"I think I know," said Firedrake.
He looked down the hill to where the sea lay in the sunlight. "Nettlebrand is hoping we will lead him to the Rim of Heaven. He wants us to find him the dragons who escaped him in the past."
Ben looked at Firedrake, horrified.
"Of course!" cried Sorrel. "He doesnt know where they are. When he took the dragons by surprise in the sea here, the sea serpents helped them get away, and since then hes lost all trace of them."
Firedrake shook his head. He looked at the humans, a question in his eyes. "What am I to do? Were so close to our journeys end, but how can I be sure Nettlebrands not following us? How can I be certain one of his ravens wont be following me under cover of darkness if I fly on?"
Ben was transfixed.
"Thats right," he murmured. "Hes probably known for ages what the djinn said.And Twigleg saw a raven back there in the ravine, didnt he? Oh, no!" Ben brought his hand down on the back of the stone dragon. "Weve probably been a great help to the monster. He was just waiting for us. And I even asked the djinn his question for him."
No one said anything. The Greenblooms exchanged anxious glances.
Then, very quietly, so quietly that Ben could hardly hear him, Twigleg said, "Nettlebrand doesnt know what the djinn told you, young master."
The words had come out of Twiglegs mouth as if of their own accord. As if they were tired of being held back and swallowed all the time.
All the others looked at him. All of them.
Sorrel narrowed her eyes like a hungry cat.
"So, just how do you know that, little titch?" she growled in a menacingly low voice. "How come youre so certain of what you say?"
Twigleg did not look at her. He didnt look at anyone. His heart was beating as if it would burst out of his narrow chest.
"Because I was his spy," he replied. "I was Nettlebrands spy."
From Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, Chapters 27 & 28, pages 275-295. Original copyright 2000 by Dressler Verlag. Original English translation copyright 2001 by Oliver Georg Latsch. First published in Germany as Drachenreiter by Cecile Dressler Verlag, 1997. This translation by Anthea Bell copyright 2004 by The Chicken House. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, The Chicken House. Published in the USA by Scholastic by arrangement with The Chicken House.
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