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time of the witch page 2

The squire managed his vineyard there and was as a true a friend as any. With Katherine at his side, Remy was maturing into a fine nobleman.

The Vicomte frowned, a shadow passing over his face as he thought over recent events. It wasn’t like Remy to act like this at all. There had never been an angry word between them in the past.

A sudden and urgent knocking on the study door shook the Vicomte from his thoughts as Henri entered and bowed respectfully. 'Sir, you must come at once,' he said, barely containing obvious excitement. 'Your nephew has arrived!'

~~~

The Doctor led the other riders at a gallop as they returned to Chateau de Gallois. Behind him on his grey stallion rode Jack, and next to Jack rode a very worried Katherine on a dappled grey mare. Katherine had spent much of her life around horses and could easily keep up with them. Lavallier’s two remaining troops had been persuaded to accompany them out of loyalty to their deceased captain and rode grimly side by side at the rear of the group.

It had taken longer than expected to get their horses from Katherine’s estate. Katherine had also insisted, much to the Doctor’s frustration, that they make the dead soldiers at least decent before they left.

The long journey from Dabarre to the chateau also meant that it was just getting dark as they approached the valley that led down to the magnificent building. Jack rode up closer to the Doctor. 'Any idea how to stop these things Doctor?' he asked quietly.

The Doctor bit his lip in thought. He needed to harness and focus the energy correctly. 'The Carrionites use language the way humans use mathematics; to construct, to model behaviour and so on. If I get the words right I just may be able…' He paused and looked at Jack, a worried expression on his face. 'It’s a chance anyway!'

The riders galloped up to the main entrance of the Vicomte’s chateau and dismounted as quickly as possible. Lavallier’s two troops gathered the horses and pulled them to the stables as the Doctor, Jack and Katherine approached the main entrance.

The Doctor was delighted as the familiar figure of Henri, opened the large wooden doors. Henri smiled as he recognised the Doctor and stood back to let them enter the large hallway. 'Ah monsieur,' he said respectfully, 'you were successful! You have returned the Vicomte’s nephew to him!'

The Doctor was on his guard immediately. 'What do you mean Henri?' he asked urgently, a dreadful suspicion crossing his mind.

Henri looked slightly confused at the Doctor’s tone. 'The Vicomte’s nephew Remy arrived earlier this afternoon with three maidservants. They are in the library with the Vicomte now.'

~~~

The Doctor started running quickly through the hallway towards the library. 'Come on,' he shouted, 'it could be too late!'

Jack and Katherine exchanged a worried look before dashing after him.

The Doctor skidded to a halt as he entered the library, Jack and Katherine just behind him. Katherine screamed at the terrifying scene inside the room. The Vicomte de Gallois floated helpless and twisted in the air, suspended by the Carrionite’s power as the three hags cackled and laughed around him. Standing besides them, his face twisted into a demonic leer, although his eyes were still glazed and unfocussed, was her beloved husband Remy.

Katherine started to run into the room screaming for her husband, but Jack grabbed her arm and held her back. 'No, it’s not how it looks!' he shouted.

Morgwyn turned to face the Doctor, her pointed teeth showing in a terrible smile. 'You’re too late Doctor!' she laughed. 'We have the Vicomte! With him under our power we can complete our plans!'

The other two Carrionites hissed and cackled with glee, their clawed hands twitching in anticipation.

The Doctor put his hands into his coat pockets. 'Oh really,' he said nonchalantly. 'You mean use the summer ball, on the eve of the solstice, to generate sufficient psychic energy?'

Morgwyn’s smile faltered. 'How would you know what we want?' she hissed.

The Doctor sauntered towards her. 'Oh, just guessing – but it was fairly easy to work out. But what do you want all that psychic energy for anyway?'

Morgwyn evil smile returned. 'This place is cursed Doctor. Millennia ago, a portal to our dimension was sealed here by the Eternals.'

