"What?!" Rose was starting to panic as Lyra's words sank in. The Doctor was voluntarily having some of his artron energy extracted - in exchange for her and Lyra's freedom? Her insides clenched uncomfortably at the thought as she recalled how helpless she'd felt at Christmas after he'd regenerated. If his state after the 'extraction' was anything similar, she didn't think she could go through that again. "Lyra, please - I need to be there. I need to make sure the Doctor's all right."
Lyra gave her a questioning look. "I will do as you wish, Rose Tyler, but we cannot be seen. I have been cut off from the rest of my Sisters as part of my punishment, so they will not sense me. They will more than likely be too preoccupied to notice you - the radius of your thought broadcast is small. If we are caught, though, I do not think your mind will withstand another direct assault...."
"Never mind that - please, just take me to where he is."
Lyra hesitated, giving Rose an assessing glance before turning to the door. "We must hurry. They should be giving him the soporific soon - if we get to the Chamber of Candles quickly, we should be able to find a place to hide our presence." She opened the door before turning back to Rose. "Are you sure this is what you want to do? You are willing to risk another attack?"
Rose didn't hesitate. "Yes. He'd do the same for me."
Rose was slightly surprised that they were able to reach the large cavern after moving through two short passages. She'd been expecting a much longer journey.
"They will bring him back to the chamber we just left after some of his artron is extracted. They wouldn't want to take him far," Lyra commented, sensing Rose's unspoken question. Rose nodded glumly.
Lyra carefully opened the wooden door a crack and peered inside. "They are here - it looks like they are just giving him the soporific now. Follow me, and remember - you must keep quiet," she hissed.
Rose quietly followed Lyra into the large cavern with its numerous twinkling candles. It seemed that they had entered on the opposite side of the large chamber from where Rose and the Doctor had been before. She could see the Doctor now, mostly surrounded by a small group of the Sisters. He was perched on the flat rock again next to the abandoned litter, which lay rumpled by the of the pool of opaque turquoise liquid. Rose noted that the Sisters' attention was entirely on him, watching closely as he drank from an ornate, metal-rimmed goblet half-filled with amber liquid. Lyra touched her arm and Rose allowed herself to be guided over to a rocky outcropping not far from the pool.
"Quickly, in here," Lyra whispered, gesturing to a small opening in the rock, and Rose crawled in on her hands and knees, hoping that Karn's insect population hadn't also found the same hiding spot. Lyra crawled in behind her. The fissure was small, and ended in a second opening blocked partially by stalactites. Rose found that their concealed space was just large enough to accommodate the both of them - as long as no one tried to stand up - and afforded a decent view of where the Doctor was on the other side of the still waters of the pool. As she watched, three additional Sisters entered, each carrying a large, earthen crock-like container. Rose stared in puzzlement as the vessels were left near the litter, along with a folded off-white sheet that was left on the chair.
"The receptacles are for the elixir," Lyra whispered, momentarily startling Rose. "It must be collected as it forms."
Rose swallowed hard as the bile rose in her throat. She couldn't believe she was just going to sit and watch this, whatever they were going to do to the Doctor. As she wrestled with her conscience, though, she heard a familiar voice. Looking across the pool, she saw the Doctor handing the empty goblet over to Valna.
"Ooooh - that soporific of yours is quite lovely - tastes of flowers, it does. Bottled flowers - you could make a fortune selling it, you know. Of course, you'd be needing a shop - I'm sure you could work something out with the small village above you. Give them a cut, they'd be all for it. Then again, they probably pick the flowers - elbeflowers, was it? Tasted of elbeflowers. And a little bit of that rhineweed that grows here. Maybe they should sell it and give you a cut if they're the ones doing all the work - "
Rose smiled. Maybe the Doctor could simply talk them into a stupor and they'd be able to escape. He was still babbling as he stood up and was led over to where the litter lay. Two of the Sisters rushed ahead to neaten the fabric.
"This it, then? I just wait for your supposed soporific to take effect? Ooooh - I like that, 'supposed soporific'. You might have to rename it, because I'm not feeling sleepy at all. Warm milk might do the trick - I've tried that before in a pinch - "
Rose watched as Valna caught Ohica's gaze, rolling her eyes. Lyra nudged her on the left. "Does he always talk this much?" she whispered.
"Yep," Rose confirmed. "Gets worse when he's showing off." Or nervous, she thought to herself.
"You probably don't have any, though...oh." Rose watched as the Doctor swayed slightly, bringing a hand to his forehead. "Works faster on an empty stomach, does it?" Two of the Sisters moved to steady him.
"You have already had two doses of a similar formulation, not very long ago," Valna stated. "It might be a slight cumulative effect that you are feeling."
"Ah, most unfortunate," the Doctor said, temporarily righting himself before swaying again. "Thought I'd have more time...time to...."
Rose tried desperately to get her emotions under control as the two Sisters carefully assisted the Doctor to a sitting position on the litter. One of them reached a hand inside his jacket.
