an X with her fingers behind her back.
“You want to go back to the party?”
“Do we have to?” she asked, unwilling to find herself trapped in another closet.
“You have a point. And that show you like on Auradon News Network, the one that features the Prince of the Week, is going to be on in five minutes.”
Unbeknown to the two villain children, far off in the distance, deep in the heart of the forbidden fortress, hidden behind a gray misty fog on the other side of the island, a long black scepter with a jewel on its end came back to life, glowing green with power again. The most powerful weapon of darkness had been awakened for a moment.
Next to the hidden staff, a stone statue of a raven began to vibrate, and when the bird began to shake its wings, the stone crumbled into dust, and in its place was that black-eyed fiend, that wicked fairy’s familiar, the one and only Diablo, Maleficent’s best and first friend.
Diablo shook his feathers and gave a throaty, triumphant cry. Evil would fly again.
Ben nervously fiddled with the beast-head ring on his finger as he waited for the Council members to come in and take their seats around the king’s conference table later that morning. His father’s advice rang in his ear. Keep a strong hand. Show ’em who’s king.
He flexed his own fingers, thinking of his father’s fist. His father didn’t mean it literally, but Ben was worried nonetheless. He supposed he would just have to improvise.
“Ready, sire?” Lumiere asked.
Ben took a breath and tried to sound as serious as possible. “Yes, let them in, thank you.”
Lumiere bowed. Even though it had been a long time since he had been enchanted and turned into a candelabrum, there was something about him that still resembled one, and for a moment, Ben could easily imagine two small flames flickering on his outstretched palms.
Lumiere knows who he is—and he’s happy being Lumiere. Is it really so much more complicated to be a king than a candelabrum?
The thought was, for a moment, comforting to Ben. But then the Council entered the room—and he found there was nothing comforting about the sudden sight of the royal advisors.
In fact, they’re pretty terrifying, Ben thought.
He didn’t know why. They were chatting amiably enough, discussing last night’s Tourney scores and whose Fantasy Tourney League was winning. Seats were taken, gossip exchanged, goblets of spiced cider passed around, as well as a plate or two of the castle kitchen’s sugar cookies.
Representing the sidekicks were the usual seven dwarfs, still wearing their mining clothes and stocking hats. Seated next to the dwarfs (or rather, sitting along the edge of a book of Auradon’s Civic Rules & Regulations that lay on the table nearest them, because they were much too small to take any seat at all) were the very same mice who had helped Cinderella win her prince—wily Jaq, chubby Gus, and sweet Mary. The rodent portion of the advisory board tended to speak in small, squeaky tones that could be hard for Ben to understand without the communicator in his ear, which translated everything that the animals said in the meeting.
Everyone at the table was wearing one of the clever hearing devices, one of the few magical inventions allowed in the kingdom. The mice’s squeaks, the Dalmatian’s barks, and Flounder’s burbling were all translated so that they could be understood.
Beyond the mice, a few of Ariel’s sisters (Ben could never remember which was which, especially as their names all started with A) and Flounder splashed along in their own copper bathtub, wheeled in by a very unhappy Cogsworth, who grimaced every time the slightest bit of water sloshed over the edge.
“Mind the splashing, please! I only just had this floor mopped. You do know this isn’t a beach resort, do you not? Precisely. It’s a council meeting. A rrrrroyal council,” the former clock trumpeted, rolling his r’s with great fanfare. Andrina—or was it Adella?—only laughed and flicked him with her great, wet fins.
Rounding out the other side of the table were the three “good” fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, looking apple-cheeked and cheery in their green, red, and blue hats and capes, seated next to the famed blue Genie of Agrabah. They were comparing vacation notes. The fairies were partial to the forest meadows while the genie preferred the vast deserts.
“I guess we should get started?” Ben ventured, clearing his throat.
No one seemed to hear him. The mice roared with laughter, falling onto their backs and rolling across the Auradonian law book. Even Pongo and Perdita of the freed De Vil Dalmatian contingent joined in the laughter with a little lively barking. All told, it was a friendly group, or so it seemed. Ben began to relax.
And why shouldn’t he? Unlike the infamous villains trapped on the Isle of the Lost, the good citizens of Auradon looked as if the last twenty years hadn’t aged them one bit. Ben had to admit it: every one of the royal councilors looked just like they had in the photographs he had studied of the founding of Auradon. The mice were still small and cute, the Dalmatians sleek and handsome. The mermaids—whatever their names—remained as fresh as water lilies, and the good fairies burst with good health. Even the infamous Genie of Agrabah had toned down his usual hyper-manic performance. Dopey was still his mute, charming self, and while Doc may have had a few more white hairs than before in his beard, Grumpy looked almost cheerful.