Lara feels the tingle of a Trump contact as she reaches the remnants of the black road in the Vale of Garnath and brushes it off, intent on her mission to find Oberon and Sean.

Another tingle, this time much more insistent and she finds she can’t block it. Suddenly Caine is in her mind and looking not at all best pleased.

“Lara, why the hell aren’t you answering Trump contacts? It’s not like people need to get hold of the Sheriff of Amber urgently or anything.”

“I can’t trust…” she is cut off almost immediately by Caine.

“Can’t trust Trump? Unicorn’s tits Lara, Trump has always been susceptible to eavesdropping. If it eases your mind any Bleys is too far away right now for it to work for him and none of his allies have the skill.”

Lara takes a breath, ready to launch a defence of herself and her current mission, only to be cut off again.

“Yes, yes, I’m sure what you’re about to hare off and do on your own is so important that it can’t wait for anything or anyone, duty comes first and bugger everything else am I right?” She sees Caine shake his head and feels his exasperation, “Lara, stop being such a pig-headed idiot. You have people who will help you if you only ask them; the fate of Amber does not rest on you alone.”

She suddenly feels smaller than she has in a long time, since she was a child and broke her mother’s favourite glass ornament, the one she’d brought with her from home.

“My apologies, Caine,” she finds she means it sincerely, “I will try not to forget that in the future.”

“Good. Now, you need to go to Sioned. Esmond and her father have been trying to contact you for hours. She needs your help.”

Sioned, god, she’d been so caught up in her own pain and planning she hadn’t really considered what Sioned might be going through.

“Yes, of course, thank you Caine.” She sees a flicker of what could be called a smile cross his face as she speaks.

“Don’t thank me Lara, just go to your friend and help her. And remember you are not as alone as you think you are.” With that he cuts the contact.

She pulls out her sketch pad and draws a quick study of Esmond, good enough to use for one contact. She concentrates on it and the Trump goes cold.

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