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The Belphegor Inheritance


Back to the Old House



The uncertain days of the interregnum had come to an end. Morbius was President. The Doctor had expected no other result. Cardinal Morbius was the obvious choice, a Time Lord of the first rank, and a Prydonian. Had the last President lived to name his successor, it would almost certainly have been Morbius.

Now the unbroken chain of Prydonian supremacy would continue, and the policy of the Council would remain as it had been for centuries. The Doctor had known that his own radical calls for intervention in galactic affairs would never be heeded. Not even the arguments of Councillor Goth had swayed opinion.

Well, thought the Doctor, that suited him fine. He intended to resign from the High Council, and return to his house in the mountains of South Gallifrey. He disliked the Capitol. Now the TARDIS was completed, he had no reason to stay. Susan would be pleased.

But in the back of his mind, he kept returning to his alternative plan. There was a cosmos to explore, and it would be better to do it at first hand. The TARDIS was waiting to leave. He would have to speak to Susan about it.

First however, he had been summoned to the Prydonian College, to Cardinal Morbius's chambers. The Doctor had no idea what Morbius wanted to see him about. He imagined he would be invited to take up some important position in the new High Council - perhaps even to become the next Prydonian Cardinal. It was expected that such courtesy would be shown to a defeated presidential candidate.

The Doctor tried to think of the most gracious way to decline such an offer. He could make use of the interview to tender his resignation from the High Council.

Morbius was waiting in his private sanctum, surrounded by portraits of previous Prydonian Cardinals. He was a thin faced man, possessing cruel, hard features. His mouth seemed to be twisted into a permanent sneer. He had the bony aristocratic nose that so many Time Lords seemed to cultivate in their regenerations.

"Come in," Morbius said. A simple invitation, and yet there was a hint of menace about it.

"You sent for me, President Elect?" the Doctor said.

"Yes," replied Morbius. "I wanted to talk to you about your political ambitions."

The Doctor shrugged his shoulders. "I have none," he said.

Morbius curled his lip and let out a sinister chuckle. "I don't believe that. You, a junior member of the Council, dared to challenge a Time Lord of the first rank for the Presidency. You are possessed of such arrogant audacity, and you claim to have no ambition?"

"Believe what you like, your Eminence. I was persuaded that I could achieve something through the Presidency. I personally believed I stood little chance. I have been proved right."

"Yes," replied Morbius quietly. "You voiced some interesting ideas in your election campaign. You spoke of the Time Lords using their great power to interfere in the state of the Galaxy."

"I believe we have a moral duty to help those less fortunate than ourselves," said the Doctor.

Morbius laughed. "You are an idealist, then?"

"I suppose so."

Shaking his head, Morbius got to his feet. "You are a fool," he snapped. "Did you really think that the Time Lords would accept such policies?"

"I had some support," the Doctor pointed out.

"Goth and his cronies?" sneered Morbius. "There have always been a few interventionists, but they achieve nothing."

"I understood," replied the Doctor, "that there was growing feeling on Gallifrey against the non interference policy. There are many who believe we should do something with our powers."

Morbius nodded slowly. "Oh indeed, you are right. I have been sounding out many Time Lords regarding their feelings in this area. I now believe that I have sufficient support to formulate some radical new policies."

The Doctor blinked in confusion. "Do you mean that you also are in favour of intervention?"

"No, of course not," Morbius snarled. "What care have I for weakling mortals? They only interest me as potential conquests."

"I don't understand," the Doctor stammered.

Morbius laughed again. "There are many who believe we should make good use of our powers. They will not be disappointed in their new President. It is my intention to conquer the Galaxy. There is no race who can resist the power of the Time Lords."

"You can't do that," said the Doctor.

"We shall see," Morbius murmured. "It is because of this that I wish to speak to you. Those who follow me shall be rewarded. I have need for loyal supporters. You and I have similar objectives. We both want the Time Lords to do more than observe."

"I only advocate interference to protect weak species from aggressors," the Doctor replied. "You and I have nothing in common."

"You think not?" replied Morbius. "When the entire galaxy is suppressed beneath Gallifreyan rule, there will be no aggressors. We will control all space, and every species will bow before us. Is that not your dream also? Join me, and we can achieve it. You can serve as my Chancellor."

