On his way back to camp, Seymour collected a few useful herbs whose picking might justify his peculiar absence.  Under different circumstances, he would have been cryptic instead, telling his companions that he had his reasons, acting especially mysterious and elevated--but Seoc and Simon complicated matters with the mere fact of their unusualness.  Something about them told him that they were unlikely to accept the affected air of superiority that had aided him so often in the past.  Generally, once people became aware of his exceptional intellect, they tended not to question his motives.  Here, however, he had a pair of wild cards--and neither of them, it was worth mentioning, was stupid.  Seoc, he had discovered, had a fairly sharp wit, and Simon, he was willing to bet, might have been lauded as a genius had he been able to speak in a comprehensible manner.  

     Thus, Seymour had decided to take a safer route.

    He found a small patch of boarfoot brush, the leaves of which carried a pungent oil that would repel a variety of small, biting creatures.  Perfect.   Goodbye lice and goodbye fleas.  So far, he had (thankfully) not contracted the former.  However, he had found several tiny, itchy bumps scattered about his torso, and he would rather not receive any more.  He collected a few handfuls of leaves, using his broad-brimmed felt hat as a basket.   

         In addition to the boarfoot, he happened upon a patch of dragonsmarrow flowers growing on the edge of a meadow.  Recalling a variety of uses for the plant, he snipped a couple off at the base, using his sharp claws, and placed them inside his makeshift basket as well.  The leaves could be ground to a paste to numb pain.  The petals could be eaten plain to treat headaches and seizures.  The juice of the stalk could be applied topically to sooth burns and rashes.  Ingest too much of any part of the plant, though, and it was poison.

       He wandered back to their camp some minutes later, once he was quite certain that the excess color had faded from his cheeks and his heart had stopped thrashing about like a fish trapped in his chest cavity.  He could hear voices as he approached, apparently arguing.  Sculpting his face into as neutral an expression as he could manage, he flattened his hair in a habitual manner and stepped through the gap in the trees.

       He needn't have worried.  Neither would have noticed anything amiss with him--they didn't even notice his return in the first place.  They were engrossed in something, a sort of tussle, it appeared, although Seymour wasn't immediately certain what was going on.  All that he could tell was that Seoc was sitting on top of Simon, as if to pin him down, wielding the pair of scissors and shouting for him to SIT STILL, DAMMIT!  and Simon was trying to squirm out from beneath him, cursing with mostly-unintentional creativity.  It took Seymour a moment of open-mouthed staring before he realized that Seoc was not attempting to murder Simon, but rather to cut his hair.

      "Unhand me, you bloody, skeething swalliby!" Simon yelled.  "Leave my fucking hat alone, before I feed you your larynx for noon!  Feather mucker!"

        Yanking on a handful of Simon's filthy, matted blond hair and snipping maniacally, Seoc dug his knees more forcefully into the base of Simon's ribcage and snarled, "If you dinna stop strugglin', ye're goina end up missin' an ear, you li'l bastard, so I suggest you stop it."

      "Stab me my running heart on a platter, why doncha?  Let it CRAAWWLLLL!"

The End

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