"Stoppit." The Doctor swatted at the robed woman's hand. "I can do it myself." He fumbled briefly with the buttons of his suit jacket before sighing in frustration and slumping slightly, allowing the woman to undo the remaining buttons and slowly ease the garment from his shoulders. Another Sister came forward, taking the jacket and carefully draping it over the back of the wooden chair.
"My name is Sister Melina," the woman said as she busily worked on divesting the Doctor of his clothing. She had waist-length honey-blonde hair and wore no headdress. "Please try to relax. Do not fight us." Rose bristled as Melina grasped the Doctor's tie and began to undo the knot. "You will only end up harming yourself, and that would be most...unfortunate."
"Hello - I'm the Doctor. Nice to meet you," the Doctor said cheerfully, slurring his words slightly. "You look a bit like Rose." He leaned forward, peering into Melina's eyes. "She's prettier than you, though," he said in a small voice, closing his eyes and listing to one side.
Rose's eyes widened as she listened - had she heard correctly? She watched anxiously as another Sister quickly moved into position behind the Doctor, holding up his slumping form while Melina removed his tie and began undoing the buttons of his dress shirt.
"This will be a pleasure, for once," Rose heard Melina quietly tell the other Sister. "We have not had a Time Lord quite this...comely...before." Rose watched as Melina stroked a finger down the Doctor's chest, fighting the urge to strangle the woman.
"Sister Melina and Sister Riza - enough of your dalliance. The Time Lord is not your plaything - attend to the task at hand."
"Yes, High One," Melina mumbled, and Rose watched as she and the other Sister carefully eased the Doctor's unresisting form down to lie on the linen-covered rock, a soft moan escaping him at the contact. His trainers were removed, revealing a smattering of hair on the tops of his feet, and long toes. Rose's eyes glittered in anger as she watched Melina then go to work on the closure of the Doctor's pinstriped trousers. She wasn't able to see much, though, as Riza brought over the fabric from the chair to drape it over the lower portion of the Doctor's form while Melina made short work of his trousers, sliding them easily from his slim hips. Rose bit her lip as she fought to control her emotional response, and was startled by a sharp pain. She carefully touched a finger to the area and was surprised to see a spot of blood at the tip. She tried to remember if she had been injured somehow, but all she could recall were hazy memories of heat, a meadow and a gentle press of wet cloth to her lip. Rose glanced up again to see Riza carrying the Doctor's dress shirt over to the chair to add it to the growing pile of clothing. One of the tails was badly torn, with a large portion missing. Had he torn it in their escape from the Shrine? Rose fingered her lower lip in confusion as she observed Melina scooting over to the Doctor's slightly restless form, lifting his head and placing it in her lap. The remaining Sisters formed a circle around them, chanting quietly.
"What's going on?" Rose whispered to Lyra.
"Our collective is weak," Lyra replied quietly. "My Sisters form the circle to temporarily provide a boost to Sister Melina's abilities."
"But I thought you already probed his mind before?" Rose asked in puzzlement, as she watched Melina place her elegantly manicured fingertips on either side of the Doctor's temples.
"This is different," Lyra responded. "The new soporific is meant to interact with the human aspect of the Time Lord. That aspect, however, is weak compared with his dominant Gallifreyan make-up. Sister Melina is attempting to block his extra senses so that his human side will have a chance to respond to stimuli -- "
"Extra senses? What extra senses?" Rose interrupted.
"He has many that you and I do not. They are difficult to comprehend if one does not possess them, but I have been told that our ancestral planet of Gallifrey existed as a temporal anomaly - it existed not only in what has been called the Universe of N-Space, but also within its own exclusive time stream. The Time Lords, as a people, were said to have had a sensitivity therefore towards time and its movement. They are able to distinguish alternate timelines - even see echoes of different realities. Although this one," she pointed to the Doctor, who now had a grimace on his face, "is now the last piece of that temporal anomaly, he retains this ability."
Rose pondered this, watching as the Doctor weakly tossed his head in an attempt to shake Melina's fingers from his temples. "I remember him saying that he could feel the turn of my planet once."
Lyra nodded in the darkness. "Yes. All of these special abilities and senses will interfere with the function of the soporific, which is why Sister Melina is making an attempt to block them."
"Will it be permanent? It won't hurt him, will it?" Rose asked, watching the Doctor's face with concern. His eyes were now screwed shut and teeth gritted.
"No, his Time Lord senses will only be temporarily blocked. There is no cause for concern - " Lyra trailed off, looking worriedly at Rose.
"What is it?" Rose asked, taking in Lyra's concerned gaze.
"You can understand me?" Lyra asked.
"Yes...?" Rose replied. "I haven't had any problems, why?"
"You are connected via the Time Lord to his TARDIS. The link between the Time Lord and his ship is to be blocked as well," Lyra replied, her eyes widening.
"What, you're saying this is going to affect me too?" Rose questioned.
"This is a problem that I am afraid we did not foresee. You are able to use the Time Lord's TARDIS to understand and speak any alien language. In a few moments, when the Time Lord's link with his ship is blocked, we will not be able to communicate."
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