"When I came through that door," announced the Doctor, "I originally intended to give you my resignation as a High Councillor. What you have said has convinced me to stay."

"Excellent," said Morbius. "I knew you'd see sense."

"As a High Councillor," the Doctor went on, "I shall do everything in my power to stop you. I imagine that many of the other councillors will do the same. Never believe that you can implement this evil policy, without facing the strongest opposition." He whirled round and stormed towards the door.

"You are a greater fool than I thought," Morbius called after him, causing the Doctor to pause in the doorway. "If you had accepted my offer, you would share in my glory. If you had resigned your position, then I would have left you alone. But now you have declared yourself to stand against me, I have no choice but to think of you as an enemy."

"I warn you," said the Doctor, "not to proceed with this evil intent."

"You are threatening me?" laughed Morbius. "It is you who needs warning. If you try to oppose me, I shall destroy you."

The words of Morbius still ringing in his ears, the Doctor returned to his quarters. What had he let himself in for? Had Morbius's threat been genuine? The Doctor found it hard to conceive of Morbius saying anything in jest.

And yet, in the depths of the Doctor's mind, he found dark thoughts. It was almost as if part of him was agreeing with what Morbius had said. The Doctor did not know what to make of it. He had not been himself since his foolish attempt to link with the Matrix. The psychic shock he had received then was still apparent, and was possibly spreading. He found that his memory was worse now than it had been before, and that he sometimes forgot very important things. Some of the operating codes for the TARDIS eluded him, and he had to look them up in his notebooks.

The Doctor hoped that this was just a temporary effect. More alarming were the changes that he had noticed in his personality. For one terrible moment, he found himself agreeing with Morbius's aims, and believing that conquest and rule was the right of the Time Lords. The Doctor concentrated on his principles, and found that he could overcome such thoughts. But it was worrying that they had been there at all.


Over the next few weeks, it became clear that Gallifrey was facing a crisis. After his enthronement, President Morbius had announced to the assembled Colleges of Time Lords his intention to lead Gallifrey into a new era of galactic supremacy. Possessing mastery over time and space gave the Time Lords the power to make lesser races perform obeisance.

There were some dark mutterings of discontent, but not the uproar that the Doctor would have expected. Perhaps Morbius had judged the mood of his subjects correctly. There was very little opposition to him. The new Chancellor was little more than Morbius's puppet. The new Prydonian Cardinal was Borusa, who had been one of the Doctor's tutors at Prydon Academy. And he was too careful a politician to risk engendering the President's wrath.

The Doctor found himself pushed into secluded corners to discuss opposing Morbius. Only a few High Councillors were prepared to commit themselves, notably Goth and a Patrex by the name of Malchias. They were joined by a Prydonian called Ordric. He was the son of the late President, and it was expected that one day he would ascend to the supreme office himself.

"What are we going to do?" the Doctor asked.

"There are many Time Lords opposed to Morbius," replied Goth. "But most of them are too frightened to speak out. They fear that Morbius would have them eliminated."

"Would he dare do that?"

"He killed my father," said Ordric dejectedly.

"Are you sure of that?" replied the Doctor.

"No, of course not. The inquest returned an open verdict. But I know that my father did not die of some obscure genetic condition. Morbius poisoned him."

"Why?" asked Malchias.

"My father told me that he was not going to appoint Morbius as his successor," said Ordric. "He feared that the Cardinal had dangerous ambitions. And it seems he was right. Morbius and my father had argued several times about the use to which the Time Lords should put their powers. My father realized then that Morbius was a megalomaniac."

"Morbius must have known that Pandak the Third disapproved of him," added Goth. "That's why he killed him."

"Of course," said the Doctor. "He couldn't become President without Pandak's nomination. But if Pandak was dead, there would have to be an election. And out of any possible candidates, Morbius was bound to win."

"As indeed happened," said Ordric. "We must oppose him. For my father's sake, we must ensure that this madman does not have his way."

The Doctor nodded.

"We must persuade those opposed to Morbius to declare themselves," said Goth. "To that end, we need a leader. A spokesman. One who can function as a focus for the discontent we feel at our new President."

"Do you mean me?" asked the Doctor.

"You are the obvious choice," replied Malchias. "As a defeated presidential candidate."

