The Isle of the Lost (Page 29)
“Where’d you get that?” she asked. “What is it?”
“I dunno. Reza had it in his bag. He was all protective about it, so I took it,” Jay explained with a sly smile.
Mal made an impatient gesture. She couldn’t wait to get started and couldn’t afford to get distracted. “Listen, I know you don’t think we can, but we need to figure out how to find that Dragon’s Eye. I mean, it does command all of the forces of darkness when it works. And, who knows? Magic might return to the island one day.”
Jay raised his eyebrows. “Yeah—I was just about to say the same thing.”
“Really?” she asked, shocked that he had taken so little convincing. She began to get a tad suspicious.
Jay blew on his nails. “Yeah. I mean, come on, if it’s really here, we need to get our hands on it. But are you sure your mother’s right? I mean, she is a little crazy in the horn-head.”
Mal rolled her eyes. “You can’t deny Diablo’s back. He was frozen in stone, but he’s alive now. He’s already eaten almost everything in our cupboards.”
“I know, right?”
“Iago’s the same. I think he eats more than me and Dad combined.”
They shared a chuckle.
“Okay, great—I was hoping to start searching as soon as possible,” Mal said, willing to overlook the possibility that Jay was only agreeing to help for his own selfish motives. She could handle him.
Jay was about to say something when he turned around, his reflexes swift and suspicious. “What’s that noise?” he asked, just as the door to the back room crashed down and Jafar tumbled through, Iago sitting on his stomach.
“I told you that you were too fat to lean on that door!” Iago scolded.
Jafar made a valiant attempt to take back his dignity, and pulled himself up to stand and brush the dust and detritus from his hair. “Oh, we were just about to ask if the two of you wanted dinner, weren’t we, Iago? But we couldn’t help but overhear…forgive me if we are wrong, but did you say that Maleficent’s Dragon’s Eye scepter is lost somewhere on this island?” Jafar asked, his dark eyes gleaming.
Mal narrowed her eyes at Jay, mentally berating him for not having found a suitable place for them to talk privately. But it was clear that it was too late, and Jafar already knew everything.
Jafar looked solemnly at the two teenagers in front of him. “Follow me, it’s time we had a real conversation.”
He led them to his private sitting room in the back of the shop, a cozy den full of jewel-toned curtains and Oriental rugs, tufted satin pillows and brass lamps and sconces that gave it a mournful, exotic, desert air. Jafar took a seat on one of the long, low couches and motioned for them to make themselves comfortable on the ottomans. “When I was released from my genie bottle and brought here to this cursed island, while I was whizzing through the air, I saw what looked at first like just an ordinary forest but upon closer observation was actually a black castle covered in thorns.”
“Another castle?” Mal asked. “Covered in thorns, you say? But that would mean…that’s…”
Her mother’s true castle. The Bargain Castle was a rental. It wasn’t their true home. The Forbidden Fortress. Wasn’t that what her mother’s real home was called? Mal had never paid enough attention, but it certainly sounded familiar. And where else could it be but the Isle of the Lost?
Jafar pulled on his raggedy beard. “Yes. But I’m afraid I can’t be sure of exactly where it is, though. This island is far larger than you think, and you could look forever and never find it, especially if it is hidden in the forbidden zone.” Nowhere, as it was called by the citizens of the Isle.
“Never!” repeated Iago with a ruffle of his feathers.
“That’s what I said.” Jay nodded.
“I had completely forgotten about seeing the fortress until now, when you mentioned Diablo’s return and his testimony that he saw the Dragon’s Eye himself,” said Jafar. “And if the fortress is on the island, perhaps it’s not all that’s hidden in the mist.”
“But why would it be here?” Jay asked, leaning forward on his knees and looking at his father intently.
“These things were too dangerous to keep in Auradon. And with magic made impossible by the dome, they are harmless now. But if we were to take back what is rightfully ours, perhaps we might have a chance against that invisible barrier one day.”
“Diablo swears the Dragon’s Eye has sparked back to life. Which means that maybe the shield is not as impenetrable as we thought,” said Mal. “But we’re still stuck with not knowing exactly where it is. There’s not exactly a map to Nowhere.”
“We can try the Athenaeum of Evil,” said Jay promptly.
“The Anthe-what of Evil?”
“The Library of Forbidden Secrets in Dragon Hall—you know, that locked door that no one’s supposed to go into. The one with the big spider guarding it.”
Mal shook her head. “You really think that’s anything? I always thought it was just a way to keep the first-years out of Dr. Facilier’s office.”
“Well, we have to start somewhere. And I remember Dr. F mentioning in Enrichment that the library contains information about the history of the island.”
“Since when do you pay attention in class?” Mal asked disgustedly.
“Listen, you want my help, or not?”
Jay had a point. It was a start, and she’d learned more about the island in one evening at the junk shop than she had in sixteen years. “All right.”
“We’ll go tomorrow, bright and early,” Jay said cheerfully. “Meet at the bazaar for supplies first, as soon as the market opens.”
Mal made a face. She hated getting up early. “What’s wrong with tonight?”
“The orchestra’s playing a concert tonight, there will be too many people around. Tomorrow’s Saturday: no one will be there. Easier.”
Mal sighed. “Fine. By the way, thanks for your help, Jafar.”
“My pleasure,” Jafar said with a crooked smile. “Good night.”
When Mal had gone, Jay felt his father slither up to him and dig his fingers into his sleeve. “What’s up?” he asked, even though he already knew.
“The Dragon’s Eye,” Jafar cooed.
“I know, I know.” Jay nodded. It would be the biggest score of the year.