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Zalen’s Blog

I stood staring at my brother’s bruised and battered body, I had just pulled from the bushes. My heart has been ripped from me, I should have stopped him. I had warned him not to travel by the ley tunnels, they might the speediest way to travel, but they were also the most dangerous. And now look. It was not worth it  – not worth his life. What had happened in the tunnel? I suppose there was no way of knowing, nor did I intend to find out by attempting to travel them myself.

It was such a mad idea in the first place, a daring plan, I should have stopped him, been firm and said no. When he had first told me his plans I had stared incredulously at him. ‘Steal the map to Ynys Is! You must be mad! We would never be forgiven. We would be hounded…hunted even…banished forever from Dumnonia…never to see our family again.’

‘But rich beyond our wildest dreams,’ Menad grinned from ear to ear, reminding me of how yellow my own teeth were. ‘Queen Marvaanagh will pay well for it…very well indeed.’

I shook my head in response. Menad and his wild schemes, he would be the death of us both. This latest plan of his was the most dangerous yet. We had so far managed perfectly well to get by on our wits, buying this, selling that, cleverly tricking the spriggan people out of their money. But steal the map? No, it was a step too far even for me.

‘No one will know,’ continued Menad. He raised his eyebrows, causing him to look ugly, even uglier than me. ‘No one will ever know it was us. I have the perfect plan. It cannot…will not fail.’

‘Even if we were to succeed in stealing it,’ I said. We would never be able to get it out of Dumnonia.’

‘We would if we were to travel by the ley, and timed it right.’ Menad’s eyes took on a smug look. ‘We could take it all the way to Avallach, to Queen Marvaanagh.’

‘Madness! We would both be killed!’ I cried. ‘The dragon ley is the most dangerous of all! No, I refuse to be a part of such a scheme.’

‘But you do not have to travel the ley. I have done it before, and will do it again. I will take the map. You take the snail route and we will meet up in Avallach. If they catch you, they will have to let you go when they do not find the map, as they would have no evidence.’

I did not need too much persuading after that. As long as we could truly get away with it, the dreams of the gold we would receive outweighed the dangers.

Over the next few days, the plan came together. I liked the idea that after I stole the map Menad would take it out of the realm. Meanwhile, we would provide an alibi for each other.  That was the easy bit, we were twins. Menad would dress as us both one at a time, and be seen all over the village. He would ensure that he would entertain some of our fellow spriggans, to fool them into believing we were out together. Acting as himself, Menad would also tell them he was going on a journey to visit a sick relative later that evening, have everyone feeling sorry him.

Meanwhile, I knew the woods well that surrounded Caer Karrek, where the map was kept. I could get through I was sure without being spotted. Scaling the grey stone walls would be no trouble for me, my long hooked nails would dig into the crevices. As soon as I had the map, and Menad was safely on his way to a gateway, I would appear as myself in the same clothing Menad had worn when pretending to be me, and tell how I worried about my brother who had just left to visit our sick relative and I had best follow him the next morning to assist him in his duties.

It had worked at first. No one suspected the map would be stolen. It was the pride of the spriggan community that they had been entrusted with such an important document. Within thirty minutes I had the map safely in my own custody. But once the alarm was sounded, whispers were soon spreading from villager to villager. Folk were horrified the map has been stolen. I personally could not understand who would want a map that led to the terrifying Ynys Is. If anyone stepped foot on the island they would never escape from it and would gradually freeze. It was once a magical island and it was believed great power lay there, but it had been abused by every ruler of the land and then the freezing began, it became uninhabitable, the power frozen there along with the people.

When the whispering became louder, someone mentioning we had not been seen together all evening and perhaps they had been fooled, they would catch me leaving the next morning. I decided the best thing was to flee the realm of Dumnonia immediately and not wait until dawn. I would meet up with my brother at the gateway to the Dragon ley at Avallach a little earlier than planned. We would go together to take the map to Queen Marvaanagh, receive our reward then perhaps go far away to Iwernia to begin a new life.

Now here I stand at the gateway, looking down at my brother. Travelling the ley without good purpose was dangerous. He had done it before and survived, but not his time. I would have to go to Marvaanagh alone; somehow the gold did not seem so big a prize without Menad to share it with. I am alone now, forever it seems.

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