Season 1 Episode 7: Mapping out Ganhook’s Fortress

In this episode, I will describe my first good look of Ganhook’s fortress. I will also explain how I was tasked to draw a house map, to better enable me to find my way around the fortress.

This was my first very basic lesson in map making. It was also my first encounter with the intruder detection spell traps that keep the fortress safe.

In section 2, I give some context on my map making task.

And in the Strange but True section, I describe how intruder detection spell traps can be corrupted.

Key Takeaways

Understanding how maps are key to survival in Dunari.

How to create a very, very basic survival map.

Show summary:

Each show will be summarized in letter form. These are the letters I would have written from Dunari to my parents if I’d been able to do so at the time.

Twelve minutes reading time.

Dear Folks

After yesterday’s introduction to Shinytop, I had the best night’s sleep since I got here. I reckon it was because Shinytop was watching over me.

He teased me. When I asked him anything about outside the fortress, he claimed he was not authorised to tell me what’s there. I knew he was lying. But I couldn’t prove it.

One example of his evasiveness happened when I asked if the bed would react if I overslept. He just said that the best way to find out was to oversleep.

I knew he was challenging me. So, I stayed on in bed after seven AM. Within a minute, something was tickling my toes. That tickling shifted to an itching. Not aggressive, but uncomfortable, like some toothless thing was nibbling at my feet.

I didn’t lie around to see how bad it would get.

Ghost Cat Number Twelve arrived soon after, and said she was taking me to the kitchen to test out some food. Sounded great. But Shinytop messed this up by insisting he was giving me a tour of the fortress instead.

Unfortunately for me, Number Twelve didn’t argue. So, I had to argue instead. I’ve only had black bread and cheese since I got here. Prison food. And I was starving. Once I knew where the kitchen was, I could sneak there whenever I wanted.

After I stated my case, it was agreed that we’d meet Number Twelve in the kitchen during the fortress tour.

Once Number Twelve left, Shinytop announced that the fortress tour was also a map making exercise. Using pencil and paper, I had to draw out a map of our route. A house map, he called it. Sounded crazy. But it did occur to me that a map of this place could help my escape, so I went along with it.

It also occurred to me that I’d never really taken a good look at the corridor outside. OK. I’d made bathroom trips. But I’d been so intent on getting there and back in one piece that I’d never ‘seen’ the corridor.

When we went outside, I was surprised to see that, apart from the stone slabbed floor, the corridor was circular, like a pipe. An energy hummed along it. A ticklish energy, that reminded me of the bed.

Dull glowing fireballs, like the one in my room, dangled from the ceiling. Each light we met flared up before dimming again as we passed. The glow ran ahead of us, illuminating ogham covered walls, heavy wooden doorways, and framed images of multicoloured birds. Statues, too. Small statues, their blind eyes glowing yellow as I passed.

Skeleton statues carved from bone. Monsters,  all teeth and claw.

Glinting in the light, metal netting covered the ceiling in places. It resembled chain mail.

I scribbled away at my ‘house’ map, adding the doors and corridors we passed, and noting where some of the bigger statues or bird paintings were to use as reference points.

Every window we encountered misted over when we passed. Really annoying. And I soon discovered Shinytop wasn’t going to show me the whole place. Oh no. He said we’d stick to a couple of floors for now.

Really, really annoying.

After a while, I smelled food, and heard the crackling of a frying pan, But we never got close to the sound. This worsened my hunger to a point where I’d swear my stomach was ready to pop free, sprout legs, and sprint off to the kitchen all by itself.

Shinytop ignored my pleas for food, told me that hunger sharpened the mind.

When we weren’t talking, he kept rambling nonsense to himself. When I asked about this, he said that there were intruder spell traps active throughout the compound. They knew his voice, so they’d ignore us while he talked.

They didn’t know me, though. And when Shinytop said I needed to experience an intruder spell, and stopped talking, it wasn’t long before an ‘energy’ formed around me, holding me in place, and making it hard to breathe.

I was released when Shinytop resumed talking.

This infuriated me. OK. So, I’d needed to experience it. He could have warned me first.

When he showed remorse, I figured it was a great time to squeeze some information out of him. Ghost Cat Number Five had said the fortress was built over a relic. I quizzed Shinytop about this, and found out that the fortress was in a harbour city called the City of Bones.

Before it had been a city, it had been a monsters’ graveyard.

The spirits of those long dead monsters protect this land. That’s why the city was built here. For protection. Fancy that.

Anyway, I never got to the kitchen. There is some feud between Shinytop and Stein Cat, and I guessed he dodged going to the kitchen because Number Twelve was there. He ordered me back to room zero.

I had little choice. It was either that, or he’d stop talking again.

Despite my hunger, anger with Shinytop, and disappointment at not seeing outside, I felt I’d taken a big step forward. At least towards the door of this place.

And I’d made a map. Actually, my map was so random, if Picasso’s name was on it, it would be worth millions.

Ganhook arrived later. He wasn’t impressed with my map either. But at least he brought fried bread dripping with butter. He said it was Shell Valley bread, the best you could get.

I was so hungry, I didn’t care if it came from Death Valley.

It tasted wonderful.


They’re big into maps in Dunari—sky maps, ocean current maps, wind current maps, pollen distribution maps, people maps, and countless more.

But, because they’re afraid that invaders could acquire their maps, most maps in Dunari (except the master maps securely held by the Imperator) have gaps.

Only skilled navigators know what exists within the gaps.

To help you to navigate here without maps, hey train to automatically get your bearings in a new location. Whenever you enter a new environment, you’re supposed to mentally map it out, or at least take notes to help you navigate the place.

That’s the theory. Most city folk are too lazy to bother. They know the city, and aren’t much bothered about what’s beyond it.

While map making is great fun, it’s an idea to build a map slowly.

My first map making task was to map out a portion of Ganhook’s fortress. If you want to replicate my basic ‘create a map’ training, you could map out your house. But you are probably already familiar with your house, and could find your way around blindfold. In my case, Ganhook’s fortress was about as familiar to me as Planet Mars.

So, go somewhere unfamiliar. Visit a museum, a department store, or a library. Ignore any floor maps of the building. Rediscover your sense of adventure, and explore. As you wander the corridors, create a map. Take note of interesting details on the route, like a unique door, an odd window, a portrait hanging on the wall.

And take note of the smells around you. Oil or smoke or flowers. Kitchens. Toilets. Whatever. Use smells to make associations to areas on your map.

This is as much an observation exercise as it is a map making exercise. It will help you notice details and assign importance to those details. To begin with, you don’t even need to draw a floor plan. Just list a bunch of details

Ex:       A red door

A roof fan

A kitchen smell

An unusual wall portrait

… and so on.

This is a map in its most basic form.

For me to learn how to safely navigate the vastness of Dunari, I had to learn many forms of map making.

Practicing observation skills was an invaluable way to achieve this.

That’s it for now. I will tell you lots more about map making in future episodes.

Goodbye. Or, as we say in Dunari, Dreavik.