Home > Escape from the Isle of the Lost

Escape from the Isle of the Lost
Author: Melissa de la Cruz

 

nce upon a time in ancient Greece, there lived extraordinary heroes and powerful gods, and the most powerful of them all was Hades. Yes, you read that right: H-A-D-E-S. Hades gazed over his divine kingdom from high above on Mount Olympus with a smug smile. Life was good. Nope, life was better than good. Life was great! No more working himself to death down in the Underworld. No more living near the smelly River Styx, no more listening to the obnoxious wails and cries of torment from the floating dead all around him. No more living in caves with demons. He had won! He was the greatest god who had ever breathed life into a flying horse! Okay, so he hadn’t actually done that yet. But he would soon!

For now, he was more than content to eat plump, juicy grapes fed to him by beautiful nymphs, listen to tinkling music played on lyres and harps, and lounge on a puffy cloud, while his back pocket was full of lightning bolts he could use against anyone who dared oppose him.

He sighed in satisfaction and took a bite from the nearest grape.

Then he spat it out.

“DEAR ZEUS, WHAT ON EARTH WAS THAT?!” he said, choking and gasping for breath as he looked around for water. He took a huge gulp from a dirty mug he found next to him. That wasn’t a grape he’d eaten. It was a disgusting, withered raisin that was way past its expiration date! And he wasn’t lounging on a cloud at all, but lying on garbage bags! The horror! The humiliation! What was this?! Where was he?!

Hades blinked his eyes. He looked all around. He was in the middle of a crowded bazaar, filled with ruffians of all kinds hawking their sordid wares. There was a tent filled with broken electronics, and another selling old furniture, the merchant sitting in a cracked bathtub. This was no Mount Olympus! Not even close!

He groaned in despair, realizing he had once again dozed off and dreamed he was back where he belonged. He should be up in the sky with his fellow deities—hanging out with vain Apollo, snarky Hermes, and beautiful Aphrodite.…But in reality, he was still here. Trapped. Stuck on the Isle of the Lost—which certainly sounded like a region in the Underworld if he’d ever heard one—living among a bunch of filthy mortals. (Some of them might look like scruffy demons, but they were definitely human.)

The island was surrounded by an invisible barrier that kept him and everyone else there barred from the mainland and unable to use their powers. How long had he been here? Too long! No matter, no matter. He would take care of that soon enough. He had found something among his meager possessions just that morning.

He might not have a pocketful of lightning bolts like his annoying brother Zeus, but he still had his ember. His greatest weapon. An ember that, once sparked, could unleash the fires of doom. He reached into his back pocket, checking to make sure it was still there. Yep. There it was, just a plain lump of coal. He had a plan. He was going to escape, and he was going to escape today.

He felt smug at the proposition. While these filthy losers had to stay here, he would be out among the gods once more! This neglected, remote island was certainly no place for someone who was practically a rock star! He was meant to be worshipped, feared, and admired! Not stepped over and pushed aside by ruffians trying to get to the market before it ran out of brown bananas.

Hades left the crowded bazaar and walked all the way out of town, to the edge of the coastline. In the distance, he could catch a glimpse of Auradon’s gleaming skyline. Somewhere, over there, was his true home. Somewhere, over there, were magic and power and freedom.

He held up his ember. “RELEASE ME!” he yelled to the skies.

The skies did not thunder. Lightning did not strike. Nothing happened.

A few residents of the Isle of the Lost walked by, but they gave him no notice. No one even cared to watch. But Hades would show them! He was just out of practice. He warmed the ember in his hands and then held it up again.

He could feel one of his raging tantrums building. His face began to turn red all the way to the roots of his hair. He needed to get out right now. It was time to blow this joint. He was the god of fire and rage, a ruler of souls, one who had brought the mighty Hercules to his knees! (Well, not really—but he almost brought Hercules down. Almost!)

“RELEASE ME!” he commanded.

Nothing.

He tried again.…

Nothing.

His face turned an even darker shade of crimson and he screamed his anguish toward the sky, throwing curses and hexes every which way.

But still nothing. Hades’s shoulders slumped. He was out of breath and out of energy. His blue Mohawk wilted.

He looked down at the ember in his hands. It was dead. It was a piece of coal. It did not glow, nor did it burn with divine fire. It was useless.

Try as he might, and as hard as he wished it otherwise, the reality was that there was no magic on the island. And while that barrier stood, there never would be. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Which meant he had to accept it. On the Isle of the Lost, Hades was no longer a god.

He was just a blue-haired dude in a leather jacket.

 

 

al made her way across the sparkling campus of Auradon Prep, taking in the sound of chirping birds, the warmth of the sun against her face, and the sight of the tall castle walls shining with early morning dew. Although Mal wasn’t about to burst into song at any moment like some of the princesses and princes who filled this place, she might as well have been singing in her heart. They’d made it! Mal, Evie, and Jay were seniors now—Carlos, who was a junior, still had one more year to rule the school—and in a few months, they would graduate. They would be free to make their own futures, forge their own paths—the world was their pearl-bearing oyster.

As Mal greeted her friends who were milling about the lawns, she recalled their days on the Isle of the Lost. Not so long ago, Mal had spent her free time spraying graffiti on posters featuring King Beast’s face with her signature tag: EVIL LIVES. Not so long ago she had been proud of the many, many ways she was wicked. At Dragon Hall, she had been famous for her pranks, locking first-years in their Davy Jones lockers, starting epic spoiled-food fights in the cafeteria, and threatening everyone with Maleficent-style curses if they dared defy her. But it turned out that being evil meant feeling small and petty, while being good meant being brave. It meant facing your fears and standing up for the people who depended on you. Being good was so much harder and so much more satisfying than being bad. It felt good to be good. Who knew?

Now Mal was Auradon’s hero and protector, ready to transform into her dragon self to defend the kingdom against any villain or monster that would threaten its shores. Life had been calm since Uma had disappeared during Cotillion. There had been no sign of that turquoise-haired sea witch so far. Mal’s childhood rival had dived deep into the waves, and had not been seen since. But Mal liked to keep watch anyway. You never knew where or when the enemy would strike.

“Any sign of her?” she asked the guard, who had been stationed by the coastline to check.

“Not today,” the guard replied.

“Good,” said Mal.

• • •

When she arrived at the meeting for the Royal Council, she was the first one there. Today she was dressed simply in a matching black-and-purple shirt and skirt, her long purple hair tucked behind her ears. Gone were the days when Mal would stomp into class or any assignation at the last minute, snarling and annoyed. She was the future Lady Mal now—bad fairy heritage, irreverent attitude, battered thick-soled boots, and all. She wanted to make Ben proud of her, and, in turn, show the kingdom she was proud to wear his school ring.

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