The birds in the treetops, so rarely seen within the city walls, had been awake for well over an hour and were chirping to one another about the thing on two legs which walked the grass below them.
He had already been planning to make this journey on the morning of June 24th, but now it was a necessity; the clockwinder was bucking his assistance of late, and while hovering around behind him to hand over the dice tallies he had noticed that the back of the mayor’s head was free from knots. No doubt Phaedra had been meddling, probably due to Bib’s inability to restrain himself… even the punishment of withholding a week’s wages was not enough to dissuade Bib from going after Berithos. And now the long-range plan was derailed. Plans would run so much more smoothly if nobody else was around… but then what good would they be?
As Underby reached the heath he began to see the plants he was looking for, flowering yellow in the rising sunlight. St. John’s Wort… St. John’s Wort, being harvested on St. John’s Day. He had been, of course, familiar with the concoction though he had no experience in creating it. But Mags did. She suggested he still gather the plant, since it was to be used in aid of his plan, but she would supervise the actual creation of the concoction, and further, would deliver it to the clockwinder to consume since he had begun to distrust Underby again in the last few days.
Underby sighed. He had tried to go about this the right way, but people were so damned unforgiving. He had no choice. Putting on his leather gloves, he began to pull up plants, whispering the apologies to the roots as Maggie had instructed, whistling “The Unfortunate Rake”, still stuck in his head days after those drunks had hammered it in.