The scrying bowl was two hands across and a palm high. It wasn’t shaped like any bowl that Morganzer had ever seen. It was flat for two palms at the bottom and then it belled up and out, something like a trumpet flower. It wasn’t built for containing as much as possible for the amount of material it had been built with, that was sure.
But it was a satisfying shape. It felt good in the hands. It was dark brass, mostly unpolished. Only a decorative ring, about halfway up the outside, had been rubbed to anything like a shine.
Morganzer touched the inside. It was dark and slightly tacky, darkest and tackiest on the bottom.
“That’s from burning incense in it,” said an old woman whose name Morganzer couldn’t remember. “I do that when I’m not using it. My grandmother discovered it. Her husband had asthma and was forever trying things to ease it. He found an incense that worked for him and she found that it helped the scrying.
She experimented a bit. So did a few other people. It’s not the incense itself that matters. It’s the dark and whether you like the smell or not. Give it a whiff.”
Morganzer sniffed. The bowl didn’t have a strong scent. There was just a hint of grasses and scorch. Then, underneath, came a sea-spray smell. It was a smell that tugged at memories, but didn’t call them completely forward. She couldn’t say it was a pretty smell, but she liked it.
“Are you sure you don’t mind me using it.”
“No, child. As important as this is, you can even take it with you if it works for you.”
“But it must have taken you a long time to get it coated like this. And its metal!”
“And giving it up is better than watching everyone I know die. So just take what’s offered and do your best.”
Morganzer sat the bowl down. Kholack filled it from a bright crockery pitcher. Filled, it looked like a hole in the world. Morganzer looked into it and felt the difference that the different depths of water made. Toward the rim, the water was very shallow, but still black. Whispers of things were already bleeding and swirling into those shallow shadows. Morganzer let them come, let them move however they meant to go. She always let the first reading be a base reading. It was hard to keep plans out of her head, But she had learned the hard way that if she didn’t do a base reading, she could waste days trying to get the visions to go a direction that they’d never consent to go.
Tiny figures crept along the rim. Tiny scryers with tinier bowls. They were scrying at each other, interfering with each other. Soon their intents made a network, a latticework of lines woven around the shallows of the rim. They locked together and let no movement through.
Alright. What does that mean. Think. Do they need to work together. No. Nothing moves when I think of that. Do I need to try something that no one has thought of yet? Maybe. I can feel movement in the center when I think that.
What haven’t they tried? Is it from one of the books? A flutter. Books fluttered in the depths like moths. Difficult to tell which would help, but books in general were a good thing.
Feel the movement in the center. Coax it towards to surface. Come on. You know you’re there. You know I’m going to see you eventually. I can be patient with this. I can be patient here. I can be patient when this is what I am.
This is about my brother. Show me my brother. Let me hear a sound. Let me feel a touch. Let me smell a scent.
There was a growl and a burrowing and a smell of animal fur. But the bowl was dark. This was the heart of it, though. She could tell. This was the core.
Flow backward from it. Let it recede. Get a view from farther back. That’s a coat. That’s Daffak wearing it. He’s trotting along and behind him. . . what’s behind him?
“The shapes are moving so fast,” a voice said behind her. She barely heard it. It wasn’t part of the visions. It was only real and therefore of no real consequence. “I can see how she could make them move that fast, but how can she See them.”
“They can’t possibly make sense to her,” another voice said.
“Shush!” That was Kholack. Good. With her there, no one would ask her any questions no matter what they didn’t understand.
Her brother was trotting along in front of a moving object. It was a pallet being pulled by . . . were those wolves? Another boy trotted beside her brother, talking and gasping. She was running along beside whoever was on the pallet. Pull back further. Snow. Snow and more snow. Snow back to the edges of what she could See.
Well, there were ways around that. She pulled in and ran the image backward. Footprints and a set of two lines trailing behind the pallet were erased by their passing. She ran the image faster. Still just snow. Faster, she ran it. The group stopped for food and passing breaks. The breaks were frantic little pauses that led into a pile of blankets and darkness.
She skipped the night. She didn’t hear the gasps behind her. She was too far into the vision.
The group continued through nothing but snow. A furry head could sometimes be seen poking out of her brother’s coat. Up and up the group went. Another night was deleted and then they reached a peak. Looking down, Morganzer knew where they had to be, how they had to have gotten there.
Most of the group left the boy and the pallet of wolves. That group was much slower, now. But the purpose of it was known. She looked down the mountain that they were climbing backwards down. She looked at the base of the mountain, at the valley there, with the huts and houses dotted along it. She looked at the large bath house in the distance and the spiky islands and sea beyond it. She knew who they were and how they had come there.
She snapped the scene back to its beginning. She saw them start out from the girl’s house. Saw how they went. Saw who watched. Felt the aunts talking. Making excuses. The boy had had a dream. It had said that his grandfather was dying. He had to go. He had to take the wolf cub to sacrifice. It was something the nemen. . . no, not the nemen. The Skend. It was something that the Skend could understand.
She didn’t like the vision. But she trusted it. They would leave and the boy with the wolves would be waiting for them. He would get them to somewhere safe without any major mishap. They could decide where else to go from there.
Now it was time to decide what to pack. She’d let the aunts help with that. It was the sort of thing that she suspected aunts would be good at.