“Doctor, or whatever your name is, you bring bad luck on this house.”
Yep, he’s certainly heard that before, in one form or another.
“I thought your son was brilliant,” he says almost carelessly, in an attempt to divert their suspicions. “Aren't you gonna thank him? Still,” he goes on thoughtfully, staring at the rocks scattered all over the floor, “if there are aliens at work in Pompeii, it's a good thing we stayed,” he muses aloud, before turning. “Donna!”
And for the first time, he realizes, as he looks around, that she’s not in the room.
“Donna?” he calls anxiously, before he starts becoming annoyed. Not with her, but with the people who clearly took her. And that, he adds in a moment of realisation, includes Evelina. “Donna!”
Even as the echo of his voice is dying away, he hears the faintest shuffle of sandals on stone and takes off running in the direction he realises it’s coming from.
He catches up with a shuffling, cowled figure at the end of the road on which Caecilius’ house is situation and yanks back the head covering to reveal Evelina’s hair and face.
“There you are,” he greets her, trying to speak lightly as he falls into step beside her. “Heading off to see whether the Sisterhood has offered their latest victim as a sacrifice to the Gods? Mind if I tag along? I’d hate to miss the show.”
“Men are forbidden entrance to the temple of Sibyl,” she tells him, although she doesn’t stop walking.
The Doctor notices that are heading in a different direction from the home of Lucius Petrus Dextrous, into what looks like a less wealthy part of Pompeii.
“Why did they take her?” he demands. “What did Donna tell you? What did she say, Evelina?”
The young woman’s footsteps falter and she turns to look at the Doctor, uncertainty in her eyes. “She… spoke of a new prophecy,” she confesses in the end, with obvious reluctance. “Of the end of Pompeii itself.”
“And your gentle, peace-loving sisters decided that they weren’t having anyone here in competition, so they decided to get rid of her, is that it?” he snaps sarcastically, no longer able to restrain his anger and concern.
“There can be no other prophecy.” Evelina’s voice trembles and he can see her hands twitching at her sides. “The High Priestess has forbidden it.”
“Yeah, I’ll bet there can’t be,” he says sarcastically. “That’d put you lot of our work, wouldn’t it? So much for the accurate predictions of every soothsayer in Pompeii.”
“Pompeii must live forever,” she says, as if reciting a school lesson.
“Let me tell you something, Evelina.” The Doctor rocks back on his heels. “Nothing lives forever. Not even me, and I’m probably the oldest thing you’ll ever meet in your life. Actually, scratch that, definitely the oldest - ah-ah-ah-ah-ah,” he scolds, grabbing her wrists before her hands can touch her face. “This is just between you and me. We’re not getting your sisters involved, thanks. I don’t like family politics.”
“They guide me,” she remonstrates.
“Yes — in the wrong direction,” he retorts grimly. “And right now, they’ve got my friend and you’re going to tell me where they are so I can rescue her.”
“You don’t trust us,” she tells him, not fighting to get away, but with a coolness in her voice that suggests she won’t be persuaded by his words. “You call us mad. You think we lie, that we can’t possibly see all that do.”
“Quite the contrary.” He arches an eyebrow. “I just don’t believe that your abilities are human. When did you begin seeing the visions, Evelina?”
Her head lifts, a little gesture of pride, and he understands that, although the process of breathing in the ash from the volcano may be painful, she enjoys being thought of as special, particularly in a society that generally considers men to be superior.
“I cannot remember a time when I didn’t know things,” she says proudly. “I have been told I was making predictions when I was only a few years old.”
“And you’re what — twenty? Twenty-one?” he guesses. “So this also started at the same time as that earthquake, did it?”
“None of your business.”
“Evelina,” he tries to be encouraging, to get on her good side, “I need your help. I need to know where they’ve taken Donna, and you’re the only one who can tell me.”
“They won’t hurt her,” she replies, and yet he can hear the uncertainty in her voice.
“You don’t know that,” he retorts. “Or at least,” he adds, understanding the look in her eyes, “that’s what you want to believe. But if you’re wrong…”
The young woman turns away, twisting her arms uselessly in his firm grip, trying to escape. “She isn’t hurt yet,” she offers in the end.
“How can you be sure?” He lifts her hand up to remind her that he’s still holding them. “Your link back to the Sisters is broken. You’re only guessing.”
“In your opinion, that’s all we do anyway,” she snaps.
“Either show me where she is or promise me that she’s all right,” he shoots back, loosening his grasp so that she can communicate with the other members of the Sibylline sisterhood.
However she breaks free of his hold and takes to her heels. “You’ll find out soon enough,” she calls back over her shoulder before disappearing into the shadows.
He watches her go, sorely tempted to go after her and see if he can learn more from her, since he’s still so much in the dark about what’s happening here in Pompeii. Then again, he knows Donna was getting on quite well with her, and she clearly doesn’t trust him, so maybe it would be better to see if Donna tries to get the answers he wants.
That is, as soon as he finds his missing companion.
“You have got to be kidding me!”
Ah, yes, there she is.
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