Rose hurried to keep up with Sister Ohica as she moved briskly through yet another tunnel in the labyrinth, catching brief bits of the conversation between the two women ahead of her. From what she could hear, she gathered that one: whatever drug they had given the Doctor was starting to wear off; and two: this was apparently unexpected and highly unusual. As she was considering this, the tunnel came to an abrupt end at a large ornately carved wooden door with a simple metal ring pull. The second woman opened the door, and Sister Ohica ushered Rose through a short rocky entry. Rose gasped. The cavern they had entered was enormous - with numerous glittering beige and off-white stalactites hanging down from the ceiling. Hundreds of candles twinkled on strategic ledges hewn into the rock walls and flickered from their positions on the rocky outcroppings protruding from the floor of the chamber, giving the room a cathedral-like feel. A small irregularly-shaped pool of near opaque turquoise liquid glowed in the center of the cavern, its still surface reflecting the twinkling lights of the room, marred only by the occasional column of rising bubbles.
"S'gorgeous...." Rose murmured, looking up into the faintly glimmering roof of the chamber.
Lyra appeared while Rose was regarding the ceiling. "There are numerous such caverns throughout the Shrine. This is one of the largest and most beautiful...and," she whispered conspiratorially into Rose's ear, "the only one with the medicinal waters."
"Looks like a hot spring to me." Rose looked around the cavern, realizing that Sister Ohica and the other woman had slipped off while she had been preoccupied. Quickly scanning the remainder of the chamber, she located Ohica, standing with the woman who had retrieved them from the other room. They appeared to be having an animated discussion alongside another small group of orange-garbed women, kneeling down around what looked to be the litter that had been used to transport the Doctor. "Oh no..." she breathed, starting to make her way over to where Sister Ohica and the litter were.
"Rose Tyler, wait!" Lyra called out, but Rose was determined to reach the Doctor and was already picking her way through the rocks and stalagmites to reach the side of the pool, passing a wooden chair on which a carefully folded brown pinstriped suitjacket lay, with a dark maroon silk tie resting on top. She tripped over a pair of Converse trainers in the dim light, unfortunately attracting Sister Ohica's attention.
"Restrain her. She must not interfere." Rose was immediately seized by Lyra and the woman who had originally come to retrieve Sister Ohica. She struggled vainly in their grip, even as the three Sisters kneeling by the pool turned to stare at the new arrival. Rose's eyes widened as she saw the Doctor lying on the rumpled linen of the litter, supported by a cradle-shaped depression in the poolside rock. One of the women appeared to be sitting on the Doctor's pinstripe-suited legs, while the other two were holding his arms down. His white dress shirt was partially unbuttoned, and Rose saw that his feet were bare. She watched helplessly as he sluggishly jerked and twisted in a vain attempt to escape the two women holding his arms, his eyes screwed shut and a grimace marring his features.
"Sister Valna," Ohica addressed the woman holding Rose's right arm, her eyes glittering and her tone cold. "Are you absolutely sure that he received the full allotment of the soporific?"
Valna bowed her head slightly, her eyes downcast. "I cannot be sure, High One," she replied. "I provided the soporific-laced fruit to the surface dwellers, and the Time Lord appeared to be the only one who partook. It would seem that all of the fruit had been consumed, as the bowl was returned to the kitchens emptied of its contents."
"Then I suppose we have no choice," Ohica murmured softly, her gaze falling on the Doctor's struggling form. "Prepare a second dose."
Rose jerked her left arm hard as Valna quickly bowed and exited the cavern, but Lyra held fast. "Rose," Lyra pleaded. "I have no wish to harm you, but you must not interfere."
"I would listen to Sister Lyra, Rose Tyler." Ohica now stood in front of Rose, effectively blocking her view of the Doctor and regarding her thoughtfully. "How much do you know about your...companion, so to speak?"
"I know enough," Rose stated defiantly, glaring at Ohica.
Ohica stared at her, and Rose once again had the impression that her thoughts were transparent to this woman. "He is resisting the effects of the soporific - do you know if he is a mated Time Lord?"
"What?" Rose wasn't sure she was hearing correctly. "Mated? You mean, like...married? I don't think so..." she trailed off, her voice uncertain. She vaguely recalled the Doctor mentioning that he had been a father, but he hadn't elaborated. He certainly had never mentioned that he'd ever had a wife, but then again...he'd never mentioned Sarah Jane either....
"You lie. I can see it clearly in your thoughts. The Time Lord told you in the past that he had been a father once. Do you deny this?" Rose was briefly rooted to the spot by fear. Ohica apparently was able to read her thoughts with crystal clarity. Fortunately, she was spared from further interrogation by the arrival of Sister Valna with a small green glass bottle. She watched helplessly as Valna knelt by the Doctor's head, unstoppered the bottle and forcibly poured the amber-colored contents into his mouth. Ohica turned her back on Rose and strode towards the Doctor, who was coughing and sputtering. "We will get our answers from the Time Lord, not this human woman whose thoughts prattle about like a child's...she knows nothing that would be of value to us."
"Rose," Lyra whispered to her left. "You must remain calm. You won't be of any help to your friend this way." Rose watched in dismay as the Doctor's struggling slowly ceased, his mouth going slack and his head lolling.
