Welcome to the Land of Gort

‘How can you do this?’ said the old man. ‘You can’t save Gort by giving it to the emperor. He will destroy our temples; he will ban us from worshipping our gods. Moto is a terrible place. At least in Gort we are allowed to think for ourselves.’

The Dasa Mountains

To the south, where the trees gave way to the sweet grasslands, he could just make out the dark shapes of the Dasa Mountains, towering over the plains. Kai shivered. He didn’t want to look at the mountains. He didn’t want to think about them at all.

The Royal City of Ballyndor

‘The castle of Ballyndor is thousands of years old. For centuries it has stood above the city, protecting the people of Gort. To the north is the water-lily lake, to the east the stables and the yards. Now let me think. The gardens are on the southern side. Yes, yes…where there’s more sun. And the servants quarters are to the west, close to the great stone wall.’

The Kalika Forest

The forest was buzzing all around them. Hidden among the leaves were men with beads and feathers in their hair. Brown-skinned and wiry, they scrambled through the branches, carrying brushes and ropes and pots of thick green wax. They were Kalika, the people of the forest, and they were rebuilding the village that the nukpana woman and her soldiers had destroyed.

The Gilliba Plains

‘It is an open plain,’ said Dargan. ‘Miles and miles of grass. There are no trees, no rocks, not even a hill to hide behind.’

‘Mugadi will reach the trees by nightfall,’ said the king. ‘They will make their camp at the edge. They have horses and wagons and an elephant. They will have to circle around in the daylight.’

The Ice Caves

The cavern was even colder than Indie had expected. It stretched on and on into the mountain, climbing up through the rock. But it wasn’t dark. Here and there shafts of light broke through, forming an eerie criss-cross of shadow.

The Disappearing Islands

Kai nodded. ‘That’s where Aunty Mai and the wise women hid Indie away for all those years, while I stayed with Grandma Helki in the forest. I thought they had done some kind of spell to make the island disappear, but Brek told me later there are hundreds of islands like that all along the coast of Gort. You can’t see them unless you’re standing on them.’

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