The Isle of the Lost (Page 47)
Meanwhile, Jay was stuffing every pocket he had with as much of the marvelous loot as he could carry.
This was the answer to his dreams…the stuff he had been longing for…heaven on earth…the Biggest Score of his life, and his father’s!
It was…it was…
It dawned on him that he knew exactly where they were.
“The Cave of Wonders!” he cried.
“Come again?” asked Mal.
“This is the place—where my father found the lamp.”
“I thought Aladdin found the lamp,” said Carlos.
“Yes, but who sent him there?” asked Jay with a superior smile. “If it wasn’t for Jafar, Aladdin would have never found it. Hence it was my father’s lamp all along.” He looked annoyed. “But nobody ever mentions that part, do they? And my dad said he thought there might be other things hidden in the mist—he must have suspected this might be here too.”
“Fine. Cave of Wonders. More like Basement of Sand,” said Mal. “More important, how do we get out of here?”
“You don’t,” said a deep voice.
“Excuse me?” said Mal.
“I didn’t say anything,” said Jay, who was now wearing numerous gold chains around his neck and stacking diamond bracelets up his arm.
“Who was that?” asked Evie nervously.
They looked around. Nobody else seemed to be there.
“Fine. It’s nothing. Now, let’s find that door,” said Mal.
“You won’t,” said the booming voice again. “And you will be trapped here forever if you don’t answer me correctly!”
“Great,” Jay groaned.
“Is this another riddle? This whole fortress is, like, booby-trapped or something,” Evie grumbled.
“Multiple defenses—I told you,” Carlos said. “Burglar alarm. Probably for the Dragon’s Eye, don’t you think?”
“Cave? Should I call you Cave?” asked Mal.
“Mouth of Wonders will do,” said the voice.
Evie made a face. “That’s a terrible name.”
Mal nodded. “Okay, Mouth, what’s the question?”
“It is but a simple one.”
“Hit us,” Mal said.
The booming voice chuckled.
Then it asked in somber tones, “What is the golden rule?”
“The golden rule?” Mal asked, scratching her head. She looked at her team. “Is that some kind of jewelry thing? Jay?”
But Jay was too busy grabbing as much gold as he could get and didn’t seem to hear the question.
Carlos began frantically reciting every mathematical rule he could thing of. “Rules of logarithms? Rule of three? Rules expressed in symbols? Order of operations?”
“Is it maybe something about being nice to each other?” asked Evie tentatively. “Do unto others what you want done unto yourself? Some kind of Auradon greeting-card nonsense?”
In answer, the cave began to fill with sand again. The Mouth of Wonders was not happy, that much was clear. Sand appeared from everywhere, filling the room, filling the spaces between the stacks of gold coins, rising like water filling a sinking ship. They would soon suffocate if they did not give the Mouth the correct answer.
“It’s the Cave of Wonders, not the Fairy Godmother!” shrieked Carlos. “The Cave doesn’t care about being kind! That’s not the golden rule!”
The cave continued to fill with sand.
“Come on—this way!” Mal tried to climb the stacks of gold coins—thinking she could avoid the sand by getting closer to the ceiling—but they collapsed beneath her each time she attempted to scale them, and she only ended up buried in more treasure. She tried again, and this time Evie gave her a push from behind, so that she was able to grab on to the tall statue of a sphinx.
She mounted the creature’s back and reached to pull Evie up beside her, but the sand was still rising, already engulfing her leg, threating to keep her down.
“I can’t make it!” Evie shouted.
“You have to!” Mal yelled back.
But Evie had disappeared under the flood of sand.
Jay couldn’t believe it when he watched her go under. “Evie—”
“Come on—” Carlos said, feeling beneath the sand for her. “She has to be down here. Help me find her.”
“I can’t find her,” Jay shouted.
Evie popped back up, spluttering, spitting coins out of her mouth. Mal and Carlos and Jay looked relieved.
“Here—” Now Mal offered Carlos a hand to pull him up, but the sand was already at his chest. “C’mon,” she cried, “climb the sphinx!”
“I can’t,” he said.
“My leg is caught.”
Evie climbed up on the sphinx and tugged at his arm on one side, and Mal from the other, but no matter what they did, Carlos didn’t budge an inch. He was stuck, and the sand was still rising around him. It came from the walls and from the floor, and now Evie noticed that it was coming from the ceiling too.
Mal tugged again at Carlos’s arm, but instead of pulling him from the sand, she pulled him out of Evie’s grasp. Evie tumbled into the ever-growing mounds of sand, crashing against chalices and crowns.
The sand covered her: first up to her knees, then her shoulders…
Carlos reached for her, and they held hands as the sand kept rising.
“At least I have my heels on,” Evie said, trying to sound brave. The sand was up to her neck, and Carlos could barely keep his chin above the surface now.
“JAY! WHERE’S JAY?” yelled Mal, looking around, coughing up sand as she frantically held Carlos by the arm.
Jay was flailing in the sand; it was in his hair, in his eyes. He was also covered with gold doubloons. Gold. So much gold. He’d never seen so much gold in his life. He had all the gold in the world, it felt like.
He would die buried in gold.…
The golden rule…
What is the golden rule?
Why, he knew the answer to that.
He could almost hear his father whispering the answer in his ear.
Meanwhile, Carlos and Evie had disappeared beneath the sand again, and Mal herself was about to go under.
The sand was nearly at the ceiling. Soon there were would be nowhere to escape to—no way to avoid the sand, and no air in the chamber. They were running out of time and out of room.
But Jay knew the answer.
Jay knew he could save them.