Rose watched helplessly as Lyra was ushered by Sister Ohica over to where the Doctor lay. She tested her new restraints without success - Ohica had ordered her to be bound, and bound she was...trussed up like a Christmas goose to a large and rather uncomfortable stalagmite. The only good thing about her current predicament, she mused, was that she now had an unobstructed view of the proceedings that were going to take place. She shifted about a bit, trying to get as comfortable as the rocky floor and the rope binding her would allow. The sisters were now sitting at the Doctor's feet, chanting softly with their hands outstretched. Lyra sat opposite them, cradling the Doctor's head in her lap. Rose knew what was coming next. Lyra had told her while calmly tying her to the stalagmite that she would be the one to probe into the Doctor's mind in an attempt to fathom his odd resistance to the soporific before they went any further with him, as she was considered the best among the Sisters at doing so. Rose was somewhat glad that it would be Lyra and not Ohica entering the Doctor's thoughts, but although Lyra had been kind enough to privately assure Rose that she would be most gentle, she still felt sick with fear. Just what did 'gentle' mean exactly when one was talking about probing the thoughts of another individual? She had little time to consider this, though, as Lyra placed her fingers loosely on the Doctor's temples and he gave a sudden jerk, a grimace on his face and his back arching off the linen-covered stone. Lyra partly opened her eyes, gazing at Rose for a moment as the Doctor stilled again.
"His thoughts are of you, Rose Tyler," Lyra intoned, a far-off quality to her voice. "He is concerned for your well-being."
"Sister Lyra..." Ohica spoke, a warning tone in her voice. "Attend to the task at hand."
Lyra's eyes closed again, a look of great concentration on her features. "Yes, High One." She bowed her head and Rose saw that she was beginning to press her fingertips more firmly to the Doctor's temples. Lyra's brow furrowed as she resumed her task, the far-off quality returning to her voice. "He is young...for a Time Lord...so young to be in this, his tenth incarnation...."
Rose started at this. She remembered the Doctor telling her that he was 900-some years old - just how long did Time Lords live? How long was each body supposed to last? And eight other faces that she'd never seen - no wonder he'd immediately asked her after his disastrous 'regeneration' what he looked like! Rose's attention was drawn back as Lyra continued.
"And...he is indeed a mated Time Lord...such a long time ago...but something happened...." Lyra paused, concentrating and Rose's curiosity was now piqued. She again recalled the Doctor saying that he had been a father once, but that was all that he'd told her. She strained to catch Lyra's voice, which had faded to almost a whisper.
"Something...that he keeps hidden...." Rose saw Lyra grimace as she renegotiated her grasp on the Doctor's temples. Her brow furrowed in deep concentration as she continued.
"High One," Lyra began, her voice uncertain. "The deeper portions of his mind are...so quiet. I cannot sense his connection to the Time Lords...I don't know why...." she paused, frowning. After a moment, Lyra cried out. "They are gone, High One! There are none left - this one is the last! The great loss of life that we had sensed...it was them! They all burned...." Lyra had released her hold on the Doctor in her shock, though his head remained in her lap.
Rose bowed her head as Ohica, who had risen from her kneeling position, turned toward her with an accusatory glare in her gaze.
"You knew this, didn't you, child. I should not have dismissed you so readily. How many other secrets are you still hiding from us?"
Rose gulped as Ohica loomed over her. She tried to look away but was transfixed by Ohica's piercing stare. Ohica pressed her long manicured fingertips to Rose's temples and Rose suddenly had the sensation of...someone else in her head, much like she had experienced with Cassandra on New Earth. Only this time, she was very much aware of pain...dreadful pain along with flashes of memory going by at rapid speed. All of her memories of her time with the Doctor up until the present flew by, the pain in her head rapidly increasing. She cried out in anguish....
And then everything went black.
For the second time, Rose awoke to see bright green eyes that slowly came into focus. She tried to sit up, but Lyra held her down with a hand to her chest. "I would advise against getting up too quickly, Rose Tyler." Lyra's voice was soft, but Rose could hear the shaky undertone to it.
"What is it? What happened...oh my head!" Rose tried to sit up but was hit with a wave of pain, originating from both of her temples. She put a hand to her forehead, wincing. She'd been untied, apparently - that was an improvement. Looking up, she could see glittering stalactites above where she lay by the turquoise pool, the Doctor not far from her. He was starting to stir again, his head lolling from side to side. They appeared to be alone in the chamber, with the exception of Lyra, who was kneeling beside Rose, her head bowed. "Lyra, what's wrong? Where has everyone gone?"
Lyra was silent for a moment before she replied in a soft voice. "Sister Ohica and Sister Valna are working on a different formulation for the soporific," she started, briefly glancing at the Doctor's increasingly restless form.
"A different formulation..." Rose paused as a wave of nausea washed over her. "So you're just gonna keep on drugging him then? Until you find something that works?" She looked Lyra in the eye, silently imploring her for help. "He's the last one, you know. The last Time Lord. There aren't any others for you to...experiment on!"
Lyra shook her head, laughing softly. "Yes, we are all very aware now that he is the last. That is why Sister Ohica has ordered that the new soporific be tested on you, Rose Tyler."
"Me?" Rose was confused. "Why me? I'm a human being, in case you haven't noticed. From Earth, yeah?"
"He didn't tell you then." Lyra smiled sadly. "It would appear the reason that our usual draughts and potions are not working, is that your friend..." she paused, glancing over at the Doctor, who was beginning to toss and turn, "...is half human."
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