I am too restless to keep my thoughts to myself today, but there are so few I can talk to.
Mr. Underby paid me a visit today, under the pretense of wishing to check that I was still in good health. I bade him sit, not bothering to hide the fact that my leg was paining me again. It heals slowly, so slowly. The stump is still a reddened mess, the bandages need frequent changing, especially after the abuse the wound took during my illness.
But it is healing, journal, I will heal.
He was as to the point as his sort can be. He wishes me to speak with the Clockwinder, to convince him that Loose….Za….hmm, Samuel (as it is not one of his true names, surely writing that one should do no harm?) should be moved, somehow, out of the city. I suggested he should be moved into the old district, if he is moved at all. I cannot decide if the hesitation that Mr. Underby exhibited at that particular notion was real or imagined on my part. His original suggestion, of course, was that I need to leave the city, claiming that it was not for the usual selfish reasons, but because it was for the good of the whole city.
Ha! The good of the whole city, he said himself I run the only pub more popular than his and that I am a continual thorn in his side. He may believe it is for the good of the whole city, but my own instincts tell me that it would be better for the Underbys if I were out of the picture entirely. I’m sure Phaedra should love to have possession of the Gangplank and its bakery again, I am sure she should love that dearly. And why do I think that should I turn and walk away from the city that I should be a pied-piper, that they could release Samuel and he should follow me eternally around the wide world, until my death?
Fortunately I had a little surprise of my own for him (how curious that Pip did not tell him, given the horror Pip expressed when he discovered my secret for himself that day beneath the airship). Almost no one in the city is aware of the experiment I allowed Grendel to perform on me many long months ago, when the snow still lay thick on the ground and so they could not know (and how could they? When, truthfully, until I lay screaming beneath the rubble of my airship, I did not know myself) how successful the experiment was. I shall have many long years left to live in this wide world, which means that Mr. Underby’s thought (I presume this was his thought, anyway) of me leaving the city and dying quietly in ten or twenty years was too much to hope for. So, of course, this is when he bade me speak with Tenk, insist to him the importance of having Samuel moved, somehow, from the city.
Believe me, I should be glad to have that thing far far away. He turns my thoughts constantly, many is the time in the last few weeks that I have been walking home from the market or going about on my business only to find my feet have turned themselves toward Strife House and are leading me there. I dream of him nearly every night: sometimes he is so kind I wake with the dull ache of love around my heart and others he is so cruel that it is all I can do to wake shouting, clawing my way to consciousness and away from him.
To add urgency to my task (I presume) he informed me that he believes that there is a group inside the city working to ‘cure’ the dead-zones. If he was aiming to alarm me further, he succeeded. The idea of it makes me feel as though cold water has been poured down my spine and for the first time I was genuinely glad my own Gift died with Sekhmet (though I do wonder if the presence of Samuel within my mind does not give me access to some of his…no, now, is that my thinking or his?). To cure it could be to kill some, or to kill many. Working magic in New Babbage is an up-hill battle against the ley, it is a slow, sluggish line that runs through this city, it requires immense effort and sacrifice for even the simplest of incantations. To suddenly cure it should be like…well, like if one had reached for a fifty-pound bag every single morning of their lives and then, one day, unexpectedly hefted the thing up and discovered it was only one pound, they should fall flat on their backs.
I have put feelers out with some urchins who passed through the Pub today, to discover if what Mr. Underby has said is true. I have also asked the urchins to pass to Mr. Tenk the message that I need to speak with him, whether or not that particular rumor is true I do want to hear his opinion regarding the movement of Samuel.
I do not trust the idea, because it fills me with a desire to leap to it immediately and I cannot decide if the one who wishes it to happen is myself, or that other dark presence in the corners of my mind.