"That'll do," said Esther with a nod, and she'd already set off for the kitchen. Almost as soon as she started, however, she stopped at the mention of their parents. Turning, she fixed him with a glare as though he'd just said something grotesque and she'd decided it was no longer such a lovely thing to see him after all.
Looking him up and down, she forced a half-hearted smile back onto her face, but in such a way that suggested unashamedly that it was only a formality and she disapproved. Shaking her head slightly as she turned. She ran water through a coffeemaker to heat and steep in a pot of dried hibiscus flowers, and set a hefty mug on the kitchen table alongside a jar of honey and a pot of sugar.
"'Circumstances like these' indeed. No, Ana has been an angel. And quite diligent about finding you. She takes almost no time for herself even while she's here. I've helped as I'm able but I simply don't have the energy to keep up, nor the ability to force her to rest as she should. I hope yours is a valid excuse for leaving her alone like that," she added reproachfully.
"Steep as long as you wish. Milk will be in the fridge if you'd like. I have almond and goat."
After something of a delay, there came a sound from the other side of several locks being unlatched, and the door creaked open. "Yes, hel–"
Cutting herself off, Esther stood and regarded the familiar-looking stranger with a blank, "processing" stare as though adding some equation or piecing together a jigsaw puzzle in his face.
Soon enough realization dawned and her face lit up with understanding. "Oh! One moment please," she said, disappearing behind the door again and returning, this time with a white sheet held closely before her. For a full twenty seconds she compared the boy in front of her with the image his sister had drawn before, satisfied, she pulled the door completely open and stepped aside, waving an arm as to welcome him into the foyer. "William, please come in! Ana will be so happy to see you. Would you like something to drink while we wait for her return?"
The young immortal rode through the parking lot on her Riverside 920. Concentration had detached her from the cars and people around her. She sniffed at the air. It was a cold trail. However many times he'd been there, it'd been a long time since his last visit. No sign of the girl or the van either.
But even if Charlemagne's son no longer inhabited Farmington (maybe he'd gone into hiding?) he'd no doubt grown roots, just based on how often he'd appeared on traffic and on-site cameras in the sleepy town.
Despite her resources and capabilities she had almost nothing to go off of. The problem, she figured, wasn't so much flushing him out as it was doing so "in the right way." On his good side. Just the two of them, without attention from more assassins after the price Quintus had put on his head.
Put simply, there was no quick fix for this. Nastya would have to grow some roots herself. The boy, someone he knew, or other clues leading back to him, would present themselves in time. Reaching into her backpack, she began the slow and arduous process of passing copies of hand-drawn flyers around town herself. No leads, though she received numerous compliments on her skill with a pencil, and much more sympathy once the humans were no longer facing a virtual giantess and she'd come up with a story. Parents deceased, her older brother William had been her primary care provider for several years now but he'd recently gone missing.
Hours passed and she hit a local news station. Provided one of her flyers for circulation in papers, on television, and the Internet, along with information about where to find her in the meantime.
An older woman named Esther had seen fit to take her in while she searched. Anastasia thanked her and accepted, making a note to leave a generous tip under the pillow when she left. At night she stayed in the room that'd belonged to Esther's daughter. There she spent the majority of her time, taking stock of the situation and mapping various conditional probabilities and determining courses of action for the transfinite possibilities that lay before her.
Her ads ran every day in the papers, and every day she roamed the town in hopes of catching the familiar scent. Undeterred by cold or precipitation, the Numeromancer proceeded in a methodical sweep over the city. One way or another it was only a matter of time, her secondary mutation guaranteed that. But this couldn't last long. Sooner or later others would catch the scent emanating from the small town, and that would put Esther in danger.