Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Salamander

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His face screamed in silence in the black bark of the tree. His arms stretched in desperation toward the heavens, and his body twisted with pain.

Or maybe it was only a tree. Maybe I thought I could see Kain there because I expected to. Everyone else passed by the tree without looking twice at it. No-one seemed to notice anything unusual about it.

"Mr Frazer?

The Admiral glanced at the tree to see what I was looking at, but it only distracted her for a second.

"The doctor needs to take a look at your arm," she said. "Over here."

The coast road was a mess. The surface had cracked open, and the whole area was covered in wooden debris, scattered stones and rotten vines. Hazard lights and incident tape closed the road to traffic, and a couple of Horseshoe off-roaders formed roadblocks on either side. The helicopters waited in a field across the road.

Mum sat on a folding chair, wrapped in a beige blanket like the one slung across my shoulders. She gripped a steaming cup of tea in the Admiral's own tin mug. She had a frown fixed on her face, but she caught me looking and smiled, and I smiled back. Abigail was with her, and I was glad she was in safe hands.

"Your mother is fine, Mr Frazer," said the Admiral. "The doctor says she's tired. She's surprisingly resilient. Come on; let's get that arm seen to."

The Admiral took me to a fold-out table where a young Indian woman named Dr Smith swabbed my arm with a rinse that stung like crazy.

"Not too bad," said the doctor. "Not too deep. I'll give you a tetanus shot, but you will need stitches when we get you to a hospital."

"Bandage him up for now," said the Admiral. "What happened here, Mr Frazer?"

I looked back at the tree to see if anyone had noticed it. Hari and two other agents were picking up stones and throwing them into a heavy-duty sack. None of them looked twice at Kain's prison.

"Éven found my Mum," I said. "He led me here. He fought the guards that had her, and I set her free. There's not much more to it than that."

I did not mention Tiana. She'd saved our lives, so I kept my promise. We would tell Horseshoe that Éven took care of everything. No-one would know about Kain. No-one would know about the tree.

But one secret at a time was more than enough for me to keep. I couldn't keep lying about Éven. I had to tell the Admiral the truth about him, not only because it was too obvious that I'd kept secrets, but because I needed their help to track him down. He was still out there somewhere. I needed them to bring him in alive.

"Tell me, Mr Frazer; how did Éven find you?" asked the Admiral.

Dr Smith swabbed my arm with an antibacterial wipe. She smiled sympathetically and jabbed the needle in my arm.

"Ow! He gave me a crystal. I hung it in the moonlight, so he could find me."

"When did he give you this crystal?" asked the Admiral. "On Hastings beach?"

I shook my head. "He sent it to me after I met you. He wanted to talk to me."

"So, you spoke to him in private and you didn't report it?"

I cleared my throat. Dr Smith passed me a bottle of water, and I took a swig.

"I spoke to him the same day I spoke to you. And again, in Tiana's attic. And again, when they took my mum."

The Admiral looked like she wanted to pick up the doctor's needles and give me a few more jabs. She straightened her back and shook her head. "You have been aiding a known fugitive, Mr Frazer."

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