The Isle of the Lost (Page 27)

“Phew, that was close.” He slid out of hiding and fell into step with Carlos, who frowned at him without looking up from his book as he walked.

“Closer than all the other times?”.

“Yeah…no. Not really.” Jay sighed.

Carlos turned the page, and the two boys headed into Enrichment without saying another word.

Enrichment was literally about enriching oneself by taking from others. The class studied lock-picking techniques, shoplifting secrets—which meant it was Jay’s favorite class for the obvious reason—being a thief and all—and today’s guest lecturer was none other than the school’s creepy headmaster himself, Dr. Facilier.

“There are many kinds of thieves,” Dr. Facilier said in his silky whisper. “One can shoplift at the bazaar, or burglarize a home, or steal a rickshaw. But these are, of course, petty exercises. Mere child’s play.”

Jay wanted to argue. After all, he had Dr. Facilier’s bolo tie in his pocket, didn’t he? What are you calling child’s play, old man?

“But a true villain has larger ambitions—to steal an identity, a fortune—someone’s entire life! Can someone give me an example of such villainy? Such great enrichment?” The good doctor surveyed the room. “Yes, Carlos?”

“My mother wanted to steal one hundred and one puppies!” Carlos said, almost in a yelp. “That was large.”

“Yes, and that was an extravagantly evil dream.” Dr. Facilier smiled, and everyone in the room shuddered at the sight. “Anyone else? Examples?”

“My mother stole Rapunzel’s magic to keep herself young?” Ginny Gothel offered. “Rapunzel had really…large…hair?”

“You have a point there. A very good example surely, of enriching oneself through the abuse of others,” Dr. Facilier nodded. He walked over to the blackboard. “Now, I understand that the advanced students among you have your project for Evil Schemes due.”

A few heads nodded, including Jay’s and Carlos’s.

“My own evil scheme was the height of enrichment. Does anyone know it?”

The room was silent. Dr. Facilier looked insulted. He muttered something about “kids these days” and resumed his lecture.

“For my evil scheme, I had turned Prince Naveen into a frog, and voodoo’d his valet to look like him. My plan was for his valet to marry Charlotte La Bouff, and once he did, I would kill her father and take his fortune. If I had succeeded, I would have stolen a man’s identity and another man’s fortune. A stroke of enrichment!”

The class clapped. A beaming Dr. Facilier bowed, stiffly and quickly.

“Except you failed,” Carlos pointed out, when the room was silent again.

“Yes,” Dr. Facilier brooded, his face falling. “That’s true. I failed. Disastrously, unfortunately, and decidedly. I was a complete and utter failure. I won neither the princess nor the fortune. Hence, the founding of Dragon Hall, where we must learn from our failures and teach the next generation of villains to do what we were not able to do.”

Harriet Hook raised her hand. “What’s that?”

“Prepare! Research! Be more evil! Work faster! Think bigger!” Dr. Facilier urged. “So that when the time comes, when the dome falls—and magic is returned to us—and it will be, my children, it will be; evil like us cannot be contained—you will be ready.”

Jay scribbled on his notepad. Be more evil. Think bigger.

The Big Score.

Once again, his thoughts went back to the Dragon’s Eye. It was Maleficent’s scepter, and the quest for its recovery was Mal’s mission. It wasn’t his quest, and it wasn’t his problem.

But what if it was?

What if it should be?

Mal had asked him to help, and he had blown her off. But what if he told her that he would help her? And what if, when they did find it, he stole it right from under her nose? He would be stealing a fortune and her identity as Maleficent’s heir all in one swoop, just like Dr. Facilier.

And what if, by chance, it still worked?

His father would finally have his Big Score. Jay would have his Evil Scheme. Between the two of them, they’d find a way off the Isle of Lost, Leftover, and Forgotten.

They didn’t belong there anymore, did they?

Jay smiled. He would enrich himself, all right. All the way to becoming the Master of Darkness.

By lunchtime, the rest of the school was still talking about last night’s epic howler at Hell Hall, but Mal had no interest. The party was the past; she’d moved on.

She had bigger things to worry about now. All she could think about was how her mother wanted the Dragon’s Eye back. And how Maleficent wouldn’t see her as anything other than her father’s daughter—in other words, a pathetic, soft human—until Mal could prove her wrong.

Mal kept reliving last night’s conversation over and over, so that she missed her first few classes and sleepwalked through the rest. She arrived for her one-on-one after-school seminar with Lady Tremaine still feeling anxious and out of sorts.

“Hi, Professor Tremaine, you wanted to see me about my year-long evil scheme?” she asked, knocking on the open door to the faculty tombs.

Lady Tremaine looked up from her desk with a thin smile. “Yes, come in and shut the door, please.” A full thermos of curdled wine sat on the desk in front of her, which didn’t bode well. Lady Tremaine only drank sour wine when she was in a sour mood.

Mal knew she was in trouble, but she did as told and sat across from her teacher. “So what’s up?

Lady Tremaine snorted. “‘What’s up’ is this…sad excuse for a year-long evil scheme. A grudge against one girl? Party tricks? Pranks? This is beneath you, Mal. I expected more from you. You’re my best student.” She reached for her wine and sipped it, making an appropriately disgusted face.

You expected more? You and everyone else on this island, Mal thought sullenly. Get in line.

“What’s wrong with my evil scheme?” she asked.

“It’s just not evil enough,” sniffed Lady Tremaine.

Mal sighed.

Lady Tremaine glared. “I need you to really put your dark heart and foul soul into it. Come up with a truly wicked scheme. One that will bring you to the depths of depravity and heights of wicked greatness of which I know you’re capable.”

Mal kicked the desk and frowned. She’d thought her evil scheme was pretty wicked. “Like what? And how do you know what wicked greatness I’m capable of, anyway?”


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