The Isle of the Lost (Page 28)

“You are Mal, daughter of Maleficent! Who doesn’t know that?” Lady Tremaine shook her head.

You’d be surprised, Mal thought.

Lady Tremaine continued to sip her wine. “I’m sure you’ll come up with something, dear. You are your mother’s daughter, after all. I expect something truly horrid and legendary for your evil scheme. Something that will go down in history,” Lady Tremaine said, returning Mal’s paper to her. “I’ll give you a minute to brainstorm, if that helps.”

Mal looked down at the proposal she’d originally written. At first, she bristled at the criticism. She didn’t want to hear it.

What was wrong with this? It was evil, pure evil. And it was bad, wasn’t it? Taking down a princess—that wasn’t exactly a nice thing to do. She was going to make Evie pay, wasn’t she?

And a vendetta, that was a time-honored evil scheme, wasn’t it?

Classic villainy? What was wrong with that?

Mal wanted to crumple the paper in her hand. She didn’t have time for this. She had other things on her mind…her mother and the Dragon’s Eye, for one, that stupid cursed scepter…

Hey, wait a minute….

What did my mother say about the Dragon’s Eye?

Whoever touches the scepter will be cursed to fall asleep for a thousand years.

Maleficent had only cursed Aurora’s kingdom to fall asleep for a hundred years after Sleeping Beauty had pricked her finger on a spinning wheel. This curse put the victim to sleep for a thousand.

That was like, ten times more evil, unless her math was off. Anyway, much more evil. Plus or minus a few zeroes.

Maybe she should embark on this quest, after all.

And if somehow, along the way, she made it happen that Evie was the one who would touch the Dragon’s Eye…

Well, that would be the nastiest, wickedest plan the Isle would ever witness! A two-for-one! No, a triple play—

She’d take out the princess and win her own mother’s respect—as well as the school’s evil scheme competition—all at once.

Lady Tremaine was right. All these little petty tricks she had planned to play on Evie were nothing compared to this. If Mal sent Evie to sleep for a thousand years—well, what could be nastier than that?

Or, more to the point, who?

“I’ve got it!” Mal said, jumping up from her chair and giving the startled Lady Tremaine a big hug, despite her better judgment (and Lady Tremaine’s breath). “Something so evil, no one has seen it before—or ever will again!”

“Wonderful, child! It makes me so happy to see you so wicked,” sniffed Lady Tremaine, bringing a hankie to her eye. “It brings me hope for our future. Except for, you know. That hug.”

Mal smiled triumphantly. Even a sappy hug couldn’t get to her now. She couldn’t wait to get started. Evil waited for no one.

Her mind started turning.

She couldn’t very well embark on an evil quest alone. If she were going to look for a needle in a haystack, or the Dragon’s Eye on the island, she would need minions, her own henchmen to command, just like her mother had. She would have to put together a strike team—plus, it would be easier to get Evie to come with her if she were part of a group.

But where would she get minions of her own? Of course, there were always Maleficent’s henchmen’s kids. Except those boar-like guys stank too much; and as for the goblins and jackals—well, who would run the Slop Shop? Also, as she’d noted before, she didn’t speak Goblin. Besides, her mother kept harping about how useless they’d been during the whole Curse-Sleeping-Beauty mission.

Pass.

Mal would have to find her own team. Her own crew of right-hand-men and one yes-woman in particular.

Where to start?

She’d need someone who knew the island back and forth, upside down and sideways.

Someone who could be counted on if they met any trouble, being a whole lot of trouble himself.

Someone who knew how to get his hands on what he wanted.

She just had to convince him to join her.

Maybe she could promise him some kind of reward, or something.

It was already dark when she left school and went straight to Jafar’s Junk Shop.

Mal tossed pebbles on the junk shop’s window so that they clattered on the sill. “Jay! Are you there?” she shout-whispered. “Jay! Come out! I want to talk to you!” She hurled a few more stones again.

“Who’s making that infernal noise? Doesn’t anyone know how to ring a doorbell these days?” Jafar demanded as he pushed the window open and stuck his head out. He was about to unleash a string of curses when he saw who was standing outside. “Oh, my dear Mal,” he said, his voice still as silky as when he had been advising the Sultan. “How may I be of service?”

Mal was about to apologize when she remembered dark fairies are never sorry. “I’m looking for Jay,” she said, trying to sound as commanding as her mother.

“Why, yes, of course,” Jafar said. “I will let him know. Please, come inside.” There was a pause, and then Jafar bellowed in a booming voice, “JAY! MAL WANTS YOU!”

“THERE IN A SEC!” Jay yelled back.

“What’s the deal with villains and birds?” asked Mal, entering the junk shop and finding Iago on Jafar’s shoulder. She thought of how Maleficent showered Diablo with so much affection.

“Excuse me?” Jafar asked, while Iago narrowed his beady eyes at Mal.

“Nothing.”

Jay appeared. “Oh, hey, Mal, funny you’re here, I was just about to head over your way. We should talk more about that—”

“That homework assignment,” Mal said, shooting dagger looks at him. Nobody else could know about the Dragon’s Eye.

“Right, yeah. Homework. Thanks, Dad, I’ll take it from here,” Jay said, indicating pointedly for his dad to leave.

Jafar pulled his robe around him and huffed, Iago squawking and flying behind him.

“Is there somewhere we can talk?” Mal asked when she and Jay were finally alone.

Jay motioned to the junk shop. “What’s wrong with here?”

Mal looked around the messy shop, noticing a few things that were hers in the pile and taking them back without comment. She supposed it was as good a place as any—and seriously, what was she hiding, anyway? It wasn’t as if anyone else would steal Maleficent’s Dragon’s Eye. Who would be dumb enough to do that…?

She squinted at Jay, who was inspecting a beaker that he’d pulled from his pocket. His dark eyes shone with mischief.

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