So the Doctor agreed to stand up in opposition to Morbius. The High Council became roughly divided into two camps, those supporting Morbius and those who rallied behind the Doctor. The following that each camp had at grass roots level was very different though.

The Doctor's party consisted mostly of junior Time Lords, all of whom wanted to stick to the non interference policy. It was ironic that the Doctor was now leading a group who would have rejected his own presidential policies.

Morbius had much more support amongst the plebeian classes. Obviously, lacking the sense of perspective that Time Lords possessed, mere mortals saw conquest and political power as desirable things. But their approval was not enough for Morbius to implement his policies. He needed to bring the Time Lords round as well.


During this time, the Doctor found himself arguing increasingly with his granddaughter. Susan was not pleased with his increased involvement in politics. One day, when he returned to their quarters after a particularly late sitting of the High Council, he found her waiting up to confront him.

"You should be asleep, Susan," the Doctor said gently. "Unlike me, you need your sleep."

"I have to speak to you, grandfather," Susan replied. "I didn't think you wanted to be on the High Council."

"Well, I didn't really," said the Doctor.

"Then why are we still here? I thought we were going to go back to the old house and live there."

"It's not as simple as that any more," the Doctor replied. "There are things I have to do. Gallifrey is facing a terrible crisis, and the only way to defeat it is through politics. I wish you could understand."

"They say you're opposing the President," said Susan. "Ought you to be doing that, grandfather? Now he's been elected, he ought to have the allegiance of all the Colleges."

The Doctor sat down wearily, and tried to explain. "Susan, if you knew someone who wanted to do something wicked - something you knew was evil - would you let them?"

"No," muttered Susan, "I suppose not."

"What would you do?"

"I would try to persuade them not to do it. They'd only get themselves in trouble."

"But what if you couldn't persuade them?" the Doctor insisted.

"I don't know," said Susan. "Maybe I'd tell their parents. They might be told off, but at least they would be stopped."

Susan was still thinking as a child. The Doctor said, "President Morbius doesn't have parents to tell him off. So the only thing I can do is try to stop him from being wicked. And I can only do that in the Council. It's just for a few years. When it's over, I promise you we will go home. Unless you want to go on a journey."

"Where to?" asked Susan.

"Oh, I don't know," the Doctor replied. "Around the Galaxy a few times. To see some of the sights. With the TARDIS, there are no limits."

Susan smiled, and the Doctor knew he had won her round. At least until the next argument.


The Council was locked in a political stalemate. Morbius needed to gain the support of the majority of Time Lords. As that was clearly beyond his grasp, the Doctor hoped to persuade the President to radically revise his policies. Even more preferable would have been Morbius's resignation, but there was little hope of that.

But then came the news that Ordric had died. The Surgeon General returned an open verdict, speculating that Ordric had inherited the same genetic condition as his father.

Goth did not believe it. He said, "Morbius killed him."

The Doctor nodded slowly. "I never realized he would go to such lengths."

"Didn't he threaten to destroy you?" enquired Goth.

"Yes," said the Doctor. "He did. I wasn't sure whether he meant it or not."

"I think we must assume that he did. This could place our entire campaign in jeopardy."

The Doctor took a deep breath, trying to fortify himself. He realized he had bitten off more than he could chew. "I'm not going to be cowed into submission," he announced. "If these are the lengths that Morbius will go to, then I'm more determined than ever to see him removed from office. A man like that doesn't deserve the Legacy of Rassilon."

"Good," whispered Goth. "But we must move carefully."


Morbius did not stop there. Over the next few months, five High Councillors, all members of the Doctor's Opposition party, met their deaths. The battle was intensifying. Morbius didn't even bother to use subtle poisons any more. Two councillors were gunned down by assassins on the streets of the Capitol.

The Doctor's party began to lose support. Many councillors defected to Morbius, fearing for their lives. As the Doctor watched all hope of opposition fading, he received a visit from Morbius late one evening.

The Doctor was working in his private office in the Citadel, when Morbius entered unannounced. He wondered whether the President had come to kill him, although he felt it unlikely that Morbius would commit the act himself.

"What can I do for you, Lord President?" the Doctor asked.

Morbius smiled. "You told me that you had no political ambitions," he said. "As I surmised at the time, that was not true. You have dared to oppose me."

"You left me with little alternative," the Doctor remarked.

