James Hibberd
November 28, 2011 AT 04:30 PM EST

Flew to Croatia under cover of darkness on a bold secret mission: To sneak onto the Game of Thrones season 2 set and snap a photo of Daenerys Targaryen’s three dragons. My editors at EW tried to talk me out of it — something about the producers using “CGI” for the dragons (?). But I was certain I could evade whatever high-tech countermeasures the Thrones team employed.

I anchored my dingy in the waters off Dubrovnik, then swam ashore at Fort Lovrijenac–

For season 2, Thrones has added this fort as a location for King’s Landing scenes. The imposing 11th-century structure was built to keep out any invaders. I threw a grappling hook over the ledge, then climbed its highest 121-foot wall. Wearily pulling myself over the side, I see Tyrion, Joffrey, Littlefinger, Sansa, the Hound … but no dragons. Drat.

I climbed back down and spent the night wandering the streets of Dubrovnik, asking locals if they know where the dragons are kept. I found copies of Ice & Fire novels (with Croatian book covers that are way more rad than the North American editions). But when asked about the dragons, locals  simply pointed toward the mountains.

So I hiked deep into the hills and found another obstacle. A massive, heavily guarded gate. This must be it. But how to get inside?

Left with no choice, I fought and defeated every guard by beating them unconscious with my laptop (I would have taken a photo of this part, but who can battle 20 spear-carrying sentries and take pictures at the same time?).

Beyond the gate — success! There are hordes of Dothraki milling about. I disguised myself in brown rags, kept my head down and wandered the crowd until … I found them. With trembling hands, I snapped this image. Dany’s dragons in season 2 are kept here:

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