Anzu finished his cup of tea and set it gently down on its saucer, watching Genady. Genady was peering into his cup, trying to scry through the tea dregs, but it clearly wasn’t working very well. He shook the cup a few times and turned it around, but judging by his face, that did not improve matters in the slightest.
“‘S useless,” he said. “All I get is the, er, equivalent of ‘motherfucker’ and some circles. First time I’ve had scrying instruments swear at me. Something really doesn’t want us finding your kid, Anzu Tamiratovich.”
Anzu shrugged, heavily. Despite Mogila’s optimism, he had been trying to accustom himself to the idea that Kinneret is gone for good. It was painful, unbearably so, but he knew it was best to kill hope before it grew too big.
Genady set down his cup and got up. He disappeared into his bedroom, leaving Anzu alone with his thoughts.
Anzu and Genady were sorting through the books downstairs, mostly on Anzu’s insistence. He had grown tired of the smell and badgered Genady until Genady agreed to go through the grimoires and manuals and manuscripts and figure out which ones could still be saved from the mould and which were consigned to be burned. Anzu was picking through a particularly interesting treatise on the diseases of animals used as wonder-working familiars, when the bell over the door jangled.
Mogila rushed in, carrying a hefty suitcase. She was in her work clothes, streaks of black coal dust still on her cheeks and her hair braided. She was wet from rain and breathing heavily, like she had run all the way to the shop. Anzu looked at her in surprise – he had not been expecting to see her for another few octets.
“Anja!” she cried, rushing forward. “Anja, I think she’s on Mat Nochi!”
“What?” said Anzu, dropping the grimoire. It fell on Genady’s foot, making him yelp. Anzu ignored him and vaulted the counter to run up to Mogila. Her face was flushed with excitement and her hands were trembling a little. Anzu took both of her hands in his and she grinned at him, her eyes wide and full of joy.
“I was talking to the dirigible pilots in the bar down near the mines,” she said, breathlessly. “They’ve … they’re seen her! They said a strange woman wearing a veil was with her!”
“Are you sure it was her?” Anzu said, quashing down the little spark of hope that lit up in his heart. “Darling, you’ve never seen her–“
“Black girl? Three years or so? Blue eyes? Two spirit eyes in the middle of her forehead?” said Mogila, grinning and Anzu’s eyes went wide in surprise. Hope burst like a supernova and he found himself bouncing on the balls of his feet. Mogila nodded, vigorously and then swept Anzu into a bone-crushing hug. He returned the embrace.
“So, ah–” he began but Mogila interrupted him.
“I’ve quit my job,” she said. “I’m done with the mines. I’m … I’m going to Mat Nochi to find her, Anja.”
“Gilja, that’s rather sud–“
“I’m going whether you are or not,” said Mogila, letting go of him and making firm eye contact. He flinched away and looked down at his feet. Mogila’s gaze was fierce, her expression stony and determined.
“All right,” he said. “All right, darling. I … I’m coming, then. We’re going to Mat Nochi and …”
“I’m not going,” called Genady from behind them and Mogila threw him such a filthy look that, despite everything, Anzu laughed.
“I can pay for the tickets,” said Mogila, as thought Genady had not spoken. “And once we’re there … well, ‘s Vodastoj territory. Maybe you can cash in some of your revolutionary renown, Anja.”
Anzu nodded and tried hard, against all reason, to quash the hope growing in his heart.