"I remember vowing to destroy you. It seems I have done so. Your Opposition party is no more."

The Doctor shook his head. "You may appear to have won on the surface. But beneath, many are still against you. The rebellion will still exist, no matter what threats you can make. And you'll never know when it will break out, and topple you."

"You're right," said Morbius. "That is why I have come to see you. You are the focus of the Opposition party. They look to you for guidance. If you were to renounce your rebellion and publicly swear to serve me, I would be supreme."

The Doctor laughed. "Do you really think I would do that?"

"If you wish to remain alive," replied Morbius.

"You won't kill me," the Doctor stated. He felt remarkably less certain than he sounded.

"I won't," replied Morbius, "but someone, acting on my orders, will. And you'll never know when it will happen. Can you bear that? Having to watch your back the whole time?"

"I could live with it," the Doctor replied. "If you kill me, you'll create a martyr. And that would strengthen the Opposition even further."

"You may be right," Morbius conceded. "But you have a granddaughter, haven't you? Are you prepared to risk her life for your political ideals?"

"She's got nothing to do with this," said the Doctor angrily. "Leave her alone."

Morbius laughed cruelly. "If you stand against me, all those you care for will suffer."


"I'll give you time to think about it." Morbius smiled, and slipped from the office.


After much consideration, the Doctor called an urgent meeting of those few who still remained members of the Opposition party. Goth and Malchias were the only councillors among them. They listened as the Doctor announced his intention to resign from the Council and disband the Opposition.

After the meeting, he was alone with Goth, who said, "I expected something like this."

"I'm not prepared to risk my granddaughter," the Doctor replied. "For anything."

"I understand," said Goth. "I wouldn't ask you to. So, what do you intend to do?"

"I am going home. I shall return to my house in the southern mountains, and live there."

"No," Goth snapped.

"What do you mean?"

"You can't do that. Morbius won't let you go. He needs you to publicly declare your support for him."

"If it's a matter of protecting Susan," said the Doctor hesitantly, "I'm even prepared to do that. I hate having to give in to Morbius. But it's the only way."

"No," replied Goth. "That won't be enough. Morbius would have to kill you."


"Because you're a threat to him. You're the only man who has really openly opposed him. The people see you as a viable alternative. Even if Morbius suppresses the Opposition, you will always be there as a focus, a rallying point. Morbius will never know when the rebellion might spring up again. He can't risk you being around to foment it."

"But he has power over me through Susan," said the Doctor.

"Only for as long as Susan lives," Goth pointed out. "Maybe Susan will go to Prydon Academy and become a Time Lady. Or maybe she'll remain mortal. In the latter case, Morbius can only use her for a couple of hundred years. After she dies, you'll be free to fight against him. Let's face it, two centuries is nothing to a Time Lord."

"So Morbius will have to execute me?" asked the Doctor.

"He can't risk leaving you alive."

The Doctor took a deep breath, and started to pace his office. "I'm in over my head," he stated. "What am I to do?"

"You can't go back to your home," said Goth. "Morbius could easily come for you there. But you have your TARDIS."

"You mean leave Gallifrey?" asked the Doctor, his eyes lighting up. This was what he had wanted all along, before circumstances had forced him to reconsider. "What about Morbius? He is evil. I can't just leave the planet at his mercy."

"You're not the only one concerned about Morbius," replied Goth. "It's apparent now that a political Opposition party was a bad idea. We shall have to form an underground movement. It may take a little time, but eventually we will get rid of him. Then you will be able to return home."

"I hope you're right, Goth."

"I hope so too," said Goth. "So, you will leave Gallifrey?"

"A self imposed exile?" murmured the Doctor. "I don't see that I have a lot of choice. I have wanted to explore the cosmos for a long time."

He was struck by a sudden thought. "But how will I leave the planet?" he asked. "Morbius controls the Transduction Barrier."

"It will be difficult," Goth replied, "but I can get the Barrier lowered temporarily. There won't be much time. We will have to ensure that you are ready to depart when the moment comes. I can also ensure that Morbius is never able to track the TARDIS."

"How?" asked the Doctor.

Goth lapsed into thought for a moment or two. "I suppose there is no harm in your knowing," he replied. "Not now. The reason I was so interested in your interventionist ideals, and the reason I supported you for the Presidency. I am a member of the Celestial Intervention Agency."

