The Isle of the Lost (Page 20)
“I thought so,” Maleficent said, pushing up a purple sleeve and correcting the time on her wristwatch. She pulled the sleeve down and looked at her daughter.
Mal waited, wondering where this was going. She hadn’t seen her mother in a while, and when they did come in contact, Mal was often taken aback by how small her mother looked, these days.
The Mistress of Darkness had literally shrunk with the reduction in her circumstances. Whereas once she had been towering, she was now almost a miniature version of her former self—petite, even. If she stood up, one could see that Mal was taller than she was by a few inches.
Yet the distinctive menace had not abated, it just came in a tinier package. “Where was I? Oh yes, Evil lives!” Maleficent hissed.
“Evil lives—exactly, Mother.” Mal nodded. “Is that what you want to talk to me about? The tags around town? Pretty good, right?”
“No, you misunderstand me, dear,” her mother said, and it was then that Mal noticed that her mother was not alone. She was petting a black raven that was perched on the arm of her chair.
The raven croaked, flew to Mal’s shoulder, and nipped her ear.
“Ouch!” she said. “Stop that!”
“That’s just Diablo. Don’t be jealous my little friend; that’s just Mal,” Maleficent said dismissively. And even if Mal knew that her mother couldn’t care less about her (Mal tried not to take it personally, as her mother couldn’t care less about anyone), it still stung to hear it said aloud so bluntly.
“Diablo? That’s Diablo?” said Mal. She knew all about Diablo, Maleficent’s first and only friend. Her mother had told her the story many times: how, twenty years ago, now, Maleficent had battled Prince Phillip as a great black fiery dragon but had been struck down, betrayed, by a weapon of justice and peace that some irritatingly good fairies had helped aim right into her heart. Maleficent had believed herself dead and passed from this world, but instead she had woken up the next day, alone and broken, on this terrible island.
The only remnant of the battle was the scar on her chest where the sword had struck, and every so often she would feel the phantom pain of that wound. She had told Mal many times how, when she woke up, she had realized that those awful good fairies had taken everything away from her—her castle, her home, even her favorite pet raven.
“The one and only Diablo,” purred Maleficent, actually looking happy for once.
“But how? He was frozen! They turned him into stone!” said Mal.
“Yes, they did, those horrid little beasts. But he’s back! He’s back! And Evil lives!” Maleficent declared, with a witch’s cackle for good measure.
Okay. Her mother was getting just a wee bit repetitive.
Mal gave her mother her best eye-roll. To the rest of the fools, minions, and morons on the island, Maleficent was the scariest thing with two horns around; but to Mal, who had seen her mother put goblin jelly on toast and drop crumbs all over the couch, polish her horns with shoe polish, and sew the raggedy hemline of her purple cape, she was just her mother, and Mal wasn’t that scared of her. Okay, so she was still scared of her mother, but she wasn’t like Carlos-scared.
Maleficent stood from her chair, her green eyes blazing into Mal’s identical ones. “My Dragon’s Eye—my scepter of darkness—Diablo says it has been awakened! Evil lives!—and best of all, it is on this island!”
“Your scepter? Are you sure?” Mal asked skeptically. “Hard to believe King Beast of Auradon would leave such an impressive weapon on the Isle.”
“Diablo swears he saw it, didn’t you, my sweet?” Maleficent purred. The raven cawed.
“So where is it?” asked Mal.
“Well, I don’t speak Raven, do I? It’s on this blasted piece of rock somewhere!” Maleficent fumed, tossing her cape back.
“Okay, then. But so what?”
“So what?! The Dragon’s Eye is back! Evil lives! It means I can have my powers back!”
“Not with the dome still up,” Mal pointed out.
“It doesn’t matter. I thought those three despicably good fairies had destroyed it, but they had only frozen it, like they had Diablo. It is alive, it is out there somewhere, and best of all—you—my dear—will get it for me!” Maleficent announced with a flourish.
“Yes. Don’t you want to prove yourself to me? Prove that you are worthy of being my daughter?” her mother asked quietly.
Mal didn’t answer.
“You know how much you are a disappointment to me, how when I was your age, I had armies of goblins under my control, but you…what do you do—put your little drawings all over town? You need to do MORE!” she seethed, standing up from her chair. Diablo flapped his wings and cawed in agreement.
Mal tried not to show her feelings. She’d thought those tags were pretty cool. “Fine! Fine! I’ll go get your scepter!” she agreed, if only to stop her mother from raging.
“Wonderful.” Maleficent touched her heart, or the hole in her chest where it should have been. “When that sword pierced my dragon hide, and I fell off that cliff twenty years ago, I was sure I had died. But they brought me back to suffer a fate worse than death, much worse. But one day, I will have my revenge!”
Mal nodded. She’d heard the spiel so many times, she could chant it in her sleep. Maleficent took her hand, and they chorused, “Revenge on the fools who imprisoned us on this cursed island!”
Maleficent urged Mal closer so that she could whisper a warning in her ear.
“Yes, Mother,” said Mal, to show she understood.
Maleficent grinned. “Now, get out of here and bring it back, so we can be free of this floating prison once and for all!”
Mal trudged up to her room. She’d forgotten to tell her mother about the mean trick she’d pulled on Evie at the party, not that it would have been evil enough for the great Maleficent, either. Nothing was. Why did she even bother?
She climbed out her window and onto the balcony where could see across the entire island and the shining spires of Auradon glimmered in the distance.
A few minutes later, she heard the sound of jiggling trinkets, which meant Jay had dropped by to annoy her or to steal a late-night snack.
“I’m out here,” she called.
“You left before the fun really began,” he said, meaning the party. “We turned the ballroom into a mosh pit and crowd-surfed.” He joined her on the balcony, a bag of smelly cheese curls in his hand.