The Isle of the Lost (Page 55)

It was no use. Maleficent was on her throne. “So, the prodigal daughter returns,” she said. Her voice sounded different.

“Mother, I have something to…” Mal stopped, looking up.

And stared.

And then stared some more, in about ten different varieties of shock.

Because she found herself staring at the long black staff with the green globe at its top that her mother was holding.

The Dragon’s Eye.

“Is that—” She couldn’t speak.

Maleficent nodded. “Yes, it is the Dragon’s Eye. And yes, you did fail me. But thankfully, not all my servants are as useless as you.”

Mal ignored the word servant. “But how?”

Maleficent laughed. “Silly child, what do you know about quests?”

“But we found it in the Forbidden Fortress! I just touched it—an hour ago!” said Mal. “It was in your own throne room. Suspended on the wall. Where you could see it, from where your throne used to sit.”

Her mother eyed her. Mal couldn’t be certain, but it was possible, for the briefest of all split-seconds, that her mother was the slightest bit impressed.

“I touched it, and that thing knocked me unconscious.”

“You touched it? You don’t say,” said Maleficent. “Well, good job, you. You really are as soft as your father.”

Mal bristled. “I don’t understand.”

“You touched the Dragon’s Eye? Instead of tricking one of the others into doing it? Such weakness. I didn’t want to believe the news when I heard it.” Maleficent banged her staff upon the floor next to her feet. “How many times, Mal? How much more will you shame me?”

She rolled her eyes. “I sent Diablo out after you to retrieve the Eye for me. He must have taken it from you while you were sleeping off the curse.” She shook her head. “I knew you wouldn’t have it in you to do what needed to be done, and I knew I couldn’t take any chances. It appears I was right. Again.”

Diablo cawed proudly.

So she’d been right about feeling as if they were being followed. Of course. That was Diablo.

Mal felt like giving up. It never mattered, how hard she tried, or what she did, she would never impress her mother.

Even now, her mother had eyes only for the Dragon’s Eye.

“The only thing is, it’s broken,” said Maleficent with a frown. “Look at the eye, it’s dead.” For a moment, she sounded like the same angry little girl who had cursed a baby over a party invitation. Mal remembered all too well, and she looked at her mother through new eyes.

“Well, the dome is still up,” said Mal, finally. “It keeps the magic out.” It was down for a brief moment, but there would be no magic on the island anytime soon.

“Maybe. Or maybe you broke the eye when you touched it,” Maleficent accused. “You are such a disappointment.”

Meanwhile, at Jafar’s Junk Shop, an angry Jafar was berating Jay, who had returned home empty-handed. “So you’re saying you did find the Dragon’s Eye, did you? So where is it, then?”

“It disappeared!” Jay protested. “One minute we had it, and then we lost it.”

“Right. And this had nothing to do with a certain noble deed performed by a certain daughter of evil for a certain other daughter of evil?”

Jay froze. “Excuse me?”

The words good and deed were chilling, particularly on the Isle, and particularly when coming out of his father’s mouth.

“Did you think goblins keep secrets particularly well, boy? The news is all over the island.”

“I swear. That’s what really happened. I swear on a stack of stolen…” Jay blanked. He couldn’t think of a single thing to steal at the moment.

But to be honest, for once in his life, he didn’t even care.

“You are such a disappointment,” Jafar snorted.

Over at Hell Hall, Carlos was getting an earful after Cruella finally discovered her furs in disarray in her closet. “Who has been in here? It looks like a wild animal was trapped with my furs! What imbecile would do such a thing?”

“A wild one?” Carlos winced. He knew it was pointless to even try. Not when the closet looked like this.

His answer was a scream, and it was bloodcurdling. Even in his mother’s signature, shrill octave.

“I’m sorry Mother,” whimpered Carlos. “It won’t happen again! I know how much you love your furs.” The words were almost a whisper. He could see the faces of the gargoyles from the bridge, mocking him as he said them.

Then he could see Mal, Evie, and Jay laughing at her with him, and he had to keep from secretly smiling, himself.

Cruella sniffed. “You are such a disappointment!”

Over at the Castle-Across-the-Way, the Evil Queen was lamenting the state of Evie’s hair. “It’s like a rat’s nest! What happened? You look awful.”

“I’m sorry Mother, we ran into…well…uh…let’s just say I couldn’t find a mirror.”

I found one, she thought. Just not the kind you want to look at.

Not when you’re supposed to be the fairest of them all.

“Just promise me these rumors I’m hearing aren’t true,” her mother said. “All this talk of a virtuous act.” She shuddered. “The goblins are saying such horrid things about the four of you.”

“You know that goblins are horrible creatures, Mom.” Evie hid her face. She didn’t know what to say. To be honest, she didn’t even know what she thought. It had been a strange few days.

Not entirely bad, but strange.

The Evil Queen sighed. “You forgot to reapply blush again. Oh dear, sometimes, you’re such a disappointment.”

Mal sat out on the balcony, hearing the sounds of laughter and mayhem from down below. Then, a shout.

“Mal!” Jay called. “Come down!”

She ran downstairs. “What’s up?”

“Oh nothing, just trying to get away from our parents and disappointing them again,” said Carlos.

“You too, huh?” asked Mal. She turned to Jay and Evie. “And you?”

The three of them nodded.

“Come on, let’s go to the market,” said Evie. “I need a new scarf.”

“I can get you one,” said Jay, waggling his eyebrows. “Oh, and Evie—here you go,” he said. “I believe this might be yours.”

“My necklace!” said Evie, putting the poison-heart charm around her neck once more, with a smile. “Thanks, Jay.”


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