The Doctor's eyes widened. "Does it really exist?"

"It does. We have many powers, which even the President does not know about. I can get you safely away from Gallifrey. In return, just occasionally, we may want you to carry out investigations for us. Do you agree?"

"Do I have a choice?" asked the Doctor.

"Not really," said Goth.


The Doctor spent the next few days preparing to leave. He had to move very carefully, for fear of Morbius finding out what was going on.

The night before departure, the Doctor found himself plagued with malevolent thoughts. He cursed Morbius, who had forced him to take this step. He couldn't leave Gallifrey now. In exile, how could he claim back what was rightfully his? This Morbius was an insignificant microbe, and yet he had the audacity to interfere in the patterns of destiny. If Morbius knew who he was really dealing with, he would grovel and beg forgiveness.

The Doctor awoke. He rubbed his aching eyes, and tried to clear his head. Taking deep breaths, he found himself calming. He realized he must have been having a nightmare, exaggerating his anger at Morbius into delusions of grandeur.

There was no point in trying to sleep now. He was full of anxieties for tomorrow. Getting up, the Doctor decided to go for a walk. It was the last chance he would get to see the Capitol for a long while. In no way could he call the vast city home, but it still held many memories for him.

As he walked, the Doctor found his mind starting to drift. Memories were indeed stirring inside him, but they were not his own. He was drawn along certain paths he had never travelled before, descending through several subterranean levels.

He came eventually to a huge sealed door. The Doctor realized that he had arrived at the Capitol security vault, an almost mythical building which most people believed no longer existed. It was said to contain the ultimate weapons of Gallifrey, and the source of the Time Lords' power. Reaching out to the keypad beside the door, the Doctor was rather surprised to find that he knew the code to open it.

Entering the vault, the Doctor found that the rumours were true. He discovered Validium, the living metal of enormous destructive power. And he discovered the Hand of Omega, the remote stellar manipulator with which Omega had turned a star into the Veil Nebula, and created the secret of time travel.

The need for revenge against Morbius suddenly dominated the Doctor's mind. Without thinking, he was giving new instructions to the Validium and the Omega device. They did not question the authority with which he gave these orders. Soon a quantity of Validium was launched into space for him to track later, and the Hand of Omega was safely stowed inside the TARDIS. They were insurance against Morbius deciding to hunt him. They were also the means by which one day he would take back his power.


The Doctor awoke the next day with a headache. He seemed to have experienced a black out. He was vaguely aware of what he had done the previous night, but when he tried to think about it closely, the pain became worse. In the end, he gave up. He had enough to concentrate upon today.

He woke Susan, and told her to get dressed. When they were ready, they slipped out of their quarters and made their way to the time travel workshop. There was no one about at this early hour. Even if there had been, the Doctor's status as the senior temporal engineer would have ensured his presence was not questioned.

A row of tall dark metal cabinets stood against one wall. The Doctor was only interested in the one on the far right. The prototype. His TARDIS. The others were the first production line models, based on his plans. Already, other Time Lord engineers had started to iron out the slight technical problems in the mark two design.

But for all her faults, the Doctor was too fond of the TARDIS to abandon her now. He preferred her to any other ship. Besides, the briode nebulizer had been primed with his genetic print. It would take too long to prepare another ship for use.

The Doctor produced the trimonic key, and the door slid outwards. He quickly hurried Susan inside, and then shut the door behind them. The interior of the control room was in disarray. Wires and components were strewn haphazardly everywhere. Most of the controls had been tampered with, and key systems partially dismantled. He realized that the other engineers had started taking the TARDIS apart to see how she worked.

Urgently, the Doctor checked the controls. The drive mechanism still seemed to be intact. He ought to be able to get off the planet at least. Whether he could steer the ship after that was another matter entirely. He sighed in angry exasperation. It might take months to get everything back in full working order.

Clearing a mass of loose wires from the control panel, the Doctor studied the navigational instruments. He saw that the Transduction Barrier was still in place. He set the dematerialization controls on stand by, and waited.

He stood beside the console for a very long time. Susan went and curled up in an armchair, and tried to catch up on some lost sleep.

It was taking too long, the Doctor thought. He began to worry. Perhaps something had gone wrong. Morbius might have found Goth out. Guards could be rushing to the time travel workshop at this very moment.

