The Isle of the Lost (Page 2)

“Nevertheless, Evil Queen and her horrid progeny will learn soon enough from their spiteful little mistake!” her mother declared.

For her mother was the great Maleficent, Mistress of Darkness, the most powerful and wicked fairy in the world and the most fearsome villain in all the land.

Or at least, she had been.

Once upon a time, her mother’s wrath had cursed a princess.

Once upon a time, her mother’s wrath had brought a prince to his knees.

Once upon a time, her mother’s wrath had put an entire kingdom to sleep.

Once upon a time, her mother had had all the forces of hell at her command.

And there was nothing Mal desired more in her heart than to grow up to be just like her.

Maleficent stepped to the balcony’s edge, where she could see out to the whole island all the way to the sparkling lights of Auradon. She raised herself to her full height as thunder and lightning cracked and boomed and rain began to pour from the heavens. Since there was no magic on the island, this was just wickedly good coincidence.

The party came to a halt, and the gathered citizens were paralyzed at the sight of their leader glaring down at them with the full force of her wrath.

“This celebration is over!” Mal’s mother declared. “Now, shoo, flee, and scatter, like the little fleas you are! And you! Evil Queen and your daughter! From now on, you are dead to the entire island! You do not exist! You are nothing! Never show your faces anywhere ever again! Or else!”

Just as quickly as it had gathered, the group dispersed, under the wary eye of Maleficent’s frightening henchmen, the boar-like guards wearing aviator caps pulled down low over their hooded eyes. Mal caught a last glimpse of the blue-haired princess looking fearfully up at the balcony before being whisked away by her equally terrified mother.

Mal’s eyes glittered with triumph, her dark heart glad that her misery had caused such wondrous maleficence.

“Magic Mirror

on the Wall,

who is the fairest

of them all?”

—Evil Queen,

Snow White

It has to be a dream, Mal told herself. This couldn’t be real. She was sitting by the edge of a beautiful lake, on the stone floor of an ancient temple ruin, eating the most luscious strawberry. The forest all around her was lush and green, and the sound of the water rushing at her feet was soothing and peaceful. Even the very air all around her was sweet and fresh.

“Where am I?” she asked aloud, reaching for a plump grape from the gorgeous picnic set before her.

“Why, you’ve been in Auradon for days now, and this is the Enchanted Lake,” answered the boy seated next to her.

She hadn’t noticed him until he spoke, but now that she had noticed, she wished she hadn’t. The boy was the worst part of all this—whatever this was—tall, with tousled honey-brown hair, and painfully handsome with the kind of smile that melted hearts and made all the girls swoon.

But Mal wasn’t like all the girls, and she was starting to feel panicked, like she was trapped here somehow. In Auradon, of all places. And that it might not be a dream—

“Who are you?” she demanded. “Are you some kind of prince or something?” She looked askance at his fine blue shirt embroidered with a small golden crest.

“You know who I am,” the boy said. “I’m your friend.”

Mal was instantly relieved. “Then this is a dream,” she said with a crafty smile. “Because I have no friends.”

His face fell, but before he could answer, a voice boomed through the peaceful vista, darkening the skies and sending the water raging over the rocks.

“FOOLS! IDIOTS! MORONS!” it thundered.

Mal awoke with a start.

Her mother was yelling at her subjects from the balcony again. Maleficent ran the Isle of the Lost the way she did everything—with fear and loathing, not to mention a healthy supply of minions. Mal was used to the shouting, but it made for a seriously rude awakening. Her heart was still pounding from her nightmare as she kicked off the purple satin covers.

What on earth was she doing dreaming of Auradon?

What kind of dark magic had sent a handsome prince to speak to her in her sleep?

Mal shook her head and shuddered, trying to blink away the horrid vision of his dimpled smile, and was comforted by the familiar sound of fearful villagers begging Maleficent to take pity on them. She looked around her room, relieved to find she was right where she should be, in her huge, squeaky, wrought-iron bed with its gargoyles on each bedpost and velvet canopy that sagged so low, it threatened to fall on top of her. It was always gloomy in Mal’s room, just as it was always gray and overcast on the island.

Her mother’s voice boomed from the balcony, and the floor of her bedroom rattled, causing her violet-lacquered chest of drawers to suddenly spring open, disgorging its purple contents on the floor.

When Mal decided on a color scheme, she stuck to it, and she had been drawn to the layers of gothic richness in the purple continuum. It was the color of mystery and magic, moody and dark, while not being as commonplace in popular villainswear as black. Purple was the new black, as far as Mal was concerned.

She crossed the room past her grand, uneven armoire that prominently displayed all of her freshly shoplifted baubles—trinkets of cut glass and paste, shiny metallic scarves with trailing strands, mismatched gloves and a variety of empty perfume bottles. Pushing the heavy curtains aside, from her window she could see the whole island in all its dreariness.

Home, freak home.

The Isle of the Lost was not a very large island; some would say it was but a speck or a blight on the landscape, certainly more brown than green, with a collection of tin-roofed and haphazardly constructed shanties and tenements built on top of one another and more or less threatening to collapse at any moment.

Mal looked down at this eyesore of a slum from the tallest building in town, a formerly grand palace with soaring tower spires that was now the shabby, run-down, paint-chipped location of the one and only Bargain Castle, where slightly used enchanter’s robes were stocked in every color and slightly lopsided witch’s hats were always 50 percent off.

It was also the home of some not-so-slightly bad fairies.

Mal changed out of her pajamas, pulling on an artfully constructed purple biker jacket with a dash of pink on one arm and green on the other, and a pair of torn jeans the color of dried plums. She carefully put on her fingerless gloves and laced up her battered combat boots. She avoided glancing at the mirror, but if she had, she would have seen a small, pretty girl with an evil glint in her piercing green eyes and a pale, almost translucent complexion. People always remarked how much she looked like her mother, usually just before they ran screaming the other way. Mal relished their fear, even sought it. She combed her lilac locks with the back of her hand and picked up her sketchbook, stuffing it into her backpack along with the spray-paint cans she always carried with her. This town wasn’t going to graffiti itself, was it? In a perfectly magical world it would, but that wasn’t what she was dealing with.

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