The Doctor frowned, realisation dawning. 'Ah, and with all the psychic energy you can open it up again?'

Morgwyn nodded and advanced towards the Doctor. 'Exactly. An open portal to our dimension is much better than the crack that we four managed to escape through. With the portal open, the Carrionite race can swarm through and devour this planet!' She raised her clawed hands and licked her lips. 'But first I want my revenge! You killed my sister Doctor; now it is time for you to die!'

The Doctor shook his head. 'Oh I don’t think so ….Carrionite!' He shouted the name of the alien race into Morgwyn’s face as he produced the fallen Carrionite’s crystal that he had picked up at Katherine’s chateau. Morgwyn shrank back, fear on her ugly face as the Doctor shouted an incantation. 'Hag, I banish thee from this place; Thy gate is closed, upon your face. From Rexel you came and now you return; stay here now and I watch you burn!' As he yelled the final words, the Doctor threw the crystal to the floor where it shattered into thousands of tiny fragments.

The Doctor shook his head but grinned. 'No, not really - there was a huge amount of psychic energy here already, and that crystal could focus a lot of it for me. I told you, the Carionite’s science is based on words. Get the right words and you can fool them into believing you can do what you say you can do!' He smiled. 'I didn’t kill them, they just thought I could banish then – so that’s what happened; belief is a strong concept!' He took a deep breath his eyes distant. 'Where they were banished to though…'

A smiling Vicomte de Gallois strode up to them and embraced the Doctor and Jack, planting a kiss on their cheeks. 'My friends, how can I ever thank you?' Jack grinned and winked at the Doctor.

A sob from Katherine halted their bonhomie. 'He’s dead!' she cried, holding Remy’s head in her hands. 'They murdered him!'

The Doctor crossed the library to kneel next to her. 'I’m sorry,' he whispered, taking her hands in his. 'He was their puppet. I imagine he died instantly when they found him.' Katherine’s face crumpled and the Doctor held her to him as she wept.

~~~

Early the next morning, the Doctor and Jack stood next to the TARDIS. The Doctor had woken Jack after only a few hours sleep and had insisted that they leave before, as the Doctor had put it, ‘things got messy’. The sun was now just rising over the horizon and it was going to be a glorious summer’s day.

'Want a lift?' the Doctor asked nonchalantly as he turned the key in the lock and opened the TARDIS door.

Jack looked closely at the teleport bracelet on his arm and shook it a little ruefully. 'Yeah, I’m not sure where this thing would take me anyway!' He looked to the horizon, his eyes avoiding the Doctor’s. 'And I don’t trust the Time Agency either – they could send me anywhere!'

The Doctor gave a small smile. He used to think like that about his own people. But that was before…

The sound of a horse approaching shook the Doctor from his thoughts. Katherine rode a dappled grey mare that galloped towards them. She expertly reined the horse to a halt and jumped down, giving the TARDIS an odd look as she walked towards the Doctor and Jack.

'I’ve been looking for you everywhere – the Vicomte has too!' she gasped. 'I had to ask Henri where you were, and he said you were leaving!'

The Doctor nodded and smiled. 'We are. Goodbye Katherine.'

'But where are your horses?' she asked in amazement. 'And what’s this old blue box doing here?'

Jack laughed at the Doctor’s indignant expression. 'Want to take a look inside?' Jack said mischievously, holding the door open for Katherine as she peered inside.

'Jack!' warned the Doctor, but it was too late, Katherine had entered the ship and both of them heard a gasp of shock.

'Looks like you’ve got two new passengers Doctor,' grinned Jack.

The Doctor sighed and frowned. He hadn’t wanted company, not after Rose had been torn from him so recently. But he had grown quite fond of the brave young French woman. He smiled as he thought back to the end of his previous adventure and a conversation in the snow. Perhaps it was just what Donna had meant!

written by
SIMON COGAN
copyright 2010

artwork by
COLIN JOHN
copyright 2010
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