The instruments wavered, and then the Transduction Barrier was down. A final message reached the Doctor through the telepathic circuits. It warned him that he didn't have much time to effect his escape. Goth wished him luck.

The Doctor threw the master dematerialization switch.



They took an aircar from the Capitol.

Rhonwen looked out through the glass canopy. The landscape was a barren wilderness, just bare plains and dark muddy hills. It was exactly what she had envisaged after seeing the planet from space.

"Is it all like this?" she asked.

"All like what?" The Doctor didn't look up from the aircar controls.

"All sand and mud?"

"Oh no," the Doctor laughed. "The southern hemisphere is quite pleasant actually. That's where all the towns are. I don't really know why the Time Lords decided to build their city in the northern wastes. But they like isolation. That might explain it."

He concentrated on steering the aircar. It had been many years since he'd been behind the controls of one of these contraptions. The Doctor didn't like aircars. They were very dangerous. His eldest son had been killed in one. But it was the quickest way of getting around the planet.

"So where are we going?" Rhonwen asked.

"Well, you were interested in my home, weren't you?"

"I suppose I was curious."

"That's where we're going," the Doctor said.

The aircar continued its flight. They crossed mud covered ridges and wide stretches of scrub heathland. After several hours, they came to a dense forest, skimming almost over the tops of the lush green trees. As the Doctor had promised, the landscape became more agreeable as they travelled further South.

They flew over fields and rolling green hills. Rivers flowed through valleys, and small towns were dotted everywhere. The houses were strangely shaped, tall and thin and built from unusual materials. But for all that, they looked much more normal than the futuristic buildings of the Capitol.

"Who lives here?" Rhonwen asked.

"Oh, all sorts," the Doctor replied. "Just ordinary people really. They have jobs and raise families and get on with their lives. Each town is run by a committee. They pay taxes to the Capitol, but otherwise the Time Lords leave them alone. A lot of people go to the Capitol to be servitors, of course. The wages are quite attractive."

"But you're a Time Lord, aren't you? Why did you live out here, and not in the Capitol?"

"Well, not all Time Lords choose to live in the Capitol," the Doctor said. "You might not have noticed, but it's very boring there. Knowledge and learning are wonderful things, but you wouldn't want to live permanently in a library."

They flew out over a large lake, the water as smooth as a polished mirror. In the distance, Rhonwen could just make out some mountains, stark and grey against the orange sky, topped with peaks of brilliant white snow.

"My family was quite high up in the Prydonian Chapter," the Doctor went on, "and it was expected of me that I follow them and become a Time Lord. I wasn't so keen at first, and even when I did go to the Academy, I failed my exams twice. But in the end, I needed to become a Time Lord to complete my work building the TARDIS. Once it was over, I originally intended to come back and live out here. It didn't quite work out like that in the end."

They left the lake behind them, and the Doctor steered the aircar towards one of the the mountains. A small town was clustered around the foothills. The Doctor circled overhead, and slowed the aircar's speed.

About halfway up the mountainside, Rhonwen could make out a ledge, with some kind of building upon it. As they got nearer, she realized that it was a huge house. Its architecture was as strange as anything else she had seen on Gallifrey. Its walls were a mixture of reddish stone and gleaming golden metal. The roof was sloping, and made out of a sparkling red crystalline substance. But for all its strangeness, Rhonwen equated the house with a country mansion, the seat of a local squire. In its dominant position over the town, it could be nothing else.

The Doctor landed the aircar on the mountain ledge outside the house. As they climbed out, Rhonwen drew in deep gulps of the air. It was pure and clear, and very refreshing.

The Doctor wandered slowly towards the house, looking up at its structure for the first time in centuries. Memories were starting to flood back now. But one final crucial detail was still missing. That was the reason he was here.

"Is this your house, then?" Rhonwen asked.

"Yes," the Doctor replied. "I was born here."

"So you're the lord of the manor?"

The Doctor laughed. "Well, I wouldn't exactly put it like that. My family were very important, as I said, but they hardly ever came back here. They were very conventional Time Lords. They preferred to live in the Capitol. I ended up owning the house more or less by default."

He walked up to the door, but hesitated. Instead of going inside, he started to walk around the side of the house. Rhonwen followed him, until finally he stopped beside a small mound.

