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datatime: 2022-09-25 16:30:43 Author:rbTDBKXH

"It need not be family," he said. "Plenty of noble Amberites around with possible motives. Take Sir Reginald - "

Then I saw the landscape - over his shoulder, out a window, over a battlement, I can't be sure. It was far from Amber, somewhere where the shadows go mad. Farther than I like to go. Stark, with shifting colors. Fiery. Day without a sun in the sky. Rocks that glided like sailboats across the land. Brand there in some sort of tower - a small point of stability in that flowing scene. I remembered it, all right. And I remembered the presence coiled about the base of that tower. Brilliant. Prismatic. Some sort of watch-thing, it seemed - too bright for me to make out its outline, to guess its proper size. Then it all just went away. Instant off. And there I was, staring at the Jack of Diamonds again, with the guy across from me not knowing whether to be mad at my long distraction or concerned that I might be having some sort of sick spell.

"Can't bring you through," he said. "No Trumps, and I am too weak. You will have to come the long way around..."

"Look very closely," he said. "Remember every feature. I may only be able to show you once. Come armed, too..."

He shook his head at that.

The Jack said, "Random." Then its face blurred and it said, "Help me." I began getting a feel of the personality by then, but it was weak. The whole thing was very weak. Then the face rearranged itself and I saw that I was right. It was Brand. He looked like hell, and he seemed to be chained or tied to something. "Help me," he said again.

"Okay. I've exhausted my little gray cells, then."

"I'm here," I said. "What's the matter?"

He shook his head at that.

He shook his head at that.

"I'm here," I said. "What's the matter?"

The Jack said, "Random." Then its face blurred and it said, "Help me." I began getting a feel of the personality by then, but it was weak. The whole thing was very weak. Then the face rearranged itself and I saw that I was right. It was Brand. He looked like hell, and he seemed to be chained or tied to something. "Help me," he said again.

So I suppressed my impulse to yell for reinforcements. He had called me, and it was quite possible that I would be cutting his throat by letting anyone back in Amber in on the fact that he had gotten the message out. Okay. What was in it for me?

"I'm here," I said. "What's the matter?"

Yes, that is how it started. I was in a weird frame of mind anyway. I had just finished a couple very hot sets and was still kind of high. Also, I was physically strung out from a long day's gliding and not much sleep the night before. I decided later that it must be our mental quirk associated with the Trumps that made me see it that way when someone was trying to reach me and I had cards in my hand - any cards. Ordinarily, of course, we get the message empty-handed, unless we are doing the calling. It could have been that my subconscious - which was kind of footloose at the time - just seized on the available props out of habit. Later, though, I had cause to wonder. Really, I just don't know.

"Can't bring you through," he said. "No Trumps, and I am too weak. You will have to come the long way around..."

"Can't bring you through," he said. "No Trumps, and I am too weak. You will have to come the long way around..."

"It need not be family," he said. "Plenty of noble Amberites around with possible motives. Take Sir Reginald - "

Then he remembered out loud.

It occurred to me then that maybe one or more of the others had been responsible for his circumstances. If, say, Dad was beginning to favor him... Well. You know. Eliminate the positive. And if he did call Dad, he would look like a weakling.

The Jack of Diamonds began talking to me.

"Not bad," I said, "but I can't spare any more brothers at the moment. Not even Julian. Anyhow, he's the least frameable."

So I suppressed my impulse to yell for reinforcements. He had called me, and it was quite possible that I would be cutting his throat by letting anyone back in Amber in on the fact that he had gotten the message out. Okay. What was in it for me?

So I suppressed my impulse to yell for reinforcements. He had called me, and it was quite possible that I would be cutting his throat by letting anyone back in Amber in on the fact that he had gotten the message out. Okay. What was in it for me?

Yes, that is how it started. I was in a weird frame of mind anyway. I had just finished a couple very hot sets and was still kind of high. Also, I was physically strung out from a long day's gliding and not much sleep the night before. I decided later that it must be our mental quirk associated with the Trumps that made me see it that way when someone was trying to reach me and I had cards in my hand - any cards. Ordinarily, of course, we get the message empty-handed, unless we are doing the calling. It could have been that my subconscious - which was kind of footloose at the time - just seized on the available props out of habit. Later, though, I had cause to wonder. Really, I just don't know.

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