The Doctor looked down at it sadly for several minutes. Finally he turned back to Rhonwen. "This is where I buried her," he said.

"Who?" asked Rhonwen.

"My wife."

Rhonwen didn't know what to say. She tried to think of some words of sympathy, but they eluded her. In the end, she mumbled, "I'm sorry."

The Doctor smiled wistfully. "It's all right," he said. "She's been dead for more than seven hundred years." He turned and started to walk towards the house.

Rhonwen followed him, and they came eventually to a door. There was no sign of any handle or lock. Set beside the door was a small plastic panel, that was lit from behind with a soft glow. The Doctor pressed the palm of his hand against the panel, and the door slowly opened inwards.

They went inside. The long hallway was decorated with framed paintings. They were portraits of distinguished looking people, all wearing the ornately curved collars of Time Lords. Rhonwen presumed they were the Doctor's ancestors. There was no trace of a family resemblance, but that was hardly surprising when Time Lords could change their faces and bodies. Chancellor Cabulas had called it regeneration.

The Doctor pushed open a door, and they passed through into a large room. It spanned the house from front to back. There were a number of comfortable chairs, and book cases covering two of the walls. Innumerable pieces of bric-a-brac filled the place, some of it from Earth, some of it from places Rhonwen couldn't even begin to imagine. A large window looked out over the mountainside, to the town below. Another window opposite allowed one to gaze up at the summit.

The air was somehow heavy with age. There were no cobwebs or dust to suggest that the house had been left unattended, but the years of stillness were discernible in the very atmosphere. Rhonwen said, "There can't have been anyone here for..."

"Seven hundred years," murmured the Doctor.

He went to the window to look out over the town. It was here that she had been standing in his dream. A long forgotten fragment dredged up from the murky depths of his memory, and still incomplete. She had not turned round to face him. The Doctor remembered what he had come here for.

He started to look through the incredible number of mementoes that were cluttering the room. It had to be around somewhere. Eventually, he located it, tucked away behind some sporting trophies on top of an old upright piano. The golden frame was a bit tarnished, but the photograph sealed inside was still as crisp as the day it had been developed.

The Doctor picked it up, and looked at it closely. He remembered now. Rhonwen moved to join him, and he showed her the picture. "That's her," he said.

"Your wife?" asked Rhonwen.

The Doctor nodded.

Rhonwen looked at the picture closely. It showed a pleasant looking woman with long dark hair. There was a touch of aristocratic haughtiness to her features. She had a long thin nose, but she had round, plump cheeks and a friendly smile.

The Doctor slipped the picture into one of his bottomless pockets. He smiled to himself. After seven centuries, he was whole again.

"Well," he said, "I've got what I came for. I suppose we'd better get back to the Capitol. The TARDIS is waiting, and I've really got to get you home."

"What will you do then?" asked Rhonwen.

"I shall resume my travels," the Doctor replied. "I'm basically just a wanderer. I travel the Galaxy, seeing whatever there is to see. And helping out where I can."

Rhonwen nodded. "Is there much to see? I mean, are there many other planets with life on them?"

"Yes. Millions of them. Even if you lived as long as a Time Lord, you'd never be able to visit them all."

The very thought was spellbinding. The desire to return to London and complete her studies was suddenly very far from Rhonwen's mind.

"Then there's history of course," the Doctor went on. "When you can travel through time, it's much easier to make sense of it all."

"Is that where you get all your knowledge and insights from?"

"Yes," smiled the Doctor. "I suppose you could say I'm a hands-on historian."

He started to lead the way back to the door. Once they were outside, the Doctor sealed the house once more by placing his palm on the plastic panel.

They walked over to the aircar. Rhonwen hesitated before climbing back in. "Doctor," she began, "I was wondering. I don't suppose you'd like some company on your travels?"

The Doctor turned to regard her, and raised an eyebrow.

Rhonwen looked down at her boots, and sought words to justify her request. "I mean, it wouldn't matter if you didn't take me back straight away, would it? I've got plenty of time to catch up with my degree course. And travelling through time would give me a whole new perspective on the history I'm studying." She looked up at him hopefully.

The Doctor's face broke into a gigantic smile. "I thought you'd never ask," he said.


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